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Sin, Faith and Suffering IV

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Question #1:

Hi Bob,

Somewhat random here, but in driving up to __, I got my first speeding ticket. Apparently I got clocked well over the posted speeds, and now it looks like I'll pay the county fine, a state fine on top of that (if you are over a certain threshold they take money too, apparently), and then my car insurance will probably go up a lot too. It'll probably cost me well over $1000 long-term. (The fines themselves look to be north of $500 just themselves -- I was going pretty fast).

I don't doubt that I was going faster than I probably should have been. My philosophy thus far has been something along the lines of:

Stay pretty close to the posted limits, but track with traffic most of the time.
Don't do anything silly. Like weaving, cutting people off, etc.

This was on a wide-open road with basically nobody in sight. It was hilly terrain, and I was probably going downhill, but wasn't paying enough attention. I think __'s car (which we were taking turns driving up) is also a bit more powerful than my somewhat anemic Toyota Corolla.

At any rate, I was somewhat horrified when I got the ticket (blue lights in the rearview -- yikes!), and am now trying to sort through things to figure out what takeaways I should get from the experience. Two negative extremes:

1) Getting all shaken up about it to the point it interferes with other things. I can confidently say that while I could be fairly charged with needing to pay a bit more attention, I wasn't really driving recklessly, given the environmental circumstances. So I should resolve to do better without feeling like I'm some sort of terrible villain.

2) Passing it off so much that I don't take the lesson. It is perfectly appropriate to use this as a warning call, and just pay more attention in general. I was certainly much more conscientious of my speeds on the way back, and I don't think that's a bad thing.

I don't know. I guess I've just got a bit of whiplash from how expensive this will turn out to be, and want to make sure I'm not thinking about things the wrong way.

There is also the idea of always staying under the speed limit. Just because of how other people drive, to match traffic (even in the right lane), I am almost always a little bit over. On the other hand, just because everyone else does it, that doesn't mean it is appropriate.

Perhaps the takeaway is that I don't need to be in the left lane where people speed more?

I would be liable to pass the whole thing off as a healthy dose of bad luck, but we know as Christians that there is no such thing as luck or coincidence, which is why I'm trying to think a bit more -- what is God's purpose in this? Although maybe it's not productive to do this past a certain point?

Interested to hear your thoughts.

Your brother in Christ,

Response #1:

As to the ticket, it happens. My mother, who was a very safe and responsible driver, once got a ticket coming home from her job as a school teacher – for running a stop sign. Thing is, she DID stop. Was it a "quick stop", no doubt, but she didn't run it. Back in Chicago in those days, every cop had a quota of several tickets per day – a revenue issue thing. So if they hadn't made their quota for the day, look out! The fact that she didn't even do anything wrong didn't make her feel any better about the ticket. It actually made her feel worse I'm sure.

I've gotten my share of speeding tickets in my life. In fact the last ticket I got, must be going on 20 years or so ago now, was in a speed trap set at the bottom of a very steep hill where the limit was 25 MPH. You'd have to ride your brake all the way down to keep from hitting thirty. I didn't. Boy was I hot! But the guy was only doing his job. Still, I've never liked speed traps.

I wouldn't waste too much time worrying about it. You're obviously a safe and responsible driver. We should all be careful driving on the one hand; on the other hand, we'd all probably be dead even being careful if the Lord weren't looking out for us. You could try to be perfect. I'm not very high on striving for perfection in such things. Attempting to achieve it in legalistic matters usually only results in worse things which the perfection pressure produces by making us worry too much about what isn't perfect so as to redefine the truth (just ask the Pharisees). So confess and forget – and slow down . . . especially in known or likely speed traps.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi Bob,

Well, this wasn't particularly a speed trap. I really was going quite fast -- fast enough that I myself would tell you nobody on public roads should ever go that speed. The catch is that I wasn't particularly *intentionally* going that fast (a distinction that might not matter before the law, but makes me feel a bit less bad morally).

The thing about all this that rubs me the wrong way isn't so much that I got a ticket (I'd probably have given me one too, given the speed I was in fact going), but the fact that we are over $500 in fines for this one thing (I think with the state fine combined, it's like $700). Yes, I was speeding. Yes, I was speeding by quite a bit (albeit not particularly intentionally). But $700? If I didn't have the income I do, that could be a serious problem to cough up. It hurts bad enough as it is.

I suppose the guilty can't really complain, but it did make me wonder if I had done something especially bad. Punishment fitting the crime and all that. Your response combined with my initial reasoning are leading me to conclude that while I should certainly take more care and probably be a bit more cautious, I haven't committed some grievous mortal offense. Which begs the question of why I'm paying as much for this as a brand new refrigerator or washer (or month of rent, etc.).

People who get caught texting while driving in my state, despite that being basically just as bad as driving while intoxicated, aren't punished nearly so severely. Like $500 less severely. Logical, eh?

Sorry for just complaining.


Your brother in Christ,

Response #2:

Yes, it's a lot of money! Remind me never to speed in your neck of the woods! To be honest, it does seem way over the top, but it is what it is. But since it's only money, I think you can relax if that's really at the core of what's bothering you. The reason the price is so high is not that what you did is a rough equivalent to involuntary manslaughter, but that your state and municipality have found a good way to raise revenue.

Also, I think you are behind the times on your pricing. New appliances have about tripled in the last five years. I got my kitchen faucet replaced (an old relic that kept leaking even after repair) and it cost more than your speeding ticket! I felt bad too . . . believe me.

I'll keep these other concerns you list in my prayers as well.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

1 John 1 states that if we are walking in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship with each other and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.

Fellowship involves being in a good relationship with another believer. So what if one believer does something so bad against another believer, but thinks the other believer is aware of what he has done against him but can't be sure. 1) Does he apologise and confess to his brother, but what if his brother didn't know and the good relationship is lost, so destroying the fellowship, and as a result doesn't keep fellowship with his brother, in fact his brother stumbles, and avoids the brother who confessed? 2) the Christian doesn't confess or apologise to the brother and the offended brother bears a secret grudge and as a result of not confessing or apologising violates fellowship, by not doing so and, so isn't walking in the light and the blood of Jesus doesn't cleanse him?

Also what is the meaning of fellowship in the NT Greek and does it include the idea of a good, reconciled relationship with a fellow believer, or is it more clinical in it's meaning?


Response #3:

"Fellowship" is not the best translation, given the connotations this word has in English. When I hear that word, I think of having lunch with friends, e.g. But koinonia means, literal, a "common stake", and in the context of 1st John chapter one it means that we believers share in common our mutual salvation in Jesus Christ, being mutually members of His Body, His Bride, His Church. As John says,

And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
1st John 1:3b NIV

Being jointly members of Christ's Church is the thing we should rejoice in. This doesn't have anything directly to do with human personal relationships. After all, agape love is the love we have for all other believers, regardless of whether we like them or not, or spend time with them or not (which, in the case of questionable believers, is not a good idea in any case: cf. 1Cor.5:11).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

So when it talks about fellowship with the Father and Son, how can we have common stake with them, or share a common life with them?

Response #4:

We do "have" fellowship with the Father and Son as those who belong to them. We improve that fellowship through spiritual growth, growing closer to God day by day as we advance (e.g., Jas.4:8). And in the end, we will be perfectly close to the Father and the Son and the Spirit in eternity. So it's just like salvation and also sanctification's three aspects: we are saved/sanctified when we believe, we are being saved/sanctified as we grow spiritually, and we will be completely and ultimately saved/sanctified on that great day when we are resurrected and our life turns into experiential life eternal.

Looking forward to that!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5:

My point was if fellowship meaning a common stake, in your words, is what is meant by the Greek, and has nothing to do with relationship or closeness between believers, what does it mean to have a common stake with Father and Son? The only common stake I can think of is a relationship. If it is a relationship with Father and Son, wouldn't the same go between believers, in terms of what common stake means?

Response #5:

Yes, of course it is a relationship. But "fellowship", the way the word is used today, is not at all the same as having a relationship with someone. Christians getting together at "fellowship hour" and having a conversation over a cup of coffee with people they've never met before and may never meet again passes for "Christian fellowship" in most places in this country – but that's hardly a relationship, and certainly nothing like belonging to the family of God through Jesus Christ.

Question #6:

Thank you, Bob.

I’ll take some time to really read over these and let this idea sink in.


Thank you for your prayers on that!

I need to be filled with joy knowing what I know about Jesus…but I struggle most days. I’m sure that’s what the enemy wants. It really is a battle.

Yours in Christ,

Response #6:

Thanks for the update, my friend.

I'm happy to hear that you were able to sell your house. I'll be keeping the "new place" in my prayers.

I'm also glad to hear that you are making progress on the health front, even though it sounds as if you still have a long way to go. Prayers there as well.

You are right to focus on the joy and the blessings the Lord has given you. We never know what is going to happen, exactly, but we can be sure that the Lord will be faithful to us, come what may. He always is – as we can affirm by looking backward.

Looking forward to the day when there are no more tears or pain or sorrow or grief. That day is coming soon.

In Jesus Christ, our Hope and our Joy,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hi Bob,

I wanted to stop by and wish you a Merry Christmas and see how you're doing.

For me, the grief ride is very real... even nauseating at times, 4 1/2 months out from dad's passing.

We are all sort of just going through the motions of the Holiday celebrations this week. This house feels so off without dad here. He loved the holidays.

[omitted about family members returning to the RC church]

I had really hoped if anything good could come out of my father's passing, it would be to draw them to Christ. I know anything is still possible. I know I'm probably just trying to operate according to my plans and my timeline instead of the Lord's. I am easily disheartened these days.

I hope you're having a great Christmas break, Bob!

In Christ our Savior,

Response #7:

Thanks you for the Christmas greetings, my friend!

I am sorry to learn that your family are proving "tougher cases" than hoped, but remember that God has this all in hand: He knows the end from the beginning and also exactly the time that they will turn around. Our job is to be patient and trust the Lord that He is listening to us – because He most definitely is.

I think back today on friends and loved ones I have lost – but those I lost in the Lord are enjoying Christmas face to face with the One who is the Gift of all gifts.

Take heart, my friend. The Lord is working out your deliverance in all things. We wait on Him.

He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:29-31 NKJV

Wishing you a merry Christmas as well, in spite of all.

Here are some links which may give you some solace:

Grieving loss of spouse


Grief II

Loss of father and husband

It is Better on the Other Side

In Jesus Christ the Savior of the world.

Bob L.

Question #8:


Hope you are well. I am looking forward to your posting today of the emails. I find myself lately reading many of the past ones and gaining so much from them as well as your studies.

The family is still been meeting on Sundays for Bible study. Recently we've started Angelology. We have just now started requiring the presence of my granddaughter who is 5. New challenge that I am enjoying and I think she will also. She has a deep understanding of her role in obeying her parents and now when she asks for something she will say something like "daddy will you do such and such but you don't have to because you're my parent but I am just asking". So sweet! The other night after bible study she prayed that she could hear God in her ear. I didn't know what to stay about that but wow! I love watching her faith and learning about what Jesus said in Matthew 18: 3 "unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven".

My question today is about women speaking in church. I understand Paul clearly says that women are to remain silent (as well as most everyone else in the church) but he goes on to also say that if she has a question she should ask her husband at home. I'm not trying to work around this but to grasp it. I view it very black and white and it makes me see that perhaps I should not even be writing to you but asking my questions to my husband and then he should write you if needed. He is not as black and white though and thinks I am overdoing it. Also this would carry over to the zoom meeting that we have with the forum group. I do ask lots of questions and even give my opinion on things. In other words, I speak freely and have thought of it as a group of friends gathering around something we all love but I am starting to see it as a true gathering of the church. I can change my ways if what I have been doing is wrong in Gods eyes. You are so great with balance so I hope you can help me get this right.

Your in Christ

Response #8:

That's great about your granddaughter! I'm sure she'll grow up to be a fine, Christian woman.

On your question, the context of Paul's remarks at 1st Corinthians 14:34 is critical to understanding this issue. He was writing to a church where disorder was ruling – and that made spiritual growth impossible. Various members, of both sexes, apparently, were spouting off at the same time, interrupting each other, and generally turning the service into bedlam. They were speaking in tongues – without anyone to interpret the meaning, they were prophesying, they were singing, and perhaps also someone or other of the elders were attempting to get a word in edgewise in teaching. Paul is telling them that things MUST be done "in a fitting and orderly way" (1Cor.14:40 NKJV – same chapter); what they were doing was not good, and this prohibition you ask about can only be understood against that background.

And of course we know that men also must be silent in church. My mother taught me THAT lesson very early on as a PK – the last thing I needed to be doing (or my brother too) was making a fuss and interrupting my dad as he was trying to deliver a sermon.

Anyone "talking in church" is out of order – unless and until it's appropriate. So if the pastor-teacher is teaching, and his policy is "no questions" unless or until he wants a Q/A period, then EVERYONE should be "silent in church".

When it comes to prophesying or speaking in tongues, since this was, if done properly, a form of teaching in the main congregation too, women were barred from that since they didn't have the gift of pastor-teacher; men could apparently do these things IF the proper circumstances prevailed (which was not the case at Corinth and that is what Paul is correcting). But of course these gifts are no longer being given today so that point is moot.

Bottom line: nowadays, no one other than the pastor-teacher is allowed to be speaking during the period when the lesson is being given. If Paul singles out women, it is because of the authority issue (even if they are gifted to teach other women or had then one of the other teaching gifts, the main service which included adult men was "not the time"), or perhaps because of a tendency he knew or heard about for the Corinthian women to be doing this, but also possibly to spare male feelings (easier for these macho Greek men to accept the principle when applied to their wives . . . and then to realize that it also applied to themselves).

Practically speaking today, I don't see any distinction: now, no one is to speak when it's inappropriate to speak: not women (that is a disgrace) . . . but also not men (no less disgraceful); when it is appropriate, then anyone, man or woman, may speak, if that is how the service is set up. As long as women are not teaching the adult men in the congregation from a position of authority, then the scripture is satisfied, because we no longer have the other gifts that were causing problems in Paul's day through their abuse.

n.b., the "ask their husbands" part is likewise envisioning inappropriate asking of questions when everyone is to be silent.

Thanks for your good words.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:

[omitted re: daughter in critical care]

Response #9:

I'm terribly sorry to hear this news, my friend.

I won't pretend to know the ins and outs of the medical stuff. I've never heard of anyone getting better while being intubated, so I had thought when they got her off that (?) and she was responding, that we were on the road to a come back.

I do know that prayer works. I also know that there "comes a time". I prayed for my mother's health for years – and she hung in there through thick and thin. At 96, however, she had gotten to the point of not really "being there" most of the time. The last time I saw her, I was trying to talk to her, she couldn't really respond, and at one time let out a sort of primal scream. Well, I kissed her goodbye, and made my way back to Louisville – and I stopped praying for her healing, because I could see that now she was just in misery. She passed away a few weeks later.

So I know what you are saying. Nothing is impossible for the Lord. However, there is a right time for everyone. I don't know that you can "do" anything, but you can pray for God's will to be done, whether healing or taking your daughter home. It is a great blessing to know that she is a believer.

"I'm confident he'll work everything out for the good." Amen to that, my friend. We know that is true with all things; it can be difficult to apply when the test is very difficult as this one surely is. God gets us through everything, one way or another. There is always deliverance.

It's often the case that we don't know the "why?" right away. Job didn't, and for good reason. But we can trust the Lord with the "what", whatever that ends up to be according to His grace and His perfect will.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Dear Bob,

I know it's posting day so don't feel obligated to respond. The decision her husband has to make is to keep her alive in the present state or allow the inevitable and just make her comfortable on opioids. Probably a lung collapse, suffocation and/or heart attack will be the logical conclusion. She is deteriorating rapidly.

You have given me direction even though I probably expressed myself poorly. It's time for the Lord to do as he will. I am reasonably convinced that will mean her passing to the next life quickly which will be the end of the pain and suffering. It will be hard for those of us who are left but I doubt as hard as the past three months have been for her.

Thank you for your prayers and for being a friend.

In our Lord Jesus,

Response #10:

I'm not sure what is involved in "keeping her alive in the present state". I'm sure if it were me and I were there I would be giving her doctors hell – fairly or unfairly. I would want her to have every chance to wake up and pull through. But I could easily misread that hypothetical situation, not to mention this actual one where I'm not there or much in the loop.

I do know that the Lord has all things in His perfect hands. I do know that whatever we may decide, He has the perfect plan. Your daughter is a believer, so we will all be together on the other side rejoicing as one with all our brothers and sisters in the Church on that great day to come, and there will be no more tears at that time. Down here, everything is a struggle. But these wilderness years do not last forever. We grieve for the pain of those we love, and we grieve for ourselves if we lose them. But the Lord knows best and does as He will always for our good.

The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He entereth into peace; they rest in their beds, each one that walketh in his uprightness.
Isaiah 57:1-2 ASV

Keeping you and your family in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus Christ through whom we have life eternal.

Bob L.
[our friend's daughter passed soon thereafter in 12/21]

Question #11:

Hi Bob,

There's a big hole in my life. It still hurts, but not as bad as when my wife passed because I know she's with the Lord and her mother. I believe Paul wrote that we should not mourn as unbelievers do. I know that she is out of pain and is no longer suffering which is a relief. In many ways, I'm happy for her.

I saw her husband yesterday. He's having a problem adjusting to life without her but on the whole, I think he's handling it as well as can be expected.

Thank you for your and all Ichthys' prayers. They have made a difference and I'm grateful.

Yours in Jesus,

Response #11:

Yes, you have suffered a huge loss. We don't mourn as unbelievers do, because we have a living hope for ourselves and for those we love in the Lord. But we DO grieve. Even our Lord wept at the death of Lazarus, and He did so even though He knew that He was about to raise him from the dead. The emotional pain was real for Him and it is real for us so we have no need to apologize for it. Similarly, we know that we will see our loved ones very soon, and also that we will all stand together in resurrection not too long from now – but there is still great pain at the loss of those we love. That is hard-wired into us as human beings, and it's no good to pretend it's not so. But we believers have a comfort in our grief that unbelievers cannot imagine – and I have never been able to understand how one such experience of loss doesn't cause any unbeliever to seek the Lord. But some people – most people – are very hard of heart.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:16 NIV

You have been in my thoughts since your email to me about your daughter, my friend. And not only me. Others have seen the posting update including those on the forum (where there is also apparently a prayer request for you – I'm not on it; forgive me but I forget if I ever asked you about it and/or if you ever joined). One friend of Ichthys writes about this:

I was thinking about how we're all family in the Body of Christ and we share each others burdens of grief and help each other through the pains of life. We weep with those who weep and I know that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and he heals them and binds up their wounds. And I pray this for __ and that he will draw even closer to the Lord and know His love, comfort and strength in an even deeper way. It must be so hard for him right now but I know and I believe that ALL things work together for good to those who love God.

I couldn't have said this any better, my friend. Please go easy on yourself and take the time you surely need to grieve. And know that the Lord is standing by to comfort you – and that your friends at Ichthys are holding you up before the Lord in prayer as well.

Please stay in touch.

In Jesus our merciful Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your consolation and please thank the Ichthys friend for his. They were and are encouragement. I certainly don't blame the Lord for her passing; I have no idea from what she was shielded and glad she's out of pain, suffering and the drugs.

I have read you mentioning the forum in emails to others but I don't recall you mentioning it to me specifically. Truth told, Bob, I don't have a lot of time to participate and my failing eyes will only stand a limited amount of screen time. But thank you. Thank you all for your prayers.

Yours in our Lord Jesus,

Response #12:

Forgive me if I failed to mention the forum. It has come up a lot of times in the weekly postings, so you probably had a hint that it was out there. I'm not on it myself, but a number of readers have told me that they have benefitted from interacting with other Ichthys readers. If you'd like to give it a try, I can have the moderator send you an invite.

As far as being shielded "from what", with the Tribulation this close, well, none of us is going to enjoy that. For believers, missing the Tribulation is a real plus. I am also very relieved for your daughter to be out of the pain and suffering and drugs. I'm sure that the fact that the Lord took her home tells us very clearly that this was her time, and that the delay had to do with you and your family, giving you time to adjust. Not that this takes away the pain. It doesn't. But the Lord does see us through all things.

Thanks much for keeping in close touch, my friend. Please continue to do so during these difficult days. I am keeping up the prayer on this end.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your offer of a forum invitation, but now is not the time for me.

Perhaps it was her time and my prayers lengthened her suffering. I worried about that. Or perhaps it was for her husband; he considered ending life support murder. There's so much I don't know and likely never will.

Thanks for your prayers. You and yours are in mine daily.

In Jesus,

Response #13:

Understood about the forum. Just let me know if you ever change your mind about this.

I'm sure that it was your daughter's time, because God never makes mistakes. We can speculate about the when and why of it, but on the other side we will be given to see that it was indeed the perfect time – in spite of the pain it has caused you and your family.

Don't worry about praying – God always answers prayers perfectly, never perversely. You did what you could for the good, and He answered your prayers in the perfect way, even if we can't see that clearly on this side of heaven. Your son-in-law was the responsible party and we certainly can't second guess his decision. But she is out of pain now and beholding the glory of the Lord in peace and joy together with every other believer who has left this world.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.
Philippians 1:21-23 NIV

Thanks so much for your prayers, my friend – I'm keeping them up on this end as well.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi Bob.

This is probably not high on your list, but this is my girl. The picture perfectly captures her puckish personality. The obit is accurate. Her husband's family have been wonderful. I send this just to put a face on our loss.

Her funeral is Tuesday 12/7. I don't know how I'll handle that. It's late enough in the day that I'll be going home driving into the setting sun which will be hard for me with my old, failing eyes. I intend manage though.

Yours in our Lord,

Response #14:

What a wonder daughter!

I know you are grieving, my friend, but I can see from this short piece that your daughter achieved many things that most people do not: she was saved and led a good Christian life, being a blessing to her husband, her children, and her parents. No doubt her reward will be great.

Please do take extra care on the return trip. In my experience, grief is an unpredictable thing and often strikes harder later on than at first.

I'm keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #15:

It went reasonably well. all things considered. Thank you for asking. I got home without incident except for minor traffic annoyances. The funeral didn't bring closure as I hoped; instead scratched the scab off the wound. I don't know how much my presence helped others. She had many friends.

The minister who delivered the eulogy mentioned her looking down on us. I assume he was a minister because there were some church-isms in what he said. I don't think his remarks were bad and probably appropriate for the circumstances but this one raised a mental eyebrow. I remember nothing in scripture about the deceased looking down on us. Luke 16:23 seems to argue against that. Lazarus seemed content where he was. Do you know of any scripture I may have missed that would support that?

I would think that she, when confronted with the splendor of heaven, would forget all about this ball of mud.

In Jesus,

Response #15:

I've learned that unless we "do it ourselves", these sorts of services are always problematic. I am encouraged to hear that your daughter had so many friends. If the gospel was given in any form – through the example of her Christian life – then one can take a bit of solace in that.

As to observation, it is true that in the paradise below the earth, there seems to have been no such thing. Now, of course, after our Lord's ascension, believers go to be with the Lord in heaven above after passing, "and thus shall we ever be with the Lord" (1Thes.4:17).

It is also true that, being in the presence of the Lord and being absent from this body of corruption, the things of this life and of this world will have no further attraction to us. However, we will be interested in the playing out of the plan of God, e.g.:

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
Revelation 6:9-11 NKJV

In fact, all of Revelation presents those in heaven, human beings and angels both, responding to the events of the Tribulation. The glass sea before the throne appears to be an observation port to the earth. There are other indications of the observation of things present by those departed as well (believers, that is; the unbelieving dead have no such opportunity; link to discussion and references in CT 2B).

Of course, the nature of the observation is different from what popular mythologies about such things often suggest. On the other side, we will "see things" very much differently from how we do now. Even the most spiritually advanced believers on this side of heaven are viewing things "through a glass darkly" (1Cor.13:12 KJV); on the other side, we shall "know fully even as we are fully known (1Cor.13:12 NIV).

So I do believe that our beloved departed are observing what is going on, but not with fear and angst because they will understand perfectly what the true issues are – and they will be blissfully happy in the presence of the Lord with nothing that happens on this earth being capable of disturbing their peace.

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Thanks Bob,

It seems the older I get, the darker my glass gets. I never thought of the sea of glass as a view port. Thank you. The minister's remarks were in the context of living as she would want and looking down directly on us. Such is the way of the world.

In our Lord and Savior,

Response #16:

Yes, I see what you mean. That is a sort of feel-good popular mythology that doesn't come from the Bible. Jesus Christ is in us – we should be living the way He wants us to live.

I'm keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Dr L,

I found out that my birth mother died. But I don't feel anything because she is a stranger (what she chose to be). She gave me up for adoption and then, as you know, I have had the difficult life I have had. And then suddenly I hear she is dead. Is it bad I don't feel anything? I think maybe I feel or think some bad things deep within and that is why. I feel I am always getting these feelings again and have to keep letting it go. Does it mean I haven't forgiven them if it seems to keep coming back?

Also I am reading through the Seven Churches, and I wanted to ask if there were any history books to help elaborate what you were saying about the politicization of Christianity and the centralization of it, and the Reformer's era (what they were rebelling against and their creating scholarly groups and distribution of the Bible)? You already recommended History of the Christian Church (the longer and shorter), do those basically cover it?

What I just asked is a large question, so if there is just a book or two that stands out, then I would really appreciate it, so I can get it and read it.

Response #17:

I'm sorry to hear about your birth mother. It is a fact than any good person, such as yourself, will have some grief associated with the loss of anyone with whom there is any sort of relational tie, even in this case with the distance there. So please don't feel bad about not feeling bad enough or about feeling worse than you think you should: you feel what you feel; recognize that you have the Spirit and that He will bring you through this as He has everything else (2Cor.1:3-7). Most people would get/take time off after something like this. The fact that you are hanging in even if a bit "shaky" shows you are made of some pretty solid stuff.

On the seven churches and the early history of Christianity, these are best thought of as separate topics. The first few volumes of Schaff's History of the Church is pretty good on the first, broader topic (I certainly don't endorse everything Schaff's has to say but it's a good start); here's a link to where it is free on line in several formats (Christian Ethereal Library).

On the seven churches, there are plenty of books written about that; one of the most famous and entertaining is by W.M. Ramsay, Letters to the Seven Churches (also available for free at the same site at the link).

These are both older works, but the newer stuff is even more virulently infected by anti-spirituality and of almost no use.

Naturally, if you want to know what we can verify from the Bible as true, please read CT 2A (at the link).

Praying for you, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18:

[omitted about Ichthys readers listening to Bible Academy (link)]

Response #18:

I have no problem with you or anyone else listening to Curt. My issue with Christians multiplying Bible teachers is that it leads to zero spiritual growth – because they're not accepting anyone's authority and therefore don't know what they believe. I don't say that to "protect" my own authority but because I'm zealous for their spiritual growth. If a Christian decides to be their own "referee" about what teaching is correct or incorrect, not having the gift of pastor-teacher and not being prepared, then they're likely to have true faith in nothing – and to be wrong about what they have decided to believe. As I have said before, the Bible is like a well-stocked kitchen which contains all one needs for nutrition. The problem is that only trained chefs can use it properly to prepare nutritious meals. Going there oneself to feed oneself results in a mouth full of dry flower or cold shortening. Not healthy in the long run. Sitting down to eat with meals prepared by incompetent cooks can lead to food poisoning or worse. These are obvious lessons in the analogy, but it is surprising how so many Christians make these mistakes over and over again on the spiritual plane.

Curt and I come from the same background and have also come to mostly the same conclusions in developing and expanding the teaching of our mentor, Col. Thieme. Of course there will be small differences in teaching between any two teachers, but while I'm aware of some, none of them have ever struck me as so significant that I have any qualms recommending Bible Academy (link). I think anyone would be able to grow to maturity and beyond by listening to Curt or me or both in whatever combination, without any severe "dissonance" – by just using a little spiritual common sense.

Question #19:


I just woke up to the sound of Bagpipes and rushed out to film the military parades going down the street but one down to the Cenotaph by the Town Hall at the bottom of the street.

It seemed so strange that there was a full service in front of a huge crowd of people but the people weren't praying or singing along with the hymns. They seemed to be puzzled about the whole thing and were only there for deceased service men, not for God.

It really shook me how secular this country is in that public prayer and hymns are so alien to people that it was very jarring to realise how bad England now is as a country. I would say it is spiritually dead and only pays public lip service to faith during events like today. It grieved my heart deeply.

A Rabbi read one of the Psalms (I couldn't hear which one as it was so crowded) in both Hebrew and English and I cried to hear one of the Psalms read publicly in front of so many but they couldn't hear it, even the ones very close to the Rabbi couldn't hear it.

What is heartbreaking though is they will hear the antichrist, they will listen to him.

I came home and cried as I realise that I yearn for that day when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord! I long for a time when I will be surrounded by believers who love the Lord as I do. I look forward to the Kingdom to come, to be in the presence of God forever in my incorruptible body. Amen!

Every day is a day closer to the Resurrection and the life eternal with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Name above all names! Lord of Lords and King of Kings! The Holy One of Israel! Glory be to His precious name, forever and ever Amen!

In Him,

Response #19:

Wonderful perspective!

Indeed, whatever we have to suffer through, the second advent is going to occur right on schedule, and nothing can stop it. Nothing can stop our resurrection, whether we are still abiding on this earth until that time or are taken home earlier.

It is sad to see what's happening in this world. Positive believers in this country have similar feelings of grief and regret. But now is the time to disassociate emotionally from all "things that can be shaken" in preference for those which last forever (Heb.12:27-28). I think deep down all Christians despise what is temporary and partial and long instead for what is eternal and perfect. Blessedly, our entire future will consist of the latter with the former gone forever. And we won't feel any grief or regret then.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Doc...I just read some of your Peter series this morning...and felt nothing but dread, terror over my situation. I feel so bound to all this evil idolatry and other wicked things that I can never apply these things like God wants me to. It's helped me stop, sure, but I need more than just teaching and motivation...can you pray I'll be free from whatever's holding me down, that anything I may have foolishly done involving evil spirits will be undone? surely should be avoided)? I was trying to read Ichthys and apply what it says...but I still got distracted by the entertainment which seems to be the only thing I truly care about after just 3 parts of the Peter series....and I ended up doing some vile things in my head again...why am I so addicted to these things even though they cause such things? I couldn't even apply it like God wanted me to...I'm scared Doc. I don't want to be bound to such things anymore...but I can't break free. I'm so deep in I can hardly understand the teachings of Scripture at all. I'm so deep into sin that even when I focus of Jesus and praying, I can't help but do the vile things. I'm seriously considering ending it all again...if I can't grow or do anything right for Jesus, what's the point?

Response #20:

You might want to consider, in terms of these things that are bothering you, when you are tempted to do them, that they don't make you happy in fact. It is clear from all you've written me that you are not happy because of these things – just the opposite. As the man once said to the doctor, "Doc, it hurts when I do this!" As the doctor said to the man, "Well then don't do that!"

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
Proverbs 25:28 NIV

You do have free will. Exercising it judiciously and with self-discipline is a life-habit that every human being has to develop. Some are given a lot of help by their upbringing, some very little. But everyone has to involve him/herself in that process if they want to get anywhere with anything in life.

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
Romans 7:19 NIV

Paul found his answer in salvation and in the gift of the Holy Spirit. All believers likewise need to listen to the Spirit and respond to Him in order to be empowered to do what is right. But we do have to BELIEVE that He is helping us and actually trust Him to do so – then actually follow through. We do have to try. He won't violate our will but He will help us when we are willing.

How to get there? One thing I can tell you is that when it comes to certain things and to certain behaviors, we all have weaknesses. Most people can have a beer or a glass of wine and not fall immediately into drunken excess which goes on for weeks. But there are alcoholics. For those people, the best policy is one of zero tolerance. We all have our own special areas of things which tempt us to waste our time and dissipate our health by over focusing and indulging. Even a model railroad hobby can be destructive. So if we find ourselves absolutely unable to be disciplined about one thing or another, rather than finding fault with ourselves, rather than attempting what for us is the impossible . . . over and over and over again. The best policy is abstinence. And we all find that in a very short time of saying "no", we are able to hold these things at arms length. But we have to want to do so and be willing to do whatever is necessary to hold the line.

Another contributor to problems of the ilk you are experiencing is having the time and the opportunity to engage. It is very hard not to drink if one is surrounded by alcohol. It would be very hard not to engage in "model railroad porn" if a person is working in a fantastic hobby shop. And if a person is sitting at home with nothing much to do, nothing much that HAS to be done, well, THAT situation is a recipe for disaster in any case.

So I always recommend getting cracking in life as well as with spiritual growth. No job? Get a job. No education? Get an education. No reason to leave the house? Get involved in a running club or orienteering or soccer or, or, or – something that eats up time and energy in a good way.

We all find that if because of the circumstances of our lives we don't have a lot of excess time and energy to spare that we tend to use what we do have on good things – and NOT on the things that bring us down and cause us problems and grief.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #21:

I've been looking for a job for a good while but my mom won't let me because of all my crises. I could start exercising...that could help. Honestly, I don't know what started all this, at first it was just intrusive thoughts that were completely unwanted, then it slowly crept into me excusing actually doing these things by doing it "just in my head"...before the intrusive thoughts, I had no issue with entertainment...other than the fact I often idolized it like someone would typically a tv show or sports team. Now that I think about it, it might be best to abstain completely, if it's just going to be an idol even if I recover from this bizarre habit of mine.


This has gone on for far too long...I'm going to do my absolute best to resist every one of these temptations, and if I fail, I'll just keep trying. as someone who desperately needs spiritual growth, I'm going to peruse just that, no matter the cost. If it ends up being just torture, I'll keep going regardless until progress is made.

Doc, do you know what Cosmic Terror is? It's a special kind of utter dread that can only be felt when threatened by something completely beyond your comprehension, something no mortal could ever hope to understand without irreversibly obliterating their mind. It's a kind of fear of the unknown combined with the existential dread that comes with the fear of damnation. That's the kind of fear I feel right now with the demons. Is that inappropriate? I mean surely they don't have some kind of powers that would warrant that I hope.

I need another question answered if this is going to work however. I feel no actual contrition over my actions. And if I don't feel contrite, God won't forgive me right?...or am I misunderstanding and contrition doesn't necessarily need emotion? Please answer...and please pray if I get distracted again, I'll be reminded of what I need to do as quickly as possible.

Response #21:

As to "contrition", the Christian life is not about how we feel but about what we do. If we feel very bad but don't confess our sins we are not forgiven; if we don't feel particularly bad but do confess our sins we are forgiven (1Jn.1:9). So I wouldn't worry about it. If you're not feeling appropriately "bad enough", God is very capable of fixing that!

As to being afraid, remember, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. And God is so much more powerful than all of evil put together that there really actually is "no contest".

(31) So what shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (32) He who did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over for our sake, how will He not also graciously give us everything [we need] along with [that gift of] Him? (33) Who will [dare to] bring charges against God's elect? God is the One who is pronouncing [us] justified. (34) Who is he that condemns [us]? Christ Jesus is the One who died [condemned in our place], and the One, moreover, who was raised from the dead [for us], who is [seated] at the right hand of God, who is also making petitions on our behalf. (35) What will separate us from Christ's love? Tribulation? Or privation? Or persecution? Or hunger? Or destitution? Or danger? Or violence? (36) As it is written, "For your sake we are being put to death all day long. We were accounted as sheep for slaughter". (37) But in all such things we are decisively victorious through Him who loved us [enough to do what He did for us]. (38) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angelic nor human authorities, neither things present nor things to come, neither heavenly powers, (39) be they the highest [of the elect] or the lowest [of the fallen], nor any other created thing [on this earth] will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39

So we really have nothing whatsoever to fear – from anyone or anything. Getting to the point of fully understanding that, internalizing it through believing it and through having experience in applying it is not an overnight thing but requires spiritual growth.

We all get distracted. We all stumble. Spiritual winners keep getting back up and getting back into the fight.

One thing that is helpful in this struggle is setting oneself a regular routine, one which is composed of all good things and which doesn't leave a lot of time and energy for bad things. If a person has to work for a living, that cuts down an awful lot of opportunity for distraction right there. Same if a person is trying to get an education and is working hard at it in the Lord. I don't know what your situation is, but whatever it is it is possible to "build in" lots of good things. E.g., Bible reading from 7-8, exercise from 8-9, work or school or study or whatever else is good from 9-5, Bible study from 5-7, dinner and reading / legitimate relaxation from 7-9, prayers and bed . . . and begin again the next day. Naturally, this is just a general template. We all have personal strengths and weaknesses which can be capitalized on / avoided respectively; and we all have plenty of other things in our lives which will have to be worked into any routine. But in developing self-discipline, setting a good routine is a great help – if one defends it and holds onto it for the most part.

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Doc...I think you may misunderstand what I say sometimes, al ot of the time actually, but if there's one thing you get right about me, it's that committing any of these awful acts, no matter how much of a rush I may get carnally, is about as comfortable as jumping onto a bed of porcupines spiritually. Yet I've somehow become addicted to it...that part I may never understand, at least not in this life. Until then, I'll just work on fixing this...I was thinking, if I work diligently on getting back to God, and I go months into it without much or even any progress, am I doing something wrong, or am I just that deep into sin? Im worried that'll happen...

Doc I'm so sorry I didn't listen to you all this time...if only I just accepted that it was so simple... I'm sorry I idolized my games and shows so much...if I had just saved them for a legitimate time of relaxation, they wouldn't have needed to become an abomination for me...but I've slowly started to realize those things Don't really matter no matter how much value my heart gives them or how many fond memories I have of them...as the Scriptures say, the heart is deceitful above all things. Please pray I'll be able to recognize what actually matters and move on from these things that ensnare me...I keep telling myself that someday I might be able to return to them...but would there really be any point to that once I've recovered and am growing in the Lord? His joy and peace are better than anything this world can offer, yes? So please most of all pray I'll see how empty these things are in the grand scheme of eternity..

Response #22:

I am praying for you to be able to get victory of this, my friend.

As mentioned, we are all susceptible to one thing or another. And it is also true that we can all get deep into a rut, a pattern of bad behavior (call it addiction or whatever you please), that is very difficult to break out of. But I know you will find that if you really decide to move past this, the Holy Spirit will meet you half way – much MORE than half way.

It's also my job to remind you that being good on the defense, sanctification, turning away from things that are harmful, is not the whole "ball game". No one ever mounts a good defense without also at the same time committing to a good offense (and vice versa as well). So please also endeavor not to let down on your efforts to grow spiritually.

In terms of effort with no progress, in fact, you ARE making progress. From our personal perspective, that is often difficult to see. It's analogous to a seedling one plants. It may seem as if a very long time has gone by and very little growth has taken place or that it is stuck in status quo after growing a bit . . . but in a little while it's shading the whole house!

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
Mark 4:30-32 NIV

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Doc what do I do now? Do I just read Ichthys and the Bible for hours on end until I memorize everything in a book or lesson? What from there? do I keep trying to focus on only God and Jesus and trying to do things for Him?

Response #23:

I could think of a lot worse things!

However, LONG before you exhaust Ichthys or come anywhere close to memorizing the Bible, I am absolutely confident that the Lord will make you aware of what He wants you to do with your life.

In a nutshell, of course, His plan for every believer is 1) spiritual growth; 2) passing maturity tests and learning to walk close to Jesus Christ despite all the pressures of life, and 3) once getting to that place, helping other brothers and sisters through the ministries we are assigned by Jesus Christ.

So in my view, it's time to stop worrying about the process and engage with it wholeheartedly instead. Everything else will be made clear in good time, so have patience – and trust the Lord.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Hi Bob,

I phoned the doctor today for my test results and good news - they were all fine! As usual, stress can make things worse so even more reason to keep my distance from family trouble!

I'm so sorry to hear about your friends and their son. I'm praying for them. This must have been incredibly hard for them over the years. I hope they're taking good care of themselves too. It's so important. Eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising to protect their immune system and energy levels. All things that I've learnt to help cope with the stress.

Apparently there's been a big turn around with __. [omitted] I'm not getting involved. Contact with them has become less and less but at some point soon I'll have to be around to [omitted]. Apart from anything like that I keep my distance from them now to protect my own health. That's the best prescription I could ever have and I'm sticking to it!

Alcohol addiction causes so much devastation and heartache - not only for the person who is addicted but for their family as well. I'm praying for your friends.

Thank you so much for your prayers for me too!

In Jesus

Response #24:

Great news!

In my experience, doctors can do three things: 1) operate on us (no one wants that); 2) give us pills (we'd rather not have to take them, but it's better than the knife); 3) reassure us that there is nothing seriously wrong (what everyone REALLY wants). So prayers answered!

Interesting about ___. I pray daily for you not to get sucked back into all that, and this info only confirms the wisdom of your staying clear. My friends with their addict son have had to set very strict boundaries to keep from getting eaten alive – but it has still affected them greatly.

Yes indeed, all addicts – and all people who do not behave in life in a reasonable and honorable and legal way – always end up hurting more than just themselves.

In Jesus,

Bob L.




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