February 8, 2016
I’m hoping you can give me guidance in a terrible situation. I was saved at age eleven. I am a conservative Christian woman, and my husband was saved at age 18. We are active members in an independent Baptist church. I have two sons, 21 and 18. My 21 year old came to us at 18 to tell us he was gay and semi-involved with another young man from a neighboring town.
At the time, I didn’t respond as I should have. I repented of this long ago, but cannot ever change what happened. When he came to us, I went into overprotective-mom mode and defended him. Not only did I tell him I loved him regardless, but that I wanted him to be happy, even if that meant with another man.
He came out on social media and in public with a lot of support from friends and others (as is usual in the world today). He was a member of the same church, and when he became actively involved in this lifestyle, church discipline was enacted and he was taken off the church’s roll.
It hurt him, and us. I was hurt because my child was hurt. It should have been me taking this stand, instead of trying to shelter my son. He became involved in a long-term relationship while in college, eventually living with another man. My husband has never changed his ideas on homosexuality. He has always believed it was wrong.
Deep in my heart, I’ve always known the same. We joined another church a couple of years ago, and I rededicated my life to the Lord in that time. He broke my heart over my behavior and I confessed to my son that I’ve been wrong. I told him I loved him no matter what, but I couldn't accept what he was doing any longer.
I reassured him that he’d always be precious to me, and I want him to succeed. I tried to show him Scripture and pray with him, but it didn’t go over very well. We offered to get him counseling, which he refused. He adamantly maintained he was a Christian, and does to this day (he made a profession of faith at age 9). Shortly after this talk, he broke off his “relationship” and appeared to be attempting to change his path.
But today, he is nearly unrecognizable as a Christian. He supports all forms of lifestyles, applauds transgender people for being so brave, and liberal theology that says God made him gay. I pray for him constantly. His name is on my heart and mind at every hour of the day, and I beg Jesus to deliver him.
I know that if he indeed is saved, God won’t allow him to continue unconditionally. I know there will be consequences. This has driven a wedge between us that I don’t know how to bridge. My husband is out of ideas how to deal with this, too.
The guilt over the way I handled this eats at me. I know Satan uses our past mistakes to attack and keep us weak. I try to remember that ploy when I’m reminded of that time. Did I do irreversible damage? I’m desperate for guidance, opinions, prayers, help of any kind. I want to see my son in heaven! The thought of him going to hell tortures me.
A Desperate Mom
Dear Desperate Mom,
You did the best you could at the time, when your son first told you about himself. You must trust the Lord completely. We always have hope in the Lord. You and your husband raised your son with godly principles and that is still all embedded in him; although it certainly does not appear that way right now. Nevertheless, he could still come back to the Lord:
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Your son has strayed in a great way but that does not mean he will not repent one day. Right now it might seem like the situation is impossible, but God will not take His hand off your son. Keep praying for God’s intervention in this situation and that He will show your son the truth. Pray that the Lord will give your son wisdom and the spirit of discernment.
Overall, you have handled the entire situation very well, and from the loving heart of a mother. A mother’s natural tendency is to protect her children. As time went on you realized there are many different ways to protect your child. How we handle and respond to things can change as people and events change.
Please don’t beat yourself up. Keep praying for him. Pray believing a solution will come and that your son will repent. Your best weapon against the situation is abiding prayer (Fervent prayer and a lot of faith.) Sometimes when we try to verbally reason with others, it is ineffective. Many people do not want to acknowledge and accept what they are doing is wrong. Some people call this the “sin factor.”
Some people will not admit to their own obvious mistakes and try to turn things around and blame an injured party instead of admitting that they are wrong. They add insult to injury because they do not want to own up to their mistakes. Pride is a huge factor in this type of behavior. It is also the first sin; the sin that Lucifer committed against God when he rebelled against Him, when he said he would be like the “Most High (Isaiah 14:14).
Pride is a terrible problem in the world today. Rather than be honest, the blame is placed where it does not belong. It reminds me of what the socialist Democrats do. They always point the finger at someone or something else rather than take responsibility for their own failures.
Your son is not doing that to you from what I can tell in your letter, and hopefully others you interact with now don’t try to blame you. But the devil is pointing his dirty finger at you. You already know that to some degree; but he is a relentless foe! So I will remind you of this:
Whenever Satan tried to coerce Jesus into doing something, Jesus quoted Scripture and did not get into a dialogue with him. I urge you not to let that filthy fallen angel harass you and allow you to feel guilty. Quote Scripture out loud expressing God’s authority over that wretched creature.
“Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:10).
And remember this verse so you are sure of who you are in Christ:
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Sometimes we cannot bridge a gap, and we must love a person form a distance. At this point, with your son, perhaps the best thing you can do is continue to tell him you love him and that you will always be there for him, just as you have been doing. When we cannot get through to others through conversation it is especially then, that we must trust God completely to work in the situation in ways we cannot.
We cannot force people to see the truth but we always have great hope in Almighty God. You have done all you can to steer your son in the right direction. Your efforts are not lost. In time, a lot can change to awaken your son to his fallen condition and even bring him to repentance
Please stay involved with other like-minded believers. Pray together and spend time in fellowship strengthening and encouraging one another. God can use you to encourage others who are in difficult and painful situations. When we help others we take the focus of our own problems and show God’s love.
Anything is possible with God and your son is tremendously blessed to have you for his mother. Never underestimate the power of prayer and the love that flows from God’s heart. All is not lost; consider how many broken souls have come to Christ and repented from all kinds of god- less lifestyles. Although each situation is different, sinning against our holy God is always the common denominator.
“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
Place your unwavering faith and trust in God’s mercy and grace. He wishes for no one to perish, including your son (2 Peter 3:9). He hears and answers the prayers of the righteous; He is near to his children. Stay close to Jesus and He will continue to carry your through this very difficult season of your life.
Continue to walk forward in faith. Never give-up on God’s tremendous mercy and power to change hearts and minds. Transformation of the heart and mind can come through the Holy Spirit. His ways are far beyond what we can comprehend. Your Heavenly Father (Abba-Daddy) is there for you and weeps with you. Go to Him again and again for comfort and strength.
And I will say it again, please stop beating yourself up. You did not cause this situation; this wicked world and the enormous pressures of social liberalism somehow seeped into your son’s life. But that does not mean he is without hope. Please keep in touch and let me know how you are doing every now and then, and I will be praying with you for your son.
God bless you and strengthen you,,
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
The righteous cry, and the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:15-18).
February 1, 2016
I am wondering how to help friends who are struggling financially. We know several families who are barely making ends meet due to layoffs, injuries, etc. One family in particular is in serious trouble.
We have been trying to help them out in small ways like supplying dinner whenever we get together, babysitting for free, treating their children to outings like the zoo and hiring them for odd jobs like pet sitting.
While they have never flat out asked for money, they often hint that they need cash. Our area has been particularly hard hit economically and our church no longer gives direct assistance to individuals. Instead they refer people to community organizations.
We have suggested they look into various program but aren’t sure if they have followed-up on any of them, although we know they do get some sort of government assistance.
We are fortunate that my husband has a good paying steady job, and we want to be generous. But at the same time, we are on a budget providing for our own children, trying to pay down debt and investing for our future.
We have given money to other friends in the past and it always ends badly. Plus, even if we help now, what happens when the same bills roll in next month and they still can't cover them?
What, if anything, should we do to help our friends? Thank you for any advice or insight.
First of all, the Christian church in general has fallen short of its obligation to care for one another. This is symptomatic of the downward spiral of this day and age. The Scriptures teach that the church should help provide for those congregants in need, especially when their families cannot. Not as a social welfare program but as brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Instead, as you say, those in need are sent to community and government agencies. We are taught to live in the world but not be of the world, yet then when it comes to needing real help, today the church says, “Go to the world.” Although there are still some good churches that lovingly try to do what they can.
A good church should have a way to provide in some way for those in need (James 2:15-17 and Galatians 6:10). But our church “system” is rarely a closely tied group these days. We don’t always pull together and carry each other’s burdens in ways that we should. A lack of good biblical leadership is the major problem.
So as believers who comprise the Body of Christ, we should do what we can for each other individually, especially when the hierarchy of a church is neglectful.
Many innovative things can be done, but most churches lack leadership in the way God intended. The Christian church as a whole is weak in its bond together. Have you ever noticed how strongly Mormons stick closely together and help each other very generously?
A young Mormon woman I know was telling me about how she grew up in a single parent home. Her mother would often go to the Mormon church in her community where there is a very organized and comprehensive assistance center. They were not shamed into going to the government for help. They were loved and taken care of in so many ways when funds were scarce.
What a slap in God’s face when Bible believing Christians get little or no help from their churches. True Christians should be knit tightly together but instead we too often see others who are not part of the Body of Christ being much more caring and generous.
So with that said, my suggestion is that the best way to provide from your small corner of the world is the way you have been doing already, especially for the sake of the children. It sounds like you are concerned that if you do give cash that it might be expected again.
Also, it is true that there are those who take advantage of others and are not doing everything possible to turn their situation around. In your case, I would step back and continue to carefully assess the situation. It is hard to determine if the family you are most concerned about would try to become dependent on your family—if you do give them some cash.
Perhaps if you and your husband want to give your friends who have the greatest need a one-time cash gift, you could sit down with them and tell them it is a one-time gift to help them get on their feet, and that you would like to do more but have so many of your own responsibilities and expenses (debts) that there is no way you could do it again.
Explain to them how you are concerned that this situation could become problematic because you cannot take on the burden of feeling the need to do more when you must be wise stewards to be able to meet your own obligations. Then lead them to the Scriptures about God’s providence; God blesses those who take refuge in Him. The entire book of Ruth reveals this beautifully.
Encourage your friends to put their full faith and trust in the Lord. Hopefully the man of the house is strong enough emotionally and spiritually to realize that he needs to do everything possible to provide for his family, and by humbly seeking the Lord, things can get much better for him and his family regardless of a down economy.
If you do give a money gift, and your friendship does take a turn for the worse because they expect more, you will have still done something good and you can rest assured that you are not obligated to keep paying their way. If the entire thing blows up then so be it. It won’t be because you and your family have not been kind.
The Bible does not support helping those who have a way to work but choose not to because they are lazy, irresponsible and do not provide for their family” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, 1 Timothy 5:8).
Give from your heart as unto the Lord and try not to be attached to the outcome. We can’t control what others will say or do. If you do have some cash that you can live without, give it unless you detect that the head of the household is not really trying to improve the situation for his family. God will bless you for your generosity.
When someone is really suffering from a lack of money, even a small money gift can be a huge welcome relief and act as a positive glimmer of hope. And remember, when it is all said and done—it is what we do here on earth in the name of the Lord that matters. Trust that He will continue to provide for your family as you help others in need as best you can, without placing your own family in jeopardy.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).
Scripture does teach that the Lord loves a “cheerful giver” and especially when it comes to children. I am going to list for you some Scriptures that deal with the topic of giving: 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; 2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Matthew 6:1-4; Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 22:9; Matthew 10:42; 1 John 3:16-18; Proverbs 11:24-25; Acts 20:35.
Be sure to pray carefully about all of this before taking any specific action. God will guide you. It is obvious that you are a kind, caring, giving individual.
God bless you for your caring heart, Emily.
“Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:11-12).
January 25, 2016
I have been an avid Rapture Ready reader for years, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading your column over the last several months. I feel like the advice you offer is genuinely loving and always biblically sound. I have wanted to write you for some time about this, but honestly I am afraid of the answer I might get.
However, I feel a real urge to write now, regardless of whether the answer hurts me or not. I’d rather know now than find out later when Jesus calls His Church home and I am left behind.
First, let me be plain: I am a backslidden Christian. I was saved beyond any doubt in 2003 and no one will ever be able to convince me otherwise, so sure am I of it. My whole life changed and I had a personal and loving relationship with Jesus.
Yet as the years passed, my fire faded and gradually I fell back into my old ways. I still love Jesus, I still believe that He suffered horribly on that cross for me and rose again three days later to defeat the death that was rightfully coming for me.
I know that the Bible says that once we are saved, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and no one, not even ourselves, will ever be able to take that away. I also know that Jesus said nothing, NOTHING can ever snatch us from His hands. But with the end times looming so large and imminently, I worry! Here’s my situation Esther, and I hope you can give me some good, solid answers to guide me.
In December of 2014, my long-time boyfriend moved in with me. We have sex, of course, and we are not married. We have plans to marry as soon as finances allow, we honestly do, but we are not married yet. And I know that is blatantly disobedient to God.
I know it grieves the Holy Spirit within me because I feel such guilt about it and am reminded almost daily that God forbids this lifestyle. My boyfriend works away from home, usually for months at a time, and when he is able, he comes home on weekends, occasionally. And I find myself praying for forgiveness again and again.
I do have Christian affiliations: my parents, (my boyfriend), my sister, a coworker, and also my best friend. The problem is that both my sister and my best friend (whose life truly is blessed) both live with their boyfriends, too. My sister is engaged, but my best friend is not and has no plans to marry; she feels that a piece of paper makes no difference and in fact only changes a relationship for the worse.
She says that while she does feel guilt about it like I do, she has no doubt that God loves her and will not damn either of us for this. I cling to her words because she is so much further in her walk with Christ than I am and this is truly the only “un-Christian” thing I’ve ever seen her do. I also cling to that verse that says we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and that it marks us as His.
Truly, Jesus meaning what He says, is the only hope I have.
Will I go to hell for my disobedience? The Bible says the only unforgivable sin is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and I definitely am not doing that. But it scares me enough that I have to ask.
I know that my intentional and repeated disobedience will be dealt with when I stand before God, and the thought sends chills down my spine...but I’d rather face that than an eternity in hell for doing what is so common, even “normal” for the world I live in.
Yet here again, I hear the Holy Spirit telling me I am not of this world and I should not conform to it. I am so frustrated Esther!!! Please help me. Am I going to hell? Have I lost my salvation? Will God truly not forgive me for this?
Linda (Torn to Pieces)
I am so sorry for your pain. You have gotten yourself into a very tough situation. Sweetheart, it is going to be okay, but you will have to go through some changes. Sometimes it takes getting into a backslidden state to really begin to start walking with the Lord. I am glad you reached out.
Jesus does love you very much and He will forgive you, but you must be sincere in your repentance. We can “believe” in Him but He also asks us to show our love for Him (Matthew 22:37). Even the devil and his demons “believe” in Him and “tremble” (James 2:19). We cannot continue to blatantly and habitually sin against God knowing full-well that we are going against His Word. You already know this, otherwise you would not be hurting so badly.
Your eternal fate can only be answered by God; but by our fruits, how were serve the Lord and live our lives—our salvation is declared. If little has changed in how we live our lives since we made a profession of faith, then we must examine our lives whether we are truly in the faith. I strongly recommend reading and studying the book of James.
We can say we love the Lord and believe in His historical record, but unless we are changed with evidence of the renewing of our minds, I would say our salvation is in question.
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1 John 2:19).
Remember we are NEW creations in Christ when we are born from above.
If you are saved, then you will not be able to continue living so far outside God’s principles. A day of reckoning will come. And it will all be for the better.
So let’s begin with you and your boyfriend. Apparently you have been together for a long time. You say you are both Christians. Yes, it is very common for unmarried couples to live together these days and it is doing nothing good for our moral climate.
As Christians we are to set an example to others. From what you have said, you already know what you are doing is wrong. You wrote: “Yet here again, I hear the Holy Spirit telling me I am not of this world and I should not conform to it.”
There you are. You know you should not be living as those in the world. It sounds like you and your boyfriend both need to seriously come to terms with this situation. I have said it before, many times in my letters, God is not mocked.
I have never understood the argument when people say they are living together until “finances allow.” This is a weak excuse to live in an ungodly manner and not make a commitment before God. Considering that you and your boyfriend already live together (although not every day) there is a solution.
If you truly love each other and can come to terms together about placing the Lord first in your lives, then there is an answer to your living together situation, called: Eloping. Find a good pastor and get married in a church. :)
It won’t cost much and you can have a big party later to celebrate for the sake of family and friends. It could be a great and fun celebration. But first and foremost you must make peace with the Lord. Unless you both repent (turn away from) your sin you will remain in anguish, not able to enjoy the relationship and not able to truly fellowship with the Lord.
“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
“Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2).
You mention that your parents are Christians. I would hope that they would rather see you married than living out of wedlock, even if it means eloping or having a very small intimate family wedding without a lot of pomp and circumstance (to keep the cost down). Be sure you have a Christian wedding and not a secular one.
If you and your boyfriend do not want to take marriage vows, then live apart and stop having sex. That would be the way to honor the Lord until you do make a marriage commitment.
“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
As far as gaining entry into heaven through the Rapture or death, the way we all know for certain our profession of faith is real is by the way we live and by trusting in Jesus alone as the Savior of mankind. The key to knowing whether or not you will be spend eternity with Jesus is by having full assurance of your salvation.
If we thirst for God, seeking His face every day through prayer, reading, studying, and meditating on Scripture, we have assurance. If we long to fellowship with the brethren and seek out fellowship as often as possible, we have assurance.
If we love to share the gospel and do so as the Holy Spirit leads, we have assurance. If we are living the life of a disciple we have assurance. If we have been discipled and are discipling others we have assurance. If we live a holy life on a daily basis without taking days off to get involved in the world and its godless ways, we have assurance.
If we do few or none of these things on a daily or regular basis we do not have assurance. If we are not living a holy life immersed in prayer, the Word, fellowship and sharing the gospel we do not have assurance. I urge you to get the assurance of salvation by repenting and not looking back. This does not mean that we all don’t fall and sin on occasion. We are saved by grace alone through faith, but faith without works is dead:
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-26).
Remember the grave warnings that Jesus gave us:
“Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Not everyone who claims to be saved, who claims to be a Christian, who claims to live a holy life is saved. Many are not saved.
[Jesus said,] “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Come judgment day there will be millions who will realize their church membership and religious involvements did not save them. They never had a personal relationship with Jesus and never fellowshipped with Him. Their faith was all about religion and not Jesus.
Judas was a disciple who looked like he was a very dedicated follower of Christ. He was entrusted with the money bag and sat with Jesus at the Last Supper (John 13.26). He also cast out demons, raised the dead and healed people when the twelve were sent out (Matthew 10:1, 7-8).
Yet he betrayed Jesus for money and later hung himself (Matthew 27:3-5). He was one of the most prominent of the group, but evidently did not believe Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God (Matthew 16:13, 20). He was one of millions throughout the Church Age who departed from the faith for he never had true faith (1 John 2:19).
Please examine whether you are truly in the faith. If you are one hundred percent certain that you are truly born from above you will live for your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Too many professing believers have a vague idea of what it means to live for Jesus. Many professing Christians are not saved and simply manage to fit Jesus into their lives when it’s convenient.
“For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).
Are you being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ? Has there been a noticeable change in your likes and dislikes since you trusted Jesus to save you?
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
Everyone who is truly born from above will change his or her way of life. You will make a conscious effort to stop doing certain things and start doing things you did not do previously. Your thought life will also change. To determine whether something is good (honoring to God) ask yourself if Jesus would join you in whatever you are involved in.
When we are obviously and consistently living against the Lord’s principles, we must make a willful decision to change, otherwise we are kidding ourselves and playing a dangerous game with our eternal destiny.
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
If you are not on fire for the Lord Jesus Christ something is not right. He suffered terrible pain, agony and torture for you to save you from eternal punishment in the lake of fire. He also offers you eternal life with Him in heaven and untold riches, which no one deserves or has earned. What are you waiting for? If you think you are truly born-again and saved then it is time to start living like it. I say this out of love, not to hurt you.
Would your boyfriend take severe torturous beatings and hang on a cross for you? Would he do what Jesus did for you? Is he more important to you than Jesus? These are questions to ask yourself and answer, honestly.
As far as your sister and your best friend, they too, need to examine whether they are truly in the faith. You wrote: “She (your sister) says that while she does feel guilt about it like I do, she has no doubt that God loves her and will not damn either of us for this.”
My dear Linda, she is missing the point. The Christian life is not about how much we can get away with. It is about living for Christ, bringing others to Christ by our example and testimony, and pleasing Him as much as possible. I would not consider a person with this attitude a mature Christian, so please look to your Bible for counsel, not a sister who is also backslidden and weak in her commitment of “faith.”
A person can say a heartfelt prayer, live a holy life, fall away and come back and be genuinely saved. Yet if one falls away, and does not have a real desire to come back and truly repent, that is strong evidence he or she was never truly saved. So-called “Christians” who live the same way as those who reject Christ, are fooling themselves.
“And He [Jesus] said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:20-23).
We must come out of our flesh and let the Holy Spirit take over. Once we do that, it becomes very hard to live a godless life and participate in the ways of the world. Dying to self is never described in the Bible as a random choice in the Christian’s life. It is evidence of the new birth; no one can truly come to Christ unless they are willing to see their old lives crucified with Christ and begin to surrender in obedience to Him.
And as far as your best friend who is so blessed, that may be so, but that does not mean that she has God’s stamp of approval for living a life of fornication. Many in the world are “blessed.” And are those blessings always from God? I would not say that they are. Many people have sold out for, worldly “success,” and a life of self-gratification. The Bible is very clear about not serving two masters:
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:19-24a).
A piece of paper does not make a marriage, but standing before God and some witnesses taking marriage vows in all sincerity does make a marriage commitment and that is where your friend is kidding herself. She sounds like she is parroting the ways of the world.
A true Christian marriage is a wonderful union, and when two people serve the Lord together their lives only get better (holy matrimony). I would not listen to her opinions since she is clearly living outside the Lord’s teachings and has convinced herself that what she is doing is of no consequence to her eternal future.
Jesus spoke of lukewarm followers who try to live partly in the old life and partly in the new. Those are the ones He will spit out (Revelation 3:15-16). Such lukewarm followers were prevalent in the church of Laodicea, as well as many churches today. Being “lukewarm” is a symptom of unwillingness to die to self and live for Christ.
Linda, I will leave you with some Scripture below (after my sign-off), for you to carefully ponder. I pray this will be a turning point in your life when you will no longer accept compromise and that you will place our precious Savior first in your life. He loves you so very much.
I expect you will be a great role model for your fallen sister and best friend. Let them emulate your new willingness to surrender your life to Christ and leave behind the old self. And if your boyfriend has excuses why he cannot fully commit to God and to you, rest assured that there is a godly man out there somewhere that would love to have a godly wife.
Trust the Lord with all your heart and get away from those who are pulling you away from the Lord. Pray for them and love them but don’t be a part of their spiritually compromised lifestyles. The Lord will bring the right friends into your life with whom you can truly serve the Lord.
The apostle Paul wrote:
“I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person” (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).
Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing as you make some very significant decisions and changes in your life. You already know you need to make some life-altering changes. I believe you reached out to get that confirmation and support. You have my support and I am here for as you go forward. Don’t hesitate to write anytime.
In God’s love,
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).
“But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:20-24).
“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2).
“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
January 18, 2016
I really enjoy reading your column. I feel like I can relate to and use all the advice you give other people. I am a born-again Christian. (At least I think I am.) I have always considered myself a Christian. I was raised that way and have honestly never doubted my faith. I feel like some of my back story is needed.
I am 26 years old. Growing up I had a mother addicted to pain medicine. Most of my childhood I knew she had an addiction problem. My father is a truck driver and was always on the road and most of the responsibilities of caring for myself and my brother fell on me. She was always looking for pain pills and often made my brother and me lie to doctors for her.
I was driving her around at 14 because she was so drugged up. Walking behind her in stores taking things that she tried to steal out of her purse. And always yelling at her to wake-up while driving. Well she passed away from an overdose when I was 15. I found her while we were home alone. You would think that because of what I saw that I would never have touched pain pills but sadly, that is not the case.
I became a mother at 16 to a beautiful little boy. Later, I had a daughter when I was 19. She was born with spina bifida. She has a trach and is on a ventilator. Whenever she cried she would stop breathing. I had to save her life multiple times a day for years. I have had some very hard years with her but she is six now and doing great. But during that time I tried a pain pill and it made me feel amazing. Like I could do anything and be super mom.
I have struggled with my addiction for years. Even through my previous pregnancy. My youngest daughter is seven months old now. While giving birth to her I hemorrhaged really badly and lost a lot of blood and became extremely anemic. So bad that I had to go back to the hospital and get two blood transfusions. During that time I had started to get off of pain pills. I went two months without pills!
My doctor told me that they found a tumor on my chest x-ray. This was just a couple of months ago. My pain started getting worse. They found that I had tumors all throughout my body. Clusters of lymph nodes everywhere and I started becoming symptomatic. It got so bad I couldn’t move. Body aches night sweats and chills day and night. I couldn’t get out of bed.
My doctor prescribed pain meds. At first I didn’t want to take them but it quickly became evident that I couldn’t take care of my children without them. So I started taking them as prescribed but still, I have become dependent on them again. I have been diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I just had my first chemo treatment last week. I have 12 more weeks to go for this round of treatment.
I am trying not to abuse the medicine they give me but I am finding that impossible. Because of my addiction the normal dose a person takes does nothing for me, and I find myself taking more and more; and running out too soon and calling my old contacts for pills to last me to my next refill. I am so scared of withdrawing.
My body is so dependent on them now. I want to be drug free. It’s so hard to be right now, though. And I feel that maybe God is using this time in my life to bring me closer to Him. I feel as though I have always been a lukewarm Christian. I don’t want to be lukewarm but I find it so hard to focus on him and read my Bible like I am supposed to. I get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.
I know I am going to need to stop taking the pills soon, and I want to. So badly! I don’t want to be dependent on pills to feel normal which is what I have to do now. I want a better relationship with God. All of this has really put a strain on my marriage. We aren’t intimate anymore. It's like we are roommates. My husband is so stressed and overwhelmed, too.
He works very hard for us and comes home to a messy house because I either can’t do much or don’t feel like doing anything. I want to be better. A better Christian, wife, mother and person. I have so many more struggles, too. My husband has an alcohol problem and just recently stopped drinking again.
But I know he will drink again. He is a believer also but believes in speaking in tongues and “prophets” like Jesse Duplantis. Jesse Duplantis told my husband’s parents when he was younger that he was a prophet... I don’t believe in any of that.
Am I wrong? Or is he? His parents believe in all of that and he can’t ever defend it to me. We get into arguments over that all the time. He always says how can he be the spiritual head of the house if I don’t believe him, if I believe my dad over him. I have tried showing him Scriptures supporting my side but he just gets defensive and shuts down because he thinks his parents are right and I am wrong.
I don’t even know how to go about that. And because of this I feel like we don’t have a bond in faith. We don’t go to church because we can’t agree on a church to go to. I feel like going to church would help us so much. He does not read his Bible or do or say anything about God at all. And I don’t nearly as much as I should. I read rapture ready. That’s it.
I just don’t know where to start and feel like my life is such a mess. I am not living a life that is pleasing to God. And I desperately want to. What do the Scriptures really say about speaking in tongues and prophets? I am so sorry this is all a jumbled mess. I hope you can understand what I am trying to say. I am in despair and worry about my salvation. And I know my children need more from me spiritually, too.
We have gone to Awana and church and my son and I talk about God but not nearly enough. My daughter is cognitively behind and doesn’t really understand but I have tried talking with her about it. I just know God is not a big enough part of my life. And I don’t know how to change that or where to start. And how do I get on the same page with my husband?
We can’t talk about God at all or it becomes a fight. So I have just stopped trying. I desperately need your help. I know I am missing some things but I just can't get it all out in words. How do I read my Bible? Where do I start? I am so tired. I have cancer. And a pain pill addiction. And a daughter that is medically fragile and paralyzed from the waist down that requires so much of my time.
And a nine year old son that is growing up without the proper guidance in the Lord. And seeing his mother and stepfather fight when his stepfather is drunk. And a seven month old daughter. And a lukewarm relationship with God. I am a mess. Please help me.
Your life is so complex and filled with intricate details that would leave anyone spinning. Your lot in life has been anything but smooth sailing. The situation with your late mother had to be very difficult; you were forced to play the role of a parent when you needed the love and care of a parent. Clearly she was a very tortured soul and lost her life in the process. (You are stronger than you may think.)
No doubt, where you are now in your life is the perfect time to get closer to the Lord. He is there for you. He loves you so very much and will never abandon you. He understands your addiction to the pain pills and everything else you are dealing with. He can pull you up out of despair. When life is filled with so many challenges, that is often when we can have a breakthrough and get very serious about our faith.
If you move forward one step at a time, things will not feel so overwhelming. Your health situation is so acute and takes so much out of you. And caring for your children with their own extraordinary circumstances is very tough, too.
Is there a point in your day when you can spend some time alone with the Lord? You stated that you don’t want to be a lukewarm Christian; it would be a good idea if you would rededicate your life to Him right now. It sounds like that is what you really want to do. Haley, you stated you think you are born-again; let’s make sure you are.
A person does not become a Christian through natural birth but by a spiritual rebirth from above; a conscious decision must be made by each individual. It is not a complicated process but it must be sincere. Simply speak from your heart, ask the Lord to forgive you of your sins and genuinely repent. Here is a short prayer to guide you if you need a little boost:
Heavenly Father, I accept your Son, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior. I believe in His death, burial and resurrection. I realize I have made many mistakes in my life. I have been confused and deceived by the lies, of this world. Please forgive me. I ask you to come into my life, regenerate me and fill me with your Holy Spirit so I can be born-again and saved by your grace. I want this to be a new beginning and have a close, personal relationship with you. I want to learn more about you through prayer and careful Bible study. Help me to truly repent and live my life in a way that is pleasing to you. Please write my name into the Book of Life. I pray this in the name of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah of Israel and of the world. Amen.
Haley, when we sincerely give our lives to the Lord, the Holy Spirit will come and dwell within us. He is the great Comforter. He will guide us and be with us every moment of the day and night. What seems impossible to us is not impossible for God. Life can get better despite your very trying circumstances.
“For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
As far as getting involved in a church, that could be good, but your own personal relationship with the Lord is what matters. The time you personally spend with the Lord is key to your spiritual growth. A lot of people attend church services but don’t have a true relationship with the Lord; it is more of an outward effort. But if you can find a good Bible teaching church, that could be a great support for you as you start this new phase of your life.
Perhaps your husband might not mind if you go with the children if he does not want to go to a church that you would feel comfortable in. (He might even come along at some point.) But easy does it; take one step at a time. Right now you need to get through the chemotherapy and recover from that. Sometimes staying home is very necessary to regain one’s strength.
I would not recommend going to a type of church that Jesse Duplantis would recommend. You mention in your letter that your husband does not read the Bible. Then he cannot know that what Jesse Duplantis teaches is not in keeping with the Scriptures. (And as long as there is any type of substance abuse in the marriage life will be strained.)
Jesse Duplantis publically said in August 1988 that he was transported by a chariot to heaven and he saw and talked one-on-one with: Jesus Christ, King David, apostle Paul, Abraham, etc. That is just one of his false teachings. The comments he states are such complete heresy, and are contrary to God’s Word. See the link below for more information. 
At this time I would not get into a battle with your husband about his drinking or his faith; the focus should be on your own relationship with the Lord and dealing with your own health issues and taking care of your children. You already have too much to handle without getting into arguments with your husband about his beliefs and his behavior. It is too much.
You cannot change his mind. In time, through your example and through your prayers there is hope for him and he might realize some things that he refuses understand to now. And keep in mind, his parents indoctrinated him with what he believes and it will take serious Bible study on his part and your prayers to get him to understand that he has been mislead (although not deliberately).
His parents sound like they do not know the Bible either. Far too many people depend on the teachings of men rather than the teachings of God. A terrible mistake. But I see it happening every day. Part of it is due to laziness and much of the problem is church leaders have never taught their flock how to study the Bible. That is why there are so many cults and false teachers that thrive.
Some of the problem also goes back to many church leaders that have never been properly trained in Bible study. It is common knowledge that most seminaries teach from commentaries written by men and the Bible take second place. At the end of this response I will have a Bible study guideline posted for you.
The important thing when beginning to read and study the Bible is to ask the Lord to guide you and to give you wisdom. Begin with one chapter in the New Testament and one chapter in the Old Testament. For example: Read a couple of chapters in Matthew, and also read a couple of chapters from Genesis. And read them again, then move on chapter by chapter, book by book.
God promises all true believers that the Holy Spirit will teach them:
“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him” (1 John 2:27).
Now let’s get back to taking care of yourself during this very challenging time. If there is anyone in your family or a trusted friend who can come and help with the children so you can rest, that would be so great. No one can go through what you are and do it alone. Please don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself. Just do what you can each day. Life will not always seem so chaotic.
As far as your dependency on the pain pills, that is something I cannot advise you about. But as I said before, with God all things are possible. Sometimes with one small step at a time changes can happen. The withdrawal you speak of is something you will have to go through at some point, and perhaps a good physician could help make the process much less severe.
Although you are in the midst of serious issues, this could be a real turning point in your life. In God’s strength you can get to a place of serenity, but it will take some time and patience on your part. Try not to think too far ahead, as Scripture teaches:
“Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:24).
If you take each day and do the best you can with that day, and get very serious about your walk with the Lord, things will get better for you. You will feel much more connected to the Lord. When you pray, pour your heart out to the Him. He is there for you.
When you get through the worst of this, you will look back and see how much you have grown and you will have a very powerful testimony. Think of this time as God shaping and molding you into a new creation:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” ( 2 Corinthians 5: 17).
And all your suffering, Haley, is part of your growth; you know that Christ Himself suffered greatly for us so we could be free of sin and ultimately live in eternity with Him, if we choose Him as Lord and Savior. He is there to carry your though these trying days.
“And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
As you are faithful to the Lord, He will work things out for you one step at a time. Life seems impossible at the moment but we serve a mighty God who can work miracles. Give your all to Him and His glory will shine upon you.
Pray throughout the day and stay close to Him. And be sure to read my Bible study guide below. When you feel too weak physically to do anything, rest as much as possible and mediate on Jesus’ name; your heart be filled with His abiding love.
As far as you 9 year old son, please get him some Christian workbooks. At Christianbook.com they sell homeschooling workbooks for all age groups. The Ace Pace brand workbooks are really fun and filled with Scripture. That is what I would recommend. They have all school subjects that always include biblical principles; they also have a Bible study series.
They are great even if a child is not homeschooled. This would be a wonderful way to instill some godly principles into your son (and older daughter) and they will enjoy the workbooks. And they are not expensive; you can also purchase for little money the answer key books to match each workbook.
Please keep in touch with me and let me know how things are coming along for you. No matter what happens Haley, remember that this life is so fleeting, although sometimes it seems like the trials and tribulations will never end. But they will. And as far as your marriage is concerned; be as kind as you can to your husband even though you are frustrated with him and your entire situation.
God has a way of working things out. Your husband is sincerely confused, and also overwhelmed with everything that is going on in your lives. Be patient with him and keep praying for peace in the home. He needs you and even a loving smile can go a long way. Tell him you appreciate all he does for the family. He needs that. Focus on his positive attributes.
Haley, rejoice in knowing the Lord has a very special place for you in heaven and all your suffering in this life will reap great rewards in your eternal home with Him. Stay the course and always remember that this life is not your true home. What you are going through now will be long forgotten one day, and the life God promises for all believers will be free of these heart wrenching earthly trials and tribulations.
Jesus warned us that in this life we would have trials and tribulations but to be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world. By being truly born-again and giving your life to Him, you are victorious in Him, regardless of your outward circumstances. That is a tough concept for us to really understand with our finite minds, but it is true.
“These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In God’s love,
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:15-18).
Growing in the Lord, Bible Study Tips
“Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
The key to knowing and understanding Scripture is studying as much as possible every day relying on the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 2:10; 1 John 2:27) and Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:16) to teach us. Studying commentaries, listening to teachings and sermons can be very beneficial. A Spirit led-believer does so with great care, and makes it a common practice.
Yet we do not rely on the teachings of men to know and understand Scripture. We study what others say and write to see if our understanding is correct. And when we see that our understanding differs greatly from the majority of commentators and Bible teachers, we must go back and study the Bible even more.
After we have done that and we are thoroughly convinced that our understanding is correct and the majority understanding is wrong—so be it. There are times when the majority is wrong and the minority is right. The perfect example is Martin Luther.
As a Roman Catholic priest he concluded that salvation is by grace through faith alone apart from the Catholic Church. He was the minority and the Catholic Church was the majority yet he was right and the Catholic Church was wrong.
Let the holy infallible, inherent Word of God be our daily bread, and on occasion, may we take just a few nibbles here and there from the works of men.
If we simply say, “I have a difference of opinion on some biblical topics” without undertaking a very serious in-depth Bible study and carefully revisiting the Scriptures in question, we can hinder our spiritual growth and our understanding of the Word of God. And if we are in a position of leadership many people could be led astray.
The truth is in the Word of God. The Word of God is in the Bible. The Word of God does not leave room for speculation and guessing games that contradict its content. Selective analysis derived from passages to create desired interpretations is essentially rewriting the true meaning of the Scriptures. To say, “I believe a particular teaching” is not the same as saying, “This is what Scripture clearly teaches.” To simply “believe” or assume something to be true does not make it so.
As believers, we must be careful not to become part of the growing apostasy or contribute to the false teachings that are prevalent.
Daily Bible study is very important and necessary in order to grow as a believer (Deuteronomy 17:19; Revelation 3:1). It is a good idea to designate a special place at home for Bible study. Be willing to invest in some good study materials: Bibles, Bible dictionaries.
Always go to Scripture to check the validity of information offered in any books or commentaries and focus first and foremost on the Word of God. If you have a computer nearby, you may want to use some of the following resources during your study time:
http://www.blueletterbible.org - An excellent resource for online Bible study.
http://asv1901.com/ - A full online presentation of the excellent and reliable 1901 American Standard Version of the Bible or the New American Standard Bible (NASB).
http://www.biblegateway.com/ - An exceptional site for looking up Scripture, all popular Bible versions are included as well as passage translations in a number of foreign languages.
http://www.e-sword.net/ - A fast and effective way to study the Bible online.
http://www.bible-history.com/ - Bible Maps, Study Tools, Archeology, Ancient Documents and much more.
http://www.biblestudytools.com/concordances/strongs-exhaustive-concordance/ - Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Online.
When I don’t use a computer to assist with my Bible studies, I like to use the items listed below when I need to look up something:
The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible - James Strong LL.D., S.T.D., S.T.D. Fully Revised and Corrected by John R. Kohlenberger III and James A. Swanson.
Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament - Joseph Thayer.
Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon - Francis Brown.
An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon - Liddell and Scott.
Exegetical Fallacies - D.A. Carson.
A Greek Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature - Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker.
Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains - Louw and Nida.
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary 2003 Edition.
Lexical Semantics of the Greek New Testament - Louw and Nida.
Semantics of New Testament Greek - J.P. Louw.
I use the 1901 American Standard (ASV), the New American Standard (NASB), the King James Version (KJV) and the New King James Version (NKJV). Be sure to cross-reference each of these translations doing careful word studies. The ASV and NASB are the most accurate and reliable. The list above will give anyone access to material to do in-depth research on Scripture.
Many good audio Bibles are available today. It is good to read the Scriptures out loud, speaking along with the narrator saying the verses together.
I like to listen to Scripture when I am driving. It is also a good to listen to at home while doing chores or making dinner. Listening to Scripture helps keep our hearts and minds focused on the Lord, giving us a strong foundation for knowing and sharing the Word of God.
Repeating Scripture out loud as we read our Bibles is very helpful in grasping the meanings of the passages.
We should always pray before studying the Bible that the Holy Spirit will lead us and guide us. Have reference tools available as noted above (Bibles, a good variety of Bible dictionaries, concordances) to look up pertinent information regarding some of the points made under, “A Summary on How to Do a Bible Study” which I have listed below.
A basic hermeneutical principle that everyone must adhere to with no variation when studying Scripture is this: Take everything literally unless the Scriptures say it is symbolic, or unless it is physically impossible for it to be literal or be fulfilled in a literal manner, with the exception of miracles.
An example to show how this principle works can be found in Revelation twelve:
“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth” (Revelation 12:3-4a).
There is not and there will never be a literal dragon with seven heads and ten horns. If there were such a creature it could not sweep a third of the stars in space and cast them down to earth. Therefore, the dragon and the stars are symbolic. In verse 9 it says the devil—who is called a “great dragon,” and his angels were cast down to earth. We can determine from this that the devil is the dragon and the angels are the stars.
We also know from Daniel 8:9-11 that the “little horn” (Antichrist) casts some of the stars of heaven down to earth. These stars are fallen angels that followed the devil in his rebellion. We see from Daniel and Revelation that the devil and the Antichrist together cast down angels to earth. We know the “little horn” is the Antichrist because in verse 11 of Daniel 8 he claims to be equal to the “prince of the host” (Jesus Christ). In 2 Thessalonians 2:4 we see the Antichrist will claim to be “God.”
In chapter nine of Revelation there are two separate groups of demonic creatures mentioned verses 9:1 and verses 11:16-19. These demonic creatures are real and not symbolic. It is not impossible for there to be creatures as depicted in these passages. They do not do things that are physically impossible for a creature to do.
A Summary on How to Do a Bible Study:
1. Determine who the message is being given to and why.
2. Determine if the message is to be understood as being literal or symbolic. As cited above, take everything literally unless the Scriptures say it is symbolic, or unless it is physically impossible for it to be literal or be fulfilled in a literal manner, with the exception of miracles.
3. Determine the context (what is the subject).
4. Determine the dispensation and if the message is for us today.
5. Find as many passages dealing with the subject as you can.
6. Put together the message of all the passages to determine what is being said.
7. Give clear statements far more importance than unclear statements.
8. Base the message of an unclear statement on a clear one.
 See more at: http://so4j.com/jesse-duplantis-false-teacher#sthash.jwxiXwyO.dpuf)
January 11, 2016
I’m 58 and have been a follower of Christ for years, and over the years I’ve been studying prophecy and material like Edger Cayce, the Hopi Indians, Nostradamus, Dr. David Jeremiah, Dead Sea Scrolls, The Late Great Planet Earth, Book of Enoch and many others. Most of all the HOLY BIBLE is what I read, and compare notes to, and it blows most books out of the water.
Sooner or later they trip-up somewhere! For example, the Hopi claim they will be flown to other planets on ships without wings. It sounds to me like Satan has been playing some heavy games a long time ago with our indigenous ones.
Anyway I talk to JESUS a lot in prayer and over time I have said things against Satan, like, “Your time is short and why are you doing these stupid things, you’re going to lose anyway.” My faith has held up against attacks on my family, money, the car, etc. But this is new now: It is my mind.
I think of things against GOD and I don’t want to. I have cried many tears in prayer about it but it won’t stop. I would rather end up below than offend GOD in any way! I’m worried about my future. I’m a self-help kind of person. WILL MY MIND CONDEMN ME BEFORE MY GOD?
Dear Worried Sick,
It sounds like you are about to make a breakthrough in your relationship with the Lord. I say that because He wants us to be totally dependent on Him, and I think your time has arrived. You say that you are a self-help kind of person.
We are to be responsible with how we approach our lives, and not be dependent on other people for our daily needs—we are to work, provide for our household and take self-responsibility (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We need to do our part but then we need to let go and let God take care of the areas that are out of our reach.
Have you ever had an idea in your head and then by the time you were finished trying to make it happen, something better came along? That is an example of when God does His behind the scenes work and gives us far better results than we could ever achieve in our own strength.
It is good that you have explored many religions and traditions, and time and time again you have come to the same conclusion—that the Bible is the accurate Word given to us by the Creator of this vast universe. However, with your research you came across ungodly information and much of it has pagan and demonic roots.
You are absolutely right. Satan has been playing some heavy games for a very long time (since his initial rebellion against God). Our finite human minds can only handle so much. It sounds like you are immersed in an acute spiritual battle stemming from being exposed to the dark forces. Please stop reading books about “spiritual” practices that are clearly unbiblical. Do not give the devil an opportunity to take a foothold in your life (Ephesians 4:27).
If you have books that deal with the occult or New Age practices in your house, I suggest destroying them. The devil can get a stronghold when we play on his playground. I have heard of many cases where believers have had to take some severe steps to be able to get their full-focus on the Lord because of their long-term involvement in investigating demonically-based writings and/or participating in New Age/occult trends.
Your mind is filled with all kinds of confusing chatter that will dissipate once you resolve not to keep researching various materials that have occult-based teachings, and when you surrender totally to the Lord. He is the one we should devote all our time to outside of our necessary earthly tasks.
You are in an excellent position to help and warn others that they should be very careful what they take into their minds. We should fill our hearts and minds with the glory of God, His Holy Word and the beauty of God’s creations—not the polluted stench of mankind’s rebellion which is evidenced by the low-moral standards portrayed on television, various forms of media (including trendy social media), and nearly every aspect life.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things arenoble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
I also recommend you do not engage in conversation with the devil. We are to flee from him, not get into a confrontation with him. Do not underestimate the devil’s power. Of course God is all-powerful and can circumvent everything that comes against us, but we need not set ourselves up for intense spiritual battles with the enemy.
We have enough battling going on even when we ignore God’s greatest enemy. We are to submit to the Lord, place our full attention on Him, and do our best to avoid things that contradict Him.
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
To remind you of how bold the devil can be, please carefully read the following Scriptures. If he was this blatantly pushy with Jesus Christ, who is God, just imagine how ruthless he is when dealing with mere humans.
Satan Tempts Jesus
“Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”
Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”
Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”
We should directly quote Scripture when we do have to address the devil, when we are faced with demonic attacks. Notice, Jesus always quoted Scripture when dealing with the devil.
“Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:10).
“But He [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).
It is wonderful that you are reading your Bible, but it is imperative that you make an all-out-effort to spend consistent time reading the Scriptures alone without the back and forth comparisons of other non-Christian books/teachings. What is the point of continuing to read unbiblical jargon when you say you already have concluded that the Word of God is far superior to all of them?
The negative thoughts about God that you are having will stop—once you methodically spend time exclusively in Scripture and let go of other material that does not support biblical truth. Please be careful how you spend your time. Don’t watch television unless it is something of historical or biblical value.
And forget the secular entertainment shows and social events. All these things add to the confusion in your mind. The overall message in all forms of media is very anti-God. Choose what you watch and listen to carefully and wisely. We are bombarded with secular godless messages everywhere we turn. Cover and protect yourself with God’s Holy Word.
So many wonderful resources are available that compliment the Holy Scriptures. If you are involved in a good church, please get more involved. You have the Holy Spirit who will minister to you and calm you as you interact less with worldly activities. You cannot heal your mind in your own strength, only in the Lord’s strength. What we think and what we say, does affect us. Who our friends are and what we focus on does matter.
Jesus has promised never to leave or forsake us. Let Him fight this battle of your mind for you. The battle is His to fight. Your job is to be obedient; read and study the Scriptures daily and communicate with Him through fervent heartfelt prayer. The stronger you are in the Word the stronger your mind will become. The Word of God is your most powerful weapon against the forces of darkness.
“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:11-12).
It sounds like you truly love the Lord and do not want to offend Him in any way. By disengaging from worldly influences as much as possible and avoiding non-biblical reading material your mind will become much stronger.
At the moment you are worried about your future eternal destiny because of the negative thoughts you are having about God. It is by claiming the promises of God, which are given in the Bible, that you will be reassured that your future is secure in Christ Jesus. He paid the sin penalty for you and the devil would like nothing more than to keep harassing you and make you believe otherwise.
Dear friend, you can face physical death from this life without fear. God will get you through this difficult time:
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
Although you are going through a season of emotional and mental torment, by meditating on the Scriptures you will be reminded of your position in Christ:
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:14-17).
Nothing, not even death can separate us from the love of God:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 38-39).
Please let go of the need to investigate non-biblical prophecies and teachings, and start today to fill your mind only with the Word of God and godly truths.
“Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5).
And remember, Jesus said, “Follow me.” He is the Word of God made flesh. Follow Him and Him alone and the distractions that are confusing your mind will no longer be an issue.
Please cast all your anxiety on the Lord and your healing will begin:
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
Dear friend, please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing. I will be praying with you. God loves you so very much. Take your Bible everywhere you go. Read it as often as possible. Memorize Scripture and make it an integral part of yourself.
You are closer than you think, to reconciling God’s peace in your heart and mind. Your struggle will be a great help to others. Sometimes we must travel through territory that seemingly feels as if we have abandoned God, but He will never let us go if we are contrite in spirit, as you are.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
I have a friend who was going through a similar, tough time and she even used to place her Bible under her pillow every night, prayed fervently and in a short time her mind was healed from the attacks of the enemy and even her own self-doubts. I am confident that you too, will feel much better soon.
In God’ love,
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
January 4, 2016
I enjoy reading your great column and your detailed biblical responses and so does my wife. I am generally a happy person, and committed to the Lord and my family. My wife and I have been married for 18 years and we have two boys (12 and 14). I wonder if you can suggest how I can be even more joyfully committed to the Lord.
We go to a good church but sometimes I find myself drifting away from God, spending time with my unsaved buddies and not quite being where I need to be as the leader of my family. My wife is a great person and I want to do better for her and our kids. I am also confused about what it means to meditate.
Thank you for any suggestions and insights you might have.
I am very happy to hear that you are interested in strengthening your faith and leading your family in a more consistent focused way. You have the right attitude and surely God will bless you for your desire to better serve Him and your loved ones.
Here is my first suggestion. We’ll take it straight from Scripture, from Psalm 1:
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
The word “blessed” could be translated “happy” or “joyful.” The way to be happy and joyful is plainly seen in Psalm 1. The psalmist makes it clear that we can have an abundant, joyful Christian life by doing three things:
1. “Blessed is the man that does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [ungodly].” That is, we should not take the advice (counsel) of the humanistic society of the day; people who do not consider the true God of the Bible in every aspect of their lives.
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that” (James 4:13-15).
James is saying that the blessed (happy) person will steer clear of the human behavior, the trendy philosophy of today—which says, “Do your own thing” or “If it feels good, do it.” Instead we should heed the Lord’s guidance in all we do, according to His perfect will. To able to discern His guidance we must be in tune with Him through a regular prayer life and the comprehension of His written Word by carefully studying the Bible with the leading of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).
2. The psalmist says, the blessed (happy) man does not “stand in the way of sinners.” This means we live a disciplined life. We realize that there are two ways, which we can choose to live: The fleshly worldly way or the spiritual way. A joyful person seeks to live on the spiritual level.
“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:16-17).
Happy, joyful Christians who do not “stand in the way of sinners” realize that though we are children of God, we are still in the flesh and that Satan tries to excite that flesh in many different ways but they do not habitually give into the fleshly desires. The apostle Paul said:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
In the next three verses Paul shows that there is a much higher level – the happy, joyful level which the Christian should seek to live, as you are seeking, Kevin:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22-24).
Paul’s disciplined living is seen in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
3. The child of God will never “sit in the seat of scoffers.” The scoffer is the one who casts doubt and mocks the truthfulness of God’s Word. The scoffer or scorner is one who makes a myth out of the early chapters of the book of Genesis. He or she laughs at the idea that the universe and mankind are direct creations of God.
Scoffers cannot accept God’s miracles of the Bible. So, the person who lives the happy joyful Christian life will be one who readily accepts and believes the entire Bible as the revealed Word of God, and has no trouble whatsoever accepting it as the true and accurate Word of God.
As we study Psalm 1, the psalmist goes on to show that it is not enough not to do certain things, but there must be some positive things that are brought into our lives by focusing on the Word of God continuously:
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2).
What David emphasizes in Psalm 1 is so clearly expressed in Romans 12 where God, first of all, tells us to offer our bodies:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
The Lord wants us to give Him our everything—our minds, emotions, ambitions, all of what and who we are. We can do this by regenerating and renewing our minds though meditating on God’s Word:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
The psalmist says:
“Happy is the man who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night.”
And Paul says:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
The way to renew our minds is through purposeful prayer, by reading and studying (mediating) on God’s Word. I am not talking about the passive, emptying of the mind or repetitive mantra types of meditation used by various cults, religions and philosophies.
These types of meditation are not of God but are accepted and hyped by much of the world today. Emptying the mind of everything is a dangerous process. Jesus Himself described the danger in doing that in Matthew 12:43-46:
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
The words spoken by Jesus describe what can happen to a person who empties their mind and creates an opening for demonic spirits to enter, using the repetitive types of “meditation” by uttering a name (mantra) or specific words. This is nothing less than a form of mind-control (brainwashing), mind-numbing techniques that can open up a gateway for demonic activity.
Meditation in the Bible is exactly the opposite. It is setting one’s mind on the truth of the Word of God, a conscious and deliberate action focusing on God’s Holy Scriptures with a heart of devotion and purpose. The word meditation can be confusing because of the way the New Age cults and other non-Christian groups use it. But mediating the biblical way is a must in order to grow as a believer.
When you do this, Kevin, you will find your leadership qualities at home sharpening and you will find your unsaved “buddies” less and less interesting. Instead of doing whatever they are doing with them, you will find yourself talking to them about the risen Savior and one of two things will happen:
They will listen and come to faith in Christ at some point or they will stop including you in their lives. If they begin to cool off the friendship because of your faith—you are better off without them.
As believers we are not to make the unsaved our close friends. Our role is to witness to them and love them but not partake in their inner circles (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 15:13).
“And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you’” (2 Corinthians 6:15-17).
The best antidote to worldliness and our quest to grow closer to God—is to give our all to Him by meditating on and memorizing His Word, and praying with a heart of worship and gratitude. Stay close to Jesus and He will stay close to you. I also suggest that you and your wife together get involved in some sort of ministry at your church (since you mentioned that you go to a good church). You can be a blessing to many by giving of yourselves to others.
The more we share God’s love by giving of ourselves; the more joyous and fulfilled our own lives will become. Many good pastors have an overload of work and responsibilities but not enough people to pitch in and help. Perhaps you should ask your pastor what you and your wife can do that would benefit your church the most.
And be sure you are part of the men’s group at your church fellowshipping with other men who love the Lord. The fact that you are reaching out and want to grow more in the Lord is a wonderful testimony showing your love for the Him and your family.
Spend some time together regularly with your family at least two or three times each week, reading and studying the Bible together as a family. Make it a fun time by sharing God’s Word together.
Include creative ways to share some good DVDs on Bible prophecy relating to today’s news. Lead your family in a way where they can see how that biblical prophecies are being fulfilled right before of our eyes. Search the Scriptures together.
Encourage your family by reminding them that this world is but a vapor, and the world to come when Jesus rules and reigns during the 1000-year millennium will be so spectacular that it cannot even be explained or understood by our limited human minds.
All the troubles and concerns that we have now here on this earth will be totally gone, forever. Encourage your boys to pray together, and spend time with your wife praying with her. You could also start a small youth ministry in your home, which would be great for your boys.
I think far too many people think of spending time with the Lord as dessert; maybe going to church once a week, reading the Bible here and there when it is convenient. We need to think of doing the Lord’s work and growing in His Word as the main course, every day of our lives. We should hunger to learn more about Him and enthusiastically share His Word with the unsaved world in these last days.
I encourage you to carefully and thoughtfully “meditate” on the following Scriptures to strengthen and guide you as you delve deeper into your commitment with Christ:
“How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9).
Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).
“Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts.
I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:97-104).
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
“My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word” (Psalm 119:148).
“I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word” (Psalm 119:16).
God bless you, Kevin, and let me know how you are doing as you move ahead taking new steps to invigorate your relationship with Christ, and as you lead your family forward in family devotions—giving glory to our faithful and awesome Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.
In God’s love,
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
December 28, 2015
I know that God forgives and forgets our sins, but how do we? If our sins or decisions in life have caused others pain, how do we forgive ourselves and move on? If those people do not want to even hear an apology, what are we to do? I also worry that I have hurt their spiritual walk when I think of the verse that says we need to forgive or God won’t forgive us.
I would never want to put anyone in that position but fear my past decision has done just that. I feel this is keeping me frozen in guilt and hindering my witnessing about God’s love and saving grace to others. I know how short time is and we are nearing the Rapture so I’m trying to get the word out, but feel I’m in a battle with my past. Any suggestions?
Self-forgiveness is one of the hardest things, especially for those who are truly growing in the Lord and take their faith seriously. No relationship can evolve without forgiveness and repentance. Once we are saved and understand the enormous struggles people have in this corrupt world, our compassion should grow—along with the desire to please the Lord and love others. It certainly sounds like you have reached that point.
The first thing we can do is try our best to make right the wrongs which we have caused. If you hurt someone in any way, go to them and apologize and then make restitution. Once you do that you will find it much easier to forgive yourself. If the person you wronged does not want to hear an apology from you, you can write your apology and mail it to them. Making an apology is important whether it is in person or by mail.
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
By attempting to communicate by whichever method seems most appropriate, you will have said what needs to be said and you can move forward. Pray that the Lord will touch the person you are trying to make amends to, and that He will give that person a sense of acceptance.
If the person ignores you or refuses to accept your apology, then you must rest assured that you have done your part. Everyone makes mistakes and it is those who make a point of trying to make reparations, they are doing the right thing and honoring the Lord.
Jesus commanded us to forgive others in the Disciple’s Prayer (Matthew 6:12). Once we do that there is nothing more we can do. We cannot change a person’s heart, attitude or make anyone love us. Once you have apologized you can also tell that person you want their friendship and fellowship and ask them if there is anything you can do above and beyond apologizing to bring about reconciliation.
If the person says, “No” and shuts you out, then you have done everything you can. At that point you must let go and totally let God take it from there.
In our walk with the Lord we will meet many people. Some are sincere and devoted believers and some are not. Those who carry anger and malice in their hearts toward others are either spiritual infants or unsaved. How a person responds and treats another says a lot about the condition of their relationship with the Lord. As I have said many times, we cannot change people but God can.
On this earth there is not one person alive who at some time has not offended another. As far as hindering a person’s spiritual walk, once we have apologized and made our amends we have done our part. We are not responsible for how a person responds or acts. Keep in mind that the devil and his demonic armies are experts are making us feel guilty and want to keep us feeling emotionally paralyzed so we don’t share the gospel and become useless to God.
Don’t let this happen to you. As long as you have reached out, repented and done everything you can to address any harm you may have brought upon others, then you are not guilty. It would be beneficial for you to focus on some Scriptures dealing especially with forgiveness. P> This guilt you are feeling is essentially crossing over into the area of fear. Fear can totally immobilize us.
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
We need not fear when God is our helper:
So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
It sounds like you know in your head that the Lord has forgiven you—so please take that to heart as well, so you can fully receive His blessings. Also, moving forward has to do with trust. Do we really trust the Lord to work in a situation after we have done everything humanly possible?
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The Lord is always faithful. His mercies are new every morning:
“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24).
We are to always place our hope and trust in the Lord. When we mediate day and night on His Word we will no longer be pulled to and fro. In Him we are new creations and by His stripes we are healed! What a marvelous and awesome God we serve. In Christ we are made free, we are no longer enslaved to the past or the ways of the world. The Lord tells us to let go of the past:
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you” (Philippians 3:12-15).
Regardless of the circumstances (the details will vary and differ), our best and only solution is to take the Word of God and use it as He has instructed us to, and day by day in God’s strength—through His grace—He will heal us from whatever ails us.
My struggling friend, you are not alone. At times we all struggle with various issues and the answer is always the same. We must wholeheartedly trust the Lord that He will intervene and take care of every last detail. Our job is to stay faithful to Him and grow in His Word.
Let the Holy Spirit take over and give you the peace you need. The peace of God comes through praying in faith and studying His Holy Word. Praise Him and thank Him in all things. The more you praise and worship the Lord the more at peace you will be.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Keep your mind focused on Him and not on the present or past circumstances, and you will be strengthened:
“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. “Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock” (Isaiah 25:3-4).
Please take great comfort knowing that Christ died for the very reason you are grieving, for your self-guilt and remorse, for all the sin in our lives—that is why our great Lord and Savior died on the cross in our place. He does not wish for us to go through life bogged down by our past mistakes.
I will leave you with some Scriptures to encourage you, verses relating to forgiveness. Please study them and memorize them: Isaiah 1:18, 44:22-23; Psalm 32:1-2, 32:5, 103:12; Colossians 1:13-14; Ephesians 1:7-8.
Decide today to let go of the past, you cannot change any of it. Begin today to give your all to the Lord and He will set you free from the chains that are keeping you from living fully in His joy.
God bless you and keep you. Keep reaching out to Him. His comfort, His merciful and forgiving heart is always near. Don’t let the enemies of God steal your joy.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
In God’s love,
Esther “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
December 21, 2015
I wonder if you could help me with advice regarding church—finding the right one. I have lived in U.S, for five years and so far I have visited two churches here in my new home town. I stopped going to the first church because it seemed to old school for me. The second church I visited, is a young church and all the staff members are young. The pastor is my age, and to be specific that is 30 years old.
I really like this church, but the only thing that causes me to search for another is the fact that the pastor does not like animals, and he seems irritated about their existence. Speaking harshly from the pulpit toward God’s creation repulses me. I assume you already deduced that I love animals, and not only do I love animals, but both my husband and I are animal rights activists.
Most of my friends are animal lovers and animal rights activists. Unfortunately some of them to a extreme where the animals becomes like idols, “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Romans 1:22-23).
I do not feel comfortable with the pastor not liking animals because someday I hope my husband will also join me at church. So when I’m looking for a church, I look for one where my husband will also feel comfortable. My husband already knows that the pastor is not fond of animals; the pastor himself expressed that to him, when he once came with me to a church event after the worship service.
I have a “healthy love” toward animals, and Jesus is and will always be my first love. I am just torn between my husband and friends that love animals, and my church with a pastor that does not like animals. What should I do?
God bless you,
What a strange situation you describe. It sounds like your pastor needs to learn about loving God’s creations that are part of the animal kingdom. I can understand why you would feel uncomfortable going to the church which he pastors. It is wonderful that you are concerned about animals rights, but I also encourage you to make reaching others for Christ your number one priority.
Animals are often mistreated and animal cruelty does exist but your pastor has a very unusual problem, which seems to be an abnormal dislike toward all of them—which is very puzzling. Have you ever asked him why he feels this way?
Socially liberal persons might give your pastor a pass and make excuses for him and say that an animal must have tied him to a tree and tortured him, or they might say the pastor dislikes animals because his mother abused him by making him eat raw hamburger every night. A distorted liberal mind is capable of saying such nonsense and actually believing it.
Except for a situation where the pastor may have been savagely attacked by an animal which would cause him to be fearful, his attitude is very bazaar. It doesn’t sound like he is afraid, it sounds like he has a flawed mindset.
We cannot all like the same people or animals, but to be as vocal as your pastor is against all animals is disturbing. I wonder how he really feels about people...
I am glad to hear you are looking for a new church. Finding a good Bible believing church can be a challenging undertaking these days. Far too many churches are “feel good” social clubs with little attention paid to the true teachings of Christ. But if you persevere and pray for guidance, you might find a good place where you can worship with other dedicated believers.
It is good that you understand that your other animal loving friends are taking their animal rights activism to an extreme point where they are idolizing animals. Christ is the only One worthy of such adulation. Please be careful that you do not get swayed by these friends. The people we spend time with can influence us more than you might think.
Satan is always looking for an opening to pull believers away from the Lord any way he can. Stand firm in your faith and read your Bible often and spend a lot of time with the Lord in prayer. You also mention your husband, that you hope to get him to go to church, and that he came with you to your current church only once for a social event.
I hope he will spend more time with you seeking a new church and attending it regularly. But it is much more important to have a personal relationship with the Lord through salvation in Christ and being born-again by the Spirit of God. Does your husband understand the gospel and that we must be born-again from above in order to enter heaven (John 3:1-21)?
The evidence of a true born-again relationship with the Lord is a changed life where pleasing Him comes first above all else. It is wonderful to be concerned about animals but our primary enthusiasm should be for the Lord, and to reach others for Him while there is still time.
Salvation does not come by attending church but by accepting Christ as Savior and committing our lives to Him. But being plugged into a good church can be very beneficial in serving the Lord, for cultivating spiritual maturity and worshipping together with other believers.
Reaching others for Christ is very important, especially since we are living in the last days. If you can’t find a good church try to create a situation where you and your husband meet with other believers for Bible study and fellowship on a regular basis.
If you follow the guidelines below from a statement of faith submitted to us at Rapture Ready by Rick and Desiree Effner, you will have a solid guideline when searching for a new church. Be sure to study the Bible verses they have included.
Statement of Our Christian Faith
We believe in one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He created everything out of nothing, in six 24-hour days, for His own pleasure and purpose.
The Triune God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The nation of Israel is a different entity than the church of Christ. A Jew is someone who is descended from Abraham, through Isaac, Jacob and one of the twelve sons of Jacob.
We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God, inerrant and infallible in the original languages. They are the supreme and final authority in matters of faith and life, interpreted by the Holy Spirit to each individual believer.
We believe that man was created in the image of God. When Adam and Eve sinned, men and women became alienated from God. Mankind is incapable of remedying his sinful condition and restoring his relationship with God by his own means. Everyone born since Adam, except Jesus Christ, is born a sinner under judgment of death.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin, Mary. He is fully man and fully God. Christ is the complete fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. He is the Messiah of Israel and of the world.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, fully pleasing to His Father and in complete obedience to the Law, thus making Him solely qualified to be the Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world. He died for our sins on the cross, bearing the judgment demanded by God’s holy justice against sin, thus making it possible for God to remain just and at the same time the justifier of those who believe in Jesus Christ.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead, never to die again, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. There He intercedes as High Priest and Advocate on behalf of all who believe in Him.
We believe that salvation is only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and by no merit of one’s own. Those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ are miraculously born-again of the Holy Spirit and become children of God, by adoption; salvation is secure in Christ and cannot be lost if one is truly born-again.
The New Covenant, given through Jeremiah, is to the Jews. In addition to the Jews, salvation is offered to Gentiles, on an equal basis. Therefore, Gentiles share equally in God’s salvation.
We believe that the Holy Spirit baptizes all true believers into the one true Church—Christ’s Body of believers. The Holy Spirit indwells them, bestowing spiritual gifts upon them and empowering them for service and holy living.
The foundation of the church is Jesus Christ. The apostles built on that foundation. The canon of Scripture was closed with the apostle John’s last work. God is no longer gifting the church with apostles. The faith once delivered to the saints can have no additions, subtractions or changes. God always leads in conformity to his written Word. Anyone now claiming the office of apostle or prophet is false.
We believe that God, through His Word, promises to those who believe, all things pertaining to life and godliness. This includes salvation from the penalty of sin, instruction in righteousness for present sanctification, and victorious living to the glory of God.
We believe that at death the souls of the redeemed pass immediately into Christ’s presence, to remain there until the resurrection of the Body at Christ’s return for the Church. We also believe that at death the souls of the lost go to hell. They will remain there until they are brought before God’s Great White Throne where they will be judged according to their works and cast into the lake of fire. Their ensuing separation from God is eternal.
We believe in the bodily resurrection of the redeemed at the pre-millennial return of Christ for His Church, prior to the Tribulation. The souls and spirits of those who have died will be reunited with their bodies, having taken on immortality. Believers who are alive at that time will likewise have their bodies transformed. They, too, will be caught up together with them to meet Christ in the air, ever to be with Him.
We believe the two ordinances instituted by Jesus Christ are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Neither of these are essential to salvation. They should be observed in obedience to our Lord by all believers until His return.
We believe in the personal, bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Soon after He will establish His millennial kingdom and reign over the earth for 1000 years. His redeemed will reign with Him.
During the millennial kingdom, God’s purposes for Israel will be realized. The promises and prophecies God made to the Patriarchs regarding the Jews will be fulfilled in faithfulness to His covenants; these refer to the land and nation of Israel.
We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Great Commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19)
Even so, come quickly, Lord!
Please read these verses in the Bible. They will get you started on the path to salvation:
The exclusiveness of Jesus Christ: John 14:6; Acts 4:12.
God’s love for you: John 3:16; Romans 5:8.
All people have sinned: Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10; Psalm 53:1-3; Psalm 14:3.
God has provided a remedy: Romans 6:23 and 10:13; John 1:12, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Revelation 3:20.
Now that you have read the statement of faith above, please keep in mind that there is no perfect church because there are no perfect people. I don’t know what you mean when you mentioned visiting another church that was too “old school.” Sometimes a place where old-fashioned, good solid no-frills teaching takes place is the best place where a person can grow in the Lord.
The pastor must teach the whole counsel of God and not just bits and pieces of Scripture. The authentic heart condition of the leaders in the church is essential in order to truly serve the Lord with obedience to Him. Avoid places that are heavily into social programs and “feel-good” sermons that water down the gospel.
I am also including a very helpful link to Grace Church in California; their foundational statement of faith which you and your husband can study:
It is my heartfelt prayer that you and your husband will find a way to worship the Lord and make a full commitment together to walk with Him above all else. If you cannot find a suitable place to worship, as I said before, create your own. Gather together other believers who are serious about their faith and meet with them regularly in each other’s homes.
When looking for a new church it is also a good idea to attend a number of services in order to get a better idea of what transpires on various days when services are offered. And be sure to ask the pastor for his statement of faith and see how well it lines up with what you have read here and at the very important link I cited to Grace church.
Wishing you God’s greatest blessings.
In God’s love,
“And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:24-25).
December 14, 2015
I just want to start out by thanking you for your column. I read it every week and just this week I wondered how on earth you remain so grounded when the people around seem so oblivious to the possible end of their lifestyles, as we know life on earth today. Then reading your replies, I am struck by your compassion and commitment.
Onto my dilemma, which seems similar in fact to what I said above, because some days I honestly feel like packing up and going home to heaven! I am just so sick and tired of banging my head against the proverbial brick wall. I watch my family around me and the tears flow, Esther. They know the Lord’s requirements, they even know the Rapture is ahead but oh how little time they spend dwelling on the implications that will affect others once it hits.
I am sure I am not alone in my battle. The Lord is definitely there and many other Christians are also there. My question is what more can I do?
I pray, I talk; in fact my kids tell me I eat sleep and dream of that day. I honestly try not to concern myself too much with the salvation of my own children, because the Lord Himself has given me His promise to bring them to heaven (Jeremiah 31:16-17). But some days I interfere in God’s plan and out of frustration get angry and want to shake them up to the reality.
Thankfully those days are very few, and most times I am able to pray and remind the Lord of His promise and my soul is still. Esther, I weep and pray daily for those in the shopping malls, those driving along nonchalantly with no clue. I sometimes get so I cannot sleep for long periods. In fact, I try go to bed early but this hurt just keeps pressing in and I lay awake agonizing over the fate of those left behind.
I see the people running to and fro actually going nowhere and I listen to their plans which do not include our Lord. I feel as though I cannot bear it. It is actually an agony to go to church and hear the pastor not give ONE warning, ONE altar call. I feel like jumping out of my seat in frustration. I am shocked at what I see around me and am devastated to know that that day will break soon.
I feel so absolutely helpless apart from the time spent in prayer. I look forward to leaving this world but it’s like being torn apart to know that there are those who will be left behind. Is it normal? I know our Lord is in control and He will bring many fellow children into His kingdom after the Rapture, but why would they want to be so stubborn and take the long way, the difficult way?
I rejoice that our Lord’s provision for a great multitude are destined for salvation after the Rapture and pray that the many that I keep hammering while on earth will be joining me soon. I often feel excited to see just who (out of the many I’ve mailed, texted and spoken to) will be there, and it humbles my soul enough to make me double my efforts while there is still time. I appreciate and pray for each and every saint who labors in the field to bring in the harvest.
I spend a lot of time alone just talking to God that sometimes feels I am so heavenly-minded as to be of no earthly use. Is this possible? Oh, how my heart breaks over my fellow human beings who are being led like sheep straight into the devil’s slaughter house. .
Have I lost my balance? Oh I pray not. I sometimes want to go and hide in a cave just to be with the Lord and not see the pain of those around me. The Lord has been so good to me, blessed me through many trials and tribulations and has kept me from many temptations and held my mind in His pathways.
Esther I am praying for you in these times where just being on earth can overwhelm even the saints.
Frustrated and Overwhelmed
Dear Frustrated and Overwhelmed,
Thank you for your kind words of appreciation and for your thoughtful prayers. All the glory goes to God for it is truly His grace and guidance that makes this ministry possible. The Lord is my strength and my refuge.
What you are experiencing is an obvious testament to these last days. The condition of the world is just how Jesus said it would be; a time of apathy and self-indulgence with little or no thought by even some professing Christians about His soon return, or reaching others for Him. Instead, too many are concerned with keeping up with the latest social trends and expanding their wallets for selfish reasons.
I am sorry you are having these frustrations within your own family. Far too many people simply do not have true compassion and have a disconnected attitude when it comes to caring about others. It is also evident that many people are not saved. How we conduct our daily lives and treat others is a reflection of our lost or saved condition.
It is going to be difficult to find a lot of truly dedicated Christians because we are living in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-9). If you do not find a sister in the Lord to fellowship with, you know you have Jesus to pour your heart out to. People will always let us down, but God never will.
Our perspective must change if we are to emotionally survive the disappointing dynamics of this cursed world. Instead of allowing the frustration of the situation to take over our lives, we can use this time to grow deeper in our personal walk with the Lord and depend solely on Him. The sweet fellowship of the Lord will drown out our cries of exasperation and disappointment. So keep praying as you are, but emotionally let go of what you yourself cannot change.
The idea that we can always have a strong support system and meaningful fellowship with others is not something we can count on. Far too many people are caught-up in lifestyles that place the Lord in the backseat instead of the driver’s seat. Try to think of the void with your family members as an opportunity to move yourself to a deeper level of prayer and communication with the Lord.
Through Him we are made strong by meditating on His Word day and night (Joshua 1:8). As we deepen our relationship with Him we are freed from the mind-bending attitudes of others. We must allow Him to deal with those we cannot reach. It is through our fervent prayers by petitioning the Lord for others—that we can give our best. Remember, the Scriptures teach that the Word of God is more powerful than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).
Trying to talk some sense into a vessel that is filled with worldly distractions and self- indulgence is an exercise in futility. Praying is much more effective, so you are already on the right track. Keep praying! Part of the problem is the lack of leadership in the churches, the lack of true biblical teaching. You mention that your pastor does not even give altar calls or speak about the warning signs of these last days.
This is not uncommon although there still are some good churches where the pastor will give altar calls and teach directly from the Bible verse-by-verse. Please see if you can find a better church in your area. If not, then you might need to start a home Bible study—if you can gather together a few like-minded people.
I am perplexed by your citing, Jeremiah 31:16-17. That promise was to the people of Israel in that day. It is not a promise which we can claim today. Children who reach the age of accountability are not automatically saved because a parent is saved. If your children are preteens you should try to spend time with them in prayer and in reading the Bible. The Word of God tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God:
“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:16-17).
Only the Lord knows the age of accountability for each child—depending on their maturity and ability to comprehend the need to make a conscious decision for Christ by being born-again. We are all individually accountable to the Lord to either accept Him or reject Him. If your children are teens or adults you can talk about the Lord when the Holy Spirit gives you an opening. Try to get them involved with you in serious Bible study. If they do not respond just keep praying and trusting in God to reach them.
No parent is given a guarantee that their children will be saved. Children are not punished for the sins of their parents and vice-versa:
“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).
And righteous parents cannot save their children by their righteousness:
“Even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,” declares the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 14:14).
“Even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘They could not deliver either their son or their daughter. They would deliver only themselves by their righteousness’” (Ezekiel 14.20).
It is evident that the Lord has given you a strong desire to reach the lost. Your compassion is extraordinary. Your obedience to share the gospel and warn others of the trouble ahead shows your deep love for the Lord. But instead of being frustrated by the blind leading the blind try to reach out to those who might actually listen.
Take a good look around your community and see if there is an opportunity where you can talk to people about the Lord. Share your testimony and then explain to them how they can be saved. A good gospel tract is helpful when trying to reach others. You can give them to people you meet when you are out.
You should give serious consideration to attending a different church, one that has an evangelistic outreach that you can be part of. If there are no churches where you live that have an outreach program ask your pastor to start one and volunteer to be part of it. If he says no, then your home Bible study group would be your next best option.
You are doing what all Christians should do—being heavenly-minded (Colossians 3:1-2). If you are not sharing the gospel when the Holy Spirit opens the door, then you are of no earthly good. If you are sharing the gospel and no one is being saved that is not your fault. God saves souls. Our job is to sow seeds and share the salvation message. God will take care of the rest.
As long as you are in prayer throughout the day (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17) and you are in the Word throughout the day (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:15) you are doing all you can. The rest is up to the Lord and the free will choices of others.
If you hunger (Deuteronomy 8:3) and thirst for the Word (Psalm 42:1-12; 63:1) every day and live a holy life (1 Peter 1:15-16) and have walked in God’s steps (Job 23:12) that is all you can do. And if you consider how to stimulate others to love and do good works (Hebrews 10:24-25) and they do not respond—it is not your fault, but keep praying for them.
Dear friend, you are doing what you are commanded to do. Trust God to do the rest. He knows best how to reach each person at exactly the right time. Your efforts may very well reap a great harvest. Your faithfulness will surely be rewarded. God bless you for your love and concern for those who are woefully lost.
Keep fighting the good fight and trust that the Lord is working in the lives of those whom you have held up before His throne in prayer. We might not see immediate results, but the preliminary groundwork is very important.
We must trust Him to do what we cannot. Being overly attached to the end-results of our labor is not something that will benefit us. (From therein stems your frustration.) Once you alert others to the lateness of the hour and have shared the gospel, let God take over. Be encouraged dear friend, your hard work will reap many benefits. And be sure to share the gospel with your children too, so they can make a personal decision for Christ when they are mature enough to do so.
“Thus says the LORD: “Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy” (Jeremiah 31:16).
In God’s love,
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).
December 7, 2015
I am 19 years old. My mother has raised me as a Christian but my father is not really a believer. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I turned 17 and was very involved in our youth group at my church. My dad tells me that just because certain things are in the Bible, it does not mean they are true.
I know he is wrong but there is always this uncomfortable distance between us. How can I convince him that he is wrong? Or is it better not to say much? I have told him I think he is wrong and he gets mad. I always stand up for the truth in God’s Word.
I don’t want my dad to end up in hell. He thinks that hell is a myth. Sometimes he talks about Jesus as if he believes in Him but then does not accept the Bible as truth. I attend a Christian college and I feel that the Lord may be calling me to be pastor. I don’t think my father will be too happy about that. I want to be true to the Lord and also not cause conflict with my father.
Thank you for writing. Your father is accountable to the Lord for what he believes, as we all are. Your concern for him is heartfelt. The best thing you can do, is continue to live your life as best you can, following godly principles. You are not causing this conflict. This is not about you.
The distance you feel is there because he rejects the very things that are so important to you and are truly life and death salvation issues. To his credit, he has not stopped you from attending a Christian college, so for that you should be very grateful.
It sounds like your father is confused like so many other people. Of course you would like him to understand that the Bible is God’s holy Word, but since he is not accepting this truth right now the very best thing you can do is pray for him. Many people have come to the Lord through intercessory prayer.
When someone is very closed to the Bible, the best thing we can do is faithfully hold that person up before the throne of God. Patience is required, but by doing this you will be actively and consistently doing the work of a prayer warrior. If you can think of yourself in that way, it will help you feel like something very significant is being done to help open your father’s eyes.
In some of my other responses I have suggested that sharing Bible prophecy is a pragmatic way to point-out-evidence for biblical truth. Sometimes even that is difficult when someone has a hardened heart and only wants to hear what they want to hear. Since your dad gets angry when you tell him he is wrong, it might be best to choose your words more carefully.
Instead of telling him he is wrong, if an opportunity arises you could point out prophecies that have been fulfilled. The reestablishment of the nation of Israel is a great example. Search out as many fulfilled prophecies as you can find in the Old Testament and document them.
Tom, it sounds like you are well-grounded in the Lord and have a great future ahead. If you feel the Lord is calling you to be a pastor, then everything will come together for you in that regard. By your good example, living your life true to God’s teachings, your father will see that you are very serious about your faith and there is a good chance that he may begin to look more carefully into why his son has made a choice to serve the Lord. You could be the very catalyst that the Lord will use to break his stubborn spirit.
I am so sorry that you have this conflict with your father but we serve a great and mighty God and our prayers are heard and answered. The Lord has given you what sounds like outstanding leadership abilities. We need great young men like you to lead others. Realize that there will be a “distance” between you and your father unless he comes to faith.
This has nothing to do with you, personally; so when it gets to a point where you might feel totally frustrated with the situation, know that your father’s rejection of the Bible is not a rejection of you.
By being kind and loving toward your father, you will be setting a good example of Christian love. Never take any attacks against the Word of God by him as an attack against you. And remember what Jesus said on the cross, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”
Your father is spiritually lost and does not realize the great danger he is in. This is a time to trust the Lord with all your heart and not lean unto your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). The Lord knows exactly what your father needs to bring him to faith. Keep praying and trusting and rely upon your heavenly father for guidance and strength. And dare to pray for great things, as did Elijah:
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:17-18).
God bless you!
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 15:16b).
November 30, 2015
This is my first time ever writing you, I really hope you can help. I’ve been on the Rapture Ready website, but today was the first time I really read and studied the “Dear Esther” part.
Anyway, I’m 16 and I live in a very sinful and dangerous neighborhood. Ever since I was about 13 I’ve struggled with religion and trying to figure out if God is real or not. Sometime around January or February I had an epiphany. I had been reading experiences of other people’s experiences with God. I knew God was real.
I began reading my Bible and talking about God with my friends. Everything was so wonderful. I felt so good. This may sound crazy but I believe I became born-again in my living room. I said a prayer for salvation and repentance and I felt something inside of me. It was unexplainable.
I began to pray for my family and friends. I informed my friend Mary about God and His Word (she’s a Christian but doesn’t go to church and I don’t think she really studies the Bible). And my other best friend, Irena had a breakthrough with God as well.
I had been praying for confirmation of my salvation and a month or two later my friend Mary and I both had an experience with the Holy Spirit. It was the best feeling ever! Though all of this was going on, I still had one problem: a porn addiction.
I watched porn, and repented. The process went on and on. I’d stop for a few days or weeks but always go back. I felt shame and questioned my salvation. I took my school finals about a month ago and watched porn multiple times a day to help with stress. I haven’t been able to stop up until a few days ago.
Also I found out that Irena isn’t a Christian. She believes in God and Jesus but thinks that we will be reincarnated and will receive karma in another life. I don’t think she has repented and she doesn’t think God gets disappointed in us or feels any other emotion. Is she saved? She and I are no longer friends due to other issues. Do you think God removed her from my life for a certain reason ?
But back to me, I don’t feel saved anymore. I’m begging God to give me another breakthrough. Can I be reborn a third time? I keep praying but I don’t know if it’s too late? I NEED to go to heaven. I’ve repented and believe in Jesus but I’m not how I was two months ago.
I believe porn ruined my relationship with God and my salvation. What should I do? I keep praying but it seems like nothing’s happening and I’m afraid that God has given up on me, or something. PLEASE help me.
My parents aren’t together. They never got married. My dad is a believer in God but I think he picks and chooses certain things in the Bible to believe. He doesn’t believe in hell and probably a few other things. My mom is a strong believer and very religious and spiritual. I guess I could talk to her but I’m just too scared and ashamed. I have my own room. I live in a two family flat with my mom and I upstairs and my grandma downstairs. I am an only child.
I attend church but many of the members there are somewhat hypocritical and I am the only youth serious about praise. I really don’t have anyone to talk about these things to so talking to you is a relief.
Dear Too Confused,
I am glad you reached out and wrote. I will help you as best I can to try to understand some of the confusion you are dealing with. First, I want to say that our salvation does not depend on our performance.
But of course that does not mean we can willfully, deliberately and habitually involve ourselves in a sinful lifestyle. If we do, then we must examine our selves and see if we are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 3:5).
The real issues are these: Are we really saved? Was our profession of faith truly sincere? Can a saved person ever be lost?
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 20:28-29).
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).
The moment we confess our sins and repent, and make a sincere profession of faith—the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. We can suppress the promptings of the Holy Spirit and grieve the Holy Spirit when we make mistakes and fall, but we don’t lose God’s salvation.
So to answer your question, no you cannot be born-again a third time. Some people walk-away and live sinful lives and then realize how badly they have erred, and will rededicate their lives to the Lord. If you were genuine in your acceptance of the Lord then you are still saved, as long as your are truly repentant.
The confirmation that you are saved is found in God’s Word:
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
A changed life is evidence of true salvation. As God’s Holy Spirit continues to transform us our old nature is crucified and our old way of life, because we are born-again spiritually. The purpose of our lives will become radically changed as we desire to live in obedience to God. The Christian walk is both a way of life and a lifelong journey. It is a continuous process of transformation, growth, learning, and maturing.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:16-17).
“So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must [spiritually] die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:9-13).
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-15).
You need not seek outside “confirmation.” When you wandered off and got caught-up in what you term as your “pornography addiction” you made mistakes and fell into sin, but you did not lose your salvation.
Now if you were to outright deny the Lord and His teachings or think that He is only one of many gods then you would not be saved. So the question would be: Were you ever saved in the first place? But since you are committed to wanting to make the wrong things right and please the Lord and have repented from your sin, then in no way have you been cast out.
A saved person cannot be lost. Jesus died for all our sins: past, present and future. The porn problem has not totally destroyed your relationship with God, but it has grieved the Holy Spirit, and your walk with the Lord is compromised. Remember that our lives are transformed over time and not overnight. What matters most is that you are repentant and moving forward.
It sounds like your own guilt, and the daggers being thrown at you by the devil are making you feel like you have ruined your relationship with the Lord. Once a person is saved and belongs to the Lord, the devil has lost a soul that he hoped would go to hell with him. He knows that a saved person is covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and he cannot change that.
So then his method of harassment is to try to cast doubt and confusion into a person’s mind—to try to make us feel miserable. The thoughts you are having are a good example of the enemy’s method of attack. He wants to make us believe that we are not really saved, that God has abandoned us, or that we are not good enough, and the list goes on and on.
Not one born-again Christian exists that has not fallen at some point in their walk with the Lord. That is where Jesus comes in as our Advocate:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
I don’t know how much television you watch but try to keep it to a minimum, and if you do watch it keep your viewing choices focused on educational programs. Also, you have found out that some things on the Internet are nothing less than the devil’s playground. So many good websites exist that are edifying, and then there is the rampant filth that only demoralizes the masses.
We are living in the end-times. And Satan, the father of lies, is an expert at creating confusion and using any number of distractions to keep us from God’s truths. Also, salvation is not based on feelings or experiences.
It is true sometimes we can feel a prompting of the Holy Spirit when we are saved or when we pray and seek the Lord, but we must be careful not to base faith and our salvation on our feelings—highs and lows. Even Satan can appear as an angel of light to make us think we are having a “godly” experience. When we are seeking emotional “experiences” to solidify our faith we can be led astray.
We live in a society that is stimulation-oriented. The unsaved population as a whole is looking for a “kick”—the next “feel good” experience. That is why substance abuse and a long list of “addictions” are so prevalent. They go from one “thrilling” experience to the next never finding peace of mind.
As far as the pornography, from what you have said it sounds like you have repented. Let me suggest this to you also. How we perceive ourselves has a lot to do with how we function. It sounds like you were absolutely sincere in your confession of faith when you were born-again in your living room.
Realize that you are now a child of God and no longer a casualty of this fallen world. This is no longer your true home. You have been redeemed and you need not think of yourself as part of any wicked neighborhood on this planet.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
It also sounds like you want very much to walk in the right direction. What you need now is to take your faith and begin living by the Lord’s admonitions that are found in the Bible. You are very young, and the peer pressure around you is enormous.
And the fact that you live in a very sinful and dangerous neighborhood makes it even more difficult. But the entire world is a very sinful place. The Lord tells us to be in the world but not be of the world.
I get the sense that this next year or two are going to be very important for you, a time of critical decisions and determination. You may feel lonely at times but this can be a time for you to build great spiritual and emotional strength by having an intimate prayer life with our Savior. As far as your friend Irena, she is very lost and heading down the wrong road. Pray for her that she will realize that there is only one true God—the God of the Bible.
It is best for now that she goes her separate way so she does not have a negative influence on you. The Lord would not want you hanging out closely with someone who places other gods before Him. But the opportunity arises, be sure to tell her that Jesus is the only way to the Father in heaven and that she is being deceived (John 14:6).
Resolve to let go of the past. You are surrounded by unsaved friends at school and in your immediate neighborhood; realize that those same people will most likely not be in your life at all in a few short years. It is a great blessing that you have your own room and that your mother is a believer.
I can understand why you would not want to share the pornography issues with her, but surely you can speak about your faith. Use your time to prepare for your future—to serve the Lord. His will for your life will become clear as you continue to grow in His Word.
Now let all the past negativity go once and for all, and instead of running to wicked websites when stressed—run to the Lord. Grab your Bible and get involved in a ministry where others are also serious about their faith.
Make your room a personal getaway filled with soothing godly music and books that bring glory and honor to the Lord. Make it your refuge from this godless world. When you feel you have no one, go to the Lord in prayer and pour your heart out to Him. Create a place where you can easily sit down and study your Bible on a daily basis.
Your church sounds a bit limited, but somehow there must be some other youth ministries in your city where you can get involved. Ask your mom if you can check around for other Christian youth ministries and churches.
A good church should offer classes in Bible study and discipleship. Check around and see what the options are. Make some phone calls and see how the Lord leads you to connect with others who want to serve the Lord.
God has a plan for your life. Don’t let the weaknesses and lost condition of others drag you down. Perhaps at the church you attend you can get permission to start attending a woman’s Bible study, if they have one.
If you cannot connect with other teens who are serious about the Lord, seek out older women who can take you under their wing. But be sure to check with your mom and get her blessing before you make any decisions about a new church, ministry group or mentors.
I would also encourage you to get water baptized as an outward symbol of your profession of faith. It is imperative that you get involved with other believers, even if it is only one or two people who are as dedicated to the faith as you are. Those people exist in your community, somewhere.
The most important thing is to continue your personal walk with the Lord. Pray all throughout the day. In everything you do, do it unto Him. Consider the fact that our days are numbered on this wicked, broken planet. Keep your heart and mind on the Lord and before you know it we will all be in the Presence of our great and mighty Savior. All these things that are so troubling now will be forever past.
Our society is saturated with godless messages that are all designed or take us away from the truths of God’s holy Word. Pray with all your heart that He will protect you and bring good believers into your life, people you can trust and count on. Be careful what you look at and what you listen to. And be sure you dress modestly.
You are at the point in your life where you are becoming a young lady. These are the years to develop a foundation of abstinence and purity despite any past indiscretions. Never mind what others around you are doing. The right young man, one day—will respect you if you behave in a godly manner and don’t follow the degenerate trends promoted in the media and society in general.
Please keep in touch with me and just because you might not “feel” anything does not mean that the Lord is not with you. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. Depend on Him and His promises, not momentary highs and lows.
We cannot measure our relationship with the Lord by ecstatic and euphoric experiences. The best way to get back in-step with the Lord is by praising Him, praying wholeheartedly and keeping things in perspective by studying His love letter to us—the Holy Bible.
In God’s love,
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).
November 23, 2015
My exams just ended and I’ve been reading the Bible recently again, but more in depth this time... However, I although I do read it daily, I do not exactly have the “hunger for God’s Word.”
And I feel a lot like a Pharisee, one that knows God’s Word, but doesn’t know God. Sure I know the most common Bible verses and my friends do seek me for advise sometimes, but I have a feeling that what drives me to read God’s Word isn’t an honorable one, but more of living up to the expectations of my non-believing friends.
The reason why I want to read the Bible is because I’m really ashamed that even atheists are more well-read in the Bible than Christians, so am I reading the Bible out of pride rather than a hunger for His Word? How can I humble myself? I know God hates prideful people and I’ve asked Him to humble me, but I’m not sure how that’s going to work out.
You are not troubling me at all. Your questions and concerns are important ones. I am glad you are reaching out. Your honest assessment is the first step in getting more excited about the Word of God. Recognizing the issue, as you have, makes it possible for you to get past this slump.
In all my years I can tell you sometimes we can go through peaks and valleys. Sometimes our lack of enthusiasm comes from being tired and even disillusioned with life in general. Have you been overworking yourself with your school work?
Sometimes we get disenchanted with our given circumstances and little by little we can find ourselves not wanting to deal with biblical matters even if it is for a very brief time. Yes, we all go through this on one level or another. So consider this “normal.”
But from previous emails, I know you love the Lord, Zoe and you will not give into living a life of mediocrity and place God on the backburner. We are bombarded daily with negativity and the pressures of life, so it is understandable to want to breakaway even with the things of God for a short time and just not think.
But it is through prayer and sweet fellowship with the Lord that you can rekindle your desire to get wholly into the Word. Zoe, just think... what a miracle you have in your salvation. It did not come cheaply. It is by an attitude of gratitude that you can get excited again for the Lord and His Word. Start counting all your blessings and keep in mind that it is He who supplies all those blessings.
Without God we are lost. His Word is our compass to help us navigate through the steep hills and valleys of this life. Start thanking Him for everything and work up that attitude of gratitude. Sometimes we forget how much we have in Him and become complacent. We must not let that happen or the enemy will come in and cause you to doubt all the truths about God.
The Bible is our treasure. It is our gift from the One who loves us more than we can begin to possibly understand. He has so many messages for us in His Word. When we think of the Bible as a precious gift given to us by the Lord, a very personal one that has tremendous value far beyond anything else we own, then we can better appreciate it.
If you wore a 5 carat diamond ring on your finger would you not take good care of it and feel special like you have something of great value? We cannot place a price tag on the Bible. It has value that cannot be calculated in monetary terms.
Nothing is more important than His Word, His free gift of salvation that comes to us though His Word. Yet so many strive to have that diamond ring not realizing that the Bible is the most valuable treasure that they can own.
Cry out to Him, Zoe, “Abba, Daddy” and ask Him to strengthen you and rekindle you heart to love His Word. By loving His Word, you are loving Jesus, who is the Word.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
You know that Jesus died an agonizing brutal death so we could be reconciled unto Him. You are so very special to the Lord, so special that He died for you and in way that is too painful to fathom; that is how much he treasures you. All He asks is that we accept Him and love Him back by making Him number one in our lives.
Down here, in this fallen world, it is easy to get sidetracked and distracted, and in a sense get numb to the enormity of what Christ did for us on the Cross. We are bombarded by “stuff” daily which can cause barriers to reaching the Lord if we fall for those traps. Let me remind you that the enemy is always looking for those whom he can devour:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
When we are tired of the struggles and all the things that come with living in this fallen world, we must remember to always hone our perspective, our outlook on things in order to maintain our faith and continue to grow in our walk with the Lord.
Zoe, I think you are being a bit hard on yourself but it is very refreshing to see such honesty. You ask how can you humble yourself. You already are humbling yourself by being so straightforward and honest which shows spiritual maturity.
I have seen grown men and women, professing Christians who are old enough to be your grandparents get so prideful and haughty that it is hard to imagine they are truly saved. Your motives are pure unlike many who have self-serving motives. To compare yourself to a Pharisee is quite severe. I would say that you are in a phase of your spiritual growth which is not always accompanied by feelings that show that progress is being made.
Consider the massive numbers of professing Christians who have motives for money, fame, status, notoriety and adulation which reveal their egocentric selves -- which some can easily recognize but many cannot. Many are fooled by self-serving individuals because they are so calculating, devious and are smooth talkers.
These types of individuals may publically speak about God as if they place Him first in their lives but they are really just using God as an avenue to reach their own self-centered goals. They will place their own quest for power and control over anything, including the destruction of faithful genuine believers, and actually betray God Himself with their dishonesty. It is as if some sort of spiritual illness is present within such people, but it is more likely the sin factor, the original sin: pride.
The backstabbing and lying that goes on with some Christians is truly shameful. Yet here you are, a very young genuine believer taking self-inventory instead of taking false inventory of others. God bless you for your authenticity! You are not even close to being a Pharisee. Your honesty exposes those who are using God for their own selfish gain.
I don’t think you are reading the Bible out of pride, I think you are in an impasse. When I was in college and when holiday breaks came, I would always feel like I would lose out on what I had been working so hard on in my various classes until one of my favorite professors reassured me that even while we are away from the work, our minds are working and integrating the newly studied concepts.
It is the same with our spiritual growth. We may not always feel we are making progress and worry that we are simply going through the motions, but as long as our heart motives are pure and without malice, we are moving forward.
I think it would greatly benefit you if you could get away on your own for some reflective time and seek the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. He is there for you, Zoe (Matthew 22:37). Your life source is God—His Word. It is through His Word that we are saved. It is His Word that is powerful in our sanctification.
Take some time now to step back and count all your blessings. Thank God for His great mercy. Praise Him and keep seeking His mercy and guidance. You know we can approach God boldly through Jesus, our High Priest who understands our needs. The Lord understands your frustration and it is He who can bring you through this challenging time.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (Hebrews 4:14).
Be patient with yourself and don’t place pressure on yourself to perform in a certain way. You will come out of this a stronger Christian. It is by praising the Lord with an attitude of gratitude and placing your focus on Him that your enthusiasm for reading God’s Word will return. Never underestimate the power of the Word. It is like a healing balm that soothes discontent, whittles way at apathy and renews a tired spirit. There is power in the Word!
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
God bless you dear Zoe, and get back to me and let me know how you are doing.
All for Him,
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
November 16, 2015
I really, really hope you answer this letter. For years I have been struggling with the concept of God’s safekeeping of His children, using Psalm 91 as a reference. In South Africa, we Christians are still blessed in that we are not yet severely persecuted for our faith. On the flip side, there is a high level of violent crime in the country, and lawlessness prevails.
The reason for my letter is this: How do you pray with unwavering faith for God’s protection, using Psalm 91 as a reference when you read how the early Christians were fed to the lions? Surely they were praying for God’s protection for their lives, notwithstanding all the Christians that are today being put to death for their faith.
I have asked this question to a lot of brothers and sisters, and most of the time, the answer is “You have no faith” or “You might as well stop praying.”
Esther, this is not a letter where I am trying to catch you out or to prove the Bible wrong or something like that. I was born-again years ago, but this subject of God’s protection is really holding me back and is the cause of much distress in my life.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and for your great willingness to help God’s people.
You are asking a question that has been asked since Cain murdered Abel (Genesis 4:1-8). We must find the answer in the Bible. And please keep in mind that we live in a fallen world, a spiritual battlefield where the enemies of God relentlessly wreak havoc at every opportunity. None of us are exempt from tribulation in this world.
The best place to start to understand this age-old dilemma is in Hebrews chapter 11, known as the Hall of Faith. Everyone listed in that chapter was a faithful believer in God who “died in faith” (v. 13). They understood that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth (v. 13).
They were looking forward to their eternal home with Jesus Christ (vv. 14-16), the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-22:5). Moses gave up his position and the wealth of Egypt to suffer persecution with the people of God (vv. 24-26). Many other men of faith suffered persecution and death (vv. 36-37).
Paul was the greatest apostle who wrote fourteen books of the New Testament. He suffered more persecution than any of the Apostles (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). All of the Apostles were persecuted and all but John and Paul died as martyrs.
We must keep in mind that all believers who truly desire to live for the Lord will be persecuted in one way or another (2 Timothy 3:12), and that we were all called to suffer persecution just as Jesus did (1 Peter 2:20-21). This is a hard concept for us to accept but the Lord promises He will be with us through persecution. That is essentially what we can gain from reading Psalm 91, and other encouraging Scriptures.
Psalm 91 is one of my favorite passages. I read it often. It is one of many Scriptures that give us hope and remind us that we are not alone; that the Lord is with us no matter what, and that His heavenly angels also watch over us.
Yet we live in a fallen world. We must also remember that since we are all sinners it is often through trials, tribulations and persecution that we are sanctified and strengthened. Please study the following passages carefully to see this truth:
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:2-5).
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-12).
Jesus said that those who follow Him will receive great rewards in the life to come, but will also suffer persecution (Mark 10:29-30).
We must be careful not to become obsessed with impending doom and calamities or the devil could lead us away from our faith when persecution does come:
“And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know” (1 Thessalonians 3:2-4).
No one wants to think about suffering, especially at a time when the prosperity gospel epidemic has infiltrated the Church. But we cannot ignore Scripture. We must accept all the Scriptures, the whole counsel of God and not isolate a few Scriptures to try to make a case for something.
Jesus was very clear that we would have tribulation but also that He would not abandon us and would be with us always. If you look around, do you know any believers who do not suffer from something? Yet we also have many blessings. We must keep things in their proper perspective.
Alan, please carefully examine the verse below to see how important it is for us to endure some type of suffering:
“For it became Him [Jesus], for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make perfect the leader of their salvation through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10).
If Jesus in His humanity had to suffer persecution how much more do we have to suffer?
When Peter and John were beaten for preaching the gospel they rejoiced being counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus (Acts 5:41).
Suffering for Jesus is a great honor; we should understand that suffering for Him is a blessing.
As long as we live on this fallen planet we will be dodging the enemy’s bullets. Some of us get hit harder than others. But that is when we must keep trusting more than ever that what we see and experience outwardly in the physical world is not the same as the benefits we will reap in our future eternal home. The natural man rejects such dynamics but the spirit-man can better accept them.
“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29).
I know this is hard to understand and accept but instead of feeling crushed when we encounter persecution and suffering or getting angry at God when we see others suffer—we should be thankful that God has considered us and them to be worthy to suffer for Him. How greatly He suffered for us!
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18-20).
We are not immune to the workings of Satan although an important point is this: How many times have we been spared from harm from which we are unaware? I would say many times, more than we know.
God the Father sent His Son to this earth to suffer, to save His creation. This is a concept far beyond our mortal understanding. After all, why couldn’t God just snap His fingers and wipe out all the evil so we could all go on living happily ever after?
No one knows the answer to that question except God. But He does give us clues. We are immersed in a spiritual battle which is extremely volatile. Satan and all the demons are in full attack mode and will be until Jesus returns at the Second Coming, when He will put a stop to all this pain and suffering.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” ( 1 Peter 4:12-14, 16).
We should memorize and never forget this verse:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
Alan, I can appreciate your concerns but until we are face-to-face with the Lord we will not understand many things. But again and again Scripture reveals to us that those who suffer for the sake of Christ will be blessed and should count it an honor.
What we should focus on is our enormous blessing of salvation, that the Lord died and suffered an excruciating death on the cross so we can be given the chance to be part of His eternal kingdom. Those of us who are saved must be exceedingly grateful that we will not have to stay in this fallen world and that we are destined to be with the Lord for eternity.
Suffering for God’s glory is a concept that is tough to understand but that truly is where faith comes in. You will not be so distressed if you give your total trust to the Lord and accept the Scriptures in their entirety and in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Alan, please try to let go of thinking so much about what could befall any of us; we must trust that whatever happens, that the Lord will carry us through and give us the grace and strength to handle any situation. Keep your heart and mind focused on our promised eternity that is so incredible that we cannot even begin to comprehend it. We need to focus on what is lovely and pure and not give so much attention to calamities and the “what ifs.”
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).
In God’s love,
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
November 9, 2015
Let me begin by thanking you for your ministry. I apologize ahead of time for the length of this email. I am in need of some godly counsel. I am a born-again follower of Christ. My husband professes to believe, but I am afraid he’s been rather slack in his spiritual leadership of our home.
We have two children: a special needs daughter (9) and a young son (3). Apart from the occasional “giving thanks” at meal times, he has shown no leadership regarding spiritual matters.
If I am sick, the entire family stays home from church. No family devotions. No discussions of the Bible. No family/spousal prayer time. So I must do these things with my children. I realize it is my job to be his helper. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict him, not mine, so I refrain from “nagging” him about such matters.
About two months ago he broke down to me and said he knows he should being doing more to nurture his relationship with God, i.e. studying his Bible, praying, but that it was very difficult to stay focused when his work environment was so corrupt. He worked at a factory, swing shift.
Having said that, my husband has made a decision recently that leaves me very troubled and unsure how to proceed. About five weeks ago he quit his job. At first I thought it might be an answer to prayer: If he was no longer around the bad influences so prevalent in such a work environment, then he could get “on track” with God. I said to him, “You know, this could be a good opportunity for you to grow closer to God while you look for a job that He wants to use you in.”
He agreed. However, he has made no effort whatsoever to even look for a job nor has he made any efforts to become closer to God. He may pull out his Bible for a verse here or there, but I’ve seen no effort to study, discuss or even be in church. He stays up most of the night playing a video game on his PS3, at which time he actually yells and stomps at the game while the rest of us are trying to sleep.
He’ll play it during the day and demand that no one else should be on the Internet because it interferes with his game. He’s made off-hand comments to me, and my son that he isn’t going to go back to work. You see, my daughter receives SSI for her cognitive challenges and I am paid through a Waiver to provide special services for her to meet specific goals. We are not without income, so I think he feels no urgency to work.
My concerns are obvious, I’m sure. Not only does his refusal to provide (but instead be content living off his special needs daughter’s funds) go against all my convictions, he is in disobedience to God. Scripture tells us in 1 Timothy 5:8, that such a man has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
How do I respond to this? God tells women who have an unbelieving husband that he may be won without a word, by a gentle and quiet spirit. But, my husband is not unbelieving, per se. I don’t know what to call him.
I’ve taken my concerns to my dad, who is also the minister of the congregation we attend. He is unwilling to say or do anything because he knows of my husband’s, “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do” attitude. His own dad has said he cannot talk to him for the same reason.
Truth be told, I’m not sure there is anyone my husband respects enough to listen to. I’ve asked my dad if we should take the matter before the elders but he is hesitant. I’m not sure what my dad is thinking.
I feel like it has all been placed on my shoulders. My dad says to let God handle it in His time, which I cannot disagree with. I know God has me, and my children, in His care and that He loves my husband more than even I do.
Still, I wonder why God tells us in Galatians 6 to restore someone in a spirit of gentleness if all we are to do is wait on Him. I am getting the impression that my choices are: 1) Get a public job myself, therefore making myself less available to my daughter and my son and let my husband live off my income; 2) Separate from my husband and take matters into my own hands 3) Sit and wait.
I find this whole ordeal very distressing because I want so much to be in God’s will in every area of my life and those three choices seem to conflict with that. Furthermore, I am finding it increasingly difficult to respect my husband and I find myself feeling bitter toward the other men in my life who seem to have abandoned me (and my husband’s soul) in this matter by refusing to even talk with him.
Please advise. I am praying that God give you the wisdom I am unable to see at this time.
Blessings and Maranatha,
Thank you for your kind words. It is my blessing to be of help. You sound like a very thoughtful, caring person. God is going to work out all of this; although at the moment you are faced with many uncertainties.
Your situation is very distressing, I agree. It is symptomatic of the weak lukewarm condition of the Church that Jesus so emphatically taught not to be like, but so many are. Many so-called Christians and the Christian church as a whole have grown so far away from what the Lord intended, it is a sure sign that the last days are upon us (Revelation 3:16).
When those closest to us, especially those who are professing believers will not take a strong stand when a situation is obviously rooted in spiritual apathy, then there is no leadership. You have taken all the proper steps to address your situation. You are obviously a dedicated woman of God and only wish to right what is wrong.
Your husband’s massive slip into irresponsible, adolescent behavior leaves you in a very frustrating vulnerable position. Your father’s unwillingness to step in as your father, but also as the minister of your church is troubling.
But today, this is more the norm than we would like to believe. I receive so many letters from readers who are desperately searching for a good church where there is strong biblical leadership, where the Bible is taught and the congregation is a true family—where one another’s burdens are shared with proactive concern.
The American Christian church has especially become celebrity-eccentric where those at the top rake in the money and rarely share with those in need within their own congregations or ministries.
I have seen this first-hand myself and it is very disturbing. And all it takes is a few minutes of surfing on the Internet to find one charlatan after another raking in the cash for selfish-gain. A local Christian radio station in my area used to carry a popular pastor’s radio show once a week. This pastor makes millions every year telling people that, they too, can be rich (as he promotes his “prosperity” gospel asking for hefty donations).
I learned from the station manager that the show was no longer running because this very wealthy pastor did not want to pay the station a mere $30 a week to air the show. It turns out someone else was paying to sponsor the show and when he could no longer do it, the popular (wealthy) pastor would not fork out a dime so his dogma could continue to be aired in this area. (Actually he did us a huge favor.)
But nevertheless that is an example of the disturbing direction many professing Christians “leaders” are taking. Money, control and power are chosen over serving the Lord and feeding the flock with sound biblical teaching.
I am not saying your father is a money-hungry pastor, not at all. But he certainly needs to live what the Scriptures teach and take a strong stand of leadership. Since he is not, we must believe that the Lord will work things out in ways that only He can—so please do not lose hope.
Nevertheless, it would not be out of order for you to carefully and lovingly approach your father once again, and this time express your concerns that he is not meeting his obligation as a church leader or as a leader of your family (extended). Tell him that this is heartbreaking for you; that you need him and you feel abandoned by those you love the most when you need them the most.
Try to reach out to him again to help address the immediate situation with your husband before it turns into a full-blown financial crisis. Ask your father to tell your husband that he cannot sit at home every day and not look for work.
Mention to your father that this is important not only to you but for setting the right example for the men, the fathers in the church that he pastors. Perhaps you can suggest to him that he needs to start a class for men teaching biblical leadership, and classes in discipleship for everyone at the church.
You could even get involved and help him create the classes and the curriculum. If your husband had a guideline to follow he might yet snap out of his lethargy and realize he is wasting his time and hurting his family.
Your father could also make an announcement to the church that your husband needs work and anyone who has yard work, handyman work or anything else, to call him. If your husband refuses to look for a job every day and take work offered to him you and your children may have to leave the home (as a last resort). I am suggesting a possible temporary separation, not a divorce.
It is unlikely that you could get your husband to leave. Explain that you will move out and get a place of your own using the SSI money. Your husband will be left to pay the rent and utilities and not live off your daughter’s SSI money and will be forced to get work. We can call this approach to try to awaken him from his irresponsible behavior, “tough love.”
Hopefully you can find a place that is comparable to what you have now, but only after you have exhausted all options to bring your husband to a place of responsibility. This action is extreme, but it may be necessary if your husband refuses to seek work or take work offered to him. Keep the best interests of your children in mind.
You can best discern how much “change” your children can handle and what they need most. Find people from your church who could help you move, if it does comes to that, so you don’t incur any extra expenses. If you have any close friends this is the time you need to ask them to do anything they can to help you through this.
Separating is a drastic, last step, but if your husband does not respond, you cannot live like you are now, indefinitely. You need to determine how long you will go on the way things are and then act when that deadline comes due. Your respect for him is already dwindling and it will only get worse if he does not take action to reconcile with the Lord and support his family.
You have listed three options: 1) “Get a public job myself, therefore making myself less available to my daughter and my son and let my husband live off my income.” 2) “Separate from my husband and take matters into my own .” 3) “Sit and wait.”
The first option is out. Your children need you. You say you have some income and that income is to be used for your daughter and her special needs under your care. It is not income for your husband to live off of while he refuses to work.
Your husband cannot be at home playing video games while you are out trying to make a living. But as I have already said, separating from him should be a last option. He is obviously a lost soul at the moment and has to some degree given-up and is hiding behind video games and whatever else he is into.
I would be careful not to give him too much slack, since so many weeks have already passed. Quitting his job without having something else reliable to go to is selfish, reckless and immature. It is also a sign of a troubled man who does not have the best interest of his family at heart. His behavior is also that of someone who is not having an authentic active personal relationship with the Lord. It becomes very difficult to have an intimate loving relationship when these dynamics are present.
The secular world would blame this on “depression” but this type of behavior goes much deeper. It is clearly a spiritual disconnect. This situation will either bring your husband closer to the Lord, where your husband begins to take his faith and leadership role as a husband and father seriously, or he will move further away from Him.
At the moment the outcome is tough to decipher, but we know all things are possible with the Lord and surely your prayers are reaching Him, and He is involved in the situation behind the scenes.
It is important not to focus too much on the situation with our natural eyes, but rather with our spiritual eyes. It is true by our example and love, that a wife can open her husband’s heart to the faith, and although your husband has expressed some faith he still falls into the category of the lost because of his very weak, if any, commitment to the Lord.
But only the Holy Spirit can get to him, so the best thing you can do is keep fervently praying and take the necessary steps to let him know his irresponsible attitude can only hurt your family and cannot continue.
“The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing” (Proverbs 20:4).
Your third option to “sit and wait” is okay as long your husband is given notice that this cannot go on much longer. I would say “sit and wait” for a designated duration which you decide with the Lord’s guidance. And keep praying for the Lord to deal with your husband’s complete spiritual healing.
If after approaching your father again and if he refuses to help, one practical thing you can do is seek out another church where you might find a pastor who has strong leadership abilities and see, if he would be willing to meet with you and your husband. I would not worry about going outside your home church to get help considering the circumstances.
Sometimes when we are presented with a crisis, much more is going on which the Lord wants to expose than we may first realize. If this situation had not happened you might not have known that your own father is weak when it comes to living what the Word of God teaches (in the area of responsibility and leadership), not to say he isn’t a wonderful man in many other ways. This situation may be the very thing that motivates your dad to take a new and stronger approach in his pastoral role. If not, perhaps you will need to get involved in another church (if you can find one.)
From what you have shared, your husband knows he is not walking with the Lord and his floundering is getting worse, not better. This is when other brethren should be ministering to him regardless of your husband’s “hard to talk to” attitude. Your father, especially, should be experienced with reaching those who are hard to talk to if he is sharing the Word of God with the lost.
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
You also mention your husband’s father. He, too, should intervene and deal with his son and tell him that his behavior is shameful and unacceptable. Your husband is controlling others with his self-righteous attitude by alienating them but this is where the men in the family and in the Church must look beyond such bullying and minister to him, anyway.
You don’t want to enable your husband’s dysfunction, but you also want to be loving and understanding as much as possible. This is not an easy task. Waiting on the Lord is never easy but when we do, we can always be certain that we are not compulsively reacting to a negative situation in ways that we might regret later.
Your total trust in the Lord is very necessary at this time. You know this. He will not let you down. It is evident that some of the issues you describe need to be dealt with, and unfortunately those of us who are not the culprits—suffer while those we want to be able to count on have let us down.
Weigh your options carefully before you make any changes. Your husband’s attitude of, “No one is going to tell me what to do” is also a great sign of prideful selfishness and the absence of a genuine relationship with the Lord. No true Christian can function that way and be in fellowship with the Lord.
A stubborn and rude spirit is in need of repentance. Your husband is in great need of deliverance and sometimes through a crisis, a lukewarm quasi believer will emerge as a true and faithful servant of the Lord. That is my prayer for you and your family.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing and how things are developing. The Lord is going to resolve this. Continue to be prayerful, and think things through carefully (as you obviously are) before expressing yourself or taking any action.
In God’s love,
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).