Dear Esther
If you are having a challenging day or burdened with some personal problems, then you can be sure others are too. Write to Esther and she will have some good sound biblical advice and answers for you. You will be helping others by sharing your need or concern. “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).


You can email your question to Esther at:
dearesther1@yahoo.com


Prior Letters

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  • December 5, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I have four children in Texas and I am in Illinois. They are not Christians and I am. They don’t speak to me and I have three grandchildren down there that I want to see! Every time I go down there it is very difficult; to put it bluntly they don't like me or respect me.

    I’m not sure what to do about going to visit. I’m not allowed to talk about my faith and staying with my daughter is like staying with the devil; she is very angry and mean. Please help me to know what to do. I pray daily for their salvation!

    Thank you.

    Patrice


    Dear Patrice,

    Your prayers are the best “weapon” against injustice. God knows every detail regarding your situation and He is not going to abandon you. It may feel hopeless right now but in Christ there is always hope. Sometimes it may seem that our prayers are not being answered but we know that God’s ways are not our ways, and He orchestrates things for our benefit—even when all hell can be loosed around us. This is where faith really comes in.

    The moment we start focusing only on the physical outward situation and not the spiritual one as well, it is very hard to see past our troubles. You know we live in a fallen world and God has given us all free will. At the moment your children are choosing to behave disrespectfully and are not honoring you or God.

    We are fighting in a spiritual battlefield every day; some days are worse than others. Some situations are worse than others. But God is always there to carry us through any circumstance.

    It is quite an alarming testimony that not one of your four children do not speak to you. Are you saying this is because you are a Christian and they are not? I cannot tell from your letter if that alone is what is causing them to ignore you. For now, I will assume that is the reason.

    Have you considered writing a heartfelt letter to your children? You could write it as a group letter. In that letter, whatever you think may be behind all of this dysfunctional behavior could be addressed—in a loving way. It is important that you acknowledge their right to be individuals, and tell them that you accept them for who they are—and that is all you are asking of them; that they accept you for who you are and that they do not hold your beliefs against you.

    You might want to point out to them in that letter that they probably do not always agree on every point in life amongst themselves, and no two people will ever agree on everything. Now I suggest this tactic hoping that there is at least some semblance of decency in at least one of your children. Explain that you simply want to be a part of your grandchildren’s lives and are not trying to be a burden anyone to or cause any type of hardships.

    We know of course that parents don’t pick their children, and children don’t choose their parents. Some parents are an abomination to their children, and the same is true of how some children treat their parents. Sometimes no matter how hard one tries, some people are impossible to deal with.

    Some people are just plain mean-spirited and self-righteous. I see it in my own ministry work, even amongst professing Christians. Sometimes people have an ax to grind and will twist the truth to suit their own agendas, and even insult others with their need to prove their own self-importance. It is a sad commentary on those who profess Christ but behave instead like godless heathens.

    At least in your situation the abuse is obvious; it is not veiled in Christian jargon. Nothing is worse than calling oneself a Christian and then putting down others who are doing the Lord’s work. Ignorance is also a factor in unkind behavior. In your case, your children seem to be blinded by the god of this world. Your continued prayers are so important!

    “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that perish: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the]light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them.

    Instead of travelling to Texas, have you considered inviting your grandchildren to your home? It is an unlikely possibility but perhaps if you can break through to even one of your grown children, then there could be a small opening to change the current dynamics

    Or instead of staying with your daughter or other children, if you do go down to Texas, it might be better to say at a hotel, rent a car, and take the grandchildren on outings and avoid as much interaction with your children as a possible. A carefully, well-organized trip could possibly work out for you if you can get your children to agree to taking your grandchildren out to various places around town. Even if it took a short trip, you could still bond with your grandchildren to some degree.

    In your letter you did not mention if any your grandchildren are possibly living in compromised situations or unstable homes. If so, then you might have a chance to gain grandparental rights to visit with your grandchildren. Each state has different laws. My suggestion it is a long shot but it might be something worth looking into.

    Patrice, at this time of year sometimes people are more willing to make peace. Offer your children an olive branch, even if they don’t deserve it. Tell them if you have hurt them in anyway, that you are truly sorry, and that carrying anger and malice is not good for the family, and certainly not good for the grandchildren.

    If they refuse to accept your peace offering, then you will have to do your best to let go emotionally, so this situation does not destroy you. We serve a great and merciful God. Continue to go before Him in prayer and ask Him to open a door of communication with at least one of your children—in a way that will bless all of you.

    Never give up on people. The Bible is filled with people who were once very lost and then came to faith and did great things for the Lord. While you are trying to sort out the unpleasant circumstance with your grown children, I see no reason why you cannot create your own surrogate family in your home state.

    It must be very hard not to be able to see your grandchildren but God has a way of working things out in unexpected ways; it could be later when your grandchildren are older that you will be able to get to know them better.

    There are so many single mothers, some single fathers with children who would love to have a grandma to call their own. Please consider looking into finding people who would welcome the love of a Christian grandma, and build your own network of love and family life.

    I have communicated with so many people over the years, and a great number of them have surrogate families because of problems with their flesh and blood relatives. Sometimes when a door seems to be tightly shut, it may not be a permanent closure; perhaps it is a way to get us to do something else that God has in mind for us until that door can be reopened in a new beneficial way.

    Timing is everything and when God says it is time for something all the demons in hell cannot stop His will from being realized. That said, I wish you the very best and I will pray with you for your situation. But I urge you not to let your loving heart go to waste; so many people would love to have you as a friend and adopted family member. Ask the Lord to guide you to where you can best serve Him.

    Please keep in touch and let me know how you are doing. Be strong in the Lord and He will surely direct your paths.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).


    November 28, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I am afraid the world is ending, and I don’t want it to. I like to play video games, listen to music, and draw stuff. I believe in God a lot even though I get thoughts that He doesn’t exist or that He is not real. I am just wondering if it is wrong to listen to the music I listen to, and play the games I play. I listen to a lot of electronic music that is instrumental, and I thank God every morning for waking me up, but I am afraid that I will burn. I am scared.

    When I listen to the music I put lyrics about thanking Jesus, and God for waking me up each morning. I also have a problem with ADHD, Aspergers and I take my medications. I pray for everyone I know, and I pray for the world to get better. I also am trying to not lust, but it is hard. I need help. I have been having problems missing people.

    I pray to find out if a man who my mom didn’t think was my father for 20 years, is my father. I also help people the best I can. I need help. I am scared that I will never get married. I went into depression for about six months because I forgot about God. I will still keep my one value that I will not have intimate relations until I am married. I pray every day, and I believe Jesus died to save me from my sin, but what can I do? Please help.

    Worried Serious


    Dear Worried Serious,

    I’m sorry to hear you are having so many problems. It sounds like you need to take one-step at a time to work through these issues. The Lord loves you very much and your life can get better. He says so in His Word. It is wonderful that you are praying a lot. Prayer is so important; it is our lifeline to the Lord. Reading and studying the Bible will strengthen you and renew your mind and emotions.

    When Christ returns at the end of the seven-year Tribulation, He will put an end to the chaos in this world. He will rejuvenate the earth and the millennial kingdom will begin. That is when there will be real peace on earth. Jesus the Messiah will rule and reign on earth with all true born-again believers for 1000 years. So as far as not wanting the world to end, be encouraged. Jesus is coming back to clean-up this mess.

    God is in control and everything that is happening now is leading toward a glorious ending when the evil manipulations of mankind will be put to a stop by Jesus Christ Himself—the King of kings and Lord of lords. That is something to look forward to. He promises to remove all true Christians in the Rapture before the Tribulation begins.

    Knowing these biblical facts should help you understand that the “end” of this world as we know it, will be the time when everything you are concerned about will no longer be an issue (as long as you are saved from above). We should rejoice, and realize that our earthly lives in our earthly bodies is very temporary. God has more exciting plans for His children.

    During the Millennium the day-to-day heartaches of this life will be gone forever and all born-again believers will be reigning and ruling with Jesus the Messiah. What could possibly be better than that? In your situation, so many things are uncertain but the one thing that is certain is Jesus Christ and His promise of eternal life. Our focus must be on Jesus and not on the worldly conditioning that falsely teaches that we must gratify the flesh.

    “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 8:16-17).

    From Suffering to Glory

    “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. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:18-21).

    Each day we can find reports in the news that are very disturbing. But many of these things were forewarned by Jesus Himself as signs of the last days. Once you can get this in perspective many of your concerns will become much less overwhelming. Easier said than done sometimes, but that is what is needed in this fallen corrupt world. Jesus is our Blessed Hope. He is the one we can and must count on. We must rely on Him for our inner peace and well being.

    Please find some good Christian online ministries where you can listen to or watch good sermons every day. In order to be free of your afflictions you must take Jesus and His teachings very seriously. Listen to soothing hymns that exalt the Lord and feed your soul. Your overall demeanor will be strengthened as you make these changes.

    You may feel alone but you are really not alone. You may never know the identity of your earthly father, but you have you Heavenly Father. You can always count on Him. Cry out to Him for comfort.

    Be sure you have made a sincere profession of faith and that you are truly born-again by the Spirit of God. And I implore you to get involved with a good Bible-based Christian ministry for some for moral support. Resolve not to allow yourself to do things that you know would grieve Lord. Stay away from those who are living a life of compromise, involved in the ways of the world. Find friends who love the Lord and are strong in their faith.

    Instead of focusing on what is missing in our lives, a better strategy is to prepare for our eternal lives. Nothing we do in this world—unless it is for God’s kingdom—will really matter when it is all said and done. The ways of the world take us a away from God. Our daily endeavors should be geared toward growing closer to the Lord and reaching others for Him. As long as we keep the focus primarily on ourselves we will not be able to partake in the joy of the Lord.

    It is good that you are praying but are you really willing to let go of your own fleshly desires that you know are wrong?

    Until you surrender fully to the Lord, you will be torn and continue to struggle. As long as you are partaking in godless “entertainment” you are placing a wedge between yourself and God. Playing too many secular video games can numb the mind and take a person to a place that is far away from the Lord. These bad habits can break a person down morally, psychologically and emotionally. They keep us from having an authentic relationship with the Lord.

    Some secular music is okay, classical music for example is generally fine. But a lot of the secular music (lyrics) as well as their rhythms have sexually immoral and dark overtones which should be avoided. Even instrumental music can be a problem, depending on the beat of the music. Music can incite anger, depression, rebellion; or a state of serenity, love, happiness and joy. We must be careful what we listen to; music can powerfully effect an individual in a positive or negative way.

    I am not sure what kind of instrumental music you are listening to but it would be best if you would listen to spiritual hymns and Christian praise and worship music.

    Without a firm foundation in Christ and His Word, you are going to flounder. Resolve to live for Christ and not by the ways of the world. There are many FAQ articles on Rapture Ready that you can read to help you grow in your faith and your understanding of the Bible, and the world in which we live. But only use the sources on the site as a compliment to daily Bible study.

    All the things I have addressed comprise my answer to your question, “What should I do?” I also suggest in addition to what I have already said (not instead of), that you should seek out Christian counseling, where you can sit down with someone in person on a regular basis. I can encourage and guide you, but I think meeting with a strong Christian face-to-face, someone who and has a solid foundation in Christ could be a great help.

    You need some consistency in your life and step-by-step things will get better. Considering the complex array of problems that you have, and the fact that you are on medication leaves me to believe that not isolating yourself is important.

    Please ask your doctor about the medication you are taking and if it may have contributed to the depression you went through. If so, ask him to modify your dosage or give you something else. The best medicine is God’s Word. But sometimes we do need to be under a good doctor’s care, too.

    I also suggest finding a strong Christian support group where you can openly share with each other; true Christians, not a secular group. Please get involved in a good solid Bible teaching church in your area and let go of anything you know is not pleasing to the Lord.

    As far as marriage, you are doing the right thing abstaining from intimate relations while you are single. If the Lord wants you to get married he will bring the right person into your life. He knows what is best for you. The closer you get to the Lord, the more clearly you will be able to discern His will for your life and conduct your life in a manner that is pleasing to Him.

    The Bible teaches fear is not of the Lord, but it is easy to let ourselves become afraid when we are confused. Please get into the Word of God and read His promises. Trust Him with all your heart.

    “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

    “The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him. The LORD is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed” (Psalm 28-7-8).

    Your healing will come from a combination of the things I have suggested. But the greatest healing is by consistently reading the Bible—praying, and fellowshipping with other Christians who are dedicated to the Lord in spirit and in truth. It is by integrating His Word into your daily life that you will be strengthened. The more knowledge of Jesus you have, the more of God’s grace and peace will rest upon you.

    Your overall well being hinges on the strength of your relationship with Christ. He wants us to grow, to have an abiding relationship with Him. In this life there will be tribulation (John 16:33), but when we have a solid foundation in Christ we can better navigate through the challenges of our daily lives.

    “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1-4).

    I wish you the very best. With God’s help and your obedience to Him, your life can take on a much clearer and more joyful reality.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:10-14).


    November 21, 2016

    To our valuable Dear Esther Readers,

    As many of you know, I only post and respond to one letter a week, and also try to keep in touch with so many of you via email. You are all important to me, and I do appreciate your patience when it takes some time for me to respond to each concern. This week I would like to share some email correspondence I had over a period of time with a very nice lady regarding an unpleasant work situation.

    I am sharing this interchange to encourage all of you that no matter how unfair or bleak a situation may be, the Lord Jesus does care so very much about each one of you.

    I also want to thank all of you for your participation and for being part of this ministry. You are all a great blessing to Rapture Ready and to me, personally, and we could not be so successful without all of you. When our Lord calls us up to heaven with that “shout,” it will be so wonderful to be together and share in God’s promise of Glory.

    In the meantime, we will continue to encourage one another. When we reach out to others who so very much need to know the Lord Jesus, our own problems are not so impossible; it helps keep things in perspective. When we give to others our own problems are tempered.

    From the many letters I received just this week alone, I would like to say we must keep our eyes on the big picture—our eternal future, and not let ourselves get so distracted by worldly matters that can, if we let them, quickly steal our joy. We will always have problems in this life, how we handle them is the key to peace of mind. We should “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”(Philippians 3:14). .

    In this great country we have so much to be grateful for. We should never take anything for granted, and that includes the warm beds in which we sleep or the food we have to eat. So many of our Christian brothers and sisters are being brutally persecuted around the world.

    Our prayers are so important; God honors our prayers and our faithfulness. The cup-half full is a much better attitude than dwelling on the “lack” in our lives. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13). That said, here is the correspondence I would like to share (a praise report as you will see).

    Hello Esther!

    I read your column every week and I appreciate the good, solid, biblical advice that you give to those who write to you. I have a question regarding if I should put the last manager that I had at my previous job when I fill out job applications.

    I worked at a Christian university for the past 8 years and I had several managers during my time there. Most of my time there, it was a wonderful place to work. I did my job to the best of my ability and got good performance reviews from previous managers and did not receive any complaints about my work.

    However, the last year I worked there was difficult due to a manager that my position was moved to. She did not communicate with me or the rest of her staff very much and closed her office door for part of the work day. She did not know everything that I did and admitted to me that she did not want to know.

    When performance review time came around, she gave me bad reviews that were not based on the truth and I let her know that. I prayed about the situation while searching for jobs. The situation escalated when she reported to our new Director that I said something to a co-worker in a rude manner.

    I was shocked when my Director told me this and I wanted to make things right with my co-worker so I asked my co-worker about it. My co-worker had no idea what I was talking about. I immediately went to my Director and told him this and my Director thanked me for letting him know.

    With my husband’s blessing, I resigned from my position this past April because I had a strong feeling that I was going to be fired. I worked hard up to my last day of work because I wanted to leave on a good note.

    The time I’ve been away has been good because I’ve been able to complete projects around the house and I’ve been able to help my mother with things around her house. I have continued to look for a new job and I’ve gotten a few interviews, but no new job yet.

    Whenever I fill out job applications and they ask for a supervisor, I think that I need to put the last manager I had, but my husband thinks that I should put down another manager because he was my manager for a longer period of time, and he knew what I did much better. I feel that I’m being dishonest and not pleasing God if I don’t put my last manager on a job application. Any advice you can give is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for your time and attention!

    God Bless You!

    Discouraged

    Dear Discouraged,

    Thank you for reading my column...

    ABSOUTELY NOT!

    I am with your husband on this one. The manager who was not in your corner would be detrimental to your future. From what you say, it sounds like the woman is a cold-hearted dishonest person. It is very sad when such dynamics go on amongst Christians. But it happens more than we would like to know. You would be doing nothing wrong by not using her name. In fact, dear lady, it would be a great mistake if you did.

    Now as you continue to seek employment, please keep giving it all over to the Lord. Pray that He will guide you to the right situation and that the unfair manager will not be an issue. I have a feeling you will be able to get a great job based on your warm personality, your professionalism and genuineness.

    God is not mocked and when professing Christians treat others with great disrespect, slander them and try to undermine them, then those individuals will be held accountable before God. You don’t have to do anything. God has a way working things out and dealing with the phonies. Now I am assuming the woman is a professing Christian since you worked at a Christian college. But if not, then she will still pay a great price.

    I am in YOUR corner. Trust the Lord with all your heart and know that He has something much better for your future than what you left behind at the college. In fact, count it a blessing that you are no longer in that unpleasant situation.

    Please let me know how things work out for you!

    In God's love,

    Esther (Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 29:11)

    Hi Esther,

    Thank you so much for your advice and kind words!

    I will certainly continue to pray and give this to the Lord and definitely not put the unpleasant manager on any job applications that I complete in the future.

    I was concerned that my not putting her on them would not be pleasing to the Lord and I want to please Him most of all.

    I greatly appreciate your fast response since I’m sure you get a lot of emails from fellow Christians with bigger problems.

    I will certainly let you know how things work out!

    God Bless You!!

    Your Sister in Christ,

    (Encouraged)

    Hello Dear Esther!

    Thank you so much for your reply last year and your wonderful advice! It really helped me as I searched for new employment and I referred to it often. I apologize for my late update, but I want to let you know that the Lord provided a new job and it is perfect for me. As a matter of fact, I got a promotion a few months after I started and I will be at my new company for a year on November 30th.

    I give God all the glory! God is good!!

    All the best to you and your family and I will certainly keep reading your wonderful column!

    Sincerely,

    (No Longer Discouraged)


    Dear No Longer Discouraged,

    I am so happy to hear from you and even more pleased to see how the Lord has turned a challenging situation, and one of uncertainty—into a major blessing. What a great God we serve.

    I think your positive attitude and focusing on His promises had a lot to do with the happy outcome. You walked forward in faith and God opened the right door for you. Thank you for letting me know how well you are doing. Never hesitate to reach out, and I will do my best to get back to you. May God continue to bless you and yours.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”


    November 14, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I have learned a lot from reading your column every week. I hope you can help me with some confusion I have about the Rapture. My wife and I are confused about the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, the Mid-Tribulation Rapture and what I think is called, a Pre-Wrath Rapture. We have read so many conflicting things. Can you clarify what they all mean. We don’t want to miss the Rapture!

    Thank you.

    Tom


    Dear Tom,

    Thank you for your letter. I will do my best to clarify your concerns. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine teaches that all Christians will be raptured before the Tribulation begins. The major reason that most Christians hold to this doctrine is that the Bible clearly teaches that all true born-again believers are not destined for His wrath, which is poured out during the Tribulation:

    “For God appointed us not unto wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

    The context of the passage is not the wrath of hell, but of some other form of wrath. The only other form of wrath is what God pours out on the unsaved during the Tribulation. If Christians were to go into the Tribulation they would suffer the wrath of God. His wrath is poured out with the breaking of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12-17).

    If true Christians were destined to go through the Tribulation, there would be no reason to commission 144,000 men of the twelve tribes of Israel to preach the gospel. The 144,000 witnesses are empowered by God immediately after the wrath of God begins to pour out His wrath (Revelation 7:1-8). At that point all the Church Age Christians will have been raptured off the planet, and there would be no one to share the gospel with the lost except for God’s 1444,000 anointed Jewish men.

    Noah and Lot are evidences for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Noah and his family is also a type of the Church. They were spared death by being in the ark (Hebrews 11:7) when the flood came and destroyed all life outside the ark (Genesis 7:21-23).

    Lot and his family are another type of the Church. When Lot hesitated to leave Sodom, the Lord had mercy on him; His angels brought Lot, his wife and their two daughters out of Sodom just before it was destroyed (Genesis 19:16).

    Another evidence of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is the promise that was given to the Church of Philadelphia:

    “Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, that hour which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10).

    The “hour of trial” is a reference to the Tribulation. The church of the Philadelphia era was given the promise of not going through that time of testing. In Revelation chapters two and three the seven churches that were in the area of modern-day Turkey were given special messages.

    They were rebuked for sin, but also given promises. The seven literal churches are symbolic of seven periods of the Church Age. The rebukes and promises to them also apply to Christians of those seven eras.

    We are living in the Philadelphia era which started around 1792 with the open door of missions, when William Cary sailed for India. The promise of being kept from the “hour of trial” was made to the church of the Philadelphia era (to us).

    The Church is mentioned in the first three chapters of the book of Revelation. But then in chapter four, verse one the Scripture says, “After these things I saw.” What comes “after these things” is the Rapture of the Church. A command is given to John, “Come up hither.” That is the command that the archangel gives at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

    A serious problem with the Mid-Tribulation Rapture teaching is that it is said to take place after the wrath of God is poured out upon the world. The advocates of this theory claim that the statement concerning rewards being given to the servants, prophets and saints of God at the middle of the Tribulation—is evidence that the Rapture must take place at that time:

    “And the four and twenty elders, who sit before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who art and who wast; because thou hast taken thy great power, and didst reign. And the nations were wroth, and thy wrath came, and the time of the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear thy name, the small and the great; and to destroy them that destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:16-18).

    That passage is not evidence of a Mid-Tribulation Rapture. It is only evidence that Christians will be given their rewards at that time. The Mid-Trib view assumes that rewards are given to Christians immediately after the Rapture. It is a weak argument for the timing of the Rapture, and it is the only argument the Mid-Tribulation Rapture advocates have. It also ignores the clear statement by the Lord that Christians are not destined to go through the wrath of God that is poured out during the Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

    Another confusing doctrine is that of the Post-Tribulation position which you should be aware of. It has the same problems as the Mid-Tribulation Rapture. If Christians actually went through the Tribulation they would suffer the wrath of God. Another problem with the Post-Tribulation Rapture teaching, if it were true—there would be no one to enter the millennial kingdom in mortal bodies.

    The apostle Paul said that the dead in Christ will be resurrected and given immortal bodies, and the living will have their mortal bodies changed into immortal ones (1 Corinthians 15:52). The unsaved are judged by Christ when He returns, and sent to their eternal punishment (Matthew 25:31-46).

    Scripture definitively teaches some people will enter into the millennial kingdom with mortal bodies. Those who were saved during the Tribulation are the ones who will enter into the Millennium.

    Another important point to consider is this: At the end of the 1000-year millennial kingdom, even with the Lord ruling and reigning the inconceivable will happen—a huge number of people will actually rebel and reject Him. But when they do, God will quickly send down a fire from heaven and “devour them” (Revelation 20:7-9).

    If no one enters the millennial kingdom in mortal bodies, and only Christians enter who have been given immortal bodies, then some believers would have to reject their belief in Jesus Christ, and join the devil in his final rebellion.

    If that is true, it would mean that the doctrine of eternal security of believers is not biblical. It would also mean that a great number of Christians would lose their salvation and be cast into the lake of fire. That belief must be rejected because it is clearly unbiblical.

    Numerous promises in Scripture show that everyone who is truly born-again by the Spirit of God and trusts in Jesus Christ to save them—will be saved eternally and cannot lose their salvation (John 3:16; 24; 6:37-40; 10:28-29; Romans 6:23; 8:37-39; 1 John 5:10-13).

    The truly saved believers should not be confused with those who are Christians in name only. Professing Christians who go through the motions but are not genuine Christians will be left behind to experience the wrath of God.

    The Post-Tribulation Rapture doctrine cannot be supported biblically. Many passages tell us that once we believe in Jesus Christ we have eternal life (Matthew 25:46; John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 1 John 5:11-13). And there is no condemnation for us (John 5:24; Romans 8:1); and we will reign with Jesus Christ forever (Revelation 22:5).

    The Pre-Wrath Rapture position is also not possible because those who teach it claim the wrath of God is poured out in the last few months of the Tribulation. The Bible is clear that God’s wrath is poured out early in the Tribulation with the breaking of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12-17).

    The wrath of God is poured out on the unsaved with the breaking of the Sixth Seal. The wrath that is mentioned later in Revelation is additional wrath that is also not meant for born-again believers of the Church Age.

    “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having seven plagues, which are the last, for in them is finished the wrath of God.” (Revelation 15:1).

    The seven bowl judgments are not the total wrath of God; they are the final judgments of the wrath of God. The premise of the Pre-Wrath Tribulation Rapture doctrine teaches that Christians will be raptured out just before the bowl judgments are poured out. That idea is a hypothetical belief that cannot be substantiated anywhere in the Bible.

    The Pre-Wrath Tribulation doctrine also contradicts Scripture because the teaching states that millions of Christians will endure most of God’ This teaching cannot be substantiated with Scripture. It is simply not true. The Word of God clearly states that no Christian of the Church Age will suffer any of God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

    Tom, I know all of this can sound confusing, only because all of the teachings that go against a Pre-Tribulation Rapture are erroneous and do not make sense. Rest assured that all true born-again believers will be raptured before the Tribulation, which is getting closer every day. Even so come, Lord Jesus!

    In God’s love,

    Esther


    “ For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
    November 7, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I am a born-again believer, yet I am confused by the terms “filled with the Spirit,” and “baptized in the Spirit.” Can you possibly expound on this and tell me what the difference is? I would greatly appreciate it.

    Valentina


    Dear Valentina,

    The indwelling of the Holy Spirit occurs the very moment we turn to Christ by faith (1 Corinthians 12:13). At the moment of our spiritual birth, the Spirit of God comes to live within us bringing Christ to our hearts. He then places us (spiritually baptizes us) into what is termed the Body of Christ or Body of Messiah (His church).

    The Holy Spirit never takes a vacation or goes away on long walks. Once filled with the Holy Spirit, one is always filled with the Holy Spirit. However, considering the way we can all “fall short” and the carnal manner in which some believers continue to conduct their lives, one wonders if the Holy Spirit truly lives inside some of them, or if they were ever truly saved.

    “For as many who 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. 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 8:14-18).

    Accepting Christ—being “born-again” one day and subsequently receiving the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) at a later time is not Scriptural. However, being “filled” with the Holy Spirit is an ongoing, continuous experience in the sense that it is up to each one of us as believers to allow the Holy Spirit to direct our lives, our behavior, to be continually filled by Him—to yield to Him. In that regard we can and should be “filled” with the Holy Spirit often. We should do our best every day to give ourselves over to the Holy Spirit and avoid quenching His loving guidance.

    “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

    The Holy Spirit is the abiding presence of Christ’s presence within us. Scripture dogmatically reveals if the Spirit of God does not live in us, we do not belong to Him. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit happens to every truly repented believer once and only once at the time of salvation; just as salvation is a one-time gift—a “done deal” so to speak. I have heard some Christian church leaders say, “We are a Spirit-filled church,” implying that they have a special move of God or something beyond what other true Christian churches have.

    “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Roman 8:9).

    All genuinely born-again believers are Spirit-filled or they are not truly saved, and there are no special or additional “fillings” of the Holy Spirit given to select individuals. As born-again believers, we are all equal in Christ. However, how each individual treats and relates to the Holy Spirit is a strong determining factor for spiritual growth. In that sense only, some churches are more Spirit filled than others, only because of the way each individual at that church relates to the Holy Spirit. Through prayer and true devotion to the Lord we are continuously filled. [1]

    What is the difference of being baptized with the Spirit and filled with the Spirit?

    These two terms being baptized in the Spirit and filled with the Spirit have become synonymous with each other but they are distinct in the Scriptures and should not be confused.

    Scripture shows that the baptism of the Spirit happens at our salvation experience.

    John came baptizing in water but said, “There is one who will come after me. . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:7-8; Matthew 3:11; John 1:33). In Acts 1:4-5, after His resurrection Jesus said: “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” In John 14:16, Jesus told us that the Father, “He will give you another helper, that He will be with you forever.”

    The phrase “Baptized in the Holy Spirit” is not used in Scripture but baptized “with” the Holy Spirit is used twice; Acts 1:5 and Acts 11:16 (which refers to Jesus’ statement in Acts 1:5). The phrase “with” - Greek- en; a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state).

    In Acts 2, the 120 in the upper room were baptized by the Spirit, which is what Jesus told them to wait for in Acts 1:5.

    Some people were filled with the Holy Spirit before the New Testament: Numbers 11:16-17. God had the Spirit put upon the 70 elders to empower them for service. Verse 17: “Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them.”

    The prophet Ezekiel wrote: “And He said to me, ‘Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you. Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me’” (Ezekiel2:1-2).

    This was before there was a baptism with the Spirit in the New Testament. Speaking of John, “He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15); his mother “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41).

    John’s father “Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied” (Luke 1:67).

    “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1).

    Is the baptism of the Spirit a salvation experience or a separate experience of the Spirit after one is saved? The Bible’s consistent teaching is that there is only one Spirit baptism at salvation, but there are many fillings. This Spirit baptism occurs once for every believer; it is the new birth. The baptism of the Spirit is given to all believers alike, (1 Corinthians 12:13).

    ALL believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit, (Galatians 3:27). ALL believers have been baptized into Christ. What is available to all of us are subsequent fillings that keep us walking in the Spirit’s power to live a life pleasing to the Lord and pursue serving Him and doing His will.

    “And he [Christ] is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18), Jesus is the baptizer, making every believer today part of the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is given to bring believers into the “one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

    Galatians 3:26-27: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Meaning to wear Him—to be seen on the outside like a garment; we are to be living epistles.

    On the day of the Pentecost the apostle Peter promised unsaved Jews that they would receive the Holy Spirit as a gift when they repented and were baptized. It was promised to people who had not YET been born-again. Acts 1:5 says that they would “be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

    Acts 2 does not mention Spirit baptism but shows the result. Verse 4 says: “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:4: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

    This is why tongues or prophecy accompanied the baptism of the Spirit, to show a group of people were saved, that they received the Holy Spirit. Each time a different people group received the Holy Spirit in their salvation they exhibited a manifestation to validate them.

    The Jews who first received the Spirit and spoke in tongues preached to other Jews at Pentecost. Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” They, (the 3,000 recipients) received the Spirit from hearing the word and believing, but this time you can see in Scripture they did not speak in tongues.

    The Samaritans that Peter and John came to had already received the Word of God, were baptized and still did not have the Spirit.

    Then “they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” ( Acts 8:17).

    Later to Peter’s amazement in Acts 10, Peter saw firsthand the Gentiles come into the covenant of grace. Acts 10:44-45: ”While Peter was still speaking these words, “the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. … the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.”

    The gift was the Spirit from above, and produced the new birth before Peter could finish his sermon.

    In Acts 11:16 Peter states that by Spirit baptism, salvation began for the Gentiles; both groups were saved and put in the body the same way.

    If you are not baptized in the Holy Spirit then you are not “in Christ.” Romans 8:9 states: “If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the Holy Spirit's indwelling makes the body of the believer his temple (Ephesians 2:21-22), individually and collectively.

    It is a Spirit baptism from above that buries us with Christ into his death (Romans 6:3-7). Individuals could not be considered believers before they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, as is evident from Paul’s question, to those in Acts 19:1-7: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

    Therefore the presence, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is essential to proving salvation. Paul’s question in Acts 19:2 is significant, “Into what then were you baptized?”

    Paul makes it clear that it is necessary for the Holy Spirit—that which is called baptism with the Holy Spirit: “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”

    At Pentecost Christ was the Baptizer, with the Spirit (Acts 1:5). When they received the Holy Spirit they possessed the new life in Christ through being born-again. This is repeated in Acts 8 and Acts 10 for the Gentiles. There is no command in Scripture that tells us to be re-baptized by the Holy Spirit because that is what takes place in salvation.

    Teaching another baptism with the Holy Spirit for those who are born-again is not correct; the Bible teaches to be filled and refilled as a continual and necessary process. We do not lose the Holy Spirit in us, nor do we get more of Him. What this means is that He gets more of us. We give him control of our lives daily; we present our bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord each day, and he fills us with himself and has control over our lives.

    Being Filled

    Ephesians 5:18-19 states: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

    This is the tense of being continually filled, meaning often; it is not a one-time event as the baptism of the Spirit is. In contrast, the filling of the Spirit is a continuous activity. Paul makes a contrast that our being filled with the Spirit does not have the same effect as drinking alcoholic beverages, but is the opposite.

    A Spirit-filled Christian has his Bible in his heart. As David said, “thy word I have his in my heart that I may not sin against you.” It is essential to KNOW the Word to live a spiritual life.

    Being filled with the Spirit means one has self-control. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control (Greek - egreitei), not lacking it. The Holy Spirit is given to believers so that they might have the power to live like Jesus and be different than they were before.

    It is a matter of giving up areas of our lives over to the Holy Spirit’s control to have Him fill it with the Spirit. As we walk with the Lord and obey, He continually fills us with His Spirit so we are progressing in the sanctification process and can be more effective in other people’s lives.

    “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). The filling of the Spirit is a command not an option (Ephesians 5:18). Being filled has to do with allowing the Spirit to be the dominating influence over our lives, not letting selfishness or the world influence our lives.

    Being “filled” is about yielding, allowing His control to influence and affect our character which will have others see Christ through our lives. It is putting loving behavior into action and not operating from a place of self-centered control toward others.

    Paul’s prayer for the Colossians is related to them being filled with the Spirit; Colossians1:9-10: “[We] do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

    There is no command in Scripture that tells us to be re-baptized by the Holy Spirit. Why? Because it is something that immediately happens when one is born-again. Teaching another baptism with the Holy Spirit for those who are born-again is not correct; the Bible teaches to be filled and refilled as a continual and necessary process.

    When faith is exercised at the moment one believes, the Holy Spirit indwells us (Galatians 3:2).

    The Greek perfect tense is used in 1 John. 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 5, 18. It emphasizes an action that was completed in the past but continues unchanged into the present. It means it is instantaneous, regeneration is not a process, but its effect continues to the present. We are justified and are presently being sanctified and will one day be glorified.

    In the book of Acts, the endowment of power was for their witnessing, by preaching of the Word. The power was seen in transforming lives when people’s sins were forgiven through the gospel being preached. Boldness, not just tongues, was the common denominator of being filled with the Spirit. “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said to them...when they saw the boldness of Peter...” (Acts 4:8,13). “They [the believers] were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (4:31).

    “Brother Saul...was filled with the Holy Spirit... Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues... (9:17, 20). “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit... speaking boldly in the Lord (Acts 13:45-46,52, 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:2).

    A Spirit filled person or church will be bold in proclaiming the truth, the gospel and standing against error. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

    What many believe as a separate baptism should more accurately be called a filling of the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is a daily occurrence, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (baptized into the Body by the Holy Spirit) happens only once. So the baptism with the Spirit is what takes place at salvation which places us into the Body of Christ and He indwells us. The filling of the Spirit is part of our sanctification, our discipleship, as we give over the areas we need to for His control. [2]

    Valentina, I hope these answers will give you a better understanding on this important topic regarding being “filled with the Spirit,” and “baptized in the Spirit.”

    God bless you and thank you for your letter.

    Esther

    “But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you” (John 14:26).

    Endnotes [1] A Better World Is Coming Soon - Don’t Miss It, Updated Expanded 2013 Edition, pages 231-232, Olsen, Kit, World Bible Society. [2] http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp212.htm


     

    October 31, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    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 insight you might have.

    Kevin


    Dear Kevin,

    I am very happy to hear that you are interested in strengthening your faith and leading your family in a more consistent focused way. 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 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 living in the flesh and that Satan tries to excite that flesh in many different ways. 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 even 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 your church’s men’s group 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. Print them out and keep them near you.

    “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 isgiven 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 thenight 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,

    Esther

    “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).



    October 24, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    Thank you for giving this a listening ear and being there to help. I am having a hard time with the relationship between my mother and myself. Growing up, there was a lot of strife and conflict with verbal fights between us. It was dysfunctional and a lot of hurtful things were said on both ends (no father in the picture as she was single).

    To her credit, she worked hard and ensured all our needs were met as well as some wants. She is also very giving and caring to others, always rushing to someone’s aid. I also have memories of the good times we had, in between the fighting and despair.

    Now I am married and a mother of two. I left my hometown and created a lot of distance between us in the hope that I would heal and start my life afresh. I also hoped being away would improve our relationship as we were not sharing the same living space. This was not to be.

    Every time we talk or stay in touch there is always some form of strife. I admit to having had resentment to some of the things she did in the past but after a lot of therapy and prayer I have let it go. However, I have a fear of her ruining my present happy life just to see me miserable.

    I have asked God to remove this fear. I think it stems from how over-controlling my mother was even into my adult years, always trying to micro-manage every aspect of my life. She is a born-again Christian and raised me to follow God so I don’t understand why we have this strife between us. She says she loves me and I believe her.

    In our previous mediations with a neutral party we have both repented and asked each other for forgiveness. But it’s like we can’t have a mother-daughter relationship that is desired. I feel, that when other people say, “Honor your father and mother” in reference to one of the commandments, they have not walked in my shoes and just expect me to roll over and let her have her way. What about: “Parents do not provoke your children?”

    I am not trying to justify my actions or deflect fault. My question is this: Should I take a lengthy break from her with no communication so that I can heal from this? I also don’t want to talk anymore because it always leads to a fight, which is not good for either of us. My husband also thinks I should distance myself because he hates to see me hurt, and crying over this.

    What is the right way to honor her as God commands? I know she is lonely, as my brother for unknown reasons has estranged himself from us for years. She misses her grand kids and I know it would make her happy to see them and hear about their development.

    I live in a different country and last year when we visited it did not go well. There was a fight and also some untrue rumors that had reached my grandmother about me. The source of it was my mother because she is the only one who knew the details of the situation, but what was told to my grandmother was twisted and over stretched.

    We had an intervention with other family members where we prayed and tried to talk this out for the last time. I think we reached a mutual forgiveness point but reconciliation was not instant. This is reflected in the strained phone conversations we have had and my refusing to accept her calls and text messages in the last two-months.

    I honestly want to just cut-off my mom but I do not know if it is the right decision in God’s sight. I want to please God most of all. I also need to focus on my 3-year-old and my newborn. This turmoil drains my energy. My husband also wants me to stop dwelling on this situation and just walk away from it all together.

    How do I please God if it’s still difficult to get along with my mother? I love her and I truly forgive her in my heart of hearts. How can two born-again Christians not get along? I also don’t want to be left behind because of this issue. I am born-again and believe in Jesus.

    Thank you.

    Sherry


    Dear Sherry,

    Sometimes in life when we need or want to make a decision about something, whichever way we choose, neither solution may be ideal. The long history of contention and strife you have had with your mother certainly is a difficult one.

    From reading your letter and carefully thinking and praying about your situation, it sounds like you really want to be free of this seemingly never-ending friction with your mom. Boundaries are something we should always respect with one another but some people (most often family members) seem to ignore this simple courtesy.

    You can honor your mother by not getting caught-up in any more unpleasant verbal exchanges with her. I would not just cut her off cold. I suggest writing her a loving letter, a snail mail letter, not an email. Try to explain to her that you truly love her but the time has come in your life where you need all your energy to raise your two very young children.

    “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).

    Tell her that you don’t blame her or hold any animosity toward her and that you are sincerely sorry for the part you have played in all of this, but that you simply cannot continue to participate in a situation where there is so much conflict.

    Since nothing productive seems to come out of your interactions together you have made a decision to continue on with your life without the telephone, texting, and emailing aspect of your communication. This way what you are doing is clearly stated in writing and cannot be convoluted.

    This is not to punish her or hurt her, but it is matter of self-preservation so you can function properly and take care of your children. Tell her you cannot go on in a state of distress because of an unpleasant phone conversation, etc.

    For whatever reason the two of you are just not on the same wavelength and the best thing to do is to love each other from a distance through occasional letters via the traditional mail services.

    You can send her pictures of the children as they grow, in fact, make some photo albums for her and mail them to her occasionally, a couple of times a year. You can send her nice greeting cards now and then. In this way you would still be honoring her but not allowing the same old negative dynamics to take over.

    If she does not like the decision you’ve made, then simply tell her that you are sorry but this is how it has to be so you can function. The verbal arguments, and all the other undercurrent problems have taken a toll on you and you really have no other choice in the matter.

    You have a great responsibility to your husband and the children and cannot handle any more stress. You can also point out that these chronic negative interactions are not good for her either.

    You can probably expect her to get angry once she reads your letter. If she writes back with an upsetting letter, please contact me and I will work through it with you. I do understand, and I am sure many of the readers do as well—that even the slightest communication from a dysfunctional loved one can be like driving a stake into one’s heart.

    So for now, take it one-step at a time. Write the letter, put a couple of recent pictures of your kids into the envelope and mail it. If she calls or texts you, you can ignore it because you have already stated your case. Then if she writes back, let’s see what she says or if she makes any demands.

    Remember this is your first step to taking back your life, so you will have to be a bit patient. But once you state your case, you should stick with your decision or else you might get wrangled back into the same negative interplay.

    No doubt, your mom did everything she could to provide for you, and for that you are grateful. But that was her responsibility. As time goes on in the future you can always do some nice things for her, but I would proceed with caution. Right now, you must make peace with yourself that you are not doing this to be unkind to her, but you are doing it so you can be a responsible parent and carry on.

    The Lord knows every last detail of our lives, better than we know them ourselves. Go before Him and ask for His blessing and healing. Confess your part in the problems and ask Him to help your mother realize that she, too, has created this separation, which may need to continue for a very long time.

    When you find yourself getting upset and feeling angry toward her for any of the injustices in your relationship, remember what Jesus said on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

    On some level your mom is in a way handicapped to get past her “stuff”─whatever it is. Being a single mom must have been very hard for her. Always think of her with compassion and any angry feelings you might have will dissipate. And for you, growing up without a father has complex issues.

    You can please God by kindly making the case to your mother about how this lifelong drama must end and that you are not harboring any hatred or anger toward her. You are not going to be left behind in the Rapture over this. You are truly sorry and repentant, but that does not mean you have to open yourself up as an object of verbal bantering.

    Sherry, please focus on the blessings the Lord has given you: Two beautiful children, a good husband and a life that is away from the close proximity to your mom. The distance didn’t help because the communication continued as it did. Now, you can take a step to change all of that.

    Start with the letter. If she sends back an angry reply, then you may have to take a stronger step and cut-off the communication completely. But we won’t think about that quite, yet. I think you will feel better if you take this one step first before entertaining the idea of totally cutting her out of your life and that of you children for a very lengthy time.

    As far as being a born-again believer and not getting along, that does sound like an oxymoron. But believe me, it happens all the time. Pride is a relentless foe and rears its ugly head even amongst many professing Christians. And only God knows if a person is truly saved.

    When we are walking in the flesh we are living life giving into temptations leading to a life spattered with sin (which includes habitual verbal abuse). When we walk in the Spirit we live our lives in a way that reflects the inner workings of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within all true believers.

    We should always be conscious of how we are behaving and be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit. We should always try our best to be a good witness for Christ to others.

    A lot of people profess to be born-again Christians, yet I am continuously amazed at how many of these people are going through life as if they never made a sincere profession of faith.

    Many are spiritual infants who are in desperate need of repentance and re-evaluation of their proclamations of faith. I think some people will be surprised at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The motives for everything a believer does for the Lord will be judged. Some will lose their rewards because their motives for serving the Lord are insincere and self-serving (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

    “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

    Some professing Christians are not really saved. They are Christians in name only and will have to face the Lord at the Great White Throne judgment along with the rest of the unsaved. God is not mocked and all those who are parading around professing Christ, but blatantly defying His principles showing no good fruit whatsoever are in great jeopardy. God knows the heart intent of each person. He is merciful and just.

    Since you are truly repentant and have given your life to the Lord, I urge you to grow deeper in your faith and search the Scriptures daily and be sure to have a good prayer life where you communicate with the Lord often, each day.

    The stronger your prayer life becomes and the more you absorb the Scriptures, the less the cares of the world will affect you. You will be able to move on and not get caught-up in the minutia of this life, which includes chronic family problems.

    I also recommend reading two articles that we have from the FAQ section on Rapture Ready. The first is: “Why is strife a sin?” The second is titled, “How important are the words we speak?”

    http://raptureready.com/faq/faq635.html

    http://raptureready.com/faq/faq631.html

    Please keep in touch and know that I am praying with you. It is going to be all right, Sherry. We serve a great and mighty God who cares very much about you and all His children. Please give this entire matter over to Him and let’s pray that a wonderful result will yet come out of all of this.

    God bless you!

    Esther

    “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).


    Oct. 17, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    My wife and I have two young children We are very concerned that if Hillary Clinton wins the election many of our freedoms will be taken away, and her promise of high tax increases on the middle class will ruin us. I know as Christians we are not to be afraid but we have read a lot about this woman and listened to her doubletalk and she is frightening.

    It seems that the entire media are constantly covering up for her lies to the point that nothing can be believed anymore. I can see that they are making up terrible lies and exaggerations against her opponent and they have no shame.

    I know Hillary Clinton wants to let into our country more people from all over the world who will contribute nothing, but get on the taxpayer dole. This will ruin our economy even more and place our families at great risk. Our country is becoming more dangerous by the day. Nothing makes sense anymore.

    I know Donald Trump has many flaws but my wife and I have watched him in many of his rallies and like him despite his flaws. Flaws that are often blown out of proportion by those who want to destroy him and our country. I fear for my little girls and for my wife.

    I believe that Trump is for the American people. Hillary Clinton is a sell-out and has no concern for Americans, only for herself and her open borders agenda. If I didn’t know that the Antichrist will be a man, I would think that she is the Antichrist. She and her husband and Obama are the most lawless power hungry criminal politicians I have ever seen.

    I think Trump is so hated by the establishment media and government because he really loves this country, and is not going along with the globalists. I think if he wins the election he will go after the criminals in the government and elsewhere who use hard working Americans to get rich while we get poorer.

    I think too many people forget that in the Bible, God used some men that were far from perfect to accomplish many good things. King Cyrus did a lot of good.

    I am hoping you will share my letter with your readers just to get this message circulating. I want to protect my family, and sometimes it seems that so many things are stacked against good honest people -- that there is little hope for the future. I am afraid we are going to lose our county.

    I am hearing that some Christians will not vote, for either “evil” but I don’t think they understand the serious trouble our country is in. This election will determine so many things for America’s future. The future Supreme Court appointees alone could make or break our nation.

    I think if Hillary Clinton gets into the White House we will reach a point of no return. But I can’t seem to make some of my Christian friends understand that. They think this is just another election.

    Thank you for reading this and for your time. My wife and I read your column every week and really look forward to it.

    Matt


    Dear Matt,

    Your great concern for our country and your family is heartfelt. Many people are feeling the same as what you describe. Each day we are learning that the criminal Clinton lying/money machine has surrogates everywhere and will stop at nothing to gain total power. The corruption is so widespread and deep it is hard to believe. But Jesus said it would be this way the closer we get to His return.

    As believers, the worst thing we can do is sit back and do nothing. We must vote to STOP Hillary Clinton. I think she would be like Obama on steroids and even much worse. Trump is not a perfect candidate but I agree that he loves this country. The globalists have made a lot of headway with the Obama presidency, and they seek to end American sovereignty with a Clinton presidency.

    We must vote and point out the dangers we face to others who don’t get it. That is how you can bring some peace into your life and add a glimmer of hope to your future. The election is not about Trump. It is about trying to save our country from going further into the dark ideology of those who are enemies of the Cross and enemies of the principles implemented by our Founding Fathers.

    I expect the criminal Clinton lying/money machine will continue to manufacture outrageous lies every day to try to get people to not vote for Trump. They know that conservatives will not vote for Hillary, so they are working to get people to stay home and not vote at all. They want to discourage us and make us think that Trump does not have a chance.

    Nothing the media says can be trusted. They will say and do anything to try to destroy Trump and others who oppose their despotic agendas, and that includes Christians and conservatives of all faiths.

    Trump has stirred up a hornet’s nest and the guilty are going wild trying to stop him. Now Hillary and her accomplices are trying to turn Donald Trump into a Bill Clinton styled sexual predator with their obvious lies and misinformation. These are very dishonest evil people. Disgraceful.

    At least there are some conservative media outlets people can go to for real news, but the general population is being brainwashed against the only candidate that could give this nation some hope and stop the train wreck of globalism, or at least slow it down. Even if some people don’t like Trump, they should at least vote to STOP Hillary and the inevitable tyranny that she will inflict upon the American people (and others).

    Obama is already smooth talking about having only three news out lets people can “trust” and eliminating all other “wild west” sources. Sounds like massive censorship to me.

    The stark reality is this: We have two candidates. One of them will become president.

    One will destroy the sovereignty of this country and our way of life, and the other will at least fight against those who want to take way our God-given rights of freedom and prosperity by rekindling conservative leaning American values and preserve what is left of them.

    Not voting is a vote for Hillary and a tyrannical one world government. A Clinton presidency will make the Obama years look conservative. The stakes have never been higher. But Matt, you understand this. How to convince others of these dynamics can be challenging.

    We must all be in prayer. We must pray for protection, wisdom and courage. Pray for a miracle. And as Scripture teaches, equip ourselves daily with God’s armor so we can withstand the evil all around us

    We know that Scripture teaches there will be an overt one-world-government but that does not mean we should idly sit by and be holier than thou and forget that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Never before have these Scriptures been more true in relation to our current state of affairs:

    “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

    Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.

    And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

    Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:10-19).

    “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).

    “...according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2b).

    You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).

    It is as if all the demons from the Abyss are entrenched in the media, government and all throughout most aspects of society. Their web of lies, misinformation and confusion is increasing daily. Low information citizens are the perfect target for the propaganda that is being spewed.

    No part of our society is unaffected by the “progressive” (socialist/communist/fascist) ideology attempting to take over our American way of life. Group think is a cancerous problem which the enemies of God use to dumb-down willing and “useful idiots.” That phrase was used by Lenin and Stalin to describe sympathizers in the West who blindly supported Communist leaders. What foresight they had.

    Matt, thank you very much for your letter. I am sure it will bless our readers. We must trust the Lord in all things. Regardless of what happens, He is always with us and will guide us through whatever comes our way.

    I am including an article with an excellent message recently published in the Canada Freepress (October 11, 2016) regarding the voting issue, especially addressing Christians.

    Share it with others and never ever give up. And above all, “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).

    God bless you for your faithfulness,

    Esther

    What Is a Committed Christian to Do in This Election? By A. Dru Kristenev

    There is no doubt that this small voice from an independent Christian missionary, a woman, will encounter criticism for what follows.

    Eight years ago, a phenomenal legal researcher and I did everything in our power to unveil the Obama persona as a change artist whose concept of change was to dismantle our Founders’ legacy and the American dream.

    The novel Gold Baron wove facts into a portentous tale that has since seen basic fulfillment as that deconstruction has come to pass. If the rest of the country hasn’t learned a lesson, I did.

    And it’s clear that we’ve already reached a crossroads that, should we travel the wrong path with Hillary, there will be no return. The floodwaters of political correctness that have already overwhelmed secular society will have washed out the road behind us.

    So what us a committed Christian to do?

    Never a real fan of Donald Trump, I am an ultra conservative, registered independent who decided to sign-up as a Republican in order to vote for Ted Cruz in the primaries. As a result of those primaries and the convention, it’s been essential to come to grips with who tops the ticket.

    It wasn’t an easy decision, but fully understanding exactly what Hillary represents, her profiteering from state secrets and that her continuation of Obama’s destructive agenda must be immobilized, I resolved to support the Republican nominee.

    Revelations of Trump’s past vulgarities (which weren’t really revelatory to those who’ve watched him throughout the campaign) are giving Christians fits… but they shouldn’t.

    What, you say? How can someone who calls oneself a missionary—in fact, a person who runs a Christian ministry—make such a comment? Is there no moral compass? Obviously [I] Kristenev has lost her way.

    No, after long consideration and working with so many individuals whose stories are litanies of everything done wrong before finding what, or rather Who is right, Christ’s guidance was forthcoming.

    Scripture is full of individuals who lied, cheated, even murdered before God stepped in and changed their lives and their legacies. It’s clear that the Lord also used the godless to bring about great works of benefit to His people.

    Any person who spends time in the Word will immediately have names pop into his or her head that answer these descriptions, halting the necessity to recall them here. But the rationale for dealing with the current state of the election goes further than that.

    All too often, I hear judgmentalism from Christians that, frankly, undermines the core of the Faith. It negates how heart changes occur and, in some cases, recognizing someone is capable of it.

    For those who work with addicts, philanderers and felons whose lives have been turned around so completely by Christ, such a one-eighty (“repentance” for those who prefer religious terminology) is a wonder to behold.

    Interestingly, it isn’t understood unless having personally experienced what Christ told Nicodemus, that “a man be born again” (John 3:3).

    What has come from some Conservatives and Republicans has been harsher than that from the left who have no respect for truth, faith or morality.

    The unforgiving judgment has excluded any thought of redemption by dredging up every ill-considered remark Donald Trump has ever made. Believe me, some of the doozies were a true struggle to surmount but I look to Christ and His example as inspiration.

    Jesus was reviled for consorting with sinners—tax collectors, adulterers, prostitutes, diseased and unclean—as being beneath him and unredeemable. (Where have I heard that lately?) He knew something the religious leaders didn’t, that if He could touch their spirit with God’s love and forgiveness they could change, and many did, from Zacchaeus, a publican, to Nicodemus, a Pharisee (Luke 19:1-10).

    What is most troubling in the denunciation of Trump is the assumption that there has been no swerving of his spirit over the years, and perhaps the last months.

    Anyone who has undergone a heart change knows that the actual transformation comes over time, the “old man” isn’t overcome by the “new creation” overnight.

    Christians are all a work in progress and, as such, maybe we should recognize that “work” in others.

    Nowhere will I condone what has been said, some things vile and reprehensible in speaking of other candidates or individuals. But, from what has been seen, why rule out the possibility of someone beginning a transformational journey that can be encouraged?

    What purpose does venting disapproval serve? If down-ticket candidates believe that knee-jerk reaction to an 11-year-old recording is helping their cause with committed Christians, it does not. It shows them to be engrossed with personal pettiness that may spill this nation’s very lifeblood.

    For those who expect Christ’s imminent return to exempt them from having to take a stand, be reminded that it didn’t occur to stop the genocide of the Armenians, the carnage of WWI, the Holocaust or any number of atrocities throughout millennia. God works through believers not around or in spite of them.

    If Christ can sit down to dine with the greatest thief in Jericho, then it stands to reason that I can weigh the circumstances according to which presidential candidate sees America as a beacon of light or a curse on the planet. The benefit of the doubt and encouragement needs must go to the Republican ticket instead of expending a vote on another judgmental independent.

    Christians are not called to pride and self-righteousness, the sin of the Pharisees that brought Jerusalem to destruction in 70 AD, but to examine our own past missteps and indiscretions before condemning someone for theirs.

    “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:2-4)


    October 10, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I’m not sure how to get my thoughts into email form, but I’ll try my best. I’ve been alone most of my life. My mother abandoned me, and shortly after, my father married my stepmother. He left me, too. My grandparents raised me and I do thank God for that.

    My battle now is that I have a mind like a 40-year-old in a 26-year-old body. It’s a blessing, but also a curse. The curse is finding friends and people to connect with on the same level as myself.

    I am married and have a beautiful son. However, my husband works a lot and I don’t see him often. When he is off work he is always: very stressed, tense and just wants to be left alone. God found me while I was young, and I have been thankful to have the Lord. But, sometimes having no tangible friends (that are not 4 years old) makes me feel alone.

    Why is it so hard to find people to hold onto as tight as I try to; I mean friends as well as my husband? I have no one around that has that passion and desire like I have for the Lord.

    The friends my age that I’ve known since K-12 are living wild lives partying or are deep in sin. I’ve tried to be close to them, but their lifestyles and mine clash. I don’t find bars fun and I don’t want to sit around listening to them complain about other people either. I was bullied in school so I only have two “friends” the rest are on a name only basis.

    It’s hard for me to muster up the courage to get close to people. I’ve ALWAYS been abandoned. God has been the only consistent Person in my life. Why is it so hard to find people that hold on tight like I try to? I mean, people aren’t perfect but it doesn’t seem like true friends can be found.

    My husband says he’s saved but I don’t see much evidence. I go to a good Bible church and I’m involved. My husband has gone a few times but isn’t involved. He is also very angry when I am involved in different activities.

    His excuse for his anger is this: He says my activities take time away from him. His idea of quality time is my sitting around doing nothing while he’s on different tech devices. I hold onto God tightly but he doesn’t; He tries to come between my relationship with the Lord.

    My husband acts jealous. I spend a lot of time reading my Bible. I do so when he chooses to play video games or watch TV. But still he acts like I need to give it up for him. When we met seven years ago he went to church every Sunday. He told me he was a born-again Christian and from everything I saw it seemed true. We were married in his mother’s church. He is a few years older. He’s 31, I’m 26.

    I read my Bible often but he always tells me that my wanting to do things like that together is pushing him too much or like shoving it down his throat. We do pray with our son together before he goes down for his nap. I’m involved in the worship team and a group called “Awakening” which is like an interpreting dance group. I have a study group on Wednesday nights. But he hates when I go practice or am away.

    He says it’s because he thinks I should be spending time with the family. However, sitting and watching him play video games for three hours just feels like I’m wasting my life. To be honest, I feel like I am more of a roommate more than a wife cleaning, cooking and staying at home.

    I never had many friends because I was very shy and bullied. When my husband and I met everything was so different. He was spiritual and had everything on my list. I was picky when it came to guys because of being abused. Somehow I feel like I was fooled.

    I know God is good and when I get frustrated I try to remind myself that the devil will use any means possible to try and destroy God’s people. It’s just lonely sometimes. Thank you for your prayers. I love my son and do what I can but I hope he doesn’t take his father’s habits when he grows. I read your column every week. Thanks in advance for the advice.

    Elaine


    Dear Elaine,

    I am glad you wrote. Your life story is filled with many issues that must be placed in a perspective that will best help you cope and thrive. I can see why you would feel alone and abandoned, especially considering you were abandoned by your mother, and then your father.

    Only Jesus can heal wounds like this, and as you say, He found you early. You have a concern shared by many other Christians whom—like you, find it very hard to find friends and people they can connect with. In your case, it is even more hurtful because of the abandonment issues.

    “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me” (Psalm 27:10).

    We are living in the last days when people are getting more and more self-centered. The majority of the population is very self-seeking and only concerned about their own personal little world. The Lord shows us those who belong to Him and who we are to stay away from. He is letting you see what people are really like so you can make sound spiritual choices.

    It is unfortunate that this also applies to many of the people we find in our churches. It is even more complicated when it comes to the person we chose to marry; especially if once interested in the Lord and then later falls away.

    Your frustration to find others who have the same passion for the Lord is understandable. A lot of people can rattle off Christian buzz words, and try to give the appearance that they are deeply devoted to the Lord—but sadly, too many are using Christianity and the outward motions of going to church, etc. as just another social activity or as a money-making business.

    But I am glad to hear you are involved in a church. If others around you are more on a superficial level, it may be you whom the Lord is using to try to awaken them to get more serious about their faith. It sounds like your husband is backslidden. From the way you describe the situation he seems very different from the man you dated and married.

    I know it is not easy to get some people to open up. Have you tried talking to his mother to see what she thinks about all of this? Perhaps she can offer some answers to why he has changed so much from the man you thought he was when you married him. I can see why you would feel like he fooled you.

    It sounds like your husband has fallen into a rut. And his behavior is symptomatic of something deeper that is hard to discern; he wants you near yet he is not willing to give of himself.

    I can see why you would feel like you are simply a prop or a security blanket of some sort, and find it disturbing that he feels threatened when you want him to participate in reading the Bible, or anything to do with the Lord (except for the one prayer at your little son’s nap time). At least that is something. Ask the Lord in prayer for your husband’s spiritual growth and to help him realize that you too, have needs.

    Your marital situation is one many Christian women can relate to. Sometimes a husband tends to become very proprietorial (someone who has an exclusive right to something or someone) and does not like anyone or anything competing for his wife’s attention. This shows a lack of spiritual and emotional maturity.

    It sounds like your husband has a tough job and when he is home he may not be thinking clearly that you too, have needs. While he is insisting you hang around him, he absurdly ignores and neglects you in a way that is only going to create a wider rift between the two of you. This is very selfish behavior, not at all the way the Lord asks husbands to behave.

    “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 22:25-27).

    Try everything you can to let him know how you feel; he may not know how you really feel and it may come across that he is taking you for granted. Or it may be that his jealousy wants you where he can see you. This all sounds like insecurity on his part. You have a little child together and I urge you to find a way to get to a point where you can both contribute to the relationship in a way that will keep peace in your home, especially for the sake of your little boy.

    Once you calmly let him know it is not fair that he makes demands that even pull you away from the Lord, and the things that are important to you, ask if he will go to Christian counseling with you. If he refuses then tell him lovingly that it takes two to have a relationship and without him participating in your life too, then the relationship is headed for trouble.

    It sounds like he wants assurance of your love and devotion. But he must understand that you need that same assurance. And by trying to keep you from the Lord and your involvement at church he is damaging the relationship. Tell him how much you miss the times when you shared life, together; especially when you shared Jesus, but first point out all his positive attributes.

    Let him know you have your own interests also and it is not fair that you should be expected to put aside even the Lord so you can sit and watch him while he is involved in his video games and television shows; that you are at a point in your walk with the Lord where you cannot sit idly by filling your mind with secular minutia.

    Be sure to tell him you love him and that you are there for him, but intimacy comes when two people can openly share what is important to both of them. When there is no joy in a marriage it is very hard to smile and get excited about anything.

    Ask him what happened to his interest in the Lord. Remind him what seemed to be his love is what drew you to him; and you are extremely perplexed why he is no longer walking with the Lord together with you—as he once did. And tell him that it is not fair for him to expect you to decrease your commitment to the Lord even if he has.

    You are right in your assessment that true friends are hard to find. People have all kinds of expectations when making friends. The best way to make friends is to not have any expectations and let the friendships develop on their own. I know this might sound a bit harsh, but perhaps you are better off not having too many friends. In fact that is what Scripture teaches:

    “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

    This world is so fallen that we may never have the true friends we would like. Back biting and deceit exist everywhere, and sadly even amongst so-called Christians. But the Lord will bring special people into your life as you continue to pray that He opens the door to sharing Him with the right people, and closes the door to those who are self-seeking phonies.

    It is very hard to trust anyone. Jesus said it would be this way (2 Timothy 3:2). Some people will even tell you they are praying for you but your discernment warns not to get involved or trust them. Pay attention to the nudging of the Holy Spirit. And always remember we are living in enemy territory and rethink what your needs in this world really are, and what the Lord is calling you to do.

    I understand that you read your Bible and are involved in your church; that is very good. But please rethink how you view yourself in relation to these last days and how much energy you want to spend trying to make earthly relationships flourish—considering the time we have left here may not be very long. Sharing the gospel should be our number one priority (Matthew 28:19).

    Being a mother is a full-time job. Nurture and love your son the best you can. He is your gift from God and his young years are so precious. They pass so quickly; enjoy them and have fun with him. When he is older you will miss that delightful little 4-year-old who is so dependent on you, now.

    I have already made some suggestions about how to improve your marriage but it takes two to make the improvements. If all the compromising must come mostly from one person (you) than you have an uphill battle. And from what you have shared, that may well be the case. If so, then you will have to find a way to look at your life (marriage) in a different way.

    Expectations almost always let us down. The major disconnect is that your husband has left the Lord behind in a demonstrative way, and the spiritual bond that you had together is no longer shared in your relationship as it once was.

    Does your husband understand Bible prophecy? One approach you might try is to ask him if the two of you could start studying Bible prophecy together. Point out some things to him that might peak his interest and above all keep praying for him. Do it in a way which brings current events into the discussion so you are not “shoving” the Lord and His Scriptures down his throat. We cannot change people but God can.

    Try to focus on all the blessings you do have. Being a stay-at-home mom is a huge blessing. Find creative ways to make the most of your time at home. You may never find the type of deep interaction with others in this life that you crave, but you can be a shining example for the Lord by your loving approach to things.

    The Lord has a way of turning our disappointments into joy, but we must let go of idealism and realize everything that happens to a Christians is an opportunity for spiritual growth and to prepare for our eternal future with Him.

    I can tell you that a lot people do not have the relationship with a spouse that they envision for themselves. Instead of being sorrowful, we must make the most of the situation. Be as cheerful as you can toward your husband, even though you are not getting what you need, and trust that the Lord is working on him.

    In time, the relationship still has a great chance of improving. And be glad that he is a hard worker and is providing for the family.

    Keep fellowshipping with the Lord and He will sustain you.

    The Lord asks us to give thanks in all things. Now that sounds like an impossible feat at times. But we must trust Him. He understands your heartaches and has been there for you. He warned us that we would have tribulation in this life, so we must not get overly exhausted about the trials and disappointments we face. This is not our true home. Keep remembering that when you feel disconnected from others.

    And take great joy in knowing that all of the misery we have had to endure because of this fallen world is a temporary state of affairs. As true believers, we are only passing through. Often it is a good idea to think, I am on a journey, I don’t like the rough and lonely road, but thank God, this is not my true home.

    Elaine, there is a very happy ending to all of this, to the trials of this life, but it may not be until we are face-to-face with the Lord. That is when we will be free of the entanglements and heartaches of this broken world. In the meantime do your best to act as an ambassador for Christ, and that alone will reap many blessings as you sow seeds to bring others to His saving grace.

    “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).

    Consider yourself blessed, Elaine. See if you can find ways to meet other mothers who do know the Lord, even the two friends you do have should be counted as a blessing. And your involvement at your church should be a support for you to some degree, anyway. (Many people cannot even find a good church.)

    Keep thanking God for your husband’s positive traits, and for your beautiful little boy and all the good in your life. In this life, the people we meet, even close family members may disappoint us, but Jesus will never let us down. And your amazing future with Him is guaranteed. Please focus on all the positive blessings you have and you will begin to feel less victimized and alone.

    When we are on the disappointed end of a relationship, we must change our attitudes to better deal with our given circumstance. It sounds like your husband loves you very much (in his own way), but has taken the wrong road (a detour) that has broken the bond you so very much crave.

    Focusing his time and mind on videos, etc. has skewed his ability to see things for what they are. If he was once strong in his faith, he can be again. He is using these things as an escape, to tune out for the daily grind of life—like so many others do.

    Please keep in touch and let me know how you are doing. I think there is still great hope for your marriage. Give it all over to the Lord. Keep praying for him and your relationship. God can work miracles to change your husband’s heart and attitude (although it doesn’t look that way right now to you).

    Be loving and patient and always keep in mind that from a prophetic perspective—we are going home soon. And all of these earthly matters will soon be long gone.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “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 8:18).