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

  • Jan 25, 2015
  • Jan 18, 2015
  • Jan 11, 2015
  • Jan 4, 2015
  • Dec 28, 2015
  • Dec 21, 2015
  • Dec 14, 2015
  • Dec 7, 2015
  • Nov 30, 2015
  • Nov 23, 2015
  • Nov 16, 2015
  • Nov 8, 2015
  • Nov 2, 2015
  • Oct 26, 2015
  • Oct 19, 2015
  • Oct 12, 2015
  • Oct 5, 2015
  • Sep 21, 2015
  • Sep 14, 2015
  • Sep 7, 2015
  • Sep 7, 2015
  • Aug 31, 2015
  • Aug 24, 2015
  • Aug 17, 2015
  • Aug 10, 2015
  • Aug 3, 2015
  • Jul 27, 2015
  • Jul 20, 2015
  • Jul 13, 2015
  • Jul 6, 2015
  • Jun 29, 2015
  • Jun 22, 2015
  • Jun 15, 2015
  • Jun 8, 2015
  • Jun 1, 2015
  • May 25, 2015
  • May 18, 2015
  • May 11, 2015
  • May 4, 2015
  • Apl 27, 2015
  • Apl 20, 2015
  • Apl 13, 2015
  • Apl 6, 2015
  • Mar 30, 2015
  • Mar 23, 2015
  • Mar 16, 2015
  • Mar 9, 2015
  • Mar 2, 2015
  • Feb 23, 2015
  • Feb 16, 2015
  • Feb 9, 2015
  • Feb 2, 2015
  • Jan 26, 2015
  • Jan 19, 2015
  • Jan 12, 2015
  • Jan 5, 2015
  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Dec 15, 2014
  • Dec 8, 2014
  • Dec 1, 2014
  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Nov 17, 2014
  • Nov 10, 2014
  • Nov 3, 2014
  • Oct 27, 2014
  • Oct 20, 2014
  • Oct 13, 2014
  • Oct 6, 2014
  • Sep 29, 2014
  • Sep 22, 2014
  • Sep 15, 2014
  • Sep 8, 2014
  • Sep 1, 2014
  • Aug 25, 2014
  • Aug 18, 2014
  • Aug 11, 2014
  • Aug 4, 2014
  • Jul 28, 2014
  • Jun 21, 2014
  • Jul 14, 2014
  • Jul 7, 2014
  • Jun 30, 2014
  • Jun 23, 2014
  • Jun 16, 2014
  • Jun 9, 2014
  • Jun 2, 2014
  • May 26, 2014
  • May 19, 2014
  • May 12, 2014
  • May 5, 2014
  • Apl 28, 2014
  • Apl 21, 2014
  • Apl 14, 2014
  • Apl 7, 2014
  • Mar 31, 2014
  • Mar 24, 2014
  • Mar 17, 2014
  • Mar 10, 2014
  • Mar 3, 2014
  • Feb 24, 2014
  • Feb 17, 2014
  • Feb 10, 2014
  • Feb 3, 2014
  • Jan 27, 2014
  • Jan 20, 2014
  • Jan 13, 2014
  • Jan 9, 2014
  • Dec 23, 2013
  • Dec 16, 2013
  • Dec 9, 2013
  • Dec 2, 2013
  • Nov 25, 2013
  • Nov 18, 2013
  • Nov 11, 2013
  • Nov 4, 2013
  • Oct 28, 2013
  • Oct 21, 2013
  • Oct 14, 2013
  • Oct 7, 2013
  • Sep 30, 2013
  • Sep 23, 2013
  • Sep 16, 2013
  • Sep 9, 2013
  • Sep 2, 2013
  • Aug 26, 2013
  • Aug 12, 2013
  • Aug 5, 2013
  • Jul 29, 2013
  • Jul 22, 2013
  • Jul 15, 2013
  • Jul 8, 2013
  • Jul 1, 2013
  • Jun 24, 2013
  • Jun 17, 2013
  • Jun 10, 2013
  • Jun 3, 2013
  • May 27, 2013
  • May 20, 2013
  • May 13, 2013
  • May 6, 2013
  • Apl 29, 2013
  • Apl 22, 2013
  • Apl 15, 2013
  • Apl 8, 2013
  • Apl 1, 2013
  • Mar 25, 2013
  • Mar 18, 2013
  • Mar 11, 2013
  • Mar 4, 2013
  • Feb 25, 2013
  • Feb 18, 2013
  • Feb 11, 2013
  • Feb 4, 2013
  • Jan 28, 2013
  • Jan 21, 2013
  • Jan 14, 2013
  • Jan 7, 2013
  • Dec 31, 2012
  • Dec 24, 2012
  • Dec 17, 2012
  • Dec 10, 2012
  • Dec 3, 2012
  • Nov 26, 2012
  • Nov 19, 2012
  • Nov 12, 2012
  • Nov 5, 2012
  • Oct 29, 2012
  • Oct 22, 2012
  • Oct 15, 2012
  • Oct 8, 2012


  • June 27, 2016

    Dear Esther

    I am 19 years old. My mother has raised me as a Christian but my father is not really a believer. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I turned 17 and was very involved in our youth group at my church. My dad tells me that just because certain things are in the Bible, it does not mean they are true.

    I know he is wrong but there is always a uncomfortable distance between us. How can I convince him that he is wrong? Or is it better not to say much? I have told him I think he is wrong and he gets mad.

    I don’t want him to end up in hell. He thinks that hell is a myth. Sometimes he talks about Jesus as if he believes in Him but then does not accept the Bible as truth. I attend a Christian college and I feel that the Lord may be calling me to be pastor. I don’t think my father will be too happy about that. I want to be true to the Lord and also not cause conflict with my father.

    Thanks and God bless you,

    Tom


    Dear Tom,

    Thank you for writing. Your father is accountable to the Lord for what he believes, as we all are. Your concern for him is heartfelt. The best thing you can do, is continue to live your life as best you can, following godly principles.

    You are not causing this conflict. This is not about you. The distance you feel is there because he rejects the very things that are so important to you and are truly life and death salvation issues. To his credit, he has not stopped you from attending a Christian college, so for that you should be very grateful.

    It sounds like your father is confused like so many other people. Of course you would like him to understand that the Bible is God’s holy Word, but since he is not accepting this truth right now the very best thing you can do is pray for him. Many people have come to the Lord through intercessory prayer.

    When someone is very closed to the Bible, the best thing we can do is faithfully hold that person up before the throne of God. Patience is required, but by doing this you will be actively and consistently doing the work of a prayer warrior. If you can think of yourself in that way, it will help you feel like something very significant is being done to help open your father’s eyes.

    In some of my other responses I have suggested that sharing Bible prophecy is a way to pragmatically point-out-evidence for biblical truth. Sometimes even that is difficult when someone has hardened his heart and only wants to hear what he wants to hear. Since he gets angry when you tell him he is wrong, it might be best to choose your words more carefully.

    Instead of telling him he is wrong, if an opportunity arises you could point out prophecies that have been fulfilled. The reestablishment of the nation of Israel is a great example. Search out as many fulfilled prophecies as you can find in the Old Testament and document them.

    Tom, it sounds like you are well grounded in the Lord and have a great future ahead. If you feel the Lord is calling you to be a pastor, then everything will come together for you in that regard. By your good example, living your life true to God’s teachings, your father will see that you are very serious about your faith and there is a good chance that he may begin to look more carefully into why his son has made a choice to serve the Lord.

    You could be the very catalyst that the Lord will use to break his stubborn spirit.

    I am so sorry that you have this conflict with your father but we serve a great and mighty God and our prayers are heard and answered. The Lord has given you what sounds like great leadership abilities. We need young men like you to lead others.

    Realize that there will be a “distance” between you and your father unless he comes to faith. This has nothing to do with you, personally, so when it gets to a point where you might feel totally frustrated with the situation, know that your father’s rejection of the Bible is not a rejection of you.

    By being kind and loving toward your father, you will be setting a good example of Christian love. Never take any attacks against the Word of God by him as an attack against you. And remember what Jesus said on the cross, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”

    Your father is spiritually lost and does not realize the great danger he is in. This is a time to trust the Lord with all your heart and not lean unto your own understanding. The Lord knows exactly what your father needs to bring him to faith. Keep praying and trusting and rely upon your heavenly father for guidance and strength. And dare to pray for great things, as Elijah did:

    “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:17-18).

    Please don’t hesitate to reach out again any time.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 15:16b).


    June 20, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I have three sons who are now 33, 34, 35. Two of them are unable to work due to health issues. They very rarely ask for anything. My husband is the father of all three and we have been married for 37 years. My husband refuses to help them financially and if we have extra food, he tells me not to give them any.

    The only way I could get him to give $10 for gas or food is to get into a big argument. I am unable to work so I have no income to help. He gets mad at me if I offer to watch my grandkids occasionally or want to buy them a birthday present.

    He provided for the children when they were living at home, but only basic necessities. My youngest son is able to work, but my middle son has chronic migraines and fibromyalgia and is on social security. My oldest son has degenerative disc disease, has facet joints that are failing, ruptured discs and is in extreme pain. He worked many years in construction until he couldn't handle the pain. He has been trying to get disability for the last three years.

    The oldest receives $200 general assistance a month and the middle son receives about $500 a month to live on. They do get some food assistance, but it is so small it barely lasts two weeks a month. There are times I go through my cupboard or freezer and give them food, hoping my husband won’t notice. My husband’s father was a pastor and a very loving person; my husband has no reason to act this way. Our sons never ask for help unless absolutely necessary; they are very independent.

    I have no idea why my husband refuses to be compassionate about his children and grandchildren. He refuses to help in any way and the only way I can get him to help is to get into a big argument. If I offer to watch any of the grandchildren he gets furious with me and will leave while they are here. I don’t watch them very often because I get tired of the arguments.

    My husband has always been this way and claims he is an Christian. If I receive money for Christmas or birthdays I try and help them. My sons are believers and God does meet their needs, but there are times they have gone without food. The reason the two oldest go without food is because of low income.

    I don’t belong to a church here, but am considering one. No friends either, I have health issues and is difficult for me to retain relationships. My sons pay rent through government programs that pay most of the rent. I have been a believer for 45 years now and I am so blessed to be a child of God. He has given me the strength I need to make it through each day.

    There are many times I cannot be honest with my husband about me helping them, I have so much guilt about that. How should I handle this situation?

    God Bless,

    Yvonne


    Dear Yvonne,

    Thank you for your letter. I am sorry to hear about your circumstances. An aching heart of a mother is one that many can relate to; the circumstances may be different in each case but when such division exists in families a common denominator exists; abuse. You certainly are in a very tough situation.

    You cannot force your husband to be generous. Your husband is a professing believer but has no compassion? I have thought about you so many times over the weeks since I first read your letter. We know we cannot change people, and your husband sounds like a very stubborn and heartless man.

    When it is all said and done, as you have learned over many years, Jesus is truly the only One we can count on. Friends, family and acquaintances often disappoint us. Nevertheless there are some good people out there who do care.

    In your particular situation the one person who should be doing anything and everything to make life easier for you and your sons is the very one who is causing the difficulties. You are enmeshed in a very difficult situation because you are dealing with a cold-hearted selfish man. You have been together for a very long time. If you have not seen any positive change in him by now, it is unlikely he will suddenly become a doting dad and grandfather.

    I actually pity people like him; they are so intent on getting their way that they alienate all those around them. And what is worse, people like that don’t seem to care one bit what others think of them. It sounds like you are a saint to endure your husband’s negativity all these years. You and the rest of the family are neglected and affected yet it does not sound like he is one bit convicted of the pain he causes all of you.

    The only possible way your husband may have a change of heart is if he becomes a man who genuinely surrenders his life to Christ, studies the Bible and learns that it is his place to be a loving husband and begins to place you and your children in high regard. But since his father was a loving pastor, surely he must have learned that at some point in his life. So whatever his problem is, it is all his to own.

    Can you find a Bible study that you could attend together? If your husband is unwilling to go, then please find a church or some kind of Christian organization where you can get involved. I would suggest the same for your sons. I know it is not always easy to find a good church or ministry but many do exist. And it isn’t easy to get around when we are not feeling well.

    But if you would find a way to reach out and make an effort to create a small circle of Christian friends, life could get better. Although you have had some problems retaining relationships because of your health issues, maybe they were not the right people, anyway.

    Some caring and good people will go the extra-mile and to come to people’s homes to visit or drive people to events. When you pray, ask the Lord to bring such people into your life and the lives of your sons. Cry out to him like never before and ask him to miraculously intervene.

    A common pattern in situations similar to yours is isolation. It seems that the abusive spouse finds a way to isolate his family from others; that way the abuser cannot be held accountable. Isolation can lead to devastation (as you already know).

    It is one thing to be somewhat of a loner and independent from the need to have frequent interaction with others, but it is another thing to see a pattern of isolation where there is chronic underlying abuse going on behind the scenes.

    Over time, as you interact with other believers you may get some moral support and possibly connect with others who might help you find ways to raise money for your sons. In that way you would not have to hope you can convince your stingy husband to do what is right. Yvonne, God will provide a solution to this and life can get better.

    Because of your own fragile health it is especially hard to be as assertive as you may want. But there are many good people and if you take steps to interact with others, you might even start feeling better.

    As far as feeling guilty about the help you give your sons, your husband should be the one to feel guilty. Shame on him for being the way he is. I would say your husband has forced you into a very difficult situation. As a caring mother how can you not try to help your sons? Your husband is the guilty one; don’t let him twist your love and compassion for your children into some sort of spousal betrayal.

    Although we do live in a fallen world where selfish behavior is the norm, there is always hope in Jesus. Please pray for His intervention into your life and the lives of your sons. Pray for a miraculous intervention. Cry out to the Lord and state your case. Ask Him to bring loving believers into your lives who will become like family; those who will help carry your burdens in pragmatic ways.

    Whenever I hear about greedy self-centered professing Christians I am deeply saddened. I live in a community where there are a lot of Mormons. I am always amazed at what a tight knit bunch they are and how they help each other in every and any way possible. And they do not even serve the true King of kings! But as believers we do have the true Jesus and He is there for us 24/7. In Christ there is always hope. Trust that He will intervene and change things for the better.

    “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 3:4-5).

    Trust that the Lord will turn your situation around. Your husband may never be of any help, but Jesus can orchestrate things for your benefit in ways we cannot. The important thing is to trust in Him and not give up. Even one person can make all the difference in a person’s life. God may just have the one right person out there somewhere ready to help.

    Please keep in touch with me and let me know how things evolve. Go forward with confidence that there is a solution and that the Lord will provide a situation where you and your sons are not feeling like casualties of one man’s despicable and disgraceful behavior.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).


    June 13, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I need help, I’m feeling ... crazy! I just read Anastasia’s letter to you from a few of weeks ago.. My story is familiar to hers. I have a husband who won’t ‘touch me, not hold hands, rest his hand on my shoulder, etc. We’ve had more than one fight about this. The last time I asked him why he won’t touch me he said, “Because I don't want to!”

    He’ll give me a kiss, a hug and will say, “I love you” every day before he goes to work, but that’s it! He’ll sit by the dog and pet him and hug him and just yesterday I asked him why he won’t touch me like that. His response was, “Are we going to go through this again?” I told him that I’m so lonely, and that I truly don’t think he cares.

    Recently we were both at an appointment and a young, very pretty girl came in. I watched him watch her until she received her paperwork (about 5 min.) then left. He couldn't take his eyes off her.

    I went to my church to talk to a counselor. I explained the situation, it being much deeper than what I am writing here and she told me to pray for him (which I’ve been doing for years) and maybe I should be on anti-depressants.

    My husband is all I have here, ALL of my family lives 12,000 miles away. I’m so confused, because I feel if I leave my husband that I may be throwing the cross away that the Lord gave me, but at the same time I’m having a very hard time living without a human touching me.

    Sometimes I feel crazy! I often wish I were dead. Mostly because this world is so sick and I do long to be with the Lord, but because my loneliness feels like it may smother me too. I feel desperate!

    Thank you Esther for any advice you might offer and God bless you. Maranatha.

    Christine


    Dear Christine,

    It sounds like your husband is not grounded in the Lord. Either you accept him as he is and try to count every good blessing that you do have or spend the rest of your life being frustrated. Sometimes we find ourselves in turmoil and in tough situations, and often due to the choices we have made or because of unexpected circumstances.

    People can change for the better or worse. I don’t know what your husband was like when you married him; I imagine he must have been much more loving that he is now. We cannot undo the past but we can cultivate a healthy attitude for the future.

    It sounds like your husband is not being upfront with you; he also may not be upfront with himself. Your husband clearly does not want to talk about why he does not want to embrace you more often you and make you feel loved. His behavior is wrong. But nevertheless, it seems he is going to do what suits him.

    Some people are so lost and is so disconnected from the Lord that they cannot think of anyone but themselves. And sadly, our society today fuels self-centered behavior. It sounds like your husband has some issues that need to be addressed, but obviously you cannot force him to speak with you about why he behaves they way he does.

    I strongly urge you to find others with whom you can fellowship. I get so many letters from women who are desperate for love and attention from their spouses, yet they don’t receive the love and attention they so very much crave.

    This world is so “me” oriented it is a constant challenge to find a relationship that is the way God intended marriage to be. Too many have fallen into self-centered worldly lifestyles and are Christians in name only. This may be what you are dealing with. So many people only think about how they feel and are callous toward those who love them the most. This type of behavior is like a cancerous epidemic in our culture.

    When I see this type of situation I always think, Thank you Lord that this life is temporary. Your husband may need you more than he might let on. At least he gives you a hug and a kiss in the morning and says, “I love you.” Perhaps that is all he can do for whatever reason.

    I wonder if the church counselor you spoke with suggested that both you and your husband should get into counseling together; but it would have to be counseling based on biblical precepts. I don’t like it that she suggested you start taking anti-depressant medication. What kind of Christian counselor is that? She should be guiding you into Scripture to help strengthen you.

    I am not saying there is not a place, sometimes, for careful medical treatment but it should be a last resort in cases like this. All the drugs would do is get you more depressed in the long run. I would not take her advice to heart, that is unless you want to create new problems for yourself. Many alternative methods of calming and healing can be found. I would look into alternate therapies that might help calm your nerves; methods outside of the pharmaceutical protocols.

    When we are pushed to the limit, that is often when we can best strengthen our relationship with the Lord. Sorrow is a word that comes to mind; the walking wounded are everywhere. I see it with both men and women, and the worst part of it is the children who reap the brunt of the all too common dysfunctional behavior of their parents.

    Remember Christine, the Lord warned us that in this life we will have tribulation but that we can always count on the Him. Stay close to Him and try to release any expectations you have of your husband (for now), otherwise you may lose all hope.

    In your heart you need to forgive him. Yes, I know you are angry and extremely disappointed, but we cannot force people to change. By carrying around anger and resentment you are hurting yourself.

    Is Jesus with you? Has He forsaken you? It is He who loves you unconditionally and will never forsake you. Sometimes we can get so caught-up in what is not right with our lives that we miss the sweet aroma of the Lord’s many blessings.

    Please look around and see what you can be thankful for. So many people have very serious problems with little hope of improvement. Christians are being murdered and tortured all over the world. And there are so many other injustices everywhere. As long as we focus on the lack in our lives we will portray that picture to the unsaved world. If we project an attitude of gratitude in life we will be good witnesses for Christ.

    Christine, one day soon, we will all stand before the Lord. Somehow I think we will all just gasp and feel ridiculously small for getting too caught-up with our problems in this world; because when we see Him—nothing else will matter. All the heartache and disappointment you are feeling will be gone forever.

    The devil cannot take away our salvation but he is an expert at trying to make us miserable, reminding us how all is not quite right. He wants us to think God does not care about us. Don’t allow him to make your life miserable by thinking so much about your husband’s lack of affection.

    If you can be creative and find ways to feel less slighted and alone, your husband might see a change in you and wonder what is going on. He might just become a bit more interested in you! Start smiling and find things to do that don’t focus on him so much. Let him see you doing “just fine” without his attention. Don’t give him so much power to make you feel miserable.

    When we cannot get what we need from family members, sometimes a close friend can help fill the gap. The greatest gap filler is Jesus. This would be a great time to get to know Him better. Try to get involved in small group Bible studies, and fellowship with others who are serious about their walk with the Lord. Spend a lot of quiet time with the Him. Get into the Scriptures deeply and you will find may gems of joy in there.

    See what is going on in your Christian community and get involved. You might be surprised how the neglect you are feeling now, can be tempered and somewhat lessened by taking the focus off your spouse, and rather focusing on matters of faith. Of course the Lord wanted marriage to be a perfect union where couples are truly as one. But this world is so far gone, very few, and I mean—very few marriages have the type of intimacy you crave.

    Christine, you must find a way within your given circumstances to find the joy of the Lord. He loves you so very much and He is there for you. Spend your waking hours communing with Him; your faith can get to a much deeper level. The more you get into the Word of God the more positive you will feel.

    Your husband may never change, but you can change the way you view your marriage The current dynamics do not seem fair, from perfection—but sometimes we need to make the best of a situation. If you walk out, would that solve the problem of loneliness? Think carefully before you do anything rash.

    If you can get into counseling with a Christian marriage counselor who understand God’s order for marriage, and who does not suggest anti-depressants, perhaps your husband might start to open up. And if he will not get into counseling with you, then you have to decide if you want to feel angry each day or find a constructive way to fill the void in your life.

    I know I often say this but it is so true: This is not our real home. We are in this world but not of this world. Christine, please think about what I have suggested to you and go before the Lord and ask Him to guide you in what decisions you should make so you can find ways to live a more fulfilled life, with or without your husband’s affection.

    I wish you the very best and if you take one step at a time to move forward with a new attitude, your frustration will decrease. And you don’t have to do it in your own strength—Jesus will strengthen you every step of the way.

    “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

    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).




    June 6, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I am a born-again Christian who just recently lost my mother through suicide. My mother was a godly Christian who suffered from a mental illness. She suffered this illness for many years and had made several attempts in the past with overdosing on her medications.

    During my childhood I was placed in foster care due to my mother’s illness. She had actually thought I was possessed by the devil and contacted the Children’s Aid to say she no longer could take care of me. It was very hurtful to be taken out of my home at the age of 11 and be placed in foster care.

    As I grew older I was discharged a crown ward of the Children’s Aid at the age of 16, and began to continue a relationship with my mother. I was very close to my mother despite her giving me away. During my high school years I had a child out of wedlock. The father of my child never played in any part of her upbringing. My mother helped greatly in the raising of my daughter. She was such a big help to me.

    My mother loved the Lord and spent hours praying and attending church daily. Just this past January 7, 2016 my mother committed suicide. My brother came home from work and found her on the kitchen floor. She had taken a bottle of Tylenol and all her blister pack medications.

    I will never forget the phone call that day, when my brother told me the news. I miss my mother terribly and there is such a void. I would call her every day to talk and see how she was doing. My heart is in so much pain over the loss of my mother. I want your advice Esther on the issue of Christians committing suicide. My mother loved the Lord but suffered mentally. Does the Lord forgive in that situation?

    Thank you,

    Tammy


    Hello dear Tammy,

    My heart goes out to you. Your mother was clearly suffering from an illness. We serve a great and merciful God and He knows what your mom was going through better than anyone else. She was suffering inside and she could no longer bear the inner pain. She is now free from that inner-torment that ruled over her.

    Your mom obviously tried to get past her inner-turmoil but simply could not. It is also very possible that in a moment of extreme desperation, she kept taking all those pills trying to put a stop to a huge upsurge of emotional and mental anguish—not even realizing that taking all those pills could cause her to actually die on the spot.

    It was a cry for help, and help came in the form of Jesus Christ and He took her home. Only God knows what was going on with her in those last hours of her life. It sounds to me like she was desperate to stop the turmoil within.

    But please know that you had nothing to do with her breakdown or her past breakdowns. If you can try to understand that she is now with the Lord and no longer has to struggle with whatever it was within her that tormented her, then you will be able to get past this very trying time. You sound like an outstanding woman and the Lord will surely strengthen you. I hope you are close to your brother; it would be good if you could spent time together.

    And precious Tammy, you will be with your mom again (1 Corinthians 13:12). And when you see her next time, there will be nothing to come between the two of you. She is completely healed now and all is well with her.

    It is very hard right now for you, but there is a day coming when all of this pain and heartache will be gone. Until that day, Tammy, the Lord has productive things for you to do. You have been through so much, and you can relate to so many adversities and help others who have had similar issues.

    I am sorry you have had to suffer so much; being taken from your home at such a young age must have been extremely difficult—you have survived much sorrow. God is with you to guide you as you adjust to the absence of your mother on this physical realm. The type of wounds you have had to endure are very difficult but you can begin to heal today.

    Jesus is there for you now and always. Your glorious eternal future is promised by God Himself. It will be better than anything we can possibly imagine. In this life, it is often the very tough times that mold us into who we are, and the end result with you is that you have developed into a very fine woman.

    You also have your daughter to live for, and the love you give and get from one another is a gift from God; one that should be cherished and nurtured. (I am sure you already know that.) We cannot go back in time and change things but we can resolve to carry on and make the best of our given circumstances.

    You can still love your mom and long to be with her. It is very soon since her death; time really does help the healing process. The acute void and pain you are feeling now will get better as time passes, and you will not feel so distraught. Use this time to get very strong in the Lord. Get into the Word of God as much as possible for it is a healing balm, and the best source of help in times of trouble.

    Rest assured that your mother is safe in Jesus’ arms. Something was wrong within her, and when a person is unable to take responsibility for his or her own behavior because of a serious mental or emotional illness—accountability for that person is not the same as it is for those who are very clear, and can make healthy cognitive choices with sound minds.

    Please take some comfort knowing your mom is no longer living in her inner torment. She is still alive in your heart and yet she also now lives in her true home and is eternally free of her illness. You will be together again, and all the pain and heartache of the past will be gone forever (1 Corinthians 3:12)

    When we love someone very much and then suddenly can no longer communicate with that person, it is a shock. But it was your mother’s time. The Lord brought her home. Try thinking of her absence as a temporary separation and that will help you tremendously to keep things in perspective.

    “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

    God bless you and strengthen you, dear Tammy. Hold on tight to Jesus and He will carry you through these challenging days. Your love for your mom and the Lord will strengthen you. Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are coming along. You are not alone.

    “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).

    Much love in Christ,

    Esther

    “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).


    May 30, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. Last week I found out I am pregnant with my second child with the same man. We are not married but were engaged and living together to raise our son in a family setting.

    I took my relationship as if I were married to him the whole time. I know this was not the way God wanted us to live but I could not push him into marrying me sooner and I didn't have the financial means to leave the house.

    Back to last week: After I found out that I am pregnant, my fiancé told me that he has been cheating on me for a while now and this other girl is supposedly-pregnant as well. (He told me the exact same story when I was pregnant the first time and that girl was not pregnant so I am unsure if this girl really is.) He put me through so much pain throughout that pregnancy but I forgave him and allowed him time to try to make things right.

    He told me he thinks he loves this girl even though he was telling me the same thing. He seems to feel more sorry for her, even though she knew he was engaged to me and we had a family and she CHOSE to pursue him.

    Here I thought I had a family with this man and we were in the works of making in right in God’s eyes, just to find out I was being betrayed the whole time. He gave me the “first option” to work things out with him but I chose to pack my belongings and my son’s stuff and leave his home.

    There was no trust to begin with, and obviously there never will be. I do not have the financial means to get my own place right now, but given the circumstances, my family is allowing my son and I to stay with them until I can save up my money.

    I am ashamed I ever let myself get in this situation again. I love God very much but I was living a life that was not right by Him. I have repented of my sins but I still feel very empty and hurt by all of this.

    I am afraid of having another child on my own and spending another pregnancy completely alone. I know I have been through this once already and everything turned out okay but this time feels so much worse.

    Now I have a 3-year old little boy asking me questions about why mommy and daddy wanted him and it breaks my heart. I forgave his daddy the first time because I wanted a family for my son and this is what happened. I’m afraid he will come back and I'll forgive him again because now I’ll have two children with him.

    My parents are allowing us to stay with them as long as we need to. It’s just hard for me because my mom is under enough stress already and I feel like I’m only adding to it. Plus I’m 27 years old and I thought my life was finally falling into place—a wedding, family, etc. Things changed so fast and I’m having a hard time with that. My mother is a very religious woman. She actually wrote to you a few times. I was brought-up Pentecostal by her. My stepfather is Lutheran. Both love God very much.

    They are both very understanding of the situation ... more so than I am, I think. I’m trying very hard to trust in the Lord but I’m have a difficult time hearing what He’s telling me. I want nothing more than to do right by God. I’ve done things my own way for too long now and it’s gotten me nowhere. Your advice means a lot to me.

    Please help me see what God is doing here. I know I left for a reason (mainly guilt for not being married) but I have no idea what to do now. I have been praying and praying but I don’t know what God wants me to do. I'm having a hard time dealing with this and could really use your input.

    Thank You,

    Heather


    Dear Heather,

    Thank you for writing. Please don’t beat yourself up over all of this. Consider this time a new beginning. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Easier said than done, right? But you can stop reliving and replaying your regrets in your mind—with God’s strength. When we are weak we are made strong through Him (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

    This will probably be a major turning point in your life, and all for the better.

    Please stay with your parents as long as possible. They sound very kind. It is good that you left that situation. It was a godless, destructive relationship.

    Please understand that when we truly love our children, having them nearby is a blessing and not a burden. Your mom would rather have you with her than see you in a very unhealthy relationship. You can do things to help your mom and love her. And your son needs his grandparents. They will be a stabilizing force for him.

    Granddads have taken the place of many irresponsible fathers throughout all of history. I thank God that you have your parents and that they are willing to stand with you. Ideally of course, we would all like to have that perfect relationship where we can trust our partner but so many people are not in that situation.

    You will get through this and along the way I believe you will grow much closer to the Lord. Whatever you do, do not make any major decisions out of fear. Fear is never from God. Sometimes when we are kind and understanding people will take advantage of us. But what the devil means for harm the Lord always turns to good. It is natural to feel alone, overwhelmed and emotionally abandoned by the father of your children.

    He certainly has proven to be a huge disappointment. If he has admitted as much as he has with his lying and cheating you can be sure there is much more. This separation may be the best thing that ever happened to you as far as he is concerned.

    If your partner has been this much of a cold-hearted self-serving creep, already, over just a short period of years, a future with this man sounds downright scary. Is this the type of man you want to be a role model to your children?

    If he does come to you and asks for forgiveness, you can forgive him but that does not mean you move back in and live with him -- unless he genuinely fully-repents, gets saved and you become husband and wife.

    Unless God does the changing people generally don’t change. Your son’s father has proven himself to be unfaithful, untrustworthy and cruel. It will take an act of God to change him. But it does happen sometimes.

    Your situation is tough. If he truly repents and gets saved, that is one thing. Considering all the details you have shared, in no way should you move back in with him unless he is willing to first take full responsibility for you by marrying you.

    A wedding has to take place first, and then you can all live under the same roof. But before any of that could happen he would have to prove that he is truly a changed man and totally devoted to God, and to you and your children. And that would take time.

    So no matter what, plan on living with your parents for a good length of time. Of course you wish things were different, but your attitude must work for you and not against you. Your situation is difficult but with a positive attitude believing that the Lord will carry you through this, and to a better future—must be how you to move forward now. Especially for the sake of you son and little baby.

    It is a blessing that the Lord has made a way out for you so you no longer have to compromise your values and your faith.

    You are in a much better position than you may realize. You have people who love you and will help take care of you. That is a huge blessing. You don’t have to live with the man who has badly mistreated you.

    Imagine if you did not have your parents, how much worse all of this would be. It is challenging to pray for someone when we have been so brutally hurt, but prayer is the very thing that could change all of this. Pray that the father of your children will truly get saved and repent. Unless he becomes a new creation in Christ any chances for a real, honest, trustworthy relationship together is very slim.

    When your son asks about his father, you will have to decide how to handle it. Talk it over with your parents and be consistent in what you all tell him. It is always possible that his father will get a serious wake-up call, repent and get saved.

    If that were to happen, then a future together as a family is still possible. I have seen many happy endings where “blended” families come together and are blessed by God (when both birth parents) of the children are not together. You, yourself have a stepfather and it sounds like he is a very good one.

    As far as trying to figure out what God is trying to do here, that may not be the best approach. His Word—the Bible—is clear on His principles for living and I know you already know what they are.

    The question should be more: “What am I going to do for God?” He wants us to place Him first in our lives. And be sure you are truly born-again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3-7; Romans 10:9-10).

    It is one thing to say we love God but it is our actual commitment and personal relationship with Him that gives us new life in Christ. A truly saved individual is a new creation in Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and wants to live for Christ. A person who deliberately continues to live in sin with no regard for pleasing the Lord has not made a repentant change.

    In your case I think you pushed God to the back corner. You didn’t want to live the way you were, but you felt stuck. It sounds like you are now ready to put your faith and confidence in the Lord.

    Sometimes it takes some hard knocks to get to the point of truly surrendering our lives to Him. Making a confession of faith is only as good as the follow-up. Did we mean it or was it a half-hearted attempt?

    Salvation is or it isn’t. There is no in between. We are either saved or we are not.

    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

    You say you are ready to do things God’s way and that alone is a huge breakthrough. Whenever we try to do things our way, we will surely mess it up somehow at some point. And you know how painful that can be!

    Heather, you cannot go back in time to undo what has transpired up until now. But you can move forward with tremendous resolve and vow not to get entangled in any relationship that is not based on godly principles.

    This is the time for you to get deep into your Bible and spend time studying it. The Word of God is life giving to your soul and this will also be good for your state of mind and your emotions during these special months ahead as your baby grows inside you.

    Our Lord is mighty and merciful. He loves you more than anyone else ever could and wants what is best for you. You are still very young. Your life will straighten out as long as you are serious about living for the Lord. You might not feel young right now, but you are. God does have a plan for your life.

    A wedding may not be in your immediate future but any number of great and wonderful things can happen, yet. So much so that one day you will look back and you will be so glad that you took a stand not to live outside of God’s marriage covenant and that you walked away from a life with a pathetic liar and philanderer. It all hurts so much right now, but please believe me, your life will get better.

    I have seen many women and some men get into relationships with non-Christians thinking that at some point they will come around get saved. More often than not, the opposite happens and the believing partner’s faith is weakened and compromised. It is imperative to only engage in relationships with other believers who are truly and obviously dedicated to the Lord.

    If God has a special man in mind for you, you will not have to go out and search for him. God will bring him to you when the time is right. Your job now is to stay in prayer, grow in your understanding of the Scriptures, develop your personal relationship with the Lord, and look after your son and get him excited about the new addition to the family.

    I strongly suggest that you don’t place any expectations on your past relationship or the situation as it is now. When we are faced with overwhelming circumstances it is usually an opportunity for God to show us how much He loves us.

    He is right there with you and He will stand by you. Be grateful that you do not have to live in the same house as someone who lies and mistreats you. Your young son will be fine. As I said before, God has a way of making things work out for our good even when the enemy wants to turn our world upside down.

    Now take good care of yourself for the sake of your baby and little boy. You can tell your son how great it will be to have a brother or sister. In the old days entire families lived together under one roof, generation after generation.

    Since your parents are so understanding consider that a gift from God. You can get through this with His help and theirs. Lean on them and all others whom you know are your true friends. In this way you are not alone. You will have brighter and happier days in the future. I am sure of it.

    And don’t let the devil put a damper on this pregnancy. That little baby needs you to have joy in your heart. You are not alone, Heather. So many people love you. The fact that the baby’s father is self-centered and has no integrity does not make it so for you and your children.

    Trust that the Lord has a way to make this all right for you. You should be feeling some relief just being away from a man who does not respect you or anyone else.

    You sound like a precious young woman, Heather, who trusted too much in the wrong person. You can totally trust God. He will not let you down. We have all made mistakes and no one should judge you for yours. Rest assured, the Lord has many blessings ahead for you. I will pray that the entire situation comes together all to His glory.

    Give all of this over to Him. Stay in close fellowship with Him through prayer and Bible study. He is the ultimate “Go to” Person. He has promised to take upon Himself all our burdens and make things right. God is the Great Healer and although your situation seems overwhelming, He will not forsake you.

    Please keep in touch with me so I can give you moral support during this challenging time.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).


    May 23, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I am writing about an issue I believe is hampering my husband’s ability to come to salvation in Christ. Mike (not his real name) used to smoke marijuana but quit when we had to move to another state for a job that does random testing. Well, he found a substitute in a manufactured substance. It’s illegal but he can still buy it at certain smoke shops.

    Esther, it’s changed him. His memory is bad! He says I’m the one who has lost my mind!! When we talk the only way it won’t end up in an argument is if I agree with everything he says. I asked him to quit smoking and he said he would after that bag was gone, but he didn’t. I asked him again and he flat out said he didn’t want to. I’ve been praying for him Esther, but my patience is wearing thin. Please pray for me, I need help too.

    God Bless you and this website.

    A sister in Christ Jesus


    My dear sister in Christ Jesus,

    You can surely count on my prayers. I am so sorry you are going through such a trial and ordeal. When substance abuse is involved so many factors come into play. I am sure you are feeling like no matter what you do or say, it is a useless endeavor. Exhaustion and frustration are reaching a point where you are wondering if your life will ever have any semblance of normalcy. Your emotions and nerves are worn to the max.

    I remember hearing the testimony of a well-known pastor. He described what he was like before got saved. His life had been totally out-of-control with severe drug abuse, physical violence and vicious verbal abuse along with a number of other crude manifestations of degenerate behavior stemming from a godless lifestyle.

    His family was in a constant state of distress and living in fear every day. Their lives were frequently threatened. The situation seemed extremely hopeless but God intervened and the man was totally delivered from his evil ways.

    If I had heard about this person before he was saved I would have said to myself, “That man will never change.” Our limited minds might assess a situation in a logical way but our great and mighty God knows the end from the beginning and is able to turn an impossible situation into something so great and extraordinary that everyone can see that only God could have underwritten such a remarkable change.

    I pray the same will be for you. As a woman of faith, continue to use all your godly principles and petition the Lord to intervene on your husband’s behalf in a miraculous way. I do not suggest going to any secular treatment centers or counselors, but I urge you to seek out Christian counseling where those in charge are strongly equipped with God’s Word and are very experienced with such situations. Some treatment programs for substance abuse do exist that are run by genuine Christians.

    If you are involved with a good church I would start by speaking with your pastor and hopefully he may know of some people who can assist you in reaching through to your husband, and also give you the love and support you need so very much.

    Stay close to your prayer closet and never underestimate God’s ability to turn even the worst situation into something incredibly good. I also know of someone personally who was addicted to marijuana for decades and when he was in his early fifties the Lord saved him and he was instantly healed from smoking pot, never to touch the stuff again. He is now about 86 years old and has been serving the Lord full-time through a television ministry.

    Whatever happens, remind yourself that you cannot control what other people do or say. Remember that you are already victorious in Christ because you are saved. You are in a very tough situation. By the outside world you are seen as a married “couple” but behind closed doors it is so lonely and like living with a self-absorbed stranger much of the time.

    Nevertheless, don’t let your spouse or others rob you of the joy available to you through Christ. Even when we are surrounded by chaos and a world of self-centered opportunists we can have the joy of Christ in our hearts.

    I strongly suggest reading the apostle Paul’s Epistles (the Pauline Epistles) especially Philippians. It is hard to fathom that Paul is writing from prison with chain’s strapped to him. He expresses such an attitude of joy even from prison. The words joy and rejoice are used in Philippians about sixteen times.

    God understands your every heartache, your every tear. He loves you so very, very much. You are not alone. He is right there with you. He promised never to leave you or forsake you. Hold onto to Him and know that He is going to get your through this. I pray that one day you will have an incredible testimony to share with others. God bless you and strengthen you.

    “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:11-12).


    May 16, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I have been married to an older man for 35 years now. He has jumped on the bandwagon when it comes to all of the new technology, and had to buy a cell phone for “emergencies” because at the time he was driving an old truck to work out in the country, and if it broke down he wanted to have a way to call for help.

    He has also told me (in his mean voice), that everyone has these phones, everyone has big flat screen televisions, the Internet, and every other electronic gadget—which he has bought, mostly behind my back. His computer is locked up like Fort Knox from me getting on it.

    I am in the dark with all the money, he keeps everything from me.

    He plays the stock market on his computer every single day. I know he has lost money, not because he has told me, but just the strong feeling I have. He is full of smiles and kind words with a soft voice when he talks to other women. When he talks to me, it is with the same mean voice he uses to speak to men. I could go on and on.

    Recently he bought himself a much newer truck, so he does not need a phone for those “emergencies” anymore. I do not own a cell phone, and have no need for one.

    Today while out driving around. I heard some kind of bell tone ring and knew it was because someone was sending him a text message on his cell phone. (Oh, his cell phone is also off limits to me.)

    When we stopped he had no choice but to check his phone, because I insisted he check to see who was texting him. It was his brother’s live-in girlfriend. Not about anything serious, but I got upset, and told him I did not like women texting him.

    He has slipped up and told me about other times she has texted him. Apparently she actually shares the cell phone with his brother, and texts him more than his brother does.

    I told him that it really hurts my feelings, and asked him to stop texting her back, to just ignore her and just make a point of texting his brother, and not her. Well of course he got mad, shouted at me and began calling me names—telling me how unreasonable I am.

    He only met this woman a year or so ago, it is not like he has known her forever or is an old friend. Not once has she ever tried to contact me. She knows I have a computer and she could email me anytime, but never has. I don’t think she likes me very much.

    Last summer we went to a family gathering, and we all spent the day together. This woman did not talk to me even once, but she made sure to talk to my husband, and he was all smiles when they were talking. This sad story could be a lot longer, but I doubt you have time to read a book about my entire married life, and that is how long I have been so hurt over his behavior with other women.

    I am so tired of the secrets he keeps from me, I don’t even feel like a person anymore. Twenty years ago I nearly died from a rare illness. Thirteen years ago, one of our three daughters died from cancer; she had just turned 20. So we have had our share of problems.

    I have had just enough of being treated like I don’t matter. We live 15 miles from our small town and are really secluded out here. I spend every day alone with my three little dogs. I gave up having friends, totally. I only leave the house if I really have no choice, mostly to buy groceries.

    I mostly spend my time cooking and cleaning. He expects gourmet-type meals, so when I am in the kitchen, I am really working hard. He does not do much when he is at home, but sits downstairs at his computer with his stock market stuff.

    I have found a very cheap mobile home, in a small town six hours from here. I am so ready to leave him, and live the rest of my years all alone, and live a happy life being around people—the opposite of how I am living now.

    Every argument we have is always my fault. He can do no wrong. I want to live a happy life, cut my hair short if I want to; he likes my hair long but it takes time to care for it and style it. I want to only wear make-up if I feel like it, not because I have to keep looking good for him.

    He is 11 years older, and told me he wanted a young wife that did not age like someone his own age would. So I have so much guilt because I am aging. I can’t look twenty forever.

    What is so wrong in growing old together, and getting lines and wrinkles? I feel so much pressure to look perfect. I am so tired of always being the one who is wrong, and being called names. I am pretty sure God does not want me to live like this.

    All I want from you is to ask you if I am being unreasonable because it hurts me when he is texting other females? Do I not have a right to be hurt over this? I would sure like it if you had time to respond to me.

    If I did not know God, and if I did not know that it would make him so unhappy then I would probably just commit suicide, and be done with it all. But I know that it is a sin, and I would not do that because of God. For sure, if I was to do that, then my husband would be more than happy to be rid of me.

    I just found a trailer this week, and have started speaking to the person who is selling it. It is only $19,000. Built in 1978. But it would be a roof over my head. I don’t care about material things much at my age. I just want to be happy and stop the crying and being stressed. I now have hypertension, because I am so upset all of the time.

    Feelings can make a person very sick. Can you please help me? Tell me if I am, once again, all wrong about this texting stuff. I am sorry for all of the ranting. Thanks so much for listening.

    Annastasia


    Dear Annastasia,

    You sound like a dear and sweet person. I don’t think you are wrong to be upset about the texting or your husband’s nasty behavior. Shame on him. And shame on him for treating you like a used doormat. What arrogance!

    Your husband is way too preoccupied with himself. You can move out if you can afford to. If moving will give you peace of mind: DO IT!

    That does not mean you are divorcing him, but let him fend for himself for a change. He treats you like a separate entity not privileged enough to be part of his secret little world; so you might have to make it official. This man is a very controlling selfish individual who needs God’s comeuppance.

    Of course as a good Christian woman you can pray for him and forgive him in your heart but you do not need to continue being treated like a used dishrag. If you decide to move out, before you leave, mark off some pages in the Bible that he needs to read. (Post-it notes are great for that!) Leave it by his computer.

    Maybe he will start thinking about why you walked out and he will work to reconcile and deal with the problems. Yes, I know it is a long shot, his rude behavior has been going on for a very long time; but in Christ we always have hope.

    A change of dynamics could go a long way to improve the relationship or it could make things worse. If you buy that trailer you can always rent it out and come back home—if he is willing to seek counseling together and get serious about the Lord. Unless he begins to incorporate godly principles into the marriage and starts treating you with respect—little will change. But think carefully before you make any rash decisions.

    If you do leave, his pride could swell into a monstrosity and his self-righteousness could get even worse. So whatever you decide to do, you must be willing to accept the consequences. Weigh your options carefully but don’t make your decision based on fear.

    You live a life of isolation and it seems that it might be tough to get your husband to agree to have a third party intervene and counsel with the two of you. But you can throw that idea out there to him. He sounds so controlling, he will probably reject the idea. But something has to change or you will be the one hurt the most.

    Perhaps you would have more leverage if you were not there for him every day as you are now. But it is hard to know how he will react if you actually left. Perhaps it is time to sit down and tell him the way he treats you is totally unacceptable and ask him to start getting involved in Bible study with you and other people. See if you can get him to agree to stop taking you for granted and speaking to you harshly.

    I don’t like it that you are so isolated. Please try to find some Christians who truly love the Lord and spend time with them. If your husband is unwilling to start treating you with respect and kindness, then you may have to make a change. Your health is at stake.

    You are right, a person can get very sick from the emotional abuse inflicted by others. Be strong Annastasia and do what you have to do. God will strengthen and protect you. Weigh your options carefully and then decide what is best for you.

    If you come to the conclusion that you must separate; just before you walk out the door you can make one last great home cooked gourmet-type meal so he can have a last taste of one of your many gifts and contributions to the marriage. And when he takes his shower bring him warm towels straight out of the dryer and say “Adios!”

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “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. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:25-33).


    May 9, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I have two questions: The first is one is this: How is someone supposed to be baptized? In the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit or in the name of Jesus Christ? And second, if you have wronged someone before you became a Christian do you have to tell that person and ask for forgiveness?

    The person does not know that I made a mistake and I’m afraid I may be a stumbling block for her if I tell her. Do I just ask for the Lord to forgive me or do I also have to tell her and ask for her forgiveness?

    I know that if she knew I had behaved wrongly that I would need to ask for forgiveness. But will bringing up my wrongdoing seven years later cause unnecessary problems?

    Thank you ~ Chris


    Dear Chris,

    I can sense your burdened heart. Let’s cover the baptismal question first. The Lord Jesus came right out and told us to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

    The book of Acts shows us that new believers were baptized in the name of Jesus. Acts 2:38 gives us such an example. Baptizing has been done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and also in the name of Jesus.

    Generally, Christians today are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Keep in mind that Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit, are One (John 10:30 and Acts 16:7). Since Jesus came right out and said we should be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that is what is done most often. But as the book of Acts shows us, baptism is also done in the name of Jesus.

    The most important issue here is to realize that baptism is an outward symbolic recognition of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ as our Lord and Savior, and that we are buried with Him through salvation in Christ; that we have a newness of life by which we now live.

    Regarding confession, each sin is essentially committed against the Lord (Psalm 51:4). The Scriptures teach we need to confess our sins directly to Him (Psalm 41:4; 130:4. Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9). The only straightforward command to confess to someone else is in the context of church leaders, elders when praying for those who are ill (James 5:16).

    But that does not mean we should not ask for the forgiveness of others under certain circumstances. One-on-one confession is shown in Genesis 50:17-18 and a few other passages in the New Testament imply that we should do so.

    But what about your situation; when a person who was wronged but does not know she has been wronged? Considering seven-years have passed concerning your personal transgression, does it make sense that you should dredge up old sins with every painful detail now?

    We are all sinners and have wronged others, and God at some point in time. What would be the benefit to the relationship for you to you speak up now and bring up old sinful behavior?

    It is best to confess your sins directly to the Lord and then walk in faith with Him and treat others with love and respect. It would not be a loving gesture to reach far into the past and rehash old issues. Every believer who reads this has at least one thing that he or she would like to change from the past—but regurgitating painful details could do more harm than good.

    We must be wise when we make our decisions. We could all go on endlessly day after day reliving and confessing past sins to others, and that is not at all what we are to do as renewed creatures in Christ.

    If the situation you are concerned about happened recently and it was a betrayal of some sort, then that would change things. Considering the circumstances it is best to rely on the Lord and let the distant past stay in the past. Person to person confession is implied in some passages but in this case it could be very problematic (Luke 17:3-4; Ephesians 4:32).

    Considering the time lapse it would be best to confess your transgression wholeheartedly directly to the Lord with a repentant heart. He is the Holy Redeemer and through Him we are made righteous. Through our faithful commitment to Him we will live more fruitful lives and the chances of offending the Lord and others is significantly decreased.

    I encourage you to seek God’s leading in making your decision—whether confession to others is appropriate in any given situation. The ultimate goal is to leave that sin behind at the cross and live your life in harmony with the will of God (1 Peter 4:2).

    Chris, leave the past in the past and move forward as a strongly committed believer. The devil loves to remind us of our past mistakes to slow us down and discourage us—but as the Lord Jesus said on the Cross: “It is finished.”

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-15).


    May 2, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    My father has been having a difficult time trying to reach his girlfriend about Christ. He has many questions on how he can even begin to tell her about a loving God when she has had such a horrible life. She had a horrible father who abused her and let his friends abuse her and her whole childhood was something out of a horror movie.

    He has tried talking with her and for the most part he can’t tell her true feelings on the subject. Her children haven’t had much better of a life and he feels compelled to show them what a good Christian man and father looks like.

    The children have benefited from him greatly but he still doesn’t know quite what to say to her. How do you tell someone God is good and has a plan for them when they have never really seen what good is? Not only are there these problems, but also she is very sick all the time and has a lot of medical problems.

    I was on Rapture Ready I started reading your column and love it and I thought maybe you would have some advice on how to help my dad. He wants so badly to be able to tell her of Christ’s love for her but he’s afraid of pushing him away.

    I am very proud of him for what he has done for the children and now they happily attend church and love it. But he is still very worried about her and needs guidance.

    Thank you and I enjoy reading your advice. I always find something in your advice that helps me and encourages me weekly. Keep up the good work and I anticipate hearing from you.

    Sincerely, your sister in Christ,

    Madison


    Dear Madison,

    God bless you for your kind words and your loving heart. You are a wonderful testament for the love of Christ by the way you relate to your dad and his loved ones.

    In this fallen world where the devil and his demonic entities roam the earth, unspeakable calamities occur. We are involved in a fierce spiritual war. The devil would like nothing more that to keep your father from talking to his girlfriend or anyone else about Christ. His fear of upsetting his girlfriend is just what the devil wants.

    A place to begin sharing the love of God can start with emphasizing the following:

    Be confident that the Holy Spirit will help minister to your father’s girlfriend. By approaching her in a prayerful mode, the Holy Spirit will guide him as he seeks Him to intervene in the situation. The initial focus of the conversation might be on how much Christ suffered. But your dad must seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance and let Him lead the conversation.

    “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27).

    When a person can really grasp that Christ suffered enormously for humanity, it might help victims of any type of abuse begin to understand the depth of evil we are up against and also realize how much the Lord loves us by taking all the world’s sins upon Himself. What could be more loving than that?

    Then he could turn the conversation toward the awesome future that awaits all those who accept Christ’s sacrifice and that this world is loaded with injustices but very soon all believers will be free from this hell on earth.

    Your father could explain to his girlfriend that the devil uses people and circumstances to cause pain and destruction at every opportunity. It is such a serious situation that God Himself—in the flesh, suffered to counteract the evil plans of Satan. He endured intense pain and rejection.

    We all have unanswered questions in this life when it comes to senseless tragedies and abuse but God has promised us eternal life where all acts of evil will be eliminated forever. It is therein that our hope lies, our future destiny with Christ.

    Also, your father’s loving concern for this woman and her children are a reflection of Christ’s love. By his devotion to her he can reassure her that he will do everything as her protector to never let anyone hurt her or her children again.

    Jesus told us that we would have suffering and tribulation in this life but to “be of good cheer” knowing He has made a way for us to have eternal life (John 16:33).

    I would attempt talking about the great future Christ has promised all believers. And as long, as we are here on this earth the power of the Holy Spirit can heal us and transform our lives so we can become a “new creation” in Christ:

    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” 2 Corinthians 5:17).

    A holy future with Christ is our blessed hope; all the more reason to accept Christ’s free gift of salvation while there is still time. Your dad’s girlfriend should know that those who harmed her will have God to answer to and will not get away with what they did. Jesus warned of offenses against children:

    “Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:1-2).

    I also suggest sharing Bible prophecy with her. So many good resources are available today on the topic and in that way she might begin to see how so many prophecies have already been fulfilled and how close we are to the very last days of world history and the end of suffering for all those who receive Christ’s free gift of salvation.

    As far as her poor health, that could very likely be a physical manifestation of all the abuse she has endured. I would not be surprised to see her health improve once she begins to come to terms with her issues and as the bondage to her past is alleviated.

    This situation is definitely is a job for the great Comforter. I pray He will reach this dear woman’s spirit and transform her life quickly. By holding on to her past she is still giving power to those who hurt her throughout her life.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground” (Psalm 147:3-6).


    April 25, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    How does one explain sensitively to relatives who recently lost a loved one the dead do not return to earth to visit loved ones (according to the Bible)? These are my in-laws who are Buddhists. They find comfort in dreaming about their lost loved one and invite him to communicate with them through their dreams. Also, most recently, one told of his visit to her.

    My husband and I just listen when they share their dreams. I have been praying about how to handle the next time we hear of another “experience,” and whether it is my place to say anything.

    Thank you for reading my letter.

    Wondering Sister-in-Law


    Dear Wondering Sister-in-Law,

    You are totally right to be concerned about your in-laws. You are in a very awkward position. Because Buddhists reject the Bible all together, even showing them Scripture that refutes their beliefs may not go very far. But the Word of God is powerful and sharing it is always a good idea (as the Holy Spirit leads). Here is a verse you cans share when you have an opportunity to do so:

    “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Hebrews (9:27-28).

    My personal experience with family members or friends who are closed to the Bible, is to keep faithfully praying. You can try to explain things to some people again and again but they will likely stay attached to their delusions. (But this is not necessarily a permanent condition.)

    We do hear of testimonies about people who were totally closed to the gospel, whose loved ones thought they would never come to the Lord—but then do accept Christ at some point in their lives. So we should never ever underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to move in a person’s life.

    I have a number of friends I witnessed to many, many years ago who were not at all interested in what I had to say about the Lord. It was a frustrating experience, knowing that they thought they did not need Jesus Christ, and were heading for an eternity of misery separated from Almighty God and His tremendous blessings.

    It was through fervent prayers and the ministering power of the Holy Spirit—that some of those people are now strong believers leading others to Christ.

    In Christ we always have hope. Consider the apostle Paul, how he was so brutally against Christians and then after his conversion, he became one of the greatest apostles and truly became a “new creation” in Christ. I imagine that people who knew him before his conversion could never have pictured him as a redeemed man; but with God all things are possible.

    Perhaps you and your husband could invite your family members over for an evening and share your own testimonies with them. Show them the Scriptures in the Bible that refute their belief in the dead returning to earth—even if it is through dreams. Try to call it an evening of sharing, and spending time together as a family. Serve some delicious foods that will help you all bond. A shared, good meal can tame many family squabbles.

    Another tactic would be to have a small party with a fun theme. You could send them invitations for a party titled: “Come Dressed as Your Favorite Historical Character.” You and your husband could choose to dress as biblical characters. Choose wisely who to represent and that would give you both a chance to tell your lost family members about those key biblical personalities.

    If your in-laws come dressed as Buddhist personalities or any other type of pagan entities, that could also serve as a point of conversation. Through carefully comparing the chosen characters you could point out the difference between biblical truth and the futility of their beliefs. The more fun you can generate the less threatened your family members will feel. You would be planting seeds of wisdom that they may think about when they leave.

    When you do have an opportunity to share the gospel try to reassure your in-laws that you are not attacking them but it is out of love for them that you want to share the Good News of Christ’s free gift of salvation.

    If you cannot get through to them you can rest assured that you have been responsible individuals by pointing out their error. If you have any good DVDs on Bible prophecy, share them. Sometimes people need to see how today’s moral climate and current events tie in with the Scriptures.

    It is important to be as patient as possible. I have been to some Buddhist temples in Japan and it was a very eerie experience. I was on a tour with some business associates and I actually had to excuse myself from the group and leave the premises when visiting one of the temples.

    I can’t really explain the extreme discomfort I felt. Statues (idol worship) of Buddha and Buddhist monks were all over the place; the interior of the building was quite dark, barely lit and a sense of foreboding was very strong.

    I have also spent some time with Zen Buddhists here in the USA, and I can see why some people would be attracted to such a group. These Buddhists were very much into cleanliness and eating healthy foods. They did not have any drug addictions or worldly vices. They lived simple lives.

    From my personal observation, it seemed that they were living in a brain washed trance-like state. They spent hours and hours sitting (meditating) on what they would call “nothingness” or “emptiness.” They totally reject the true God of the Bible or any type of god. Yet they worship Buddha even though they don’t consider him to be a god.

    At these American Zen Buddhist facilities it is very tranquil and quiet. Yet it is one of Satan’s strongholds. Considering the hectic pace of this world, so many seek a quiet refuge; but these sanctuaries are dominated by one false religion after another. Meditation of any kind other than meditating on the Scriptures is dangerous; it opens up the mind to allow any type of entity to enter.

    I hope a time will come when you and your husband will be able to share the true Prince of Peace with your lost family members.

    I have two helpful links cited below to help you with your quest to reach your loved ones. Study them before you speak with them. Once you have shared the information, you have done your part.

    If after they are made aware of their error, and they continue to share their delusions with you, stop them and say something like: “I love you, but I cannot condone your ideas. They go against the teachings of the Bible and it greives me to see that you are so deceived.” Here is the first link:

    15 Important Bible Verses About Talking To The Dead    

    And one more link with an article titled, “Straying from the Buddhist Path—Why I Stopped Following Buddha and Started Following Jesus?”:

    http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aiia/aiia-buddhism-harris.html

    You must be emotionally prepared that a discussion on faith might cause a conflict and division in the family; but as Christians we must defend the truth and not enable the lies of the devil. The eternal destiny of your loved ones are at stake; you and your husband may be the only ones to help awaken them out of their dangerous Buddhist beliefs. The Holy Spirit will lead you as what to say to them.

    As I said before, be patient and know that although your in-laws may be angry or even unkind once you speak with them about their false religion, remember, they have been immersed in a false doctrine for a long time. But with Christ we always have hope.

    Keep praying for them that the Holy Spirit will intervene in their lives and also pray for wisdom for yourself and your husband—so you can both better handle the situations that may come up with your family members.

    I wish you the very best, and thank you for reaching out. God bless you for your loving and concerned heart. Please reach out again if I can be of further help. Be sure to share the verse below with your in-laws when the time is right (it speaks of our heavenly inheritance).

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 3-5).


    April 18, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I’m 58 and have been a follower of Christ for years, and over the years I’ve been studying prophecy and material like Edger Cayce, the Hopi Indians, Nostradamus, Dr. David Jeremiah, Dead Sea Scrolls, The Late Great Planet Earth, Book of Enoch and many others. Most of all the HOLY BIBLE is what I read, and compare notes to, and it blows most books out of the water.

    Sooner or later they trip-up somewhere! For example, the Hopi claim they will be flown to other planets on ships without wings. It sounds to me like Satan has been playing some heavy games a long time ago with our indigenous ones.

    Anyway I talk to JESUS a lot in prayer and over time I have said things against Satan, like, “Your time is short and why are you doing these stupid things, you’re going to lose anyway.” My faith has held up against attacks on my family, money, the car, etc. But this is new now: It is my mind.

    I think of things against GOD and I don’t want to. I have cried many tears in prayer about it but it won’t stop. I would rather end up below than offend GOD in any way! I’m worried about my future. I’m a self-help kind of person. WILL MY MIND CONDEMN ME BEFORE MY GOD?

    Signed,

    Worried Sick!


    Dear Worried Sick,

    It sounds like you are about to make a breakthrough in your relationship with the Lord. I say that because He wants us to be totally dependent on Him, and I think your time has arrived. You say that you are a self-help kind of person.

    We are to be responsible with how we approach our lives, and not be dependent on other people for our daily needs—we are to work, provide for our household and take self-responsibility (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We need to do our part but then we need to let go and let God take care of the areas that are out of our reach.

    Have you ever had an idea in your head and then by the time you were finished trying to make it happen, something better came along? That is an example of when God does His behind the scenes work and gives us far better results than we could ever achieve in our own strength.

    It is good that you have explored many religions and traditions, and time and time again you have come to the same conclusion—that the Bible is the accurate Word given to us by the Creator of this vast universe. However, with your research you came across ungodly information and much of it has pagan and demonic roots.

    You are absolutely right. Satan has been playing some heavy games for a very long time (since his initial rebellion against God). Our finite human minds can only handle so much. It sounds like you are immersed in an acute spiritual battle stemming from being exposed to the dark forces. Please stop reading books about “spiritual” practices that are clearly unbiblical. Do not give the devil an opportunity to take a foothold in your life (Ephesians 4:27).

    If you have books that deal with the occult or New Age practices in your house, I suggest destroying them. The devil can get a stronghold when we play on his playground. I have heard of many cases where believers have had to take some severe steps to be able to get their full-focus on the Lord because of their long-term involvement in investigating demonically-based writings and/or participating in New Age/occult trends.

    Your mind is filled with all kinds of confusing chatter that will dissipate once you resolve not to keep researching various materials that have occult-based teachings, and when you surrender totally to the Lord. He is the one we should devote all our time to outside of our necessary earthly tasks.

    You are in an excellent position to help and warn others that they should be very careful what they take into their minds. We should fill our hearts and minds with the glory of God, His Holy Word and the beauty of God’s creations—not the polluted stench of mankind’s rebellion which is evidenced by the low-moral standards portrayed on television, various forms of media (including trendy social media), and nearly every aspect life.

    “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things arenoble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

    I also recommend you do not engage in conversation with the devil. We are to flee from him, not get into a confrontation with him. Do not underestimate the devil’s power. Of course God is all-powerful and can circumvent everything that comes against us, but we need not set ourselves up for intense spiritual battles with the enemy. We have enough battling going on even when we ignore God’s greatest enemy. We are to submit to the Lord, place our full attention on Him, and do our best to avoid things that contradict Him.

    “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

    To remind you of how bold the devil can be, please carefully read the following Scriptures. If he was this blatantly pushy with Jesus Christ, who is God, just imagine how ruthless he is when dealing with mere humans.

    Satan Tempts Jesus

    Luke 4:1-13:

    “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

    And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”

    Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

    And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”

    Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”

    And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”

    We should directly quote Scripture when we do have to address the devil, when we are faced with demonic attacks. Notice, Jesus always quoted Scripture when dealing with the devil.

    “Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:10).

    “But He [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).

    It is wonderful that you are reading your Bible, but it is imperative that you make an all-out-effort to spend consistent time reading the Scriptures alone without the back and forth comparisons of other non-Christian books/teachings. What is the point of continuing to read unbiblical jargon when you say you already have concluded that the Word of God is far superior to all of them?

    The negative thoughts about God that you are having will stop—once you methodically spend time exclusively in Scripture and let go of other material that does not support biblical truth. Please be careful how you spend your time. Don’t watch television unless it is something of historical or biblical value.

    And forget the secular entertainment shows and social events. All these things add to the confusion in your mind. The overall message in all forms of media is very anti-God. Choose what you watch and listen to carefully and wisely. We are bombarded with secular godless messages everywhere we turn. Cover and protect yourself with God’s Holy Word.

    So many wonderful resources are available that compliment the Holy Scriptures. If you are involved in a good church, please get more involved. You have the Holy Spirit who will minister to you and calm you as you interact less with worldly activities. You cannot heal your mind in your own strength, only in the Lord’s strength. What we think and what we say, does affect us. Who our friends are and what we focus on does matter.

    Jesus has promised never to leave or forsake us. Let Him fight this battle of your mind for you. The battle is His to fight. Your job is to be obedient; read and study the Scriptures daily and communicate with Him through fervent heartfelt prayer. The stronger you are in the Word the stronger your mind will become. The Word of God is your most powerful weapon against the forces of darkness.

    “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:11-12).

    It sounds like you truly love the Lord and do not want to offend Him in any way. By disengaging from worldly influences as much as possible and avoiding non-biblical reading material your mind will become much stronger.

    At the moment you are worried about your future eternal destiny because of the negative thoughts you are having about God. It is by claiming the promises of God, which are given in the Bible, that you will be reassured that your future is secure in Christ Jesus. He paid the sin penalty for you and the devil would like nothing more than to keep harassing you and make you believe otherwise.

    Dear friend, you can face physical death from this life without fear. God will get you through this difficult time:

    “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

    Although you are going through a season of emotional and mental torment, by meditating on the Scriptures you will be reminded of your position in Christ:

    “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:14-17).

    Nothing, not even death can separate us from the love of God:

    Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 38-39).

    Please let go of the need to investigate non-biblical prophecies and teachings, and start today to fill your mind only with the Word of God and godly truths.

    “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5).

    And remember, Jesus said, “Follow me.” He is the Word of God made flesh. Follow Him and Him alone and the distractions that are confusing your mind will no longer be an issue.

    Please cast all your anxiety on the Lord and your healing will begin:

    “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

    Dear friend, please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing. I will be praying with you. God loves you so very much. Take your Bible everywhere you go. Read it as often as possible. Memorize Scripture and make it an integral part of yourself.

    You are closer than you think, to reconciling God’s peace in your heart and mind. Your struggle will be a great help to others. Sometimes we must travel through territory that seemingly feels as if we have abandoned God, but He will never let us go if we are contrite in spirit, as you are.

    “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

    I have a friend who was going through a similar, tough time and she even used to place her Bible under her pillow every night, prayed fervently and in a short time her mind was healed from the attacks of the enemy and even her own self-doubts. I am confident that you too, will feel much better soon.

    In God’ love,

    Esther

    “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).


    April 11, 2016

    Dear Esther

    Praise the Lord. Thank you for your encouraging words from the Word of God to believers. I think God has appointed you to strengthen believers. Thank God.

    I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior at age 16 (20 years ago, 1995). When I was in my teenage years, I did not grow up in Christ. Even though I was attending all worship meetings, Bible study and youth meetings at church, my life was not Christ-centered and I was continuously living in sin.

    Two years ago, I watch one live program Who Is a Sinner? I was broken-up in my heart and I surrendered my life to Christ. God is strengthening me since then.

    Now the problem is, sometimes, I am getting all sort of doubts over these past two years about God; the truthfulness of heaven and hell, whether these are true or not.

    I wonder before these two years why I did not have even a single doubt like these. What I am thinking is that Satan is trying to pull me back or deceive me since I surrendered my life to Christ.

    But God is speaking to me through His Word every day and I am strengthened. Even though, sometimes I am getting doubts about invisible things.

    Is this spiritual warfare or am I very weak in Word of God?

    Please guide me.

    With Love in Christ,

    Mathew, writing from India


    Dear Matthew,

    Thank you for your kind words. I am glad you reached out. Everyone’s walk with the Lord is different. But not one believer is spared of ups and downs and challenges. Until the day we die or the Rapture, we will all have situations that may cause us to doubt or faith. Even if that doubt lasts for a millisecond.

    We are immersed in such an enormous spiritual battle that we may get injured now and then if we are not properly equipped spiritually; and even if we are properly equipped spiritually, the enemy can create havoc and try to knock us off balance. Trials and tribulations can cause us to doubt. We all get bruised or even get off course but the awesome God we serve is merciful and never removes His hand from a believer’s life.

    Now regarding your doubts, I think that is a good thing. It is a good because you are now aware of your doubts and are growing spiritually to the point of concern. I would not go back in time to try to figure out why it took this long for you to get serious about your faith.

    Instead, I urge you to continue doing what you are doing now. Stay in God’s Word and whenever those little doubts enter your mind say to yourself, “I don’t accept that thought. I reject that thought.”

    “So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

    Compared to our great and mighty God, the human condition is very weak and it is only through His strength that we can navigate our way through this life. We have human weakness coupled with spiritual warfare that can contribute to “doubts.” Sometimes we are our own worst enemies and cause our own problems. Matthew, it is imperative for you to continue to stay in the Word of God.

    This life is not a life of fun and games. It is serious business. Many of us have so many blessings but all over the world Christians are under brutal attack. Yet the mainstream media barely reports the murders, rapes, slavery and torture so many are enduring; especially in the name of Allah.

    Even very young children are casualties of the barbaric acts of Muslim jihadists—Islamic terrorists, who work day and night to overpower innocent victims of all faiths; but the brutality against Christians is definitely under reported. These throwback savages are all demonically incited, all part of their battle to destroy this world and usher in their false savior, their Mahdi.

    So we have all the more reason to realize, as believers, that we must be alert and not allow ourselves to get caught-up in day-to-day distractions and forget how serious the battle is for souls. We should always keep in the front of our minds that the enemies of God have grenades and land mines everywhere. But when we are in Christ we have the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us, so we do not become casualties of the devil’s relentless attacks.

    The day-to-day distractions are very important to be aware of; they are part of the grenades and land mines the devil plants around us. With awareness we can better avoid spiritual injury. Examine yourself and see how you spend your time and who you spend your time with. In other words, examine all of your thought patterns, associations and anything that defines you.

    Using smartphones and social media sites can become obsessions for some people. Even well-meaning believers can get caught-up spending too much time away from the Word of God; texting, downloading and uploading—to no end. Nothing can replace the time spent in a quiet, steady, authentic relationship with the Lord.

    The technological overload everywhere is a major temptation. After all, we can share the gospel and encourage others in the Lord using our tech devises. All good motives. The danger is spending much too much time socially engaged and not enough time being personally engaged with the Lord. So we must be mindful of how we use our time and what we fill our minds with in this world of information overload constantly calling to us.

    I would like to encourage you to think of a very important point, the authenticity of Jesus’ identity, which should help you let go of any doubts that might creep into your mind. In Mathew 16, Jesus asked the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and equal with God which caused Jewish leaders to try to kill Him.

    “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18).

    And consider these additional Scriptures; Jesus clearly declares His identity:

    “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am’” (John 8:58).

    “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM;’ and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14).

    “But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN” (Mark 14:61-62).

    Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believe not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, these bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:25-30).

    Either Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be or He is a liar. And we know God cannot lie. The apostle Paul gave this salutation:

    “Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior, To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior” (Titus 1:1-4).

    Matthew, whenever those doubts creep in, remember that the holy God of the universe, the Creator of the heavens and earth, is the One who died for you and all of humanity. This is not science fiction. We are talking about the historical documentation of Jesus Christ, who stepped out of eternity to take upon Himself all of our sins so we can be reconciled unto Him and be free of an eternity of horror.

    When doubts set in, realize without Christ your eternal life would be doomed. But because of Him, you are free and will have an eternity so great it truly surpasses our understanding. Please start praising Him and thanking Him, every day.

    We must be exceedingly grateful for all the blessings we have and not take anything for granted. Go forward now with an attitude of gratitude and totally surrender your all to Him.

    “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary” (Psalm 107:1-2).

    Regarding your possible doubts about heaven and hell, please do a word search on both words and you will find much to help to diminish your doubts. Both places are very real. Always keep in mind, the Bible is God’s inherent, infallible Word. When you read it, believe it. Here are just some Scriptures on heaven and hell:

    “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

    For a description of the new heaven and new earth after the literal 1000-year millennial reign of Christ, read Revelation 21:1-27.

    “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

    “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angel” (Matthew 25:41).

    “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).

    “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).

    “For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord: (Romans 6:23).

    “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13).

    In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

    “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:14).

    Matthew, heaven and hell are very real. Please get deeply into God’s Word, reevaluate how you are living your life and let go of anything that takes you away from God’s Truths. Don’t wait another minute to totally surrender your life to Him.

    In God’s love,

    “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:14-16).


    April 4, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I want to thank you for all the wonderful help you have given to me in the past with questions I have had. I was wondering if you could help me again. I am married to the most wonderful and loving man, ever. He is my best friend.

    We have been together for sixteen years, and married for thirteen. We have five kids between us from previous marriages but none together. Our kids, love each other like they all came from my womb, and we both love each other’s kids like they were our own.

    My problem is my in-laws. Every year for the last sixteen years, my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law demand that we go to my mother-in-law’s home for every holiday. EVERY holiday! When we go, my kids and I are ignored.

    When I try to have holidays with my family my mother-in-law calls me and cries until I give in and go to her house, which hurts my family. My sister-in laws have been rude to me, and blame me when I don’t go. (I have many health problems, type 1 diabetes RA, fibromyalgia, nerve damage, and colon cancer.)

    When I was told that I have colon cancer this last November, God told me to trust in Him and he would take care of it…and He did. They removed eighteen inches of my colon and fifty-five lymph nodes and praise God no cancer in them (the nodes) so no chemo, but the whole time I was in the hospital and the eight weeks of recovery I never got a phone call or a visit from my sister-in-laws.

    My mother-in-law did call the day of surgery, but no visits or phone calls after. I guess what I’m asking is this: “Do I have to go where I’m not wanted?” I try to explain this to my husband and he can’t ever stand up for me against his mother or family. I have treated my in-laws lovingly. I call them and send text messages to them, that I love them.

    When they are sick I help them and send cards and call them. I just don’t understand what is going on. Will God be mad at me if I just leave them alone, but still love them? Please help. I pray for them every day, for their salvation. By the way they do believe in God. I don’t want God angry with me. Help! Thank you, and the Lord’s blessings to you.

    Susan


    Dear Susan,

    My goodness. Can we say in-laws from hell? A few things jump out at me from your letter. First, you say that you have the most loving and wonderful husband in the world─that he is your best friend. Okay. Then you tell me that your in-laws, his mother and sisters, manipulate him and you, so they will get their way.

    So for the past sixteen years you have accommodated them at the expense of your children’s feelings and your own. And you have a had a series of very difficult and serious health issues but your best friend’s family members are nowhere to be found when you need them. And to top it all off, when you do go to the your mother in law’s house you and your children are ignored?

    And then by the way, the in-laws do “believe” in God. (So does the devil, believe in God.) Now, if what I have just outlined here is correct then you are involved with a bunch of self-centered, rude, ungodly, uncaring, pathetic, narcissistic in-laws who behave shamefully.

    What bothers me a great deal is that your husband does not stand up to his selfish, unloving, inconsiderate mother and sisters. You and your children have been treated very badly and unless your husband toughens up and stands up for you and your children I see no resolution to this chronic conflict except for one exception, which most likely will bring forth a change in dynamics between you and your husband. It sounds like it is time for your husband to take the Scripture below seriously.

    “Therefore a man shall, leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

    It is his place to protect you and his children from being hurt by others and that includes unkind family members. If a man is not the protector of his family, then he is failing at his obligation. But you say you have already talked to him and he can’t stand up to his mother and sisters. That leaves you with two options.

    You can continue on as you have been to your own demise and that of your children, or you lovingly but firmly put an end to this charade, yourself.

    Remind your best friend—your husband, that you love him with all your heart and that is why you have put up with this situation for so long. But you are at a point now, especially with your multiple health problems that things must change for your own well-being as well as your children’s. Especially, during holidays when time spent together should be joyous celebrations, not dreadful obligations.

    Explain to your husband that so many health problems are directly affected by stress and that these situations with your in-laws are very stress-filled and you cannot take on any more. If you have a good general practitioner perhaps he or she would come to your aide and confirm that being subjected to hostile situations is not good for you (or your children).

    Your husband will have a choice to make. Will he please his own immediate family and start celebrating the holidays in his own home and let go of the strings that are strangling his wife and children or will he fold and allow you and your children to be treated badly?

    Chances are that your husband’s mother and sisters will probably not come to your home for the holidays if you invite them, as they seem to have their own agenda etched in stone. But invite them anyway to be hospitable. Of course they won’t like it. If your husband insists that you all go to his mother’s house and continue on this destructive road then I would ask you to seek out a good pastor and ask him for his support and have a meeting with him with your husband.

    As wonderful as your husband may be in many ways, he needs to realize that he is seriously hurting you and your children by allowing this situation to persist. It is his place to exhibit strong leadership and tell his mother and sisters not to harass you by trying to blame your illness for breaking-up their plans, and to stop treating you and your children like they don’t exist when you are all gathered together in their presence.

    You are at a disadvantage when you walk into your mother-in-law’s house, as you are walking into her turf—enemy territory so it seems. If you must spend any time with them at all, do it in your own home or in a public setting. So to answer your question, “No, you don’t have to go where you are not wanted.”

    We know that God can radically change things. But these things often take time. Pray for your husband, that the Lord would show him that this weakness he has is wrong. And continue to pray for your unsaved in-laws. They are in serious need of deliverance. When you think of them, realize that they are very lost.

    God is not going to be angry with you for standing up for yourself and your children. Continue to be loving and kind when you do have to interact with them but you are not obligated to allow anyone to mistreat you and your children. I have often heard of families moving to different cities and states to get away from toxic in-laws; that way the contact is kept to a minimum.

    If you visit a church regularly, have you considered inviting your in-laws? That might be something that you can all do together. But that might be wishful thinking, at this time, anyway. It is evident that you can expect nothing good from these people, so don’t place undue expectations on the situation. Put your energy into your children and growing your relationship with the Lord. Study the Psalms, especially.

    As I have said many times in my other letters, prayer is our most powerful tool and when we faithfully petition the Lord He does answer our prayers. God can change hardened hearts and rude personalities but people have free will to choose God and live by His principles or reject Him. The most loving thing you can do for these people is continue to keep them in prayer, forgive them always in your heart but don’t get caught up in their drama.

    It is important that you get as healthy as possible. You do not need to be placed in a situation that is clearly abusive. Let’s see, the next holiday is Mother’s Day. Send your mother-in-law a card, and ask your husband to have a cookout for you at home.

    If he doesn’t fire-up the grill because he is at his mother’s house, do it yourself and enjoy the day with your kids. And keep praying that the Lord will help him realize where his first loyalty and obligations belong.

    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).


    March 28, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    It has been a blessing to read all the letters from other brethren and the sound biblical counsel that you give them. I want to share my testimony/struggle with you and maybe help another believer that may have this same struggle.

    I have been a born-again believer since I was 16 years old. I am 50 years old now. The Lord Jesus saved me in March 1980 when I was living a life of fornication, lying and deception. I was so excited about my faith and my new relationship with the Lord Jesus.

    I started sharing with my family and friends, of my new found faith, but I had a secret of still indulging in sexual sin with my boyfriend because I didn’t know God’s Word on fornication (since my parents lived together and were not married).

    I knew a little bit about God’s Word from occasionally going to church, but I didn’t know the depth and seriousness of it. I was mentored later in my relationship with Christ by three mature believers and they helped me to understand what it truly meant to walk in faithfulness to the Lord Jesus, and what His Word required of me as a new believer.

    I have been walking in love and obedience to Him since that time. Not perfectly, but by His grace and mercy.

    I met some other believers and we moved to a place in Philadelphia, which I thought was a church of born-again believers who loved Jesus. Unfortunately it turned out to be a CULT and I was taught the Word of God, but there was a lot of Scripture-twisting and the most damaging of the experience was a works-salvation gospel, which I was taught instead of the true grace-salvation gospel (Ephesians 2:8-9).

    The greatest part I will say of the entire experience is that I have made some great lifelong friendships with sisters who were there and have since left, and are now living for the Lord.

    Today, not very often, but at times I’m bombarded in my mind and I struggle with thinking that the Lord is displeased with me—if I’m not doing some kind of work. We had a chart of works/activities that we had to fulfill every day before 12 midnight. We were working 24/7 trying to make sure we were doing some religious activity (otherwise the LORD would not be pleased with us).

    If I’m not reading my Bible or something spiritual, I feel harassed and out of the will of God. My desire is to read the Bible every day so I can fellowship with my Father and know His will and commune with Him. I delight in serving Him with the gifts He has given me. It’s not a chore or “have to” mentality.

    I just get overwhelmed with all of this sometimes. I continually give it to the Lord and ask Him to take this from me. I know His finished work on Calvary paid my sin debt in FULL. I know I’m saved by grace and faith alone. I just get overwhelmed with this in my mind sometimes and I’m praying for it to be removed.

    I feel assured right now as I’m writing you and confident in God’s Word (no matter what my feelings say), I know they are feelings and attacks from the enemy. Would you please share some biblical counsel and suggestions?

    God bless you and may the Lord continue to use you and shine upon you!

    We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

    RP


    Dear RP,

    Thank you for your very kind and thoughtful words. You are obviously dedicated to the Lord. He has brought you through some rough territory. The enemy is an expert at portraying himself as an angel of light, as you well know.

    Too few Christians are aware of how Satan does this through other so-called Christian ministries; especially, when the approach is to lure in unsuspecting people who are genuinely seeking biblical truth. But what the devil means for harm, the Lord counters with blessings and goodness. You are a living testimony to that, today.

    False religions and false teachings are Satan’s greatest method of deceiving people. You are not alone in getting caught-up in a group that may look godly initially—but then the Scripture twisting and blasphemous doctrines emerge. One of the greatest after-effects from being involved in a cult is the brainwashing, the mind-bending indoctrination that haunts a person long after renouncing anything to do with the cult.

    Many years ago I met someone whose job was to rescue people from cults. He was hired by family members who had lost a son or daughter to a cult. This man’s job was to deprogram victims who had been emotionally and mentally abused by the cult. He was strongly grounded in the Word of God and understood the subtle tactics used by cult leaders—to confuse and indoctrinate the “flock.” The after-effects can linger on for a very, very long time. I think that is what you are dealing with (to a small degree).

    The keeping busy for God tactic is a common theme in cults; works, works, and more works is a way to make a person feel like they are unworthy no matter what they do. At what point are our works enough? Never; so this is a way to control and confuse people. This slavery that you were subjected to has a way of breaking the spirit of a person—if it were not for the Lord Jesus’ intervention at some point.

    You are already doing everything a believer is asked to do. Continue to pray throughout each day as we are commanded (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17), read, study, memorize and meditate on Scripture. It is up to the Lord to open the door for us to do more.

    We serve Him by being available 24/7, as certainly you are, but as you already know that does not mean your life must evolve around any particular strict spiritual routine of trying to earn God’s love and favor.

    If a church member or a neighbor needs help, we help them. When the pastor needs someone to do something in the church and we have the gift to do it, we do it. This is all we can do. God is never displeased with us if we are not doing things in the church 16 hours a day. He wants you to spend most of your time with Him in prayer and in the Word. It sounds like you are doing that, already.

    The thoughts you are having that God is displeased with you, as I said before, is part of the mind bending tactics by the cult. It is not always easy to ignore the accusatory voices, but you can, with the Lord’s help. As long as you are praying throughout each day, spending time in the Word every day and are available to serve God—that is all you can do.

    Consider all the nice people who are unsaved but are very religious. Day after day they toil to please the Lord. But they are in bondage to their religion (as you once were, although you were saved).

    In Christ we are made free, and that is what we must remember and think about. When those voices of condemnation start working on you, the best thing to do is start quoting Scripture out loud, and start praising and thanking God for His greatness. Not silently, but out loud. There is power in the Word of God and we are strengthened when we actually hear it. Jesus is the Word made flesh (John1:1-4).

    It is also a good idea to find a good audio version of the Bible and play it while you are driving your car, and at home. Fill your mind with God’s Scriptures at every opportunity. But don’t use Christian media as a substitute for reading, studying and speaking the Word of God. Use Christian media resources only as an addition to worshipping the Lord and studying His Word.

    From reading your letter, it is evident that you are a mature and serious believer, and a great blessing to the cause of Christ. Your involvement with the cult has given you a perspective that many Christians don’t have. Your effectiveness in reaching others is strengthened because of your experience. You bring a type of depth to your faith that can only serve to benefit others.

    You are in a position to discern problematic teachings; you have developed spiritual radar that can detect so-called biblical teachings that are amiss. You have also developed a sense of identifying phony Christians with hidden agendas. You are blessed in ways that can help you minister to others—who are confused about their faith and counsel them in what constitutes authentic Christianity.

    Because you have the Holy Spirit living within you, coupled with your experiences with false Christianity, you can overcome any doubts about the Lord being pleased with you. After all He died for you! He loved you long before you were saved. He knew you before you were born. His love for us is incomprehensible. That is what you should focus your thoughts on.

    Christ deliberately placed Himself in a position where He willingly suffered—tremendously, to bring us to a point of reconciliation and redemption. God is our abiding companion in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

    Our Heavenly Father wants us to pour our hearts out to Him when we are shaken by the cruel and vicious dynamics in this fallen and corrupt world. He is ever-present in our time of need. We are never alone. Lean on your Heavenly Father for comfort. Realize your great worth in the Lord’s eyes.

    “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).

    The more you read the Scriptures that speak of the Lord’s love for you, the doubts about your good standing with Him will diminish. Healing from the type of abuse you endured comes through worshipping and praising the Lord. It is a miracle in some ways that you were able to get away from the cult.

    Praise God in all things and communicate with Him all day long. Acknowledge Him in all you do as you navigate through your day. Trust in Him completely, in His Word. We are to live by faith, and that means we TRUST Him. I know you already know all of this, but it is good to be reminded and encouraged—to keep our focus on God’s loving kindness.

    By praising the Lord and offering Him a joyful heart, the accusatory voices that are causing you to doubt, will subside. You are already a champion for Christ. You have victory in Him. All the glory goes to God, and you are a benefactor of His tremendous grace.

    Whenever those accusatory voices fill your mind, quote Scripture and thank God for all the blessings in your life, and particularly for saving you from going down the road of destruction.

    I have said this many times: When the devil knows we belong to the Lord, he is fully aware he has lost the battle for our souls. But he will do whatever possible to make us think that God does not love us, that He is disappointed with us and that we are useless to Him. Satan will try to keep us from living a productive life so we can’t reach others for Christ.

    But we know greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world, and nothing can keep us from the love of God. Be encouraged. The Lord loves you deeply and sees you as a redeemed child of God, not a failed one. The failed one is the individual who foolishly rebels against Him never admitting a need for the Savior. People like this are often hopelessly lost and tragically condemned for all eternity, because of their foolish pride.

    Surely you bless many because of the wisdom you have gained. Through your struggles to get clarification regarding your faith about true Christianity, you have come out on the winning side. I will leave you with this very important Scripture that I hope you will meditate on every day:

    “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

    Rejoice, RP, you are in a position to minister to others from a unique perspective. Spiritual deception is running rampant, and you have gained spiritual discernment to alert others to this growing epidemic in these last days.

    Use all of what you have been through to God’s glory. Can you see how God has given you much to work with to help others gain a genuine walk with the Lord? Surely you are very special in His eyes.

    On that day glorious when you finally see Him face to face, rest assured that He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21b).

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul. Therefore I have hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24).


    March 21, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I honestly do not know how to say this but my spiritual life has been in constant battles of ups and downs, especially with lustful thoughts and addiction to pornography! I pray for forgiveness all times even with tears a times, but it keeps coming. I don't want to miss the Rapture with this kind of life, what do I do?

    Tom


    Dear Tom,

    I have been thinking and praying about your letter for a number of weeks now. No one is free of sin. But at some point in our Christian walk we need to take a stand that we are not going to engage in what I would call: chronic lifestyle sins. Everyone has sins that we will need to deal with until the day we die or the day we are taken out in the Rapture.

    But chronic lifestyle sins are especially very dangerous; we can fall into real trouble spiritually and on every other level. As believers we must decide if we are going to keep one foot in the world or make a total commitment to the Lord. Are we going to play games with God, ourselves and others, continuing to compromise the way we live to the point of misery and self-destruction? Or get intensely serious about our faith?

    “And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:6b).

    Once we have entered into a born-again relationship with the Lord, indwelt with the Holy Spirit, everything changes. But because God has given us each free will, the tendency can be to live a life of spiritual compromise, grieving the Holy Spirit—until we realize that life as a true Christian is not one where we can compartmentalize worldly things and at the same time try to fit in Jesus and His teachings when and where it is convenient.

    After we are saved, the things that bring the unsaved sinful pleasure—bring heartache to true believers (just as you are experiencing). If you were a professing Christian but living a chronic lifestyle of sin and not bothered by it, I would be worried about you to the point that you might not really be saved. But since you accepted Christ, as your Savior and you are feeling very remorseful and miserable -- you are closer to letting go of living a compromised life than you may think.

    God loves you so much! He is holding onto you trying to show you that the things you think are giving you momentary fleshly “pleasure,” keep you from Him and from living the kind of life He wants for you. Have you ever noticed how some professing Christians use the grace argument to continue to deliberately partake in the ways of the world, continuing to do things that clearly go against biblical teachings? It does not sound like you are doing that. It sounds like you are willing to, and trying to stop the spiritual and emotional bleeding.

    Yes, we are saved by grace through faith and by Christ and Christ alone but we must also consider what is written in the book of James. Once we are saved, faith without works is dead. And that means what we do and how we live our lives should be a reflection of our inner commitment to Him -- by operating in ways that are not of this world. And that means letting go of habitual lifestyle sins.

    “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22, 25).

    I am always amazed to observe professing believers who chug down bottles of wine when out to dinner or at small gatherings saying, “Jesus drank wine.” And use any excuse to do things their way -- to gorge themselves in alcohol or whatever the godless habit is. Apparently they missed the Scripture that says, “Do not be drunk with wine.” And also the Scriptures that are filled with many admonitions to live holy lives and seek after godly wisdom and not worldly destruction.

    Several years ago a young soldier wrote and was plagued with the same issues you are struggling with. He felt tortured within, and to make it even worse he was engaged to be married and his fiancé had no clue about what he was doing. In the Bible the Lord tells us if a person even looks at a woman with lust for her has committed adultery (Matthew 5:27-28).

    Whatever the vice is (the sin) the remedy is the same. Until we are willing to let go of the things that are driving us into despair and grieving the Holy Spirit, we cannot live a joyous life in the Lord. It is a choice. Who will we serve—God or self? And without the Holy Spirit in control it will be an endless battle with the flesh.

    “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

    Christ must become the center focus of our daily lives, not fleshly habits that take us away from Him. You probably already know this in your head. But until you make a one-hundred-percent honest heart commitment to stop engaging in things that the Lord has spelled out in His Word—that are offensive to Him, and very debilitating to you morally and spiritually, you are going to continue feeling the crushing weight of despair.

    If you want to increase you own sense of self-worth and the Lord’s joy, then you must get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit take over your life. It is thorough Christ that we are made whole and in Him we are totally sufficient and do not need external strokes from the world.

    “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

    When we truly walk in the Spirit we cannot continue to happily partake in behavior that fulfils the lust of the flesh. Our love for the Lord must surpass all distractions. We must die to self:

    “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:14-17).

    One of the greatest weapons Satan uses against Christians is to try to make us believe that we cannot be free of tormenting vices. In our own strength we cannot get to a point of true peace over some issues. But Scripture screams, “I can do ALL things through Christ WHO STRENGTHENS me.”

    Only through Christ and His redemptive power can we walk away from harmful habits designed to destroy us. Immerse yourself in the Word of God and realize Jesus is what life is all about not worldly distractions. The Word of God is alive and powerful:

    “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:10-14).

    Tom, please understand we are living in an extremely dangerous world. We are living in enemy territory. Satan’s objective is to trip up every person he can and make their lives miserable. You need no longer be a victim of your own self-destructive lifestyle choices and Satan’s stronghold on you.

    Claim your rightful place as a warrior for Christ and do everything necessary to stop compromising yourself. If you have to move, get a different job, let go of “friends” who are a bad influence, do it. We are living in the last of these last days and your concern about the Rapture is valid.

    Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

    If we cannot include Jesus in whatever we are doing—then it is wrong.

    “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

    For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:8-14).

    In the book of Romans the apostle Paul wrote of his never-ending struggle with sin. He was caught in a battle between his old nature and new nature in Christ. He realized he could not win the battle with self—that he had to rely totally on Christ to deliver him from his own fleshly desires.

    It is not until we came to the realization that only through the power of the Holy Spirit (abiding within) that our lives can change. What we cannot do for ourselves God will do for us. We get the victory but God gets the glory.

    Tom, you are not alone. God is right there ready to pull you out of your broken-condition. Cry out like never before:

    “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).

    It is Christ who will deliver you. Unless we place Christ first in our lives first and truly ABIDE in Him, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over again and again. But through Him we can overcome even the most difficult challenges. Christ is the Vine and we are the branches and we must rely totally on Him to bear good fruit. This principle applies to whatever it is in our lives that is causing separation from Christ.

    “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

    “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:1-8).

    Tom, it is time to decide if you will continue to live by the ways of this morally bankrupt world or take up the cross daily and follow Christ. The Lord is separating the wheat from the chaff in these last days. Go before the Lord in prayer and confess your sin, repent and He will wipe the slate clean.

    Pornography or whatever the issue—is only a symptom of the real problem. The problem is your disconnected condition with the Lord, not having an ongoing authentic daily relationship with Him and a lukewarm commitment. You have to intensely get into the Word of God and fill your mind with His truth.

    Please rededicate your life to Christ and stay away from those who would pull you away from Him.

    Even Christian television is laced with bad apples, the same goes for some Christian Internet videos/shows. Much of what is marketed as Christian is greatly compromised filling the minds of viewers with false doctrines. So many convoluted teachings are running rampant these days that one can be led astray if not grounded strongly in the Word of God.

    Too many professing Christians buy into doctrines that are simply wrong. They rely on being spoon fed by others instead of taking self-responsibility, neglecting serious Bible study so they can have the discernment necessary to authentically walk with the Lord, and identify self-appointed “experts” who cannot be trusted.

    Too many people rely on men (women) for their so-called Christian walk—those who they prop up on pedestals instead of the only One who deserves adulation, our blessed Savior, who should be given all the glory. The merchandising of Jesus is a huge problem and some do it so cleverly that massive numbers of people are fooled.

    The Lord has commanded us to thoroughly study our Bibles and not base biblical truth of the musings of men and women that parrot one another. We are to become disciples. That will never happen if we are tuning in searching for the latest “whatever” on TV, etc. Instead, start a Bible study with others. Get together a team of like-minded believers and begin an outreach program and go share the gospel with great zeal.

    Satan is an expert at creating tiny little openings that eventually lead to destruction.

    Be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove (Matthew 10:16). Seek God’s wisdom, abide in Christ and soon you will not even want to partake of the things that are corrupting you. Tom, surely you are not going to allow Satan to outsmart you. You have the King of the universe to fight on your behalf.

    We all have weak moments but that does not mean we have to act on them. We are surrounded by temptations everywhere, especially through electronic media. We can’t get away from all gateways to potential trouble completely—so change must come as your inner spirit-man totally surrenders to the Lord.

    When we think about how intensely Christ willingly suffered so we could be saved from the horrors of eternal torment and regain fellowship with Him, and how He was tortured and brutalized to the point that He could not even be recognized—the least we can do is be faithful to our calling and resolve to let go of the world’s entrapments.

    A good Scripture to quote when you find yourself getting pulled into the sordid temptations of the world is this one:

    “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Luke 4a, b).

    “But don’t get into a conversation with the devil. Only communicate with God and use Scripture when dealing in spiritual warfare, just as Jesus did. He never got into a conversation with the devil. He always quoted Scripture.

    If you know of a strong Christian man who you can be accountable to and spend time with, that would be a good support for you, someone who you can trust. Choose your friends carefully and surround yourself with true dedicated believers whenever possible. Decide that you are no longer going to live like a lukewarm Christian -- but a man who is on fire for the Lord and lives to serve Him.

    Time is short. Give the Lord everything within you. You won’t regret it. Remember Tom, eternity is a very, very long time. Don’t take chances living in a manner that could whittle away at your faith all together. It can happen and has happened to many people.

    Consider the Hollywood celebrities who were once professing Christians and now they are strung out on the occult and drugs. Say good-bye to the ways of the world and rededicate your life, your entire being to the One who created you and loves you.

    You already have the victory in Christ. Now go for it. Give the Lord your best.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).


    March 14, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    Please help me understand why God doesn’t send His angels to stop sickening, disgusting evil. I had to pull over to ask this question. I read this morning the article about the little 4-year-old whose nanny cut off her head and paraded it through the streets in the name of “Allah.” I’ll be honest, this is one of those days when I find myself thinking I don’t want to live in this world anymore.

    I’m not saying I’m suicidal by any means; that is just so against my convictions, but I would welcome death. Does that make sense? When I read things like that I have a hard time recovering from it. It brings back to mind the atrocities of Sandy Hook and I just don’t want to go on. I want to sit here in my truck on the side of the road until Jesus comes back.

    I want Him to come back now. How can we talk politics and about our trivial, petty problems when this little girl had her head severed from her body. Her parents are dealing with that reality. God help them. I’m kind of angry with God. Why doesn’t He stop evil from hurting the innocent? I can’t take it anymore, Esther.

    Jennifer


    Dear Jennifer,

    Yes, horrible things are happening all over the world. We have in-your-face evidence that there are many seriously mentally ill and spiritually ill people in this world. It’s as if all the demons in hell are roaming around everywhere on earth, prompting weak lost souls to do terrible things. But we should not be surprised.

    Jesus Himself warned that the closer it gets to His return, the worse it will get. Even He had to suffer so we could be given eternal life. Please keep your Bible close to you and read the comforting passages; especially Scripture in the book of Psalms. I can understand why you feel like you don’t want to be here anymore. The world is getting more unhinged each day.

    You must remember, Jennifer, God placed you into this life specifically for this time. It is not an accident. He chose you and all believers who are alive today to be here as we move closer to the final climax of world history. He has a purpose for us.

    The Lord asks us to stand up tall for Him and “fight the good fight” until we are taken home to heaven. Our mission is to reach others for Him, to give them hope and share the Good News that there will be a happy ending to all of this, and that He will rescue His Church before the seven-year Tribulation begins.

    Jesus also warned that there would be tribulation in this life, so we should not be totally taken aback when we see all kinds of persecution and dastardly deeds take place.

    It is all right to get upset; none of this makes sense. I have written many times that we are all living in a spiritual battlefield and the battle is getting very heated. All the demonically infested people who commit horrific crimes are pawns of the devil. They are Satan’s representatives—his foot soldiers.

    Try to step back and realize there is a spiritual war going on and that is why we see such horrible and insane behavior all over the world. You are not alone in your feelings. So many believers are so tired of all the tragedies going on everywhere, and want to go home—to heaven and forget all of the pain and heartache.

    But realize you are one of God’s precious representative and your mission is to reach others for Christ. If you collapse and hide until the Rapture or your death, you will be giving in to the enemy. That is what that wicked scoundrel wants you to do. The devil wants you to hide away and get so worn down emotionally—that you will be useless to God.

    Once we are saved and truly belong to Christ, the devil knows he cannot take us from Him. But he can try to whittle away at our resolve to be effective ambassadors for Christ. Don’t let that happen!

    A woman who can drive and maintain a truck is no wimp. You can get through those moments when you see utter horror—by understanding the prophetic warnings that Jesus and the prophets gave us in Scripture. He also promised to strengthen us:

    “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

    The demons tremble at the name of Jesus Christ. We can help those who are suffering; we can all help each other by spending time in the prayer closet in intercessory prayer. So many believers all over the world are suffering; we must be strong and not give up.

    I recently heard an interview with a courageous believer who is going into dangerous Muslim areas in the Middle East, sharing the gospel. He is working with an underground group of saved ex-Muslims who are standing for Christ knowing full-well that they are risking their lives. Only the Holy Spirit of God can underwrite such courage.

    Here, in the West, we have been very blessed. Our lives have been generally free of the terror-ridden life and death issues that so many face throughout the world. Our reality is so different from so much of the world. But now, as we move closer to Christ’s return, the West is getting an escalating taste of terror and persecution.

    We don’t know how much worse it will get for us before He calls out His Church, but we do have His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. It is all right to get mad; but if we get mad at God, we are only hurting ourselves.

    It is a natural reaction to get mad at what is happening. Our human reasoning says, “God, why don’t you just stop this?” But the Scriptures say all of prophecy must come to pass. And that includes war, suffering, famine, persecution and much more...

    Jesus suffered immensely for us; the Apostles suffered, as did many others. Things are going on in this spiritual war that we simply cannot comprehend. Even God Himself left the glory of heaven to suffer and be tortured—so we can be freed from eternal death. None of it makes sense to us.

    We don’t know what is going on in the spiritual realm that keeps the dynamics the way they are. As long as we try to figure it out we will be frustrated. We don’t know why it is this way but we must trust God. One day, after this life we might understand.

    Our focus needs to be on following God’s commandments and reaching others for Him. That is what He asked us to do. We must trust Him completely. His arch enemy—the devil is doing everything he can to discourage believers by causing us to doubt. Regardless of the outward picture, God is working on recapturing the earth and freeing us all from the demonic strongholds that rule this world.

    Notice in the following Scripture that Satan is the “god of this world”:

    “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

    God is working to recover the earth and bring it under His rule. He will get back the title deed to the earth (Revelation 5), which the devil stole. Until that time we must put on our spiritual armor every day so the enemy does not succeed in hindering our ability to share the gospel.

    The whole armor of God, as explained to us by Paul (Ephesians 6:11-20):

    “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to with- stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

    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, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

    Jennifer, I hope you have some true Christian friends with whom you can fellowship. Hone in on God’s Word daily, and take your Bible with you wherever you go. Next time you feel you need to pull over and recover from a shock, you will have your Bible with you to comfort and guide you.

    What we see transpiring today in this fallen world is all part of God’s plan to ultimately rescue His redeemed, rescue Israel and put a final stop to the evil we see everywhere. At His Second Coming He will totally destroy and eliminate the wicked who survive the Tribulation. The Lord will clean-up and resurface this planet.

    Soon after, He will take His rightful place on the throne of David; and we will rule with Him in His millennial kingdom for 1000 years. Then the Great White Throne judgment will take place; when all of the unsaved will be judged and thrown into the lake of fire. And we will move on into the eternal order.

    We all need to take a deep breath, pray our way through the day, and keep trusting the Lord. One day we will be free of this broken-world and live happily ever after with Him; and that’s no fairy tale!

    Never hesitate to reach out again, Jennifer. God loves you so. We are all soldiers together in this spiritual battle. Be strong for those who don’t know Him, yet. They need you. Your saved brothers and sisters need you to be in the trenches side-by-side fighting the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

    Glory be to God. He will carry all of us all when we need to get through those difficult moments. I pray He will have mercy on this broken world, and hasten His return.

    “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 path” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “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).


    March 7, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I read your letters every week and am blessed by them, thank you! I have a sister (born-again) who listens to and buys books by Joyce Meyer. I’ve sent her a few videos and a couple articles about Meyer and a few others but she says she doesn’t believe it (she’s been following her for ten years).

    She also goes to a church that has homosexuals attending but they are not trying to turn them from their sin. We’ve talked about this but she is still attending this church. I asked her to pray that God will show her the truth.

    What else can I say to her? What might the consequences be? I’m of course praying for her but it still makes me nervous that she would cling to these things. Any help from you would be greatly appreciated!

    Christine


    Dear Christine,

    It sounds like you have already made some good efforts to reach your sister. We live at a time when cult of personality in the Church often overrides biblical truth. As I mentioned in my column last week, too many people are not into their Bibles but into getting “teachings” from various media sources underwritten by various personalities. Some of the information presented by these folks is edifying and biblical; some of it is not.

    Many of these personalities are great orators; they can pull people in with their creative and convincing methods of speaking. I have only heard Joyce Meyer speak a few times and she is a very gifted and strong speaker. I can see why your sister would be impressed with her and drawn into her web. Joyce Meyer appears to have huge following making her very rich, and is really good at making people “feel good” about themselves.

    If your sister has overlooked and rejected the information you have given her about Joyce Meyer, all is not lost. As you continue to pray for her, it is still very possible that in the future she will come around and rethink her position.

    Joyce Meyer and numerous other televangelists are skilled speakers who take Scripture and use it to justify their agendas, their immense wealth and the manner in which they operate their ministries.

    I have read that Joyce Meyer says she does not need to defend how she spends her ministry’s money. (Never mind her multiple extravagant homes, six-figure high-end cars, etc), all paid with from contributions made by her followers. This is the same kind of brainwashing that tyrants use to placate the common folk. They speak of a better day ahead for the devotees while robbing them blind.

    Here is something you can point out to your sister as something to think about: Joyce Meyer has been quoted saying, “We teach and preach and believe biblically that God wants to bless His people who serve Him. So there’s no need to apologize for being blessed.”

    Notice how Meyer uses Scripture to try to justify her greed. It’s not much different from a ponzi scheme; the people at the top get rich and the underlings go broke. Of course God wants to bless us, but it is not in ways that the prosperity hounds preach. Joyce and others like her— appeal to the flesh making material possessions god, all the while using God’s name and Scripture twisting to covertly prosper themselves.

    Ask your sister if she thinks that God has allegedly blessed televangelists with millions of dollars while He gave virtually all the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist, the great apostle Paul and all the other Apostles just enough for them to live on? (And you might also mention that most of them died as martyrs.) Does He love the televangelists more than the great heroes of the faith?

    I can appreciate that you would be nervous about a family member being caught-up in questionable and liberal teachings infiltrating the Church. The church your sister attends is apostate. We are living in the apostasy forewarned in the Bible. The devil is knocking down people in droves. Their souls are in peril. Two of his greatest weapons are various religions and also false teachings within the Christian church,

    Wealth in itself is not the problem. Wealth is great depending how it is acquired and how it is used. Many good Christians have been blessed with wealth and use it to further the work of the Lord; to reach others for Him. We need money to do God’s work, especially when reaching others on a larger scale. Many good ministries use their money to share the gospel, clothe and feed those in need. These are all biblical and admirable endeavors.

    Another point you might make to your sister is that wealth and success do not always come from God. We know that millions of people do not serve God yet many have great wealth; their wealth is not a blessing from God, it is a curse from the devil disguised as a blessing.

    I would say the wealth that most of these televangelists enjoy is not a blessing from God. It is acquired through fast talk, deception and the products they produce and sell to their deluded faithful fans. The devil is good at twisting and using God’s Word to pull people away from the true gospel, and he uses false teachers to do this.

    Never underestimate the power of prayer. Since you have already pointed out to your sister some of the problems with how she is living her life, it is unlikely she will listen now. But you can try one more time. Then you may have to step back in the physical sense and let God fight the battle for her soul. But your continued prayers are needed. James gave us a good example:

    “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:17-18).

    When the devil tempted Jesus he prayed to His Father. Prayer is so important. Our human reasoning might tell us that if we push a two-ton car that just ran out of gas to a service station that must be nearby, we can fill up the tank. After an hour of pushing the car, there is still no service station in sight. It would have been easier to call a friend, ride with him to buy a can of gasoline and go back to the stranded car. No sweat, right?

    We need to call on our Heavenly Father every day; especially when it looks like there is no way to resolve a problem, instead of insisting on trying to rescue people from their own poor choices. (That is, once we have made the effort to enlighten them of their folly as you have.) Prayer can change things! Jesus left us this message:

    “But he said, ‘The things which are impossible with men are possible with God’” (Luke 18:27).

    We live in a fallen, chaotic world. Only by stepping back and carefully assessing a situation on how to best use biblical teachings to approach the problems we face—can we keep a semblance of serenity in our lives. The more our awareness increases the better we can handle challenges.

    Understanding where we are in the prophetic timeline is important when attempting to show others that false prophets and teachers are all part of the end times scenario. Throughout biblical history there have always been false teachings but today deception is at an all-time high and will continue to get worse.

    It can be a touchy situation when trying to lead the deceived to recognize and understand that they are caught-up is a pattern of spiritual deception and destruction. No one wants to be “wrong.” Many seekers depend on certain teachers or pastors to “teach” them and the thought that they are “following” someone who is not truly called by God but instead, a self-anointed personality—can be a devastating blow to a person.

    Competing with the many media outlets that promote problematic and/or false teachings is toilsome when trying to reach the lost and confused for Christ. It can be an overwhelming undertaking if we try to do it without intense and faithful prayers.

    We are bombarded with material that appeals to the flesh often using Scripture taken out of context—to make deceived and biblically weak seekers think that they are participating in ministries grounded in true biblical doctrine.

    Too many people assume because someone has a public platform that he or she can be trusted and understands Scripture. But too many of these “leaders” and speakers are biblically weak and confused themselves.

    Jesus let us know in no uncertain terms the fate that awaits false teachers who deceive others for personal gain:

    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

    Another point you can mention to your sister is that false teachers are really good at using bits and pieces of Scripture. What I mean is that they mix in some truth with biblical error. You can also find this type of marketing deception in some of the books in Christian bookstores authored by those like Joyce Meyer who write for fame and glory.

    Ask your sister, “Whatever happened to Jesus? He said, “Follow Me” many times. He did not say, “Follow leaders who use My name to get popular and/or rich.” He also said:

    “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15).

    The fruit of the many popular “Christian” personalities is not good. It is all about them and appealing to the flesh of their seekers and followers. The apostle Paul warned us that in the last days many will rather have their ears tickled than hear biblical truth:

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

    Paul described exactly what is happening today. He went on to say this in the next verse (5) in 2 Timothy:

    “But you be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

    Regardless of false teachings, we are to keep witnessing and doing our part for the Lord, just as you are, in an attempt to reach your sister with the truth.

    As obvious as it is to many of us, far too many people are oblivious to where we are in God’s prophetic timeline, and do not understand the peril that is approaching and how deception is at an all-time high.

    In 2 Thessalonians, Paul explicitly warns of certain events as signs that must take place before Christ’s return. Paul is giving a warning about deception. Paul in his writings refers to “deceptions” of all kinds, expressing the need to be very discerning.

    In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the word “apostasy” (apostasia) comes from the Greek verb aphistemi, which literally means, “to depart,” “revolt” or “stand away from a body of truth.”

    Paul also spoke of this in (1 Timothy 4:1) and used the same Greek word. However, in 1 Timothy Paul added the words “depart from the faith” instead of “depart” by itself, specifically defining the phrase so it cannot mean anything but departing from the faith:

    Paul states the reason for the falling away (“depart from the faith”) is because some are listening to demons; deceiving spirits. So some are being deceived by teachings that are in opposition to the Word of God and this is taking place within the Christian church.

    “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

    Another important point to keep in mind is the order of the passages, the distinct succession of the verses in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3: Let no one in any way deceive you by any means, implies that attempts to deceive are at play.

    Immediately after that verse we read: For it will not come unless the apostasy comes first implying: defection, caused by what is stated in the previous verse: “deceive” (deception). After the deception, comes the apostasy, the falling away.

    Continuing on, simple logic tells us that out of the apostasy the son of destruction (the Antichrist) will emerge—as a result of the falling away—the apostasy. His appearing will be preceded by the “great apostasy.” He will continue to perpetuate the apostasy and take it to new heights.

    His rise, his revealing will be in relation to a great falling away from the faith, and it is he who will primarily carry it on and continue to promote false religious doctrines (one-world church) by using deception (“lying wonders”) until he finally goes into the temple halfway through the Tribulation declaring himself to be God.

    To illustrate further, consider the end-times apostasy in the parable of the leaven showing that the apostasy is going to take place in the last days, and that the infiltration of corrupt doctrines into the Church will result in total apostasy. In Matthew 13 and 16, the “leaven” is the end-times apostasy (false doctrines) as shown by Jesus in the parable of the leaven.

    Jesus warned about false doctrines:

    “Another parable He spoke to them: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened’” (Matthew 13:33).

    “Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

    Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Saduccees” (Matthew 16:6, 11-12).

    Jesus’ parable of the leaven is concerning apostasy in the last days. It is a warning about false teachings and false doctrines, a “standing away from faith.” By the Lord’s own account as we just read, leaven is false doctrine.

    In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 Scripture teaches that the explosion of false doctrines in the last days will take hold, making the way for Antichrist:

    “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

    Christine, as much as we try sometimes we cannot get through to some people. It appears that your sister does not understand where we are on the prophetic timeline. The Scriptures I have given you might help her see what is going on and help her see the truth.

    The best approach is to be as loving as you can with her no matter what, but make it clear (without berating her) that she is following a false teacher and not Jesus. But then you must let her go and give it all over to the Lord.

    The Holy Spirit is the One who can cause to her awaken. Your faithful prayers will help facilitate that awakening You might also consider putting your thoughts into a loving letter to her; that would give her a chance to think about what you have to say and circumvent the possibility of getting into an argument with her.

    Your sister is blessed to have a sibling like you. Try to make your case one more time in a way you think will resonate with her. Many people who have been led astray have come around, and are now faithfully serving the Lord.

    In time, your sister could also be one of those people as well. Don’t give up on her; be patient and loving; and remember that Jesus wishes for no one to perish, and He honors our prayers.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).



    February 29, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I am a clinical psychologist and also a Christian. (My purpose is not to brainwash people or interfere with God’s will, but rather, I believe that God brings certain people into my line of work for certain types of assistance that they might not find elsewhere. Likewise, He brings people into my office for them to plant seeds important to my spiritual growth.)

    The problem with my line of work is that I suffer from clinical depression and anxiety—both hereditary and not treatable by sheer willpower or strength of spirit. Prayer, exercise, sunshine, and medicine typically are helpful (in terms of preventing me from giving up on life all together).

    However, knowing that we are at the end of times it is difficult to look forward to anything left here on earth—that is, holding on to hope and looking forward to “good things” until Jesus’ return; for the strife here on earth will certainly get worse before it gets better.

    Every other day I either read articles, or hear Christians/pastors speak about the horrors of Satan’s tortuous reign and the impending doom and perpetual strife ahead, even though we are told to trust and believe in Christ.

    The end of life is not my fear it is the remaining years that we/I have left on this planet, which is currently unbearable to me in its current state. I know in my heart, my soul, and the very essence of my spirit that the end of life as we know it, is fading away like a thief in the night.

    While I should be eagerly looking forward to Christ’s return, I still have the “here and now” to deal with, and some days I don’t think I’m going to make it.

    I don’t want to stay here any longer simply because I feel like my usefulness here on earth has been outlived, and, sometimes I genuinely believe that God did not equip me with the coping skills that I need to hang tough.

    I don’t understand why a loving God would torture those of us who strive hard to follow in the footsteps of Christ in carrying out His will. I understand biblically and metaphorically but my heart cannot grasp the sense of “parental rejection” and subjective perception of “abuse by parent.”

    I have had dreams about end times that are dreadfully frightening but yet realistic in nature (atmospheric - solar atrocities, astrological events causing catastrophes unfathomable, famines in which millions of blood thirsty insects bite and sink their teeth into the flesh of human kind for nourishment, and even biblical characters such as Job have occurred in my dreams as if to corroborate the authenticity of end time themes).

    I believe this is God’s way of trying to prepare me for the inevitable without necessarily conveying the exact manner in which much of earth will be destroyed. While some might consider these dreams a gift from God, I derive little relief from the dreams even though I suppose they reinforce my belief in God Almighty.

    Nonetheless, such dreams/insights(?) seem only to exacerbate my fears and anxiety, and worse yet, intensify the depression and suicidal thoughts. As we Christians await and encounter the cataclysmic events as they unfold, I cannot help but wonder if God really expects/wants us to be consumed by feelings of fearfulness and anxiety, in addition to anger during these times?

    And if not, why is it then that so many pastors and teachers of faith make it a point to ignite the flames of fear that already exist because of the sharp reality which surround us. Where is the good in all of this?

    Is there no enjoyment for Christians to be had with the limited amount of time left here on earth? Must everything be always so intensely serious, foreboding, and woeful in tone? Why aren’t we talking about ways to find happiness during our short time left—ways to “keep it together” as we strive to nurture and offer support to one another? Why don’t people laugh anymore?

    As a class clown and entertainer of the family, I often wonder if a sense of humor abandoned me, complicating the depression that much more. It’s almost as if our world treats humor as if it is a sin, when studies have shown therapeutic benefits to laughter.

    God, after all equipped us with the capacity to laugh, regardless of our capacity to make others laugh. It seems that many of the biblical teachers that I watch on satellite, social media, radio, or during direct discussion with them focus more on the catastrophe’s ahead rather than the wonderment and beauty of what lies ahead?

    I rarely, if ever, hear sermons about what life on earth will be like when Jesus returns to rule the world. As far as the end of the world, why should preachers add fuel to our fears about the inevitable? We already know what is to come, and there is nothing we can do to stop it for God has confirmed the end times through his Revelation as outlined in the Bible.

    So why fight or resist? Why encourage further despair about an event that God has declared inevitable? Why purchase supplies and merchandise in preparation for “the end.”

    Doesn’t this represent a lack of faith that God will take care of our needs? Is it not true that fear places a barrier between us and God, that is, fear interferes with the strength of spiritual bonds and relations with the Lord.

    And, as pertains to the Rapture, there seems to be no consensus as to exactly what, how, or when the “Rapture” will occur and unfold. I have heard much diversity in the views among pastors, clergymen, and biblical scholars regarding a “rapture.” So, when people tell me to find solace in the possibility of leaving others behind before the last 3.5 years of torment, my reaction is not one of relief.

    In fact, the more I hear individuals speak of the topic of Rapture, the more I experience confusion. The only thing I seem to glean from the Bible regarding this topic is that there will be a few taken up into the sky—as if a temporary holding environment? But for how long and what happens from there, few elaborations are provided. Perhaps this is to prevent Satan for preparing a defense that still provides little solace.

    I’ve been interested in the topic of Revelation since I was in the 7th or 8th grade in junior high school. It has been an area of the Bible that I cannot seem to “stay away from,” despite the gloom I experience after reading about it. While my faith has waxed and waned over the years, I ultimately return to Christ. I will never, ever, claim anyone or anything/entity as my Savior except for Jesus Christ.

    I believe at times that God still has work left for me because the one strength or gift that He has given me that remains intact is that of human compassion, an understanding of what it is life to “feel pain” as a human, and an intuitive sensing about the feelings of others and their sufferings.

    But this does not resolve my personal affliction with depression and sense of fear/dread I experience. This is where I believe that it is important for our clergymen and pastors to offer some type of support, even if merely small morsels of hope.

    What happened to the once proclaimed and powerful emphasis on the “power of positive thinking” in the church and as encouraged/fostered by pastors? Has Satan already infiltrated all of our churches, clouding them with an unspeakable lowliness of spirit, sucking out the entirety of positive energy and replacing it with fear and dread?

    Have we in turn become complacent in life as Christians, immersed in fear and dread, just standing around waiting to see what happens next?

    If we cannot change the inevitability of God’s plans for the future, then how do we prevent selves from entering deep abyss’s in relation to end times? What solutions/guidance can our ministers provide us without projecting their own fears and feelings of anger/despair on us?

    When did we stop trying to make lemonade from the juice of rotten lemons? Where are our leaders of faith during these difficult times to supplement the peace that we seek through God and Jesus via prayer, especially during those times in which peace is not immediately available to us or provided by God in response to our prayers?

    The Weak and Wearied Psychologist


    Dear Weak and Wearied Psychologist,

    At least a year ago I received a similar letter from a dear lady, a physician who was struggling with many of the very same issues. She had come to a point where she no longer wanted to be here and suffered from intense chronic depression. I can tell you, so many believers suffer from similar feelings, in varying degrees. How these feelings are processed and handled is very important.

    It sounds like you have a strong grasp of your own limitations and have carefully analyzed your emotions and feelings. Let me try to relate the dilemma of gauging our perspective based on our feelings, emotions and the “power of positive thinking,” which was taught and made popular by the late, very liberal pastor, Robert Schuler.

    Feelings and emotions of course matter because we can either feel like we are dead to the world, or zipping with energy and can stand up to and conquer anything that comes our way.

    But what does the Bible say? We are to place our trust in God alone and not Man. I know you know this, so how do you integrate this truth into your life? We are to trust in Him and not our emotions or teachings that would place our trust in the power of positive thinking rather than our total faith in our Creator.

    To gain the strength and equipment to “hang tough,” as you say, it is imperative to know what the Word of God says on topics of trust and faith otherwise we will become cannon fodder for the wiles of the devil. He has given us the Bible to use diligently in our everyday lives.

    The questions and concerns you have can be best dealt with from a total biblical perspective; which means taking time to begin a serious daily Bible study. Picking up bits and pieces of the Bible from skewed teachings of men will continue to leave anyone frustrated and confused. We are all individually responsible to learn and study the messages in the Bible so we can handle this life.

    “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man” (Psalm 118:8).

    We have many reasons to be disappointed with the Church. Too many leaders and pastors are weak. And there are many who preach “feel good” doctrines instead of the Word of God. We cannot rely on men to learn what the Bible teaches. We must each take responsibility and search the Scriptures daily to see if what we are hearing jibes with God’s holy Word. (Acts 17:11).

    And as you mention, there are those who are focused primarily on gloom and doom. Where is the balance? We are to study the whole counsel of God (Acts 20: 27), so we do not get confused and frustrated by cherry-picked sermons. The Bible is where the balance is.

    “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6a).

    It is important to enlighten the lost about their frightful eternal fate without Christ. But the message should also be balanced with God’s promise of eternal blessings and the amazing grace which He offers to those who accept His free gift of salvation.

    GRACE: Gift Received At Christ’s Expense.

    Far too many Christians have never had good Bible instruction or have taken the time to study the Bible on their own. Instead they rely on the teachings of men. Inevitably, confusion sets in when they hear conflicting teachings.

    When we carefully study the Word of God we cannot so easily be pulled astray by questionable and false teachings. A good way to stop some of the confusion is to stop surfing the various media platforms for answers and stick with the Bible and not the opinions of men who may or may not be well-versed in Scripture.

    Some people who do not understand and study their Bibles get so frustrated that they walk away from the faith all together, not knowing that they must read and study the Bible for themselves:

    “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

    You sound like a very intelligent person and your “usefulness” has certainly not come to an end. it may be time to move forward in new ways. From some of what you say in your letter I can see some confusion in your understanding of Scripture; especially your confusion about the Rapture, which I will clarify for you a bit later.

    Everything we need to know is found in the Bible. This is where the lemonade is that you ask about. The juice of sour lemons is being ingested by the poorly informed sheeple who listen to and accept the many questionable and false “teachings” found all over the media. The apostasy (the “falling away from the faith”) that Paul warned us about is well underway (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

    We live in a time when Bible study is easier than ever. But we must each stop, turn-off the media toys and get back to basics. When we do read various materials, listen to lectures or sermons we must always go to Scripture to verify what we have read or heard is true:

    “Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

    When we do use the Internet, it can be a wonderful tool to access Bible dictionaries, Word study tools, etc. But we can also find a conglomeration of websites which for the most part have the best of intentions but are far from scholarly.

    Anyone can start a website and post anything. Today, biblical discernment is crucial if we are to survive the onslaught of “experts” and personalities vying for attention.

    It is no secret that many people who have a platform on TV or the Internet present a particular image that may appear to be for Christ, but are often weak in their understanding of the whole counsel of God.

    Many talk about, or write and post what they themselves have read and heard others say; too often without seriously studying the Word of God for themselves. This type of “teaching” is a cancerous epidemic in the Church today, weakening the Church as a whole—opening the door to many flawed and false teachings. (Confusion is one of the devil’s greatest weapons.)

    Yet, far too many seekers who read or listen to these people think what they are reading or hearing is coming from individuals who are solidly grounded in Christ and Scripture. Many are not. The types of people you mention, are, for the most part spewing what they have heard themselves from others -- while claiming their presence on whichever social media/ Internet/ TV platform they chose. (Any medium that keeps their names in front of others!)

    So we have chaos and confusion in the Church, and good people like you are desperately trying to find a balance that is so very much needed. Precious friend, God is not an abusive parent. He is the One who gave you life and sustains your life. Christ came here and suffered a torturous death so you can have eternal life with Him.

    He warned that we would have tribulation in this life. I think we have all learned that God is not a genie who wiggles His nose and all is well. We cannot understand why so many things are unfair in this life. But evil is everywhere trying to discourage us, trying to destroy us.

    We truly are living in a spiritual battlefield for reasons that are beyond our human understanding. The sooner we grasp this truth the better we can function. Trying to make sense out of a wicked broken world is a recipe for never-ending frustration. An ongoing quest to try to figure it all out will surely end in chronic despair.

    Our mental condition can only be healthy when we step back from the driver’s seat and let God do the driving. The Lord asks us to trust Him, to abide in Him and have complete faith in Him. Please don’t let limited human reasoning cheat you from peace and joy you can have in the Lord. He is there to comfort and strengthen you. (You know all of this all on some level.)

    It is true, our thoughts are critical to our overall well being, and it is by saturating our hearts and minds with His Word that we can manage and overcome inner-conflicts and doubts:

    “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

    Refuse to allow the devil and His cohorts to convolute God’s goodness and promises. Yes, we have tribulation but He has overcome the world. Your reward is guaranteed, you belong to Him.

    Our home is not this fallen world and the sooner we can accept that the better. Don’t let the devil outsmart you by falling for his lies that all is not well, and that life is not worth living, and all Christian teachings are too corrupt to be of any good.

    The Bible, the Word of God—is our lifeblood. It is where we can go to gain sustenance and the assurance that all is well, even when all hell is breaking loose around us. God is the great I AM. He is our Heavenly Father—the One we can count on. Your interest in the book of Revelation is good; it is the only book in the Bible where God promises a blessing to those who read it (Revelation 1:3).

    The nature of your profession is to analyze things; e.g., emotions, feelings, behavior. This can be a handicap if you let the analysis run your life without using the full counsel of God as your compass to define those issues. Interjecting man-derived counsel without the Bible can only lead to confusion. Psychology can be good to a point but God’s Word is where we can find all the answers to life’s problems. We are totally sufficient in Christ, and Christ alone.

    “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    By taking time to regularly study the Bible, a person’s spiritual eyes will be open more fully. Please don’t allow the outward picture pertaining to the problems of your life rule you, and potentially destroy you. Surely you have many blessings that so many do not have. Dwelling on the “what-ifs” and the “lack- of” in our lives is a sure way to become immobilized.

    In order to reap the inner peace and joy the Lord promises we must have an attitude of gratitude. How blessed we are as a nation, even after all we have done to hurt the Lord. So many people throughout the world do not even have their basic needs met.

    This is a fallen world! Our perspective must change to count each and every blessing if we are to find joy in our lives. The focus on self must be changed to appreciating the blessings we do have. To survive evil onslaughts we must focus on our blessings and not our lack.

    I have heard testimonies of missionaries who have seen abject poverty and have lived without basic creature comforts for periods of time. They count those experiences as the most trans- formative times in their lives. We live in a culture that makes it easy to think too much about ourselves.

    Healing on every level comes when we do not place the focus on ourselves. God has a plan for our lives and that plan is to serve Him and we do this by serving others as well; not with worldly methods of teaching and analysis -- but with the God-breathed teachings found in the Bible.

    It is true that many Old Testament saints suffered greatly, far more than we have. You mention Job in your letter. In spite of all of Job’s sufferings, Job still trusted God:

    “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).

    Have you ever considered modifying your career, going in a different direction using your professional credentials, but in a setting where you could use actually use biblical teaching openly?

    Perhaps it is time to reevaluate your profession and travel on a new road where you can use your credentials and talents to fully serve the Lord. Ask yourself if working as a psychologist as you are now is good for you. You could still help others in a similar way but in more Christian setting. Or maybe something in a different profession all together would be better for you.

    A very relevant message comes to mind:

    “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6).

    But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6: 33).

    When we apply these Scriptures to our daily business and personal lives we can better function. We cannot change yesterday, but we can move forward and take new directions with the Lord’s guidance.

    Dear friend, your life is precious to the Lord and He is there to guide you and carry you. Lean on Him and spend every moment you can with Him. Make prayer your daily bread and Bible study your main meal, and you will not be confused about God’s teachings. The Word of God is powerful and strengthening, the more we read it and study it the stronger we get in our faith and understanding.

    “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17) .

    "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

    Jesus is the Great Physician who can heal your aching heart, mind and emotions. He is there for you. He can change your thinking and invigorate you as you move forward, not looking back.

    “Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

    Over analyzing things can cause chronic sadness and frustration. We either accept what the Word of God tells us or we question it and get bogged down in doubt and confusion. We can be our own worst enemies, as the old saying goes. Don’t give the devil that kind of foothold so he can harass you.

    Perhaps you have been told that your depression is hereditary; but you are a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). You do not have to hold on to what others have embraced. If there is a chemical/biological imbalance then that can be dealt with, but the greatest hope you have is in Jesus who will never leave you or forsake you:

    “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

    Please commit to getting to know the Lord more fully; place Him first in your life and your life will get better. You will gain a new perspective and many of the concerns you have will not be so much of an issue anymore. But a commitment to place Christ first in your life, and turning that choice into real action has to come from within you; it’s a choice.

    Now as far as the Rapture, there is one true teaching which is found in the Bible. The confusion you have about it is coming from what you have read or heard from others. The pre-Tribulation view is the correct teaching, not a pre-wrath teaching as you seem to allude to -- which teaches believers will not be raptured until the middle of the Tribulation. That is a false man created teaching

    People who tell you to find solace in the Rapture are trying to tell you that Jesus is our “Blessed Hope” (Titus 2:13). He promises to take us up to heaven before the seven-year Tribulation begins. We will be translated to heaven and receive our new glorified bodies when Jesus “descends from heaven with a shout.” (That should give all believers a great sense of relief.)

    Can you please think about this literal out-of-this-world promise, and comprehend what an awesome gift, what a huge blessing this is from our Savior? Our eternity is going to be so incredible that nothing you are feeling and experiencing today will matter. Not one bit. Hold on to that promise!

    “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

    “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

    The late J. Vernon McGee, a popular respected Bible teacher (Thru the Bible radio programs) taught the Tribulation (Day of the Lord) would begin immediately after the Rapture:

    “The one event of the Rapture will end the day of grace and begin the Day of the Lord. It closes one day and opens another.” (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, Volume Five, p. 400)

    On the same page of the same book, J. Vernon McGee also discusses how the world will be expecting to enter a new era of peace, but instead will be “plunged” unexpectedly into the Tribulation, indicating that there will be a false peace just prior to the beginning of the Tribulation. Scripture verifies this teaching:

    “When they are saying, peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:3-4).

    “They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:27).

    “But on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:29 ).

    You also mention something about how the earth will be destroyed. Scripture tells us at the end of the seven-year Tribulation the Lord Jesus will return to earth with His saints (raptured believers) who have been in the safety of heaven for those seven years; “the armies of heaven” (Revelation 19: 11-16).

    Jesus Himself will literally fight off the nations who will gather together at Armageddon. At that point he will destroy them all and cast the Antichrist and the False prophet into the lake of fire. He will then rejuvenate planet Earth, and after the short interval needed to clean-up and resurface the earth (and fulfill the prophesies related to his Second Coming), the literal 1000-year millennial reign of Christ will begin.

    I urge you to read and reread what I have written to you here and seriously begin to change your view on how you approach and analyze biblical teachings, and begin a comprehensive Bible study. I have some good information in some of my previous “Dear Esther” responses on how to study the Bible.

    On the left side of the “Dear Esther” page you will find to my response to Haley on January 28, 2016. You will find a helpful guide from me on how to study your Bible. Please keep in touch with me and do not hesitate to reach out if I can clarify any of your concerns or questions.

    I have confidence in you that you can overcome your inner obstacles. You are obviously very intelligent and kind. Jesus is there for you every moment of the day ready to have an authentic relationship with you.

    A great Scripture for you to read often is Psalm 91, which speaks of the security of those who trust in the Lord. No matter what happens in this life, God will give us the strength to handle it. How else have all the martyrs and the persecuted Christians held on? The Lord gave them the resolve and fortitude to get through their ordeals. (You are stronger than you think.)

    You can be free of the cobwebs that fill your mind and weaken you. Dwelling on the negativities will only demoralize you. Give your total trust to the Lord. Stay close to Him and you will get through the years that are still left for you in this life.

    And never forget that this life is so very temporary. (Although it does not feel that way so much of the time.) Your true home is with Him for all eternity; a glorious eternity far beyond what we can perceive with our limited minds.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).


    February 22, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    My name is Bethany and I just want to say that I truly enjoy reading your work. I do have a question, and its if you believe that once you’re saved nothing you can do can make you unsaved?

    Sometimes when I read some of your answers I find myself wondering if you believe in eternal salvation. I’m not sure if you will even read this much less answer me but I thank you for all that you do and the help you have provided me simply by helping others.

    God Bless,

    Bethany


    Dear Bethany,

    Thank you for your letter and your kind words of appreciation. To answer your question, the first thing that comes to mind is this Scripture:

    “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:9).

    The previous Scripture is speaking of those who abandon biblical truth in favor of error. Such folks were never saved to begin with: “They all are not of us.” Many people make a profession of faith, spend year after year going to church, talking about the Lord and involved in church activities, yet are not saved.

    Worldliness greatly influences those who are not really committed to Christ and His ways. Some eventually leave the faith all together or get involved in very liberal churches where there is no accountability to true biblical standards.

    The conduct and lifestyle of some professing Christians are not in keeping with God’s ways:

    “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God” (Philippians 1:27-28).

    Some say Christians should be more tolerant and are accused of being self-righteous when all they are really doing is not compromising their faith. To tolerate behavior that is ungodly would compromise the truth. We must keep in mind that a person who is truly born from above is a changed individual. One’s thoughts will change from sinful ones to holy ones.

    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

    In these last days there is an abundance of lukewarm professing Christians who blend right in with the world because their behavior is no better than those who have no profession of faith; sometimes much worse.

    Do these people have eternal salvation? No, not if they are not saved to begin with. The heart intent of a person must be fully committed to Christ in spirit and in truth. Unless a person is truly born-again, they are not redeemed and covered by the blood of Christ.

    We know we are saved by faith through grace and we cannot earn our way into heaven. Nothing we can do will ever pay our way into heaven. Only Christ’s blood sacrifice can account for our sins. But making a profession of faith and showing little or zero desire to walk with Christ and surrender the old self to the new does not a add up to being a born-again believer. It is only lip-service.

    This is where the issue of eternal security gets skewed. We cannot be eternally saved if we are not truly born-again by the Spirit of God. We are either saved or we are not. When a person comes to know Christ as his or her Savior, they are brought into a relationship with the Lord which offers eternal salvation.

    Jesus stated:

    “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28-28).

    The Scripture is clear, that if a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in false.

    “That whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:15-16).

    The mindset of true believers must be complimentary to the Scriptures and we should understand that Christians operating with corrupt standards demoralizing the entire body of Christ and not bearing good fruit for God’s kingdom, cannot be considered truly born-again by the Spirit of God. In order to be a genuine Christian, one must heed Paul’s admonition to the brethren:

    “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

    The mind of Christ denies self and is giving wanting to please Him.

    [Jesus said,] “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

    Our precious Lord and Savior stepped out of eternity to obey God the Father. Jesus suffered an agonizing death so we could be saved. Our minds must be in the process of renewal not in a continuous state of deceptive corruption and moral depravity:

    “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:2-24).

    A Christian should have a new mind, not the former corrupt, sinful mind dwelling on ungodly traps this world offers:

    “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

    How willing are we to have a compliant mind? The rebellious, defiant, and resistant refuse to conform to God’s will. How willing are we to let go of the things that are clearly out of God’s will for our lives?

    “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” (Romans 12:2).

    As believers, Scripture teaches we should work on the disciplined renewing of our minds daily, growing in the Lord, committed to getting a better understanding of God’s true will for our lives. Sometimes we can be so busy doing things we think we are doing for the Lord, but miss His best for us.

    An example of this would be not studying and comparing teachings in the light of Scripture, but instead one might function in complacency—on autopilot, never delving deeply into some important issues of doctrine.

    Or attending church on Sunday, but the rest of the week spending more time on social events and the selfish pursuit of personal projects that far outweigh the time given to the Lord; things that have nothing or very little to do with renewing one’s mind and growing as a believer.

    A true believer will never be without sin, but our efforts and intentions must be honorable. We all struggle with sin as the Bible says:

    “For the flesh desires against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, and these things are opposed to one another that you should not do the things that you want to do” (Galatians 5:17).

    Yet we will have a strong desire to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and to live a holy life:

    “But according as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it has been written, “Be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

    During our long, spiritual journey there will be peaks and valleys and there may be times when we wander away from the Lord for a season. Yet if we are truly born from above we will always come back as the prodigal son did (Luke 15:11-32).

    If someone is a habitual prodigal son straying away and then coming back over and over, again and again—something is wrong. It is strong evidence that he or she may not be born-again.

    The only way anyone can have full assurance of one’s salvation is to see consistent spiritual growth with an attitude of humility and faithful devotion to the Lord.

    A true child of God will see spiritual growth, and develop strong spiritual habits. He or she will not have a love for the fleshly distractions of the world or function with hidden agendas designed to hurt and undermine others.

    Also, keep in mind the statement by James concerning our faith:

    “So also faith, if it has not works is dead, being alone. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works’” (James 2:17-18).

    Some believers think they have faith greater than the Apostles, but if that faith does not also produce good deeds (fruit) it is useless.

    After we are saved, it can take some time to really begin to surrender to the Holy Spirit and consciously start the process of transforming and the renewing of the mind. But the commitment must be serious.

    Growing in the Lord is a never-ending, ongoing process. Salvation should not be the only goal in knowing God. We are saved by faith and faith alone, but we should want to learn how to live our lives to please the Lord and follow His teachings—as expressed in Colossians 1:10:

    “That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

    The salvation message is a revelation of the Holy Spirit that makes known the mind of Christ. We can all become vulnerable to falling into personal lifestyle comfort zones, and not regularly reexamining the meaning of the Scriptures.

    When the Lord commanded us to not be conformed to this world, but to be “transformed by the renewing” of our minds, He was sending us a very important message.

    Every person is individually accountable to God. Perhaps we won’t always be popular when we take a strong stand for biblical truth, but at least we will not become part of the “lukewarm” church. Safety in numbers has been proven to be a myth.

    Selective acceptance and application of only some of the teachings the Lord left us in His Scriptures is guaranteed to keep us from experiencing a close, personal relationship with Him. Messiah Jesus spoke strongly against continuing to live in a manner that would show little commitment to Him, Revelation 3:15-16:

    “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

    Anyone can make a “profession of faith.” But not everyone who makes a profession of faith follows through with a repentant heartfelt commitment, lifestyle and attitude change. Are they truly saved one might ask?

    It is true that some professing “believers” are simply social “pew-sitters” with little or no interest in examining the Scriptures, much less applying the teachings of the Bible to their daily lives. But Christ asks more of us. We are commanded to love the Lord with all our hearts, souls and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5).

    If we are sincere in our professions of faith believing God and accepting His teachings in the Bible, then loving the Lord and serving Him should be at the top of our itinerary each day; studying our Bibles, spending time in prayer, communicating with fellow believers, and sharing the salvation message with others. Our love for the Lord will spill over into all areas of our lives and life will be a blessing and a joy.

    Our minds should be set on heaven:

    “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians3:2).

    Are the “pleasures” of this world keeping us from having an authentic relationship with the Lord? Those who care more about social trends, worldly esteem, vain glory, or whatever fleeting thrills this world might have to offer have “gone out from us,” and we can without hesitation say, “They were not of us.”

    “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19).

    A born-again Christian does not love the world or the things of the world. Paul warned that we should not be led astray. A repentant heart operates within the individual guided by the Holy Spirit.

    “Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind” (Colossians 2:18).

    Those who “are not of us,” become evident in time:

    “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:16-20).

    Eternal salvation applies to those who are truly saved, but not to those who are playing games with God, and living a life of continuous rebellion. That does not mean we will not sin, it means that we do not live a life of deception day after day in deliberate rebellion knowing full-well that our behavior and lifestyle choices are ungodly. That is why we are urged to take personal inventory:

    “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

    The Lord calls us ALL to repentance:

    “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

    Recently this is what I shared with someone via an email response regarding repentance:

    Scripture tells us that we must make a full honest commitment to the Lord, not a partial one where we continue to give in to our lusts day after day. Nowhere in Scripture does it say to partially repent.

    Jesus wants to enjoy our lives, but not live irresponsibly by carelessly hurting others or getting into trouble and live immorally. Once we are saved we must all be careful not to use God’s grace as an excuse to continue deliberately living in sin.

    Christ did not die so we could habitually break basic moral guidelines. Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf is not a permit to party recklessly the same way much of the unsaved world does. He wants us to be set-apart and behave with thoughtfulness and kindness, and not get caught-up with the wicked things that go on in the world. We live in a world filled with deception at every turn. What is wrong is promoted as right. What is right is much too often said to be wrong.

    Definition of repentance:

    To turn away from: real penitence; sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God, a violation of his holy law, and the basest ingratitude towards a Being of infinite benevolence. This is called evangelical repentance, and is accompanied and followed by amendment of life. Repentance is a change in heart and mind which results in a change in outward actions.

    Some people associate repentance with emotions, like shedding tears and feeling sorry for wrong actions and thoughts. Repentance is not emotion. It is a decision. Emotions sometimes accompany true repentance.

    But it is possible for a person to feel great emotion and to shed many tears, but to never truly repent. Likewise it is possible that a person may not shed many tears, but truly makes a lasting deep decision in the heart to turn from their ways and toward God.

    Repentance is a change of mind, or a conversion from sin to God. Repentance is the relinquishment of any practice, from conviction that it has offended God.

    The apostle Paul struggled very much with sin, yet this is what he had to say:

    “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

    The blood of Jesus covers our sins, and yes we will all sin to some degree until the day we die but that does not mean we can recklessly live like the heathen and think there will not be eternal consequences.

    If you are making a REAL and sincere effort to let go of the flesh and live in a godly manner, and slip-up on occasion then that is one thing. But if you are using grace as an excuse to continue participating in chronic sins, then I would ask you to re-evaluate your commitment to the Lord.

    So there you are, that is what I shared with a young man who was struggling with sin.

    The strongest argument for eternal salvation for those who are truly saved is found in Romans 8:38-39:

    “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Bethany, I hope the many points I have made here have helped answer your question. A true born-again believer has eternal salvation, but a phony Christian is facing a very, very tough eternal destiny.

    God bless you,

    Esther

    “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:20-21).


    February 15, 2016

    Dear Esther

    My college roommate is an obsessed Catholic. She is a great friend but I cannot begin to understand why she thinks Mary is to be worshipped. I have been a born-again Christian since I turned 15, and I cannot find anything in my Bible that says very much about Mary. Can you help me understand why my friend prays to Mary and talks about her as if she is on the same level as Jesus?

    Thank you for your time, and I love reading your great column every week.

    Sissy (Bewildered)


    Dear Sissy,

    I can appreciate your question. Your friend is deceived by her church. The Roman Catholic Church places Mary on a pedestal of idolatry. The New Testament has surprisingly little to say about Mary. Her last recorded words were spoken at the marriage in Cana, at the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5).

    We see her only once more during Jesus’ public ministry when she and His brothers come seeking Him, only to draw rebuke: “Who is my mother and My brethren?...Whosoever shall do the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is my brother and sister, and mother (Matthew 12:46-50.)

    Mary was present at the Cross, where Jesus committed her care to John. And in Acts 1:14 she is mentioned as having been with the Disciples, other women and the Lord’s brethren engaged in prayer. But she had no prominent place. The Apostles never prayed to Mary. John took care of her until she died but he does not mention her in any of his three epistles or in the book of Revelation.

    When the Church was instituted at Pentecost there was only one name mentioned among men whereby we must be saved—Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). God has given us all the record we need concerning Mary in the Bible and that record does not include worship or veneration of Mary or anyone else in any form.

    But the Roman Catholic Church has elevated Mary to a place of extreme idolatry—a seriously blasphemous condition. To understand the place Mary has in the average Roman Catholic psyche, notice what is written in a popular Catholic book titled, From the Glories of Mary. “She [Mary] is truly a mediatress of peace between sinner and God. Sinners receive pardon by...Mary alone” (pp. 82-28).

    “Mary is our life...Mary is obtaining this grace for sinners by her intercession, thus restores them to life...The holy Church commands worship peculiar to Mary. Many things...are asked from God and are not granted; they are asked from Mary, and obtained,” for “She...is even queen of hell and sovereign mistress of the devils” (pp. 127, 141, 143).

    It gets even worse. The author of the book , Alphonsus De Ligouri, also states:

    Mary is called the gate of heaven because no one can enter that blessed kingdom without passing through her (p.16). “The way to salvation is open to none otherwise than through Mary. And since our salvation is in the hands of Mary...he who is protected by Mary will be saved, he who is not will be lost” (pp. 169-170).

    Pure and total blasphemy. Frightening. The Roman Catholic Church elevates Mary above Jesus (God). I shudder to think of the fate that is ahead for those who have promulgated these lies and have mislead millions and millions of people. The Roman Catholic Church also states:

    We declare, pronounce and define that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the instant of her conception was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin.” (Mary alone, by a special “miracle” was excepted.) This doctrine did not become official until 1854, more than 18 centuries after Christ was born of the Virgin Mary.

    Along with the decree there was issued this condemnation of any who dared to disbelieve it:

    Therefore, if some shall presume to think in their hearts otherwise than we have defined, they shall know and thoroughly understand that they are by their own judgment condemned, have made shipwreck concerning the faith, and fallen away from the unity of the Church; moreover, that they, by this very act, subject themselves to the penalties ordained by the law, if by word, or writing, or by other external means they dare to signify what they think in their hearts.

    The latest addition to the long list of Roman Catholic beliefs came on November 1, 1950, with the ex cathedra pronouncement by Pope Pius XII from St. Peter’s chair that Mary’s body was raised from the grave shortly after she died, that her body and soul reunited, and that she was taken up and enthroned as Queen of soul were reunited, and that she was taken up and enthroned as Queen of Heaven.

    And to this pronouncement there was added the usual warning: “Anyone who henceforth doubt or deny this doctrine is utterly fallen away the divine and Catholic faith.”

    So there you are, Sissy. What I have shared with you should be enough to give you a good idea why your friend is obsessed with Mary. I can recommend some good books for her to read, that might take her to the Word of God, and help her understand that she is involved in a very corrupt religion that is part of the apostasy that the apostle Paul wrote about in his First Epistle to Timothy:

    “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

    Please realize that trying to get through to someone who is so immersed in this type of heresy is not an easy undertaking. If you attend a good Bible teaching church, try to get your friend to go with you. Since she is also your roommate, you can create many opportunities at home to share the truth with her.

    See if you can encourage your friend to read these books:

    Queen of All: The Marian Apparitions’ Plan to Unite all Religions under the Roman Catholic Church, by Jim Tetlow and Roger Oakland.

    The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God, by James McCarthy.

    A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days, by Dave Hunt.

    In closing, I leave you with Scripture that you can share with your dear friend; there is only one gospel, which applies not only to the Roman Catholic Church but to all cults, false teachings and false religions.

    “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.

    But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

    For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”

    The Catholics are taught to serve and please the hierarchy of that church—men, which is totally in conflict with the Scriptures. We are to please God and follow His biblical precepts, not the rules and regulations of fallen men who wear costumes and perform rituals that are outside of God’s holy Word.

    God bless you, Sissy. Have patience with your friend and ask the Lord to guide you as you try to witness to her. Many good (former) Catholics have come to their senses and have renounced the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Please keep in touch with me and let me know how things work out with your friend.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).




    February 8, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I’m hoping you can give me guidance in a terrible situation. I was saved at age eleven. I am a conservative Christian woman, and my husband was saved at age 18. We are active members in an independent Baptist church. I have two sons, 21 and 18. My 21 year old came to us at 18 to tell us he was gay and semi-involved with another young man from a neighboring town.

    At the time, I didn’t respond as I should have. I repented of this long ago, but cannot ever change what happened. When he came to us, I went into overprotective-mom mode and defended him. Not only did I tell him I loved him regardless, but that I wanted him to be happy, even if that meant with another man.

    He came out on social media and in public with a lot of support from friends and others (as is usual in the world today). He was a member of the same church, and when he became actively involved in this lifestyle, church discipline was enacted and he was taken off the church’s roll.

    It hurt him, and us. I was hurt because my child was hurt. It should have been me taking this stand, instead of trying to shelter my son. He became involved in a long-term relationship while in college, eventually living with another man. My husband has never changed his ideas on homosexuality. He has always believed it was wrong.

    Deep in my heart, I’ve always known the same. We joined another church a couple of years ago, and I rededicated my life to the Lord in that time. He broke my heart over my behavior and I confessed to my son that I’ve been wrong. I told him I loved him no matter what, but I couldn't accept what he was doing any longer.

    I reassured him that he’d always be precious to me, and I want him to succeed. I tried to show him Scripture and pray with him, but it didn’t go over very well. We offered to get him counseling, which he refused. He adamantly maintained he was a Christian, and does to this day (he made a profession of faith at age 9). Shortly after this talk, he broke off his “relationship” and appeared to be attempting to change his path.

    But today, he is nearly unrecognizable as a Christian. He supports all forms of lifestyles, applauds transgender people for being so brave, and liberal theology that says God made him gay. I pray for him constantly. His name is on my heart and mind at every hour of the day, and I beg Jesus to deliver him.

    I know that if he indeed is saved, God won’t allow him to continue unconditionally. I know there will be consequences. This has driven a wedge between us that I don’t know how to bridge. My husband is out of ideas how to deal with this, too.

    The guilt over the way I handled this eats at me. I know Satan uses our past mistakes to attack and keep us weak. I try to remember that ploy when I’m reminded of that time. Did I do irreversible damage? I’m desperate for guidance, opinions, prayers, help of any kind. I want to see my son in heaven! The thought of him going to hell tortures me.

    A Desperate Mom


    Dear Desperate Mom,

    You did the best you could at the time, when your son first told you about himself. You must trust the Lord completely. We always have hope in the Lord. You and your husband raised your son with godly principles and that is still all embedded in him; although it certainly does not appear that way right now. Nevertheless, he could still come back to the Lord:

    “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

    Your son has strayed in a great way but that does not mean he will not repent one day. Right now it might seem like the situation is impossible, but God will not take His hand off your son. Keep praying for God’s intervention in this situation and that He will show your son the truth. Pray that the Lord will give your son wisdom and the spirit of discernment.

    Overall, you have handled the entire situation very well, and from the loving heart of a mother. A mother’s natural tendency is to protect her children. As time went on you realized there are many different ways to protect your child. How we handle and respond to things can change as people and events change.

    Please don’t beat yourself up. Keep praying for him. Pray believing a solution will come and that your son will repent. Your best weapon against the situation is abiding prayer (Fervent prayer and a lot of faith.) Sometimes when we try to verbally reason with others, it is ineffective. Many people do not want to acknowledge and accept what they are doing is wrong. Some people call this the “sin factor.”

    Some people will not admit to their own obvious mistakes and try to turn things around and blame an injured party instead of admitting that they are wrong. They add insult to injury because they do not want to own up to their mistakes. Pride is a huge factor in this type of behavior. It is also the first sin; the sin that Lucifer committed against God when he rebelled against Him, when he said he would be like the “Most High (Isaiah 14:14).

    Pride is a terrible problem in the world today. Rather than be honest, the blame is placed where it does not belong. It reminds me of what the socialist Democrats do. They always point the finger at someone or something else rather than take responsibility for their own failures.

    Your son is not doing that to you from what I can tell in your letter, and hopefully others you interact with now don’t try to blame you. But the devil is pointing his dirty finger at you. You already know that to some degree; but he is a relentless foe! So I will remind you of this:

    Whenever Satan tried to coerce Jesus into doing something, Jesus quoted Scripture and did not get into a dialogue with him. I urge you not to let that filthy fallen angel harass you and allow you to feel guilty. Quote Scripture out loud expressing God’s authority over that wretched creature.

    “Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:10).

    And remember this verse so you are sure of who you are in Christ:

    “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

    Sometimes we cannot bridge a gap, and we must love a person form a distance. At this point, with your son, perhaps the best thing you can do is continue to tell him you love him and that you will always be there for him, just as you have been doing. When we cannot get through to others through conversation it is especially then, that we must trust God completely to work in the situation in ways we cannot.

    We cannot force people to see the truth but we always have great hope in Almighty God. You have done all you can to steer your son in the right direction. Your efforts are not lost. In time, a lot can change to awaken your son to his fallen condition and even bring him to repentance

    Please stay involved with other like-minded believers. Pray together and spend time in fellowship strengthening and encouraging one another. God can use you to encourage others who are in difficult and painful situations. When we help others we take the focus of our own problems and show God’s love.

    Anything is possible with God and your son is tremendously blessed to have you for his mother. Never underestimate the power of prayer and the love that flows from God’s heart. All is not lost; consider how many broken souls have come to Christ and repented from all kinds of god- less lifestyles. Although each situation is different, sinning against our holy God is always the common denominator.

    “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

    Place your unwavering faith and trust in God’s mercy and grace. He wishes for no one to perish, including your son (2 Peter 3:9). He hears and answers the prayers of the righteous; He is near to his children. Stay close to Jesus and He will continue to carry your through this very difficult season of your life.

    Continue to walk forward in faith. Never give-up on God’s tremendous mercy and power to change hearts and minds. Transformation of the heart and mind can come through the Holy Spirit. His ways are far beyond what we can comprehend. Your Heavenly Father (Abba-Daddy) is there for you and weeps with you. Go to Him again and again for comfort and strength.

    And I will say it again, please stop beating yourself up. You did not cause this situation; this wicked world and the enormous pressures of social liberalism somehow seeped into your son’s life. But that does not mean he is without hope. Please keep in touch and let me know how you are doing every now and then, and I will be praying with you for your son.

    God bless you and strengthen you,,

    Esther

    The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:15-18).


    February 1, 2016

    Dear Esther,

    I am wondering how to help friends who are struggling financially. We know several families who are barely making ends meet due to layoffs, injuries, etc. One family in particular is in serious trouble.

    We have been trying to help them out in small ways like supplying dinner whenever we get together, babysitting for free, treating their children to outings like the zoo and hiring them for odd jobs like pet sitting.

    While they have never flat out asked for money, they often hint that they need cash. Our area has been particularly hard hit economically and our church no longer gives direct assistance to individuals. Instead they refer people to community organizations.

    We have suggested they look into various program but aren’t sure if they have followed-up on any of them, although we know they do get some sort of government assistance.

    We are fortunate that my husband has a good paying steady job, and we want to be generous. But at the same time, we are on a budget providing for our own children, trying to pay down debt and investing for our future.

    We have given money to other friends in the past and it always ends badly. Plus, even if we help now, what happens when the same bills roll in next month and they still can't cover them?

    What, if anything, should we do to help our friends? Thank you for any advice or insight.

    Emily


    Dear Emily,

    First of all, the Christian church in general has fallen short of its obligation to care for one another. This is symptomatic of the downward spiral of this day and age. The Scriptures teach that the church should help provide for those congregants in need, especially when their families cannot. Not as a social welfare program but as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

    Instead, as you say, those in need are sent to community and government agencies. We are taught to live in the world but not be of the world, yet then when it comes to needing real help, today the church says, “Go to the world.” Although there are still some good churches that lovingly try to do what they can.

    A good church should have a way to provide in some way for those in need (James 2:15-17 and Galatians 6:10). But our church “system” is rarely a closely tied group these days. We don’t always pull together and carry each other’s burdens in ways that we should. A lack of good biblical leadership is the major problem.

    So as believers who comprise the Body of Christ, we should do what we can for each other individually, especially when the hierarchy of a church is neglectful.

    Many innovative things can be done, but most churches lack leadership in the way God intended. The Christian church as a whole is weak in its bond together. Have you ever noticed how strongly Mormons stick closely together and help each other very generously?

    A young Mormon woman I know was telling me about how she grew up in a single parent home. Her mother would often go to the Mormon church in her community where there is a very organized and comprehensive assistance center. They were not shamed into going to the government for help. They were loved and taken care of in so many ways when funds were scarce.

    What a slap in God’s face when Bible believing Christians get little or no help from their churches. True Christians should be knit tightly together but instead we too often see others who are not part of the Body of Christ being much more caring and generous.

    So with that said, my suggestion is that the best way to provide from your small corner of the world is the way you have been doing already, especially for the sake of the children. It sounds like you are concerned that if you do give cash that it might be expected again.

    Also, it is true that there are those who take advantage of others and are not doing everything possible to turn their situation around. In your case, I would step back and continue to carefully assess the situation. It is hard to determine if the family you are most concerned about would try to become dependent on your family—if you do give them some cash.

    Perhaps if you and your husband want to give your friends who have the greatest need a one-time cash gift, you could sit down with them and tell them it is a one-time gift to help them get on their feet, and that you would like to do more but have so many of your own responsibilities and expenses (debts) that there is no way you could do it again.

    Explain to them how you are concerned that this situation could become problematic because you cannot take on the burden of feeling the need to do more when you must be wise stewards to be able to meet your own obligations. Then lead them to the Scriptures about God’s providence; God blesses those who take refuge in Him. The entire book of Ruth reveals this beautifully.

    Encourage your friends to put their full faith and trust in the Lord. Hopefully the man of the house is strong enough emotionally and spiritually to realize that he needs to do everything possible to provide for his family, and by humbly seeking the Lord, things can get much better for him and his family regardless of a down economy.

    If you do give a money gift, and your friendship does take a turn for the worse because they expect more, you will have still done something good and you can rest assured that you are not obligated to keep paying their way. If the entire thing blows up then so be it. It won’t be because you and your family have not been kind.

    The Bible does not support helping those who have a way to work but choose not to because they are lazy, irresponsible and do not provide for their family” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, 1 Timothy 5:8).

    Give from your heart as unto the Lord and try not to be attached to the outcome. We can’t control what others will say or do. If you do have some cash that you can live without, give it unless you detect that the head of the household is not really trying to improve the situation for his family. God will bless you for your generosity.

    When someone is really suffering from a lack of money, even a small money gift can be a huge welcome relief and act as a positive glimmer of hope. And remember, when it is all said and done—it is what we do here on earth in the name of the Lord that matters. Trust that He will continue to provide for your family as you help others in need as best you can, without placing your own family in jeopardy.

    “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).

    Scripture does teach that the Lord loves a “cheerful giver” and especially when it comes to children. I am going to list for you some Scriptures that deal with the topic of giving: 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; 2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Matthew 6:1-4; Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 22:9; Matthew 10:42; 1 John 3:16-18; Proverbs 11:24-25; Acts 20:35.

    Be sure to pray carefully about all of this before taking any specific action. God will guide you. It is obvious that you are a kind, caring, giving individual.

    God bless you for your caring heart, Emily.

    Esther

    “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:11-12).