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




February 23, 2015

Dear Esther,

Am I an apostate? Can I rejoin the body of believers and be forgiven?

A little over a year ago I left my church and I have spiraled into sin and near non-belief into there even being such a thing as “God.” I was just staring at pictures of my old fellow ministry members when I was struck by a sudden desire to go back. I literally turned my back on them and shame has stopped me in the past when I have felt this way before.

I’m confused because I want to go back, but I don’t want it to be just because of my old friends. Another ministry is out of the question because I feel in my heart that this is the one I NEED to go to for spiritual growth with God (that and the local university church is lukewarm if you know what I mean).

I think I already know the answer to whether God will forgive me. It is faith in the sacrifice of Jesus that saves and to doubt that His sacrifice would not save me is wrong, but I still feel that demon of doubt that perhaps I’m wrong and I’ve committed the only unforgivable sin.

Thank you,

Erin (Unsure)


Dear Erin,

Run, don’t walk back to your old church. I suggest first seeking out whomever you were closest to, and perhaps the senior pastor. It is not too late. It sounds like the Lord has never taken His hands off of you.

What you sense to be a demon of doubt in your mind can be quashed by the Holy Spirit. Stop what you are doing and make a genuine prayer of confession and repentance unto the Lord. He will forgive you. He waits with open arms for you to resume an authentic personal relationship with Him. Repentance must come with the right heart motive and must be genuine.

Everyone is guilty of some sort of shame. Don’t allow that to stop you from returning to the place where you feel you can benefit the most in your spiritual growth and best serve the Lord. It won’t be long until you feel at home again. You might find a few people are a bit distant at first, but never mind them; what matters is that your genuine repentance and recommitment to the Lord. He will honor your efforts and embrace you!

In 2 Corinthians 7:10 we read: “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

When a person repents, there is joy in heaven over that one sinner alone!

“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).

Erin, rest assured, God is very forgiving. He calls sinners to seek Him, to forsake their sin and promises to forgive them. I believe the Lord has been calling you back to Him. Run to Him and never look back.

“Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

When a wayward sinner repents and turns back to God, he or she will live an eternity with the Lord and not an eternity of condemnation.

“But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live” (Ezekiel 18:21-22).

You mention your local university church. You have already found out that is not a place where you can grow in the Lord. Far too many colleges are godless institutions often taking students who have had a Christian upbringing away from the Lord. I know a dear woman who is hurting because her son (who has a brilliant mind), and was totally devoted to the Lord all throughout high school -- went off to university, and while he was pursuing his education he actually became an atheist.

Maybe this bright young man has convinced himself he is an atheist but after having such a strong relationship with the Lord for so many years, I am sure God is not finished with him yet. His mother raised him with much love and with solid biblical principals but when he got caught-up in Academia his faith was whittled away. Surely the Lord is watching over him as He has watched over you and one day before too long the Lord will draw him back to Himself.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit even the most stubborn people can be redeemed. The author of confusion (the devil) wastes no time trying to pull even the strongest of believers away from the Lord if he can get a foothold into their lives. That is why we must daily:

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

Erin, I want to caution you that some of your unbelieving friends may not be the best influence for you, especially now. You might have to walk away from some of them. You can do it in a quiet non-confrontational way. If you have an opening to share the gospel with them one day when you are stronger in the Lord, then you can always look them up.

It is time to place all your focus on Christ and get into your Bible every day. Your faith will be strengthened through consistent Bible study and a regular prayer life. It is a good idea to get into the habit of reading Scripture out loud:

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans10:17).

If you have even one true Christian friend you can trust, try to spend time together and encourage one another. Between your studies at school and time spent with the Lord, including time at church, you will be very busy and it won’t be hard to steer clear of those who are not walking with Him. Please be very careful what you fill your mind with and be sure to choose your friends wisely.

I am sure you have heard about the Parable of the Lost (Prodigal) Son. Please read and study this story in Luke 15:11-32. Despite the wayward son’s rebellion, when he returned home with a repentant heart his father welcomed him with open arms and was extremely happy to see him.

When he saw his son at a distance he was moved with compassion, ran and fell on his neck, kissed him and welcomed him home. He did everything he could to make his son feel welcome. He clothed him like royalty, fed him the best food and had a magnificent celebration in his honor.

This is an illustration of how our Heavenly Father rejoices when one of His lost children come back to Him. So to answer your first to questions: No, you are not an apostate and as I already pointed out, you can rejoin the body of believers and be forgiven.

Now walk forward Erin, and don’t look back. I am praying for you. I will help you with this; write as often as you need to.

“‘Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Malachi 3:7).

In God’s love,

Esther

“But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live” (Ezekiel 18:21-22).



February 16, 2014

Dear Esther

I suffered from a debilitating social anxiety and depression while I was in high school/college. It was severe and I had to take medications. In my third year of college I dropped out because I just couldn’t take the stress, and the physical symptoms were too bothersome, after which a friend invited me to a Bible believing church and I became born-again.

I wasn’t healed instantly but I found peace and truth in studying the Bible. I’m 39 years old now and I can say I’m victorious over that struggle.

My concern is a teenager in the church I’m attending right now. She started sharing with me about feeling depressed. She dropped her nursing subjects recently because of lack of concentration, lack of energy and just being “down.” I try to give her advice based on what I have experienced. I also suggested counseling aside from prayer, fellowship with other Christians, confession, Bible study.

The pastors in our church went to visit her and prayed over her. But they said it’s “just a dark night of the soul and not depression.” She told me she’s more confused now and feels pressured to act normally because she doesn’t want her family worrying about her. What’s your take on Christians undergoing depression? Thank you so much for your time.

God bless,

Jeyln


Dear Jeyln,

I am glad you wrote. It sounds like the pastors from your church were of little help to this precious teen who is struggling. It sounds like they used double-talk instead of demonstrating abiding Christian love. By loving her and embracing her they could have given this hurting teen a sense of belonging and some stability -- and reinforced the Savior’s love for her.

Instead, they spoke some foreboding words that made the situation worse. Everyone needs to have a sense of belonging and the teen years, especially, can be very challenging. The advice you gave her was good, and hopefully she is taking some steps to interact in the ways you suggested.

To answer your question about what my take is on Christians undergoing depression, I think there are various forms of depression. Depression can be based on fear, disappointment, overwhelming feelings of inadequacy, chronic stress, loss, and fall-out from various types of neglect and abuse. Depression can also often have physiologic and/or anatomic roots which cause the problem.

When a Christian falls into depression any number of factors can be at work. We are living in such an intense time; every day we are bombarded with news that would cause anyone to feel it is time to head for the hills and hide. And the social pressures are enormous. People who are active on social media sites sometimes find themselves attacked and abused by their ”friends” simply because they disagree with something. We live in a world that screams terror and competitiveness all at the same time.

When a true born-again Christian is prone to depression, I can see why it happens. Even though we are “new creatures” in Christ we are all a work in progress in our walk with the Lord and sometimes some of us are emotionally and spiritually stronger than others. Sometimes even a strong Christian has simply had enough of the ways of this world and desperately wants nothing more to do with it. The corruption, the lies and deceit, the back-biting, the violence and godless lifestyles can cause one to feel such a sense of grieving, even hopelessness—that the joy of the Lord is quashed and depression drifts in.

No one can say he or she has never felt some sort of depression at some point. It is how we, as believers, handle it; that is the key to being truly free in Christ. I read a great book a very long time ago titled, Our Sufficiency in Christ by John F. Mac Arthur. It is a solid book that shows how mankind’s psychology and humanistic solutions fail because it is through Christ and Christ alone that we can overcome overwhelming feelings of separation from others and from God Himself.

Our validation comes from the assurance of Christ through what He did for us on the Cross and through our personal relationship with Him. Seeking approval from the world is guaranteed to cause confusion and often depression for some. The world is set-up to bring people down and make each individual feel like nothing they do is “good enough.” But in Christ we are free from the destructive mantras of the world.

When we are committed to Christ with a contrite heart and when self-ambition is on the backburner, when discipleship and reaching others for Christ is what truly motivates us, then depression can at least be handled and with time, even eliminated.

A major reason depression can manifest is simply because of seeing the godless world for what it is. If we are truly compassionate we cannot help but feel sadness for the rest of humanity; we know what the Bible predicts and it is tough to see the prophetic Scriptures lining up and taking the world closer to the time when all hell will break loose on this earth during the seven-year Tribulation.

I can tell you this grieves my spirit every day, but greater is He who is in me and I persevere and place my focus on reaching others for Christ while there is still time. Otherwise I would feel helpless and frustrated. It is tough to see the world heading for a collision with God. Our prayers for the salvation of others should be our ongoing endeavor.

If we truly care about others as we should, then we cannot help but feel a deep sense of sadness as we see this world falling apart. But all true believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit and it is through Him that we can go about our daily lives and be effective witnesses for the Lord. It is by letting go of control issues and truly yielding to the Holy Spirit that we can do the work we are called to do for Christ.

The best remedy for depression is focusing on Christ and the needs of others. Those who are primarily thinking about themselves will have a tough time getting to a place where depression can be handled. It is by giving that the healing comes. The focus must be removed from self and placed on Christ. And it starts with one step, then another.

We may all experience tough situations but we can surely avoid deep relentless debilitating depression by taking our heartaches and cares to Christ on a daily basis:

“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” ( 2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

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).

In conclusion, Jeyln, if believers who are prone to suffer from depression would think about the heart wrenching suffering of the apostle Paul and how he was steadfastly sustained by God’s grace, I would hope that his testimony would help give a new perspective on how to deal with day to day issues. Notice in the passage below that Paul was concerned about the churches, not himself, despite his brutal and frequent beatings and protracted hardships:

“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move.

I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:23c-28 NIV).

In Christ Jesus we have hope which produces endurance and perseverance; that is what I would say above all to believers who suffer from depression. We have a Living Hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and we are more that conquerors through Him.

We must not allow the enemies of God to knock us down in this spiritual battle. We must be ever mindful that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). The devil knows he cannot take away the salvation of a truly redeemed believer but he can and will try relentlessly to take away a person’s ability to be a productive and effective witness for Christ.

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:13 -18).

May the Lord bless you, Jeyln, for your faithful and caring heart.

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.” (1 Peter 1:3).


February 9, 2015

Dear Esther,

I’m writing about myself. I’m so confused right now. I know what is wrong and right but somehow I just continue doing wrong even after knowing it is not right. I really need guidance on my life and everything that I am. I have financial problems and I am not happy at my work anymore, plus everything seems that it doesn’t want to change in my life. I am a believer.

Regards,

Confused


Dear Confused,

Your attached information in your letter puts your physical location in Namibia. It is wonderful that you have reached out to us here at Rapture Ready. From your brief comments, my overall assessment of your situation is that you seem to lack incentive to change and improve your situation. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) so the best remedy for that is to get very close to Him.

In your email you indicate that you are involved with a prestigious company in the Real Estate business in Windhoek, the capital. As far as changing things for the better, we can do so with the Lord’s guidance. When we are feeling great despair we can feel very immobilized. But that is exactly what the enemy wants. He wants to take us off the playing field so we cannot do the work of the Lord. As a believer, you must armor your self with the Word of God each and every day. When we really get into the Scriptures deeply, we are strengthened and a whole new world of hope and opportunity is revealed.

Have you searched your heart and reassessed your relationship with the Savior? Have you totally surrendered your life to Him? I have often heard some people say that they are afraid to let go of the control in their lives and give it over to the Lord because they think the Lord will want them to do something they don’t want to do. So they stay stuck spinning their wheels, choosing frustrating familiarity over a new direction.

Of course financial problems can slow down anyone trying to move forward and make positive changes, but with the Lord all things are possible. He can open doors and solve problems in ways no one else can. I can attest to that personally, many times over. I don’t know how close a relationship you have with the Lord, but very often when nothing seems to be moving forward in our lives, He is calling for us to seek Him in a very intense way and totally die to self.

You know right from wrong, but you continue to stumble. How human of you! Men are under tremendous pressure to “achieve” and with all the game playing that goes on in the world it is easy to feel downright despondent at times. The apostle Paul through His invincible faith persevered through horrific trials and adversity, yet he wrote some of the most poignant books of the Bible, some even from prison as the Holy Spirit ministered to him. He too, struggled with sin, which grieved him very much.

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15).

Paul further came to the realization that only what we do for the Lord is what really matters in this life:

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11).

The world teaches that we have to place success first before anything else. The Lord teaches that we should put Him first and trust Him completely─for everything. We are children of God and He will look after us but first we must be willing to let go of old self-destructive patterns and be sure we have a strong relationship with Him in order to move forward and receive His best for us. Surrender to Him and you will better sense His guidance. He has a solution for your problems. Ask Him to close the wrong doors and open the right doors for your life.

A time is soon coming upon this world when the day-to-day lives of the unsaved will be tremendously disrupted, when all true believers will be removed in the Rapture and the Tribulation will begin. We must keep this in mind and keep our time here on this earth in its proper perspective.

Please think through all your options carefully. Sometimes we might think we don’t have any good options but with careful prayer and analysis there is usually at least one door we can knock on and then walk through to move toward God’s destiny for us.

When all possibilities seem impossible that is a sure indication that something much better is on the horizon. Don’t give in to the devil’s attempt to crush you.

“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 3:13-14).

I strongly recommend that you carefully study the apostle Paul’s thirteen Epistles (letters): Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon.

I suggest that you begin with Philippians, which Paul wrote while chained in prison. He encourages the first church founded in Europe on how to have the joy of Christ. We live at a time where nearly everyone has a phone in their hand when they walk out the door. Be sure to have your Bible in your other hand. Stay close to God’s Word as much as possible.

Please keep in touch with us and be encouraged that with Christ all things are possible. Seek the Lord with all your heart and He will not let you down.

In God’s love,

Esther (2 Corinthians 7:1-10)

“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).


February 2, 2015

Dear Esther,

I trust you are having a great day today. I love your column and it can be very helpful for those of us who read your advice. I am plucking up the courage to write to you.

My Name is Ann and I have been married for 18 years. I lived with my husband before we were married for 5 years, so basically you can say I have been with my husband for around 23 years.

I was saved 3 years ago and my husband continues to be unsaved. Although he went to church with me a few times, he has never committed to the Lord and grew up in an atheist home.

My husband has a good heart and has always been a good provider. When we were both much younger he had a problem with alcohol and drugs and then he went to rehab and he stopped completely for two years, but after that he slowly began to drink again. I don’t know if I can say he is an alcoholic. He drinks every day but only goes overboard on special holidays.

And every now and then he still goes and gets drugs but he is nowhere like he was before he did rehab. The drinking never gets in the way of his responsibilities, though. He can drink but he makes sure that he does his job well and he is very committed to his work.

I love the Lord and I love to read his Word and pray. In fact I pray about anything and everything! It gives me peace but I am going through very deep emotional problems because of my marriage.

I live in South Africa. I do not drive because I am afraid of driving. My entire family never drove; my father, mother, sisters and my brother—they never drove and I also just cannot get myself to learn to drive. I have had numerous arguments with my husband about my fear of driving but I just cannot shake it and recently told my husband he needs to accept me as I am.

I know my husband hates driving me around because he works long hours. He works hundreds of kilometers away from where we live and when he needs to drive me to whichever destination I need to get to, he has to leave work, drive 50 minutes to fetch me, take me where I need to go and then drive back to work; then work until 12 am or 1 am and then drive all the way back home again.

I understand his frustration and have suggested to him to sell our house and move closer to his work so that the burden is eased but he does not want to for various reasons. It seems to me that he sees me as a burden.

Over the last 5 years my husband has began to make me feel inferior. He makes me feel like the lesser person; he makes snide remarks and sarcastic ones as well. I feel that way also because I don’t drive, I work in a very low paying job, and I don’t have any direction for my life although I do pray about that to God all the time.

My husband looks at his brothers and their wives; his brother’s wives are so different from me. They all drive, they are nice and thin (I’m overweight), they live in big beautiful houses (my house is small) and they can do lots of things with their hands. They are interesting, they work and earn very good salaries (I earn peanuts compared to them).

So he looks at that and then he looks at me and I guess he feels like he is stuck with this boring, uninteresting and weird wife who just prays all the time. Our conversations are non-existent. He would rather play poker on his iPhone than speak to me.

I go out of my way not to fight so as to always have a gentle and quiet spirit. I know he looks down on me because he has told me before that he finds me boring.

Last Christmas we had a fight because the family was coming over and I wanted to impress them because it was at my house and I wanted to “show off” that I could also do nice things. I have always felt my house is small and my furniture is old and I so much wanted to show my sisters in law that I also have new things etc., so I went overboard. I spent a fortune on food and decorations. I even bought designer glasses.

In the middle of all that... my husband picked up that “nothing was good enough for me” in the sense of what we had.

I have a Christian friend, Mary, whom I speak with. She always hears me out but she told me recently that I need to get over my fears, go and learn something new for myself and generally make myself more interesting and attractive to my husband. But I feel that my husband needs to respect me and want me just as I am. I feel that I don’t need to drive, earn more or be prettier to earn God’s love but she says I must compete for my husband’s love because he seems to have lost his love for me.

I’m hurt and cannot think of anything but just pray about things, even then my friend says I cannot just pray about it, that I must get into action. I really don’t think I am the one with the problem here because I am always loving, kind, always cooking and doing nice things for my husband. He looks at the outside of me and not the inside. I understand my husband is not saved so basically we are on different “planets” but I can sense he has lost interest in me and he would rather stay out and be with his brothers than be at home with his wife.

When he is with me he doesn’t talk, he just “orders” me around. I like to sleep and whenever I can, I will sleep. But he will come home and wake me up and I feel that is not respecting me because I am sleeping. Why wake me up? Let me sleep and then afterward we can sort out whatever...

Do you have any advice for me?

Blessings,
Ann


Dear Ann,

It sounds like there are so many issues going on between you and your husband that you need to step back and try to carefully sort these things out. It is understandable that you would feel overwhelmed, and also at a loss as to how to proceed so your daily life is not one of conflict, confusion and hurt feelings.

Considering that your husband was fully aware of your driving issues before he married you, I don’t see how he can hold that against you, now, after so many years. In our society most people drive. However some people are simply not comfortable driving and chose not to. It is unfair to hold this over you now.

I personally know of a number of people who simply can’t bring themselves to drive. The social pressure on these individuals is tough and often relentless. Can you find some kind of alternative transportation when you need to go out? Surely there must be someone other than your husband who you could call on; perhaps through a Christian church. Make it a priority to find others who will help you get around and about—at least when your husband is working.

It always helps to try to see things for the other person’s point of view (within reason). Since you are saved and your husband is not, that is a huge conflict. But this is where you will have to be more understanding. Your prayers and godly example are so important when dealing with him.

Ann, I can tell you comparisons will always leave you frustrated. It is a mistake to compare yourself to others. No matter how accomplished a person is, there will always be someone who is more accomplished, etc. God has given you your own blessings which you can make the most of; not only for your own health and well-being but so you are giving the Lord your best.

In fact, we are not to covet (Exodus 20:17). Your house and salary may be less impressive than what some others have but those things do not define you. It is you position and authenticity in Christ that defines you. Please don’t be swayed by the glitz and glamour of worldly riches and fall into the competition trap with your family members. The only race we should be running as Christians is the one for Christ: “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

In other words our faithfulness and lifestyles, our time should be used to do things for God’s glory; to serve Him. Of course we all like having nice things and wish to be comfortable; but we should not be obsessed with having more and more or fall into competitive lifestyles. To do so takes our focus off the Lord and makes us a slave to the ways of the world. And as you found out, trying to impress your family members backfired and caused conflict.

At Christmas time when you tried to impress your family members, your husband felt badly. You say he has always been a good provider and has a good heart. To him, trying to rise to a standard that is beyond his means was understandably hard for him to take. It made him feel like he is not good enough. We must be careful when trying to do our best in a situation not to run over the feelings of the one who has given his or her best to provide. (Although it is obvious you had the best of intentions.)

Many years ago I spoke with a woman who claimed to be a Christian but obviously insecure about her less than average looks, stout chubby body image and many other issues. To make up for her insecurities she would always flaunt anything about herself she thought would impress others, talk about all the money she earned and she drove an expensive car.

One day I told that her I wanted her car, just to try to make her feel important. But in retrospect I realized that was the wrong thing to say. I should have essentially told her what I am saying to you. But it was obvious her material possessions and ability to earn good money helped her feel better about her insecurities; so I thought by making her feel like she had a material possession that I did not, at that time—would help her to feel better about herself.

Much earlier in my life when I was not fully walking with the Lord, I was obsessed with high-end cars. You might even say, addicted to them. It was my hobby. But when I fully accepted Christ I realized that my money would be better used for the Lord’s work. (And yes, I repented of my self-indulgence.) In some strange way I seemed to get part of my identity from my expensive beautiful cars (which is really ridiculous), but that way of thinking is not uncommon in the world.

I share this with you, Ann, to show you that it is not what we own or if we measure up to the world’s standards of good looks that counts. But we should make an effort to be our best with our individual God-given gifts. Living a simple life is a blessing. What good comes out of competing for things that will not assist in furthering the gospel? When Jesus walked this earth, He never owned a home, He had no formal education, He never traveled very far and lived a very simple life.

Each believer is called to be a disciple, and that is where our focus should be. When we lose sight of that, and get caught-up in the ways of the world; frustration and misery come with it. Now you do say that your husband should accept you as you are, and yes, he should respect you. But there is a double-edged sword here. As dear and sincere as many Christians can be, too many overlook the Scriptures that deal with being healthy and treating our bodies with respect.

The Bible is filled with Scriptures urging us to make careful dietary and lifestyle choices. When our bodies are clogged and overweight from refined unnatural foods or substances, our energies are diminished and the mental clarity necessary to study the Word of God and witness to others is hindered. This type of neglect can also contribute to an environment vulnerable to the ravages of sickness and disease.

As we believe the Lord each day for His best for us, we should also take care of His creation by making careful choices in what we consume and how we choose to live our lives. One day we will all give an account to the Lord. We will look right into Jesus’ all-knowing eyes. How much better we will feel if we can say we tried our best to follow His biblical principles, including respecting the bodies He has blessed us with.

When we are saved, we know we will get into heaven, but we should nevertheless try our best to adhere to the Lord’s admonitions of setting good examples to others by being good witnesses, and making strong efforts to apply the teachings in the Scriptures that reference healthy living.

And in your case, Ann, by living by these precepts you would automatically become a positive witness to your husband and family members. The teachings of the Bible are not a concept, but a way of life. We must have balance in our lives.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

I am not saying bodily perfection should be your goal and that you should spend all your energy trying to become the poster girl for beauty. I am saying that you should present yourself in a pleasing manner. Some of the most attractive people I know have a bit of extra body weight but they do make an effort to eat well and stay well-groomed—following the admonitions given in the Scriptures cited above.

Your friend, Mary, means well and her suggestions are good. But I would not say you have to compete for your husband’s love. However, it would benefit you and your relationship with your husband if you made an effort to participate in some things he is interested in and also try to make the most of the physical attributes the Lord has given you.

Losing a few pounds will give your face a glow and give you some confidence, too. Most important, your health will benefit. Good health is something we should never take for granted and we should want to represent Christ with a healthy appearance whenever possible.

Now the other matter that concerns me greatly is your husband’s alcohol dependence. It sounds like he is a highly functioning alcoholic. Since he has been drinking steadily for so long his body has probably become quite accustomed to alcohol so he drinks to be “normal.” In other words he can drink quite a lot and still function. Alcohol effects people differently. Some can drink a lot and handle their daily affairs; some simply cannot.

His sporadic drug use is also not good. Has it ever crossed his mind using illegal drugs could cost him his job, his home, everything you have together? Whenever there is substance abusive there is difficulty. His chronic alcohol consumption will only hurt him (and you). But God can intervene in ways recovery programs cannot. Your fervent prayers for your husband are needed for his salvation and to put an end to his substance abuse. Nothing good results from using “spirits” (alcohol) and other drugs.

Regarding your husband’s rude, snide and sarcastic remarks—that is symptomatic of a person who drinks. And biblically speaking, the burden to earn more money is not on you, it is on him. He should consider whatever you contribute to the household a bonus and not a requirement. As I said, when any type of substance abuse is involved, many problems arise. A person who drinks every day or very frequently cannot have a clear mind. Have you ever heard the term, “Stinking thinking?” I would say he has some of that from how you describe his attitude.

You mention that your husband grew up in an atheist home. But is there any way you could interest him in the Lord by somehow getting him involved with other believers? I know how you feel about your home, but if you invited just a few people to your home for regular Bible studies and showed some DVDs relating to these last days, perhaps in time—some of what was being shared might begin to have a positive impact on him.

By pointing to current events in light of Bible prophecy your husband might begin to listen and think about the truths of the Bible. You could have a night of fellowship and fun.

You sound like a very kind person with the best of intentions and you deserve to spend some time taking care of yourself, bringing your inner beauty to the surface (so to speak). When your husband sees that you are taking some steps to make the best of yourself, it can only have a positive impact on your marriage.

The Lord can guide you to a healthier lifestyle and you (and your husband) will be the beneficiaries. A good Christian website to visit is Hallelujah Diet, the official site: http://www.myhdiet.com/.

I am not saying you should buy their products, but navigate the site to get some ideas about how to eat nutritiously; which will not only shed pounds but will help you feel and look good.

Ann, you know that in Jesus we always have hope. Determine to make the best of the blessings God has given you. You don’t have to go overboard. It is by taking one small step at a time, that progress is made. If your husband continues to treat you condescendingly, remember that he is the one who is lost, and until he realizes he needs Christ in his life your home life will continue to have its challenges. But with Christ you can still thrive. You need not get caught-up in your husband’s issues to the point you feel like a lesser person.

What really matters is your position in Christ. He loves you and cares for you more than any man ever could. Let Him be your anchor, keep giving Him your problems and allow His joy to permeate you and carry you. When the outward circumstances are difficult we can rest assured that the Lord is with us, no matter what; that is if we are truly sincere and genuine in our commitment to Him.

Ann, please don’t hesitate to reach out again if you need to. I would love to hear how you are doing. (I will add you and your husband to my prayer list.) Please be sure to find a way to share Bible prophecy with your man and keep praying that he will receive the gospel. At Rapture Ready we have lots of resources and so many good materials are available these days via other sources on the Internet and in some bookstores.

I wish your the very best, dear Ann. Things will get better one step at a time. Always place your trust in the Lord Jesus and not people. People will most always let you down but Christ never will.

In God’s love,

Esther

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).


January 26, 2014

Dear Esther,

I have a question about overcoming temptation. I am having trouble overcoming temptation and I want to know what to do when it strikes me because I am failing to overcome temptation often. I think to myself, I am not trusting my Lord enough to help me but when I fail I always pray and confess my sins to Him. He will always be my Lord and Savior and I really hate sin.

Sean


Dear Sean,

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

The Scripture you just read says so much. It is through Christ that we can overcome temptation. In our own strength it can be a never-ending uphill battle. But in Him we are made strong. With the confession of sin must come true repentance; the sincere condition of remorse in the heart will be evident if the confession of sin is genuine.

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

What we fill our minds with, who we spent time with, where we spend our time all factor into how debilitating temptations will be in our lives. In our flesh, we are all sinners. But in Christ we can overcome the most cunning temptations. The more you sense the presence of the Lord, the less likely that you will yield to temptation.

We sense the presence of God by our consistent walk with Him through prayer, Bible study, fellowship with other believers and God-given fortitude. That is how we can overcome temptation. We must have truly repentant hearts. Our daily lives must be Christ-minded and the choices we make will reflect the seriousness and the depth of our commitment to Him.

Although we have all inherited a sin nature, the closer we draw to the Lord, the more we will want to please Him. This is where the renewing of the mind comes in. When our countenance is full of Jesus and not self-indulgent pride, then the things that could draw us into darkness lose their grip. “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8).

We need not be double-minded when we give our all to Christ. Our daily walk with the Lord should demonstrate a day-to-day, moment-by-moment surrender of our will to the Lord’s will, a daily inner house cleaning. When we do fall into sin, we place a wedge between God and ourselves, even to the point of grieving the Holy Spirit. Unless we acknowledge (name) our sins directly to God, repent and reestablish (restore) our right relationship with the Lord, we cannot have a genuine relationship with Him.

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 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 4:17-18, 23-24).

“Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

Sean, to get over your battle with chronic sin, it is very important to get into a regular, disciplined daily routine of spending time alone with the Lord through prayer and Bible study. When we give Jesus our first thoughts every morning and go immediately into prayer we get in synch with Him. His will for our lives becomes more evident. keeping us from falling into sinful traps.

If the morning hours don’t allow for lengthy prayer and Bible study, at least spend some time in prayer and read some Scripture before starting the day’s activities. Always try to make a good effort to put the Lord first. After all, it is He who we can thank for saving us from an eternity of suffering and providing all believers with a glorious eternal future.

Spending time with the Lord should always be at the top of our lists. Then, later in the evening find a way to make more time to commune with the Him. What could be better than spending time with the Creator of the universe, with the One who loves and cares for us more than anyone else? As we focus each day more and more on God, and include Him in all that we do we grow and mature as believers.

Time devoted to the Lord (devotions) will help us grow in our faith, which also translates into not falling into temptation so easily. As we get closer to the Lord many situations in our lives will most likely need to change in order to be true to our commitment to Him. Sometimes those we are closest to will not understand our love and devotion to the Lord— if they themselves do not have a strong personal relationship with the living God.

“Abide in Me [Jesus], 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” (John 15:4).

Bible study is imperative—in a quiet place away from any distractions. Many audio versions of the Bible are available to assist with the learning process. Add them to your personal library and listen to them often. Various DVDs, movies relating to the Bible are easy to find. Charlton Heston Presents the Bible is a good choice. Other similar DVDs can be found on the Internet or at your local Christian bookstore.

Also, try to get into the practice of memorizing Scripture. Memorizing one Scripture a week is a good goal to set. Let the Holy Spirit lead you and teach you as you explore your Bible.

As you spend time learning more about God’s Word, you will grow closer to the Lord. Prayer time and Bible study will become your priority, and the things you once thought were so important to you will no longer be so interesting. The Word of God and your relationship with the Lord will become an intrinsic part of your life.

Getting involved in a good Bible-based church can also be a good way to grow in the Lord and meet other committed believers. (Although it might take time to find the right church.) A good way to fellowship with others is through smaller home groups offered by some local churches. Or start your own with a few genuine believers.

In his first letter to Thessalonica, the apostle Paul wrote:

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19).

We can continually pray by simply having an open heart to the Lord and a joyful reverence toward Him throughout our day—making Him the constant uppermost part of our lives. Even when we are busy with our daily routines, we can surrender our thoughts to the Lord with reflective attitudes and grateful hearts, always making a conscious effort to quietly acknowledge Him in everything we do.

It isn’t so easy to succumb to the traps and temptations of the world when our hearts and minds are steadfastly reflecting upon the Lord.

We must protect ourselves and stay close to the Lord at all times with our faithful prayers. When we reach what I call— the point of no return—nothing can replace the time spent with the Lord in quiet reverence.

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand 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 things 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” (Ephesians 6:13-18).

Sean, our heavenly Father, the mighty, sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent King of the universe sees the entire picture of our lives (past, present, and future). We must trust in Him completely, truly repent and He will lead us to where He feels is best for us, and temptation will not be such an issue.

Scripture tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19). Acts 26:20 states, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

The safest place to be to keep from sinning is in God’s will. By adhering to the principles discussed here, you will be in His will and through Him you can walk away from temptation. It is a choice. Choose to follow the Lord and not the ways of the world. You can do it when you truly make Christ number one in your life and live a Christ-centered life placing Him above all else.

The choice is yours, Sean. Decide to live for Christ and His teachings one-hundred percent. Anything less than that will keep you in a spirit of bondage to sin. You need not continuously yield to temptation nor will you want to, once you truly surrender your will to His. The closer you get to Jesus and His abiding love, the less worldly temptations will appeal to you. Christ must be your focus continually!

Please read this letter over again and again so the points I made will get into your heart, mind and soul. Make a plan of action for yourself and begin to fully live for Christ today. I know you can do this. Choose to live for Him and let go of anything that is a stumbling block. Humility is the cure to worldliness. Give Him your all Sean and you will be set free from what seems to be a never-ending cycle of falling into sin.

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

In Christ,

Esther

“...that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Endnotes
A Better World Is Coming Soon - Don’t Miss It, Kit R. Olsen, World Bible Society, 2013 Expanded Edition, pages 233-235.


January 19, 2015

Dear Esther,

I really respect your wisdom and advice. In a recent letter (December 14, 2014) you said the following:

You sound like a very special lady. I cannot tell you how many letters I get from women who are miserable in their marriages. Desperately regretful. Most of them deeply regret getting married to the “wrong” man. They all saw signs before their weddings that too many things were not quite right and that they would have to compromise to a point that they were not comfortable, but they went ahead anyway and are now reaping the painful consequences.

I am wondering what advice you would offer to women in this situation? You are describing my situation and feelings exactly. However, I take my vows seriously and am committed to my marriage. I love my husband, but there are things that are extremely difficult. I feel like I am living with the consequences of stepping outside of God’s will for my life.

I just wonder, how would you advise someone going through this? Sometimes, it’s just so hard to stay strong, give him the respect I’m supposed to, be a loving wife, submit to him as the head of our home. I want a healthy environment for my children.

As it stands, they see a lot of love, we are outwardly affectionate, but I think as our kids gets older, they are picking up on the strain that lies under the surface. I hold so much of it in, because I feel it’s my own fault. God was very clear to us that we shouldn’t be together, yet we went ahead and married anyway. (We were young and in love! And immature!)

Any thoughts you have would be most helpful.

Thank you!

Kate


Dear Kate,

I am glad you wrote. And thank you for your kind words. Yes, this is a prevalent problem and each situation is a bit different. From what you have briefly shared, my initial thoughts are this: It is good that you are determined to stick it out. Yes, as your children grow they might pick up on some underlying issues but there is no perfect situation. You are right to be committed to your marriage despite the difficulties. By taking your marriage vows seriously, even under duress you are revealing your godly character.

As young girls we would often think about Prince Charming and who that might be for us personally. And generally speaking, as time passed by Prince Charming seemed to only grace the pages of a fairy tale book, and the reality of real people and personalities set the tone for everyday life. No doubt many men could say the same thing about never really finding the ideal princess they dreamt of.

You say that you love your husband. It is evident that you are being mindful of behaving properly and respectfully toward him. Yet you carry within yourself ongoing pain, great disappointment, self-berating regret and all the things you quoted from my previous response.

It would be even worse for you if you did not love your husband. And many wives don’t in your situation. They can’t even muster up warm feelings toward the man they should not have married in the first place. But who were those women when they made that decision? Are you the same today as you were then?

The part of your letter I want to concentrate most on is this:

“I hold so much of it in, because I feel it’s my own fault. God was very clear to us that we shouldn’t be together, yet we went ahead and married. (We were young and in love! And immature!)”

Kate, the first thing you must do is stop beating yourself up. You have already admitted you were young and foolish and have acknowledged your rebellion against God. Believe me, you are not the only one! And your intentions were starry-eyed and hopeful.

Forgive yourself and understand that God does not want you to carry this burden of chronic self-inflicted guilt. It serves no good purpose. It only serves to hinder your ability to have the joy that the Lord intends for you. It would be wise to heed the apostle Paul’s words:

“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 3:12-14).

The best way to function in your situation and also feel joyful (at least to some consistent degree) is to change your thinking. Your husband is who he is. From the tone of you letter I assume your husband is not saved. I also assume he has heard the gospel (more than once) but has rejected it. How tragic for him. It is almost as if you are going to have to compartmentalize your thinking and approach to your marriage. You may already be doing that on some level.

Your children, no doubt need much of your attention and time. In your heart, resolve to place their needs ahead of yours (you probably already do). You say you want a healthy environment for your children. Of course you do, but you might think about just what that means.

When two people are unequally yoked, the one who knows the Lord is the one who will have to be most proactive in the relationship. And sacrifice the most. At times you will feel overburdened. But that does not mean you cannot persevere, especially for the sake of your children and out of obedience to the Lord.

I have heard from many moms that even after their children became adults, they still saw their fathers in the best light (that is unless the man was abusive, etc.). They did not see the issues that the wives/mothers saw and had to deal with. And if they did, the grown children would quickly excuse the problems and still consider “Dad” to be a vital and important part of their lives. Even sometimes elevating Dad to a super-hero status despite his shortcomings. (Your children will see the best in their father, too.) And they will be grateful that you were steadfast in the marriage relationship.

Expectations can be good and bad. In your case, expect that God can draw your husband to Him and ultimately save him. But in the meantime don’t expect the impossible; in other words, don’t expect him to be like-minded on some important matters. If your husband does not pray with you and/or your children, then you must be the one to make sure they get a strong Christian foundation in their lives.

If you are expecting some things that are important to you to be a certain way in your fragile situation, then you may be setting yourself up for ongoing frustration. Can you take all of your husband’s positive qualities and focus on those? You mention that the two of you are outwardly loving and affectionate toward one another. That is huge!

If you go forward thinking about the lack in your life, in your relationship with your husband, then you will be on a perpetual downward spiral of discontentment.

But if you thank God for all the blessings in your life, have an attitude of gratitude and not one of loss (despite the differences between you and your husband), then you will grow stronger emotionally and spiritually. You will be able to make light of some of the things that are weighing you down.

It is all in our outlook. One day we might be crushed when a person we thought was a real friend tries to harm us, but then a few days later we jump for joy when we see how God was removing that person from our lives because they were inauthentic to begin with. What can at first appear to be a problem can turn out to be a great blessing. You know that.

Ideally, having a saved husband who is walking with the Lord would be a blessing but that is not your situation. Through the trials and tribulations in your marriage you can actually grow closer to the Lord than some people who have near-perfect Christian marriages (which are rare). So your blessing is that you can give the Lord more of yourself.

Remember Kate, compartmentalize your life—mentally and emotionally. In some areas your husband does not fit well. In other areas you can work together. Don’t expect him to fit into the areas where you know he is not willing to or cannot.

In the entire scope of things this will be a very small part of your eternal existence. And by God’s grace you can make your life and the lives of your children more peaceful and balanced; by not endlessly blaming yourself for something you cannot undo.

Reading the Holy Scriptures has such a healing and calming effect. Be sure to spend as much time as possible in the Word. The more you get into the Word of God, the less the disappointments and inconsistencies of this life will bother you. Your perspective will change. You will be able to better handle things that tend to drag you down.

In a number of my responses over the years I have stressed the need, as believers, to place our focus on our true heavenly home promised to us by Jesus Himself. In our flesh and blood bodies sometimes it is difficult to pull back and assess this life for what it really is. But it is very temporary. (Although it does not feel that way when we are burdened.)

Rejoice, knowing that your eternal future is with the Lord and nothing in this world can change that, unless you suddenly deny God for who He is and totally reject Him. In these last days, life as we know it is going to change and our desire should be to reach others for Christ while there is still time.

We can all get bogged down by circumstances in our lives, but as believers we must rise above them and live for Christ to our fullest—preparing for the glorious day when He calls us home, either in the Rapture or at the moment we take our last breath.

Despite your disappointments you can still be effective and useful to the Lord. That is our purpose, that is God’s will for our lives—to live for Him. Give your all to Him, and please stop placing unrealistic demands of regret on yourself. Nothing productive will come from it.

May the Lord bless you with great wisdom as you resolve to make the best of an imperfect situation. Try to find the best in each day. The joy of the Lord will sustain you as long as you place your trust in Him. Be creative in how you handle your situation at home and do it from an eternal mindset.

You have regret in your marriage but the greatest regret would be to not belong to Christ and die without His saving grace. But you will be able to face Him one day as His faithful servant. Everything that challenges you now will no longer be of concern. Keeping Christ’s promise of your true home in heaven alive your heart and mind will help you keep your earthly life in a better perspective. :)

Please reach out again if you need to and also let me know how you are doing from time to time. Pray for your husband that he will realize his need for Christ, even if it seems like he never will. God has a way of getting to people. Our job is to pray and have faith that He is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).

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).


January 12, 2015

Dear Esther,

I have been married for 28 years. I have had so many problems with my husband from his lying to his blatant selfishness, that I simply cannot take it anymore. I have tried to be a good wife and have been very devoted to him.

Recently I had a shock finding out that he has been having an affair another woman from our church. I discovered all kinds of incriminating emails. And all the while he was calling her a family friend; someone who assisted him with his work.

She called him a lot here at my home and he called her. And she has bought him expensive gifts. She has occasionally bought some things for me, too. She said that was her way of showing her appreciation for mentoring her. She is about 20 years younger than my husband, and he led her to the Lord many years ago. She is also married. They always had the excuse that they were doing things for the Lord together.

What a lie. There is no room for a female “friend” who is emotionally attached to another woman’s husband. I knew my husband cared for her but not in a way that would turn my whole world upside down. All this time I thought he was just paying so much attention to her because she always says she had a bad family life, and as it turns out that was an over exaggerated lie. Boo hoo.

I can’t stand it anymore. I was serious when I took my vows but when adultery, neglect and many other forms of abuse comprise what my marriage is now, I just cannot stand it. Last week he walked out on me in an angry rage when I confronted him with his lies and his affair. He has not called once. Part of me is relieved but also worried. I don’t want to live with a liar and a cheat. But I don’t know what to do.

Our children are grown and they agree that their father is a huge disappointment and that I should move on. Do you have any idea how I can keep my sanity? I am okay financially but I am so embarrassed. I feel like hiding from the world.

Thank you,

Used and Abused


Dear Used and Abused,

My goodness! What a drama, and unfortunately you are the victim in all of this. First I must say that with fervent prayer God can change things. But it sounds like you have had enough of your husband’s abuse. Biblically you are free to move forward without him. And after all, he already walked out on you and has committed adultery. Please surround yourself with some close friends who love the Lord and stay close to Jesus every moment of the day. Pray constantly.

I would not be the one to initiate a divorce at this time. See what your husband does, but move forward as if he will never come back, repent or change. In Christ there is always hope but we must also be wise and see things for what they are.

Have you considered speaking to your pastor about this? He should be made aware of what has happened. He should be there to console you and even guide you. And reprimand your husband and the other woman. This is no time to shut people out completely. Be careful who you share your heart with, but reach out to the friends who have shown themselves to be trustworthy and won’t stab you in the back when you are down.

I would not be surprised if your husband came running back to you one day full of regret. But only God knows what the outcome of all of this will be. Regardless of what your husband does, you need to stay close to the Lord and ask Him to guide you.

You also need to determine if you can truly forgive your husband and his girlfriend for their outrageous behavior. Their selfishness is causing harm to others and perhaps when they see that no true Christian is going to support them in their relationship—now that the truth has come out, the dynamics between them will suffer and change.

But nevertheless try your best to forgive both of them so you can move on. If you harbor animosity and anger it will only hurt you. Your husband and the woman will go about their lives while you stew in your misery (if you don’t forgive them).

You don’t have to like them or like what they have done to you, or accept it—but Jesus taught us to forgive others so we can be whole and not fragmented in our walk with Him and in our relationships with others.

Consider that they have based their relationship on selfish deceit and that will never work. I would not be surprised if they end up hating each other. They might be hung-up on each other at the moment but God has a way of dealing with liars, deception and manipulative people. So the best thing you can do is give this all over to the Lord. Be grateful that you know the truth and focus on the blessings you do have.

“Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them” (Deuteronomy 32:35).

We would like to think that we can trust people from church, and those we meet who profess Christ but that is not always true. Far too many professing Christians have proven themselves to be anything but trustworthy and are inauthentic individuals. Some can be downright cruel and totally selfish.

I will leave you with a heartbreaking letter (and my response), from another dear woman who wrote years ago. Perhaps you will glean something from the letters that will help you. Please let me know how you are doing and never hesitate to reach out again.

May God bless you and strengthen you. He will carry you through this. It is all going to be all right. Give yourself time, and don’t place harsh demands on yourself.

In God’s love,

Esther

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

Dear Esther,

In 2008 I became extremely ill—up to the point of near death by 2011. I had lost a job that was not good for me, and my illness compounded the difficulties. So 2008 was a challenging year for my husband and me. I could feel his anger toward me - it seemed to ooze out of his pores and I felt bombarded by his angry feelings. I knew he was upset because I couldn’t work and he wanted to have the perks and pleasures that go with a two-income family that are both educated and well-employed.

By 2010, his anger began to turn to something else—resentment. So I took a job that I knew would not be good for me, but he wanted me to be bringing in money. The stress was unbearable, both at work and at home and I continued to get sicker and sicker; 2011 came, and I was so ill I couldn’t lift my head from the pillow. I couldn’t eat. His resentment turned to a bitter coldness that I could not understand.

Finally I had surgery in September 2011 and began to recover. Things began to improve (so I thought). On January 1, 2012 he told me that he was leaving me, moving out - but he assured me that there wasn’t anyone else. I found out differently. He had been having an affair with a person since 2010. So my husband, best friend, my everything in this world walked out on our thirty-year marriage. I then tracked down his email account and I downloaded everything.

There were emails that showed how he lost his ethics and his integrity, which he had worked so hard to achieve. He just threw it away. He disposed of me, our children, our grandchildren, friends - everyone - all for a married woman. In their emails they would send Scripture back and forth to show how God was “blessing” their affair. She had convinced him, by using Scripture that what they were doing was okay. I am so confused by all of this!

When we were together, we were heavily involved in our church until I became too ill to attend. This woman has many of my characteristics - red hair and green eyes, other things as well. He took her to all of the places that were special to us as a couple. He dedicated “our song” to her. He even began calling her by the nickname he had given me all those years ago. Before the divorce was final, he was proudly parading her around our town, and I felt so humiliated!

How can they believe, truly believe that what they are doing is justified in God’s eyes? He pushed through a divorce in less than a year, but she is still married. I miss him so much, and I still love him, even through this whole hurtful process. I have asked God to remove the love from my heart, but when I listen for that small, soft voice I keep hearing “Don’t give up yet. God can heal anything. He can do the impossible. Trust in Him, this isn’t over yet.”

How can I move on? I am worried for his salvation and if in fact he was ever truly saved. The woman has all the markings of an apostate. She has lured him so far out of the light, so far into the darkness that he can’t see how deep his sin is. I have tried to move on.

I have tried to date, but so far everyone has fallen through at the last minute, not on my part but on the part of the gentleman I was to see. It feels like God’s hand is staying me in this place, but why? Can you give me some sort of insight that I may be overlooking?

Thank you,

No Longer his Wife

Dear No Longer his Wife,

I am very sorry to hear you have had such a painful, turbulent ride over the past many years. After reading your letter a number of times, I would ask you to think through very carefully if you really want to get into another relationship right now. Rather than dating it might be best to cultivate true friendships with other believers and perhaps think seriously about how you can best serve the Lord in these last days.

That is how you can move on. One thing I am sure of, if you are meant to be with someone again (the right man) God will make a way for that to happen. Be sure you aren’t looking. The Lord knows just what you need. Keep reaching out to Him in prayer.

When a person is not married, that is often a perfect time to give more attention to the Lord. Please think about this: The world always wants us to believe we have to have a “mate” to be happy but if you look around, those who can serve the Lord without the responsibilities of romantic relationship sometimes have a distinct advantage over those who are tied down to a household and husband, etc. And the Lord is your true husband and He is right there for you. You are now in a situation where you can give your full-attention to the Lord’s work.

“For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth” (Isaiah 54:4).

I appreciate you letting me know that what others have said resonates with what I said to you in an email -- that you should look to Christ as your husband. He will never let you down. From the things you cited about your former spouse he does not deserve to have you.

His humiliating despicable ungodly behavior is beyond pathetic. Shame on him: for being so absurdly foolish, wicked and completely self-centered. What he is involved in is pure treachery. No way does the Lord condone such an illicit affair He absolutely forbids it.

If these two really believe that the Lord is blessing their relationship they cannot possibly know the true God of the Bible. They are surely manufacturing their own doctrine by taking Scripture out of context to suit their rebellious and sordid agendas.

It sounds like your ex-husband has gone far off the deep-end emotionally and spiritually. Mark my words, when his obsession with this woman blows up—and it will—he will have a very difficult time dealing with the reality of his self-aggrandizing ruthless behavior.

When you were very ill he should have been doing anything and everything possible to help you. His attitude and behavior expose his true character. If he wanted more money coming into the household he should have found a way to make more and lovingly insist that you stay home which would have been much better for you overall. Instead he was cheating on you and pushing you out the door to make money.

Sometimes when we think we have feelings for someone it is not so much that person, but what could have been and the memories from the good times that are sometimes hard to let go off. What this man has done to your entire family is loaded with so many problems and heartaches, yet he seems to be carrying on as if the only thing in the world that matters is what he wants. How sad for your children and grandchildren.

I suggest standing back and taking another detailed look at this man’s underhanded behavior and you will see that your best interests and well-being were not at all in his mind (or heart). Considering he has been “heavily involved” with church he should understand that the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church, and that means he should sacrifice his comfort for yours—especially with your history of serious illness.

Your concern for his salvation is admirable and saying that you still love him is very understandable, even with all the miserable things he has done. It shows what a dear person you are. But unless the Lord takes this man by the back end and gives him some super strong chastising kicks and he straightens out and truly repents – the best thing in the world for you is to think of him as a lost family member buried somewhere far away in a distant land.

The old saying, “Time can heal things” is very true. And with God this healing can come in a way that will strengthen you to the point of being able to minister to others who are in similar situations. Stand fast in your faith and know that the Lord already has a marvelous plan for your life. I wouldn’t be surprised if that gutter rat came back to you one day with his tail between his legs begging for forgiveness. Do forgive him.

Make up a bed for him on the couch if he is distraught and unstable. Feed him some hot soup. Let him rest for the night. And the next morning bid him farewell—because by that time, unless the Lord miraculously heals the entire relationship—you will not want him around. And in no way are you biblically obligated to take him back.

Forgive him a thousand times. But let him take his baggage elsewhere. Enough is enough. Using Scripture to try to condone a cheap affair and treat you like a used dishrag even when you were so very ill is about as bad as it gets.

You are beautiful in the Lord’s eyes and His love for you is overflowing and endless. It is going to be all right, dear friend. It is going to be all right. Please keep in touch with me. We are here for you. Stay close to Jesus and he will carry your through this major time of transition in your life.

In God’s love,

Esther

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand’” (Isaiah 41:10).


January 5, 2015

Dear Esther,

I appreciate reading all of your gracious responses. So much so I mustered the energy to write. I’m 49, a general surgeon, divorced but remarried to a wonderful man. I love the Lord with all of my mind, heart and soul. I’ve been a Christian for 30 years and love to study the Bible (in fact that is my only interest). Everything else is drudgery.

I’m well versed in Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments and have hidden much of the Word in my heart. I hold a weekly Bible study for 12-18 year olds. I pray with my patients often. I have a wonderful life now (I’ve been through my share of suffering over the years; no need to get into all of that—God has used it all for my good). Despite all of this I deal with profound depression on a daily basis and continually pray for God to take me home.

I am secretly jealous of those with terminal illnesses. I can’t understand when Christians want prayer for healing for cancer. Are you kidding? “You actually want to stay here instead of go to heaven?”

I hate this sin-sick world, everything about it, and especially my own sin above all. There are days I don’t feel I can tolerate it here for another hour. I have no meaningful relationships. Probably for a number of reasons: I don’t know anyone who truly loves the Lord and walks closely with Him.

Because of my depression, I choose to keep people at arm’s length. No one is allowed too close. I consider that too dangerous. My own husband does not know the depth of my depression. I would not want to burden him, besides it would be a bad Christian witness. If it wasn’t for my fear of the Lord and desire for His will, I would probably have found a way to exit this physical existence years ago.

Every day, I tell myself to be strong and courageous, hope in the Lord, trust in Him. All of my youthful dreams have been shattered. I don’t look forward to anything in the future except for my soul leaving my body and meeting Jesus face to face and being transformed into His likeness. Until then, I go on, being strong and courageous and enduring to the end, praying for God to hasten that day. I wish my story was different. But there it is. Don’t feel obligated to answer. Thanks for listening.

Janet (Homesick)


Dear Janet,

I feel for you so very much. Your feelings are very understandable. I think it is admirable that you don’t incessantly whine about your depression to others. You certainly are showing emotional and spiritual maturity by relying upon your faith and love for the Lord, and not zapping others with your own personal pain. You see the world for the corrupt and deceptive place that it is and you essentially have had enough of it.

I am not saying we shouldn’t share with others but there comes a point where maturity in our walk with Christ becomes evident. By taking self-responsibility for what you are going through, by using self-control and not acting like the worldly lost—creating one emotional drama after another—you are operating from a high spiritual level.

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).

God bless you for your thoughtfulness and your obedience to Christ. As you know, it is by our behavior that our true condition with Christ is revealed. One of the Lord’s admonitions is to be fruitful in our spiritual growth—which is evidenced in the way we behave, treat others and respond to day to day situations.

You are a great testament to the admonitions given in the following Scriptures:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

We are to share our burdens with one another as Scripture teaches but not in a way that is an ongoing saga or drama that takes us away from the Lord’s teachings -- by acting like those who are lost in the world. Your thoughtfulness and maturity could be emulated by many who are unstable emotionally and spiritually; those who allow their self-centered emotions to rule them.

Chronic neediness, emotional and reactionary outbursts are not glorifying to God. That kind of behavior indicates a lack of maturity, is self-serving and only works to alienate others. And as you already mentioned, weakens our Christian witness.

In your case, you have matured to a point where you see the futility of what the world has to offer and you are totally sufficient in Christ.

“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:9-10)

Essentially you are praying for a one way ticket HOME. I can understand that. I can think of a number of true believers who would like to have a one-way ticket too, and as soon as possible.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).

A side effect of emotional and spiritual maturity is that we can acutely feel more and more out-of-step with the world, even often with those we are closest to. It makes life on this dark and harrowing planet with its cultural decadence very hard to take much of the time.

Depression can be very debilitating. I am amazed at how you are carrying on as a surgeon and with your life in general. As far as mentioning that you don’t have any meaningful relationships—because you don’t know anyone who truly loves the Lord and is [genuinely] walking closely with Him. That also is very understandable.

It is hard to find authenticity. I can totally understand why you don’t want to get involved with others, too closely. Too many people cannot be trusted and it is wise to keep them at arm’s length as you do. We are living in the time of the apostasy and far too many people have hidden prideful selfish agendas, although they may boldly profess Christ in their daily lives.

But their actions or inactions reveal the truth of who they really are. Instead of taking responsibility for their own weak character flaws and sinful behaviors they attack others.

They are not unlike the Pharisees who unjustly criticize others when they don’t get their way (while the entire time trying to show themselves to be righteous individuals). They are disingenuous and go to any and all lengths to attempt to personally destroy good people through character assassination and other reprehensible means.

So why wouldn’t you be feeling so detached and yearning to be free of this world?

The back-stabbing that goes on and the competitive jealousies are too many to count. It is truly shocking, the type of malice and vicious behavior that goes on not only in the secular world but within “Christian” circles. These dynamics are prophetic and will only get worse as Scripture warns. You know the passage:

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:28-32).

Janet, I think you see things for what they are and because you are truly devoted to the Lord, you have no desire to be stuck in this wretched world and partake its fraudulent dynamics.

Nevertheless, one thing that keeps coming to mind when I think of you and pray, is that the Lord has work for you to do—as long as you are still alive in this fallen world. He has placed you in an important position. He has given you a brilliant mind and loves you beyond measure.

Sometimes I will tell myself I am away on a trip. Although I don’t like some of the highways and byways, nor the accommodations and some of the people I must deal with, I take great comfort in knowing I will be going to my real home when the Lord deems it so -- either when He calls us home in the Rapture at the last trump, or when I take my last breath. Jesus truly is our Blessed Hope.

Once we reach a point in our walk with the Lord when we really get—that this life is so temporary and filled with corruption and deceit, we have little room left for pretending this world is worth striving in. But we must trust. Until the day we die or are taken up in the Rapture we must trust Him that this is where He has placed us and we are to be His ambassadors.

Even if we touch a handful of lives, we are doing His work. You already know the best place to gain our strength is in the prayer closet where we can become energized and renewed. Janet, you have tremendous opportunities to reach others for Christ as you are doing, and you should not underestimate how valuable you are to Him in this spiritual battle in which we are engaged.

You are obviously a very special woman. Once we realize the enormity of heaven and that God Almighty has future plans for us in a place that is so amazing we cannot even describe it, it is easy to get restless.

But look how the Lord is using you! You teach a Bible class for those who are at a very vulnerable young age. You are giving them solid grounding in the Word of God which is needed so very much needed. Too many preteens and teens are floundering.

You are well-versed in the Scriptures, you even pray with your patients. Now that is amazing in this day and age when our faith is being attacked daily. You are a doctor, a general surgeon (no doubt an exceptional one). You have a great husband now. That alone is a miracle, don’t you think? :) No, offense meant to the wonderful godly men out there!

Janet, I get the impression that you are a beautiful woman all the way around. Depression can be a monster but greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). As far as having meaningful associations you are probably better off without them for the reasons mentioned earlier.

The fact that the only thing you love to do is study your Bible should earn you multiple, mega crowns in heaven. You are way ahead of so many professing Christians. It is shameful how so many are poorly versed in the Scriptures and have little or no interest in studying their Bibles. They are often too busy participating in secular-based venues, yet proclaim they are, “Doing it for Jesus.” But their real motives are to build-up themselves.

You have been faithful to God’s command to be an [active] disciple by consistently studying His Word and being faithful in your Christian walk. You have the right motives and are not self-serving. You understand and live John 3:30:

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

I get so many letters from people; some have enormous, mind-blowing problems. Janet, you know that you have so many blessings. You have a great profession, a wonderful husband and a way to share the gospel with others and guide them, too. You are one talented lady and we need you. God needs you. This broken world needs you. Never underestimate the tremendous godly influence you have upon many lives as you go through your daily routines.

Now the devil—Satan, he is the one who is an expert at trying to rob us of our joy. You are too smart to allow him to wreak havoc upon your life and keep you in a state of depression. Have you ever considered that the Lord has placed you in the first line of defense in this spiritual war because He knows you can handle it?

Since you are proficient in the Scriptures, surely you know that we MUST dress for battle every day with the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-20). You can beat the father of lies at his own game by being aware of his desire to thwart you from being any godly good for the Lord. In Christ you can stand-up and claim your victory over all the demonic forces in this world.

Janet, you have a mission to complete for Christ and He has placed you in a position of greatness. Armor yourself with the Word of God and don’t be fooled by Satan’s attempt to undermine the good you are doing. Consider yourself an agent for God’s purposes. (Keep that thought in your mind!)

You are in a foreign land. You want to go home, but your Lord has entrusted you to stand on the front lines for Him. You will not let Him down. And He is right there with you. He is counting on you. When He does call you home, you will be SO GLAD you fought the good fight and finished the race (2 Timothy 4:7).

“For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48b).

Consider Christ’s incredible sacrifice, and with that sacrifice He promises us an eternity of never-ending joy. As believers, He asks us to sacrifice for His sake. All that matters in this life is what we do for Christ, for eternity. (But you already know that.)

So please keep up the great job you are doing as the Lord’s faithful servant and before you know it your desire to be home with Him will become a forever and ever reality.

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

Don’t let the devil outwit you in this life and death battle for humanity’s souls. Please continue the great work you are doing for His sake. Carry on and keep Matthew 25:21 in the forefront of your mind every day:

“His lord said to him, ‘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.’”

Please keep in touch with me, Janet, and let me know how you are doing.

With much compassion and love,

Esther

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).



December 29, 2014

Dear Esther,

I am hoping you can give me some advice regarding my relationship with my mother.

My mom has always been a drug addict and alcoholic. I didn’t realize this until my teenage years though. Growing up, I had a pretty normal middle class life. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and my step dad worked hard to support our family of five. Life was pretty simple but looking back, my mother was not the least bit affectionate or caring like most mothers.

I was sexually abused when I was 5 years old by my step brother. Five years later I finally had the courage to tell my mom. Her response was not one a devoted mother would have. She told me to go back to bed and we would talk about it in the morning. I heard her that night telling my step dad what I had told her and they both wondered if I was lying. The issue was never brought up again.

Just before my 13th birthday my parents were divorced and my mom moved my sisters and me to a new state. The drug and alcohol abuse became obvious. There were times she wouldn’t come home, we barely ever had food in the home, and our house was eventually foreclosed on. I moved out at the age of 16 but still managed to finish school and hold down a full-time job.

When I was 18 my mom was in a full downward spiral. My 17 year old sister was now pregnant and my 15 year old sister had nobody, and they were both homeless. My youngest sister moved in with me, the other moved out of state, and mom took off to Vegas. She came back a few years later but I suspect her drug use was taken to the extreme while she was there.

My relationship with my mom has never been bad. When I lived close, we would celebrate holidays together, visit every few days, and talk on the phone frequently. However, she was still deep into her addictions.

Flash forward to today. I am in my early 30s married with children. I now live about three hours from my mom. Both of my sisters live in different states. I have confronted my mom many times about her addiction. Sometimes she uses her depression as justification. There have been times she has tried to pretend to be sober for months but the bottles hidden in her shed out back tell the real story.

I have since started to distance myself from her. It’s really not hard to do. Over the past 5 years or so, she never calls or visits. Any contact we have had is on my part. I have not spoken to her since May of this year. My younger sister hasn’t talked to her in almost 2 years. We recently learned she has moved to a new state but didn’t think to call and let us know.

I was not raised in a religious home. We believed in God but never really talked about it. Yet, I was saved at 9 years old. Unfortunately, nobody really taught me how to be a Christian. I have always talked to God and truly believed. Since 2007 though, I have really begun to grow as a Christian.

I have found a wonderful Bible teaching church, was baptized, and recently my husband and I have started doing our own Bible studies together. My daughter attends a Christian school and her questions about the Bible have also helped us learn and grow.

This new growth has me questioning my relationship with my mother. I love her and I pray for her often. I pray that God will heal her of her addictions and that He will lead her to him like He did with me. The Bible tells me I should respect my elders, obey my parents, help those who are sick and less fortunate. But it also says to turn away from people who are unholy, lovers of pleasure, and without self-control.

Am I looking for Scriptures to justify my selfishness? Or am I justified in not wanting this in my life? For so many years I have wished I had a mother I knew loved me; one that cares how my life is going and cares to hear about her grandchildren. One that would not gossip about me or my siblings behind our backs. A real mom who gives comfort just knowing she is there for us..

I know I will never have that, but I would settle for a mom who is sober and not physically killing herself with drugs and alcohol. I have asked God what I should be doing but His answer has not been given yet. Part of me feels like I am a horrible person for no longer contacting her.

The other part feels like my family is better off not having to deal with the disappointment. I also believe we are in the end times and I don’t have much time to be sure I am doing the right thing. I am just having a hard time discerning whether this is a temptation I should be fighting against or if this is the direction God is now leading me.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Abbey


Dear Abbey,

You sound like an amazing young woman. The short of the long for you dear lady is this: You are better off praying for your mom and letting her go as you have. I thank God that He has given you a sound mind and a balanced disposition. Please don’t feel guilty or feel you are being selfish. You are not responsible for your mother’s actions or inactions.

It is obvious the Lord has His love and compassion all over your life now and that He will guide you and comfort you. We may not get the parents we want or deserve in this life but our heavenly Father is always there for us. How wonderful it will be when we see Him face-to-face one day.

God has given you your own family now and it sounds like you have a very good husband. When we can’t change things, we can at least take what we learn from our heartaches and apply them to our lives. I don’t think you are trying to make excuses for yourself by searching out Scriptures that would affirm your need to be free of your mother’s dysfunctional behavior.

You have already confronted her about her chosen lifestyle and as it is very often with alcohol/drug addicts, they going into major denial and lie to cover-up their substance abuse. The old saying, “Trying to talk to an alcoholic is like talking to a brick wall” is true. No matter what you say, the addict won’t receive it.

As I read through your letter I was amazed at how well you have handled your situation. You have moved on to having your own family and you are obviously a responsible thoughtful person. You are honoring your mother by showing genuine concern for her. By not contacting her, you are essentially trying to avoid any drama that might occur. Your first loyalty now must be to the Lord, then to your husband and children.

And yes, we are to honor our parents but parents also have the responsibility of loving, caring for and nurturing their children in the ways of the Lord. Your mom did not hold to those admonitions and here you are trying to pick-up the pieces trying to figure out what to do with her.

As far as you role as a mother, I have no doubt that you are fully available to your children and give them all the love and attention they need. Because you did not have what you needed from your mom (and still don’t), you are in a strong position to give your children a much better life all the way around.

It is by your continued nurturing and interaction with your children that much of your own healing will come. You know what they need and you have the heart and mind to give it to them. From your personal loss your own children have gained a great mom.

And what are you to do with your feelings of loss and separation regarding your mom? Give your hurt over to the Lord. It would be good to get into your prayer closet and make it a point to give all of this over to the Lord. Ask the Lord to take your grief, your sorrow, your feelings of abandonment and alienation, your disappointments and let Him deal with your mother.

Abbey, there comes a time when another person’s abuse could harm us and our families and it is best to move on. Consider how she moved to another state without even notifying you. It sounds like your mom is so deep into herself and her own selfish agenda that other people are not a part of her concern.

It is an awful realization to come to, as we would hope that especially a mother—would have a mother’s heart. But some women simply don’t. They are too self-serving and are seduced by the world’s temptations. Only God can fill the void you feel in your heart that your mother’s self-centeredness created. He can be both mother and Father to you. And having your own family now can help a lot.

The reality of your circumstance may never change with your mother but in time it will get better. It is wonderful that you pray for her and if there is any hope of your mother changing it will come through prayer and God moving in her life. We serve a God of hope and restoration. It is by His mighty power and mercy that individuals can be healed and situations can change for the better. And some people do come around eventually.

You are correct in saying we are living in the end times. If you have not shared the gospel with your mom, that is one last thing you could do. But don’t have any expectations that she will receive the message. Share the gospel from your heart the best you can.

Since you are the emotionally and spiritually mature one, share with your mom the greatest life-saving message—Christ’s free gift of salvation. She can chose to accept it or reject it. By sharing the gospel with her (if you haven’t already), at least you will know that you told her about the Lord. And then let go of her.

The best way to do this would probably be by writing her a letter and sending some gospel tracts, etc. Calling her might be too strained. God can change things, we should never give-up having hope but we cannot enable a person’s godless lifestyle by letting them mistreat us again and again.

Many testimonies exist where God has stepped in and healed those with substance abuse problems and godless lifestyles:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 9-11).

Abbey, my prayer for you is that the Lord will continue to sustain you and bless you, and that your mother will receive Christ as her Lord and Savior. It is only in Christ that we can be truly free of worldly addictions and the bondage that the devil has placed upon so many people.

Concentrate your thoughts upon the better world that is soon to come, upon you children, your husband and others who are walking with the Lord. It won’t be long now when our heartaches and concerns will vanish, when Jesus Himself calls us home at the last trump.

Whenever we find ourselves in unequally yoked situations, our first allegiance must always be to the Lord and not what others think about us when we choose not engage in relationships, be it with family or “friends.” Take comfort in knowing it is not you who has created this disconnect with your mother, it is all hers to own. Enjoy the blessings God has given you and trust that He will deal with your mother.

Please let me know how you are doing now and then and know that I am praying with you for your mother’s salvation and deliverance; and for your well-being. God bless you for your wonderful disposition and caring heart.

In God’s love,

Esther

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).


December 22, 2014

Dear Esther,

I’m looking for some possible insight to help me in my time of suffering. I just got out a three-year relationship, which includes a two-year old daughter. I put my all into that relationship which started when I was 16 and ended now at 20. It all ended just to find out I’ve been cheated on and hurt emotionally, mentally, and physically. I asked God to reveal to me what I needed to know about the guy and to let His will be done no matter what the outcome would be. So here we are now broken-up.

I’m not arguing with God’s will for me but I now suffer from loneliness and I do my best to stick with God through this time. I’m also celibate which makes me really emotional and lonely but I know it's best for me. Also with today’s world I strongly believe Jesus is on His way. I smoke even though I am a strong believer. Will He condemn me? Will I be left behind? I really need some insight on how to cope with all that is happening. Please get back to me.

Moye


Dear Moye,

You are very young. You have much ahead of you and life is only beginning in some ways, although you have had a very, very rough start. I am sure you feel like your entire world is crashing down all around you. But with God we always have hope. He loves you more than anyone else ever could and is there for you. It sounds like this is a time of major transition for you. And you should stay celibate if you are not married. That is God’s command.

“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication [sex outside of marriage], uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them” (Colossians 3:5-7).

And smoking is so bad for your health -- and the health of your child. Why pollute your body with a substance that will only make you sick? Go to the Word of God for sustenance and comfort and draw from it the strength that you need to carry on and move forward. Cry out to the Lord and be sure that you have repented from your former lifestyle that has gotten you into this dilemma. Pray with all your heart for the Lord to take over this situation and heal your entire life. Trust Him completely.

It is time to start walking in a new direction and the Lord will guide you if you are really committed to Him and have made a sincere prayer of confession and repentance unto salvation. Be sure you are saved and not just going through the motions of being a carnal Christian. We must all take personal inventory sometimes.

We are not saved by what we do but once we are saved how we live our lives matters and we must surrender our old ways to the Lord so we can truly be “a new creation” in Christ. If you truly repent and are saved you will not be condemned or left behind. That does not mean you won’t have sin in your life on occasion but you must take your faith seriously and let go of the ways of the world Allow the Holy Spirit to take over your life so your mind can be renewed.

“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).

“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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:16-18).

Moye, please know that a wonderful life is still ahead for you and the Lord can heal your wounds. You must be strong for the sake of your little girl. Please get involved with some true Christians. Do your best to find a good church where there is a youth group, where you can get support and counseling.

God will bring new friends into your life. It might take trying a few churches to find the right people but don’t give up. Read your Bible regularly, especially Psalm 91. I know this is a very rough situation for you but if you are truly committed to the Lord -- He will be there for you to comfort, strengthen and guide you. Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing.

In God’s love,

Esther

“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).


December 15, 2014

Dear Esther,

My boyfriend and I (soon to be engaged), have come upon a stumbling block that we are really struggling with. He currently lives an hour and a half from me but wants to move closer to his 8 year old daughter which would only be further away.

I currently make over 3x his salary and it would financially make sense for him to relocate to me and my job. He only sees his daughter every other weekend, so whether he is 45 minutes from her, or 2 hours from her; I doubt he will see her any more frequently regardless of where we live.

He just started his job three months ago and really likes it and now isn’t sure he wants to quit in which to relocate. I have looked for employment around to where he wants to move, but I would be making $50-$70,000 less a year just because of the job market in that area.

I have debt I need to pay off. I currently am caring for my aging parents and although we would like to get married within the next 6 months, it seems we are at an impasse. I want to ask my friends, “Wouldn’t it make more sense that he move here???” But I already know that they would agree with me.

I am 50 years old and have never been married, so this is a big deal for me...but how can I talk to him trying to see his side, but also try to convince him that at the current time financially it would make more sense for “us” to live here?

Do you have any gentle words to help me know what to do? I don’t want to lose him, yet I could never pay off my debt and manage my other responsibilities if I relocated and feel the decision is with me.

Thank you!

Desperate for Advice


Dear Desperate for Advise,

Oh my goodness. What a tough situation to be in. I can tell you unless your boyfriend can pay your bills for you so you are not leaving your creditors in the lurch, then the answer is quite obvious that you have little choice but to stay where you are in your job. (At least until you can pay the debt.) And find a way for your parents to be looked after.

You are asking for gentle words, so I know this is going to be hard to hear, but it sounds like your possible future husband may not understand biblical principles, and what his obligation would be to you as his wife. Next to God you must come first. If he could actually spend more time with his daughter by moving closer to her, then perhaps that would give a bit more credence to what he wants to do, and is essentially is asking you to do.

But since moving farther away from you will not give him more time with his daughter, then he is not thinking clearly. Today age 50 is hardly old. You still have many years ahead of you. I am sure your boyfriend has many wonderful qualities but when it comes to marriage, it is essential that you do not get yourself into a situation that will place you in a very difficult position.

I would also say especially because you have waited this long to get married, this is no time to get involved in a marriage that you may possibly regret. (I am sorry to say.) I know that is very hard to hear right now. I know you don’t want to lose him. Have you thought through just what you would be losing if things do not work out?

This is also hard for me to say, but if he genuinely loves you and cares about your well-being then he should not to ask you to turn your entire life upside down irresponsibly. Especially when he would not be able to provide for you in the way you need right now and help meet your obligations. (You are not twenty-year olds starting out life together.)

You sound like a very special lady. I cannot tell you how many letters I get from women who are miserable in their marriages. Desperately regretful. Most of them deeply regret getting married to the “wrong” man. They all saw signs before their weddings that too many things were not quite right and that they would have to compromise to a point that they were not comfortable, but they went ahead anyway and are now reaping the painful consequences.

I am not saying your boyfriend is not a good man, or the right man but I am asking you to be EXTREMELY cautious. It is very hard to find a good paying job. And equally as hard if not harder to find a good, dependable man. If you leave your job and home you would in a sense possibly have to start all over again. If you did not have your debt, then getting into a lesser job would be an option. And leaving your parents who are somewhat dependent on you would be another big compromise on your part.

I am going to ask you to step back and think very carefully about the dynamics going on in your life right now, in your relationship with your special man. It sounds like this is much more than who should move where or change jobs. Ask yourself where does the Lord fit into the relationship with your boyfriend. Are you both sold-out for Jesus? Is that what your marriage would be based on?

If not, then you are going to have issues in your marriage that will be quite challenging. Unless you are both in love with the Lord and want to serve Him together, then there will be unequally yoked issues that will hover over your marriage, and possibly introduce deep feelings of resentment on both sides (at the very least).

In our culture we have many expectations placed upon us. As women, we are often taught that we cannot be fulfilled without a man in our lives. But the reality proves to be quite different, especially when the marriage partner is not truly walking with the Lord or placing his wife’s needs ahead of his.

My strong suggestion is to not make any concrete plans right now as far as a wedding date, etc. You can lovingly tell your boyfriend that you are being placed in a very tough position; that you want things to work out but right now you don’t see how you can just walk away from your obligations.

And as I said before, it is not right for him to ask you to place yourself in a position where you cannot meet your commitments unless he can pick up the slack. You have real bills, real responsibilities—which require your attention and your income. I have heard of marriages where there is a long distance situation because of work responsibilities. How well these relationships work out is difficult to gauge.

If you do conclude that this is the man God has chosen for you, then an unconventional marriage may be the only way you can resolve this conflict until you can straighten out your debt situation and find a way for your parents to be looked after. You could live separately for a limited duration (but consider that cost). Ask yourself if you can alter your lifestyle to be with this man and let go of your good paying job once your debts are paid.

This is the time to enter your prayer closet and pour your heart out to the Lord. Ask Him to guide you and protect you. Pray for wisdom and courage. Ask Him to close the wrong doors and open the right ones. Ask Him if this is really the man He intends for you to marry. Ask Him to make it clear to you if this man is truly dedicated to serving Him and following godly principles.

Be strong in the Lord and don’t ignore the signs that make you feel uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable now, it will only get worse later. Please don’t place yourself into a situation that you may deeply regret.

Right now I think the best thing to do is not make any big moves. Give this all over to the Lord, pray with conviction and patiently wait to see how circumstances develop. One thing for sure, sometimes as mere humans we think we know what we want and is best for us, but God knows best.

To begin a marriage with ongoing conflict is asking for trouble. Unless you and your boyfriend can come to a genuine and mutual agreement on how to resolve this matter, please think very carefully before entering into a marriage covenant.

Can you look back in your own life and thank Him for not allowing certain things to come to pass? Trust Him with all your heart. And as I often say, this life is so very temporary. When we place our hearts and minds on our true home, on the One who loves us beyond what we can possibly comprehend, the pains of this life can be significantly diminished. To God be the glory.

Please keep in touch with me and let me know what you decide to do. God bless you and strengthen you.

With heartfelt love and concern,

Esther

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 25-28a).


December 8, 2014

Dear Esther,

I love reading “Dear Esther.” Many of the things you have said to others have been very helpful to me. Thank you. I have been having a problem with a person I thought was my friend. I have been going to my church for about six months after moving to this town last year with my family. In our women’s Bible class a woman started to talk to me telling me about how sad her life has been and how she has so many problems. It almost seemed like she was trying to get me to feel sorry for her.

We began to exchange phone calls and spend some time together. She seemed to be very eager to make a new friend. Even a short time after I met her, I somehow did not feel I could really trust her. She was always bragging about all her accomplishments and seemed very competitive and even used crass foul language, sometimes telling off-color jokes that were in poor taste, not something a godly woman should do. I didn’t like it.

 I like to spend my free time learning more about the Bible and she has even told me I should let “my hair down” and do other things more often.Over the past two months or so I have tried to distance myself from her after nicely asking her not to use foul language, which she continued to do. My sister who also attends church with me has heard this person talk against me to others. So I nicely confronted her and she tried to deny everything, but my sister backed me up. I told her I was very hurt.

A couple of weeks later I realized it would be best to try to be forgiving like the Lord teaches and my sister and I tried to talk to her after church. She was so rude and indignant. I even told her that I forgive her, but she acts so bothered like she was betrayed when in fact the opposite is true. I also told her if I hurt her in any way that I am sorry but she continues to act so incensed and offended. This is causing a problem not only for me and for my sister, but she is putting some mutual friends in a very awkward uncomfortable position. I don’t know what to do. Can you advise me


Dear Disappointed,

I am very sorry to hear about your saga. When we give our friendship to someone even when we are not entirely comfortable with doing so, yet give a person the benefit of the doubt (trying to be a good Christian) and that individual turns out to be a troublemaker and insincere, then we have good reason to be hurt and disappointed. As painful as it is to be undermined by someone who has hidden motives, it is truly a blessing to be free of such a “friendship.”

It sounds like this so-called friend is a carnal Christian at best if she cannot admit her own wrong doing, continues to behave in an unladylike manner and rejects your efforts to solve the problem. You did the right thing. Even though you did not do anything wrong, you even apologized showing a lot of class and spiritual maturity.

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14).

This individual sounds very selfish by placing others in uncomfortable positions. One is left to wonder if she really has a true relationship with the Lord or if she is just some kind of quasi-Christian groupie who attends church for social reasons.

“These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit” (Jude 1:19).

Unless a person is truly born-again and has surrendered control to the Holy Spirit there is spiritual stagnation. We live at a time when there seem to be a number of professing Christians but too many of them show little or no sign of genuine repentance. When we are truly born-again we take our faith seriously and do not go out of our way to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). You might hear a lot of superficial talk about the Lord but it is a person’s behavior and attitude that reveal who they truly are:

“Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20).

Sadly, many people act the same way they did before they professed Christ as Savior. There is no spiritual transformation or regeneration. I think Romans 12:2, should be taught at every church every week so the message might sink in:

“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."

My advice would be to walk tall and continue to be pleasant when you do come in contact with this woman. If she huffs and puffs and acts indignant people will be looking at her wondering why she is acting like a heathen instead of a kind Christian. The best thing you can do is carry on with your life and let God deal with the woman.

It is wonderful that you study your Bible faithfully and never let anyone tell you otherwise. As Christians we should all be seriously studying our Bibles every day. Pray for her and be sure you hold no resentment in your heart toward her. God knows the total truth and I have a feeling others at your church will quickly figure out she is out-of-line. And next time when someone goes out of his or her way to befriend you and you feel an uneasy sense of caution, smile, but walk away. Walk away fast and don’t look back.

God bless you!

Esther

“And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake the dust off from your feet” (Matthew 10:14).


December 1, 2014

Dear Esther,

I have been reading RR for a long time now, but just discovered “Dear Esther” and I appreciate your encouraging words to Christians. I am from Mauritius Island. I am born-again believer, but a Catholic! It was my Catechism teacher─a charismatic Anglican who led me to Christ when I was sixteen.

Some years later I married and became a mother. I joined an evangelical church. It was so good there. I loved the way they pray and worship the Lord and the way in which the Word was taught. My husband was all right with my going there until a year later when my daughter had to do her first communion.

It was out of the question for all the family for her not to -- mine and his (even the neighbors who are like family). This is the reality of living on a little island that my daughter would not do her first communion. I tried to resist but the pressure was great. My godmother who raised me (being an orphan of both parents since I was nine) even became depressed. She just stopped eating and remained in bed! SO I CAME BACK to the Catholic Church and went through the first communion ordeal and eventually later, for my son also.

To this day (I am 48 now) I’m still a Catholic but I never renounce to my faith in Jesus Christ. I know that I am saved by grace and do not believe in any of the Catholic traditions and doctrines. I just attend Mass every Sunday. I tried to get engaged in a church group, helping with children also accompanying adults who wanted to get baptized and join the Catholic Church, but I could not get myself to teach these false doctrines to others, so I stopped.

I read my Bible every day, praise and worship my Lord. I study His Word through the many Christian sites on the Internet. I know we are living in the end-times. I’m praying and watching for the Lord’s return, praying for the salvation of my family, friends and But Esther I have a big problem. I am not baptized.

I know that I’m not saved by baptism but it’s the Lord’s command. So I’m living in disobedience am I not? And frankly I am suffocating in this Catholic Church. I often get depressed over this and have to go on medication. I’ve learned to resist it with the Lord’s Word. I live my faith, alone.

I feel that communicating with other true Christians would have helped me a lot. But Esther, after all these years it seems even more difficult for me to take a faith step and leave all this behind me. My godmother is 83 now. She has always shown a great love for me and did her best during my youth to counter my parents’ absence. She believes in God, I’ve helped her see the many false things that are in the Catholic Church. She made the salvation prayer but can’t seem to see God without the Catholic traditions.

My husband listens to me when I talk about the bad things that will soon fall upon this earth but always say that God is too good to let these things happen! My children are born-again believers. I encourage them to frequent true young Christians but sincerely Esther, there does not seem to be a great difference between the two nowadays. They read their Bibles but can’t seem to resist certain things of the secular world like music, partying with friends, etc. I think I’ve been long enough. I’ll stop here. Please pray for me, Esther. I hope that that you have understood my English.

Thank you and God bless you.

Cattie


Dear Cattie,

Your cry for help is very much understood. What a tough situation to be in. Your graciousness to not want to offend your loved ones is very thoughtful. But you are experiencing first-hand how this tremendous compromise of your true faith in Christ is suffocating you. I strongly suggest you courageously take a stand and return to the evangelical church that you loved so much. Or find a new one.

Lovingly explain to your husband that is what you need to do. Encourage him and your children to come with you, if at all possible. Remind him how you left the church you loved to please him and all the others and since all the first communions and whatever else are now in the distant past, you would appreciate his understanding to want to serve the Lord the way that is right for you. It sounds like the biggest thing holding you back centers around your beloved, godmother, who raised you.

Regarding your question on water baptism, it is an outward expression of our faith. Of course you should want to honor the Lord’s admonition to be baptized. I encourage you to do so, but not in a Catholic Church. Being “disobedient” about water baptism might pale in comparison to participating in a Catholic Mass each week where the Mass itself is an affront to God.

The entire Catholic Mass is based on the rejection of Christ’s finished blood atonement on the cross. Instead pomp and circumstance and unbiblical rituals are exalted. In essence, the Mass and all the other tenants of the Catholic Church teach that Christ’s sacrifice was not enough–that He needs the help of the Catholic Church’s dogma to redeem mankind.

[Jesus’ last words,] “It is finished!” And bowing His head He gave up His spirit” (John 19:28b).

Please think carefully about this and realize that others have stepped out in faith rejecting generations of traditional family religions. You know all of this in your head. It may be time (long over do) for you to break this spiritually crippling cycle and take a strong stand for your Savior who sacrificed Himself for you.

Imagine yourself the day you are face to face with Him. Facing any negative reaction from your godmother now may be worrisome, but try to keep things in perspective. You are really doing her no favor at all by enabling her commitment to a church that gravely distorts the teachings of Christ.

Your efforts to enlighten her may not have worked but that does not mean you have to compromise your faith any longer. You will gain new Christian friends once you are free of your involvement with the Catholic Church. You may not be able to do this on your own strength, but in Christ’s strength you can (trust the Lord with all your heart). You cannot control what others say or do, but you are responsible for the choices you make.

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

I will be praying for you. Remember, Cattie, we can never please everyone. Our first loyalty must be to the Lord. Seek Him with all your heart. He will give you the strength to move forward. Let Him deal with your godmother’s reactions. Maybe she and others need to see you take a strong stand of faith for the Lord.

In God’s love,

Esther

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-27).



November 24, 2014

Dear Esther,

I would like to pour out my heart to you about a sin I’ve been dealing with for that past twenty years or so. I had kind of a tough childhood. My mother and father signed me over to foster care when I was 15 years old. I had already been kicked out by age 14.

I was signed over to state care because mainly my mother was abusive and very rigid. My dad was co-dependent on my mom so that’s why he went along with sending me away. My dad has tearfully apologized to me since then. I totally forgive them both.

It was the hardest time of my life.

While in state custody, I found out through another family member that my mother had given a child up for adoption when she was 18 years old and was now living with my parents. I couldn’t believe it. I basically felt like my mother had replaced me. When I finally met my half-sister, she was a pleasant and very charming person, but she never really seemed interested in getting to know me.

She was very much into her friends and boyfriends. She had even told my mother at one point that the only reason why she decided to stay with her was to see what she could get out of her financially. Over the years I’ve harbored so much anger and rage toward my sister. Her lack of empathy and understanding makes it so hard for me to let go of this resentment.

I understand she was adopted, but I was abandoned, too. I have to see her every so often and I try to avoid these gatherings so I don’t blow up at her. I ask God to forgive me for these feelings. I know I’m wrong. I forgive her in my head, but my heart is broken. How do you truly forgive and forget?

I forgot to add that I’m extremely jealous of her as well. She’s beautiful, charming, and attention-seeking. When I try to talk about things I’m feeling etc, she cuts me off or walks away. My mother treats her better than me.

I am a Christian. I love the Lord with all of my heart! In fact, he was there when EVERYONE abandoned me. I’ll never, ever forget what He did for me!

My mom is better today, but has strong personality traits that make it difficult for her to get along with others. In fact, she is addicted to prescription meds and isolates in her room daily. One time she asked me to pray with her for salvation which I was ready to do, but she changed her mind.

I do pray for her and my dad. My half-sister and I have the same mother. She has recently divorced and is in another relationship. She also has two teenage girls. I’m married with two small children as well. My marriage is a struggle since my husband is a (functional) but very moody angry addict (alcohol) with infidelity on his part. He is not saved. I’m not sure where our marriage is heading, just go day to day. I do have some friends but it’s difficult to keep them since we move every three years (husband is in the Army).

Thank you so much.

Sara


Dear Sara,

Your letter is heart wrenching. I am so sorry for all your pain. How difficult for you. God bless you for your endurance and your love for the Lord. Your feelings are very understandable. To begin with, you have forgiven your parents, which I am sure was a very hard thing to do. And you also pray for them. You have been faithful to the Scriptures—to the Lord, by doing so.

Now as far as your half-sister and your feelings toward her, I think anyone who could walk in your shoes for a short time would realize that it is amazing, if not miraculous, that you have not completely fallen apart. And the fact that you pray for her, too, is commendable. Not only are you the sibling who was replaced and had to endure foster care because of the dysfunction of your own parents, you have also been essentially ignored by the person who took your place. Talk about gross injustice...

From what I have read, it sounds like your mother is completely immersed in her own issues and may not even be capable at this time to do more than she does. Perhaps she had terrible guilt and misgivings about giving up her out of wedlock firstborn for adoption when she was so young (18). Some of her abusive behavior toward you, even before you were sent off the foster care is most likely tied into her own guilt and confusion about herself and her past.

It sounds like bringing your half-sister into her life when you were sent away was an attempt on her part to rectify her own guilt. She could not have been thinking clearly, considering what happened to you. So what are you left with? In the flesh, you are left with everything you have mentioned: The rage, the anger, the resentment, the heartache. Yes, in your head you have forgiven her, but as you say, your heart is broken. Why wouldn’t it be? What you are feeling is natural.

From what I have read in your letter, it seems to me what causes you to feel very jealous toward your half-sister is her rejection of you, and her rude uppity attitude—which only adds fuel to the fire. And for the reasons I already mentioned, your mother’s neglectful behavior toward you does not help. Showing favoritism toward your half-sister as she does, is very hard to take. Any child would feel heartbroken. Your “jealousy” is not the malicious vindictive type. Your jealousy is more of a heartache that surfaces in a painful negative way.

Sara, you are obviously very intelligent and a precious child of God. When we find ourselves in very difficult situations, which at times feel unbearable, we must step back and try to look at the entire picture. This is how you will be able to really forgive and forget in a way that does not consume you.

You have made efforts to befriend your half-sister. But she has been rude and unkind. And your mother is who she is. You have found out that these two people are not going to give you what you need. That is, unless they become true born-again believers, give their lives completely over to the Lord, face their sins and repent.

From what you describe, it may be a long time before your half-sister or mother make a honest profession of faith. (We don’t know if they ever will.) Nevertheless, you must find a way to cope without feeling like you are being constantly crushed and trampled on. The place to begin would be to change your perspective. This will be challenging at first, especially with the added burden of a husband who is also very self-serving and unfaithful.

But even with all of that, you have your two small children who I am sure adore you. God gave you these two little lives to love and care for. And in that loving and caring, you will find much of your healing.

Sara, I get so many letters from women who are in very difficult marriages and family situations. Your situation is especially difficult. But. Because we cannot change people, we need to make some decisions, to either remove ourselves from toxic relationships or find a way to deal with them. In your case it might be a bit of both.

Harboring the negative feelings you have is not good for you, you know that. Although what you feel is perfectly understandable. You have survived a lot. I have a saying, “Most people do what they do because of the awareness that they have at the time.” Yes, it make sense that your half-sister should be understanding of what you have had to endure and have some compassion for you. But in this world, sadly, far too many people think only of themselves.

But you are above that. You are kind, compassionate and willing to forgive and make things work. So instead of giving your energy to those who do not appreciate you, give it to those who will. First, to your young children and then find a way to connect with others whom you can relate to. And by giving your energy, I mean even your thoughts.

Recently I wrote about the importance of renewing our minds, which I am sure you have done to a great degree since you received Christ’s free gift of salvation. The Lord can help you move on to even a higher level that will enable you to carry on and not be so devastated by the disappointing and hurtful behavior of others.

Please get into the Scriptures every day and really study them. Stay close to Jesus in your prayer life, and separate yourself from this world. Pray throughout the day, listen to the Scriptures and Bible sermons as much as possible. Invest in a good CD so you can hear God’s Word. Think on those things which are lovely and good:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

You are surrounded with problematic people, but they do not have to be a part of your everyday life and thought patterns. The reality of what you are dealing with is there, but you can rise above those injustices to a point where the selfish hurtful behavior of those you wish you could count on—will not bother you as much. The burning flame of pain can turn into embers that flicker only a bit, now and then.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

It might seem like some people never have any pain or trouble, but that is simply not true. This world is filled with trials and tribulations, just as Jesus said it would be. It is most important to daily place the attention of your heart and mind on our soon coming King, on your future with the Lord. You were made alive in Christ when you received Him as your Savior, keep walking strongly with Him:

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:2-4)

The last days prophetic Scriptures are being fulfilled and soon all the worries we have will be in our distant past. It is evident that you have a good relationship with the Lord, and it is He who can bring you to a new way of thinking. It is not fair to be surrounded by so many dysfunctional and toxic individuals but at least YOU have our Blessed Hope—Jesus.

By the world’s standards it appears that you are the one suffering the most in your family. But you are the one who will be going up in the Rapture, and unless your family members get saved, they will be left behind. You are saved. You have victory in Christ. The devil loses. You win.

But your family members who are not walking with the Lord and treating you badly, their fate is quite frightening—if they are left behind to suffer the Tribulation. Or die before accepting the Lord’s saving grace. But your life will ultimately get incredibly better because your future is with the Lord.

So you see Sara, it is YOU whom the Lord favors. It is YOU He has blessed. You can assess the situations around you but your fate is not with the lost, which includes those you have named, those who are treating you so disrespectfully. Pity them and keep praying for them. And thank God you are not one of them.

Your self-centered half-sister might act like she has everything going for her now, but she is really lost. You are the one who is blessed. You have received Christ in faith and have the wisdom and discernment to recognize His promises are true. Yes, you have not received the love and devotion you deserve from your earthly family, but you have it beyond measure from your Heavenly Father—the very One who created you is your greatest Advocate. His love for you is enormous.

And yes, it is terrible that those who should love and care for you are such weak and selfish individuals -- but you have a much greater fate. Your home in heaven. Your true home is with the Lord forever and ever.

But in the meantime He has entrusted to you to care for two little ones who need you. Fill their hearts and minds with the Scriptures. So many wonderful Christian children’s books and materials are available. I do have some specific suggestions which I can send you if you email me.

As you care for them, keep remembering that your days here on this earth are for a very short time in relation to eternity. Think of yourself as being on a trip, away from your true home temporarily. Always keep that thought in the foremost part of your mind.

All those who mistreat you have to continue living with themselves. But you are free from eternal damnation. You have victory in Christ. You are first with Christ!

“So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16).

It is wise for you to avoid too much contact with your half-sister and mom, but as I said before, see them from a new perspective, pity them for not accepting the Lord and being so lost and worldly. You are in the driver’s seat with Jesus. Let Him steer the wheel to your eternal destiny.

When you catch yourself thinking about how badly you have been treated, think again. You have been treated very badly, but out of all your family members you are the one who has a special place reserved in heaven. Think on that glorious fact instead.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:3-4).

Here are some comforting words for you:

Proverbs 18:24 . . . there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Ev’rything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Ev’rything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged-Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness-Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our Refuge -Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer; In His arms He'll take and shield thee-Thou wilt find a solace there. —Joseph Scriven, written 1855

It is going to be all right, Sara. Jesus is coming soon. Place all your hope in Him. I am here anytime, never hesitate to reach out.

In God’s love,

Esther

“For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).


November 17, 2014

Dear Esther,

I’m sitting here confused again wondering if I have a true saving relationship with Jesus. I believe I was saved in a park by people witnessing (before that I was open to Jesus and pulled by God to believe in Him), and immediately felt a weight lift off my soul. Unfortunately I didn’t know what to do or where to find God. I tried a universal church. But they didn’t have Bibles so I never went back.

Then a lady from a Jehovah’s Witness church was trying to “disciple” me but when I went to her church I started to feel sick and saw demons and the word “cult" form in the air. So obviously that’s not good. So I had a very hard time finding a church and I kept living a lifestyle of drinking and sleeping with my boyfriend.

I knew it was wrong but I kept going that way with intermittent spurts of obedience and conviction, and Bible reading and church attendance. But alcohol always won over my mind and body. When I was 20 I got pregnant and gave the baby up and I could see and feel Jesus embrace me and take my hurt. But soon after I was partying again.

I was very carnal for 20 years doing the same stupid terrible stuff that I always did. I’ve gotten in trouble with the law, and finally 3threeyears ago I snapped between drinking and bipolar meds; I hit my husband and called the cops on myself. I felt so out of control. I had to do a bunch of classes and therapy but I finally started to get better.

I’ve been going to church consistently for about 4 or 5 years and I don’t take any medication. I feel relatively in control of unwanted emotions. I’ve been married for 14 years and going strong. But even now after fully repenting (like broken down sobbing apologizing and repenting),feeling forgiven. I perpetually feel very scared and confused about my relationship with Christ.

I wonder how in the world I could be saved and yet have behaved so horribly for so long. I can’t seem to move on from my past. I’m just stuck in a relentless cycle praising God for his mercy, and then questioning whether or not He has abandoned me.

If there was ever a case for salvation lost, mine would be it. I guess I’m writing you because if I am saved I need to move on and claim certain victories. But if I’m not, how do I ever begin to accept the reality of Jesus not wanting me anymore and hell as my destiny?

I do know that I’m less worried about hell than I am about never meeting Yeshua in the flesh, so to speak. I do know that I love God very much. I pray every day to love Him more above all else. Perhaps the demons have a bit of a foothold and keep using my past to immobilize me for the kingdom of God. I just know I need to move beyond this fear and live for God whether He’s abandoned me or not. I owe him that much.

Thank you,

Sad and confused,

Carolyn


Dear Carolyn,

What a testimony! It certainly didn’t help to have cultists hovering around you while you were trying to gain solid footing in Christ as a new believer. This is a common problem. It is hard to find good solid Bible teaching. So many churches have become lukewarm making it easy for false teachers to prey upon others.

The doubts you are having point to a classic case of the enemy trying to immobilize you, you already sense that. God has promised He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 13:5). He also urges us not to live in the past:

“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 13:3-4).

Carolyn, your past mistakes do not define who you are. A born-again believer is redeemed through Christ’s shed blood and we are made righteous through Him. We are new creatures 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).

Another important point to be aware of is the renewing of our minds. This is something each believer must do if he or she is to grow in the Lord. Otherwise we can fall into sin and suffer.

“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).

Once we are saved, we are made righteous through Christ. No matter how hard we try, not one of us can be without sin, but through Christ we are forgiven and made righteous. When we do stumble and sin, we should do just as we have read in the previous Scripture, “confess our sins” to the Advocate, “Jesus Christ the righteous.” By the renewing of our minds, and through our love for the Lord, we will want to please Him and do our best to shun sinful transgressions.

Our daily walk with the Lord should demonstrate a day-to-day, moment-by-moment surrender of our will to the Lord’s will—a daily inner house cleaning. When we do fall into sin, we place a wedge between God and ourselves, even to the point of grieving the Holy Spirit. Unless we acknowledge (name) our sins directly to God, repent and reestablish (restore) our right relationship with the Lord, we cannot have a genuine relationship with Him.

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 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 4:17-18, 23-24).

Carolyn, I don’t know what your church teaches regarding salvation but a truly saved person cannot lose his or her salvation. It concerns me that you even think that God has abandoned you. However, within the Christian church you will find many who are not really saved. Instead, they are going through some outward motions but have never made a genuine commitment to the Lord. They are Christians in name only.

I urge you to get into a regular, disciplined daily routine of spending time alone with the Lord through prayer and Bible study. When we give Jesus our first thoughts every morning and go immediately into prayer we get into synch with Him. His will for our lives becomes more evident. It is good that you are praying each day and that you profess a genuine love for the Lord. Ask Him to free you from this ongoing negativity about yourself in relation to Him.

If the morning hours don’t allow for lengthy prayer and Bible study, at least spend some time in prayer and read some Scripture before starting the day’s activities. Always try to make a good effort to put the Lord first. After all, it is He who we can thank for saving us from an eternity of suffering and providing all believers with a glorious eternal future.

Spending time with Him should always be at the top of our list. Then, later in the evening find a way to make more time to commune with the Lord. What could be better than spending time with the Creator of the universe, with the One who loves and cares for us more than anyone else? As we focus each day more and more on God, and include Him in all that we do we grow and mature as believers.

Time devoted to the Lord (devotions) will help us grow in our faith. Carolyn, I think this is where you will find a breakthrough; by strengthening your faith. Reading the Word of God often, will increase your faith and will help you to accept what the Lord says as truth.

It sounds like you are doubting what He says in the Bible or perhaps you have not studied the Scriptures enough to know that His promises are true. I think it is crucial that you increase your faith. As you do this, those nagging doubts WILL dissipate.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 5:17).

Carolyn, always pray for wisdom and understanding before beginning your Bible study—in a quiet place away from any distractions. All the answers to your problems are already available to us in the Scriptures. But as a society we have been conditioned to talk, talk, talk about our problems instead of doing what the Lord says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Chatting and sharing with others is good to a point. But unless we are also actively involved in the renewing of our minds by burning the Scriptures into our hearts and minds, we will not have the inner peace we need and will easily fall into emotional, even childishly emotional behavior—which is a fruitless way to conduct our lives. And also makes for a lousy testimony.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that our emotions should rule us. We expect little children to allow emotions to rule them but as believers the way we respond to adversity should be in a Christ-centered manner (as much as possible!). So don’t allow yourself to be sidelined because of your emotions.

What I sense most from your letter is your desire to please the Lord, your love for the Lord and your deep disappointment with yourself for wasting so much time living in ways that you know were not pleasing to the Lord. But He has forgiven you. Now, you must forgive yourself. You are precious in the eyes of the Lord. He is there for you as your heavenly Father. Run to His open arms and take comfort from Him. Memorize this verse and repeat it to yourself often:

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

And remember, greater is He who is with you than he who is in the world:

“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).

Carolyn, you do not have to accept the lies that the devil throws your way. Fear is not of the Lord and the enemy is trying to debilitate you. Refuse to accept his stalking. You can do this by arming yourself daily with His Word and all the other precepts I discussed last week in my response to Dennis.

Once we are truly saved Satan knows he cannot take us to hell with him but he will surely try to make life miserable for believers by casting doubts into our minds. But you have God on your side. You no longer need to allow the father of lies to browbeat you, especially to the point where you think God has abandoned you.

In order to get past these self-destructive doubts, please make spending time with the Lord your priority. You say your marriage is going strong, perhaps you and your husband can get into a couple’s fellowship together and spend time with other believers. Set-up a place at home where you can study your Bible. Fill your home with godly music and anything that denotes godly living.

Be sure you remove materials from your home that have godless messages. Even many magazines, books, CDs. DVDs, etc. are filled with immoral images and chatter. Have nothing to do with such things. Make your home a place that is filled with the love of the Lord.

Make your home a sanctuary away from a broken world that is spinning out of control. To begin with read and study Psalm 25 (David’s pleas for deliverance, forgiveness and guidance). And also study Psalms 26 and 27. Your faith and resolve for the Lord will be strengthened. And we are to study all of Scripture if we are to live balanced lives

And always remember:

“Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Never hesitate to reach out again, Carolyn. You are not alone. Jesus loves you more than we can possibly understand. Allow Him to completely heal you from your painful past by illuminating your mind and heart with His powerful Scriptures. We have to own God’s Scriptures, they must become a deep inherent part of us.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

In God’s love,

Esther

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).


November 10, 2014

Dear Esther,

I enjoy your weekly column very much. You have such great insights. Can you explain what the armor of God is and how to use it? You have mentioned spiritual warfare a number of times in your responses. My pastor does not talk much about it. I would appreciate anything you could say to help me get a better understanding on this topic. How can I protect myself from people who want to cause trouble?

Thanks very much,

Dennis


Dear Dennis,

Thank you for your letter and kind words. This is a very important topic. All Christians need to learn what the “armor of God” is and how to use it. We are in a spiritual war and every Christian is a warrior. However, too many have been wounded and are sitting on the sidelines watching the war.

Very few pastors train the members of their congregations in the arts of spiritual warfare. This is why most churches are not alive and why many have been dead for decades. It is the solemn duty of the pastors to train their spiritual soldiers to fight just as the drill instructors in all military basic training camps train their recruits to fight.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18).

The devil has many schemes to keep Christians from serving God fully. That is why it is vitally important to know what our armor is and how to use it. Study the above passage in Ephesians and meditate on it for many hours. Memorize the passage and burn it into your mind and heart. Let’s study the exposition of the passage:

Your armor:

Gird your loins about with truth (v. 14). Put on the breastplate of righteousness (v. 14). Shod your feet with the gospel (v. 15).Take up the shield of faith (v. 16).Put on the helmet of salvation (v. 17). Take up the sword of the Spirit (v. 17).

Gird your loins about with truth:

A Christian clothes himself with the truth by studying Scripture. The Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 is truth. Every Christian needs to study the entire Bible book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter and verse-by-verse throughout his or her life. Methodical reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on Scripture is a must. We need the whole truth and not just part of the truth to be victorious in our spiritual warfare. That is why it is extremely important to set-up a spiritual growth program.

Christians clothe themselves with the truth, but also with righteous deeds. A believer’s robe of righteousness is symbolic of our righteous deeds that God has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Timothy 3:17). Each morning when a believer wakes up he or she puts on a robe of righteousness by praying that the Lord will direct each step that day and that He will give us the strength to do the good deeds that He has prepared for us to do (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

We also need to spend time in the Word. Daily Bible reading, study, memorization and meditating on Scripture is necessary to prepare for spiritual battle. One must start the day with time to study Scripture, and then also renew one’s mind with it throughout the day. Taking periodic Bible reading/studying breaks is a good habit to develop. Always keep your Bible nearby.

Girding one’s loins is symbolic of preparing our minds for battle. One must be prepared to encounter problems throughout the day and respond to them in a holy, loving, joyful and considerate manner. These problems may be encounters with people seeking to harm or deceive us, accidents, illness or circumstances that prevent us from doing what we planned to do. When we fight through our daily problems with prayer and meditation on Scripture, we will win the battles through the power of Jesus Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

Put on the breastplate of righteousness:

To put on the breastplate of righteousness means to live a holy life. All believers are commanded to live holy lives (Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:7; Psalm 99:3, 9; 1 Peter 1:14-16), instead of continuing to live sinful lives as we did before we were saved and cleansed (Romans 6:1-2, 6-7, 12-13; Ephesians 4:17; 1 Peter 4:2-3). We are to daily—not to be conformed to the world but to transform and cleanse our minds (Romans 12:1-2).

Dennis, we do this by reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on Scripture. It is the Word of God that cleanses our minds and lives (John 15:3; 17:17; Ephesians 5:26). This daily cleansing will enable us to lay aside our old nature, be renewed in our minds and yield to the Holy Spirit to put on our new nature (Ephesians 4:22-24). It will also help us abstain from fleshly lust (1 Peter 2:11), and not love the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17). As we daily read, study, memorize and meditate on Scripture the Holy Spirit washes, regenerates and renews us (Titus 3:5).

Shod your feet with the gospel:

Shodding your feet (putting on footwear) means to be prepared at all times to share the gospel. Every believer is commanded to know what the gospel is and how to share it with everyone who asks him about his or her faith (1 Peter 3:15). To be able to share the gospel in a clear manner one must memorize the basic verses. It is also necessary to learn how to quote them in a logical order and comment on them.

Take up the shield of faith:

Taking up the shield of faith means to use our faith. We do that by trusting the Lord to meet our needs as He has promised (Matthew 6:25-34). Instead of worrying about our daily needs we are to trust in the Lord. That does not mean we can watch television all day and not seek work. Everyone must work for a living (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We do what we can to meet our needs and trust the Lord for the rest.

Along with using our faith we should seek to increase it. The more we exercise our faith the more it grows. It also grows by studying Scripture, for “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The more we study Scripture the more our faith grows. This is just one more reason why every believer needs to read, study, memorize and meditate on Scripture daily.

Put on the helmet of salvation:

Putting on the helmet of salvation is having total assurance of our salvation. The helmet protects the most vital part of the body, and when a soldier does not wear a helmet he becomes highly vulnerable to injury and death. The same is true in spiritual warfare. When Christians do not have complete assurance that they are saved, they can easily be taken out by the enemy. Doubts can sneak into one’s mind concerning his or her conversion and if those doubts are not dealt with they can cause a person to stop serving God or even believing in Him.

Assurance of salvation is necessary to stay in the spiritual battle. Failure to have assurance also endangers the brethren. A Christian in a position of leadership who does not have assurance can cause others to doubt their salvation resulting in the destruction of spiritual moral. Spiritual soldiers who are demoralized are ineffective and become casualties.

You can have assurance of salvation by knowing the gospel and by making a public profession that you have trusted in Jesus Christ alone to save you by His sacrifice on the cross, understanding “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and then raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Once you make that confession fully trusting Jesus to save you apart from works, baptism, keeping the Sabbath or any other law or ordinance you can have total assurance of your salvation.

Take up the sword of the Spirit:

The sword is an offensive and defensive weapon. Every Christian should be an expert swordsman capable of defending his or her faith. Our spiritual sword is Scripture (Hebrews 4:12). Defending our faith is the ability to quote or cite Scriptures to refute those who make false charges or claims against our faith, the Bible and God. One uses Scripture in an offensive manner by using Scripture to destroy concepts, ideologies and philosophies that are opposed to Scripture (2 Corinthians 10:5). We can also defend the faith and destroy unbiblical ideologies by writing articles and books, and making audio and video presentations.

Prayer:

Dennis, last week I addressed the topic of prayer. Please read that response if you have not yet had a chance to. Prayer is a great part of our armor. We must use prayer in our daily spiritual battles. We should wake up praying, pray throughout the day and pray as we fall asleep (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We are to pray for ourselves and our brethren (Ephesians 6:18). We cannot always pray for every Christian we know, but we should try to pray for as many as we can.

In closing, I would like to mention that we should never underestimate the depth of deception, craftiness and vicious assaults that the forces of darkness are capable of. The Lord warned us that in the last days, close to the time of His return, there would be many wolves in sheep’s clothing who would infiltrate Christian churches and ministries. We can see those dynamics throughout Christian circles today. Be very aware of this as there are those who call themselves Christians but seek to harm us.

“They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16).

Pray for wisdom and discernment as part of your armor; this is very important. And the minute you sense something is not right with a “brother” or “sister” who profess Christ, but shows repeated signs of insincerity, crassness, jealousy, lying, erratic behavior or any number of other red flag warnings that cause you to question their authenticity in Christ, break fellowship with that person. The devil uses weak-willed inauthentic individuals to do his dastardly deeds. Choose your friends and associations wisely.

“Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:8-10).

The previous verse does not mean that a believer will never sin, we all fall short (Romans 3:23). But a person who is a professing believer yet deliberately works to cause harm to others by chronically sinning and scheming is what John is talking about. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim of a phony Christian’s attempt to harm you and your family. Put on your spiritual armor!

God is not mocked. When vicious vulgar, slanderers and liars think they can hurt a believer and get away with it, he or she will be greatly surprised when God deals with their jealous hatred and godless agendas; when their allegiance to the father of lies, the devil, is exposed.

Those who deliberately engage in character assassination cannot be walking with the Lord. They are of their father, the devil (John 8:44). Those who participate in slander, especially when they do not even know the person being slandered (except for the lies they have been fed) are as bad as the jealous instigator. The participants are guilty of assumptive acceptance of lies they have been told. These dynamics are very prevalent in the world but when they happen in Christian circles it is very disgraceful and brings tremendous shame to our Christian faith.

“He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, and has fallen into the hole which he made” (Psalm 7:15).

Remember how Joseph was sold into slavery by his extremely jealous brothers who hated him? They made life miserable for him. Yet Joseph steadfastly continued to trust the Lord. The day came when God blessed Joseph immensely, when he became the second most powerful man in Egypt, next to the Pharaoh.

If you study the Old Testament you will find many scenarios where envy and hatred were the underlying emotions causing people to murder, lie, cheat, and do just about anything to hurt their victims. Another example is Cain. He was intensely jealous of his brother, Abel, and killed him.

If you are in right standing with the Lord always trust that in His righteousness He is working on your behalf no matter how many trials you may face.

God is a God of restoration and justice for those who belong to Him. When we come up against adversity trust Him completely to work all things to our good (Romans 8:28). Dennis, if follow the precepts given here, you will be well-equipped to victoriously navigate throughout each day. God will protect you from the assaults of the enemy, from people who wish to hurt you.

Your enemies might think they have the upper hand for a season, but they will not prevail. God sees every despicable underhanded deed perpetrated against those who belong to Him, and He will deal with their criminal behavior in ways that are much more effective than anything a mere human could undertake.

“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord “ (Romans 12:19).

I wish you the very best Dennis. Stay close to Jesus and He will protect you from the wiles of the devil. Keep in touch and let me know how you are doing.

In God’s love,

Esther

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).