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Believers in the World XI

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Question #1: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have experienced this DNR several times already where the individuals were taken off food and water at their request. Both of them passed away, the first one after about 4 days, the second about 7 days each w/o food or water due to their condition. Each was given Morphine to make them comfortable without pain and eventually, as I said, slipped into eternity.

There is another individual who has signed the same DNR request and is still living even after 9 days of no food nor water, just Morphine, and pain patches.

What I am not sure about is, are they committing suicide when they sign this DNR form or? The medical professional do this when they can no longer help the individual. Some make suggestion that the person does not want due to their age. Just am wondering what your thoughts are on this DNR. Are they in reality, just letting their bodies go, rather than prolonging what is inevitable sooner or later, especially in those afflictions that cannot be corrected at all?

Thanks again for your advice. Personally, I am up in the air as to what to think about this, or what conclusion to draw from it.

Till we all meet the Lord in the air,

Blessings be with you always,

Your friend,

Response #1:  

It's a tough question, my friend. I would say that it's impossible to make any sort of general rule about this sort of thing because it is situationally dependent issue, depending, that is, on the actual physical state of the person in question (something often not possible to know with certainty). I think DNR wills are a good thing. Few Christians I know of would wish to be in a coma on a respirator for years on end – not to mention the drain that would put on the ones they love. And of course without these modern devices they would pass away in such circumstances very, very soon.

I've never heard of anyone being still "with it" enough to ask for cessation of food and water, however. Maybe I'm misunderstanding. Giving folks pain medication to deal with hospice-like conditions makes sense to me, unless they refuse it. I hope that if I were still in my right mind that I would not ask to be taken off food and water; but I do have a living will that would have this done for me if my mind were gone and my body was only being kept going artificially. That does make sense to me.

I hope this lets you see where I am coming from on this. What you relate, if I'm reading it correctly, may an example of something good in principle being abused. After all, DNR means, "do not resuscitate", not, "do not provide essentials for people in pain who don't need to be resuscitated". But as I say, this is something individuals have to figure out for themselves, and for believers that means following the guidance of the Spirit.

Wishing you and your family a great Christmas, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hello dear Dr Luginbill,

One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
Titus 1:12 NKJV

So, I was wondering about this. Before I ask the questions, let me say: I feel there are at least 3 perspectives when it comes to race/nationality/group identity in this kind of thing. There is the one that rightly gets hammered in our pop culture where one's traits/personality/etc are determined by race. Which is bigoted, I think. Then there is the blind everyone in everyone culture is the exact same and we should act like there are no differences. I think this is foolish. I mean if I were a German Barbarian, I would love the Roman Empire to take this view, because it would be easier to conquer. Let us into your council, we are the same as you, yes?

And a third that I am unsure about: it acknowledges differences in nationality and culture (and the thing is, for a long time, race and nationality were, by happenstance, connected, so that it might be used interchangeably). Someone with this view expects individuals to not be the same as the general tendency of the group, but might make comments about the tendency. So, like, making a joke about the French surrendering to foreign enemies, but upon seeing the people refuse to surrender to their government's endless taxes, not being surprised. Because they are individuals.

So in this passage, is Paul making a light joke in that third perspective. I love Paul, and might be a bit hurt if he had said that about a group I happened to be in. But if it were like the third, that is a bit different. I mean I make jokes about American culture being irreverent and disrespectful, but am myself more traditional minded.

Anyway, what do you make of this Scripture?

Response #2:  

There are national characteristics as anyone with any life experience can plainly see, but that is not how we are to deal with others. We believers are to deal with others one to one on an individual level without preconceived notions. The key thing for us is whether or not the other person is a believer. If not, we may have some idea of what they are like based on their background, but we also know that the Lord died for them and that He wants them to be saved. If the person is a believer, then he/she is a brother/sister in Christ, and as Paul says . . .

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28 NIV

We would of course be crazy not to recognize that this is the opposite of the way the world and the fleshly mind views things, but this is starting point for us who have put Jesus Christ before all else in our hearts. Since we are flesh too so this will not be natural (only supernatural in the Holy Spirit).

Wishing you a very merry Christmas, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Just that Paul seems to be saying that, since those people of the congregation are Cretans, they have xyz characteristics. So that is how he was dealing with them. It sounds very similar to saying 'well the French are cheese eating surrender monkeys, so be sure to xyz' or 'well Americans are terrible at geography, and history, and everything outside the country, so be sure to abc..." Maybe it is different in the Greek?

Very very Merry Christmas!

Response #2: 

Paul was referring to the legalists who were intent on leading the believers on Crete astray, and the proverb (which he is quoting from Epimenides, not coining) was true in their regard.

But this is one verse with a special application. Everywhere else in the New Testament we are told to act in love towards all making no distinction on account of worldly characteristics. This means how we think about others in our hearts. That doesn't mean that if we are of X ethnic group we should think it fine to walk through Y ethnic group's neighborhood at will – as if our Christian thinking changes secular reality.

We are in the world, but not of it. We accept the reality of the world without letting that disturb us (or at least we should not), because we understand that there is a deeper, more important spiritual reality, that God is in control of all things, and that we are here in this world for reasons other than what the material eye and ear can perceive.

So whether there is any truth in generalizations about peoples and nations, it makes little practical difference for our spiritual lives. We minister to all who are willing to receive the truth (regardless of who they are), and we keep at arm's length all who are unwilling to love the truth (regardless of who they are). The distinctions between people, whether gender or race or wealth or social class or anything else are valid in this world only in its material composition. We Christians understand that they mean nothing to Jesus Christ and so in spiritual terms they also mean nothing to us. We rejoice at the salvation of every single person and we strive through the gifts and ministries we have been given to help every brother and sister in Christ grow and progress and produce as we have done – one individual at time. Because we are all unique creations of the Lord, and He loves us all.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 6:10 NKJV

Wishing you again a great Christmas Eve and a happy day tomorrow.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Brother Robert,

I was so full of smiles when I saw your picture on Facebook today, you are a former Marine officer and I saw an article on your job status (and contract ish). I hope they improved your contract and you're now being paid what you deserve. I will say a prayer for you tonight on your job and health and I hope that you do for me too.

I don't have any more questions this week, I will ask when I have anyone next week. Thanks for always being around to answer my questions and offer advice. Attached are the picture I found and my own picture.

Also, I found out that the folk you were communicating with via email in the “Email responses” you sent in your last mail is Nigerian.

I have read some of the things he sent, I would love to meet him (if he really is Nigerian). You can send me his contact info or you can send him my email address.


In Christ,

Response #4: 

Yes, I'm rarely on Facebook (I use it for my university work for our student honor society about once a semester). I do love that photo as it reminds me that I was once-upon-a-time not old and overweight! Nice photo of yourself as well – thanks.

I forwarded your email to our friend. I know that he was headed home for Christmas and I'm not sure what his communication status is in his smallish hometown. I have several other correspondents from Nigeria as well. It's a big place, however, as you know better than I. This is the situation in our present era of the Church, Laodicea. If I started teaching here in Louisville in a storefront, I don't think I'd have more than a handful show up (if that many), since my American readers are dispersed very widely in our country, and no doubt I would scare away any curious parties who did show up pretty quickly! The truth does that, I've noticed. Ichthys does have what I would consider a reasonably sizeable readership, but they are scattered all over the world. Blessedly, through the internet this is possible – it wasn't even in existence when I first conceived of this ministry, however.

It's good to know you, my friend. Thanks so much for your prayers (the job is cooking away OK now in a peaceful way I have hopes will continue); I'm keeping you in mine now as well.

Best wishes for a 2019 walking closer to the Lord and deeper and deeper in His truth.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Dear Sir, happy new year to you and your family. May the Lord be with you this year and manifest Himself even more than ever in your life and ministry. May He grant you good health this year and bless you in every way.

Thanx for all ichthys and all the effort you have painstakingly expended. Thank you for making it free. My life has not remained the same since I came across ichthys. The Lord keep you and yours. IJN Amen

In Christ

Response #5:  

Thank you!

A happy 2019 to you and yours as well, my friend. I'm praying that it will mark an end to all of your legal troubles. Thanks for all of your good words too, and especially for your prayers!

I appreciate you in the Lord, brother.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.
[note: please pray for our friend Femi as he is currently in prison awaiting a hearing; that is how things work in his country]

Question #6: 

Hello again Dr. Bob,

I second you completely on that one...yes we all do and thanks for reminding me about the rewards at The Great BEMA! Thank you also for your continued prayers and encouragements for my ministry preparation. I had to leave that particular OSAS debate group page, courtesy of some evil moderators and admins who put people opposing their stance on mute and our posts get no views or comments and we cannot reply to other comments. This happens lots on FB these days, yet I am unfazed. Anyways, The Lord allowed me in His Grace, to share the truth about the perils of the false OSAS doctrine for a full week and I have made a couple of friends during my short tenure on that group. I am quite hopeful, that He will indeed open more doors for witnessing. I have been able to find those resources on OSAS Dr. Bob, yet I will let you know if I need anything more... Thank you kindly for that.

I am so thrilled to learn that our friends ministry has taken shape and am Praising God for this. He is a fine young lad who has indeed persevered in his sincere endeavors to reach where he is right now and the results are showing! So wonderful of you to support him with a separate column of his own (link)! This has put a big smile on my face and heart. Praise Him. God Bless You both in this facet brother, as you always give God the glory. He did send me a copy of his works on Spiritual Battle and I did go over part of the material before I got busy with other things. He is fully qualified to his works on the RC cult and I am certain God is using him mightily on that front. He for once never told me about getting his own page on Ichthys! This came as a sweet surprise.

I will go through the material on his page as I have many friends from that cult here.

I could use prayers for concrete directions for my ministry as I am putting nose to the grindstone and collar to the wheel this year with my Bible Study plans. Plus also my business as I am testing out certain business models (travel planning niche in particular, as it is highly competitive yet rewarding). Business has been very slow the last quarter of 2018 and we fell short of our target. Yet, am sure The Lord can do many wonders and miracles along the way and I am quite optimistic by His Matchless Grace and Mercy. Prayers needed for my aging father-in-law and my wife and the girls who are falling sick quite often as its that time of the year and we are in the midst of a rather unusual cold wave in this part of the state for early Jan. I hope the weather is bearable there.

I would also like to make contact with other brothers in India that are regulars @Ichthys and have a Zeal to grow in Grace and to serve Him, as it will help strengthen each other here. You can take your time on this one though.

I am keeping you in my prayers.

Please take good care brother, All our Love from India.

In our Lord and Great Mighty King - Until He comes,

Best Regards,

Response #6: 

I'm happy to see you working hard at ministry, my friend. After growth and progress in walking with the Lord, this is the next step in earning the rewards the Lord means for us to win.

Yes, our friend is special, and he would be the one to take over things with this ministry if were to get run over by a bus (or some such thing).

I have been keeping you and your family in my daily prayers, and will add these new concerns to my list (I've also updated your prayer request at Ichthys). Thanks for all your prayers too, my friend.

I've emailed one brother in India who's been a long-time Ichthys reader. I have other contacts, but I'm always careful about trying to make sure that both parties are true before getting them in touch with each other (no problem on your side or his, but some of these contacts are sporadic or not deep).

Wishing you a blessed week.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hello Sir,

Thank you so much and happy new year to you too. Its always great to hear from you Sir. 2019! Wow, I have completed 10 years with ichthys. "Is Mary God?" was the question which brought me to your ministry and I was so happy to see things in question answer form. Thank you for teaching me.

I have already emailed the brother in India you asked about and am waiting for his response.

In Jesus,

Response #7:  


Time certainly does fly!

You've been a great blessing to me, my friend. I appreciate your positive attitude and godly perspective shining through despite all you've been through. It's a wonderful witness.

Looking forward to meeting you in the New Jerusalem!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Would you say the Bible/God approves of physical punishment for children?

PS: There are Scriptures about a rod for the back of fools, so maybe

Response #8: 

Corporal punishment is effective, even though our "modern" society takes a dim view of it. Personally, I would prefer 39 lashes (the maximum in the Law) to being locked up for seven or eight years.

And I would prefer any child in whom I had an interest to be loving spanked (not with excessive force) rather than to grow up rebellious and become a criminal, e.g.

Clearly, the underlying assumptions in biblical corporal punishment are 1) that we parents do it not out of glee but even though we really would rather NOT do it (that is how the verses set up); 2) that we love our children more than our lives and only resort to this because we are doing so for their own good later on in life; 3) that we are responsible loving parents who would never even dream of going to extremes on this point. That is how God disciplines us, after al, and He is our model in this of course (Heb.12:5-11). I think we can all relate to having been punished by Him far less than our sins deserve, and that attitude of mercy coming from love is the one we are to have too.

I have seen and heard of so-called "Christian" parents who abuse and misuse these scriptures as a cover for child abuse, sometimes of a very dangerous sort. That is clearly NOT what the Bible is saying and such people will bear the guilt of their sin. The Bible is meant for believers who, with the help of good teaching, learn the truth for it, truth which is good in every way; it is not for "ignorant and unstable people [to] distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction" (2Pet.3:16).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Sometimes I am afraid He will be upset I am not doing something, but what can I do when I don't know what, and have tried many things, and am handicapped like this? I definitely have lost drive for secular ambitions. I do believe I am growing. I believe God will lead me there, this time, just over time and not racing about it. Recently I felt I am so close to maybe figuring out a bit about ministry, but am not frantically pushing like before. Hopefully the little prayers I say for others now and then, and little interactions I do with others will be enough to be something. Maybe there will be an significant act when I am older. Oh well. I make myself feel better and safer with the little prayers, because at least it is not nothing.

Response #9:  

Prayers is no little thing, and I am VERY grateful for all of your prayers on my behalf for sure.

I think it is common with good people like yourself to always be second guessing about the approach. Either we are thinking we are not doing enough or we are concerned that we are jumping in too fast and deep when a little more prudence would be wise. If we are feeling both concerns at the same time (as seems to be so in your case), then perhaps we are just in the right spot. God will make all this clear if we continue to walk with the Lord in patience, trusting Him.

Looks like you made it to the weekend!

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill

I m not sure how to ask this; it is just a quick one. Is it a bad idea to write fiction? I told you I am a good writer and I do like to write. The ever-ascetic within me is always crying 'insufficient purity!' Do you think it is okay? I like to read all manner of things. A while back you posted what I said about that "Muscle and Shovel" book which is basically evangelism for non-Church-of-Christ Christians into the COC. Hate that book!

Hope you are well.


Response #10:  

It's an interesting question. Fiction has never been something I've ever been very interested in – odd as that may sound for a Classics professor.

We are responsible for everything we say, think or do. Anything that might trip someone else up is to be avoided. I can think of a lot of fiction, movies, plays and the like that is conducive to bad thinking and bad acting – but of course not necessarily so; on the other hand, there's plenty of stuff out there that doesn't seem to me to be particularly offensive at all.

As I often say, there's probably no job or profession in this world, the world being what it is, which doesn't have some degree of compromise or some aspect which might be seen to be contrary to a perfect walk with Christ. No doubt the Lord can provide the perfect way through, however, for all who are wanting to walk closely with Him. So I would say that there are red lines which are obvious, and also things which clearly are not compromising at all. When it comes to the gray areas, we get better at seeing them for what they are as we grow in discernment. So spiritual growth is the key here too. In the meantime, while we don't want to let inordinate guilt and fear control us and keep us from doing anything at all, if something is truly bothering our consciences we need to take a moment to figure out whether or not this is the Spirit warning us off. In writing, it may be a case that 95% is OK, but we need to edit out the other 5%.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Well, the other five percent is actually the set up and focus. Maybe if I got into it, I could do it mostly right. Probably not healthy. I am surprised you aren't a fiction person though!

Anyway, thank you, professor. You always take time to try to help me.

Response #11:  

Everything we do in this life is a choice. Question is, why are we doing whatever it is we are doing? We have to do certain things to maintain life and health in the world (working, eating, sleeping), and certain other things to maintain sanity and emotional balance (some recreation, interaction with others), and of course as believers there are many things we ought to do for the sake of the kingdom, personal Bible reading and study, prayer, encouraging others or ministering in some way to the Body of Christ. It may very well be that we can do all of the above and still have some time and energy left over. If we use it for bad purposes, that will set us back; if we use it for good purposes, that will increase our eternal reward; if we use it for things that are neither here nor there then it is just wasted (although it is a trap to wrongly underestimate our need for relaxation and refreshment, just as it can be problematic to overestimate it).

When it comes to creative activities, I can see how they might fall into any of the three categories. Some "creative" things some people do are definitely harmful to themselves and others; some, on the other hand, might potentially minister to others; and many are neither here nor there. So it's first a question of general use of time and resources, and secondly a question of what particularly a person is doing (since here the proof is very much in the pudding).

For most of us who have jobs and lives and ministries and who are trying to grow and do all the things the Lord would have us do, this usually boils down to be a very small amount of time and energy we're talking about (rather than a major investment). If so, then I wouldn't worry too much about it (since it's clear that you are not doing anything wrong). To use a secular analogy, that would be like worrying overly about 5% of one's investment portfolio (for those who have such things), when it's the health of the other 95% which is really important.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Hi Bob,

It is very strange to think about finally being out of school and working year round. It has also made me think about relationships: many of the people (roommates, friends) who I've thought were decent Christians (even if not as red-hot as one might wish) got married essentially right out of college. Given that I am not planning on attending physical churches regularly if at all, the thought has crossed my mind of exactly how I would bump into someone to marry after I graduate. (Not that campus ministries are a panacea in this regard: seriousness – or lack thereof, more precisely – is always a problem). On the other hand, rushing blindly into relationships "before it's too late" is also wrongheaded in the extreme. What will happen will happen (perfectly, as God sees fit), but this has been something that I've wondered about a bit.

In Christ,

Response #12: 

As I've said before, most people have a tendency to devote a lot of time and effort to looking for an opposite number when they would be better off trusting the Lord (if they are believers, that is). I don't really find any biblical justification for us to blame ourselves for "not doing enough" in that regard (whereas there is plenty on the "not doing enough" when it comes to spiritual growth, progress and production). If we need someone, the Lord will provide. If we go out of our way to provide for ourselves, we might just be shooting ourselves in the foot, demonstrating that we don't really trust Him to "bring Eve" to us in His own perfect timing. Sure, the Lord has taken everything into account, including our dumb mistakes, and He is on our side in every way. But doing things the right way is always less painful and problematic. I'm not sure going to church XYZ solely in order to "give the Lord a chance to provide us with a spouse" is the right approach. If He honors that approach anyway, it's likely to be in spite of our efforts, not because of them (and bumpier as a result).

I get impatient myself about all sorts of things that need to be "fixed", and I have a hard time resting easy when it seems as if there is something I can do/ should be doing NOW to "fix it". But sometimes we have to realize that we cannot "fix it" ourselves, and have to make ourselves be a bit more patient in waiting for Him to provide. He always does you know.

Wishing you a great semester, my friend. And please know that I am keeping you in prayer on all these matters.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Good morning Dr Luginbill,

Are you well?

On this part...:

"The Hebrew word, and the Greek word in the NT, mean something more like "humble" and "having humility"; that is, the opposite of being proud, arrogant, self-serving, self-seeking. The idea is of internal godly respect more than putting on any outward show of "meekness" or weakness."

I don't see how the last sentence is connected. You seem to be saying the original Greek words are closer to 'humility,' but how is self respect inherently connected to humility? Could you please clarify?

Thank you,

Response #13:  

When I wrote about the biblical concept of humility that, "The idea is of internal godly respect more than putting on any outward show of 'meekness. or 'weakness' ", I meant respect towards God. That is to say, true, biblical humility is having a proper attitude of respect and reverence towards the Lord – something that happens inside our hearts – rather than visible demonstrating through "humble behavior and dress" an outward display which human beings observe and may consider meekness or humility. Self-respect (whatever that is) wasn't part of my thinking here.

I'm doing fine. Hope you are well too!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

Hi Dr Luginbill,

Do you think God expects us to obey angels if they talk to us? Part of me says no, because what would happen if the demon possessed were ordered to do something, or maybe yes if it is a 'only obey unless ordered to sin thing.' What do you think?

If I could ask one more...A few years ago I heard a sermon where the pastor was basically giving a story about a brother in financial trouble who didn't save his money like the pastor apparently had. And he didn't want to give money to his brother because of that. And his message was that God would want him to. And I kind of see where he is coming from, but I could tell him right then that, if I knew any saved money would go to someone else, I wouldn't save it. Even today I struggle to pay for basic things while my brother has the newest gadgets, goes on social outings, etc. So, I won't save, is what I would tell the pastor. Then what, if all the savers stop saving and there is a crisis? Well. And I wrong for feeling this way?

Just a third, just one more, sorry. It isn't a Bible question. But I would really appreciate your opinion. On child-rearing, I have this idea in my mind: that if a parent is always disciplining their kid, they are doing it wrong. Even if the kid is always messing up. You don't want a position where the parent is always relating to them in a negative way OR where the kid's life is hell due to endless punishment. First I would look at the parent's expectations. Then I would say, if the kid really does just mess up all the time, to let enough go to prevent what I mentioned. Not no discipline, but minimal. It is a very strong thought within me that I keep revisiting due to experience.

Response #14: 

On angels, I don't expect any of us to have to face that issue. 

On money, the Lord "loves a cheerful giver". You definitely do not have to part with anything and you should not if you are not properly motivated. So don't worry about that either please. If the Lord puts an opportunity in your path, trust me, you'll be overjoyed to take advantage of it. Christian service and ministry of any kind is not a horrible burden; rather it's a delightful service we take on of our own free will.

I don't think we can generalize on discipline. Every child is different; every set of parents are different. If the Lord leads you into marriage and gives you children, I'm confident that you will handle it right (and we can only really be responsible for our own decisions).

Hope you have a good week ahead! Still dealing with the last remnants of flu/cold on this end (long week ahead here).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

When I asked about child rearing, it was about me I was thinking, not any future children. I don't think that is my path, or it if is, not in a conventional way. Do you know something interesting? God's punishment is different, even his angels'. He doesn't punish like my parents or some people. It is hard to accept sometimes. When the angel appeared to John the Baptists' father and said he would be mute, the thrust is light. Compared to inflict-as-much-pain-now-without-limitation. And he and they don't come back later and decide it wasn't enough and do something else, etc. And he didn't seem angry,

Hope you are feeling okay.

Response #15:  

The Lord truly does know the exact right way to elicit the response He wants from us – we just have to be willing to accept it. Observing people discipline their children makes us realize how fantastic the Lord's approach is with each of us, because while people make mistakes in this regard, His method with each of us is always perfect.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hi Dr L,

Do you remember a while back I was saying that I don't know if God expects us to be polite/nice per our culture because of what that means (you had seemed to say that in the End Time those things will go away, and that was part of the love growing cold)? In our culture it usually means doing whatever the other person wants, and you are rude not to. And plenty of people take advantage. I have had plenty of 'friends' ask for help with something and then disappear. But they know how to do it so that I appear rude/impolite/uncivil saying no.

That is why I think that politeness/civility is an iffy thing on the list of things God wants from us. I don't see 'impolite/uncivil' as love growing cold, or being 'nice' as having love for others. I think it is more centered on their well being, which can mean being a bit cold and rude to them (per what someone of our culture would say). The Lord would have been considered impolite (and having had cold love per that standard) based on many of the things He said. See what I mean?

I can't wait for all this to be over with.

Response #16: 

It will be better on the other side for sure – Mara na tha!  "O our Lord, return!"

Being civil is one thing. Allowing oneself to be exploited by people who take advantage is another thing. There are plenty of people out there who are happy to prey upon those who want to be considered "good". If someone asks me for money and I know that he's just headed for the liquor store and I'll never get it back, it's not rude or particularly unkind to refuse. I would refuse politely. That is the extent of my civility in such cases, e.g.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

You might find this weird but I observe myself maybe growing up...growing wise to the world? I don't know how to put it. Not so guileless anymore, more cunning and whatnot.
Learning to play the game well. I don't think it is sinful though. At least I hope not. More like when Samuel was less than truthful about going to Bethlehem to anoint David...etc.

Response #17:  

We do have to be "wise as serpents" in the world, even as we are "harmless as doves". Some other pertinent verses:

The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.
Psalm 12:8 NIV85

Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
Isaiah 59:15a NIV

Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil.
Amos 5:13 NIV

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
Proverbs 22:3 NIV

As I've written before: "Like the midwives who lied to Pharaoh but were honored by God for using that ruse to avoid putting Hebrew male children to death (Ex.1:19-21), when evil is in control, prudent believers with a modicum of spiritual common sense will recognize the "signs of the times" and take refuge from the storm where possible."

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

I’m ok.

Having a much better picture of what’s wrong in my head has helped. Spending less time near electronics is helping massively, apparently I’m radio sensitive. I’ve been doing 1-3am delivery work lately. Yesterday I had a sales interview, and I aced it, but I’m feeling less and less good about it. There’s too many potentials to lie and people, when they want something, like lies that allow them to do whatever. I don't know if I can do that anymore. I’m praying for an addition, non sinful job, we’ll see.

How’re you brother?

Response #18: 

I think EVERYONE would be better off spending less time on TV, phones, I-pads, the internet, cable, video game platforms, radio, etc. Reading and doing crossword puzzles are my go-to entertainments, and they don't seem to have the same side-effects that, e.g., watching a movie will have. Not that I never indulge in such things at all (probably too much).

I admire you! That's even earlier than I got up in the Marine Corps!

As to the sales job, I congratulate you on a good interview. One thing I can tell you for sure is that it is possible to be a good, honorable Christian and a good salesman at the same time. I've known some. I've also known good salesmen whose expertise I personally have appreciated, people who actually helped me figure out what I really needed rather than steering me to what they really wanted to sell. Now of course it also depends on the company a person is working for. Probably every salesman has pressures from above and times when he/she has to be courageous about not doing things felt to be wrong or misleading. But there are people who pull it off – and of course even these good people might not be able to do so in some companies (e.g., if you're working for Bernie Madoff . . . ).

So I don't know what to tell you about this except that it's not necessarily poison just because it is a sales job. And, after all, there is no such thing as a non-sin-related job since all jobs involve working for and with people in trying to earn money. This is the world. Compromise is everywhere. And sin is ubiquitous. People who think they are in non-sin-related jobs don't have a good idea of what sin really is. Of course I'm sure that there are plenty of jobs where there is little or no necessity to do things that are absolutely out and out wrong. But every job has sticky points. If I'm a waiter and a guy with a red face who looks like he's about two pounds short of a heart attack orders the double prime rib and a triple whiskey ("and keep 'em comin'!), I'm probably just going to say "yes sir!", even though I know this is probably a big mistake on his part . . . and here I am bringing him the stuff. I'm sure with some thought you can come up with examples from any job out there. Some are definitely worse than others, and we all have our strengths and weaknesses, but I know of people who very honorably provided for their families by being salesmen.

I'll definitely be keeping you in prayer on this, my friend.

I'm doing better – thanks for asking! Got through Monday, anyway.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Hello Dr.,

I have a couple of new mp3’s for you.

Thanks for all the kind words of encouragement about my job/testing situation. I do intend to complete all my exams on time (God willing), and the “bump up” offer is still on the table. The Lord answered my prayer by motivating my friend to fight his own battle (without any communication from me whatsoever) with the powers that be (successfully I may add, he has been made an offer as well), so I don’t have to be concerned about any hard feelings. The reason this is an issue with me is that the “closed door” meeting/offer thing is something that has happened more than once in my fifteen plus years at the City resulting in people being given opportunities that weren't available to others (friends, favoritism, favors, etc.). Even though this kind of thing is prohibited, it happens, and is quite distasteful to myself and others, so I’m sure you can understand why I am hesitant to be caught up in such a thing. I have not accepted anything at this point and I am free to decline if I choose and still complete my testing. While a raise would be nice, there can be strings attached, so we’ll see.

How are you Sir? I hope you have gotten over the flu. My other friend had it over a month ago and it took him about six weeks to clear the congestion from his chest, I hope it goes quicker than that for you.

Hope you have a pleasant week, got you in prayer daily.

All the best,


Response #19:  

Thanks for this, my friend – files uploaded and tested (all AOK now).

I'm very glad to hear your job report! This was what I was praying for, namely, that you'd be able to get the raise and the bonuses without compromising your friendship or principles.

Yes, the congestion in the chest was the last place I was hit, and my lungs are always the weak spot. But I'm pretty much back into the grove now. Should be at 100% by the end of the week (got through Monday, anyway).

I know too much about government, local as well as state and federal, so what you say comes as no surprise to me. [screed on local politics and government omitted]

So I guess I'm saying I do understand about the difficulties for a man of principle who does a hard day's work for a day's substandard pay – in spite of all that's going on around him. But I do read this in scripture:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:22-24 NIV

Here's hoping (and praying) that you'll get something better down the road. I'm sure these certificates you're working so hard to earn will be helpful with that.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Good afternoon,

That parable the Lord told about the rich man who reaped a large crop and ended up dead that night. It wasn't the wealth right? Just that he ignored God? As in, the wealth is fine, if it is in the right priority below Him...?

I wouldn't mind being rich. I mean not necessarily to spend it, but if I had money, I would feel just as good if not better than my family. Proving them wrong I suppose. It would be good to have enough. Also it seems a bit of fun to have a few hobbies. Unless the Beast comes, then that all goes down hill.

How is your health?

Response #20:  

The point of the parable is that this fellow was looking at things the wrong way, as if he were going to live for ever and would have this wealth forever – when in fact he had only hours left. Unbelievers generally look at the world as if they weren't going to die. It's very foolish, and they have to harden their hearts against reality to even think that way. But we believers know that regardless of whether we are rich or poor, we are rich in faith and will be rich in every way on the other side, the more so if we have the right priorities in the meantime.

I know what you mean about the way that the "world" makes you feel if you are poor, and of course it's relative. When I went back to California after living in central Illinois after the USMC while working on my second B.A., when I arrived in L.A. all of a sudden I was bombarded by the expensive clothes and houses and cars – I had nothing at that point (at first I didn't even know if I'd be able to find an affordable place to live to attend seminary). It did make me feel "nothing". But we have to remember that feelings don't tell the whole story often. We have to educate them to the truth. We have a right to feel great about the resurrection bodies and abodes in New Jerusalem that are ours as believers – and hopefully abundant rewards as well. We are and will be rich in ways that the world can't understand, and the least of what we will have for all eternity is better than the most here on earth, especially if the one having "the most" is an unbeliever:

"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Matthew 16:26 NKJV

As to having "enough", however, here are two pertinent passages:

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
1st Timothy 6:7-8 NKJV

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV

Your future neighbor in New Jerusalem,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Hi dr,

I have a question. When the Word mention prayer and fasting as in the instance of Acts 13:2, is the fasting an all day fast, partial fast, etc? I know there are myriads type of fasting in the bible but it seems the NT early church and OT saints practiced fasting alot and when they did, God moved.

So how are we supposed to approach it. If i do a partial fast, half a day, will God even honor that or does it have to be a full day fast, 3 days, etc?

Thanks for helping

Response #21:  

Here's a couple of links:


Fasting question

Suffice it to say that fasting does not score points with God. It's a device – a largely OT device – to enhance concentration for a time of more intensive prayer. It doesn't occur in the NT outside of the gospels and a couple of mentions in the book of Acts, so it should not be thought of as an important or necessary tool for the Church Age. This is the intensive phase of the conflict where we are assaulting the gates of Hades, and we don't generally have time to deprive ourselves of necessary nutrition and take time to sequester ourselves for an entire day (or more). If a person is going to fast, therefore, it's critical 1) not to let anyone know it or see it (as our Lord tells us), and 2) not to get the wrong attitude about it, as if we are "doing something" for God; if we fast, we are doing it for us, to help us focus on prayer for some critical event.

Hoping to rejoice with you all very soon, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Dear Teacher

Thank you very much, Sir. Both answers have cleared it all up for me. I have the same problem with visualization, it's partly the problem I had with engineering right from secondary school.

Please post what I sent, but I think perhaps the part about my family should be omitted. I worry a little that they might decide at some point to see what I'm always on about and it may discourage and annoy them to read it since they do try to be good people. I'm always thrilled to have anything useful enough to be posted, Sir.

How is your health now, Sir?

Your student in the Lord

Response #22: 

I'm doing some better – thanks for asking (and for praying!).

Please also pray for our friend as he is having some real health challenges at present which are affecting his morale.

On the posting, do you want to first take out the bits about your family and send me an edited copy? I also certainly hope that they will some day soon come to appreciate what a treasure they have right there in their own midst. However, if my experience is a guide, I have found the principle generally true about prophets being without honor in their own country. Human reasoning seems to go like this: "I knew person X when they were young; so person X cannot possibly have anything authoritative to say to me now". And this is just another excuse people use to get themselves off the hook from having to respond to the Lord in a serious way. But when and if they change that attitude, they may come around. We certainly pray for that.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23: 

Dear Teacher

I am very pleased to hear that, Sir.

I have prayed and will continue to pray for his health. I also emailed him this morning to encourage him. I haven't been talking with anyone for several weeks now so I hadn't asked about his health for a while before you gave me the news. The last time I heard from him he mentioned having two major issues that had slowed him up but that he had got back to his regular schedule. I didn't answer that email because of the mental pressures that I have been dealing with from being in this position. It's pretty exhausting so I often just don't feel up to talking. I sometimes think that I should try to continue to communicate with everyone in spite of the tiredness. But I find that I can barely do so when I try. I will keep him more urgently in my prayers now.

I have redacted that part of the email and compiled the conversation as a Q&A. I'm sending it now.

Thank you, Sir, for the encouragement as always. We will always pray. And I try to take any opportunity any of them gives to try to point them in the right direction in these things. My mom's committed participation in politics now and my dad's determination to avoid second-guessing himself are things that worry me a little for both of them given what is coming. My siblings are all concerned with politics like everyone else with at least one of them more deeply involved like my mom. Then, the concern to survive and also gain respect is also in their way. There doesn't seem to be much room to get through to them. But sometimes, something happens and I can make a witness.

Your student in the Lord

Response #23:  

I've posted this piece – again, your clarity of thought and expression are a tonic to me, and I am sure to any who avail themselves of these materials, my friend. I look forward to the day when you will be into a full-fledged ministry, possible even face to face.

Thank you for your prayers for our friend.

Family always seems to be a hard one. The irony is of course that if you became a "super pastor" in a "mega church" – teaching nothing but merely being the ringleader in a big circus – they would probably be impressed. But knowing and speaking and being able to teach the truth to a level they've never been exposed to before is of no account. In New Jerusalem, all such false priorities will be overturned. We know what the Lord values, and we work for Him, not for people, not even those we love so much.

I'm hoping that things will clarify and resolve for you soon, my friend. Please don't let your health break down. Pace yourself. You are fighting a good fight – but we have to have "the wind" to fight it all the way to the end.

One day at a time, my friend, walking hand in hand with Jesus, every step of the way.

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

In our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24: 

Hi Bob,

I really do hope and pray that my emails will be helpful in some way to others. Their emails have helped me so much as well.

I'm trying to help my sister at the moment. Her situation is similar to me. We went to the Pentecostal church together and she drifted away from the Lord years ago. She said she believed 100% when we were going to church but she has some questions that she's never quite found the answers to.

She said she got tired of all the rules and regulations. That she was constantly repenting of her sins and just found it too hard. She said she feels like right from the start God has set things up for us to fail. As in why did He even make it possible for us to sin in the first place. She said she doesn't feel that we do really have a choice. That by saying, if you don't believe in Jesus, then I'm going to send you to hell, doesn't feel like we've been given a choice, but that it feels more like blackmail.

She said she can't deny the answers to prayer she received. I remember them as well. Her needs were only small like an item of clothing she needed but the Lord met those needs exactly as she had prayed for and she's never forgotten it. She says that when she hears talk about a cashless society it makes her think about the tribulation and it does worry her. She used to read the Bible a lot more than I did back then. I was too distracted with all the other entertainment.

She said she's never really found an answer to those questions but she does want the answer. She said maybe the answer would be something she just doesn't want to hear. I think there's something going on in her heart, but I was thinking as well maybe she's a "rocky ground" person. I'm not really sure what to say to her. I could be faced with another heart that's pretty hard but it's another opportunity the Lord has given me. I just wondered what your thoughts were.

I have a couple of typos for you.

Thanks for your thoughts on this, Bob.

Your friend in Jesus

[note: please prayer for our friend's sister as she is recovering in hospital from brain surgery]

Response #24: 

Thanks for the proofreading, my friend. Changes made and uploaded.

As to your sister, I have been praying for your siblings. The disturbing things you report are all too commonly heard. This is part of the defense mechanism that Christians who are no longer interested in doing what they should do always put up. Somehow their lack of motivation to grow and produce is "God's fault", and they always have reasons why they "think" that is so. But of course in the inside they know very well it is NOT so. They know in their heart of hearts that He is good, that He is gracious, that He is perfect. And if they stopped to consider it, they would realize that the death of Christ for their sins refutes all such lies. Whatever we think we've suffered in this life, all of our misery rolled together into a lump wouldn't come close to equaling what Jesus did in dying for the least sin we've ever committed. If we would look honestly at His suffering – the part before the cross and the darkness being mainly to give us a shadow of an idea what paying the price for sin entailed – we would throw our hands in the air and our faces in the dust and repent of all such nonsense, once we gain even a glimmer of a notion of the magnitude of His love for us.

It's all about choosing. That is the explanation, of course, for all these rhetorical defenses, and when people put them up they are doing just that, choosing . . . to go their own way and to foolishly imagine that somehow or another they are smarter than God and that He will have to agree with their logic. It's insane, of course, but then all rebellion against the Lord, large and small, is just that. The devil's rebellion makes absolutely no sense. Except that it was a choice. And once we choose to rebel, we have to harden our hearts in just this same way in order not to have to cope constantly with the insanity of it.

There is hope. There are plenty of genuine believers who are in this very boat. So anything positive you can do for your sister would be wonderful. I certainly can't advise you on the precise approach – you know her and I do not. For individuals of this ilk who do not have a loving family member who has it right (and is trying to help them straighten things out ahead of time), the soon-to-come Tribulation will force such lukewarm people to choose, one way or the other.

In your sister's defense, growing up with charismatics would certainly give any normal person a bad taste in the mouth at least. The mistake that many people make who've been associated with any problematic denomination or group is to assign the wrongs done and taught by the wacky group to the Lord instead of to that group, and to wrongly apply those wrongs to every other Christian group without investigation. Because if a person really is searching for the truth, even if (or maybe especially if) previously burned, the Lord will surely provide.

"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
Luke 11:9 NKJV

I'll be keeping this in prayer.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25: 

Thank you Bob, I really do appreciate your prayers for my sister (and the others) and your help as well - you've got such a good heart.

I understand when you say, "we have to harden our hearts in just this way in order not to cope constantly with the insanity of it." I did this myself, but over 20 years later I responded to the Spirit and this time I ran straight back to the Lord. I have a feeling the same thing might be happening with my sister, but she's a bit more hesitant than I was. I also thought the same as you - that getting saved in a Pentecostal church wouldn't have helped much. The lack of good teaching and the false teaching on top of that and all of the other hyped up madness. It's interesting how you said when they're rebelling that they will blame God instead of the church.

She said to me last Friday that she works with a lovely lady who goes to church. This church she attends is one that my sister used to go to and it's Pentecostal as well. She said this lady always goes to their works Christmas party and every year she gets drunk and her husband drives over to pick her up. He goes to church too and apparently behaves the same. So that's just another disgraceful example for her. She said she always thinks it's a bit strange that this lady does that, but she just thinks oh well that must be what church is like these days. I said to her you're right that's EXACTLY what the church is like these days and it's why I have absolutely no intention of joining one. I asked her if she remembered about the Church of Laodicea in the Bible and she said she remembers the word 'Laodicea' but couldn't quite remember what it meant. So I explained that we're in the lukewarm age of Laodicea and this is why churches are like they are today. The fact that the Tribulation worries her makes me think she's unsettled inside, that she does know the truth deep down and she needs to get it sorted.

I told her about you and how brilliant your teaching is and how much you've helped me. I told her about your qualifications which show you do know what you're talking about and that you teach Greek as well. She said she has so much respect for a pastor who actually knows Greek. She said the last pastor she had years ago knew some Greek and he used to love giving the right translations. She said sometimes the verse would be so different to how it was in her Bible and I said I could relate to that with you. Philippians 4:13 is one I always remember - "I have the strength to endure all things in the One who empowers me to do so" rather than "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." It's the "endure" that makes the difference.

When she was telling me about these questions she had, I said to her do you want me to email Bob for you and see what his thoughts are and she said yes please. I wanted to ask you about it for myself anyway and I haven't told her that I've emailed you yet. She's more confident than I am so I know that if ever the time came she wouldn't be nervous about emailing you herself with any questions she might have. Given the right moment I would encourage her to do that (if you don't mind - I mean you're not even scary or a MAD Professor!!). I said I'd text her the name of your website and she said yes that would be good. So that's positive.

If she could even get just a glimpse of some decent teaching it might help to get her thinking. Like me, she will never have come across teaching like yours before. As you say if she really wants the truth then the Lord has made it available for her. She's been really busy working and at the same time studying for a degree but she'll be finished in May which she's looking forward to after 4 long years. She'll have much more time on her hands then and I'll see more of her.

I always understand that you can't tell me exactly how to tackle things like this because you don't know her and you're not here (but I'll meet you one happy day - poor you!) so that would be pretty impossible for you. That's down to me and the Lord to sort out, but you still help me anyway with whatever you say.

We'll see, Bob. Another one for us to work on and your prayers are always a massive help. Thank you so much.

Your friend in Jesus

Response #25:  

By all means, my friend: I'm happy to have you be a conduit for questions from your sister. It is funny how different people have entirely different "netiquette" regarding email. Some are very shy; some very bold. Some write all the time; some seldom or never. Some answer in a flash; some only get back after I've long given up hope they even got the message. And of course tone and style is all over the map from one person to the next. I think there are a lot of folks who use Ichthys but have never written, for one reason or another. Every once in a while I get an email which goes something like this: "I've been a 'back-bencher' at Ichthys for years and have never written before, but now . . .". A long way of saying that perhaps this would be a good tack to take. I'm keeping her in my prayers.

All Christians should look forward to the day when we will all be face to face with the Lord and be "know even as we are known". On that wonderful day of days we will all be "one" in experience even as we are now positionally – and enjoying that oneness with each other and with the Lord as well. None of this isolation even from those who do get a chance to know here in the world. I imagine this will be one of the most wonderful things to come as we all experience the Lord and His love together and collectively. It's a bit hard to imagine, but that is true of most things "on the other side", even where we have descriptions (as with New Jerusalem). As I often say, no doubt that is a good thing, because we would doubtless lose all motivation for being here in the world if we really did ever see glory for what it is. Like the greyhound that somehow manages to catch the mechanical rabbit, that would be that. So we continue to run. Looking forward to crossing the finish line with you and all of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

In our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.


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