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Question #1: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I wanted to ask your advice. I think I may have asked this before but I don't think you answered. The Bible commands we are to honor our parents. In any interaction with my parents, they want me to obey their whim (including reading their mind to know what that is). Sometimes their whim is something God would not like. If I refuse and upset them too much (which the softest 'no' has done), they get hostile and aggressive. I don't know how far they will go. Do I interact and submit to the inevitable attacks when I contradict their whim in doing something they don't like (which can be something simple as prayer alone) and try to get what little good done that I can (because it is possible I might make some good out of it)? I notice there is no violence exception allowing divorce, or exception to slaves obeying violent masters. So maybe it is a submit for a short while thing, because they are in their 60s. What is your advice?

If I could slide in one more part to this question: do I have an obligation to both my biological and my adopted parents? I don't know how it works. I think my biological parents would also love me to be a slave to their whims as well.

Response #1:  

The commandment says "honor" – not give absolute obedience to.

Do you live under their roof? I'm pretty sure you can't live under the roofs of BOTH sets.

For any child living at home, their parents have a right to be not only respected but also obeyed – regarding any reasonable, lawful and not ungodly request. No one has a right to order someone else to do something unlawful, ungodly, or hyper-unreasonable, regardless of the authority relationship. That is true even in the military.

Respect does not mean "absolute obedience no matter what". If you are not living at home, then you have a great deal more latitude in responding. And your conscience should not bother you as long as what is being asked is not a reasonable request. Parents don't have a right to over-burden their adult not-living-at-home children even with things that do not fall within in the bounds of what was discussed in the first paragraph.

If you are still living at home and being beset as described, my advice would be to make a plan for exit ASAP. Once a son or daughter has "flown the nest", keeping up with parents is an honorable thing to do – but "honor thy parents" in no way obligates you to respond to their every whim.

Violence is a special case. I would certainly not agree that there is no justification for separating from a violent situation in marriage or in any other under-the-same-roof situation.

A couple of links:

Explaining "hate your family" in Luke

Opposition from family

Lukewarm family

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Dr Luginbill,

I do not live with either. I have a full-time job and my own apartment in another city. However given their age, I may be asked to care-take at some point.

If I interact with them, it will require accepting abuse. The Bible doesn't say to break off relationships because of abuse-not marital, parent and child, or master and slave. In the last, it actually says to bear it up, which I think can also be applied to the first two. So I am not relieved of interacting with them (at least) and must manage.

I thought you might have some advice for managing or something. It is ok if not.

Response #2: 

Under the circumstances, you are the one to determine what constitutes "giving due honor", not them.

I don't know of any scripture which tells us to "bear up under abuse", especially not of the type you are describing. What verses did you have in mind? You are certainly not a slave, literally or figuratively, so applying those verses to family situations is not legitimate.

As to caring for parents who can no longer take care of themselves, that is a good and godly thing to do. It doesn't sound as if you are "there" yet; when they are, you will be the one making the decisions for them, rather than the other way around.

In the meantime, I don't see any reason to open yourself up to unnecessary abuse. If they are abusive on the phone, think about sending them emails, or texts, or a nice card once in a while. Abusive relationships which for whatever reason it is not prudent or possible to shut down entirely ought at least to be kept as much at arms length as possible – for the peace, sanity and spiritual well-being of all concerned.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Sir, wouldn't the Lord be the one to decide, not me or them? I was thinking of this passage:

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
1st Peter 2:18-25

There is also the idea of submitting even to abusive governmental authorities and turning the other cheek. Plus Hagar was commanded by the angel to go back to harsh Sarah (even though later she was on her own in the wilderness anyway again).

But thank you for your always quick and gentle responses.

Response #3:  

When it comes to applying truth – which requires interpretation of circumstances – we are all responsible for doing so, using our spiritual common sense to weigh the situation and decide upon the godly course; and we can only do so effectively when we have grown up in the truth. So if scripture said, "You have to do whatever your parents tell you for the rest of your life", that would be one thing. A generalized command to "honor them" is another thing entirely, and does not require absolute obedience to obey every whim no matter how unreasonable or physically and emotionally dangerous on the part of adult children who are no longer living at home.

Slavery is something else again. Blessedly, we are not slaves (not to our parents or anyone else). A good application of the verse you quote would be that we ought to be good employees on the job, even if our bosses are bad – but nothing prohibits us from looking for a better job (analogous to "becoming free if possible" in the case of slaves: 1Cor.7:21). So this verse does not seem to me to be applicable to your situation at all.

Government is a different case because it "carries the sword", the ability to put to death lawbreakers, so that we need to obey out of reasonable fear but also "for conscience sake" because government it is a "minister of God" to keep everyone safe so as to be able to live quiet, godly lives (Rom.13:5-6). Parental authority only narrowly and loosely approximates this when we are young and living with our parents (but certainly not afterwards).

Hagar was a slave (so we are back paragraph #2 there), and in any case had a direct communication from the Lord (which, if given, of course we should all respond to, whatever the content).

Turning the other cheek has to do with not taking offense and retaliating even under circumstances where we might feel we have a right to do so. It doesn't follow, in my view, that we therefore become the effective slave of the random every person who wishes to make us so (more on this: "turn the other cheek"; and "turn the other cheek2").

If your conscience, responding to the truth in the power of the Spirit, tells you to do something, you should do it. If, however, other people tell you that you must do something and are able to make you feel guilty if you don't (whether by wrongly invoking scripture or some other way), that is not the same thing at all (spiritual growth leads a person to be able to tell the difference). From what you told me, I didn't get the impression that it was the case of the former, but more of the latter – but that is for every individual Christian to decide.

If we are treating our parents with respect, and if we are not neglecting legitimate needs they may have, it would seem to me that we are carrying out the biblical command to "honor" them; that is not necessarily the same thing at all as responding to their every petty request as if we were their slaves, especially if they are abusive in the way they treat us (far from it).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

My dear friend and pastor,

Thank you for always helping me. There is a lot of information in your last email, and it will take some time to get into all of it. So please don't think badly at this short response. Everything you said makes a lot of sense. Please understand that when someone grows up a certain way, it takes time to figure out what was normal in it and what wasn't. I hope to grow spiritually. Thanks for taking time with me, and I will go over your teaching slowly.

Response #4: 

No offense taken at all! I do understand that you have had challenging life thus far, and that was probably the main reason why I have been going into detail here. No doubt you have a lot to sort out. The fact that in spite of all you've had to deal with you came to the Lord even so and are advancing spiritual even so says much about your solid Christian character. It is a pleasure to know you as a fellow believer in Christ.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hi Bob,

I thank our Lord for leading me to your website. I am so grateful for the love and time you give in teaching God's precious Word. You have helped me so much. I was saved in a Pentecostal church when I was a teenager but fell away from the Lord and I've been back in His loving arms for about some time now. What a beautiful, gracious, loving heavenly Father we have!

I'd like to ask for your help Bob in understanding the command we are given to honor our Father and Mother. My Mom and Dad divorced when I was a teenager and as a child I suffered emotional abuse from my Mom. I don't ever remember her telling me she loved me and there was no sign of Motherly affection towards me like hugs or anything. I am older now and the abuse continues. The closer I have grown to our Lord the harder I'm finding it to be around her. It's hard to listen to her constant criticism of her family who have only ever tried to love and care for her. Mom contributes nothing towards maintaining our relationship. If I didn't phone or visit I would never see her. It is very much a one-way relationship. Whenever anyone challenges her behaviour she will always blame someone else and give you the silent treatment. She can totally floor you with some of her unkind words and she thinks nothing of it. She never accepts responsibility for her actions and I've never once heard her say sorry for hurting anyone. She can't seem to look beyond herself and sense the needs of others. I don't say these things out of disrespect for Mom but just to give you a better understanding of the situation I'm in.

I have made the mistake of overlooking most of her behaviour. She had an abusive Mother as well so this helps me to understand her but I don't believe it should ever be used as an excuse to justify her mistreatment or abuse of others. I have come to a point now where I feel much happier and healthier when I keep my distance from her. If I get too close to her I end up hurt again and in absolute turmoil and my Husband, Son and Daughter help to pull me through it again. Despite everything I have always loved my Mom and I have forgiven her.

The absolute priority for me is to obey and please our Lord by honoring my Mother. Am I being disobedient, selfish and unloving if I keep my distance from Mom? In what way would our Lord want me to honor my abusive Mother? This has troubled me for many months now. I'm really confused. Thank you for your help Bob.

Psalm 27:10
When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.

Isaiah 49:15-16
Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands ....

Yours in Jesus our Lord

Response #5:  

Good to make your acquaintance and thanks so much for your kind words!

I'm very happy to hear of your spiritual recovery and rapid growth in the truth. Good for you!

As to your question, you are correct in seeing that our heavenly Father is perfect, and that in Him we have the idea of what an earthly parent should be like. I was blessed to have two very good ones, but I'm always dismayed to hear how many of my brothers and sisters in Christ were not so blessed. Let me say that it is a sign of the depth and resilience of your faith that you did not allow this abuse to sour you on the Lord and His truth.

As you may have read on the website, I have often said that some people are best "loved from afar". We are told to love all, but we are not told to have social relations with all – in fact we are told to keep away from those who are not walking in a Christian way (cf. 1Cor.5:11-13). Family presents a more complex problem for obvious reasons: we don't want to have nothing to do with our families (usually) and in terms of parents we feel a responsibility to treat them with honor in respect for what the Word has to say. But that does not mean – that never means – that we have to allow ourselves to be abused and misused.

If we are adults and not living under our parents' roof, then we have broad discretion in regard to our relationships with them. There is no general rule here, but if you are doing your best to be loving towards them, then the closeness of the relationship probably ought to be in inverse proportion to the abuse / misuse likely to be received (more or less). That is to say, if a mother/father can't be on the phone without being foully abusive, then maybe it is best to send a card instead. There are a great many evil people in this world, and many of them are parents, and many of these do not behave properly towards their offspring. What you and others had to endure in the home is one thing; now that you are out, there is no biblical mandate for you to suffer further. The fact that you would ask about this tells me irrefutably that you are a loving person trying to do what is right. My advice would be to take pains not to open yourself up to being abused / misused. If that means less contact with your family / parents, then so be it. What you can do: you can pray for them; if they are in need, you can do something about that; if they come back to a more godly way of behaving – nothing is impossible with the Lord – you can be open to reconciliation. But honoring them in their position as parents does not require or mean allowing yourself to be abused or misused by them if that can be avoided (by not being under their roof and therefore putting safe distance between you and them). Please do not allow yourself to berate yourself with guilt over doing what is sensible and also godly. Put the matter in the Lord's hands, pour out your heart to Him, and rejoice in His mercy and love towards you and in His deliverance of You from that situation and from death and darkness at an unimaginable cost. That is what our perfect Savior has done – and what our perfect Father has done for you too.

Do feel free to write me back about any of this.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #6: 

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your encouragement and guidance.

I think the abuse drives me closer to the Lord rather than further away from Him. He is the one I want to run to now. I can trust Him 100% and I feel safe with Him. I look back on my childhood and all I can remember is feeling tense, anxious and scared. As you always say though we mustn't look back but we need to keep on pressing forward. I know you teach the truth Bob and you're much further along the road than me and I'm grateful for your guidance. I still have a lot to learn and sometimes I'm not quite sure in some situations how to apply God's Word in my life. I needed to be able to let go of the guilt and feel some peace about it. I feel now that I can as you say put the matter in the Lord's hands and continue to move forward with Him. I haven't been able to bring myself to go and see Mom just recently but your suggestion of sending a card instead of a phone call was something that I had been thinking about. I'll always be there if Mom needs me. I always pray for her and for all my family and will continue to.

I really do rejoice in the Lord's mercy and love towards me and for His deliverance. When I was saved as a teenager my belief in Jesus was absolutely genuine. I realise now that some of the teaching in the Pentecostal church I attended all those years ago was false teaching. When I fell away from the Lord I married my Husband (a non-believer) and had my Son and Daughter. We're still very happily married and they know all about me coming back to the Lord and I've witnessed to them. I'm still praying that they will all come to know the Lord.

I know how dangerous false teaching can be. I used to hear people at church saying "the Lord told me this" and "the Lord said this to me". That always frustrated me because I always wondered why I could never hear His audible voice in my head. I began to search for an answer as to how I could hear God speak to me. I began to buy books to try to find out. This is when I began to get myself into some serious spiritual trouble. I was reading New Age books and it all seemed to make sense to me. I got deeper and deeper into it until I was reading books on psychic stuff. When I was first saved I would never have gone anywhere near that sort of thing but like you say Bob I had lost all fear of it, I was totally blind and believing Satan's lies. This went on for years then all out of the blue I suffered a bad injury which left me hardly able to walk. I had to give up work and begin a very long and hard journey to recovery. I wonder now whether this might have been divine discipline? If it was I absolutely praise God for it. Nearly three years later I'm still not quite there but now in a position to begin to look for work. When this happened I was still reading more and more books. Then about a year later I was looking on Youtube at a song that I liked. Alongside it were stories of people talking about near death experiences (which from your teaching I now know to be false). I clicked on them to listen just out of curiosity. I heard somebody mention the name Jesus and no joke Bob it was like someone had switched on a light. I recognized Him straightaway and I remember thinking THIS is my God, THIS is who I want and need. I felt like I had come home. All the books I had read had hardly mentioned the name of Jesus but it was His name, the name of Jesus that brought me back in an instant. I can still hardly believe how quickly it happened when I didn't really think I was looking for Him. So as you say Bob "rejoice in His mercy and love towards you and in His deliverance of you from that situation and from death and darkness at an unimaginable cost. That is what our perfect Savior has done - and what our perfect Father has done for you too".

I have never cried so much in the whole of my life. I fell before Him and repented for turning my back on Him. I reached out my arms to Him and asked for His forgiveness and I've never felt the love of God as strong as I did that night. I remember asking the Lord how did this happen? How could I have been so easily deceived when I had had such a genuine belief in Jesus. I knew at that point that I didn't want to go rushing back to a church. I just needed to be on my own with the Lord and I knew I needed to seriously read His Word. I knew where it had all gone wrong before and I didn't want to go down that path again. As with so many others I began to worry that I had committed the unpardonable sin. I remember feeling numb with fear - it was horrible. I really thought I'd blown it and I was on my way to hell. I remember thinking I must warn others not to go the same way I did. Yes hell was a terrifying thought but what devastated me most was the thought of never being with our Lord. I remember my Daughter coming home from school and she was chatting away to me and I had to really focus hard to listen to what she was saying to me because I felt so numb. So there was a real battle going on inside. I had nearly given up but then realised there was too much at stake to just accept that I'd blown it. That's when the Lord led me to Ichthys and to the truth. I read all about the stages that finally lead to apostasy. I could see myself at various stages but I realised then that I still had that seed of faith within me. I hadn't lost my faith completely but I had allowed myself to be deceived. I praise Our Lord that He knew that and He called me back and He delivered me from death and darkness. I know without a doubt that a believer if they are not very careful CAN lose their salvation. Those who say they were never really a believer or saved in the first place are so wrong. I know I WAS saved and God never left my side, it was me who walked away from Him.

I love Him so much for what He has done for me and the very least I can do is to give Him every part of my life and obey, worship and glorify Him. He's given me everything I need to grow in Him including Ichthys and Pastor Curtis Omo' Bible Academy and now I have to continue to do my part. I have to make sure I keep on that narrow path that leads to eternal life.

Thank you for letting me share my testimony with you. I hope this has been of some encouragement for you. I always pray for you and for Pastor Curtis Omo and I always thank the Lord for you. It's people like me that your ministry is helping so much and I know the Lord will reward you both.

in Jesus our precious Lord and Savior,

Response #6: 

Thank you for your stirring testimony, my friend! I draw great encouragement from it. Your love for the Lord is obvious, and loving Him more than anything goes a long way – just consider David.

I hope you would be willing to consider allowing your testimony to be posted at some future date (anonymously and with identifying features removed). I know of several brothers and sisters who would recognize themselves in your experience and be greatly encouraged by your victory.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hi Bob,

I would be very happy for you to post my testimony especially if it will encourage our brothers and sisters.

Thanks again.

In our Lord Jesus

Response #7:  


It would be some time before this happens.

I appreciate your attitude and love for the Lord. I'm currently trying to help another correspondent through a feeling of need to "honor" parents who were physically and emotionally abusive – and still are after becoming an adult; honor is fine, but not submitting to abuse. Seems a lot of Christians have this problem.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

There are many hurt and damaged people out there. I've read stories on the internet of people who have suffered abuse from their parents and it all sounds so familiar to me. I didn't even realise that what I had gone through was abuse until I attended a course for work (I worked as a dental nurse). It was a Safeguarding Children course. As I sat and listened to the tutor teaching us about all the different forms of child abuse I couldn't believe what I was hearing. That's when I realised I had been abused myself as a child. I only discovered this a few years ago. I phoned my Sister to tell her and it turned out she had discovered the same as me through a similar course she attended for work (she is a teaching assistant).

When I was going through it as a child I didn't know that the way my Mom was treating me was unacceptable and that it was in fact emotional abuse. To be honest I don't even think my Mom realises that it's abuse but that's because it's never been pointed out to her. I have two Sisters and a Brother and we were all well clothed and fed with all our needs supplied except for the important need for love and approval. The indifference of my Mom towards me has wounded my Spirit over the years. She's the only person who can make me feel worthless.

The Lord knows what is going on in my heart completely. Every little detail. He knows and understands me better than I know myself. He sees Mom's heart as well. No psychologist or psychiatrist could help Mom and I can't change or fix her either and it's not my job to do that. It's impossible for me, it's just far too complex and complicated - but nothing is impossible for the Lord. To be able to let go and put it into His hands is a huge burden lifted from me and I thank you Bob for reminding me to do that rather than trying to carry it myself.

My fear was that one day I'd stand before our Lord not having done enough to honor Mom but I think He's beginning a healing process within me and helping me through this. I think maybe I need to take it one step at a time with the Lord leading me. I'm realising that He was with me as that scared, innocent child and He knows everything I went through. He felt the pain with me - all of it - physical, mental and emotional and He's still here with me now. He knows the affect it has had on my health and how exhausting it has been for me. He knows how much I love Him and that I want to obey Him and please Him. He sees what is in my heart and He's patient with me as we work through it together.

The last time Mom mistreated and hurt me, my Brother and Sisters was four months ago and this time I haven't been able to bring myself to contact her since. To begin with I worried that I wasn't honoring my Mom as the Lord would want me to. I was feeling guilty but at the same time I knew I just couldn't face her abuse again. I'm learning that it's ok to give myself time away from Mom, that I don't have to go rushing back to her to do the loving thing and then be mistreated again. I'm learning not to act out of guilt but to stop and pray and pour my heart out to the Lord and seek His will in the matter. Our heavenly Father loves us but He isn't soft with us.

Sometimes He uses tough love and maybe that's what is needed in Mom's case. Maybe she needs to suffer the natural consequences of her own actions to realise that she can't treat people the way she does. Maybe by her adult children keeping their distance she might see the mistakes she has made. Maybe that is what is needed for her to behave in a more Godly way. The longer we allow her to mistreat us the longer she will continue to do it.

The Lord doesn't want me to ignore evil, to tolerate or excuse evil, He wants me to speak up against it and to not be involved in it. I know that is God's will and if I need to raise the issue with Mom whether that's face to face or by letter then I will. If I feel afraid to do that then I need to remember His words - I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. This is where my faith is tested, this is where my trust in Him is tested. It's never going to be easy but I know He'll be right there with me and He'll lead me through it. In the end it may mean reconciliation if Mom chooses to treat me with love or accepting the fact that I have to set some healthy boundaries and my contact with her is limited. If Mom refuses to respond positively to the truth spoken in love then there's no more that I can do. The Lord knows that I love her, that I worry about her, that I have forgiven her and that any possible separation is not motivated by vengeance on my part. He knows how painful this is for me and that I'd rather be there with her and caring for her. But as you kindly pointed out to me Bob honoring Mom doesn't mean allowing myself to be mistreated or abused. As long as I am putting the Lord first and doing His will and I have love and forgiveness in my heart towards Mom I have nothing to fear. I'll have His peace in my heart. I'll always love my Mom and I'll always be praying for her.

Always grateful to you Bob.

In Jesus our precious Lord

Response #8: 

Thanks for your very thoughtful email, my friend.

The only things I feel the need to weigh in on are 1) to reiterate that God the Father is the perfect Father . . . and He IS love, even when it is necessary for Him to lay on the discipline (of which all of us who are legitimate children of His partake), and 2) I would urge you to consider to "go slow" and "think twice" before taking it on yourself to confront your mother with this issue: in the first place, ignorance is not an excuse, and I'm always very leery of explaining away bad behavior as something that can be written down to ignorance. There is a self-willed ignorance (of what is right and the consequences for doing wrong), called hardness of heart. But hardness of heart in others is not an accident and cannot be changed by us. I think your earlier musing which suggests that only the Lord can bring about change is the correct way to look at this. Becoming engaged with someone who is in the wrong is almost always a mistake, especially if that wrong is a longstanding pattern. And in the end not only is "changing them" probably not going to happen, but the person who tries to do so is going to pay a price for trying. If the Spirit is leading you to do so, then that is between you and the Lord, but given the fact that this is a deep and troubling "itch", I would counsel you to be very sure that you're not just "scratching" before trying to solve this yourself. Staying at arm's length is good strategy, it seems to me, but a hard one to maintain while engaging in attempts at correction.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hi Bob,

First of all - thank you. I should know better. I have lost count of the times over the years where we have tried to engage with Mom and NOTHING has changed. Most of the time not even in an attempt to change her but to help her. Every time one of us has tried they have indeed paid the price. I was very interested to read about the self-willed ignorance/hardness of heart. I think she does know what she's doing because she's played the same games for years and they've always worked for her. Her heart is so hard. It's such a sad way to choose to be. I've lost all trust in her.

You encouraged me not to berate myself with guilt over doing what is sensible and also Godly. I need to be careful to remember this because I have been feeling guilty. I think it's hard to grasp at first because the whole situation is so unnatural. It's not the way a Mother/Daughter relationship was meant to be but I mustn't feel guilty about protecting myself.

Thank you for reining me in! Staying at arm's length is what I know is good and healthy for me. You've given me very good advice Bob and I'm going to keep re-reading it so that I don't forget. It's all part of learning and growing closer to the Lord. Sometimes I feel like I'm still a toddler learning to walk and I keep falling over! As long as I keep picking myself up and with the Lord's help trying again I'll get there. I can see what you mean about the importance of spiritual maturity. You're so calm and clear about things that I get really worked up about. Got to keep going though!

Yours in Christ

Response #9:  

You're very welcome my friend – and thanks for your willingness to listen here.

I'm keeping you in my prayers.

Do feel free to write back any time.

In our dear Lord Jesus.

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I am still thinking about what your wrote in your last email, but I don't want you to have the wrong idea. It is not that my parents are making lots of demands right now. It is that they get angry about random things (and sometimes opposite things on different day-like anger over doing 'x' one day and then anger over doing 'not x' the next). The effect is that I have to pay attention to their whim as much as possible to placate them. They might raise their voice and tower over me, and get in my face and block my way. Usually then I shut up because they would get physical with me in the past (although not since they put me in the Home where I graduated from and went to college-but, like I said, I shut up).

I have been maniacal over the Honor Your Father and Mother command partly because I was afraid they would use it (they haven't yet), and also because I assumed God would be like
them and get angry over something all the time at me. But I have started to think maybe He is more on the spoiling side than the authoritative (like a drill sergeant side). Though
even with drill sergeants you can predict some of what they will get upset about. I just didn't want you to have the wrong impression. Sorry for the long email. I want to keep thinking about your email (the turn the other cheek link is very insightful).

Thank you!

PS: There is also the 'normal' thing. I thought how I was treated was normal/deserved and fine. So I assumed God would have me in the same way. And I got in my head that God would ask me to allow myself to keep being treated like that (because I thought it was normal/deserved).

PPS/PSS: I mean living on my own has presented counter-data. I have (to me at least) a nice job. A decent place to live. A comfy bed. Nice food that I like. Clothes that I like. A doggie (and two guinea pigs)! Access to Greek and Hebrew materials. Enough money so I am not constantly worried. And, of course, ICHTHYS! Ergo: maybe that environment and my position in it wasn't about God but about them.

Response #10:  

Let me say a hearty "Amen!" to this last part. God is love. And He is loving towards us. He desires our response to Him, not craven obedience out of fear:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
1st John 4:18 NKJV

As I have had occasion to remark in the past, God is the perfect Father. Even if our earthly father and mother were wonderful (mine were, I'm blessed to be able to say), still they weren't perfect, but based upon the idea we have of what really is perfect we can see the superiority of our heavenly Father in every way. Someone who didn't have parents or whose parents were very much less than perfect ought to have, it seems to me, an even more clear idea of what an ideal parent would be like. That is our heavenly Father. That doesn't mean He is not going to discipline us when we err; a perfect Father will be looking out for our welfare in all things and will most definitely dissuade us in the most effective possible way from doing things that are harmful to ourselves.

Our Father sacrificed the Son He loved from all eternity to save us when we were His enemies in order that we might become His children too – through Christ's suffering. If that isn't love, LOVE with a capital "L", I don't know what is.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L. – P.S.: anyone who threatens you, physically or otherwise, is best to be avoided (no exceptions).

Question #11: 

Yes! I should have thought of and said that first. His sacrifice is the ultimate proof of love. I have also thought that giving us the Spirit is like someone who wants to be close to us all the time (I really value that). When you are unwillingly alone a lot, someone wanting to be close with you all the time is worth more than gold or diamonds.

Have a great weekend!

Response #11:  

That's right! We are not alone in this world with the Lord. Everyone else (besides believers) really is, because only the Lord really understands us and can comfort and encourage us.

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
John 14:23 NKJV

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Howdy Dr. Luginbill,

You wrote: "anyone who threatens you physically or otherwise is best to be avoided (no exceptions)"; well yes, just like I am sure running away from a harsh master or rebelling against a government you think is unjust might also be better for us in the short term.

It seems to me that there are two sides: on one, there are some verses where obligations stop at abuse. Such as obligations to help the stranger or someone in the Congregation (for example), unless they abuse you-then it says not to continue. On the other there are some obligations that say that, even under abuse, to continue to fulfill obligations to them (slavery, the government, etc). I don't know how to tell which one Honor Your Father and Mother should fall under. I know the modern mind can't countenance allowing abuse at all (they would balk at enduring abuse for any reason), but what is important is what the Bible says, not our modern culture. Could you please tell me why you think it falls under the first?

Please don't be angry that I am pushing back a bit, I do just really want to make sure.

PS: For clarification, if I am taking care of a legitimate need and they get abusive, you seem to say that the obligation stops at abuse (first group). Why is it the first group and not the second?

Response #12: 

It's no problem, my friend. It's an important issue and important to you to get it right. Incidentally, you are by far NOT the only person I've ever corresponded with who has this issue. In fact, I would say that roughly a half to a third have/had "bad parents, and about half of those were severely emotionally and physically abusive.

For one thing, it is legitimate to get out of slavery if that is an option – in fact one should do so (1Cor.7:21); whereas it is wrong to put oneself into slavery (though some believers at the time of the NT were apparently doing so out of misguided motivation so as to assist others with the proceeds: 1Cor.7:23; cf. 1Cor.13:6). Also, it is legitimate to "push back" against government within one's rights to do so in order to prevent abuse and not just "take it": rather than be judicially executed Paul appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:11), and at other times too Paul made use of his rights under the law (cf. Acts 22:25-29). This is historical rather than prescriptive material, but Paul is a pretty good role model.

What's the difference? To me it has to do with necessity. A slave who cannot in any way avoid abuse has no choice but to suffer and bear up under it (but note that when Onesimus ran off, while Paul did send him back, he also intervened forcefully on his behalf: Philem.1:8-21). Similarly with government, if we are arrested and falsely imprisoned, there may be nothing whatsoever we can do about it (but note that when Peter and later Paul were miraculously sprung from jail they didn't opt to stay in jail).

So I see children in the home before being liberated by attaining their majority as in the position of those under government compulsion: they can appeal and make use of whatever rights they may have or be given, but for a time they may have to suffer through a bad situation out of necessity (but God is good and merciful, and righteous prayer is certainly going to be effective). Once a child is no longer legally a child and has moved out, whatever "abuse" deficient parents may wish to level on him/her is now not going to be unavoidable – unless the son/daughter adopts the wrong way of thinking about this (along the lines of a first century Christian selling himself into slavery or a person wrongly accused of a crime failing to take advantage of their right of self-defense). It is always honorable to treat parents with respect and honor, even if they don't deserve it by way of any personal qualities, but that doesn't mean that it is wrong to set limits and boundaries (that is biblically required in the case of married individuals: Gen.2:24). And it is another matter altogether to continue to allow oneself to be manipulated and abused out of a misplaced sense of guilt; I don't find any scripture which suggest that this is even a godly thing, let alone required.

You are a smart person. You can figure out a way to fulfill the demands of your conscience without at the same time allowing your life to be ruined by persistent abuse. You are here for Jesus Christ, after all, and He has things for you to do – things that are almost certainly going to be hindered by allowing the relationship with your two sets of parents to continue to damage you. That doesn't mean "ending it"; it does mean looking out for yourself in a reasonable way.

Keeping you in my prayers daily,

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Kind of like how in some traditional cultures it is nothing for a parent to disown a child (or just abandon them). The people around them would be surprised if, when the parent was dying, that parent expected that child to show up and magically be part of the family again. At least not without addressing the earlier parental actions.

I really don't know, sir. One thing I comfort myself with is that both would have to be unable to do much physically to be in need of my physical presence in either case. But I am getting to the point of preferring to be true to my will and mind than cower when someone doesn't like some small thing

Response #13:  

One thing I do know for certain is that there is no biblical mandate to allow disowning or physically or mentally abusing a child. In this country, where the laws are heavily influenced by Christianity, physical and emotional abuse (to a documented and extreme degree) are not only frowned upon but illegal, and the perpetrators, if found out, will not only have their children taken away but will likely end up in jail (depending upon the severity of the abuse). So I see no way to justify such behavior. A child who is a Christian and moved out on his/her own who still wants to treat abusive parents with respect is to be lauded for this attitude – but also cautioned to maintain enough distance so as not to be victimized any further. That would be the boundary I would set: respect . . . right up to the point where that opens the door to further abuse.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

I feel like you aren't understanding. I feel it is unseemly for me to do that and I am frustrated at myself because I have been trying for many years to get past the parents issue. That's why I am trying to back off.

Response #14: 

Sorry for not understanding. As I always say, in situations that are essentially applications of the truth, only the person with all the facts and "in the shoes" has a chance to make the right decision, whatever that is.

As is typical in such cases, here we have two competing principles of truth: 1) the command to honor one's parents; 2) the principle that emotional abuse is wrong and physical abuse is criminal. That's why the place where I come down is "honor up to the point of abuse and without allowing abuse". Just where that point is and just how to draw the line is something you personally have to decide. Far be it from me to try and do that for you.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

I mean you did help, I am convinced now the honoring stops at abuse. I felt really bad when it seemed I upset you. I am just wondering if that last other Scripture also stops at abuse (the 'denied the faith one'-because it is so strong an indictment like that).

Response #15:  

I'm glad this was helpful.

As to the support, the 1st Timothy 5:8 passage is referring to widows in the time of the first century, women who would have had no visible means of support, absent help from their families. Local churches were helping in such extreme cases, but Paul makes it clear that it is wrong for a believer not to help one's mother when mother is destitute, choosing to burden the church instead. Nothing you've written to me indicates to me that such is your situation, but, again, this is a judgment call everyone has to make on their own.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Dear Mr. Luginbill,

I have just discovered your wonderful site! It has been such a great joy for me to read! Today I started a Christian Blog of my own and would dearly love you to have a look at it, if you have the time. There isn't much on there at the moment but I hope to add a little at a time. I do not currently belong to any church and at the moment it is a very lonely church of me and my King James Bible!

I have two questions for you. The first is relating to a post you have made earlier, in fact it was the post which introduced me to your site. Your original post was about humour and laughter. I am a strong believer in free speech and I do not advocate censorship and yet it is very hard for me. My sister's partner sometimes uses blasphemy and his humour is put-down humour about laughing at other people's misfortunes (or outward appearance especially weight). If it isn't this he uses scatalogical humour and crude sexual humour. The bulk of his conversation is like this. It is so bad and I don't know what to do with it as the humour upsets me and is triggering. It has caused me to avoid my sister completely. She is now worried that we wont have a sisterly relationship anymore and I worry about it too. What should I do?

The second question is that, before I found God honestly and truly, I suffered from many emotional distresses, particularly depression. Now that I have found God and I sometimes happily and sometimes seriously talk about my faith and the bible, it feels as though my faith is being pathologised and my family sometimes looks at me with concern as though my faith is delusional or a crutch originating from a mental illness. Particularly when I mention anything about end times or the devil. I think that this has become synonymous with a kind of madness, talking about Revelation. People like to hear about Peace and Love and Jesus as long as they don't have to make any changes. As soon as I talk about how we must look away from the worldliness I feel that they are too heavily invested in this world to want to change at all. I point out to my sister that she shouldn't really be reading Harry Potter or watching Star Wars but she thinks I'm crazy because it is right at the centre of mainstream culture and if everyone is doing it, it must be alright? I try to point out how dark and occultic the culture and music is today but they cannot see it. Is there anything I can do to help them see the truth? It does seem as though we are in the last days but every time I allude to this I am made to feel crazy? Any thoughts on this?

Many thanks for your time and your wonderful website! Keep up the great work!

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Response #16: 

Very good to make your acquaintance.

As to your questions, let me affirm for you that you are doing things the right way, seeing things the right way, and standing up for what is good and right and righteous. If others see things differently that is their problem, not yours.

However, when the people who see things differently are family, that always results in friction. This is a near universal problem that all Christians who have decided to "walk the walk" always seem to face, nowadays even if the family are "Christians". It's not surprising that you have not been able to find a church that teaches the truth and would contribute to your genuine spiritual growth. These are very few and far between (which is why Ichthys, "my church", is on the internet). Even though there is a church of one flavor or another on every other major street corner in my country, inside they are all pretty much the same – in that the differences between them are entirely superficial while they all share the common characteristic of not teaching the truth in a substantive way.

In terms of "what to do" about family and friends who don't understand the transformative power of the truth and the intense joy and resilient peace of walking close to the Lord Jesus Christ, I have found through personal experience and much observation of that of others that it is better to demonstrate this by one's continual joyous walk with the Lord – the witness of the life – rather than offering unsolicited lessons. If any one of those we love ever becomes interested in getting "what we've got", we are more than happy to share. But people tend to resent and not respond to truth in which they have no particular interest. So in the case of your sister, a Christian who begins to grow will in the natural course of things come to despise things which are pointless and these things will naturally fall away; on the other hand, if a Christian starts giving up things as the means of growth, then 1) it won't work, and 2) a terrible legalism will take its place (as happened with the Pharisees).

Being in a situation where one is obligated or at least feels so in terms of being "close" to someone who is clearly not walking in a godly way is always difficult, and there is no good solution. There are times when complete separation is necessary; there are times when confrontation is necessary; there are times when a certain amount of toleration is necessary. But we are not required to pretend that we think bad behavior is anything but bad.

I promise to say a prayer for you about this.

Thanks for all your good words of encouragement!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #17: 

Hello Bob,

Thank you so much for your wonderful reply. I have read over it several times and find myself again reading over it today as this is still very much the present for me. I apologise for not responding sooner but a great deal of things are happening in my life good and bad and so many changes are happening to me spiritually that I have struggled to keep up and be able to make sense of it all.

I think I am finally at a place where my eyes are firmly on Jesus and I strongly have the desire and vocation to follow him. I really have had a substantive change in me whereby things that were once attractive to me have now lost their shine and have faded before my eyes. I felt a depression from losing the world and a confusion about it and a despairing but now I feel a newness of feeling and thought and although I stumble and make mistakes and am not good enough, I want to follow Jesus' teaching and live a life which reflects this. I want to give glory to the Heavenly Father in my day to day life. It isn't easy as most of the world (at least publicly) seems to be pushing in the opposite direction.

My family seem lukewarm in their faith so I am trying to bring the light of Jesus' love into their lives. Even my boyfriend who is a self professed non-practicing Jew is interesting in what I am reading in the Gospels and we are regularly having theological debates so I am very happy that he is opening up his mind to Jesus if not his heart and soul. We can talk and talk about it but at a certain point, for example discussing what I believe or Jesus' divinity, he then says "that's not for me." He cannot believe in the supernatural aspects of the bible and so this is a block to him. His interest in studying the bible though has filled me with joy. I will pray that he will open himself to the truth of God's holy word.

I am very sad to say that although I have a deeper love and understanding of my boyfriend and my parents through the discussion of my faith, I fear that I am losing my sister to her boyfriend. She has started blaspheming and using bad language and acting out of character. I weep over this as we used to be close and if anything she always was more level headed and sensible than I.

For a long time I went off the rails and was getting deeper and deeper into a dark hole. Although I became pitiful and wretched through sin, even when I have despaired, God has listened to me and never given up on me. There have been times when Jesus was the only one who was there for me and listening to me. It saddens me deeply that my sister cannot hear the Lord's voice. She often talks about nature being her God and now she's doing Yoga and her whole personality has changed.

Her partner is not a good influence on her, there is something about him that is hidden and dark that disturbs me about him but I cannot identify what it is. She is in what someone else referred to as a "cult of two". She seems to look to him for guidance and influence. She is even losing her friends over this as she has changed so much. Becoming cynical and brittle. I miss the person she was, really warm and wise and huge hearted! It puzzles me how she has lowered her once very high standards.

I still love her so much and miss her. I see glimpses of her old self but only when I see her on her own which is rare because he guards her fiercely. When I talk to her on the phone he is always there, listening in and she lets him control her. She seems scared of being outside of his control. I find her boyfriend's behaviour strange as his mother was a devout Salvation Army follower but never passed her faith down to her two sons.

I will pray that my sister will find God's truth.

Yours in Jesus Christ, our loving saviour,

Response #17:  

You're very welcome – no apology necessary!

I'm happy to hear that this was helpful, but sorry to learn that things are in such a sad state with your sister. There is no limit to the power of prayer, however. Yes, everyone has free will, and your sister has to make her own decisions, but if she is a child of God, He does care for her, and the Lord will not allow such a descent to go unaddressed forever. Perhaps He is even now moving things toward resolution. I will definitely say a prayer for that and commend your prayer efforts too.

Please feel free to write me or visit Ichthys anytime.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Good morning Bob, my dear friend in Christ,

I am in the garden today. Planting new seeds for the summer. I am trying to avoid the brouhaha surrounding the Royal Wedding and the FA cup final. I am not a fan of either. You are already aware that my once close relationship with my sister has become strained. It has been a long hard journey for me to get to a place where I am in a loving and considerate relationship and can feel honest about myself. I have left many toxic people behind only to reconnect with many toxic people in my family. I am learning how to cope with these people. I realise that being a recluse is not a happy option for me. What is difficult for me is that my sister is in a toxic relationship with a toxic person. It's hard to explain in detail. I think her boyfriend is what the psychiatric community would describe as having a Covert Narcissist Personality Disorder. To cut a long story short he is superior, entitled, lacks compassion and is very selfish. I know that "He who is without sin.." and that we "should turn the other cheek".

When should we speak out?

Her boyfriend says horrible things about people. Makes jokes about people's appearances, tells obscene jokes, blasphemes and is toxic to be around. I have tried hard to see the good in him for my sister's sake but it pushes against reason. He is so obsessed with outward appearances and people being overweight that my sister has developed an eating disorder. It has come to the point were I have to try to avoid him at all costs. As my sister has thrown all of her lot with him, this means I have to avoid her to, which hurts my heart, she is a good person but she has been duped. My boyfriend knows how I feel and so (to a limited degree) do my parents. I hate having to talk about this behind her back but she has threatened to cut us all off if we ever said anything bad about him. Due to this, I feel uncomfortable talking about him full stop when I am with her. I understand that she is in complete denial about his failings and the negative effects he has on her and because of her threat to cut us off, I proceed with caution and prefer to say nothing at all. However (and this is a big however) she is now insisting that he is a good and kind person who hates hurting people. I have seen no evidence of this, if anything I have seen more than enough examples to prove the contrary. She is trying to force this lie onto me. It reminds me of "calling good evil and evil good." As a new Christian, I am trying to live in truth and to live a Christian life. When my sister pushes me into telling her what she wants to hear about her boyfriend I am struck dumb. If I said that "Yes you're right, he is kind and hates hurting people" then I'll be lying. How much of the truth can I tell her? As she is forcing me to take a position, I am avoiding her all of the time. I can't lie about things anymore Bob, it kills me inside. I won't go out of my way to tell a hurtful truth but at the moment I am being cornered into telling a reassuring lie.

What should I do? I prayed on it last night and asked Jesus what I should do. When I woke up I suddenly felt the urge to punch someone and was shocked that this was the answer. I felt that Jesus wasn't exactly telling me to punch wrongdoers but I felt his anger at letting evil flourish.

Your in our loving saviour,

Response #18: 

I understand your "righteous indignation", but anger is seldom helpful and when it is not under control it almost always leads to no good.

(26) When you are upset, don't give in to sin; don't let the sun set while you are still upset (i.e., don't brood over this irritation). (27) That will only give the devil an opportunity.
Ephesians 4:26-27

(4) When you are upset, don't give in to sin; speak words [of comfort and wisdom] to yourselves (lit., "in your hearts") while you lie on your beds (i.e., put the irritation aside before you let the day slip away; cf. Eph.4:26b above), and be still (i.e., wean yourself from irritation to peace).
Psalm 4:4

Here is a link on this, explaining the passages above: "In your Anger, do not Sin"

If I had to wager a guess, any message this desire to "punch someone" is sending you would be to help you see that you are going to need to engage a special amount of restraint in this issue so as to handle things in a godly way as opposed to a precipitous way – which is where anger always leads.

So while you are RIGHT to be upset, it is important not to let that emotion take control and lead you into doing and saying things you might regret.

I think you have analyzed the situation exactly right. You are being tested. It would be wrong for you to allow yourself to be dragooned into saying things that are not only not true but the exact opposite of the truth:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah 5:20 NKJV

It is wrong for you sister to put you in this position. To give her the benefit of the doubt, this may be a cry for help. I certainly can't guarantee that, but if it is, only telling her the truth will be of any benefit. I do realize that this is a heavy emotional burden for you but I think you are exactly right to keep putting the matter to the Lord in prayer. As with all tests, this one may not resolve instantaneously. We often have to be patient and wait. How long? Almost always longer than we would wish but not so long we cannot actually endure whatever it is. God is faithful. Absolutely. And He ALWAYS does answer, even if not at exactly the time we want and in the way we want. Rather, He always answers at the perfect time and in the perfect way. I promise to do battle with you in prayer on this issue – so please keep me in the loop.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Bless you for this Bob!

I'm having such a rocky time at the moment that I was tempted to write you back and ask you delete that message as I was worried that I had messaged you too much and shared too much and overburdened you. I feel that I have no friends at the moment and so was scared of losing this connection with you too. I feel like I'm either being tested or under a form of spiritual attack at the moment and my heart is ready to burst. I have been honest with my mum, dad, boyfriend and sister that I am a born again Christian and that I feel that we are living in the end times. I think that because I have added that caveat on the end, it has made it much easier to pathologize my faith. It seems that it is much more palatable for most people if Christianity has no visible effect on a person's day to day life. I wish to be a true Christian and true believer. I am studying the KJV bible at the moment with earnest dedication and scrutiny but am also feeling the joys of the truth found therein. It is a great comforter. Somewhere between these messages to you and my reading of the bible and prayer, there is a blossoming of my true self, the person I was as a child that I was forced to change to fit in with society. The pressure to embrace and give in to a secular and (what I find to be) atheistic life is always there right beside me. Sometimes I feel that to give in to the world we are living in now and becoming like everyone around me and talking like everyone around me would be the easiest thing to do. There is no doubt in my mind that I have chosen the hardest path. Not because it is hard for me personally, personally this is the most natural thing in the world. It all makes sense and everything is falling into place in a peaceful way for me on a soul level.

On a social level, nothing could be further from the truth. I cannot say that I am being persecuted as a Christian as that would be an affront to those who literally live in fear of losing their lives as a result of their faith. What I feel right now is alienation and ostracism from the people all around me, even the people who are closest to me and love the most. I'm not sure if I told you before but I used to live in London and was literally knee deep in sin. Everyone around me, all my friends were atheists and were all heading towards a form of moral bankruptcy. God tested me a great deal and confronted me with things on a regular basis that I was previously in support of. I was confronted with people who had regular abortions, carefree adultery and divorces, ripped apart families and highly promiscuous homosexuals and heterosexuals. All these things were normalised in London and to be honest I am still recovering from it all because it was like a spiritual war zone.

As my family were removed from all that, it is easier for them to be more liberal and "live and let live" about things as they cannot see where all this spiritual lawlessness will lead. My family have never really read the bible. They have been happy to just let the catholic church tell them what to believe and when. As the pope himself now seems to be saying that we do not need to be concerned too much about the bible and its teachings, it has led to the lukewarm aspects of my family's faith to breathe a sigh of relief. I often hear them literally putting words into Jesus' mouth by saying "I know how Jesus would feel about (insert particular contemporary social issue here) if he were here today!" Isn't this heresy when we do this? I am not sure how much exposure to culture you allow yourself Bob. I used to really love popular culture as well as high culture. I have now been forced to separate myself from it as it is completely soaked in occultic symbols. Mainstream culture is becoming more and more boldfaced about revealing its connection with the devil. It is becoming more and more blatant. I cannot watch television any more, most films, I avoid the news but cannot completely avoid advertising (it's everywhere). Social media, mainstream popular culture, television, cult of celebrity, sports and advertising and addictions to smart devices are literally like the pied piper, leading everyone off blind to a moral desert and it is frightening how brainwashed everyone has become by it. People around me may agree about this on principal but are unwilling to do anything about it to extricate themselves. At first for me, it was painful to renounce all those worldly things but it was essential to do, to cleanse myself spiritually. Now I find the things that were once attractive to me have now become repugnant. This is not necessarily because I have had a change of heart about these things, now I have a distance that gives me objectivity and I can see for the first time the ugly truth about these things.

My friend has had to drastically change her diet due to a wheat intolerance. It has been hard for her as the majority of most foods are centred around wheat of some sort or another. If she can control every aspect of her diet at home, she is happy. Dining out at restaurants, at friends' and family's houses and on holiday is difficult. She needs to phone ahead and make special arrangements to ensure she is being catered for. In a sense, I am now going though the same thing but on a spiritual level. My diet has completely changed. There are certain things that I can no longer consume as they are literally toxic to me, whereas there are other things that are highly nourishing for my soul. It is interesting using this analogy as society is now catering for people who cannot eat wheat. Society though is increasingly becoming intolerant and non-accommodating to people who are Christian and have specific spiritual dietary needs!

This is why I feel lonely Bob. My faith has been pathologized as a mental illness and for obvious reasons I cannot talk about end times with my family. They walk a fine line in treating the bible as a holy book but not as a way of life. I know that they view the book of Revelation as a book for mad people. It is interesting the possible reasons why a special blessing for reading, studying, acknowledging and believing in the veracity of this book. It seems it is easier for people to dismiss it outright as fiction because the truth of it is too terrifying for most people to handle. It is interesting that people who are drawn with placards saying "The end is nigh!" and shouting "Repent!" are depicted as though they deranged. This is a popular stereotype is it not?

When my friend announced that she couldn't eat wheat any more, she would be horrified if she was then told "Well you cannot eat with us any more if you wont eat the same food as us!" In some ways this is what is happening to me. All the things I no longer accept to being "healthy food" for me is resulting in people being very uncomfortable with my change of diet. Maybe they feel it judges their own diet? When faced with doubt over their diet, rather than do the work involved to change their diet they find it easier to reject my diet outright as a crazy fad, maybe even a dangerous one? The heartbreaking thing is that I'm being forced off the table. I cannot eat with everyone else any more if I am not eating the same food.

I spend most of my time being sad. My mum said that faith is no good for you if it makes you sad. My faith does not make me sad, the world makes me sad. When I read the word of God, I feel joy. I feel understood, I feel sane, I feel part of things, part of the universe. When I look at the world, I feel depressed, I am misunderstood, I am made to feel insane, I feel excluded and uncomfortable. I have become a social pariah. When I told my boyfriend that I feel that there has been a death of self and that the world was dead to me, he was terrified. Being reborn to a new life means nothing to him if it means resisting worldly material things.

I am speaking a new language around people and it scares them and disturbs them. They think I've gone mad. I have literally had another argument with my family in the middle of writing this. Feeling completely on the outside of this world Bob has made me often feel suicidal. God has saved me from this. It is hard for me, Lord it is so hard. I am being forced into conforming. It's a lukewarm faith in a secular world or nothing. I am strongly considering leaving home at the moment. Just packing up my things and finding a Christian community to live in. Even abroad.
Yes I do feel persecuted for my faith. I am not threatened with death but I am being made an outcast from my family and friends and it feels like death.

I don't know what to do Bob. What should I do?

Yours in the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, Amen.

Response #19:  

It's not unusual for Christians who are serious about following the Lord to find themselves treated as pariahs by others. That was, after all, our Lord's experience (cf. Lk.4:24-30).

(12) Therefore Jesus too, in order that He might sanctify the people through His own blood (i.e., His death on the cross), suffered outside the gate (i.e., separated from fellowship). (13) So then let us go out to Him outside of the camp (i.e., likewise choosing God over the world), bearing His reproach. (14) For we do not have here [on earth] a city which [is meant to be] lasting; rather we are eagerly looking forward to the city that is destined [to come] (i.e., the New Jerusalem).
Hebrews 13:12-14

Every Christian is also called to peace (Jn.14:27; Rom.5:1; cf. Is.26:3), and called to joy. Sometimes "counting it all joy" (Jas.1:2-4), however, is easier said than done. It takes deliberate application of the truth we have believed to be able to be joyous when things are difficult, be we ought always to be able to take refuge in the peace our Savior has given us. If we are truly moving forward spiritually, being consistent in our daily Bible reading, prayer, and Bible study from a good source in particular, we will have the "ammunition" to win this fight – but it is a fight. What we all need to be mindful of, what we all need to keep reminding ourselves of, is what Paul tells us in the last verse of the passage cited above. This is not our country, our city. We have a citizenship in heaven (Phil.3:20), and we are waiting for the New Jerusalem where we have a habitation which is far better to an as yet unknowable degree from where we are living now. Our family is the Church, all genuine believers in Christ, and we will be reunited with them all in peace, love and joy abundant on that glorious day to come. Nothing here on earth lasts, no matter how much we might have in this world, the eternal reward we are striving for will put anything a person could have – fame, possessions, pleasures, wealth, power – in the shade in its least part (see the link). And we will enjoy all that "God has prepared for those who love him" (1Cor.2:9) in a perfect body which will never shed a single tear.

So please do not despair, my friend. Look beyond the cloudy horizon with the eyes of faith to the brilliant eternal light just beyond. We are traveling there on a rainbow road that rises up above this sea of troubles, one that leads directly into the glorious presence of the Savior we love more than life.

Praying for you.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Hello Bob,

Thank you so much for your kind words! Wow I cannot believe you put me on your site! What a great honour! That has really made my year, you don't know how much your site has meant to me. It has been one of the very few places whereby I have felt understood and soothed. So for you to show me that support is really overwhelming, thanks again! I'm actually quite a shy person and would normal have preferred to have used another person's voice but sometimes it's just about getting a job done and not making too many obstacles in front of something that should be simple. I've worked with real actors in the past and would like to again on my own projects but I think sometimes it can be nice to use voices that aren't trained. Recently I have felt a real creative block which is sad as I have always loved making things. Now that I am making things that directly glorify God, I am very, very happy. It feels very safe for me and the right thing to do. Safe is sometimes used pejoratively but I mean safe as a haven and as a place where I feel confident and joyous and at home. An analogy I like using is the feeling whereby you are safe to walk around calmly barefooted and not afraid to stand on anything sharp. There are too many sharp objects for too many of us. It is healing to be able to walk barefoot.

I will read your link on "Access", thank you for that!

Have a wonderful day,

Yours in our loving Saviour, Jesus Christ,

Response #20:  

You are most welcome – it really is my pleasure!

Keep up the good work for Jesus Christ.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Thanks again Bob, you give me so much to think on and it really helps me in my walk.

I just want to say that I am really glad that I am being honest about my faith and beliefs at this point in time. I have encountered mockery from friends and disbelief from family but I am getting stronger in faith nevertheless. A lot of my family is still deep into the Roman Catholic Church and they seem to put the pope above the word of the God! What really worries me is that most Catholics never pick a bible up! I quote from the bible and they don't know what I'm taking about! My mum told me that I am a Jehovah's Witness based on my views of the New Jerusalem being on earth? Am I wrong on this? I have read this in the book of revelation. She had never read the book or revelation and most people seem to shun it as though it was madness. So I am caught between pope following Catholics, atheists and lukewarm Christians who think that the Coexist movement and a one world religion is a great thing. The pope said that a personal relationship with Jesus is a dangerous thing! Despite all this, my faith and relationship is growing, I am feeling peace and well-being in the Word and I am keeping my eyes fixed on Christ and trusting him to show me the way I am to go in. Today I am doubted, mocked and worried about because of my faith but one day my family and friends may call on me for spiritual support and guidance. I will be ready to help them on that day and pray for them to find discernment until then.

In our loving Saviour Jesus Christ,

Response #21:  

You're most welcome, my friend!

I'm very pleased to hear of your growing courage and confidence in the Lord. The evil one always seeks to undermine this and uses his agents to do so – family and "friends" always being among the most effective in doing so. You are the second person this weekend whose family made the "JW" accusation on account of strong belief in the truth. But that is the era we are in, Laodicea, where those who are not lukewarm stand out like sore thumbs. We make others very uncomfortable, because deep down they know they are in the wrong by not doing what we are doing. However, as I often note, there is a false sense of security in unanimity, and that accounts for why atheists, for example, are so violently evangelistic for their "point of view" – and why lukewarm Christians want red hot ones to be lukewarm too. As if by getting us to do the wrong thing along with them it renders it the right thing. It's insane, but it is how people operate on the emotional level.

If you haven't already seen it, there is a great deal from and about RC refugees in this recent posting at Ichthys: "Cults and Christianity X".

We may be mocked. We may be ostracized. We may even be persecuted. But that is just "sharing the sufferings of Christ" (Rom.8:17; 2Cor.1:5; Phil.1:29-30; 3:10; Col.1:24; 2Tim.2:12; 1Pet.4:12-13) – a sign that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.

"Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets."
Luke 6:22-26 NIV

Thanks for your zeal for the Lord, my friend, and for your fine testimony.

Feel free to write any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Dear Teacher

I've tried to write a few times now but I just can't figure out what exactly I want to say. I think my concern has to do with the current testing. I am troubled. I want to keep fighting forward. And I want to know anything I need to know to keep doing so. The other evening when I took a walk (this was before I asked whether we could know where we are in the moment in our spiritual walk), I mused that this test felt way too comfortable so it must not be the kind of testing that follows spiritual maturity. This is probably why I have continued to feel like I am failing at it.

This is the same situation I was in just before I found your website: living with my brother and his family and essentially trying to avoid giving too much offense to them since they have been helping to keep me alive even if grudgingly so (for which I have been ashamed since I believe that keeping me alive is not their proper duty but mine). Back then, I was in very great confusion and sometimes terror regarding where I was headed. I was also always very upset by what I considered abuse that came from my sister-in-law.

Now, however, I am back here in much the same situation but with a very significant difference: I am finally learning the Truth and making progress in it. I think now that that is why this has been quite easy to bear but it is also probably why I feel that I have been failing. I still get quite annoyed with my sister-in-law. Not nearly in quite the same way though. These days, it seems to me that I relate to her better in spite of how I may feel about her behavior but knowing that those who have matured are usually joyful in serious testing, I think it is a failure that I get annoyed at all. I haven't learned perfectly how to manage our relationship. I try to stay out of her way as much as I can and to show her respect without quite communicating that I agree with any and every use she thinks to put me to. That last part is where it is very difficult. While I feel obliged to help out around the house as much as I can, I always have to deal with the problem that she seems to feel that my duty to her is to do everything in the house every time. At least that was how things were until they decided to start getting domestic helps whom they paid. I try to help but I also try to communicate that some errands are not proper to ask of me without actually saying so in order to avoid conflict with her. I am very sure that I have not done perfectly in this situation and that her own side of the story would be very illuminating about my own behavior and attitude and that is probably the point here. I want to handle being here better until the Lord is pleased to give me a way out. More importantly, if this is that kind of testing that follows spiritual maturity - although I am doubtful that it is - I do want to excel in it. And it doesn't seem to me like I am. If anything, I am writing this because I have been concerned for a while that something is wrong or changed somehow and I am not sure what is.

Then, there is the work problem. I used to be so scared and frustrated about my business in the past before I started studying Ichthys but I am not nearly as much. Today, however, the question that gets to me easiest is what I am failing to do that I ought to be doing. I am now trying to cover all my bases: taking every reasonable opportunity to launch my business if possible, applying for jobs or internships, going to see the factory people that my sister-in-law was trying to get me a job with when they asked me to come, trying to get my sister to send me the laptop she said that she bought for me. But in the end I am only growing in the persuasion that it is the Lord Who gives me what I need everyday to stay alive, keep healthy and continue to grow in His Truth. Still, like a few days ago when it looked like I was going to have a job interview for a business analyst or internship position, I get worried when things don't line up. How would I do the job if I got it and I had no working laptop I could use? Then again, how am I going to study data science and prepare to emigrate if I have no laptop? How do I get a laptop when I have no money and no means of getting any when my siblings are failing in their promises to me? Right now as I write you - and for a while since the interview failed to happen - I have not been as worried. I have only worried that I failed that test when the interview was still scheduled.

What I have tried to do everyday is make sure that I do some Bible study and all my planned Bible-reading for the day and pray. I am grateful that I have succeeded to get that and Greek too. But it would be very nice if I did better everyday in handling my relationships and taking advantage of the right opportunities to provide for myself.

When it comes to that last, you agreed that it is best for me to choose one thing to focus on and I wanted to. But I have been wondering if I should be more flexible. I wanted to leave tech entrepreneurship alone because it has in my experience and observation only proved to be a very intense job which left little time and energy for anything else. But I thought that maybe it depends on the entrepreneur rather than on the job itself and I have changed since I started studying under you. I wanted to leave business analysis and management consulting because tech might accommodate my disadvantages better and help with my emigration plans better too. But I also wanted to avoid tech skills because I wasn't confident that I had the ability to take them up.

At the moment, however, it seems to me that there is a way to maximize each possibility. For some reason, my confidence in my ability to learn tech skills has increased significantly so I decided to pursue it for my emigration plans and also for better chances of getting work but I also figured that with the leaning of technology and business, data science and artificial intelligence are blending into management consulting more and more in the West and even locally, so I can still try to get into the management consulting space while taking pains to teach myself data science in order to combine the two somehow. Then again, I found a UK company that says that they help individuals, organizations and businesses with ideas to create them and prove a market if they need that. So I reached out to them. I figured that if I need only share my idea with them (with a Non-Disclosure Agreement as they advertise), then I could do that. Depending on how that goes, my plans can lean one way or another. For now though, it seems to me that if the plan is to emigrate, I'm about as good proving myself as an able entrepreneur as proving myself a good management consultant or data scientist or a mix of both. So, as circumstances change, I can head this way or that since in the end all of them stand me in good stead to emigrate. The only concern I have is how one or the other would affect my time and energy for spiritual growth and preparation for ministry and, honestly, I am not sure how to compute that. If I decide to go by how things were before and what I've seen of other entrepreneurs, I would not want to carry on with starting a tech business at all.

But even so, management consulting is advertised as a high pressure job too. I haven't quite heard the same about data science about which I don't know nearly as much as I do about the other options. It is only our friend's words and attitude that I judge by there. I figure it might be a high pressure job too.

If they are all so demanding, then it makes little difference which I take. It will just be up to me to figure out a system to make the most of each day in the midst of my tasks and obligations.

I think that what I started to say is that I worry about how I am doing spiritually. I am trying to keep my head in Bible study and Greek no matter what but it feels like I am not doing as well as I can be. Like I am not doing as well with this test as I should be. But I am not sure how I can do better.

Do you have any thoughts about that?

Also, how should I read Jeremiah? It doesn't seem nearly as eschatological as Isaiah. It's hard to understand what he is talking about.

Yours in our precious Lord Jesus Christ

Response #22: 

It sounds to me as if you are doing a fine job with this "test". I am very happy to hear that you are gaining confidence in the Lord and His ability and intention to help you do everything you need to do, focusing more on Him and less and less on yourself and your situation. That is always a challenge for us all, and it only gets better with spiritual growth on the one hand and a diligent effort to follow the Spirit's lead in making the right applications on the other.

I don't pretend to know enough about the dynamics of the opportunities and challenges your are facing to be able to give you specific advice, but I can point out that I am noticing in you growing decisiveness and determination – very good signs of growth.

We never know what the day may bring – how much less the next few years. All we can do is what you are doing, namely, put our trust in the Lord and push forward come what may.

With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall!
Psalm 18:29 NIV

Nothing is impossible for the One who loves us.

Different books present different challenges. I'm sure you've already experienced that as you grow in your understanding of the truth generally, all of your Bible reading becomes more effective as things become ever more clear. Just keep reading – and feel free to ask questions (I do get to them, even if it takes a bit of time to do so).

Keeping you and yours in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23: 

For the past three years I've gotten extremely impatient and bitter towards humanity. I realized that everyone in my life, along with my family, has been given me this 'stop bothering me' feeling since childhood because everyone in my life has been abusive and that my mom really is a bad mother. Resisting my family this past year has caused them to show their true colors and go in blind rages, mainly my mother, who will try and control me by screaming at me all the time like she did when I was a teen. I've been getting threatened by pretty much everyone in the house on multiple occasions, getting in my face and saying I have an attitude and they don't know what they did wrong then playing dumb the next day. Iv'e decided that if they don't respect me I won't respect them. I also decided that I won't forgive anyone unless they give an actual apology, though I plan on cutting contact with everyone in this family because they're too toxic and they're making me paranoid. I'm not sure if the 'respect is earned' and 'don't forgive unconditionally' are biblical, but I know I've been tolerating abuse for too long. I feel more alone than I did before.

I've wasted three years not reading the bible and indulging in the flesh. Coming back I feel grumpy now. I don't like people very much. It doesn't make me want to leave the faith, because going after sin is always pointless, but I still want to wallow. How does a Christian survive and stay focused under situations like this?

Response #23:  

I'm sorry to hear that you are having to deal with all this. I have always found you to be a thoughtful, searching Christian. It's not unusual for young people to have Wanderjaehre, as they say in German: a few years spent in wandering before coming around to find their true purpose.

God's purpose for you is spiritual growth, progress in living a Christian life in spite of pressure, and producing a good crop for the Lord who paid for us with His own death. We owe Him more than we can know, and we only have limited time to demonstrate that we do love Him more than life.

It is very difficult to have the peace necessary to do what the Lord wants us to do in the midst of the sort of situation you are describing. It sounds to me – not knowing all the facts – that it might be a good idea to consider moving out on your own. If that is not immediately possible, it sounds as if it would be a very good goal to work towards.

I would suggest two other things as well. First, the Christian life is all about peace and joy in the Lord and we look forward to the hope of resurrection, reward and being with Him in the glorious future ahead. But in situations such as yours it is very easy to get pulled down to the level of those who are assailing us. It may be tough, but I would counsel you to try to walk in love, forgiveness and peace – as best you can – an set you sites on being able to "love from afar" in the very near future.

The other thing of course is spiritual growth. Almost every Christian who makes progress in spiritual growth as you have done gets to a point where pressure or competing interests or life in general induce them to stop growing. Things may bump along very well for a while, but eventually, even for those who have learned a lot and grown a lot, things start to sour and grumpiness, as you put it, inevitably sets in. Renewed effort in and focus on spiritual growth will restore the peace and the joy – and the focus on the hope ahead. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen. To that end, I do think that the newly released BB 6A that I wrote you about is precisely the place to start to get "back into the game".

Hoping to hear wonderful things from you in the very near future.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24: 

Well I didn't think I'd be writing you so soon again but I have a problem that I'm trying to get through. I received a message from my sister today. She is the sister that I have chosen to stay clear of. It's been a few years since our last conversation that didn't go well. We see each other once in a while in town or at the school. We don't have to much conversation other than a hi, how are you and some small talk. I actually have liked our relationship. There hasn't been any problems since. I told her a few years ago when we were emailing each other that emailing was the best way to communicate if we were to talk about issues and that if we were to see each other in town it was only going to be kind words to each other. She said she didn't like the emailing and wanted to get back together (meet at a place and talk) because she said she wasn't good at expressing herself. I wasn't comfortable with that as I realized after a few emails from her it wasn't about her not being able to express herself, it was she didn't like how she was now being held accountable for what she was writing to me. I was able call her out on her own words and it wasn't going her way. She didn't like it and of course it made her realize that her simple " I'm sorry" wasn't going so easy for her this time. She is really really good at attacking when you are speaking in person; before you know it she has your head spinning and making you think you're the crazy one.

My sister tried to say the other day I needed to be more like my other sister and be in touch better. I'm always very responsive to anyone the connects with me and it's never one sided. I email my mom all the time to keep her informed of her grand children and life in general and I'm constantly sending pictures and messages to my sisters.

Anyway I'm not sure how to respond. I know I need to. I thought if I just wrote this out to you in email a thought might come to me. I know in my heart no good change has taken place with my sister. I can't go back in. I know she probably is hurting and doesn't like this division and it hurts me to know that too. In the past, because I'm a caring person I'd set myself aside and care for their feelings. History has proven to me over and over that it doesn't work out well when I do that. I've realized I can't worry about what others think and I need to think of myself for once.
I don't want to respond to her in a way that she thinks I hate her or I'm mad at her because I'm not. But something tells me how ever I respond since it's not going to be what she wants to hear, she is immediately going to blame me. I guess what I'm trying to say is I can't find the right words to catch every angle that the devil is going to use to make me out to be the bad sister. I really want to show her good but it's hard when it's all about them and always has been.

Anyway Bob, I'm going to think about this just a bit longer. Thanks for hearing me out. Hope you are doing good my friend.

Response #24: 

Thanks for your encouraging words, my friend!

As to this email, there is a popular quote with is not without merit: "The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over again even though you're getting the same result".

I know quite a large number of people who have dysfunctional families – in fact I'm not sure I know ANYONE whose family or part of it is not at least a little dysfunctional. Some are worse and more problematic than others. Sure, we'd all like to have everything lovey-dovey with everyone in our family without rancor or drama or damage. But we can only control our own behavior. If our family is "off", and if we have managed to find "safe distance" over time, it's really not a good idea to give that up. If they change – and Jesus Christ does change people – that is another story. We will be the first to embrace them if their change of heart is truly real and legitimate. Absent that, it's a dangerous game. One branch of which I will say little is only really interested if they think a big chunk of money has rolled in. And there is all manner of dysfunction out there that would be enough to ruin anyone's day . . . or week or month or even year. Life is too short. We are here for a purpose. Sure, we would not let our family starve to death, etc., but we don't have to submit ourselves to abuse. That is only going to damage us AND those in our inner circle who really don't deserve it.

So that's my perspective. Be careful. Christian love means we don't judge them, we don't hate them, we wish them well and pray for them . . . but we also don't let them sink our own boat. That is not required of us, even though sometimes our emotions and oftentimes pseudo-Christians who are good at bringing on the guilt trips are wont to tell us so (wrongly).

Keeping you and your family in my prayers daily.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25: 

Hello Sir,

How are you doing? How is your hip/back? How is the situation at work? I pray for you everyday. I am not up to date with the special prayer list, but I do pray for all of them. Just had a look and that list has become long. I think I was the first one on that list.

I have just finished reading all the email postings. There was a lot on that list that I had missed, starting from " the book of Job" to last week's posting. There is lots more to read 1) Soteriology 2) Pneumatology and 3) Peripateology. I have no idea which one I should read first. All 3 are important.

I have no questions to ask Sir. Just wanted to let you know that I am still in the game. Our situation here is still worse than "hand to mouth". But the Lord is so amazing He has kept us happy despite that. I have just one pair of pants left, rest of my clothes are so badly torn, my underwears have literally become mini skirts. But He has kept me from worse things that could have happened. I have a tendency to forget things I shouldn't remember anyways. All I know is I have peace in Him today. He has given me a lot of patience to wait for the deliverance. Please keep praying.

In Him,

Response #25:  

Excellent to hear from you, my friend! Although of course I am distraught to hear of your continuing troubles. I have loaded up a revised prayer request for you and promise to keep you and your family and these problems in my personal prayers as well. How is your wife and child? Is your whole family in such dire straits? Are you still keeping up with our friend? It's been a minute since I've heard from him as well.

I am greatly encouraged by your resolute and positive attitude and continued growth and study in spite of what you are suffering, my friend. What a good witness that is! And I thank you very much for your prayers. They certainly mean a lot coming from you and in your situation.

My "thing" is actually getting some better. It's a three steps forward two steps back situation, but it does seem to be improving, so thanks for prayers on that. Things at the uni have stabilized. There's not much they can to do me know short of firing me (having taken away my X-pay, my colleagues, my research points and my sabbatical [I did give that up voluntarily but I had little choice if I were to keep my program and have the classes taught]) – and it's relatively hard for them to do that. So I am pretty much at peace with where things are. If we can get through this academic year, there's promise of better things down the road. And I know that in the Lord things are always better down the road – at the end of the road at least upon which we all have set our hope.

And I certainly pray for better things for you and your family down the road too, my friend!

Thanks for thinking of me. I do think of you often too. We have trouble in this life, but it's not to be compared with the glories that await all who persevere in Jesus Christ.

Your friend in Him,

Bob L.

Question #26: 

Hello Sir,

Thankfully Women in the family have adequate clothings and there is food to eat. I have seen other people in worse conditions. So, things are bad but could be worse. My wife and son (6 years old now) are fine. My son is the only one who inquires about Jesus and knows quite a bit about tribulation for his age. Kids are more interested in God generally. So, this keeps me happy. My wife has started teaching at kindergarten, she has a B.Ed., and is also helping at the shop (tailor). What ever she earns from working at the school plus some goes for shop rent. I won't be going into details. To tell you in short, my parents and also my wife have not stopped pursuing other gods no matter which religion the gods belong to. This might sound like an un-Christian thing to say, but I am happy to see them struggle. I say it's a blessing from the Lord that we are unable to earn. Lord has shown them so many times in the past several years that he alone is God. When people so want to go in the opposite direction they usually succeed. That is why I say it's a blessing that this family is still suffering. I may have to suffer with them but I would be happy to see them turn around. I wouldn't have come to the Lord if I was talented enough to earn money and was happy in life.

I do keep in touch with our friend. He has become more silent these days. Only talks when you make him talk. I have been praying for him and for his family (expecting a child). He is not doing good financially. He is firm in his faith and that encourages me.

I will keep praying for your good health and job situation. These things are difficult. But you have always set a good example by being happy in the Lord and choosing the right thing.

And yes Sir, in the Lord things are always better down the road.

In Jesus Christ,

Response #26: 

Thanks so much for this encouraging witness, my friend! I am delighted to hear that your boy is on the right path. That is a blessing beyond blessing! Children, as long as they have enough to eat and have a loving family, usually don't even realize that they've "had it hard". Life is often "fun" for them if their family loves them – and, yes, what did our Lord say?

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Mark 10:14-15 NIV

So I'm sorry to hear about the attitude of the rest of your family, but perhaps your good witness of trusting the Lord and also that of your son will in time bring about the change we all pray for.

I love your godly perspective, my friend. You are fighting the good fight for Jesus Christ, and we know that in the end, this will work out for you for a wonderful reward not to be compared with this entire present world.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV

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.
2nd Corinthians 4:17-18 NKJV

Thanks so much for your prayers, my friend. Coming from you in particular, they mean a great deal to me.

Keep in touch, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27: 

Hi Bob,

Great to hear from you and I'm so glad that you are praying for my uncle. I really need to put effort into the section of your site on the Christian walk. What I struggle with is walking forward as a Christian. I am convicted of sin and I am growing closer to God through study but I struggle with purpose. How do I find out what purpose God has for me? I have an opportunity of starting a new career and I wish to use my talents to honour God. My talents are creative ones. I am good at art and writing and am wondering how to use these for God?

Because I am hesitating over finding my place in the world as a child of God, my family are getting exasperated. I have suffered depression in the past and before I became a Christian I was really lost. The problem is that my family equate "getting better" with becoming worldly and basically being a more cheerful version of my sinful old self. Obviously this is not an option.
Because I am acting and talking differently now (I am a changed person because of Christ) it is an irresistible temptation for my family to make my faith into a mental illness. I spoke too soon saying that my mother was rekindling her faith in Christ, it was a rekindling of her Catholicism which I realise, quite bitterly, is a whole different matter.

We had a huge argument today as she clings passionately to a works Gospel and defends it to the hilt. The problem is that she is so committed to this that it has become a universalist viewpoint too. I realise that a works Gospel can and does morph into a universalist one also. I shouldn't argue with her I know that but it seems that she even flies into a rage when I mention the bible now. It makes me sad to realise that I cannot mention it again for the time being. The same thing happened with my sister. She flew into a rage when I told her the true Gospel. She kept talking about how important it was for her to be a good person and that she preferred the god she talks to and is afraid of reading the bible in case it doesn't match up to the god she believes in. This rocked me to the core. How does she know it is God she is talking to if she doesn't know God's character and is not mediated through Jesus?

Why does both my mother and my sister hate the bible so much? My mother keeps telling me that I should read novels instead of the bible! I don't understand where they are coming from. I even wonder if they are Christians at all if they are so angry against the Word. The uncle who has completely lost his way, he was a very strong Catholic. My mum told me "look at the good the bible did him!" My argument is that it was Catholicism in error not the bible. I have told her that Catholicism is a tree that does not bear good fruit and that made her very angry.

Is it typical for families to be turned upside down by the Gospel? I am getting a lot of anger directed at me for what I say. I will admit that I get fiery at times and I realise that less is more and that I need to work on telling the truth in love rather than in anger.

I'm sorry if I've retread old ground in this email but this is very much my present situation. I am shocked that I am being coaxed and sometimes shamed into not reading the bible. I am shocked that spiritual development is so frowned upon and seen as a waste of my time and my abilities.
They cannot accept that my life has completely changed now. Old things have become dead to me.

My mum even seemed angry that I was passionate about my faith (on fire for God). She tells me that it is making me depressed and stopping me from living. I told her that it is making me serious minded and focused but not depressed. She seemed angry that I used to not care about God and that now I do. Why would that make a person angry?

Why does my faith make people so angry? I'll admit that I've been in evangelising/ proselytising mode for some time now but that has been mainly because I feel so inspired and enriched by what I have learned! I feel urged to share the understanding I have gained. I babble about it endlessly because I am fascinated by it! I feel so rich inside that I want to share the abundance. It breaks my heart that it is met with disdain, bitterness and anger.

I realise my massive limitations. As a baby Christian, I am probably not articulate enough and I probably have lapsed too much in preaching too much about punishment than salvation. Having said that, the idea that anyone needs saving makes people more angry than the idea of hellfire!
The truth is that my family prides themselves that they are "good people". "Good people" do not need a Saviour. Since I became born again, I realise just how far away from "good" I am. I am slowly realising the awe inspiring weight of love which Jesus has for us to die in our places. I realise now the implications of the verse "the wages of sin is death".

I realise that the animals which were killed in Genesis to make skins, Abel's offering, Abraham's offering they all point to the needing of a sacrifice to atone for sin. They all point forward to Jesus just as the New Testament points back to the cross as the finished work. It's sad that I cannot share the beauty and wonder of all this to my family. It's sad that they think the things of this world are truly more important.

I'm sorry to write you such a long message. There is a kind of loneliness in the lack of fellowship in these end times but I get great comfort from the Holy Spirit and I feel the love of God in my heart and I look to Jesus for the way forward. I guess that I should just try to plant seeds by and by as I go forward and life my life in the spiritual walk after Christ and let God use me in that way to bring people to Jesus. If I continue to preach as a baby Christian, I fear I will accomplish more harm than good.

In Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice I never fail to be in awe of and only now just am beginning to see the magnitude of meaning it bears witness to.

God bless,

Response #27:  

It's always good to hear from you, my friend – although I'm sorry to hear of the bumpy relations with your family. Our Lord told us:

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."
Matthew 10:34-39 NKJV

The truth is divisive. It always separates us from others whenever it becomes an issue, others, that is, who have staked their lives on living for themselves. There are all manner of myths that people embrace to avoid having to confront the truth. Someone who breaks through to them so that they have to confront the truth will always be considered hostile – except in those rare cases where the person is being led by the Spirit to escape the pit of satanic lies. So it's always a judgment call as to when and/or whether to share the truth. We ought to be willing to do so – and you certainly are (and I praise the Lord for that!); but at some point we have to stop casting pearls before swine (even if we love those swine dearly), because it will only result in them attacking us. We can pray for those we love who are hardened against the truth, and we can salt our conversation with the truth, especially at appropriate moments. But if we have been willfully rejected, a full out frontal assault will clearly not produce the results we dearly hope for. Also, we are here for the Lord and we need to do what you are seeking to do, namely, to carry out the purpose He has for us. And for each and every one of us that purpose has a common thread: learn and believe the truth more and more so as to advance to spiritual maturity; pass the tests that come by trusting Him, applying the truth we've believed to whatever we face in this life; help others do the same through the ministries He leads us into. This is not entirely a linear process. Even just saved believers can witness and pray (which is ministry); even the most mature believers who have passed all manner of tests can never afford to think they have no further need of learning and believing the truth. But it is the case that in regard to the ministry the Lord has for you, that will become clearer as you grow and progress with Him and in the truth.

As to how to make a living in this world, anything that is not dishonorable is by definition honorable, since we are all supposed to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow (2Thes.3:10). If we can find a way to earn a living that comports well both with our talents and with our interests, one which doesn't involve doing things with which we may be particularly uncomfortable, that is all to the good. Nothing is perfect or Simon pure in this life. But if we commit this issue to the Lord, you can be sure that He will always help us find a good way to do what it is honorable to do.

I will be keeping you and this issue and your family too in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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