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Culture and Christianity XIII:
College, Dating, Marriage and Friendship

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Question #1:

Hello Robert, I've emailed you before concerning spiritual growth & I can say you put it into a very clear perspective for me. I still struggle with serious confusion with my relationship with God. When an individual assesses their faith towards God & Christ, along with their progression & shortcomings in spiritual growth, What are the necessary steps to help a born again Christian feel useful to God once again? "With God ALL things are possible" - What exactly does this line of scripture entail for all Christians? I feel as if there are cultural engineers that make you think being a Christian only entails getting married, finding a career, & procreating. Career being the means to survive & support, & marrying & procreating being the icing on the cake as to showing god sacrifice & commitment like Christ for his bride (the church)

I believe free will isn't only about making choices, but also a way of God showing you are uniquely designed by Him, & if you bring glory to God & Christ, with an earnest heart & obedience, you can take pleasure in your desires he instilled in you as he knitted you in your mothers womb. Can I bring that to God in prayer or am I asking myself or God the right questions? I want to serve him but life feels so mundane. Obviously you're not a therapist but maybe you can shed some light in biblical context? Thanks & God Bless.

Response #1:

Good to hear back from you. It sounds to me as if you are already asking the right questions. I would certainly agree that marriage, family, and, to a lesser extent, career, are not bad things, and are not wrong things, but it would be sad if a Christian thought of their life for Jesus Christ in these terms alone. That is because what our Lord wants from each one of us, first and foremost, is our spiritual growth to maturity, then our spiritual progress through the testing and annealing of our faith to the point of true spiritual usefulness, then our ministry to the Body of Christ – these three progressions are the basis for our reward in eternity (see the link). No one will be abundantly rewarded simply for being married, even if it was a good marriage, nor simply for having children, even if they were good children, nor for simply having a career, even if it was a good career. These things are blessings from God (and far from being the only blessings from God or even the most important – Paul, for example, didn't have any of these things), and to the extent that reward accompanies any of these things it will only be because the person did them well, in a godly Christian way – which itself is only really possible as the result of spiritual growth. Focusing on these three things you mention is putting things entirely backwards – or, to put it more bluntly, putting a worldly focus on one's Christian life. We should instead be asking not what we want but "what does Jesus want of me?" And He wants "of us" that we grow, progress and produce, 100, 60 and 30 fold. He wants that we earn the maximum rewards in this life, to earn a "well done!" from Him on that wonderful day. Focusing on having a "good life" – as if that were the measure of a Christian's spirituality or God's will – is a mistake. In good times, it might only entail loss of potential reward in eternity ("only"! of course that means missing out on the crowns of righteousness, life and glory which will have attendant blessing for all eternity as opposed to a few short years in this wretched world). In the difficult times ahead, the coming Tribulation, being overly-focused on what the world sees as "good" to the exclusion of what our Lord really wants us to be doing will entail great spiritual vulnerabilities. Losing out on significant eternal reward is bad enough; getting swept up in the Great Apostasy because of being unprepared and unwilling to let go of earthly things is horrible even to contemplate.

So if I have any advice for you it is to "let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (Jas.1:4 NKJV). In other words, by continuing to do the right thing, namely, growing spiritually day by day through prayer, Bible reading, conscientious attention to good Bible teaching, learning the truth and believing what you learn, and putting that truth into practice in a closer walk with the Lord Jesus day by day, your particular spiritual gifts and the specific ministry the Lord has for you will eventually become clear to you. In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with marrying – if the Lord brings the right person to you and if you have not purposed in your heart to forgo marriage for the sake of serving Him better (e.g., 1Cor.7:29ff.); there is nothing wrong with having a family – understanding the times in which we live and the difficulties which will soon fall upon the world; and there is nothing wrong with pursuing a career – again, subordinating it to whatever the Lord is calling you to do, rather than the other way around. And while you are growing, and while you are waiting, there is nothing wrong with having many conversations with the Lord about these things:

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."
Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith . . .
James 1:5-6a NKJV

The best ministries for the Lord come from those who are thoroughly prepared to serve Him. But how can a person prepare, if that person has no clear idea of their gifts or where Jesus wants to employ them? And how can a person come to that knowledge without prior spiritual growth and progress in passing the tests of this life? For success in the Christian life, there are no shortcuts. You are heading up the right road. My advice is to keep it up in patience and perseverance, one day at a time, in the joy of Jesus Christ and His truth. This race is long: pace yourself, and you will win the victory.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2nd Timothy 4:7-8 NIV

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

I read on your website that English translations are dangerous. So I guess this means it wasn't bad that I was being skeptical when I read "Forgive those for they don’t know what they are doing" which sounds contrary to what's talked about in the beginning of Romans about man's response to God. And then that other verse about him forgiving that woman when she never cried out for His mercy. So how would I go about studying the Bible in Greek? Is even the King James Version bad?

The situation with college, shouldn't I go? I'm under their authority so I can't get a part time job, but it would be ungodly for me to go since I would be wasting his money on something I'm not sure I want to do. And if I find a church and tell them I'm not going to college, problems might ensue, problems that might not be part of His testing but a result of making a bad decision.

I know I should pray, read the bible and wait, but I just really don’t want to pray as procrastination or trying to hear some voice or dream from God. I don’t even know how to pray sometimes since sometimes I talk out loud and it just sounds like me ranting and complaining.

Response #2:

I applaud your spiritual common sense! It's always an encouragement when I see believers listening to the Spirit and drawing some of these correct conclusions themselves. I don't think you need to start studying Greek (not that that's a bad thing – I teach Greek for a living). Most of the major English versions are quite good; it's just that they are not perfect, and believers should be aware of some of the issues when they do their daily Bible reading (please see the link: "Read your Bible"). Being regular with a good, solid, orthodox teaching ministry will take care of most of the problems related to this issue (see the prior link). The KJV is quite good, if the language is to your liking. It does have rather more of the very few interpolations (because of the age of the translation, pre-dating the discovery of the better manuscripts), but even most of the newer versions suffer from the same problem (mostly out of cowardice in fear of "blow-back" for taking out favorite passages and verses – the made up ones always seem to be the favorites). As I like to say, the meaning of scripture is the most important thing, effective translation is in second place, and third is the issue of the text (because 99.9% is absolutely agreed to by all); however in terms of these discussions in the church-visible most people have got these reversed, getting fatally bogged down in arguing about text first, translation second (if at all), and hardly ever getting around to meaning – that is the province of a good Bible teaching ministry (and the quest to which Ichthys is dedicated – Bible teachers most definitely need to have facility with the original languages).

As to your question, it really is a personal decision. The bigger issue really is "what does the Lord want me to do with my life?" I think that if you prayerfully focus on that, putting together the information He has already given you and is giving you day by day (regarding your talents and any potential ministry that you may feel yourself being called to) the question of job and education et al. will become much more clear. Growing spiritually and making spiritual progress are the prerequisites for all effective ministry, and these three together are the basis for our eternal rewards (see the link). Finding a growth-supporting church where the Bible is taught (correctly) as the main purpose of assembly is a tall order in our lukewarm Laodicean age (see the link), but God provides. You are certainly welcome at Ichthys.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Dr. Luginbill,

I have tentatively decided to major in engineering in college but wish I felt more certain of my path. Something that I thought about somewhat was whether or not we will exercise our abilities during the millennial reign. It goes without saying that the more spiritually mature we are, the more authority we will be delegated, but it is a curious question to think of whether or not I would be designing buildings and roadways if I made it through the tribulation and into Christ's reign on Earth. Perhaps my thinking is narrow minded, but can't help but think how cool it would be to be doing something like that (applying the knowledge I will be learning to furthering the kingdom on earth when it arrives). I did skim the CT series and found no concrete answer to this question, but apologize if it was answered in different words elsewhere.

In Christ,

(Also, rather randomly: how do students refer to professors at college, and what it is that you prefer to be called by (as in when I would address you as "Dr. Luginbill," or "Bob" or what have you)? This is somewhat pertinent because I am heading off to college next year and do not know if the classic "if they are older than you call them by an honorary title not by their first name" thing applies or not. Forgive me because this is an entirely non Christian related topic, I just don't know who else to ask).

Response #3:

Very good to hear back from you. As to your question, it's a noble profession. There is nothing wrong with pursuing goals which contribute to a legitimate livelihood. Even if there were only six months left, for most people and for most activities, it seems to me that we should be doing what we ought to be doing even if there were 60 years left – assuming that our Christian application is correct. The bigger question is "what gift(s) has the Lord given me, and what does He want me to do with it (them)?" It can take a long time to get to the bottom of that set of questions, and aside from petitioning the Lord for help on that, one has to be patient and proceed in a godly way until such time as conviction arrives. Preparing for a profession has all manner of positive results. Scofield was a lawyer – that seems to have been helpful in his organization of his famous study Bible. I trained to be a professional officer in the USMC – probably one of the most valuable experiences I have had in my live. Anything you learn, especially anything difficult and of a professional nature, is going to be valuable. It's merely a question of time and opportunities – and what the Lord is calling you to do and when He calls you to do it.

Finally, this depends on the professor. I never direct my students on this and allow them what they find comfortable (I get "Dr. Luginbill", "Dr. L.", "Dr. Bob", "Bob", "Robert", "Mr. Luginbill") – I answer to them all (as with the website). Personally, I always addressed my prof's with respect, because many of them did not appreciate more familiar appellations.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

p.s., I'm happy to have you call me "Bob".

Question #4:

Hello Dr. Luginbill, I hope life is serving you well, as always.

I also recently got somewhat interested in the prospects of blogging. I am usually a bit skeptical of what "the Christian bloggers" say about issues, because I always felt that without any true education their doctrinal positions are almost inherently suspect. On the other hand, I do think that they could be a tool to reach people who might otherwise not get the exposure to truly become interested in Christ. There is a lot of material out there, and obviously some of it is much better than other parts of it are. I really think it would be something I would be good at, but then again I would like to do it for the right reason not just because I want to. What do you think?

This next question is a little bit morbid (I hope you take no offense in this question), but what exactly is going to happen to your ministry if you go to be with the Lord? I quite enjoy just about everything you have written and would hate too see it become unavailable in the event of your passing. I don't know exactly how you host this website, or if you have really thought about it a great deal, but I was just curious if you do have plans for the future.

I must admit that I haven't probably been reading my bible as much as I should be, but have decided that I really need to get a different translation other than the one I have after going through confirmation in middle school (it is NLT I believe). I think I should also probably get some additional study tools (like a concordance). Do you have any particular suggestions for versions/bible types in this present day? (I remember reading a while back that you thought the 1984 NIV study bible was a good resource, along with possibly the Ryrie study bibles?) After having had annotation pounded into my head in English class for years you would think it would be second nature to me, but I still struggle doing it consistently. Do you annotate your bible, and is it a good habit to get into?

After being thoroughly entrenched with schoolwork for a couple years now, I have been making an effort to exercise more and eat better, but don't necessarily want to be doing it for the wrong reasons. I have heard it argued that since our bodies are "temples to the Lord" that we should make an effort to stay healthy and look reasonably well kept in regard to this. What do you think?

On a similar note, I was having a conversation with one of the girls I know about wearing makeup. I have read some of the similar email responses that deal with jewelry and hair for Christian women, but could not find anything about makeup. I conservatively hold the belief that girls can be plenty attractive enough without putting anything on to fundamentally change the way they look. I didn't want to come across as a misogynist, but did ask her exactly what her motivation for wearing makeup is. Is it to become more attractive to men? I think that is then a problem. Is it for some other reason? If so, did she consider the effects that it might have on those men around her? She said that she just "wanted to look her best." I'm afraid I am rather fighting a losing battle, for our culture says that girls have to be skinny and constantly wear this coat to be considered pretty (pretty for what purpose I might ask). Of course I wouldn't want to be putting forward a double standard; guys should keep their shirts on and six packs covered. For a culture in which both sides struggle with sex so heavily, I seem to be the only person I know who is bugged by current norms for clothing (or lack thereof). This is another one of those "makeup didn't exist back then and the bible says nothing about it so you can't tell me what to do" type things. What say you?

I have one last question to ask, and I'm really quite at a loss on this topic. For most of my high school career I have held (and still do hold) the belief that dating in high school is a fruitless endeavor, and that our cultural version of dating is itself rather unbiblical. In the days in which the bible was written, arranged marriages were still not uncommon (our Lord was born into one such arrangement). Today, however, people marry for "romantic love" or what have you (i.e. the wrong reasons). People are somehow incredulous that I believe that marriage should be the end goal for any relationship, and the logical conclusion that since we are not yet independent (cannot be married) we should just avoid all of that altogether.

I want to thank you again for not only providing the resources on your website for study, but also for what you do here, answering questions people have. It really means an awful lot to me that you'll take the time to try and help me with my life when you must be just as busy as I am.

In Jesus Christ who died for us all,

Response #4:

Good to hear from you my friend, and happy to learn that you are finishing our your school year strongly. As to your questions:

1) Blogging: It sounds as if what you have in mind is an apologetic ministry? The internet is certainly a fine place to launch such a thing. A couple of observations. First, any ministry, to be effective, must be based on proper preparation. And the most important preparation for any believer does not consist in technical expertise but in gaining a high degree of spiritual maturity through learning and believing God's truth, and in progress in passing the tests the Lord brings on thereafter. In terms of any kind of a communication ministry, that is doubly important, and especially in the internet age. Once something is "out there", it is "out there". Better to be absolutely solid on one's beliefs first, in my view, than rush to put them out there before they are carefully considered and fully formed. To be helpful to other Christians – or to unbelievers who may be searching for Christ – absolute truth is the standard to which one should aspire. No one is perfect, of course, and we all make mistakes, but it is much better not to make mistakes that are entirely avoidable (Eph.4:11-16). In short, it's a great idea, especially if this is the life's ministry to which the Spirit is calling you, but it may be a bit premature.

2) Succession planning: I appreciate the sentiment. Whatever is good about this ministry comes from the Lord, and I am very certain that He will not allow anyone who wants His truth ever to be lacking it (from whatever source He provides for it). That said, it is appropriate to handle things in a "decent and orderly" way (1Cor.14:40). I have everything available at Ichthys (everything ready for consumption, that is) in Zip file format for easy downloading (see the link). I certainly appreciate it whenever some kind Christian, such as yourself, has this thought and downloads the ministry in toto. If it exists on your computer, it can be copied in the future (whatever the reason might theoretically be for Ichthys falling off the net).

3) Bibles: I do like the 1984NIV. I also like the NKJV. There are plenty of versions which do a creditable job; no version is perfect. As I often say, the use of multiple versions is a good idea in my view, especially for Christians who don't have Greek and Hebrew. There is more about this at the site; see in particular the links:  "Read Your Bible" and "Bible Versions, Bible Translation, and Bible Reading".

4) Exercise: As Paul tells Timothy, "bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" (1Tim.4:8 NKJV). So spiritual growth is what we should focus on, but, after all, "bodily exercise" does "profit a little". Paul also tells Timothy later in the same letter that he should "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities" (1Tim.5:23 NKJV). So attention to one's health is a godly thing (as long as we don't become obsessive about it or think of it as something spiritual), and proper exercise is important to maintaining good health, especially in our modern era where, unlike Paul, we don't have to spend hours and hours a day walking in the natural course of things just to get where we need to go. This is one of those areas of application where the middle position is usually the godly one. Taking the position that a Christian has no business exercising (because we have more important things to do) or that we ought to be in tip-top competition shape (because our bodies are temples of the Spirit and we want to give a good witness) are both non-biblical opinions not supported directly scripture (i.e., they are interpretations, both of which have a grain of truth, but both of which will lead to excess if considered to be the absolute truth). A Christian who does the right amount of exercise for him/her to maintain fitness and general health is managing the resources (in this case, the body) God has given him/her in a decent and orderly way, in my opinion.

5) Makeup: This is another area where scripture gives no definitive guidance (see the links: "Should Christians wear Jewelry?", "Biblical Interpretation V", "Tattoos (with many links)" and "Hair length for Christians" for relevant discussion). Part of this is cultural. For example, nowadays almost all of my undergraduate students have at least one tattoo; in "days of yore" only sailors and convicts had tattoos. During the Civil War, showing up to church with a crew-cut would have seemed unmanly; in the 1950's showing up with a Civil War style haircut would have been taken as effeminate. So wearing makeup, since scripture doesn't weigh in on the subject (apart from some negative examples; e.g., 2Ki.9:30), also has to be considered in that light. That is to say, if no one is doing it, it sends quite a different message than if everyone is doing it. I have no problem with a Christian woman deciding she'll never wear makeup at all; I also do not see that regularly wearing makeup is any sort of a sin (since it is a cultural norm at present). If a person makes a deliberate point of not wearing makeup and calls attention to that fact (and especially if it is implied that others are not "spiritual" doing so), that is a problem; if a person wears so much in such a gaudy fashion that it is remarkable even in our culture, that too could be problematic. This is another area of minor importance where extremes can be the cause of spiritual problems. Everyone should do what their own conscience dictates in the absence of specific scriptural guidance.

6) Dating: I do feel for young people today. The push-pull between ever delayed social independence and maturity on the one hand, and early experimentation in a culture awash with sexuality on the other has got to make it very difficult for godly Christian young men and women to hew to the good course. As you correctly point out, neither of these push-pull factors were at play in antiquity to the degree we see today (marriage and independence came early, and there was not the same ubiquitous bombardment by all manner of media along these lines for the obvious reason that they did not exist) – and yet this was still a problem. How much more today. For that reason you are to be congratulated for your strong stance, and commended to maintain it as best you can. From what you have written, I think you understand the problems and the dangers very well. I would not wish to lay down "legal requirements" for anyone, inasmuch as we are all different and scripture does not do so. Making up rules that are not in the Bible always ends up being worse in the long run than the sins these rules are intended to help people avoid – and usually in the short run too. You know all this yourself by now fairly well (better than the average Christian your age, to judge from your emails); I think you are quite capable of discerning where the "thin ice" is, and of guiding your steps accordingly.  See the link: "Dating for Christians"

I appreciate your good words and your desire for the truth of the Word of God. This is the "good part" (Lk.10:41). If you make the truth your focus and your love and your purpose in this life, everything else will fall into place – just the way our dear Lord Jesus intends it to do.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #5:

I'm going to be of legal age this year and I've never dated anyone. What do you think about me trying to talk to this person? If not a Christian I'll back off. Could I just go up and strike up a conversation? How does this work for Christians, exactly?

Response #5:

This is a question of application, and a difficult thing for young Christians to navigate in our modern day of so much freedom.  I think it would be very difficult for anyone to be involved in this activity and steer a safe course without at the same time being spiritually mature.  I know that this is a tough time for you, but I would advise you not to look to potential relationships as a solution to other pressures and problems. See the link: "Dating for Christians"

The Christian life is not easy. Jesus told us to "count the cost" before committing to being His disciples. Falling out with other Christians and/or Christian groups is a common reason for Christians to become spiritually disoriented and sometimes even fall away from the faith. Feeling that somehow "God let me down" is also a very common reason for this according to my personal observations and also of course scripture (e.g., Matt.13:21). This is one reason why I say, and why I believe I wrote you before, that we all need to have an inner grounding in the Word of God – and especially in its truths – that is independent of other people and any physical organization. That is true at all times, but will be doubly true during the Tribulation to come.

This is a tough time for you for all manner of reasons (college, work, church, family, all manner of strains, stresses, influences and disappointments), but I encourage you to remember that Jesus loves you more than you can know, that He is on your side, that He will never let you down, that He has it all planned out and is working it all out together for good for you . . . in just the right way, no matter how it may seem to human eyes.

Have faith and persevere in the faith and, in the end, it will all be more worthwhile than can be presently imagined.

I do promise to keep you in my prayers.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

I'm going to keep this really brief. I was in a church today for Easter, and it made me think about my church. I'm really lonely and I miss my church. I was thinking about going to a service. What do you think? Can you give me some advice? I am in desperate need of friends.


Response #6:

I guess I would ask you why you left in the first place. If the reasons were valid then, why aren't they valid now? Or have you changed your thinking? In any case, church-as-social-club is where we are at for the most part in our present Laodicean age. There are worse social clubs than a church. What bothers me is that there so few places where the Word of God is taught correctly and in depth – but that is (apparently) a different subject.

God knows what you need (what you really need) in every matter. Keep walking closer to the Lord day by day by growing in His truth and everything will be worked out for the good by Him – including the legitimate need you have for friends and friendship. I speak from experience and much observation when I say that questionable friends are worse then no friends, and that there is nothing so fine as a good and true friend – but such a friend is not likely to be found looking in the wrong places, trying to force the issue rather than patiently passing the test of loneliness. I'm not saying that there is anything at all wrong with your old church or the people there (I have no idea); but you did have your reasons for leaving (as I recall).

What a friend we have in Jesus!

In our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for your reply, and for listening to me vent. It really means a lot. My reasons for leaving the church still stand. I'm not going back. I just miss being around people. Could you just give me some comforting words? I don't really know what to say. I've been out of it lately.


Response #7:

You are very welcome. All good decisions in this life are going to be challenged by the evil one, especially when they involve breaking away from people, places, situations which are not spiritually helpful and when that break is undertaken for the sake of the Lord and His Word. There is comfort in knowing that we have done the right thing, and also in knowing that we are not alone. In the history of the world from God's point of view, those willing to follow Him closely have always had a rough road:

Some [of these great believers of the past] were tortured, refusing release, that they might obtain a better resurrection (i.e., worth more to them than their lives; cf. Ps.63:3). Others endured ridicule and beatings, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawed in half, killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goat hides. They were deprived, persecuted, abused. They world was not worthy of them. They wandered the deserts and the mountains, making their homes in caves and fissures in the earth. And through their faith, all of them became witnesses [to the world] . . .
Hebrews 11:35b-39a

Therefore we need to remember that we are not in fact alone. There is a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us (Heb.12:1), and we have the right to walk close to our dear Shepherd every step of the way on this path, even when it darkens (Ps.23).

We can . . . and we should . . . have peace and joy in Jesus Christ at all times. That does not happen without mental and emotional effort. It also does not happen without consistency in all the good things we should be doing: reading our Bibles, praying, keeping our hearts set on the things above . . . and taking in good, solid spiritual food day by day. In so doing not only will we be able to battle through the tough times, however defined, but we will also grow and progress and enter into Christ's service in the way He wills. This is where the rewards that last forever are to be found.

"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

In the One who is our true treasure, the Lord Jesus Christ our dear Savior.

Bob L.

Question #8:

I was planning for a party to celebrate my graduation this Saturday, but almost everyone is canceling, leaving me feeling very lonely. Friends are few and far in between ever since I left campus. When I want company and people to enjoy it with, so that I can forget my pain, everyone is far away from me.

Response #8:

I'm sorry you are having these issues. I would want to point out that it is not unusual for mere human beings such as we are to be thrown into a bit of a tizzy in cases where our whole life texture suddenly changes. Please recognize that this is a large part of what is going on, and be careful to throw truth at your emotions until they begin to behave. Setting yourself to work (whatever work) is a good way to go. God will take care of your needs; just make sure you continue to walk closely with the Lord. Finding a job of some sort will allow you to get on with your own life will also make you better able to minister to your family without at the same time being consumed by them. You have your own race to run, after all.

As to friends, I really wouldn't trouble much about that. Friends who won't even help you celebrate your big day are unworthy of the name. As I have gotten older the number of those I count "friend" has declined to a very small and select few, those tested in the fire and worthy, in no small part because of their similar dedication to Jesus Christ in truth, to be emulated, respected and treasured. It's not easy to find such friends, but one or two of these are worthy more than a million of the "other" type. As you continue to walk with the Lord and develop the life He wants you to lead, this will come along with everything else.

Trust Him . . . and get moving with moving along.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Bob,

From a website:

"The references to cultural humor [in the TV series Veggie Tales] also bother me. One show has sort of a Gilligans Island parody. I thought the point of buying Christian videos was to avoid secular entertainment. Come out from among them and be ye separate. "

Didn't Paul reference Greek literature in his writings and sermons? Was he a "bad Christian"?

Now, if they--the writers of Veggie Tales--were to go and say that the Bible is one of the "great works" of "human civilization," I would definitely say that they have went too far to the left. But to claim that any reference to widely disseminated culture is a stumbling block to apostasy is to go too far to the right.

Response #9:

I'm not familiar with the series. Yes, Paul did know something about the secular literature of his day (quoting or at least alluding to Homer, Aratus, Epimenides and Menander). Sticking one's head in the sand and becoming a Luddite or a monk is not a proper application of the truths of scripture (anymore than embracing popular culture with open arms). When it comes to the things of this world which express an incorrect or false viewpoint (and so are at least in part satanic), less is always better than more, but in all such things a middle approach is often the best course, not living for the things that fascinate the world but not fleeing from them in terror either (as long as they are not beyond a certain point of prudence as in outright blasphemy or pornography, e.g.).

As to "Christian" substitutes, these things leave me cold as a rule; people would be much better served reading the Bible and good Bible teaching – there are such things for children as well as for adults.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:

[question about potential marriage]

Response #10:

Paul says: "Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." (1Cor.7:1 NIV).

So it's safe to say that we should be looking at marriage (the only reason for such relationships) as a practical necessity rather than as the answer to worldly happiness. It is one of the few legitimate bases for happiness in this world (Eccl.9:9), but it can't be compared to the happiness in Christ that the believer walking with Him can have – and it's not without its unavoidable concomitant trouble (1Cor.7:28).

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi Bob,

I wasn't even talking about happiness so much as about morality. In particular, I was thinking about potential humans versus the actualization of humans. And there is evidence in the Bible that human beings can exist potentially without existing actually.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)

"Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him." (Hebrews 7:9-10).

So what does it mean when someone, for whatever reason, refuses to procreate despite not being explicitly led by God to be "eunuchs," or uses contraception to prevent the conception of a child, or refuses to have children with the right person (e.g. Onan)? I take it that this is equivalent to denying the potential from being actualized, which ultimately requires one to have the ability to make a judgment that some potential life is unworthy to be actualized. And if one believes that some potential life is unworthy to be actualized, how is this different from Nazi Germany's belief that there exists "life not worthy of life"?

I do not think there is a semantic difference.

I am sorry if I was unclear.


Response #11:

The reason the Lord knew Jeremiah ahead of time is because there was an "ahead of time". It is important to realize that there is only one Plan of God and that there are no actual alternatives to it. There is only one perfect plan, the one that is being played out; any other plan would not be perfect and therefore is technically impossible because God is perfect. So from all points of view, whether practical, or theoretical, or philosophical, there are no non-actualized people. A person is either in the plan of God or not. That is what the divine decree is all about. It is true that some take this truth to mean that there is no free will but in fact nothing could be farther from the truth: we can only exist in this world with the plan playing out and can only have the ability to make genuinely free decisions because of the fact that all this has been decreed.

We are evaluated on the basis of our decisions, our thoughts words and deeds. But we don't need to worry that our actions have side-tracked the plan of God for anyone else: the perfect plan from the perfect mind of limitless God has anticipated everything to a degree we are currently not really capable of comprehending.

In Jesus our dear Savior who died for every single sin we (and everyone else) have ever committed.

Bob L.

Question #12:

Thank you very much for this. It was greatly helpful in clarifying the state of things. If I understand you correctly, we are given permission for mundane things to exercise our freedom so that we can pursue God's truth in a matter that doesn't involve constant distraction, but for things of extreme importance, we must not abuse our freedom so as to suffer severe consequences in the world to come.

Response #12:

You are certainly welcome.

What I would say is that we have freedom in all things – but only the truth really makes us free, so that we are only using our freedom correctly when we are using it to submit to the Will of God. The plan takes into account all such correct responses – and everything else as well. Worrying about non-essentials is problematic because in a subtle way it suggests that God has not figured everything out for us ahead of time. That is why Jesus commends our consideration of the lilies of the field and birds of the air and the Father's perfect provision for them, though we are certainly of inestimably greater importance.

I wouldn't let prejudice of any kind distract me from doing what God wants me to do. But that is the real question. What does God want me to do? We know very well the answer to that question in general terms: salvation, spiritual growth, progress and production. Working out the details specifically for our own lives involves introspection, follow-through, and application of the truth, often in difficult situations. Becoming obsessed with any manner of "off topic" things can distract us from the very clear path the Lord has set down. There are innumerable wrong paths (a number of which will be very attractive and present the impression of being "good"), but only one really good and true path that leads to honoring our Lord and our own great eternal reward.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Good days,

I hope my mail meets you well? I have a question on Apostle Paul over what I read on a fb post. Was Apostle Paul ever married? This is excerpt of the post.

In the Book of 1 Corinthians Chapter 7, Apostle Paul spoke to 3 different groups of people. The first group consists of the separated, widowers and widows. "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I" ( 1 Corinthians 7:8). The word "Unmarried" in the passage comes from a Greek word "agamos" and it refers to people who were married before but were no longer married, either because they were separated or because they lost their wives. For Apostle Paul to admonish the widowers, widows, and separated to remain unmarried like himself means that he was married before and was either separated or a widower and decided to remain unmarried. The next group he spoke to was the married. "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband" (1 Corinthians 7:11). After the married, he spoke to the singles. Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful (1 Corinthians 7:25). The virgins in the passage refer to singles who had never married before. It’s worthy of note that Apostle Paul didn’t liken the virgins to himself because he wasn’t a virgin. He only likened the unmarried (separated and widowers) to himself because he was one. He was either separated or a widower. But I believe his wife left him when he repented and that was why he said, "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace" (1 Corinthians 7:15). Apostle Paul was married. He was also a member of the Sanhedrin and the first criterion of becoming one was marriage to a daughter of another Sanhedrin member.

Thanks in advance.

Response #13:

Good to hear from you. Paul was never married.

1) In 1st Corinthians 7:7, Paul says he wishes all would be as he is; he certainly can't mean that he wishes all would suffer the loss of a spouse through death or divorce.

2) In 1st Corinthians 7:7, Paul calls his status "a gift"; he certainly can't mean that the loss of a spouse through death or divorce is a gift.

3) In 1st Corinthians 9:5, Paul says that he has the right to have a wife – but that he does not (and implies never has) used that right.

4) Many unbelievers who wish to impugn the Lord have used the argument used here that a Jewish Rabbi would have to be married. But Jesus – of course – was never married. Nor was Paul. I am not aware of any evidence which definitively states that in order to be a member of the Sanhedrin a person had to be married. Further, there is no evidence whatsoever that Paul was ever a member of the Sanhedrin in any case.

1st Corinthians chapter seven is a very difficult chapter to interpret and many of the statements made in the excerpt you include assume that the writer's initial impressions are the only way any of these statements may be taken – that is far from being true. Here are a few links to places at Ichthys where this chapter and its contents are considered:

Marriage and the Bible

Marriage and the Bible II

Jephthah's Daughter, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

No Grounds for Divorce?

You are in my prayers day by day.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

This may seem trivial but here I go. My wife wanted me to give up working on __ on the side so I could focus on the family and get things done around the house a few years back. So I eventually did. Thing is she got more involved in ___. This interfered with family matters more than my work did. We talked about it but she didn't back off for a long. During this time and recently I worked on __ without her knowing. I figured if she won't back off on her stuff why should I. But my recent one I started feeling convicted about it. So to the point. I left work late the other day and ___ with this work. When I got home she mentioned about me being late and I told her I left work late but did not mention ___. Did I lie? By not mentioning that? I have decided not to do this work anymore without her knowledge but should I reveal my passed activities?

Response #14:

Dear Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance. It's my policy not to weigh in on individual cases where such specificity is involved. The reason for this is that, really, only the persons in question are capable of judging things aright, not to mention that when it comes to sin that is between you and the Lord.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1st John 1:9 NIV

As this verse makes clear, the answer to sin is to confess it to the Lord. If we do so, we are forgiven.

The question of how we deal with our personal relationships, especially marriages, is more complicated than I would wish to discuss, when it comes down to specific details at least. Scripture tells the wife to revere her husband and the husband to love his wife (Eph.5:33). From the husband's point of view, therefore, the issue going forward is to act in love in every way possible toward the wife. If that is done, all manner of difficulties will be solved, and the problems which do arise will at least be clearer in terms of what the Lord desires.

We can all look backward and regret this or that action. If we do – and if we are honest with ourselves – none of us is perfect. We all stumble and fall (Jas.3:2). That is why scripture counsels us to move forward, not look backward.

(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I am striving for], nor that I have already completed [my course]. Rather, I am continuing to pursue [the prize] in hopes of fully acquiring it – [this prize for whose acquisition] I was myself acquired by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not consider that I have already acquired it. This one thing only [do I keep in mind]. Forgetting what lies behind me [on the course] and straining towards the [course] ahead, (14) I continue to drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

As these verses make clear, the proper way to see all such issues is in the context of what we are supposed to be doing here on earth as Christians in any case, namely, growing spiritually, progressing in our walk with Jesus Christ, and helping others do the same through the ministries to which Christ calls us. If we are looking forward to our reward and operating with this mindset, issues such as the one you broach will fall into place . . . and into their proper perspective.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Thank you so much for your taking the time to reply. The Biblical scripture and advice is very helpful and I thank you for leaving me with that. I understand that it is hard to answer my personal question. This is the route I am taking and focusing on what is ahead and learn from what lead me to this issue.

Thanks again for your time and kindness.

God Bless You and your ministry and a pleasure to make your acquaintance also.

Your brother in Christ.

Response #15:

You're very welcome.

Feel free to write back any time.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Totally relevant research: researchers surveyed math geniuses now in their 50s who were identified as prodigies in the 1970s. Regardless of work-related gender differences, both men and women overwhelmingly agreed that family was the most important factor required for a meaningful life.




Response #16:

They could have saved tax-payers money by reading the Bible:

Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 9:9 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Bob,

(1) When Jesus says, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands," (Mark 10:29-30) does this imply that in the future there will be, somehow, children rewarded to those who leave behind their Earthy children?

(2) Jesus also doesn't talk about leaving your wife (except in some extra-biblical glosses in bad manuscripts). Is this because of the very special union God has made between a husband and his wife?


Response #17:

1) The companion passage of Luke 18:29 specifies when the recompense will come: "in this time (kairos)", that is, during this life (in contrast to the eternal life mentioned next in all three synoptics). I believe our Lord is talking about spiritual things: as believers, we are all one in the Lord and we belong to each other (cf. 1Cor.3:21-23). Whatever material sacrifices we make in this life will be more than compensated for in the blessings and mutual support and encouragement we receive as part of the Body of Christ – and will also be richly rewarded in every respect in the eternal life to come. And there is also the very important truth that our relationship with the Lord as we follow Him has the potential to be far greater in every respect than any possible combination of "house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands".

2) While the word gyne ("wife") does not occur in Mark 10:29 (in the best mss.), it is certainly present in the companion passage in Luke, so that I would not want to put too much theological weight on its absence in Mark (Marcan economy of expression occurs in very many places). If there is an observation to be made, I think rather it is that the absence in Mark (and in Matthew) reflects the fact that wives were lower on the priority list than children, other family members and homes (a not untypical thing in the ancient world, surprising though it is to us today – possibly the result of arranged marriages being the norm).

I know that the prospect of physical progeny is a concern to you, my friend. I want you to remember the example of Abraham. Remember that though he had to wait a very long time, the Lord worked it out in a most miraculous way . . . because Abraham waited patiently in faith. And previously when he had been fed up with waiting and tried to force the issue it resulted not only in distress (Sarah's vexation – and displeasure with him) but also, it seems certain, in having to wait even longer for the divine solution than would otherwise have been the case.

God knows your heart – and what you truly need. We glorify Him when we open our hearts to Him and wait patiently for Him to answer; we get into trouble when we become impatient, forget that He is working things out for us on His perfect time-table, and try to force the issue by our fleshly actions.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who gave us His all on Calvary's cross.

Bob L.

Question #18:

Good afternoon Bob, and Happy New Year.

I have shared my new thoughts with a friend about the world's fate weighing on men to become as Christ. This came after some time in Corinthians. My thoughts are these- if we cannot make this commitment- regardless of cultural trends- women will never embrace their commitment to serve G-d through we, who serve G-d, as it was from our beginnings in the garden of Eden. The impossibility that He speaks of our efforts in the gospel (with man this is impossible) is all the more illuminated through the state of the manifestation of the Church in marriage today. In 1 Corinthians, I saw how all can become legalisms, chauvinist, and just plain selfish. Picking and applying details that in themselves create more problems than solutions is historic. It all comes back the the answer that not many will accept. Marriage. For men to serve G-d is for women to see G-d in him. A personal matter between the man and G-d, with Whom the answer lives.

I would like to converse with you about something that has been impressed upon me through the Spirit of G-D. It is quite easy to get conclusive at these times but feel that the path to such wisdom includes discussion. If it is alright with you to continue in a texting medium, my impression is this - the fate of the world rests on men. The broken relationships in marriage ( the Church) rests again squarely on men. It is because we cannot maintain that our relationship with G-D is as necessary as any and all existence. I believe this because of the means these thoughts arrived. Now as I read the descriptions of our roles, our instructions as men and women of faith I am with this - if men cannot maintain that G-D is the head, women will not see Him in men. In this, the G-D centered relationship between men and women as illustrated in the New Testament becomes subject to dissection and appeasing agenda. It is because of our stewardship of instructions. That these instructions were not 'regional' or of a different era to diminish their importance, but necessary and not subject to cultural trends. The very deception that these instructions are antiquated is the man that keeps them from being revolutionary. I humbly accept my part in the separation of G-D from women.

Response #18:

I am happy to converse with you about this matter (or any matter). Best to start simply. First, in all things eternal, we are all one in Jesus Christ.

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

Now in this world there are ranks and statuses and ethnicities and genders – but not "in Christ". The fact of our oneness in Christ does not obviate the realities of this world, but those realities are passing away just as this world is passing away. This is the dilemma (for want of a better word) which confronts all believers: we are in this world, but we are not of this world. What that means is that while we live our lives to Christ, we also have to deal with the realities of this world with which we are confronted. We are not allowed, for example, to ignore the law even when the law is silly or unfair or even oppressive (the only exception being those rare historical occasions when it prevents us from doing something which, as believers, we must, or demand that we do something which, as believers, we may not – as in taking the mark of the beast). If we are gentiles by birth, we cannot pretend we are Jewish; if we are slaves, we cannot act as if we were free; if we are men, we cannot assume the roles and prerogatives of women – or vice versa. But in all these things, it is the spiritual dimension which is paramount, and over-focusing on the physical and material plane has been at the heart of much confusion in the history of the Church. In terms of marriage, that certainly explains (to me at least) why Paul prefers believers to do without marriage altogether – if we are able to do so without sin (e.g., 1Cor.7:1-8; 7:27-35). It is only the weakness of the physical that requires such considerations; therefore spiritual solutions and spiritual power are not to be found therein – any more than they are in any aspect of the Law, a regulation of the physical which pointed to the spiritual. But now we have been liberated from such things, at least in principle. Balancing true, biblical spirituality with life in this world is a tricky business even for the most mature of believers, but a good rule of thumb is always to lean as far as possible to the spiritual side (without losing one's balance), and never to lean the other way.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hi Bob,

As someone who has a great interest in etymology, especially from the perspective of Proto-Indo-European, of which Greek bears a striking resemblance, it is rather interesting that most translations of the New Testament continue to translate "πορνεία" (porneia) as "fornication."

In fact, the word "πορνεία" seems to have a range of meanings very similar to the English word "whore," both in the sense of someone who sells sexual intercourse, and someone who is a sell-out or unfaithful ("Dude, you totally whored out our band to the record company.").

But if this is the case, then I must ask: is there any evidence that πορνεία (porneia) can ever mean "two young people having sex outside of marriage"?

First anticipated objection: Paul says that your body cannot be joined to the wickedness of the world. That is true, but this would be an objection against swingers and people that have recreational sex, not cohabiting couples.

Second anticipated objection: Jesus said that anyone who looks at a woman with lust has committed adultery. True, but adultery means having sex with someone other than your wife while you are married to that wife. More specifically, it is impossible for adultery to mean something that is not adultery, for the same reason the statement "A = not A" can never be true. This does not apply to cohabiting couples.


Response #19:

The meaning of words is not determined by logic nor by etymology; usage, as Horace notes, is "king". Etymology may provide a guide or a clue, and logic may be a helpful handmaiden in the business of lexicography, but one context is worth many etymologies and logical constructs. English purists are happy to tell us that "hopefully" cannot rightfully mean "I sure hope so", but a person would do himself and others a great disservice when translating at a peace conference, e.g., if he/she was determined out of spite to deny the word that meaning: that is the way people use it, so that is what it "means" in contexts where it is used in that sense.

Long story short, to answer the question 'is there any evidence that πορνεία (porneia) can ever mean "two young people having sex outside of marriage?" ', one need only look to places where this word and its lexical companions are actually used in Greek.

About three months later Judah was told, "Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral (ἐκπεπορνευκεν). Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality (πορνείας)." And Judah said, "Bring her out, and let her be burned."

Genesis 38:24 ESV

It is true that many versions use "prostitute/prostitution" instead of "immoral/immorality" for ἐκπεπορνευκεν/πορνείας, however, it is not really convincing to posit that the people who informed Judah about Tamar's pregnancy assumed that she must have engaged in sex for money as opposed to sex for pleasure – or that it would have made any difference to them. It certainly made no difference to Judah: she was not married and yet was pregnant, so she was to be burned, regardless of the presence or action of a monetary transaction. Conclusion, πορνεία (porneia) as used in the LXX for זָנָה (zanah) is elastic and covers all serious sexual transgression. That is what the lexicons suggest, and I think that if you run down citations you will find that it is true that porneia is the generic Greek word for sexual behavior outside of marriage, even if it does often refer to transactional prostitution (metaphorically, as you note, as well as literally). That is why, for example, Paul has no problem using it in "sin lists" for sexual indiscretion and misconduct generally (e.g., 2Cor.12:21; Gal.5:19; Eph.5:3; Col.3:5; 1Thes.4:3; while mochaomai is reserved for technical and metaphorical adultery).

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral (πορνους < pornos).
Hebrews 13:4 NIV

It is a blessing to live as Spirit-filled Christians who walk by conscience with the Lord in the Spirit's power: we do not need to have long technical lists of sins spelling out exactly what is a sin and what the legal remedy may be for each (as in the Law), for we walk in love, honoring our Lord Jesus Christ by keeping a clean conscious before Him and staying away from "anything that even looks like evil" (1Thes.5:22). And when and if we do sin, we confess freely and gratefully (rather than attempting to stand on legalistic technicalities).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:


Response #20:

Good to hear from you my friend. As to your question, it is safe to say that most believers have the same or similar problems, especially earlier in life and/or as new believers. Here is what I read in scripture:

Now for the matters you wrote about: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.
1st Corinthians 7:1-2

This passage makes it clear that 1) the threat posed by sexual immorality is nearly universal; 2) it is the act of committing non-marital sex with another person which is particularly dangerous (1Cor.6:18; cf. also 1Thes.4:3-6); and 3) the God-given solution to this problem is marriage.

Unmarried young people in today's world find themselves perhaps in a greater dilemma on this account than was true in previous centuries. For one thing, the world today is awash with sexual temptation to a previously unprecedented degree. It is largely unavoidable and ubiquitous. Secondly, while in the ancient world marriages tended to be arranged and to take place a fairly early ages, today a young Christian has the problem of "dating" and also of "waiting". This is witches broth that has resulted in much sinfulness, even among those of good hearts and good intentions.

If you have avoided falling into this trap so far you are to be commended. Temptation is not a sin. Giving in to lust certainly is, but while I would never excuse or downplay the seriousness of any sin, clearly, some sins are worse than others, and outright fornication and adultery are clearly worse than failing on a mental level. Our Lord's comments on this latter score are directed at the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who proclaimed themselves pure when they were not even saved (how much less "pure"!). We believers should strive to avoid sin at all times, but when we are defeated we also need to remember that all of our sins have been forgiven in Jesus Christ, and that we are restored to fellowship with Him immediately when we confess (1Jn.1:9).

It is possible to gain victory over certain areas of sin which may plague us personally, but that takes two things: 1) a deadly serious resolve not to give in – we have to be absolutely serious about taking control of our own will; 2) spiritual growth. The latter is the most important thing. No system of control will ever succeed for someone who is spiritually immature and not trending forward. However, the more we learn and believe about the truth, the closer we grow to Jesus through the truth, the better we shall be able to fight this fight. So I want to encourage you to keep the big picture in mind. Many Christians have stumbled by letting themselves be distracted by their failures large or small. True Christianity consists in moving forward, not in neurosing about past failures. God requires us to confess, then move on and do better. This we can do if we keep growing spiritually, and get serious about what is important to us in this life.

Here are some links which go into more detail on these matters:

Sin and Salvation, Confession and Forgiveness

Spiritual Growth

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle

Some Sensitive Topics IV

Some Sensitive Topics II

I won't post your part of this email.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hello Sir,

I noticed __'s name not their in the special prayer request list. How is he now?

Your friend,

Response #21:

Good to hear from you, my friend. And thanks for being so observant -- I know this means you are actually praying for our brothers and sisters in need, and that is wonderful thing for which I thank you.

As to our friend, he has passed away (that is why I have removed the prayer request). I had not heard from him in quite some time, and messages sent out to him received no reply (he had mentioned that he was not necessarily going to be able to answer any longer because of the advance of his disease), with the last one sent coming back stating that the account was no longer valid. Then I found online what I believe to be his obituary (it matches precisely the information he had given me).

It is always "better to be with the Lord" (Phil.1:23), and given the present suffering of the Body of Christ which we know only too well, and the much more serious things to come in a few short years, this is all the more true. But that is a decision which is in our dear Lord Jesus' hands. And it is good and natural for a Christian to wish to survive until the Lord's return, not so much to avoid death, but to see our Lord face to face in resurrection for the first time. That is what Paul means when he says in Philippians 3:11 "if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead" – that is, live long enough to see it in the flesh, being one of those "caught up" in living resurrection when Christ returns (1Thes.4:17). This is indeed a "blessed hope" (Tit.2:13), but we who have grown up in Jesus can honestly say that we are willing to accept whatever the Lord has in mind, and that we desire Him to use us for His purposes in just the way He will, because for us "to live is Christ, and to die is gain".

We may have rough times in this world, but we will not regret one good decision to endure for the sake of Christ and His Church on that great day when our Lord says "well done!", and awards us our crowns of victory.

I'm praying for your guidance and blessing in all things, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

As I remember, our friend had very severe problems and was uneasy with the thought of death, and I was actually praying to the Lord to make him strong. I don't know how he felt before he left. But I surely prayed to the Lord that he won't be scared.

Sir, I am happy he is with the Lord now.

Response #22:

Hello my friend,

Yes, this is how I read things as well. And it is a blessing when someone we know is a believer stays strong in faith until the end even though under heavy pressure. He has no worries now, and his reward is secure. I appreciate your prayers for him, and I am sure that a measure of the confidence he showed at the end was a reflection of those prayers. The Church is one body; we help each other in all things.

Thanks again your prayers! I continue to struggle for you in mine as well.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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