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Question #1:

Hello Dr. Bob,

Right now there is a christening happening outside our house. My in-laws asked if they could use our residence for the dedication of their grandchild.

I just can't help but feel uncomfortable to the point of being irritated when the pastor started to say his piece. I don't have to mention details because I know you are familiar with how traditional Christianity makes personal milestones opportunities for religious occasions (e.g. birthdays, thanksgivings, wedding).

These "pastors" have similar air of infallibility around them. The brief small talk I had this morning with the "man of God" is his chance to show aggressive speech towards me by making fun of my physical appearance.

There is just no limit to the silliness (e.g.telling the parents how to raise their child Hannah and Samuel being the Biblical example).

Pardon the venting, sir. I used to have the peace in treating God's Word with respect before this silly event happened right where I live. I am reminded of some of the reasons why I left the denomination I used to be a part of.

Thank you for being there to help me stick with our Savior despite the clamor from our lukewarm siblings toward dangerous conformity.

Kind regards,

Response #1:

Good to hear from you, my friend!

This sort of thing would irritate me as well – legalism of every sort always does (and especially when the rules or rituals are made up with not even a shred of biblical foundation).

I think your analysis of the problems with these activities is "spot on". I will also say that criticizing someone else with whom we disagree by demeaning their physical appearance is the stuff of adolescent school-yard bullies – certainly not appropriate for someone who is supposed to be a minister of the truth of the Word.

Stay "red hot" for the Lord, my friend! This is the path to great eternal reward – and to pleasing our Lord.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi Bob,

As to school, my finals start in exactly a month. Between now and then I will (supposedly) have 4 projects and one last test.

It's really same-old same-old though. I haven't done too much the last few days: I read a series of novels, which is something I haven't done ever since I can remember. I felt a little bad for not doing much, but on the other hand, this is the last lull I'll have before the final push, and I didn't have anything pressing that had to be done since I knocked it all out last week.

This segues into a question I've been wondering about for a while, just posted to the forum:

As a matter of Christian application, what do y’all think of immersing oneself in works of fiction (e.g., novels, TV, films, etc.)? Some parameters on the question: The things under discussion are largely free from overtly problematic content: i.e., explicit sex, glorified violence, etc. The things under discussion don’t dabble in the occult.

Some negative observations:

I’ve always thought of this as a matter of application along the lines of 1 Corinthians 10:23 – “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” However, the more I’ve talked with people about 100%-ing career for ministry (forgoing stable employment for freelance to have more time), the more I’ve been thinking that it’s perhaps best to avoid any sort of fiction (be it novels, anime, movies, whatever) entirely.

First of all, fiction is inherently not reality. This would seem to be rather obvious, yet it is important nonetheless. Fiction has nothing to do with God’s plan for us on earth, instead setting up alternate worlds with concerns that don’t revolve around the ultimate spiritual realities of existence. Characters in fiction often go about solving their problems by their own strength and ability, but we know that for us, we are nothing without God, and all we have has been given by His hand.

Second, fiction does not contribute to positive personal growth. This is, of course, most importantly true in a spiritual sense (i.e., being immersed in fiction does not have anything to do with Bible reading, Bible teaching, or prayer); however, it is also a valid point in a general sense. Reading about a strong protagonist is very different from going to the gym to get strong yourself. Reading about how a protagonist fights their problems and pulls their life together is great and all, but what about your own problems? At best, immersion in fiction provides a relaxing pastime. However, by its nature, it does not lead to actual progress in any area.

Third, people (myself included – at least by my observation) often turn to fiction that aligns with what they want to have happen to them. In other words, aside from being an escape from (unpleasant) reality, it is also an escape to a place that is self-insert wish-fulfillment. People read stories about protagonists who overcome adversity, defeat the bad guy, get the girl (or guy), and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, that’s just not how life works in reality. So to the degree that someone spends time putting such ideas into their head, to that degree fiction is perhaps dangerous in making it harder to accept what God would actually have them do (which may may be hard, disagreeable, and not at all what they themselves might “wish” for).

Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, there is the time component. We have a very limited amount of time here on this earth, and must choose what to do with it. Spending time on fiction necessarily reduces the amount of time to spend elsewhere – such as time spent reading one’s Bible and taking in good Bible teaching. The thing is, there is more than enough fiction to keep every free hour of one’s days occupied many lifetimes over. While it is obvious we shouldn’t make it that big a part of our lives, the opportunity cost consideration is true even at smaller quantities.

Some less negative observations:

On the other hand, fiction tells stories that do have the power to uplift, to encourage, to teach. Justice, Righteousness, Self-Sacrificial Love; fictional stories can contain ideals that are certainly not out of place in a Christian worldview. I would hesitate in saying that fiction is truly didactic (as I think there are much clearer ways to teach most lessons directly), but at the same time, like music, stories have a tendency to stay with us. (Although this can be a double-edged sword, since any “wrong ideas” from stories will thus also be harder to shake).

While hardly being an argument “for” fiction, fiction does have going for it that it is “less bad” than other overtly sinful things people tend to spend their time on: gambling, drugs, drinking/parties, etc. I think one can also make an argument that it has the potential to be more edifying than many activities like it that are not inherently sinful, yet also not directly spiritually edifying (e.g., video games, many hobbies that involve no discussion of ideals and good overcoming evil).

Response #2:

Your last lap is uphill all the way! But you've gotten this far; I'm completely confident you'll cross the finish line with your head up. I think it's great that you were able to get a little physical and mental rest prior to this last big push.

On your question, I've written some about this but you've probably already read it. This is an application question in my view, not an all or nothing question. I have no problem with someone swearing off fiction 100% (though it's pretty hard in our culture without becoming a hermit); just as long as it doesn't become a legalistic point of pride or result in a bad attitude towards other believers who take a different approach. I also have no problem with someone spending time on entertainment of this sort; just as long as it doesn't become a stumbling block or an idol to them, or lead them into sin. The Spirit is good about prodding us when we're headed towards "too much" of anything – it's up to us to listen.

Content of fiction is problematic – but so is everything else in the world besides the Bible itself. As a prospective pastor-teacher (and actually engaging in teaching now), there is some value in having a sense of what is "out there" in the culture, both so as to be able to relate to others you minister too without coming off as a space alien, and also to have an idea of what is mild, what is a little more edgy, and what is to be avoided entirely. That's not a justification for watching pornography of course; but seeing the latest Disney cartoon-movie everyone else has seen (or as much of it as you can stomach) wouldn't endanger your salvation. I use this as an example because I'm not big on animation myself and recently got embarrassed a bit by one of my classes when it came out that I'd never heard some song in one of the more famous Disney flix that everyone else knew by heart. However, I've watched and read plenty of stuff in my life I'd have been better off avoiding, I'll admit.

As a Classicist, of course, I read literature all the time – fiction very often. Homer and Vergil are considered highly cultured – and rightly so. But they're still fiction. I suppose I get some dispensation because this is my job. They are enjoyable to read as well. I do have to say that I can't seem to divorce my attitude when reading them from my professional lens, and of course in terms of Greek it's been helpful for Bible research.

That is at least part of the answer, namely "where you are at spiritually" when you read/listen/watch, and how much of a mental/emotional/spiritual standoff you can maintain while doing so. If a person watches "The Exorcist" and believes the nonsense, probably best not to do so. I use this example because I did see the movie and it made zero impression on me. I found it incredibly boring at the time. I was in OCS at the time, and half-way through the ten weeks they gave us a day and a half off on weekends; my buddies and I would share cabs up to D.C. and check into a nice hotel . . . and sleep. This was before multiplexes and there was only one screen adjoining the hotel complex we always went to (Crystal City) – and it played "The Exorcist" the whole time I was in OCS. So I saw it out of boredom. I'm glad I did see that one, because at the time people were having all manner of intense reactions to it (which I found bizarre), but most were R.C.'s, so it illuminates the superstitious R.C. mindset very well – and that mindset is leaking over into evangelicaldom nowadays as well, with exorcism being all the rage in phony (and dangerous) "spiritual warfare ministries".

So there are reasons to see things. There are reasons to listen to things. There are reasons to read things. The mindset we have when we are doing so is key (spiritual / emotional distance).

In my own experience, I've gravitated toward less but not to zero. I tend not to spend any time on sports (I did watch a few hours of the World Series while having supper several nights), almost none on music, almost never on fiction writing (except Classics). I do watch movies occasionally (probably a waste of time with other drawbacks also). I don't spend much time on video games, though I used to spend probably too much time on strategy war games (when the semester was over). Nowadays when the work day is done, I may read some history, do some cross-wording and watch TV news (talk about fiction!). All of it is compromised to some degree. All of us would be better off probably reading the Bible . . . some more . . . instead of all of the other possibilities. But then we'd be verging on being perfect. I'm able to say definitively that there is no risk of that on my end.

The above is not a paradigm. And it's also not a plan or a strategy, even for me. We all make our own decisions and our own applications. We all need some rest from time to time, mentally as well as physically. How we incorporate that into our lives in a way that doesn't compromise us is between us and the Lord – and the Spirit is very good about letting us know when we are pushing the limits.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hey Dr L,

Quick question for you, though this one might not be answerable: I have grown up being given the idea by believers (or at least people who claimed to be believers) around me saying that we ought to appear before God 'just as you are' (read: don't worry about looking presentable or dressing your best). I mean there are even popular Christian songs that literally say those words.

And much later I learned that, no, one ought to dress one's best out of respect for others. So, first, is that true for the secular world? And two, is that true for God as well? Because the come as you are/don't care about your appearance is nearly opposite to dressing one's best out of respect.

Response #3:

This is an application question, meaning, other than how one thinks about it personally in their own hearts, there is generally no right or wrong – within some obvious extremes. Clearly, dressing in a barrel with suspenders and nothing else would be wrong if a person has any other clothing. Clearly, dressing in a dress uniform if a person has never actually even been in the military would be wrong. One could easily think of other examples.

From your emails here, I think it's clear that you and everyone else has an idea of "what's acceptable" in any particular setting. The closer one gets to the extremes either way, the more problematic. Anyone with basic social acumen can figure that out. If we are sure to give offense either by falling below standard or dressing in what amounts to being a "weird" way by going over the top, as believers we have to take that into account in our application. After all, life here on earth for believers really isn't about this sort of thing which so exercises so many at all. It's all about our life, walk and witness to Jesus Christ.

Here's what Peter actually says:

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
1st Peter 3:3-6 KJV

This doesn't say anything about how women should dress at all; it rather says that they should "adorn themselves" inwardly, rather than putting an excessive emphasis on the outside of the person.

So it's not necessarily wrong to "dress up" and it's not wrong to "dress down", but deliberately calling attention to oneself by going to extremes either way certainly indicates to me that the person doing so is trying to get a reaction, and is thus more concerned about what people think than about what the Lord thinks.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Peter says to dress respectably. Tell me the truth, in your day if a woman showed up without having spent money to have her hair styled, without having spent time and money makeup, and likely time and money on jewelry, and without formal clothes to a wedding, or a funeral, or church, or the workplace, or even the market, would her appearance not be considered wrong? What he is saying inherently commands those things, spending of time and money on appearance. It is a bit odd today because...

"Anyone with basic social acumen can figure that out. If we are sure to give offense either by falling below standard or dressing in what amounts to be a "weird" way by going over the top"

Well you say that, but would you think a person decked out in a billion piercings and tattoos and a t-shirt is presentable, let alone respectable? Because if you or I were to say no, they would call us bigots. (I laughed a bit at the stupidity when I wrote that). We don't have any clear rules. If the older group thinks formal wear is respectful of others, but my own age thinks it is vain, there is no way I can fulfill the command to not stand out. It just isn't possible. I might can fulfill the one to look respectable to the degree that it will work with the older group (the younger ones doesn't really have a concept of that anyway), but they might take offense if it comes off badly.

Have a good Thanksgiving

Response #4:

I will admit that trying to fine-tune this is impossible. Trying to do so – and trying to set up rules about it that will work all the time – would only result in rank legalism.

As to 1st Peter, however, while what you say is often assumed, I reiterate, here is what Peter actually says in the Spirit: " Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." So the only physical appearance comment Peter makes is to say "don't obsess over external matters"; instead, he says, "concentrate on what is inside". So this passage can't be made to say "you have to dress up to this degree", and it also can't be made to say – though more people have abused it in this other way – that women can't wear jewelry or makeup or have a hairstyle.

I know from long correspondence with you that you are doing a good job "working on the inside". That is definitely what counts with the Lord Jesus:

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1st Samuel 16:7 NKJV

Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Dear Professor

Thank you for providing us (sheep) with BB 6B. Your excerpt on the Pastor-Teacher begins with John 21:17 NKJV.

This brings to mind something our Bible teacher said regarding: The three emphatic denials by Peter (Matt.26:34; 26:75) being matched/replaced by The Three proclamations of Peter’s love for Christ.

Peter had basically said these things the first time so it must have been a very raw nerve it hit again.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior.

Your student and friend

Response #5:

Not only that – the Holy Spirit also had to tell Peter three times that he should go with the men Cornelius sent (Acts 10:9ff.).

I'm not one to judge here. I have learned in my years of teaching that all effective teaching requires constant repetition.  And I also often need "repetition" before I "get it" and before it sinks in. Peter seems to have been that type too.

Hope you and your family are out of harm's way with all these fires we're hearing about.

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi Bob,

I'm sorry to hear that things haven't quite worked out as you would have liked with your minors and x-pay. It's obviously what the Lord wants for you right now and what is best for you. You work so hard and maybe this is the Lord's way of freeing up some time to give you some rest over the summer but also to give you more time for the ministry which of course is your "real" work. I'm just guessing, Bob. I'm happy that you know well in advance though and can plan to make the best use of the time.

I'd forgotten about that target on my back! When I do remember, I seem to think more about the unseen minions but it stood out to me when you mentioned the seen ones too - that makes a lot of sense to me.

I was at work yesterday, worked late tonight and I'm back in tomorrow but over the weekend I'm going to try to get some rest. I'm feeling very tired and a "mental health day" off sounds just what I need as well. I need to take a step back, clear my head, take a deep breath and get going again with the right perspective. I need to learn from this and not allow the situation to drain me so much again. Time with the Lord in prayer about it and in His Word will get me back on track. I love the verse you gave me in Isaiah - we won't even remember all of the troubles in this life.

It's a tiny amount of time in this life isn't it, compared to eternity. I want to do the very best for the Lord in the time I have here but I need to remember that I shouldn't be getting worked up about it. Remember to rest in Him and know that He has it all under control.

At least it's only a short time and then I'll be with the Lord and all of our other brothers and sisters. What a day that will be! But until that time comes I'll keep on plugging away for the Lord.

Keeping you and your family in my prayers and thank you so much, Bob for yours too.

Your friend in Jesus

Response #6:

Thanks – but we know that the Lord is working this out for the good, as you rightly remind me. He's always provided for me. However things work out in this job, the one I've been given to do for the Lord is FAR more important. And I don't need to be concerned for any tomorrow. We're only given "today", after all [update: the Lord worked all these issues out wonderfully well beyond expectation – thanks for the prayers!].

I appreciate your godly determination and your wonderful attitude, my friend! Like most people I tend to get way too "whiny" when things don't go exactly my way. I was walking up the street this evening and from half a block away I heard this plaintive cry. I couldn't tell whether it was human or animal at first. It went on and on for the whole time (several minutes) it took me to get up our very long block. It turned out to be a two year old whose father tried to get her to say hello to me, but to no avail. The screaming went on as I passed. "Good pipes!" I remarked. "She didn't get to take her toy dog on our walk", my neighbor replied.

Life is full of tragedies. I chuckled to myself all the way home. But really what we adult Christians tend to do is not that much different. "Doesn't that kid know this is no big deal?" But I can imagine the Lord thinking when we cry out plaintively "Doesn't this believer know I have this all in hand?" At least I'm pretty sure that if we saw Him face to face when we are so concerned about one thing or another that THAT would shut us up. At least until tomorrow when something else goes "wrong".

The plan of God is perfect, and our Lord is perfect, but how easy it is to get our eyes off of Him and onto whatever is upsetting us today! So I do hate the world. Remembering that it is so very temporary and that all of our tears will be wiped away by His eternal glory and joy everlasting is good to keep in mind and to stop whining, even if we have the pipes to do it (Satan has pretty good ones too, as I recall).

Take that day off!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hi Bob,

I loved reading about your walk up the street yesterday evening! Fancy having a toy dog and not getting to take it for a walk - now that is tragic - poor little love! And you're dead right, Bob I know if I saw the Lord face to face it would DEFINITELY shut me up!

I was thinking this morning - you might be the only full professor on a total teaching contract but I bet you're the only professor at your uni who has been SO blessed by the Lord to have such a wonderful ministry. And as you say, that is FAR more precious and important and fruitful than anything our jobs in this life can give us.

I always ask the Lord to help you and to give you the time, energy and the strength (you already have the Spirit's power!) to do everything He wants you to do for the ministry, family and home and for work. And to provide for all your needs too. I pray that every day for you so it might be my fault. I think He might be answering my prayer!

Something else I've noticed that a lot of us get jittery about is change - we don't like change. We like what we're used to because it's comfortable and we feel secure. We know where we are with it. We trust what is familiar to us. But as believers the Lord tells us not to be afraid of anything and that we are to put our trust in Him. I've been reading Ecclesiastes (I love that book) and in the notes at the end it says that troubles and uncertainty will continue to plague us, but even during these times we can find joy in a secure trust in our Father.

There's going to be a few changes going on when the Tribulation starts (British understatement thrown in just for you!) so these little things are just good practice for us.

I got through today at work in one piece. I'll grab a little bit of rest at the weekend and a lot of time with the Lord. That'll keep my "pipes" quiet!

Thank you so much for helping me through this. I'll be praying for you.

Your friend in Jesus

Response #7:

Yes, I chuckled all the way up the street, mainly because I realized that sometimes when I'm upset I'm not much better whenever my own "toy dog" gets frustrated or disrespected.

Good news today: looks like I may indeed be getting my X-pay back! The chair is supporting my request, so it's a question now of the new dean and his staff (but since the money is coming from our dept., I don't really anticipate that being a problem – not that I haven't been surprised before, however). God is good! Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do for research next summer.

You're right too. I hate change. Probably because in my own experience it's usually for the bad and not for the good. I don't mind putting up with it when it's necessary; I don't mind putting up with it when it's actually an improvement; I really do dislike it however when it's "change for change's sake alone" and ends up making things more difficult for no apparent benefit. That's mostly what I've noticed in my life. We did an "exercise" at the faculty retreat last summer where we all had to react to certain words with the first thing that popped into our heads. I heard "change", and replied "duck!"

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books as well – and you are right that we are going to have a LOT of change in the Tribulation. Don't forget to duck.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #8:


Response #8:

Thanks for the suggestions about the website for Ichthys. They all have merit. One of the things I've found out over the years, however, is that unless one is very careful it's awfully easy to fall afoul of Google. If there is any sort of fancy formatting, it can disadvantage a whole site in their analysis, and you might not even find out until much later on. I've had to make many changes over the year, and it's almost always resolved down into simplification and throwing overboard a number of things which had been time-intensive to set up. The other problem is that my security certificate – which was a real nightmare to get and not cheap since it required migrating to a new server – also gets compromised when certain "untoward things" happen. And again, they are not actually nefarious or dangerous but they do cause problems. What sorts of things? Code that you didn't realize was problematic for the programs that check these things until well after the fact. I notice that even my own university's web presence is deemed "not secure!". So let me take a little while to chew on these.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:

My husband and l are so grateful that God saw fit to allow our paths to cross to have your email address because we are eager to study the Bible. Our question is:- There are some churches that will not allow instruments to be a part of their worship to God in our area. They claim the early church never used instruments, and that the New Testament backs up their claim. Some go as far as saying that singing with instruments is a sin against Jesus Christ, and the Apostle's teachings. So, do they have a point? Does the New Testament say that it is a sin to use musical instruments as part of your worship to God, through His Son Jesus Christ? My husband and l appreciate you sending us a Christian (Book) if available free of charge...so we can search this materials to learn the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and find answers to our many Bible Study questions!

Response #9:

It's no sin to use instruments in making music in church. But it is a rather silly thing for churches to make this a point of division when almost none of them are doing what a church is fundamentally supposed to do, namely, teach the Word of God (and by that I do NOT mean "sermons").

There is a great deal about this question and all those which surround it at the following link: BB 6B: Ecclesiology; shorter links on Christian music in particular "Music in the local church" (in BB6B); and "Christian music".

Sadly, this is a "one man" personal ministry and I don't have the resources to print out these materials and send them to others. Everything at Ichthys is available free of charge, however, for download and personal printing (see the link).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hello again Bob my friend,

How are things with you? I have been wondering about you at the university. It seems that places of learning have now become seasoned battle grounds over various political positions, gender and identity ideologies and the arguments over freedoms of speech. My thoughts and prayers go to you as you work in the midst of all this. I hope all these things have failed to darken your door.

I have been wondering a lot lately about gossiping and backbiting. I'm afraid that I fall foul of this a great deal. I used to think that speaking about injustices committed by neighbours was alright and wasn't gossip. I conned myself into thinking that gossip was only saying bad things about "good people". Now I realise that it is gossip even when we judge the person to be doing "bad".

With regards to this, when would you consider something to be news and when does it become gossip? Is all news just a type of gossip?

As I have been vulnerable lately, my particular weaknesses have become very clear to me. What the enemy has meant for evil, God has made for good in me as now I know the areas I need to improve my walk in.

God bless you.

In Jesus Christ our Saviour,

Response #10:

It's a good question – and also a matter of application rather than of interpretation. We all know that slander is a sin; we all do have conversations with people and, in the natural course of things, we mention "information" we have heard. Is that gossip? Maybe. Is it slander? That is less likely to be the case. But I do read this in scripture:

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.
Proverbs 10:19 NASB

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.
Psalm 141:3 NKJV

I said, “I will guard my ways,
Lest I sin with my tongue;
I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle,
While the wicked are before me.”
I was mute with silence,
I held my peace even from good;
And my sorrow was stirred up.
My heart was hot within me;
While I was musing, the fire burned.
Then I spoke with my tongue:
Psalm 39:1b-3 NKJV

For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.
James 3:2 NKJV

Keeping control of our tongues is not easy, and few of us are able to do so consistently as the verses above suggest. What we can glean from the above is that "less is more", and that whenever we are in conversations of a personal nature it's always a good idea to "get a hold of ourselves" ahead of time, reminding ourselves of these principles. See also the link: "Let him stop his tongue" in Peter #35.

Blessedly, we are also forgiven when we do stumble, err, fall, sin – just as soon as we confess to the Lord (Ps.32:1-5; 1Jn.1:9).

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Glory to God Robert. I Just fasted 40 days and 40 nights. My condition is glorious!

I love you so much.

God bless you in Jesu name.

Response #11:


I hope you have broken your fast now, my friend.

Please see to your health. We are still "in the body", after all.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Dearest Robert.

It's not unheard of here in Norway among born again believers to fast 40 days. And 30 days is not common but I know several who do it.

I fasted 40 days and 40 nights then started to eat. Now I am more alive and committed to Christ than ever before. Glory glory glory!

I encourage you to fast. But 40 or even 30 is not something to just commence on. Faith is required for this extended fasting.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth among men in whom God delights.

God bless you dear brother.

Jesus is Lord!

Response #12:

I have to go to work to keep the lights on and the website up; impossible to do that without proper nutrition.

Also, I don't have to starve myself to appreciate the Lord.

Here's a link on that: "Fasting 3"

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

My Mom's family was Luginbyhl from Switzerland. Originally Luginbuel .........FYI

Was there years ago and met a man that put on a Swiss heritage show in Lake Lucerne .....he looked and acted just like my grandfather so I asked if he were of that lineage. He said, "No, but in Switzerland you couldn't swing a cat for all the Luginbuels" .... Pronounced for me "LOO_GIN_BEWL"

Response #13:

Yes that's right! It's the equivalent of "Smith and Jones" in parts around Bern. Here in the US, moreover, there are two strains, one which expanded from the New Bern colony in Indiana (the California Luginbills are mostly from there) and the one in Ohio around Pandora (that's where my people came from). And there are lots of inventive spellings. Our family lore is that they got rid of the umlaut during WWI when people were breaking their German dishes and sending people off to camps for speaking the language. It's a good story in any case.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Dear Professor

I hope things are going decently for you at work and you and your family are well.

Bushfires burning completely out of control in much of Australia, massive mobilisation of man power, machinery power, water bombing air craft, several crashing (sadly killing 3 of your countrymen when their aircraft crashed), technologies employed to the maximum. Result: fires grow even larger, more numerous, more out of control and smoke choking people in Sydney and Melbourne. One Barnaby Joyce, a colorful National Party member, says we are missing the the obvious In all this - prayer and faith in God. I saw and heard him make those comments on TV, sincere and contrite. His remarks are Not received with a lot of favor by many.

It rains, and rains, it floods in many places. (Ps. 46). Be still and know that I am God (v.10). It was God who put out the fires. Reaffirmation (as if we needed it - sadly some of us do). We are completely helpless and are nothing without God. We are totally reliant on Him for everything.

I brought this up at Tuesday Bible study. They acknowledge God but were disparaging of Barnaby for his past indiscretions. I try to give credit where it is due. His courage and humility were obvious to me. If we judge others harshly, how do we expect anyone to listen to anyone? That includes our study group! Past “indiscretions” (read sins) of us in the group and still living in the past (old covenant which has been superseded by a better covenant). They do not seem to realise they are trying to live the old Law (tithing being the prominent one). They have started a bank account for their building fund - yet we learn more in our small home studies than I did by my attendance at “their church”, or any “denomination church”. I just tipped 21 mm of rain out of our gauge. Had a few tippings lately and very grateful to God for the rain and all things, especially for your gracious Ministry.

I was concerned to read in your emails that you are in debt, which does not seem right at your stage of life. I dare say ichthys readers, given the opportunity, would be happy to contribute to your Ministry. Not that most of us are flash with cash, but it seems being in debt is not what is required for a true teacher of the gospel. (The worker is worthy of his hire).

Thank you for your service.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Your student

Response #14:

Thanks for the update, my friend. I'm sorry to hear that the fires are still such an issue. I have been praying for you and yours on this. Yes, one would think that in the face of forces that are clearly beyond human control people would be more inclined to "get" that God is the only solution. Sadly, this is most often not the case:

And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
Revelation 16:9 NKJV

And, yes, it is amazing to me too the irrational connection people have to a formal church organization and a formal building, like some sort of talisman that supersedes all other dedication to the Lord.

Don't worry about me, my friend! I have a good job that enables me to survive and thrive thanks to the Lord's great grace. What more does any of us need? It's not like we're "taking it with us". I'm more than recompensed by your prayers, and by the satisfaction I get in seeing you and other brothers and sister filling up their eternal treasure chests. Now THAT we will take with us.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Dear Bob:

What's your thoughts on the command to kill Men, Women and Children in regards to the Amalekites? Whilst I believe an argument can be made in regards to Canaan to preserve the religious purity of Israel since God himself said so? Why do you think that Israel couldn't do this?:

"12But if they refuse to make peace with you and wage war against you, lay siege to that city. 13When the LORD your God has delivered it into your hands, you must strike down every male with the sword. 14But the women, children, livestock, and whatever else is in the city—all its spoil—you may take as plunder, and you shall use the spoil of your enemies that the LORD your God gives you. 15This is how you are to treat all the cities that are far away from you and do not belong to the nations nearby."

I read up on it and some apologists argue that it is practical due to food shortages preventing them from doing because of the loss of fertile land at the time when Saul reigned when God issued Herem like he did with Canaan. Or is Amalek actually just as corrupting as the assimilation of any of the Canaanites that didn't repent unlike Rahab?

I couldn't find much information about their religion. So I am interested in your thoughts.

Yours in Christ

Response #15:

At the last judgment, God will cast all unbelieving humanity into the lake of fire. This is far worse than ending physical life. At Armageddon, the Lord will personally slay possibly millions of the assembled armies attacking Jerusalem. He personally put to death 185,000 of the Assyrian army. He personally destroyed the entire Egyptian army of Pharaoh. He personally destroyed the entire population of the earth with the great flood (eight persons only excepted). Sometimes God uses agents to do His work, whatever that work is. So if he ordered his anointed to destroy the Amalekites, I don't see any great difference between that and God doing it Himself. But by ordering Saul to do it, it did serve to demonstrate his lack of fear of God.

What are God's reasons for putting individuals and groups to death? Of one thing we may be sure: whatever the reason, it is always perfect – and part of the perfect plan of God.

I'm not gifted in apologetics, so I'm not the best person to ask about how to explain this to unbelievers, especially not to those who are always trying to find reasons to blame God for this or that. But for us who love Him more than life, WE know full well that everything He does is good and just and right – and that would include absolutely everything He may tell us to do. So the answer to this as well as to many other such questions begins with trusting Him.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Dear Bob:

Thanks for the answer. I hope that I will be able to find good reasons why when I die and why alternatives considered are actually wrong or inferior. I simply find such things very emotionally difficult especially given that such instances have been used to justify mass murder and genocide by historical figures.

Its been prompted by youtube algorithms that keep trying to promote atheist content to me and try to paint god as some kind of monster or tyrant.

God bless

Response #16:

As mentioned, I'm no apologist. That is a special gift (or probably set of gifts) which include a temperament I don't have.

I will say that people willfully abuse, misuse, misinterpret, and sometimes just honestly misunderstand the Bible all the time. We Christians need to resist dancing to such tunes. We know that God is just – He is God! So if there is anything we don't understand – and this side of heaven there can be much we don't (especially in the early years of spiritual growth) – we need to make it our policy to trust Him regardless of what we see or hear or feel emotionally – that is what faith is all about.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Bob,

Sorry for the delay. The job has started now, but I'll be in the general orientation for the base until next Tuesday, when I'll finally meet my team and then start training for my actual role.

I'm still trying to weigh exactly how much church recon to do -- and how much to pursue the idea of pushing a local fellowship. I have a pretty good idea of what churches are going to be like based on the emphasis they put on different things on their websites -- for example, mega-church feel-good stuff, "discipleship-centric" (AKA hand over your free will and let us pound our particular flavor of legalism into you), traditional, liturgical, etc.

Of course, I'm less interested in the authority structure of churches themselves and more in the people that show up at them. Much how Roman Catholicism is highly problematic but not every Catholic you run into is so (particularly to the degree they are comparatively "less Catholic"), the idea would be to form a network of local Christians rather independent of problematic local churches.

A thread on the forum has provided some food for thought in the manner of how much of this ought to be me "going out and getting" people, vs. waiting for the Lord to bring them to me in time. I'm probably going to cease worrying about this local stuff for a while, and see what happens. I can always try to pick this up again when I am more settled and have more of a steady routine. It's possible by that time that the Lord will already have something waiting for me as well, without me having to put it all together.

I'm also planning on launching another completely separate forum for my own ministry website to tie together many people who have been in my Bible studies over the years.

There is one important forum matter I wish to run by you. [omitted]

What do you think?

In Christ,

Response #17:

Good to hear that you're getting a nice long "bore-ientation". The military is good about that. Guess you have to learn to call Colonels "sir" and Generals "General", etc.

I would be surprised if you find a church-church that is actually teaching anything substantive and at the same time is free of the most noisome offensive false teachings. One thing to look out for, however. If you do start going someplace regularly, it won't take them long to figure out you're talented. If you get pressed into service teaching, that will be problematic if there is any great divergence between you and the powers that be. That sort of thing starts very easily enough but never ends well. And it's a small town, right?

On the forum, are we having that problem now? If not, I'm no fan of rules. The more rules, the more trouble, in my experience. If you are in a situation that needs a lot of rules, it probably means you ought to get out of the situation entirely, not try to fix it with minor repairs. I've been very slow to send you names for this list, precisely because I don't want people on there who would be problems. If a person is a problem person, he/she will not play by the rules in any case; if not, he/she doesn't need rules.

Your own site/list is a good idea, however! That's the way more extensive Bible studies get started.

Keeping you in my daily prayers, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello Bob,

What would you say the Biblical stance on organ and blood donation would be? I know that the life is to be found in the blood. I have never donated blood mainly because I am very squeamish! The law in the UK has changed and if a person does NOT WANT to donate their organs when they die they are now legally required to OPT OUT.

The spurious reason for the change of law is that a recent survey showed that most people showed interest in donating organs but had failed to register. The government in their "wisdom" decided that because it requires effort to "opt in" to something, they instead have assumed everyone is willing to donate their organs unless a person has made the effort to "opt out".

So the effort and onus is now on the people who want to say "no" to something rather than the ones who say "yes"! Does this sound familiar? There seems to be a cunning shift in the way government operates in that we have to now make a stand to be excluded from things rather to be included in things. It also has the foreshadowing of the mark of the beast as it is also about making an effort to "opt out" of some bodily change (although this will involve worship as well). I have noticed that all the articles about "why anyone wouldn't want to donate" is filled with language designed to shame and guilt people for their personal opinion. The government seem a little overly obsessed with our bodies at the moment..

Most countries have gone and now going for the "opt out" model. The US at the moment is "opt in" but this may change as there is pressure for this due to demand.

Going back to my original question, although these things were not around in the times the Bible was written, what argument from scripture can be made on whether this is good or bad in the eyes of God.

With love and prayers. God bless

In Him,

Response #18:

This falls into the area of application, not strict biblical principle. I'm not a fan of any of these things, but I don't make a point of registering opposition either. I know folks who believe these practices are the height of virtue; I know others who are crusaders against them. I wouldn't cross the street to sign a petition one way or another. In the scheme of things, given the actual spiritual warfare we're presently involved in, I would advise all not to let their mental peace be affected by small potatoes such as these are.

For something about all this at Ichthys, see Q/A #16 and #17 at the link: "Blindness, Disease, Medicine".

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your reply and I have gained a great deal from reading those emails you sent me.

Yes, I agree with you that being fixated on either side of these issues distracts us from what our true purpose here is. I see the pointlessness of "virtue signalling" and also the dangers of politicking.

We live in the Devils' camp (for the moment) and that for us is enemy territory. All manner of things around us are ungodly. I know that I need to focus on the larger and more immediate threat of the spiritual battle we are in and approaching the end times. It can be easy to overly fixate on one battle area and lose perspective of the war.

The reason why this sneaky bit of undisclosed legislation alarmed me was that it was yet another part of government overreach with regards to our physical selves. We are made in the image of God after all and it seems as if the enemy wants to constantly deface that image through our bodies. I baulk at the idea of us being walking spare parts storage and if we do not wish to be part of this recycle drive that we are labelled selfish. It also seems to tie in to this emerging green Eco religion. I have even heard of people wishing to be buried in easily biodegradable coffins so that they become "human fertiliser" to sustain "Mother Earth". It would be laughable if people didn't actually really believe this stuff. It just seems like repackaged paganism to me, as if this corrupted world could benefit from our bodies!

I can't help see an irony in that people are understandably desperate to save others lives and hope to provide the means to support life after their own death with their donation (why would this not be seen as Christian in practice). At the same time though, the same people seem to care little of the one blessed body which has already saved all those that respond to His free gift of life. We should be focused more on the one life and sacrifice that truly saves lives eternally.

I do have peace more and more Bob and I realise from your matured position that we are not to get overly caught up in these matters either way as both shows a preoccupation with the now and the material.

I personally have decided to "opt out" as I feel uncomfortable with the idea but I don't want to be legalistic about this with others. I also am not so certain on where I stand about blood.

The email that addresses this issue in particular, do you happen to have the title of the book about "Organ Donation"? I have a big reading list at the moment and realise that this in and of itself is small fry to what we are really up against but may at some point skim over as I am interested in what the writer has to say.

Many thanks again Bob, you really help me to grow. I am at the stage where I can pretty much guess what your response would be. Not to say that you are predictable but that I myself am understanding that "sweet spot" that you talk about. The narrow path we walk where we avoid offending God with our sin and offending others with our legalism (which offends God too). There is so much Grace from God it truly is astounding and I feel the abundance of His love and forgiveness as I navigate this path. It is not a walk of fear and confusion but one of growing trust and confidence in our Saviour Jesus Christ. I feel blessed as I am humbled by it. I also experience joy when I realise that in my weaknesses I find that closeness to Him with relying on Him more and more. That inner smile in the midst of turmoil to which you refer to. I think of His glory and mercy and I completely trust now that it is all for good that I can even laugh with joy to know I serve an all powerful and loving living God whose perfect plan will be revealed to us all in our joyously new incorruptible bodies.

God bless you Bob and keeping you in my prayers.

In Our Lord Jesus Christ who overcame the whole world,

Response #19:

Thanks for your wonderful email, my friend!

I have no problem with your decision. "What a country!" that you have to opt out of something like that instead of opting in.

Indeed, this is all a new religion of sorts – and I'm sure that it's all part of the evil one laying the ground work for his one-world religion of the beast. People who are "into it" now will be more vulnerable to being completely deceived once the Tribulation begins. So thank you for this great dose of spiritual common sense!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi Bob,

In recent times I have been considering the idea of getting a motorcycle and the idea of biking to work. Without getting too bogged down in the details, here's some of the reasoning for using motorcycles:

They are cheaper to buy.
They are cheaper to operate (i.e., they are more efficient).
They are cheaper to maintain.
They are cheaper to insure.
They are a lot more fun than driving; psychological benefits like stress-reduction are not completely insignificant.

Outside of the affluent first world, many, many people use two-wheeled vehicles as their primary form of transportation. In India, for example. And some of the reasoning for biking to work:

Combines cardio with commuting, making both activities more time-efficient.
Can help clear your head when transitioning from home to work, and vice versa.

However, both of these things entail a degree of risk that would otherwise not be present. Much can be done to mitigate the risk (such as wearing protective equipment, riding cautiously, and taking steps to improve visibility), but no matter how you slice it, these activities entail a degree of unavoidable risk. The problem is more that of having to share the road in both cases with drivers who may be careless, texting, or even intoxicated than the activities themselves being inherently risky. Since there won't be anything between yourself and the road, any accidents caused by the behavior of others (which you can't control) can lead to serious consequences.

I searched and couldn't find any scripture that seems to speak on risk directly. The thing that strikes me as most relevant is that we are called to be salt and light to the world, and for that reason some activities might make a rather poor witness. For example both smoking and binge drinking are risky activities that seem to me to give a poor witness.

There are some other activities that seem to me to entail risk with little practical reward. For example:

Racing motorcycles
Downhill skiing
Downhill mountain biking
Surfing very large waves
Competing in full-contact martial arts: getting a hit to the head can cause permanent brain damage. (Light sparring carries less but non-negligible risk).

I don't know if we can say that Christians ought to avoid these things altogether (they seem less clear cut than smoking, for example). I don't think even smoking is a sin, but just because we can do something does not mean that we should do it. These things would seem to me to maybe fall into things that it would be better that we not do.

On the other hand, we have Romans 14 and a long track record of legalism making a mess of things, so I'm fairly certain it is improper to make such an application prescriptive.

Which brings us back to the two things above. Many people think motorcycles are unreasonably dangerous and never worth throwing a leg over, and that sharing faster roads with cars on a bike is a death wish. Based on the research I've done, many of the injuries and fatalities present in the motorcycle crash statistics are the result of preventable things like riding when intoxicated or not wearing protective gear. Similarly, the worst outcomes related to cycling can be prevented in large part simply by always wearing a helmet.

I am just a bit unsure where this leaves us. I've wanted a motorcycle for some time now for reasons that have more to do with having fun than saving money, although the latter is a side-benefit. I am well-off enough that the monetary arguments for a motorcycle, while still relevant, are not really all that important. Essentially, by riding a motorcycle rather than driving a car then, since I actually have a choice (rather than being forced to go with the cheaper option due to circumstances like people in the third world), I would be electively taking on risk.

With all this said, I don't want to cause anyone to stumble based on this, and I'm not sure whether or not it would be irresponsible for me to ride a motorcycle -- an action that arguably risks the life God has given me. (Biking to work is similar).

I’m most interested in figuring out how we ought to conceptualize risk in general. Should we assume God will protect us if it is His Will (and therefore not worry about risk that much), or assume that it is a bad idea to “test God” by putting ourselves in any sort of danger? Something in the middle?

What do you think?

In Christ,

Response #20:

That's an application issue for you to decide.

If you're asking me personally, of course the Lord can keep you safe no matter what. But of course that doesn't give you permission to jump off the top of the temple at the devil's goading.

I've only ever been on motorcycles a couple of times. I did have an acquaintance at Tank Battalion in CA who rode one. He was very athletic. But one day he hit some largely invisible loose gravel on the road in and went down, taking a good amount of skin off one entire side of his body. It may be anecdotal. I had a good seminary buddy who also had one. He was also very athletic and didn't crash his – but he traded it in for a car about six months in, so we're not talking about a long period of time here.

On bikes, my uncle Phil was killed riding his bicycle home from work many years ago, getting run into a wall while going through a viaduct. Others manage to ride and not fall or be hit. I will say that driving etiquette at least here in Louisville has gone from bad to worse (I'd like to say I'm completely not part of the problem but . . . ). One thing I'm having a hard time getting used to is "straight ahead on red" – which is not legal in KY but you'd have a hard time figuring that out by observation. A new one in the last year or so is "left turn on red after stop", and even "left turn on red without stopping".

Under such conditions, I'd be more than a little nervous about "sharing the road". Bikers at least here aggravate the situation too in my view; they tend to be way over confident in how they ride, sometimes even seeming to dare frustrated drivers to get too close. I think it is attitude too. I've noticed when jogging that if they're coming up behind you, bicyclists tend to try and get just as close as possible without actually making contact – and in my case I've come very close to being nicked on more than one occasion over the years. Funny – they seem to give you more space when they're coming at you face to face.

I don't know if any of that helps. There are plenty of things that we can do that are matters of application which increase the risk of life threatening injury and which are NOT necessary to do. You tell me if that is wise. We don't want to be cowards and shrink from life in an attempt to put a bubble around us and all we do. So there are lines on both sides. It's your job to figure out what the Spirit is telling you. If I were your mother I'd tell you to forget about the motorcycle and only consider bicycling to work if there is a relative safe route which doesn't involve competing with main-artery traffic.

When I was in the military, when in garrison on a base like yours we got 90 minutes for lunch – so that we could get a good workout. That's probably more than enough time to do whatever you need/want to do, without any particular risk.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Dear Professor

Thanks to your great Ministry teachings I am batting on here down under, though the batting average is being somewhat difficult to maintain at times. Much tireder than I have been for a long time. My wife also is feeling tired - so much has happened on the personal front in a fairly short time. Gratefully we are blessed with two excellent ministries; yours for myself and Curt’s for my wife [link to Bible Academy]. God is good.

How is the toilet roll situation in the USA? Here the unsavy shopper is finding bare shelves all over the country, people tasered and some charged with assault fighting each other over toilet rolls! Hand sanitizer is also as rare as hen’s teeth. (Nothing on the shelves either). The “bright” side of humanity can be observed in the entrepreneurship of some individuals buying up big and advertising a SINGLE toilet roll for $5. Who could not have imagined humans rising up to make the best of their fellows misfortune.

Who would of dreamed that a little corona virus could spread such fear and panic into a population so resilient that they do not even need God? (except perhaps, to blame) And, this is pre, even the beginning of the birth pangs!

Nevertheless some suitably startled people are making a run on a ALL the supermarket items just in case they are quarantined, and/or the trucks don’t arrive, and/or. ....? If you are short of supplies, check with your friendly Mormon neighbour. They have been told to store 2 years supply of food, water and if possible, fuel - not altogether an unreasonable policy. To be fair the instruction back when I was a member was to share with others in need. Sadly my “oil” in that department has been used up long ago. (Though in reality I never achieved that goal in the first place - one reason being that they took so much of my income).

It appears that people over 65 are most at risk from the corona virus, and that is also likely to be true of any subsequent epidemics, so it may be that some of us oldies have a way out before the Tribulation begins. (I do realise our lot will be whatever God has ordained for us - and not what we might want). This morning,to put the bus kids at ease, I told them that corona mostly strikes the older people, so they have no need to worry. The immediate reply was, “Who will drive the bus”? My reply: “One of you kids will have to step up”.

Music? (Well, right after I sent you the email on music - Another episode, sent, it seems, to test me). While we shared our Saturday meal together, the Bible teacher’s wife prepared the scriptures and music for her husband’s lesson. To my surprise our place was heightened by a youtube of US Marines singing, swaying, yahooing, “Days of Elijah”. I had a look around the room, the Bible teacher, and his wife seated opposite each other were into the hand slapping thigh, foot tapping, one other person sang with some gusto, I was a stunned mullet. A recent attendee also seemed somewhat perplexed and silent. The following day I mentioned this to my wife who informed me that the recent attendee is not into charismatics at all. Video was from a list at The River Room Church’s media arm www.thechurchguide.com

The teachers wife smiled and said isn’t it great to see the faith of the Marines singing. I was thinking more of the hype (rather than a worshipful attitude), maybe many or most of the Marines do not understand or even believe. “Great” music has been used successfully to incite groups to kill others of lesser or no value. One needs to be fully grounded in the truth to PREVENT “great” music being used to stir us into evil purposes. There is no disrespect intended to those serving, I also appreciate their dedication to country. I do suspect the Marines may reflect somewhat the balance of believers/non believers as the rest of society.

As an after thought, I spoke recently to a dad of one of my school bus passengers from years ago to enquire how her pilot training in the Air Force was going and was he at all concerned if she was in combat. His reply was enlightening. “It will never happen. When was the last time Australia went to war?” You can’t argue with logic like that! (And he runs a very successful business).

The band, Planetshakers, and also Hillsong Church (to which our PM subscribes) employ this method to excite the emotions. (Remember I told you that Jeff was so happy that so many “came to Christ” at the bands stirring performance). Please beware: Nebuchadnezzar’s “band” knew what they were doing and STILL do! Extremely high success rate. All but three, succumbed. Daniel 3:4-7

I have not been able to find any evidence of Jesus teaching with anything like the aid of Nebuchadnezzar’s band, or even a two piece orchestra. The New Testament (of the new covenant is silent on this - and perhaps we would be safer to follow its lead - rather than dance to the beat of the drum!) On the positive side, Who has not felt deep emotion at times when silently reading or praying? Let us keep those positive emotions through the still small voice sacred.

The beating up of our emotions into a frenzy through “the band” is particularly fraught with danger heading into the Tribulation. Rather we NEED the protection of the Holy Spirit for our eternal lives. My mother used to remind me to “keep it easy” . I took it as internal “quiet” as I have always, it seems, been under a fair bit of stress - well, together with most of the human race.

I did not want to bring it up at the time as it would mean contradicting the Bible teacher in front of the class. Some ways it is hard to believe that his wife had 3 songs organised before our lesson. Perhaps, previously, I was not that clear in my explanation of why I do not find this kind of “music” helpful in a Bible teaching lesson. Perhaps they think that it is only me that thinks this. They do like to get into their music and singing etc. Perhaps they could have their jam session prior arriving at the Bible teaching venue?


I hope things are going well in academia for you. Thank you for your prayers, good words, and good works. I pray for you and your Ministry. I draw strength from your teaching. It is obvious from reading at the Community that you are the reason we are blessed sheep indeed.
Thank you.

In Him, Jesus Christ, the true Shepherd of His sheep.

Your student

Response #21:

Excellent observations!

As the virus fears make clear, people are plenty emotional without receiving any additional help. No need to be stirring it up artificially via music, e.g.

Marines? The Marine Corp Hymn is the only hymn I've ever heard US Marines sing. Never even ever heard of that other hymn you report. Sure these aren't other Marines? Even the Philippines has a Marine Corp (as my old drill sergeant used to tell the weaker individuals, they might want to try out for that one instead). Could be the band. The Marine Corps band doesn't actually have Marines. It has musicians who are very well paid to wear pretty uniforms and play the tuba, e.g.

Things are going well here. Harvard has cancelled their semester and other colleges too, but I think we'll continue and only even go to teach-from-home if there is a serious spike. We only have ONE case in the whole metropolitan area – an old geezer, not a student. I'll cope with it either way. Personally I'm not at all worried. Don't quote me on this but one of my USMC contacts has a friend who is frequently in China and spent business time up in Wuhan. He says the lab is no secret AND they sell the carcasses of the animals they've tested in the local market after they're done with them. Brilliant. Other technical info over my head suggested to him by the professional that it's a man-made bug. I take solace from that. Just as dog breeds quickly revert to norm over several generations of cross breeding, perhaps this thing will turn back into the common cold quickly enough. In any case, I never get fevers, not since I nearly died of measles at aged 4. It was a sore point as a child because I hardly ever got to stay home as the thermometer never cooperated. But I'm happy about it now.

No stocking up on TP for now.

Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Do pray for me, please. I don't know what happened. But everything is going wrong at my job, and that is all I have to support myself. I think it is partly my fault, and partly not. Please pray. And thank you

Response #22:

I will most definitely be praying for you, my friend.

And I am pretty sure it is NOT your fault. People always react poorly under pressure. Those who do not are by far the exception rather than the rule. But I read this in the book of Ecclesiastes:

If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great offenses to rest.
Ecclesiastes 10:4 NIV

And . . .

The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
Ecclesiastes 9:17 NIV

So keep your head and hold your post – and trust the Lord to bring you through.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hello Dear Dr Luginbill,

Has it gotten any easier teaching virtually?

A long time ago I was in this grocery store, and this lady asked for money for her kids for food (or something like that), and tried to use calling me 'sister' as a guilty trope. I offered to go with her to buy it as I did not have cash, only card. And then her countenance changed real fast and she said 'never mind.' I mean the warmth dropped like 'snap!'

Well yesterday I was in the parking lot of another grocery store and this lady and her two kids came by and she was asking for money for a hotel. I have been on edge with everything going on, being very careful with money because [omitted]

Anyway, on with the story of the recent lady and her two kids yesterday. I was dressed like a mess. My pants were not hemmed, I had a bare and tired face, my hair was awful, etc. Next to a car that is very basic (cheap) and has streaks and cracks. And they had fitted clothes and were drinking large soft drinks. (Just painting the picture). Anyway I said I am trying to buy food for myself. And she said that so was she (which, no, she was talking about a hotel), and I said I hadn't even eaten that day. (Now that was not true, What was true was that I had eaten very little and not healthy. And that after a hard day at work where my team leader person demanded I note down all the tasks I work on that day and days after with the times on each task which is very stressful). And she said 'neither have my kids'. But she said it in an entitled way (As in 'you owe it to me and them' like I was their father or something, and not a sympathetic commiserating way. And then I said 'oh, so it's okay if I starve? No, please leave me alone'.

I guess the one good thing of my life pains is that it makes it hard for people like that to get off me because that is the way I think. I see able bodied men begging, and it is like, you have more onus to be working like I am and then giving to women and children. And then women with kids, well I'd like a chance at a family. I am certain her kids or her wont help me if I am suffering later. Maybe that is bad thinking.

May I ask if you have any thoughts? If nothing else, please tell me in what I told you in this that I didn't sin somehow.

Response #23:

I've repeatedly made the point over the years that guilt is a false motivator. As we grow, we learn to listen and understand what is really the voice of the Spirit speaking to our consciences – He works with the TRUTH that is in us – and what instead is merely the sin nature stirred up by the evil one.

In encouraging the Corinthians to give the gift they had already promised to give, Paul says the following:

For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened.
2nd Corinthians 8:13 NKJV

The Corinthians were about the only well-off believers we know of in apostolic times; the Jerusalem believers, on the other hand, were being shut off from making a living, ostracized because of their faith. Paul had alerted the Corinthians to their plight and the Corinthians had responded – in words. Paul now encourages them to act as they promised to act – but NOT in such a way as to put themselves in a pinch for the sake of others.

On top of that, the Jerusalem believers had NOT asked for help. This initiative came from the Corinthians through Paul and his helpers.

In my experience, that is the way it always is. Believers who are in genuine need almost never ask for help. Unbelievers who are merely trying to milk the kindness of others frequently demand help. We who belong to Jesus Christ need to be "shrewd as serpents" even as we are "harmless as doves" just like our Lord told us to be.

So I for one think you did exactly the right thing. The only thing I would say is that over time we also learn to make our application and move on, not explaining ourselves or worrying about guilt, but pushing forward in the service of Jesus Christ, doing what we know through faith and the truth and the Spirit He wants us to do and not worrying about anything else whatsoever. Here is an applicable link: "Giving to Beggars" (there are others to be found on the subject page under "Charity").

On the other question, I agree with you: following orders is important. We generally must do so when we are under authority. That doesn't mean, however, that the orders will make sense. If we see that the person above us is heading for trouble with the policy, it's incumbent upon us to share that (to the extent that he/she is willing to listen). It also needs to be said that there are illegal orders. No one is saying we should follow those.

Wishing you a good week ahead!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.


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