Thanks for the response! That cleared A LOT of things up. One more question and I’ll leave you alone. Is not physically going to church considered a sin? I usually watch church online. I’ve been told it’s against the Bible. I know church is suppose to be on Saturday instead of Sunday too, right? Anyway, I was told that you need to communicate with people physically in order to grow or to please God so going to church physically is better than just watching a service live online. I always thought it didn’t matter because it is a spiritual thing. I always thought I only needed God’s Word & Jesus Christ. I do communicate to people through technology that I get advice from (such as yourself) but this person keeps discrediting that because it’s not in person. I really, really think it still helps me. Like when everyone bows their head to pray live on the online service & I pray with them. Thanks. Sorry to bug you.
It's no problem at all, my friend – happy to help.
The next installment of Bible Basics, Ecclesiology. will have a lot to say about this issue [BB 6B posted now at the link]. The Bible says that if only two or three are gathered together in the Lord's Name, He is among them (Matt.18:20). Also, the purpose of assembly is to learn the truth and to be encouraged through the truth (Heb.10:24-25), but in most "churches" there is nothing of substance being taught, merely sermons, music and socializing. So in most churches, it really is a case of "your meetings do more harm than good" (1Cor.11:17; cf. Is.1:11-12; Amos 5:21; Mal.1:10). Assembly is communication of the truth in Christian terms; that can be done over the internet just fine – but where-oh-where is it being done in person and face to face these day? Not many places I'm aware of (even though in this country there is a church on every other corner). This is the era of Laodicea – lukewarmness – and that explains a lot (see the link).
There is absolutely nothing in the Bible which commands assembly on a certain day of the week. Under the Law, which has been abrogated by the cross of Christ, Saturday was a Sabbath of rest – but now we are to be in God's rest at all times. There is some evidence from Acts that the early Christians met on Sundays, but there was never any set day, not one biblically mandated for us after the cross. In my opinion, it's important for Christians to get away from the idea that their walk with Christ is not something they should be pursuing EVERY day. Ichthys is meant to help make that possible. You are always welcome here at "my church".
Yours in Jesus Christ,
Updates: Well, I survived the group project. (At least this one). Now it's midterms that are the big scary specters looming over me (one this week, one next week -- both weighing a lot in terms of my final grades).
I'm still meaning to get the additional communication options (audio/video calls, etc.) for the fellowship group set up, but I want to do it right (making video tutorials for how to use things, e.g.), and the pressure of school has delayed this. Hopefully I'll still be able to get to this sometime this semester.
I don't know if I'd mentioned to you that I'm leading a Bible study again this semester (this time on James 2), but I am. We just finished our third week. I'm recording everything, and this semester's study is far more organized than I've had things in the past. For example, here's the stuff from last week (feel free to look at it as much or as little as you wish):
I'm sharing the materials on the community forum, and also have a thread going about authority issues within a Bible study (e.g., how top-down it should be, how to handle disagreements, etc.) in the context of this study.
Not a lot has changed since the last report. Until Operation Last Semester is complete, I think things are going to be a bit of an uphill battle.
Yours in Christ,
Great news! You always do well when the deadlines come and the pressure is on,
but I'll certainly keep this in my prayers.
On your Bible study, wow! Color me incredibly impressed, my friend! If I were a young person looking for a pastor-teacher, I would be thrilled to find you! I do have to add, however, that I would probably be telling the other people in the group to pipe down so I could listen to you. There'll be some things in BB 6B about the authority of the pastor-teacher, but that posting is still a long way off – and it keeps getting longer [posted now at the link]. I will say that your present approach is the polar opposite of my old mentor, Col. Thieme. If somebody so much as whispered to a neighbor during Bible class he would boot them out the door. I'm somewhere in the middle on all that, but I do want to emphasize that in my opinion you're doing excellent work, my friend! I would be very surprised if you don't have your own church (of whatever composition) very soon.
I guess the fellowship group is up and running too. Good job on all this! I appreciate it, and I know the other do as well.
Last semester! Remember: this is supposed to be fun.
Your friend in Jesus Christ,
Thanks for your kind words. We have been discussing the authority bit some on the forum. Our friend explained how he presents his authority there (basically, he doesn't mention it, but just speaks matter-of-factly, leaving no doubt that he believes that which he writes). Things are a bit messier for me. Two of the people in the study are related, two others are in my Biblical Greek class this semester, and another guy was in my Hebrew classes when I was still taking Hebrew. I'm good friends with all these folks, but this serves to complicate things. They all know me as a person completely external to my teaching, and due to many of them having some background in the languages, they probably tend to think they know more than the average bear (and in some ways they are right). All these considerations have made how I handle the mix a bit of a head-scratcher.
One of the guys is also Eastern Orthodox, and likes to debate theology ad infinitum without ever coming to any conclusions. I've basically made it clear that we're going to have a structured study time, and during this time I'm going to have us avoid lots of debate and rabbit trails. However, people have been staying long after the study ends (as in multiple hours after) to talk about theology. I've let this go on since it's not exactly like I can stop it without being overly tyrannical, but it does trouble me some that so much pointless talking happens, and I disagree with much of what gets bandied about. I've been around during this time a couple weeks (and stuck up for the truth across all the meandering conversation topics), but I'm not sure I can guarantee being around for this perpetually. I would rather be able to oppose any overtly false positions that come up (e.g., last Friday some of this "post-study discussion" involved the idea of praying to saints and icons) so as to prevent anyone from being led astray, but at the same time, I don't have a great deal of patience for this sort of thing. If I had my way I'd straight-up forbid any discussion of heretical positions like this iconography business, but I don't think I can make such a pronouncement with this particular group and have it be effective.
All this to say, the authority business has been on my mind. Our friend seems to think I should perhaps force my authority a bit more (and if people decide to not accept it and leave, then that's on them), although being as considerate and as winsome as possible when doing so (i.e., not unnecessarily alienating folks). I've hesitated on this just because I'm not so sure this would work in my particular situation: anything coming close to shutting down discussion and setting myself up as dispenser-of-truth might well make the whole thing fall apart.
I think the group this semester is somewhat of an anomaly, however. Once I'm graduated and off on my own, I'll be able to set up a study with more of a "power gap," so to speak, and I think I'll have less problems with this.
I'm holding off on widely sharing these materials at this point in time. I've told people this semester that the recordings won't end up public on the internet (although I am sharing them narrowly on the forum), and this semester really is a dry run of sorts. (This week I shared was better by a lot than the one before it: I had tried to incorporate some propositional logic the week before, and it didn't work super well. Learned my lesson there). Once I get my own site up and running after I graduate I will be posting materials like these, though, and at that point in time I'd be happy to have you link to them.
Your friend in Christ,
And as long as we are on the subject of rules, I have one of sorts I'd like for
the wider forum. Don't know how you say this, exactly, but here is a situation
which has already come up: someone on the forum posts something or is in a minor
dispute over a point with someone else; one of them emails me – this didn't
happen in this case but I would be afraid that then a future emailer may use my
response as a hammer to "settle the question". This reminds me of Pythagoras and
ipse dixit. Since I'm not on the forum – for one reason so as not to be
looking over shoulders – I think this would have a chilling effect. To be fair,
this person didn't do this, but did ask me about a post – if it hadn't been
mentioned that this was in regard to a post, I wouldn't have any idea that I
would be potentially weighing in ipse dixit style. So I guess what I'm
asking is that it be made clear that I'm not on the forum, and that in anything
sent to me specifically about things posted to the forum it should be made clear
to me that such is the case. That WAS the case with this first instance, so no
harm and no foul this time.
Thank you my friend! I sent out two feelers for the broader forum today.
This seems like a prudent step to take. I will say that I have already heavily drawn from conversations that you and I have had over the years in providing background for some of the topics, but I always made it very clear what my exact questions were and what your answers were. Of course, I also wasn't using you in any sort of appeal to authority (it was more like "hey, I've already talked about this stuff with Dr. Luginbill, so you might find this copy-pasted email chain useful"), so it never crossed my mind that this could be a problem, but now that you've brought it up, I see why it would be best to handle this explicitly.
I will edit the introductory forum thread to explain your position vis-a-vis the forum, and see if I can ping everyone currently on the forum to let them know about the new "policy," so to speak.
I don't wish to put words in your mouth, so could you perhaps explain in a little more detail the reasons for you staying off the forum? If I understood from our previous conversations correctly, it's more or less that you think it would be good for us to have a place to ourselves, to have "our own thing" independent from your own influence. Is this it? Any other reasons I should add?
And is it just that you want people to notify you when they are asking about an active thread? Because I could also see the situation wherein someone has already talked to you about something (from some time in the past before the thread was created), yet they still quote your personal response to them as determinative evidence (not that this has yet happened, but I could see how it might). Doesn't seem to me that your current suggestion would handle this case. On the one hand, I could explicitly explain the concepts behind ipse dixit and discourage the practice in general. On the other hand, I think it would also be a mistake to come down so hard that people are afraid to email you if they do have questions sparked by discussion on the forum. After all, most (if not all) of us really do look up to you, and would want to get your insight out of no particular intent to have you "take our side."
Happy to hear your thoughts on what the best way to go about this would be. Hopefully I've made clear what seem to be the extremes to avoid.
Yours in Christ,
I don't mind people using and referring to Ichthys materials at all. The one
thing I'd like to avoid is two participants disputing about some issue as to
whether the "answer" is ABC or XYZ, one of them emailing me, framing the
question in such a way that it begs for ABC (rather than XYZ), then getting on
the forum and saying "Luginbill says its ABC!"
The purpose of the pastors group, as I saw it, when you first broached the idea, was as a venue to allow men who were preparing to or are engaging in ministry to have some contact with others in the same situation for encouragement and discussion on all manner of things – not precluding exegesis of specific passages, etc., but more as a place for mutual encouragement from other men "in the Word" and "through the Word". Not a group effort to construct a collective systematic theology (not that there's anything wrong with that). I've mentioned more than once that the thing I rue the most in terms of the preparation you fellows are getting is that you aren't getting the blessing of having a group of friends face-to-face who are facing the same challenges (that was the best part of seminary for me). But now that you do have a way to connect – and you are in the process of expanding this (good for you!) – that lack is being at least partially met.
The wider Ichthys group was / is something I've always found a bit more problematic as we have discussed over the years several times at least. And now here is one problem that has already surfaced. I don't want to be "big brother" on that forum. How to put that? I'm not sure. But I think anyone who's ever been part of any Christian group understands the need for confiding in Christian friends and speaking with Christian friends outside of the presence of the pastor and/or other church "officials".
So on reflection, perhaps it's just as well to say something like, "Dr. Luginbill does not participate in this forum; if you feel the need to contact him about anything regarding this forum, please let him know in your communication that your question/concern has to do with this forum". I'm sure you can phrase it more artfully.
Thanks for all the update and background information. This was really helpful.
And thanks also for all the good work you are doing. As much as you are able to get done with a full time college load, I think that once you get into the 9-5 world you personally are likely to find you have oodles of time and energy left for "job #1" – at least as long as you're still single.
Keeping you in my prayers for an enjoyable and successful semester, my friend!
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Indeed, you are helping me greatly! I've had a number of folks send me
corrections on a regular basis over the years, but you are catching things we've
ALL missed – and I'm truly grateful.
As to ministry, clearly, the Lord is using you and also using your witness. You are growing rapidly, and that is the best thing a Christian can do who wants to serve the Lord with a particular ministry. For one thing, the particulars of our individual gifts as well as the niches they might best serve become clearer as we grow closer to Him. For another, the Lord uses prepared people – so He will generally make the life-ministry He has for us only clearly known once we get to the point of being ready, willing and able to prepare for it specially or engage in it deliberately. Prayer on this is a good policy. I'll say a prayer for this too.
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I assure you that if I were run over by a bus, the Lord is easily able to
provide someone and something better (so I yield to buses!).
I will be keeping your witnessing opportunity in my prayers. You have the right perspective exactly: the Spirit is the One who provides the truth and makes it clear. We are only the intermediaries. As long as we are functioning in the Spirit, then He will use whatever truth we have learned and believed, doing so in just the right way. So there is nothing to worry about on that score. Unlike worldly endeavors, it's not about persuasive abilities or rhetorical strategies – it's about humbly serving the Lord and following the Spirit's lead.
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the LORD of hosts.
Zechariah 4:6b NKJV
I know you'll do what you're being called to do.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
I'm always happy to hear from you.
Good insight here about the way the Lord is preparing us. And, yes, I don't know of many really positive believers like yourself who are on easy street or with terrific marriages wherein the believing spouse feels the same way about the Lord and the proper way to seek Him. You are right about the Tribulation too and the need to be preparing for it now. I'm very pleased to know you and to benefit from your growing spiritual common sense. And also very glad to hear that the job is going so well. The Lord always works things out.
Keep growing, keep praying, keep encouraging, and keep setting an excellent example – that is wonderful ministry right there.
In Jesus our dear Savior,
I pray for "light" to shine through for all you hold dear. This much I know: the Lord was certainly not unaware of where He was planning to put you – and He has a definite purpose for you in being there.
For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
Hebrews 6:10 NKJV
The Lord knows you love them and how important this is to you – it's important to Him also for certain. So keep fighting this fight, my friend. Never give up hope. Some fights just take longer than others to win.
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
1st John 5:4 NKJV
In our merciful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I'm happy to hear – and not at all surprised – that your family is noticing how the Lord is blessing you and using you. The witness of the life is always powerful when well done, and there is no denying it.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
1st Peter 3:1-2 NIV
Keeping you in prayer, my friend! And also praying for you to be able to break
through to your friends and family.
In Jesus our dear Lord,
Thanks as always for you good words and inspiring message.
"If I've done my job right then I've pleased the Lord and that's always top priority." Amen!
"His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' "
Matthew 25:21 NKJV
Keeping you in prayer on this.
Your friend in Jesus Christ the Lord.
Thanks for the report. You did a fine job, my friend! It's impossible to have an
encounter / conversation like this and not wonder about whether we should have
said this or that or how we said it . . . if the result isn't precisely what we
wanted. But "the result" has to do with the free will of the person we're
sharing the truth with, and with ministry of the Spirit. Clearly, you stood up
for the truth effectively, and you were also careful to make the truth the issue
rather than yourself. That is a lesson that many have a hard time learning. If
we are pretty sure that saying XYZ is not going to be well-received, then why
are we saying it? You have a hearing from your friend because of your
relationship, so treading carefully on sensitive points and yet still witnessing
for the truth is the perfect way to stay right in the middle of the strait and
I'm sorry that your friend did not respond completely but that is, after all, not surprising. Anyone this deep will probably need a nudge from the Lord to be motivated to extricate. You did your job, namely, planting as deep in your friend's heart as you could the directions to the escape hatch. It'll be up to your friend to seize it when it becomes clear that it's needed. And I know you'll be there then as well.
Keeping you in prayer on this, my friend.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Yes, it's so much drummed into us that "going to church" is what Christians do,
that it does take real courage to separate the purpose from the ritual, and then
not to be satisfied by the ritual without the fulfillment of the purpose. I do
feel for many dedicated Ichthys readers who clearly need some Christian
fellowship (and a few have managed to get in touch with each other over the
years), but I know that the Lord has it all in hand, and that there will never
be an actual need which is not fulfilled (even if a person has to wait longer
than they would like), and that forcing fellowship for the sake of fellowship
without regard to the "squirm factor" felt in attending a place where they have
it all wrong, as you so wonderfully put it, is always a mistake (personally, I
feel nausea at such times).
I've seen many unusual things happen in this life. In fact, I'm the poorest prognosticator I know (definitely no "gift of prophecy" on this end). So I'm often surprised by how things turn out. But the Lord's wisdom in how they do turn out is always there to be seen for anyone looking with the eyes of faith. He works everything out for good – for those who love Him (Rom.8:28).
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
We all have to come to terms with the fact that the number of people in this
world who even deign to submit their egos to God to the point of being willing
to be saved from the lake of fire is infinitesimally small. And the number of
believers who make up their minds to walk with the Lord is much, much smaller.
Like you, I was convinced in the early going of my coming back to Him that it
was just a matter of information. If only others were exposed to the great
teaching I was experiencing, surely they too would come around as I had done.
What I failed to take into consideration was the great lengths to which the Lord
went to bring me back, and the fact that while it was certainly the right choice
it had definitely been my choice to respond to his ineffable grace and mercy. I
mean, who wouldn't? Answer: most people (sadly).
This doesn't mean that your friends and family won't eventually come around. I have many on my near-and-dear list for whom I have been praying for years, and I'm not giving up until they do. But it is important not to see that this is a subtle test of our faith. We can't afford to get too far out ahead of our skis in these matters. We have to recognize that God's plan is perfect in every single way – but it is His plan, and not ours. We do our job, but we are also willing to wait patiently to see what He will do. He most certainly hears our prayers and knows our hearts, but we have to accept that His timing is perfect. If there is a way to reach "the negatives" we love and pray for (be they unbelievers or wayward and/or lackadaisical believers), He will do that for us. But they have free will too. So we have to trust Him and wait on His timing. It is indeed a trap to allow ourselves to get too emotionally wound up in any of these "projects", because that risks making things about us, when of course it is all about Him and them. And it can be, as you suggest, very debilitating to be hanging on pins and needles in such situations. As with everything else in the Christian life, we need to learn to be professional in all we think and say and do. This is a battle – to the finish – and we need to remember the rules of the battlefield and fight accordingly.
Not taking things personally, keeping a measure of emotional distance from the devil's world where we are only temporary sojourners, is a very important perspective to hold onto. Our home is in the New Jerusalem where we will have perfect bodies and be part of the one true Church, the very Bride of Christ, enjoying our Lord and each other forever. Down here, our job is to please our commanding officer, and we can be sure that He is never going to lay on us anything impossible (Matt.11:29-30). If "it" is impossible, then we need to take stock and consider how much of "it" is truly from Him or from us.
You're doing a great job for the Lord. Keep on growing and be wise about the level of emotional investment in things that are beyond your control.
In Jesus our dear Savior,
Believers who are really and truly positive to the Lord and His truth are a great rarity. Most cavalrymen would rather have a horse that needs to be reined in rather than spurred on. I generally have to do a lot more spurring than pulling on the reins. Your enthusiasm and genuine follow-through (it's not just words) are things I greatly appreciate.
"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"
Matthew 6:25-26 NKJV
This world is full of flak, full of the churn of negative emotions, lusts and
fears, prodded on and provoked by all the imperfections of this life and the
world's threats and enticements, not to mention the evil one and his minions.
This is spiritual warfare in which we are engaged, after all. But we believers
have a right to rise above this sea of discontent, to leave all this churn
behind and push on instead towards the light ahead, walking hand in hand with
the Lord on this rainbow bridge He has given us which spans the troubled waters
below – until we get to the other side and break the tape to the sound of a
hearty "well done!" We believers have a right not to worry – and a duty not to
do so as well. Now THAT is much easier said than done. A believer really has to
be seeing Jesus clearly through the eyes of faith not to let the events of life,
agreeable and disagreeable, push him or her off that high ground of godly
perspective down into the valley of despair. That is where most people – and
even most believers – spend the great bulk of their lives. And even advancing
believers get knocked off the hill on a regular basis. So we all need to develop
the habit of reorienting ourselves spiritually, reminding ourselves of all
wonderful promises we have received and all the wonderful truths we have
believed, every time we let this world get the better of us.
Keeping you in my prayers of course – and thanks for yours too!
In Jesus our dear Savior,
I've leant something new from you about the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle
of the Hurtgen Forest ("the Death Factory"). I read about the inexperienced
soldiers and the toll it took on men's minds - "combat fatigue" leading many
soldiers to be taken off the line and some men shooting themselves in the foot
to get out of combat. I can see how our fight is even more serious and about the
importance of being fully trained and prepared before becoming a pastor/teacher.
I don't think there are many teachers about like you (and Curtis) now. I think you're a rare breed unfortunately. I can understand future pastor/teachers zeal and enthusiasm in wanting to get on with it and get started but no one can rush to get to where you are now. The years it's taken you to study and to grow spiritually - I don't think there's any shortcuts. The "job" and responsibility is too high and important for half measures.
I read yesterday in one of the emails how your dad was a chaplain in WWII. That must have been really hard for him at times. To support their emotional and spiritual needs. A very important ministry. He sounds like a real good man your dad and I'm sure you must have learnt a lot from him.
Your friend in Jesus
My dad was exceptional. And I did learn a great deal from him – though of course
in many instances it took a long time before it sunk in. It reminds me of that
Mark Twain quote (paraphrased): "When I was sixteen my old man was so stupid
I could barely stand to have him around. But when I came back home ten or so
years later I was amazed at how much the old fellow had learned in such a short
time". Somewhere around here I have his WWII memoirs with pictures; I had
started editing them at one point, but I've barely got my head above water as it
is, so . . .
Thanks for your editorial on the Peter series. You finished it way before me. Actually, at the rate I'm going it may never get finished. I'm determined to try though – once I finally finish up "Basics".
I'm probably repeating myself, but L.S. Chafer, the man who founded Dallas Theological Seminary and wrote the influential multi-volume systematic theology, was reported to have said that even if a man knew he'd only be able to have one year in the ministry, ten years of prior preparation would not be out of place. I didn't quite make that proportion (but close enough).
Your friend in Jesus Christ,
Many thanks for your excellent site.
I have such confidence in your site that I am afraid I might have been a bit impetuous in my texting today.
I was not so eloquent as I might have been. Getting a bit frustrated at him “coming across” or “stumbling upon” this “interesting site” constantly, and NOT giving THE REAL THING a look in. However my response WAS given in love and concern and NOT to win a discussion, when there can not even be a discussion, if they are not prepared to read your site while I am prepared to go to their latest “finds” and as an amateur (conceding that I do have An EXCELLENT BIBLE TEACHER). And seeing holes in every one of their new finds.
All I want people to do is read ichthys so we CAN discuss it. Not a big ask, I would
have thought, seeing I am willing to spend time reading/viewing their stuff; “my stuff” (ichthys), would be worth a reciprocal reading. I am prepared to be shown to be incorrect, however such is my confidence in your work, I am happy for any to examine it.
Just looking at the texts above, it might appear to some to be a bit curt, however in the context of all the discussions those about me have had, it is about time, THEY examined ichthys and “put their money where their mouth is”. I know, it takes courage to look at the truth.
God bless you, my friend, for ALL your help, and good work in your Ministry.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior
I don't see anything wrong with your texts. It's always easy to second guess
oneself concerning just about anything we write or say, but if you ask me you
are doing a splendid job of putting yourself out there for the truth. The fact
that the response has not always been what you'd prefer is NOT because of your
lack of effort or any need to refine technique. The Spirit is the One who
evangelizes for the truth. If the truth is rejected when presented (as you are
presenting it), it is the Spirit who is being rejected, not us. We are merely
role-players in what the Lord is doing – and you are playing yours well, from
what I can tell. It's usually the case that when we are enthusiastic about the
truth, especially initially, it is hard for us to fathom how others will not be
. . . if only them come to hear it. I thought that too – and had a lot of rude
awakenings. The person in question always has to be ready to hear, and that is a
personal thing. The Lord works that out, but only for those who choose to
receive the truth. From personal experience I can tell you that the process of
becoming willing can be long and painful – but from what you've shared in the
past I know that you know just how true that is.
Keep fighting the good fight, my friend!
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
It is always a pleasure to email you as it brings great comfort to me. I figured
I would let you know what's been going on lately.
I will say that in all of this I'm learning some huge lessons, and I am determined to put the Lord first in every aspect when I pull myself together. I really just want to take off and not look back and be the man the Lord intended me to be.
Hope this all wasn't too much. I appreciate your love and concern.
I'm glad to hear from you, my friend.
I think you mentioned in the past that you had been working and going to school at the same time, and that as a result you barely had the energy for Bible study. I hope that this has been rectified now (I think you also said that this was the plan).
On your report vis-à-vis counseling help, well, if it's really "free" . . .
I'm personally not terribly sanguine about the ability of third parties to figure out what is making us tick (or mis-tick) inside, but as I always say, I've known folks who've been helped. So while I never recommend it, I don't take an absolute position against it.
What I can say for certain is that taking the new time and energy you have (assuming circumstances have changed), and committing yourself to a very aggressive program of Bible reading and, most important, Bible study, reading into this ministry as much as you can, as deep as you can, and as often as you can, would definitely help you. We get closer to the Lord through the truth, and that makes everything better. This, by the way, is also the most important thing when it comes to preparing to teach the Word.
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.
1st Timothy 3:1 NIV
If you have been given the gift of pastor-teacher, then no doubt the Spirit is
moving within you to encourage you to begin preparations to that end. Learning
"the system" at Ichthys and as much of the content as you can as well as you can
really ought to be "job 1" if that is the case. Certainly, there are many other
things that are important in preparation, and learning Greek and Hebrew are top
of that other list, in my view. But a man can't teach the truth unless he
thoroughly knows AND believes the truth.
As to other things, such as one's physical appearance, here is what I read in scripture:
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1st Samuel 16:17 NIV
If your heart is right with the Lord – and getting "righter" day by day – then I
guarantee you that He is not concerned about your "looks". We say we know that
it is His opinion only that really counts with us, but we need to remind
ourselves daily (at least) that such is the case. And any woman who was worth
her spiritual salt would also esteem the inside more than that outside. Timothy
was apparently not much to look at and easily intimidated – but his name is
emblazoned on the eternal scriptures with two epistles that bear it. His reward
will be great, no doubt. We all will stand before the Lord and it is He who will
judge us, not this world. What the world thinks is wrong. What the Lord thinks
is right. Changing our perspective on this is a great deal of what spiritual
maturity is all about.
I'm keeping you in my prayers every day, my friend. Did you join that list-serve of Steven T's?
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I'm part of the discussion Ichthys group/forum. It is a blessing to be able to
speak with other like minded believers of course.
Quick question. Is Greek enough or is learning Hebrew a necessity as well for a teaching ministry?
Your words regarding physical appearance are true and comforting, but I still don't like being mistreated. Its never a good feeling. I just wish people would keep their opinions to themselves, get a clue, and use a little more discernment regarding people's appearances, especially if they are rude about it and use it as a way to treat you as lesser than other people. And its sad because I've seen even other believers doing it. But you're right, if I grow spiritually I won't care anymore. What the Lord thinks is what matters.
In the end all I have been going through has been preparing me to care less about the things that don't matter in order to set my eyes to the things that do. The Lord is preparing me to "dive in and stay in" spiritually speaking. He has really been convicting me a lot, especially with the time. Its short and getting shorter. Almost like He is constantly reminding me that "He is coming very quickly indeed, be ready. Get moving." A still small voice indeed but a powerful force within me that speaks very deeply to me.
Well I'm very happy to hear all of this, my friend.
I agree that Christians especially ought to do what the Lord told Samuel to do. One thing you can be confident about: You will not be at any disadvantage in your resurrection body. None of us will. The only question is just how highly it will be decorated (or lack thereof).
Greek is critical just at the NT is critical; and the NT is of course much more intensely doctrinal than the OT; moreover, the places where translation matters decisively for the interpretation of an important passage is more so in the NT than the OT, despite the relative shortness of the former. So if a person had to choose, Greek would be the first choice. It also takes longer and more effort to get "good" at Greek. That is probably not true in the first couple of years (Hebrew presents certain initial accessibility obstacles), but it becomes obvious later on.
I'm happy to hear that you are part of the group (whatever you are calling it); by design, I'm not on the list. I know you can get some really good input on all this from our friends.
By all means, "dive in and stay in".
Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend!
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I also feel like there are serious cracks now in my armor of Truth, like things I knew quite well take a little longer to remember, and things I should easily understand and answer properly are getting past me.
I have committed myself to systematically rereading the Ichthys studies again. I didn't do it systematically before because it's hard to pay attention when I reread things I have a certain feeling of familiarity for - this is why I often seek out conversations to show me blindspots in my understanding of things I have already read or studied; that helps me actually pay attention to the parts I reread, but right now it feels like I need to go over the whole system again, and strengthen everything.
I think that I was also starting to get led off into the weeds. I thought I had that bit under control, but I am not so sure anymore. I was weighing options for furnishing my place so that I can work out of there and live a bit warmer and less mouldy too. That was why I was also spending a lot of energy drawing up schemes for managing my finances and developing them, if possible. I thought that once I had it all done, I could refocus on my language studies and start writing up material again. But I am starting to wonder about pushing these critical duties into the future. I don't have the future, I have only today, this moment. So it seems to me that my plans ought to allow me to do what I am spiritually responsible to do today, not tomorrow.
The article you spoke of, is it BB 6B? If so, I'm thrilled that it will be ready so soon. I will continue to keep it in my prayers.
I am also very thrilled that the major concern for jogging is the heat. I continue to keep your health in my prayers. The heat though I keep wondering about. How hot is it in your part of the world? Back home, the heat was really something. Then I hear of people dying from heat stroke in other parts of the world and wonder why that happens. Is it possible that your summers are hotter than our year-round heat in the South?
Thank you for always being an inspiration and for all the encouragement that you offer me. Even when I simply cannot see how you can respond positively to things I say, your answers continue to help me push forward. I feel like I am far more responsible now than I used to be, that I have more ability now to deal with things, so I'm not happy when I have a complaint or a struggle, but then I suppose that is why we have the rest of the Church - to continue to encourage us because we can't do it alone.
Your student in our dear Lord
I think every believer who is truly dedicated to pleasing the Lord always tends
to be down on themselves when not performing at a really fine level. The truth
is, however, that few of us don't have lapses from time to time. We learn over
time how to fight off the temptations and how to fight through the doldrums. But
"fight" is the key word. This life is a fight from start to finish. We aren't
going to fight it perfectly either. But we do the best we can, day by day. And
we get back up and get right back in the fight whenever we get knocked down.
That is the only way to win in the end. So to the extent that being hard on
ourselves in the way we evaluate ourselves is truly helpful and effective in
motivating ourselves to get back up when we stumble or slack off, well and good.
But to the extent that we are dragging the past along like a ball and chain –
even the fairly recent past – that is not helpful in terms of what we are trying
to achieve for the Lord. We want results for the Lord (however that's measured –
we all have different gifts, different ministries, different effects, and we are
all pursuing spiritual growth in our own unique ways even though of course the
essence is the same for all). Results are what count at the judgment seat of
Christ too. It'll be no good saying, "I messed up on Tuesday, but I felt really
bad about it all day Wednesday and Thursday", when what we would rather be able
to say is, "Even though I messed up on Tuesday, I got right back into the fight
Wednesday and Thursday, regardless of how I felt about it – and produced some
Going over the writings at Ichthys is a good idea. I highly recommend it. I do the same thing. Even though I wrote these materials, it was more the Spirit than it was me (at least what's good about them), and just because I was given the privilege of pounding them out on the computer doesn't mean I don't have to relearn them too and learn them more deeply too. We will never get to the point where there is not only not something totally new to learn, but plenty we once learned that needs to be refreshed and learned better.
You're absolutely correct. We can't do this alone. And that is indeed why we have each other. A big part of the posting last Saturday night was one of your give and takes. I certainly learned from it, and I know that others will as well. So you have been productive. What does our Lord say about that? "every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit" (Jn.15:2b NKJV). So keep slugging. We won't regret a single good thing we have done for the Lord when we stand before Him on that day.
The article I mentioned is a secular one (publish or perish is part of my day job). I'll be back to work on that tomorrow, probably. BB 6B is going well but it seems to be expanding. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to get it done this summer, but I'm running out of summer [now posted at the link].
Heat is a relative thing. I'm better at dealing with it than most people, but I'm sure that if I moved to Lagos I'd need a little while to acclimatize (at least). I'm not so good with the cold (so I sympathize). I certainly hope that you can get everything in line and soon. I know that dealing with all these sorts of problems in the context of trying to construct an environment where future plans would be workable is not easy and that it is also distracting. But it's also good practice. The Tribulation is likely to be pretty distracting too. Whatever we are experiencing and whatever we're having to fight through, we always have to keep the Lord in first place in our hearts, and do our best not to let the circumstances completely control what we are doing for Him. Clearly, situations limit us, but even if we can only throw a few punches today, that's better than nothing – a whole lot better.
Thanks for your kind words as always, my friend, and even more for your prayers.
Keeping you and your families in my prayers daily.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I want to ask you a personal question. Have you always been a Christian and if not, becoming a Christian, did that mean you lost friends? I was wondering whether you believe that the goats and the sheep are being separated now? I ask this because as I pull closer to God and hold on to Jesus Christ tightly as my only treasure, I notice that people are openly embracing darkness not just out in the world but close by me too. I've been crying over this. Many of my old friends are becoming "goats" now so to speak. I've seen them chase after fame and fortune. Have you experienced this? It has been very shocking to me but now makes a lot more sense from a Biblical perspective. It feels as though we are already in the birth pangs. Are you of this opinion too?
What are your thoughts on all these things. Seeing people I care about embrace darkness has affected me quite severely but at the same time I feel so blessed that God has protected me the whole time and I find myself running into Jesus' arms to escape this fallen world.
I am studying more diligently now, the Word of God, your website and Omo's teachings too [link]. The Gospels in particular are a great comfort to me.
Other questions: What do the following mean? Dispensationalism; Calvinist; Lordship salvation. Why did Moses strike the rock rather than speak to it? Was this what prevented him from seeing the promised land?
It speaks so eloquently of our need for a saviour. It is true that the whole of the old points forward to Christ and the new points back.
Do you think that Constantine was a genuine convert or do you think he did more damage than good to the early church?
I hope this email finds you in good health, heart and cheer!
In our Saviour,
To take these first:
1) Dispensationalism usually refers to the system of Bible interpretation developed most famously by C.I. Scofield (of Scofield Reference Bible fame). It has some merits but generally misapplies or one might say over-applies the differences between biblical periods. One of the key flaws is seeing such a sharp division between Israel and the Church that the two are deemed separate – whereas in fact of course there is only one Church which is composed of believers from Adam and Eve until the second advent. The pre-Tribulation "rapture" heresy is usually part and parcel of this school's view. Here's a link to a better understanding about what the Bible teaches on this issue: "Dispensations, Covenants, Israel and the Church I".
2) Calvinism is the term most frequently used for the system of Reformed Protestant theology developed first by the reformer John Calvin in his church's headquarters in Geneva during the Reformation. Calvin's 'Institutes of the Christian Religion' were very big on predestination as a counter-weight to the works-salvation of the Roman Catholic church of that time. Calvin's successors (which I sometimes call "hyper-Calvinists") have carried these ideas to an extreme which virtually eliminates free will in salvation and denies that a Christian can ever turn apostate. Here's a link on that: "Aspects of Calvinism".
3) "Lordship salvation" is a fairly recent (post WWII) heresy which asserts that unless a person verbally declares that "Jesus is Lord!", said person is not saved. This is based (largely) on a gross misinterpretation of Romans 10:9-10 (see the link).
From your other email, I believed at a very early age, bumped along in the Presbyterian church in which I grew up (my dad was a pastor), then in late adolescent and going into young adulthood pretty much went on "holiday" from the Lord (or "to a far country" as in the case of the prodigal son). I got serious in my mid-twenties. So I don't have the same night and day experience that some have who are saved later in life. It is certainly true that when I switched priorities, it became increasingly clear as I grew how little in fact I had in common with those who were not serious about the Lord – or not believers at all. At my present age, outside of immediate family, the only people I'm "tight" with are other serious believers. While I do know some such who have relationships and friendships with non-believers or lukewarm believers, it's not really something I can see – except in the case of some such which have endured for many years. So I don't think what you are experiencing is unique. The truth is divisive. Most people don't want to hear it. And the more a believer comes to know about the truth, and the closer the believer grows to Jesus Christ, the less important the world and the things of the world are to him/her. That complicates any non-strong-believer relationship, because in such cases "what's important to me" means nothing to them, and "what's important to them" means nothing to me – or very nearly so. So there is always some pain involved in the sort of spiritual growth you are committed to – but there is also joy, peace, hope and growing confidence in the Lord . . . and great reward on the other side.
Moses got angry and allowed his anger to motivate an action which was the opposite of what the Lord told him to do. It may not seem important to us, but this speaking to the Rock was a picture of salvation through the appeal of faith to the resurrected Lord whom the Rock represented – the main giving of the gospel to the whole new generation of Israel – and Moses messed up the symbolism entirely (see the link). But I wouldn't feel too bad for him. On the one hand, he will be one of the most highly rewarded individuals in the entire Church (maybe #1); on the other hand, he will be returning during the Tribulation along with Elijah (they are the two resuscitated witnesses of Rev.11) for a unique ministry "in the land", and that will complete for him all "unfinished business".
I have my doubts about Constantine. Certainly, making Christianity the state religion was a mistake.
Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend!
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thank you Bob,
I now see! Jesus was symbolised in the rock that Moses struck and also in the living water that came from it. Was this also a foreshadowing of Jesus' crucifixion, Moses striking the rock in anger? It's an interesting parallel in that Moses behaving live this and being the primary teacher of the law and it was those who were taking the law to extremes who sought to strike the Rock (Jesus) yet were, ironically, forbidden to do so because of said law.
I am currently reading Numbers. Why did it take such a phenomenal amount of time to get into the promised land, was it because they were never spiritually ready and had to wait for a generation which were? I know they complained a lot and were ungrateful and rebelled many times. I felt Moses frustration throughout and so I guess I felt it harsh at first that he didn't see the promised land and yet that was just punishment as God expects more from his patriarchs and prophets, they have to live to a stricter standard. I guess on a human level we can relate to losing your temper after being with those stiff necked Israelites. Do you think Moses' faith wavered in that moment? It made me think that it was another example of sight over faith, that speaking (which is a gentle action) was seen as inferior to striking (which is a violent and expressive action)
I want to thank you. A while back you wrote that pursuing the Word of God would help me far beyond what a therapist could ever do. What that I struggle with now is anger. I have an over defined sense of fairness and unfairness. Unfortunately life is often unfair and often triggers my anger. There are hypocritical Catholics in my family that give me much ire. I will try working on the log in my own eye though.
It is a pleasure to be obedient though. Peace and walking with Christ far outweighs any momentary fleshly "pleasure" in putting the world to rights and spouting off about an obviously fallen world.
In our Lord Jesus Christ,
It's an interesting observation! What Moses did certainly was paralleled later.
Yes, and here is a link on all that:
"Striking the Rock".
You mean the 40 years? That was for the express purpose of having the generation who tested the Lord ten times and who refused to "go up" when told to do so might completely die out first. If you mean after arriving at the threshold of the land, I suppose that is a relative thing. One can see a certain utility in having the people gradually acclimatized to dealing with the hostile peoples around about the land, finally getting to fighting them (Sihon and Og), and then entering the land to do battle with the Canaanite kingdoms therein. God prepares us for all of our battles by helping us build up the strength and skill for ever tougher ones – something we all need to remember when we are getting a little flak we find annoying, especially with the Tribulation looming.
On Moses, any time we do anything contrary to the will of God, it's not a great witness of faith. But I can assure you that Moses was one of the greatest persons of faith who ever lived. He got angry and frustrated and allowed his emotions to get the better of him in a moment. If it seems unfair, it really isn't, and it's a good lesson for all of us who may have a "short fuse". Doing anything out of anger, especially anything involves castigating other people verbally and/or engaging in violent actions can get anyone in heaps of trouble very quickly.
Scripture doesn't tell us to excise our emotions. Rather, we are to recognize what's going on and not become servants to them. So in terms of anger, we are told "not to let the sun go down on it" (Eph.4:26; see the link). That is, not react to it in a wrong way in the first place, and not let it smoulder in the second.
It's wonderful to hear of your spiritual progress, my friend! Keep up the good work for Jesus Christ our Lord.
In our dear Savior.
I'm back in the States now and I'm still battling jet lag.
I have a new topic, one that I've wondered at for a while: To what extent should leaders in the Church show their own sin and struggles?
Whenever I face people who have an incomplete view of my life – seeing the good and unaware of the bad – I have often wondered if I am being negligent in not correcting their view. This is especially the case in Bible studies I have led wherein some people in the study share their struggles freely with me but I stay tight-lipped about my own struggles. A similar situation obtains with certain Christian friends who ask for my advice at times. I know quite a bit more about the inner workings of the lives of these people than they know about the inner workings of mine.
Based on our prior discussions regarding the ideas of “discipleship” and “accountability partners” (and the harms modern conceptions of these things do within the Church in shifting the focus away from people’s responsibility to be accountable to the Lord alone, cf. Psalm 51:4), I am fairly skeptical of sharing specifics in my own struggles with sin. The dirty laundry of teachers in the Church is not something that ought to be hidden and guarded at all costs, but it does seem that positions of authority carry with them a degree of holding back that is godly and appropriate. On the one hand, teachers who are more spiritually advanced should not have as much dirty laundry to be concealing in the first place. On the other hand, we all have feet of clay, and continue to sin – sometimes spectacularly – even after we are saved and have progressed. Just look at David! Yet trumpeting from the rooftops our failure when we fall does not seem to benefit anyone in particular.
So the question is how to avoid falling into a legalistic facade of sinlessness (that makes a mockery of grace and forgiveness) for the sin that we all – even teachers and leaders – engage in, while also respecting that the details we share with people around us – particularly Christians we are teaching – could potentially complicate the execution of our duties in a place of authority within the Church.
Is the best approach to be firm in stating that we too struggle with sin and human frailty – just like everybody else – but leaving it at just that to minimize the potential issues that could arise from more specific revelations? Does the rash of prominent “pastors” outed for horrific behavior have any bearing on the situation? The revealing of personal struggles with sin to teachers
On the topic of revealing personal struggles with sin, I am curious what others think about the concept in general. There are a few observations I have made:
I myself have revealed deeply personal struggles and concerns to you over the years of our correspondence, but always within the framework of getting the wisdom and insight of my Bible teacher, particularly as it relates to understanding what the Bible might have to say on a topic relevant to a personal situation. You have made it clear that it is your policy not to give specific advice (and the reasons why; for example, most of the time it is the responsibility of an individual in their specific circumstances – the one with all the details – to make decisions rather than a third party who necessarily knows less), but you also never commented that it was odd or out of place that I shared many personal struggles and trials with him in the context of a teacher-student relationship.
In my own experience leading Bible studies and being an older Christian friend to people younger than myself (common for me now since I’ve been in undergrad so long), I find that it is not uncommon for people to share personal things without being prompted by me – asking for my take, or checking to make sure that they are understanding correctly what the Bible would have them do, etc.
So my experience suggests that it is not inappropriate for people to share certain parts of their struggles with their teachers, and that this situation seems to happen organically without any formal rules or expectations being set up.
With all this being said, I have also observed things taken too far. I have been around putatively Christian communities wherein the people in authority demand that everyone else hand over their free will and join “accountability groups” or be “discipled” by a leader as some form of membership requirement. People have their personal struggles with sin used as a club against them to keep them under the thumb of leadership. I’ve only ever seen the male end of such things for obvious reasons, and much of how this played out in practice seemed to be to use the shame that accompanied public confession of ___ to make people “feel bad,” with the group in question then either directly or indirectly presented as the solution to the negative feelings. It goes without saying that all of this is clearly not a healthy, proper situation. Discussing your sin with others – even with people who are your teachers – thus seems to be problematic when institutionalized and presented as something that is mandatory or compulsory (cf. Catholic confession). We could make the simultaneous observation that “teachers” who are nothing of the sort are not worthy to be taken into our confidence, and that this could be just as much of a problem as the institutionalization itself.
Pulling it all together, it seems to me like it can be right and proper for Christians to share an amount of their personal struggles with their teachers, although this shouldn’t in any way be required, and the emphasis should be on getting the godly perspective of their teachers as part of the proper functioning of the Body of Christ, rather than rehashing past sin to no particular benefit (but plenty of emotional distress).
If this is so, and it is proper for teachers to withhold a degree of their own struggles (at least from those under their authority; as above), then in some instances it seems that the flow of information regarding personal struggles is very much asymmetric, and that this isn’t necessarily bad. Should personal sin be discussed at all?
I’ve noticed that I have been a bit vague above in my use of the words “struggles” and “sin.” I’m not entirely sure how to parse the line between discussing an area in which one struggles (e.g., lust) and particular sins within the area. While compulsory confession of personal sin is problematic for a variety of reasons (we are accountable to God alone, 'pace' traditions to the contrary), I guess some of what I talk about is not far divorced from presenting the discussion of personal sin with teachers in a positive light. I could be far off base in my understanding, so I guess an implicit question in all of the above should also be the following: should anyone ever discuss personal sin with anyone else, even their teachers? If a person under our guidance starts giving us specifics, should we gently request that the teacher-student relationship be reserved for actual questions?
On your question, it seems to me that this is fodder for philosophical debate,
but not really anything much more than that because from a practical standpoint,
the situation is clear:
Of course teachers shouldn't encourage much less demand those they teach come to them for accountability (we are not starting a cult or a Baptist church); but if someone you are teaching asks you a question or shares something with you or asks for advice, while you would be wise to take care in how you answer, you're not going to turn them away.
Of course a teacher should be above reproach (1Tim.3:1-13; Tit.1:5-9; 1Pet.5:1-4); but we all sin, and when we do we confess it to the Lord.
If a teacher is being pressured to become too intimate or personal in what others want to tell him, he should resist and not allow things to go further down that path lest someone be led to stumble or worse things happen (e.g., Gal.6:1; Jam.5:19-20; Jude 1:23).
If a teacher is failing in sinning spectacularly, he should knock it off immediately or get out of teaching. None of us wants to be a hypocrite. So the best way to avoid that dilemma is to keep to the straight and narrow. If we do fail spectacularly, there will be consequences. David did so, and there were terrible consequences. But the Lord did not remove him from being king. If a teacher fails spectacularly, the Lord may or may not remove him from teaching. But this is about the Lord and the Lord's Church, not about us. Failing spectacularly by definition is "hard to hide". All the more reason for teachers to make up their minds ahead of time not to go down that road and to do whatever is necessary to avoid falling into that trap (cf. 1Tim.3:6).
As to things of the past, this is another area of application where great care needs to be exercised. On the one hand, we don't want to be hypocritical and make it seem like we personally have never sinned. But it is probably slipping into arrogance to think that our failures of the past are so important that we need to share them with others. As teachers, we have to avoid doing or saying anything that might trip up someone else (see references above). That is more important than any latent guilt feeling about not being "forthcoming" enough with those we teach. We teach that all are sinners; we teach that we are human too, and that we, like all others, need to confess to the Lord; but we are also teaching and leading others towards sanctification. And that means that we need to be intolerant especially of sinning which we might classify as gross and/or dangerous (not that all sinning isn't bad of course).
So if we have had problems in the past, we need to be very careful about how and most especially why we might share this with others. Because in doing so, while we may feel relieved that we are not being hypocrites and may also feel we are making those we minister to feel better about their failures, if the result is that those we minister to are less likely to recover as we did, or more likely to indulge, going backward not forward, then we have paid a heavy price for not wanting to feel hypocritical.
This is all about the Lord, not us. When we teach, we are supposed to manifest seriousness in our teaching (Tit.2:7), speaking as if we were proclaiming "the oracles of God" (1Pet.4:11) – for that is exactly what we are doing . . . if we are doing the job the right way.
We teachers incur a "stricter judgment" (Jas.3:1), so this is no small issue. If out of guilt and feelings of hypocrisy we lead others into temptation, we have turned good intentions on their head. The ultimate point is that we are interested in pleasing the Lord with the results He wants; so we cannot waste too much time thinking about and worrying about how we appear to other people or even about our own feelings. We do what is right. We let the chips fall where they may.
Hope you get over that jet-lag soon (I've always found it worse going east to west as well).
Forgive me for dropping off the horizon again.
Always good to hear from you, my friend.
I think everyone has their ups and downs. We have to be ready for them in order to do our best to "maintain an even strain" and not let ourselves get pushed off course too easily. We can get better at this over time; that doesn't mean it ever gets easy or that we'll never deviate from an entirely straight and true course. Best thing is not to let momentary slips or stumbles or nodding or whatever become a pattern. Good spiritual habits are helpful there.
I've still got at least another few days on the Thucydides article. Hope to get that put to bed this week – but we'll see. I'm making progress on BB 6B but no promises on how soon it'll be done (I'm not sure myself) [posted now at the link]. And BB 7 is a LONG way out [expecting now before the end of 2020]. So if you're waiting for the BB's to be done, you've got a long wait. Better to get moving on your own stuff now, in my opinion. We all have to find our own way of approaching what the Lord has put us here to do. And I'm certain that "your way" won't be exactly like "my way" – not if you're doing it the "right way" . . . for you. I'm sure I've told you that I could never have done what my mentor the Col. did and certainly not in the way he did it. That's OK. I'm happy to be doing what I'm doing. You have a unique way of looking at things which illuminates principles of truth – that sort of the thing is the essence of good teaching. So keep growing and keep studying and keep working away at your own approach. I'm sure that it will come to you in the Spirit in due time.
I don't know what to tell you about your personal situation and plans for the future. The one thing I've probably said before is that for me "reverse planning" has always been helpful. But on the other hand, "things never turned out the way I expected". One thing I will add is that it's important to keep priorities in mind. If the objective is to teach the Word, that's one thing; if the objective is to be successful, that's another. Not that the latter can't necessarily be conducive and helpful to the former. But it's all too common to get stuck on the latter and forget the former. I'm sure that's not going to be the case with you, my friend. I'm happy to do what I can do to help. Reverse planning: what sort of ministry does the Lord want you to perform and where and how?
Keeping you and your families in my prayers daily.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I hope and pray the Lord continues to keep you in His very safe hands, sir. As for me, He continues to manifest His marvelous Love and divine Power. I thank Him always. I must also thank you, sir, for He has seen it fit to use you to reveal much of what I have come to know about Him through Ichthys.com; a BIG thanks to you, sir; and I wish much blessings for you in the here and the hereafter for which we all await with much anticipation!
It has been some time since we last corresponded, and I wanted to keep you abreast of things. I completed the translation into Kiswahili of your Peter Series about two weeks ago [at the link; and here is a link to his new website!], and have since been typing it; I have reached #6 in the typing. I do hope and pray that the work will live up to your obviously very high standards. Naturally I have had some glitches here and there, but the Lord has been very helpful. Example: when it came to translating the stages of our sanctification – positional, experiential and eternal. “Eternal” is easy and straightforward, there is an exact Kiswahili word for it, but for the other two there are no Kiswahili equivalents; there ARE words for “position” and “experience” but they cannot be integrated into a Kiswahili phrase to mean “positional or experiential sanctification” in a sensible way for them to be understood; but I was able to convey the proper sense after much struggle and prayer, by using a Kiswahili word which approximates to “initial” and integrating it in a longer phrase – for positional sanctification. For “experiential sanctification” I used a phrase which approximates to “in life on earth”. So it was challenging at times, but I naturally love challenges like that. One thing I can tell you, this has been a LOT of joy for me personally.
Some members of my family continue to try and manipulate me into attending their church services, through coercively scare-mongering threats like “who will bury you if you die?!” We have no funeral companies in my country; people are either buried by one’s neighbours and/or one’s religious group or by the government – which is taken and perceived as scandalous. They also threaten me with “what if you get seriously sick and require regular assistance from our neighbours?” You see, our neighbours are mostly RC’s and they have their fellowship which is strictly for “members only” which means if I am afflicted in any way then I am out in the cold or the hot sun! I have come to think these people almost wish for me to come into some kind of calamity so they can say: “see, we told you, you silly man!” I only wish they could read my heart, because these manipulations only make me stronger and convince me all the more to stick with my Lord.
There may finally be some light at the end of my long financial-crisis tunnel, sir. My cooperative has entered a contract to start CHIA seed farming with a CHIA seed exporting company which has obtained a 5-year contract. We have started small but aim to expand as we go along. I hope and pray that this is the beginning of my long awaited deliverance from the Lord. I have been very busy these past 2 weeks, and my Bible studies have taken a hit, to be honest, but I do my best under these circumstances.
Well, Professor, as usual it is a great pleasure to communicate with you. I wish you and yours a very good weekend, sir.
In Jesus our King,
Great to hear from you, my friend – and thanks for the encouraging update!
It's great news, and I will be keeping this in my prayers. I had a look at the request on the Ichthys list, and I'm thinking that it's good like it is (don't want to give the impression that prayers are not still in order here). Let me know if you'd like any changes.
I'm greatly pleased to hear about your translation efforts! I very much understand that translation is no easy task – not if the person is trying to do justice to what is translated. I think you've handled these issues marvelously well. As I say in Bible translation, the idea is to understand what it really means and communicate that in the translation – while staying true to the tone and feel and literal words (no easy task!). I don't know what format you have these materials in, but I would be pleased to post them to Ichthys whenever you might be ready for that.
As to your personal situation, I have been keeping that in prayer too. The fact that you are continuing to honor the Lord not only with spiritual growth and a great witness of the walk with Him but also in producing for Him in spite of the circumstances speaks volumes about your love for Him and your spiritual resilience under such pressures. When the Tribulation arrives, I'm thinking you'll be ready for it – but I do wish you a period of peace and blessing before that (the sooner and the longer the better).
Thanks so much for all your good and encouraging words, my friend!
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I'm pleased that you managed to get through another long week. I'll always be praying for you and I'm always concerned for you. It doesn't matter what it is, whether it's the ministry, family, work pressures, finances or health, you're in my prayers.
I'm always so grateful to you too for your prayers. I have faith in my God and I have this confidence that I can't explain that everything is going to work out fine. Even if some things don't work out the way I would want them to I'll see further on down the road that He had something better in mind. Or maybe some things I won't fully understand until I'm finally with the Lord and I know I'll see that the way it worked out was perfect. He is God, He is love, He is holy and He is perfect in every way. How could I ever doubt anything about Him or anything He says or does? There's absolutely nothing to worry about - ever. I just need to make sure I'm being obedient and doing my part.
I love this week's email postings, Bob. It's funny because a few days ago I was reading one of your emails from a different week's Cults and Christianity (VI). This one stood out to me because the person said he had read a couple of books written by a "Brother Lawrence" and he was asking you what you thought about Christian mysticism. You made me laugh when you wrote, "he's either nuts or deliberately deceptive" (Brother Lawrence that is - not your correspondent!).
I don't believe it's just coincidence that the Lord delivered me from the same thing. Just that mine wasn't the Christianized version. Whether it's what we are taught in the Bible or your teaching or apologetics websites etc., false teaching always stands out a mile to me and always has since I came back to the Lord. I know that whatever ministry the Lord has for me it will involve something to do with this. Deep down I've known it for a long time but I think I was doubting myself not the Spirit. I haven't got a clue how, what, when, where - anything. I still have a lot of growing and learning of the word to do myself. I just know. It's never gone away and if I forget about it for a while it always comes back. I feel very strongly about it and it isn't just because of what I was involved with although that certainly helps and plays a part. It's through my love for the truth. But that's some way off and for now I'm happy to quietly get my head down and continue to study the word and your teaching and keep growing spiritually. In the end it's all about serving the Lord and helping others in the best way I possibly can.
Your friend in Jesus
You always write such encouraging emails, my friend! I'm thrilled for your
personal spiritual progress, and I'm very pleased to be able to receive and give
prayer support from you and to you.
I wouldn't be surprised at all if you have some sort of apologetics / evangelism set of gifts meant to be used in defense of the truth and the rescuing of unbelievers and weak believers from various cults and wayward churches and denominations. So keep preparing – the Lord, as I always say, uses prepared people, and when you are ready, He will begin to move in you for this (which it seems He may already be doing). Have you read Walter Martin's Kingdom of the Cults? It's not a perfect book by any means, but in a day and age where there is so much that is less than worthless in print, it's not a bad starting point and complement to Ichthys.
Keeping you and your family in my prayers daily.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thanks so much for your help and your encouragement too!
I haven't read Kingdom of the Cults so I had a look on Amazon UK today and read the free sample. The little bit that I read was so interesting and eye opening. There's lots to learn - things I never even thought of. It's the kind of book I think every Christian would benefit from reading. I'm definitely going to order a copy of the book. I noticed he has written one called New Age Cult as well.
I can definitely understand why the Lord will only use prepared people. This especially is no easy task. Reading about so many cults made me stop and praise the Lord again for delivering me out of one as well. He was so patient with me and so loving. It makes studying the truth of His Word even sweeter.
I see he's written a number of books. My impression from some things I've read
and heard is that he started to get more lenient as he became more main stream.
But I have read this book I recommended and it is pretty good.
When it comes to ministry, I think it would take MANY years to know enough about all major cults and religions to be able to tackle them all in detail. More reasonable might be 1) focusing on one cult / movement / religion / denomination, and/or 2) developing apologetic techniques that focus on bringing Christ to any non-truth movement.
I'm sure the Lord has something special for you. But right now I rejoice in the work you're doing for Ichthys! Between that, personal spiritual growth, your family, working for a living – and trying to maintain / better your health – seems to me you're already pretty busy.
Happy to hear from you always, my friend!
Your friend in Jesus Christ,
That helped a lot, Sir.
I said the following in response to a thread started on the Ichthys community: [omitted]
Thanks for the background and for the update too. It hasn't changed my opinion that your experience is not terribly unique – among those few people who get serious about the Word of God. It's hard to zoom forward in a straight line without ever getting sidetracked. So the fact that you're keeping at it and making progress is a wonderful thing. I think that once you find your spiritual clientele, you'll be properly motivated to do even better. At least at first. That is something to remember as you prepare and search for just the right avenue for ministry for you personally. There is no such thing as a part-time shepherd. Once you take on the responsibility of caring for sheep, that care has to be available pretty much every day. Just as in the case of actual sheep, they need to be fed and provided with water, they need to be moved from place to place (spiritually speaking); and they need protection from wolves and the like – and one can never predict when or how they'll attack. And sheep are very much a flock of individuals, despite how they may look to the untrained eye of the non-shepherd. Some will wander, some will resist moving, some will eat and some won't, some will drink and some won't. Some will be more fearful of the dangers than others; some will not be prudent enough. Some will demand a lot of personal attention; others you'll never hear bleat – but that doesn't mean all is well. You'll figure out how to provide for the flock the Lord gives you – but it is an awesome responsibility and it's also a never-ending one. So one does have to figure out how to deal with personal tendencies to "not want to do it today", because we pastor-teachers have to be ready to do our job "in season and out of season" as Paul tells Timothy (2Tim.4:2). That doesn't mean that pastors have to be super-human or that they never get a break or a vacation or that they never break down for a while; it does mean that the latter better not happen for more than a couple of days, and that it better not interfere with doing their job. The Lord has very specific feelings about that.
Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
1st Peter 5:2-4 NKJV
So it's not just Greek and Hebrew and theology and history etc. that we're
learning as we prepare for ministry; it's also the godly work ethic that will
make the ministry we are given once we are given it a fruitful one, one that
Christians who commit to relying on it will not be disappointed at having done
Confident that the Lord has a wonderful ministry in store for you, my friend, with a crown of glory awaiting on the other side.
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I took a call this morning from our Bible teacher to say he will be leaving early tomorrow morning, and so he will not be here tonight for our study, and would I take it, as it will be good practice for me!
I realise I will need to have the Spirit with us, so as to not appear to be at odds with our Bible teacher, as this is definitely not my intention. Rather, till we all come to the knowledge of the truth.
My main idea is that we ALL need to be learning and living the truths in the scriptures, that this is vital as we are on the cusp of The Tribulation, many believers will apostatise, it is a big part of filling our lamps (as the 5 wise virgins do), we may be able to help those not quite so prepared, some have a zeal for God but it is not according to knowledge, good Bible teaching is important for us to understand the “day of the Lord”.
Most importantly, Christ demonstrated the how.
"I have told you ALL things so you will KNOW." (Jn.14:29; 16:4)
Where? In the scriptures.
So important as Satan keeps “a file” on our weakness. He is the master of deception- compare with the antichrist who seducers many believers in the last days. We need the shield of the Word of God. ALL truth is vital - more so now than ever.
Thank you for your most generous support and vital Ministry. I appreciate your prayers, especially that the Spirit will witness the truth in our study.
Also I am keeping you in my prayers.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior.
Yes, there's so much more to teach than you'll have the time for. And that's
true generally of every Christian life as well that there is no end to the
ministry we might do . . . if we are willing to keep doing it.
Keeping you in prayer on this my friend – please give a a report on how it goes.
Your friend in Jesus Christ,
Generally the meeting went well. I was apprehensive of what might be thought, and saw my Bible teacher checking his phone during the study (maybe to check the scripture references of your translations). He came out good, as did everyone else it seemed.
I do notice that he and his wife are firmly post trib nowadays, as I recall him being agnostic about this when we first met - so there are changes happening until we all come to the knowledge of the truth.
I am a pretty ordinary teacher, so having a handout of yours for each person to read and keep (I asked them to read the scriptures from the handout that we did not have time to look at last night). I used a highlighter for references to “word” and “scripture(s)” cited in your study, as I wanted to impress the necessity of continual study of the scriptures, just as Christ had done in preparation for His assignment, particularly as we are so close to the Tribulation and will need to know what is happening amidst the deceptions also tasking place.
By putting “The Satanic Rebellion Part 3” and “ichthys.com” on the front page I am hoping some will be prompted to check out your website. One regular could not make it, so I will take his copy around to him when I can, as next week it seems we all have things to do in the city (unfortunately he had an appointment there yesterday).
Quite daunting being the “teacher” as compared to a participant; and in comparison to the Bible study I join on Tuesday where no one is the teacher, and all contribute. Each is valuable in promoting the truth from your Ministry. However truth is “taught” is beneficial, when there are changes in understanding and behaviour.
Our bible teacher remarked that he learnt a lot tonight.
Thank you for your support and for your Ministry.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior.
Your student and friend
Congratulations, my friend! I'm thrilled to hear your report. You think of
yourself as an "ordinary teacher", but what you are teaching is truth in
substance and detail. That is what makes all the difference between ordinary and
extraordinary (especially in Laodicea).
Thanks as always for spreading the word about Ichthys.
I do hope that this will turn into something regular. You obviously have a great deal to offer. I pray for willing ears grateful to take it in.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.
Teaching is not an easy task or my forte, judging by the elbow in the ribs my wife was giving me during the study, focused mainly at trying to direct me to give out the appropriate readings to the appropriate participants. I will have to have her sit elsewhere, or, work out the readings ahead of time.
My hope is that believers will take up reading Ichthys themselves and for us to have more of a Bible study more like the Tuesday one. A lot less pressure, and if all are reading Ichthys then we all help each other.
At these other gatherings I am trying to influence those who have influence with many others. I believe there are some changes to their views in light of Ichthys influence, however not wholesale changes for the moment.
My taking the lesson was a one off due to our teacher expecting to be absent. I was encouraged greatly by his saying he had learnt a lot from the lesson. Obviously all of us were challenged by the lesson as none was able to positively answer we had immersed ourselves in the scriptures as Christ has urged us to do. I got the impression that most go on what has been learnt in the past and had thought that would be adequate along with a weekly lesson. A bit of self contentment at ones level of knowledge and understanding. The newer believers seem eager to learn more.
Thank you for your excellent Ministry. I continue to pray for you and your family.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior.
Your observation is spot-on: "I already know plenty" is where most immature
Christians who know almost nothing are today in Laodicea. Your group has it in
their favor that at least they are willing to be "out there" once in while.
Perhaps you'll tap a vein.
I certainly do hope that you'll have more opportunities. It's a blessing to share the Word of God, however one is blessed to be able to do so.
Keeping you in prayer for that too, my friend.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
First, apologies for the delay. Somehow or other, your message disappeared from
my email client (tried to track it down but still don't know what happened).
When I came to you on the prayer list today, it struck me that I hadn't
responded – which was odd since I have cleaned out my mailbox. Anyhow, I found
it on the server and forwarded it to myself.
That was more than I have to say about your question on career choices though (nearly):
Option 1: Serving your country: Predictable professional relationship; solid benefits; won't go out of business.
Option 2: Bible software company: Who knows what they believe or teach?; believers in Bible businesses tend to be anything but professional or predictable; they may take away your benefits – or fire you – if they find out you believe the wrong thing; and they could be out of business tomorrow.
That's just me without going into depth. Personally, being able to keep ministry and work in two separate boxes has been a great blessing.
Let me start by saying that being careful about such an important decision is
certainly a good thing. Also, I consider you a good Christian friend, and you
would not be upsetting me by choosing the one over the other (not that there's
any reason that my perceived feelings on this should even be a consideration).
This decision is yours, and as I often say a third-party like myself is
necessarily not in possession of near as many facts as the primary, yourself –
not to mention that this is your life we are talking about. So by all means
weigh things and do feel free to ignore what I say about all this if you feel
that is the right thing to do. Having said that . . .
There's a great German play by Max Frisch, 'Biedermann und die Brandstifter', wherein a man is gradually persuaded to allow some men whom he suspects might be arsonists to use his attic to store drums of gasoline. Now it was possible they weren't arsonists – or that even if they were that it wouldn't affect him or his house. But guess what happens in the end?
Making money off of the Bible? Hmmm. And portraying one's business as godly because it makes money off of the Bible? Hmmm. Also, I have experience with arsonists (sorry, Laodicean Christians). If you visit North Korea on holiday, it is not written in stone that you will end up being turned into a vegetable. But Florida is quite a bit safer.
They will notice how you dress, what you have for lunch, etc. They will ask you where you go to church. They will get into conversations with you – and you will give the wrong answers. They will do wacky things – like bursting out singing or praying out loud and emotively so at the drop of a hat. They will expect you to be good with all that and so much more. What if you're not? I'm not too good at pretending myself, not when it comes to what and who I love the most. Keeping opinions to oneself in the secular world is much easier.
When you write "I have a hard time imagining serious consequences coming out of some sort of doctrinal disagreement", doesn't the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre ring a bell?
You are a good man, and you assume others are "good" too – and especially if they are (or claim to be) Christians. I'm sorry to say that I have had far too much life experience in this area to make any such assumption. Just the opposite. Some of the worst offenders tend to claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. You know of my travails at the university, but for all the flak, I've not been fired; my tenure has been honored. I can tell you of Christian universities where that has not been the case – and "doctrinal disagreement" has sometimes been alleged as the justification for treating others in a most ungodly way. People who think that they're right, or, worse, who KNOW that they're right, can be very dangerous. And that's especially the case when that knowledge is really only emotion based on very little or very faulty biblical knowledge. Self-righteousness is very dangerous. It's not usually such a systemic issue in secular places [though that is changing fast], but "Christian" organizations are a Petri dish for it. If you don't believe it, just have a look at the anti-abortion movement, e.g.
They might not go out of business. I'm a Classicist, not a business person. But I have noticed that there are a great many companies in the tech world which do well and end up being bought up by bigger fish. What happens to the employees of the old company? Some are probably not fired. It all depends. But no one is going to be buying out the USAF.
As to added benefits, there is some of that in virtually every job. Yes, dealing with Greek has been wonderful for me. I deal more with Latin on the job. That has some good things attached to it as well, but they are mostly indirect. Anything you learn would be good. Dealing with Greek on your job would be a plus, as would dealing with the Bible. There are always trade-offs. I have found the split between ministry and job very helpful. As our Lord said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Mk.12:17 KJV). That's a pretty good recommendation for keeping things separate, whichever side of the denarius you're looking at. 100% compartmentalization is impossible and some overlap may be good, but when the line gets too blurred, it's potentially problematic in my observation and experience.
Thanks for the update on your family. I have been keeping them in prayer.
And let me know what you decide as well.
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I wondered as I read your comments about the thunderous voices and the lightning seen around the globe. It seems conceivable that the antichrist will claim later on (perhaps as he takes over the temple site), that this was the sign heralding himself to the world as the Christ, and that he has conquered the enemy (Mahdi, 2 Witnesses and the 144,000). All that he needs to do now is to “judge” the rest of the enemy for the Millennium to begin. After all, our Lord and Savior will be visible around the globe at His second Advent. There are many false claims antichrist can make, in persuading “believers” to embark on the “judgment trail (or “trial”) of those they will falsely accuse of having a devil. Great irony in all this. Hence a great pace can be kept up in eliminating true believers as some of their former brothers and sisters turn informers en mass. I know you have probably mentioned this angle somewhere. I realise there are many possibilities. I just feel that if we alert believers beforehand, they may be among the 2/3 rds that do not apostatise. (As you have alerted us!)
Also at our Bible study of Daniel last night, I've been asked to speak about our topic for next week: Part 5: Daniel 7 : One Like a Son of Man. Reflecting on this, perhaps I will find something from your site to present to them. I do not want to come across as a “know it all” preacher - just present the truth from your writings. You obviously know Daniel 7, much more deeply than me. Should I go all out and explain it from your writings? Our TOTAL study time is limited to one hour.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior.
It's an excellent point: no doubt antichrist will spin everything this way. The
devil has been doing that since the beginning, after all (Jn.8:44; cf. Gen.3:4).
As to teaching, I'm notoriously long-winded in person as well as in writing. One hour is the blink of an eye. And I have observed about students giving presentations that diligent ones always worry they won't have enough to fill their ten minutes and bring in what they don't realize is two hours worth of material. If it were me, I would pick out one major doctrine / teaching evoked by the passage in question (whatever that is) and draw it out directly from the text. "Son of man" speaks to me about that phrase vs. "the Son of man" and why the titles and different and what they mean (time permitting I might go into Christophany as well). But there is no wrong thing to teach if you are teaching the truth. Eventually Christians need to hear it all, not just what they might find personally interesting.
Thanks as always for your good words, my friend!
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
The spiritual battle has been very hard in just the past few days, but I have
been keeping busy in the word and in my studies. As a side note I am also going
through your Coming Tribulation series, and when I am done with that I intend to
finish going through the book of Romans with
Mr. Omo (link) and then from
there continue going through other books etc.
Besides the things we've previously discussed, would there be anything else I would need for a teaching ministry, so would you add anything else to that list? If so, what would you recommend?
May I ask if you could pray for me? I am done with school and making the transition of going into the work force, so I am currently searching for a job, one which hopefully allows me to serve the Lord effectively schedule wise. I have been very selective, picky if you will, but it is for the Lord that I approach it that way. I have applied to a few jobs, either to not be accepted or find out they aren't for me. Some people may think it strange that I approach my job searching in such a way, but the Lord knows why I do it this way and I am relying on Him to bring the right job along as I continue my vigorous job search.
In His Grace
There is always something else that can be done. Learning some Greek and Hebrew
would be great. Also, reading into this ministry more aggressively would be very
helpful too – not just one time but everything several times so that it sinks in
(that is what I do). L.S. Chafer is reported to have said that ten years
preparation for one year of ministry was not a bad ratio. In the end, we don't
know when or how or where the Lord is going to put us into service (this
ministry certainly wasn't anticipated by me in its present form – there wasn't
even an internet when I started it). Until He does, rather than a limiting
program, the best approach would be to do all we reasonably can for when that
day comes. It's analogous to a combat unit preparing for a war not yet declared:
better to prepare as much as possible for anything possible rather than to
assume that "so much is enough". That's my perspective on at in any case.
Yes, if we are pushing forward it's harder for anything to push us sideways, harder than if we were standing still. So I find your positive comments in the face of the sorts of pressures that any young man preparing for ministry will likely face from the evil one very encouraging. Keep up the fight for Jesus Christ!
I will be keeping you in prayer on this. I think you are very wise to take care about the job selection – and it's a mark of your notable faith in the Lord that you are trusting Him to provide just the right one and not racing after the first opportunity. Good for you!
The race is long and difficult, but there can be joy in it too, joy in running well for the Lord and in the knowledge that He is pleased with what you are doing – and will reward you appropriately in the end. That is what we are all running for.
Your fellow runner for Jesus Christ,
I agree with your statement that we should strive to learn and prepare as much
as possible. I guess that since I'm not in seminary I feel the need to ask you
all of this, but preparations are not limited to academics. The most important
thing I think I remember you saying is that we grow in the truth, understanding
it, believing it, and then applying it in our own lives. That as you said is how
we get closer to Him, and that should be our main focus.
As for the studies, yes that is my plan and what I plan to continue doing. I plan on doing a lot of re-reading, I'm going through the tribulation study for the second time in two years but I plan on getting more into the Bible basics when finished as there are around two or three studies I haven't read, and then re-reading ones I already read.
I thought about rotating between your and Mr. Omo's ministry [link], because I find both helpful and I don't need more than two ministries to grow under.
My plan is to use Ichthys one day, then listen to one of Mr. Omo's lessons the next day. I wanted to do both in one day which right now I could but I won't able to do that once I start working as time and energy will not permit. The only disadvantage to this is that in going through the book of Romans with Mr. Omo there are around 60 or so lessons if I'm remembering correctly. So its gonna take me a while to get through the book doing only a few lessons a week. I guess I should target a shorter book when I finish Romans then. But overall I am pleased with this plan and it works with my schedule. What do you think? This all of course does not mention my own quiet time of Bible reading and prayer and then the academics, the ones I listed in my email to you. Those also constitute much of the schedule, especially my own reading of the word as that is extremely essential to my own personal growth and belief of the scriptures.
Sounds like a good plan to me! And of course the "list" you are participating
in/on takes time too, I would imagine.
We all have to find the best rhythm that works for us. More (and in deeper concentration) is always better, but of course there is a limit to what we can do – especially if we're working for a living too and/or looking for work.
I have found in my own life and observed in that of others that for non-geniuses and for normally gifted human beings (i.e., not unusual dynamos), the best approach is that of consistency. If we can build in more and more to our daily schedule in a way that allows us to sustain and maintain good forward progress, that's the best way to get things done over the long haul. No good to run a Marathon today and then not get back on the road until next month: the person who runs even one mile a day will get farther.
Your fellow worker in the vineyard for Jesus Christ,
It's annoying that I accidentally deleted your reply to my last email, could you re-send it please.
I had over 500 emails (mostly junk) to sift through and your reply went with it! I usually put our correspondence in a separate folder as I find your links very helpful and I use
them to cross reference my Bible study.
Thanks again for your prayers and your continued fellowship. Today I received a message from someone I (thought I) was fellowshipping with. I knew there was something odd as the person only refers to God as the Creator and never mentioned Jesus – also hinted at having issues with the Bible.
Today I got the following that has really thrown me:
"I trust only in our Creator, no man can take you or guide you to the most high, all books including the bible were penned by man, every word in the bible is in the Devils Codex, nothing is as it seems. We were created and we are unique they want to destroy us and make us like them, the evil ones, and not the Almighty, spreading the evolution lie all to confuse us and take us away from our true source. They want to turn us against our fellow man by dividing us and they do this by whatever means available and take every opportunity, even giving us the so called 'good guy' or the 'good book' all to create an illusion and false narrative."
I witnessed my personal testimony of Jesus Christ being THE truth and THE way. Other than that I was really disturbed by this. Sure enough they are pushing this Devil's Codex book as another piece of mud to sling on God's Word. The film Zeitgeist claims that Jesus is Horus and that they are both representations of the sun with sun meaning son. You've probably heard all of this before. I have too. The problem with looking into things like Babylonian teachings or things such as Freemasonry is that it sucks you in like a black hole. I myself have made the mistake of being so concerned with what the devil is doing that I am not looking towards Jesus. I think the devil is aware of this and can use this vigilance to his advantage. I thought that looking at the deception from, what I thought to be a "safe" distance would keep me aware and vigilant towards the lies. What I have now found, to my horror, is that the darkness of the lies can actually come towards you and envelop you if you have your eyes fixed on it (even in self defence).
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
So that is it for me now. I know enough of the darkness to be wary of it but I
want now to be fully looking towards the true light of Jesus Christ. I know what
time it is and that the hour is late. I am through with looking at the world as
it only brings me misery, Today I received an email about Psalm 91 and it
really, really was the perfect scripture to read to ease me.
It's hard at the moment as we are increasingly aware of the growing darkness around us in the world. The devil grows more bold and bold by the day and I can see the foundations being laid down for the antichrist kingdom, so obviously now.
What I have experienced as a believer is somewhat akin to Indiana Jones having to leap over pits and avoid huge rocks rolling towards me. It has made me realise how precious Jesus is and the devil and his worldly minions will do anything to take Him away or discredit Him. It's ironic but as soon as you come to accept Jesus then immediately you will get attacked! That's what happened to me! If anything the attacks witness to the truth of Jesus and yes there is definitely power in that name. That's why the sacred namers are fighting against His name. You talk to people about God, no problem. You mention Jesus and literally people go bonkers. It is literally like throwing a molotov cocktail into the room.
But the Lord IS my shepherd and if God is for me, who can be against me.
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven
How can I witness to people that not only is the Bible the word of God but the
preserved Word? I personally do not need proof (sight) in this matter as I have
faith and it is written on my heart now.
In Jesus Christ's precious name,
I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I guess the first thing I would say is that
people go down these false trails for a reason and of their own free will. Just
as everyone knows there is a God (even if they work hard to blot that truth from
their hearts), so also everyone who has been exposed to it knows very well that
the Bible is God's Word – even if they allow themselves to be deceived about its
validity and veracity.
Mere men wrote the Bible? Here is what I read:
No single verse of prophetically inspired scripture has ever come into being as a result of personal reflection. For true prophecy has never occurred by human will, but only when holy men of God have spoken under the direction and agency of the Holy Spirit.
2nd Peter 1:20b-21
Do people reject this? People reject the truth all the time. But if person prima facie rejects the authority of the Bible, what then IS their authority? Is "the Creator" personally talking to your friend? I'd be interested to know. If not (and of course "not"), then what gives your friend the authority to make it all up? Is it just "feeling" that something is right (so then it's right), or "feeling" that its wrong (then it's wrong)? If so, then your friend has become God, I suppose, or at least "feelings" are. No doubt your friend is listening to some guru (or combination of them in surfing the internet). Then I suppose they are God – in effect, since they do not need to consult any objective source like the Bible. This is of course, all entirely insane, but it is very typical. We who believe, on the other hand, understand very well that with our Lord in heaven, the only source of truth on this earth (besides the natural revelation that confirms God's existence and perfect character: Rom.1:18-32; cf. Acts 17:22-31), is the Bible, and it is from that truth in the Bible that we have been reborn:
(22) Having now sanctified your hearts by means of obeying the truth, love one another resolutely so that your brotherly love may be without hypocrisy. (23) [For you] have been born again not from corruptible seed but through the Word of God which lives and abides forever. (24) Because [as it says (Is.40:6b; 40:8)], "All flesh is like grass, and all of its glory is like the flowers grass produces. Grass dries up and its flowers fall to the ground. (25) But the Word of the Lord [is a seed which] abides forever." This is the Word of good news which has been given to you.
1st Peter 1:22-25
All who have been so born anew from above understand at least this. All others
need to hear the gospel – but we cannot make them accept it. From your
testimony, it seems to me that you made the issue of salvation through faith in
Jesus Christ who is the only Way of salvation VERY clear. You have done your
job. In my experience, there's never much point in arguing the Bible's authority
with anyone. If someone has rejected the Bible, he/she is not a believer (or is
on such a slippery slope he/she is likely not to be one much longer); and
unbelievers need to be confronted by the Spirit with the issue of Jesus Christ
(exactly as you have done).
In terms of your struggle with the world, it is good to keep all such things at arm's length unless one has been given a special ministry in this regard (rescuing others entrapped therein, for example). But what we all need – and what anyone with such a special ministry would most definitely need – is spiritual growth. So as I always do, I commend a diligent and consistent program of reading through the offerings at Ichthys (or some other helpful site; I also recommend Bible Academy at the link). That is the only way to begin moving forward instead of merely fending off attacks that seek to push us backward.
Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.