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Mutual Encouragement in Christ VI: Perseverance

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Question #1:  

Pressured here at work, and I know it is because of my faith in Christ Jesus, I come into work my cross is laid face down on my desk, or my hand held bible is turned upside down, however always praying and reading my bible. I feel like the air around me is shrinking. Personal tribulation.

Response #1: 

I'm sorry to hear that. I'll remember that when I pray for you (daily).

Things have been "interesting" here too. Just told today that my colleague of 20 years, a great Christian woman, is essentially being fired (no tenure) because of the budget ax and a lack of appreciation in our administration here for the value of Greek and Latin. Also losing our Greek and Latin and Classics minors. Also taking a big salary hit myself – but I still have a job, so I am very grateful to the Lord for that!

Nothing down here on planet earth is easy. But we are waiting "for the foundation of that city (i.e., the New Jerusalem) whose architect and builder is God" (Heb.11:10).

I pray for you to always be able to find the joy in your salvation and the peace which Christ promises us. It's always there to be had . . . but we do have to look through the storm with the eyes of faith to see it sometimes.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Well said Robert, and I just thank you for your prayers as you are in mine. I am thankful for having a job as well however, I look towards the hastening of the day of our Lords return. It does my soul well as I read But we are waiting "for the foundation of that city (i.e., the New Jerusalem) whose architect and builder is God" (Heb.11:10). A resounding yes.

Standing on the promises of Jesus holding on with all my might to his word. Because God said it I believe it and by faith I receive it!

All I can say to this is our Father’s goodness is gracious, and thank you for the update. I am studying the Paradigms for the Tribulations and I do believe that in my life I have Exodus moments of tribulations and miraculous intervention of God that strengthen my spiritual muscles of faith, belief, and hope. Praying always for us and thanking God always for you, Robert.

Yours in Christ

Response #2: 


Question #3:  

Hi Bob,

Still here, hanging on albeit not very victoriously. This April is a year since my daughter died. I guess one never gets over something like this.

Have you done a series on the Will of God? eg the different categories?

Hope you are well Bob,


Response #3: 

It's good to hear from you, my friend. I have been remembering you and your family in my prayers daily. I have never lost a child. That has to be the hardest of things. But I do know that when my mother passed this December it was an amazing comfort to know that she was in the presence of the Lord and out of this nasty world.

I've never done a series on the Will of God per se (but see the links below) and I'm not one to break it down into categories. That is because our Lord is a Person and our relationship with Him is living and vibrant and real and multifaceted – just as our relationships are with others we love (only much deeper). Learning what He wants from us is a life-long process. Getting around to doing it consistently is a challenge that will never end. Here are some related things I do have on the topic:

God's Plan to Save You

Imprecatory Prayer and Blessing by Association

Predestination, Calling and Election

The Image and Likeness of God

How are your grandchildren getting on? Your mother?

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

Hi Bob,

I'm sorry to hear about your mom but yes, she is in a far better place. I have a hard time reconciling my happiness that my daughter is with the Lord with my sadness that she is not with us. I would not have wished her an extra second of the pain she suffered but I guess it's human nature to want our loved ones , especially a daughter, to be still with us. My Mom died many years ago and I have had other family members pass away but nothing prepared me for this. As I said, I don't feel very victorious, in fact, not at all but despite my feelings I am utterly convinced that God has planned all of this, for His ultimate glory.

It would help if I understood but I don't. Thanks for you prompt reply, I am always amazed that you find the time to respond so quickly to, what I imagine, are many emails from people with questions and concerns.

God bless,

Response #4: 

I do pray daily for your comfort. I can't imagine how difficult this must be. The fact that we know and believe the things we know and believe does not mean that we are not in pain from the losses we suffer. I lost a very dear friend in graduate school right out of the blue – perfectly healthy one day and died the next (from a reaction to antibiotics). It had a profound affect on me as she was really the only good, close and close-by Christian friend I had at the time. God provided for my recovery but I did have some very rough patches. I can't imagine what you have gone through, however, even so.

I do know that we will all meet again, sooner than anyone imagines, and that at that time the Lord will wipe away all of tears.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:  

I would like to as you for prayer in what is a difficult time. [details omitted]

Response #5: 

Sorry for the delay in response on this one. For whatever reason, my Ichthys server did not forward this message to my main account (it happens from time to time, inexplicably). Also, it's been a VERY busy week.

I urge you not to get down on yourself and not to feel terrible. To be frank, it doesn't matter how you feel anyway. It also doesn't matter what you did yesterday, good or bad. It only matters what you are doing right now. So do the right thing (whatever that is) right now, and don't let past failures large or small become a drag. That only compounds the problem. You are doing wonderfully good work for the Lord! Don't get a swelled head about it (that is not your chronic tendency), and don't get overly down on yourself when you have a day or a stretch of days when you have not performed up to your own very high standards (that is your chronic tendency). While we don't want to excuse less than stellar performance, we can't let being human paralyze us regarding present action.

Keep running your wonderfully good race, my friend, and don't let the small stones trip you up.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

Of course no problem about the delay, which was very short anyway.

And from the bottom of my heart thank you for timely words of wisdom. On the one hand these are things which I have learned from the scripture, on the other - to hear them from a teacher and friend in Christ in a time like this is a great help.

Firstly, it is correct - feelings don't matter. It is just hard to fight them particularly when we know we failed.

It is also true that what I did yesterday doesn't matter.

I know that there is only one way that I must follow and I know I need to stand up and carry on. So now, having stood up again I'm writing to you with words of gratitude for your friendship.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #6: 

I'm confident that you will continue to plug away, regardless of all such impediments. It also strikes me that part of the issue is that you are by nature a humble person, and, as such, more sensitive to any and all aberrations from perfection. That is a decidedly good thing . . . except when it inhibits action which needs to be taken. That is what happened to Moses, after all, when out of humility he was reluctant to accept the Lord's mission to Egypt and not only as an initial reaction. Even virtue carried to an extreme can be problematic – because we are none of us capable of being perfect in this world and in these bodies. That is why I often compare the Christian walk to combat – as did Paul very often. In any battle, there are going to be casualties and nothing will ever go entirely according to plan. In any battle, good leaders are working with imperfect information as regarding everything, and are only doing their best to react to unforeseen situations, pushing through the losses, set-backs, and shocks that inevitably occur. That is the same with us in many ways. We do have the truth. But we cannot even see the invisible conflict swirling around us. We only see things physically from the perspective of our own little place on the battlefield. So we have to fight this fight the best we can according to what we do know of the truth by faith and in complete faith that our General knows precisely what He is doing. If we fall behind or fall down or fall back – as we inevitably will at times – the only thing for it is to get up, turn around and catch up . . . the best we can.

And you are fighting a good fight! Keep it up.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

Hello Dr.,

Sounds like a kick in the stomach! I'm sorry to hear about Your friend Carmen, please let her know I am praying for her situation. As for you, I have been praying for you and your ministry for some time, and will continue to do so, and specifically for this current test which you are going through. Coincidentally I was just informed by my boss this morning that our department will be subject to a staff reduction due to budget cuts.

I know what it is like to take a financial hit. In 2007 the bottom dropped out of my wife's business. I had to take a second job which resulted in me working seven days a week for seven years without a single day off. It was a contract job and there was no time off unless I hired the help myself, which I could not afford to do. I found myself getting out of bed anywhere between 11:30pm and 2:00 am every day of the week, in all kinds of weather, sick, injured, etc., during that time. I can't say I always pulled off a stellar performance, but I can say that it helped me grow closer to The Lord in the process. He was faithful and He brought me through it, just as I know He will bring through this.

If I can be of any assistance to you do not hesitate to ask. I consider you my teacher, brother in Christ and friend. Even though I may never see you in this life I will certainly see you in the next!

Looking forward to living under the righteous rule of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Response #7: 

Wow! Quite a testimony! It makes me all the more grateful for the good work you are doing for this ministry. A lot of people faced with the kind of pressure you received would give up, or blame God, or get sullen, or, or or – but not too many would do what you did and persevere, trusting to the Lord to get them through. I have no doubt that the experience, coupled with your focus on, belief in the truth and application of the truth has been the making of you spiritually, just as you testify.

I hope and pray that this round of cuts passes you by, and will add a request on the Ichthys list (as well as praying for you myself).

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:  

Dr., Thank you for the kind words and prayer support. There are some anxious folks here, but I'm not one of them. I've gotten the axe before, for no fault of my own (except maybe listening to some bad advice when accepting the job) can't say I liked it, but I survived it. Nothing about the experience was easy or pleasant, but again it brought me closer to the Lord. The way I see it if it were God's will for me to be living in a cardboard box under a bridge, it would be better to be there than anywhere else (not that I'm seeking that for myself or anyone), I think you know what I mean. What you teach at Ichthys is true, we grow through the hard times knowing the Lord is right here with us ready to deliver us the way He sees as best for us. I will continue to pray for you, your friend Carmen and your ministry. Keep up the good work and fight the good fight!

Psalm 123

Response #8: 

I love your attitude!

That's the proper Christian attitude and a tonic for me to hear.

It's also a fact that the "I was fired unfairly once (or twice)" is the largest secret society in this country, perhaps in the world. This happens to pretty much everyone sooner or later – especially Christians.

I'll be praying for you too.

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #9:  

Hello Dr.

Yes, praise God, Now and forever! His word is true (Matthew 6:33), you have demonstrated this through your ministry and God has demonstrated His faithfulness in this matter. I have given thanks to the Lord myself for your situation, and will continue to thank Him no matter what may come until He takes me out of here.

We should have a good idea how the dust is going settle here next week. Right now closed door meetings are taking place. My boss has quietly told me as far as he's concerned my position is safe. God has given me a considerable measure of grace with this man, though a few years ago we not on good terms. I thank God for all He has done and continues to do in my life. After experiencing salvation, what more can I ask for? Just that His will be done.

Thank you Dr. for your prayers. God bless you, Carmen and all the friends of Ichthys.


Response #9: 


I'm happy to hear that you have reason to have some confidence in spite of a threatening situation.

We trust the Lord no matter what. If all of the "buzz" is good, that doesn't mean disaster can't strike. If it's all bad, that doesn't mean anything will touch us.

We walk by faith, not by sight.

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend. Thanks so much for all you've done and are doing for this ministry.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:  

I hope you are having a pleasant and productive weekend. I know you are thankful to the Lord for dodging a bullet this past week, I am thankful for you as well. Seems to me that we are bulletproof, as long as we remain in His will, until He is through with what He has for us to do down here. And for the bullets that He does allow to strike us, He is more than capable of healing our wounds.

Once again I enjoyed “church” this morning, a little feeling of dιjΰ vu there. I especially liked the comment by the brother who stated that “my situation is the same or maybe even worse, but I don’t care, knowing our Lord is enough for me to carry on in this life”. That kind of attitude rings true in my own spirit and brings a smile to my face, my prayers are with him and all the friends of Ichthys.

Thanks again for your prayers and teaching. As always if there are any problems, or if anything else I can do to help, please let me know.

Response #10: 

Yes, we all "learn" here in this world as we pursue the truth – at least we certainly should! I've found myself "learning" in this regard as well, even into my present "later youth".

Appreciate all you do, brother!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:  

Greetings Dr. Luginbill,

I wanted to wish you and your family a wonderful Resurrection Day. What a blessing it is to call to mind the awesome Truth that King Jesus lives, that He has conquered death and the grave, and that because He lives we too shall live again! As the Scripture says, "we who have believed do enter that rest...." We who a fled to Him for refuge have His promise that if we remain faithful to Him then we have shall also live with Him in that place where righteousness dwells and the saints shall walk in the sight of GOD. It is my sincere prayer and expectation that you and I shall meet together on that Day when the Lord Jesus Christ descends out of the heavens in radiant glory to subdue His enemies, establish His everlasting Kingdom, and be marveled at by all those who have loved His appearing. Therefore let us rejoice that on this Day we can celebrate the beautiful fact that our KING is the King of all of kings and our LORD is the Lord of all lords! Unto Him, and His blessed Father, and the Holy Spirit of promise be glory, and honor, dominion and power, forever and ever world, without end!

May you and your family have a blessed day together, and may God's grace be with you all, in JESUS' Mighty Name !!!

Response #11: 

Thank you, my friend!

Hope you and your family had a very happy Easter.

In Jesus Christ who died for us . . . and rose so that we are confident in our coming resurrection as well.

Bob L.

Question #12:  

Hi Dr. The outcome didn't go as wished. It will be okay. He will see us through this like everything else.

I want to thank you for all your prayers and continued prayer for my family as we transition to this potentially rough period.

I will write your email down and correspond while I am away. Who knows, there might be some opportunity to minister based on your excellent work and hopefully help others while I am away.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #12: 

I am distraught to hear your sad news, my friend! Not to mention a little surprised. I was praying for you aggressively (and that will not stop), and I know that others were as well. Not only is this the opposite of what I was hoping but worse than I had expected in a worst case analysis. When something like that happens, to a wonderful Christian man like yourself, I can only conclude that God has a plan about which we know very little here as yet. It's far easier for me to say this than for you to hear it, and I feel bad about that as well.

Joseph did not deserve to be thrown into the pit, and while he was down there, listening to his brothers arguing about killing him, I'm sure he prayed to the Lord. And when they were in the process of selling him into slavery, I'm sure he prayed to the Lord. And when he was being taken to Egypt against his will, I'm sure he prayed to the Lord. And while he was a servant of Potiphar, I'm sure he prayed to the Lord. And when he was falsely accused by Potiphar's wife, I'm sure he prayed to the Lord. And when he was thrown into the dungeon, I'm sure he prayed to the Lord. And when the wine-steward forgot about him, I'm sure he prayed to the Lord. But then he was brought into Pharaoh's presence – out of the blue. And then he was promoted to second in the kingdom – out of the blue. And then his good stewardship was blessed with success in every way, and his brothers and fathers were restored to him, while meanwhile he was given a wife and children of his own, along with all the wealth, status, fame, success and power of the second most powerful man in the world at that time – not "out of the blue" but out of heaven from the Lord Himself. Because the Lord had been behind everything that had happened. So when, after Jacob's death, his brothers besought him for mercy, calculating that he might do to them what they had certainly done to him, he responded "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Gen.50:20 NIV).

How many Christians would bear such abuse from their siblings, enslavement, deportation, false accusation, imprisonment for year after year with their prayers going unanswered without becoming bitter or losing hope or losing faith or blaming God or seeking revenge? Not many of us. But Joseph did. And you would have too, I think. Because what amazes me more than this unexpected result – and what has amazed me throughout – is your wonderful attitude of trust in the Lord despite everything else. True faith consists of trusting the Lord even when things "go horribly wrong" to human eyes, trusting Him that although we can't see anyway that "this" could ever be for good in any way, that God is in fact working it all out for the good in every way (Rom.8:28).

I don't know how this will work out. It took years for the Lord to answer Joseph's prayers – although we see with hindsight that He was in the process of answering them all along and beyond anything Joseph could have anticipated. Is this result good? No way. Is God using it for the good? We know by faith that He is and that He surely will continue to do so. Do we see now how that is even possible? Hard for me to do so. But you are already seeing into the plan of God with the eyes of Joseph, with the eyes of faith. And that is inspiration to me to the depths of my heart.

You are an example to me, my friend, and I promise not to break faith with you in this trial of trials. I won't give up in prayer support. Our God is the God of "never" and also of "always", and He turns the one into the other at will. So what can "never happen" is easily possible for Him for Him who can do all things, and what "always happens" can be turned on its head in an instant by Him who controls all things.

We can talk about the details later. For now I just want you to know how impressed I am with your personal integrity and monumental faith.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior – for whom nothing is impossible.

Bob L.

Question #13:  

Thank you for your continued prayers. Really a prayer for my wife and kids are more needful than for me. It will be an adjustment for them.

Glory, i.e., the Triune God, is right around the corner. I won't miss Him just because of a perceived setback. It will be tough talking to my kids and seeing my wife having to take care of everything without me but I know the Lord will take care of them. I am so use to being the breadwinner that sometimes guilt does creep up and what I have done to them, even though it is a decade old.

We will definitely keep in touch and I will be developing some sort of study plan to keep pace.

Thanks for everything and once again your prayers did help, just we don't know how yet.

In Christ our Lord

Response #13: 

You are more than welcome, my friend, and I will definitely be keeping you family in my prayers as well.

Please keep me in the loop.

This is the truth: "your prayers did help, just we don't know how yet".

Learning a lot from your example.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:  

Thank you Robert.

A quick question, do you think this is still part and parcel divine discipline? David's discipline took 14 yrs and maybe the Lord gave me a hiatus but now is continuing the discipline part.

I was just curious.

What is really needful know is prayer for my wife and kids and for the Lord to find them a suitable place to live.

It is hard to see Rom 8:28 out of this whole situation but i know the application is true. Remember, in my initial email when I heard the news several years ago I told you that the hardest thing for anyone is to let go of things. This is exactly the situation that tests many people's faith. What happens if God takes everything away from you? How will you respond?

We are in that crucible our family and by His grace and Spirit, I hope we respond similar like others in Heb chapter 11.

Thank you for all you do. I will still need my teacher in this journey.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #14: 

I think it's difficult for anyone to apply Romans 8:28 whenever things are going "terribly wrong" from our point of view. That is where faith must come in, and yours is deep and amazing – and I draw great inspiration from it. To me, it seems as if you are entering the Tribulation earlier than the rest of us.

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1st Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

"Do not be afraid; only believe."
Mark 5:36 NKJV

We may not "like" what the will of God is for us in many cases, but we can be certain that He knows what He is doing even when we are at a loss as to what to do or how to take the things that come. And we know that nothing is impossible for Him, so any disaster can be reversed. He can keep us from things that seem inevitable and He can deliver us through things that seem unbearable – as long as we keep trusting Him like Daniel did. It's hard to see how God's will could be for us to be thrown to the lions when all we did was pray as we are required to do regardless of laws against it, but of course the Lord did deliver Daniel and as a result his story is enshrined in scripture and is an inspiration to us all.

So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.
Daniel 6:23b NKJV

I don't minimize what you are going through in any way. But I do know that God is greater than all of our fears and cognizant of all of our tears. I wonder if Daniel ever did anything wrong in his youth. We are all sinners, after all, even if there is nothing recorded in scripture about this. I have often wondered why Daniel wasn't on the plain with his three friends when they were thrown into the fiery oven. Did he use his position to avoid having to be there and face that confrontation? I can't tell from what the scripture gives us. But even if he did nothing wrong at all, I wonder if he felt a certain amount of guilt about not being present at that time – and then I wonder if he had to fight off that guilt when he was being cast into the lion's den. Because when bad things happen, it is an inevitable temptation to reflect on the past and attribute our present suffering to past misdemeanors. Even Job did this (Job 13:26), and even David was concerned about it (Ps.25:7).

But Job was actually being complimented by the Lord in suffering what he suffered, and even though David did suffer through years of divine discipline for his egregious sins, he was blessed all through that suffering and granted victory in every trial – and David behaved not as a man who was downcast and being pummeled but as a great believer who trusted in the Lord. David, in all his discipline, had "moved on", completely confident in the Lord's forgiveness and in no doubt about the Lord's deliverance in whatever trials awaited regardless of their origin. So what is the difference between Daniel, David and Job, practically speaking? And what is the difference, if we have confessed and recovered, between suffering as a result of something we did or not? For regardless of why we are suffering what we are suffering, whether there is a connection to past malfeasance or not, having confessed our sins long ago we are walking in the light with Jesus Christ either way, and we not only have the right to be bold and courageous in faith in Him either way, demonstrating confidence in His deliverance either way, but we also have that responsibility. That is what David did. That is what we should do too, "forgetting the past" and instead "straining towards the course ahead . . . to win the prize" (Phil.3:12-16).

Does our Lord Jesus love us any less because we were not perfect in the past? We know He loves us with a perfect love, and we know He approves of all the good and godly things we are doing now, that He wants us to grow and progress and help others do the same, and that if any trouble does come, He is with us to bring us through the valley of the death shadow, regardless of what may have happened in the past. That is the "sweet spot": total confidence in the Lord regardless of what we see or hear or feel (and regardless of why we may assume it is happening). Only those who are mature and walking with the Lord can act and behave that way. You are doing it! And I rejoice in your wonderful witness.

I pledge to keep faith with you and your family throughout this trial.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:  

I apologize for delayed response and thanks for your prayers and response. Curious, it surprised me when you state the Tribulation for me seems to start early. I wonder why you came to that conclusion. I understand it is only an educated guess but that statement really stood out.

In Christ Jesus our Lord. Let me know if there are any prayers needed in your end.

Response #15: 

I'm happy to hear from you whenever, my friend. I continue to be impressed by your solid and stand-up faith in the midst of this pressure. I doubt if I would handle this as well as you. But for all of us who are observing your good witness in this trouble, it is both an inspiration and a lesson – regarding what we may have to deal with and endure with equal faith once the dark times begin for the entire world.

Just having survived that serious threat to my job and to that of my co-worker [later terminated], things are in recovery mode here. I'm doing well in health and work with no particular complaints. God is good. Like Job we do need to keep in mind when things go wrong, however, the truth of his pithy reply to his wife: "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (Job 2:10). And what people call "good" can sometimes be or lead to things that are very bad; and what people call "bad (trouble; Heb. ra')", will always be "for the good" if we are walking in the light with the Lord, no matter how terrible the trouble gets, even to the point of martyrdom. It's not what most people, most Christians even, want to hear. It's not what I want to hear. But I can affirm and attest that in all my troubles in this life, the ones that were my own stupid fault, the ones that were clearly suffering for blessing and testing, and the ones in the middle (hard to determine which was which in some cases), the Lord has always been with me, He has always disciplined me much less than my sins deserved, He has always turned all trouble into blessing and deliverance, and He has always used these events to sharpen me and to fine tune my azimuth on the way to Zion. People who think we are here "to have a good life" are not reading or caring to read the Bible. I do have a "good life", but it has not been without testing, and "all who wish to live godly in Christ Jesus" will persecuted by the evil one (2Tim.3:12). We Christians who are truly fighting the fight and running the race are indeed blessed by the Lord, but the biggest and greatest blessings are the spiritual ones with the victories we are given in this contest in which we are engaged – and they presage the eternal blessings that our present opposition and courageous response to it deserves. I know this the key to understanding what is happening to you, my friend. Nevertheless, I intend to keep praying for your deliverance every day.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:  

Hi Dr.,

I hope all is well. Just wanted to give you an update and I know your prayers are with us. I was laid off my job this Tuesday because of this situation so I have no income to give my family.

I saw God's hand in this because it was unexpected and I prayed to him to find a way to tell my employer since they have been so good to me. I envisioned all sort of scenarios but God turn this anxiety into a positive.

They were supportive of me and kept the information of my situation private and my boss wrote a nice email to the rest of senior management about my contribution to the company. I received all sorts of well wishes. So God turned what could have been an awkward and difficult situation to good. Also, the possibility of selling my home for a small profit is nil due to a lien the government put on my house.

It seems everything I wanted to do, the Lord put out of my reach to make it impossible for me to maneuver. I wanted to save money through my job, but He said no. I wanted to sell my house so my family will have some money, but He said no. Every place we look for my wife to rent is out of her price range in this area so she is getting discouraged at times.

We are at His mercy. I feel helpless and of no use and I can't get out of my mind the guilty feeling because I bought this on my family.

I know the Lord is faithful but it seems He turned my life 180 degrees around. I went from making a good living to all this trouble

I am emailing not to get you down but first and foremost to pray my wife finds a suitable place to live before I leave.

It will be interesting to see what the Lord is doing but stressful nonetheless when you and your family are going through it.

I appreciate all you do. Also, if you have some thoughts on bible study strategies that I can employ that would be helpful. I know I will have your email studies but if you can think of anything else, please let me know.

I believe you are correct that the Lord is preparing us for The Tribulation. At first I thought your analysis was off the mark but didn't want to tell you. But none of this makes sense. This is a 180 degrees reversal of fortune for something that happened 10 yrs ago and was forgiven then by Christ.

I believe The Tribulation will cause most to apostatize because when you lose everything like we are, what will you hold onto?

This test is actually more difficult than any other test whether it be sickness, lack of employment for a period and death. The reason and I am finding this out is that faith is the only thing that matters. What really tests your faith than losing everything and suddenly.

Phi 3:8 "Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ." ESV

In Christ Jesus our Lord and thanks for listening

Response #16: 

I'm very sorry to hear all of this, my friend. Clearly, all of this is just the opposite of what we have been praying for – but God has a plan.

I am learning a great deal from you and your experience. I am sorry that you and your family are the ones who are doing the suffering that so that I (and others) can learn from it, but I do want you to know what a magnificent witness to the truth and to the power of faith you are for me (and will be to others as well). As with Job's sufferings, when so much comes down so hard for no apparent near-term reason, we can at least have confidence that we are suffering for blessing and being tested in a special way for some special purpose, so that there is no need to feel guilty at all – in fact that would be the wrong reaction. Small setbacks can be grating and we probably should examine ourselves and our lives when such things occur because, after all, the Lord does discipline us to correct our behavior. But massive, life-changing reverses that fall upon us out of the blue are clearly meant for other purposes. Of course we do not seek them out, and of course they are very difficult to bear (for all the reasons you have described), but they are also clearly God-sent – or at least God-permitted as in Job's case. And as in Job's case, we would be wrong to look only at the beginning or the middle of the story without looking also at the end which is the key point. And this is not the end for you.

We are walking through this world with Jesus Christ towards a definite goal, the goal of the "other side" when we will be with Him in glory and where we will be rewarded for the things we have done in keeping with His will for our lives. We are not here in the world to sit down by the side of the road and take it easy. We are not here to enjoy ourselves with the things of the world to the point of idolizing them or loving them more than the Lord. Whatever we have, we have from Him. Whatever we have, we can lose in an instant – whatever worldly things, that is. But no one can take away our faith, no one can force us to give up our faithfulness, our hope is not negotiable nor can it be wrested from us, and our love for Jesus Christ, His truth, His Church, and what He has done for us is not going anywhere – just as long as we are resolved not to let the events of this life and the things of this world intrude themselves into what really matters.

When the Tribulation begins, I am sure that most of us are going to be going through things similar in heaviness of load to what you are experiencing now. How we cope with that load will say much about the depth of our faith and our willingness to put the Lord before everything else. I rejoice in your courageous response to this trial, my friend, because it reassures me that indeed it is possible to handle whatever may come . . . with sufficient faith.

Of course I am with you in spirit and in prayer, my friend, right to the end. And I will of course be praying for you and your family, this particular pressing need included. As to how to approach / cope with the situation ahead. I will give that some thought. I suspect that however much a person anticipates something like this, the actual texture of what you will be experiencing will be different in a lot of ways from what is imagined ahead of time. So we will take this one step at a time, one day at a time. That is all any of us can do under any circumstance, if we are looking at things the way the Lord wants us to see them, that is.

(15) Do not be a lover of this world, nor of what is in this world. If anyone is a lover of this world, a [genuine] love for the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (17) The world and its lust are passing away, but whoever does God's will is [going] to stay [alive with God] forever.
1st John 2:15-17

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord, our Savior, and our Deliverer.

Bob L.

Question #17:  

Thank you for your words of encouragement Dr.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #17: 

You are more than welcome, my friend.

I'm wondering whether or not this terrible development might not also represent a sort of opportunity – to give yourself a full seminary / Ph.D. education with whatever time you'll have. I can certainly make recommendations and send you things as well.

You are clearly special to the Lord. I'm thinking He has something correspondingly special in mind for you in terms of ministry, and preparation is always important for any substantial one.

Keeping you and your family in my prayers for deliverance daily.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer.

Bob L.

Question #18:  

What are your thoughts on this?


Also, I would need help in curriculum planning for studying. I don't know where to start. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

I am excited. I was wondering how I can go during this time. I plan on bringing my study bible and daily psalms reading book upon entry.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #18: 

I don't have much to say about your link since it seems to straddle the issue. As I have often written, I benefitted greatly from my own seminary experience, but mostly because of the discussions I had with a cadre of close friends whom I met there, all of whom were connected to Col. Thieme's ministry. I couldn't have planned that – but God had it planned. Today, I would be reluctant to endorse any seminary (even my Alma Mater, Talbot).

What is important in preparation for ministry? It starts and ends with the Bible. Anyone who wants to minister must first grow spiritually, and must then be tested and refined so as to be able to endure the trials any substantial ministry brings. You are well on your way with both of these steps. To minister the Word of God is all about the Bible, because such ministries are all about helping others to understand and learn the Bible's truths and live by them and apply them. Which means that you yourself must know all you can about the Bible and what it actually means . . . as well as having gained as many tools as possible to be able to expand that knowledge yourself through your own studying. I will give you some links below to discussions I've had with others on all this in the past, but first here is roughly how I would rank the priorities – keeping in mind that it's not a Smorgasbord (they're all important and nothing can really be left out):

1) Greek

2) Hebrew

3) English Bible

4) Theology

5) Ancient History

6) Church History

7) Aramaic (biblical)

8) related areas and issues (textual criticism, hermeneutics, etc.)

Clearly, these areas all overlap, and there are many ways to tackle each of them. Greek is the most important because of the New Testament and because of the difficulty and time-consuming nature of learning Greek well enough for it to be truly useful in solving problems of interpretation by consulting the original directly. Hebrew is a close second. It is perhaps more difficult at first but somewhat more accessible in that the Old Testament is not written in the same concentrated "theological" way as the New, but Hebrew does also take "time in grade" to get good at, so it's not something to be put off. Reading one's English Bible, not just casually but with the purpose of mastering it as best as one can, is also of huge importance. I certainly wish I had realized this earlier than I did in my own life. Number 4, 5, 6 and many things falling under category #8 can be done entirely in English and therefore at (comparative) leisure. It may not be relaxing to some people to be reading something like Schaff's multi-volume History of the Christian Church, but it is easier than toiling away at Greek and Hebrew. Aramaic is important but since biblical Aramaic is very close to Hebrew and since it occurs in a very small portion of the OT, it is a "nice to have" but not a first priority. I am happy to recommend titles in all these areas, but the most important things to start with would be something in Greek and Hebrew that is advancing your knowledge here (apologies – I know you've talked about these before but I'm not sure where you are "at" at the moment), a good study Bible to spend as much time as possible reading in English, then any number of books on biblical subjects related to the above which can be undertaken in almost any order. Here are a few theology titles I usually recommend:

L.S. Chafer Systematic Theology

Henry C. Thiessen Lectures in Systematic Theology

Charles Hodge Systematic Theology (multiple volumes)

L.S. Chafer and J.F. Walvoord Major Bible Themes

August H. Strong Systematic Theology (as a supplement)

But please keep in mind that most of what you'd be doing in reading and going over these books is the drudgery of learning first-hand how deficient traditional theology is – but at least it's far superior to most things being pumped out today (personally, I prefer Ichthys' Basic Series).

A good one volume "Bible Dictionary" would be nice to have as well. Davidson's, Hastings, and Unger's are all pretty good, if memory serves.

Here are a couple of links which go into more detail (which lead to more) – and of course I'm happy to talk much more about all this with you in the weeks ahead, my friend:

Should I go to seminary or not?

Ministry and Preparation for Ministry I

Ministry and Preparation for Ministry II

Ministry and Preparation for Ministry III

Ministry and Preparation for Ministry IV

Keeping you and your wife and family in my prayers daily.

In Jesus our dear Savior and Lord.

Bob L.

Question #19:  

Thanks Dr. for the link. How can one obtain a PhD in seminary without formal education? And also, I am going to put together a curriculum for you to review. One of the issues I have is how can I test myself. If this is self-taught seminary, how can I know if I am proficient in a specific area? I know if I can read the bible and interpret passages in Greek and Hebrew, that means I am proficient but what about the other areas you highlight.

These are I some things I might need your help in formulating. Who knows, this might be an avenue in creating a class of some sort within the institutions with other spirit minded individuals.

Thank you for all your help In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #19: 

I mean a "Ph.D. equivalent". Though they are often out of reach for most for many reasons, credentials do have their place. In my own case, I wanted to make sure that in this ministry I would be able to back up what I wrote with sufficient credentials to make it clear that I probably had some idea what I was talking about. But whether or not I do has nothing directly to do with my Ph.D. or any of my other degrees. They do represent a lot of time and effort toiling away at related issues, however. One credential I do not have is an ordination from any group or denomination. That hasn't stopped me from doing this ministry. I don't suppose that, should you not earn any degrees in this time, the lack of them will be a hindrance in fact. As to proficiency in the ancillary areas, in college or seminary one reads books and then one is tested on the reading one has done. There is no "magic" in being in a seminary classroom discussing books you can read well enough on your own. Some people benefit from the interaction with others, but since that is not an option, it is of course more time efficient just to read another book on your own. I am quite sure that you are sufficiently motivated to do a good job reading those books. One thing, however: please don't let the lack of a perfect system or perfect situation stop you from doing what you can. In truth, very few of us every have a perfect system or situation, and those who do often squander it or at least don't take the advantage they should. Do what you can, and I am sure that the Lord will honor your effort.

I will definitely be keeping your whole family in my prayers, my friend.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:  

Thank you and I will take definitely take your advice to heart. My goal is tackle Greek and biblical Hebrew and be proficient as possible in reading and translating. I want to get to a point where I can read the Word in its origin language.

My secondary purpose is exegesis. Taken books at a time and provide commentary. This might change as the Spirit leads but that is the direction initially.

I want my eternal rewards. I daydream sometimes what it will be and that by itself motivates me.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #20: 

Sounds good, my friend!

And that's exactly what we're supposed to do:

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
Hebrews 11:24-26 NIV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:  

Hi Dr.,

Thanks for the email follow-up. Everything is going well considering. My wife I can see is worried about how she can take of the expenses when I am gone. The anxiety is shown in her emotions but she has faith that the Lord will supply but we are human and we feel the stress and weight at times.

This in-turn brings me down seeing her expression and makes me want to question why God is doing this but then i repent. We are in a question but repent mode. Otherwise, everyone's spirit is up.

I guess we won't know what He has in store but we are moving on day by day in faith, at least we try as best as we can. That is all we can do at this point. Thanks for your prayers and concern.

One of the things my wife and I realize when we talk the other day, our kids show no anxiety. They unequivocally trust us to take care of them. Their spirits are better than ours at time. My wife and I realized at that moment their childish faith is what the Lord wants from me and her. I guess we are learning this aspect of faith by viewing our kids behavior during this transition. It is interesting that the Lord can teach you valuable lessons in the midst of severe trials if your spirit is willing and open to hearing and listening.

Talk soon. In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #21: 

It's far from easy, I am sure, but your faith and faithfulness in the midst of this trial is motivational and instructional. Your comment about your children is also very enlightening. Children are usually able to put up with a great deal precisely because they rely on us and because they are not the ones with the responsibility – but also because the things of this world are not yet as important to them as they often become to their parents (if for no other reason than just because of the responsibility to provide for them). Just as children are able to transfer all that fear and angst to us, so we ought to do the same to the Lord, as He as told us to do (Matt.6:25ff.; cf. Ps.55:22).

Hanging in there with you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:  

Hi Bob,

Was our friend delivered today? (I was praying too.)

Do you save our old e-mails, or do I have to recap family situations when writing?

Thanking and appreciating you every day for all you do and all I have learned.

In Jesus,

Response #22: 

Good to hear from you – I do remember you and I do pray for you daily.

I do my best to hang onto emails. I do remember yours (with a little help).

On our friend, I'm sad to report that things went very bad for him indeed. Many of us were praying for him, so it has to be God's will. But I can report that he is taking the set-back with evident faith in the Lord. I am hoping that something (the Lord) will intervene in the meantime, but otherwise he is in for a terrible ordeal. He reminds me of Joseph.

Sorry to have to give you that bad news. But I know that the Lord honors your prayers and that He is working it all out for good. That is easier for me to say since it is not me in that particular crunch, but I have seen it in my own life many times, and his courage of faith demonstrates that he believes the truth of that as well. His wife and children will really need our prayers now more than ever – as will he. I'm planning to put something up on the website on Saturday, but not sure exactly how to phrase it.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:  

The news made me cry. But, I believe like you that the Lord will work it into something good. Maybe like Joseph, he will come out of it a pillar of faith during the tribulation and save many!!

I don’t know how it can be arranged, but if his family needs financial help during this time of testing, I could give something every month.

Thank you for your prayers. I pray for you and Ichthys also. You are a free pearl to those seeking the kingdom!

Response #23: 

I am distraught about our friend as well. When I last wrote to him I too made the parallel with Joseph – God has things in mind about which we can't even guess ahead of time (Gen.50:20).

As to what to do to help, I also don't know how something like that might be done. I'll have to think about it. It certainly says good things about you and your heart that have made this offer, however, and I know God honors that sort of compassion.

Thanks so much for your prayers and encouraging words – they are much appreciated.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:  

Dear Bob,

Now it is my turn to thank you for the kind words!

However, I really felt “led” to offer the financial assistance and was hoping that others would feel the same thing. Has anything like that happened? I purposely waited some time before replying to you so your followers could read about the disposition of his case.

Still in prayer for you, our friend, and his family!!

Response #24: 

You're very welcome of course, my friend.

As to our friend, no, no one else has come forward unsolicited offering to help financially. It needs to be said that I deliberately didn't put things that way in any of the prayer requests (he hasn't asked for that either), and also that I have withheld a great deal about his exact situation (out of what I considered prudent restraint – he has authorized me to put everything "up", however).

I have been very blessed so far in not to have to have anything to do with money in this ministry, and as long as it is possible to maintain that posture, I would dearly love to do so. One time when I did try to get involved in a somewhat similar situation of need the Lord intervened to prevent it (my perception of events, at least).

So I'm not sure what to say. I had thought, if you wrote back about this, that I might discuss the possibility of you considering taking the lead in some sort of fund for the welfare of his family. I'm sure they will be able to use that help. However, I definitely would not want to put any pressure on you to think that this is somehow necessary just because you had a kind thought. Something like that is a big responsibility, not easy to get going in the first place and difficult to maintain down the road for many reasons (not the least of which is the natural cooling of any initial ardor on the part of any others who did initially come forward). I know that the Lord will work things out. However, I also that He uses Christians to work things out.

How many folks out there would be willing to be as generous as yourself, if you did undertake something like this? It's hard to say. The nature of this ministry is such that the vast majority of readers never ever contact me in the first place. And when it comes to money . . . well . . . people are VERY funny about money. Just look at how Paul had to brace the Corinthian church over their promises to give which were not being fulfilled (2Cor.9:1-15). That is why I am so grateful that I have been allowed to keep that issue entirely out of this ministry so far (and intend to keep things that way, God helping me).

You are to be commended for your good heart in any case, my friend. I'm not sure something like this is really even practicable. If the effort turned out to be a mere token one – not out of lack of effort on, say, your part, but because of a lack of response from the "Ichthys church" – it might do more harm than good, especially if he gets to counting on it. But I do know that there is nothing keeping us from praying for our friend.

Please don't let this frank response be a burden to you. If you hadn't asked again, I never would have brought it up. But none of that means that this would be "the right thing to do". Something I have learned the hard way in my own Christian experience is that just because something is difficult, onerous, and very much against what we really want to have to do, does not necessarily make it a good thing to do – though that is what guilt often tells us.

Feel free to write me back any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.
P.S. on this: I have also been steering any and all desires to contribute to Ichthys toward my friend Curt Omo's "Bible Academy" – and while I think this has had some positive effect for him, I'm pretty sure it's not been a "fountain of milk and honey". So I would definitely not want to be unreasonably optimistic about what might be accomplished (even as I understand and believe that the Lord will accomplish all His good pleasure with us or without us).

Question #25:  


Thank you so much for getting back to me. I am going to let the money issue drop but continue in prayer.

Who I am and where and how I live, is mostly like Moses in the desert before God called him into service.

Learning and growing (with your help)...limited social interaction...not really “into” the world around me. This is a voluntary isolation and “thank God” my husband feels the same way. We know that the Lord is the one really in control!

Regardless of the reasons for all this, our friend's heart/Spirit came through in his writings. He is a child of God and that is all anyone needs to know.

I want you to know that before finding you and Ichthys, my mentors were all from earlier centuries 17th, 18th, 19th,...and are all dead. So I REALLY appreciate YOU!!

In prayer and in Him,

Response #25: 

This strikes me as a wise decision. As I said, just because something is challenging and potentially difficult does not make it the right thing to do, contrary to what many works-religions assume (cf. 2Ki.5:13). Prudent spiritual common sense weighs things out.

Yes we can certainly pray for him. Nothing is impossible for the Lord, after all. The Shunammite persevered in seeking out Elisha even after her son was dead and all was pointless from that point forward in the eyes of the world (2Ki.4:23) – but God raised her son back to life through that prophet, thus honoring her faith.

Thanks for all your good words – I certainly hope to remain "exceptional" in the particular respect you mention . . . for a few years longer anyway!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26:  

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I hope you and your family are doing well! I am forcing myself to send this email so I can open up this can of worms before I get self conscious and rethink my decision to ask for you guidance.

God has given me a really difficult ministry - at least difficult for me. I am really, really struggling to walk in the works He has given me, to be successful in them. I am struggling with a lack of faith in God which is manifesting in a lack of faith in my ability to achieve for Him. These last few months have been very difficult.

Long story short: In the past few years God asked me to give up my former plans and He has guided me to do other things for Him and I know they are important aspects to my ministry of evangelism. Besides seriously studying His Word every day He guided me to study Biblical Hebrew and also French, the emphasis now on French. He has also guided me to get into really, really good shape physically. This has been the most difficult part.

I have general idea of where He is leading me, but I don't know all of the details. I am pretty sure He wants my body in shape because He may eventually lead me into military service - something very serious. I get these "hints" from the Holy Spirit and I pray for more guidance and assurance. It just takes time before I realize or feel certain that God really is guiding me to do these things. I kick against the goads so much, sometimes He has to send me some pretty blatant signs to get me to do something.

This is preparing me to get used to talking to people about Christ, I am certain. I know part of my ministry is to guide young girls and teenagers to Christ, but also artists and creative types. I have been discriminated against a few times, but I think God is using these situations to toughen me up for what will eventually be coming during the Tribulation.

Before finding Ichthys and growing close to Christ I put all of my love and devotion into my art. When God asked me to give up my art and writing career I was (and still am) on fire for Christ.

I am writing to you, I think just to get this all out. God has a goal in mind for me.

With my work, physical exercise and study regimes, I have to be very very self disciplined and if I give into temptation or do one thing wrong that day it throws me off and delays/hinders my progress for Him. Its like a tightrope walk. I am light headed, shaky, emotionally raw, on edge and exhausted most of the time. I pray during the day asking God to get me through my job, before my workouts asking Him to protect me so I don't hurt myself, and when I am driving because I feel so weak.

I am stretched in terms of time, energy and resources, but I am pretty sure God is asking me for more. I don't think He is pleased with me right now because I am behind on my goal. He is really testing my faith with this, and I am failing the test. I can see why people fasted in the Bible. It weakens you so you have to rely on God. I think it is similar to dealing with chronic pain or constant extreme discomfort.

I have no support from friends and family because they are lukewarm and don't understand my desire to serve God or understand that He would ask a Christian to give anything up for Him. Most days they do more to tempt me and oppose me (not consciously, though).

I am barely keeping my head above water juggling everything in my life. I want to say I am doing everything I can, but that is not true. God knows I can do more. For the past two years, He has been proving this to me over and over again, that I can do more for Him.

God has blessed me in so many incredible ways and there are Christians out in the world who are REALLY suffering compared to my little issues. I know that God is testing me with all of this to make me stronger and more self disciplined. He has guided me to count the cost and I know my life is going to get harder, much much harder. What I am going through right now is nothing. And, what is worse, what I am going through right now is just difficult, but it is BLESSING. The end result of all this hard work is going to be an incredible blessing, I know. I know God uses everything we do for Him to bring about the greatest good. I am blessed and privileged to have been asked to get into shape for Christ.

I have been reading your encouragement to other Christians on Ichthys for a long time. Thank you so much for putting me and my ministry on the Ichthys prayer list last year. I know that any progress I have experienced in my ministry has been helped by these prayers! And thank you for posting all of the emails and your encouraging responses to other Christians going through testing. They always help me when I have days like this. And let me know if anyone else needs extra prayers, please!

In Christ's Love,

Response #26: 

It's always good to hear from you, my friend – though I'm sorry to hear that things are challenging for you at the moment.

First off, let me congratulate you on you accomplishments! What you have been able to do by trusting in the Lord through the motivation of the Spirit is amazingly wonderful, and you should feel nothing but satisfied and happy about it. I'm sure that it is a witness to everyone who knows you. Every since I hit 60+, I've had an issue keeping off the weight, so believe me when I say that I some small idea of the magnitude of what you've done. Good for you!

Second, I have been impressed since I first heard from you with your attentiveness to the Spirit's guidance. I think I am not out of line to say that it is special and specially precise in your case. That is also a wonderful gift and a thing to be prized. As your experience shows too, it is also a special challenge and responsibility. From where I sit, you are responding in a marvelous and exceptional way.

And that brings me to the third point. I think it is pretty clear that the Lord is preparing you for something special. He doesn't demand from most what He is asking from you – and He only asks so much from those who are willing to respond. I don't want you to get a swelled head about this, but it does seem to me that some very important responsibility is about to be given to you and that the Lord is preparing you for it in this special way that few of us could ever handle. Not many believers today could go through the trials of preparation we see some of the great believers of scripture enduring – but that is what on some level we all wish for. As your experience shows, we should be "careful what we wish for" – but we should also be very grateful for anything the Lord is willing to entrust us with, because it is only through such service (once we have been prepared) that we help our brothers and sisters and win the rewards that glorify our Lord forever.

So what I really want to get across to you this morning is that you are doing breathtakingly well from my perspective. Of course it is to the Lord that we must answer, not to other Christians. He is the only One who knows all the facts and the only One we need to please. But it is the case that none of us is perfect. Even Elijah wasn't perfect – or David or Paul or whomever. So we have to factor into our self-analysis the truth that we are imperfect (having sin natures), and so we are going to be "guilty" of imperfection in our Christian race from time to time. Even in the case of exceptional believers such as yourself, there will be stumbling and the occasional fall, there will be fatigue and trouble accessing the joy of our salvation, there will be times when we don't run as far or as fast or as well as we could. Part of the peace of resting in Christ through faith is to realize this, to remember that this is a fight to the finish, and so to give ourselves a break when it comes to occasionally not living up to the high standards we've set for ourselves, especially looking backwards. We need to have short memories in this spiritual combat in which we are engaged. If we are compromising the joy in Christ which ought to be ours right now because of some small (or even medium) lapse yesterday (or even earlier today), we are working against ourselves and compromising however subtly the effectiveness of everything we do; because being joyful in our salvation, in our position in Jesus Christ, in the things He has given us to do here and now, is precisely the witness that refutes and confutes the world, and an irrefutable demonstration of the power of things unseen.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4 NIV

As I have written previously: The Lord has called us to joy (Jn.17:13; Rom.14:17; Gal.5:22; Phil.1:25; 1Pet.1:8) and to peace (Is.26:3; 57:2; Jn.14:27; Rom.5:1; Eph.2:14; Phil.4:7; Col.3:15; 2Thes.3:16; 1Pet.1:2). That is true even if we are being tested and tried and are truly sharing the sufferings of Christ (1Pet.4:13; Jas.1:2; cf. Rom.5:3-5; 1Pet.1:6).

This is not a brief for giving up or for letting down or for compromising in any way. But our ability to access the joy and the power of the truth through the Spirit is in many ways our "secret weapon" when it comes to combating the assaults that come against us and sustaining ourselves in the long and difficult campaigns we are waging.

There are limits to what we can do. What you have proven is that these limits are often beyond what we would ever imagine. Nevertheless, there are limits. I am concerned about you and about your health, based upon what you have written. I don't want you to back off from anything the Lord wants you to do; I also don't want you to injure yourself, physically or spiritually. If you can persevere in this with joy, that is one thing. If not, then perhaps it might not be a bad idea to spend a day or so taking stock.

Paul and Silas sang hymns out of joy in the stocks having just been whipped. Peter and John rejoiced after having been beaten. David wrote wonderful Psalms of joy in the Lord during his time of running for his life in the wilderness. And I know that the Lord gives times of refreshment for us all when we are in need of them. One thing I have noticed in the case of extremely earnest believers such as yourself – Christians whom I am blessed to know through this ministry and whose selfless accomplishments for the Lord are motivation for me to do better – is that there can be a tendency to what I call "perfectionism", namely, setting a very high bar in all things, striving earnestly to clear the bar at all times for the glory of Jesus Christ, but getting very down on ourselves if we ever even rattle the bar, or especially if we ever knock it down, fail to clear it, or on some days are too tired to jump at all. In this life, if a person wants to be a successful athlete, for example, it is necessary to be relentlessly tough on oneself in order to achieve success (1Cor.9:25), and I grant you self-denigration for any sort of failure is probably an effective tactic for pushing oneself forward when it seems impossible to continue. But they do that for a perishable crown, while we are striving for an imperishable one, one that glorifies the Lord we love so much – and we need always to embrace our joy for Him in all we do.

It always comes back to the love of Jesus Christ. We love Him. That is why we do what we do. And we love Him because He loved us first (1Jn.4:19), loved us so much He sacrificed more than we will probably ever know to save us from death through His own sacrifice unto death on our account. He loves you. Please don't ever doubt that. That is where our joy comes from, the love of Jesus Christ, a love so wide and broad and deep the universe cannot contain it. He loves you and He is pleased with all you are doing. It is important, therefore, to learn to distinguish between His love for us and our own emotional ups and downs based upon our own expectations and evaluations of our own behavior. He knows what we are and what we are up against. And He will help us through everything we have to face in this life.

The time is short, and you are to be commended for your good efforts. I am certainly impressed. But of course it is the Lord we are serving. He has a plan, for each of us. Our friend is about to be separated from his family . . . probably (in my dim estimation) for the purpose of giving him time and space to prepare for ministry. There are hard times ahead, and we need to do all we can to prepare. Part of that preparation, in my humble opinion, involves learning how to deal and cope with our own imperfections, missteps and failures. True champions always get back up after getting knocked down. And successful athletes learn not to become their own worst enemies. If they can do it without the Spirit, we certainly can as well in the Spirit. We can exercise self-discipline, and we can regain it when we inevitably fail without hammering ourselves for our imperfection to point of inaction from despair. Discipline for correction is the Lord's job, not ours, and even when we experience His, we ought to understand that it is a measure of His love for us, even though it stings. That is to say, we need to learn to smile and rejoice through our tears. That is the only way to win this fight.

As David said just after confessing a terrible series of sins and being under the most intense divine discipline:

Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!
Psalm 32:10-11 NIV

I'm keeping you in my prayers every day, my friend. Keep running your good race for Jesus Christ our Lord – we will all rejoice in your crowning on that great day to come. Please know that you are an inspiration for me (and I'm very sure to many others as well).

In the Lord Jesus Christ whom we love more than this life.

Bob L.

Question #27:  

Hello Bob,

To give you an update on our situation we are still in without a home but our friends invited us to occupy theirs while they went back to Alaska for 2 months. Having Christmas in a home was a huge relief and a wonderful break. Unfortunately it didn't pan out as someone else was given it instead.

I don't understand why every time we have an opportunity to get out of this situation something happens that we can't and it always seems to be a reason that benefits others.

Response #27: 

Sorry to hear that your Christmas plans have been disappointed. I have been praying for you guys to have a roof over your heads for the winter. I'm not sure why this is all happening, but I do know that the Lord never makes mistakes and that He is always faithful. When I look back over my own life there have been numerous "impossible situations" – but He has always brought me through. And I know He always will. One thing hardships teach us is that He is faithful. Another thing they remind us of is that there really is no "finish line" this side of eternity. There is no Eden to be achieved here on earth, no fantasy retirement, no end of trials and tribulations in this life – not, at least, for those who attempting to "walk godly in Christ Jesus" (2Tim.3:12). This is one place where the church-visible is noticeably falling down. One reason for that is that so few Christians today really are attempting to "walk godly in Christ Jesus", growing in the Word, engaging the world with the truth, and helping others do likewise through the gifts they have been given. And if a Christian is not, in fact, walking with Christ, well, the devil has already achieved his purpose in regard to that person, so better to devote his resources elsewhere. So while it's (literally) cold comfort, perhaps, you have every right to be encouraged in that this opposition is irrefutable evidence that you are fighting the fight the right way – otherwise the trouble would go away. That is always a sobering thought for any serious Christian. But it is important never to let go of the spiritual/mental "high ground" of remembering what this life is all about. It's very easy to get confused and distracted by the weeds which spring up, well, just as fast as weeds, and lose sight of the objective: a "well done!" from the Lord we love more than life, and an eternal reward that even its least part will put the best of this world into the shade. It is all worth it, but it can be hard to keep that in mind when the shot and shell are falling fast and furious all around us. I do have confidence that the Lord will bring you through this particular test – He always does, because He is completely faithful and cannot be otherwise. Therefore the only question in this life for every believer is are we going to respond to that perfect faithfulness with a mustard seed's worth of faith or not? It takes faith to please the Lord, after all, but if we do continue to trust Him when times get tough, that is the basis of our eternal rewards (Heb.11:6). So keep fighting this good fight of faith, my friend! I can tell you that your positive attitude in the midst of adversity is a real tonic to me personally, and I am sure also to others who are watching your witness of life, men and angels both. Keep running the race! One day we shall cross that finish line and it will all have been worth it – and abundantly so.

(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I am striving for], nor that I have already completed [my course]. Rather, I am continuing to pursue [the prize] in hopes of fully acquiring it – [this prize for whose acquisition] I was myself acquired by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not consider that I have already acquired it. This one thing only [do I keep in mind]. Forgetting what lies behind me [on the course] and straining towards the [course] ahead, (14) I continue to drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus. (15) So as many as are [spiritually] mature, let us have this attitude (i.e., of focusing on our spiritual advance and reward and not getting hung up on what lies behind: vv.13-14), and if in any matter your attitude is off-center, God will reveal that to you (i.e., assuming you are mature and are advancing as you should). (16) But with respect to the progress you have made, keep on advancing in the same way!
Philippians 3:12-16

(24) Don't you know that all the runners in the stadium run the race, but that only one receives the prize? Run in such a way so as to achieve what you are after. (25) And again, everyone involved in competition exercises self-control in all respects. Those athletes go through such things so that they may receive a perishable crown of victory, but we do it to receive an imperishable one. (26) So as I run this race of ours, I'm heading straight for the finish line; and as I box this bout of ours, I'm making every punch count. (27) I'm "pummeling my body", one might say, bringing myself under strict control so that, after having preached [the gospel] to others, I might not myself be disqualified [from receiving the prize we all seek].
1st Corinthians 9:25-27

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #28:  

Hi Bob,

Thank you for thinking of us and also for your many prayers since we have been acquainted. Your a blessing in our lives.

We are not sure either why we haven't received help but we do have faith in our Lord. I'm very blessed to have a husband that never gives up taking care of his family. Not only that but he always has a smile on his face regardless of the hardships. He is very good at rhyming and is always cracking jokes in our daily trials. We are doing our best that we can to keep our spirits up.

Its suppose to get really cold here in the next few days. Last year it didn't get very cold here so we didn't have to prepare for it. We woke up the other morning with ice next to our heads although it looks and sounds worse then it is. I have attached a few pics.

Thanks for your inspirational emails and your prayers my friend.

Response #28: 

Sorry for the delay. I was out town spending some time with my family in Michigan. I got a chance to break bread with my nephew and his new fiancι (wedding next summer). On the "tough" side was seeing my mother in the state she is now in. She was able to get in the car with me last May and do a number of things. Now she is on hospice, skin and bones, and doesn't really even recognize anyone. I think she did seem to know who I was for a couple of brief moments over three days, but mostly she slept or stared off into space. She's also in a lot of pain, but they are giving her serious meds which seems to mostly mitigate that. I guess I'm grateful that she is "out of it" since it would break her heart to fully realize what a sad state she's in – she was always a very 'can do' independent New Englander.

I sure hope that the Lord sees fit to lead you all out of the frozen wilderness before too much longer! There are people praying for you. And I also know that whether He brings us directly "out" or sees fit to "deliver us through" He is always absolutely faithful and always has a perfect reason for everything He does. His timing is always perfect, even though we always want our answer "now!". Patience was never my own personal strong suit, but I have come to know that just because I don't get what I think I really need when I think I really need it, it certainly doesn't mean that I'm not getting exactly what I need exactly when I need it – He is always faithful. And after all, even Isaac had to dig three wells, going through much waiting and trouble, before the Lord gave him the right well in the right place and much blessing besides (Gen.26:15-22).

Wishing you and yours a really blessed Christmas in spite of all!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.



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