Ichthys Acronym Image

Home             Site Links

Mutual Encouragement in Christ VIII

Word RTF

Question #1:  

Hello Brother Robert

How things - hope well - I got a few questions. I was going over my studies in book of Deuteronomy on the curses. As I was going through them I realized at least 18 or maybe more fell upon Job. Yes I know what God said about him to satan. I see God had every right to say that about Job reason for that what job did daily the sacrifice for his children sanctified them but in order to do that he needed to be sanctified himself. After that according to Lev. 4:1-35 we can see in scripture what the Lord said to Solomon 1 Kg. 9: 4-5. So God had that right to say that but we can see things changed in his daily walk by Elihu confronting Job . Back to the cures Proverb 26:2 says no curse shall come upon you underserved. And 1 John 5:18 , Pro. 12:21 , Pro. 13:21 , Ps. 73: 1, Ps. 119: 67.

Could you help on this thanks God Bless

Response #1: 

Always good to hear from you, my friend.

If I am understanding your question properly, I think the issue here is "curse". Job was not, in fact, "cursed". The passage you mention, Proverbs 26:2, affirms that believers cannot be "cursed" by other people or by the evil one and his minions.

"For there is no sorcery against Jacob, Nor any divination against Israel."
Numbers 23:23a NKJV

Believers are tested, as Job was (though, blessedly, seldom to such an intense degree). That is part and parcel of every Christian life (cf. Rev.1:9). And that means believers are attacked by the evil one and his demons – but God never allows us to be tested beyond what we can endure and always provides a way out, provided we hold up under the test (1Cor.10:13).

Believers who turn away from the Lord a little or a lot DO come in for divine discipline (link), but that is meant to turn us around, so it is actually a blessing, even if it seems like cursing at the time:

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 NKJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Hi Robert,

You have been helping me to understand the scripture in the proper context. A Bible teacher sent me this mail that says Saving and wonder-working faiths are different. But to me, there is one faith that is defined in Hebrews 11. I know you have written many articles on the subject. Your Yes or No to his following mail would suffice.

Reading the accepted commentary on 1st Cor. 11-14 it is clear that" saving faith " is different to wonder-working faith. Saving faith is sufficient for that purpose. Jesus once told the disciples "Oh! ye of little faith" Lk.12:28. Act 3. gives the story of the lame man being healed through Peter and John. 1Cor. 12: "Faith, this is not saving faith but wonder-working faith.-to move mountains' .Gifts of healing- This has in mind gifts whereby the healing of the sick was affected. Acts 4:30. This indicated that a special gift is necessary every time healing occurs. The gift does not produce divine healers but divine healing-James 5:1-12."

I am forwarding these commentary extracts as they are thought provoking.

Thank you and may God Bless You.

Response #2: 

Good to hear from you, my friend.

Here's what I read in scripture:

One Lord, one faith, one baptism.
Ephesians 4:5 NIV

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.
2nd Peter 1:1 NIV

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just [by faith] shall live by faith.
Romans 1:17 NKJV

The last verse above shows not that there are different kinds of faith, but that faith grows (or should) as we progress in our Christian lives. Our Lord frequently made that point, not only with the verse quoted in this email you report, but also when He spoke of having "faith as small as a mustard seed" being sufficient for great deeds.

We all are born again with a minimum of faith, but as we grow in the truth and as that truth and our faith in it are tested in this world, we grow more solid and deeper in our faith as we pass these tests and continue to take in the truth. We have believed in the Lord for salvation. What is needed thereafter is to keep exercising that same "free-will faith" in response to Him and to His truth (Phil.3:16). That is how we grow (for those few who are actually growing), and that is how we become strong in faith rather than weak (Rom.4:19; cf. Jas.2:5).

But faith believes in, responds to, and applies the truth only. The Spirit only uses the truth we have stored in our hearts to help us act in faith. If we believe something that is NOT true, no matter how strongly we believe a lie, it will always be a lie. So it doesn't matter that we have "great faith" in someone's ability to heal us if that person is not from God and/or does not actually have the gift of healing (which gift stopped being given after the completion of the canon of scripture in the first century). Charlatans who wish to manipulate us often tell good Christians that they are not getting what they want because "you don't have enough faith", but that is a lie. We can grow in our faith and we should all do so – that is accomplished through learning the truth of scripture by Bible reading and consistently accessing a good teaching ministry wherein we believe the truth we are taught. But faith does not give us the right to dictate to God what He is doing or will do. Understanding that and accepting that is faith responding to the truth. Trying to make something not true to be true never works, no matter how much emotion and supposed "faith" is applied.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:  

Hi Dr

I pray all is well with you and your family. Thanks for the documents you sent.

Heb 12:14 states" Follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord."

1 Pt 1:14-16 "As obedient children not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holey in all manner of conversation [behavior/lifestyle]: Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy."

Mt 5:48 "Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect"

The word perfect based on the Greek etymology means lacking nothing, mature, complete, etc. So the Lord is correct perfection is attainable if the Spirit of the risen Lord is in you because our Lord is perfect. This translates to Heb 12:14 which states without holiness, i.e, perfection, no man shall see the Lord. If I am interpreting this correctly, living a blameless life in the sight of the Lord, holiness, i.e., perfection, (2 Tim 3:16-17, 2 Cor 5:17), is achievable by the word of God by doing His Word and will and leading of the Spirit. So holiness and perfection are one and the same and is a mandate based on the Word of God (1 Pt 1:14-16) because it is God who wills us to do it (Phil 2:13)

What is your interpretation of Heb 12:14 in relations to Mt 5:48 and 1 Pt 1:14-16?

I appreciate your insight.

In Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior

Response #3: 

Peace, holiness and perfection are related, but they are all different biblical concepts. Peace has to do with wholeness; holiness has to do with separation; perfection has to do with integrity and completeness (maturity; cf. Phil.3:15). While many superficially want to relate these all to Christian behavior regarding gross sin, that is only a part of it. A Christian who is pursuing peace is seeking to be whole in every way in his/her relationship with the Lord, and this closeness with the Lord is built upon response to the truth (staying away from gross sin being only a part of that and really only possible when there is genuine spiritual growth); a Christian who is pursuing holiness seeks to be separate from the world and instead close to God in all things, not just in avoiding certain kinds of sins (and the godliness of looking at the world His way is what makes that possible with consistency); the integrity of character that embodies Christian spiritual maturity (perfection) is a result of and leads to doing what is right at all times (not just avoiding some of what is wrong at some times).

1st John is a good epistle to read to gain perspective on this. All Christians need to keep in mind that we have a mandate from the Lord to be sinless, to be perfect, to be holy, to be whole in our relationship with Him and with each other – and this is true even though we do have sin natures. The result of these competing truths is that we are in a fight to the end. We can have victory, but that requires consistency – in spiritual growth through the truth and in aggressive application of the truth in our lives.

Most of this for Christians who have passed beyond the baby stage has to do with passing tests and learning the subtleties of fitting truth in principle practically into the complexities of our daily lives. Putting away obvious and gross patterns of sin on the one hand and developing a solid regime of spiritual growth are initial entry-level achievements without which not much good will happen. And while in the opening phases of a life actually lived for the Lord both of these attitudes will be tested, and while since none of us is perfect there will be times when we fall down on one or both (often both, since backing off of spiritual growth is the quickest way to make oneself vulnerable to temptation), as we move forward this "sword and shield" of Christian warfare, while they do take maintenance and can't ever be taken for granted, are part of our basic functioning as believers, leaving us free to pursue the ministries the Lord has for us.

(10) So come what may, draw strength from the Lord and be strengthened through His powerful might. (11) Put on the full armor of God, so that you may be able to stand firm against the tricks of the devil. (12) For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against [angelic] princes, against [angelic] authorities, against the cosmic powers of this [present] darkness, against evil spirits in the heavenly realms. (13) Keeping that in mind, put on God's complete set of armor so that you may be able to resist attack on the day evil surrounds you, and stand your ground – once you have done all that it is your responsibility to do (i.e., prior spiritual growth and present spiritual application). (14) So stand your ground, having girded your loins with truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (15) and having dressed your feet in preparation for [sharing] the gospel of peace (i.e., reconciliation with God as the result of faith in Christ). (16) And at all times take up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery missiles of the evil one. (17) And [in this spiritual warfare] put on the helmet of salvation and gird on the sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of truth.
Ephesians 6:10-17

Keeping you in my prayers every day, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

[trying to reach friend who is falling into new age practices such as contemplative prayer]

Response #4: 

First of all, I'm happy to discuss this with you, so no apology necessary.

Second, I am also happy to ratify and validate absolutely everything you said to your friend. It was as perfect as I could imagine it being. Not to give you a swelled head, but your friend is definitely blessed to have such a friend as you, someone who not only cares about her but who is willing to do battle for her in this way – and does so in a manner that is totally truthful and very helpfully so.

It's not uncommon for the Lord to give us ministries or parts of our ministry where the work is hard and not immediately rewarding. Indeed, these sorts of "jobs" often fall to those best prepared and best equipped to handle them, through being genuinely spiritually mature and possessing sufficient spiritual tenacity. The Lord has definitely put this one "on your plate", and you are doing your job just exactly right. You are being patient, yet standing firm for the truth. You are listening and responding, but you are ever guiding your friend to the truth. This is precisely how our Lord witnessed the truth to the hard of heart generation to which He came. It's not easy to be patient and persevere, to be courageous and circumspect all at the same time. But that is precisely what "tough nuts" like this take if they are ever going to crack.

And of course we have to accept going in that the decision is all in the other person's court; he/she will hear the voice of the Spirit if we are doing our job right, but we can't make them accept the truth as true – since even the Spirit who certainly could do that most certainly does not (it's all about free will in the end). This can be frustrating, so we have to be careful to remember that the Lord is pleased with us "doing our job", whatever task He has given us. It's just as misguided, therefore, to be overly hard on ourselves because the "hard field" doesn't seen to want to yield the crop we are hoping for in spite of intense cultivation, as it is to be overly self-congratulatory if He gives us an "easy field" where the response falls into our laps like ripe fruit. Farmers have to be patient, especially in these sorts of circumstances (Jas.5:7). And we have to accept that it may be the Lord's will for us to provide the witness, even in the face of a lack of response. We are evaluated (and rewarded) according to what we do, not according to how others may or may not respond to our legitimate and godly efforts (it's a common self-delusion of evangelist ministries to measure effectiveness by "souls [putatively] saved").

For what it's worth, I was cheering when I read this email – I don't know how anyone could have done better.

I've been and will continue to be praying for your friend.

Keep up the good work for Jesus Christ – that is precisely what we have been called to do.

Your friend in our dear Savior.

Bob L.

Question #5:  


Response #5: 

I'm glad to hear that you've made some progress in getting through to your friend. What she does with the witness you've provided remains to be seen. But I do promise to continue in prayer with you for her.

It's like I've said before. Spiritual growth is like the growth of a tree. It starts as a seedling, but before you know it, it has become a towering tree – in a very quiet and invisible way. And we often do not see the change in ourselves as clearly as others see it in us. What we do see is the world changing. Or perhaps it isn't changing as much as we are changing the way we look at it. In any case, we are drawing closer to Jesus Christ, and that makes all the difference.

I appreciate you in the Lord, my friend. Keep on growing.

In Jesus Christ our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

Hi Bob,


Also, I do see the world differently now. I have absolutely no interest in it whatsoever! The things that used to interest me just don't anymore. I spend my evenings praying and reading my bible or your teaching or researching stuff for my friend. The horrible things that go on in this world as terrible as they are to see and hear just don't surprise me anymore. I know exactly why it's all happening - Satan is the god of this world after all and we're nearing the end. I don't feel like I belong here at all and I just can't wait for our Lord Jesus to come back.

Is that the sort of thing you mean?

Your friend in Jesus

Response #6: 

In terms of how we see the world, yes indeed. But of course we also come to see our lives as important to the Lord – which they are. And we come to see every day as an opportunity to serve Him. We look forward to His return, and also to the reward He's promised us – and that is both a legitimate and even a necessary perspective (Heb.11:6).

In terms of people seeing us, when we have the attitude deeply etched in our heart that we really don't care about this world, there is a peace and a courage in the Spirit that shines through. It's hard to hide.

And of course it's not just you against millions – it's you and the Spirit (who is equal to all opposition put together). I have seen many such things before, but I'm notoriously bad at predicting the future. Things have a way of turning out other than what I had expected. I've learned to live with that. No one knows what the outcome of your efforts will be except the Lord. Not even your friend knows, because we are often pretty bad judges (especially as unbelievers or wayward believers) even of what is going on in our own hearts. But one thing I can say for certain is that you are not going to lose the reward you are earning by doing what the Lord wants you to do. We are rewarded "according to our own labor" (1Cor.3:8), not in accordance with the response we get, whether that is phenomenal or non-existent. We are down here to do what the Lord wants us to do. If the Spirit is directing you to persevere in this witness, then that's what you should do, regardless of frustration with the (apparent) lack of movement. The plan of God is perfect. And everything in it is perfect. We have to accept the fact that even as mature believers well-versed in the scriptures and also in the truth they contain, there is even so much about what happens in this world that we have a hard time explaining.

Then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.
Ecclesiastes 8:17 NIV

But we trust the Lord that there is a reason for everything – because everything is perfect in the plan – and that it's all working out for the good for us who love Him (Rom.8:28).

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

Hi Bob,

Yes, I do see every day as an opportunity to serve the Lord. Whoever or whatever comes my way in the day I always have Him in my mind. I really could do much better though and I want to try harder.


My job is not to be the Holy Spirit, my job is to be the spokesperson for the Lord and to speak the truth. Then I just let Him do His work and not worry about anything else.


I'm sure it will be ok though. I'm still trusting the Lord on the job front too. It will all be ok.

I hope things are ok for you healthwise as well.

Your friend in our dear Lord Jesus

Response #7: 

I think it's typical for humble people who are also relatively shy to always feel they're not "out there" enough; similarly, humble people who are naturally outgoing generally imagine they always come on too strong. People who lack humility always think they're doing it right regardless. A little introspection is OK as long as we don't allow it to paralyze us. Remember, this is a fight. All fights are messy and never go according to plan. If we are preparing for the fight, putting ourselves out there into the fight, and fighting as best we can, well, there's not much else to be done. We will get better with experience and continuing growth. But it's always dangerous to get hung up on our methods in the LAST fight. Better to take joy in continuing to do battle for the Lord today and going forward. I do think it is true that the Lord is preparing you and helping you develop the best approach. And you are learning a lot as you diligently prepare – and that is all to the good. So, yes, even if the results are slow in coming – or even non-existent – this is far from a futile exercise. After all, one of the things we all have to come to terms with is that it's not about us, so there may be a great result (for which we really do not deserve the credit) or a disappointing result (even though we gave it our best). The Lord is employing us as He sees fit for the benefit of His Church. Our job is to be grateful to be a part of all this and do our best. That is what we are rewarded for, results as the world sees them or not.

Thanks for the positive health report (keeping this in prayer). I'm about over all the after effects of this "plague", but still somewhat tired – and of course I feel somewhat behind on things as a result as well. Tomorrow begins what I hope will be a "regular week" for the first time in a while.

Yes it WILL all be OK. The plan is absolutely perfect, and working our for the absolute good for us who love the Lord Jesus Christ more than life. Our job is to accept what comes in trust that He has it all under control (which of course He most certainly does).

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:  


Response #8: 

Wow! You really do catch flak. But of course that means your "getting close to the target". From what you write here, it does sound as if this new system has as its true purpose keeping out individuals that "they" want kept out but don't have a legitimate way of keeping out. Your attitude is so encouraging to me, my friend. If the Lord is working things out this way, it has to be good and for a reason, even though there is pain involved. That's the definition of a spiritual test. It's uncomfortable and challenging, but we trust the Lord even when things seem to be falling apart. Funny thing is, even though they keep falling and falling, somehow they never all hit bottom at once. Somehow we make it through even when it seemed impossible. Somehow when we put that foot down in the stream there is always another rock there just below the surface so we don't fall in. Somehow. But we know how. It's the Lord.

One thing I always admire about you and yours is how you always put what's right ahead of everything else. You have great spiritual and moral courage, and there's nothing much better than that. You are a great encouragement to me! Doing the right thing is always the right thing, even when it costs – especially when it costs. But the Lord honors that. The test is that we don't see the direct connection, even though we know it's all connected. He can bless us more than the entire world put together. And He does bless us with what we really need – and with the things are that are really the most important to us in fact. You have a great family who love you as you love them. In the history of the world, this is an exception, not the rule. And none of that can be bought with money, not even trillions.

Spring is around the corner here in Louisville, even though it's been a frigid sub-freezing week. I'm sure ready for it. I'm beginning to understand why old people move to Florida.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:  

[gaining courage in witnessing but concerned about method]

Response #9: 

I don't think you should second guess yourself on this. When it comes to sharing the truth, the Spirit knows the right time and place and way. If we rely on our own reason on these sorts of things we could debate the incident in our head endlessly for all time to come – and not be any closer to "the answer" because the RIGHT answer depends upon things we cannot know, namely, what's going on in the heart of those we would be sharing with.

Stick with yes or no, and live with the decisions you make. Leave fine tuning to the Spirit.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:  

Hi Doctor,

So our friend emailed me regarding a pastorally centered study group yesterday. He stated you suggested I join.


Response #10: 

 First, I certainly didn't mean to distress you with this, my friend. I thought of this community as not only academic but spiritually supportive. In any case, I've let the guys know that – for the moment – you're a bit booked-up.

One thing I've learned about life is that, just like my dear departed dad used to say, "everything is always over". I've found that to be true of good things but also of bad things – and everything in between. I know you're in a rough spot at the moment, my friend. But the Lord knows that too, and He is not only all-sufficient to get us through whatever we need to get through; He also knows how much we can take. In my experience and observation, He often lets us get to a place that we consider WAY over the breaking point. But looking back I can see that in all such cases, while it might have been close, He never let me fall in (1Cor.10:13).

I'm praying for your deliverance daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:  

I’m looking more for your input. I only wish to do my job, I just have no idea what it is anymore. I want to teach, but how do I ever learn what’s needed? Our friend has been or is in school for training in languages and has all sorts of other things going for him. How could I help do you think?

You know more what I go through than anyone but my closest so I trust you, I just don’t want to alienate or upset people anymore.

Please let me know.

Response #11: 

I'm happy to have you write me any time, group or no group. Everyone else likely to be in there is at a different level of preparation. Our friend is the only one who's had the benefit of college-with-ministry-in-mind, and he was not able to devote all of it to language prep since he needed to be concerned about getting a job afterwards. So, knowing the folks on the list, you all have "life challenges" and a lot of competition for your time and energy in the quest to prepare and to teach. You may be "top of the list" in that regard, but they've all got hurdles to get over. We're all gifted in slightly different ways. When I was presented with the concept, I was pretty sure it would end up being more than a "let's discuss the interpretation of Hebrews 7:3" type of group. It's not supposed to "accomplish something" – other than mutual encouragement and edification.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:  

Dr Luginbill,

I haven't talked to you in a while. May I ask how you are doing?

May I also ask you a quick question about Paul? You don't have to answer, of course. The question is related to his affinity with Greek literature and mythology. He knew the works enough to quote them as he did, presumably he must have spent a lot of time reading it. How did he do that without letting it affect him? Or do you think it was just something everyone knew, and not that he poured over it personally? Or maybe something he just poured over when younger and retained memory of (I mean I imagine he didn't take Homer on his missionary travels). (Or did he?).

I definitely do understand it better now as it not being a sin but still more of a 'what is the wisest choice' question. I mean do think it affects everyone, though some more than others, but as a 'questionable matters' thing. I would think Lot shows that culture does affect, and that maybe the line about bad company corrupting good morals can be extended to what we watch and read. And I would think that generally the wiser choice is to do less of that stuff. But I get confused on Paul because he doesn't seem to hold it at arm's length. (Unless it is was I mentioned before).


Response #12: 

Things have been a bit hectic. Giant elm broke in half and took out the back fence as well as neighbor's garage about ten days ago; tree is gone (at an astronomical price); working with the insurance company is toe-jamb. Cable company still hasn't put the lines back up. This looks like it'll go on for weeks.

I do think I understand where you are coming from on this question. Paul does seem to know his Classics, and seems to be widely read therein as well. This could all stem from his youth. Of all the people I read about in the Bible, Paul seems to me to have come as close as a sinful human being could after salvation to be in a 100% all the time for the Lord mode. The rest of us usually need some down time. How we relax is an issue if it leads us into any sort of sinful conduct or makes us susceptible to wrong points of view. But that is largely a matter of personal application. In other words, it's fair to say that, e.g., pornography is something all Christians should avoid; most Disney movies only if they cause problems. We all have limited time, and our choices in this world which affect our eternal rewards are always bound up in our use of that time. So the more we look at our "spare time" (after essentials are taken care of) as a resource that could be used for the kingdom of God, the more we are looking at the issue the right way. As mentioned, there aren't many Pauls out there; for the rest of us, seeing the issue correctly AND trying to stay away from things that we know are not particularly good for US (even if they might not trip up others) is the next important perspective to have.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:  

I am so sorry to hear about the tree. I am glad no one was injured. I will pray for you about it and your finances.

I was reading some pieces that depict a certain sin and I noticed I was less disgusted by it and more leaning towards almost thinking God was unreasonable. Maybe it is something that I should get over, or maybe it is a warning. But it seems like any activity one may engage in is like this. Heck if you want to learn Greek and start reading the Classics it seems to be chock full of Greek gods.

I hope you are ok. I had a bit of hard time at work, but reading the Bible always makes me feel better. Especially thinking about the Future.

Thank you. [omitted]

I was thinking of Zephaniah 3:9 but I may I'm off on the application.

And yes we all need downtime. No matter what I do I can't cut that one out.

Response #13: 

Things are still in limbo, so thanks for the prayers! God always works everything out for good; our part is to stay patient until He does.

Sorry to hear that work has been difficult (I'll try to remember to keep that in prayer – I do pray for you daily).

Nothing in the Christian life is static. We are either going forward or we are going backward, and our forward progress can often be somewhat of a zig-zag. We may develop some good habits then let them slide a bit for whatever reason – and we know that of course everything good we do is going to be opposed by the world, our sinful flesh, and the evil one. So we do have to "stay alert" (see the link). Focusing on the wonderful things to come (our hope), as you are doing, is a key part of keeping our balance here in the world.

It's a good point that merely being in the world makes perfection impossible. Only our Lord ever accomplished that. And we have sin natures, so . . .

During the Millennium, the Lord will see to it that stumbling blocks are removed. But in spite of a thousand years of perfect environment and perfect government, sinful human beings will still rebel when they have the opportunity (Ps.2:1-12; Rev.20:7-9).

Technology is interesting and I do take advantage of it. It's made some good things possible (like Ichthys); it's also made some terrible things possible. The full potential of the latter will no doubt only be clear once the Tribulation begins.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:  

Hello Mr. Luginbill.

I have been praying for you and I thank you for referring me to our friend. He is a man of God and I look forward to looking into his ministry more.

The past six months have been extremely difficult. I will not lie Mr. Luginbill. These many months have been terrible, but also a good learning experience I must add. I know I have emailed you a good few times during this period and it is always an encouragement. But change comes down to the individual, it is my responsibility to grow spiritually and prepare for ministry, a responsibility which I have accepted. I knew you knew this and I thought it would make you happy to hear me say it to you. As to my difficulties, my schedule has been making spiritual growth extremely difficult. 24 hours of school during the day, and then 24 hours of work at night which comes to 48 hours. The amount of hours is not the issue. It's the timing, going from day to night like that which throws my body's time clock way off which is what I can't handle. The body is trying to make up its mind of whether to sleep at night or during the day. The work is physical and strenuous so I come back early morning exhausted with only a few hours to sleep before its time for me to get up and go to school. But I need time with the Lord before I go to school, otherwise I am more prone to messing up and sinning while I'm there. This past Thursday was terrible for me. I got home from work and went to sleep hoping to get up earlier to spend time with the Lord. I get up and I feel so groggy, stressed and agitated that I can barley pull off an effective prayer to the Lord. I was extremely mad and not acting like myself, but then again many people are when they are sleep deprived. It can bring the worst out of a person. It most certainly did that day. So I quit my part time job which I had been at for 7 years and gave my two week notice. I have more than enough money saved up to sustain me for the next few years or so, but I will hopefully be getting a __ job as an apprentice sometime during/after August of this year. I knew that something had to finally give, as I just couldn't take it anymore. The Lord comes first.

Mr. Luginbill, this may seem like a really dumb question, but do you think a 40/50 hour work week is too much time to be able to do a teaching ministry? I'm obviously not in such a ministry now but I'm thinking of my future. I don't think it sounds bad. I am well aware of course that we still have to make a living to get by in this life, "whoever does not work shall not eat". I do however know some people, believers in fact, who are working 60-90 hours a week, and from what they tell me they say they barely have time for anything else. In my opinion, if a person's job is taking away their time with the Lord, then they need to get another job. I have no clue how a believer can grow spiritually working that much, it sounds so depressing and exhausting. I don't know how much you work, and forgive me if you work similar hours (if so then you're a super human lol) but to me it just seems that such a person needs to get their priorities straight, especially if it is hindering them spiritually.

I'll do whatever it takes to grow spiritually; so many believers I know, especially from a church I came from years ago, put so much emphasis on getting a good career and making good money but they don't stress spiritual growth. Like, after I quit my job I overheard a relation of mine who I worked with talking to another employee showing his disapproval for my choice to quit my job, and one of them is a believer talking about this to an unbeliever! And he has no idea it was mostly done to help me grow spiritually. Not even that, but its not even an issue financially in the first place. But that's Laodicea.

Overall I know spiritual growth requires obedience, and without it there will be discipline, which I have a lot coming my way. Giving things up is not the end of it all but it does help. I gave up music, I gave up facebook, I gave up movies, the church, friends/fellowship, and now my job. Nothing wrong with any of those things, but they were distractions that needed to be thrown out of my life because they just weren't helping my spiritual growth. As I said before, growth requires faith/obedience, nothing done in the power of the flesh will fix the issue; at most only make it a little easier to bear, such as quitting my job and getting more sleep for example.

I am very excited for this year, especially the summer. I will have more time than ever over the next few months to spend with the Lord and take advantage of this time. I am currently still going through pneumatology and it has been extremely helpful. The word is always encouraging as long as you are willing to listen to and obey it.

Before I leave I will say that I will probably be emailing you a lot less from here on out. You have answered my questions, and its time for me to be getting on down the road with my walk. I have taken in a lot of knowledge thanks to your teaching the word but knowledge needs to be applied. I prayed that this would be a year of spiritual growth and the Lord has given me everything I need to accomplish just that. I look forward to continuing in your studies. You should hear from me again in the not too distant future, and hopefully I will have a much better report/update to give you then. The fight is very difficult now, but it will become easier with time.

1st Peter 5:10

In Christ

Response #14: 

I'm keeping you in daily prayer, my friend. Your decision is a sacrifice for the Lord. Clearly, the world says "make money" – and while it is legitimate to work (and necessary too), taking the road you are taking makes for hardships that others who are not trying to prepare for ministry do not have. In my observation and experience, you will not regret this in the long run – even though it will probably have it's own set of tests accompanying it. Obviously, we cannot do everything. We have limited time. We have to choose. Choices which put the Lord first, even though they may cost us, are good ones – and in my observation and experience ESPECIALLY when they cost us. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. If the position we are in does not allow us to do what is most important to us, then change for the better is good – even if it requires that we step out of the boat of worldly security and walk on the water with Lord in faith. He will keep you up.

I also hope that the new forum our brother is working on will be a source of encouragement, guidance, inspiration and help for you. Yes, our friend is the best!

Feel free to write me any time!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:  

Hi Bob,

When I was reading The Vanity of Life (link), I'm convinced you secretly know some of the people I know. You write about them in detail. Striving for progress, accomplishment and wealth and then they often say to me, "we only have one shot at this life so we have to make the most of it." Even in their retirement they manically fill their days to distract them from the thought of death. I've seen it so much to the point where I think if you carry on like this you're going to send yourself to the grave even sooner through sheer exhaustion!

Life really is pointless without the Lord. I'm so glad we're His.

Your friend in Jesus

Response #15: 

On "people we know", I think most of the world goes this same way, at the least the "achievers" do. The Greeks called this struggle striving for arete, "excellence", and the Romans had the same bug – at least the well-to-do ones. If you're trying to scrape out enough to stay alive, you have a different point of view, but that too, as you say, is totally pointless without the Lord. One would think that more people would eventually "get the point" in the face of inevitable death. It only goes to show just how much people are generally unwilling to surrender their will to His, the "rather rule in hell than serve in heaven" idea, I suppose. Except that their hopes regarding hell are going to be gravely disappointed.

In Jesus Christ our Lord in whom we have life eternal – our blessed hope that will NOT be disappointed.

Bob L.

Question #16:  

Thank you for your response, it's always spot on and taken in as good food.

[details about abuse omitted]

Response #16: 

I'm certainly not going to second-guess you and your applications here. Whatever you all decide on these matters is up to you, and I have great confidence that two fine Christians committed to spiritual growth are going to make better decisions in a complicated situation like this than I or any other third party could ever hope to.

I too have a tendency to take up for people, family or those for whom I feel responsible, when I feel that they are being given the short end of the stick. I have done and said some things in my life as a result that have surprised some, appalled others, and even caused me some long-term regret. Not always, though, even if there was a serious cost for doing what I did. In any case, the Christian life is about looking forward and doing better tomorrow, even if we didn't do so well today . . . or even if we are not certain how to evaluate what we did. I feel that if I acted out of love and good intentions, not giving over to fear of consequences but doing what I thought was right, well, if I broke some eggs, I'll just have to clean up the mess and go out and find some more. With things like this, there is rarely a perfect solution. I admire people who put up with suffering and injustice, casting their cares on the Lord. I try to do that when it's "me". I have a harder time with it when it's someone I love. I probably ought to regret some of the brouhahas that this tendency has gotten me into in my life – there certainly WERE consequences. But my attitude is, if I'm convicted of sin, I confess it. Otherwise, I learn as best I can from the experience and try to do better in the future, remembering that it's futile to get wrapped up in the past. I'm not going to stop being who I am; I do try to listen to the Spirit.

Keeping you both and this situation in my prayers,

Bob L.

Question #17:  

Thank you Bob so much for this!

You are completely and absolutely right of course. It's also a great relief to hear this! We don't need to go out and rescue the world and save mankind from himself as a) Jesus has already done this completely and perfectly b) God is in ultimate control of everything even though the devil may have some sway for a season c) that if we get involved we do more harm than good both to ourselves and the people we are trying to help.

I've just realised that I have an unnatural desire to stop bad things from happening. It's an actual malfunction I have. Due to the life I had before becoming a Christian, I was a fixer. This is mainly because as a young child and even a baby, my parents made me feel as though it was my responsibility to make them happy. It created a trauma in me whereby I felt the need to be a "people pleaser" to the point that my own welfare suffered and I became resentful.

You are completely right. I am now seeing that going about things by the way of the world is not for us. It's funny but this year is the first time in my life I have thought about not voting. I am so disgusted by the behaviour of both main parties and I feel like my political side is falling away.

I have to say that I am getting enormous peace from reading the bible as I feel the Holy Spirit within me! I have a reading plan for every day now. I'm really enjoying it and it is amazing spiritual food. I have urged my family to start reading it but they have preconceived ideas about it. They think it will be stolid and forbidding and without beauty or interest. They couldn't be further from the truth! Oh well, I bought them a red letter bible and it's up to them whether they look inside to find the treasures therein.

I am starting to trust in God about everything and learning to lay everything down; sadness, anger, hurt, pride and fear at Jesus feet and then I am immediately unburdened. I am getting into the process of letting Jesus be the gatekeeper of my mind. If whatever I am thinking or looking at or about to do is displeasing to Jesus then I will do without. I am not perfect at this or without sin but I am a different person now and I realise the change of heart is because of Faith in Jesus and the Grace of God.

I am only now realising the enormity of "The truth will set you free" and "Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest", I am now understanding what this means.

I read a quote today by Theodor Adorno which summed up exactly the position the world finds itself in that I am no longer satisfied with. Adorno is talking about popular culture but I think this also applies (in my view) to secular culture.

"The phrase, the world wants to be deceived, has become truer than had ever been intended. People are not only, as the saying goes, falling for the swindle; if it guarantees them even the most fleeting gratification they desire a deception which is nonetheless transparent to them."

I no longer fall for this deception and am grateful for being given the eyes to see.

Thanks again for your guidance and support!

In Him,

Response #17: 

I praise the Lord for you, and for your wonderful and rapid spiritual growth in the truth!

Excellent about letting go of negative emotions and letting the Lord be the gatekeeper of your mind. That is exactly it! It is a challenge though, so hold fast to this good perspective. It will be challenged. The evil one does not take such spiritual advance lying down, and the sin nature rebels against such good discipline too – and the world, as in your quote, proclaims it false and folly with every breath. But you are on the right path and making excellent headway! That is the way that the crowns of reward are won. Be pleased to keep reading your Bible and keep studying (hopefully through Ichthys) day by day – and keep on putting truth to the lies that bombard us in the world and in living our lives in it (for we are not "of it").

I'm most encouraged by your emails, my friend. I'll be keeping you and yours in my prayers. I hope they do begin to read their Bibles. This does make all the difference. But it all has to start with a spark of personal desire to seek the Lord instead of self. I praise Him that He is your life more and more day by day.

In Jesus Christ whom we love more than anything in this temporary world.

Bob L.

Question #18:  

Dear Teacher

Thank you very much as always.

It's been one rather trying week. It's still loads better than what once was, but I did get a little more attentive, perhaps, to still not having a job.

[details omitted]

How are you doing, Sir? Any progress with the fence, tree, your exercising?

Always doing my best to pray for you, Sir.

Your student in our precious Lord

Response #18: 

Things here are about the same – thanks for asking (and thanks for your prayers!).

I'll be keeping you in prayer on this latest approach to work. I know that you've been having a tough time with all this, but I also know that the Lord has the perfect solution for you down the road. Sometimes we wish we could see down the road to that "place"; in my life experience, however, I'm pretty grateful I did NOT see a lot of the things that were coming ahead of time. But the Lord has always delivered me "through fire and water" and brought me safe to the other side. And, you know, we DO "know what's coming" at the very end of this road: resurrection, reunion, reward, and an internal inheritance in New Jerusalem hand in hand with each other and face to face with the Lord we love more than life.

Keeping you and your families in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:  

[details about earlier abuse and present claims from disreputable family members omitted]

Always the guilt, it never stops.

Response #19: 

Thanks again for catching that mistake. I rely on my readers to be my editors.

On your family, honestly, I don't see that you have much to feel obligated about. People who have disowned you and mistreated you physically hardly have any claim for reciprocity. A person can be respectful ("honor") without having to take on the obligation of total support, especially when that is far from necessary. Because, if I'm not mistaken, this is all completely hypothetical at present, right? I mean, none of your questionable kith and kin are starving to death or walking around naked. In fact, they are better off than you are (in material terms).

So my advice would be to move on and stop scratching at this open wound. In time, it might heal. Learning to walk away from the past is a spiritual growth skill that most of us have to master to get anywhere in the Christian life (even if we are all turning our backs on somewhat different things). Guilt is one of the devil's ace trumps, and he always seems to use it to great effect. But if the Lord is happy with you – and you are in full fellowship with Him through confession and forward spiritual progress (1Jn.1:1-10) – then it's a mistake to second guess and look back.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:  

[details about concerns over spare time usage omitted]

Response #20: 

I think we've talked about this sort of thing before. Some people are more vulnerable to X than to Y while others are the other way around. As we grow spiritually, we learn how to put limits on anything that might compromise or endanger us. So as with your example of alcohol, some people can have a few drinks and suffer no adverse effects and not be particularly tempted to fall into sin; some have to stop at "one"; others need to stay completely away from the stuff lest everything fall apart.

All things in the world which are not necessary and not necessarily sinful fall into the category of discretion. We are here to make choices and choosing for Jesus is always the best choice. As said many times, no doubt, the Lord does not begrudge us basic rest and recreation. But we are supposed to avoid anything outright sinful, and it is wise to avoid things that have other adverse effects. For some people, in terms of certain things, "it's all good"; while for other things "any is bad"; and for others, "less is more"; and for still other things "none is best" – but all this mostly depends on the individual involved.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:  

Hi Bob,

Thanks again for your help. I did think this was the case, but I think I misunderstood what you had written in the link and got a bit confused. I'm always striving to walk in the light and I get really frustrated with myself when I slip up even in the tiniest way. Better to be like that though than to not care at all.

It's encouraging to know I've grown since then and not stood still in the same place. I can see how important spiritual growth is, even the tiniest amount and to draw closer and closer to the Lord. I still have a long way to go and much more to learn but I can say for sure I'm red hot and not lukewarm!

[details about learning to cope with abusive family omitted]

Your friend in Jesus

Response #21: 

That is an excellent perspective and one I often try to point out to believers who are tackling spiritual growth. Progress is definite, progress is daily (if we are consistent), but progress is also incremental. Just as when we haven't looked at that bush in the garden for a minute but come upon it today and realize it's doubled in size since the previous year (e.g., Mk.4:26-32). One effect of this for believers is that we divorce ourselves from the worldly perspective of those around us, unbelievers but also other Christians who are not growing, with every spiritual advance, until we get to the point of seeing the world as it truly is and evaluating it with a godly perspective while others are stuck in their "of the world" point of view. So we have to remember that point and take it into account when we are dealing with, coping with, and sometimes trying to reason with the spiritual dead and spiritual infantile. But whenever we do have one of these "wow! how the bush has grown!" moments, we give glory to the Lord for His truth and for how far He has brought us.

You have REALLY helped me out too, and not only with the wonderful editing. I am always encouraged by your spiritual perspective.

Thanks for your prayers!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Ichthys Home