Sep 18, 2017

Dear Esther,

I want so much to have strong faith and I find myself falling more than, standing sometimes. I know that having faith pleases the Lord but what if in some areas I really fall flat? It makes me just feel awful, like I am letting the Lord down. A big storm can come up and I will literally shake in my shoes and sometimes cry. Shouldn’t I have more faith? That is just one example of many. What can I do to keep building my faith?

Thanks,

Wanting to Be Faithful.

 

Dear Wanting to Be Faithful,

You are not alone when it comes to have shaky faith at times, especially when a frightening storm is brewing and the thought of physical injury or damage to our property could become a reality. We need only look to the heart wrenching destruction and devastation from the damage from Hurricane Sandy on the east coast.

To answer your question, “What can I do to keep building my faith?” The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword. Each of us needs to arm ourselves daily with the Word of God and make a conscious effort to study the Scriptures as we read them, so they become a deep intrinsic part of ourselves. Surely, the Lord understands your struggle and you are not under condemnation.

When you earnestly pray, take your unbelief to the Lord. Scripture reminds us of the man who said to Jesus: “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Keep in mind all the times you have previously overcome problems with the Lord’s help. Act on the faith you do have. Any previous trials you have endured are all testaments of your faith:

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

We should also examine just what faith is. Biblical faith is always in relation to the Person of Jesus Christ and knowing it is He who enables us to do anything at all. Whenever His Word enters into our hearts and minds we have the knowledge of His promises to us. It is not what we do, but what Christ does through us. Faith is not some sort of power that we possess. Faith is trust that what God promises is true.

How did the apostle Paul keep his faith? He preached the Word of God “in season and out of season.” His total focus was on the gospel up to the very end of his earthly existence. He told Timothy to read the Scriptures. We need to hear the gospel every day and share it as often as possible and cultivate our hearts toward evangelism. Have you ever thought about how the Lord wants no one to perish, so He made sharing the gospel a commandment not only for the sake of the lost but also for the benefit of the believer?

When we build our lives around God’s commandment to share the gospel, our faith automatically increases. Getting bogged down in every day matters and trying to share the Scriptures can be a challenge for all Christians. But God will always make a way when there seems to be no way. “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

Worship and praise are huge faith boosters. We all have things we can thank and praise God for, even when times are very tough. Scripture teaches we should thank God in all things (Ephesians 5:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:18). When we praise the Lord and humble ourselves before Him, He strengthens our faith. We must immerse ourselves in the Bible and in prayer. “Not by my might but by His” is a favorite saying, I have.

We surely live in perilous times. The job of God’s enemies is to weaken us and place doubt and fear into our minds. Remember this life is so temporary. Our futures are eternally bright in Christ. God will always give us the strength to endure whatever we must face in this life. His grace truly is sufficient:

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Dear friend, whatever comes your way, Almighty God has promised to carry you, to never leave or forsake you. It is He who will build your faith. Your job is to take in all His love through His Scriptures and get busy sharing the Good News while there is still time. Many avenues are open to sharing the gospel. Find a way that suits you best. Consider getting involved in some type of ministry where you are handling the Word of God daily and sharing your personal testimony.

When you are concentrating on studying and sharing God’s Word and telling others what He has done for you, you will be pleasing to the Lord, your faith will blossom and you will be fulfilling the Lord’s admonition:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:19-20).

In God’s love,

Esther

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

 

Sep 11, 2017

Dear Esther,

I am a born again Christian and have been trying to help my husband find Jesus so we can witness and help save the rest of his family, none of which are saved. What a relief to have someone I can ask advice from. I just found out last night, that my 26-year-old stepdaughter has become a prostitute in order to earn extra-money and find relief from loneliness.

My husband found this out from his other daughter, who gave him a web address as proof. He said it was so foul and disgusting, what it says she is willing to do for money. He confronted her at her apartment. She said all her friends do it and that she likes sex and doesn’t see anything wrong with it, and that he should accept her for what she is. He told her that if she didn’t get out of this filthy lifestyle immediately, he would disown her. She said she is not getting out of it and won’t talk to any of her family members now.

This girl has always had a dark side. I saw her Facebook page once and it was full of foul language, dark thoughts, loneliness, etc. I know she was into Tarot cards at one point. She has always worked a couple of jobs so has never had time to go to church with us or visit much. We see her usually at holidays. I don’t know her that well, as we were married when she was 17 years old and living with her mom. She always seemed nice to me, but she butts heads with all of her family and has always done so. She keeps mostly to herself.

How do we deal with this? My husband doesn’t want to talk to her ever again. I am shocked to my core that someone I know has chosen this lifestyle. If she needed extra money, her mom would have let her live with her to save on rent. She had choices, but deliberately chose to do this and sees nothing wrong with it. I want to talk to her, but will probably only get through by texting.

What would you suggest I do? I will not condone this lifestyle, but I want to help save her from it. I am praying daily for her, but what do you say to someone who wants to sin in one of the foulest ways possible?

I would really appreciate your help and advice.

Thank you so much!

Karen

Dear Karen,

I have carefully thought and prayed about your situation. It is very distressing to say the least. I believe you are in a very tough position because I think your husband needs to be called out on this to some degree. Your stepdaughter has been without her father on a regular basis for nearly a decade.

Not knowing what the circumstances were that caused the divorce it is hard to know what dynamics play into this situation. But one thing I can say for sure is that your stepdaughter needed, and still needs the love and approval of her father. Of course she is not acting as if she needs him or anyone. She is defiant and self-righteous. Only God knows how deeply her emotional wounds and scars extend into her confused mind.

We cannot go back in time to correct things but if your husband was not there in a very major way for his daughter, in this case especially — it is a problem. This rebellious young woman needed the care of her father during her teen years when she was transitioning from childhood into adulthood. I am reminded of a good movie about family and fathers, titled: “Courageous.” It is available on the Internet and at Christian bookstores and other retail outlets. I strongly recommend that you and your husband sit down together and watch that movie – a couple of times.

Learning about a life of prostitution is of course, a shock. But the last thing your stepdaughter needs is to have her father tell her that he will disown her if she does not stop. In her mind she may already feel he disowned her when her parents divorced. Your husband is right to tell her that he is totally against what she is doing. But to disown her is a mistake.

This young woman is screaming for attention. She is willing to go to extremes to get validation. So much so that those whom she is involved with have convinced her that what she is doing is great. She probably thinks what she is doing is glamorous and the “in” thing to do. Consider the rampant indoctrination and glamorization of pornography and sex outside of marriage. Young people, especially, are targeted by various advertisements exalting promiscuity as the “norm.” So many people outside of marriage are sleeping around and she probably thinks that (at least she gets paid for it), and that makes her feel special—a twisted way of feeling powerful and in control.

From your letter it does not sound like your husband is a born-again believer since you said you are trying to help your husband “find Jesus.” He needs to get saved and take responsibility for his own shortcomings.

I do have a suggestion. Are you willing to possibly open up your home so your stepdaughter can come live with you and your husband? It would surely change the day-to-day dynamics in your household. It could be hard on you. But perhaps being close to you in the same home, your stepdaughter would have a chance to see Christian love in action.

Of course convincing her to leave her current digs would be tough. But if she knew that your home is open to her and that she would be received with open arms, it could be an important negotiating tool in convincing her step away from her life of debauchery. She probably won’t want to come now, but when things start to fall apart for her, she will know that she has family she can count on.

From my prayers and careful thinking I would say the best chance your stepdaughter has at being freed from this life of sexual degradation — is for your husband to lovingly reach out to her. And get very involved in her life. I also suggest checking your area for groups that work with wayward teens. I know she is not a teen but some of these groups may be connected with people who could actually minister to your stepdaughter from a place of experience with such matters.

Many cities have ministries that seek out those who are caught-up in sordid lifestyles and attempt to rescue young people from the grips of those who are fostering prostitution and drug addiction. I believe Focus on the Family has had interviews with people who have been rescued from lives of prostitution.

As you already know, your stepdaughter has a rough road ahead of her and it might take some very painful downfalls before she wakes-up and realizes she is in tremendous trouble. She might get arrested, beaten or contract venereal diseases. And it is very common for prostitutes to be heavily into substance abuse. So thinking clearly and rationally becomes even more challenging. She could get busted for drugs as well. Let’s hope and pray it does not come to any of that.

Another place to check is with Christian treatment facilities. They are not only for substance addiction but also for dealing with sinful conditions overall and destructive lifestyles. You may get some ideas on what could be done to help your stepdaughter.

Your husband needs to be convinced that he must let his daughter know that he loves her no matter what. Then he needs to open up his home to her and start being the type of father she needs, guiding her and loving her. Even if she refuses, if he convinces her that he really loves her and wants to help care for her, then there is a chance that at some point she might reach out.

It is true that no matter what some parents do there are some kids who are not going to behave well, no matter what. But every parent must put their full-effort and attention into preparing their children for life. I have my doubts that your stepdaughter ever had a very tight relationship with her father. I hope your husband will search his heart and see if he thinks he did everything possible as her father to give her the strong loving guidance a young girl needs.

It is no accident that there are many others who have become like your stepdaughter. Many parents have overwhelmingly relied on public education and have taken minimum responsibility in the day-to day care and nurturing of their children. The mother of your stepdaughter may need to be brought into this. Of course she too, is responsible for what went on in those growing-up years. She might have some insight into why her daughter is so rebellious. Was she truly available to her daughter? It sounds like the family dynamics could be very complex.

God may have a greater role for you in helping your stepdaughter than you may realize. Once you come to some sort of understanding with your husband and if he is willing to take a strong stand of responsibility for his daughter, then, if you would also reach out to her with love—she will know that she has a place where she can go. At the moment she will probably refuse any suggestions. That is the hard part.

But you could text her even if her father remains stubborn for the time being and express your love to her. You could tell her that you are there for her no matter what, at any time. And then, if your husband agrees to opening up your home to her, you could text her again and tell her that you would love for her to stay. Even if she refuses she will know that you made some efforts to contact her. When someone is living such a destructive lifestyle they might look and sound tough on the outside but inside massive confusion reigns.

Although your stepdaughter is in her mid-twenties, inside she is a lost little girl. When you say she has always had a dark-side, where were her parents when all this was manifesting? We cannot go back, but we can take steps to change the here and now.

Prayer is very powerful and your prayers are desperately needed. God does answer prayer and sometimes we want to see results right away. He knows every detail of your stepdaughter’s life and He knows best what will bring her away from her wayward lifestyle and to salvation. Pray fervently and keep giving the situation over to Him. Since you are not near her in proximity to tell her about the Lord, then pray that somehow she will hear the gospel and receive it. I will continue to pray with you.

I suggest that you share the parable of the lost son with your husband (Luke 15:11-32). It is an illustration of the attitude of our Father God toward His children. When we fail God He does not disown His children. God loves us with an everlasting love, and the sacrifice of Jesus makes it possible to enjoy total forgiveness by God when we ask for it. Perhaps by reading this parable your husband will come to understand that we should love our children no matter what and be there for them when they fall.

This is a time for you to exhibit tremendous faith believing that this young woman will be healed from her broken-condition. God will give you the strength to get through this. Cast your concerns upon the Lord and He will sustain you. He is the source of all comfort. I pray that your stepdaughter will soon repent of her sin and that her father will be there for her when her world falls apart. And that he too repents of any wrong- doing and gives his life to the Lord.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will continue to pray and trust that our heavenly Father will pour out His love and grace over this very difficult, heartbreaking situation.

“Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).

In God’s love,

Esther

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).