Aug 7, 2017

Dear Esther,

Thank you for your helpful insightful responses. My husband and I both look forward to reading your column. I am writing because sometimes we listen to the radio show of a Christian  financial counselor, and I am getting very frustrated. He has some good ideas about staying out of debt, but he also stresses that once people are out of debt they should work toward becoming millionaires.

He says no one should ever use a credit card, no matter what or even have a car payment. He also seems to look down on people who chose to live with lesser incomes. That is the impression I get from listening to him. He is always pushing for getting that income up so people can become millionaires.

I also get the impression that this money advisor does not know much or anything about Bible prophecy; if he did, you think he would be urging believers to spread the gospel and not be so big on people becoming millionaires.

He mentions some Bible verses but I am bothered because it seems that he is much more passionate about making money than serving the Lord. I think we can do both, but something just doesn’t seem right to me.

We read in an article that his house is about 14,000 sq. feet valued at $4,900,00, and that it has a basement with a full bar with whiskey barrels built into the walls; and also that he has a net worth of $55 million. I have heard him refer to people who have called him out for his excessive lifestyle “Super saved Christians.” I think that is very condescending and insulting.

I recently heard him speaking to one of the callers who had become debt free and was making a high six-figure income. The counselor asked what motivated him to make the change and get out of debt. The caller answered that he “stopped taking care of other people” and got divorced. Since the divorce he has been able to drive a very expensive car and  pack away all his money for himself.

I could not believe how excited the money counselor was about the caller’s response. He condoned all of it and seemed especially impressed by the car the caller drove. I was horrified about this exchange of words. I have heard some good advice from this counselor. But when I heard him go bonkers over the man who divorced his wife so he could stop taking care of her, and spend his money all on himself, I was beside myself. he kept saying, “Very good, very good.” My husband was also very annoyed.

Do you think we should be totally debt free and never ever use a credit card, and not even have a car payment? If we did not have a car payment, I am afraid we would not have a reliable car to drive. We have little debt but sometimes we do need to use a credit card. I home school our two young children.

If I had to figure out ways to make more money outside of my husband’s income, it would be too much for me. Maybe some mothers can do it, but I cannot. I am busy around the clock taking care of my family’s needs. And I will not sacrifice my children’s well-being  by being distracted so I can work toward becoming a millionaire.

But when I listen to this financial advisor I feel like a second class citizen because I cannot do more than I already am. Thankfully, I have a great husband and he feels it is his responsibility to provide for our family, and for me to make sure all is running smoothly at home.

I am wondering what you think about all of this.

Thank you.

Melanie

Dear Melanie,

Thank you for your letter and your kind words about this ministry. You do not mention the name of the financial advisor you refer to, but regardless, from what you say, there are reasons to be concerned.

Since you are stressed by what you are hearing, you have the option to stop listening to the radio show. I would be very cautious about accepting advise from a “Christian” man who has a full bar with whiskey barrels built into the walls of his nearly $5 million trophy house.

Sometimes when people become very successful monetarily, they can lose their perspective on many things—including how others live or need to live, and they love to dish out advice. Meanwhile, far too often they live like heathens, even if they profess to be generous Christians.

“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,  storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life”  (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

When we are truly born-again by the Spirit of God we can go  directly to the Lord and the Holy Spirit will guide us in making decisions.  Each person is unique and each situation is unique.

I personally don’t think having a second rate car with two young children is a good idea. If is possible to find some good used cars, but if this money guru you speak of thinks the car should be paid only with cash, then your choices may be very limited. This is something only you and your husband can decide with God’s guidance. I always say, “Safety first.”

Scripture does admonish us from being a slave to a lender, so it is very important to pay for everything with cash as often as possible. And to stay as debt free as possible. Sometimes that is not viable and if that is the case, then a careful plan should be made not to get so far into debt that it will cause a family to get into serious financial trouble.

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

If you use a credit card, then calculate what you can spend each month and do your best to try to pay the entire balance when the payment is due. Otherwise the interest will grow and that is when the problems begin. As believers we are to have self-control in all things and that goes for spending habits as well. Credit cards aren’t the problem when it comes to credit card debt, personal responsibility is the issue.

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5: 22-23a).

Melanie, the fact that you are so committed to homeschooling your children and all that you do for your family shows that you are a great wife and mother; that alone is of tremendous value. I  am always astonished by professing Christians who place their children second, above their own selfish desires.

There is always an exception to the rule and some parents cannot home school their children or send them to a private school. But if they both drive high-end cars, live in a very pricey house and want to keep up with the latest worldly trends—yet send their kids to public schools, then that shows that they rather satisfy to their own agendas than please God and care for their children.

I applaud you for your devotion to your family. Believers should let go of loving the things that are perishing, and cling to and cherish those  things that  have(relationships) of eternal value. We should all spend time doing things for His glory “redeeming the times for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).

When it is all said and done what matters is how we serve the Lord, and of course that extends to the choices we make in our daily lives with money. Money is a great tool; we all need it. But when it becomes an idol then we will lose sight of God’s best for our lives.

It sounds like you and your husband are on the right track. Be encouraged; our world needs more mom’s like you. I would say the second rate citizens are those who place the gratifications of the world above their precious children. I would say you are an exceptional person!

And remember, the Lord has promised us such a glorious future that nothing on this earth can compare to the riches of this life.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions;  if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).

In God’s love,

Esther

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

 

Jul 30, 2017

Dear Esther,

I have read an article recently from an American site which has troubled me somewhat. I live in the UK. This article states that lukewarm Christians will miss the Rapture and these people will repent and have to go through the Tribulation where they will be martyred by beheading. In the light of the recent activity of ISIS this is troubling many people today.

I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus when I was a child of 8 and have loved him for 62 further years. Circumstances however make me feel that I am lukewarm because lifestyle these days includes TV, other entertainment and not very much fellowship.

With the problems that are increasing around the world our anticipation of our Savior’s return is something precious to cling to.

I was always taught that once saved always saved and as individuals we are secure and can look with confidence for Jesus return. The Scriptures teach that the final church on earth, the Laodicean church, is lukewarm and the Lord will cast them out. This as I understand it the professing church which is not the true believers.

Surely the hope of the true Christian is sure…

In the parable of the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins the wise ones are taken and the foolish ones left. The article I read equates the lukewarm Christians to the foolish virgins. Surely the foolish virgins are people who think they are Christians but they haven’t accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

What do you think on this emotive subject. Thank you for your previous articles.

Your brother in Christ,

Peter

 

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your letter. This ministry is a great blessing to me, thanks to all the wonderful readers and those who write in with various concerns. One thing you can be sure of is this: If you search the Internet you will find all kinds of conflicting and confusing information. Some biblically related information posted on the Internet is very good, very edifying.

However, some of the dynamics that go on remind me of a “Wild West” high-stakes gambling showdown where a variety of self-styled “spiritual” and Pop Christian “gurus” put down stakes (their websites), vying to win the big pot (adulation, fame, glory, money). This Wild West showdown has prompted many non-Christians to dismiss the authenticity of the Bible.

Misinformation on the Internet is widespread. That is why it is always important to search the Scriptures daily and compare anything we read with the Word of God to see if it is in keeping with God’s truth. Some people have a talent for manipulating Scripture and using it for their own selfish agenda. We see this time and time again in articles published on the Internet; in books, television sermons—or from the teaching and preaching that goes on in some local churches.

Peter, your best source, the only source you can truly rely on is the Bible. You will find many good articles on the Internet but one must be very careful and discerning and always do as we are commanded:

“Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

I have studied the Foolish Virgin parable quite a lot, and have read numerous articles with varying opinions on the subject (some quite convincing in regard to whatever argument they are espousing). But the only reliable conclusion I can come to is that the parable is telling us to be ready, and not get distracted and fall into the ways of the world.

Some pastors teach the Partial-Rapture doctrine, but there is no passage in the Bible which teaches it or even hints at it. When pastors, who believe in the partial-Rapture doctrine were asked on a radio talk show if backslidden believers who miss the Rapture might take the mark of the Beast, they said they were not certain and hoped none would.

The partial-Rapture doctrine is not biblical. All true Christians will be raptured when Jesus returns, as Paul said:

“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51).

Even if a genuine Christian is in the middle of committing a sin he or she will be raptured. Our faithfulness is not what determines if we are raptured or left behind. If it were, very few believers would be raptured for we all sin throughout each and every day of our lives (to some degree).

It is highly improbable that any believer could go through just one day without committing a single sin of thought, word, deed or motive. Memorize and meditate on the truth that was revealed through John concerning this:

“If we should say we have not sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

The average believer commits so many sins each day that it is difficult to keep track of them and virtually no one does. We may keep track of the big sins, but not every sin of the mind or word. Every time you get angry it is a sin unless your anger is caused by someone blaspheming God or making disparaging remarks about believers or the Bible.

We should be very thankful that our salvation is not dependent on whether we continue to abide in Christ—for ALL of us stop abiding many times every day. Every time we sin we stop abiding. Unless we ask for forgiveness and then read or meditate on Scripture after asking forgiveness, we continue to not abide.

Most believers go through life not abiding. We should also be very thankful that our being raptured is not dependent on a constant sin-free condition, which is impossible. That is not to say that those who profess Christ but are imposters, and not really saved, will be raptured. Those so-called Christians are the ones who are Christians in name only. They do not have an authentic relationship with the Lord and their heart motives are not aligned with the truth of God’s Word. They are not truly born-again. These are often “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15).

We all fall short and sin, but when we cultivate a truly repentant heart then we will be less inclined to fall into chronic sins that cut-off our relationship with the Lord. It is not so much a question of, “Will all Christians be raptured? Rather, the question is: Who is truly a Christian? Scripture gives us the answer:

“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Matthew 7:16-18).

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

True believers do not operate from their ego and self-centered, self-righteousness toward the brethren. Have you ever heard someone say:”I love you in Christ” as he or she stabs a knife into your back? This type of hypocrisy reveals a person’s warped idea of what a believer in Christ is.

People like this pollute the Body of Christ with their personal selfish confusion never thinking that when they look in the mirror—the image revealed is one of erroneous judgment, never examining themselves and taking self-responsibility for what they may have done to create an awkward or unpleasant situation:

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5-6).

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:17-18).

Peter, if you have any doubt about your salvation and fear that you will be left behind, then do as Scripture teaches and examine yourself.

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

You say you feel that you are lukewarm because your lifestyle these days includes TV, other entertainment and not very much fellowship. I ask you, why?

Have you lost your first love ?

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4-5).

The Lord chastens whom He loves and we all need to be chastened periodically:

If you want to make sure you are truly converted judge yourself. If you judge yourself you will not be judged. When you are chastened of the Lord it’s so you are not condemned with the world (1 Corinthians 11:31-32).

God wants us to have an ongoing authentic relationship with Him through prayer, worship, Bible study and fellowship with other believers. Our faithfulness and the depth of our commitment to Him determine our spiritual growth. God wants us to give our ALL to Him. How would you feel if you were pushed to a corner somewhere with other things piled on top of you and rarely got any attention? God wants your attention!

He asks us to communicate with Him, as you can see all throughout the Scriptures. We must make the Lord our first priority and not place Him aside and barely give Him the time of day. It is through our love for Him that we are obedient and want to please Him. Our walk with the Lord should be a disciplined endeavor to grow spiritually (and emotionally), and let go of the worldly distractions that fill our minds with all kinds of godless images and rhetoric.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We truly are living in perilous times, and getting very serious about our commitment to the Lord must take precedence over everything else. The Lord has to be number one in our lives. You know the truth about the Lord, but there are plenty who are still out there lost as can be, and the devil would like nothing more that for good Christians to become complacent, apathetic and ineffective for the cause of Christ. Be careful that you are not lulled to sleep while the enemy is busy wrecking havoc.

Our purpose is to serve the Lord. We are saved by His abiding grace but it is because of our love and respect for Him that we are obedient and fulfill our individual callings. It is easy to lose perspective and forget we are in the midst of a spiritual war. We must never let down our guard. The enemy is very crafty and we must not sit on the sidelines while he is busy ushering as many souls as he can to the gates of hell.

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’” (Matthew 22:37).

Please find some true believers that you can regularly fellowship with. Peter, I pray you will get deeply into your Bible and rededicate your life to the Lord. Give the Lord ALL of you.

Considering the daily stresses from the news reports alone, it is easy for our human nature to escape into mind-numbing “entertainment.” But all that does is pull us further away from the Lord as we do little or nothing for the kingdom of God.

We were created to serve the Lord with the talents He has given us. All that really matters in this life is what we do for Him. One day we will all stand before the Jesus, our Almighty King and Savior to give an accounting of our lives.

Let us not be found standing in regret for wasting our precious time here on this earth when we could have been serving Him. Let us all hear the words: “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

I hope to hear from you, Peter, in the future with an update on how you are doing.

In God’s love,

Esther

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).