November 30, 2015
This is my first time ever writing you, I really hope you can help. I’ve been on the Rapture Ready website, but today was the first time I really read and studied the “Dear Esther” part.
Anyway, I’m 16 and I live in a very sinful and dangerous neighborhood. Ever since I was about 13 I’ve struggled with religion and trying to figure out if God is real or not. Sometime around January or February I had an epiphany. I had been reading experiences of other people’s experiences with God. I knew God was real.
I began reading my Bible and talking about God with my friends. Everything was so wonderful. I felt so good. This may sound crazy but I believe I became born-again in my living room. I said a prayer for salvation and repentance and I felt something inside of me. It was unexplainable.
I began to pray for my family and friends. I informed my friend Mary about God and His Word (she’s a Christian but doesn’t go to church and I don’t think she really studies the Bible). And my other best friend, Irena had a breakthrough with God as well.
I had been praying for confirmation of my salvation and a month or two later my friend Mary and I both had an experience with the Holy Spirit. It was the best feeling ever! Though all of this was going on, I still had one problem: a porn addiction.
I watched porn, and repented. The process went on and on. I’d stop for a few days or weeks but always go back. I felt shame and questioned my salvation. I took my school finals about a month ago and watched porn multiple times a day to help with stress. I haven’t been able to stop up until a few days ago.
Also I found out that Irena isn’t a Christian. She believes in God and Jesus but thinks that we will be reincarnated and will receive karma in another life. I don’t think she has repented and she doesn’t think God gets disappointed in us or feels any other emotion. Is she saved? She and I are no longer friends due to other issues. Do you think God removed her from my life for a certain reason ?
But back to me, I don’t feel saved anymore. I’m begging God to give me another breakthrough. Can I be reborn a third time? I keep praying but I don’t know if it’s too late? I NEED to go to heaven. I’ve repented and believe in Jesus but I’m not how I was two months ago.
I believe porn ruined my relationship with God and my salvation. What should I do? I keep praying but it seems like nothing’s happening and I’m afraid that God has given up on me, or something. PLEASE help me.
My parents aren’t together. They never got married. My dad is a believer in God but I think he picks and chooses certain things in the Bible to believe. He doesn’t believe in hell and probably a few other things. My mom is a strong believer and very religious and spiritual. I guess I could talk to her but I’m just too scared and ashamed. I have my own room. I live in a two family flat with my mom and I upstairs and my grandma downstairs. I am an only child.
I attend church but many of the members there are somewhat hypocritical and I am the only youth serious about praise. I really don’t have anyone to talk about these things to so talking to you is a relief.
Dear Too Confused,
I am glad you reached out and wrote. I will help you as best I can to try to understand some of the confusion you are dealing with. First, I want to say that our salvation does not depend on our performance.
But of course that does not mean we can willfully, deliberately and habitually involve ourselves in a sinful lifestyle. If we do, then we must examine our selves and see if we are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 3:5).
The real issues are these: Are we really saved? Was our profession of faith truly sincere? Can a saved person ever be lost?
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 20:28-29).
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).
The moment we confess our sins and repent, and make a sincere profession of faith—the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. We can suppress the promptings of the Holy Spirit and grieve the Holy Spirit when we make mistakes and fall, but we don’t lose God’s salvation.
So to answer your question, no you cannot be born-again a third time. Some people walk-away and live sinful lives and then realize how badly they have erred, and will rededicate their lives to the Lord. If you were genuine in your acceptance of the Lord then you are still saved, as long as your are truly repentant.
The confirmation that you are saved is found in God’s Word:
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
A changed life is evidence of true salvation. As God’s Holy Spirit continues to transform us our old nature is crucified and our old way of life, because we are born-again spiritually. The purpose of our lives will become radically changed as we desire to live in obedience to God. The Christian walk is both a way of life and a lifelong journey. It is a continuous process of transformation, growth, learning, and maturing.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:16-17).
“So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must [spiritually] die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:9-13).
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-15).
You need not seek outside “confirmation.” When you wandered off and got caught-up in what you term as your “pornography addiction” you made mistakes and fell into sin, but you did not lose your salvation.
Now if you were to outright deny the Lord and His teachings or think that He is only one of many gods then you would not be saved. So the question would be: Were you ever saved in the first place? But since you are committed to wanting to make the wrong things right and please the Lord and have repented from your sin, then in no way have you been cast out.
A saved person cannot be lost. Jesus died for all our sins: past, present and future. The porn problem has not totally destroyed your relationship with God, but it has grieved the Holy Spirit, and your walk with the Lord is compromised. Remember that our lives are transformed over time and not overnight. What matters most is that you are repentant and moving forward.
It sounds like your own guilt, and the daggers being thrown at you by the devil are making you feel like you have ruined your relationship with the Lord. Once a person is saved and belongs to the Lord, the devil has lost a soul that he hoped would go to hell with him. He knows that a saved person is covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and he cannot change that.
So then his method of harassment is to try to cast doubt and confusion into a person’s mind—to try to make us feel miserable. The thoughts you are having are a good example of the enemy’s method of attack. He wants to make us believe that we are not really saved, that God has abandoned us, or that we are not good enough, and the list goes on and on.
Not one born-again Christian exists that has not fallen at some point in their walk with the Lord. That is where Jesus comes in as our Advocate:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
I don’t know how much television you watch but try to keep it to a minimum, and if you do watch it keep your viewing choices focused on educational programs. Also, you have found out that some things on the Internet are nothing less than the devil’s playground. So many good websites exist that are edifying, and then there is the rampant filth that only demoralizes the masses.
We are living in the end-times. And Satan, the father of lies, is an expert at creating confusion and using any number of distractions to keep us from God’s truths. Also, salvation is not based on feelings or experiences.
It is true sometimes we can feel a prompting of the Holy Spirit when we are saved or when we pray and seek the Lord, but we must be careful not to base faith and our salvation on our feelings—highs and lows. Even Satan can appear as an angel of light to make us think we are having a “godly” experience. When we are seeking emotional “experiences” to solidify our faith we can be led astray.
We live in a society that is stimulation-oriented. The unsaved population as a whole is looking for a “kick”—the next “feel good” experience. That is why substance abuse and a long list of “addictions” are so prevalent. They go from one “thrilling” experience to the next never finding peace of mind.
As far as the pornography, from what you have said it sounds like you have repented. Let me suggest this to you also. How we perceive ourselves has a lot to do with how we function. It sounds like you were absolutely sincere in your confession of faith when you were born-again in your living room.
Realize that you are now a child of God and no longer a casualty of this fallen world. This is no longer your true home. You have been redeemed and you need not think of yourself as part of any wicked neighborhood on this planet.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
It also sounds like you want very much to walk in the right direction. What you need now is to take your faith and begin living by the Lord’s admonitions that are found in the Bible. You are very young, and the peer pressure around you is enormous.
And the fact that you live in a very sinful and dangerous neighborhood makes it even more difficult. But the entire world is a very sinful place. The Lord tells us to be in the world but not be of the world.
I get the sense that this next year or two are going to be very important for you, a time of critical decisions and determination. You may feel lonely at times but this can be a time for you to build great spiritual and emotional strength by having an intimate prayer life with our Savior. As far as your friend Irena, she is very lost and heading down the wrong road. Pray for her that she will realize that there is only one true God—the God of the Bible.
It is best for now that she goes her separate way so she does not have a negative influence on you. The Lord would not want you hanging out closely with someone who places other gods before Him. But the opportunity arises, be sure to tell her that Jesus is the only way to the Father in heaven and that she is being deceived (John 14:6).
Resolve to let go of the past. You are surrounded by unsaved friends at school and in your immediate neighborhood; realize that those same people will most likely not be in your life at all in a few short years. It is a great blessing that you have your own room and that your mother is a believer.
I can understand why you would not want to share the pornography issues with her, but surely you can speak about your faith. Use your time to prepare for your future—to serve the Lord. His will for your life will become clear as you continue to grow in His Word.
Now let all the past negativity go once and for all, and instead of running to wicked websites when stressed—run to the Lord. Grab your Bible and get involved in a ministry where others are also serious about their faith.
Make your room a personal getaway filled with soothing godly music and books that bring glory and honor to the Lord. Make it your refuge from this godless world. When you feel you have no one, go to the Lord in prayer and pour your heart out to Him. Create a place where you can easily sit down and study your Bible on a daily basis.
Your church sounds a bit limited, but somehow there must be some other youth ministries in your city where you can get involved. Ask your mom if you can check around for other Christian youth ministries and churches.
A good church should offer classes in Bible study and discipleship. Check around and see what the options are. Make some phone calls and see how the Lord leads you to connect with others who want to serve the Lord.
God has a plan for your life. Don’t let the weaknesses and lost condition of others drag you down. Perhaps at the church you attend you can get permission to start attending a woman’s Bible study, if they have one.
If you cannot connect with other teens who are serious about the Lord, seek out older women who can take you under their wing. But be sure to check with your mom and get her blessing before you make any decisions about a new church, ministry group or mentors.
I would also encourage you to get water baptized as an outward symbol of your profession of faith. It is imperative that you get involved with other believers, even if it is only one or two people who are as dedicated to the faith as you are. Those people exist in your community, somewhere.
The most important thing is to continue your personal walk with the Lord. Pray all throughout the day. In everything you do, do it unto Him. Consider the fact that our days are numbered on this wicked, broken planet. Keep your heart and mind on the Lord and before you know it we will all be in the Presence of our great and mighty Savior. All these things that are so troubling now will be forever past.
Our society is saturated with godless messages that are all designed or take us away from the truths of God’s holy Word. Pray with all your heart that He will protect you and bring good believers into your life, people you can trust and count on. Be careful what you look at and what you listen to. And be sure you dress modestly.
You are at the point in your life where you are becoming a young lady. These are the years to develop a foundation of abstinence and purity despite any past indiscretions. Never mind what others around you are doing. The right young man, one day—will respect you if you behave in a godly manner and don’t follow the degenerate trends promoted in the media and society in general.
Please keep in touch with me and just because you might not “feel” anything does not mean that the Lord is not with you. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. Depend on Him and His promises, not momentary highs and lows.
We cannot measure our relationship with the Lord by ecstatic and euphoric experiences. The best way to get back in-step with the Lord is by praising Him, praying wholeheartedly and keeping things in perspective by studying His love letter to us—the Holy Bible.
In God’s love,
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).
November 23, 2015
My exams just ended and I’ve been reading the Bible recently again, but more in depth this time... However, I although I do read it daily, I do not exactly have the “hunger for God’s Word.”
And I feel a lot like a Pharisee, one that knows God’s Word, but doesn’t know God. Sure I know the most common Bible verses and my friends do seek me for advise sometimes, but I have a feeling that what drives me to read God’s Word isn’t an honorable one, but more of living up to the expectations of my non-believing friends.
The reason why I want to read the Bible is because I’m really ashamed that even atheists are more well-read in the Bible than Christians, so am I reading the Bible out of pride rather than a hunger for His Word? How can I humble myself? I know God hates prideful people and I’ve asked Him to humble me, but I’m not sure how that’s going to work out.
You are not troubling me at all. Your questions and concerns are important ones. I am glad you are reaching out. Your honest assessment is the first step in getting more excited about the Word of God. Recognizing the issue, as you have, makes it possible for you to get past this slump.
In all my years I can tell you sometimes we can go through peaks and valleys. Sometimes our lack of enthusiasm comes from being tired and even disillusioned with life in general. Have you been overworking yourself with your school work?
Sometimes we get disenchanted with our given circumstances and little by little we can find ourselves not wanting to deal with biblical matters even if it is for a very brief time. Yes, we all go through this on one level or another. So consider this “normal.”
But from previous emails, I know you love the Lord, Zoe and you will not give into living a life of mediocrity and place God on the backburner. We are bombarded daily with negativity and the pressures of life, so it is understandable to want to breakaway even with the things of God for a short time and just not think.
But it is through prayer and sweet fellowship with the Lord that you can rekindle your desire to get wholly into the Word. Zoe, just think... what a miracle you have in your salvation. It did not come cheaply. It is by an attitude of gratitude that you can get excited again for the Lord and His Word. Start counting all your blessings and keep in mind that it is He who supplies all those blessings.
Without God we are lost. His Word is our compass to help us navigate through the steep hills and valleys of this life. Start thanking Him for everything and work up that attitude of gratitude. Sometimes we forget how much we have in Him and become complacent. We must not let that happen or the enemy will come in and cause you to doubt all the truths about God.
The Bible is our treasure. It is our gift from the One who loves us more than we can begin to possibly understand. He has so many messages for us in His Word. When we think of the Bible as a precious gift given to us by the Lord, a very personal one that has tremendous value far beyond anything else we own, then we can better appreciate it.
If you wore a 5 carat diamond ring on your finger would you not take good care of it and feel special like you have something of great value? We cannot place a price tag on the Bible. It has value that cannot be calculated in monetary terms.
Nothing is more important than His Word, His free gift of salvation that comes to us though His Word. Yet so many strive to have that diamond ring not realizing that the Bible is the most valuable treasure that they can own.
Cry out to Him, Zoe, “Abba, Daddy” and ask Him to strengthen you and rekindle you heart to love His Word. By loving His Word, you are loving Jesus, who is the Word.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
You know that Jesus died an agonizing brutal death so we could be reconciled unto Him. You are so very special to the Lord, so special that He died for you and in way that is too painful to fathom; that is how much he treasures you. All He asks is that we accept Him and love Him back by making Him number one in our lives.
Down here, in this fallen world, it is easy to get sidetracked and distracted, and in a sense get numb to the enormity of what Christ did for us on the Cross. We are bombarded by “stuff” daily which can cause barriers to reaching the Lord if we fall for those traps. Let me remind you that the enemy is always looking for those whom he can devour:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
When we are tired of the struggles and all the things that come with living in this fallen world, we must remember to always hone our perspective, our outlook on things in order to maintain our faith and continue to grow in our walk with the Lord.
Zoe, I think you are being a bit hard on yourself but it is very refreshing to see such honesty. You ask how can you humble yourself. You already are humbling yourself by being so straightforward and honest which shows spiritual maturity.
I have seen grown men and women, professing Christians who are old enough to be your grandparents get so prideful and haughty that it is hard to imagine they are truly saved. Your motives are pure unlike many who have self-serving motives. To compare yourself to a Pharisee is quite severe. I would say that you are in a phase of your spiritual growth which is not always accompanied by feelings that show that progress is being made.
Consider the massive numbers of professing Christians who have motives for money, fame, status, notoriety and adulation which reveal their egocentric selves -- which some can easily recognize but many cannot. Many are fooled by self-serving individuals because they are so calculating, devious and are smooth talkers.
These types of individuals may publically speak about God as if they place Him first in their lives but they are really just using God as an avenue to reach their own self-centered goals. They will place their own quest for power and control over anything, including the destruction of faithful genuine believers, and actually betray God Himself with their dishonesty. It is as if some sort of spiritual illness is present within such people, but it is more likely the sin factor, the original sin: pride.
The backstabbing and lying that goes on with some Christians is truly shameful. Yet here you are, a very young genuine believer taking self-inventory instead of taking false inventory of others. God bless you for your authenticity! You are not even close to being a Pharisee. Your honesty exposes those who are using God for their own selfish gain.
I don’t think you are reading the Bible out of pride, I think you are in an impasse. When I was in college and when holiday breaks came, I would always feel like I would lose out on what I had been working so hard on in my various classes until one of my favorite professors reassured me that even while we are away from the work, our minds are working and integrating the newly studied concepts.
It is the same with our spiritual growth. We may not always feel we are making progress and worry that we are simply going through the motions, but as long as our heart motives are pure and without malice, we are moving forward.
I think it would greatly benefit you if you could get away on your own for some reflective time and seek the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. He is there for you, Zoe (Matthew 22:37). Your life source is God—His Word. It is through His Word that we are saved. It is His Word that is powerful in our sanctification.
Take some time now to step back and count all your blessings. Thank God for His great mercy. Praise Him and keep seeking His mercy and guidance. You know we can approach God boldly through Jesus, our High Priest who understands our needs. The Lord understands your frustration and it is He who can bring you through this challenging time.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (Hebrews 4:14).
Be patient with yourself and don’t place pressure on yourself to perform in a certain way. You will come out of this a stronger Christian. It is by praising the Lord with an attitude of gratitude and placing your focus on Him that your enthusiasm for reading God’s Word will return. Never underestimate the power of the Word. It is like a healing balm that soothes discontent, whittles way at apathy and renews a tired spirit. There is power in the Word!
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
God bless you dear Zoe, and get back to me and let me know how you are doing.
All for Him,
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
November 16, 2015
I really, really hope you answer this letter. For years I have been struggling with the concept of God’s safekeeping of His children, using Psalm 91 as a reference. In South Africa, we Christians are still blessed in that we are not yet severely persecuted for our faith. On the flip side, there is a high level of violent crime in the country, and lawlessness prevails.
The reason for my letter is this: How do you pray with unwavering faith for God’s protection, using Psalm 91 as a reference when you read how the early Christians were fed to the lions? Surely they were praying for God’s protection for their lives, notwithstanding all the Christians that are today being put to death for their faith.
I have asked this question to a lot of brothers and sisters, and most of the time, the answer is “You have no faith” or “You might as well stop praying.”
Esther, this is not a letter where I am trying to catch you out or to prove the Bible wrong or something like that. I was born-again years ago, but this subject of God’s protection is really holding me back and is the cause of much distress in my life.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and for your great willingness to help God’s people.
You are asking a question that has been asked since Cain murdered Abel (Genesis 4:1-8). We must find the answer in the Bible. And please keep in mind that we live in a fallen world, a spiritual battlefield where the enemies of God relentlessly wreak havoc at every opportunity. None of us are exempt from tribulation in this world.
The best place to start to understand this age-old dilemma is in Hebrews chapter 11, known as the Hall of Faith. Everyone listed in that chapter was a faithful believer in God who “died in faith” (v. 13). They understood that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth (v. 13).
They were looking forward to their eternal home with Jesus Christ (vv. 14-16), the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-22:5). Moses gave up his position and the wealth of Egypt to suffer persecution with the people of God (vv. 24-26). Many other men of faith suffered persecution and death (vv. 36-37).
Paul was the greatest apostle who wrote fourteen books of the New Testament. He suffered more persecution than any of the Apostles (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). All of the Apostles were persecuted and all but John and Paul died as martyrs.
We must keep in mind that all believers who truly desire to live for the Lord will be persecuted in one way or another (2 Timothy 3:12), and that we were all called to suffer persecution just as Jesus did (1 Peter 2:20-21). This is a hard concept for us to accept but the Lord promises He will be with us through persecution. That is essentially what we can gain from reading Psalm 91, and other encouraging Scriptures.
Psalm 91 is one of my favorite passages. I read it often. It is one of many Scriptures that give us hope and remind us that we are not alone; that the Lord is with us no matter what, and that His heavenly angels also watch over us.
Yet we live in a fallen world. We must also remember that since we are all sinners it is often through trials, tribulations and persecution that we are sanctified and strengthened. Please study the following passages carefully to see this truth:
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:2-5).
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-12).
Jesus said that those who follow Him will receive great rewards in the life to come, but will also suffer persecution (Mark 10:29-30).
We must be careful not to become obsessed with impending doom and calamities or the devil could lead us away from our faith when persecution does come:
“And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know” (1 Thessalonians 3:2-4).
No one wants to think about suffering, especially at a time when the prosperity gospel epidemic has infiltrated the Church. But we cannot ignore Scripture. We must accept all the Scriptures, the whole counsel of God and not isolate a few Scriptures to try to make a case for something.
Jesus was very clear that we would have tribulation but also that He would not abandon us and would be with us always. If you look around, do you know any believers who do not suffer from something? Yet we also have many blessings. We must keep things in their proper perspective.
Alan, please carefully examine the verse below to see how important it is for us to endure some type of suffering:
“For it became Him [Jesus], for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make perfect the leader of their salvation through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10).
If Jesus in His humanity had to suffer persecution how much more do we have to suffer?
When Peter and John were beaten for preaching the gospel they rejoiced being counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus (Acts 5:41).
Suffering for Jesus is a great honor; we should understand that suffering for Him is a blessing.
As long as we live on this fallen planet we will be dodging the enemy’s bullets. Some of us get hit harder than others. But that is when we must keep trusting more than ever that what we see and experience outwardly in the physical world is not the same as the benefits we will reap in our future eternal home. The natural man rejects such dynamics but the spirit-man can better accept them.
“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29).
I know this is hard to understand and accept but instead of feeling crushed when we encounter persecution and suffering or getting angry at God when we see others suffer—we should be thankful that God has considered us and them to be worthy to suffer for Him. How greatly He suffered for us!
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18-20).
We are not immune to the workings of Satan although an important point is this: How many times have we been spared from harm from which we are unaware? I would say many times, more than we know.
God the Father sent His Son to this earth to suffer, to save His creation. This is a concept far beyond our mortal understanding. After all, why couldn’t God just snap His fingers and wipe out all the evil so we could all go on living happily ever after?
No one knows the answer to that question except God. But He does give us clues. We are immersed in a spiritual battle which is extremely volatile. Satan and all the demons are in full attack mode and will be until Jesus returns at the Second Coming, when He will put a stop to all this pain and suffering.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” ( 1 Peter 4:12-14, 16).
We should memorize and never forget this verse:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
Alan, I can appreciate your concerns but until we are face-to-face with the Lord we will not understand many things. But again and again Scripture reveals to us that those who suffer for the sake of Christ will be blessed and should count it an honor.
What we should focus on is our enormous blessing of salvation, that the Lord died and suffered an excruciating death on the cross so we can be given the chance to be part of His eternal kingdom. Those of us who are saved must be exceedingly grateful that we will not have to stay in this fallen world and that we are destined to be with the Lord for eternity.
Suffering for God’s glory is a concept that is tough to understand but that truly is where faith comes in. You will not be so distressed if you give your total trust to the Lord and accept the Scriptures in their entirety and in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Alan, please try to let go of thinking so much about what could befall any of us; we must trust that whatever happens, that the Lord will carry us through and give us the grace and strength to handle any situation. Keep your heart and mind focused on our promised eternity that is so incredible that we cannot even begin to comprehend it. We need to focus on what is lovely and pure and not give so much attention to calamities and the “what ifs.”
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).
In God’s love,
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
November 9, 2015
Let me begin by thanking you for your ministry. I apologize ahead of time for the length of this email. I am in need of some godly counsel. I am a born-again follower of Christ. My husband professes to believe, but I am afraid he’s been rather slack in his spiritual leadership of our home.
We have two children: a special needs daughter (9) and a young son (3). Apart from the occasional “giving thanks” at meal times, he has shown no leadership regarding spiritual matters.
If I am sick, the entire family stays home from church. No family devotions. No discussions of the Bible. No family/spousal prayer time. So I must do these things with my children. I realize it is my job to be his helper. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict him, not mine, so I refrain from “nagging” him about such matters.
About two months ago he broke down to me and said he knows he should being doing more to nurture his relationship with God, i.e. studying his Bible, praying, but that it was very difficult to stay focused when his work environment was so corrupt. He worked at a factory, swing shift.
Having said that, my husband has made a decision recently that leaves me very troubled and unsure how to proceed. About five weeks ago he quit his job. At first I thought it might be an answer to prayer: If he was no longer around the bad influences so prevalent in such a work environment, then he could get “on track” with God. I said to him, “You know, this could be a good opportunity for you to grow closer to God while you look for a job that He wants to use you in.”
He agreed. However, he has made no effort whatsoever to even look for a job nor has he made any efforts to become closer to God. He may pull out his Bible for a verse here or there, but I’ve seen no effort to study, discuss or even be in church. He stays up most of the night playing a video game on his PS3, at which time he actually yells and stomps at the game while the rest of us are trying to sleep.
He’ll play it during the day and demand that no one else should be on the Internet because it interferes with his game. He’s made off-hand comments to me, and my son that he isn’t going to go back to work. You see, my daughter receives SSI for her cognitive challenges and I am paid through a Waiver to provide special services for her to meet specific goals. We are not without income, so I think he feels no urgency to work.
My concerns are obvious, I’m sure. Not only does his refusal to provide (but instead be content living off his special needs daughter’s funds) go against all my convictions, he is in disobedience to God. Scripture tells us in 1 Timothy 5:8, that such a man has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
How do I respond to this? God tells women who have an unbelieving husband that he may be won without a word, by a gentle and quiet spirit. But, my husband is not unbelieving, per se. I don’t know what to call him.
I’ve taken my concerns to my dad, who is also the minister of the congregation we attend. He is unwilling to say or do anything because he knows of my husband’s, “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do” attitude. His own dad has said he cannot talk to him for the same reason.
Truth be told, I’m not sure there is anyone my husband respects enough to listen to. I’ve asked my dad if we should take the matter before the elders but he is hesitant. I’m not sure what my dad is thinking.
I feel like it has all been placed on my shoulders. My dad says to let God handle it in His time, which I cannot disagree with. I know God has me, and my children, in His care and that He loves my husband more than even I do.
Still, I wonder why God tells us in Galatians 6 to restore someone in a spirit of gentleness if all we are to do is wait on Him. I am getting the impression that my choices are: 1) Get a public job myself, therefore making myself less available to my daughter and my son and let my husband live off my income; 2) Separate from my husband and take matters into my own hands 3) Sit and wait.
I find this whole ordeal very distressing because I want so much to be in God’s will in every area of my life and those three choices seem to conflict with that. Furthermore, I am finding it increasingly difficult to respect my husband and I find myself feeling bitter toward the other men in my life who seem to have abandoned me (and my husband’s soul) in this matter by refusing to even talk with him.
Please advise. I am praying that God give you the wisdom I am unable to see at this time.
Blessings and Maranatha,
Thank you for your kind words. It is my blessing to be of help. You sound like a very thoughtful, caring person. God is going to work out all of this; although at the moment you are faced with many uncertainties.
Your situation is very distressing, I agree. It is symptomatic of the weak lukewarm condition of the Church that Jesus so emphatically taught not to be like, but so many are. Many so-called Christians and the Christian church as a whole have grown so far away from what the Lord intended, it is a sure sign that the last days are upon us (Revelation 3:16).
When those closest to us, especially those who are professing believers will not take a strong stand when a situation is obviously rooted in spiritual apathy, then there is no leadership. You have taken all the proper steps to address your situation. You are obviously a dedicated woman of God and only wish to right what is wrong.
Your husband’s massive slip into irresponsible, adolescent behavior leaves you in a very frustrating vulnerable position. Your father’s unwillingness to step in as your father, but also as the minister of your church is troubling.
But today, this is more the norm than we would like to believe. I receive so many letters from readers who are desperately searching for a good church where there is strong biblical leadership, where the Bible is taught and the congregation is a true family—where one another’s burdens are shared with proactive concern.
The American Christian church has especially become celebrity-eccentric where those at the top rake in the money and rarely share with those in need within their own congregations or ministries.
I have seen this first-hand myself and it is very disturbing. And all it takes is a few minutes of surfing on the Internet to find one charlatan after another raking in the cash for selfish-gain. A local Christian radio station in my area used to carry a popular pastor’s radio show once a week. This pastor makes millions every year telling people that, they too, can be rich (as he promotes his “prosperity” gospel asking for hefty donations).
I learned from the station manager that the show was no longer running because this very wealthy pastor did not want to pay the station a mere $30 a week to air the show. It turns out someone else was paying to sponsor the show and when he could no longer do it, the popular (wealthy) pastor would not fork out a dime so his dogma could continue to be aired in this area. (Actually he did us a huge favor.)
But nevertheless that is an example of the disturbing direction many professing Christians “leaders” are taking. Money, control and power are chosen over serving the Lord and feeding the flock with sound biblical teaching.
I am not saying your father is a money-hungry pastor, not at all. But he certainly needs to live what the Scriptures teach and take a strong stand of leadership. Since he is not, we must believe that the Lord will work things out in ways that only He can—so please do not lose hope.
Nevertheless, it would not be out of order for you to carefully and lovingly approach your father once again, and this time express your concerns that he is not meeting his obligation as a church leader or as a leader of your family (extended). Tell him that this is heartbreaking for you; that you need him and you feel abandoned by those you love the most when you need them the most.
Try to reach out to him again to help address the immediate situation with your husband before it turns into a full-blown financial crisis. Ask your father to tell your husband that he cannot sit at home every day and not look for work.
Mention to your father that this is important not only to you but for setting the right example for the men, the fathers in the church that he pastors. Perhaps you can suggest to him that he needs to start a class for men teaching biblical leadership, and classes in discipleship for everyone at the church.
You could even get involved and help him create the classes and the curriculum. If your husband had a guideline to follow he might yet snap out of his lethargy and realize he is wasting his time and hurting his family.
Your father could also make an announcement to the church that your husband needs work and anyone who has yard work, handyman work or anything else, to call him. If your husband refuses to look for a job every day and take work offered to him you and your children may have to leave the home (as a last resort). I am suggesting a possible temporary separation, not a divorce.
It is unlikely that you could get your husband to leave. Explain that you will move out and get a place of your own using the SSI money. Your husband will be left to pay the rent and utilities and not live off your daughter’s SSI money and will be forced to get work. We can call this approach to try to awaken him from his irresponsible behavior, “tough love.”
Hopefully you can find a place that is comparable to what you have now, but only after you have exhausted all options to bring your husband to a place of responsibility. This action is extreme, but it may be necessary if your husband refuses to seek work or take work offered to him. Keep the best interests of your children in mind.
You can best discern how much “change” your children can handle and what they need most. Find people from your church who could help you move, if it does comes to that, so you don’t incur any extra expenses. If you have any close friends this is the time you need to ask them to do anything they can to help you through this.
Separating is a drastic, last step, but if your husband does not respond, you cannot live like you are now, indefinitely. You need to determine how long you will go on the way things are and then act when that deadline comes due. Your respect for him is already dwindling and it will only get worse if he does not take action to reconcile with the Lord and support his family.
You have listed three options: 1) “Get a public job myself, therefore making myself less available to my daughter and my son and let my husband live off my income.” 2) “Separate from my husband and take matters into my own .” 3) “Sit and wait.”
The first option is out. Your children need you. You say you have some income and that income is to be used for your daughter and her special needs under your care. It is not income for your husband to live off of while he refuses to work.
Your husband cannot be at home playing video games while you are out trying to make a living. But as I have already said, separating from him should be a last option. He is obviously a lost soul at the moment and has to some degree given-up and is hiding behind video games and whatever else he is into.
I would be careful not to give him too much slack, since so many weeks have already passed. Quitting his job without having something else reliable to go to is selfish, reckless and immature. It is also a sign of a troubled man who does not have the best interest of his family at heart. His behavior is also that of someone who is not having an authentic active personal relationship with the Lord. It becomes very difficult to have an intimate loving relationship when these dynamics are present.
The secular world would blame this on “depression” but this type of behavior goes much deeper. It is clearly a spiritual disconnect. This situation will either bring your husband closer to the Lord, where your husband begins to take his faith and leadership role as a husband and father seriously, or he will move further away from Him.
At the moment the outcome is tough to decipher, but we know all things are possible with the Lord and surely your prayers are reaching Him, and He is involved in the situation behind the scenes.
It is important not to focus too much on the situation with our natural eyes, but rather with our spiritual eyes. It is true by our example and love, that a wife can open her husband’s heart to the faith, and although your husband has expressed some faith he still falls into the category of the lost because of his very weak, if any, commitment to the Lord.
But only the Holy Spirit can get to him, so the best thing you can do is keep fervently praying and take the necessary steps to let him know his irresponsible attitude can only hurt your family and cannot continue.
“The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing” (Proverbs 20:4).
Your third option to “sit and wait” is okay as long your husband is given notice that this cannot go on much longer. I would say “sit and wait” for a designated duration which you decide with the Lord’s guidance. And keep praying for the Lord to deal with your husband’s complete spiritual healing.
If after approaching your father again and if he refuses to help, one practical thing you can do is seek out another church where you might find a pastor who has strong leadership abilities and see, if he would be willing to meet with you and your husband. I would not worry about going outside your home church to get help considering the circumstances.
Sometimes when we are presented with a crisis, much more is going on which the Lord wants to expose than we may first realize. If this situation had not happened you might not have known that your own father is weak when it comes to living what the Word of God teaches (in the area of responsibility and leadership), not to say he isn’t a wonderful man in many other ways. This situation may be the very thing that motivates your dad to take a new and stronger approach in his pastoral role. If not, perhaps you will need to get involved in another church (if you can find one.)
From what you have shared, your husband knows he is not walking with the Lord and his floundering is getting worse, not better. This is when other brethren should be ministering to him regardless of your husband’s “hard to talk to” attitude. Your father, especially, should be experienced with reaching those who are hard to talk to if he is sharing the Word of God with the lost.
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
You also mention your husband’s father. He, too, should intervene and deal with his son and tell him that his behavior is shameful and unacceptable. Your husband is controlling others with his self-righteous attitude by alienating them but this is where the men in the family and in the Church must look beyond such bullying and minister to him, anyway.
You don’t want to enable your husband’s dysfunction, but you also want to be loving and understanding as much as possible. This is not an easy task. Waiting on the Lord is never easy but when we do, we can always be certain that we are not compulsively reacting to a negative situation in ways that we might regret later.
Your total trust in the Lord is very necessary at this time. You know this. He will not let you down. It is evident that some of the issues you describe need to be dealt with, and unfortunately those of us who are not the culprits—suffer while those we want to be able to count on have let us down.
Weigh your options carefully before you make any changes. Your husband’s attitude of, “No one is going to tell me what to do” is also a great sign of prideful selfishness and the absence of a genuine relationship with the Lord. No true Christian can function that way and be in fellowship with the Lord.
A stubborn and rude spirit is in need of repentance. Your husband is in great need of deliverance and sometimes through a crisis, a lukewarm quasi believer will emerge as a true and faithful servant of the Lord. That is my prayer for you and your family.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing and how things are developing. The Lord is going to resolve this. Continue to be prayerful, and think things through carefully (as you obviously are) before expressing yourself or taking any action.
In God’s love,
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).