Dear Esther
If you are having a challenging day or burdened with some personal problems, then you can be sure others are too. Write to Esther and she will have some good sound biblical advice and answers for you. You will be helping others by sharing your need or concern. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).


You can email your question to Esther at:
dearesther1@yahoo.com


Prior Letters

  • Jan 26, 2015
  • Jan 19, 2015
  • Jan 12, 2015
  • Jan 5, 2015
  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Dec 15, 2014
  • Dec 8, 2014
  • Dec 1, 2014
  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Nov 17, 2014
  • Nov 10, 2014
  • Nov 3, 2014
  • Oct 27, 2014
  • Oct 20, 2014
  • Oct 13, 2014
  • Oct 6, 2014
  • Sep 29, 2014
  • Sep 22, 2014
  • Sep 15, 2014
  • Sep 8, 2014
  • Sep 1, 2014
  • Aug 25, 2014
  • Aug 18, 2014
  • Aug 11, 2014
  • Aug 4, 2014
  • Jul 28, 2014
  • Jun 21, 2014
  • Jul 14, 2014
  • Jul 7, 2014
  • Jun 30, 2014
  • Jun 23, 2014
  • Jun 16, 2014
  • Jun 9, 2014
  • Jun 2, 2014
  • May 26, 2014
  • May 19, 2014
  • May 12, 2014
  • May 5, 2014
  • Apl 28, 2014
  • Apl 21, 2014
  • Apl 14, 2014
  • Apl 7, 2014
  • Mar 31, 2014
  • Mar 24, 2014
  • Mar 17, 2014
  • Mar 10, 2014
  • Mar 3, 2014
  • Feb 24, 2014
  • Feb 17, 2014
  • Feb 10, 2014
  • Feb 3, 2014
  • Jan 27, 2014
  • Jan 20, 2014
  • Jan 13, 2014
  • Jan 9, 2014
  • Dec 23, 2013
  • Dec 16, 2013
  • Dec 9, 2013
  • Dec 2, 2013
  • Nov 25, 2013
  • Nov 18, 2013
  • Nov 11, 2013
  • Nov 4, 2013
  • Oct 28, 2013
  • Oct 21, 2013
  • Oct 14, 2013
  • Oct 7, 2013
  • Sep 30, 2013
  • Sep 23, 2013
  • Sep 16, 2013
  • Sep 9, 2013
  • Sep 2, 2013
  • Aug 26, 2013
  • Aug 12, 2013
  • Aug 5, 2013
  • Jul 29, 2013
  • Jul 22, 2013
  • Jul 15, 2013
  • Jul 8, 2013
  • Jul 1, 2013
  • Jun 24, 2013
  • Jun 17, 2013
  • Jun 10, 2013
  • Jun 3, 2013
  • May 27, 2013
  • May 20, 2013
  • May 13, 2013
  • May 6, 2013
  • Apl 29, 2013
  • Apl 22, 2013
  • Apl 15, 2013
  • Apl 8, 2013
  • Apl 1, 2013
  • Mar 25, 2013
  • Mar 18, 2013
  • Mar 11, 2013
  • Mar 4, 2013
  • Feb 25, 2013
  • Feb 18, 2013
  • Feb 11, 2013
  • Feb 4, 2013
  • Jan 28, 2013
  • Jan 21, 2013
  • Jan 14, 2013
  • Jan 7, 2013
  • Dec 31, 2012
  • Dec 24, 2012
  • Dec 17, 2012
  • Dec 10, 2012
  • Dec 3, 2012
  • Nov 26, 2012
  • Nov 19, 2012
  • Nov 12, 2012
  • Nov 5, 2012
  • Oct 29, 2012
  • Oct 22, 2012
  • Oct 15, 2012
  • Oct 8, 2012


  • March 23, 2015

    Dear Esther,

    I became a born from above Christian about eight years ago after being a cafeteria cradle Catholic for about fifty. I was not being evangelized to or witnessed to; it was truly a Holy Spirit “Get your act together” moment.

    Suddenly I couldn’t get enough of the Word...I was on fire for Him and wanted everyone to know it. But my earthly family slammed the door in my face and thought I had truly lost it. So no problem, I had a new family.

    My husband and I joined a Bible believing church with expository teaching and were fed the word and drank regularly of His goodness. We were baptized believers and ate at the communion table regularly. But we could never get into “fellowship” (small talk). I am extremely shy even at my age, lol.

    Then the floor dropped out from underneath us. I had quit my business of 22 years because of knee problems, and then my husband lost his job of 19.9 years out of the blue. The last 3 years have tested our faith, yes but never dampened my trust in the Lord, His plan, His way.

    My husband’s new career choice had him working Sundays with a crazy schedule and we both stopped going regularly to services. Yes, I know I could have gone on my own but for me that was awkward. I’m not a shut in, I just don’t like going alone.

    Anyway, we went back last Sunday and found quite a few changes. The words “church membership” required classes and “plugged in fellowship dinners.” Plugged in is a term being used by my current church as a means to get more involved -- they call it a power source. Their thinking is the more involved the more you can serve the church and the more you feel at home; I think is their thinking (?).

    “Plugged in” is a term I’ve been hearing a lot as of late. Not just here at our congregation but also online in different chat rooms, YouTube, etc. So when we went back and started hearing it at our church, I questioned it. I always thought the power source in one’s Christian life is the Holy Spirit.

    “Set your priorities” was also a common term being spoken by everyone. There are many strangers, and people calling themselves deacons. Now some of this was not new, I always felt the fellowship was most important for some of these folks.

    But, I came to hear the Word proclaimed and never came to drink coffee and eat donuts. Everyone wants to be BFF with the pastors instead of holding them to a higher authority. I feel this as the reproach of a modern church. Am I wrong for judging these changes?

    Do you have any suggestions on how to fellowship more comfortably as I’ve never been a social being? What do you think of this “plugged in” approach to church? Do we need to find another church? I really don’t want to go through all the howdy do’s again. :(

    I don’t think this is as important as some of your questions. I do so enjoy reading them. Thank you for your time and wisdom.

    Marlene


    Dear Marlene,

    Actually your questions and concerns are very important. Not everyone is a social being and there is nothing wrong with not being one. It sounds like the church you speak of has taken a turn for something that is somewhat ritualistic with New Age undertones.

    You are right, the only power source in one’s Christian life is (should be) the Holy Spirit. Anything beyond that is dangerous. Contrived ideas by even well-meaning pastors and Bible teachers can erode the simple message of the gospel and God’s individual calling upon believers’ lives.

    When I read your letter I could not help but wonder how your church went from what seemed to be a solid Bible-teaching church to more of a social club. The emphasis now seems to be on spending time in a church building hobnobbing and not a whole lot of time spent studying the Bible. This is a common problem today. I know a lot of people who are not strongly involved in a church for this very reason.

    This “plugged in” movement which you brought to my attention sounds like it has a number of problems. We are called to fellowship but that does not mean we have to spend hours and hours hanging out with one group of people and participating in events that may or may not be where the Lord is leading us each, individually.

    Some of the most solid authentic believers I know spend a good deal of time “plugged in” to their Bibles in prayer time alone communing with the Lord, and sometimes with a small group of people; not complex church services or mandatory church social events so one can be counted worthy to become a church “member.”

    Certainly there are still some good churches, but they seem harder and harder to find. Participation in a local church body is good if the pastor is genuinely “plugged in” to his Bible and not church growth for the sake of numbers and popularity.

    When worshipping the Lord and growing in His Word becomes more of a business and sets of rules are created outside of Scripture, then the intimate spiritual connection between the congregation is eroded—not to mention the spiritual connection with the Lord if one is not careful.

    In an email to me you also mentioned Kevin DeYoung, who prescribes to what he terms the “Plus One” approach to church, and that he has been a guest speaker at the church you attend. Once again, we are getting a man’s ideas on how to participate in church; good works, lots of small talk, comfort zone coddling and little of the Bible. The focus is on attendance rather than growing spiritually through a good solid discipleship program.

    I understand that Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of the University Reformed Church. According to Wikipedia he is now shifting his church to Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The word “reformed” always concerns me. And the PCA is overall very liberal and generally not a supporter of Israel.

    From my research it appears that this man does not hold to the true and solid Pre-Tribulation view of the Rapture and he also convolutes the teaching of the 144,000 which Scripture clearly tells us are all Jews. DeYoung dogmatically teaches they are not. [1]

    In Revelation 7:4-8 the identification of those who are sealed is clearly specified as Jews. Twelve tribes are listed with the statement that 12,000 are chosen from each of the twelve tribes. This careful portrayal definitely shows that the 144,000 are Jews and will be nothing else, in spite of much conjecture from those who want to read in into the text their own interpretation.

    If you read the “Statement of Faith” from Kevan DeYoung’s church website you will see that there is no mention of the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52), no reference is made to the literal 1000-year millennial reign of Christ; instead they skip to the (Revelation 21:1-5) “a new heaven and new earth” (which do not come until after the Lord’s 1000-year reign). [2]

    The entire passage (Rev. 21:1) reads: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.” This is definitively a passage for the eternal order which comes after Christ’s 1000-year reign on earth. Also, there is no mention for the need to be born-again by the Spirit of God to enter heaven (John 3:3).

    The danger with some well-meaning individuals who confuse the straight forward teachings of Scripture is that they do not study and understand the whole Bible, and if two or three major biblical truths are not understood and are rejected (changed), then I would not have any confidence in that person’s ability to lead or teach about anything. If your pastor is having guest speakers who do not hold to the truths cited above, then you have good reason to be concerned.

    Worship should be a commitment to the Lord, not always a commitment to frequently worship with one particular group of people as the “Plus One” approach seems to teach. I say, the Holy Trinity plus nothing. You are right to be concerned about this church and it would be wise to seek another church or home group that is much more into the Bible than socializing the congregation.

    We know there is no perfect church or perfect people. But when it comes to church involvement it should be done from a holy Spirit-led approach of love and obedience to the Lord—wanting to please Him, and not from a cookie cutter approach. Of course a church needs to be organized and have some regular programs, but unless the strong Bible exposition and discipleship are on the top of the list, the leadership is missing the mark.

    Your statement: “Everyone wants to be BFF with the pastors instead of holding them to a higher authority.” This really gives me pause. Sadly, there are far too many pastors and “leaders” in ministry work and churches today who want to be adored and admired. Of course they would be the first to deny it. Their egos and control issues are huge and have no place in true Christianity.

    A credible Christian leader should not encourage this type of “groupie” mentality. And those who are chasing these leaders to gain their approval to get some sort of attention and “status” need to realize that they are placing their priorities in the wrong place.

    I would not say you are judging in any of this, but rather that you are dumbfounded because of the lack of biblical veracity. A true leader, a true man of God is one who deflects attention from himself. His entire persona should reflect the love and humility of God. He does not engage in gossip or tear down other people, cause division or encourage adoration by encouraging and having personal followers. If he does, those around him who recognize this unbiblical behavior should in love, point out the problem and not let it go because they want to be accepted.

    I think if you and your husband go before the Lord in heartfelt prayer, He will guide you to a place where you can worship and interact with other believers—without feeling you are expected to attend this and that function, and do this or that to be part of a church or become a church “member.” And the howdy do’s may not be so difficult if you connect with others who are genuine in their desire to place Christ first in their lives.

    I am confident that the Lord will bring some like-minded people into your lives who praise the Lord and not individuals. You will feel more comfortable when you are not placed in a position of forced interaction. When we participate in Bible studies and discipleship classes with others, the focus is on Christ. Any socializing that comes out of that interaction would naturally evolve and would be based on biblical matters; the heart of the fellowship would be Jesus and not anything or anyone else.

    As far as the term “setting your priorities,” that is fine depending on what those priorities are. If it is a phrase used to be more available to a particular church or agenda when the Lord is leading you in a different direction, then you must be faithful to Him even if it means going against popular ideas.

    As long as we set our priorities on the Lord Jesus, our lives will reflect His goodness. When we set our priorities on someone else’s idea of fellowship and worship outside of God’s Word then it is tough to have a strong meaningful walk with the Lord and we suffer.

    In closing I want to quote something Kevan De Young wrote in the article you shared with me titled, “The Plus One Approach to Church.” He states: “When you meet people who feel disconnected from church, start with this question: Are you committed to worshiping with us every Sunday unless you are providentially hindered?” He also states, “The idea is simple. First, be faithful in attending the Sunday morning worship service. Don’t miss a Sunday.”

    Okay, well, a discerning believer may automatically feel disconnected from a particular church because he or she may be sensing (discerning) that not all is well. De Young’s words “committed to worshipping with us unless providentially hindered” are quite telling. His focus is on the group of people in his church building and not on the omniscient God who is available to us anywhere at any time.

    The place of worship and those involved are elevated above Almighty God and it is insinuated that unless one is “plugged in” to a particular group and church building with regimented church attendance, a less than favorable situation abounds. Whatever happened to focusing on a relationship with God Himself, which we can all readily access directly through Jesus Christ, without the help of those who like to tag on rituals and demands?

    Man does not reign supreme, only God does and when church leaders stray from that truth nothing good can come out of it. Instead of doing the Lord’s work, they are creating their own empires and sadly there are too many gullible and biblically illiterate “Christians” who would rather follow the popular trends than their Creator. This is what I refer to as the “groupie mentality.”

    But you, Marlene have not been fooled. You are seeing problems in your church and are not wanting to participate in an environment where the leadership screams, “Follow me and my way.” When clearly Jesus said, “Follow Me.” I would not want to be in competition with God for attention. Perhaps those who place themselves first and leave true biblical teaching on the backburner will recognize their sin and repent. But Scripture warns:

    “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it” (Mathew 7:13).

    And another very scary Scripture states:

    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

    God bless you, Marlene. You are wise to discern and reject the negative changes at your church. Trust that the Lord will guide you and your husband to a place where you can quietly worship and not feel uncomfortable; a place where the Lord reigns and not the church leadership and their demands.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great” (Luke 9:46-48).

    Endnotes
    [1] http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/01/17/who-are-the-144000-in-revelation/
    [2] http://www.universityreformedchurch.org/about-us/statement-of-faith.html


    March 16, 2015

    Dear Esther,

    I happened to find your letters this morning on Rapture Ready, I hadn’t seen them before. Anyway, I accepted Christ 32 years ago and I find as I age, that my body is wearing down and I don’t feel like I am accomplishing much anymore. I just feel tired and ready to go home but I know it is not time in my heart for I have two grandchildren, and plenty of people around me who need Christ and need encouragement and help.

    I am finding it harder to help though not because I don’t want to. It hurts my heart so much to see people suffering but I find myself not knowing anymore if I am helping and doing what Jesus wants me to do and say to others.

    Also, I haven’t been able to get myself to a church on a consistent basis anymore due to chronic pain and illness so I feel I am letting Jesus down there, too. I am just not where I used to be in my walk with Jesus. I hear Him but it is as if being in a cave where there are many different openings and Jesus is in another one than I am.

    I know He is there and He is moving but I am not keeping up and hard as I try I grow tired like I am running under water to keep up, and I am not keeping up. If I can’t see Him did I separate myself somehow from the walk He has called me to?

    Please say a prayer for me and thank you for the encouraging words you are giving to so many. I know I felt encouraged by reading some of the letters and my heart goes out to those who wrote in as well. I know God will and is helping each one of them as He encouraged me through them, too. God keep us strong till the end in Jesus Name, God bless you!

    Betty


    Dear Betty,

    I am so glad to you wrote and pleased that you find the “Dear Esther” letters a blessing. Of course, you have my prayers. I pray that the Lord will comfort and reassure you that all is well. As I read your letter I immediately thought of the first passage from the book of Ecclesiastes:

    “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

    My dear lady, I have no doubt that you have blessed more people than you know. Your godly presence alone is a blessing to your friends and family members. You are at a point in your life when you simply cannot be as demonstrative as you would like, but that does not negate your effectiveness and usefulness. Even as believers we have been conditioned that by doing, doing, doing, we are alive in Christ and purposeful. But that is somewhat of a misnomer, especially depending on the circumstances.

    It is our heartfelt faithfulness to Him by our right heart attitudes that we give what we can at various stages of our lives. An older physical body cannot keep up the pace it once did. Please don’t place unrealistic pressure on yourself. As I said, your loving and godly presence alone does more for those around you than you might realize.

    God’s Word tells us this:

    “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

    Betty, you know it is not by our efforts we are made righteous. It is all God’s doing. When we have the right motives and are truly born from above, then we have victory through Him even when life’s trials and tribulations say otherwise. You are feeling more distant from the Lord because you are very tired and the chronic pain and illness are enough to consume your days. That is very understandable.

    The Lord knows you have a devoted heart and cannot be quite the perky witness you were earlier in your life. But He is still with you. This is when you must reassert yourself in God’s Word and by faith accept His promises. It is by filling your heart and mind with the Holy Scriptures that healing comes. Even if it is a few verses a day. Keep the Lord’s tender words close to your heart. That is how you can begin to feel a oneness with Him again.

    Consider that we are living and functioning in a spiritual battlefield. The devil is constantly scheming and working to take away our victory. He will attack us in the most cunning ways with lies and fears to point out our setbacks, failures and weaknesses. But in Christ we are made whole and nothing the enemy does can take the Lord away from a true born-again believer. It is in His strength that we are made strong (even if we don’t feel it). Believe it when He says:

    “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” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

    “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 emphasis added).

    To answer your question, “If I can’t see Him did I separate myself somehow from the walk He has called me to?” The answer is all tied in with what I have already stated above. It does not sound like you have deliberately separated yourself from the Lord. I would say that your chronic pain and illness are too much to bear at times making it is tough to listen, and relate to the Lord or anyone else -- the way you once did. But this is where your faith must take over.

    This is the time in your life when you simply cannot be as proactive outwardly as you would like. Accepting this change is part of your healing and that is how you will have peace. And not attending church is something that cannot be held against you. Please don’t think God is disappointed with you. It is your love and faithfulness for Him that matters, not dragging yourself to a church building when you are hurting.

    It is often in silence and with little interaction with others that we can regain our sense of purpose. It is often through our quiet communion with the Lord with minimal contact with others that our relationship with Him is strengthened. In fact some churches can be a distraction from having a strong walk with the Lord. You can still fellowship with others and worship the Lord in other creative ways.

    You can help those whom you wish to reach for Christ with quiet and steady prayers that will resonate to His throne in heaven. Heartfelt prayer is powerful! The world may not see you being as outwardly active for God as you once were but He sees and hears you.

    I will remind you now that God’s love for you is immeasurable, and that He is the hope and anchor for the soul. You can regain your sense of belonging and strengthen your relationship with Him by allowing Him to do it for you. Let Him carry you.

    Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. (Isaiah 46:4).

    “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

    Precious Betty, this is your time to rest in God’s peace. Your prayers for others are the best way to serve the Lord right now and will reap great benefits. The pain and illness can make physical and emotional rest difficult but with Jesus all things are possible. Cast your burdens upon Him. He is there for you.

    “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-19).

    Once again, I want to encourage you and tell you that because you have been faithful to the Lord and have walked with Him for so many years, you have been more of a blessing to others than you may realize. We all reach various stages in life and it is by accepting this fact that we can have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

    You have been a faithful Christian soldier battling on the front lines for over 30 years. It is your turn to step back and let others be positioned in the front lines of this spiritual battlefield. The Lord always sends reinforcements to fill the gap. It is your turn to be a strong anchor in a position of quiet rest.

    You can be just as effective for the Lord with your prayers and godly presence as you were when you were out in the world ministering for Him. Please let go and allow the Lord to be in your life in a new way. Trust that you will regain your ability to better communicate with the Him. The following passage should give you much hope:

    “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power” (Isaiah 40:28).

    And as this Scripture says, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

    Dear Betty, trust now that all is well. (If you have some traditional hymns you can listen to, that would be a good thing for you to do.) God bless you and know that He is there with you. Please keep in touch with me and know that my prayers for you will continue. May the Lord God Almighty touch you in such a way that you will soon better sense His great Presence again in your life.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him. The LORD is their strength, And He is a saving defense to His anointed” (Psalm 28:7-8).


    March 9, 2015

    Dear Esther,

    My wife has five daughters. Over the course of raising them she tended to spoil them because she felt guilty over getting a divorce from her abusive, alcoholic husband. When we met and got married, almost 20 years ago, we gave up the lifestyle that we were living and I returned to Christ and she and the kids were all saved. I say saved, but from the kids behavior, they do not live as though they are saved.

    From all appearances, it seems Satan has a firm grip on them. One of her daughters has cancer. She went into remission twice and promptly got into the party lifestyle and the cancer came back. She was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer last spring, but now seems to be in remission again.

    Another one of her daughters is trying to recover from substance abuse and we are raising her 5 year old son. We have been helping her as much as we can but this is not her first time doing recovery. Her other daughters resent this and have nothing to do with their mom because of us trying to help.

    Now here we are in the New Year. The daughter with cancer, as I said, seems to be getting better again. The church where she goes gave her family a new minivan for Christmas. Now I think all of this is great and praise God for it.

    The problem arises when none of her daughters will tell their mom what is going on. My wife visits her daughter with cancer as much as she can, but just had her knee replaced last week and not one of her daughters even came to see her. We found out through a third party that her daughter with cancer was getting better and about her getting a new van from church.

    All of this, of course, just breaks my wife’s heart. Her daughters have consistently chosen their alcoholic, abusive father over their mother for years. They don’t seem to know what honor your father and mother means. Her oldest daughter is even in charge of a recovery class at their church, but is outright cruel to her mother, gossips, swears like a trucker and goes out drinking from time to time.

    There are none righteous, no, not one. I know this, but still I am at a loss. We have prayed and prayed about this with no answer that we can discern. I not only hate to see the woman I love in so much pain, but also worry that her daughters are not truly saved and will not be happy when they see Jesus. They seem to get pleasure from their mother’s suffering.

    I really don’t expect an answer, but would appreciate your thoughts...

    Kevan


    Dear Kevan,

    I am so sorry about your situation. You sound like a wonderful, caring man. The best thing you can do is keep standing by your wife. It sounds like her daughters are extremely carnal Christians. Sadly, many who attend church and profess to be Christians are Christians in name only, and it would be a stretch to say that they are all truly saved, considering their unrepentant behavior.

    If there is no evidence of a changed life, one cannot help but wonder as you are—if someone is or is not saved.

    We can always go to Scripture to discern what is going on. I could cite a number of Scriptures that describe these selfish uncaring daughters but I am sure you already know them. It is unreasonable for the siblings of the daughter who is trying to recover from substance abuse to use your kindness against you and your wife.

    It sounds like the resentful daughters are woefully lost. At least it sounds like the one with the very young child and substance abuse problem seems to be making an effort to improve her life.

    Perhaps you and your wife should sit down and talk over all of this with a clear objective in mind. Talk it all through and vow to take a new approach to the current dynamics. Your precious wife is not a railroad track that needs a train to run over her to be useful. How devastating for her to be in such a painful predicament.

    Your dear wife needs to try to emotionally detach herself from her daughters who neglect her. And it would help if you would remind her that this is not her fault. Her daughters have free will. They have heard the gospel message and they have chosen to live a rebellious lifestyle. You may be right, that when they face the Lord one day they will NOT be happy.

    Your wife must, in her heart, let her daughters go to some degree and give them all over to the Lord. Easier said than done but this situation has reached a point of chronic abuse. She must let go to the best of her ability and let the chips fall where they may, as they say. She can still love them but she does not have to get caught-up in their individual dramas.

    The worst thing she can do is to enable their behavior. If they choose to ignore her even more, so be it. One day—I guarantee it—they will ALL regret it.

    Please convince your wife to focus her energy on matters that will strengthen her walk with the Lord. Get involved together in some type of ministry where you can reach others for Christ and with people who will appreciate you both. You have each other and with Jesus in the center of your relationship, despite the heartaches inflicted by the daughters, life can still be meaningful and productive.

    Your wife’s daughters need to be placed on the back burner emotionally. The less she focuses on them, the easier it will be for her to deal with all of it. In other words, she needs to replace her energy with something different; a positive situation where she will be loved and appreciated. There are plenty of people who would love to have a godly mother figure in their lives. The Lord just might lead you to an opportunity where some new friends will be appreciative of you and your wife.

    It is painfully true, that people will often let us down but God never will. He is our Rock in the midst of life’s storms. We can’t change people but God can. Keep praying for these lost souls but stand your ground. The neglect shown by the daughters is a form of abuse. Standing your ground and moving on with your lives and not getting pulled into a bad situation is something you and your wife must do to survive emotionally. Tough love is needed here.

    It is possible that over a period of time when the “spoiled” daughters don’t hear from their mom very much, it might dawn on them that there is a reason why not. Unless they start treating you and your wife with a great deal of respect it is best to have as little to do with them as possible. Otherwise you, and especially your wife, will continue being subjected to their self-serving agendas.

    The wonderful thing for your wife is that she has you. And you have her. And you both have Jesus. Together you can move forward and live for Him in a more determined way. As you move ahead and heal from this painful situation God will strengthen you, and minister to you in ways only He can. Don’t allow the cruelty of others rob you from experiencing the joy of the Lord.

    Be sure and try not to let resentment and animosity build-up. Make a conscious effort to forgive these daughters; that does not mean you approve of their behavior and have to put up with it; but it does release you and your wife from carrying a heavy ball and chain of misery around with you.

    “Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:10-11).

    Another matter to consider is this: If there is any way is to move away from these daughters to another location, that would help. But that might be too big an undertaking. The best thing to do is give all of this to the Lord and He will work out the details.

    Life in this fallen world can be so fragile. The more we rely on the Lord and not people for our well-being, the easier it is to navigate though the challenges we must face. How blessed we are to be covered by the blood of Jesus and know that this life is so very temporary.

    Kevan, our true home awaits. Jesus has prepared a special place for you and your wife. He truly is our Blessed Hope. Hold on to that fact and all of this will be a non-issue soon enough. One day the suffering in this life will be over and we will be safe in the arms of Jesus. Cast your heartaches and concerns on the Lord and He will support you.

    “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm55:22).

    Fill your mind with the Word of God. Read from the Bible together with your wife. The Scriptures are like a healing balm when life’s storms are beating down around us. Jesus is the Great I Am, our mighty Fortress, our shield. Hold on to Him and He will carry you now and forever.

    I pray that these disappointments will soon dissipate to a point where you are not so overwhelmed and filled with grief. “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37). You are a good man, Kevan. God bless you for your caring heart.

    Please keep in touch with me and let me know how things are going for you.

    “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

    In God’s love,

    Esther

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


    March 2, 2015

    Dear Esther,

    I discovered your weekly column recently and look forward to reading your great insights every week. I have been a Christian for about three years. I was saved at a nearby church which I attended with my neighbor. I like the church but I am not sure about some things; like how much I can live in the world and still be faithful to God.

    Most of the Bible studies at church don’t touch on the day to day lives of Christians and don’t talk about how to deal with life once we are saved. I want to be faithful to the Lord. I have noticed some popular folks at church are very worldly in the way they dress, and in the way they talk about how they spend their time. Some of them are so addicted to social media and secular TV shows that it seems to consume them. I hear so much gossip that it make me feel uncomfortable.

    I am a bit shy and I don’t find it easy to approach people. I would appreciate any advice you can give me. I do not want to have any regrets when I face Jesus one day.

    Thank you,

    Sandy


    Dear Sandy,

    Consider it a blessing that you are a bit shy. It is better to be shy and discerning as you are, than popular and known for being a worldly fool. The Bible is our best guide for how to live our day-to-day lives. I am going to cite quite a lot of Scripture so you will have a guide to follow.

    Every believer should live each day to its fullest serving God by worshipping Him (Matthew 4:10; John 4:23-24), being in prayer (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17), being in the Word (Acts 17:11), fellowshipping with the brethren (Acts 2:42, 46-47; 5:42; Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25), sharing the gospel (1 Peter 3:15) and making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

    We should not love this world and get caught-up in its sin entrenched ways. We can see how godly standards are frowned upon by the lost who love the world and all the evil that comes with it. We should be mindful not to fall into lifestyles that are excessive (1 John 2:15-17). God calls us to live a holy life (1 Peter 1:15-16) to bring glory to God in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).

    Besides studying the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11) we should read the Word (Deut. 17:19; Rev. 1:3); memorize the Word (Psalm 37:31; 40:8; 119:11) and meditate on Scripture (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; Colossians 3:16).

    Once a person places his or her trust in Jesus Christ, the Lord must come first. In a sense once we are truly born-again and saved, we become property of God and everything we do should glorify Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

    Everything we (believers) do in this life for ourselves will be forgotten forever. And everything we do for the Lord will be remembered forever; we will receive eternal rewards (Hebrews 11:6). The right heart intent that is God-focused is what matters and not attempts to make a name for oneself which can cause a prideful self-serving person to strut around like a proud peacock.

    “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

    Sandy, I am going to include an FAQ which I wrote for Rapture Ready some time ago, which will give you more guidelines for your daily walk with the Lord. As long as you are eternally minded and not worldly minded you will be able to grow in the Lord and live a life that is pleasing to Him.

    Are You Being Conformed to the Image of Jesus Messiah?

    “Because whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).

    Are you being conformed to the image of Jesus Messiah? Has there been a noticeable change in your likes and dislikes since you trusted Jesus to save you?

    “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).

    Everyone who is truly born from above will change. You will stop doing certain things and start doing things you did not do previously. Your thought life will also change. To determine whether something is good (honoring to the Lord) pray, read the Bible and ask yourself if Jesus would join you. There are a number things we know are not of God, and must be avoided at all costs -- illegal drugs and getting drunk, slandering and falsely accusing others, adultery, etc.

    “And be not drunk with wine in which is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

    The next time you listen to secular music, watch television and movies ask yourself if you think Jesus would enjoy spending the day listening to that music and watching those shows and movies. Not all movies and television shows are bad. Exercise great discernment in watching them. Stick to news and documentaries. The next time you watch a Hollywood production imagine Jesus is sitting next to you. Do you think He would sit through a Hollywood trash movie or television show? Of course not.

    Sleeping, eating, moderate exercise and working are necessary but they should not take over one’s life to the point where there is little or no time left for God. They are pursuits of the flesh that are necessary for survival. They are things to be mindful of without going overboard. All believers should spend more of their free time each day feeding their souls than feeding their flesh.

    If you are not spending more time in spiritual activities (feeding your soul) than you do in eating and just hanging around accomplishing little of eternal value (feeding your flesh), then the connection with the Lord is suffering. Since most people take time to feed their flesh, we should take at least an equal amount of time in feeding our souls.

    If you spend more time each day exercising the flesh than you do exercising your soul which is more important to you? Your sinful body or your eternal soul?

    Sandy, as long as you try your best to keep a healthy balance in your life and follow the admonitions touched on in this letter, you will be living your life in a godly manner. This life is so short, and as believers we must encourage one another not to get hung up on the accolades that this world has to offer; but to keep our hearts and minds on God’s eternal promises of a better life to come—an eternity so incredible we cannot even imagine what it will really be like.

    I will leave you and our readers with a short video well worth watching. It is less than six minutes in length and really helps put this life into perspective. If you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to write.

    God bless you,

    Esther

    (Click here for the link)



    February 23, 2015

    Dear Esther,

    Am I an apostate? Can I rejoin the body of believers and be forgiven?

    A little over a year ago I left my church and I have spiraled into sin and near non-belief into there even being such a thing as “God.” I was just staring at pictures of my old fellow ministry members when I was struck by a sudden desire to go back. I literally turned my back on them and shame has stopped me in the past when I have felt this way before.

    I’m confused because I want to go back, but I don’t want it to be just because of my old friends. Another ministry is out of the question because I feel in my heart that this is the one I NEED to go to for spiritual growth with God (that and the local university church is lukewarm if you know what I mean).

    I think I already know the answer to whether God will forgive me. It is faith in the sacrifice of Jesus that saves and to doubt that His sacrifice would not save me is wrong, but I still feel that demon of doubt that perhaps I’m wrong and I’ve committed the only unforgivable sin.

    Thank you,

    Erin (Unsure)


    Dear Erin,

    Run, don’t walk back to your old church. I suggest first seeking out whomever you were closest to, and perhaps the senior pastor. It is not too late. It sounds like the Lord has never taken His hands off of you.

    What you sense to be a demon of doubt in your mind can be quashed by the Holy Spirit. Stop what you are doing and make a genuine prayer of confession and repentance unto the Lord. He will forgive you. He waits with open arms for you to resume an authentic personal relationship with Him. Repentance must come with the right heart motive and must be genuine.

    Everyone is guilty of some sort of shame. Don’t allow that to stop you from returning to the place where you feel you can benefit the most in your spiritual growth and best serve the Lord. It won’t be long until you feel at home again. You might find a few people are a bit distant at first, but never mind them; what matters is that your genuine repentance and recommitment to the Lord. He will honor your efforts and embrace you!

    In 2 Corinthians 7:10 we read: “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

    When a person repents, there is joy in heaven over that one sinner alone!

    “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).

    Erin, rest assured, God is very forgiving. He calls sinners to seek Him, to forsake their sin and promises to forgive them. I believe the Lord has been calling you back to Him. Run to Him and never look back.

    “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

    When a wayward sinner repents and turns back to God, he or she will live an eternity with the Lord and not an eternity of condemnation.

    “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live” (Ezekiel 18:21-22).

    You mention your local university church. You have already found out that is not a place where you can grow in the Lord. Far too many colleges are godless institutions often taking students who have had a Christian upbringing away from the Lord. I know a dear woman who is hurting because her son (who has a brilliant mind), and was totally devoted to the Lord all throughout high school -- went off to university, and while he was pursuing his education he actually became an atheist.

    Maybe this bright young man has convinced himself he is an atheist but after having such a strong relationship with the Lord for so many years, I am sure God is not finished with him yet. His mother raised him with much love and with solid biblical principals but when he got caught-up in Academia his faith was whittled away. Surely the Lord is watching over him as He has watched over you and one day before too long the Lord will draw him back to Himself.

    Through the power of the Holy Spirit even the most stubborn people can be redeemed. The author of confusion (the devil) wastes no time trying to pull even the strongest of believers away from the Lord if he can get a foothold into their lives. That is why we must daily:

    “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

    Erin, I want to caution you that some of your unbelieving friends may not be the best influence for you, especially now. You might have to walk away from some of them. You can do it in a quiet non-confrontational way. If you have an opening to share the gospel with them one day when you are stronger in the Lord, then you can always look them up.

    It is time to place all your focus on Christ and get into your Bible every day. Your faith will be strengthened through consistent Bible study and a regular prayer life. It is a good idea to get into the habit of reading Scripture out loud:

    “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans10:17).

    If you have even one true Christian friend you can trust, try to spend time together and encourage one another. Between your studies at school and time spent with the Lord, including time at church, you will be very busy and it won’t be hard to steer clear of those who are not walking with Him. Please be very careful what you fill your mind with and be sure to choose your friends wisely.

    I am sure you have heard about the Parable of the Lost (Prodigal) Son. Please read and study this story in Luke 15:11-32. Despite the wayward son’s rebellion, when he returned home with a repentant heart his father welcomed him with open arms and was extremely happy to see him.

    When he saw his son at a distance he was moved with compassion, ran and fell on his neck, kissed him and welcomed him home. He did everything he could to make his son feel welcome. He clothed him like royalty, fed him the best food and had a magnificent celebration in his honor.

    This is an illustration of how our Heavenly Father rejoices when one of His lost children come back to Him. So to answer your first to questions: No, you are not an apostate and as I already pointed out, you can rejoin the body of believers and be forgiven.

    Now walk forward Erin, and don’t look back. I am praying for you. I will help you with this; write as often as you need to.

    “‘Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Malachi 3:7).

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live” (Ezekiel 18:21-22).



    February 16, 2014

    Dear Esther

    I suffered from a debilitating social anxiety and depression while I was in high school/college. It was severe and I had to take medications. In my third year of college I dropped out because I just couldn’t take the stress, and the physical symptoms were too bothersome, after which a friend invited me to a Bible believing church and I became born-again.

    I wasn’t healed instantly but I found peace and truth in studying the Bible. I’m 39 years old now and I can say I’m victorious over that struggle.

    My concern is a teenager in the church I’m attending right now. She started sharing with me about feeling depressed. She dropped her nursing subjects recently because of lack of concentration, lack of energy and just being “down.” I try to give her advice based on what I have experienced. I also suggested counseling aside from prayer, fellowship with other Christians, confession, Bible study.

    The pastors in our church went to visit her and prayed over her. But they said it’s “just a dark night of the soul and not depression.” She told me she’s more confused now and feels pressured to act normally because she doesn’t want her family worrying about her. What’s your take on Christians undergoing depression? Thank you so much for your time.

    God bless,

    Jeyln


    Dear Jeyln,

    I am glad you wrote. It sounds like the pastors from your church were of little help to this precious teen who is struggling. It sounds like they used double-talk instead of demonstrating abiding Christian love. By loving her and embracing her they could have given this hurting teen a sense of belonging and some stability -- and reinforced the Savior’s love for her.

    Instead, they spoke some foreboding words that made the situation worse. Everyone needs to have a sense of belonging and the teen years, especially, can be very challenging. The advice you gave her was good, and hopefully she is taking some steps to interact in the ways you suggested.

    To answer your question about what my take is on Christians undergoing depression, I think there are various forms of depression. Depression can be based on fear, disappointment, overwhelming feelings of inadequacy, chronic stress, loss, and fall-out from various types of neglect and abuse. Depression can also often have physiologic and/or anatomic roots which cause the problem.

    When a Christian falls into depression any number of factors can be at work. We are living in such an intense time; every day we are bombarded with news that would cause anyone to feel it is time to head for the hills and hide. And the social pressures are enormous. People who are active on social media sites sometimes find themselves attacked and abused by their ”friends” simply because they disagree with something. We live in a world that screams terror and competitiveness all at the same time.

    When a true born-again Christian is prone to depression, I can see why it happens. Even though we are “new creatures” in Christ we are all a work in progress in our walk with the Lord and sometimes some of us are emotionally and spiritually stronger than others. Sometimes even a strong Christian has simply had enough of the ways of this world and desperately wants nothing more to do with it. The corruption, the lies and deceit, the back-biting, the violence and godless lifestyles can cause one to feel such a sense of grieving, even hopelessness—that the joy of the Lord is quashed and depression drifts in.

    No one can say he or she has never felt some sort of depression at some point. It is how we, as believers, handle it; that is the key to being truly free in Christ. I read a great book a very long time ago titled, Our Sufficiency in Christ by John F. Mac Arthur. It is a solid book that shows how mankind’s psychology and humanistic solutions fail because it is through Christ and Christ alone that we can overcome overwhelming feelings of separation from others and from God Himself.

    Our validation comes from the assurance of Christ through what He did for us on the Cross and through our personal relationship with Him. Seeking approval from the world is guaranteed to cause confusion and often depression for some. The world is set-up to bring people down and make each individual feel like nothing they do is “good enough.” But in Christ we are free from the destructive mantras of the world.

    When we are committed to Christ with a contrite heart and when self-ambition is on the backburner, when discipleship and reaching others for Christ is what truly motivates us, then depression can at least be handled and with time, even eliminated.

    A major reason depression can manifest is simply because of seeing the godless world for what it is. If we are truly compassionate we cannot help but feel sadness for the rest of humanity; we know what the Bible predicts and it is tough to see the prophetic Scriptures lining up and taking the world closer to the time when all hell will break loose on this earth during the seven-year Tribulation.

    I can tell you this grieves my spirit every day, but greater is He who is in me and I persevere and place my focus on reaching others for Christ while there is still time. Otherwise I would feel helpless and frustrated. It is tough to see the world heading for a collision with God. Our prayers for the salvation of others should be our ongoing endeavor.

    If we truly care about others as we should, then we cannot help but feel a deep sense of sadness as we see this world falling apart. But all true believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit and it is through Him that we can go about our daily lives and be effective witnesses for the Lord. It is by letting go of control issues and truly yielding to the Holy Spirit that we can do the work we are called to do for Christ.

    The best remedy for depression is focusing on Christ and the needs of others. Those who are primarily thinking about themselves will have a tough time getting to a place where depression can be handled. It is by giving that the healing comes. The focus must be removed from self and placed on Christ. And it starts with one step, then another.

    We may all experience tough situations but we can surely avoid deep relentless debilitating depression by taking our heartaches and cares to Christ on a daily basis:

    “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” ( 2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

    Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18).

    In conclusion, Jeyln, if believers who are prone to suffer from depression would think about the heart wrenching suffering of the apostle Paul and how he was steadfastly sustained by God’s grace, I would hope that his testimony would help give a new perspective on how to deal with day to day issues. Notice in the passage below that Paul was concerned about the churches, not himself, despite his brutal and frequent beatings and protracted hardships:

    “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move.

    I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:23c-28 NIV).

    In Christ Jesus we have hope which produces endurance and perseverance; that is what I would say above all to believers who suffer from depression. We have a Living Hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and we are more that conquerors through Him.

    We must not allow the enemies of God to knock us down in this spiritual battle. We must be ever mindful that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). The devil knows he cannot take away the salvation of a truly redeemed believer but he can and will try relentlessly to take away a person’s ability to be a productive and effective witness for Christ.

    “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:13 -18).

    May the Lord bless you, Jeyln, for your faithful and caring heart.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3).


    February 9, 2015

    Dear Esther,

    I’m writing about myself. I’m so confused right now. I know what is wrong and right but somehow I just continue doing wrong even after knowing it is not right. I really need guidance on my life and everything that I am. I have financial problems and I am not happy at my work anymore, plus everything seems that it doesn’t want to change in my life. I am a believer.

    Regards,

    Confused


    Dear Confused,

    Your attached information in your letter puts your physical location in Namibia. It is wonderful that you have reached out to us here at Rapture Ready. From your brief comments, my overall assessment of your situation is that you seem to lack incentive to change and improve your situation. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) so the best remedy for that is to get very close to Him.

    In your email you indicate that you are involved with a prestigious company in the Real Estate business in Windhoek, the capital. As far as changing things for the better, we can do so with the Lord’s guidance. When we are feeling great despair we can feel very immobilized. But that is exactly what the enemy wants. He wants to take us off the playing field so we cannot do the work of the Lord. As a believer, you must armor your self with the Word of God each and every day. When we really get into the Scriptures deeply, we are strengthened and a whole new world of hope and opportunity is revealed.

    Have you searched your heart and reassessed your relationship with the Savior? Have you totally surrendered your life to Him? I have often heard some people say that they are afraid to let go of the control in their lives and give it over to the Lord because they think the Lord will want them to do something they don’t want to do. So they stay stuck spinning their wheels, choosing frustrating familiarity over a new direction.

    Of course financial problems can slow down anyone trying to move forward and make positive changes, but with the Lord all things are possible. He can open doors and solve problems in ways no one else can. I can attest to that personally, many times over. I don’t know how close a relationship you have with the Lord, but very often when nothing seems to be moving forward in our lives, He is calling for us to seek Him in a very intense way and totally die to self.

    You know right from wrong, but you continue to stumble. How human of you! Men are under tremendous pressure to “achieve” and with all the game playing that goes on in the world it is easy to feel downright despondent at times. The apostle Paul through His invincible faith persevered through horrific trials and adversity, yet he wrote some of the most poignant books of the Bible, some even from prison as the Holy Spirit ministered to him. He too, struggled with sin, which grieved him very much.

    “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15).

    Paul further came to the realization that only what we do for the Lord is what really matters in this life:

    “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 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 3:7-11).

    The world teaches that we have to place success first before anything else. The Lord teaches that we should put Him first and trust Him completely─for everything. We are children of God and He will look after us but first we must be willing to let go of old self-destructive patterns and be sure we have a strong relationship with Him in order to move forward and receive His best for us. Surrender to Him and you will better sense His guidance. He has a solution for your problems. Ask Him to close the wrong doors and open the right doors for your life.

    A time is soon coming upon this world when the day-to-day lives of the unsaved will be tremendously disrupted, when all true believers will be removed in the Rapture and the Tribulation will begin. We must keep this in mind and keep our time here on this earth in its proper perspective.

    Please think through all your options carefully. Sometimes we might think we don’t have any good options but with careful prayer and analysis there is usually at least one door we can knock on and then walk through to move toward God’s destiny for us.

    When all possibilities seem impossible that is a sure indication that something much better is on the horizon. Don’t give in to the devil’s attempt to crush you.

    “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

    I strongly recommend that you carefully study the apostle Paul’s thirteen Epistles (letters): Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon.

    I suggest that you begin with Philippians, which Paul wrote while chained in prison. He encourages the first church founded in Europe on how to have the joy of Christ. We live at a time where nearly everyone has a phone in their hand when they walk out the door. Be sure to have your Bible in your other hand. Stay close to God’s Word as much as possible.

    Please keep in touch with us and be encouraged that with Christ all things are possible. Seek the Lord with all your heart and He will not let you down.

    In God’s love,

    Esther (2 Corinthians 7:1-10)

    “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” Romans 12:2).


    February 2, 2015

    Dear Esther,

    I trust you are having a great day today. I love your column and it can be very helpful for those of us who read your advice. I am plucking up the courage to write to you.

    My Name is Ann and I have been married for 18 years. I lived with my husband before we were married for 5 years, so basically you can say I have been with my husband for around 23 years.

    I was saved 3 years ago and my husband continues to be unsaved. Although he went to church with me a few times, he has never committed to the Lord and grew up in an atheist home.

    My husband has a good heart and has always been a good provider. When we were both much younger he had a problem with alcohol and drugs and then he went to rehab and he stopped completely for two years, but after that he slowly began to drink again. I don’t know if I can say he is an alcoholic. He drinks every day but only goes overboard on special holidays.

    And every now and then he still goes and gets drugs but he is nowhere like he was before he did rehab. The drinking never gets in the way of his responsibilities, though. He can drink but he makes sure that he does his job well and he is very committed to his work.

    I love the Lord and I love to read his Word and pray. In fact I pray about anything and everything! It gives me peace but I am going through very deep emotional problems because of my marriage.

    I live in South Africa. I do not drive because I am afraid of driving. My entire family never drove; my father, mother, sisters and my brother—they never drove and I also just cannot get myself to learn to drive. I have had numerous arguments with my husband about my fear of driving but I just cannot shake it and recently told my husband he needs to accept me as I am.

    I know my husband hates driving me around because he works long hours. He works hundreds of kilometers away from where we live and when he needs to drive me to whichever destination I need to get to, he has to leave work, drive 50 minutes to fetch me, take me where I need to go and then drive back to work; then work until 12 am or 1 am and then drive all the way back home again.

    I understand his frustration and have suggested to him to sell our house and move closer to his work so that the burden is eased but he does not want to for various reasons. It seems to me that he sees me as a burden.

    Over the last 5 years my husband has began to make me feel inferior. He makes me feel like the lesser person; he makes snide remarks and sarcastic ones as well. I feel that way also because I don’t drive, I work in a very low paying job, and I don’t have any direction for my life although I do pray about that to God all the time.

    My husband looks at his brothers and their wives; his brother’s wives are so different from me. They all drive, they are nice and thin (I’m overweight), they live in big beautiful houses (my house is small) and they can do lots of things with their hands. They are interesting, they work and earn very good salaries (I earn peanuts compared to them).

    So he looks at that and then he looks at me and I guess he feels like he is stuck with this boring, uninteresting and weird wife who just prays all the time. Our conversations are non-existent. He would rather play poker on his iPhone than speak to me.

    I go out of my way not to fight so as to always have a gentle and quiet spirit. I know he looks down on me because he has told me before that he finds me boring.

    Last Christmas we had a fight because the family was coming over and I wanted to impress them because it was at my house and I wanted to “show off” that I could also do nice things. I have always felt my house is small and my furniture is old and I so much wanted to show my sisters in law that I also have new things etc., so I went overboard. I spent a fortune on food and decorations. I even bought designer glasses.

    In the middle of all that... my husband picked up that “nothing was good enough for me” in the sense of what we had.

    I have a Christian friend, Mary, whom I speak with. She always hears me out but she told me recently that I need to get over my fears, go and learn something new for myself and generally make myself more interesting and attractive to my husband. But I feel that my husband needs to respect me and want me just as I am. I feel that I don’t need to drive, earn more or be prettier to earn God’s love but she says I must compete for my husband’s love because he seems to have lost his love for me.

    I’m hurt and cannot think of anything but just pray about things, even then my friend says I cannot just pray about it, that I must get into action. I really don’t think I am the one with the problem here because I am always loving, kind, always cooking and doing nice things for my husband. He looks at the outside of me and not the inside. I understand my husband is not saved so basically we are on different “planets” but I can sense he has lost interest in me and he would rather stay out and be with his brothers than be at home with his wife.

    When he is with me he doesn’t talk, he just “orders” me around. I like to sleep and whenever I can, I will sleep. But he will come home and wake me up and I feel that is not respecting me because I am sleeping. Why wake me up? Let me sleep and then afterward we can sort out whatever...

    Do you have any advice for me?

    Blessings,
    Ann


    Dear Ann,

    It sounds like there are so many issues going on between you and your husband that you need to step back and try to carefully sort these things out. It is understandable that you would feel overwhelmed, and also at a loss as to how to proceed so your daily life is not one of conflict, confusion and hurt feelings.

    Considering that your husband was fully aware of your driving issues before he married you, I don’t see how he can hold that against you, now, after so many years. In our society most people drive. However some people are simply not comfortable driving and chose not to. It is unfair to hold this over you now.

    I personally know of a number of people who simply can’t bring themselves to drive. The social pressure on these individuals is tough and often relentless. Can you find some kind of alternative transportation when you need to go out? Surely there must be someone other than your husband who you could call on; perhaps through a Christian church. Make it a priority to find others who will help you get around and about—at least when your husband is working.

    It always helps to try to see things for the other person’s point of view (within reason). Since you are saved and your husband is not, that is a huge conflict. But this is where you will have to be more understanding. Your prayers and godly example are so important when dealing with him.

    Ann, I can tell you comparisons will always leave you frustrated. It is a mistake to compare yourself to others. No matter how accomplished a person is, there will always be someone who is more accomplished, etc. God has given you your own blessings which you can make the most of; not only for your own health and well-being but so you are giving the Lord your best.

    In fact, we are not to covet (Exodus 20:17). Your house and salary may be less impressive than what some others have but those things do not define you. It is you position and authenticity in Christ that defines you. Please don’t be swayed by the glitz and glamour of worldly riches and fall into the competition trap with your family members. The only race we should be running as Christians is the one for Christ: “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

    In other words our faithfulness and lifestyles, our time should be used to do things for God’s glory; to serve Him. Of course we all like having nice things and wish to be comfortable; but we should not be obsessed with having more and more or fall into competitive lifestyles. To do so takes our focus off the Lord and makes us a slave to the ways of the world. And as you found out, trying to impress your family members backfired and caused conflict.

    At Christmas time when you tried to impress your family members, your husband felt badly. You say he has always been a good provider and has a good heart. To him, trying to rise to a standard that is beyond his means was understandably hard for him to take. It made him feel like he is not good enough. We must be careful when trying to do our best in a situation not to run over the feelings of the one who has given his or her best to provide. (Although it is obvious you had the best of intentions.)

    Many years ago I spoke with a woman who claimed to be a Christian but obviously insecure about her less than average looks, stout chubby body image and many other issues. To make up for her insecurities she would always flaunt anything about herself she thought would impress others, talk about all the money she earned and she drove an expensive car.

    One day I told that her I wanted her car, just to try to make her feel important. But in retrospect I realized that was the wrong thing to say. I should have essentially told her what I am saying to you. But it was obvious her material possessions and ability to earn good money helped her feel better about her insecurities; so I thought by making her feel like she had a material possession that I did not, at that time—would help her to feel better about herself.

    Much earlier in my life when I was not fully walking with the Lord, I was obsessed with high-end cars. You might even say, addicted to them. It was my hobby. But when I fully accepted Christ I realized that my money would be better used for the Lord’s work. (And yes, I repented of my self-indulgence.) In some strange way I seemed to get part of my identity from my expensive beautiful cars (which is really ridiculous), but that way of thinking is not uncommon in the world.

    I share this with you, Ann, to show you that it is not what we own or if we measure up to the world’s standards of good looks that counts. But we should make an effort to be our best with our individual God-given gifts. Living a simple life is a blessing. What good comes out of competing for things that will not assist in furthering the gospel? When Jesus walked this earth, He never owned a home, He had no formal education, He never traveled very far and lived a very simple life.

    Each believer is called to be a disciple, and that is where our focus should be. When we lose sight of that, and get caught-up in the ways of the world; frustration and misery come with it. Now you do say that your husband should accept you as you are, and yes, he should respect you. But there is a double-edged sword here. As dear and sincere as many Christians can be, too many overlook the Scriptures that deal with being healthy and treating our bodies with respect.

    The Bible is filled with Scriptures urging us to make careful dietary and lifestyle choices. When our bodies are clogged and overweight from refined unnatural foods or substances, our energies are diminished and the mental clarity necessary to study the Word of God and witness to others is hindered. This type of neglect can also contribute to an environment vulnerable to the ravages of sickness and disease.

    As we believe the Lord each day for His best for us, we should also take care of His creation by making careful choices in what we consume and how we choose to live our lives. One day we will all give an account to the Lord. We will look right into Jesus’ all-knowing eyes. How much better we will feel if we can say we tried our best to follow His biblical principles, including respecting the bodies He has blessed us with.

    When we are saved, we know we will get into heaven, but we should nevertheless try our best to adhere to the Lord’s admonitions of setting good examples to others by being good witnesses, and making strong efforts to apply the teachings in the Scriptures that reference healthy living.

    And in your case, Ann, by living by these precepts you would automatically become a positive witness to your husband and family members. The teachings of the Bible are not a concept, but a way of life. We must have balance in our lives.

    “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

    “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

    I am not saying bodily perfection should be your goal and that you should spend all your energy trying to become the poster girl for beauty. I am saying that you should present yourself in a pleasing manner. Some of the most attractive people I know have a bit of extra body weight but they do make an effort to eat well and stay well-groomed—following the admonitions given in the Scriptures cited above.

    Your friend, Mary, means well and her suggestions are good. But I would not say you have to compete for your husband’s love. However, it would benefit you and your relationship with your husband if you made an effort to participate in some things he is interested in and also try to make the most of the physical attributes the Lord has given you.

    Losing a few pounds will give your face a glow and give you some confidence, too. Most important, your health will benefit. Good health is something we should never take for granted and we should want to represent Christ with a healthy appearance whenever possible.

    Now the other matter that concerns me greatly is your husband’s alcohol dependence. It sounds like he is a highly functioning alcoholic. Since he has been drinking steadily for so long his body has probably become quite accustomed to alcohol so he drinks to be “normal.” In other words he can drink quite a lot and still function. Alcohol effects people differently. Some can drink a lot and handle their daily affairs; some simply cannot.

    His sporadic drug use is also not good. Has it ever crossed his mind using illegal drugs could cost him his job, his home, everything you have together? Whenever there is substance abusive there is difficulty. His chronic alcohol consumption will only hurt him (and you). But God can intervene in ways recovery programs cannot. Your fervent prayers for your husband are needed for his salvation and to put an end to his substance abuse. Nothing good results from using “spirits” (alcohol) and other drugs.

    Regarding your husband’s rude, snide and sarcastic remarks—that is symptomatic of a person who drinks. And biblically speaking, the burden to earn more money is not on you, it is on him. He should consider whatever you contribute to the household a bonus and not a requirement. As I said, when any type of substance abuse is involved, many problems arise. A person who drinks every day or very frequently cannot have a clear mind. Have you ever heard the term, “Stinking thinking?” I would say he has some of that from how you describe his attitude.

    You mention that your husband grew up in an atheist home. But is there any way you could interest him in the Lord by somehow getting him involved with other believers? I know how you feel about your home, but if you invited just a few people to your home for regular Bible studies and showed some DVDs relating to these last days, perhaps in time—some of what was being shared might begin to have a positive impact on him.

    By pointing to current events in light of Bible prophecy your husband might begin to listen and think about the truths of the Bible. You could have a night of fellowship and fun.

    You sound like a very kind person with the best of intentions and you deserve to spend some time taking care of yourself, bringing your inner beauty to the surface (so to speak). When your husband sees that you are taking some steps to make the best of yourself, it can only have a positive impact on your marriage.

    The Lord can guide you to a healthier lifestyle and you (and your husband) will be the beneficiaries. A good Christian website to visit is Hallelujah Diet, the official site: http://www.myhdiet.com/.

    I am not saying you should buy their products, but navigate the site to get some ideas about how to eat nutritiously; which will not only shed pounds but will help you feel and look good.

    Ann, you know that in Jesus we always have hope. Determine to make the best of the blessings God has given you. You don’t have to go overboard. It is by taking one small step at a time, that progress is made. If your husband continues to treat you condescendingly, remember that he is the one who is lost, and until he realizes he needs Christ in his life your home life will continue to have its challenges. But with Christ you can still thrive. You need not get caught-up in your husband’s issues to the point you feel like a lesser person.

    What really matters is your position in Christ. He loves you and cares for you more than any man ever could. Let Him be your anchor, keep giving Him your problems and allow His joy to permeate you and carry you. When the outward circumstances are difficult we can rest assured that the Lord is with us, no matter what; that is if we are truly sincere and genuine in our commitment to Him.

    Ann, please don’t hesitate to reach out again if you need to. I would love to hear how you are doing. (I will add you and your husband to my prayer list.) Please be sure to find a way to share Bible prophecy with your man and keep praying that he will receive the gospel. At Rapture Ready we have lots of resources and so many good materials are available these days via other sources on the Internet and in some bookstores.

    I wish your the very best, dear Ann. Things will get better one step at a time. Always place your trust in the Lord Jesus and not people. People will most always let you down but Christ never will.

    In God’s love,

    Esther

    “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).