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Showing posts from June, 2018


Introspection is the act or practice of meditating on your own past actions and emotions. This meditation brings these things to our attention, and we focus on them and evaluate ourselves in the light of our flickering meditative candle. Because many people consider our past (either distant or recent) to be the cause or explanation of our present actions and emotions, introspection is often encouraged. Even where it is not encouraged by others, it is practiced regularly by many Christians. Introspection is not like walking in the sunlight on a summer day. Instead, it is like going down dungeon steps with a sputtering candle in your hand. The tiny light throws long shadows and dimly shows up skeletons, spider webs, and gross, crawly things. These are the things in our past which have been done to us or which we have done and are ashamed of. They include our imagination. A person who is addicted to introspection keeps going deeper into this dead dungeon or inspects the same skeleto

Relationships with Parents

Of the many talks I frequently give, the ones which have received the most favorable response and the most fruitful application among young and old alike are “How to Be Free from Bitterness” and “Relationships with Parents.” Right now, I am sitting in a study room at the Illinois Street Residence Hall at the University of Illinois. Last week, at Urbana ’93, I conducted a workshop on relationships with parents. Only about 50 students attended the workshop. The shock, the incredulity, the rebellion, and the impossibility of putting this teaching into effect showed in the tears, the questions, the comments, and the follow-up conversations. That is why I am here writing it down. I would first like to draw your attention to two passages in the Old Testament. I will comment on them, then make a few suggestions for applying these Scriptures in your life. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shal

Saturation Love

God gives commands to love. These commands are to be applied to wives, brothers, neighbors, aliens, and enemies. This love is the love that God had for us when Jesus Christ died for us. It is sacrificial; its primary expression is giving. It is designed to be effective. It worked for our salvation. Love requires an object, and love requires expression. “For God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3:16). The world was love’s object, and giving was love’s expression. This love was not half-hearted or reluctant or “almost enough.” It was complete and more than adequate for all of the sins and sinners in this world. “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more…” (Romans 5:20). In obeying God’s commands to love, we are to love as He loved. That is unconditional and without reserve or reluctance. We should have and give more love to the person needing love so that his need for love is satisfied. You may think that that is impossible. This person is so starved for love tha

Dear Friend: Choosing the Right Theology

You had many good thoughts in your letter. There are several reasons that there is unity in Iraq. • They all desire to be close to God. • The believers have not been taught by different schools of thought. They agree with each other. • The believers are so few they need the fellowship more. • Evangelism, the Gospel is the common goal. • There is a common unbelief surrounding them. In any case, it is nice to have the unity. You said, “I want something that makes me more like what God wants me to be,” and, “I have not seen any theology that universally provides this.” You do not have to choose between different existing theologies. Do not bother studying them and comparing them with each other. As you read the New Testament, look for and list all of the chapters that teach you how to be like Jesus. Also look for and list all of the chapters that teach you, plainly, a distinctive theology. How many are there? Read all the texts that teach about examples and imitation. Read a

Dear Friend: Dealing with Other People's Sin

Dear T, It has been several weeks since you have been by, so it is time for another letter to you. It will be mostly Scripture with how you have applied the Scriptures in your life. In Greek, there are three words for love: Agape – sacrificial love for the good of others Phileo – friendship love Eros – sexual love When we are saved, we are given the fruit of the Spirit, which is agape (see Gal. 5:22 and 1 Cor. 13:4-7). Love is patient – Are you patient? Love is kind – Are you kind? Love does not envy or boast – Are you envious? Love is not proud – Are you proud? Love is not rude – Are you rude? Love does not insist on its own way – Do you? Love is not irritated – Do you get irritated? Love is not resentful – Do you get resentful? Whom are we to love? Our neighbor (Matt. 22:39). Other Christians (John 13:34-35). Our enemies (Luke 6:27-36). We are to love these people with this kind of love. “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the

Dear Friend: Being a Woman of the Word

Dear M, Thank you for your answer. At least some of the questions made you realize that you are not perfect. You probably knew that before the questions. Your first statement was, “I am obviously not perfect, but no one is.” The problem with the statement was not that it wasn’t true, but your saying “no one is.” By saying that, you were justifying yourself for not being perfect. You were saying that not being perfect was acceptable and normal. It may be the average, but it is not normal, and should not be accepted. In Philippians 3:12, Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me.” Paul was headed toward perfection. The Holy Spirit brings our attention to our imperfections so that we will confess them and be forgiven for them. Here is a prayer by Zachariah about the Lord Jesus, six months before Jesus was born: “He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the hou

Dear Friend: Reconciling with Those Who Have Sinned Against You

Dear D, Yes, reconciliation must be made. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Matt. 5:23-24) If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. (Matt. 18:15) And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt. 6:12-15) Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. (Gal. 6:1) What is absent from these text

Dear Friend: Dealing with Offenses from Others

Dear P, Here is what the Bible teaches on the subject. If person A offends person B, he either does it intentionally or accidentally. If the offense is intentional, he has sinned against God, because he is to love brothers, neighbors, and enemies. He must confess that sin to God and let person B know that he has sinned against God, he has confessed it, and God has forgiven him. If person B takes offense , whether what person A did to offend him was intentional or not, person B is in sin . If he is a Christian, he is supposed to take this kind of treatment with joy. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (Luke 6:35) Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears u

Dear Friend: Having Trouble Forgiving

Thank you for the time we have had together. I am going to run two things by you again. 1) Before it is possible to forgive from your heart (Matthew 18:35), you must yourself be forgiven for the sin of not forgiving. Your wife’s sin of disrespect is so big in your eyes that it dwarfs your own sin of not loving and not forgiving. Not forgiving is sin. It must be confessed from the heart as sin against God and confessed to God. If you say you forgive without first being forgiven for your own unforgiveness, it will be words only and not true forgiveness. That is like telling the truth after twenty years of lying without having confessed those twenty years of lying. It does not work. 2) I backed off from using the word pride before because it seemed to stall our conversation. However, there is evidence that confirms to me that pride is a major problem in your life. Pride and humility are opposites. Pride and humiliation are not opposites. Humiliation confirms the pride. You think

Dear Friend: Systematic Theology

We have similar personal views. I could probably sign the longest list of “do nots” of any fundamental church in the country, but I would not. I have managed to be and remain non-legalistic. The statement of Paul in Romans 14:17-18 is where I like to be. "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval." Your theology. Besides its distinctives, it has two things in common with other evangelical theologies: 1) the gospel, the deity, death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and grace, faith, and repentance; 2) it is a systematic theology along with Reformed, Arminian, Wesleyan, Dispensational, Lutheran, etc. We agree on #1 if we are saved people. We disagree on #2 in that the theologies are different from each other. What is common is that all these theologies are systematic . They are a way of st

How does a Woman Become Secure?

Woman was made by God to be loved, protected, provided for, and made secure. However, there are reasons a woman may not feel loved, protected, or secure. Security is often a combination of objective truth and subjective feeling. What I mean by that is that some women have lost their parents, their husbands, their children, their food, and their clothing. Objectively they have a reason to be insecure, but subjectively they might not feel insecure. At the same time, it is possible to feel insecure and imagine what is objectively necessary to fill this need. Here is an example: Suppose a woman feels insecure. The feeling is so strong that she is convinced that it is also objective truth. A woman’s great need is to fill up that emptiness. She thinks that a man will fill it. That is partly true. However, the need is so great that the man she gets cannot fill it. He cannot because he is also empty and is looking for a woman to fill his emptiness. Two empty, insecure people marry each othe

Dear Friend: Praying for Healing & Salvation

Dear T, I have not forgotten you. I prayed for your healing, and I prayed for your salvation. I was reading Psalm 103 this morning. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2-5) T, all of the religions of the world have two basic things in common. 1. They tell their adherents that they have to be good (or what they think is good). 2. They teach their adherents a group of distinctives that they have to do. For example, Hindus take a dip in the Ganges River, Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca and fast during Ramadan, Roman Catholics go to Mass, and you know the distinctives of the LDS church. The adherents of all these religions know they cannot be good even though they try. Many of them give up trying. All of them pract

Dear Friend: Only Bad People Can Go to Heaven

Dear J, You have been on my mind off and on for the last several years. My grandson told me that you had asked him why he never rebelled. I have been asked before why my four children had not rebelled when they were all very strong-willed kids. I wasn’t sure, so I checked with them. I cannot remember Gordon’s response, but Heather’s was that she knew that whenever one of us stepped out of line, I would leave the ministry that same day. She did not want that to happen. Evan’s response was that they knew that real Christianity was in their home, not in the church. Doug’s response was that he could not rebel against someone he agreed with. I bring this up because I suspect you know that I spend most of my time with hurting Christians, the second most with hypocrites (people who are pretending to be Christians but are not), and the third with unbelievers of all kinds: meth, marijuana, alcohol, and sexually immoral people. Last summer and fall I had four different alcoholics living with

Dear Friend: Deciding Whom to Marry

Your daughter feels called to missions. Show her the Great Commission in Matthew, Acts, Luke, and I Timothy 2. All nations include the U.S. (and the U.S. Navy). However, her call may be very clearly to an aboriginal people or to Saudi Arabia. If so, she should tell this naval officer to give her another call when he has a call to Saudi Arabia. Bessie had many reasons for telling me “No” in the spring of 1951. Some of them were: she was 31, I was 23, she had been a Christian 16 years, I had been a Christian only 3 years, she was a Canadian, I was an American, she was a career missionary in Japan to women, and I was a career naval officer. In July 195 she said, “Yes.” We were married in Yokahama in April 1952. She was a very gifted naval officer’s wife. Four years later, God was clearly leading me out of the Navy to be the Officers' Christian Union Academy staff member ministering to all of the service academies. Bessie was not willing that I get out of the Navy. She thought I wa

Dear Friend: A Man Who Doesn't Love His Wife

Dear M, First, the husband. What kind of ministry is he in: evangelism, discipleship, or on a church staff? Are his children grown? Are they walking in the light? Is his wife in ministry? Are his family rejoicing in the LORD? Is his ministry how he makes his living? I am assuming that his ministry is not effective. A woman needs four basic things: 1) much love, 2) much security, 3) much protection, and 4) much provision. When a woman is unlovely, that is when she needs love the most. Christ loved the church to make it lovely to present it to Himself. The husband is to love his wife to make her lovely . If he only loves her because she is lovely, he has it backwards. Has he been expressive in love to his children? If he thinks he cannot love her, and if that is true, then he is not a Christian and never has been. The other alternative is that he is a Christian and chooses not to love her. In the first case, he is not saved and therefore cannot love her. In the second case, he is

Dear Friend: Catholic, Protestant, Christian

Dear K, Thank you for the help you gave me. Although your mother was Catholic and your father a Jain, you intimated that you had grown up neither. You may not be interested, or you may be interested but are concerned about what your parents think. The attached explanation was written with you in mind, but I realize that content applies to everyone. Along with this letter, I recommend that you read How to Read the New Testament in 67 Days , the story of how I became a Christian when I was 20, Olinda Britton’s testimony. (This is her story written about six months before she died. She was born, lived, and died a Catholic.) This may be hard to believe, but most religious Protestants and devout Roman Catholics do not have the characteristics that the Bible describes of people who have been saved from their sins and are going to Heaven. The three things I recommended are full of quotations from the New Testament. As you read the New Testament, you will realize that the quotations

Olinda Britton's Testimony

This is the testimony of a friend who was born into a Roman Catholic home. She lived and died a Catholic. At the request of Barbara Friedman, she wrote her testimony down to be shared with others. I have always loved Jesus, always. I have always prayed. But it wasn't until I was in my 40s that I realized just how shallow my relationship with the Trinity was at that point in my life. I had started my road toward Jesus in a Bible study with Bessie Wilson about 30 years ago. I began to realize that I needed to have an intimate relationship with God, one that made Him the center of my life and one that required me to put my faith totally in my Creator. I was to follow Him wherever He led and to accept the challenges along the way with joy amidst pain or sorrow. About 30 years ago, my Mom came on a visit from the D.C. area. My life was a mess: my daughter in a relationship that was worrying me, my husband ill and needing care-giving, and my prayer life filled with fretting and anxio