Ask Us Anything! – with David and Inga-Lill Guzik
Today’s episode is co-hosted by Pastor David Guzik and his wife Inga-Lill Guzik.
David: I’m here today with my wife, Inga-Lill. Even though most of the time I’m the only one behind this camera, what we’ve experienced in our life has really been a partnership in ministry.
Inga-Lill: It really is. It works really well. We both have wonderful callings upon our lives; some of it is together, some of it is separate. But we have found that the dance in our marriage is to make the other one look good, to enhance what the other one does, support what the other one does, and respect what God has called each of us to do.
David: It’s true that whatever we’ve each been able to do in ministry, I’d like to think we’ve really complemented each other. Yet at the same time, there’s a sense in which God has given us our own ministries in which we support each other.
David: Obviously for me with the Bible Commentary, God’s been able to use that in some unexpected ways through the years.
Inga-Lill: I’d like to think that I had a huge part in that, cooking for you, cleaning for you; keeping you alive so you could write commentary.
David: Okay, to be honest, it’s not like I discussed the commentary through the many decades, except when we got to the last chapter, Proverbs 31.
Inga-Lill: The last book, the last chapter of the commentary.
David: Yeah. I said, “Look, it’s Proverbs 31. I’ve got to ask a Proverbs 31 woman to help me out with this.
Inga-Lill: That’s right.
David: That must be the one that we’d really say you kind of came in for a consultation on.
Inga-Lill: Yes. And basically, that’s what it was. We talked about it, we discussed it. And I didn’t know what you were going to pick from what I said, but a lot of it you picked, and some of it you didn’t.
David: Well, yeah, just like with anybody.
Global Dental Mission
David: Some our YouTube audience might not know much about some of the wonderful ministry that God’s given you to do. Now, you are a teacher and a conference speaker, though maybe you’re not looking to do so much of that, except if God really leads you in that. God has really used you in the past to do that. But there’s something that I know is even more dear to your heart that you do in ministry. It has to do with doing dental missions in developing countries.
Inga-Lill: Yes. And that that is an amazing opportunity that God has given me. I don’t think I ever sought it, or thought how it was going to go, or pursued it. I never said, “I’m going to be a third-world dentist and I’m going to go into developing countries and provide all this dental care, and I’m going to bring teams.” No, this has all happened over years and years of God working in concert with us
David: It really did happen very organically over the years.
Inga-Lill: Very organically.
David: What was the first dental mission opportunity that you had? Because you’ve had a career in the dental industry, as a surgical dental assistant, orthodontics, and all that stuff. But what was the first kind of dental missions thing that you did?
Inga-Lill: That’s a very good question. I think it was Ensenada. I think I think our church teamed up with Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara, and we went down to Mexico. I signed up to be part of the dental team. I was basically helping a dentist down there out in a soccer field. From that point on, we got some connections with a smaller church in and Ensenada area, and then we started going regularly, like every six months.
We just went to orphanages and taught them how to brush teeth, gave out toothbrushes, and did dental care classes. And then there would be an occasional little kid that had a loose baby tooth, and we’d bring a little forceps along and we’d pull it out very gently. We did that until we were at one of these trips in the small church, and a middle-aged lady stood in line and wanted dental care.
And I said, “No, no, no; solamento bambinos, only kids.” And she was very insistent that she wanted to have dental care done. I was very intimidated. But the team that I had around me, who were not dental professionals, were like, “Oh Inga-Lill, you can do this.” She wanted a tooth pulled – a back tooth and a decayed wisdom tooth.
David: You remember the teeth!
Inga-Lill: I remember the teeth. I remember it as if it was yesterday. So I just told my team, “You guys, this is literally as hard as pulling teeth.” They said, “We’ll pray, Inga-Lill; you do the work.” And that struck me. Was I going to step out in faith, and trust that God would do the work through me? If they prayed, God would fulfill His promises to work through me. I was fearful and intimidated at the time, and not sure how this was going to end up. With infected teeth, it’s hard to get them completely anaesthetized.
So I went forward in faith, trusting that God would do the work. And, lo and behold, He did. But a greater fear came over me when I realized that we were leaving the next day. You don’t just pull teeth and run or leave town right away. This requires after-care and checking up on people. I didn’t sleep very well that night. I was very disconcerted that I had done something wrong, and that was not how it’s supposed to go.
We woke up in the morning; our plan was to go to church and then head back to the States. And I remember her showing up at church. I was surprised to see her. We had given her pain medication and antibiotics, so it wasn’t that dangerous. But she came to church, and through the translator, I asked, “Can I take a quick look in your mouth just to see what it looks like?” She pulled her cheek away, and I looked up there, and I kid you not, it looked like overnight that it had been healing for about a week.
David: Wow. So, the work of like seven days in one day.
Inga-Lill: Like seven days in one day. And that was what I needed to recognize: that if I just do my part, trusting in God and not being fearful, He will do all the aftercare that is needed for each patient, because He’s the great dentist and great physician.
So, that was the start. That was the reminder to me that this was not me doing something. It was God using me, working through me, to do something that was so needed for these people in places where they could not afford any kind of dental care.
David: Great. Since then, you’ve been doing this in a lot of different countries. Maybe up to twenty countries?
Inga-Lill: Yes, close to twenty right now.
David: Do you want me to show these pictures and talk a little bit about them? Let’s cut to some of these pictures here.
Inga-Lill: [picture 1] Oh, this is a sweet, sweet lady in Kenya, in a town called Butere. She is the mother of a pastor there that we have been visiting in Kenya a few times. We’ve had to pull a few teeth on her. She’s adorable.
David: Wow, that’s great. Okay, here are a couple other pictures.
Inga-Lill: [picture montage 2] The first picture on the left is also in Butere. You can see we’re just treating people on little desks that they had in a room. We are working on all kinds of people, both little kids and grownups. The picture on the right is a young gal we had with us, Chloe, in Roatan, Honduras; she’s doing a fluoride treatment on kids.
David: So in that one, that’s not you; that someone on your team?
Inga-Lill: Yes, that’s someone on the team. I didn’t want to have pictures of just me.
David: No, of course.
Inga-Lill: I bring lots of people with me on these teams, because there’s a lot of work to be done. I like to bring trusted friends or acquaintances; some are dental people, and some are not. Some I train on the spot; some watch YouTube videos, and they’re “YouTube-trained” as well as by me, so they know what they’re going to do. We just take it as it goes. The treatment is super important. I’m there to check and make sure that that gets done. But the interaction that we have with each patient, as we talk to them, and we pray with them, is equally valuable. The treatment is the vehicle to demonstrate God’s love to them, that He cares about them in their state.
David: And when you go over there, you’re working with ministries, or churches, or orphanages. You’re helping them reach their communities better.
Inga-Lill: Exactly. This is never an agenda that I have on my own. I don’t try to find places to visit. The places find me. The people find me and ask me if I can come and bring a team. And then the logistics of that starts, figuring out how many people, who should go, what to do, where we’re going to set up, and all that.
David: Okay, we’ve been talking about your team. Let’s show a picture of a recent team. [picture 3]
Inga-Lill: Yeah, here’s my most recent team from Honduras. It was a really great group of women. Some are dentally trained, and some are not. Some are just starting out and some have done a few trips already. But it’s amazing.
David: That’s my sister there, one of my sisters.
Inga-Lill: Yes, that’s one of your sisters, in the pink. I snagged her and brought her along and she’s doing great. I’ve had my sister-in-law come, and so many friends that are dear to me. Some retired dentists or hygienists have come, and also some who are currently working, so they’ve had to take time off.
David: Okay. Now there are a couple other pictures here. There’s one.
Inga-Lill: [picture 4] Yes. That’s me; it’s hard to tell behind the mask and glasses.
David: I can see it on the nametag.
Inga-Lill: Yeah. So if I remember right, this is a young girl that we had to do fillings in her front teeth, and that can be a little tedious work. She’s just laying on a table and I’m sitting on a little stool.
David: And was that Honduras?
Inga-Lill: Yes, that’s Honduras.
David: I think we’ve got one other picture to show everybody.
Inga-Lill: Oh, that’s a sweet young girl. You know with so many faces, we’re not quite remembering each face. They remember us more than we remember them when we come back. But this was a little girl that had to come twice. The first time, her mom wanted a baby tooth pulled, and then she wanted us to treat her teeth with fluoride and such and do sealants on her molars. Well, I was trying to ask the mom if we can do the other stuff first, because maybe she won’t come back; it would be better to do the pulling first. And the mom said, “No, she is coming back.” So I trusted her. And she was all smiles on both visits.
David: That’s great. Inga-Lill, this work of yours is something that you feel God’s really given you and called you to do. It seems evident by all the fruit and all the blessing that’s come of it. What’s the next trip you’re going on?
Inga-Lill: My next trip will be to Brazil. I will be going to Belém in northern Brazil. It’s a smaller team on my part. I’ll be bringing a friend, Janelle, and we’ll be going up one of the Amazon deltas and living on a ship and doing treatments in the river villages that we come across. So yeah, that’ll be exciting.
David: Wow, that’s exciting, isn’t it?
Inga-Lill: Oh, I think so! I better do these extreme trips before I’m too old.
David: Yeah. When’s the last time you slept in a hammock?
Inga-Lill: Well, I think they promised me a bed. So, I’m good with that. They said that it’s really hard to get used to sleeping in a hammock. So I said, okay, I need my sleep. If I can have a regular bed, I’ll do a regular bed, thank you!
David: So, I don’t want to let people think that this is all you do in serving the Lord. At our church right here, Calvary Chapel of Santa Barbara, you’re doing AWANA every Wednesday night, and children’s ministry. You do lots of other kinds of basic ministry. You teach women’s retreats and women’s groups from time to time.
Inga-Lill: Yes. But there but there is one thing you haven’t mentioned that is really close to my heart, that I love doing probably just as much as I love doing the dental missions. That is one-on-one ministry to pastors’ wives around the around the globe, and discipling young women who want to live fearlessly for God. I have about five or six women that I talk to on a regular basis, spread out through the week. So that’s exciting. I love that. Having had these almost 40 years of ministry experience, and just serving the Lord more than that, not being a know it all, but I love really entering into the place that God has somebody and that I can give them some pearls of wisdom and just be someone that they can talk to. It’s great that someone’s listening to them, who is kind of outside of their circle, but they can be real, and discuss things, and we can be challenged by things. Each of them are in very different places and stages of ministry, and I love it all. It’s awesome.
David: But that’s really the key. You love Jesus, you love His people, you love a needy world, and you’re just using the gifts God’s given you, in whatever way He’s given you, to be able to do that.
Inga-Lill: Yes. And I have no agenda of my own. I’m not self-promoting or wanting to make a name for myself, other than making the name of Jesus more popular and more known, so that people can know who He really is.
David: We hope in the next few weeks to have a page up at enduringword.com that tells a little bit about the dental work, if people are interested.
Inga-Lill: Yes, exactly.
How long have David and Inga-Lill been married?
David: This coming January, it’s going to be 40 years. So at the present time, we had our 39th anniversary on January 8th this present year, and it’ll be 40 years, this coming January. So that’s how long.
Inga-Lill: That’s how long – for almost 40 years. We got to know each other in the fall of 1980, when we were both at Bible school. And that’s when we struck up a friendship and became acquainted with each other and then had a long-distance relationship, and then we got engaged. I still went back to Sweden, because that’s where I’m from – I was born and raised in Sweden. That’s where my parents are listening from right now. Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. [Swedish greeting]
My mother has terrible mood swings, and she lives with me. As a Christian, should I continue to pamper this behavior to honor my mother?
Inga-Lill: That’s a very good question. That’s a great question. I think I think if we start with the end part, and that is honoring your mother.
David: Right, that’s a biblical command in the Old Testament New Testament. “Honor your father and mother.”
Inga-Lill: Yes, honor your father and mother. I think that it has to look a little differently depending on the relationship and the dynamics in the relationship. But what would be a biblical definition of honor?
David: Well, think about this. For children who are in the home, young children, they’re commanded in the Scriptures, in Ephesians for example, to obey. But that isn’t necessarily a command for adult children in relationship with their parents. But even if obedience isn’t commanded, honor is.
David: And I would say that even if you’re doing something that you think is best, but not necessarily what the parent would first desire, you have to do it in as honoring a way as possible.
Inga-Lill: Yes, yes. And that has to do with respect, and a lot of respect has to do with tone and choice of words. The other thing is to recognize that probably at this point in your life, if you’re both adults and been for a while, you’re not there to teach your mom a lesson. You’re not there to point out her flaws or her weaknesses or shortcomings, but to continually point her to Jesus, giving her an opportunity for maybe growth in her faith and her trust in God. Without having to pamper what you might consider weak behavior, bring her to Jesus. Say, “Let’s pray about this, Mom. Let’s look at this biblically. I want to encourage you and build you up in this.” I think that you can have a very meaningful relationship with your mom if you base those honoring times on your Christian faith. What would Jesus do, what would grace do, what would love do, in this moment in time in your mom’s life?
David: You know, it’s a little hard to tell from the question, because we don’t have any idea what age the mom is, but as our parents become older, they get weaker. In some sense you and I feel it, even at our relatively young age. You get weaker as you get older, and your capabilities lessen. There’s a place for having compassion on those weaknesses. We understand the weaknesses of small children, and it’s kind of easy for us to have compassion on that. Right. But when we think of those who grow older, who are maybe not as strong as they used to be, there’s compassion to be had for that as well.
Inga-Lill: And when it comes to mood swings, there’s always a trigger. Maybe not always, but sometimes. But mood swings are one of those tricky things. It’s important to find a way to offset the mood swing, so that that doesn’t become the issue. Looking at the entirety of it, where do you want to go from here? How do you want to navigate? How do you build on one of these issues at a time in the way that would honor her and honor God? Sometimes mood swings come with age, and they’re unavoidable. Pampering them is not necessarily the only choice you have, but I think it is sometimes. Sometimes you just let Mom feel what she feels, and say what she says, and you don’t take it personally, and don’t make that the issue. I think for her, she needs a lot of prayer, she needs a lot of grace and a lot of patience. And those are all works of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is all those things that we need at so many different seasons of our life. It’s about being not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh and living in the truth of what the Spirit wants to do in our lives.
Can you explain the “week of purification”?
David: there are several different places in the Bible where it describes a week of purification. Sometimes it was for the consecration of the priests, sometimes it was regarding childbirth, sometimes it was regarding ritual uncleanness. But it’s important to understand the concept of ritual uncleanness. In the Old Testament, that didn’t mean a person was necessarily a sinner, although it could be a reminder of fallenness. It was more about the weakness having to do with the human condition, and how we need to be purified, that we fall short, even when we don’t intend to.
But there was also sometimes a practical result from this, for example, the purification that was related to a woman’s monthly cycle or to childbirth. That effectively gave them days off during their schedule, which could be a benefit to them. So, the week of purification could apply to many different things. But essentially it was bringing somebody back into full fellowship, in a ceremonial sense, with the community of Israel, because they had been cleansed from their ritual impurity. Again, it was not necessarily a sinful impurity, but a ritual impurity.
Paul says that married couples save each other through their faith. Does that include parents and children too? is my atheistic father saved through mine and my mother’s faith?
1 Corinthians 7:12-14 – But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.
David: This passage speaks about a spouse and children being sanctified by a believing spouse or parent. I would say we’re not completely clear exactly what the idea of being ‘sanctified by a believing parent’ means. It says that the spouse has some kind of sanctifying presence. The whole idea of sanctifying is for something to be set apart, to be set aside for something. We don’t know in this context if it exactly means being set aside to salvation.
I can’t say with confidence that this says, “If a husband is saved, then his unbelieving wife is saved,” or vice versa, of course. Now, it does mention the children being regarded as clean and holy, because of the presence of a believing spouse/parent. That situation may have a different connotation.
We’re not saying that the Bible says that unbelieving spouses or much less parents are saved through the presence of a believer, but it says that there’s a sanctification, there’s a sanctifying presence.
Inga-Lill: Okay, can I give you a follow up?
Inga-Lill: So, would it be that the word “sanctifying” is talking more about a process? So, sanctification is not the destination or end point for this situation.
David: Right, not in this life, but in heaven, in our glorification.
Inga-Lill: So, Paul is trying to communicate that if they stay in the marriage with the believing spouse, there will be a progress of sanctification that will lead to being sanctified.
David: Yeah, or at least could lead.
Inga-Lill: Right. And so it would give them a better chance at sanctification, if they stay in the marriage with the believing spouse.
David: And again, the whole picture there in context is that Paul’s trying to tell the Corinthians, “You’ve become a believer; don’t think you’re going to be more holy by leaving your unbelieving spouse.” That’s really the issue that the Corinthians were dealing with. Exactly. Individuals, especially individuals who are fully accountable before God, must decide for themselves about heaven and hell.
Inga-Lill: Exactly. We know that. And that is substantiated by other Scripture.
David: It’s not going to be forced upon them, so to speak.
Inga-Lill: So, would you say that the issue in these verses is not so much the “sanctified by” but not divorcing for reasons that are not good.
David: Yes. Paul is giving reasons why believing spouses should not leave their unbelieving spouses.
Is there a way for dentists in other countries to serve with Inga-Lill on one of her trips?
Inga-Lill: Yes, absolutely. In a few days, we’ll put all that information up on enduringword.com, including how they can get ahold of me and how we can work together on these things. I have several dentists that I almost always invite, though very rarely or seldom do they come, because they’re busy and I have a specific schedule. But if they know far enough ahead of time, and the timing works, then absolutely, I would love to have dentists. Now, a little caveat – it will not be dentistry as they know it. A dentist must have the mindset or the willingness to be super flexible, and maybe learn a few more tricks in your bag.
David: Dentists today are using super sophisticated tools, but you guys don’t have that.
Inga-Lill: We don’t work with any electricity at all. Even our headlights are battery operated because we can’t count on electricity. Everything that we do has to be done in a certain way; it’s “field dentistry,” so to speak. If there is a dentist out there who thinks that they have the personality and the ability to be flexible and learn something new or a different way to do what they know how to do, that’s great.
David: Most of the time when you’re doing this in these developing nations, you’re dealing with patients who have never seen a dentist before, right?
Inga-Lill: I would say 90% have never seen a dentist. And in some of these places, we were the only ones they saw, maybe a few years ago, for the first time.
David: Because you’re not trying to go into a community and be competition.
Inga-Lill: No, no. And we’re very rarely competition. So if there’s one dentist for half a million people, you know, those who are the poorest will never get a chance to be seen, because they need money for food instead of dental care. So that’s how it works.
Should we develop our own theology?
I try to develop my own doctrinal beliefs, but I find Biblically supported positions from experts on BOTH sides of any issue. Is there an advantage in developing my own theology?
David: I think I understand your heart in this. But I want to be a little bit careful with the way that you phrase that. Yes, you need to understand the Bible, and theology. You need to understand the Bible for yourself, no doubt about it. But of course, and again, I’m not trying to make a picky point about this, but you’re not trying to develop your owntheology. You’re trying to come to a proper understanding of biblical theology. What does the Bible say? Ultimately, you have to study the Scriptures carefully yourself, listen to good voices from different perspectives, and in good conscience before the Lord express it the best way that you can.
So, in general, I would say yes. You should not inherit your theology. Our viewers right now can see behind us; I’ve got some books on a bookshelf behind us, and all around us. I’ve read a lot of these books. A lot of them are commentaries that I read when I’m teaching through books of the Bible to teach through, or to prepare my commentary. I don’t know if there’s a single book in here about which I would say that I agree with absolutely every word that’s written in it. Maybe there’s some but I can’t think of any right off the bat. There is always some sifting that must happen. We must realize that there can be fairly good reasons why believers, who are intelligent, love the Lord, and respect the Scriptures, would nevertheless come to some different perspectives on some issues.
We don’t want to come to a place where we just say, “Well, there’s so many differing opinions, nobody can know anything.” I don’t think that’s a helpful attitude. But we don’t just want to inherit our theology, even from a respected teacher or preacher who has benefited us a lot.
I want to encourage you to keep studying, keep reading, keep diving deep, and realize that God gives you the responsibility to be a workman rightly dividing the Word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
I like the phrasing of that verse in the old King James Version: “Study to show thyself approved.” What I like about that is the emphasis to study to show thyself, or yourself, approved. Oftentimes, I want to study to show somebody else. No, I’ve got to study to show myself approved before God.
Can people with no dental training join Inga-Lill’s dental mission trips?
Can I join you, Inga-Lill? I don’t have many talents, but I can speak Spanish and English.
Inga-Lill: I would love to have non-dental people come along occasionally. Once my contact information is up on enduringword.com, contact me and we’ll start a dialogue and see what trip would be best for you to come on. That would be awesome.
David: Yes. Some of the people that you have on a team don’t have a lot of dental training, because there are other ways to help, including myself. At least once I’ve been a part of one of your dental teams.
Inga-Lill: Yes, exactly. We had somebody cancel last minute, so I said, “Honey, I’m training you, and you’re going to do what I need you do.” And you did great. I was so proud of you.
David: But let me say, the most fun was just helping you on this stuff.
Inga-Lill: That was the first time that you had been with me on a clinic and seen what I did, right?
David: Yes, I mean, I’d seen pictures, but it is different being there in person. Yeah, that was really fun.
What are some thoughts on the importance of encouraging your spouse in the ministry?
David: This question comes from some friends who were part of our Bible college work. For seven years, Inga-Lill and I worked with a small international Bible college in Germany, and wasn’t that one of the best things we ever did?
Inga-Lill: Unbelievably amazing, and fun, and rewarding, and challenging. And part of one of the great things about it was all the people we got to meet.
David: The question is, “What are Inga-Lill’s thoughts on the importance of encouraging your spouse in the ministry, especially in times of discouragement?”
Inga-Lill: That’s a very good question. I think that that’s something that we have a lot of experience in.
David: Well, look, we are extremely blessed in ministry, no doubt about it. But we have faced lots of discouragements and challenges. We don’t want to make it seem like it’s something that it isn’t.
Inga-Lill: We haven’t been exempt from the unique challenges of being a married couple in ministry. For you and I, that’s kind of all we’ve known, because we have been in full time ministry our whole entire married life. We don’t know what it’s like necessarily to be two spouses with regular jobs and regular challenges, and this and that. All we really know is life in the ministry, and what that marriage faces on a daily basis for the almost 40 years we’ve been married.
I think that what helps to encourage each other in discouraging times, is knowing each other. I could sit and give a person ten ways to encourage their spouse, but they might not work for them. Because I know what encourages David. You might even want to talk about when you’re not in a discouraged time. So, the most important thing in a ministry marriage is that communication of what I can do when you are discouraged. There are different forms of discouragement, and there are different reasons why there’s discouragement. There need to be ways in which you are collecting data on each other through the years and remembering what helps and what doesn’t help. I think sometimes the best thing is to know what doesn’t help.
David: It’s like they say to doctors: First, do no harm.
Inga-Lill: Exactly. I have often thought, especially as a wife, that I need to fix his discouragement. I need to get him out of his discouragement, and I need to make things better, so he’s not so discouraged. And that’s not really what helps.
David: That doesn’t work so well with me, does it?
Inga-Lill: No, it doesn’t. I mean, I can cook his favorite meal, or we can do fun things that he likes to do. But it’s more important for me to be sensitive at the moment about what is really needed, and to ask. I think we romanticize too much in marriage and assume that we need to read minds and read hearts and to know instinctively what needs to be done without asking. And I think that’s a waste of time. I think asking is super important, to say, “What do you think you need right now? I know you’re discouraged, and I’m praying for you. What can I do? Is there anything I can do?” Be very clear and open.
I think if you go the other direction, from the man’s side, he wants to be the hero and he wants to bless his wife and he wants to help her out of this season and time. Sometimes, each spouse needs to go through a very low point to face some issues, to recognize their dependence upon God.
Inga-Lill: You don’t have to be my hero. I have a hero and his name is Jesus. And if you can swoop in and make life more pleasant or easier or more joyful for me, that’s great, but I don’t need a hero to sweep me off my feet and whisk me off into the sunset. I need a real person who wants to know what he can do to ease the discomfort or discouragement that I am experiencing at the time. And that takes communication.
David: I think that’s super relevant for these moments of great discouragement, but I think in general, apart from times of discouragement, it’s important that we encourage one another in our ministry.
David: I think it’s been important for me to encourage you in the gifts and the callings that God’s given you. And of course, you’ve done that with me for our whole marriage. I think there’s a mutual thing.
Inga-Lill: Yes, yes. And you know, I tell women this so often: you are spirit, soul, and body. And they all work in chorus, in harmony with each other. You must feed your spirit in order for your soul to be at rest; you have to be at rest for your body to receive both nutrients and enjoyment and fulfillment. It’s important to recognize if maybe one of those areas is at a deficit in your life. And if you can figure out what that is, and communicate what that is, it could be a simple solution. You can very simply say, “Honey, I need a day off from the kids.” Or, “Honey, I just need to not cook for several days.” That’s your soul that needs a break, that needs rest. Or, “I need time in the morning to spend time with Jesus; could you make sure that I get a peaceful time?”
David: Sure, you know, watch the kids or do whatever else is necessary.
Inga-Lill: Exactly. Because my spirit is at a deficit. So let me just say, there are years in life, raising a family, which are very chaotic, very stressful and most of all exhausting, and you don’t feel you have time for each other. That’s where grace comes in. Give each other a lot of grace; don’t put more demands on it. Find your greatest satisfaction in Jesus. Free your people from the tyranny of expectancy, so that you can receive from the Lord what you need at the time. And work on those other things. Don’t make it so dramatic. It is traumatic at times and dramatic at times, but don’t add to it.
Can you share from your experience how we can best pray for our pastors’ wives?
Inga-Lill: That’s a great question. When I pray for other pastors’ wives, this is kind of what I pray for them. I pray for them to be able to encourage themselves in the Lord, and that they could see clearly what God’s call is upon their lives and fulfill that. I pray that they would resist discouragement because there’s many opportunities for that. And I pray that they would not have such thin skin; not to become hardened and calloused, but not be so easily hurt by others. And I pray for the Lord to minimize injury for them during ministry times and church times. People say the strangest things and make the weirdest comments.
David: Sometimes hurtful things.
Inga-Lill: And they try to get to you through me, by telling me what they think you should be doing. It’s the weirdest role in the world.
David: I liked what you said about praying that God would minimize. You can’t eliminate the difficulties; it’s just part of being called to ministry. But we pray for mercy and that it would be as minimal as possible.
Inga-Lill: Right. And pray that her joy would come from the Lord, that the joy of the Lord is her strength, and that she finds great fulfillment in her role as the wife of her pastor and the pastor of the church. There’s a difference between being the pastor’s wife and being the wife of the pastor.
David: Yes, absolutely.
Inga-Lill: The pastor’s wife is somebody that a lot of expectations are put onto. The wife of the pastor is somebody that he’s married to.
David: It’s really the expectation of one person, between the husband and the wife.
Inga-Lill: Exactly. And of God. So, pray often and pray regularly for your pastor’s wife. And pray that they would have a good marriage. It’s immensely obvious when a ministry couple does not have a good marriage. You can see it often in the face of the wife.
How can we remain consistent in our relationship with God?
David: I think that’s a wonderful question, and very wise. You’re recognizing that there is a natural tendency towards inconsistency. I remember in one of CS Lewis’ books, I think it was The Screwtape Letters, he talks about what he calls “the law of undulation.” Undulation is just kind of this moving up and down. The law of undulation would be the simple idea that things go up and down. There are highs and lows in life. I like the wisdom of your question because you’re recognizing that there’s an inevitable up-and-down in our lives. We’re never going to eliminate those, but how can we minimize them, and not have the down times be necessarily obstacles in our relationship with God?
I would say this: recognize that you can be in a down or difficult time and be exactly where God wants you to be. Sometimes we think that if we were really trusting God, really being faithful to Him, then everything in our life would be comfortable and easy. That’s not biblical Christianity. Now, we praise the Lord for times of relative comfort and ease. But we do recognize that in following God, there are going to be challenges. The Gospels tell us that sometimes Jesus deliberately put His own disciples in difficult and even, to the outward eye, dangerous situations. Yet they were in the center of God’s will. Those are my preliminary thoughts. Inga-Lill, what would you add?
Inga-Lill: I’ll bring in the dental aspect of this, as an analogy. Somebody might say, “How can I keep all of my teeth till my old age?” And the obvious answer is to be consistent at brushing; take care of them. I tell children, “Only brush the teeth that you want to keep.” Consistency, in doing something all the time, regularly, for the right reason, motivated by the right reason, will get you results. To have a desire to be consistent in your relationship with God might not be enough. Because desires change. Desire is more of a feeling. It’s like feeling today that I desire to be close to God; but what if I don’t tomorrow? What if I feel very weary?
If you don’t brush your teeth every day consistently and decide to take a break from it for a week, you will reap the repercussions of that. Being consistent with the Lord, for the purpose of having a vital relationship that builds upon day after day after day, is the motivation that says, “I will benefit from this; I will reap the rewards if I stay consistent. I want to see those rewards that consistency will bring.”
The opposite is also true. If you don’t want to have a consistent relation with the Lord, then don’t do the things that make for a good relationship. The desire is not enough, but it’s a start. Be motivated by the relationship you get to have consistently with the God who loves you, who saved you, who wants the best for you, who is looking forward to heaven and eternity with you. The walk in the Spirit that we get to have is to not flounder in the flesh and to be without wisdom and advice. There are so many good reasons that we need to stay consistent, to be able to reap the benefits and the results.
David: Yes. Building that consistency.
Inga-Lill: Building the consistency is super important. Now, if you continue with the analogy, you can have the wrong techniques in brushing your teeth, and you don’t get it done. And I’ve been there too.
David: So you need to be consistent in the right way.
In Isaiah 6:8-13, the Israelites had hardened hearts. Is that the same as being spiritually dead?
David: Here’s the idea from Isaiah 6:8-13. This recalls Isaiah’s call to ministry earlier in chapter six, where it says, “I saw the Lord high and lifted up,” that whole thing.
Inga-Lill: Love that.
David: Okay, then as part of his commission, God says in Isaiah 6:10a – “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears…”
The question is, is this the same as being spiritually dead? Well, kind of. Because here, he’s talking about something that gets worse; people get harder in heart, they become more and more dead.
I don’t know if “spiritually dead” is exactly the idea here, because there’s a sense in which we’re born spiritually dead, and we’re not alive until we’re born again by God’s Spirit. These people are growing further and further away, their hearts are becoming harder, their eyes are becoming blinder, because they’re rejecting the message. So, the effect of both is the same, but it’s really not described in the same terms as that.
How do I know I am doing enough to get rewards and not disappoint Christ at the BEMA seat?
How do I know that I’m doing good enough to get rewards, and not disappoint Christ at the Bema Seat? David:Inga-Lill, don’t you have the heart behind that question?
Inga-Lill: I love that. I love it, and it’s also scary. Because I think that for most of us, we might think that, but we might not actually talk about it or voice a question like this. So props to you for being bold enough to ask what many of us think about.
David: And what a lot of people should be asking, but they don’t.
Inga-Lill: Right, exactly. So how do I know I am doing enough to get rewards and not disappoint Christ? Well, there’s a there’s the law of rewards and blessings. David, you’ve talked about heavenly rewards.
David: First, I think we need to be careful that we keep a focus on what we can do today. You know, Jesus said, “Give no thought for tomorrow.” When we think about all the needs, all the problems, all the opportunities, we can become so overwhelmed that we’re not meeting all of those things that it just kind of slays us. I think we just need to say, “No, what, what has God put right in front of me to do?” The other aspect is this: I think of what Jesus said about the person not losing their reward, even if they gave a cup of cold water to somebody in Jesus’ name.
Inga-Lill: Right; simple things.
David: Simple things. We shouldn’t think that it’s going to be the spectacular things that get rewarded at the Bema Seat of Christ, but it’s going to be to use the word you just used, consistent things – small things, but honoring and glorifying to God. Those are going to be rewarded.
Inga-Lill: Well, and I think that if we take out the word “enough” in your question, how do I know I am doing anythingto get the rewards and not disappoint Christ? It’s not so much about what we do or how much we do, but what like you said, what we did, and how we did it when we did it, that will not disappoint Christ. Because He wants us to do what we do out of love. What motivates us? I think being rewarded is a biblical idea.
David: The Bible’s never shy about talking to us about rewards and motivating us with rewards.
Inga-Lill: Yes. But the reason we do the things we do has to be first. The rewards we get are about how our heart was at the time that we did them. I look at it this way. We cannot all be given the same things to do. We’re all given different things to do. So, it’s not fair if you’re going to get more rewards just because you were given more or better opportunities.
David: Yeah, it’s more about you doing what God called you to do, and me doing what God called me to do.
Inga-Lill: And if I was faithful with what I was given to do, and did it for the right reasons, if I did it out of love to display who He is, and my love for Him and my love for what He’s called me to do.
David: If somebody is more faithful in doing something simple, and somebody’s less faithful in doing something spectacular, then yes, it’s the faithfulness that gets the reward.
Inga-Lill: The words we all want to hear are, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The good in that means that we have done it for the right reason; faithful is how we have done it. How have we done it? Because God is good, and He’s given us good to do, and we’ve done it out of the goodness of our heart. Have we done it faithfully as unto Him and not to men? I think that’s important. I think a lot of what we might do in ministry might not get rewarded at all, because we didn’t do it for the right reasons or the right heart; it’s going to burn up.
David: Yes. And that’s the image at the judgment seat of Christ.
Inga-Lill: So, at any point in your life you can take an inventory of your life and say, “Have I done what I’ve done thus far for the right reasons for the glory of God, for His great name, out of love for Him? Or have I done it for other reasons?”
David: And it doesn’t have to be spectacular things at all.
Inga-Lill: It doesn’t have to be spectacular at all. Now, you might come to a point in your life when you say, “I don’t think I’ve done enough with that in mind.” Well, He’ll give you opportunities along the way. Take them, and don’t neglect them. I really do believe that for somebody who didn’t get all the opportunities that other people got, God knows their heart. And I believe that in His righteous and just judgment of the opportunities that we didn’t get, He knows what we would have done if we would have been given them.
David: Yes. He judges us according to the opportunities we had, not the ones we didn’t have.
What is the difference between indwelling and the infilling of the Holy Spirit?
David: Well, I would say, “not much.” I don’t know if we should be making such a fine distinction. But if there’s any distinction to be made, I would say this. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is something that happens when a person is born again, and they have the Spirit of God. He lives inside them; they are now a temple of the Holy Spirit. The infilling of the Holy Spirit is something that happens on a continual basis. It’s not just happening once, and then that’s settled. But we are told in Ephesians 5:18 that we are to be constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit.
I would just say that it works out something like that. We have that filling of the Holy Spirit that comes back again and again. But we don’t have to think that the indwelling speaks of something that’s more permanent, more something that happens only one time.
Inga-Lill: I think that there’s a real issue in our lives when it’s gone too long in between asking for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. I think that there’s a relationship we have with the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our dependence is upon the work of Jesus, but our strength comes from the work of the Holy Spirit in us and through us. To be open to a consistent, ongoing filling of the Holy Spirit is super important for victory over sin, for discernment in situations, for growth in faith. We must recognize that it is our responsibility to be continually being filled with the Holy Spirit – by asking, by recognizing that that is a work that He does when we ask for it.
David: So, you don’t have to pray continually, “Holy Spirit, live inside me,” but you should continually pray, “Lord, fill me with Your Holy Spirit.”
Inga-Lill: Yes. And to pray, “Fill me up; give me an awareness to have the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life so that I am depending on Him, that I am utilizing His power, and not working things out in my flesh. To me, I feel like it is one of the most important issues in the Christian life: are we walking in the Spirit? Are we depending on the Spirit? Are we living in in the Spirit? Because that’s why Jesus said, “It’s better for me to leave the earth so that you can have the Spirit.”
David: Greater than the physical presence of Jesus!
Inga-Lill: Greater than the physical presence of Jesus is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
Inga-Lill: To me, that says it all. If Jesus thinks it’s more important for Him to indwell me by the Holy Spirit, then I want to recognize that in all of its power and glory for my life, and to live in that victory over this sinful body.