Black Box – Remembering to Forget, Discovering the New Life
Purity 498 08/16/2021 Purity 498 Podcast
Today’s photo of a spectacular sunset over the darkened landscape of Mount Osmond in South Australia comes to us from our friends at Dave Baun Photography as they took a hike there near the end of July. As our friends were heading to their car to “beat the darkness” the setting sun appeared before them, and Dave knew that he just had to capture the moment. They lingered there to enjoy it for a while and luckily escaped unharmed on their return trip down the steep hill without the sun. Dave’s final remarks stated how he loved the fact that there are so many beautiful places to explore where he lives that are pretty much in his “own back yard”.
As the sun sets on another weekend and we begin a new work week, I share my friend’s enthusiasm for the beauty that surrounds us, regardless of where we live, and actually enjoyed an evening of discovering the simple beauty of a gathering of friends around a bonfire in a friend’s back yard. The gathering really was quite special because most of didn’t even know one another just a few months ago but since then our fellowship has grown as we had shared with one another our experiences of the past and our hopes for the future as each one of us looks to walk further into the light of our new lives beyond the shadows of heartache and pain.
Yesterday, I watched the Amazon original film “Black Box”, which features a man’s search for truth as he seeks to recover his memories and a sense of his identity after suffering a traumatic accident that resulted in amnesia. As the film progresses, the main character begins to recall memories that are disturbing that he fears reveal that he isn’t the wholesome person he thinks he is. Can these shadowy memories that feature people with their faces blurred out indicate that he is not the man he thought he was or that he was living a double life that his friends and family were unaware of?
Well, if you want to know you will have to go to Amazon to check it out. I’m not into being a spoiler and went into the film with little or no expectations, which is usually for the best. Those with Prime Video might be at a loss for something to watch and I would recommend it because it was entertaining and somewhat thought provoking as it could cause us to examine the concepts of identity and what makes us the people we are.
For those of us that are seeking answers in life and finding them through our relationship with God after placing our faith in Jesus Christ, our “black boxes” of the memories of our pasts can be a frightening thing that we wish to keep closed and buried because the memories of the harm we have suffered or inflicted on others could tell us that we are not the wholesome people that we are now and that the changing circumstances of the world will one day cause us to go back into the darkness with which our “black boxes” are filled.
I have recently been forced to recall things from the distant past that are on my “permanent record” which don’t reflect who I am anymore but all the same must be reported so others can make an informed decision when they decided to come into a relationship with me. The things in my past may cause people to decide to “go with someone else” and quite frankly I couldn’t blame them. We are responsible for the things we do in life and the negative consequences for our past actions may be far reaching.
So, should we hide everything in our little “black boxes” and hope no one finds out? Should we only reveal what we absolutely need to and explain things on a “need to know” basis?
While there is great wisdom in choosing to be discerning in what personal information we reveal to others in life, as a Christian, I have endeavored to tell the truth and choose to be as transparent as I can be with people. Quite frankly, it’s a lot easier to just tell the truth because when you open up your “black box” that’s when the Lord can bring His light into your life. Light dispels darkness and when we decide to testify about what we have suffered, our pain and darkness loses its power over us, and our transformed lives give glory to God.
But here is a key to living out your transformed life: remember to forget. I am not saying that we deny what we have done. I am also not telling you to dwell on the things of the past. Instead we should acknowledge the mistakes of the past, forgive those who have hurt us, and make amends for the harm we have done. When we do these things, repenting of our former ways and making things right to the best of our abilities with God and men, then we can “choose to forget” about what we have done and walk forward into our freedom and victory.
Did I do all those foolish things in the past? Yup, I am not proud of it, but I did. Am I still that person? Yes, and possibly No.
I am the person who did those things, and I will be responsible for what I have done until the day I die. No matter what I do going forward, my present and future actions will not erase the things of the past. So yeah, I am the person responsible for those things in the past, that’s me.
However, coming to faith in Jesus Christ makes one a new creation, according to God’s word. Beyond “re-inventing ourselves” by putting on new clothes, mannerisms, or habits, faith in Jesus Christ makes us new by “killing us”.
The word of God describes a Christian’s life as being crucified and resurrected with Christ. It tells us the old has passed away and all things have become new. The word tells us we have new life in Christ.
So, if you have truly put your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are no longer that “old man”. You are a new creation.
But if we expect to experience our new lives in Christ, we must decide to live the rest of our lives as new creations. If we live like our “old selves” with a Christian hat that says, “I’m forgiven”, we won’t experience the new life and others will feel they are correct when they say that “people don’t change” or that “faith is a joke.” If we live like our old selves, we just sit in place and start to fill our little “black boxes” all over again and never feel free.
No, in order to claim that we “are not that person anymore”, we are going to have to put our faith in the spiritual reality of what the Lord has done for us when we placed our faith in Jesus and continually and progressively turn from the “man we used to be” through our thoughts, words, and actions. Our transformation into the new life that Christ has for us doesn’t end with a sinner’s prayer. That’s just the beginning.
Instead of “sitting” in the patterns of our past, we have to rise up and start walking towards the light of what the Lord is calling us to. When we do that, people may fail to recognize who we are. While some will never forgive us and never see what the Lord has done for us, others will recognize that we aren’t who we used to be, and they will forgive us and rejoice with us over our new lives. It’s a lot easier to forgive a “dead guy” than it is to forgive someone whose “fouls spirits” of the past continually haunt those around them.
So, keep walking and talking with God. It’s a new day and a new work week. The bad news is that the job of living a new life and leaving our pasts behind can be hard work with long hours, but the good news is that the as we gain experience in our new profession the workloads get lighter, and we become more skilled at handling adversity. Plus no matter what we run into “on the job”, we have a close relationship with the One in charge, know that benefits of our new life are amazing, and that our futures are assured.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
1 Thessalonians 4:12 (NLT2)
12 Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.
Today’s verse speaks of the benefits of living a quiet life with an honest work ethic.
Some saint once said to always preach the gospel and to sometimes use words pointing to the fact that our conduct will reveal our Christian faith possibly better than the words that we speak.
The previous verse in Thessalonians four advises Christians to lead a quiet life, mind our own business, and to work with our hands. Today’s verse tells us that when we do that, non-believers will take notice and our efforts at honest work will provide for our needs and not make us dependent on others.
The word of God indicates that we are going to have to work to meet our needs, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t also work in a manner that can represent the interests of the kingdom of God.
A quiet life of character and work can be our best apologetic as we do not burden others for our needs and establish a reputation as someone who can be trusted. If we are “straight shooters” in caring for our needs and interacting with others, we could establish relationships and dialogs with people outside of God’s grace and use our position to draw people to the truth.
So if you are not the most skilled evangelist, just mind your business and do your job in such a way that your work will give glory to God. Not only will our hard work result in the means to meet our needs, but it could also possibly be used for the Lord’s purposes.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, concluding Chapter 11.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:
A Second Touch
One of the greatest personal crises I have faced in the ministry revolved around the problem of forgiveness and a board member I will call Calvin. I struggled relating to this man, so I asked if he would meet with me weekly. I had only one goal: trying to establish a meaningful relationship with him.
About four months after Calvin and I started meeting, I asked the board if I could lead a tour group from the church to Israel. Calvin's hand shot up. "I'm against it because, as the tour leader, the pastor will go free, and that's like giving him a bonus." After assuring Calvin and the board I would pay my own way and use my vacation time for the trip, they agreed.
Despite the burden I carried in my heart about my conflict with Calvin, the trip to Israel was a tremendous spiritual experience for me. On one of my free days in Jerusalem, I spent several hours alone in the Church of All Nations pouring out my heart to God about Calvin. I sat there staring at the rock where Christ reportedly had sweat great drops of blood as He anticipated taking upon Himself the sins of the world. I concluded by telling God that if Jesus could take all the world's sins upon Himself, I could surely endure the sins of one difficult person. I left that historical monument thinking I had let it go.
Two weeks after I returned, Calvin shifted his attack to our youth pastor. That did it. I could handle Calvin's resistance to me, but when he started blasting my youth pastor, I reached the end of my patience. I confronted the board and demanded they do something about Calvin. If they didn't, I would resign. Although they agreed with me in private, they wouldn't stand with me in public, so I decided to resign.
The week before I was going to read my resignation to the congregation, I got sick. I was flat on my back with a 103.5 temperature and I totally lost my voice. I had never been so sick before; nor have I since. It doesn't take a genius to recognize that God was not pleased with my decision. When you are flat on your back, you have nowhere to look but up. So I began reading the Gospels and came to Mark 8:22-26 where some people led a blind man to Jesus. After Jesus touched him, the blind man said, "I see men . . . like trees" (Mark 8:24). I got the message. I was seeing Calvin like a tree, an obstacle in my path. He was blocking my goal! Oh no he wasn't. I was. I am the only person on planet Earth who can keep me from being the person God created me to be. God used that man more than any other man to make me the pastor God wanted me to be.
Then Jesus touched the blind man again and he began to see people as people, not trees. "Lord, I don't love that man, but I know you do and I want to. I need a second touch from You." God did touch me, and I chose at that moment to forgive Calvin completely.
The next Sunday I went to church, not to resign, but to preach. My voice was still so husky that I almost couldn't speak. I croaked out a message from Mark 8:22-26 about our tendency to be independent in the face of our great need for God and for each other. I confessed to the congregation my own independence and my desire for the Lord to touch me, to help me see people as people and not as obstacles in my path. I explained that there are three kinds of people. Some are blind and need to be led to Jesus. Others see people like trees. They scratch one another or compare their leaves with one another. But we are not trees. We are children of God who are created in His image. Finally, there are those who have been touched by God and consequently see others for who they really are.
At the end of the sermon, I invited anyone who needed a touch from the Lord to join me at the altar. We sang a hymn and people streamed forward. Soon the altar area and the aisles in the front were packed with people. They were going across the aisles to ask forgiveness and to be forgiven. We opened the side doors and people spilled out onto the lawn. Eventually, all but a few people had come forward. It was a revival!
Would you care to guess who was one of the few who did not go forward? To my knowledge Calvin never changed, but I did. I continued to take a stand against what I believed was wrong because I was not about to tolerate sin. I no longer responded in bitterness though. I also learned a hard lesson in life. God is fully capable of cleaning His own fish. My responsibility is to catch them and love them the way Christ loves me. I thank God to this day that God put me flat on my back to make me the pastor He wanted me to be.
Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.
God bless you all!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship