Thursday, August 19, 2021

Enjoy the Silence – But Keep Walking - Purity 501

Enjoy the Silence – But Keep Walking  

Purity 501 08/19/2021   Purity 501 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of this boardwalk pathway to Good Harbor Beach, in Gloucester Massachusetts comes to us from a friend’s short vacation there at the end of July.  I just love the way this boardwalk divides the grass under a blue cloudless sky with the promise of the beach and the Atlantic in the distance. I also love the evidence of the unseen sun just out of frame to the left, but whose brilliance can’t be denied as a pair of sunbeams shine on in.  

It's Thursday, and although I am currently officially “on vacation” from teaching as I don’t begin the new discipleship class, Freedom in Christ, until September 9th, I still had the urge to share a photo of a pathway as an encouragement for all of us to begin or to continue the journey on the pathway of Christian Discipleship.   The Christian faith isn’t supposed to be a cold dead religion. The fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control don’t grow from one’s efforts at following rules.

The fruit of the Spirit grow and flourish when we are in a relationship with God, through faith in Christ, that is defined by love and trust. When we love the Lord, we will naturally seek His wisdom, ways, and presence in our lives.   When we say yes to Christ, we begin to say “no” to the dark and selfish ways that we lived by before we knew Him.  Or at least we could say “no”.   

Like I said, the Christian life is a journey, and our decisions play a big part in where we will go and at what pace we will progress.  Jesus Christ told people if they wanted to be His disciples they had to pick up their crosses and follow Him, but Jesus didn’t put a collar and a leash on anyone to drag them along in forced obedience.   

So we must choose to walk in His direction and begin to renew our minds according to God’s wisdom.  That’s when the inner revolution begins.  “The ways we have always done things” are usually exposed as outside of the will of God and if we want to be a “real Christian” we must choose to do not just obey because “God said so”.  

Sure, I guess that is the bottom line, that we should obey the Lord, but if we obey without understanding, we will develop resistance and animosity towards the Lord as we will just frustratedly carry on under the burden of our heavy crosses because that is our miserable lot in life as those cursed by the call of the Lord.  

On the contrary, while adapting to God’s ways can be an exercise that stretches our limits physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, when we seek to understand why God instructs us in the ways He tells us to go we can discover that every commandment and principle that defines Christian living comes from God’s great love for us.  God’s instructions protect us and drive us to be more like Him and when we step onto the narrow road that He calls us to walk on we discover how good and wonderful the new life He has for us truly is.  

Recently, I was invited to a men’s accountability group and at first I had a lot of resistance to joining.  I mean, I have been walking in victory and freedom in most areas of my life for years.  So I didn’t think I need it, thanks.   Also I teach discipleship and spiritual warfare and have a master’s degree Christian Counseling but they weren’t asking me to teach! Don’t you guys know what I do?  Don’t you guys know who I am? Do these guys think I need help?    

But even though I was challenged in my pride a little, I decided that this was a good thing. When we are offended or annoyed by something, I look at that as an area that the Lord wants us to work on. So I agreed to go and while I have some major misgivings and some disagreements with the emphasis and presentation of the “class material”, I thought I could learn something and encourage others in their attempts to follow the Lord.    

As I have attended for two weeks, the fellowship and community are in its infancy still and there hasn’t been a whole lot of opening up but the one thing that I have been impressed by is the way this group has highlighted the fact that the Lord has delivered me from the darkness that would drive men to seek accountability.    

The descriptions of the hardness of heart, bondage to sin, and the reactive emotions of guilt, shame, anger, and fear that plague those seeking help have almost become foreign concepts to me as I honestly had to really think back to remember what it was like experientially when I entered into recovery and took my first big steps on to the path of Christian Discipleship because of the wonderful work the Lord has done in my life.  

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still faced with temptations and negative mind states at times, but the Holy Spirit has trained me to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, as we say, and I have become adept at abandoning those streams of thought that would lead me astray. 

And its not because of my “skill” that I have had success. It is because of my love for the Lord, my great gratitude to Him for being with me through the darkest days of my life, and because of my heartfelt desire to do nothing that would disturb my harmony with Him, that has brought me to this place of peace.   It is a continual process of adjustments of course but since last night I have just been in awe of what the Lord has done in transforming my life.   

But the thing about our journey is that it doesn’t end.  So yeah, I am very psyched about the victories I have experienced and the freedom that I walk in, but brother, I’m still walking.  

I am truly grateful for the silence that I enjoy as the discursive thoughts and “voices” of temptation and frustration have been cut off through renunciation and dedicating my life to the Lord, but I am not done yet.   I am still going where the Lord wants me to go even though I sometimes wonder where that is. I guess I will let you know when I get there. 

The joy of the journey with God is fueled by the fact that our destination is a good one but is also magnificent because of what we have left behind.  If we are locked into our old worldly ways or even if we are just distracted by the world’s version of “news”, knowledge, and entertainment we are delaying the reception of God’s gifts to us. 

So don’t sit still. Keep going. The Lord has so much for us to see, to do, and to experience with our lives. You never regret doing the right thing so seek that which is best. Seek the Lord and you will be amazed by the new life you will find and by all of the troubles you will leave behind.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

2 Timothy 2:24 (NKJV)
24  And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,

Today’s verse speaks of some of the attributes that we are to have as Christians.   

Two of the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness, and patience, are highlighted in the Apostle’s Paul’s advice to Timothy that describes a servant of the Lord.  

We are not to be quarrelsome. There seems to be a brand of angsty Christianity that seems to be highly political and seeks to push personal freedoms with bravado. While I agree freedom is good I sometimes wonder if the agenda of Christ is being put forth more than someone’s selfish desires to “live in the good old days of my American youth”.   

Why would I wonder about the faith of good old Americans who are standing up for “One Nation Under God?  Well its probably because of their quarrelsome demeanors and the fact that their Christian faith seems to be a moral philosophy of life with which to beat up people more than it is a relationship that would drive them to usher others into the kingdom of God.  Right is right, right? But is your righteous indignation giving you peace? Is it drawing anyone into the kingdom? What is your ministry exactly? Jerk for Christ?   

That last line was edited.   

But seriously, there is a fine line in between standing for personal freedom, being obnoxious, and working for the kingdom of God. 

If we want to represent Christ we can’t emulate the worldly styles of confrontation that are reminiscent of shock jocks or talk show hosts that fan the flames of chaos and controversy.    We are to be gentle and patience and able to teach. 

The best teacher for us is the Holy Spirit and He wants us to study His word to be sanctified and to proclaim Jesus Christ. 

If we are quarrelsome, no one is going to hear of the goodness of God and the wonders of His love.  So let go of your selfish pride and your desire to tell people “What for” and instead adopt the attributes of a servant of the Lord to better represent Him and expand His kingdom.

As always, I invite all to go to 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, continuing in Chapter 12.

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:

When You Are Criticized or Rejected

The thoughts and feelings of rejection that often plague us can be major deterrents to our maturity in Christ. Apart from Christ, we all learned early in life to respond to rejection by taking one of three defensive postures (see Figure 12-A). Even as Christians we can be influenced to react defensively to rejection.

Rebel Against the System

Since the 1960s, this segment of society seems to be growing. These are the rebels and the dropouts who respond to rejection by saying, "I don't need you or your love." Deep inside they still crave acceptance, but they refuse to acknowledge their need. They will often underscore their defiance and rebellion by dressing and behaving in ways that are objectionable to the general population.

Rebels are marked by self-hatred and bitterness. They wish they had never been born. They are irresponsible and undisciplined. They see God as just another tyrant, someone else trying to squeeze them into a socially acceptable mold. They rebel against God just as they rebel against everyone else.

These people's rebellious attitudes and behaviors tend to alienate others and push them to defend the system they reject. Therefore rebels' responses to those who reject them just breed more rejection.

In the final analysis, nobody wins in the world's system, but everybody wins in the kingdom of God. God loves each of His children the same. We are not in competition with one another. Paul says, "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise" (2 Cor. 10:12, NIV). We are loved and accepted unconditionally by God. There is a necessary place in the Body of Christ for each one of us. Helping another person succeed only results in our succeeding as well. The more we build up one another, the more we help ourselves.

Understanding Rejection

Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------


God bless you all!


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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

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