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Wednesday, November 2, 2022

I Love It! – GAMES On - Practicing Appreciation - Purity 878

I Love It! – GAMES On - Practicing Appreciation  - Purity 878

Purity 878 11/02/2022 Purity 878 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sparkling sunshine pathway to the “hump” of Magdalen Island on the Hudson River beneath a blue sky decorated with a collection of wispy cirrus clouds comes to us from my brother in law who shared this scene on social media two days ago commenting: “When this view is down the road from your home, how can you not take advantage of day like today.”  How indeed?  While my brother’s wife’s brother didn’t share the location of this sight, as the former mayor of Tivoli, NY tipped his hand by including the hashtag “#ilovit” which is Tivoli backwards, and a google map search later led me to conclude that if this view was from Tivoli, it had to be in the southernly direction of the Hudson River, because there are no islands to the north. 

When we share our “views” on life, while we may not know all that is happening in someone’s circumstances, we can get a pretty good idea where they are coming from and when someone is pointing others to the beauty that surrounds them I believe it can be a reflection of the state of their lives. If someone is taking time to appreciate the good things around them and share them with others, I believe that they are far from God because they are not only finding moments of peace and beauty for themselves but they are trying to share the moment with us and perhaps unwittingly sharing themselves. In sharing a photo, we are telling people: here I am, at this day and time, I was here and I was well, and whether we have a deep personal connection with the person or not, we can share in their joy.   

Well, it’s Wednesday, and that “hump” of Magdalen Island sitting in the Hudson has been shared to reflect my brother in law’s appreciation for his place in life and as a visual reminder that we have reached the midpoint of another work week.  While Wednesdays can be pretty blah and matter of fact because we are find ourselves in between the joy of the weekend past and the weekend yet to come, I hope to remind all of us connected to God through our faith in Jesus Christ, that while we might only be able to find the happiness in positive circumstance, like a weekend’s rest or enjoying a good view, the Christian disciple has no limits on the joy they can experience as our relationship with God transcends our physical location and the circumstances of our current situation.  

The joy of the Lord is our strength! When we put our faith in Christ, we have peace with God. We are forgiven. We are secure in His love and assured of good outcomes, ultimately if not in the here and now.  

While I certainly encourage all my friends to seize the day and practice appreciation for the things we encounter and to give thanks to God for those things, I also am quick to point out that our relationship with God is enough to give us a continual sense of peace and subsequently fill us with joy.

Marcus Warner and Stefanie Hinman, in their book “Building Bounce:  describe a way of practicing appreciation with the acronym: GAMES, so let’s play ball and see how we can practice appreciation to help us be emotionally resilient, to continually find our way back to joy.

G – is for Gratitude.  That’s right, It’s November, so let’s give thanks! But in this instance, Warner and Hinman recognize that there is a lot to be grateful for so in their acronym, their instruction is highly specific. For the first step to play this GAME of appreciation, Warner and Hinman directs us to find something we can have gratitude for RIGHT NOW, in our present moment.  This brings us into the moment of our lives, connecting us to our bodies and our present experience, a checkup of sorts, and directs us to see a positive light in our lives right now as we live and breathe.  This can be the fact that I am alive, I am breathing, I am relatively well and free of pain.  I have warm clothes on, I am comfortable. I have electricity. I have a lot of things in my life, right now, that I can appreciate and be thankful for.

A – is for Anticipation, where we reflect on something in the Future I can appreciate.  For example, we can appreciate that this workday will come to a conclusion, and we can enjoy our time at home later. We can appreciate that we will see our friends at work. Or that we will be able to have a nice dinner later.  IF there is much we can appreciate in the present, this just naturally carries into our Futures. If now is good so will our future. 

M – is for Memories, where we can appreciate things in our Pasts.  This can be memories of good things and times, our it can even be a memory of not so good tings and times that we no longer are experiencing.  Our memories can be used to appreciate all that we have encountered that have made us grow and to bring us to where we are now.

E – is for Experiences – where we can plan to do things that we can appreciate and appreciate the fact that we can plan them!  Making plans or reflecting on something we can do that gives us some circumstantial happiness can give us joy.  Or we can just do them – If there is an experience that will give us happiness, but will not have resultant guilt or shame, we should do it and appreciate the experience.

S – for Singing, yup, there is some wisdom to the old adage to whistle while we work! The act of singing can lift our spirits and give us joy. I personally recommend getting into Christian worship music and singing songs of praise that simultaneously connect  us to the Lord and encourage us about our relationship with Him and all He has done for us. 

So, as we walk through another Wednesday, remember to get your GAMES on and practice appreciation.  When we do that, we discover that it really is a wonderful life and when we know the Author of Life, The Lord, we can experience a relational joy to God from knowing that He personally directed our lives and provides us with all there is to appreciate.

So appreciate all you have and all that God has done, is doing, and will do for you when you keep walking and talking with Him.

     

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Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 112:5-9 (NLT2)
5  Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly.
6  Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
7  They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.
8  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.
9  They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.

Today’s Bible verses encourage us to be generous and to live righteously as a result of our relationship with God, indicating that when we do this we can rise above the challenges of this life and leave a legacy behind that will be worthy of honor and that could influence others.  

The NLT promise book for Men only shared, verse 6 and 9 of these verses, with the emphasis of being remembered for the good we do, I guess,  but I decided to share the others verses to show that our lives are a little more than what we will be remembered for, that we are living this life now, and not just looking forward to positive testimonies about us at the hour of our deaths.  

The emphasis from our resource was “when you want to earn the respect of others”… which quite frankly as I see as a less than respectable motivation for living righteously. And without the surrounding context that tells us that these people are “confidently trusting the Lord” seems like a “do good to look good” instruction.   

So as much as it is nice to be respected, to be honored, and influence others, our aim as disciples of Christ is to be pleasing to the Lord.  Those other benefits are bonuses. 

Christ basically teaches us in Matthew 5 & 6 not to do things for the crowd, before men, so be generous, live righteously because it is what Lord would direct you to do and if you should gain the respect of others try to influence them by directing them to Jesus. 

 

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As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 6

On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life

Hidden Righteousness

Beware of practicing your righteousness before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

¶ “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:1–4).

The fifth chapter spoke of the visibility of the disciples’ community and culminated in the περισσόν, requiring us to understand that what is characteristically Christian is that which steps away from the world, rises above the world, is extraordinary. Then the next chapter links up with this περισσόν and reveals its ambiguity. The danger is great that the disciples will completely misunderstand this as a command to start building a heavenly kingdom on earth, despising and destroying the world order. The danger is great that in enthusiasts’ indifference to this age they will think it their duty now to achieve and make visible the extraordinariness of this new world, separating themselves from the world radically and with no willingness to compromise, in order to force into being what is Christian, what is appropriate to discipleship, what is extraordinary. It was too easy to mistake this for the preaching of another pious style and way of life, even if it was a free, new, inspiring one. And one’s pious flesh would be so willing to accept this extraordinariness, poverty, truthfulness, suffering, or even to seek it out, if only doing so would satisfy the heart’s longing to actually see something with one’s own eyes[161] and not merely to believe. One would surely be willing to nudge the boundaries of a pious lifestyle and obedience to the word, until they move more closely together, and are finally no longer distinguishable from each other. It would only be for the one goal of finally achieving the extraordinary.

On the other hand, those would gather on the battlefield who had only been waiting for Jesus to speak about the extraordinary so that they could attack him with even more rage. Proclaiming the extraordinary unmasked Jesus as an enthusiast, a revolutionary extremist who wanted to turn the world upside down, who instructs his disciples to leave the world and build a new world. Is that still obedience to Old Testament scripture? Is it not a thoroughly self-selected personal righteousness that is being proposed here?[163] Doesn’t Jesus know about the sin of the world that will wreck anything he commands? Doesn’t he know anything about God’s revealed commandments, which are given to ward off sin? Isn’t this extraordinariness he is demanding proof of a spiritual arrogance, which is the beginning of all enthusiasm? No, not the extraordinary, but rather the completely ordinary, everyday, regular, unobtrusive behavior is the sign of genuine obedience and genuine humility. If Jesus had sent his disciples to their people, to their vocations, their responsibilities, their obedience to the law as the scribes interpreted it to the people, then he would have shown himself to be pious, truly humble, and obedient. He would have inspired people to more serious piety and stricter obedience. He would have taught what the scribes already knew, but what they liked to hear preached again with emphasis, that true piety and righteousness consist of not only the external deed, but also of one’s heartfelt intentions, and not only of intentions, but also of the deed. That would really be “better righteousness” the way the people needed it, the way no one could have avoided it. But now all of that was shattered. Instead of the humble teacher of the law, they recognized an arrogant enthusiast. Of course, in all ages the preaching of enthusiasts has been able to inspire the human heart, indeed, even the noble human heart. But didn’t the teachers of the law know that the voice of the flesh was speaking from this heart in all its goodness and nobility? Didn’t they themselves know the power the pious flesh had over people? Jesus sacrificed the best sons of the country, the honorably pious ones useless in a struggle for a chimera. The extraordinary—that was the works of a pious person, done quite voluntarily, springing from one’s own heart. It was the triumphant insistence on human freedom against simple obedience to God’s commandment. It was forbidden human self-righteousness, which the law never permitted. It was lawless self-sanctification, which had to be rejected by the law. It was the free works which established themselves in opposition to unfree obedience. It was the destruction of God’s community, the denial of faith; it was blasphemy against the law, blasphemy against God. Assessed by the law, the extraordinariness Jesus taught was deserving of the death penalty.[1]

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 146–148.

 

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