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Showing posts with label 1 Corinthians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1 Corinthians. Show all posts

Saturday, November 26, 2022

The Little Tree and The Big Sky – Peace and Joy Right Now - Purity 899


The Little Tree and The Big Sky – Peace and Joy Right Now - Purity 899    

Purity 899 11/26/2022 Purity 899 Podcast

Purity 899 on YouTube: 


Good morning,

Today’s photo of a short tree with abundant shade under a pleasant blue sky on the shores of an unknown beach comes to us from the photo archives of my phone and an unknown friend who shared this scene back on social media back on November 25th , 2021.  

In my zeal to share beautiful scenes of God’s creation I will save photos that friends have shared but when you have as many well-travelled friends as I have, you end up saving more photos than you use, so this morning I decided to dial it back a year and see what I could find.  This was the first one that grabbed it and so I shared it. I am setting it free. I’m putting it out there and deleting it from my phone. So if this memory is yours, thank you for going “there” and sharing it.   If you want to let us know who you are and where you went, we will update the blog.

Yesterday, my wife dressed up in a red and white dress and Santa hat to do face painting at Troy’s Landscape Supply in Cohoes for their Black Friday Event where scores of people picked up their Christmas trees, so when I look at today’s photo I am thinking of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts and Linus’ humble little Christmas tree and am reminded that sometimes the little things, the simple things can mean a lot.  

Let’s face it, our “little tree that could” on this unknown beach isn’t much to look at. The sky’s pretty, the water’s pretty, and yeah, this Bonsai-esque tree is cute, but where’s the sun? 

But sometimes we don’t need the “flash” and big things to have joy. Sometimes we can just rest in the peace of what is and appreciate life for what it is. Last night, I was out walking my canine friend, Harley, at 6pm, which means it was as black as midnight outside. I wear a headlamp when I take the dog out at night because I would like to see where I am going, and I would like any motorists that are fling down Waite Rd to see me too!  

The thing about walking under the light of the head lamp though is that you sort of have “tunnel vision”.  The head lamp is a good one and casts quite a strong beam of light into the distance but the contrast of the dark of night makes it feel like the world outside of the light has faded to black and more or less disappeared.  

But last night on the return trek back to my countryside home, I happened to look up to see that all though the land was dark the sky above me was illuminated by a galaxy of stars! It was a real planetarium like view just overhead, but my head lamp was obscuring the show. So, I stopped the dog from walking for a moment and turned it off and just beheld the glory of outer space standing in the dark on the side of a road in upstate New York and enjoyed this little moment under the great big sky.

And these two experiences of the little tree on an unknown beach and the great big night sky last night, remind me to remind you to step outside the “situations” of your life and to immerse yourself in the joy and peace that you can find in the present moment. 

In every life there is drama, “the bills”, “the people”, “the work”, “the news”, and all of these things can so preoccupy our minds and emotions it is as if we are walking in the night and our light is only shining on them. Our preoccupation with these problems or ongoing situations gives us tunnel vision. While we should always take care of the things we need to take care of, when we are only focused on the problems or dramas of our lives we can miss the moments of peace and joy that are there for the taking.  Our lives can become so busy “taking care of business” that we end up missing the moments where we could have found a little bit of peace, or a little bit of joy. 

And that’s why I recommend a life of Christian Discipleship, of walking in the Spirit, where you keep walking and talking with God because if you are doing that you will gain two things:

1.    An understanding of what really matters in life: our relationship with God.

2.    Freedom from the preoccupations with the world system and what other people think.

And when you have those two things and agree with what the Bible says about you, you have freedom in Christ, and you will experience the fruit of the Spirit growing in your life as your meaning and purpose come into focus as you widen the lens of your vision.  

Last night, I thanked the Lord for the moment under the stars, and the walk back to the house, and the cool evening breeze that told me I was alive and well. And I thanked Him for His presence that told me that I would never be alone.  

I came to the realization again that rather being consumed with the dramas of this world, there is great joy and peace to be found from the little things, from the big things, and from just the experience of life. These are things that anyone can “dig” on but when you have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, you can enjoy the mystery of life because you know there is a purpose to it all because you know the Author of the story.

And even though, we have no idea what’s going to happen next our how the dramas of our lives will play out, when we stay in His presence, we can enjoy the show all the same.  

So take a time out to look around and realize “Hey, I’m okay!” and enjoy that fact and enjoy the presence of the Lord who created that moment just for you and who has a whole host more of them waiting for you to experience and appreciate as you keep walking and talking with Him.

--------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT2)
25  All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

Today’s verse encourages us to be disciplined in our training, reminding us that the work we do for the kingdom of God will never fade away.        

Discipline can be viewed as a dirty word because it is usually associated with performing something repetitive that is “done for our own good” but that may not have immediate results.  Also discipline can be with hard work.  

When contemplating change we like the idea of the finished result but in the grueling process of getting there and the discipline our goals require, we can easily grow weary and decide to take a break from or quit altogether the disciplined activities we decided were necessary to accomplish our goals.  

But those who stick with their disciplined plan of action consistently and with a commitment to the long term, discover that discipline is actually a good thing.   

So if you have a health goal or a financial goal in mind, like I do, let’s encourage one another to walk out of this Thanksgiving weekend with a renewed commitment to be disciplined in our approach to accomplishing them.  This can be a rough weekend for discipline when it comes to those two areas of our lives and believe me I am “preaching to the choir” when I say we should endeavor to get back on that bucking horse and not give up on our goals, regardless of how much pie we ingested or how much money “Black Friday deals” may have cost us.  

That’s the great thing about being a Christian, there is grace for our failures and there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. 

However, we should answer the call to repent when we realize that we have stepped off the path.  

The good news is that in Christ we are accepted regardless of our performance. SO in one sense it doesn’t really matter what we do….. BUT – careful now, because the devil would love to tell you to remain lazy, selfish, and sinful because of God’s grace. That’s a trap!

Paradoxically, while in one sense it doesn’t matter what we do, in Christ we have been given the power to do things that we formerly would have considered to be impossible.

 To quote myself: “When I discovered that the Lord was willing to do the impossible in my life, I said: “What’s next?” 

So that is why we engage our discipline and decided to follow where the Lord leads us, because if He puts something on our heart to accomplish we should know that we are able to perform it, but we have to pursue it and do it!

God has given us the eternal prize and everything for life and godliness, so let’s agree to stay disciplined and keep walking in the way the Lord would have us walk, and let’s go accomplish the good works that He has prepared for us to perform!

___________________________________________

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 Messengers

(An Interpretation of Matthew 10)

The Apostles

“Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him” (Matt. 10:1–4).

The prayer is heard. The Father has revealed God’s own will to the Son. Jesus Christ calls his twelve disciples and sends them into the harvest. He makes them into “apostles,” into his messengers and coworkers. “And he gave them power.” This power is, indeed, what is at stake here. The disciples receive not only words or doctrine, but effective power. How should they do their work without this power? It has to be a power which is greater than the power of the one who rules on earth, the devil. The disciples know that the devil has power, although it is precisely the deception of the devil to deny his power and to make people believe that he does not exist. It is just this most dangerous expression of his power which must be confronted. The devil must be pulled into the light and defeated by the power of Christ. In this, the disciples come to stand by Jesus Christ himself. They are called to help him carry out his work. So Jesus does not deny them the highest gift possible to meet this task, namely, participating in his power over the unclean spirits and over the devil, who has taken hold of humanity. In this commission the apostles have become equal to Christ. They are doing the work of Christ.

The names of these first messengers will be preserved for the world until the Last Day. The people of God consisted of twelve tribes. There are twelve messengers, who are to complete the work of Christ among them. Twelve thrones will be standing ready for them as judges of Israel in the kingdom of God (Matt. 19:28). The heavenly Jerusalem will have twelve gates through which the holy people will come in. The names of the tribes will be inscribed on the gates. The wall of the city has twelve cornerstones and they will bear the names of the apostles (Rev. 21:12, 14).

The only thing which unites the twelve is the call of Jesus that selects them: Simon, the man of rock; Matthew, the tax collector; Simon, the zealot, who struggles for justice and law against heathen oppression;[15] John, whom Jesus loved and who laid his head on Jesus’ breast; and the others, about whom we know only their names; and finally, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Nothing in the world could have united these men to do the same work except the call of Jesus. It overcame all their previous divisions and founded a new, strong community in Jesus. The fact that even Judas went out to do the work of Christ remains for us an inscrutable dilemma and a terrible warning.[1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

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), 186–187.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

The Chief Sinner says Vote JESUS – Purity 883


 

The Chief Sinner says Vote JESUS –  Purity 883

Purity 883 11/0/2022 Purity 883 Podcast

Purity 883 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of the Easton Sunflowers of Summer comes to us from TammyLyn Clark who shared this photo back on social media back in July.  

Well, I can testify that those sunflowers really flourished in the backyard of our countryside home but are all but gone on this Tuesday in November.  

And as today is election day, I would encourage all my Christian friends to vote their Christian consciences in hopes that those who promote policies that are contrary to Christian principles of morality, and basic common sense, would no longer be aloud to flourish in the halls of our governmental institutions. It’s harvest time, so why not take advantage of our right to vote in hopes that our voices would be heard?  

Anyway, I didn’t mean to get political but if you enjoy complaining about things, and most people do, I suggest you renew your legitimate right to complain by actually voting, that way at least you can say you tried to change things.    

I have to admit that I don’t have a lot of faith in the government or institutions in general to affect change because I don’t trust people to choose what’s right over their personal preferences.  And one of our preferences as people is to be loved rather than hated,  and so we have a natural inclination to not cause offense and will hesitate to tell people that the way they are living is wrong according to God’s word. Our silence indicates that we would rather that others suffer, die, and go to hell rather than to run the risk that we might be seen as unloving.  

I know I’m guilty of people pleasing.  But in my defense I have shared those unpopular verses in the Bible that call people out for their sin.  I think my favorite is:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV) that says:
9  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.   

So, shots fired! Duck everybody because I’m pretty sure the Apostle Paul got everybody with that one. 

Politically incorrect too! Calling or homosexuals! My goodness.  Some may think that’s messed up, but unfortunately when it comes to what is right and wrong, we only express opinions. 

God the Creator of all things determines what is right and wrong and his word is clear on homosexuality, and all other sins including all on my former pet sins.   

Fornication and adultery is ANY sex acts outside of a marriage covenant, which biblically would be between one man and one woman, – Guilty. 

Theft – Guilty

Idolatry – worshiping things other than God? – Guilty, in basic principles of selfishness and materialism and a specifically to a false religious system for years of my life!

Drunkenness?  - Oh so Guilty! “Drunken Verses” like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 caused me to repent and to go into recovery when I decided to be a “Real Christian” – to be authentic in my faith, to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.  

Covetous? – to want what other people have, as if it would satisfy or fulfill me (a form of idolatry) – Guilty

Reviling? – to abuse, or to attack with evil words – Guilty! (https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/revile/)

Extortion?  -I had to look that one up – According to Bible study tools dot com,  an extortioner is guilty of snatching away from another by strife, greed and oppression that which does not lawfully belong to him. (https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/extortion/#:~:text=eks%2Dtor'%2Dshun%3A,not%20lawfully%20belong%20to%20him.)   -- 

I wasn’t sure about that one – It sounds like a sophisticated form of theft and I was never too sophisticated in taking from others what didn’t belong to me, but I am ashamed to admit that I did bully a couple of kids on a few occasions in my childhood and I would say that I snatched away their peace via oppression, so – Guilty!

Now I have never been guilty of a homosexual encounter, sorry fellas, but I was guilty of all the rest, and I know that without Christ I was headed on the highway to hell.   

Although a lot of my former identity was caught up in all of my sins, when I surrendered to Christ I realized that I would have to change. The word of God indicates that our former lives were darkness, and the Lord calls us to live in the light by turning from these things.  

Was it easy? No, I thought it would be impossible to give up living the way I used to, but with God all things are possible, even giving up the sins of the flesh that we identified with for all of our lives.   

But when we understand that our way of living was wrong according to the One who gave us life, we should be ashamed and seek to follow Him and live according to the way He intended for us to live.  

While there may have been some pleasure associated with the things listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, none of those sins were good things and the Lord declares that if we live in them, we will be separated from Him, suffer for our rebellion, and the word of God indicates that the suffering never ends.  

How can we be so blind and rebellious to ignore God’s word and jeopardize our very existence?

Trust me I don’t offend anybody, but Ibecause I was so lost in darkness and have not only seen the light but now flourish in it, I will take the risk of offending all in the hopes that it will encourage some to repent and pursue the peace that the Lord makes available through Jesus Christ.

Hey like Paul, I was chief sinner too. And if the Lord could save me and transform my life, there is no one He can’t make brand new.  

So VOTE JESUS! -Put your Faith and Trust in Him.   In Him you f are orgiven of all of these sins, and through Him and the power of the Holy Spirit in ever born again believer, you receive the power to turn from any and all of these ways of darkness, and can experience of freedom, victory, peace, love, and joy.  

If we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh and instead can reap an experiential harvest of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  

Experienceing our new life in Christ, might take a while but if we keep walking and talking with God our lives will get a whole lot brighter as we progressively move from darkness to light.     

 

 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Luke 16:10 (NLT2)
10  “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.

Today’s verses  are the words of Jesus who encourages us to be faithful in the little things as a foundation of our faith, knowing that faith in the little things will help us ot be faithful with greater responsibilities. 

I will leave the Bible commentary on the Parable of the Shrewd Manager for another time, it is one of the more perplexing parables of Christ because it seems to praise some one who made some shrewd deals with someone else’s resources to gain the favor of men. I suggest looking up John MacArthur’s exposition of the text for a sound teaching. 

Because I am out of time, I would just offer that the encouragement to be faithful in the little things is a great piece of advice for the Christian disciple.  In essence, Christ is saying to be faithful to follow His example in all the things that we do, that there is no area of our lives where we shouldn’t consider “What would Jesus Do?” And as Christ points out that if we are faithful in those little things, our capacity for faithful living will increase and assist us when we are called to be faithful with greater responsibilities.  When we practice faith in the little things, we just learn to do “what is right”?    So follow the Lord in the little things and the big things won’t seem so big because we will become increasingly more skilled in living like Christ.  

 

___________________________________________

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

The Hiddenness of Prayer continues

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but rescue us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:9–15).

Jesus told his disciples not only how they should pray, but what they should pray. The Lord’s Prayer is not an example for the prayer of the disciples. Rather, it is what should be prayed as Jesus taught them. God will hear them praying this. That is certain. The Lord’s Prayer is the essence of prayer. The essence and limit of all the disciples’ praying may be found in it. Here again, Jesus does not abandon his disciples to uncertainty. Instead, with the Lord’s Prayer he leads them to complete clarity in prayer.

“Our Father in heaven”—together the disciples call upon their heavenly Father, who already knows what God’s dear children need. They have been made into sisters and brothers by the call of Jesus, who binds them together. In Jesus they have come to know the kindliness of the Father. In the name of the Son of God they may call God their Father. They are on earth and their Father is in heaven. The Father looks down on them, and they lift their eyes up to the Father.

“Hallowed be your name.” God’s fatherly name, as it has been revealed to the disciples in Jesus Christ, should be kept holy among them, for the entire gospel is contained in this name. May God keep the holy gospel from being tarnished and spoiled by false teaching and an unholy life. May God reveal in Jesus Christ God’s holy name to the disciples forevermore. May God lead all preachers to pure proclamation of the gospel which makes people blessed. May God turn back the tempters and convert the enemies of God’s name.

“Your kingdom come.” In Jesus Christ the disciples have experienced the inbreaking of God’s kingdom on earth. This is where Satan is overcome, the power of the world, sin, and death broken. God’s kingdom still is found in suffering and in struggle. The small community of those called forth will participate in such suffering and struggle. They stand under the rule of God in new righteousness, but also in enduring persecution. May God grant that the kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth grow in his community. May God soon put an end to the kingdoms of this world and bring about God’s own reign with power and glory.[1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

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), 155–156.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Praying for Sinners, Pleading for Saints - Purity 852


 

Praying for Sinners, Pleading for Saints - Purity 852

Purity 852 10/04/2022 Purity 852 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of Blues Skies and the beginnings of the changing colors of Autumn surrounding an outcropping of a rock covered by the waters of a flowing stream comes to us from a friend who spent the first day of October visiting “The Flume Gorge, at Franconia Notch State Park” in New Hampshire.  Our friend shared a bunch of photos during their visit, so we may be revisiting this State Park again as there were other scenes worth sharing, but I liked this one for its simple beauty that testifies to the fact that Fall has descended upon us and the evidence will increase as the days pass.   

And that’s life isn’t it? We get small indications of the future in the present but depending on our ability to live apart from the distractions of this world we may or may not see the signs of the times and only in hindsight can declare that we “knew” what was coming.   

Well it’s Monday, again and even though it is back to work and back to reality, I am rejoicing today because the work we may complain about is something that some of us are not blessed with or able to perform at all.  What we may complain about may be something that someone else would relish being able to do or is something that someone else’s family desperately needs.   

Some of the sick, disabled, infirmed, or aged would gladly trade places with us this morning if it meant that they had the strength and ability to do what we take for granted. 

Some of the unemployed would also trade places with us if it meant they would be able to change their financial circumstances and provide for the needs of their family.  

This subject hits close to home because since 2022 began my wife, TammyLyn, has gone through 4 jobs changes and even though she was willing and able to work and has even done odd jobs, part time work, and did independent work, all of her combined efforts were not enough to adequately provide for the unforeseen inflation and unexpected expenses that came her way in 2022. But throughout it all TammyLyn has not lost her hope and continued to do all she could to persevere and trusted the Lord to guide her path, and today she starts work at her fourth, and prayerfully last new job, this year.    

She has been faithful and God has been faithful to bless her with this new career opportunity and with her family and friends that have helped her along the way.   So thank God. It’s Monday and we all get to go to work!

In examining TammyLyn’s path, we could ask: Why God? But even with all the turmoil along the way, the final results seem to indicate that God has been working all of what TammyLyn has experienced together for good.  This final job and the stability that may provide seems like an answer to prayer, and it is,  even though the process of its fulfillment was not anything that we could have anticipated and certainly not anything we asked for!   

Which brings up the question of prayer and the mystery of how it works or how we should pray, or the thing that’s on my mind this morning, who we should pray for or what we should pray for.  

I have shared enough of my testimony on this blog and podcast to reveal that I did not always walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit. I was not always a born again Christian. And even after I put my faith in Jesus Christ, I didn’t repent of all my sins until the Holy Spirit convicted me and led me to repentance. The victory and freedom I have may have been given to me the moment I put my faith in Jesus, but it didn’t manifest in my experience until I made a decision to believe what God said about who I am in Christ and to live like it.    

At first, I rejoiced over my salvation and thought that God’s grace was truly amazing because there was simply no way I was going to change who I was in terms of my brokenness. I was a drunk. That’s who God saved and that’s what God was going to have to deal with.  Or so I thought. 

But as my heart grew to want to follow the Lord and be authentic in my faith, I increasingly was drawn to turn from my worldly ways and leave them behind for good. And God was faithful to give me the strength and wisdom to accomplish what I had considered impossible.  

But here’s the crux of my question this morning, I was a “carnal” Christian for something like 5 years, with little or no indication that I would repent of my fleshly ways.   If you knew what I was up to in the five years before I went into recovery, you may have even doubted if I was a Christian at all!  Although I went to church, served, and even got a an Associates degree in Biblical studies, I still had secret sins that I felt powerless to overcome.  

So, knowing all that, that I tried to live a Christian life, but was failing in major ways, would you have prayed for me if I asked for prayer?   

While I made a profession of faith in Christ, I still had sin in my life – some pretty blatant sins that are on the “do these and you go to hell list” in

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV) which says:
9  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

So knowing what the word of God says, would you have prayed for me, or anyone else, who does things on this list, if they asked you for prayer?  

I am part of the prayer team at my local church and yesterday our pastor started a series on prayer and at the end of the message he called on the congregation to come up to ask the prayer team and other members of the church leadership to pray for whatever needs they had.  

The prayer team is available to do this each week at our church but yesterday because the emphasis was on “invinting God into your circumstances” through prayer, we had easily double if not three or four times as many prayer requests than we normally do.  

The Holy Spirit was moving for sure and I enthusiastically followed His lead and prayed for several people and their various requests. One after another came up and on a couple of occasions, before I began to pray for their requests, I got the indication that the person standing before me had some pretty obvious sins in their life that needed repenting of, but they weren’t asking for prayer for that. 

So what do you do? Do you sermonize and tell the people that have come forth asking God for help in their lives to repent because you “just know” they are living in sin?  

What would have I said to my former self, if I asked for prayer?  

Well I don’t know if I get these things right, but in the moment,  I did not get an indication from the Holy Spirit that I was to do anything other than to minister to the people before me and to prayer for what they asked for to and encourage them to trust in and follow the Lord, and to leave the results up to God.  

In the moment, that’s what I did and I felt that my prayers and words of guidance and encouragement were what the Lord led me to say.

But afterwards…  you wonder should I have done that? Should I have remained silent about their sin?   

As far as scripture goes, we can easily make a case for judgment or mercy in this situation because the word of God contains lots of wisdom on both. 

Several verses indicate that repentance is something that comes from God, and remembering those, I decided to trust that God would draw them to repentance and I would seek to show love and understanding and come along side these “sinners” in prayer and continue to follow the Lord who would show them the way to go.  

Only God knows the hearts of men, and as a former “carnal” Christian, I know in my situation the only one who could have made me to want to repent of my sins is God.  I was a big rebel and only His authority, grace, and love could guide me to where I am today.  

So even though I have some conflicts in how I feel about “praying for sinners”, I know that I was once lost and it was through a lot of prayer that things changed. 

So I will pray for sinners, but if you ask for counsel I will undoubtedly confront you with the word of God and direct you to repent, as Nouthetic or Biblical counselors are instructed to do. 

But we all have to start somewhere, and the prayers of a righteous person are said to accomplish much, and so we trust the Lord to do what is right, good, and holy and to grant what is His will and will be done for the glory of His kingdom. 

So keep walking and talking with God, pray, and follow where He leads you knowing that nobody’s perfect but Jesus, but His path leads us to be more and more like Him. So keep walking and pray.

_____________________________________________

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.

Chapter Five

Discipleship and the Individual – Continues

This breaking with the immediacy [Unmittelbarkeit] of the world is nothing other than recognizing Christ as the Son of God, the mediator. It is never an arbitrary act, in which a person loosens his or her ties to the world for the sake of some ideal, exchanging a lesser ideal for a greater one. That would again be enthusiasm, high-handedness, even a return immediacy to the world. Only the disciples’ recognition that the deed is done, namely, that Christ is the mediator, separates them from the world of people and things. Jesus’ call, to the extent that it is understood not as an ideal, but as the word of the mediator, brings about this accomplished break with the world in me. If it were only a matter of weighing ideals against each other, then by all means a balance should be sought, which then could turn to the advantage of a Christian ideal, but this should never be one-sided. From the point of view of idealism, or from the perspective of “responsibilities” of life, it would be inexcusable to radically debase the natural orders of life by confronting them with a Christian ideal of life. Instead, much would have to be said on behalf of the contrary evaluation—especially from the point of view of a Christian idealism, a Christian ethic of responsibility or ethic of conscience! But the issue here is not at all about ideals, values, responsibilities. Instead, it is about accomplished facts and recognizing them, and therefore about the person of the mediator himself, who has come to stand between us and the world. That is why there must be a break with the immediacies of life; that is why a person called must become an individual before the mediator.[1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

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), 94.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Poseidon Adventure and the World Turned Upside Down – Purity 755


The Poseidon Adventure and the World Turned Upside Down – Purity 755

Purity 755 06/11/2022  Purity 755 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the afternoon sky over the Albany Labor Temple, the home of Teamsters Local 294, on Third Street Extension comes to us from yours truly as I grabbed this quick pic as I got into my car at the end of the work week yesterday. 

While I could always appreciate a view of the heavenlies, since coming to Christ, I am definitely a “sky guy” and often find myself marveling over what’s going on just over our heads while the world is so concerned with the goings on down on the ground. When I look up, I get a small idea of just how magnificent God’s creation is and it causes me to give Him thanks and praise for His handiwork.  

Yesterday, I commented more than once to the Lord about His wonderful work in the skies throughout the day and was so distracted by it as my workday came to an end that I forgot about my company’s policy not to return to the garage “too early”. Whoops.  And it was only because I wasn’t rushing to leave at the end of the day that I thought to take this photo.  Sometimes you have to stop and look around at life and enjoy the here and now and all that the Lord has provided you. 

That was the apparent theme yesterday afternoon, as after a traffic delay caused me to arrive late at my countryside home, I made the decision to skip an evening appointment for a new ministry opportunity to enjoy the meal my wife had prepared me for dinner, to take my canine friend Harley for a walk under that same but different magnificent sky, and to spend quality time with the Mrs. for the rest of the evening.    

Well its Saturday, we made it to the weekend, and it is my prayer that all of my friends use the weekend to enjoy the here and now of what the Lord has provided you and that you take some time to give Him thanks and praise by walking and talking with Him.

One of the things that was said of the apostles was that they “set the world upside down” (Acts 17:6), Undoubtedly, the people that they encountered wondered how simple fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, someone who had been a Pharisee who actively sought to persecute the early church, and others could all be united in proclaiming the same message of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and how it was through faith in Him alone that one could be saved from the wrath of God. How could these men who were scattered or were Christ’s enemies at His arrest be changed into those who would boldly proclaim Him as our only hope a short time later?

Well when the Lord reveals to you the truth about Christ and His resurrection, your world gets turned upside down. When you are forgiven of your sins and are given a new and eternal life, it’s a whole new ball game. Having a revelation of the truth of the gospel changes things.  Having an encounter with God, makes all things new. Ask me how I know.  

If you have been following the blog for any length of time, you know that I often reflect on music lyrics or themes from movies, to try to explain concepts regarding our Christian faith to encourage Christians to have a closer walk with the Lord and to live out their faith authentically.  

Yesterday morning, during my morning exercise, as I thought about how the gospel has changed the world in general and how it has turned my world upside down personally, I remembered the 1972 disaster epic film, the Poseidon Adventure.  As I reflected on the plot, settings, and characters of the Poseidon Adventure and how it details a group of survivors desperate attempt to survive, I realized that its themes could be analogous of the gospel of Jesus Christ.    

In the movie, a luxury cruise ship’s captain is influenced by the owner of the cruise line company to make an unwise decision to go full speed into the direct path of a 90 foot tsunami wave, causing the ship to be completely turned upside down, immediately killing most of the crew and passengers.  But some crew and passengers remain alive in the air that is captured in the upside down boat.  While most of the remaining passengers are influenced by the ships purser to stay put and wait for help, in total denial of the facts of the situation, a small group of survivors is led by an unconventional  reverend to go up in this world turned upside down to try to find a way of escape through the bottom of the boat.  

The star studded cast that includes Gene Hackman as the Reverend, Ernest Borgnine, Roddy McDowall, Red Buttons, and Shelly Winters does a wonderful job of portraying the human experience of trying to band together to survive.  

In the twists and turns of the journey to the end, lives are lost, and sacrifices are made, culminating in Hackman’s Reverend Frank Scott, yelling out to God in complaint about the groups misfortunes and lives lost, asking how many more lives, how many more sacrifices it would take to please Him, before he surrenders his life to save his adopted flock.

The man who cursed God one moment for “working against them”, in the next freely gave his life to save his friends, exclaiming “Take Me!”

Before dropping to his death, the reverend turns to the downcast survivors and makes one last encouragement: “You can make it. Keep going!”, telling the remaining leader, Borgnine’s character to “Get them through!”



(https://youtu.be/aNOmTuwnGYg)

The film’s setting, the Poseidon turned upside down and slowly falling apart can be seen as our world, slowly fading away and destined to die.  

The remaining passengers could represent humanity.   

The captain, who knew better, and owner, who didn’t, are both influenced by money and perish. 

The purser, who before the disaster commented that he was the “real captain of the ship”, represents earthly knowledge, expertise, and authority.  But those things don’t matter in a world turn upside down and in light of the question of life and death is shown to be lacking solutions.  The purser and all who trust in his knowledge, authority and expertise perish when they refuse to follow the reverend.  

The Reverend Frank Scott, an unconventional man of God who can think outside of the box to help people regardless of the circumstances, is shown to be the one who knows the way to life.  Only the people who follow him survive. 

And in sacrificing himself, the reverend represents a type of Christ. Although he voices a hearty complaint over the cup of suffering he receives, after he encourages his people to keep going, he goes silent and goes into eternity with no sign of fear.

When you know the gospel it changes everything. It turns your world upside down and you see the truth every where you look. You see the beauty, you see the pain. But you know the hope in the here and now and for what lies beyond where we can’t see.

So let me encourage you, that whatever disasters you may face in this life, “You can make it. Keep going.”  

But just like in the Poseidon Adventure, the only way you survive is to follow the man of God, Jesus Christ.   He came to earth to live and die for us. He is the truth, the way, and the life.    

And when you put your faith in Him, your new life as a Christian may seem like the world turned upside down but in Christ you will your footing and discover the ways that the Lord has for you to walk in, and even when you thought there was no way. 

So keep walking and talking with God, where sometimes it can seem that up is down and down is up, but somehow through it all there is always peace.

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NLT2)
6  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
7  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Today’s Bible verses continue where we left off yesterday. My resource presents 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 all at once, but I decided to split them because there is so much about love stated in these four verses that I didn’t want go through them too quickly. 

Love rejoices whenever the truth wins out, not about injustice.  

OOF before coming to Christ, I rejoiced over “getting away” with things.  That spirit of rebellion that encourages you to cut corners, break rules, and take what you want regardless of circumstances can have you revel in your successes but that selfish spirit is not love. The spirit of “doing things my way” is the opposite of love – indifference toward God and your fellow man.  While we can glory in the injustices that favor us, true love would favor justice and the truth winning out.  

Full acceptance, love, has to be in the light of the truth. We can’t say we love someone if we don’t know the truth about them. Love can’t be based on lies.   

And as today’s verses tell us, love never gives up.  When we give up on a relationship, love is gone, love has come to an end. 

The choice to love is the choice to hope, to have faith, and to endure.  And in relationships in order for love to survive, both parties must eventually choose to give and receive it.    

With God or man,  One party can pour out all the love they can muster toward someone else. But if that other person, doesn’t receive and give love in return, love’s purpose isn’t realized.  

Here truth comes into play, if we say we love but don’t really love, our lies will be found out eventually.  

If our love is a lie, it will eventually be exposed and the relationship will end, with pain and possibly betrayal. On earth that means heartache and broken relationships.  

But with God, who loves all men because He is love, when our love for Him is a lie, our lie will be exposed and result in eternal separation from Him.  

The answers to the questions of life, love, and death are all the same. The answer is God. The answers come from the Creator and we must make peace with Him through faith in Jesus Christ to be able to know what love is.    

So seek the truth, receive the love of God that is offered through Jesus Christ, and show you know what love is by sharing it with the world

 

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 Begin  sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

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

A Protective Charm

The first text we will examine is a short recipe for a protective charm (or amulet) to be worn like a necklace. The purpose of this amulet was to protect the wearer from harmful or evil spirits.

While there is no need to perform a magical rite with this charm, there are specific instructions on how the amulet is to be fashioned: “Onto lime wood write with vermilion this name.… Enclose it in a purple skin, hang it around your neck and wear it.”

The second part of the recipe gives a series of magical names to be written on the charm: “epokopt kopto bai baitokarakopto karakopto chilokopto bai” (in some of the texts that I cite below, such magical names will be summarized by “magical names”). Although these words are transliterated from the Greek and are unintelligible to us, they were no more intelligible to most Greek readers. They are magical words, probably the names of the spirits who are supposed to make this magical charm effective. Often magical names were invoked together with the names of known gods and goddesses, such as Hekate, Artemis, Selene, Kore, Kronos, Aphrodite and others. All of the magical texts show an incredible amount of syncretism; that is, the mixing together of various elements from different religious beliefs and practices. Any name thought to be laden with supernatural power could be invoked. Hence, one will find Greek, Egyptian, Persian, Phrygian and Roman deities all invoked in the same text.

The third part of the text contains the command that the spirit agents are being summoned to fulfill: “Guard me from every daimon of the air, on the earth and under the earth, and from every angel and phantom and ghostly visitation and enchantment.” This representative example is what is called apotropaic magic; that is, the “warding off” of demons and harmful spirits.

In the magical papyri the Greek word daimōn did not necessarily signify an evil or harmful spirit. Although in this magical recipe the term is plainly used to refer to the spirits who could inflict harm, by itself the word has no moral connotations. In the classical era before the New Testament age, the word daimōn had been used for the gods (such as Apollo, Dionysus and Hermes) and for supernatural beings regarded as somewhat lower than the gods. Increasingly it was used of the supernatural intermediaries (between the gods and humanity) and of the spirits of nature. Many regarded the daimones (plural form) who filled the air to be the disembodied souls of the dead, especially heroes. Influence from the East, especially Persian and Jewish thought, resulted in the Greek word daimōn taking on an increasingly evil connotation in its common use. Both daimōn and the related word daimonion are consistently used to refer to an evil spirit in the New Testament. Throughout this book the term demon will be used in reference to evil spirits and daimōn will be used in its neutral sense.

This magical text illustrates fear and dread of the spirit realm felt by the general populace. This magical recipe also illustrates the fact that people believed evil powers populated all of creation, including the air, the earth and the underworld. Magic provided a means for dealing with the fear of this reality.

Numerous accounts could be given to depict the great fear of demons among people in antiquity. It was believed these evil beings could even threaten to bring death. One ancient writer gives an account of a certain wise man, or shaman, endowed with a knowledge of the magical arts who could exhibit a certain measure of control over these hostile forces. Apollonius of Tyana became a well-known wonder worker throughout the Mediterranean world. He lived during the time of Paul, and Flavius Philostratus chronicled his life about a century later. This work is very important for giving us further insight into the folk belief of the time.

On one occasion Apollonius of Tyana encountered a woman whose sixteen-year-old son had been possessed by a demon for two years. She was aware of his possession because of her son’s altered behavior and because the demon allegedly revealed itself to the woman using the boy’s voice. The demon claimed to be the ghost of a dead person who hated women and was in love with the boy. The mother, understandably anguished over her son’s tormented condition, explained to Apollonius all the symptoms. Among other things, she observed that “the boy does not even have his own voice, but speaks in a deep, hollow tone, the way grown-up men do, and when he looks at me, his eyes don’t seem to be his own.” The mother explained to Apollonius that whenever she had tried to bring the boy to him, the demon would threaten to throw the young man into a crevice or off of a precipice and kill him. Apollonius confidently responded to the woman by supplying her with something like an amulet or a magical recipe that would prevent the demon from killing the boy.

A Love Potion

The second text provides us with a vivid illustration of how magic involved the direct assistance of supernatural beings to perform a given request. This recipe, recorded on a papyrus scroll discovered in Egypt, reveals how a certain lovesick Theodorus attempted to gain the affection of a woman named Matrona. The intent of the recipe is stated simply: “Let Matrona love Theodorus for all the time of her life.” This type of “love potion” is commonly called an aphrodisiac.

There is virtually no magical rite for Theodorus to perform, but the text does presuppose that he has obtained some of her hair. The recipe is quite expansive, however, in invoking the help of the underworld gods and spirits. The formula continues:

I entrust this charm to you, underworld gods, to Pluto uessemigadon ortho baubo, to Kore, Persephoneia, Ereschigal, and to Adonis era … puonrth and to underworld Hermias Thoth phokentazepseu and to mighty Anubis cherichtha kanchene … th, keeper of the keys of the gates of Hades, and to the underworld gods and to the untimely dead, lads and lasses.

The final phrase, “to the untimely dead, lads and lasses,” lends some insight into a common interpretation of a segment of the spirit realm by the ancients. Many in the Greco-Roman world believed people who were heroes or who had suffered an untimely death became disembodied spirits after death. They would customarily take on a rather evil disposition and could bring harm to someone if commanded to do so through a curse.

The text goes on to invoke two additional goddesses (Hekate and Artemis) and uses many more magical names. It is also very clear that the conjurer expects these supernatural beings to accomplish his stated intent to make Matrona a devoted lover of Theodorus. The formula is quite explicit:

I adjure all ghosts [Greek=demonas] in this place to come to the assistance of this ghost. Raise yourself up for me from the repose that keeps you and go out into every district and every quarter and every house and every shop, and drive, spellbind Matrona … that she may not have intercourse vaginal, anal, or oral with anyone else, nor be able to go with any other man than Theodorus … and never let Matrona … be able to endure or be healthy or find sleep night or day without Theodorus.

In this particular case the conjurer is not exactly sure which “demon” will be compelled to perform the task. The spell continues: “Do not turn aside from hearing me, ghost [Greek=demon], whoever you are, and raise yourself up for me, for I adjure you by the lady Hekate Artemis demon damno damnolukake damnippae damnomenia damnobathira damnobathiri damnomenia dameamone, tail-swallower, night roamer.” Here it appears that the conjurer is threatening a “demon” by the goddess of the underworld, Hekate Artemis, and certain magical names. Thus, Hekate Artemis will enforce his request because she is believed to respond to these magical names and the epithets that are ascribed to her. Other magical texts even give instances of hymns to be sung to the deities, which would render them more receptive to the requests of the petitioner. In this text the implication for the “demon” is clear—there is now no choice but to respond to the request of Theodorus. The “demon” is thus manipulated by the conjurer.

A Spell to Inflict Harm

The last example is a rather horrific piece of black magic that has an elaborate rite. It is a recipe for inflicting great harm on an enemy. The rite is to proceed as follows:

Take a lead lamella [thin, metal plate] and inscribe with a bronze stylus the following names and the Figure [depicted in the papyrus text], and after smearing it with blood from a bat, roll up the lamella in the usual fashion. Cut open a frog and put it into its stomach. After stitching it up with Anubian thread and a bronze needle, hang it up on a reed from your property by means of hairs from the tip of the tail of a black ox, at the east of the property near the rising of the sun.

Following this is an invocation of supernatural beings and the statement of the devilish command to the powers:

Supreme angels, just as this frog drips with blood and dries up, so also will the body of him [a space to insert the name of the victim] whom [a space to insert the name of the victim’s mother] bore, because I conjure you, who are in command of fire maskelli maskello.

It is important to understand that the conjurer is not invoking the good “angels” surrounding the Christian or Jewish God, Yahweh. In the Hellenistic era pagans used the term “angel” (angelos) for supernatural beings and messengers. Here the idea of a supernatural assistant or servant is what is in mind.

Various parts of this magical rite seem rather strange and nonsensical to us. Indeed, for the person who performed the rite, a rational explanation for the details may have defied explanation, but it was believed to work! There was, however, a somewhat rational basis for certain aspects of the magic rite. Magic was based partly on a system of correspondences. Animals, plants, herbs, precious stones and metals were believed to be associated with or to symbolize various gods and demons; therefore, they could be used to attract or repel the presence and influence of these supernatural beings. Moreover, the use of written symbols functioned in much the same way. The seven vowels of the Greek alphabet, for instance, were used in magical texts to represent the seven planetary deities.

These three magical texts give us a glimpse not only of the nature of magic, but also of some fundamental assumptions behind magic: Gods, spirits, angels and demons do exist; they are involved in everyday life; and, most important, they can be manipulated.

Numerous words, names and titles are used in the magical texts to refer to the wide array of spirit beings. From all religious traditions during the New Testament era, people seem to have used a broad vocabulary for the spirit realm. While much of Paul’s vocabulary for the principalities and powers can be found in the magical papyri, he was probably drawing more specifically from the vast reservoir of terminology in the demonology and angelology of first-century Judaism (see chapter four). Pagan readers would have clearly understood what Paul was talking about when he referred to principalities and powers since they shared many of the same terms and concepts with Judaism.[1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 22–27.