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Showing posts with label Anxiety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anxiety. Show all posts

Monday, December 19, 2022

Hold On For One More Day… and Forever - Purity 918


Hold On For One More Day… and Forever -  Purity 918

Purity 918 12/19/2022 Purity 918 Podcast

Purity 918 on YouTube:


Again random 90 degree shift of thumbnail... 


Good morning,

Today’s photo of the late afternoon clouds set ablaze by the setting sun over the fields along Waite Rd comes to us from yours truly as I took several shots of the marvel of creation before me as I was out walking my canine friend, Harley, in the aftermath of the Friday’s snow storm, on Saturday afternoon. By sunset time on Saturday, the plows had cleared the roads but there was still a hush over the land as it seemed like the heavens were recovering from the down pour of snow and the Lord was blessing us with a magnificent light show to encourage us that we “made it” and we could rejoice that life, and He, was still good.  

Well, it’s Monday again and even though you may wonder if there will ever be an end of the regular routine of “working” we can be assured of two things on this second to last Monday morning of December 2022:

1.    Things will change

2.    God is good

As much as we may feel hassled with our regular routines of work or taking care of our responsibilities at home, with the passage of time we could very well long for the days we are struggling to get through today. 

I recall the burdens of caring for my children on a continuous basis, with them in my presence, when I wasn’t working, from the time they woke up to the time they went to sleep,  and now I live with two adults who I barely see.  

Just this past Sunday, I was reflecting with the Cincotti’s on how I no longer go to the school assemblies and Christmas concerts that were attended out of obligation but were also a comfort that marked the season and the aging of all the kids from year to year as they progressively moved ever closer to graduation and “no more “homework” and no more “books”, and presumably “no more teacher’s dirty looks”, as we may not have quite realized that school would be out “forever” someday.    

Likewise, as we go forward in time and space, our professional lives are gaining years and will someday come to an end.  Although, I find it hard to imagine, apparently the routine and purpose that we serve in making our ends meet at our “day jobs” can be so much a part of our lives that we will one day miss “working,” This really is a thing and the corroborating statistical evidence that supports it is that many people die very shortly after retirement.  

This weekend as I was musing over the coming Christmas holiday weekend and the passage of another year, I started to get anxious in considering the questions of the future as I contemplating what would happen with my family and my professional career in the days, months, and years ahead. I got suddenly anxious for a moment when I realized that I had positively no idea what our kids would do or even where my wife and I would be in 5 years, and could only imagine a lot of changes between here and that relatively short distance down the road.  With so many possibilities before us, I was hard pressed to think of something that wouldn’t change or of something I could control.   

I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t “hold on” to anything, necessarily.  My wife and I made a life long commitment to one another in our marriage so I found comfort in that, God willing, we could be one another’s “constant”, that even though we are not currently residing under the same roof 24/7, we have agreed that we would be “together” come what may.  I have found the love of my life in TammyLyn and holding her in my arms and in my imagination as my life travelling companion gave me a lot of peace.  As much as it is up to us, we have agreed to count on each other.  I have gotten more than I could have dreamed with TammyLyn as my wife.  

But, you never know how long we will be together and the more we love something or someone the more we can be anxious over the possibility of losing them.  But the good news is that I was walking and talking with God long before I ever met TammyLyn and I credit Him with bringing this me far in life and for bringing her into my life.  

That second thing we could be sure of, other than that things will change, is that God is good.   Now if you notice, especially considering we are in the Christmas Season, the “Emanuel” season, maybe I should have said “God is with us” rather than just “God is good” but the thing is that while I know that God is omnipresence, somehow paradoxically everywhere at once, I know that His presence, His abiding presence, His manifest presence, in our lives has a lot to do with us and how we interact with Him.  

God is good, for sure.  God is omnipresent, for sure.   But I haven’t always enjoyed His presence or wanted to invite Him into my life  Out of ignorance, confusion, or rebellion, I thought He didn’t exist or didn’t care about me, or I didn’t want Him to.   But He does exist and He does care about everyone of us.  That is in itself sort of amazing, I mean there is just so many of us! 

But we do know He cares and we should know He cares about us, especially this time of year, because He sent Jesus into the earth to live a sinless life, to pay for our sin debt, and to welcome us into His kingdom. 

Regardless of “our relationship status”, God is our constant and when we make peace with Him through putting our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we can have a “constant assurance” of His goodness and presence in our lives.  

In the ever changing world, we need something we can hold on to. While we may have lots of family, friends, or loved ones, the winds of change are going to blow and from year to year we just don’t know who will remain in our company.  But when you are connected to God, the Constant One, you never have to fear being alone or where the days, weeks, months, and years will take you. 

In Christ, God is with us. And on the path of Christian Discipleship, we can walk and talk with Him every day! That’s what our life of faith is supposed to be all about, the fruit of the Spirit growing in our lives, because we decide to follow Him and never leave His presence.  

So, I know how the uncertainty of life, Christmas this weekend, and the changing years ahead of us can utterly freak us out and make feel “groundless”.  But we have a “constant’. We have an eternal companion in God and we can cast all fear invthe presence of His perfect love for us and face the day with confidence knowing that in this groundless world, we have a Rock to stand and build our present and future upon.  

So take a breath and remember, although things may change, God is good and if you choose to, He can be with you all the days of your life. So keep on 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 42:4-6 (NLT2)
4  My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be…5  Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and
6  my God! …

Today’s verse reminds us that when our heart is breaking as we contemplate the “good old days” to put our hope in God and to praise our Savior and our Lord.  

As, I indicated in the first part of the message, even I who like to think that I have learned how to navigate through life in relative peace and joy, can run into anxiousness and teeter on the edgy of heartbreak as I consider the days behind me and the uncertainty of the days ahead.  

Let’s face it, while it is awesome to accumulate “life experience” the draw back is that we leave our youth behind and become schooled in the impermanent way of the world.  

To echo the sentiments of Old Father O’Hara from “Gone with the Wind” we might see that nothing in this world lasts.   As a plantation owner, O’Hara stressed the importance of Land: because he saw the earth beneath his feet as “the only thing in the world that amounts to anything, for 'Tis the only thing in this world that lasts, 'Tis the only thing worth working for, worth fighting for - worth dying for.” (https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/margaret_mitchell_157605)  To see the civilization of the South forever changed by the Civil War, broke his heart and possibly his mind, as he undoubtedly wanted to live in the prosperity of former days.  

Remembering the “good old days” can really break our hearts when we ground our identity in times, seasons, relationships, or things that fade away. 

And Thus today’s verse, encourages the broken hearted to remember our God and Savior whose kingdom will never fade away.  The remedy for those broken hearted over remembering the way things were is to focus on and to praise God, the one who is good and eternal.   

So, it’s Monday so do what you have to do, but if you feel low, focus on the One on high and praise Him for He last forever with us.

 

 

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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 Church of Jesus Christ and Discipleship

 

Chapter Eleven

The Visible Church-Community, Concludes

 

Christians are to remain in the world, not because of the God-given goodness of the world, nor even because of their responsibility for the course the world takes. They are to remain in the world solely for the sake of the body of the Christ who became incarnate—for the sake of the church-community. They are to remain in the world in order to engage the world in a frontal assault. Let them “live out their vocation in this world” in order that their “unworldliness” might become fully visible.[70] But this can take place only through visible membership in the church-community. The world must be contradicted within the world. That is why Christ became a human being and died in the midst of his enemies. It is for this reason—and this reason alone!—that slaves are to remain slaves, and Christians are to remain subject to authority.

This is also entirely consistent with what Luther, in those decisive years after leaving the monastery, has to say about a secular vocation. He did not repudiate the very lofty standards set by monastic life, but that obedience to the command of Jesus was understood as an achievement of individuals. Luther did not attack the “unworldliness” of monastic life, but the fact that within the confines of the monastery this estrangement from the world had been turned into a new spiritual conformity to this world. This, to Luther, was the most insidious perversion of the gospel. The “unworldliness” of the Christian life is meant to take place in the midst of this world. Its place is the church-community which must practice it in its daily living. That is what Luther thought. And that is why Christians ought to carry out their Christian life in the midst of their secular vocation. That is why they ought to die to the world in the midst of their worldly calling. The value of the secular vocation for Christians is that it allows them to live in the world by God’s goodness and to engage more fervently in the fight against the things of this world. Luther did not return to the world based on a “more positive assessment” of this world, or even by abandoning the expectation of the earliest church that Christ’s return was imminent. His return rather was meant as a protest and criticism of the secularization of Christianity within the monastic life. By calling Christians back into the world, Luther in fact calls them to become unworldly in the true sense. This actually proved to be his own experience. Luther’s call to return into the world always was a call to become a part of the visible church-community of the incarnate Lord. And the same is also true of Paul.

It is, therefore, also evident that in living out their secular vocations, Christians come to experience very definite limits, and that in certain cases the call into a secular vocation must of necessity be followed by the call to leave that worldly vocation. This is entirely in keeping with both Luther’s and Paul’s thinking on the matter. What defines these limits is our very belonging to the visible community of Christ. The limits are reached wherever there is a clash between the space the body of Christ claims and occupies in this world for worship, offices, and the civic life of its members, and the world’s own claim for space. That this state of affairs has been reached becomes at the same time evident in two ways. First, it becomes necessary for members of the church-community to make a visible and public confession of faith in Christ. Second, it becomes necessary for the world either wisely to withdraw or to resort to violence. This is the point where Christians are drawn into public suffering. They who died with Christ in baptism and whose secret sufferings with Christ had thus far not been noticed by the world are now publicly dismissed from their profession in this world. They join their Lord in a visible community of suffering [Leidensgemeinschaft]. They now need even more the full fellowship and support of brothers and sisters in the church-community.[75]

But it is not always the world which expels Christians from their professional life. Even as early as the first few centuries of the church, certain professions were considered incompatible with being a member of the Christian community. Actors who had to portray pagan gods and heroes, teachers who were forced to teach pagan mythologies in pagan schools, gladiators who had to take human life for entertainment’s sake, soldiers who carried the sword, police officers and judges—they all had to leave their pagan professions if they wanted to be baptized. Later the church—or rather the world!—managed to give Christians permission again to take up most of these professions.[77] Rejections were from now on more and more enacted by the world rather than the church-community.

But the older this world grows, and the more sharply the struggle between Christ and Antichrist grows, the more thorough also become the world’s efforts to rid itself of the Christians. To the first Christians the world still granted a space in which they were able to feed and clothe themselves from the fruits of their own labor. A world that has become entirely anti-Christian, however, can no longer grant Christians even this private sphere in which they pursue their professional work and earn their daily bread. It feels compelled to force Christians to deny their Lord in exchange for every piece of bread they want to eat. In the end, Christians are thus left with no other choices but to escape from the world or to go to prison. But when they have been deprived of their last inch of space here on earth, the end will be near.

The body of Christ is thus deeply involved in all areas of life in this world. And yet there are certain points where the complete separation remains visible, and must become even more visible. However, whether in the world or separated from it, Christians in either case seek to obey the same word: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed into a new form (μεταμορφοῦσθε) by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God” (Rom. 12:2). There is a way of living in conformity with this world while being in it, but there is also a way of creating for oneself the spiritual ‘world’ of the monastery. There is an illegitimate way of remaining in the world, just as there is an illegitimate way of escaping from it. In either case we become conformed to the world. But the community of Christ has a ‘form’ that is different from that of the world. The community is called to be ever increasingly transformed into this form. It is, in fact, the form of Christ himself. He came into the world and in infinite mercy bore us and accepted us. And yet he did not become conformed to the world but was actually rejected and cast out by it. He was not of this world.[81] If it engages the world properly, the visible church-community will always more closely assume the form of its suffering Lord.

Christians must therefore be aware that “the time has grown short. In addition, I hold that from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none; and those who mourn as though they were not mourning; and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing; and those who buy as though they had no possessions; and those who make use of this world take care not to misuse it. For what is of this world is passing away. I want you to be free from anxieties” (1 Cor. 7:29–32a). This describes the life of Christ’s community in the world. Christians live just like other people. They marry, they mourn and they rejoice, they buy and they make use of the world for their daily needs. But whatever they possess, they possess only through Christ, and in Christ, and for the sake of Christ, and are thus not bound by it. They possess it as though they did not possess it. They do not set their heart on their possessions, and thus they remain entirely free. This is why they are able to make use of the world and why they ought not to escape from it (1 Cor. 5:10). But since they are free, they are also able to abandon the world whenever it prevents them from following their Lord. They marry; the apostle, however, thinks it is more beneficial if they remain unmarried provided this can be done in faith (1 Cor. 7:7, 33–40). They buy and engage in commerce, but they do this only to provide for their daily needs. They do not store up treasures for themselves nor set their hearts on them. Christians work since they are called not to be idle. But their work is, of course, for them not an end in itself. The idea of work simply for work’s sake is foreign to the New Testament. Everyone ought to provide for themselves through their labor. And each ought to earn enough to be able to share something with other Christians (1 Thess. 4:11f.; 2 Thess. 3:11f.; Eph. 4:28). Christians ought to remain independent of “those on the outside,” that is, the pagans (1 Thess. 4:12). In this they follow the example of Paul himself, who took special pride in earning his daily bread by the work of his own hands, and thus even maintaining his independence from the church communities he had founded (2 Thess. 3:8; 1 Cor. 9:15). Paul insists on this independence, hoping that it will prove that his preaching is not motivated by the desire for financial gain. All work is done in service to the church-community. The commandment to work is accompanied by another commandment: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). Christians know: “Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires” (1 Tim. 6:6–9). Christians make use of the things of this world as things “that perish with use” (Col. 2:22). And they do so with thanksgiving and prayer to the creator of all the goodness of creation (1 Tim. 4:4). But all the while they are nonetheless free. They can cope with being well fed and with going hungry, with having plenty and with being in need. “I can do all things through the one who empowers me, Christ” (Phil. 4:12f.).

Christians are in the world and they need the world; they are fleshly; for the sake of their fleshly nature, Christ came into the world. They do worldly things. They marry, but their marriage will look different from that of the world. Their marriage will be “in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39). It will be sanctified through being in the service of the body of Christ, and it will be subject to the discipline of prayer and abstinence (1 Cor. 7:5). In this, Christian marriage will become a parable of Christ’s self-sacrificial love for his church-community. Indeed, their marriage will itself be a part of the body of Christ. It will be church (Eph. 5:32). Christians buy and sell, they are engaged in trade and commerce. But even this they will practice in a different way than the pagans. Not only will they refrain from taking unfair advantage of one another (1 Thess. 4:6), but they will even do what must seem incomprehensible to the world, namely, to prefer to be taken advantage of and to suffer injustice rather than to insist on their rights before a pagan court of law over “things that are only of temporary significance.” If it is unavoidable, they will settle their disputes within the church-community, before their own tribunals (1 Cor. 6:1–8).

The Christian community thus lives its own life in the midst of this world, continually bearing witness in all it is and does that “the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31), that the time has grown short (1 Cor. 7:23), and that the Lord is near (Phil. 4:5). That prospect is cause for great joy to the church-community (Phil. 4:4). The world becomes too confining; all its hopes and dreams are set on the Lord’s return. The community members still walk in the flesh. But their eyes are turned to heaven, from whence shall return the one whom they await. Here on earth, the church-community lives in a foreign land. It is a colony of strangers far away from home, a community of foreigners enjoying the hospitality of the host country in which they live, obeying its laws, and honoring its authorities. With gratitude it makes use of what is needed to sustain the body and other areas of earthly life.[90] In all things the church-community proves itself to be honorable, just, chaste, gentle, quiet, and willing to serve. It demonstrates the love of its Lord to all people, but “especially for those of the family of faith” (Gal. 6:10; 2 Peter 1:7). In suffering it is patient and joyful, taking pride in its tribulation. It lives its own life subject to a foreign authority and foreign justice. It prays for all earthly authority, thus rendering this authority the best service it can offer (1 Tim. 2:1). But it is merely passing through its host country. At any moment it may receive the signal to move on. Then it will break camp, leaving behind all worldly friends and relatives, and following only the voice of the one who has called it. It leaves the foreign country and moves onward toward its heavenly home.

Christians are poor and suffering, hungry and thirsty, gentle, compassionate and peaceable, persecuted and scorned by the world. Yet it is for their sake alone that the world is still preserved. They shield the world from God’s judgment of wrath. They suffer so that the world can still live under God’s forbearance. They are strangers and sojourners on this earth (Heb. 11:13; 13:14; 1 Peter 1:1). They set their minds on things that are above, not on things that are of the earth (Col. 3:2). For their true life has not yet been revealed; it is still hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Here on earth, they only see the opposite of what they are to become. What is visible here is nothing but their dying—their hidden, daily dying to their old self, and their public dying before the world. They are still hidden even from themselves. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.[97] As a visible church-community, their own identity remains completely invisible to them. They look only to their Lord. He is in heaven, and their life for which they are waiting is in him. But when Christ, their life, reveals himself, then they will also be revealed with him in glory (Col. 3:4).

They wander this earth, but their life lies in heaven;

powerless though they be, their weakness protects the world.

While turmoil rages around them, they taste only peace;

poor though they be, they possess what gives them joy.

Suffer though they may, they remain joyful;

They seem to have died to the natural senses,

and instead live the internal life of faith.

When Christ, their life, will be revealed,

when someday he will show himself in glory,

then together with him as princes of the earth,

they will appear in glory while the world gazes in wonder.

Then shall they reign in triumph with him,

as glorious lights adorn the heavens.

Openly then shall joy burst forth.

—Chr. Fr. Richter

This is the community of those who have been called out of this world, the ecclesia, Christ’s body on earth, the followers and disciples of Jesus.[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

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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), 244–253.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Holiday Stress Beginning Already? Learn Ways to Be Calm - Purity 887


Holiday Stress Beginning Already? Learn Ways to Be Calm -  Purity 887                  

Purity 887 11/12/2022 Purity 887 Podcast

Purity 887 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of the unnatural wonder of a mammoth artificial Christmas tree decorated to remind people of the need to go Christmas shopping, and possibly encourage people to remember the birth of or Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, comes to us from yours truly as I stopped long enough to capture it before running out the door of the Walden Galleria Mall in Buffalo yesterday…

Ok I have a confession to make. While it will be “yesterday” when I release this message, I am actually writing this moments after leaving the mall and before the David Jerimiah event I will be prayerfully serving at in just an hours time!

Yup, you see I am going back home tomorrow and I want to hit the ground running, as in, no, do not collect $200, do not even go to jail, go directly home because “we out of here”.  

I have enjoyed my trip immensely thus far but tomorrow morning I will be raring to go and right now can’t imagine writing and recording the podcast at the Hostel again. “Hey guys, its been real.  Later.” As if any of the Hostel guests would know or care, its that laid back and fluid in Hostel world. 

Anyway, my ill conceived choice to go into the mall to kill some time caused me to stress in general about the holidays and specifically about my Exodus tomorrow. And As I was checking my email, I saw an appropriate message to share from the Freedom in Christ blog about the coming holiday season and anxiety and I figured that I should share that then rather come up with some wisdom from the Parking lot. 

So  I am sharing a message from Freedom in Christ Ministries’ National Director of Prayer, Sue Jantz entitled Calm – Part 1 that was released on FICM’s blog (https://blog.ficm.org/blog/calm-part-1) to give us all some helpful advice about how to be able to handle any social anxiety that may make a visit this holiday season:

“We have officially entered the holiday season! Do the activities surrounding the holidays make you giddy with excitement, scouting the stores for all things “grinch,” or somewhere wavering in the middle? Interestingly, Psychology Today reports that studies show that approximately 40 percent of all adults are riddled with social anxiety around the holidays.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines anxiety—and its synonyms care, concern, and worry—this way: “a troubled or engrossed state of mind or the thing that causes this.”

The Greek word for anxiety means “divided” with the implication that what is divided is our mind. When we live in anxiety, we can become a “double-minded” person who is “unstable in all his ways,” as James says.

Peter links anxiety with the roaring lion, our adversary, Satan, who prowls around seeking who he may devour (1 Peter 5:6-8).

So let’s take a moment to identify where we are facing anguished uncertainty (uncertain goals) this holiday season.

It may be:

  • Family relationships
  • Work environment and relationships
  • Physical health
  • Financial expenditures and expectations

The world gives us helpful (or not so helpful) advice to calm our anxious hearts:

  • “Really?! Calm Down!”
  • “Suck it up!
  • Get it together!”

 

Since our body, soul and spirit are connected, our anxious emotions trigger a physical response both for good and for ill. Scripture speaks directly to this.

Isaiah 13:7 NLT – “Every arm is paralyzed with fear. Every heart melts”

Jeremiah 50:43 – “The king of Babylon heard the report of them, and his hands fell helpless; anguish seized him, pain as of a woman in labor.”

Ezekiel 7:17 MSG – “‘Every hand hangs limp, every knee turns to rubber” (In view of God’s coming judgment upon His people).

In a frightening scenario painted in Psalm 46 of both physical upheaval and political turmoil, God gives a command, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

But how can we know that He is God if we are in anxious turmoil?

Let’s start with some simple, physical practices to counter anxiety. Some of these we do subconsciously and don’t even realize they are calming such as massaging our arms or rubbing our face. But small practices done over time can make a significant difference!

The first is belly breathing—slow and low. This is the breathing taught to U. S. Navy Seals which helps deactivate the fight or flight response.

  • Inhale to a count of four letting your diaphragm expand, hold to count of four, then exhale to the count of four and say a verse of Scripture. My favorite is Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you, O Lord.” Then pause and count to four. Repeat three times. I love to do this “stronghold buster” as I lay down to sleep.
  • Others say a name of God like Lord Jesus on the inhale, and a Scripture prayer on the exhale like “Help me to be still and know that you are God.”

 

The next is quiet through participating physically in worship. The Scripture is replete with commands—let us sing to the Lord, let us shout to the God of our salvation, let us worship and bow down, let us exalt His name together. Dr. Richard Smith of the Oklahoma Neuroscience Institute found participatory worship causes a decrease in blood pressure, pulse and breathing slows, hand temperature increases, and there is a reduction in anger and depression because of increased dopamine and serotonin! If David’s harp music calmed the angry King Saul, it can bring peace to our soul.

As I mentioned in the beginning, it’s almost impossible to tell someone else or yourself to relax and then be instantly relaxed. But what is helpful is tensing and releasing various muscle groups from your head to your toes. This is something you can do discreetly like when I was on a flight when they announced there was a malfunction in the ventilations system, and there would be no air circulating from the time we touched down till we got to the gate!

Another practice is yawning. Yawning signals to your body that it is time to quiet and rest. Turn your head to left, yawn, and then to the opposite way and yawn. One article called it the fastest way to hack mental stress and gain focus as it gets more oxygen to the brain.

Laughter and play are helpful as well: “A merry heart is like good medicine” (Proverbs 17: 22). The Christian author Dr. Archibald Hart writes, “Delighting in the everyday pleasures of life actually repairs and heals the overstimulation of our brains.”

Lastly, physical exercise can help us to calm. Strenuous exercise releases endorphins which relieve pain and create a sense of well-being. Walking at a little slower pace gives us time to drink in God’s beauty in creation.

In Matthew 7, there’s a familiar story of two men, one who built his life on the rock and the other one on the sand. Jesus says this, “Everyone who hears these words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). The wise are not those who simply get it, but those who practice it. This week should give us plenty of opportunities to practice these quieting exercises so that we can know the God who is the Prince of Peace!”

Sue Jantz – FICM National Director of Prayer

Okay, I hope that helps! Keep Walking and talking with God and I will report on my evening as a volunteer with David Jerimiah on Monday, possibly, because when you walk in the Spirit the Lord may have something else in mind and may point me in another direction. 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

John 5:24 (NLT2)
24  “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

Today’s verse are the words of Jesus and the exclusivity of Christ alone to save us could not be made any clearer. If we listen to Jesus and believe in God we will have eternal life, we will never be condemned and have the assurance of our salvation like it is already a done deal.  

Now you could play Jesus’ statements here and say “ Oh I hear you Jesus and I do believe in “A god” so we are good, right? 

Unfortunately, Christ called his disciples to follow Him, not just hear His words and generally disregard them and then just have the faintest sense of mentally assent to a belief in God.    

NO Christ came to earth to draw people to the Father, to bring people into the kingdom, to know God and to live for God, to love God with all of our hearts, minds, and strength.  

So while Christ’s message is clear we have sure that we let those we share the gospel with that while the gift of salvation is free it is not cheap. It cost Christ His life, and the epistles indicate it will cost us ours as well as Paul writes that we are crucified and die with Christ and then are raised to new life through Christ’s resurrection.  

So today’s verse is great news, but we have to receive all of it to live.  

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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

The Simplicity of Carefree Life

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matt. 6:19–24).

The life of those who follow proves to be on the right course when nothing comes between them and Christ, not the law, not their own piety, and not the world. The disciples always see only Christ. They do not see Christ and the law, Christ and piety, Christ and the world. They do not even begin to reflect that; they just follow Christ in everything. So their vision is simple. Its sole focus is on the light which comes from Christ. There is no darkness or ambiguity in their eyes. Just as the eye must remain simple, clear, and pure, so that the body may remain in the light, just as the foot and the hand have no other source of light except the eye, just as the foot stumbles and the hand gropes when the eye is clouded, just as the whole body is in darkness when the eye is blinded, so disciples are in the light only as long as they look simply to Christ and not to this or that. The disciples’ hearts must simply be focused on Christ alone. If the eye sees something other than what is real, then the whole body is deceived. If the heart clings to the appearances of the world, to the creatures instead of the creator, then the disciple is lost.

It is the goods of the world which try to turn away the hearts of Jesus’ disciples. What is it that attracts the heart of a disciple? That is the question. Is it attracted by the goods of the world, or even by Christ and the goods of the world? Or does it stand by Christ alone? The light for the body is the eye, and the light for a disciple is the heart. If the eye is dimmed, how dark the whole body must be. If the heart is darkened, how dark it must be in the disciple. The heart becomes dark when it clings to the goods of the world. Then Jesus’ call, be it as urgent as can be, nevertheless bounces off; it finds no entry in the person, because the heart is closed. It belongs to another. Just as no light can enter the body if the eye is evil, so the word of Jesus cannot enter the disciple if the heart is shut. The word is choked off, just as the seed among thorns is choked by the “cares, riches, and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14).

The simplicity of the eye and the heart is like the hiddenness in which nothing except Christ’s word and call is known and complete communion with Christ is all there is. How should disciples deal simply with the goods of the earth?

Jesus does not forbid them to use the goods. Jesus was human. He ate and drank just as his disciples did. In doing so, he purified the use of the goods of the earth. Disciples should gratefully use the goods required for their bodies’ daily need and nutrition—goods which are consumed in sustaining life. “We’re wandering Pilgrims day by endless days, / ill-clothed and poor yet freed in fearless ways. / We need not gather, hoard, nor trade, / lest our paths to God overburdened fade. / Who so craves with greed’s lethal eyes, / cannot along life’s journey with us have ties. / Few goods at hand, we live at peace, / with God our lot our needs decrease.”[200] Goods are given to us to be used, but not to be stored away. Just as Israel in the desert received manna daily from God and did not have to worry about food and drink, and just as the manna which was stored from one day for another rotted, so should Jesus’ disciples receive their share daily from God. But if they store it up as lasting treasure, they will spoil both the gift and themselves. The heart clings to collected treasure. Stored-up possessions get between me and God. Where my treasure is, there is my trust, my security, my comfort, my God. Treasure means idolatry.[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), 161–163.

 


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Overwhelming Work? Never Ending Grace- Purity 818


Overwhelming Work? Never Ending Grace- Purity 818

Purity 818 08/24/2022  Purity 818 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a view of the Grand Canyon comes to us from a friend who visited there back in April while on an epic road trip that took them throughout the Southwest and terminated in California. With views like this we are not surprised that our friend fell in love with Arizona as they were surprised to admit that “Arizona will apparently forever have a piece of my heart now.”    

I know that a canyon is perhaps not the best way to visually represent “hump day” but I would imagine that those canyon walls sure look like a mountain to the people at the bottom of it!  Also it sort of visually represents how I feel this morning as I contemplate the “mountain” of tasks that seem to be surrounding me as I have decided to prepare for the ministry work I have committed myself to in the upcoming weeks and months as summer will give way to “back to school season”.  

So this morning, I thought I would give a little advice on what to do when we feel overwhelmed with work or have realized the responsibilities that are involved with the promises or commitments we have made.  While my suggestions may be adopted by anyone in general, I will be specific in saying that we will rely on the Lord to help, strengthen, and guide us as we seek to climb out of the valley of the things we agreed to or to keep going over the mountain of things we have to do from “here to there”.   

And I guess that’s where I will begin: at the end.  

Okay, so we are talking about stress, we got things to do, we have limited time, and limited resources, and just thinking about it all can cause us to freak out, to grow anxious or become depressed.  

Unfortunately, in my experience I can attest to the fact that the world, the flesh, and the devil seem to love to pile it on when we may have over extended ourselves or have agreed to things that we didn’t realize would entail what they entail.    

So if the work itself wasn’t enough to deal with, we will be distracted and led astray by our emotions or temptations to make decisions that don’t help or can make matters worse by squandering more of our limited resources.  Ask me how I know!

So back to the end, while some of us may be on a journey with no end in sight and with an uncertain destination, we can find a measure of peace in doing what we can do for today and in making short term goals to not only measure our progress but to motivate us with the fact that we can accomplish some things in a short time even if it may take months or even years to accomplish our long term goals.  

So we contemplate our “ends” – What do we need to do, and what can we do, by the end of the day? the end of the week, or the end of the month?   

Instead of growing anxious because of all the situations and tasks that are on our plate, we divide and conquer it by being realistic and intentional in assessing and prioritizing the things that need to be done now versus the things that can be done later.  So what needs to be done today and what can wait? 

Also in this assessment, we should also consider the things we can complete and the things that will be an ongoing issue or require a sustained effort to complete.    

Once we get an idea of that, we can choose to take on our work in various ways.   We can take on each task one by one and press in until their completion or we can split our time and energy between tasks in equal or unequal measures to begin an overall campaign of activity that will result in “everything” getting done before crucial deadlines.  

So yeah we have to know those deadlines – that’s the end right and be diligent to meet them in a way that will not cause unbalance with the rest of our lives. 

A broad approach that takes everything in consideration and balances your efforts in small increments over time is preferable to leaving things to the last minute in terms of our peace, so avoid the temptations to be lazy but at the same time be wise in knowing your limits and be sure to get some rest when you need it.   

This is all just general advice that anyone can take but I wouldn’t be doing you any favors if I didn’t remind you that your relationship with God is continuous and the Lord can help you in your efforts to dig yourself out of the hole you are in or to climb over the mountain of work you have to surmount.     

Without God in our lives, we could probably manage to get things done and we will have varying levels of success in performing our tasks and in avoiding making dumb decisions that will hinder our progress but when we walk and talk with Him in our “Everyday” lives we can benefit from His presence, His wisdom, His strength, and His rest.   

The very fact of our covenant relationship with the Lord is a game changer.  His grace is enough and it liberates us.  When we know that no matter how we perform in this world that we are approved of and accepted by God, we can watch the pressure and stress of the things that usually cause us fits disappear.   

The amazing thing about grace is that we can fail.  Failure is an option.  Quitting is an option. There really is no case scenario with God.  No matter how we mess up God will still love us. We can even literally die of shame and embarrassment of failing at our accomplishments and God would be there to welcome us into His arms.  

God knows our pain. God knows our struggles. God knows our situations.

But He never leave us or forsake us in them and He will be available to us to comfort us and to encourage us through the things we need to do.  

So as we plan, as we prioritize, and as we work to “get ‘er done”, we shouldn’t forget that we are not alone. God is with us and just knowing that and being able to go to Him for comfort, guidance and strength will give His power to persevere, overcome, or endure the things that this life will bring to us. 

Although, the things I have committed myself to and the work that is involved in doing them can seem overwhelming when I look at them, when I remember that God approves of me regardless of my performance and that He is with me all the time, those tasks don’t seem so scary anymore. 

I’ll either do a good job, or I won’t. I’ll either get ‘er done or I will have to humble myself and admit that I took on more than I was able.   But even if I do less than what I would have like, I won’t die and even if I do, God will still be with me.  

So don’t be afraid of the “Big Old Pile of work” before you, Don’t be afraid of the opinions of others if you fail. God loves you and you will never be rejected by Him when you put your faith in Jesus and follow Him to the best of your abilities.

God encourages to stretch ourselves to do the impossible, but He has already accepted us as we are.  

But instead of staying where we are, let’s follow the Lord and see what we Can do with  this life. Let’s see where the Lord has to take us and let’s see what we can accomplish when we walk 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:

Isaiah 40:29 (NLT2)
29  He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.

Today’s verse tells us that God gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.  

And all the people said: Amen! – Through our faith in Jesus Christ, we’ve got God on our side guys! We know His grace and it will be with us to carry us wherever the Lord wants us to go.  

Grace is God’s “divine, unmerited favor”.  It doesn’t run out at salvation. As His adopted children, God wants to know His love and His care for us.   If we ask for His strength, we will receive it.  

While God’s power in us may not result in miraculous works or signs and wonders, His strength can be called on to help us to accomplish things we never thought we could or to endure trials and tribulations we would never have thought we could survive.  

God’s strength is in His presence and when we continually abide in Him, we can cast out fear and have hope and joy as we walk through this life.  So if you are feeling weak powerless, ask your Heavenly Father for His help and receive His strength.

______________________________________________________________________

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 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.

Discerning the Demonic

How can a person detect the direct influence of evil spirits as opposed to it being a societal influence or one’s own inclination toward doing evil?

In the Gospels and Acts it appears that Christ, the apostles and ministers had little trouble detecting the immediate work of evil spirits in the lives of demonized people. Their physical conditions (unusual muscular strength, physical debilitation or illness), bizarre behavior (like living among tombs), extreme reaction to Christ or the use of his name and authority, and the direct response of the demon using the person’s vocal apparatus in reply to Christ (or a follower of Christ) appear to have been foremost among the evidences. Many would contend that the same evidences of intense demonic influence can be seen in certain people today. Some argue that people involved in Satanism and the occult open the door to this kind of severe demonic control; in most instances such people specifically seek communication with demons and the prince of evil.

Yet we should not limit our perception of Satan’s activity to these more dramatic forms. We need to be wary of too readily restricting the devil’s work exclusively to murderous Satanic rituals, scenes similar to those in the The Exorcist, and witchcraft. Satan and his spirits can influence people even if they do not experience voices in their heads and roam graveyards. It is the broader activity of Satan and the principalities and powers that the apostle Paul appeared to stress in his letters.

While Satan may often work in a direct and immediate way in people, he also asserts his sway more indirectly through exploiting “the world” and reinforcing the appetites of the flesh (our inclination toward evil). Thus we need to speak of varying levels of his influence.

First, as “the prince of this world,” Satan attempts to exert his polluting influence on all aspects of societal life and culture. When biblical ethics are portrayed in a negative light in society, Satan has been successful in extending his evil influence on a broad scale. For instance, when pilfering from one’s employer is rationalized, Satan becomes victorious. When vengeance is regarded as the best course of action against a person who wrongs us, Satan has successfully twisted our moral conscience. In short, Satan can pervert societal morals, traditions and customs. (The next chapter will develop this aspect of Satan’s activity in more detail.)

Second, Satan works in concert with an individual’s inclination toward evil (“flesh”). If a person is naturally inclined toward anger and bitterness, in some way an evil spirit may directly encourage that attitude. If the malice continues and intensifies, demonic involvement in the person’s life may become more direct. This situation is what Paul referred to as giving “a place” to the devil. In principle, it appears that those who persistently and willfully continue in certain patterns of sinfulness may experience increasing amounts of direct demonic influence.

Paul did not speculate about how these powers precisely work their evil influence of temptation. He merely said the powers do exert this kind of influence as his way of motivating and preparing believers to face the impending trials.

During World War 2, Oxford Medieval scholar C. S. Lewis wrote an imaginative account of a series of letters, penned by an older seasoned demon to his younger inexperienced nephew. In this little book, entitled The Screwtape Letters, Lewis envisioned each of the powers of darkness as having an assigned “patient” for whom the demon is given the responsibility of using every possible means to direct the patient’s attention away from anything that would lead that person toward God’s kingdom. Throughout the book Lewis depicted the younger demon (Wormwood) as keeping careful track of everything in his patient’s train of thinking and then working to influence the subject’s thoughts in the areas the demon considered him to be the most vulnerable. In describing the elder demon’s instructions to the younger, Lewis used such phrases as: “make him think,” “fuddle him,” “tempt,” “keep everything hazy in his mind,” “keep his mind off …,” “turn their gaze away from Him [God] toward themselves,” and “let an insult or a woman’s body so fix his attention outward …” The power of Lewis’s presentation is in his ability to balance the “patient’s” free will with the compelling power of the incessant supernatural temptation that vies with the ever-wooing, enabling and encouraging Spirit of God. Lewis provokes his readers into thinking about Satan’s potential involvement in the hour-to-hour mundane affairs and decisions of everyday life.

While Lewis’s account moves far beyond the few insights given to us in Scripture, I do not think he contradicts what we know about the work of the powers in Paul’s writings. I am convinced that the apostle Paul would have gone far down the road with Lewis in agreeing with him that the powers of darkness entice unbelievers and believers alike. Lewis has served the Christian community well by heightening the awareness of the demonic in a stirring way that calls for vigilance and dependence on the Lord.[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), 187–189.