Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts

Monday, April 3, 2023

The Path of Reconciliation - Lent with Bonhoeffer Day 35– Purity 1007


The Path of Reconciliation - Lent with Bonhoeffer Day 35– Purity 1007

Purity 1007 04/03/2023 Purity 1007 Podcast

Purity 1007 on YouTube: 

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a sunlight pathway on pouring through brick windows over hardwood floors comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene while visiting the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams on Saturday.  I was moved to take this photo because I was happy to see something pure that the Lord decided to put on display after being somewhat disillusioned and disturbed by what man would call art.  Some of the displays were man’s best attempts to create beauty out of things that had been broken and discarded and some of the themes revealed that the artists may have felt that way about themselves. Other displays were a distortion of things God created and others wittingly or unwittingly paid homage to “gods that were not God” or to Satan himself.  While I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from paying a visit to the very impressive venue of Mass MoCa, I would suggest keeping your spiritual eyes open and see the subtle but inherent dangers that come from man forcing their vision and definition of beauty on the world and in the ways the enemy spurs on that prideful self-expression of rebellion and how he can tempt these “artists” to give him glory to him by including symbols and images that represent him in their work.

I guess that’s what happens when the Lord calls you to follow Him and to pick up the mantle of a spiritual warfare ministry: you can’t help but see the subtle and not so subtle ways the enemy attacks us and actively seeks to steal, kill, and destroy the things God has created. I was moved and impressed by many of the exhibits at Mass MoCa but I also said a prayer of repentance this morning to cleanse myself of any demonic permissions or assignments that may have tried to attach themselves to me through the more sinister elements on exhibit at the museum.

Well, It’s Monday again and while I have to prepare for another week of work at my day job at a telecommunications company, I had to pray that prayer of repentance to prepare myself for a possible confrontation with the spiritual forces of darkness this evening as I will be leading another man from the Freedom in Christ course through the Steps to Freedom in Christ this evening.  And considering this man was oppressed with nightmares that involved bears, imprisonment, chaos, and sexual temptations the evening after he submitted his paperwork for his freedom appointment, the enemy may not be happy with this man’s decision to repent and could attempt to resist our efforts this evening.  

If we had to face off against the enemy in our own strength I would have serious concerns but because we are relying on the power and authority given to us by God because of our faith in Jesus Christ, I am relieved and confident that no demon could stop us from performing what God wants us to accomplish.  So we will trust in the Lord and the power of His might and follow where He leads us.  

Well, after Palm Sunday yesterday, we are in the midst of Holy Week and I looking forward to Resurrection Sunday this weekend but we have to take this journey through Lent one day at a time.  So let’s continue by taking one more step into the 35th day of Lent, and into Day 35 of our current series, the 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

As a reminder, and as we will say each day of this journey, we take this path to mark the season of Lent and to draw closer to God in anticipation of the celebration of Easter, knowing that if we take this journey of repentance seriously, we will not only see the days and seasons change, the Lord will use it to change us too. 

You can sign up to get this devotional yourself by going to the Biblegateway link on the blog (( . 

Day 35

Bonhoeffer writes:

“Thus there remains only one path for those who in following Jesus want to truly serve God in worship, and that is the path of reconciliation with their sisters and brothers.

Anyone who comes to the word and sacrament with an unreconciled heart stands judged by doing so.

Such a person is a murderer in God’s sight.

That is why you must “first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

It is a difficult path Jesus imposes on his disciples.

It includes much humiliation and dishonor for the disciples themselves.

But it is the path to him, our crucified brother, and thus, it is a path full of grace.

In Jesus, service to the least brother or sister and service to God became one.

He went and was reconciled to his human kindred, and then he came and offered himself, the one true sacrifice, to his Father.”

Biblical Wisdom

“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother and sister, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24

Questions to Ponder

  • Bonhoeffer states that: “It is a difficult path Jesus imposes on his disciples.” What makes it difficult?

M.T. Clark: The path of reconciliation that Jesus imposes on us is difficult because it requires our complete surrender to His Lordship which in turns requires our humility, our profession of faith publicly, and our sincere efforts to be “peacemakers” in a world that is hostile to God.  Just yesterday, I was accused of being either an “idiot or a liar” for sharing the belief that the Bible is the word of God.  Our natural inclination as men is to fight fire with fire but because of my skeptical and atheistic past, I know that the  criticism that would call me dishonest or ignorant is coming from a place of ignorance and dishonesty (they either “don’t know” God’s word or are stating that they “know” for certain it isn’t His word – which I would think they couldn’t honestly say). While I don’t think I will be reconciled to this person, I still felt moved to respond, thanking them for their honest feedback, and tried to encourage them to seek out the veracity of the claims regarding God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ for themselves by asking the question: Could the One who created the universe be unable to share His story and reveal His will to those He created? Obviously, I had to humble myself to respond to someone who laid such obvious criticism at my feet.  And even though this is extremely mild treatment on the persecution scale, it demonstrates in a small way the difficult path that Jesus imposes on his disciples to be reconciled to our brothers and to make peace where and if it is up to us.        

  • He also states that, “it is a path full of grace.” Where is the grace?

M.T. Clark: This path is full of grace because it is established by the grace of God.  God’s grace saved us, giving us mercy and favor, and it is only though God’s grace are we able to forgive and offer mercy and favor to others.  The grace is in me as I seek to be reconciled to others, but it comes from God, and if God moves within the situation, it can be received by the other as well. 

  • How did Jesus model the truth that, “service to the least brother or sister and service to God became one”?

M.T. Clark: Jesus’s earthly ministry of proclaiming the forgiveness of sins through faith in Him, His miracles, His acts of service, and His death on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins all model the truth that He is servicing the least brother or sister and simultaneously performing the service that God called Him to do.   All the things Jesus did was in service and obedience to God the Father’s commands, but they also serviced to men’s physical and spiritual needs.  Thus we can service God and man by answering the call to do good works in the name of God here on earth.

Psalm Fragment

O guard my life, and deliver me;
   do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
   for I wait for you. 
Psalm 25:20-21

Journal Reflections

  • Is there someone with whom you need to be reconciled? Write about the circumstances that led to alienation from this person.

M.T. Clark: Need to be reconciled?  Yeah, I would have to say because I still have unfinished business regarding the terms and conditions of my divorce, I need to be reconciled to my ex. While our marriage covenant has been broken and legally severed, our marriage home needs to be sold in order for the terms of our divorce agreement to be fulfilled and to be able to move forward with our lives independently of one another.  I have taken what legal action I can to move things to completion but am waiting for this matter to be resolved. It’s a difficult situation and I await the day we can be reconciled in this matter because I know that even though it may be difficult to get there, both parties will be better off when it is finished.

  • What step(s) might you take to begin the process of reconciliation?

M.T. Clark: I don’t taken the right steps with legal action but I know that I wasn’t getting anywhere without it.  I could try to extend an olive branch of peace but the other party has made it clear that they don’t wish to speak to me and I fear that further actions on my part to be reconciled in this matter would only make this matter worse.  So we wait.  It is difficult path, right?  

Prayer for Today

Gracious God, thank you for reconciling me to yourself; now make me a reconciler.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 


(40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.)

***As we are being provided with Bible verses from the 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we will are taking a break from sharing a verse of the day from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”. We plan on resuming that normal installment of the blog following Easter.*** 


As always, I invite all to go to 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 A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God.”

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






We shall now consider the Value of the doctrine in detail.

3. It repudiates the heresy of salvation by works

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). The way which “seemeth right” and which ends in “death,” death eternal, is salvation by human effort and merit. The belief in salvation by works is one that is common to human nature. It may not always assume the grosser form of Popish penaces, or even of Protestant “repentance,” i.e., sorrowing for sin, which is never the meaning of repentance in Scripture; anything which gives man a place at all is but a variety of the same evil genus. To say, as alas! many preachers, are saying, God is willing to do His part if you will do yours, is a wretched and excuseless denial of the Gospel of His grace. To declare that God helps those who help themselves is to repudiate one of the most precious truths taught in the Bible, and in the Bible alone; namely, that God helps those who are unable to help themselves, who have tried again and again only to fail. To say that the sinner’s salvation turns upon the action of his own will is another form of the God-dishonoring dogma of salvation by human efforts. In the final analysis, any movement of the will is a work: it is something from me, something which I do. But the doctrine of God’s sovereignty lays the axe at the root of this evil by declaring “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:16). Does some one say, Such a doctrine will drive sinners to despair. The reply is, Be it so; it is just such despair the writer longs to see prevail. It is not until the sinner despairs of any help from himself that he will ever fall into the arms of sovereign mercy; but if once the Holy Spirit convicts him that there is no help in himself then he will recognize that he is lost, and will cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” and such a cry will be heard. If the author may be allowed to bear personal witness, he has found during the course of his ministry that the sermons he has preached on human depravity, the sinner’s helplessness to do anything himself, and the salvation of the soul turning upon the sovereign mercy of God, have been those most owned and blessed in the salvation of the lost. We repeat, then, a sense of utter helplessness is the first prerequisite to any sound conversion. There is no salvation for any soul until it looks away from itself, looks to something, yea, to Somone, outside of itself.[1]

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

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

at, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

( The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel:

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog ( ),  her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock ( ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


[1] Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 227–228.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Can’t Hardly Wait – Coming of Age, Coming to Freedom - Purity 810

Can’t Hardly Wait – Coming of Age, Coming to Freedom  - Purity 810

Purity 810 08/15/2022  Purity 810 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun shining above a stand of sunflowers comes to us from TammyLyn Clark as she captured this scene back on July 15th in. literally, her back yard.   My wife has an eye for seeing the simple good things in life that God has provided and shares photos and art work that gives glory to God on her Facebook Group: Art4Him ( .  

She “created this group as a platform to share "original" works of art to give God glory”. I sent out invites this morning to virtually all my friends to join her group where she invites others to “share their own...original art for the glory of the Lord” in whatever art form you use, including “photography, painting, drawing, written word, poetry, songs, dance and more”.

And she also asks that “If you would like to share something from this group...reach out the artist FIRST AND (if sharing is approved) credit the artist in your post.” 

My wife had started this group awhile ago and I have failed to utilize the wonderful photos she has shared for use on my blog, but no more.  Sometimes I am at a loss for which photo to share each day and worry about whether or not the “artist” will approve of me using their work.  I have had relationships broken over assuming my friends would want me to share their work! But I have given TammyLyn credit this morning and I know she supports my work fully, as I do hers.   So I invite you all to join Art4Him and encourage you to share your original artwork to help lift someone’s spirit and to give God glory.  

Well, it’s Monday again, and although I am sure most of us could have waited for another work week to begin, I “can’t hardly wait” for the next round of Freedom in Christ Discipleship Courses to begin.   I know “back to school” may be  a taboo phrase to drop around the youth and teachers who are enjoying their summer vacations but, friends in different parts of the country are already living in it and I look forward to the first session of the Men’s Freedom in Christ Course that I will facilitate that will meet the first Tuesday after Labor Day, in 3 weeks!

This morning I received an e-mail from Freedom in Christ Ministries’ Eastern Regional Course Coordinator, Sue Huber, where she anonymously shared some of the comments of the participants who have registered for the course of why they want to take the course I will lead, in order that I could begin praying for them before we begin.

Whether their reasons are to deepen their faith, to get encouragement for their ministry work, to get help in renewing their mind from negative mind states, or to receive assistance in overcoming personal and spiritual conflicts of the past, I am super excited at the prospect of being able to encourage these men and to help them either experience their freedom, maintain it, or to deepen their walk with God.  

As I thought about the fact that I “can’t hardly wait” for the new session to begin, I remembered that there was a 1998 coming of age, party movie of the same name. I don’t really recall the details of the plot, but basically a bunch of teens graduate high school and go to a party.  The film is an ensemble film and it follows different characters as they struggle with personal dilemmas, relationship issues, and the fears that surround facing the prospect of facing the future and finding love and purpose as they leave adolescence for adult hood.  

This movie came out when my college days were over, but before I had kids with my ex, and although I still drank and did drugs like a college co-ed in my privacy of my home, in many ways the “party was over”.  That youthful exuberance sort of goes by the way side no matter how much you drink or think you are “cool” when the classes stop and the school seasons are less meaningful because you have entered the working work and are full time “adulting”.  

There are lots of coming of age party films that highlight the misadventures of youth, like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Animal House, Losing It, The Last American Virgin, Porky’s, and Dazed and Confused. which unfortunately encourage youth to think that the right of passage into adulthood goes through experiencing wild times with alcohol, drugs, and sex. 

Ironically the effects of these things that we think will make us “real men and women” can actually do the opposite. Instead of freedom, they can lead to bondage.  Instead of liberation that can result in situations where you are stuck dealing with the negative consequences of momentary decisions for years.  Instead of growing up, scientific studies and brain science indicate that addicts get “locked” in the stage of maturity they are at when they first start using. 

Ever wonder why some full grown adults are as immature as they were in high school?   Not only is it possible that they never learned anything from school, according to those studies they can be emotionally and mentally stuck in a mindset where they are grown up adolescents!

Oh that’s not good, if science says that I guess there is no hope for some people! 

Well, that’s what the world would say I guess.  They would tell you that once “an addict always an addict”, or “you can’t teach a old dog new tricks” or that “there are somethings that you will just have to live with as you will always struggle with them”.

But God’s word says something else.  Jesus said in

John 15:5 (NKJV)
5  I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  

If you have been trying to live without Christ, is it surprising that not much has changed since high school in your mind, in your emotions, or in your, soul?  Without Him you can’t do much. He’ says without Him you can do nothing.  

The Cast of “Can’t Hardly Wait” were in their 20’s movie when that movie came out. And even though we could watch that movie today to see them go through their wild misadventures of their youth, the party has long been over and now they are they in their 40’s!  I didn’t do the research but you have to wonder, did any of them “grow up”.   I did a couple of quick google searches of some of the cast members with the word “rehab” with wasn’t surprised that life imitated art in some cases as fortune and fame in youth comes with many worldly temptations. 

So even if you are famous you can struggle but I got good news for the famous or the virtually unknow among us that struggle with the transition of “adulting” and dealing with the lies we believed in our youth that told us what it meant to be “free” or what it meant to be a “real” man or woman.   I have good news to those you falsely believe that they will always suffer or those that believe they can never change.   Although it may seem like you will never change and that some things are just impossible to get past or to overcome, Christ said that

Luke 18:27 (NKJV)
27  But He said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."

The Lord can set you free. God word declares:

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Romans 8:1-2 (NKJV)
1  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

John 8:36 (NKJV)
36  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

So I can’t hardly wait for the prospect of encouraging some men who were bold enough to ask for God for help to discover the person that God created them to be.   There are freedom in Christ courses available for anyone seeking help. Register now at:

But I understand that not everyone will be able to get this help. The class sizes are limited and the times might not work for you.  But hey, I podcasted the classes I taught in 2021, so you don’t have much of an excuse in my book.  

I didn’t have an online class to go to.  All I had was the word of God, a desire to follow the Lord to freedom His word speaks of, and faithful men and women at a local church to encouraged me to keep coming to church and to keep “walking and talking with God.” 

So it’s Monday, and we might have a lot of work to do in the days ahead of us. some of which may seem impossible.  But with God we have hope and power to persevere and to accomplish all that He has for us, if we simply abide in Christ and follow where He leads.


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NLT2)
25  The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.
26  So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD.

Today’s verse speaks the truth that the Lord is good to those who depend on Him, who search for Him, and who wait on Him.

Talk about discipleship instructions!  Enough said?

Depend on the Lord – Pray to Him for help.  Listen for His still quiet voice to guide you.

Search for the Lord – Read His word, Apply it, seek to do the good works He has prepared for you.  

Wait on the Lord – Abide in Him to give you peace and strength to endure as you wait for Him to work in and through you.  

Pressed for time today, but today’s verses are “keepers” to encourage you to keep going where God calls you to.


As always, I invite all to go to 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.

PART III Interpreting the Powers for Today

We face two looming obstacles in interpreting the relevance of Paul’s teaching on the powers for the church today. First, there is the problem of the perception of myth. As pointed out in the introduction, Western society does not give credence to the notion of spirits, be they good or evil. To introduce the idea of evil spirits would be regarded by many as a reversion to primitive myth. We therefore need to grapple seriously with how to draw out the contemporary relevance of the biblical testimony on this theme.

The second major obstacle we face is the wide variety of interpretations of the powers. Traditional Christian interpretation has stressed the influence of the powers on individuals. The bulk of popular charismatic books on this topic have dealt primarily with ministering to people who are demonized. Both of these views, of course, assume that evil spirits really do exist.

More recent interpretations of the powers, in contrast, have stressed the influence of the powers on a broad scale; that is, the powers work primarily through the structures of our existence. Such things as economic and political structures are most often cited (capitalism, socialism, nationalism), but also other factors enter in, such as social patterns, cultural norms, group habits (like the development of a mob spirit in a soccer match). These “structures of existence” are then viewed as the objects of our spiritual struggle and may be regarded as demonic. Many who hold to this view would regard the biblical references to the powers as symbols of nonpersonal realities.

For most Christians, however, the issue of the pervasive influence of the powers has not been a matter of careful reflection. The following section will address the problem of how to interpret the powers for the twentieth-century setting and lead us into thinking more deeply about the influence of the powers on individuals and on a much broader scale. The remarks are limited to the implications we can draw from the apostle Paul’s teaching on the principalities and powers. Much more can be gained by a careful study of the life of our Lord, the book of Acts, the rest of the New Testament epistles and the book of Revelation.[1]

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

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

at, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

( The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel:

Email me at 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 ( ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (

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), 167–168.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

The Immersive Experience - Purity 793

The Immersive Experience - Purity 793

Purity 793 07/26/2022  Purity 793 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “At Eternity’s Gate” projected on a wall just above an exit sign comes to us from yours truly as my wife and I decided to spontaneously immerse ourselves in the spectacular art exhibit: Van Gogh: the Immersive Experience yesterday and this dark piece, and the irony of it’s positioning, caught my attention and compelled me to capture and share it.  

Well it may be “two for Tuesday” for some, but I can think of at least three reasons that I decided to share this particular image out of all of the works of Van Gogh that were on display at the exhibit that literally puts the participant into the paintings of Van Gogh.  

The first reason I share it is promotional. I really enjoy the work of Van Gogh, and art in general, and wish to encourage others to take a part of their time this summer to go a museum or gallery to appreciate the work of artists who purposely or unwittingly give God glory as their artistic talents point to the God that has blessed them with their talents to paint, sculpt, or produce other creative works.

The world may not be a perfect place but as Van Gogh said: “If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere” and as much as I use my blog’s “photo of the day” to highlight the beauty that is inherent in various scenes of nature, I can also admit that we can find beauty in the work of man’s hands and that God gave people these abilities to use them and to help us to appreciate their work and the lives He has given us.  

If you are anywhere near the Capital District area of upstate NY, I highly recommend “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” and I am sharing a link to the site where you can get your tickets for it on the blog today: ( I am also sharing a link that shares the lists of other cities where this exhibit is on ( where it is currently on display, or where it was. Just like life, this exhibit doesn’t last forever, so if this interests you, you should sign up and get ‘er done before you miss your chance.

Of course, there are other places and events where you can see art and I guess this is a general encouragement to support the arts, in all its forms, places, times, and seasons, as they highlight the beauty of life.   

Another reason I share today’s photo, is to encourage my friends to be spontaneous.  Out of the love I had for my wife, I decided to keep experiencing her presence, for one more day, and took an unscheduled day off just to be with her. I didn’t have any plans for the day and because the weather was hit and miss with thunderstorms, I encouraged her to think of something we could do indoors, specifically mentioning museums or art galleries as an option that I would be open to.

Luckily, we both have friends that have been to the Van Gogh Immersive experience who shared their experience with it on social media and my wife remembered it and subtly presented this option to me by putting it on my phone while my attention was turned elsewhere. So she silently suggested it, and me being a “let’s go, let’s go NOW” kind of guy jumped at the opportunity presented to me and before you know it the tickets were purchased and we were on our way to immerse ourselves in Van Gogh’s work.  

So my encouragement here is to be open to new experiences, love your loved ones, and enjoy the life God has given you by going our there and doing something! In truth, it didn’t matter where we went or what we did yesterday, I had taken the day off to be with my wife and to enjoy her company and we merely put that mutual desire to love one another in this context.

We love art, we love nature, we love God, and we love each other and we just happened to bring all of that to the Van Gogh Immersive Experience where all of the elements came together like a piece of art!  Another quote attributed to Van Gogh says: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together” and yesterday we brought all of our small things together to make a great day.  

But I would be remiss if I didn’t address the rather large existential elephant that I brought into the middle in the room by highlighting Van Gogh’s “At Eternity’s Gate”.  Did I share it because I shared Van Gogh’s depressive view of life which is expressed by another of his “quotes”, reportedly the last words that he spoke before leaving this mortal coil, that says: “The sadness will last forever”?  

Not at all! I share it to plead with anyone who will listen, that the sadness doesn’t have to last forever, in this life or the next, and that the One who can give us joy here on earth and the hope of eternal peace and purpose in heaven, is the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Van Gogh’s apparent suicide- although some doubt it, and mental health struggles are well documented and “At Eternity’s Gate” really highlights the mental anguish that Van Gogh was familiar with.  The title is very specific for the cause of the subjects anguish. Whether you theorize it is because of the pain of dying, the loss of the beauty of life, or the fear of an unknown eternal destination the message of “At Eternity’s Gate” and Van Gogh’s last words is clear – “I have no hope”.  But is that true?

For those who don’t know, Van Gogh was the son of a pastor, trained to be a pastor, and had been a missionary to a small mining community in Belgium before being fired for being “overzealous, for his ineloquent speech and for his scruffy appearance. Returning home, Vincent suffered a nervous breakdown, and his struggle with mental health and depression would pervade throughout his life.” (

Van Gogh was frequently misunderstood by others throughout his life, and I fear that despite his exposure to the gospel of Jesus Christ in his background, I fear that near the end he misunderstood the hope he could have, in Christ. 

Another quote from Van Gogh says:

'Christ alone, of all the philosophers, magicians, etc., has affirmed eternal life as the most important certainty, the infinity of time, the futility of death, the necessity and purpose of serenity and devotion. He lived serenely, as an artist greater than all other artists, scorning marble and clay and paint, working in the living flesh.

While this quote affirms the importance of eternal life, spiritual practices, and using our love to impact and shape the lives of others, I fear that it also reveals Van Gogh’s doubts of who Christ is.

Christ is not a philosopher or magician. Christ is the Son of God, and God the Son. It is through faith in Him alone that one can have a new and eternal life. However, due to his failure at serving God’s kingdom in his youth, the rejection of man throughout his life, and his personal sins and mental struggles, Van Gogh’s view at the end appears to be bleak.  

I don’t know the outcome of Van Gogh’s eternal destiny. But I do know that God is good and merciful and that if Van Gogh ever put his faith and trust in Christ as his Lord and Savior, Van Gogh’s mourning would be instantly turned to gladness the moment he died because if his name was written in the Lamb’s book of Life, there would be nothing that could separate him from His Father’s love.  If Van Gogh put his faith in Christ, his sins were forgiven and even if Van Gogh had believed Satan’s lie that “the sadness will last forever”, the artist would have known the joy of his salvation the moment he was absent from his body and was present with the Lord.  

But I also don’t want to paint a picture that ignores, Van Gogh’s pain and anguish over his contemplation of eternity. Van Gogh knew the word and he knew his life. He knew his sin and he knew what the word said about people who lived in the flesh.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV) 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.

Revelation 21:8 (NKJV)
8  But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

For the unrepentant sinner, who never trusts in Christ alone and turns from their former life of sin, the sadness will last forever.  If you reject Christ by choosing your self, your sin, and you way over Him and His way, all hope will be lost when your life expires.  

But where there is life, there is hope. As long as we live, we can choose to immerse ourselves in life everlasting, by putting our faith in Christ.  As bad as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 paints a picture of the consequences of our sins, Paul was writing to give hope to the church as the next line says: 

1 Corinthians 6:11 (NKJV)
11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Such were some of you! If you are justified by faith in Christ, you are washed cleaned and accepted. We need not fear death and we have the power to turn from the sin that would cause us to doubt such a great salvation and lead us to despair.  

So which was it for Van Gogh? Eternal sadness in hell or a life of peace and joy in heaven? Only the Lord knows for sure, but we can be sure that God will do what’s right according to each of us and our faith.   

So keep walking and talking with God, place your faith in Christ, and enjoy the beauty that is all around us. Give the world the hope of heaven and the assurance of a beautiful life that comes through Christ, by sharing the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

If you see people lost in sin and dragging through life in confusion and despair, assure them that God loves them and that if they would simply turn to Him they can leave the darkness and sadness behind for a life of peace, purpose, and beauty that will shine a light from here to eternity’s gate.


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Matthew 5:19 (NLT2)
19  So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Today’s verse are the words of Jesus, and surprise, He is teaching us that to be called great in the kingdom of Heaven, we are to obey the commandments of God and to teach them to others. 

There is a little consolation for the “carnal Christian” here, and all of us really, Christ doesn’t condemn all who ignore “the least commandment” and who teach others to do the same to hell. He indicates that your status will not be ‘great” but at least He doesn’t say “you are out!”  This points to the fact that we do not have to be perfect to be in God’s kingdom, we merely have to be His by our faith in Jesus Christ.  

But this verse does indicate that we shouldn’t ignore God’s commandments and just rest on His grace.  We should instead rejoice over God’s grace and seek to please Him out of our love for Him by applying the wisdom of His word to our lives.   

Here Christ encourages us to choose that which is best, by seeking to be called “great in the kingdom of God” by obeying the Lord’s commandments. 

So humbly seek the greatness that God has for you, by drawing close to Him through studying His word and by living out your faith in everything you do.


As always, I invite all to go to 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.

Giving a Foothold to the Devil

Paul never used the language of “demonization” (often described as “demon possession”) in his letters, which is so common in the Gospels. The closest he came to “possession” language is his concept of giving a “foothold to the devil” as found in Ephesians 4:27. He warned the Christians in Ephesus, “do not give the devil a foothold.”

Topos is the Greek word that the NIV translates as “foothold.” It could also be translated “opportunity” (NASB, RSV) or “chance” (TEV; NEB translates it “loop-hole”). Thus this verse can be expressed, “Do not give the devil a chance to exert his influence.”5 In Romans 12:19, Paul used topos in a similar way, when he says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but ‘leave room’ [literally, ‘give a place’ or ‘give a chance’] for God’s wrath.”

This is the only time Paul made such a statement in any of his letters. He did not go on to explain what kind of “foothold” he believed the devil can gain in the life of a believer or how the devil operates once a believer gives him a “chance.” J. A. Robinson interpreted this passage as referring to an “opportunity for the entry of an evil spirit.” I cannot find clear support for this assertion from Jewish tradition, but there are a number of examples of the idea of God’s people giving the devil (Beliar) an opportunity to take control of their lives. The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, written just before the time of Christ, has much to say about the potential influence of the devil and his spirits over God’s people. One text in particular links unchecked anger with the devil gaining a foothold, just as in the context of Ephesians 4:27. The Testament of Dan 4:7 states, “Anger and falsehood together are a double-edged evil, and work together to perturb the reason. And when the soul is continually perturbed, the Lord withdraws from it and Beliar rules it.” In light of this Jewish tradition it is not surprising then to see Paul regarding excessive anger with relinquishing control of one’s life to the devil.

Paul is clear about how the believer can give the devil a chance to exert control. His warning about giving the devil a foothold is prefaced by the admonition, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Eph 4:26). Paul conceived of excessive anger as one of the means of Satan’s entry into a believer’s life. He probably did not consider this particular vice as the only point of vulnerability for diabolic exploitation. Paul mentioned quite a number of vices in the larger context of the passage, including lying, stealing, dirty talk, bitterness and malice. It is likely that any sinful activity that the believer does not deal with by the power of the Spirit can be exploited by the devil and turned into a means of control over a believer’s life. Therefore, Christians need to resist.

For Paul there is no middle ground. There is no nominal Christianity. Believers either resist the influence of the evil one who works through the flesh and the world, or they relinquish control of their lives to the powers of darkness.

For this reason it is extremely dangerous for believers to harbor bitterness, hold a grudge or pilfer from their place of employment—to name a few examples. Giving in to those temptations does not just confirm the weakness of the flesh, it opens up the lives of believers to the control of the devil and his powers.

Deceived by Servants of Satan (2 Cor 10–13)

Ever since the garden of Eden, Satan has continued to use his diabolical method of deception, causing people to believe a lie. This was particularly true in Paul’s churches with regard to the proliferation of false teaching and the deceitful work of false teachers. In writing to the Galatians, Corinthians and the Colossians, Paul warned these believers about the influence of false teaching. In all three cases he explicitly connects the false teaching with the work of Satan and his powers. Paul also instructed Timothy on how to deal with false teachers at Ephesus, who essentially were pawns in Satan’s hands. All these forms of false teaching characteristically impugn the true nature of the gospel and the person of the Lord Jesus Christ—always leading to the wrong kind of lifestyle and behavior.

The Corinthians were giving credence to a group of polished orators who had described themselves as apostles and missionaries (2 Cor 11:13). They publicly disdained Paul and tried to present themselves as having a higher level of spiritual authority over the Corinthians. While they had apparently claimed to possess authority from Jerusalem, Paul implied that they were teaching a different Jesus and a different gospel than he had proclaimed to them (2 Cor 11:4). Paul then charged them with being “false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.” Finally, he unmasked their true identity: They are servants of Satan masquerading as Christians. Paul regarded Satan as the master of masquerade and deceit. Paul said that Satan can even disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). Some strands of Jewish tradition actually believed that Satan did disguise himself as an angel of light when he tempted Eve in the garden of Eden.

Paul was fearful that these emissaries of Satan would cause the Corinthians to believe a perverted gospel. He therefore cautioned them, “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor 11:3). Paul responded to this situation by endeavoring to “demolish strongholds”—that is, he wanted to tear down the wall of hostility that his opponents had erected between himself and his Corinthian converts (2 Cor 10:4). Furthermore, a “stronghold” of false teaching needed to be eradicated from their midst because it was contrary to the truth of the gospel. Ralph Martin comments, “Paul distinguishes the alien intruders at Corinth, whose satanic work (11:13–15) he wants to overthrow and neutralize, from the body of Pauline believers for whom he entertains optimistic hope of their recovery from the snare of deviation and seduction.” Paul therefore wrote to them to expose the satanic character of this new teaching and to call the Corinthians to break this yoke with Belial (see 2 Cor 6:14–7:1). He wanted them to commit themselves afresh to the true gospel that he proclaimed as a legitimate apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ—the gospel of the Christ who suffered and calls his people to manifest divine power in weakness.

Paul exposed other kinds of demonically inspired false teachings that denigrated the gospel of Christ in the church at Colossae and among the churches of the Galatian region. Paul described the new teaching at Colossae as having come to them through human beings, but in reality the “elementary spirits of the world” (Col 2:8) inspired it. It challenged the full sufficiency of Christ for the believers in Colossae.[1]

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[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 128–131.