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Showing posts with label Bonhoeffer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bonhoeffer. Show all posts

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Does the Bible ACTUALLY Say That? Convicted to Follow and Live for Christ - Purity 1241

 

Does the Bible ACTUALLY Say That? Convicted to Follow - Purity 1241

Purity 1241 01/06/2024 Purity 1241 Podcast

Purity 1241 on YouTube: Coming Soon!

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a blazing sunrise on the horizon and reflected on the hood of my Honda CRV as the day emerges over the morning traffic on Watervliet Avenue Extension in Albany comes to us from yours truly as I managed to capture this scene on the way to work yesterday morning  keeping  both hands on the steering wheel, while driving, and thinking “Kids, don’t try this at home!”  

Well, it’s Saturday and although I managed to capture this shot, I understand it wasn’t wise and distracted driving can lead to some serious negative circumstances, up to and including death.  So I am not condoning “driving photography” and part of the reason for this blog and podcast is to tell people to not do the things that I did, mostly before I put my faith in Christ or when I decided to trust God to take away my addictions to alcohol, drugs, sexual immorality, and food.   

So there are a lot of things I would tell you not to do that I have done before but the main reason that I blog, and podcast is to tell you to do the two things that I was given the grace of God to do, which were:

1.    Putting my faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior

2.    Surrendering to follow His will for my life, according to the word of God and the Holy Spirit’s leading.   

I share my testimony continuously to impress upon others that these two decisions encompass the meaning and purpose for which we were created.  Without Christ as Lord and Savior, we are lost for all eternity and so it follows that our seeking the Lord and finding it in our hearts and minds possible to make these decisions to give our lives over to the care and Lordship of Jesus is the only thing that will make our lives meaningful and these decisions are found to be wise as they put you on the path to discover a life that is filled with the fruit of the Spirit – of love, peace, joy, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, and self-control.   

My history testifies to the truth that I have made some foolish and regrettable decisions in my life, that I was blessed to not die in,  but my post-salvation life demonstrates that when you trust in Jesus and follow Him, you can have peace and joy as your life is transformed by God’s wisdom, grace, love, and presence. 

And the whole point of me reporting on my life to you, it to tell you: “You can do it too!” I am not special. I am not gifted or especially intelligent.  But when I had suffered enough and began to seek to understand what the purpose of life was, when I sought the truth, my haphazard searching eventually led to a moment where God revealed it to me – the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ – that explained the course of human history and where the future and eternity will lead us, which is all contained in the pages of the Bible – and it is also there where we can find what it means to do God’s will for our lives.  

This week I was encouraging people to turn from their “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” and mentioned the fact that “drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God” was the reason why I went into recovery.  I explained that I realized that my decision to be in bondage to alcohol showed disrespect for God’s word and could have possibly caused the Lord to declare that He never knew me when I tried to enter into His kingdom after I died.   I explained that it wasn’t my decision to quit drinking, it was the conviction from the word of God and the Holy Spirit in me that brought me to repentance.  

As I told my story, I was questioned: “Does the Bible ACTUALLY say that -That drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God?”   

I was momentarily taken aback because it was an honest question.  This person hadn’t read that in the Bible or hadn’t heard anyone ever say it to the point that it caused them to consider it seriously.   So I did a quick google search to pull up the reference in

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV) that tells us clearly:
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.

It's right in the Bible, drunkards will not inherit the kingdom. Now I know God’s grace is amazing, and all our sins are forgiven when we put our faith in Christ, but the whole counsel of scripture – directs us to turn from our sins, not live in them. So as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I realized that the way I lived my life would demonstrate who I really put my faith in.  In good times and bad, who would I turn to: Booze Or Jesus? Who do I spend my time with? Booze or Jesus?  

Jesus’ earthly ministry is filled with moments where he called people out for their hypocrisy and where He told people to turn from their sins.  Knowing this about Jesus and the word of God that points out clearly the instructions and principles by which we are to live our lives, I realized the booze had to go. I didn’t want to live under its lordship anymore and so I chose to trust in God to give me the strength to live for Him and not myself or for the temporary pleasures that booze and fleshly selfish living could give me.  

I didn’t want to go to hell, and I wanted to stop suffering from the hell of my life of addiction so I have attempted to completely surrender to Jesus’ Lordship and God’s will for my life.  

But I remind myself and anyone listening – “I didn’t do this! The Lord did!” He saved me and He is guiding me to follow in His righteous ways through the word of God and the conviction of the Holy Spirit in me. But I did choose and continue to choose to follow His ways. The Bible wasn’t going to read itself.  I had to choose to do that.  Going into recovery was a prompting from the word and the spirit – but I had to agree with and ACTUALLY do it.   It wasn’t necessarily easy to do these things – read and live according to God’s word – and I still am a work in progress, but I can tell you it is worth it and that YOU can do it too.  

So start or keep on walking and talking with God, He will save you through Jesus and He will make your life brand new when you choose to follow Him with the way you live. Let’s encourage one another to “do what’s right” and follow Jesus all the days of our lives. 

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Comfort.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (ESV)
8  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

Today’s verse falls under the 11th point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Comfort.

11. God’s grace is sufficient for every need.

Today’s verse tells us that we can “abound in every good work”  and that we live through the grace of God – we are enough – having all sufficiency in all things!  

That means that if there is something that God wants you to do, He will give you the grace and everything you need to accomplish it. Does that mean we can do absolutely everything we set our minds to? Well, no, that means that whatever it is that God has for you to do in life, as part of his plan, you will be able to accomplish.  

In my life, I had two big goals in 2023 that I felt that the Lord would bless that I wanted to accomplish: to be certified as a “Deeper Walk Prayer Minister” and to lose enough weight to successfully be removed from the need for my CPAP sleep apnea machine.  

And despite my hard work and very best efforts, neither one of those goals was accomplished.  

The leadership at Deeper Walk School of Ministry was concerned that I “overwhelm” people and delayed my certification. Because I overshared about some of my past experiences, over wrote (without asking for permission), tried to teach when I should have been quiet – I have to undergo additional prayer ministry and do more requirements to prove I’m worthy of certification, causing me to question whether or not I was ever supposed to pursue what I sought out in the first place!  It also caused me to realize that I had possibly made idols out of the idea of an accomplishment, people, and an organization to fulfill me and to set my future course.  I am convicted that whether or not I complete my certification with Deeper Walk, I may have been putting my faith in something other than God’s plan for my life by running after someone else’s approval and trying to be a part of their mission. God has His own plan for my life, and I no longer think that Deeper Walk is going to be a major part of that – but I have been wrong before – so I guess we will see where that goes in how the rest of my life plays out. 

Similarly, despite losing weight and lowering my BMI, a recent sleep study indicates that I have “positional sleep apnea” and no matter how much weight I lose, as long as I sleep on my back, I should use the CPAP machine when I sleep! So, I guess I will just go back and gain all the weight back….. NOT.  Hey I tried my best, and frankly I am not done yet in terms of being a good steward to my body and getting in the best physical shape possible, but I accept my limitations and if the tests say I need to use the CPAP machine, I surrender to their authority and will do so.   

So, be encouraged by today’s verse that tells us we can “abound in every good work”  and that when we live through the grace of God – we are enough – having all sufficiency in all things, but understand that God is sovereign and that HE calls the shots and understands the plan that He has for your life.   Your “all things” and God’s “all things” are different – and only the things that God has for you to accomplish will be impacted and overcome by the grace that He gives you.  

That means we have to do what we think we should do in terms of “good works” but it also means that we are to trust and accept the good works that are revealed to be from Him and the limitations on us that will prevent us from doing the “good works” that are not meant for us to do.  

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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 conclude our sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.         

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY

JANUARY 6

The Feast of Epiphany

The curious uncertainty that surrounds the feast of Epiphany is as old as the feast itself. We know that long before Christmas was celebrated, Epiphany was the highest holiday in the Eastern and Western churches. Its origins are obscure, but it is certain that since ancient times this day has brought to mind four different events: the birth of Christ, the baptism of Christ, the wedding at Cana, and the arrival of the Magi from the East.… Be that as it may, since the fourth century the church has left the birth of Christ out of the feast of Epiphany.… The removal of the birth of Christ from his baptismal day had great significance. In gnostic and heretical circles in the East, the idea arose that the baptismal day was actually the day of Christ’s birth as the Son of God.… But therein lay the possibility of a dangerous error, namely, a misunderstanding of God’s incarnation.… If God had not accepted Jesus as his Son until Jesus’ baptism, we would remain unredeemed. But if Jesus is the Son of God who from his conception and birth assumed our own flesh and blood, then and then alone is he true man and true God; only then can he help us; for then the “hour of salvation” for us has really come in his birth; then the birth of Christ is the salvation of all people.

Today you will be baptized a Christian. All those great ancient words of the Christian proclamation will be spoken over you, and the command of Jesus Christ to baptize will be carried out on you, without your knowing anything about it. But we are once again being driven right back to the beginnings of our understanding. Reconciliation and redemption, regeneration and the Holy Spirit, love of our enemies, cross and resurrection, life in Christ and Christian discipleship.

“Thoughts on the Baptism of Dietrich Wilhelm RĂ¼diger Bethge,”

May 1944

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Matthew 2:9–12[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 YouTube 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 Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 90–91.


Friday, January 5, 2024

Doing Your Part, Showing Up, and Successful Christian Living – Wisdom from Dr. Neil Anderson - Purity 1240


Doing Your Part, Showing Up, and Successful Christian Living – Wisdom from Dr. Neil Anderson - Purity 1240   

Purity 1240 01/05/2024  - Purity 1240 Podcast

Purity 1240 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of an amazing ethereal blue sky over a stretch of gravel road leading to a lighthouse and the Pacific Ocean in the distance comes to us from Christopher Osswald who share this epic scene on social media after his visit to the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse Museum in Mendocino California back on December 23, 2023. 

Well, It’s Friday and I am excited because, Lord willing, I will be reunited with my beloved wife, TammyLyn, at the day’s end but I am also excited because I just sent out an email to eleven men from all over the country, and one in Canada, that I will be leading through the Freedom in Christ Course, to encourage them to DO THEIR PART and to SHOW UP to Monday’s Zoom meeting.  

Like any endeavor, you get out what you put into it and when you do your part and show up in the pursuit of a deeper relationship with God and in seeking your freedom in Christ, God is faithful to meet you there and to bless you.    

In my preparations for the Freedom in Christ Course and my 10-week Advanced Encourager Training Class with FICM, I have been reviewing Neil Anderson’s Discipleship Counseling and have been blessed by being reminded of all that the Lord has done for us when we put our faith in Christ and by Anderson’s practical advice on how to apply the truth of who we are in Christ to our lives. Reviewing Anderson’s work reminds me of how the Bondage Breaker and going through the Steps to Freedom in Christ led me to experience my freedom in Christ and how that lead me to go to FICM’s Community Freedom Ministry University to become a trained encourager, or CFMA (Community Freedom Ministry Associate) with FICM that put me on this path where I can help men go to God to learn experientially who they are in Christ and to resolve their spiritual and personal conflicts through the Steps. I am blessed by the opportunity to help others but am positively amazed by how the Lord continues to help me to grow and mature in my faith and to increase my freedom.  God is so good, and I am so grateful for Neil Anderson’s work that has helped me.  

Just this morning, my email from FICM delivered the following short devotional teaching from Anderson, and I just have to share it. Anderson writes on:

SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIAN LIVING

We are to grow up in all aspects into Him. Ephesians 4:15.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Galatians 5:1

There are two concepts that determine the victory and fruitfulness of a Christian. The first concept is maturity. Paul wrote: "We are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:15, 13). God has given us everything we need to grow to maturity in Christ (2 Peter 1:3).

But Satan is opposed to our maturity and will do anything he can to keep us from realizing who we are and what we have in Christ.

We must experience victory over the dark side before we can fully mature.

The second concept of the successful Christian life is freedom. Paul declared: "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1). This verse not only assures us that God wants us free, but also warns us that we can lose our freedom by returning to the law.

Before we received Christ, we were slaves to sin. But because of Christ's work on the cross, sin's power over us has been broken.

Satan has no right of ownership or authority over us. He is a defeated foe, but he is committed to keeping us from realizing that. He knows he can block your effectiveness as a Christian if he can deceive you into believing that you are nothing but a product of your past, subject to sin, prone to failure, and controlled by your habits. As long as he can confuse you and blind you with his dark lies, you won't be able to see that the chains which once bound you are broken.

You are free in Christ, but if the devil can deceive you into believing you're not, you won't experience the freedom which is your inheritance.

I don't believe in instant maturity, but I do believe in instant freedom, and I have seen thousands of people set free by the truth. Once a person is free, you would be amazed at how quickly he or she matures!

Lord, I rejoice that it was for my freedom that You came to set me free. Remind me today to walk in Your freedom.

Neil Anderson”

So, don’t let the enemy deceive you. You can experience your freedom pretty quickly when you agree with what God says about who you are in Christ and decide to start living according to your born-again identity.  But you have to do your part – by believing it – and showing up – by living according to it.   So do your part and show up, God will meet you when you step out in faith, and He will guide you in the way you should go to new levels of freedom, victory, peace, love, and joy!   Keep walking and talking with God and He will bring you there.

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Comfort.

John 10:27-29 (ESV)
27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
29  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Today’s verses are the third of three passages of scripture that fall under the 10th point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Comfort.

10. Jesus, the good shepherd, died for his sheep; he knows, leads, and protects each one; he gives us eternal security.

Today’s verses impress upon us that there is great safety when we decide to follow the Good Shepherd.  These words from Jesus tell us that we will never perish, that he will give us eternal life, and that nothing and nobody can separate us – or snatch us away – from God’s love!  

Eternal security is a thing! Assurance of Salvation is a thing!   But here is the thing to give us those things- We have to put our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior -AND – follow Him.   

If you know God and Jesus, you will listen to the Good Shepherd’s voice and follow Him, you will reap the benefits of eternal security and the fruit of the Spirit.   So listen to His voice, walk in the Spirit, and rejoice over being safe and alive in Christ!

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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 are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY

JANUARY 5

Morning by Morning He Wakens Me

Every new morning is a new beginning of our life. Every day is a completed whole. The present day should be the boundary of our care and striving (Matt. 6:34; Jas. 4:14). It is long enough for us to find God or lose God, to keep the faith or fall into sin and shame. God created day and night so that we might not wander boundlessly, but already in the morning may see the goal of the evening before us. As the old sun rises new every day, so the eternal mercies of God are new every morning (Lam. 3:22–23). To grasp the old faithfulness of God anew every morning, to be able—in the middle of life—to begin a new life with God daily, that is the gift that God gives with every new morning.…

Not fear of the day, not the burden of work that I have to do, but rather, the Lord wakens me. So says the servant of God: “Morning by morning he wakens—wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught” (Isa. 50:4c). God wants to open the heart before it opens itself to the world; before the ear hears the innumerable voices of the day, the early hours are the time to hear the voice of the Creator and Redeemer. God made the stillness of the early morning for himself. It ought to belong to God.

Because intercession is such an incalculably great gift of God, we should accept it joyfully. The very time we give to intercession will turn out to be a daily source of new joy in God and in the Christian community.… For most people the early morning will prove to be the best time. We have a right to this time, even prior to the claims of other people, and we may insist upon having it as a completely undisturbed quiet time despite all external difficulties.

Bonhoeffer, Life Together

The Lord God has given me

the tongue of a teacher,

that I may know how to sustain

the weary with a word.

Morning by morning he wakens—

wakens my ear

to listen as those who are taught.

Isaiah 50:4[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 YouTube 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 Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 88–89.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Going Nowhere without God – Wisdom from Dr. Neil Anderson - Purity 1239

Going Nowhere without God – Wisdom from Dr. Neil Anderson - Purity 1239

Purity 1239 01/04/2024 Purity 1239 Podcast

Purity 1239 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a driveway’s pathway and view of a calm partially frozen pond and the barely visible snow-capped peaks of mountains in the distance comes to us from yours truly as I decided to capture this scene before taking one last look and walk around the grounds of my Adirondack retreat on New Year’s Day. 

Well, it’s Thursday and although this photo may be lacking a bit on majestic beauty don’t let it fool you, sometimes our photos don’t do justice in reflecting the beauty that we can encounter on even gray overcast days.  There can be beauty in silence and stillness and sometimes the “big picture” of things near and far and how they all display the wonder of God’s creation can’t be captured on film, or whatever you call digital phone photography.  Sometimes you have to be there, go there, or live it to know a place and the beauty it holds.   

Likewise, on the path of Christian Discipleship – the beauty of one’s relationship with God and the joy of discovering the joys of living in harmony with His wisdom for our lives is only known by doing it. Similarly, knowing what the Bible says intellectually or factually is a whole lot different from knowing it experientially, when the Holy Spirit reveals to you the depth of it wisdom in revelatory moments of eureka or when you put its wisdom to the test by actually doing what it says and experiencing the results for yourself.  I can tell you to read the Bible, but I can’t read it for you.  I can even quote what the Bible says but just like a photograph may fail to convey the experience of beauty, I may not be able to transfer to you just how much a certain passage of scripture changed my understanding or impacted my heart.  

Often when people put their faith in Jesus, they decide that they will now “work on” changing their lives.  Each new year droves of people will speak an intention to change in some way, but more often than not, they don’t end up “keeping the change” because their hearts or minds weren’t changed at a fundamental level – they didn’t “faith” in their new life – and they went back to what they “really believed”.   They pridefully thought they could change in their own strength, but their strength gave out or they gave into the flesh that said the new life was too hard or that it wasn’t what they really wanted.  

That’s why we have to go to God to be transformed and we have to form that deep personal attachment to Him, because faith is not just about “doing everything right” by following rules. Our faith is in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and their “Way”.  Our faith is to be a relationship where we recognize that God loves us, cares about us, and tells us the things He does to help us.  God doesn’t tell us to obey His word to “correct us” in a traditional sense, He gives us His word because He loves us and knows that if we follow Him we will discover our best lives, but that comes not by our will power, but by believing in Him, trusting Him, and experiencing the joy of discovering just how true and good His teachings are.   God doesn’t want us to be self-sufficient, He wants us to depend on Him.  

I am currently re-reading Dr. Neil Anderson’s Discipling Counseling, and I have to share the following passage that deals with our pride and what it, the world, and the devil say about change and how those contrasts with what God says. Anderson writes:

“After Jesus fed the 5,000, He sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee while He went up to the mountain to pray. In the middle of the sea, the disciples encountered a storm: “Seeing them straining at the oars, … He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them” (Mark 6:48).

I believe the Lord intends to pass by the self-sufficient.

Go ahead and row against the storms of life. He will let you row until your arms fall off, but those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

The only answer the world has for those who are caught in the storms of life is “Row harder, or give in to the pressure and learn to live at sea!”

The devil says, “You can do it by yourself; but if you need a little extra power, I can arrange that for a small price.”

Pride says, “I think I can get out of this by myself. All it requires is a lot of hard work, human ingenuity and maybe a little luck.”

God says, “I won’t interfere with your plans. If you want to try to save yourself, solve your own problems or meet your own needs, you have My permission.

But you won’t be able to because in the final analysis, you absolutely need Me, and you necessarily need each other.”

Fallen humanity is on a sinking ship that is going nowhere without God.” (Anderson, Dr. Neil T.. Discipleship Counseling (p. 295). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)

So stop working so hard, we are going nowhere without God. We can’t save ourselves so why would we think we could change ourselves in any worthwhile way, without Him.  You can be the most physically fit, intellectually smart, kind and caring person you want to be, – but without God -,  all your accomplishments go to nothing, and your pride will send you straight to hell.  We need God, period.  He determines our destiny, here on earth and in heaven. So ask Him to save you and to help you to change. He is good and faithful to do both when you keep on walking and talking with Him.

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Comfort.

John 10:14-15 (ESV)
14  I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
15  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

 Today’s verses are the second of three passages of scripture that fall under the 10th point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Comfort.

10. Jesus, the good shepherd, died for his sheep; he knows, leads, and protects each one; he gives us eternal security.

Today’s verses remind us that God – Jesus – the Good Shepherd KNOWS US and if we are really His we know Him.  God is all-knowing – He created everything and moves things forward through time and space according to His sovereign will. So He knows when we were born and when we will die. He knows our thoughts and our heart’s intentions. He knows who has trusted in Jesus and who will be saved and spend eternity in His kingdom.  

But this passage also says that His own know Him too.  If you truly know God, you love Him and you seek to know Him more. Christ says those who love Him obey His commandments – so they know what the word of God says, and they respect the author of scripture enough to value what it says and to apply it to their lives. 

So be encouraged that The Lord knows you, cares about you, and loves you but be inspired to show Him that you know Him and love Him too by reflecting His light and love with the way you 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 are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY

JANUARY 4

For Everything There Is a Season

For those who find and give thanks to God in their earthly fortune, God will give them times in which to remember that all things on earth are only temporary, and that it is good to set one’s heart on eternity.… All things have their time, and the main thing is to stay in step with God and not always be hurrying a few steps ahead or falling behind. To want everything all at once is to be overanxious. “For everything there is a season … to weep, and … to laugh; … to embrace, and … to refrain from embracing; … to tear, and … to sew …” (Eccl. 3:1a, 4a, 5b, 7a), “and God seeks out what has gone by” (3:15b). Yet this last part must mean that nothing past is lost, that with us God again seeks out the past that belongs to us. So when the longing for something past overtakes us—and this happens at completely unpredictable times—then we can know that this is only one of the many “times” that God makes available to us. And then we should not proceed on our own but seek out the past once again with God.

Dear Mother, I want you to know that I am constantly thinking of you and Father every day, and that I thank God for all that you are to me and the whole family. I know you’ve always lived for us and haven’t lived a life of your own.… Thank you for all the love that has come to me in my cell from you during the past year, and has made every day easier for me. I think these hard years have brought us closer together than ever we were before. My wish for you and Father and Maria and for us all is that the New Year may bring us at least an occasional glimmer of light, and that we may once more have the opportunity of being together. May God keep you both well.

Birthday letter to Bonhoeffer’s mother

from prison, December 28, 1944

For everything there is a season, and a time for

every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1–8[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 YouTube 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 Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 86–87.

 

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Wandering into Darkness and Going Mindless - Purity 1238

Wandering into Darkness and Going Mindless - Purity 1238

Purity 1238 01/03/2024 Purity 1238 Podcast

Purity 1238 on YouTube: 




Good morning,

Today’s photo of people gathered around a series of brightly illuminated strange stickwork structures in a forest at night comes to us from yours truly as I captured this weird scene during my visit to the Wild Center in Tupper Lake NY, Saturday evening.  The structure, called “Hopscotch”, is the work of artist Patrick Dougherty and it is an impressive testament of what man can do with what God provides him with, but frankly coming upon this scene in the middle of the night reminded me of childhood tales involving forests, children, witchcraft and the dangers of venturing into isolated and dark places. It was nice but a little creepy, and people being almost hypnotically drawn to it, did nothing to put me at ease.   

Well, It’s Wednesday, and I thought I would use these brightly illuminated three “humps” in the woods at night to visually remind all of us that It’s not Tuesday, It’s hump day – Wednesday, and even though many of us had Monday off from work because of New Year’s day, it doesn’t change the fact that we are at the normal midpoint of the work week and we shouldn’t be deceived.  

My focus is on deception today because just like someone drawn to this brightly illuminated beguiling site in the forest, I recently chose to enter into the darkness of temptation and used the bright lights of the holiday season to utterly lose my senses and go to places I would rather leave behind.  

I’m talking about food addiction, of course.  The good news is that my going back to my other addictions – to drugs, alcohol, and sexual addiction – as they have been conquered in left in the dust the past and I honestly no longer hear their siren calls anymore, not that I’m listening for them.  Even after we are free, it may be best to not dwell on “how free we are” as our joy at overcoming can sometimes cause the enemy to assault us with thoughts and temptations of the “good old days” that can lead us astray.  

So I don’t think about drinking, or getting high, or giving in to sexual pleasures that are outside of God’s sexual ethics. I know that there is no “good” in any of these fleshly pursuits and am convicted by my past negative experiences and the truth of God’s word that tell us these things are sin. enough where these activities have become “logical impossibilities” in my heart and my renewed mind.  

But food addiction on the other hand is something that I have struggled with all my life and only have real victory over in the past year.  Food addiction is systemic – going back to things learned from earliest childhood and something that is culturally reinforced constantly – especially during the holiday season. The bait of Satan is  the lie that “The holidays are a time for feasting” and unfortunately – I took it, hook, line, and sinker and not only did I fall down in it, but I also stayed lost in the woods of it and rolled around in it since December 23rd.   

My wife and her children celebrate Christmas early on the 23rd and 24th and instead of standing outside of their “sugar feast” I decided to test my fortitude by stepping into it with them. My parents and I celebrate Christmas Eve together with a feast too so I figured I would take two days to celebrate with unmonitored eating and would go back to normal on Christmas Day.  And I did, I swear I did – I think I was good Christmas Day and Boxing Day – the 26th, but then I got a case of the sniffles on the 28th,  and my strategy to combat colds is to infuse my body with vitamin C by drinking gallons of orange juice, so my food plan was shot – so I also decided to really shoot it by “feeding a cold” with any and everything I could get my hands on!  After that, I may have had one day of “food plan success”, maybe, but then I went away for the weekend and gave into the celebratory spirit of indulgence for New Year’s and my 2nd Anniversary!  So, there goes the weekend, and Monday,  I decided to have “one last day” of food indulgence to celebrate the first of the year – by getting fast food from McDonald’s and candy and ice cream from Walmart! I repented yesterday morning and was on track to turn things around but then I returned home from a long day at work to discover my daughter, Haley had given me a Christmas present – a gift card – and 3 little bags of candy! But that was actually after I decided to “clean house” of the last of the egg nogg and rice crispy treats that I had bought for my kids for the holidays.  So last night – all candy – all treats – and all nogg was consumed to prayerfully end – my holiday feasting binge. 

So this morning, I am repenting again and to get me back on track I decided to bravely see the damage done by stepping on the scale.  Just before Christmas, I heard on the radio that the average person gains ten pounds during the holiday season, and I have always tried to be above average – but really didn’t want to in this area, but I did it.  According to my moody scale down by the River, which fluctuates wildly, granted – I gained almost 15 pounds, 213.8, making my joy of being under 200 lbs. seem like a distant memory.  

I’m not panicked because I know that in a matter of a week with Keto most of that can disappear, but it does remind me that we really can’t go “mindless” and just decide to not pay attention to what we are doing when it comes to the things that keep us in bondage.

Addictions need to be ceased, not managed, and although the “food thing” is a different beast and harder to defeat, we really can’t give in to it for more than a day or two without seeing a dramatic yo-yo devasting shift towards failure.   The worst thing is that these little food relapses have compounding results.  The flesh grabs on to that sugar and those carbs and packs on the pounds and it grabs a hold of your mind and your will to cause you to claim “your right” to do wrong. One relapse leads to another and a hardening of the heart and mind towards good health in the name of pleasure – and once you start falling its harder and harder to stand again.  You know the truth of what you have done but deny it and try to run from it.  I almost didn’t get on the scale today because I knew it was going to be bad and I didn’t want to look at it.  

But I did because I hope it will cause me to be honest with myself, so I can stop lying and running into the darkness that I had escaped from.  Like an Old Testament leper, I am declaring myself to be “unclean, unclean!” in hopes that I can find healing and be restored to sanity again.  I know what works and what I need to do, but as our Bonhoeffer devotional shared a couple of days ago, lasting change will have to come to us from the Lord. He grants repentance – not us – so I pray for the Lord to help me to face what I have done and to turn from it and to start today on the path of progress towards the victory and freedom that I have been living in.  

I know, there is no condemnation for those in Christ and that we are “only human” and will make mistakes, but the word calls us to be more like Jesus and to live in the power of the Holy Spirit – so I ask for God’s forgiveness and will not condemn myself, but I will also ask for the Holy Spirit’s infilling to give strength and zeal to overcome and the fruit of self-control that only He can bring.  

So, it’s the time of New Year’s resolutions and I am praying to receive a new beginning to continue in the victory that I knew and to increase my freedom to be more like Jesus with food addiction, spending, and cleaning up my language – the fleshly indulgence has made my “exclamations” fleshlier too. In the days, weeks, and months ahead.  

So let’s pick ourselves up and lean on the Lord to guide us and strengthen us in His ways from this day forward.    

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

For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verse come from the section on Comfort.

John 10:11 (ESV)
11  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

 Today’s verse is the first of three passages of scripture that fall under the 10th point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Comfort.

10. Jesus, the good shepherd, died for his sheep; he knows, leads, and protects each one; he gives us eternal security.

Today’s verse reminds us that Jesus is the good shepherd and that he gave his life for us.  Our salvation and freedom come at a great cost, and we should never lose sight of that. Jesus died for us. So let’s live for Him.  

This may be a short commentary but there is more to come on this in the next two days, so for today we should just know that Jesus is good – as in only God is good , He is the shepherd – He guides us in the way we should go – and He laid down His life for us – He lived a righteous life and died to save us.   That’s enough to inspire us and we should remember that and follow Him with the way we live.

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

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 are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY

JANUARY 3

A Necessary Daily Exercise

Why is it that my thoughts wander so quickly from God’s word, and that in my hour of need the needed word is often not there? Do I forget to eat and drink and sleep? Then why do I forget God’s word? Because I still can’t say what the psalmist says: “I will delight in your statutes” (Ps. 119:16). I don’t forget the things in which I take delight. Forgetting or not forgetting is a matter not of the mind but of the whole person, of the heart. I never forget what body and soul depend upon. The more I begin to love the commandments of God in creation and word, the more present they will be for me in every hour. Only love protects against forgetting.

Because God’s word has spoken to us in history and thus in the past, the remembrance and repetition of what we have learned is a necessary daily exercise. Every day we must turn again to God’s acts of salvation, so that we can again move forward.… Faith and obedience live on remembrance and repetition. Remembrance becomes the power of the present because of the living God who once acted for me and who reminds me of that today.

In our meditation we ponder the chosen text on the strength of the promise that it has something utterly personal to say to us for this day and for our Christian life, that it is not only God’s word for the Church, but also God’s word for us individually. We expose ourselves to the specific word until it addresses us personally. And when we do this, we are doing no more than the simplest, untutored Christian does every day; we read God’s word as God’s word for us.

Bonhoeffer, Life Together

I treasure your word in my heart,

so that I may not sin against you.

Blessed are you, O Lord;

teach me your statutes.

With my lips I declare

all the ordinances of your mouth.

I delight in the way of your decrees

as much as in all riches.

I will meditate on your precepts,

and fix my eyes on your ways.

I will delight in your statutes;

I will not forget your word.

Deal bountifully with your servant,

so that I may live and observe your word.

Open my eyes, so that I may behold

wondrous things out of your law.

Psalm 119:11–18[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 YouTube 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 Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 84–85.