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Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Friday, December 25, 2020

Purity 300: Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


 Purity 300 12/25/2020 

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL MY FRIENDS!  

Today’s photo was taken by a friend who captured this sunset scene near their home in Stottville NY..

I share it as a reminder that although Christmas has finally arrived, the sun will be setting on this day before we know it. 

So celebrate and show the love that God showed, and continues to show, us to your friends and family today!

(There is More at the restricted blog). Follow me on Twitter, MeWe, or Parler for easy access.  Blog M T 4 Christ dot org – This is where the Facebook post ends.)

This morning’s verse comes from “The Magnificat” – Mary’s song of praise in response to being chosen to birth the Christ:

Luke 1:46-48 (NLT2)
46 Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed.

 I share this passage today because it is Christmas, and my normal routine of exercise and meditation has been suspended out of respect for this most holy of days.  

Instead, having finished the Gospels of Matthew in November, and then John yesterday, I turned to Luke’s gospel this morning, that presents the events leading up to Christ’s birth and the Christmas story in Chapter two.   

I share these verses this morning to reminded us that we are to “rejoice in God my Savior” because, just like the virgin Mary, the Lord took notice of us “lowly servants” and from now on all generations can call us blessed.  

While we didn’t birth Jesus, we have been chosen and adopted into God’s family through our faith in Him. 

And as members of God’s royal family, we can rejoice at the amazing grace that saved wretches like us but at the same time look to serve God’s Kingdom by sharing the good news of the resurrection power that lies in putting our faith in Jesus and by delivering our personal testimonies of what the Lord has done and continues to do in our lives, as we have entered into a rich and robust relationship with the Lord that will never end.  

In Christ, we are all highly favored and all generations can rightly call us blessed. 

Rejoice and follow where the Lord leads you!

 Today we begin chapter 8 of Anderson & Baumchen’s Finding Hope Again, where the authors discuss dealing with loss. 

Although we have gained much in Christ, we will experience losses throughout our lives on earth and it is my prayer that the author’s information and advice is helpful to those feeling the pain of losses this holiday season. 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work:

Dealing with Loss

As I looked, the poplar rose in the shining air

Like a slender throat,

And there was an exaltation of flowers,

The surf of apple tree delicately foaming.

All winter, the trees had been silent soldiers,

A vigil of woods, their hidden feelings

Scrawled and became scores of black vines,

Barbed wire sharp against the ice-white sky.

Who could believe then in the green,

Glittering vividness of full-leafed summer?

Who will be able to believe, when winter again begins

After the autumn burns down again, and the day is ashen,

And all returns to winter and winter's ashes,

Wet, white, ice, wooden, dulled and dreary, brittle or frozen,

Who will believe or feel in mind and heart

The reality of the spring and of birth,

In the green warm opulence of summer,

And the inexhaustible vitality and immortality of the earth?

Dalmore Schwartz, "The Deceptive Present" 

How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none. Eternal years lie in His heart. For Him time does not pass, it remains; and those who are in Christ share with Him all the riches of limitless time and endless years. God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which He must work. Only to know that is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves. For those out of Christ, time is a devouring beast.

A. W. Tozer

Roxanne and David had been married for five years. David was a successful businessman who was deeply devoted to his wife and children. One Sunday afternoon, as David packed his bags for his next trip out of town, the couple started to quarrel. Roxanne was bothered by a minor demand David had placed on her. Words were exchanged, a brief apology came and life went on. Later that day the couple chatted quietly as they rode together to the airport. Roxanne kissed David as he boarded the plane. He turned, smiled and waved as he entered the loading tunnel to the waiting aircraft.

Roxanne never saw David alive again. The trip to his destination and the meetings were uneventful. David then boarded the airplane and headed home. The aircraft developed mechanical problems and attempted to land in a crippled condition. The pilot and an off-duty pilot who happened to be on board were responsible for saving some of the lives on board. David, however, was thrown from the aircraft and killed, along with many other passengers. It was a terrible catastrophe.

Roxanne was torn with pain, and went through many turbulent reactions to her loss. Scrambling for some explanation for why the tragedy had happened, she began to blame herself. If I hadn't complained or argued with David, he would still be alive, she reasoned. Blaming herself for his death only compounded her sense of loss.

The Response of Sadness

The melancholy that followed Roxanne's loss is called reactive depression. This emotional response to any crisis of life is the most common form of depression. But the crisis itself did not cause the depression. Our mental perception of external events based on what we believe, and how our minds have been programmed, are what determine how we feel and react to any crisis.

People typically go through a very predictable cycle when they experience a crisis, as depicted in the following diagram:

 


Most of us settle into a lifestyle we assume will continue indefinitely, or hopefully improve. We make plans for the weekend and summer vacations, assuming that life will go on as scheduled. Daily events are scheduled with the hope that we will still be alive, our health will be okay, and that all the conditions necessary for life to go on as it is will be favorable. According to the poet Dalmore Schwartz, quoted at the beginning of this chapter, it is hard for us even to imagine in the summer of our souls what it will be like in the winter of our discouragement. We don't even want to think about it.

Some people take a fatalistic approach to tomorrow. They say with Solomon, when he limited his view to things under the sun, "That which has been is that which will be....So there is nothing new under the sun" (Eccles. 1:9). Such people make no realistic plans, and consequently they end up having no meaningful future.

Others, even Christians, presume upon the future. James has some sobering advice for those who do that:

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins (James 4:13-17, NIV).

The good, which we ought to do, is the Lord's will, so we must choose to live a responsible life one day at a time. The will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot keep you.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow. If God takes care of the lilies of the fields and the birds of the air, will He not much more provide for you? Jesus asks (see Matthew 6:30). Because your heavenly Father knows your needs, "Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:32-34).

This does not mean we don't make plans for tomorrow. We have to do some planning to live responsibly. However, the primary purpose for setting goals and making plans for the future is to give us meaningful direction for our lives today. Because we don't have control over many circumstances that can totally disrupt those plans, we need to say, "Lord willing, tomorrow we will do whatever, and regardless of what tomorrow holds, we will trust Him." This requires us to mentally and emotionally prepare for impermanence.

Preparing for Impermanence

Nothing will be as it is five years from now. There is no permanence; there is only change. Tennessee Williams said, "We are all terrorized by the idea of impermanence." The Lord tried to prepare His disciples for this reality when He told them three times "that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly" (Mark. 8:31, 32).

The disciples' first response was denial. Peter actually rebuked the Lord (see Mark 8:32). When He told them a second time what was going to happen to Him, they didn't understand what He meant, and were afraid to ask (see Mark 9:32). They didn't want to talk about it.

Finally, as Jesus and His fearful disciples approached Jerusalem, He told them a third time what was going to happen (see Mark 10:32-34). His purpose for telling them in advance was to teach them the principle that the Messiah must die to purchase salvation for humankind, and to give them hope when they faced persecution. He wanted to assure them that even though He would be killed, He would rise again.

Hope does not lie in the possibility of permanence, or in avoiding trials and tribulations. Hope lies in the proven character that comes from persevering through them. Neither does our hope lie in the eternal preservation of our physical bodies. Our hope lies in the Resurrection.

To survive the crises of life, we must have an eternal perspective, because time, as Tozer said, is a devouring beast for those who are outside of Christ. Without such a perspective, we cannot see the hope of summer during the emotional winters of our soul. The "deceptive present" masks the possibility of any hope for tomorrow. The psalmist's statement, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones" (Psalm 116:15), doesn't make sense from a time-bound perspective. But it makes complete sense from an eternal perspective.

Finding Hope Again: Overcoming Depression.

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

 

God bless you all!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Purity 299: Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Purity 299 12/24/2020 

Good morning!

Today’s photo was taken by a friend who caught this twilight scene where they caught that transition of the fading light of day with a full moon rising.  The snow below reflects the red light, presumably of taillights, to provide a great foundational base for the heavenly display above.  

It may not be a photo of the star that led the wise men to the newborn king in Bethlehem, but I think it is a reflection of that “silent night” so many years ago.  

It is my prayer that as we gather to celebrate Christmas tonight to enjoy a few quiet moments to thank the Lord for the gift of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, that He brought in the humblest of settings.  

Enjoy the magic and joy of this most Holy Night! Merry Christmas!

(There is More at the restricted blog). Follow me on Twitter, MeWe, or Parler for easy access.  Blog M T 4 Christ dot org – This is where the Facebook post ends.)

This morning’s meditation verse was:

1 John 2:4 (NKJV)
4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Recently I started taking a Bible course that teaches some of the fundamentals of the Christian faith (https://www.gettingtoknowyourbible.com/free-bible-course) . As a Bible college graduate, I started the study thinking that the simple lessons were “quaint” and that it would be fun to breeze through this simple material.   But after a few lessons, I quickly realized that there was tremendous value in the material being presented because it was the simple plain truth of Scripture laying down the facts of what God is like, who Jesus is, who the Holy Spirit is and what we are to do as Christians.  

 While I questioned particular stances on a few points of doctrine in the lessons, I became more and more convinced that this study was an excellent resource because the Holy Spirit could use the scriptures to unlock some of the mysteries of our faith and to draw someone into a deeper understanding of what Christianity was all about and to convict them to turn from the things of this world.  

 When we contemplate the depth of the meaning of the gospel, we should hear the call of God to seek His Truth, His Way, and His Life for ourselves. Living in the darkness of the world system like we did before Christ keeps us from knowing Him and realizing the new life He has given us.  

 Our keeping “His commandments” isn’t about just following rules. It is about discovering the Truth that underlies all creation and following the instructions of The Creator to discover and fulfill out ultimate purpose. 

 As a “rebel at heart” before Christ, I loved the motto “Question Authority”.  When you question God and His authority, you come to realize that we are the ones that lack understanding and power.  We need to bow before God in submission and become a part of His kingdom and an authorized agent of His authority. 

 So after coming to Christ, we need to question the world system and its values, its narratives, and its principles.  When we do, we will discover that the world has spoken in half-truths or out right lies about what will satisfy our hearts.  When we do, we will know that God’s Way is the only Way and that we are wise to forsake the things of the world and the things in our pasts. 

 This Christmas get to know Him and make a commitment to begin the process of transferring your energies from the things of this world that are fading away to the things of the kingdom of God that will endure for all eternity. 

 Today we conclude chapter 7 of Anderson & Baumchen’s Finding Hope Again, where the authors discuss applying the “Can-Do” spirit practically to our lives.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work:

Applying "I Can" Thoughts Practically

Paul wrote to the Romans:

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:2-6, NIV).

Jesus defeated the devil and made us brand-new creations in Himself. He set us free from our past. We have to destroy those old strongholds that say I can't, and replace them with the truth that we can in Christ.

The human tendency is to say, "This marriage is hopeless," then think the solution is to change or try to change our spouse. The same holds true for any depressing situation. The answer is neither to try to change the situation nor let the situation determine who you are. The answer is to work with God in the process of changing yourself.

According to Paul, your hope does not lie in avoiding the trials and tribulations of life, because they are inevitable. Your hope lies in persevering through those trials and becoming more like Christ. The hope that comes from proven character will never disappoint you. Only through proven character will we positively influence the world.

Imagine the terrible emotional pain when a spouse leaves or a child runs away. Anybody could become disappointed, discouraged or depressed by these difficult circumstances. Many times this is because the essence of our question is, How can I win back the one I lost? And the unspoken question underlying that, all too often, is, How can I control my spouse or child, or arrange the circumstances so that I can manipulate him or her into coming back? That kind of control or manipulation may have been the reason the person left in the first place.

The fruit of the Spirit in such a case is neither spouse control nor child control. God does not ensure that external circumstances will always be bent to accommodate our desires. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control.

It would be better to ask yourself, "If I haven't committed myself to be the spouse or parent that God called me to be, would I now?" That is the only thing within your power to change, and it is by far the best thing you could do to win back the other person. But even if you don't, you can come through the crisis having proven your character.

These trials and tribulations are what God uses to refine our character and conform us to His own image. The hope that comes from proven character will never disappoint. If our hope lies only in favorable circumstances, or trying to alter something that we have no right or ability to change or control, then we are going to suffer a lot of disappointment in this fallen world. An unknown author said it well in these lines:

"Disappointment—His appointment,"

change one letter, then I see

That the thwarting of my purpose

is God's better choice for me.

His appointment must be blessing,

tho' it may come in disguise.

For the end from the beginning

open to His wisdom lies.

"Disappointment—His appointment,"

no good will He withhold,

From denials oft we gather

treasures of His love untold.

Well He knows each broken purpose

leads to fuller, deeper trust,

And the end of all His dealings

proves our God is wise and just.

"Disappointment—His appointment,"

Lord, I take it, then, as such.

Like clay in hands of a potter,

yielding wholly to Thy touch.

My life's plan is Thy molding;

not one single choice be mine;

Let me answer unrepining—

"Father, not my will, but Thine."

God never promises to take the person out of the slum, but He does promise to take the slum out of the person. He may even call some of us to go to the slum for the sake of ministry. It is the eternal plan of God...

To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified (Isaiah 61:3).

Twenty Cans of Success

Someone once said that success comes in "Cans," and failure in "Cannots." Here are 20 cans of success you would do well to memorize:

1.    Why should I say I can't when the Bible says I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Phil. 4:13)?

2.    Why should I worry about my needs when I know that God will take care of all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19)?

3.    Why should I fear when the Bible says God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7)?

4.    Why should I lack faith to live for Christ when God has given me a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)?

5.    Why should I be weak when the Bible says that the Lord is the strength of my life and that I will display strength and take action because I know God (Psalm 27:1; Daniel 11:32)?

6.    Why should I allow Satan control over my life when He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)?

7.    Why should I accept defeat when the Bible says that God always leads me in victory (2 Cor. 2:14)?

8.    Why should I lack wisdom when I know that Christ became wisdom to me from God, and that God gives wisdom to me generously when I ask Him for it (1 Cor. 1:30; James 1:5)?

9.    Why should I be depressed when I can recall to mind God's lovingkindness, compassion and faithfulness, and have hope (Lament. 3:21-23)?

10. Why should I worry and be upset when I can cast all my anxieties on Christ, who cares for me (1 Peter 5:7)?

11. Why should I ever be in bondage when I know that there is freedom where the Spirit of the Lord is (Galatians 5:1)?

12. Why should I feel condemned when the Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)?

13. Why should I feel alone when Jesus said He is with me always, and will never leave me nor forsake me (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5)?

14. Why should I feel like I'm cursed or have bad luck when the Bible says that Christ rescued me from the curse of the law that I might receive His Spirit by faith (Galatians 3:13, 14)?

15. Why should I be unhappy when I, like Paul, can learn to be content whatever the circumstances (Phil. 4:11)?

16. Why should I feel worthless when Christ became sin for me so that I might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21)?

17. Why should I feel helpless in the presence of others when I know that if God is for me, who can be against me (Romans 8:31)?

18. Why should I be confused when God is the author of peace and He gives me knowledge through His Spirit, who lives in me (1 Cor. 2:12; 1 Cor. 2:14:33)?

19. Why should I feel like a failure when I am more than a conqueror through Christ, who loved me (Romans 8:37)?

20. Why should I let the pressures of life bother me when I can take courage knowing that Jesus has overcome the world and its problems (John 16:33)?


Finding Hope Again: Overcoming Depression.

 

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

 

God bless you all!

 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Purity 298: Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Purity 298 12/23/2020

Good morning!

Today’s photo was taken by a friend in Upstate New York who captured this “sunset- bow” near their home earlier this week.  I honestly don’t know if I have ever seen anything quite like it.  

Now that we are officially in the winter season, one of the things that we have to look forward to are those days that will not be overcast, where the skies will be clear, crisp, and blue in contrast to the winter white landscape but even when we aren’t experiencing those sunny, blue, white, days we can still capture moments of sheer beauty even when all the conditions didn’t seem quite right. 

This year’s Christmas celebration may present us with similar challenges as the normal way we do things may be significantly changed.  The challenges may reveal things about our relationships that weren’t clear before.  While some relationships will be exposed as being somewhat superficial and built upon favorable circumstances, it is my prayer that the love that we have for one another will still shine through even if we are unable to gather according to our previous traditions.    

Previous generations faced world wars and other obstacles in life, but those obstacles never stopped Christmas from coming. Our ancestors still acknowledged and celebrated Christmas in whatever ways they could, regardless of circumstances. Whether at home alone or on some war-torn landscape thousands of miles for home, they remembered the day and they remembered the love that would never die.    

So tomorrow and the next day, remember the reason for the season and the love that God showed us all in the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. 

Remember that God is love and that He put us here to love one another, and that no obstacles before you can stop the love that He has given us. 

(There is More at the restricted blog). Follow me on Twitter, MeWe, or Parler for easy access.  Blog M T 4 Christ dot org – This is where the Facebook post ends.)

This morning’s meditation verse was:

Psalm 31:7 (NLT2)
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.

Is it any wonder that I had this verse on an index card?  The truth in this verse is universal for all who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  

For those of us with a checkered past, and times of turmoil and trials, it is especially significant.

One of the joys of the Christian faith is knowing that God has seen our troubles and cares about the anguish of our souls.  

When the Lord revealed the truth of His gospel to me (that He loved me and being His was not about doing everything right), I was beyond “glad”. I was overjoyed that I was forgiven. I was ecstatic that I was alive. I was relieved that I was loved.  I was humbled that I was cared for.    

My spirit came alive and I knew it was all true.  Jesus was the Son of God and He made a way for a wicked sinner like me, regardless of my past behaviors and attitudes.

I had a lot to learn but after I said “Yes” to Jesus I would never be the same.  

When you know God’s “unfailing love” you come alive and the only way to maintain the “light” of His fellowship is to run from your darkness and to go towards Him.   I chose to follow Him and when I did, I left “my troubles” and the “anguish of my soul behind”.  

The Lord loves you. Follow Him, leave the rest behind, and live. 

Today we continue chapter 7 of Anderson & Baumchen’s Finding Hope Again, where the authors discuss “The Can-Do Spirit”.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work:

The Can-Do Spirit

It is a sin to take away another person's courage when they can do all things through Christ, who strengthens them (see Phil. 4:13). Those who sow the seeds of helplessness and discouragement will reap the harvest of depression. On the other hand, those who sow encouragement will reap a rich spiritual harvest. Dale Carnegie once said:

If you want to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment, use encouragement. Make the fault you want to correct seem easy to correct; make the thing you want the person to do seem easy to do....If you and I will inspire the people with whom we come in contact to a realization of the hidden treasure they possess, we can do far more than change people. We can literally transform them.

Dale Carnegie was well known for teaching the "power of positive thinking." Many other motivational speakers have also tied into that well-known axiom, and people have generally benefited from it. There is no question that what we choose to think determines what we do. You can't do anything without first thinking it. "For as he thinks within himself, so he is" (Proverbs 23:7). Someone wrote the following poem, which illustrates this principle:

If you think you are beaten—you are.

If you think you dare not—you won't.

If you want to win but think you can't,

It's almost a cinch you won't.

If you think you'll lose—you've lost.

For out of the world we find,

That success begins with a fellow's will,

It's all in the state of mind.

Life's battles don't always go,

To the stronger or faster man,

But sooner or later the man who wins,

Is the one who thinks he can.

Christians have been somewhat reluctant to buy into this "power of positive thinking," and in some cases for good reason. Thinking is a function of the mind, and it cannot exceed the mind's inputs and attributes. Any attempt to push the mind beyond its limitations will only result in moving from the world of reality to the world of fantasy.

However, one has to be impressed with what people can do if they will only believe in themselves. Most people are living far below their human potential. It is estimated that most people use only 5 percent of their brain capacity.

Even the Sky Isn't the Limit

Some pastors in the 1950s were saying humankind would never reach the moon. But when Russia launched Sputnik, the United States rose to the challenge. Within a few short years, we had not only surpassed the Russians, but Neil Armstrong had actually set foot on the moon. It inspired a lot of confidence in what humans could do if they only believed they could.

About the time the Apollo space program was shutting down, a new program was envisioned. Originally it was called "Shuttle Bus." The idea was to create a reentry rocket or capsule that could be used again and again. When the government issued proposals and requested bids from aerospace companies, the technology to build such a craft didn't exist. But flushed with the success of the Apollo space program, supporters of the program actually believed it could be done, given enough time and money. Today, launching a space shuttle is so commonplace that the public is hardly aware of it.

There seems to be no limit to what humans can do. Endowed by the Creator with incredible mental and physical powers, we have launched satellites that make global communication commonplace. We have learned how to transplant hearts, kidneys, livers and other organs, allowing people to live far longer than they ever have. Some have climbed the highest peaks, descended to the lowest depths of the ocean and probed outer space, going where no man has ever gone before. Others keep chopping inches and seconds off world records that were deemed impossible decades ago.

Yet There Are Limits

But there really is a limit to what finite humans can do. We still haven't solved the problems of poverty, war, crime and corruption. In spite of all our accomplishments, faith in science as the hope for humanity has actually diminished in this post-modern era.

Enter the New Age. Out with humanism and in with "spiritism." Of course, people as finite creatures are limited, we are told, but what if we are really gods, and only need to become aware of our divine nature? There would be no limit to what we could do. We wouldn't need a Savior; we would only need to be enlightened. We could create reality with our own minds. If we believed hard enough, it would become true.

This kind of thinking is nothing more then old-fashioned occultism dressed up in New Age clothing. It seems that if its practitioners are just called "channelers" instead of mediums, and if they speak of "spirit guides" instead of demons, a naive public will buy it! We have come a long way, yet returned to the beginning—all the way back to the Garden of Eden, where Satan whispered the ultimate lie: "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5, emphasis added).

To have "knowledge" of good and evil implied to Adam and Eve that they could be the origin or determiner of what is good or evil, and what is true or untrue. When they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, they were saying, "We reject God as the One who determines what is right and wrong. We will determine for ourselves what is good for us and what is true." They played right into the hands of the devil, who is the deceiver and the father of lies.

In a distorted way, Satan was right. Adam and Eve acted like gods in determining for themselves what is true and what is right. But what they determined wasn't right, and rather than embracing the truth that would preserve their lives and freedom, they believed a lie that led to death and bondage to sin.

Today Satan is up to his same old tricks, and they are dangerous because they are built on a half-truth. We are not gods, and we don't create reality with our minds. Believing anything doesn't make it true, no matter how hard we try. God is the ultimate reality. He is the truth, which means that what He says is true. It is for that reason we believe it. Both the humanist and the spiritist are playing god, and are creating disastrous results.

Yet we are created in the image of God. We are not helpless, because, by the grace of God, we can respond in a responsible way to the reality of this world. We have access to a greater power than human potential: the power of believing the truth. If we knew the truth as revealed in God's Word, and chose to believe it, it would set us free from artificial limitations. We would rarely, if ever, feel discouraged or helpless.

If man can accomplish what he has while exalting himself as the object of his faith, imagine what he could accomplish if the object of his faith were God! Jesus said, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).

We do not determine what is included in the "all things" Jesus refers to. We cannot decide for ourselves all that we can do, or what is true, then claim this verse to say, "I believe it so I can do it." That would be playing god again. Every believer has to assume responsibility for being "transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2, NIV).

The real issue is: Do you believe that God's will is good, pleasing and perfect for you? When we were dead in our trespasses and sins, we lacked the presence of God in our lives. In such a state we wanted and needed much more than we had, but we were unable to obtain it on our own. Without the knowledge of God's ways we developed a "learned helplessness."


Finding Hope Again: Overcoming Depression.

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

 

God bless you all!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas! : 2018




With a pending divorce, an uncertain future that will include selling the house and moving, my daughter has decided to spend the Christmas holiday and New Year’s with her boyfriend in Atlanta leaving me and my son to celebrate the holidays “together alone” or “alone together”.  At 18 and 17 years old, my kids are learning there are some harsh realities to life that Santa and Rudolph didn’t plan for.

In preparation for that uncertain future and certain relocation, my kids recently cleaned out their rooms and many items that were gifts of Christmas past were throw in the trash.  What gave delight and joy one year, has been enjoyed, used, out grown and disposed of. 
The building that housed our family is going to be emptied out and sold.
The Christmas family gathering has been forever changed. 

However, the good news is Christmas isn’t about some jolly fat man flying through the skies dispensing material goods to provide happiness.  And much to the protest to the generic Christmas specials that fill the airwaves at this time of year, Christmas isn’t about family either. 
Christmas is about a kingdom.  Christmas is a story of a king who, out of love, made himself vulnerable and lowered himself to save his subjects.

Christmas is the dividing line of history. It’s the point in time and space where God entered the universe of His making to reach out to save those who couldn’t save themselves. It’s a rescue mission. 

Christ was born and grew into a man that proclaimed that entrance into the kingdom of heaven was only possible through faith in Him. 

From that point forward, while we have the freedom to choose whatever we wish, the only choice that leads to eternal life is Jesus Christ. 

Christ is the Christmas gift from God. You can accept Him as Lord and Savior or you can reject Him.  For those who surrender to Christ, freedom from sin and death is given.  To those who choose themselves or anything other than Christ, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in Hell.
The choice is simple. 

I believe my kids have made that choice but like so many concerned fathers at Christmas time, I want to make sure they are getting the most out of the gifts they received.  Sometimes we (myself included) have to be reminded of all we have received when we make Jesus our Lord and Savior. 

Gifts of Faith
·         Forgiveness – If you have put your faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, you have been forgiven of every sin you have done or will ever do (past, present, and future).
·         Assurance of Salvation – If you are in a covenant relationship with Jesus, there is no way you can be lost. You are a part of His kingdom family forever.
·         Freedom – You finally have the freedom to choose to not sin. You also have the freedom to enjoy your freedom. Many traditions of men are just that “traditions of men”.
·         Relationship – The Holy Spirit indwells you! You have a constant companion to turn to for communion, fellowship, and guidance.
·         No Condemnation –Don’t listen to the voices that lead you into sin or criticize you. God will guide you through His Word which way to go. You are now approved by God Himself! You are part of the Holy Royal Family. Don’t let anyone or your internal dialog tell you otherwise.
·         No fear – Death has lost its sting!  Knowing and being assured of our final destination, we are free from the fear of death and the fear of the opinions of men. 
·         Never Alone – No matter what our circumstances or location, the Lord is with us! He will never leave us nor forsake us. 
·         Eternal Family – Body of Christ – Upon accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, we have been grafted into an eternal body of believers, both here on earth and in eternity. Go to a local church and fellowship!
·         Fruit of the Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, gentleness, and Self-Control. These fruits are established and are  increased the more you follow God.
·         Baptism of The Holy Spirit – The power source for living the Christian life comes through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Seek it, ask for it, receive it and be transformed.

Books could be (and have been) filled with descriptions of the benefits to faith in Christ. If you aren’t experiencing the benefits, you have to examine your knowledge, faith, and behavior and determine what to correct. God loves you and wants what is best for you, seek out His Will for your life and experience it!

The purpose of all human life on earth is to make Jesus Lord and Savior.  Once that purpose has been met, eternal life is gained and the freedom that comes from knowing God can be experienced continually. 

Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is the beginning of a relationship that lasts for eternity. So, take our time and get to know Him by reading His Word, honoring it by doing what it says, and talking to Him through prayer. 

Earthly riches, relationships, and euphoric experiences fade and pass away. They can be enjoyed right up to death, but after death comes the judgment and only those with a covenant relationship with Christ will live.

Choose life, Receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, and then seek what He has for you.


So yeah, life might have taken an unexpected turn this year but I have peace this Christmas knowing that no matter what happens or where I go, The Lord is with me, Always and Forever! 
Merry Christmas!!



Saturday, December 26, 2015

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2015: I am certain

First and foremost, Merry Christmas to you my friends!  Anyone clicking on a link to read my blog, I honestly consider a friend.  In this, what is often, a cold and lonely world to know someone cares enough to listen to what you have to say is no small thing.  Even though we are all interconnected as human beings on this earth and we may be surrounded by friends and family, we may seldom speak about what we really feel or think.  So if you just stumbled upon this blog, are an old friend, or just want to see what I say next, thanks for checking in and I hope your Christmas was as peaceful and bright as mine was today. 

My last blog post was entitled uncertain times. I wanted to blog during the last 24 days since I last posted but I was surrounded by rumors and speculation of where I would be going and what I would be doing. If I had posted all my thoughts and anxiety during the last couple of weeks, you would have thought I was caught up in the heights of political intrigue or on the verge of a mental collapse. On the surface it was all business as usual but when you are going through a change it can cause you to worry and wonder.  Add to it the stress of preparing for Christmas, finishing classes for the semester, maintaining sobriety, and the pondering of questions of faith and purpose, and you can see where my mental dialogue may have been a little chatty and chaotic.   On the outside, I was all: “Whatever will be, will be.”  “It’ll be fine.”  

And you know what? It was fine. 

I now report to the Schenectady garage as a construction tech.  I took the truck I had been driving in Albany with me.   I am more suited for construction work so I am happy with this although I would have preferred to stay in Albany.  

So there you go. My employment situation spelled out in three simple sentences.  The content of those sentences could have been different but no matter what those sentences said about my job, I was going to have to be fine with them.  I get good pay and benefits. I have a family to help support and leaving the company doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now.  So whether it worked out to my liking or not, I was still going to have to go in.  That can be a distasteful reality to accept but even in my most paranoid and anxiety riddled moments, I was able to maintain my composure (never let ‘em see you sweat, right?) because of my study of the Bible and my relationship with Jesus Christ.   

During this time of contemplation, I grabbed hold of verses like:

Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5  “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Genesis 28:15 “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

I constantly reminded myself that wherever I went God was going with me. I wasn’t alone and I never will be alone again.

At one point, I had received some less than favorable news about my reporting assignment, to which my colleagues were outraged by the news but were more perplexed by my seemingly docile acceptance of my less than favorable fate. They expected an emotional outburst of anger I think but as a Christian I have been taught:

That I am to be obedient to authority:

Hebrews 13:17  “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

That I am to be content:

Philippians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

That I am to be slow to anger:

James 1:19-20 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Like I said above, regardless of what decision was going to be made about my job, I was going to have to live with it.  So I didn’t get angry because, for all I knew, this “bad” report was the final report. I was going to have to be obedient and content with it so I thought it best to wait and see if this report would be final, knowing that it very well could be. 

Even in the midst of possibly an unfavorable outcome, I had some peace knowing that I would do my best and that God was with me.  To be honest though I did pray for a change in circumstance and things have seemed to work out fine. 

One thing I learned during this time is that there is not going to be a time when things aren’t uncertain. I figured I shouldn’t speculate about what maybe and to wait until a decision was made before I wrote. However, I realize now that as temporary beings on this earth we are not promised tomorrow and we don’t know what the next day brings.  To live in fear is not to live. A runner runs. A writer writes.  To change what you’re doing on a daily basis because of some distant “what if” is not being true to yourself. 
I really wanted to write during this period but didn’t want to give power to my anxiety by giving a voice to them.  However, what I should have done was voiced my fears and remedied them with the word of God. 
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Psalm 34:4 “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

So going forward, if I want to write I’m going to write. To be honest, it’s therapeutic.  It didn’t feel good to not tell my story.  You see because it’s not just my story anymore. I have the Holy Spirit living within me and my testimony is a testimony of the power, grace and love that I have come to know through my experience with Him.  When I fail to tell of what He has done for me, I am not giving the proper honor and glory that God deserves. 

Oh, first sober Christmas in 25 years is in the books! Sober for over 9 months. I exercise, pray, and read the Bible daily. This is all possible only through the power of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in my life. 

 I am moved to tears of joy in contemplation of all the Lord has done in my life and especially in consideration of the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ, during this Christmas season.  I encourage all who read this to seek God and make Him a significant part of your life with honor and service.   

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!