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Showing posts with label Church Discipline. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Church Discipline. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Pursuing the “Better Things” God Has for You - Purity 1226


Pursuing the “Better Things” God Has for You - Purity 1226

Purity 1226 12/20/2023 Purity 1226 Podcast

Purity 1226 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a rusty tin roof, a truckload of missionaries, and a spectacular view of the mountains near Jocotan Guatemala comes to us from July of 2019 and an unknown Rock Solid Missions Team Member who took a moment to capture the scenery while waiting for their fellow team members to join them before they took on the mission of rebuilding a church from the ground up.  

Well, It’s Wednesday, and I went back in time and into the depths of my photo archive to liberate this photo because of its simple scenic beauty, to remind us of the better things we could be doing, and to visually represent our arrival at another midweek summit – so happy hump day!

“Wednesdays are a long day for me.” is something someone told me when they were considering joining the Celebrate Freedom Growth Group and believe me, I get it – and after leading the group since May – I know how true that statement is, but deciding to lead the recovery/discipleship group at Starpoint Church is one of the “better things” I could choose to do in 2023 and now that we are nearing the end of the year it is without a doubt one of the best decisions that I made for the year. 

Leading Celebrate Freedom caused me to take on my food addiction in a way that probably wouldn’t have happened under any other circumstances.  When you struggle with something continually, for all of your life, it is difficult imagining being free from it. Although I had seasons of progress of weight loss and physical health, my tendency to do the “wrong thing” was still there and I didn’t change the way I felt and thought about food in my mind or in my “heart” of hearts.  Like the “dry drunk” who is sober but who still proclaims his love for all things boozy, I could abstain from eating foods that kept me obese for a time but because I still believed those sugar or carb or calorie laden foods were “good food” or “yummy” it was only a matter of time before their siren call would lead me back to indulge in their “goodness” and my addictive tendencies would take over and I would go “mindless” and lose all semblance of self-control and the awareness of what my over eating was doing.  

But this year, because I had a goal of getting healthy, and losing enough weight to get off my CPAP sleep apnea machine, I slowly became more aware of how my “weekend” cheat days were sabotaging my progress. And after I was leading the Celebrate Freedom Growth Group for a few months, I was highly convicted over my “cheat weekends” – binge eating – and decided to “stop struggling” with my food addiction and to actually treat it like an addiction.  I made Scott Salvadore my “food addiction sponsor” and started monitoring everything I ate with the My Fitness Pal App, to keep me within my “macro limits” that the Vshred program recommends, and I would continue to do the Vshred workouts – that my cheat days were sabotaging. 

And the rest is physical fitness history, the weight has come off, I am in the best physical shape of my life, and last night I did the “sleep study” to try to get off the CPAP machine for good.  I am praying for good results, which brings up another key to this victory – my faith – prayer = and the power of the Holy Spirit to change hearts and minds.

Nearly every morning I pray a “stronghold buster” geared toward stopping the insanity of my food addiction and somewhere along the line this year I changed the concluding “announcement” or “proclamation” part of the prayer to say:

“I choose to believe the truth that these foods (candy, popcorn, chips, cake, ice cream, cookies, and soda) and overeating is a trap of the enemy and sabotage my health goals, just like alcohol, I must cease indulging in these foods and overeating all together”.    

Do you hear that? “must cease indulging in these foods and overeating altogether”.   

That prayerful proclamation has been said continually and since I started praying it – with the exceptions of a couple of slip-ups and holiday allowances, I have ceased in indulging in those foods and overeating altogether.  For the most part that prayer has been answered and continues to be answered and as I have prayed it I have seen the way I think and feel about those foods and overeating change too.  I don’t see those foods as “good foods” anymore – I see them as costly in terms of calories and carbs. I see them as “not worth it” and I see them as enemies to my health and I see them as something dangerous as they have caused me to suffer from obesity for most of my life.   I now value my physical health and the person I have become more than the pleasure that these foods and overeating can provide.  I see the lie behind “comfort food” and “couch potato- snacking” – it’s a lie the enemy loves to tell because it makes us docile, inactive, depressed, angry, and shamed, and it literally weighs us down and kills us.  

Perhaps the biggest key in the battle of the bulge is seeing the truth of what these foods and overeating do to us – physically, emotionally, and spiritually and choosing to be ruthless in living by the truth of putting limits on what and how much we eat and doing the hard but life-giving work of exercise. 

So even though my “Wednesdays are long for me”, I am SO GLAD that I chose to serve the body of Christ with the Celebrate Freedom Growth Group because it just happened to not only fulfill my purpose in God’s kingdom as an advocate for Christian living, good mental health, and freedom from addictions, it also was the means to a major breakthrough and experiencing new levels of freedom, victory, and joy! 

So I get it hump days can be busy, heck every day can be busy, but the Lord has things out there – better things – for you to do with your life. What those things may be are for you and the Lord to talk about.

It could be getting free of your hurt, habits, or hang-ups – if so you are invited to come to the Celebrate Freedom Growth Group at Starpoint Church or you can check out tonight’s lesson on YouTube (https://youtu.be/_4-hpUi-5OM?si=Ci6PxieQ_wqCI-5z )

Or it could be signing up for a mission trip, taking a class, reading a book, getting physically fit, or volunteering to serve your local church or in your local community. Whatever it is, I recommend you consider pursuing and doing the “better things” that God has for you because even if they might be a challenge, if the Lord is calling you to “go there”, you can be sure that it will be for good.  

So as we draw ever closer to Christmas – let’s rejoice over the times of the season and all the “better things” that the Lord has done for you and will do for you when you keep walking and talking with God!

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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 verse comes 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 comes from the section on Church Discipline.

2 Thessalonians 3:14 (NASB)
14  If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame.

Today’s verse falls under the ninth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Church Discipline

9. Excommunication is sometimes necessary.

Today’s verse recommends the use of “healthy shame” to bring the disobedient back into the fold of the body of Christ.  

“Toxic shame” is telling someone they are “no good” and beyond hope, that they are evil, unable to change, or just “bad”.    Healthy shame on the other hand brings conviction and sends the message that “Our people don’t do that. You know better, so don’t do that, and be the person God made you to be. Do what is right.”  

I continually go back to Genesis on this point because it’s right there in the beginning.

Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT2) says
6  “Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected?
7  You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Before the first murder, before the law, before Jesus, God tells Cain to simply do “what is right” and warns him that sin will rule over him if he gives in.  

So today’s verse tells us to take those who are living in sin, disobedient to God, to leave the fellowship of the church, to think about what they have done, and to repent in order to be welcomed back into the fellowship of the church.

So when doesn’t do what is right, there should be consequences to encourage them to be the person God created them to be – to do what’s right. 

Too often we either say nothing or use toxic shame when we encounter people who have fallen into sin.  We have the hard task of walking in between – to point out the sin as wrong and to ask people to be the people God made them to be with love but to invite them to leave the fellowship of the saints until they do.  That’s the Bible and we should follow it.

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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

ADVENT WEEK FOUR – INCARNATION

DAY ONE

God Becomes Human

God becomes human, really human. While we endeavor to grow out of our humanity, to leave our human nature behind us, God becomes human, and we must recognize that God wants us also to become human—really human. Whereas we distinguish between the godly and the godless, the good and the evil, the noble and the common, God loves real human beings without distinction.… God takes the side of real human beings and the real world against all their accusers.… But it’s not enough to say that God takes care of human beings. This sentence rests on something infinitely deeper and more impenetrable, namely, that in the conception and birth of Jesus Christ, God took on humanity in bodily fashion. God raised his love for human beings above every reproach of falsehood and doubt and uncertainty by himself entering into the life of human beings as a human being, by bodily taking upon himself and bearing the nature, essence, guilt, and suffering of human beings. Out of love for human beings, God becomes a human being. He does not seek out the most perfect human being in order to unite with that person. Rather, he takes on human nature as it is.

This is about the birth of a child, not of the astonishing work of a strong man, not of the bold discovery of a wise man, not of the pious work of a saint. It really is beyond all our understanding: the birth of a child shall bring about the great change, shall bring to all mankind salvation and deliverance.

“The Government upon the Shoulders of a Child,” Christmas 1940

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

John 1:1–5[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), 49–51.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Rooted in Christ – A Mindful of Christ Encouragement - Purity 1223


 Rooted in Christ – A Mindful of Christ Encouragement - Purity 1223

Purity 1223 12/16/2023 Purity 1223 Podcast

Purity 1223 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of this “magical looking landscape with Bass Strait in the distance” comes to us from Dave Baun Photography who shared this scene two days ago as Dave was visiting “The Nut” which is top attraction in Stanly Tasmania. The Nut is the remains of an ancient volcanic plug with a large, mostly flat surface that can be circumnavigated on foot, and you can ascended to the 152 meter summit either by foot or chair lift to enjoy the fantastic views there, like this one that Dave captured “while looking in a different direction from a top The Nut.”

Well, It’s Saturday and while I won’t be in Tasmania any time soon, I like my friend Dave, try to look at life from different directions to find the beauty that others fail to see,  My “different view” is greatly enhanced by my covenant relationship with God, through faith Jesus, and my Christian worldview that recognizes that God is the creator and sustainer of all things and that He will determine the direction of History. When we know there is a good good father on the other side of eternity and that is active and present int the universe, we can let go of fear – when we have peace with Him through Jesus Christ – and see the beauty that surrounds us on all sides.  

Well, I am in the beautiful confines of my countryside home for another weekend where I am sure to be out walking later this morning to enjoy the beauty and peace of the country farmlands in my neighborhood but will also be going to see the beauty of the Nativity story being highlighted in the new “Christmas with The Chosen: Holy Night” movie later today.  Heads up, next weekend is Christmas Eve on Sunday – so if you haven’t reflected on the goodness of God and gotten into the Christmas Spirit I would recommend that you do it soon if not immediately.  Our joy at Christmas should not be dependent on what we find under our Christmas Tree, it should be based on who we are in Christ, and how we are rooted in Christ.  

Speaking of “Rooted in Christ”, it’s the weekend and after answering an email from a YouTube viewer who was seeking relationship advice, I have decided to share Mindful of Christ’s, Lauren Roskilly’s “Word from Wednesday” this week to encourage us to be “Rooted in Christ”.  Lauren bases her message on the text in Romans 11:17-22, and shared verse 11 to introduce her message.

Romans 11:17 (NLT2) says
17  But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.

Lauen Writes:

Rooted in Christ

You have been 'grafted in' to share the richness & power of God! Wow!

'But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root.

“Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either.

Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off.' (Verses 18-22)

In summary, this is an awesome but humbling visual. The tree is a metaphor for our life with Christ. Apart from Him we are and can do nothing at all. But when we are rooted in Christ, we enter into salvation. With this salvation comes power, peace and strength too.

DON’T STOP TRUSTING HIM!

So, check your life, are there any areas that you’re not completely trusting God in or that you haven’t given to Christ?

If so, give them up to Him now and let Him guide you and your new growth.

Blessings

Lauren x

Thanks Lauen.  So don’t stop trusting the Lord and rejoice knowing that you have been established in God’s kingdom forever but be humbled and know that the Lord wants to work on you to become more and more like Jesus, to become the person that He created you to be.

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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 verse comes 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 Church Discipline.

Matthew 18:15-18 (ESV)
15  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
16  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
17  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
18  Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Today’s verses fall under the sixth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Church Discipline

6. Jesus gives us the procedure for church discipline.

 

Today’s verses show us the way the church is supposed to operate according to Jesus Himself. We are to be accountable to one another to represent the kingdom of God in righteousness and when we are sinned against we are to challenge and encourage one another to repent and if we refuse we are to take the matter to others in the church to attempt reconciliation, but if the offender refuses to repent, they are to be “loosed” from the church fellowship.  Concepts like church discipline and excommunication spring from this teaching. It shows us that we are to take our faith and our sanctification seriously and the lack of church discipline in today’s churches shows how far we may have strayed as a society and as a church from what Jesus was pointing us to.  

 

Deviations from God’s word and distortions of the gospel to allow unrepentant sin is all too common in our modern churches but God’s word is clear, and we should seek the Lord’s wisdom in how to conduct ourselves as Christians in an era where “church discipline” is seldom seen. We have to govern ourselves as disciples of Jesus and be accountable to God because the local church unfortunately doesn’t perform this duty very often these days.

 

 

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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

ADVENT WEEK THREE -  REDEMPTION

DAY FIVE

World Judgment and World Redemption

When God chooses Mary as the means when God himself wants to come into the world in the manger of Bethlehem, this is not an idyllic family affair. It is instead the beginning of a complete reversal, a new ordering of all things on this earth. If we want to participate in this Advent and Christmas event, we cannot simply sit there like spectators in a theater and enjoy all the friendly pictures. Rather, we must join in the action that is taking place and be drawn into this reversal of all things ourselves. Here we too must act on the stage, for here the spectator is always a person acting in the drama. We cannot remove ourselves from the action.

With whom, then, are we acting? Pious shepherds who are on their knees? Kings who bring their gifts? What is going on here, where Mary becomes the mother of God, where God comes into the world in the lowliness of the manger? World judgment and world redemption—that is what’s happening here. And it is the Christ child in the manger himself who holds world judgment and world redemption. He pushes back the high and mighty; he overturns the thrones of the powerful; he humbles the haughty; his arm exercises power over all the high and mighty; he lifts what is lowly, and makes it great and glorious in his mercy.

Close to you I waken in the dead of night,

And start with fear—are you lost to me once more?

Is it always vainly that I seek you, you, my past?

I stretch my hands out,

and I pray—

and a new thing now I hear;

“The past will come to you once more,

and be your life’s enduring part,

through thanks and repentance.

Feel in the past God’s deliverance and goodness,

Pray him to keep you today and tomorrow.”

Poem written in Tegel prison, 1944

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

John 3:16–21[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), 42–43.

Friday, December 15, 2023

When You think of Me, Remeber Jesus - Purity 1222


 When You think of Me, Remember Jesus - Purity 1222 - Purity 1222

Purity 1222 12/15/2023 Purity 1222 Podcast

Purity 1222 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of the slightly askew oil painting, “Ball at Sunset, 1990” by Scott Prior (https://scottpriorart.com/) comes to us from yours truly, and a generous donor to the Spring Field Museums, as I captured this work of art during my visit there last weekend.  The information card for this painting (it’s a painting!) states “Scott Pryor, who lives in western Massachusetts, is inspired by his family and everyday events. The artist works from life as well as photographs. He creates intimate and magical scenes with ordinary objects, revealing that beauty can be found in the simplest moments.”  This painting reminds me of summertime, childhood simplicity, raising my kids, and for some unknown reason, maybe because of the emotion it brings up, my wife and our countryside home.  I had to look twice at the information card because Prior’s work really does look like a photograph.  If you have the means, please support the artist by going to  https://scottpriorart.com/ - While I can’t make any claims about Prior’s faith life, I dare say we are kindred spirits of sorts as my sharing of the “photo of the day” was inspired to encourage my friends to see the beauty in the simplest of moments and to get to know the God that put all of it into being.  

Well, It’s Friday, thank God,  and I will be rejoicing at the end of the day because I will be reunited with my beloved wife, TammyLyn, and will possibly go see the Christmas with the Chosen: Holy Night – movie as we are quickly approaching Christmas.   When we think of Christmas, we should remember Jesus. We really shouldn’t have to “Keep Christ in Christmas”  as that is what the holiday is all about. Jesus, the Light of the World, The Newborn King, is what we are to remember at Christmas.   

And as disciples of Jesus, that really is what we want people to remember when they think about us. When people think of me, it is my hope that somewhere in their thoughts or comments there is something about Jesus. Whether they love or hate me, it is my sincerest wish to have the Lord glorified by my life.  The blog, the podcast, the YouTube channel, and the ministry work I do is all intended – to not point to me – but to point to Jesus, as He is the One who gave me life and affected the transformation that has happened to me over the last 13 years.   My ministry name MT4Christ or MT4Christ247 is not intended to highlight M.T. Clark – it is supposed to highlight Jesus, and it is supposed to be a play on words and an encouragement to you, dear friends, to “Empty” yourselves “For Christ”, to fill you with the Holy Spirit and to lead you into the love and freedom of Christ and God’s purpose for your life.   That’s it,  

Last night, I gave honor to my departed friend and brother in Christ, Bill Hamm, by going to His memorial service. I was actually a little late in arriving because I wanted to pay my respects in a suit, to try to convey my feelings of respect and love for Bill, and how serious I felt about the loss of his departure. Silly perhaps, but that’s the way I felt, and even though I was a little late I was able to get there in time to hear Bill’s son, Jeremey deliver Bill’s eulogy, which was sweet, tender, funny, and inspiring all at the same time as Jeremy gave testimony to his father’s simple yet deep love for his family and friends, his nonnonsense working man’s integrity, and his faithful witness for Jesus Christ.

When I think about Bill Hamm, I remember Jesus because our relationship had Him at the center as Bill and I were two sinners, transformed into saints, who were just humble students of our Savior and tried our best to follow Him. 

After the service, I greeted Jeremy and Bill’s widow and expressed my condolences and my deep friendship with their father and husband, and I was humbled by something  Rebecca related to me that took me by surprise.  She told me that: “In one of Bill’s journals, Bill had written: “M.T. Clark = Jesus”.  I of course laughed and made light of it.  But I was actually deeply moved by it, and looked at Bill’s flower-surrounded memorial photo, and laughed and shook my head as The Lord moved the events of last evening to have Bill “speak to me”.  Speaking to Bill’s photo, I said: “Okay, Bill, you get the last laugh.  Here I come dressed up in a suit to honor you, and you turn the tables, and honor me! God bless you brother.”  

Bill and I had served in the church together, walked through my recovery and serving in the Celebrate Freedom together, and in some of the last days of our friendship, Bill had honored me by attending the last class I taught at Rock Solid Church, Freedom in Christ, and he apparently had listened to the podcast too.  Bill’s note in the journal wasn’t saying I was Jesus. The fact that Bill wrote “M.T. Clark” and not “Marc Clark” speaks to that.  M.T. Clark is the new creation in Christ.  So Bill’s note was in affect saying, “The reason there is an M.T. Clark is Jesus”.  Bill saw me come into the church in 2011 and he saw “Marc” (or as some called me to their children “Mr. Marc (SMH)) and Bill saw firsthand my journey into becoming the person I was as I left Rock Solid Church. He had seen the transformation. Like one of the Magi at Christmas time, He had witnessed “the birth of M.T. Clark” and when Bill thought of me, he apparently remembered Jesus and because I went to honor Bill last night, the Lord arranged for me to know it. 

We all have one life to live on this side of eternity and what we will be remembered for matters. Without Christ, your hobbies, preferences, interest, and accomplishments won’t amount to anything, only those who make Christ their Lord and Savior move on to eternal life and if we have received the gift of our salvation, we really should use our lives to honor God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  

So keep walking and talking with God, and don’t care if people love you or hate you for it but be sure to do what you can to encourage people to know, love, and follow Christ, and that someday when they think of you, they remember Jesus.

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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 verse comes 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 Church Discipline.

1 Corinthians 5:11 (ESV)
11  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Today’s verse fall under the fifth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Church Discipline

5. Do not fellowship with one who will not repent.

Today’s verse advises us to not fellowship with those who are guilty of wanton sin and claim to be a Christian.   Get a load of that list – sex immoral (that’s anyone having any type of sex – outside of a marriage between one man and one woman), drunkards (oh yeah, let’s party), greedy and swindlers (the materialism in the American church may make you blush), and those “revilers” ( those angry people who criticize all the time).  

Okay, shots fired at the church, men and women down!  Considering the local congregations and the things I see and have seen in the building known as the church it is surprising that we get together at all because if we followed this principle, over half the people gathered in the church building would be prevented from crossing the threshold.  

While I completely understand how we want to encourage people to come to church and to “consider following Jesus” , our faith is supposed to be evidenced by our changed lives and if we welcome in people who agree nominally, in the name of, but not in the spirit of, Jesus and disobey virtually everything the word of God says about Christian living, we really need to consider if out “loving the sinner” is the tactic we should take.  While we don’t want to be legalists, we certainly don’t want to convey that regular unrepented sin is “okay because you have been forgiven”. That’s an error that can have serious consequences here on earth and possibly in eternity as other verses in the Bible indicate that people with this list of sin in their lives are fooling themselves to think that they are actually “in Christ”.  

So, listen to the Lord and don’t associate with people in known sin, but at the same time listen to the Lord in case He wants to use you to bring them back into the grace of His love and to guide them to repentance.   Light and darkness do not have anything to do with one another, but ours is also the faith of bringing people out of the darkness to live forever with the light of the world. So shine the light of Jesus and allow Him to move people to be born again, repent, and 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

ADVENT WEEK THREE -  REDEMPTION

DAY FOUR

Look Up, Your Redemption Is Drawing Near

Let’s not deceive ourselves. “Your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28), whether we know it or not, and the only question is: Are we going to let it come to us too, or are we going to resist it? Are we going to join in this movement that comes down from heaven to earth, or are we going to close ourselves off? Christmas is coming—whether it is with us or without us depends on each and every one of us.

Such a true Advent happening now creates something different from the anxious, petty, depressed, feeble Christian spirit that we see again and again, and that again and again wants to make Christianity contemptible. This becomes clear from the two powerful commands that introduce our text: “Look up and raise your heads” (Luke 21:28 RSV). Advent creates people, new people. We too are supposed to become new people in Advent. Look up, you whose gaze is fixed on this earth, who are spellbound by the little events and changes on the face of the earth. Look up to these words, you who have turned away from heaven disappointed. Look up, you whose eyes are heavy with tears and who are heavy and who are crying over the fact that the earth has gracelessly torn us away. Look up, you who, burdened with guilt, cannot lift your eyes. Look up, your redemption is drawing near. Something different from what you see daily will happen. Just be aware, be watchful, wait just another short moment. Wait and something quite new will break over you: God will come.

You know what a mine disaster is. In recent weeks we have had to read about one in the newspapers.

The moment even the most courageous miner has dreaded his whole life long is here. It is no use running into the walls; the silence all around him remains.… The way out for him is blocked. He knows the people up there are working feverishly to reach the miners who are buried alive. Perhaps someone will be rescued, but here in the last shaft? An agonizing period of waiting and dying is all that remains.

But suddenly a noise that sounds like tapping and breaking in the rock can be heard. Unexpectedly, voices cry out, “Where are you, help is on the way!” Then the disheartened miner picks himself up, his heart leaps, he shouts, “Here I am, come on through and help me! I’ll hold out until you come! Just come soon!” A final, desperate hammer blow to his ear, now the rescue is near, just one more step and he is free.

We have spoken of Advent itself. That is how it is with the coming of Christ: “Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Bonhoeffer’s Advent sermon in a London church, December 3, 1933

Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Luke 21:28[1]

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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), 40–41.