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Showing posts with label Community. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Been There, Done That, & Doing it Again? – The Counsel of Many – Purity 524


Been There, Done That, & Doing it Again? – The Counsel of Many – Purity 524                                           

Purity 524 09/15/2021  Purity 524 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a multicolored sunset in East Kentucky comes to us from a friend who has their eyes on the sky and who enjoys sharing the beauty of God’s creation with their friends. Sometimes the scenes inspire them to compose some original poetry to express the truths of what our eyes can see, and our hearts can feel in a simple but artistic way.  While the photos can delight us and the poems can impress us, there is something about pairing them that gives the two a greater meaning and profundity then either element could express in and of themselves.  

It’s Wednesday, and while this photo doesn’t have the normal “hump” of a hill or a mountain peak, the sunset is somewhat centered in a valley, and I think it meets the criteria for representing a midpoint for our week. Sometimes in life it’s not all “ups and downs”, sometimes it’s “downs and ups” as we ascend out of the pit of a difficult situation to a better place.  

Last night I met with a group of friends whose commonality is the “downs and ups” of going through the process of divorce.  We hadn’t seen one another in weeks so we spent the evening updating one another with what was happening in our lives and giving one another support.  Some of us are still in the midst of the process of coming to an end of divorce proceedings, some are “done” but not finished with processing the emotional and situational fallout of their marriage’s end, and the rest are more on the side of forging a new beginning but still face the challenges of going solo and/or finding a new love.   The whole process of the group coming together to hear one another and to offer insights, care, and advice reminded me of:

Proverbs 11:14 (NKJV) which says,
14  Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

 

I wish I say could that all of us, present company included, were moving forward in our lives by making wise choices and not being influenced by reactive emotions and patterns of the past but this is real life. 

As people shared their updates, more than one testified that they may be making mistakes that they have made before and that they could recognize them but somehow seemed to be repeating familiar missteps of the past because of their emotional vulnerability or lack of focus, commitment, or wisdom.  Some are hoping for situations to change that are beyond their control and are holding on to the hope that things will somehow resolve themselves.  Other are holding on to bitterness, anger, or unforgiveness over things that are lost, ranging from the profound to the material.

While we couldn’t resolve everyone’s problems or institute some quick fixes, we all felt positive about getting together because we were able to confess how we were really feeling and were able to receive counsel from people who had been through similar experiences and who could see our blind spots for what they were.  

I think the thing that makes are group special is not only the transparency and the mutual support but is the fact that we are Christians, and we use the counsel and wisdom that is drawn from the word of God to encourage one another.  

We have all found comfort and strength from God because of our faith and from knowing that we have a living relationship with the Lord and have resolved, in varying degrees, to follow His ways for our lives. 

When we let go of trying to control our situations or stop holding onto things and decide to give them to God, we discover that we can have a measure of peace even in the darkest hours of our suffering.  When we start to live our lives by His ways we are assured that we are doing the right things for the right reasons and can start to heal and see things improve,  

Sometimes we need a little help from our friends.  Sometimes God will use them to show us the way we should go. Sometimes the Lord can use them to give us comfort and to just hear us in our pain. Sometimes he will use them to show us that we are not alone.  

Our Christian friends know the Lord. They know His wisdom and they know His love. We can be the picture of suffering and they can be the poetry of God’s word. By ourselves, we each have a measure of beauty, but when we come together we can reflect the glory of God and the wonders of His love.    

We may have “been there and done that” and our experience can help others who are doing it too. So keep walking and talking with God. Speak the truth of His hope, wisdom, and love to your friends and to everyone you meet along the way for the pain of our past can be used to help to see someone  through their darkest hour or to prevent someone from making the mistakes we have overcome.  

 

Today’s meditation verse is drawn from” from the Dr. Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries provided resource:  “Freedom: Our Life in Christ” Memory Verse Cards set: 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NASB)
7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;

Today’s verse tells speaks of the treasure of the gospel and the source of our victory.       

The context of this passage speaks of the power of the gospel, but it begins in chapter 3 of where it speaks of the fact that the Lord is Spirit and where the Spirit is, there is liberty.   The power of the gospel is the power to save.  The treasure of the gospel is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  

So whenever you read scripture, be sure to read more that just a verse or two. Look and see what comes before and after all those “there fore’s” and get an idea of all that is being said. The Bible is the rich wisdom of the Lord and may require more than a quick glance.   

In this passage if you didn’t look back you may think that the “treasure” in our “earthen vessel” is just the message that Jesus Christ came to die for our sins and to reconcile us to God.   We all know that is a supernatural truth that is invaluable to recognize and hold, like a treasure, but the context of the passage includes more than just preaching Jesus Christ crucified.

The surrounding passages speak about freedom from past sins and the fact that the reception of the good news is God dependent. He gave us this treasure and only He will pass it along to others through us.  Thus the “surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves”.  

God saves us. God gives us the power to endure and to overcome our former sins. And God will use us to speak as the verses that follow today’s verse (4:13) make clear. 

When we receive the Holy Spirit by placing our faith in Jesus Christ, He compels us to change and the more we align ourselves with God’s will for our lives the more we will experience the fruit of the Spirit. And when we feel the peace, joy, love, and goodness that comes from the Lord we will be compelled to share the treasure of the gospel with others.  

So hold on to your treasure but use it to be conformed to the image of Christ.  When you start drawing from the treasure you possess, you discover that it transforms you and somehow no matter how much of it you use, the treasure is never spent!  The power of God in us is infinite and when we can use it on ourselves liberally, but we can also speak the gospel and share our treasure with others.

 

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

 

Today we continue to share from June Hunt’s Boundaries: How to Set Them, How to Keep Them.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

III. Causes

In the world of fencing, Boris develops a bad reputation.

It's 1976 and the Olympic games are underway in Montreal, Canada. The pentathletes for the Soviet Union are gripping their swords, or epees, in anticipation of another competitive event. Following the equestrian events they're in fourth place and have some catching up to do, but they remain confident because of their then star athlete—Boris Onishchenko—a multiple medal winner from previous Olympics.

He is 38 years old and is determined to earn at least one more medal, but Boris crosses boundaries that sideline him . . . for good.

Scripture imparts the truth about sin. . . .

" . . . you may be sure that your sin will find you out."

(Numbers 32:23)

A. What Experiences Help Us Learn Boundaries?

Fencing, swimming, running, shooting, riding horses . . . Boris Onishchenko has learned all about boundaries from his experiences as an accomplished pentathlete.

At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, he helps win a silver medal for his team and then four years later in Munich, he helps them land a gold, while he himself gains an individual silver. In 1971 Boris is dubbed world champion pentathlete before being overshadowed by a rival who secures the title the following three years.

Boris has played by the rules and respected boundaries, but a fencing tournament reveals foolishness.

The Bible wisely communicates...

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

(Proverbs 1:7)

Boundaries are an indispensable aspect of life, such an intrinsic part of living that they often exist unnoticed. Physical boundaries say: "My property is mine" or "My body is mine and your body is yours," while internal boundaries say: "I am me and you are you." "This is my responsibility, and there is yours." Since we learn boundaries through experience, their number increases over time as we pass through various developmental stages and encounter more and more learning situations. Since our lives are normally initially governed by our parents, they are the major molders and shapers of the boundaries we develop in childhood and then practice into adulthood . . . and throughout our entire lives. These boundaries can be strong and beneficial, or they can be poor, ineffective, and even harmful boundaries.

Regardless of boundaries learned from parents, we have a perfect Parent in our heavenly Father. He can "reframe" our past experiences and "retrain" us through our present and future experiences. As we surrender to our Lord and allow His Spirit to guide us, we can learn to construct positive boundaries. . . . We have only to yield to His rightful place of authority in our lives and give ourselves wholly to Him as those who have been born into His family and possess His Spirit. . . .

"Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."

(Psalm 25:5)

  • We learn boundaries from parents who model boundaries by the way they interact with us, with each other, and with those around them.
  • We learn boundaries as we learn more about God—His character, His attributes, and His expectations of us . . . and especially His ways of dealing with those who choose to sin.
  • We learn boundaries in the relationships we have with family, friends, and others in our life; however, the most significant relationship is the personal relationship we develop with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
  • We learn boundaries as we are corrected, taught, and disciplined in love by the authority figures around us.
  • We learn boundaries as we begin to understand the connection between receiving rewards for doing right and experiencing repercussions for doing wrong.
  • We learn boundaries from making mistakes, from trying and failing, and from suffering natural consequences.
  • We learn boundaries from listening and gaining wisdom from others, from observing the lives of others, and imitating what seems to work for them.

The apostle Paul said...

"Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do."

(Philippians 3:17)

Biblical Counseling Keys: Boundaries: How to See Them - How to Keep Them.

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

 

 

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Friday, September 10, 2021

It’s Good to be Here! – The Joys of Fellowship & Community – Purity 520

It’s Good to be Here! – The Joys of Fellowship & Community  – Purity 520                                                        

Purity 520 09/10/2021   Purity 520 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a late afternoon view of Hampton Manor Lake from the shores of Lake Shore Drive in Rensselaer NY comes from yours truly as I felt moved to capture the view and the peace of the moment as I was enjoying dinner with my friend and his young sons on Labor Day.  I had spent Labor Day at home relaxing and finishing a book I was reading and didn’t have any plans when my friend reached out late in the afternoon with a dinner invitation and while the introverted part of me wanted to remain sedentary I decided that dinner with a friend would be a great way to celebrate Labor Day and to transform the day from a lazy Monday into an actual holiday!  You know what I mean?

“Hey MT, what you do on Labor Day?”

“Nothing, I just stayed home and read a book”. 

“Oh great… good for you… loser.” 

No, Instead I get to testify to the fact that I actually have friends that enjoy my company! “Oh I went to my friends house and had dinner and played with his sons. I even helped to  build his sons these little toys that came with their snacks. My friend and I talked about our lives, and we encouraged and prayed for one another. It was great.”

By accepting my friend’s kind invitation not only do I have a nice memory of what I did on Labor Day of 2021 I can also testify about the goodness of life, friends, having kids, and how our Christian faith can enhance that experience and make it more meaningful because we were meeting in the context of, and being conscious of, God: by saying grace over the meal, asking the boys about what they were thankful for that day, sharing the news of each other’s lives, and ending by praying for each other’s concerns and well being.  The joy of fellowshipping with friends is raised when we bring the Lord into our gatherings.

As Christians, everything we do can turn into a testimony. Even me sitting at home could be an opportunity to share the hope we have in Christ, provided I am living a surrendered life that includes God somewhere in my day.  “Yeah, I just relaxed at home and read this Christian book that taught about….X, or I read in the Bible about X, or I just thanked God for the day off and recharged my batteries.”  When we are abiding with the Lord even the “nothing” days of our lives can reflect the peace that we have from knowing and living with Him.     

I have discovered the joys of the freedom I have in Christ and can experience that alone or in fellowship with friends.  The joys of the path of Christian Discipleship that I walk has led me to try to share them with as many people as possible so last night I facilitated the first lesson of the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Class at Rock Solid Church in Hudson NY. And despite some initial set up panic, okay a complete freak out,  the class went off wonderfully. I got a sense that the material presented encouraged everyone and that we have established a community of hope that will prayerfully endure through the course’s completion, the week before Thanksgiving.   The video presentations went off without any technical difficulties and the discussions where simple but reinforced what was being taught and the faith that resides in each one of us.  

Maybe this is blowing things out of proportion but when Christians can get together and they are in agreement about their faith, and are encouraging each other in their faith walk, it’s a hopeful, somewhat transcendent, experience because we are encouraged individually but at same time are actively sharing the love of God by affirming and encouraging those gathered with us. 

It’s the joy of community and it reminds me of Peter’s comments from basking in the wonder of the supernatural glory on the Mount of Transfiguration where Christ’s deity was revealed and Moses and Elijah showed up!

Luke 9:33 (NKJV)
33  … Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"--not knowing what he said.    

Yeah, Peter didn’t know what he was saying because of the joy of the moment with  Jesus, Moses, and Elijah! He didn’t want the experience of this holy community to end, essentially saying: “Hey Jesus, Let’s put some tents up and keep this party going!”  

And the enthusiasm of the parting remarks from the students last night gave me the feeling that they too shared my feelings that “it was good to be here”. That we had found a “safe place” where we could be “Real Christians” where we can enjoy our faith without fear of reproach and can encourage one another in the weeks ahead to confidently “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk” of our faith by applying the truth of God’s word to our hearts and minds in the joy of fellowship and community.


Today’s verse is drawn from” from the Dr. Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries provided resource:  “Freedom: Our Life in Christ” Memory Verse Cards set: 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 8:15 (NKJV)
15  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." 

Today’s verse assures us of our adoption into God’s royal family and reminds us that our identity in Christ should cast out fear.  

Okay, I have the utmost respect for God the Father and I am not one to refer to Him as “Daddy God” but if you’ve ever wondered where that phrase comes from it is drawn from some pastors’ teaching about the word “Abba” in this verse. They rightfully state that young children use this verse to refer to their fathers and it signifies a level intimacy and affection. Thus they liken Abba to the endearing moniker, Daddy.  And that’s okay, God is our Heavenly Father, and we are to pursue and enjoy a deep, intimate, and loving relationship with Him. 

In comparing the Lord’s wisdom and power with our limited facilities, it isn’t a stretch to consider ourselves as infantile compared to Him and may think that using “Daddy God” is good way to humble ourselves and to foster that love for our “Daddy” in Heaven. 

So, what’s wrong with you MT, Tell your Daddy you love Him? What are you too macho? Tell Daddy God you love Him!”   

You know, I really wondered about that! Am I too hard hearted to go there? But for me…something about Daddy God just seemed…. well childish… or disrespectful or less than reverent.  Some how I had trouble envisioning coming boldly to the throne of God and saying “Thank You for saving me, Daddy God.”  It’s less than majestic.   Knowing something about God’s majesty, justice, wrath, holiness, sovereignty, wisdom, power, and love, I have never felt right about using that childish phrase to refer to God.  

But I never bothered to research the consensus on the word “ABBA” and this Daddy interpretation.  As a Bible college graduate, I should have looked into this sooner because just a small amount of research that I did this morning puts a pin in the “inflated” Daddy God balloon:

I’m sharing an article by Logos’s Karen Engle today that puts ABBA in its proper place. (https://blog.logos.com/what-does-abba-really-mean/).   Engle quotes several sources that state that the unbalanced sentimental view that “Daddy God” can elicit takes away from His other attributes, particularly His holiness and majesty.   

So let that be a lesson to all of us. If we hear a syrupy sweet message about God being preached and certain interpretations are made regarding the scriptures, it is our responsibility to check the scriptures and those interpretations for ourselves by “rightly dividing the word of God” and checking the accuracy of what is being said.     

Sorry about the Daddy God soap box, but I want to know God for all He is and worship Him in spirit and in truth.

We are God’s children and He wants us to know Him truthfully.  And when we know just how awesome, powerful, loving, holy, and majestic He really is we can rest in that knowledge and overcome any fears we have regarding life or death on this earth.  

Our heavenly Father, though our faith in Jesus Christ, has given us eternal life.  We are established as His adopted Children and Co-heirs with Christ. Nothing can separate us from His love.

Instead of having some childish view of some sweet Daddy God, I would rather know the Father of all creation that who encompasses all that is good, loving, and holy.  It is in an accurate view of God where we can stand strong in our faith and move forward in our growth.  So instead of “toddling around” with sweet sentiments of lying at our heavenly Father’s feet, let’s rise up and answer His upward call to walk into maturity and the good works that He has prepared for us to fulfill our purpose.   

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

 

Today we continue to share from June Hunt’s Boundaries: How to Set Them, How to Keep Them.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

B. What Indications Help Identify Broken Boundaries?

Tonya Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, pleads guilty to racketeering for helping plan the attack on Nancy Kerrigan and her bodyguard. Shawn Eckardt, along with Shane Stant and Derrick Smith, are charged with conspiracy.

Gillooly and Eckardt plan the attack, Stant executes it, and Smith drives the getaway car. Tonya pleads guilty to hindering the investigation following the assault and suffers a slew of penalties. Harsh repercussions . . . follow broken boundaries. . . .

  • Withdrawal from participation in the world skating championships
  • The surrendering of her U.S. Figure Skating Association membership
  • Three years' probation
  • A $100,000 fine
  • The establishment of a $50,000 fund to benefit Special Olympics
  • The reimbursement of $10,000 for judiciary costs
  • 500 hours of community service
  • A mandatory psychiatric examination with court-prescribed treatment.

Scripture clearly indicates that there always will be consequences for sin. . . .

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."

(Galatians 6:7-8)

Just as Olympic and professional athletes are screened for possible rule violations prior to being cleared to compete in a sporting event, you, too, need to screen yourself for boundary violations if you want to be a viable contender in the arena of relationships . . . in the game of life.

Having broken boundaries or no boundaries at all will put you at a disqualifying disadvantage if you have any hope of standing in the winner's circle. By establishing and maintaining boundaries that nurture, guard, and protect your own heart and the hearts of those you cherish, you can prosper in this quest for success. Only, remember to get wisdom and gain understanding in the process. . . .

"The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper."

(Proverbs 19:8)

As you seek to identify broken boundaries in your life, answer the following questions. . . .

Checklist for Broken Boundaries

  • □ Do you have difficulty making decisions and sticking with them when opposed?
  • □ Do you feel that you must seek opinions of others before acting on a decision?
  • □ Do you feel hesitant to give your opinion when asked?
  • □ Do you fear expressing what you really feel?
  • □ Do you lack confidence in your own convictions?
  • □ Do you avoid certain people because you fear embarrassment?
  • □ Do you have difficulty maintaining eye contact with others?
  • □ Do you have difficulty asking others for help?
  • □ Do you fear losing the love and affection of others?
  • □ Do you perform favors for others even when you know you shouldn't?
  • □ Do you avoid asking people to return overdue items they have borrowed?
  • □ Do you have difficulty receiving sincere compliments from others?
  • □ Do you keep an unwanted item you purchased because you fear returning it?
  • □ Do you need a great deal of assurance from others?
  • □ Do you do more than your share of work on a project?
  • □ Do you allow others to be untruthful in your presence without stating the truth?
  • □ Do you have difficulty pointing out situations that are unfair?
  • □ Do you ever say yes when you want to say no?
  • □ Do you think you have to answer the phone every time it rings?
  • □ Do you listen to a telemarketer even when you want to say, "No, thank you"?
  • □ Do you feel compelled to send money when receiving solicitations in the mail?
  • □ Do you feel guilty when you say no to someone who is asking for your time?
  • □ Do you sometimes accept the blame for mistakes that aren't yours?
  • □ Do you feel guilty when someone suffers a repercussion for having broken a boundary you have set?

If you have struggled with broken boundaries, you may also struggle with being afraid of disappointing others . . . afraid of receiving criticism from others . . . afraid of losing the love of others. The Lord does not want you to live in a state of fear . . . which is why so many people have been helped when they personally focus on the heart of the following Scripture.

Read these verses out loud every day for one month and watch how God will strengthen your relationship with Him so that you will know that He is your strength . . . He is your confidence . . . He is your security. . . .

"The Lord is my light and my salvationwhom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my lifeof whom shall I be afraid? . . . Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident."

(Psalm 27:1, 3)

Triangulation

QUESTION: "What exactly is 'triangulation,' and how is it related to boundaries?"

ANSWER: Boundary triangulation occurs when an individual fails to speak the truth in love to a boundary violator and fails to enforce a repercussion. Instead, the person elicits the help of an uninvolved third-party ally who is anything but objective.

Such an impossible situation generally creates a whole new set of issues. Rather than having only one offender and one offended, everyone ends up offending and being offended, and a complicated mess ensues.

In triangulation, rather than the offended party rightfully taking responsibility for working out a personal problem in a proper and concise way with an offender, the individual seeks support and refuge in a sympathetic third party.

Thus triangulation is rooted in being afraid to confront and creates problems rather than peace. This clearly violates the teaching of Jesus. . . .

"If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you." (Matthew 18:15)


Biblical Counseling Keys: Boundaries: How to See Them - How to Keep Them.

 

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

 

 

 Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

leaders Following THE LEADER, Christ. – Purity 500


leaders Following THE LEADER, Christ.

Purity 500 08/18/2021   Purity 500 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of this spectacular view somewhere along the trail up the Ha’iku Stairs/Ladder in Oahu Hawaii comes to us from a friend’s epic pilgrimage back in June.  The Ha’iku Stairs are also known as the stairway to Heaven and with this lush view of the Oahu countryside, the blue sky, and the Pacific in the distance it’s no surprise why it is called that!  

I share this pic because it’s awesome and because its Wednesday and I thought it was a nice symbolic representation of ascending the “hump” of mid-week.   Our friend’s God given adventurous spirit led them to follow a couple of friends up this trail to new heights and we are happy they shared their experience!

As we walk out our Christian faith each day, it is a comfort to find out that we are not alone in our journey. The Lord is our ever-present Comforter of course but it is also an encouragement to find other men and women who have been touched by the Lord and who have also been inspired to live a discipled life and who want to bring their faith in Christ with them into all the areas of their lives.   There are others that are following where the Lord calls them.

Yesterday, I was happy to have a short conversation with Mike Henry Sr., the CEO of followerofone.org, a Christian online community that encourages Christ followers to integrate their faith at work by supporting one another in “Marketplace Missions Trips”.  Mike explains what a “Marketplace Mission Trip is in a video I am sharing on the blog today, at : 



https://youtu.be/UWOr96Ur3Yk

 

But it all comes down to being intentional about being plugged into our faith in God each day and acting it out through our prayers, words, and actions at work. The Follower of One community is a place where we can connect with other Christians and can support one another in our “Marketplace Missions.” 

I am a new member of Follower of One and I am encouraging all my friends to join this growing community of Christians who believe that every one of us can be used by God for His purposes and that a community of faith doesn’t have to be enclosed by the four walls of a church building on Sunday morning. To join this exciting online Christian community go to the link that I am sharing on the blog: Join Follower of One by clicking here!

I apologize if all that sounds “pluggy”, but I know that living out our Christian faith provides us with meaning, purpose, and power and I believe that the mission of Follower of One is to help and encourage Christians to draw closer to the Lord, to realize their part in His kingdom, and to experience the new life of freedom and victory that comes though living out their faith in all aspects of their lives. 

I have been a part of so many different Christian communities that have helped me to mature in my faith and while I know that it isn’t always easy to find people with a hopeful vision and hearts of encouragement, I also know that when you do find others whose purpose is to know Christ and to make Him known, the potential for personal growth and service to God is as limitless as the love that the Lord has for us. 

So keep walking and talking with God.  Listen to His voice and follow where He leads. The mission God has for you may not be in another country. Your mission may just begin with a prayer for someone at work, by taking time to listen to a co-worker’s problems, or may lie in being intentional about doing our best job with care and concern for those we encounter. The love of Christ has been given to us. Let’s make it grow by sharing it in with others in all the walks of our lives.  


This morning’s meditation verses are:

1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 (NKJV)
4  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
5  You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.

Today’s verses speak of the safety and the transformative change that Christians have received when they place their faith in Jesus.        

One of the most damaging and hobbling beliefs that is commonly and stubbornly held on to by most Christians is that they are “ JUST sinners saved by grace.”

While all Christians were sinners before coming to Christ and will have some sin in their lives until they are glorified, these verses in the letter to the church at Thessalonica does not identify members of the church by their darkness.  Throughout scripture those who place their faith in Christ are instead identified as “sons of light”, highlighting their righteous position and security as members of God’s royal family.  

This letter speaks about the “Day of the Lord”, the time when Christ will return to judge the earth, and Paul assures the church of their safety from God’s wrath telling the church that “this Day” is to be feared by those in darkness, but not those who are called the “light of the world”, Christians, in Matthew 5:14.  Because we have placed our faith in Christ, we are safe.  

But scripture also calls us to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John: 1:7), and although it acknowledges the fact that we have not obtained a state of sinless perfection (1 John 1:8), it continually encourages us not identify with sin (1 Cor 6:11, 2 Peter 1:9) and to “not sin” (1 John 2:1, 2 Peter 1:10), or as Jesus said, to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

The Christian walk is all about moving forward into our new lives of faith and leaving our darkness behind. The keys to this walk are believing that we have been made new through our faith in Christ and that we are not “JUST” what we used to be but that we are alive, secure, and righteous new creations in Christ.  Our Christian walk can and should progressively demonstrate our new lives in “the light”.     

Our belief in our new life in Christ is fundamental to our experiencing the fruit of the Spirit and the more we intentionally live out our faith on a continual basis the more we will know that what the word of God says about us is true.    

 

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing in Chapter 12.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:

When You Are Criticized or Rejected

The thoughts and feelings of rejection that often plague us can be major deterrents to our maturity in Christ. Apart from Christ, we all learned early in life to respond to rejection by taking one of three defensive postures (see Figure 12-A). Even as Christians we can be influenced to react defensively to rejection.

Beat the System

A small percentage of people defend against rejection by buying into the dog-eat-dog world system and learning to compete and scheme to get ahead of the pack. These are the movers and shakers, people who seek to earn their acceptance and strive for significance through their performance. They feel driven to get on top of every situation because winning is their passport to acceptance and significance. They are characterized by perfectionism and emotional insulation and are plagued by anxiety and stress.

Spiritually, the beat-the-system people struggle with the idea of coming under God's authority and have little fellowship with Him. They are prone to controlling and manipulating others and circumstances for their own end, so it is difficult for them to yield control in their lives to God. In our churches, these people jockey to be chairman of the board or the most influential member on a committee. Their motivation may not always be to serve God in this position, however, but to control their world because their sense of worth is dependent upon it. Beat-the-system controllers are often very insecure.

Controlling people's defensive strategy only delays inevitable rejection. Eventually, their ability to control their families, their employees and their churches diminishes, and they are replaced by younger, stronger or more capable controllers. Some survive this midlife crisis, but many who make it to retirement don't enjoy much of it. Studies show that high-powered executives live an average of nine months after they retire. They no longer have any purpose for living.

Give In to the System

"Pastor, I'm a loser," a high-school boy told me dejectedly. He explained that he wanted to be a star football player but had been cut from the team. Instead of being in the spotlight as an athlete, he had to settle for being a member of the pep band. Compared to star quarterbacks, clarinet players were losers. What a sad commentary on American culture!

The largest group of people respond to rejection as this boy did: by simply giving in to the system. They continue their efforts to try to satisfy others, but their failures prompt them to believe they really are unlovable and unacceptable. The system says the best, the strongest, the most beautiful and the most talented are "in." Those who don't fit those categories—which includes most of us—are "out," and we succumb to society's false judgment of our worth. As a result, a large segment of the population is plagued by feelings of worthlessness, inferiority and self-condemnation.

These people also have trouble relating to God. They often blame God for their sad state and find it difficult to trust Him. "You made me a lowly clarinet player instead of a star quarterback," they complain. "If I allow you access to other areas of my life, how do I know you won't make me a loser there, too?"

By giving in to the system's false judgment, these people can only look forward to more and more rejection. The system has rejected them and therefore they find it easy to reject themselves. Any success or acceptance that comes their way will be questioned or doubted on the basis of what they already believe about themselves.


Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.

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

 

God bless you all!

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Decisions, Decisions… - Choose Freedom - Purity 473


 
Decisions, Decisions… - Choose Freedom

Purity 473 07/17/2021  Purity 473 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo is the natural progression of yesterday’s photo as the setting sun has sunk into the Pacific horizon from the vantage point of the shores of Kaanapali on the Island of Maui in the great state of Hawaii.  My friend’s vacation photo sharing of that Pacific paradise presented me with a dilemma. When you are given two wonderful shots from more or less the same setting, which one do you choose?   Often in life we are only given the option of one thing or another, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. But on occasion, even though your choice may confound, or even bother those around you, (Are you thinking: What another picture from Hawaii? I wanted something different, today!)”, sometimes you can choose both!

Now I know, I didn’t “really” choose both.  I chose one photo yesterday and I chose the other photo today.   While I could have shared both photos yesterday, somehow that idea goes against my philosophy of “today’s photo’, singular.  And like I have indicated, there is a natural tendency in all of us to want to move one to “something new.”    

But as in other decisions we make in life, we shouldn’t be held in bondage to other people’s opinions, or our own ideas,  and let our preconceived notions always dictate how we act.  Spontaneity includes the possibility of doing the same thing again.  Repeating what we have done before unfortunately won’t recapture the exact essence of our previous experience, but we can still find pleasure and a measure of satisfaction in a repeated activity as long as we temper our expectations with the understanding that our new experience will not be “just like” our previous experience.    

The possible opinions of others around us, or our ideas of what we should or shouldn’t do, hinder us from living freely.   With my silly example of selecting a photo of the day, maybe some people will be displeased. Maybe some people will be thrilled because they wanted to see that sight again.  Maybe others will like this dusky photo better than yesterday’s. But regardless of all those potential varying opinions, that may or may not out there in reality, in each one of our lives we have to choose what we are going to do for ourselves and live with the consequences.  

Sometimes we also have to challenge our own opinions and preferences to grow. While I like to present and experience new things, we all have a tendency to get in a rut of doing things according to the rules and regulations we have established over our own lives. 

 Now, I’m not talking about running down the road of immorality that leads to debauchery land. I’ve taken that trip way too many times before to encourage others to lose their good senses and to jump into something that will bring guilt and shame if not worse consequences.   No, what I am talking about is challenging the preconceptions of what is possible or is more along the lines of “how we always do things” rather than violating what is right according to the word of God.  

One of the first calls from God that is highlighted in the Bible is God’s call to Abraham to leave his people and to go into the land that the Lord would show Him.  I’m sure Abraham had to hear lots of negative opinions from others when He decided to follow the Lord’s call. Can you imagine just one day, out of the blue, telling everyone you knew that you were leaving because God had called you to go somewhere else?  Could you imagine the inner turmoil that you would experience at the prospect of doing that?  

Now, don’t freak out, I’m not suggesting you pack it all up and take off for a destination unknown. I am merely suggesting that you exercise the free will that the Lord has blessed you with to explore the life that God has given you to see what possibilities for growth are available for you to walk into.  I’m not telling you to leave the comforts of your home, I’m asking you to consider leaving the comforts of “doing things the way you always do them” for a way that is guided by the Lord and that leads to victory, freedom, and peace.  

So, enjoy your weekend. Enjoy doing the same old things again but temper those expectations by realizing you can’t recapture the happiness of the past and that’s okay.  You like what you like.  But at the same time, maybe be daring and try something new.

Regardless of what you choose, rejoice over the freedom you have and consider entering the experience of peace and joy that comes when you decide to seek and follow God’s call on your life to live with Him.   

No two walks with God are the same. But when you walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit, there may be bumps in the road but regardless of what you run into there will be the peace of God’s presence and the joy that comes from discovering the meaning of your life and growing into the purpose that He has for you.

 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NKJV)
8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

Today’s verse speaks of the deep affection we can have for our fellow travelers on the path of Christian Discipleship, as we not only share what we know but we share our very lives with one another.  

As a teacher of Christian recovery and Christian discipleship, I can tell you that I have a deep affection for all the people I have taught over the years because while I teach a lot about principles of Christian doctrine and Christian living, I like to share how what I am teaching about has impacted my life experiences.

So I tend to share a lot about my life with my brothers and sisters in Christ that I teach. Many have commented on how transparent I am, maybe too transparent.  While I sometimes cringe at the things that I share as they are somewhat personally embarrassing, I do so because I wish to show people that I didn’t just “learn this stuff”, I lived it.  

I wasn’t particularly smart, I just decided to trust the Lord and sought to know more about Him and to apply what I learned to my life.   If you look at the twists, turns, and disasters that I walked through on the path of Christian recovery and discipleship, some may decide that they want nothing to do with it. It costs too much. You lose too much.  

But like the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:8-10, I count all the hardship and losses that I suffered to be nothing compared to knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord, and as today’s verse indicates, also knowing all the saints that I have met along the way.  

I rejoice when I see other people pursuing their relationship with God and I love to fellowship with them and discuss the things of God and how we are applying our faith to our real-life difficulties, to discuss living an authentic Christian life.   

God is so good that we must share what He taught us but those lessons we teach are that much more valuable when it is played out in the context of community. Whether it’s the community of the local church, a small group meeting, accountability relationships, or just over a friendly meal, community allows us to sharpen our understanding and to care and love one another according to God’s way for our lives. 

So, don’t be a stranger and don’t be a Lone Ranger, draw close to God and draw close to the other people in your life that hear and follow His voice.   It might be Saturday, but Sunday is coming and if you don’t have a other Christians that you can share your life with and have an affectionate longing for, step out in faith, be strong and courageous and find a place where you can worship, learn, and grow.  

 As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 8.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:

Proper Guidelines Lead to a Proper Walk

As far as the devil is concerned, the next best thing to keeping you chained in spiritual darkness or having you live as an emotional wreck is confusing your belief system. He lost you in the eternal sense when you became a child of God. If he can muddy your mind and weaken your faith with partial truths, however, he can neutralize your effectiveness for God and stunt your growth as a Christian.

We have already determined that God wants you to be successful, fulfilled, and happy. It is imperative for your spiritual maturity, though, that your beliefs about success, significance, fulfillment, satisfaction, happiness, fun, security, and peace be anchored in the Scriptures.

In this chapter, I want to review each of these belief areas from the foundation of God's Word. Compare these eight descriptions with the eight statements you wrote for the Faith Appraisal in the previous chapter. These descriptions may help you make some vital adjustments that will steer you back to the middle of the fairway.

1. Success. Key Concept: Goals

A few years ago, a young woman flew to Los Angeles from the East Coast to spend a Saturday with me in counseling. She said she had deep spiritual problems. She did, and I was surprised the airplane stayed in the air with her in it. She was hearing demonic voices and was plagued with many problems.

Mattie quoted to me 3 John 2: "Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health."

"If God has promised prosperity, success, and health to me, why is my life all screwed up?" she complained.

"There's more to that verse," I said. "Finish reading it."

"Just as your soul prospers," she continued.

I asked her pointedly, "How is your soul doing?" Mattie then told me her sad story. She had submitted to three abortions as a result of illicit sexual affairs; she withdrew from drugs several times; and she was presently living with another man outside of marriage. I felt like telling her, "I think the verse is working."

Success is related to goals. If you rated yourself low in the success category, you are probably having difficulty reaching your goals in life. If you aren't reaching your goals, it is probably because you are working on the wrong goals.

A good summary of God's goal for us is found in 2 Peter 1:3-10:

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.

Notice that God's goal begins with who you are on the basis of what God has already done for you. He has given you "life and godliness"; justification has already happened, and sanctification has already begun. You are already a partaker of the "divine nature, having escaped" (past tense) sin's corruption. What a great start!

Your primary job now is to adopt God's character goals diligently—moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and Christian love—and apply them to your life. Focusing on God's goals will lead to ultimate success: success in God's terms. Peter promises that as these qualities increase in your life through practice, you will be useful and fruitful, and you will never stumble. That is a legitimate basis for a true sense of worth and success and nobody can keep you from accomplishing it!

Notice also that this list does not mention talents, intelligence or gifts that are not equally distributed to all believers. Your identity and sense of worth aren't determined by those qualities. Your sense of worth is based on your identity in Christ and your growth in character, both of which are equally accessible to every Christian. Those Christians, like Mattie, who are not committed to God's goals for character are sad stories of failure. According to Peter, they have forgotten their purification from former sins. They have forgotten who they are in Christ.

Another helpful perspective of success is seen in Joshua's experience of leading Israel into the Promised Land. God said to him:

Be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1:7, 8).

Was Joshua's success dependent on other people or favorable circumstances? Absolutely not. Success hinged entirely on living according to God's Word. If Joshua believed what God said and did what God told him to do, he would succeed. Sounds simple enough, but God immediately put Joshua to the test by giving him a rather unorthodox battle plan for conquering Jericho. Marching around the city for seven days and then blowing a horn weren't exactly approved military tactics in Joshua's day!

Joshua's success was conditional on obeying God regardless of how foolish His plan seemed. As Joshua 6 records, Joshua's success had nothing to do with the circumstances of the battle and everything to do with obedience. Success is accepting God's goal for our lives and by His grace becoming what He has called us to be.


Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.

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

 

God bless you all!

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship