A Walk of Freedom and Giving Generously- Purity 699
Purity 699 04/07/2022
Today’s photo of a twisting boardwalk trail that goes into the unseen distance of the wooded area on the shores of Lake Paran comes to us from yours truly as I was moved to capture a photo of a pathway while my wife and I hiked the Frost-Paran Trail in North Benington Vermont this past Saturday.
It’s Thursday, and I am always on the look out for photos of pathways or for pathways in my daily life that I can capture because I use them as a reminder and as an encouragement to get on, or to stay on, the path of Christian Discipleship on Thursdays.
Why Thursdays? Well Thursday was the day that I first went to and then eventually taught at our recovery ministry, Celebrate Freedom, in 2015. So every Thursday I would encourage others to come to our recovery ministry and made it clear that Celebrate Freedom dealt with more than just substance abuse issues.
Pastor Bob Costello originally started a Celebrate Recovery ministry at Rock Solid Church but quickly discovered that what he wanted to do didn’t fit in the limits of the guidelines for a “Celebrate Recovery Ministry”. Pastor Bob wanted to teach other aspects of Christian Discipleship and to also be free of certain limitations that the “Celebrate Recovery” label came with.
So in the first few weeks of his new ministry he asked the participants to come up with a new name for the group. Thinking of John 8:36, which says
John 8:36 (NKJV)
36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
I suggested “Celebrate Freedom” and the name stuck. We even came up with a design for T-shirts with the slogan “Walking in Victory” and we continued that ministry until Pastor Bob handed over the reigns of leadership to me in 2020.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 led to reductions in participation in the recovery ministry and I decided that we needed to change our emphasis from recovery to discipleship . I had completed my Master’s degree in Christian Counseling, and became certified as a Community Freedom Ministry Associate for Freedom in Christ Ministries, so in 2021 I launched what was supposed to be “Celebrate Freedom Discipleship” but due to a communication error and a desire to start something new, my new discipleship ministry became known as “Community Freedom” because it was intended to help the entire community to experience their freedom in Christ.
Through Community Freedom I taught discipleship classes on Dr. Neil Anderson’s “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker” and “Freedom in Christ”, all of which are available on the mt4christ247 podcast. In fact, the fears over Covid 19 and the desire for some to participate in the class remotely caused me to start the mt4Christ247 podcast.
Some wonderful things happened in 2021, including meeting my wife as she boldly travelled over an hour to attend the classes in person after listening to the podcast.
The rest is “Christian romance history” as we were married less than a year after our first “in class” meeting on January 1st. I entrust my wife TammyLyn to write up “our story”, get the book published, and get the movie made so we can watch it on Pureflix someday.
Anyway another amazing thing that happened in 2021, is that I got more involved with Freedom in Christ ministries by serving at the Fall Practicum to train graduating CFMA’s. Through that service and my work as a podcasting CFMA, I was recommended to do a Zoom version of the Freedom for Christ Course for the Northeast Region this year! Through this medium, I got to meet some men with a real heart for the Lord and was blessed to lead several of them through the Steps to Freedom in Christ.
And tonight, I begin a brand new session of the Freedom in Christ Course on Zoom. If you are a man and are available from 6:30 to 8:30pm on Thursday for the next 11 weeks, I invite you to join the class by reaching out to me at email@example.com and I will send you the link to tonight’s Zoom meeting, or you can catch up next week if you see this too late.
Because honestly, it is never too late to experience your freedom in Christ and enjoy a life that is defined by the fruit of the Spirit. When we seek the Lord and start walking and talking with God, we will grow in our faith. We will know that God is alive and well and fully active in the world. If we walk with Him, we will experience the abundant life that Christ wants us to have, and our lives will be full of meaning and purpose.
So whether you can make my Zoom meeting or not, I encourage you to keep on, or to start, walking and talking with God because if you make Christ your Lord and Savior and commit yourself to seeking the Lord on a continual basis by living according to His wisdom and ways, you will know the peace, love, joy, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, patience, and self-control that come when you surrender to God’s will for your life and begin walking in the Spirit.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is :
Deuteronomy 15:10 (NLT2)
10 Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.
Today’s Bible verse encourages us to give to the poor with the promise that the Lord will bless us in everything we do.
In America, where just about all of us have been impacted by the 1930’s Great Depression through our ancestors who went before us, and by other times of financial inflation or recession, giving anything to anyone other than friends or family can be counter intuitive. But the Lord calls us to be generous to the poor with the implied promise of blessings if we obey.
Giving didn’t always come naturally to me and in my days before becoming a Christian, I believed that giving would give me “good karma”. So I gave to charities at times, but it was with the expectation that I would receive some benefit for it.
Unfortunately in Christian circles, the prosperity gospel has similarly encouraged people to give to ministries with the promise that those who “sowed a seed” or “paid a tithe” would eventually be repaid more than they ever gave. Somehow the money “seed” would grow, and you would actually gain your cash back and then some.
While today’s verse encourages us that we will be blessed in everything we do when we give generously, not grudgingly, to the poor, the verse doesn’t make the outlandish claims for financial payback and riches beyond our wildest dreams that prosperity gospel preachers make.
First, those “prosperity preachers” are not poor. They are not struggling to make ends meet and some are not shy in demonstrating how they have been blessed financially. So giving to them, may not bless you in everything you do.
Likewise while we should support our local churches with our tithes and offerings, and service, we should never expect to be paid back for our giving to them either.
When we give to ministries, we invest in the work of the Lord, and we should not expect a personal financial benefit for our generosity but should be content with the knowledge that we are supporting someone who is sharing the gospel and attempting to do good works for the people in the local church and the local community.
The blessings that we receive from giving generously are the knowledge that we are being obedient to the Lord and that we are trying to help others.
Personally, I haven’t always given to the church or given to charities, and have struggled with money at times. But when I have given I never regretted it.
I think that we all must personally decided what we are able to give “not grudgingly” to poor and to the Lord’s work. The Lord doesn’t want us to go into debt by giving when we can’t support ourselves.
Romans 13:8 (NKJV) says
8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
So, if you are in debt, you may be the “poor” one you need to give to! So we should seek to get out of debt and live wisely financially so we can give to others “not grudgingly”.
But if we really want to be obedient to this injunction we should really endeavor to live within our means. I am highly convicted lately to right my ship financially so I can give without going further into debt.
I have tithed and given to the local church at times, and I have given to disaster relief efforts. I have collected for the Salvation Army during the Christmas season in the past and I have been sponsoring a child in Haiti through World Vision for several years (www.worldvision.org). I never regretted giving and always felt I have been blessed by it, but I recognize that I need to change the way I spend so that my giving isn’t just a band-aid to cover the guilt of my life of excess.
So be wise and discerning and go to the Lord about what to do with your money. Honor Him and submit to His will for your life. Remember that the whole counsel of God has a lot to say about how we should live, and we should consider it all with how we live our lives.
God wants us to give Him our hearts more than anything so makes sure you give that first, generously, and not grudgingly, to the Lord and He will be sure to bless you in everything you do, and He will guide you in how to live in His acceptable, good, and perfect will for your life.
The Christian life is not about instant perfection, and we may need to take small steps before moving into the Lord’s perfect will for our lives. So give yourself a break but let’s be real and start moving toward a financial balance that allows us to bless others with our giving.
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 continue sharing from June Hunt’s Overeating: Freedom from Food Fixation.
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 his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.
I. How to Customize Self-Care to Help Conquer Bingeing
Along with taking advantage of therapy options, practicing self-care gives you a greater sense of control over your choices and a sense of personal responsibility for your ultimate success. Since control issues are often related to binge eating, exercising control in a positive, productive way is critical to and commensurate with overall good health. By developing a healthy eating plan and persevering with that plan, you can accomplish what is God’s best for your physical body.…
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
You can customize your own self-care treatment from these suggestions for conquering binge eating.
• Don’t diet … unless supervised by a professional dietitian, nutritionist, and/or medical doctor.
• Don’t eat when bored … but engage in some other activity that will distract your thoughts away from food.
• Don’t eat just to eat … but eat foods containing essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
• Don’t sacrifice your sleep … but try taking quick power naps and getting a good night’s sleep so that your body will shed fat sooner.
• Don’t withdraw from others … but reach out and share your specific struggles and strengths with trusted individuals.
• Don’t store food … but buy only what you need for a specified period of time.
• Don’t skip therapy … but work your plan and stay accountable to yourself and others.
• Don’t toy with temptation … but pledge to never shop when you are hungry, upset, frustrated, lonely, or feeling down so that you will make good choices when you do shop.
• Do exercise … in appropriate ways, for reasonable lengths of time, and with another person.
• Do test your hunger … to determine if you are hungry for food or for love.
• Do love yourself … not by eating whatever you want, but by engaging in activities that are fun, relaxing, and energizing.
• Do be kind to yourself … by rejecting critical, accusatory, and demeaning self-talk and by clinging to your identity in Christ. You have been made a child of God and His Spirit is within you, conforming you to His character.
• Do eat breakfast … so that you will not feel the need to consume a lot of calories during the day.
• Do learn your eating triggers … and develop a plan of action to counter them.
• Do keep a record … of the times you eat, what and how much you eat, and your emotional state when you eat in order to identity your eating patterns and triggers.
• Do snack smart … by eating low-fat, low-calorie snacks like fruit or vegetables with a fat-free dip.
Should you engage in emotional eating, quickly accept God’s forgiveness, forgive yourself, and then start anew. Learn from the experience by identifying what triggered your emotional need to eat and devising a plan as to what you will do differently in the future. Rather than dwelling on your failure, focus on the successes you are having when you replace your unhealthy eating patterns with healthy ones. Thank God for the good work He is doing within you, and cooperate with Him by leaning on Him and drawing on His resources.…
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
(1 Corinthians 10:13)
As you customize your own self-care program, continuously cling to Jesus, your constant companion, counselor, and comfort … your refuge, strength, and ever-present help in times of trouble.…
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
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 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.
My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)
Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 June Hunt, Biblical Counseling Keys on Overeating: Freedom from Food Fixation (Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart, 2008), 38–39.