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Showing posts with label Entertainment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Entertainment. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

"Smile" - The Enemy Hiding in Plain Sight - Purity 859


"Smile" - The Enemy Hiding in Plain Sight - Purity 859

Purity 859 10/11/2022 Purity 859 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a display of the fruits of the harvest of autumn comes to us from a friend who visited Longwood Gardens in Kenneth Square Pennsylvania back on October 1st and shared this among many other photos of the garden grounds on social media.   

Well, we are eleven days deep into the tenth month of the year and yesterday the stress of watching my beloved suffer from dental pain all weekend and the less than idyllic weather on the last day of our extended weekend sent me to Regal Cinemas yesterday afternoon to unwind by tensing up to the suspenseful macabre delights of a film called “Smile”, and although I heard some relieved laughter after a few “jump scares” in the theatre there was really nothing to smile or laugh about as this horror movie unwittingly portrayed some scenes and themes that were logically consistent with the realities of  demonic oppression and possession and how our secular society is ill equipped to resist and defeat the powers of darkness



While “Smile” was grotesquely over the top and “schlocky” with some of its special effects near the climax of the action, the movie was entertaining and informative if you have a knowledge of the scriptures in the Bible concerning the spiritual forces of darkness and how Satan operates.   

The premise of the movie is that people are being tormented and being driven to insanity and compelled to suicide or murder by an enemy that no one can see, who uses visions and memories of the past to torment its victims. The phenomenon looks like mental illness or a curse as the terror and carnage move from host to host leaving a trail of trauma and blood in its wake.    

Without giving away too much of the film, the main character is a psychiatrist who has unresolved issues in her past that drives her to serve in her post at the psychiatric ER with religious devotion, working 80 hour weeks. She also is under family stress due to issues with her PTA picture perfect sister and from being engaged to be married to a picture perfect fiancé.  All the “perfect” pictures in this woman’s life are exposed to the light of truth when she is suddenly exposed to the spiritual forces of darkness as one of her patient’s complains of an unseen evil entity tormenting her moments before she commits suicide in front of her with a silent and devilish grin.  

In the ensuing drama we see that the unseen enemy torments this young doctor to see things that aren’t there, to do horrific things she can’t remember, and to be confronted with the unresolved issues of her past.  

She pleads with doctors, family, and her fiancé to understand that what is happening to here is caused by evil spirit and no one believes her and fears that she has simply lost her mind.  

Because this entity requires a “witness” to be carried on to the next host, the main character makes the unwise decision to isolate and do battle with this, I’ll say it, demon with her imagination, on her own?  

Again, no spoilers, but let’s just say that there is more than ample room for a sequel, because although the demons of this doctor’s past are resolved, the continuation of the dark entity may be another story…  

The things that popped out for me in “Smile” that make me endorse it for as a somewhat accurate portrayal of demonic oppression and a decent movie to give you a few chills, although the running time may have been a little too long, are the way the film subtly laid out the things that can cause a demon to attach itself to someone and how a demon could flourish.  

In describing Satan, Christ says in

John 10:10 (NKJV)
10  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…

The dark entity in “Smile” definitely came to steal and destroy the peace and sanity of its victims and actively sough to kill thtem.

James 4:7 (NKJV) tells us
7  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  

Although the doctor in “Smile” was told by her patient, and was herself later convinced that, this situation was caused by a spiritual force of darkness, no one in this entire movie ever even mention a spiritual remedy to try to cast it out. No mention of the Bible, no mention of God, priests, or even voodoo or white magic or any spiritual means were considered to solve this problem.   

In our modern secular post Christian society, this shouldn’t be too surprising but I knew that the only thing that can cast out darkness is the spiritual power and authority of the light of the world found in Christ alone.

Instead the doctor actually asks for medication to make the disturbing images go away and then only seeks to play by the enemy’s rules and in her desperation even considers murdering someone else to save her own life and pass on the demon to some one else.   

Instead of submitting to God, the doctor considers submitting to Satan!

And you may ask yourself why is this doctor selected by this dark spirit, how can she be tormented so badly by this unseen enemy.  

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NKJV)
26  "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
27  nor give place to the devil.

As I indicated the doctor had no relationship with the Lord.  She wasn’t submitting to God but by her lifestyle of casual sin also makes room for the enemy in her life.  

In the early going we see the doctor self-medicates against stress with alcohol, against the Bible’s clear instruction against drunkenness.  

The doctor lives with her fiancé, from which we can surmise that she has gone against the word of God by committing fornication.    

And finally, she has unresolved guilt from the past that the enemy delights in tormenting her with that could have been removed by a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ.   

In the thick of the action of when the doctor decides to fight the enemy,  the dark spirit cackles: “Your mind is SO inviting!” which caused me to think that the enemy really is hiding in plain sight in this movie and seems to be cackling at the audience who disbelieves in the spiritual forces of darkness, who has no relationship with God, has no conviction of the sin in their lives, and who finds entertainment in a movie that puts the enemy’s dark arts on display.  

At the end of the film, some people actually applauded as there was room for more fun with this dark spirit as a sequel is all but certain.    

I know, it’s just a movie, right?   Society is basically good and we only watch these things for entertainment, right?  

Well, let’s just say I think it is dark out there and things are getting darker as the more secular we become the enemy is drawing people deeper into sins that are now common place where they were taboo in no too distant past.

Rather than resist the devil, people resist God.  

I wouldn’t think that’s true but over the weekend I had a comment on my videos on You Tube, that suggest that because Christians should pray for sinners, that we should pray for the biggest sinner of them all, Satan.  Even in jest, the suggestion to pray for the Evil One really shows the spirit of darkness, rebellion, and ignorance that is common in our world.   

Revelation 20:10 (NKJV) tells us
10  The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

So as scary as the enemy can seem He is defeated foe. He causes evil to flourish in the hearts of men and He is not worthy of our prayers or sympathy.  

 

So as we walk through the spooky month of October, let those around you know that God is in charge and although the spiritual forces of darkness and the evil that they perpetrate in the hearts of men will be overcome by the Lord when Christ returns and that if we submit to God and resist the devil in our lives we can live in peace and safety with the Lord’s protection. 

 

The enemy may be hiding in plain sight these days but we should point Him out when we see flee and cause him to flee by the power and authority that Jesus gives to all the people who put their faith in Him.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Matthew 16:25 (NKJV)
25  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Today’s Bible verse encourages us to put our faith in Jesus as He assures us that our life is found when we lose it for Him.  

Christ encourages us to pick up our cross and to follow Him in the previous verse and this is the promise for those who do that.

If we surrender our lives to the purposes of Christ, we will find life in Him.

But if we choose our own plan for saving our lives, by our own efforts or reasoning we will lose our life.  So keep walking and talking with God and follow Christ and you will be saved.

___________________________________________

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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

Chapter Six

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

The Beatitudes – Continues

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” No rights they might claim protect this community of strangers in the world. Nor do they claim any such rights, for they are the meek, who renounce all rights of their own for the sake of Jesus Christ. When they are berated, they are quiet. When violence is done to them, they endure it. When they are cast out, they yield. They do not sue for their rights; they do not make a scene when injustice is done them. They do not want rights of their own. They want to leave all justice to God; non cupidi vindictae [not desirous of vengeance][22] is the interpretation of the early church. What is right for their Lord should be right for them. Only that. In every word, in every gesture, it is revealed that they do not belong on this earth. Let them have heaven, the world says sympathetically, that is where they belong. But Jesus says, they will inherit the earth. The earth belongs to these who are without rights and power. Those who now possess the earth with violence and injustice will lose it, and those who renounced it here, who were meek unto the cross, will rule over the new earth. We should not think here of God’s punishing justice in this world (Calvin).[24] Rather, when the realm of heaven will descend, then the form of the earth will be renewed, and it will be the earth of the community of Jesus. God does not abandon the earth. God created it. God sent God’s Son to earth. God built a community on earth. Thus, the beginning is already made in this world’s time. A sign is given. Already here the powerless are given a piece of the earth; they have the church, their community, their property, their brothers and sisters—in the midst of persecution even unto the cross. But Golgotha, too, is a piece of the earth. From Golgotha, where the meekest died, the earth will be made new. When the realm of God comes, then the meek will inherit the earth.[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 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

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 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



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 105–106.


Saturday, October 8, 2022

General Woundwort and My Friend Dahmer!?!?! – Harmless Horror Movies? - Purity 857

 


General Woundwort and My Friend Dahmer!?!?! – Harmless Horror Movies? - Purity 856

Purity 857 10/08/2022 

Good morning,

Today’s photo of my neighbor’s mangy cat, driveway, and rustic barn with pumpkins adorning the pathway to their home comes to us from yours truly as I decided to capture a candid of my neighbor’s cat as I departed my countryside home on October 2nd, thinking “this is the cat that hisses at you arrive at “the creepy place” in a horror movie!”   

But seriously, ok I did think that, but my neighbor’s cat may look a little feral and untrustworthy, I can attest to the fact that he is actually quite friendly even though his outer appearance, with his matted fur and damaged ear, make him look like the feline equivalent of “General Woundwort” from the 1978 animated classic, Watership Down, (which is available to stream on HBOMax and YouTube.


Okay, the cat doesn’t look that bad, General Woundwort still creeps me out. Who knew that bunny rabbits could be so vicious!

Anyway, I decided to share today’s photo because I thought that  the cat, the barn, and those pumpkins were a good visual representation of the month of October, Autumn, and the Harvest season.  Autumn is my favorite season and October is in the heart of it as the fall foliage changes and people begin to decorate their homes for Halloween. 

I was and am still am a fan of Halloween and, horror movies, but I have to admit that as I have grown in my knowledge and experience of the reality of Spiritual warfare, the spiritual forces of darkness, total depravity of man, and how it all ties in together and results in suffering and the evil that men do, I am less enamored with the macabre as I used to be and have increasing grown in my sensitivity of spiritual discernment and no longer see these dark forms of entertainment as “harmless”.  

Ironically as I have grown more sensitive to what I will allow to put in front of my eyes and less tolerant of the things I can stomach, the horror genre and society in general has become more desensitized to what disturbing images, subject matters, and themes can be offered up as entertainment.  One of the latest evidences to this trend is the  Netflix series: “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story”, starring Evan Peters.

In recalling the details of Dahmer’s grisly crimes, I have to wonder why anyone would watch this show.

But in my limited research this morning, I realized that I was a huge consumer of and a reason for the success of shows like this.  There was one article online that presented a list of the 26 best TV shows about serial killers (https://tvshowpilot.com/fun-posts/best-serial-killer-tv-shows/) .  26!  I am somewhat ashamed to admit that of the 26 shows I had watched 9 of them in the years before and after I came to Christ.   

I also have to have to admit that I did watch the 2017 film: “My Friend Dahmer”, which was a memoir of one of Dahmer’s childhood friends, graphic novelist Jack “Derf” Backderf, that presented scenes from Dahmer’s life before his murders that highlighted the serial killers “inner demons”, his victimization at the hands of school bullies, and the neglect by the adults in his life.  The film concludes with the victim of abuse and neglect becoming a murderer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Friend_Dahmer) .

But Backderf was clear in his comments regarding his memoir that he in no way sought to justify or excuse Dahmer for his evil actions but was only presenting his recollections of what happened in Dahmer’s life prior to his crimes to show how evil doesn’t necessarily just happen, that often atrocities have a back story rooted in abuse and points to the cycle of the abused becoming abusers, or even killers.  

My education in Biblical Studies and Christian Couseling, along my training as a Community Ministry Freedom Associate for Freedom in Christ Ministries, helps me to see these crimes and these macabre forms of entertainment in a new light that makes them less palatable.

In the realty of serial killers, while society and our justice system should never excuse killers with a defense for demonic possession, demonization, or demonic oppression, we should consider that spiritual forces of darkness could play a role in the violence and grisly crimes we see. 

The Bible describes the world as being under the sway of the evil one. I am sharing a link to an article on gotquestions.org that briefly touches on this subject (https://www.gotquestions.org/Satan-god-world.html) and provides the scriptures that back it up.  

So what’s my point? 

I guess, my point is that as we go further into the month of October, many of us may feel, like I did, that we want a good scare.

 And while I think that we should all be free to choose to do that, I think we should be aware of the spiritual realities of the world and be highly concerned for our friends and family that don’t know about the principles of spiritual warfare or don’t have a covenant relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ that enjoy these dark forms of entertainment.   

I feel that horror movies can be entertaining, and educational, but we should try to instruct others in the supremacy of God over evil and be genuinely concerned about people that don’t have faith in Christ and isolate and watch violent or horrific films and TV shows.   

According to an article on Psychology.com (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201408/does-media-violence-breed-real-life-killing)

"In thousands of scientific studies over the last six decades, researchers have documented four basic negative effects from exposure to screen violence: increased aggression, increased fear, desensitization to real-life and screen violence, and increased appetite for more violence, on and off screen". (p. 54)”

None of those effects sound very good and without a Biblical basis of wisdom considering evil, sin, the spiritual forces of darkness, and the God who stands above it, our loved ones could suffer from negative mental, emotional and spiritual consequences as our society will continue to only grow darker.  

So we need to know the truth, that God is sovereign, He is in control, and that He provides eternal security and spiritual safety and power to those who put their faith in Christ. Jesus reconciles us to God and provides us with a share of His spiritual power and authority to confront and confound the works of the devil.

As Christians we are to shun what is evil and to think upon what is good. We also have freedom. So as Christians, we may choose to watch a horror movie, but if we do we should do so in the context of our identity in Christ and be discerning of what we watch and not quench the Holy Spirit in us if He convicts us to pull the plug and not persist in our unwholesome habits in the name of tradition or nostalgia.  

As exposure to violent media has the effect of desensitizing us and may lead to negative actions,   our exposure to the Word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit will oppositely sensitize us to what is evil and increasingly draw us to do good,

Even though I am still a horror fan, I guess , I am a lot more discerning about what I will watch as the Holy Spirit increasingly draws me away from things that do not edify my spirit and quite frankly, as I have continued to walk in the Spirit, I have a lot less desire to watch or listen to most secular forms of entertainment, whether spooky or not, because my intense love of the Lord causes me to want to use what time I have left in this life wisely, to pursue things that will build me up rather than just occupy a few hours and leave me with a thrill or a chill but nothing more. 

So as we go further into October and the nostalgia and pageantry that surrounds Halloween, keep walking and talking with God and follow where He leads. When you walk with Him. you may begin to discover that the desire to dabble in darkness is replaced with conviction to live in the light.

___________________________________________

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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

Chapter Six

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

The Beatitudes – Continues

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The disciples are needy in every way. They are simply “poor” (Luke 6:20). They have no security, no property to call their own, no piece of earth they could call their home, no earthly community to which they might fully belong. But they also have neither spiritual power of their own, nor experience or knowledge they can refer to and which could comfort them. For his sake they have lost all that. When they followed him, they lost themselves and everything else which could have made them rich. Now they are so poor, so inexperienced, so foolish that they cannot hope for anything except him who called them. Jesus also knows those others, the representatives and preachers of the national religion, those powerful, respected people, who stand firmly on the earth inseparably rooted in the national way of life, the spirit of the times, the popular piety [Volksfrömmigkeit]. But Jesus does not speak to them; he speaks only to his disciples when he says, blessed—for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven will come to those who live thoroughly in renunciation and want for Jesus’ sake. In the depths of their poverty, they inherit the kingdom of heaven. They have their treasure well hidden, they have it at the cross. The kingdom of heaven is promised them in visible majesty, and it is already given them in the complete poverty of the cross.

Here Jesus’ blessing is totally different from its caricature in the form of a political-social program. The Antichrist also declares the poor to be blessed, but he does it not for the sake of the cross, in which all poverty is embraced and blessed. Rather, he does it with political-social ideology precisely in order to fend off the cross. He may call this ideology Christian, but in doing so he becomes Christ’s enemy.[12][1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

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 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



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 102–103.



Monday, August 16, 2021

Black Box – Remembering to Forget, Discovering the New Life - Purity 498


 
Black Box – Remembering to Forget, Discovering the New Life

Purity 498 08/16/2021  Purity 498 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a spectacular sunset over the darkened landscape of Mount Osmond in South Australia comes to us from our friends at Dave Baun Photography as they took a hike there near the end of July. As our friends were heading to their car to “beat the darkness” the setting sun appeared before them, and Dave knew that he just had to capture the moment. They lingered there to enjoy it for a while and luckily escaped unharmed on their return trip down the steep hill without the sun. Dave’s final remarks stated how he loved the fact that there are so many beautiful places to explore where he lives that are pretty much in his “own back yard”. 

As the sun sets on another weekend and we begin a new work week, I share my friend’s enthusiasm for the beauty that surrounds us, regardless of where we live, and actually enjoyed an evening of discovering the simple beauty of a gathering of friends around a bonfire in a friend’s back yard.  The gathering really was quite special because most of didn’t even know one another just a few months ago but since then our fellowship has grown as we had shared with one another our experiences of the past and our hopes for the future as each one of us looks to walk further into the light of our new lives beyond the shadows of heartache and pain.  

Yesterday, I watched the Amazon original film “Black Box”, which features a man’s search for truth as he seeks to recover his memories and a sense of his identity after suffering a traumatic accident that resulted in amnesia.   As the film progresses, the main character begins to recall memories that are disturbing that he fears reveal that he isn’t the wholesome person he thinks he is. Can these shadowy memories that feature people with their faces blurred out indicate that he is not the man he thought he was or that he was living a double life that his friends and family were unaware of?   

Well, if you want to know you will have to go to Amazon to check it out. I’m not into being a spoiler and went into the film with little or no expectations, which is usually for the best.  Those with Prime Video might be at a loss for something to watch and I would recommend it because it was entertaining and somewhat thought provoking as it could cause us to examine the concepts of identity and what makes us the people we are.

For those of us that are seeking answers in life and finding them through our relationship with God after placing our faith in Jesus Christ, our “black boxes” of the memories of our pasts can be a frightening thing that we wish to keep closed and buried because the memories of the harm we have suffered or inflicted on others could tell us that we are not the wholesome people that we are now and that the changing circumstances of the world will one day cause us to go back into the darkness with which our “black boxes” are filled.      

I have recently been forced to recall things from the distant past that are on my “permanent record” which don’t reflect who I am anymore but all the same must be reported so others can make an informed decision when they decided to come into a relationship with me.   The things in my past may cause people to decide to “go with someone else” and quite frankly I couldn’t blame them.  We are responsible for the things we do in life and the negative consequences for our past actions may be far reaching.    

So, should we hide everything in our little “black boxes” and hope no one finds out?  Should we only reveal what we absolutely need to and explain things on a “need to know” basis?

While there is great wisdom in choosing to be discerning in what personal information we reveal to others in life, as a Christian, I have endeavored to tell the truth and choose to be as transparent as I can be with people. Quite frankly, it’s a lot easier to just tell the truth because when you open up your “black box” that’s when the Lord can bring His light into your life.   Light dispels darkness and when we decide to testify about what we have suffered, our pain and darkness loses its power over us, and our transformed lives give glory to God.   

But here is a key to living out your transformed life: remember to forget.  I am not saying that we deny what we have done. I am also not telling you to dwell on the things of the past.  Instead we should acknowledge the mistakes of the past, forgive those who have hurt us, and make amends for the harm we have done.   When we do these things, repenting of our former ways and making things right to the best of our abilities with God and men, then we can “choose to forget” about what we have done and walk forward into our freedom and victory.   

Did I do all those foolish things in the past? Yup, I am not proud of it, but I did. Am I still that person? Yes, and possibly No. 

I am the person who did those things, and I will be responsible for what I have done until the day I die.  No matter what I do going forward, my present and future actions will not erase the things of the past.  So yeah, I am the person responsible for those things in the past, that’s me. 

However, coming to faith in Jesus Christ makes one a new creation, according to God’s word.   Beyond “re-inventing ourselves” by putting on new clothes, mannerisms, or habits, faith in Jesus Christ makes us new by “killing us”.  

The word of God describes a Christian’s life as being crucified and resurrected with Christ. It tells us the old has passed away and all things have become new. The word tells us we have new life in Christ.   

So, if you have truly put your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are no longer that “old man”.  You are a new creation. 

But if we expect to experience our new lives in Christ, we must decide to live the rest of our lives as new creations.   If we live like our “old selves” with a Christian hat that says, “I’m forgiven”, we won’t experience the new life and others will feel they are correct when they say that “people don’t change” or that “faith is a joke.”  If we live like our old selves, we just sit in place and start to fill our little “black boxes” all over again and never feel free.     

No, in order to claim that we “are not that person anymore”, we are going to have to put our faith in the spiritual reality of what the Lord has done for us when we placed our faith in Jesus and continually and progressively turn from the “man we used to be” through our thoughts, words, and actions.  Our transformation into the new life that Christ has for us doesn’t end with a sinner’s prayer. That’s just the beginning.  

Instead of “sitting” in the patterns of our past, we have to rise up and start walking towards the light of what the Lord is calling us to.   When we do that, people may fail to recognize who we are.   While some will never forgive us and never see what the Lord has done for us,  others will recognize that we aren’t who we used to be, and they will forgive us and rejoice with us over our new lives.  It’s a lot easier to forgive a “dead guy” than it is to forgive someone whose “fouls spirits” of the past continually haunt those around them.    

So, keep walking and talking with God. It’s a new day and a new work week.  The bad news is that the job of living a new life and leaving our pasts behind can be hard work with long hours, but the good news is that the as we gain experience in our new profession the workloads get lighter, and we become more skilled at handling adversity.   Plus no matter what we run into “on the job”, we have a close relationship with the One in charge, know that benefits of our new life are amazing, and that our futures are assured.    


This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 4:12 (NLT2)
12  Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.

Today’s verse speaks of the benefits of living a quiet life with an honest work ethic.

Some saint once said to always preach the gospel and to sometimes use words pointing to the fact that our conduct will reveal our Christian faith possibly better than the words that we speak.      

The previous verse in Thessalonians four advises Christians to lead a quiet life, mind our own business, and to work with our hands.  Today’s verse tells us that when we do that, non-believers will take notice and our efforts at honest work will provide for our needs and not make us dependent on others.  

The word of God indicates that we are going to have to work to meet our needs, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t also work in a manner that can represent the interests of the kingdom of God.  

A quiet life of character and work can be our best apologetic as we do not burden others for our needs and establish a reputation as someone who can be trusted.  If we are “straight shooters” in caring for our needs and interacting with others, we could establish relationships and dialogs with people outside of God’s grace and use our position to draw people to the truth.    

So if you are not the most skilled evangelist, just mind your business and do your job in such a way that your work will give glory to God. Not only will our hard work result in the means to meet our needs, but it could also possibly be used for the Lord’s purposes. 

    

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, concluding Chapter 11.

 

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:

A Second Touch

One of the greatest personal crises I have faced in the ministry revolved around the problem of forgiveness and a board member I will call Calvin. I struggled relating to this man, so I asked if he would meet with me weekly. I had only one goal: trying to establish a meaningful relationship with him.

About four months after Calvin and I started meeting, I asked the board if I could lead a tour group from the church to Israel. Calvin's hand shot up. "I'm against it because, as the tour leader, the pastor will go free, and that's like giving him a bonus." After assuring Calvin and the board I would pay my own way and use my vacation time for the trip, they agreed.

Despite the burden I carried in my heart about my conflict with Calvin, the trip to Israel was a tremendous spiritual experience for me. On one of my free days in Jerusalem, I spent several hours alone in the Church of All Nations pouring out my heart to God about Calvin. I sat there staring at the rock where Christ reportedly had sweat great drops of blood as He anticipated taking upon Himself the sins of the world. I concluded by telling God that if Jesus could take all the world's sins upon Himself, I could surely endure the sins of one difficult person. I left that historical monument thinking I had let it go.

Two weeks after I returned, Calvin shifted his attack to our youth pastor. That did it. I could handle Calvin's resistance to me, but when he started blasting my youth pastor, I reached the end of my patience. I confronted the board and demanded they do something about Calvin. If they didn't, I would resign. Although they agreed with me in private, they wouldn't stand with me in public, so I decided to resign.

The week before I was going to read my resignation to the congregation, I got sick. I was flat on my back with a 103.5 temperature and I totally lost my voice. I had never been so sick before; nor have I since. It doesn't take a genius to recognize that God was not pleased with my decision. When you are flat on your back, you have nowhere to look but up. So I began reading the Gospels and came to Mark 8:22-26 where some people led a blind man to Jesus. After Jesus touched him, the blind man said, "I see men . . . like trees" (Mark 8:24). I got the message. I was seeing Calvin like a tree, an obstacle in my path. He was blocking my goal! Oh no he wasn't. I was. I am the only person on planet Earth who can keep me from being the person God created me to be. God used that man more than any other man to make me the pastor God wanted me to be.

Then Jesus touched the blind man again and he began to see people as people, not trees. "Lord, I don't love that man, but I know you do and I want to. I need a second touch from You." God did touch me, and I chose at that moment to forgive Calvin completely.

The next Sunday I went to church, not to resign, but to preach. My voice was still so husky that I almost couldn't speak. I croaked out a message from Mark 8:22-26 about our tendency to be independent in the face of our great need for God and for each other. I confessed to the congregation my own independence and my desire for the Lord to touch me, to help me see people as people and not as obstacles in my path. I explained that there are three kinds of people. Some are blind and need to be led to Jesus. Others see people like trees. They scratch one another or compare their leaves with one another. But we are not trees. We are children of God who are created in His image. Finally, there are those who have been touched by God and consequently see others for who they really are.

At the end of the sermon, I invited anyone who needed a touch from the Lord to join me at the altar. We sang a hymn and people streamed forward. Soon the altar area and the aisles in the front were packed with people. They were going across the aisles to ask forgiveness and to be forgiven. We opened the side doors and people spilled out onto the lawn. Eventually, all but a few people had come forward. It was a revival!

Would you care to guess who was one of the few who did not go forward? To my knowledge Calvin never changed, but I did. I continued to take a stand against what I believed was wrong because I was not about to tolerate sin. I no longer responded in bitterness though. I also learned a hard lesson in life. God is fully capable of cleaning His own fish. My responsibility is to catch them and love them the way Christ loves me. I thank God to this day that God put me flat on my back to make me the pastor He wanted me 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