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Showing posts with label Grief. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grief. Show all posts

Saturday, January 20, 2024

A Response to Sorrow and Grief - Purity 1253

 

A Response to Sorrow and Grief - Purity 1253

Purity 1253 01/20/2024 Purity 1253 Podcast

Purity 1253 on YouTube: Coming Soon!

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the dark silhouettes of trees stripped bare set against green fields and a pleasant post-sunset sky comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene while going the last mile down Waite Road to my countryside home last Saturday.  

Well, It’s Saturday and I commented yesterday on how suddenly those green fields have been transformed into frozen tundra and today that transition has been accompanied by the bitter chill of mourning as a member of my extended family appears to have suffered a second heartbreaking loss to their immediate family in a year’s time. The first year anniversary of a loss is bad enough but to have it marked by another unexpected and tragic loss makes one wonder how to carry on.  

Unfortunately, I know from suffering the loss of my infant son, Holden, in 2022 that there is really nothing that we can say to take away someone’s pain and grief.  The best advice we can offer to help someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one is to offer your presence and whatever help to them that they are willing to accept.  Offering to help with funeral arrangements and providing meals are acts of kindness that are a blessing to the mourning, but just “being there” – physically or by just sending words of condolence and prayers to the grieving is a support that is usually greatly appreciated and not forgotten by the grieving.  And even though I won’t be storming into this situation, I am storming the gates of heaven in prayer this morning for this person’s healing, comfort, and peace.    

And if you don’t know what to pray in situations you can’t imagine or find hard to understand: “Oh LORD, help them!” isn’t a bad place to start.  And even though it is REALLY hard to believe it in times like this, I know that God is there because He is close to the brokenhearted.  

Psalm 34:18 (NLT2) tells us
18  The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Psalm 34 is a Psalm of David, a man who became very familiar with grief.  Ironically these words – that testified to the Lord’s presence with the afflicted – came BEFORE some of the major losses of his life. In hindsight, it could be hypothesized that the Lord was preparing for the trials that he was to face and teaching David to always trust in the Lord and stay in His presence.  

Psalm 34 was written in the context of suffering the rejection of people he loved and being in fear for his life.   David was on the outs with King Saul – who literally had tried to kill him, and in the immediate context of this Psalm David wisely pretended to be insane to avoid being killed by Israel’s enemy, Achish King of Gath.   Psalm 34 is an anthem of praise to the Lord because even though David was in the midst of great trials He knew that the Lord had rescued Him and was with Him always.   

It was a lesson that David took with him throughout his life and comforted him in his greatest pain.  

Later when David was king and the son that he had with Bathsheba became ill he pleaded with God – fasting and praying on his son's behalf that he would be healed. But the child died. Fearing what David might do, his servants were hesitant to tell him that his son was dead.  But when David heard his son was dead, scripture tells us that he arose, washed and anointed himself, changed his clothes, and went into the house of the Lord and worshipped.   

The servants were shocked. Shouldn’t David be sorrowful or even angry at God?  

David explained in

2 Samuel 12:22-23 (NKJV)
22  And he said, "While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?'
23  But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."  

The text then tells us that he comforted Bathsheba in their loss and from the pain of their grief they were blessed with another son, Solomon.  

But David and Bathsheba’s blessing shouldn’t distract us from what David did and said in response to the pain of his loss.  He rose and worshipped the Lord, even in His pain, because David knew that his departed son was with the Lord – he might be gone from this earth, but he wasn’t dead.  

The word of God tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord and David knew that God was gracious and that his child was alive and well in God’s kingdom, and that because of David’s covenant with the Lord – he would see his son again.  David said: “I shall go to him.’ Because he knew the Lord and he knew it was true.  

That may seem like cold comfort in the face of a loss – but that is the truth about our lives we face the Lord at the hour of our death and Jesus told his disciples that He prepares a place for those who trust in him.  As bitter as the pain of loss may be, death has lost its sting for those who have put their faith in Jesus.  

I can’t help take away the pain of the separation of the loss of our loved ones for those who grieve but I can tell you that God is good, He does what is right, and He can help us when we go to Him.    

So yea, that we walk through the shadow of death, keep walking and talking with God because the author of life, the Lord, loves us, is close to us when our hearts break, and takes away our tears and pain forever in His kingdom.  He gives us a new and eternal life when we put our faith in Jesus and He will comfort and guide us all the days of this life when we surrender to His plan for our lives and follow where He leads.

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Communication, Gossip, and Lying.

Proverbs 8:6-8 (NKJV)
6  Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, And from the opening of my lips will come right things;
7  For my mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8  All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.

Today’s verses fall under the second point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Communication, Gossip, and Lying.

2.     Commit yourself to speaking only what is right and true.

Today’s verses encourage us to speak of “excellent things” that are righteous and true.  There are a lot of hard truths in the Bible. The exclusivity of Jesus Christ to save, the reality of the spiritual forces of darkness, hell for the unbeliever, and the moral guidelines that tell us about sin can all be tough topics of discussion.  It’s a lot easier to lie and tell people it doesn’t matter what you do in life or what you believe in the end, but I can’t do it.    

 

The grief I had over the loss of my infant son made me angry and I basically rejected Christianity because I really didn’t understand it and I certainly didn’t like what it had to say about sin and the possibility that my sins would send me to hell.  My rebel attitude also caused me to prescribe to an atheistic world view where I saw the world as chaos that was destined for extinction and that all forms of religion was merely sentimentality and man’s attempt to control one another.   My loss didn’t help those attitudes.  But in depths of my grief – although I thought I had seen the stark reality that the world was a cold, dangerous, and forbidding place – I felt a presence – that I didn’t quite understand – that somehow told me I wasn’t alone.  I think I thought it was just “stark reality” – where the illusions society and safety are stripped away to see that “this is all there is”   - so I started a searching journey to just look at life itself and to try to discern the meaning of it all.  I looked at creation, and the interconnectedness of everything and although I was denying the God who made it all, my ponderings and experiences – and maybe my hope - caused me to believe that death was not the end and I saw the goodness that lies in the experience of our lives that is that more valuable because of the reality of death.   

 

I thought my insights and wisdom would display that I “got it” and that somehow my understanding would guarantee me a “good place” in whatever was beyond this life.  I never called it God though – I was so angry over my loss that I more or less refused to believe in a personal God and preferred to think of the “agent of creation” – or karma – or whatever as an impersonal force – like spiritual laws – that would reward the good with good and cause the evil to suffer for their ignorance.    

 

Well, I know now that even though I had discovered a lot of “truths” about life in general,  I didn’t know The Truth.  By refusing to believe in God – the Creator of All Things – how could I?   But for reasons I don’t understand and refuse to question, God was gracious to me and even though I was going the wrong way – further into darkness spiritually – He woke me up and used a radio gospel message to show me the truth of Jesus Christ – something I thought knew all about – but something I never really knew in my heart.   

 

The Truth is that the Bible is True – That Jesus really is who He says He is – the Way, The Truth and The Life – and no one comes to the Father – God the Creator – except through Him.   I know this to be true intellectually and experientially in so many ways that I can’t adequately tell you about it – although I will continually write and speak about it to try to encourage others to seek it for themselves. 

 

And so like today’s verses in Proverbs encourage us – I will speak the “excellent things” – I will speak of the truth because it is the truth and the stakes of knowing it are life and death.    I don’t care if it offends you. Sin is sin – but it can be repented of and forgiven. But in order to receive the forgiveness of sin and the power to overcome it, we need to put our faith in Jesus first.  

 

We don’t clean ourselves up to go to God.  That’s what we always get wrong. We don’t earn our salvation. It’s a free gift that comes by faith in Jesus Christ.  

 

After we are saved, after we put our faith in Jesus, we are clean, and we can turn from our sins for good when we believe and follow Him.  So believe, follow Him, and live. And you too, will speak of the excellent things that are true.

 

  

 

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

Today we continue sharing from “According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament” By Stephen F. Olford – A Collection of Devotional Journals: 1940-1941.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Olford’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

MORNING READING: MATTHEW 13

“He did not do many mighty works there because
of their unbelief.” – Matthew 13:58

What an amazing, yet solemn, verse this is! Purge me, O Lord, that I may never be guilty of such unbelief!

Notice that the verse does not say, “He could not,” but rather that “He did not.” It was not a case that His power was limited on this particular occasion, but rather that Christ does not work in the presence of blatant or open unbelief.

Unbelief is the preeminent fruit of the flesh. It is that which emanates from man's corrupt nature. “The carnal mind is enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7).

 

Give me the grace to crucify the natural man
in me, Lord, until all unbelief is removed.[1]

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

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

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

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Friday, December 15, 2023

When You think of Me, Remeber Jesus - Purity 1222


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

Purity 1222 12/15/2023 Purity 1222 Podcast

Purity 1222 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Church Discipline.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today we are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

ADVENT WEEK THREE -  REDEMPTION

DAY FOUR

Look Up, Your Redemption Is Drawing Near

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 21:28[1]

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

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

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

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 40–41.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Denying the Lie of a “Very Bad Year” and Declaring the Truth with Thanksgiving! - Purity 1202


Denying the Lie of a “Very Bad Year” and Declaring the Truth with Thanksgiving! - Purity 1202

Purity 1202 11/20/2023 Purity 1202 Podcast

Purity 1202 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a spectacular pink, purple, and yellow sunset sky over what appears to be “smoke on the water” comes to us from Dave Baun Photography (https://www.facebook.com/DaveBaunPhotography) who shared this scene from his visit to Marino Rocks in South Australia last week on social media because it had been awhile since Dave had generously shared his work, apologetically stating that the six-day hiatus hadn’t been planned and that “not all things are planned nor do they always go to plan”.  Tell me about it brother.

Anyway, Dave is giving us all an opportunity to support his work and to own a piece of it, as he has recently announced that the Dave Baun Photography 2024 Calendar is now available to purchase (https://www.paypal.com/instantcommerce/checkout/A32QXWP8SEU96?fbclid=IwAR34qsFfygTm4CG_Y13ksI4v3dhWDto0S3gErizTmnrKTD9MiM5l3wUqs2U). I am including a link to Dave’s merchant page on Pay Pal on the blog today so you can purchase a copy for yourself or to give away for Christmas.  Dave has graciously allowed me to share his work on the blog and buying a calendar for myself and sharing the link seemed the least I could do to express my thanks and appreciation for Dave and his work.  

Well, It’s Thanksgiving Monday, and as we drag ourselves into what for me is a shortened work week, I am preparing my heart to be as thankful and appreciative as I can be to be completely surrendered to the Thanksgiving Spirit when we observe the National Holiday in the U.S. come Thursday.

Thanksgiving, or gratitude – or appreciation - is actually a regular practice on the path of Christian Discipleship and if you haven’t made it a part of your normal daily routine, I highly recommend it, and God sort of commands it – thank you very much, Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)
16  Rejoice always,
17  pray without ceasing,
18  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)
17  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
6  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Those are all instructions to the church – us Christians – on how we are to act and so let’s be the most thankful bunch at the Thanksgiving dinner table come Thursday.  I am sharing a link to Open Bible . info’s 100 Bible Verses About Giving Thanks on the blog today in case you need some Biblical support or want an easy reference to pull up some Thanksgiving wisdom (https://www.openbible.info/topics/giving_thanks). 

Part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ – or is it the “whole thing” – is believing that what the Bible is the TRUTH and obeying what it says, regardless of the circumstances or situations that surround us. 

I say that because my encouragement to give thanks may be difficult for many of my friends to receive this year.  While I don’t like to echo negative reports and honestly don’t believe in “bad years”, because frankly I have noticed that come November or December the declaring of the current year to be a “bad year” has become a “yearly tradition” of sorts. 

I think I first noticed this tendency to lament over the current year being a “bad one” in 2019 because I remember the New Year’s Eve sentiments that year to leave behind the no good, very bad, terrible year that was 2019 with the hope to have a “clear vision” going into 2020.  Covid-19 sort of made things a little cloudy. But do you know what?  Regardless of the pandemic, the death, and the seismic changes of 2020, even that “very bad year” had its good points. For me 2020, was a stellar year as I rose above all of it, worked hard, and was able to purchase and establish my little home “down by The River” for me and my children – and it was after that year that I stopped listening to “the very bad year” laments that rear their depressed little heads in November and December.  

Quite frankly, looking at and declaring a “year” to be bad is a misperception and undoubtedly something that the spiritual forces of darkness, yes Satan and his demonic associates, support fully.  Think about it. In the season where we are to give Thanks and Celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the enemy wants us to focus on the negative and call what is good evil.   God warns us in

Isaiah 5:20-22 (NKJV)
20  Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!
22  Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,

Yeah, I just had to include the “drunken verses” that follow the sentiment to not call good evil, or evil good – like it’s good to get drunk – no its actually evil – shots fired.  

Anyway, I do sympathize with those who have loved and lost and suffered losses this year, I am surrounded by people who have suffered the loss of loved ones to death, have struggled with finances, had health concerns, have had difficulties in their marriages, suffered broken relationships, and lost jobs.  I have even suffered a surprising disappointment and shocking failure this year.   

But the circumstances of this world and even my own performance, or lack thereof, do not define who I am, and they don’t need to be what controls my attitude or emotions as we go into the holiday season and into a new year.    

Yes, we have suffered losses. Yes, we will miss those who are gone. Yes, we may be in the midst of a trial that has us wondering about what we will do next or how we will survive in the future.

BUT we are alive, and we know God. Through our faith in Jesus Christ, we live today and will live forever. We have been forgiven and are accepted, secure, and significant because of who we are in Christ. I’m sharing a link to the “Who I am in Christ” Statement PDF on the blog today if you need to remind yourself (https://www.ficm.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/who-i-am-in-christ05.pdf ) of the truth.  

I use that list every day to ground myself in the truth of who I am in Christ as part or my daily spiritual practice.  Knowing who I am in Christ is an integral part of my daily practice of gratitude.  So even if I am going through trials or suffering heartache or loss, I can look at that list of what the Lord has done for me, and I can give thanks, knowing that I am cared for, and loved, and say it with me – accepted – secure – and significant in Christ.  

So deny the lie that “2023 has been a bad year” and declare the truth that because of your faith in Jesus, God is with you always and even though we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we are STILL WALKING, and the LORD is WITH US.   So give Thanks to the Lord OUR GOD and Praise His Name! Draw close to Him in prayer for strength and guidance, ask for and seek His wisdom in His word, and keep walking and talking with God with the way you live your life because a life spent in His continual presence and love is a “good” one and there is nothing that can befall us that would make that untrue.  

Psalm 30:5 (NKJV) tells us that
5  …Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

And as that psalmist may have suffered but He found joy as He testifies to God that:

Psalm 30:11-12 (NKJV)
11  You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12  To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

So give thanks to God today, Thursday, and every day.

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Church, Communion of the Saints.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (NASB)
12  For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
13  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14  For the body is not one member, but many.
15  If the foot says, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.
16  And if the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.
17  If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
18  But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.
19  If they were all one member, where would the body be?
20  But now there are many members, but one body.
21  And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
22  On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;
23  and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable,
24  whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked,
25  so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
26  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
27  Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.
28  And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
29  All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?
30  All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
31  But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.

Today’s verses fall under the sixth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Church, Communion of the Saints.

 6. Each member of the body is necessary. We need one another. All must have a deep concern for each other.

Today’s verses testify, at length, of how each member in the body of Christ is necessary and that we are to care for one another as we utilize the gifts we have received to serve God’s kingdom.  

Our resource offers up this entire passage to make the point that each of us is necessary for the service to God’s kingdom, but it highlights verses 25 & 26 to emphasize the fact that we aren't just brought into God’s kingdom to “work” – we are to also love one another and to show our care for one another and share in the suffering and joys we experience.  

Last week, my “Right Hand” Man at the Celebrate Freedom Growth Group, Scott Salvadore – our Men’s Discussion Leader- and 2 time Mullet Champion (you can’t make this up) – suffered the loss of his mother and while you could think of our relationship to be “function focused” as ministers to a small group community for recovery and discipleship, while we have “worked” we have developed a friendship of mutual trust, respect, and affection that goes beyond our “roles” of the ministry. 

My fondness for Scott makes me want to see him succeed and prosper in life.  I voted and contributed towards the campaign that made him the first-ever two-time mullet champion.  I have leaned on him for accountability with my food addiction and have experienced unprecedented success in return. We have rejoiced over one another’s victories. 

Our care for the growth group we serve has carried over to one another.   And so when Scott’s Mom died, although it might not have shown to much, I felt the pain of the loss for Scott and prayed for his and his family's comfort and healing in the wake of the loss.

So with the length of today’s passage, don’t forget the love that we are to have for one another as we seek to accomplish our purposes for God’s kingdom. Without God we can do nothing, so we should always remember that and seek to obey His command to love one another as we try to give Him glory.

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

Today we are sharing from A. W. Pink’s – The Arthur Pink Anthology  - a collection of A.W. Pink’s tracts brought together in one book and dispersed here on the blog for your encouragement.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase A.W. Pink’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for free as a PDF at many sites, but printed copies of collections of A.W. Pink’s books are available for purchase wherever Christian books are sold. 

The Arthur Pink Anthology – 6

Christian Fools – Part 6 of 8

Take the Universalists. I have met numbers of Universalists—several here in Sydney. I was going to say that I have less suspicion of the reality of their own salvation than I have of some of yours. At any rate they seem to give such evidence in their daily walk that they commune with Christ that it really makes one wonder where they are. Well now, the Universalists are staggered by the doctrine of eternal punishment. They say “God is love.” The mercy of God endureth forever.” God is good: how can a merciful, loving God send any to eternal suffering? The Universalist say they cannot both be true: if there is such a thing as eternal punishment, then God can’t be love: if God is love, there cannot be such a thing as eternal punishment. You see what they are doing? They are reasoning: they are walking by logic: they have drawn up their own scheme and system of theology and that which they cannot fit exactly into that scheme, somewhere, well, away with it!

But the Unitarians and the Universalists and the Arminians are not the only ones who are guilty of that. I am sorry to say that it is equally true, in some respects, of many Calvinists. They are unsound when it comes to the gospel. They are all at sea when it comes to the matter of believing. I am not going to keep you very much longer, but listen closely now. There are many Calvinists who say, Believing is an evidence of our salvation, but it is not a condition or the cause of salvation. But, my friends, I make so bold as to say that those who so teach take issue with this Book. Now I want you to turn with me to four passages in the New Testament. I am not asking you to take my word for anything. You turn with me now to four passages in God’s own word. First of all Romans 1:16–17—“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation.” The power of God unto salvation to whom?—“the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” Now I have no hesitation whatever in saying to every grown-up person in this room tonight, if you had read that verse just now for the first time in your life, and had never read a page of either Calvinistic or Arminian literature; if you read that verse without any bias one way or the other, it would only mean one thing to you.

Now turn to Romans 13:11—“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” The salvation that is spoken of there is the salvation of the body, the glorification of the believer, the final consummation of our redemption: but what I want you to notice is where the Holy Spirit Himself puts the starting point. “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” THAT is when it begins, so far as our actual experience is concerned.

Now turn to Hebrews 10:39, and you have one there that is plainer still—that is outside the realm of debate—that has no ambiguity about it: “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” You cannot get around that if you live to be a thousand years old. “Them that believe to the saving of the soul.” The sinner’s believing does have something to do with his salvation: God says so! If you deny it you are taking issue with God. “Believe to the saving of the soul.”[1]

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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

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My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


[1] Arthur Walkington Pink, The Arthur Pink Anthology (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005).