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Showing posts with label Hebrews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hebrews. Show all posts

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Freedom Day - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 16 - Purity 1289

Freedom Day - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 16 - Purity 1289

Purity 1289 03/02/2024 Purity 1289 Podcast

Purity 1289 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun setting on the horizon between the silhouettes of leafless trees comes to us from yours truly as I took this photo yesterday at the end of my walk down “Freedom Road”. 

Well, It’s Saturday and it is my prayer that there is something beautiful waiting for you at the “end of your walk” this weekend. Practicing appreciation for the things in our daily lives as we “walk and talk with God” is how we experience peace and joy on a continuous basis because we reap the fruit of the Spirit when we “walk in the Spirit”.  

The journey begins with our salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and is fueled by spiritual disciplines, attaching relationally with God, and living with an attitude of repentance.  

One form of prayerful repentance that can help to establish freedom in Christians’ lives is the Steps to Freedom in Christ and today is “Freedom Day” as I am a trained encourager (a certified CFMA -Community Freedom Ministry Associate) with Freedom in Christ Ministries and this morning I will be guiding one of the students of the Freedom in Christ course through the Steps. So I am praying for the Lord to move mightily this morning to help this man to resolve his spiritual and personal conflict so He can leave behind the bondages and pains of the past to walk further into the new life that God has for him.    

Freedom in Christ Ministries states that ours is a ministry of reconciliation as we merely attempt to encourage people to be reconciled with God – to confess our failures, to ask forgiveness, to renounce the lies we believed, to take away foothold and break strongholds that the enemy has in our lives and to cast out the spiritual forces of darkness that seek to keep us from being the people God created us to be and from experiencing the fruit of the Spirit that should be a regular part of our lives. It is my prayer that this ordinary Saturday in March of 2024 becomes this man’s “Freedom Day” – the day he will always be able to point to as the day that He unpacked all the baggage of his past and gave it to the Lord – the day he repented of his past and walked free of it.

Today is as good a day as any to be set free as we are in the season of Lent. And speaking of Lent…

It’s the sixteenth day of Lent and so we continue my personal walkthrough of Gracia Grindal’s 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther to observe and celebrate the Lenten season.   In this walkthrough Grindal’s devotional,  it is our hope that we will get to know Martin Luther a little better as we seek to draw closer to the Lord on our journey to Resurrection Sunday – Easter.  

And so we continue.

Journey Day 16

We are to keep them (the Ten Commandments) incessantly before our eyes and constantly in our memory and to practice them in all our works and ways. Each of us is to make them a matter of daily practice in all circumstances, in all activities and dealings, as if they were written everywhere we look, even wherever we go or wherever we stand. Thus, both for ourselves at home and abroad among our neighbors, we will find occasion enough to practice the Ten Commandments, and no one need search far for them.

Biblical Wisdom

Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down, and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6: 6-9.

Silence for Meditation.

Pause the podcast, or stop reading, and sit quietly for 60 seconds, a few minutes, or 10-15 minutes, or however long you feel comfortable with and have time for. Focus on your breath and the calm stillness in the present moment that is always available to us in God’s creation. Meditate on Martin Luther’s comments for the day, and the content of today’s Biblical wisdom.

 

Questions to Ponder

·       There are many places in Scripture that tell us that the law is to be meditated on day and night (e.g., Psalm 1: 1-2; Psalm 119:97; Joshua 1:8). What does that mean to you?

That means that we are to be obedient and live according to what the Word of God says. To do that we have to meditate on the truth of scripture and apply its wisdom to our lives as we walk through life. It means living a surrendered life of a disciple of Jesus Christ, where you follow the Lord repent of your worldly ways and renew your mind to have the mind of Christ, and to do that requires knowing and recalling what the word of God says. It means regular Bible Study, memorization of scripture, and prayer, as well.

·       What difference might it make to memorize the Ten Commandments and recite them daily? Why not do it?

Memorizing the Ten Commandments and reciting them daily is a spiritual practice that can make a huge difference in your walk as you focus on God’s law to remind yourself of how you are supposed to live. I would say that reading Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5 could be a regular part of a daily spiritual practice.  I can’t think of any reason why one shouldn’t do this other than the fact that our “quiet time” with the Lord – our daily spiritual practice is highly personal, and we choose what we will do each morning with the Lord. To demand that someone do this every day is legalism.  If you decide that this is something you want to do as part of your relationship with God so be it but our relationship with God is up to the two of you to walk out freely.

·       Read Romans 13: 8-10 and Matthew 22: 36-40. What is the relationship between the Ten Commandments and love?

Romans 13:8-10 (NKJV)
8  Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9  For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10  Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Matthew 22:36-40 (NKJV)
36  "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"
37  Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38  This is the first and great commandment. 39  And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

As these passages of scripture shows us the basis of the Ten Commandments is encompassed in Jesus’ commandments to love God and loving our neighbors as ourselves.  Obeying the Ten Commandments is an expression of love for God and our neighbors. That is the relationship between the commandments and love.  

Psalm Fragment

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord. I will keep your statutes. I cry to you; save me, that I may observe your decrees. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in your words. Psalm 119: 1:45-147.

Journal Reflections

·       Meditate in writing on whether the commandments are true guides to your own life.

While I don’t meditate and recite the Ten Commandments daily, and maybe I should, I would say that they are true guides for my life as I try to live as a disciple of Jesus every day and obey the principles of loving God and my neighbors as myself that the Commandments contain. 

·       Write about what you have learned so far about God from Luther's writings on the commandments and the biblical passages that have accompanied them.

I have learned that the Ten Commandments were a big part of Luther’s catechism from which this 40 Day Journey gets its content and sees how fundamental they are to living a Christian life.   

·       Make a list of any changes you want to make after having meditated on the commandments. How will you start to make these changes?

I am convicted to include the Ten Commandments in my daily spiritual practice and to honor God’s law by placing them somewhere on the walls of my home to be reminded of their wisdom and call on my life. I will use my resources to decide how to put them into a word document, print them out, and include them in my daily practice materials and either design them as a wall hanging or find one and place it in frame for display in my home. I had a copy of the Ten Commandments on the wall of my room in my old home before my divorce in 2018 and will restore it or hang a new one this week.

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray that you might always live by these words and that those around you may as well.

Lord, Help me to live by the Ten Commandments always and help others around me to be convicted to do so as well.

Prayer For Today

Dear Lord Jesus, teach me your way that I may not depart from it today and forever. Forgive me when I fail and restore me to your grace and love daily.

Amen.

(Gracia M. Grindal. 40-day Journey With Martin Luther. Kindle Edition.)

 

(We encourage you to purchase Grindal’s book and take the 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther for yourself by purchasing Grindal’s book wherever books are sold. You can find it online at many different sites and purchase it new, used – paper or electronic for less than $15.00).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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 Contentment, Coveting & and Priorities.

Hebrews 13:5 (NIV2011)
5  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Today’s verse fall under the third point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Contentment, Coveting, and Priorities.

3. Keep free from the love of money and be content.

Today’s verse states clearly that we should keep our lives free of the love of money and to be content with what we have because of our enduring relationship with the Lord.  

God provides us with everything we need for life and godliness and so we should realize that and abhor excessive greed and learn to be satisfied with what we have already.

-----------------------------------------------------------

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: LUKE 5

“Launch out into the deep.” – Luke 5:4

Here is a message to my heart. The Lord bids me “launch out into the deep.” There is too much shallow fishing these days. He calls for deepwater fishing. It is true that deepwater fishing requires far more effort, skill, resource, and courage. And because of this, the Devil would gladly discourage me. But the Lord says, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men” (Luke 5:10).

In essence, my Savior is saying to me, “Fear not about the extra effort. My strength is sufficient for you. Fear not about the needed skill. Have I not promised to make you a fisher of men? Fear not about resources; I am able to supply all your need. Fear not, take courage, for though you might begin to sink, My hand will be outstretched to save; though the Storm should violently blow, I shall still it; though the angry waves beat into the ship, fear not. I shall speak peace to them and there shall be a calm. But launch out!”

I shall launch out, Lord, knowing that You
are sufficient to supply and strong to save![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

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Need Peace? Abide in Christ – 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 13 - Purity 1286

 

Need Peace? Abide in Christ – 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 13 - Purity 1286

Purity 1286 02/28/2024 Purity 1286 Podcast

Purity 1286 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of winter-denuded trees and a frozen lake comes to us from yours truly as I decided to ascend the playground and capture this scene at Thompson’s Lake State Campground while on my lunch yesterday in East Berne NY.  I was in the area and had never been to the park, so I decided to “come and see” what it had to offer. The campground was quaint, empty, and quiet, and even though it was the offseason caused me to imagine brighter days ahead and it caused me to appreciate the freedom we have to travel and the freedom God has given me in Christ which gives me the capacity to appreciate my life and find peace just about anywhere.   But there is a secret, to find the fruit of the Spirit, you have to walk in the Spirit, and to know the peace of God, you have to draw your attention away from the things that would cause you to forget who you are in Christ, and you have to actively choose to “abide in Christ”.   Jesus us told us who to reap “much fruit”, said: 

John 15:3-5 (NKJV)
3  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5  I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit and if we don’t have it, we aren’t abiding in Christ. So don’t forget to abide with Christ by giving thanks, remembering who you are in Christ, and walking and talking with God every day. 

Hey, I get it – our world, our jobs, our family, our relationships and our problems can demand our attention and cause us distress, but when we ground ourselves each morning in our faith through a daily spiritual practice we set the foundation to approach each day with strength, wisdom, and joy.  So let’s draw close to God, it’s the season of Lent and it’s the most wonderful time of the year to “repent and believe the gospel”.

It’s the thirteenth day of Lent and so we continue my personal walkthrough of Gracia Grindal’s 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther to observe and celebrate the Lenten season.   In this walk through Grindal’s devotional,  it is our hope that we will get to know Martin Luther a little better as we seek to draw closer to the Lord on our journey to Resurrection Sunday – Easter.  

And so we continue.

Journey Day 13

YOU ARE NOT TO BEAR false witness against your neighbor.

What is this?

Answer: We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything we do in the best possible light.

God wants to hold in check whatever is done with the tongue against a neighbor. This applies to false preachers with their blasphemous teaching, to false judges and witnesses with their rulings in court and their lying and malicious talk outside of court. It applies especially to the detestable, shameless vice of backbiting or slander by which the devil rides us. Of this much could be said. It is a common, pernicious plague that everyone would rather hear evil than good about their neighbors. Even though we ourselves are evil, we cannot tolerate it when anyone speaks evil of us; instead we want to hear the whole world say golden things of us. Yet we cannot bear it when someone says the best things about others.”

Biblical Wisdom

For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. James 3: 7-10

Silence for Meditation.

Pause the podcast, or stop reading, and sit quietly for 60 seconds, a few minutes, or 10-15 minutes, or however long you feel comfortable with and have time for. Focus on your breath and the calm stillness in the present moment that is always available to us in God’s creation. Meditate on Martin Luther’s comments for the day, and the content of today’s Biblical wisdom.

 

Questions to Ponder

·       Why is the damage the tongue can do so destructive to human society?

Words can hurt and cause division among us. They can be used to spread lies, draw us into temptation, fuel hatred, and insight violence. Evil words usually lead to evil actions and destructive consequences. Thus the tongue can do a lot of damage to our human society.

·       What is there about us that delights in gossip, yet at the same time, we cannot bear to be gossiped about?

Gossip is secret knowledge and the more shocking or shameful the news of someone else’s failures or shortcomings the more we can take secret delight over their pain.  The gossip feels superior to the one’s being gossiped about because “we know your secret” and “I would never do that” (or at least not get caught!)  That feeling of being superior and being able to judge our neighbor as less than is known by the gossip, so when the tables are turned and we discover that others are talking about us, we get angry because we know we are being judged as “less than” by them.   

·       What resources might faith and the community of faith bring to bear in the struggle against “the tongue” and its capacity for evil?

The faith community should use the resource of the word of God to bear in the struggle against the tongue and its capacity for evil. Scripture is full of directives regarding the ways we speak that direct us to always speak the truth in love and to not speak ill of others.  If we are living according to God’s word, we would be aware of the tongue's capacity for evil and be taking steps to crucify that unruly piece of the flesh to the obedience of Christ.

Psalm Fragment

Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery. You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. Psalm 52: 1-4.

Journal Reflections

·       Reflect on a time when you felt betrayed by the false, careless, or malicious speech of another. How did you feel? What did you do? What role did faith play in your response?

Since coming to faith in Christ, I recall several instances where I was denigrated or insulted because of my faith. Those comments always hurt but I have learned to respond to them through the grid of my faith which causes me to reaffirm my self-worth according to who I am in Christ and it causes me to realize that these people who speak ill of me “know not what they do” which causes me to forgive them and to pray for them to know the Lord. It’s not always easy to do this but the Lord helps me to see the truth behind the attacks I receive.

·       Do you have difficulties taming your tongue? Reflect on times you may have hurt someone by false, careless, or malicious words. How did it make you feel? What might you do to repair the harm done?

I do have difficulty taming the tongue.  My problem is foul language when I get frustrated or angry.  I also have been careless with my dealings with others who need help by being confrontational or encouraging beyond their capacity to receive.  I can give too much teaching or try to bring too much conviction at times or suggest that someone can do more than they are currently able to do and that has caused some people I have dealt with to get upset. When this happened in the past, I felt terrible and would seek their forgiveness. My good intentions went astray as I pushed others too far without realizing it.  I have tried to repair the harm done by easing back and continuing to try to help. In most cases, I was able to maintain relationships with the people involved and we ended up both growing in the process.

·       Write down some specific steps you will take to “tame” your tongue.

 

1.    Awareness – we need to record the severity and the frequency of our verbal transgressions.  We need to know how bad and how often our tongues get out of line.

2.    Accountability – we need to ask for help from the others in our lives to help us remember our goal to tame the tongue and encourage us to change the way we speak when we mess up.

3.    Stronghold Busting – We need to meditate on Scripture that addresses the areas of where our tongue goes astray and pray to the Lord, each day, to help us to repent of our verbal transgressions. 

4.    Celebrate Progress – We need to track our progress and celebrate our growth. We have to acknowledge our victory and maintain our freedom.  

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray for those in your own life whose untamed tongue has hurt others that they may learn to be silent when speaking is hurtful or does no good.

Lord, we pray for the many people in our lives whose untamed tongues have hurt others, that You would cause them to see the error of their ways and that you would bring them into a deeper relationship with You that would encourage them to put away lying, foul speech, gossip, or slander and learn to speak the truth in love or to remain silent. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer For Today

Dear Lord, keep me quiet and careful in my speech so that I only speak well of my neighbors and friends and work to uphold their reputations.

Amen.

 

(Gracia M. Grindal. 40-day Journey With Martin Luther. Kindle Edition.)

(We encourage you to purchase Grindal’s book and take the 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther for yourself by purchasing Grindal’s book wherever books are sold. You can find it online at many different sites and purchase it new, used – paper or electronic for less than $15.00).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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 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 verse comes from the section on Conscience.

Hebrews 10:22 (NIV2011)
22  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Today’s verse falls under the seventh and last point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Conscience.

7. A guilty conscience can be cleansed.

Today’s verse assures us that the way to be cleansed of a guilty conscience is to draw near to God with a sincere heart – a heart that sincerely trusts in Jesus.  Forgiveness of sins only comes through Jesus and is the only way that we can have our guilt taken away.   So when we sin and feel guilty, we need to confess it and abide in Christ – live with and for God in the harmony that comes from obedience– to enjoy the benefits of conscience that has been cleansed and remains clean.  

-----------------------------------------------------------

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.

EVENING READING: LUKE 2

“[They] supposing Him to have been
in the company …” – Luke 2:44

Herein is seen the folly of supposition. Concerning things that are spiritual, such supposition is fatal.

From a parental point of view, it was folly on the part of Joseph and Mary to merely suppose that the Lord Jesus was in the company. No wonder it meant their sorrowing for Him later.

But from a spiritual point of view, it was even worse. To merely suppose that Christ is in the company is spiritual defeat and sorrow. Three days His parents lost Him – three days the disciples lost Him. The third day He arose.

O then, not to suppose, but to know Him and
the power of His Resurrection. Amen.[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


Monday, December 4, 2023

Food Addiction: The Lie of “My Size” – Sometimes the Clothes DO NOT Make the Man - Purity 1213

 

Food Addiction: The Lie of “My Size” – Sometimes the Clothes DO NOT Make the Man - Purity 1213

Purity 1213 12/02/2023 Purity 1213 Podcast

Purity 1213 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a hazy summer sunset view of the homeward bound direction of Waite Rd comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene on my way back to my countryside home on August 12th at 7:21pm.  

Well, It’s Monday and I share today’s photo because I like pathway photos and sunsets and because I wanted to suggest that A LOT can change in a matter of a couple of months.  According to my “electronic personal assistant” who shall remain nameless, sunset will be at 4:24 pm today!  That’s a 3-hour difference from what I experienced back in August, that was less than 4 months ago but the world kept turn and a moving, and man played with the clocks and now we are brought into darkness by 5pm!  

I wish I could say that the amount available daylight was the only thing that has “faded to black since then” but as we have made that trek from summer to late autumn I have seen many people’s careers change, relationships break, and lives end and as we draw into a new year 4 weeks from today, some things will never be the same.  

But that can be a good thing too.  I shared this photo from August 12th because I personally was about to begin a journey into a whole new experience of freedom and victory that I had always “hoped” for but wasn’t sure if I would ever see realized. 

I have always loved to overeat since childhood and have been obese most of my life. I have had periods in my life where I had great success in losing weight and getting better in shape, but I would often lose the ground I had gained by returning to my overeating ways. I first got the My Fitness Pal app because my weight was at an all-time high of 320 pounds in February of 2013 and since then have fought the good fight and watched my weight go up and down through the years. I stopped using the My Fitness Pal app in 2014 which reported that I had gotten down to 275 pounds on my last entry on December 6th – but had continued to try to get in shape and made more progress. But this summer I got frustrated by my food addiction – my tendency to “self-sabotage” by “cheat days” and “binge eating” that made my daily work outs a lot less effective. 

So because I was leading the Celebrate Freedom “recovery/discipleship” Growth Group at Starpoint Church and I had overcome addictions to alcohol, drugs, and sex in the past, I decided to treat my “food addiction” for what it was – an addiction.  

So I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app again and logged in my weight as 238 pounds on August 18th.  I have a  goal to be healthy, lose weight, and to get off of my sleep apnea machine.  Others have successfully been able to discontinue use of their CPAP machines with weight loss, and that was my goal going into 2023.  By August I was floundering on making progress, so I decided to trust in the Lord and to use the principles I had learned with my other struggles to fight my food addiction and beat it for good. I’m still fighting, but I am winning. Today I weighed in as 204.4 pounds this morning and I am without a doubt in the best physical shape I have been in for all of my 51 years and I have committed myself to treat my body as a good steward for the rest of my life.  “I ain’t going back.”, as I like to say.   There will be no going back to “normal” because my “normal” was overeating and bad health.  

A big part of my success was in seeing the truth of the “lies” that surround food addiction.  Some of the lies that are common in this struggle are:  

“Moderation is the key” – It might be for some but for the food addict, or any addict – that key don’t work! Our experience has shown us that we have a fundamental weakness in regard to our addictive area and we have to come to the conclusion that “moderation” in the area of our addiction will not work.  Sorry, grieve the loss – say goodbye to the notion that you could be friends with the thing that kept you in bondage and move on.   Elimination is the key to victory. Bye-Bye. Never again. “That stuff is poison to me.”   

“I love __________”  Fill in the blanks.  Whatever your substance of choice is, because it causes you to self-sabotage and keeps you in bondage you should hate it and will be better off if you learn to love the Lord and yourself more than the object of your addiction.  

“It’s okay to cheat once in a while.”  It’s not.  Your relationship with your body is like any other relationship and going against what you know is good, healthy, and right is NEVER okay.  It’s double-minded living at its finest.  It’s disobedience. It’s rebellion. And those things describe the devil more than the Lord and it’s no coincidence that the objects of our addictions steal our joy, cause pain, and ultimately lead to our destruction.  The enemy encourages our fleshly living because it kills us and prevents us from being the people who God created us to be.  

“My size is _______ and will always be _________”. My pants size was 40waist by 30 Inseam 40X30 for many, many years.  I didn’t have to check what fit because I knew “my size.” My shirts were XL. Period.  My mindset was that was what it was and that I had to be comfortable with that.  Along the way, I changed my pant size to 38X30.  Earlier this summer, I boldly bought and fit into 36X30, thinking I shouldn’t push my luck beyond that, but as the weeks past and I stayed true to my food plan, logging what I ate daily, and continued to exercise,  it became clear that my new size of 36x30 was too big. So last week, I decided to see what I could fit into.   32x30’s fit but are a little tight in legs but 33x30’s fit comfortably and are now “my size”.   Likewise, XL shirts hang on me now and Large shirts are my new size and are loose and comfortable.  

The “Lie of My Size” needed to be challenged, defeated, and “My new size” had to  be accepted.  I’m not who I used to be and, again,  “I’m ain’t going back”.   I have to believe that I have defeated my food addiction and now live according to my victory for the rest of my life.   I not only have to remain aware of the caloric, carbohydrate, and fat “costs” of the food I consume, and maintain my regular exercise routines, I have to also mentally accept the new “my size” and not go back into the darkness of the lies that kept me in chains.  

Another of those lies is: “___________ is good food!”  Again fill in the blanks, for me it would be chocolate, candy, cake, cookies, or ice cream, just to name some of the sugar laden carbohydrate high foods that would destroy my progress.  Those things taste good – but man, those are not “good foods”.  Don’t get me wrong – you can eat anything – really anything – you just have to know the “cost” and plan accordingly – but if you do the research – carb high foods are not worth “the cost” if you are serious about being healthy.   And as unorthodox or unconventional this idea may be to you, it is a better decision to decide not to eat these foods at all, rather than to be drawn in to eating them and having them destroy your progress or to keep you in bondage because you “need” for them.  You don’t need them. You are better off without them. And if you can admit that you are addicted to them, the best course is to eliminate them from your life.   

I don’t want to sound overly strict but if your “food addiction” is anything like mine – it wreaks havoc on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and it needs to be fought seriously and a huge part of the battle will be changing your mind and your relationship with the objects of your addiction.    

Yesterday I went shopping and bought a new black suit to replace my 50 regular jacket and 40x30 slacks.  The Haggar slacks I got were only available in 32 or 34 inch waist – and although the 32’s fit, they were snug in the legs, so I went with the 34’s, with a longer inseam of 32 inches. As for the jacket, a 42 Long was comfortable and is now “my size”.   I also bought some new shoes and will be ridiculously overdressed when I go to Christmas Eve service and my family Christmas Eve celebration in 3 weeks.   

As for the old suit, my wife has been giving away my big clothes to a Christian woman she knows who has been able to take them and give them to people in need. Yesterday she asked her if anyone could need a suit in my old size.   As it turns out, this woman was alerted that there was a woman in need of a suit for her husband who unexpectedly died and who needs a suit to put him in for his casket.   So my old suit will be a blessing to this woman in her hour of grief.  I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate. Where better to take a suit from my “dead man” than to give it to another dead man, where it can serve a purpose and where it can be laid to rest for good?  

I always thought “my size” was XL shirts and 40x30 pants. But sometimes the clothes do not make the man, and the Lord comes into your life and changes everything and shows you that the things you thought were set in stone and impossible to change only required agreeing with the truth and walking with God to overcome and defeat. Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us we are new creations in Christ, and that’s the truth, but we have to believe it and live according to it to experience it.

So a lot can change in a few months, but a whole new life can be experienced when you decide to surrender to the Lord and ask for His help, truth, guidance, and strength to lead you out of the darkness of a dead man’s life to walk into the abundant life of freedom, victory, peace, and joy that the Lord.  So try “that on for size” and keep walking and talking with God.

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
17  Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Today’s verses are the second of two passages of scripture that fall under the fifteenth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Church, Communion of the Saints.

 15. Members of the church must honor and obey the elders whom God has appointed to exercise authority in the church.

Today’s verses encourage us to “follow the leader” of our local church. This of course presupposes that they are teaching you from the Bible and encouraging you to put its teachings into practice in your life.  Pastors give good messages but the point behind their preaching is not to merely entertain us. They are exhorting us to live for God’s kingdom and to do the good works that He has prepared for us to do. So we should listen to their instructions and apply them to our lives where we can. 

And we should do so, not begrudgingly, like a painful chore or religious duty. We should embrace their encouragements for Christian living as the blessing they are. For they will lead us closer to God and closer to being the people He created us to be.  

So listen to your spiritual leaders and apply the wisdom of God’s word to your life and do it with joy!    

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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 TWO -  MYSTERY

DAY TWO

The Mystery of Love

The mystery remains a mystery. It withdraws from our grasp. Mystery, however, does not mean simply not knowing something.

The greatest mystery is not the most distant star; on the contrary, the closer something comes to us and the better we know it, then the more mysterious it becomes for us. The greatest mystery to us is not the most distant person, but the one next to us. The mystery of other people is not reduced by getting to know more and more about them. Rather, in their closeness they become more and more mysterious. And the final depth of all mystery is when two people come so close to each other that they love each other. Nowhere in the world does one feel the might of the mysterious and its wonder as strongly as here. When two people know everything about each other, the mystery of the love between them becomes infinitely great. And only in this love do they understand each other, know everything about each other, know each other completely. And yet, the more they love each other and know about each other in love, the more deeply they know the mystery of their love. Thus, knowledge about each other does not remove the mystery, but rather makes it more profound. The very fact that the other person is so near to me is the greatest mystery.

All that is Christmas originates in heaven and comes from there to us all, to you and me alike, and forms a stronger bond between us than we could ever forge by ourselves.

Maria von Wedemeyer to Dietrich Bonhoeffer,

December 19, 1943, from P├Ątzig

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.

Philippians 1:3–14[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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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), 20–21.