Misconceptions, Deal Breakers, and Love of God - Purity 551
Purity 551 10/16/2021 Purity 551 Podcast
Today’s photo of “Happy Cows at Sunset in October” comes to us from Johnk Family Farm LLC in Greenville, NY. I don’t know when I decided to “Like” Johnk Family Farm on FB but was pleasantly surprised when this photo of a trinity of bovine beauties grazing under a blazing sun and blue skies “popped up in my feed”. While I question the hashtag for “sunsets” that accompanied this photo’s post, I had no doubts about its simple beauty and was moved to share it today.
It’s the weekend again, and I once again find myself in the “primitive” conditions of “cow country” at my fiancé’s home in Greenwich NY where we are just down the road from one of the largest “dairy farms” that I have ever seen! Okay, I initially wrote “cow farms” and then questioned myself “Is that what you call them?”
When I was getting to know the friend that would eventually become a “girlfriend” and a then quickly a fiancé, I had the very wrong impression about her that she was a “country girl” or “a farm girl”. This impression was a cause for concern because although I may have not been born in one of the five boroughs of NYC, and only hailed from the small town of Hudson NY, I considered myself more “city” than “county”.
Even though I was attracted to my future fiancé from the first time she walked into my discipleship class back in the spring of this year, my covert investigations and observations lead me to the false conclusion that she was a “hayseed” and because of that impression I had my doubts about whether we could or should be a couple.
Although I had my misgivings about the possibility of a romantic relationship with her, we became friends and began dialoging via FB messenger and increasingly began to share our lives with one another. I was conflicted because I really “liked her” but was trying to keep it “just friends” because of my standing as “the teacher”, because of our apparent “cultural differences”, and frankly because of the perceived complications that come with a divorcee that has multiple children. But the more we got to know one another the deeper our friendship grew and eventually led to me suggesting that we have dinner at her place.
In hindsight it may seem odd that I who was very concerned about being “just friends” would suggest having dinner in the intimate setting of her home, alone, but what may be even more surprising is the high levels of fear and anxiety I had in contemplating going to the dinner that I suggested! Comments about “being open to the possibility of “being lovers” and “having a wonderful evening” in our conversations leading up to our first “dinner together”, had me freaking out. ”, I had insisted “It wasn’t a date“ because I have dinner with friends all the time, ya know” but in the hours leading up to our meal I was wrestling with my convictions of being chaste friends and the romantic possibilities that could happen when two vulnerable adults who were close friends and had mutual attraction for one another got together.
So being filled with fear and anxiety brought on by a fair share of sexual temptation, I turned the corner to go down the road to my future fiancé’s home for the first time only to discover one of the largest cattle farms I had ever seen. Upon seeing that farm, my impressions of Tammy Lyn’s “country girl” or “farm girl” status seemed to be completely confirmed! “Evidence!”
Oh by the way, the fact that my fiancé had decided to go by her first and middle name and to take away the space between those names in some post-divorce reinventing of herself didn’t help my false impression of her as a country girl. “TammyLyn” makes you think of the “country” penchant for “two-name names” like “Ellie-Mae” or “Bobbie-Sue”.
But in actuality, her first name is Tammy, and her middle name is Lyn and all her life, prior to her divorce, her family and friends only called her “Tammy” as I have been reminded by her family. But in her liberating herself from her troubled marriage, “Tammy” took on qualities of bravery and independence that transformed her into a “different person” and she became “TammyLyn” to mark that change.
Some people may think that is strange, but I totally understand it as I have decided to go by MT instead of “Marc” in the aftermath of becoming a born again Christian, going through recovery, and liberating myself from my own troubled marriage. Not surprisingly, TammyLyn and I fully support and insist that one another be referred to as their “new names” when introducing each other to family and friends and avoid referring to each other by our “old names” because we recognize the fact that “those people” are in many ways no longer with us.
So, yeah as I pulled down the road to “TammyLyn’s” house, the farm was just the “deal breaker” I needed to dispel all thoughts of giving in to sexual temptation or entering into a romantic relationship for me as I envisioned some sort of “Hee Haw shot gun wedding and getting’ hitched at a celebration that would feature moonshine and chewing tobacco and a reception that would feature a country western band that would sing about “friends in low places” and the fact that country girls “think my tractor’s sexy”.
So I walked through the door to our first meal freed from the ideas of becoming more than friends and actively sought to look for more clues that TammyLyn was not right for me. There wasn’t much to “hold against her” but “my mind was made up”. We were “no go” for romance. So we had a pleasant meal as friends, but I was sure to make a hasty exit at the end of the meal for fear that I would be seduced by TammyLyn’s “country charms”, which in actuality didn’t manifest in any way, shape, or form because it was a fiction based on circumstantial evidence.
In the days following that first meal, TammyLyn and I had some very deep and revealing conversations that revealed the errors in my interpretations and conclusions about who TammyLyn is as a person and exposed the fact of our deep affections for one another. Together we acknowledged how our lives were “complicated” and our discussions revealed that they weren’t as complicated as I had thought as we were both in love with one another and equally committed to working through whatever issues that may arise to be together. We discussed that a casual relationship outside of the bonds of marriage was against our intentions to live as Christians and we agreed in principle to be married before we officially announced we were “in a relationship”. The period of boyfriend and girlfriend was only two weeks and now we are betrothed to one another, and both confess to one another how we can’t imagine being with anyone else for the rest of our lives.
So here I sit in the midst of “cow country” perfectly at peace, because although my fiancé lives in the country, is a vegetarian, and is into essential oils, she is not a “country or farm girl”. Her current location down the road from the “dairy empire” is out of convenience and cost more than cultural identity and she currently has a month to month lease and is considering moving to a less rural location.
You know, before coming to Christ, you really could have had some different impressions of who I was as a person. Thank God it didn’t exist at the time but if FB had been a thing when I was growing up and there was an online archive all the twists and turns of my journey out there on the web for people to look at you could have all types of ideas of who I was. And the fact was, unlike my ponderings over TammyLyn’s “country girl” status, your impressions of me probably would have been pretty accurate. Depending on what era of my life you were looking at you could have concluded that I was a “fraternity guy”, “a drunk”, “a family man”, or maybe even a “a Buddhist” but it is doubtful you would have found much to lead you to label me as a “Christian”.
But you know who would have seen that? God. With God there are no wrong impressions. He knows us perfectly, warts and all. And He loves us. Unlike us, who have certain conditions that we would consider “deal breakers” for being in a loving relationship, God loves us all unconditionally.
God also can see our futures. The word says that He sees the end from the beginning, and He is not surprised by how things will play out in time and space. So even though I was outside of the love relationship that He knew I would one day enter into by making Jesus my Lord and Savior, He knew I would come to Him someday.
God also knew that I would choose to repent of my sins, be transformed from my former life of addiction and reactive emotions and choose to follow Him on the path of Christian Discipleship. He knew I would seek to know Him more through studying His word and get degrees in Biblical Studies and Christian Counseling. He also knew that would lead to my deciding to begin a Community Freedom Ministry at my local church which would lead to me starting a podcast to share the teachings from the discipleship classes I would do on Thursday nights.
And as amazing as it sounds God knew that a woman who was trying to draw closer to Him would find that podcast and eventually feel compelled to drive an hour to attend the classes in person.
The love of God has no conditions and while He loves all of us, He works all things for good only for those who love Him and are called to His purpose. TammyLyn and I love Him, and we answered the call to know Him more and to be used for His purposes and even though it took some work to get beyond my misconceptions and fears, God knew that the love that He poured into us would flow between us as we would eventually find one another and choose to honor His plan to agree to become husband and wife with Him at the center of our relationship.
So keep walking and talking with God. Life is a journey and a mystery, but God knows where it is going. If we our faith in Christ, love God, and follow the call to His purposes we will find that no matter how crazy our walk is or how wrong we were in our ideas about things, He will show us the truth and lead us to an abundant life of purpose and meaning that we will show us who we were always meant to be.
Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
James 5:16 (NLT2)
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Today’s verse reminds us of the true purpose of confession and reminds us of the power of the fellowship of the saints and communication with God.
Today’s verse in James paints a picture of Christian fellowship and practice. Repenting of our sins and living according to God’s way of life are a revolutionary choice that flies in the face of worldly wisdom.
Our current culture tells us that as long as we are not overtly harming other people virtually all forms of behavior are permissible. The word of God teaches that some things are just “sin” and just should not be done. God writes His law on our hearts so try as we might to dismiss “biblical morality” if we are honest with ourselves we know what is “right” and would have to admit that no matter what society’s views on certain behaviors are now, that some things are wrong. And Christians don’t base their sense of right and wrong on feelings or the views of society, they base what is sin by the wisdom of God’s word.
So when Christians sin, they know that they have gone against the commands of the One who gave them life itself and the One who died to give them eternal life. This realization fills us with guilt and shame and should draw us to repentance.
So today’s verse teaches that we are to seek the comfort of the community of believers to confess their sins and to be prayed for.
The confession of sin is not for forgiveness. Christ’s work on the cross has covered all our sins so if we understand that we know that no matter what we do our sins are forgiven and cannot separate us from the love of God.
However, our harmonious relationship with the Lord is compromised and so confession of our sins to the saints we are in fellowship with serves two purposes.
1. Our heartfelt confession reestablishes our harmonious relationship with God. We properly confess when we “agree’ with God that what we did was wrong and when we make the profession and make the intention to not repeat our sin.
2. Our confession to our fellow Christians makes us accountable to them to be true to our confession by seeking help to overcome our struggles with sin through community, instruction, and accountability relationships.
So these two factors that are the result of confession lead us to be “healed”.
Today’s verse also points to the power of prayer to assist us in our walk. Our prayerful communications with God can be powerful when we ask God for strength and guidance to walk away from our sins. Our prayers form the basis for our continuing relationship with God as we seek to be in contact with our heavenly Father to lead us through life.
Today’s verse also indicates that our righteous standing with God can give us powerful results. A committed Christian in relationship will know the will of God is consistent with His word and thus will not only have a clear channel of communication to the Father because of the lack of sin in their life, they will also direct their prayers to be pleasing to the Lord.
So this weekend be sure to connect with a local fellowship of believers where you can pray for one another and form relationships in which you can unburden yourselves through confession and receive support as you conform your attitudes and behaviors to align with God’s word. As we have been forgiven, we can walk in righteousness and know that our heavenly Father hears us and is encouraging us to keep living according to His ways, but we are not called to go it alone and need to be a support to and be supported by other Christians.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from June Hunt’s Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:
C. What Do Women Want?
Emotionally healthy women will be attracted to different qualities in men in contrast to women who struggle with emotional immaturity.
Because men generally possess more physical strength than women, self-control can be a determining factor in how safe a woman feels with a man. He doesn't have to be a knight in shining armor who tries to rescue and protect all women everywhere, but he does have to be a safe man. He must provide a sense of physical security if he has any hope of developing a dating relationship. The importance of this point to God is obvious in Peter's words to husbands....
"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." (1 Peter 3:7)
- Self-control is defined as "restraint exercised over one's own impulses, emotions, or desires."
- Self-control "involves mastery of oneself, one's passions, one's egocentrism, one's lust for attention, power, and dominance."
The Bible describes a man who lacks self-control....
"Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control." (Proverbs 25:28)
In addition to self-control, a woman generally prefers to go out with a man who is...
- Balanced—practices moderation in all areas of life, enjoys a variety of activities but avoids extremes
- Boundaried—knows when and how to say no, sets appropriate limits in relationships and is not easily manipulated
- Conscientious—thinks before speaking, chooses words that don't harm or offend others
- Consistent—remains the same in the dark as in the light, whether at work, play, school, home, or on a date
- Dependable—fulfills commitments and makes appointments, follows through on agreements and keeps his word
- Even-tempered—keeps his temper under control in stressful situations, remains calm and levelheaded when under duress
- Health-conscious—maintains a balanced routine of good eating, exercising, and sleeping habits
- Honest—values integrity and deals truthfully with others
- Relational—nurtures relationships and maintains friendships
- Respectful—treats others politely, exhibits good manners, is courteous, considerate, honors and values others
- Responsible—holds down a regular job, meets financial obligations, avoids excessive spending, and maintains a clean and orderly living environment
- Self-assured—projects confidence and inner strength, knows who he is and accepts himself without being conceited or egocentric
- Self-aware—recognizes his strengths and admits areas of weakness, guards against falling into sinful patterns or being trapped by temptation
- Sensible—demonstrates good sense in decision making and expresses emotions in a balanced way
- Spiritual maturity—commits to regular Bible study and prayer, actively participates in church, pursues opportunities to serve others
- Unselfish—considers her needs just as important as his, makes adjustments in the little things
- Well-groomed—attends to personal hygiene and appearance, dresses neatly
- Wise—listens to advice and seeks counsel of trusted confidants
- Zealous—is fervent in devotion to God, family, and friends, and is committed to developing godly character
The Bible paints a beautiful picture of the defining characteristics of someone who maintains a close walk with the Lord....
"Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers."
Widowhood and Remarriage
Question: "Since my husband's death, I have not been open to dating. I feel guilty when I enjoy being around another man. Are these feelings appropriate?"
Answer: Yes. If you find yourself having feelings for another man, it may mean you are healing from the loss of the loving relationship you had with your husband and your heart is naturally opening up again to the possibility of a new relationship. It is not unusual for devoted, surviving spouses to initially feel guilty when experiencing these feelings for the first time, especially if they have not fully grieved their losses and released their former marriage and mate to God. Ask God to confirm in your heart:
- If your feelings of guilt are the result of unresolved issues from your previous marriage.
- If it is false guilt. The Bible clearly states that you are free to pursue new relationships and to remarry.
When mates who've been in loving, caring marriages die, the surviving mates are often more likely to explore the possibility of remarriage because they've experienced the joy and fulfillment such a partnership can bring. Conversely, those who had difficult marriages may be less open to remarriage. In either case, the Bible states...
"By law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him.... But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man." (Romans 7:2-3)
Biblical Counseling Keys: Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating.
Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship