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Showing posts with label James. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James. Show all posts

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Misconceptions, Deal Breakers, and Love of God - Purity 551


 Misconceptions, Deal Breakers, and Love of God - Purity 551 

Purity 551 10/16/2021 Purity 551 Podcast

Good morning

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."

(Psalm 1:1-3)

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.

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

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Purity 433: Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


 Purity 433 06/01/2021 Purity 433 Podcast

Good morning.

Today’s photo was captured by a friend who dared to brave the Devil’s Path on Sugar Loaf Mountain of the Catskill Mountain range in upstate NY a couple of weeks ago.  

Before you jump in the car and decide to follow in our friend’s footsteps, I advise you to check out the information on this hike (http://www.catskillmountaineer.com/IH-sugarloaf.html). While Sugar Loaf Mountain is only the 13th highest peak in the Catskills, the Devil’s Path is a 6.69-mile loop that takes an average of 5 and a half hours to walk and is rated “Very Difficult and dangerous.” They say the best time to hike it is in the morning and with a hike that takes that long you would want to pick a day where the weather would be free of precipitation.

But our friend did it!  In fact, they seem to be on a campaign this year to explore the Catskills as they have explored other areas and taken plenty of photos.  I personally am impressed but I tend to like hikes that are less vertical, less time consuming, and not rated “dangerous”.  

What can I say? I was raised in a small town and while I enjoy camping and hiking to some extent, I don’t need to get out into the deep wilderness to find what I am looking for.  Just give me the quiet stillness of a forest trail for a mile or 3 without too many hills and I’m good. 

For me, a hike is a great way to appreciate two things.  First, I love to get out there to appreciate God’s creation and take a few moments to have some quiet contemplation and to ask God some questions and to thank Him for all He has done and for all He has provided.  

And then second, after I make my way to my vehicle, I thank God for all the modern conveniences I have to enjoy and for the home I long to get back too. 

The wild places remind us of the wonder of creation, but they also teach us of the benefits of civilization and community.  We weren’t made to go it alone in a beautiful and let’s face it, sometimes dangerous, wilderness.  God made us to be relational beings and to have dominion over the earth.  So as much as I like to get “out there” and see the world, I always thank God for keeping me company along the way and for bringing me back safely to the home He has led me to.  


This morning’s meditation verse is:

James 1:5 (NKJV)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Today’s verse encourages us to ask God for wisdom and it assures us that when we do we will receive it.  But the key to receiving wisdom from God is asking for it.  That might not seem like much but unfortunately most of the world is not seeking the wisdom they can find from God.  Most of the world looks to other sources for wisdom and doesn’t ask God for it, or even consider the possibility that God will provide it.  

As I believe in a sovereign God who is moving all the events in time and space ultimately towards His purposes, I don’t really believe in coincidences. While every thing that happens might not mean what we think it means, when certain things are brought to our attention, especially when they have to do with God, we should pay attention and share the information or impressions that we have received.  

This morning I was reading Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on Colossians and a lot of his discussion had to do with wisdom. He wrote:

“in Christ are "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3). It was not necessary to introduce any new teaching, for all that a believer needs to know is related to Jesus Christ. "Teaching every man in all wisdom" was Paul's concern (Col. 1:28). Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. The false teachers promised to give people a "hidden wisdom" that would make them "spiritually elite." But all true spiritual wisdom is found only in Jesus Christ.”

 I was also reading Jay Adam’s commentary on Colossians 2: 8-10 and he wrote:

“All one needs to know to live a life that pleases God is in the Scriptures. Neither philosophy nor psychology is needed as a supplement.”

So if we are seeking wisdom in life, we must seek it from God and His word. 

Unfortunately, most people’s opinions regarding faith are based on what someone else said or based on the “common knowledge” that they have gleaned from society.  

To have true knowledge and thus wisdom, we need to seek it from the source of all Truth: The Lord God Almighty.  God made all of existence. He knows how things work.  So endeavor to gain knowledge and wisdom from God and His word.  Ask for it and seek the answers that God will give.  

As always, I invite all 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 begin a new series, and in a way it is an old series.

Over the weekend, I did quite a bit of work on the blog because I wanted to categorize my posts so users could find material that was relevant for their walk.  I labeled posts with various topics like depression, suicide prevention, recovery, etc. 

My early “Purity” posts had little more than my insights about the photo I shared and some pleasantries.   Since then I developed the habit of sharing a Bible verse and a Christian counseling resource.  

In my work, I discovered that I resurrected my blog after I had shared all of Anderson’s Victory over the Darkness, and other works, via text.  So those all those things I share before Purity 217- aren’t on the blog.

If you can believe it I have Purity 1 through 216 on my phone!  I may back those posts up to save them, but I am not sure if I will ever integrate them into blog. What started off as texts to encourage has grown to this and I’m not too sure how much looking back I want to do.  But I do think Victory Over the Darkness needs to be available on the blog.

So I have decided to share Victory Over the Darkness this month.   The version I will share is the 1990 version. The content has since been updated in newer editions since then, but I felt the updates haven’t really changed the core message of the book.   Today we begin with the Introduction: Lend Me Your Hope:

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support His work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:

Introduction

Lend Me Your Hope

 

Several years ago in my first pastorate, I committed myself to disciple a young man in my church. It was my first formal attempt at one-on-one discipling. Russ and I decided to meet early every Tuesday morning so I could lead him through an inductive Bible study on the topic of love. We both began with high hopes. Russ was looking forward to taking some major steps of growth as a Christian, and I was eager to help him develop into a mature believer.

Six months later we were still slogging through the same inductive Bible study on love. We weren't getting anywhere. For some reason, our Paul-and-Timothy relationship wasn't working. Russ didn't seem to be growing as a Christian. He felt defeated and I felt responsible for his defeat—but I didn't know what else to do. Our once high hopes for Russ's great strides toward maturity had gradually deflated like a balloon with a slow leak. We eventually stopped meeting together.

Two years later, after I had moved to another pastorate, Russ came to see me. He poured out the story of what had been going on in his life during our brief one-on-one relationship—a story that revealed a secret part of his life I never knew existed. Russ was deeply involved in sin and unwilling to share his struggle with me. I could sense that he wasn't free, but I had no clue why this was the case.

At that time, I had little experience with people in the bondage of sin and was determined to plow on. I thought the major problem was just his unwillingness to complete the material. Now, however, I am convinced that my attempts at discipling Russ failed for another reason.

The apostle Paul wrote, "I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?" (1 Cor. 3:2, 3, emphasis added). Apparently, because of unresolved conflicts in their lives, carnal Christians are not able to receive the solid food of God's Word.

That's when I began to discern that discipling people to Christian maturity involves much more than leading them through a step-by-step, 10-week Bible study. We live in a country glutted with biblical material, Christian books, radio and television, but many Christians are not moving on to spiritual maturity. Some are no more loving now than they were 20 years ago. We read in 1 Timothy, "The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim. 1:5).

Since that time the focus of my ministry, both as a pastor and a seminary professor, has been the interrelated ministries of discipling and Christian counseling. I have been a discipler and a counselor of countless people. I have also taught discipleship and pastoral counseling at the seminary level and in churches and leadership conferences across the country and around the world. I have found one common denominator for all struggling Christians. They do not know who they are in Christ, nor do they understand what it means to be a child of God. Why not? If "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:16), why weren't they sensing it?

As a pastor, I believed that Christ was the answer and truth would set people free, but I really didn't know how. People at my church had problems for which I didn't have answers, but God did. When the Lord called me to teach at Talbot School of Theology, I was searching for answers myself. Slowly I began to understand how to help people resolve their personal and spiritual conflicts through genuine repentance by submitting to God and resisting the devil (see James 4:7).

My seminary education had taught me about the kingdom of God, but not about the kingdom of darkness and that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephes. 6:12). Through countless hours of intense counseling with defeated Christians, I began to understand the battle for their minds and how they could be transformed by renewing their minds.

I am saddened by how we have separated the ministries of discipleship and counseling in our churches. Christian discipleship too often has become an impersonal program, although good theological material is being used. Christian counseling has been intensely personal, but often lacks good theology. I believe discipleship and counseling are biblically the same. If you were a good discipler you would be a good counselor and vice versa. Discipleship counseling is the process where two or more people meet together in the presence of Christ, learn how the truth of God's Word can set them free and thus are able to conform to the image of God as they walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the course of learning this, my family and I went through a very broken experience. For 15 months I didn't know whether my wife, Joanne, was going to live or die. We lost everything we had. God gave me something very dear to me that I could not fix. No matter what I did, nothing changed. God brought me to the end of my resources, so I could discover His. That was the birth of Freedom in Christ Ministries. Nobody reading this book knows any better than I do that I can't set anybody free; only God can do that. I can't bind up anybody's broken heart; only God can do that. He is the Wonderful Counselor. Brokenness is the key to effective ministry and the final ingredient for discipleship counseling. Message and method had come together.

Furthermore, it is my conviction that discipleship counseling must start where the Bible starts: We must have a true knowledge of God and know who we are as children of God. If we really knew God, our behavior would change radically and instantly. Whenever heaven opened to reveal the glory of God, individual witnesses in the Bible were immediately and profoundly changed. I believe that the greatest determinant of mental and spiritual health and spiritual freedom is a true understanding of God and a right relationship with Him. A good theology is an indispensable prerequisite to a good psychology.

Several weeks after one of my conferences, a friend shared with me the story of a dear Christian woman who had attended. She had lived in a deep depression for several years. She survived by leaning on her friends, three counseling sessions a week and a variety of prescription drugs.

During the conference this woman realized that her support system included everybody and everything but God. She had not cast her anxiety on Christ and she was anything but dependent on Him. She took her conference syllabus home and began focusing on her identity in Christ and expressing confidence in Him to meet her daily needs. She threw off all her other supports (a practice I do not recommend) and decided to trust in Christ alone to relieve her depression. She began living by faith and renewing her mind as the conference notes suggested. After one month she was a different person. Knowing God is indispensable to maturity and freedom.

Another point at which discipling and counseling intersect is in the area of individual responsibility. People who want to move forward in Christian maturity can certainly benefit from the counsel of others, and those who seek freedom from their past can also be helped by others. Ultimately, however, every Christian is responsible for his or her own maturity and freedom in Christ. Nobody can make you grow. That's your decision and daily responsibility. Nobody can solve your problems for you. You alone must initiate and follow through with that process. Thankfully, however, none of us walks through the disciplines of personal maturity and freedom alone. The indwelling Christ is eagerly willing to walk with us each step of the way.

This book is the first of two books I have written from my education and experience in discipling and counseling others. This book focuses on the foundational issues of living and maturing in Christ. You will discover who you are in Christ and how to live by faith. You will learn how to walk by the Spirit and be sensitive to His leading. The grace walk is living by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

In this book you will discover the nature of the battle for your mind and learn why your mind must be transformed so you can live by faith and grow spiritually. You will gain insight into how to manage your emotions and be set free from the emotional traumas of your past through faith and forgiveness.

In my second book, The Bondage Breaker (Harvest House Publishers), I focus on our freedom in Christ and the spiritual conflicts that affect Christians today. Being alive and free in Christ is an essential prerequisite for maturity in Christ. We cannot achieve instant maturity. It will take us the rest of our lives to renew our minds and conform to the image of God, but it doesn't take as long to realize our identity and freedom in Christ. The world, the flesh and the devil are enemies of our sanctification, but they have been and can be overcome in Christ.

I suggest that you complete this book first, learn about living and growing in Christ, then work through the subjects of spiritual conflicts and freedom by reading The Bondage Breaker.

Victory over the Darkness is arranged something like a New Testament Epistle. The first half of the book lays a doctrinal foundation and defines terms that are necessary for understanding and implementing the more practical chapters that follow. You may be tempted to skip over the first half because it seems less relevant to daily experience. It is critical, however, to discern your position and victory in Christ so you can implement the practices of growth in Him. You need to know what to believe before you can understand what to do.

I have talked to thousands of people like Russ, my first discipleship candidate. They are Christians, but they are not growing and they are not bearing fruit. They want to serve Christ, but they can't seem to get over the top and get on with their lives in a meaningful and productive way. They need to have their hope reestablished in Christ, as the following poem describes:

Lend me your hope for awhile,

I seem to have mislaid mine.

Lost and hopeless feelings accompany me daily,

pain and confusion are my companions.

I know not where to turn;

looking ahead to future times does not bring forth images of renewed hope.

I see troubled times, pain-filled days, and more tragedy.

Lend me your hope for awhile,

I seem to have mislaid mine.

Hold my hand and hug me;

listen to all my ramblings, recovery seems so far distant.

The road to healing seems like a long and lonely one.

Lend me your hope for a while,

I seem to have mislaid mine.

Stand by me, offer me your presence, your heart and your love.

Acknowledge my pain, it is so real and ever present.

I am overwhelmed with sad and conflicting thoughts.

Lend me your hope for a while;

a time will come when I will heal,

and I will share my renewal, hope and love with others.

Do these words reflect your experience and echo your plea as a believer? Do you sometimes feel hemmed in by the world, the flesh and the devil to the point that you wonder if your Christianity is worth anything? Do you sometimes fear you will never be all God called you to be? Do you long to get on with your Christian maturity and experience the freedom God's Word promises?

I want to share my hope with you in the pages ahead. Your maturity is the product of time, pressure, trials, tribulations, the knowledge of God's Word, an understanding of who you are in Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. You probably already have the first four elements in abundance; most Christians do. Let me add some generous doses of the last three ingredients. When Christians are alive and free in Christ, watch them grow!


Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.

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

 

God bless you all!

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, and Audible.com. 

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Purity 425: Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Purity 425 05/22/2021  Purity 425 Podcast

Good morning.

Today’s photo of morning on the beaches of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida comes from a friend’s vacation at the beginning of May.  As I shared yesterday the thing that is featured in this photo that is unseen is the friendship of the two people who ran from their nearby hotel at the crack of dawn and overcame obstacles to capture yesterday’s and today’s morning views.  

But that was yesterday’s emphasis. Today we focus on progress. As Friday was the “dawn of the weekend” and we have progressed to Saturday, the “morning of the weekend”, yesterday’s and today’s photo show the progress of the day.   Although the scenery of these photos, and of our lives, may be the same, today things are just a little bit brighter as we have progressed from shadows to increasing light.    

For some reason it reminds me of a portion of cheerleader’s cheer I remember from my older brother’s pop warner days: “Be Aggressive, BE BE Aggressive!” Its funny what the mind can bring up! I don’t know how the rest of that cheer went but it came up in my mind when I was thinking about progress and being progressive.   

The inevitability of one day progressing to the next is a fact of our lives.   Like dawn changing to increasing morning light, changes come whether we are ready for them or not.  

The key to finding peace in our lives is not being caught in the darkness of trying to live in yesterday’s light but it is found in accepting the changes that the day has brought you welcomed or as unwelcomed as they may be, and living in the light of today.   

We can’t go back. We can’t change what happened yesterday.  But we can take what is important to us today and move forward.  Our pasts are heavy. We aren’t meant to carry it all with us. We are supposed to travel light. We have to leave some of that stuff behind and only take what is valuable and necessary for us to move into today and into the days ahead with confidence and peace.   

Unfortunately, relationships change over time too.  As much as we thought we would have some relationships in our lives forever, sometimes we come to the realization that the relationships that we hold most dear to us will change significantly and can not be carried with us into the future, at least not the way they used to be.  

When relationships end we may find ourselves in a dark place of sadness, regret, and depression, but I can assure you that with each passing day we can move into a brighter place. With each passing day we can be strengthened by the Lord and walk into the new future that He has prepared for us.  Each new day can become a little brighter. 

But we have to “BE Progressive, BE BE Progressive!” We must choose to leave behind what is lost, gather what is dear to us, and start walking toward the light of God’s plan for our lives.  

So take that next step, and the one after it. Keep walking and talking with God as you go, and you will discover that eventually you will leave the darkness behind and you will move from the dawn of your transition to the bright morning of a new life.  


This morning’s meditation verse is:

James 2:10 (NKJV)
10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

Today’s verse is horrible news for those of us that like to think that they are self sufficient or for those who think they are “doing everything right”.   

People who believe they are a good person are just wrong. 

Romans 3:10 (NKJV)
10 As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;

The fallacy of believing that we are judged on a scale of righteousness where our good deeds are weighed against the weight of or bad deeds is destroyed by Bible verses like James 2:10.  

The verse indicates that if you attempt to be righteous by keeping the law, doing all the commandments of God, but fail in even one instance you are guilty of it all.  God doesn’t grade on a curve.  Salvation by works is a pass-fail test in which the only passing grade is 100%.   And as

Romans 3:23 (NKJV) tells us
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

That is all but one, of course, as Jesus, our high priest,

Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV)
15 … was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

The fact that we can’t keep the law perfectly shows us that we have to have another way to be declared righteous.   We can’t do it ourselves.  We can’t save ourselves.  

That’s why God sent Christ to live a sinless life and pay the penalty for our sins. There was no way we could do it on our own.  So God’s great love caused Him to devise a plan that would meet the demands of holy justice and enable mankind to be made righteous.  Christ, as the God the Son, paid for the sins of all mankind. Only His Deity gives Him the infinite nature to pay for everyone’s sin.   Likewise only His deity allows for His righteousness to be imputed to the multitudes who put their faith in Him.    

You see He’s paid for everyone, but only those who put their faith in Christ will be redeemed.  Only those who put their faith in Christ have their penalties paid and receive Christ’s righteousness; Only they will be justified before God.   

So rejoice at the fact that we don’t have to be perfect in terms of the law to be reconciled to God.  We never could have done it any way.  On our own we were hopeless. But because of God’s love for us, He made a way where there was no way.  

The good news of our personal salvation should never become old news.  Instead the fact of our salvation should fill us with a hope for the future with Him and cause us to align ourselves with His will for our lives and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone we can. 

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

  

 

Today, in continuing recognition of mental health awareness month, we continue to share from Dr. June Hunt’s “Suicide Prevention: Hope When Life Seems Hopeless “.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. 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:

D. How to Know the Scriptural Reasons to Say No

Dignitas is anything but dignified. The very existence of this clinic is a direct affront to God’s plan and purpose because it encourages suicide rather than discouraging it. Dignitas is an assisted suicide clinic in Zurich, Switzerland, founded by a man who believes suicide should be available not only for the terminally ill or the severely disabled (where most in his circle draw the line), but for all people. Ludwig Minelli goes as far as to say, “We should have a nicer attitude to suicide, saying suicide is a very good possibility to escape.”

But while Minelli says yes, God says No to each and every thought of suicide.

Have you come to the conclusion that life is not worth living? If you’ve lost all desire to hope, your heavenly Father knows what you are feeling. He desires that you call out to him. God will respond to the honest heart that offers even a flicker of willingness. ...

“I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you.” (Psalm 17:6–7)

7 Scriptural Reasons to Say No to Suicide

Reason #1: Suicide rejects God’s offer of inner peace.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).

Reason #2: Suicide rejects God’s sovereignty over the length of your life.

“You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. ... Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13, 16).

Reason #3: Suicide rejects God’s right to be Lord over your life.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

Reason #4: Suicide rejects God’s commandment not to murder.

“You shall not murder” (Deuteronomy 5:17).

Reason #5: Suicide rejects God’s ability to heal your hurts.

“Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed” (Jeremiah 17:14).

Reason #6: Suicide rejects God’s plan to give you hope.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him” (Psalm 62:5).

Reason #7: Suicide rejects God’s power already within you to make you godly.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3–4).


Biblical Counseling Keys - Biblical Counseling Keys – Biblical Counseling Keys: Suicide Prevention: Hope When Life Seems Hopeless.

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

 

God bless you all!

 

Join our Victory over the Darkness Discipleship Class 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) and Google podcasts (https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkLnBvZGJlYW4uY29tL210NGNocmlzdDI0Ny9mZWVkLnhtbA%3D%3D

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship