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Showing posts with label Luke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Luke. Show all posts

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Run through a Sprinkler – The Revolutionary Beauty of Joy in the Chaos - Purity 491


Run through a Sprinkler – The Revolutionary Beauty of Joy in the Chaos

Purity 491 08/07/2021  Purity 491 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of an August sunset on the shores of Lake Ontario at Lakeside Park in Oswego NY comes to us from our friend at Celestial Blue Photography.  Rocco Saya has a talent for capturing the wonders of God’s creation with his camera and here he serves up a summertime memory worthy of a Country Time Lemonade ad. 

Am I dating myself with that reference?  For the kids, and adults that don’t remember, I am including a link to a Country Time Lemonade Ad from the 90’s (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtQEh8h7diw). The campaign highlighted the simple beauty of the summertime season, and its syrupy sweet narrative was so wholesome and nostalgic it plucked at the heart strings of our souls.

The Country Time Lemonade ad campaign was sweeter than the lemonade and its wholesome flavor made my young 90’s angsty soul, that had been struggling with the big existential questions of life and meaning, sick as the idea of a world shrouded in suffering and death should ever be portrayed as sweet and innocent. 

The narrator’s voice and the ads’ sweet images grated on my soul, so I purposely share the ad that invites you to “run through a sprinkler” because I some how thought that these ads were indicative of the problems of a world system that was trying to lull us to sleep and control us.  

I saw the world as controlled by the rich and powerful and these ads only served their agenda to keep the masses happy, poor, and asleep.  I saw the world as corrupted by riches, racism, and nepotism and my stance was to “fight the power” by rebelling against the laws and authoritarian structures that I encountered.

But I did recognize the power of those structures to punish. I only rebelled in an undercover and subversive way which would not result in my incarceration or any other negative consequence, for the most part, except for those times when my alcohol and drug us and my wild spirit of rebellion drew me beyond my senses. 

Although there might have been some truth to my view of the world back then, little did I know that the conspiracy was much larger and that the unforeseen demonic forces of darkness were not only influencing the world but had me in their hip pocket as my anarchistic attitudes of rebellion and chaos made me an unwitting pawn in Satan’s game!

But thank God, the Lord decided to open my eyes to the truth that He is over and above all of this world and that despite the darkness of the world’s systems and the evil that men do, there is great beauty to behold and I now have the assurance that I don’t need to “fight the power” because God will one day reclaim and renew this world and make all things right.  

So even in light of the state of this post pandemic world,+ with our concerns over questions of safety, security, and control, we must choose to remember that God is in control and that there is still beauty in the world to enjoy and experience.  

Little did I know that the best way to “fight the power” of the world and all of its systems, fears, and concerns, was to trust the Lord and to simply enjoy my life and share the eternal hope that lies in Christ alone.  

Who knew that the simple act of “running through a sprinkler” and delighting in the glory of all that God has given us was a revolutionary act that defies the demonic forces of this world that is geared to drive us into fear, suspicion, anger, and despair?  

We made it to the weekend, so fight the powers of darkness, by loving the people in your life and by enjoying all that God has given us.  Laugh in the face of death and the devil and tell him that you are not afraid because the Lord of all creation has already won the war and we will celebrate the victory that Christ won at Calvary by living the abundant life He has given us and by proclaiming the name and hope of Jesus from here to eternity!  


This morning’s meditation verse is:

Luke 9:23 (NKJV)
23 Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Today’s verse is Jesus Christ’s instructions for all those who would claim to believe in Him, to follow.       

I encourage people, and specifically those who would identify themselves as Christians, to “seek the Lord” and to follow where He leads us.   I increasingly take exception to the term “believer” when referring to Christians because the word of God calls us to surrender to the Lord as His slaves and to follow Him.

John MacArthur’s book, Slave, details how the proper translation of the Greek word “Doulos” which is rendered as of “servant” or “bond-servant” most translations of the Bible, should be “slave”.  As “slaves of Christ”, we are to follow Him.      

The wonderful thing about God is that while He could, He doesn’t whip us into obedience because He wants us to choose to follow Him out of our love for Him.  Christ indicates this in today’s verse by saying, “if anyone desires to come after Me”.   That phrase indicates the “love choice” that everyone who would claim to be a Christian is free to make.    

This love choice of deciding to deny ourselves, take up our crosses DAILY, and follow Him is a decision that is based on our trust in the Lord and our genuine affection for Him.  And I think that results of making this “love choice” to follow the Lord in this way can be the difference between life and death and between victory and defeat.   

If we shy away from this command to follow and only to decide to “just believe”, we run the risk of being like “the believers” in Luke 13:25-27 who had a shallow “relationship” with the Lord only being able to say to Jesus that they “…ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.”, and ultimately being rejected by the Lord who said that they were to depart from Him, for He never knew them.  

The decision to “just believe” and not follow Christ can possibly have grave eternal consequences but even if it doesn’t it certainly will result in a life that will fall short of the glory and victory that one could experience by “taking up our crosses”, the phrase that points to the Lord’s individual purpose for us in sanctification and good works that He has prepared for us.  

So consider your life of faith and accept the invitation of Jesus to follow Him.  Living in harmony with the Lord has its own rewards. By following the Lord, we experience the growth of the fruit of the Spirit, the assurance of our salvation, and the glory of fulfilling the purposes that God made us for. 

 

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, beginning Chapter 10.

 

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:

Emotional Honesty: How to Dish It Out and How to Take It

Early in my pastoral ministry I received one of those middle-of-the-night telephone calls every pastor dreads: "Pastor, our son has been in an accident. They don't expect him to live. Could you please come to the hospital?"

I arrived at the hospital about one in the morning. I sat with the parents in the waiting room hoping and praying for the best but fearing the worst. About 4:00 a.m. the doctor came into the waiting room and said, "We lost him."

We were devastated. I was so tired and emotionally depleted that instead of offering them words of comfort, I just sat there and cried with them. I couldn't think of anything to say. I never felt so stupid in my life. I thought I had failed the family in their darkest hour.

Soon after the accident the young man's parents moved away. About five years later they stopped by the church for a visit and took me out to lunch. "Neil, we'll never forget what you did for us when our son died," they said. "We didn't need words; we needed love. We knew you loved us because you cried with us."

Now looking back, I realized I had done what Jesus would have done. I wept with those who wept. When grief-stricken Mary and Martha greeted Jesus with the news of Lazarus's death, He wept (see John 11:35). Paul commanded, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). We are not supposed to instruct those who weep.

One of our challenges in life is to learn how to respond to others when they honestly acknowledge their pain. Job was in pain when he said to his three friends who were less than helpful, "Do you intend to reprove my words, when the words of one in despair belong to the wind?" (Job 6:26). We should not be listening to what people say in the midst of extreme pain. We should be responding to the pain, not the words that express it. In too many cases we ignore the feelings of hurting people, fixate on their words of despair and then react to what they said or how they said it.

For example, let's say a Christian couple you know loses an infant to crib death. Overcome by grief they ask, "Why did God do this?" Don't answer that question. First, you don't know the answer. Second, their question is an emotional reaction, not an intellectual inquiry. All that their words reveal is the intensity of their pain. Respond to their emotional pain with empathy. There will be ample time to give theological answers later when the emotional pain of their tragic loss has subsided.

Although words should not be the primary focus in emotional acknowledgment, you can guard your intimate relationships by monitoring how you verbally express your emotions to others. For example, you are having a terrible day at the office, so you call home and say to your wife, "Honey, I'm having a bear of a day. I won't be home until about six o'clock and I have a meeting at church at seven o'clock. Could you have dinner ready when I get home?" She verbally agrees to your schedule.

When you hit the front door you are physically exhausted and emotionally stressed. On an emotional scale from one to ten, you are a nine. Then you discover your wife doesn't have dinner ready as you requested. "For crying out loud," you blaze at her, "I wanted dinner ready at six o'clock! That's why I called you!"

Is your wife really the cause of your emotional outburst? Not really. You had a terrible day and you were tired, hungry and stressed out before you got home. It is not her fault. Anything could have set you off. You could have just as easily kicked the dog. Yet you level your wife and chalk it up to emotional honesty.

Don't forsake love in your eagerness to be honest. Upon learning that dinner is not ready as you asked, you could say, "Honey, I'm near the end of my rope physically and emotionally." That kind of nonaccusatory honesty accomplishes two important things.

First, by not blaming your wife, you let her off the hook. She knows you are not mad at her. Second, because she doesn't have to defend herself, she is free to meet your needs. She can say, "I'll have dinner ready in about 10 minutes. Go to the bedroom and relax; I'll keep the kids off your back. I'll get you to your meeting on time."

Suppose you are the wife and you have had a terrible day at home. Your husband comes home whistling a happy tune and asks if dinner is ready. "What do you mean, 'Is dinner ready?'" you explode. "Do you think all I have to do is cook for you? The kids have been on my back all afternoon and . . ." That is emotional honesty, all right, but you are going down in flames and you are taking your husband with you.

Rather, you can say, "Honey, I've had it. The washing machine broke and the kids were little terrors today. I'm right at the edge." Your nonaccusatory honesty keeps your husband from needing to defend himself and opens the way for him to say, "Hey, everybody, it's McDonald's time!"

When it comes to acknowledging emotions with your inner circle, honesty is the best policy, but be sure to speak "the truth in love" (Ephes. 4:15).

Another important guideline for acknowledging and expressing your emotions is to know your limitations. Be aware that if you are at a seven or eight on the emotional scale—angry, tense, anxious, depressed—it is not a good time to make decisions about important matters. Your emotions may push you to resolve what you are struggling against, but you may regret your resolution if you push too hard. You will say things you will later regret. Somebody will get hurt. You are far better off if you recognize your emotional limits and say, "If we keep talking, I'm going to get angry. May we continue this discussion at another time?"

Realize also that a lot of physical factors will affect your emotional limits. If you are hungry, postpone a potentially emotion-charged discussion until after dinner. If you are tired, get a good night's sleep. Women, be alert that certain times of the month are more conducive to positive emotional expression than others. Husbands, you will be wise to understand your wife's monthly menstrual cycle for the same reason.

The important process of renewing your mind includes managing your emotions by managing your thoughts and acknowledging your feelings honestly and lovingly in your relationships with others. Responding to your emotions properly is an important step in keeping the devil from gaining a foothold in your life.


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Following God – One Step at a Time and All of the Above - Purity 489

Following God – One Step at a Time and All of the Above    

Purity 489 08/05/2021  Purity 489 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo comes to us from a friend’s epic journey and pilgrimage to Oahu Hawaii back in June.   Just like any epic voyage will result in a multitude of memories and souvenirs, I am sure my friend will be unpacking the significance of these milestone moments in their life for years to come as this trip was not only memorable for visiting that Pacific paradise but because it was meaningful to them on a personal level regarding their purpose, history, and origin here on earth.  So I apologize, sorry not sorry, but as my friend took a multitude of photos on their trip I may unpack more at various times in the future as I will use them to glorify God for His creative work of nature and to encourage my friends to draw close to Him on their walk through life.   

Today’s photo was taken somewhere along my friend’s 7.8 mile hike up the Ha’iku Stairs, aka the Stairway to Heaven.  So why share a photo of a pretty flat part of that trip?

I share it for several reasons. The first is that although I don’t know where in this hike this photo fell chronologically, for my uses and today’s narrative, I will assume that this was near the beginning of that hike to symbolize the decision to begin to follow the Lord’s lead for our lives.  

It is Thursday, so as is my habit, I share a photo that highlights a road, or a pathway, as an encouragement for others to join me on the pathway of Christian discipleship, which simply means to decide to begin to renew our minds and hearts by deciding to turn from our worldly ways of living and to adopt God’s wisdom and ways for our lives.   

Every journey must start with the decision to go and I’m using today’s photo to encourage my friends to make that decision.  Every walk requires that first step and I encourage my friends to take it.  

I also share today’s photo because it highlights the fact that others have walked this path before us.  Our two lead hikers in today’s photo represent the faithful travelers that have heard God’s call to come to Him and who inspire us and who will be our companions as we are all going to the same place.  

I also love today’s photo because it has a surrealistic quality to it that reminds me of Hawaii’s unique atmosphere of beauty and mystery.   If you have been to the islands, you know that it is markedly different from other beach areas in our continental United States and has a totally different vibe because of the cultural history of the native inhabitants.   It has a beautiful but primitive feel to it that challenges us to embrace the beauty of God’s creation but to not be drawn away by the pagan teachings that would contradict God’s Word.  For the Christian, we need to recognize that all truth is God’s truth, but the enemy will entice us to compromise the truth of the exclusivity of Jesus Christ to save by offering us seemingly pleasant but false alternatives.     

This photo of these hikers on a path under that mystical Hawaiian sky reminds me of the ABC series, Lost, and specifically of the scene where the character Charlie turns to his fellow bewildered castaways and asks the question: “Guys, where are we?”  

It is the desire to answer this existential question that causes us to turn to God and seek His wisdom.  And if you’ve been trying to be faithful to that cause for any length of time you know that God isn’t always forthcoming with timely or simple answers.  

As I am looking to the future months for an idea where to go, I have asked God for direction.  In my view, I see two paths on which to go and some other side journeys that I may take along the way.  So I ask God:

“Lord, what’s it going to be: A or B?  Also, Lord, I would like to know the answer as soon as possible, thanks.  So which one will it be, A or B, and when should I start walking in that direction?”   

So as I have been taking it one day at a time and waiting for a confirmation, I am increasingly beginning to suspect that God may be leading me to take both paths in some way and while I have a rough idea as to when these journeys should begin, I am still struggling with my acceptance of them as I doubt my abilities and capacity to do “all of the above”.  

In my view, A and B are mutually exclusive, I can’t do both.  I mean, I guess I could. But really?  That’s not fair.  That’s not what I asked! One or the other! Which is it? And when? And how?   

When we walk through life, we often run into situations where we think it can only be one way or another and that we simply can’t do it all. That’s when we feel weak and incapable of going on.    

However, the word of God indicates that’s when we are called to be dependent on God, for when we are weak, in Him we are strong.  

So keep walking and talking with God. Ask your questions but understand that it may take awhile before you feel confident of His response and that His answer is not always what you expect.  

The Lord is calling all of us to draw closer to Him and when we take that first step we begin to realize that we will be leaving things behind to make our walk easier as we go.  But put your trust in God, He will supply all you need and will stretch you and strengthen you to accomplish all that He has prepared for you.

                                                                  


This morning’s meditation verse is:

Luke 9:25 (NKJV)
25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

Today’s verse reminds us of the grave consequences of building our own kingdoms rather than entering into God’s.  

Again, I don’t plan these messages. I may have a general idea of what I want to say on a given day but a lot of what comes out happens as I sit down and type. In my haste to get started this morning, I grabbed this morning’s index card Bible verse without even glancing at it because I “knew” the photo I wanted to use, and I wanted to start “unpacking” my encouragements to get on the Christian discipleship path.  

When I examined that photo, I thought of that scene from the show Lost and definitely wanted to mention it to highlight the mysterious nature of our decision to come into relationship with God through our faith in Jesus Christ and to actually live by faith but I honestly had no idea that the word “lost” would appear in today’s Bible verse, let alone with a question mark right after it: “Lost?”

That’s the question isn’t it: Are you lost?

Today’s verse are the words of Jesus Himself, and He is telling His listeners that even obtaining all the riches of this material world will prove to be meaningless if we don’t come into a covenant relationship with, and decided to follow, Him.  

Oh, and its not just “believe” in Him. Two verses prior to this one, Jesus instructs those who wish to “come after” Him, that they must deny themselves, take up their cross DAILY, and FOLLOW Him.   

Christ had just confirmed that He was the Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah, and that He would suffer, die, and be raised again.  He then tells us to follow Him.  

Here’s the deal, one has statement has a lot to do with the other.

If Christ wasn’t raised again on the third day, as He said, we can totally dismiss His words of instruction as meaningless.  If Jesus wasn’t resurrected, we can conclude that He was just a deluded spiritual guru and a false teacher. 

But Jesus was raised from the dead and all but one of the original Apostles and many other witnesses to the Resurrection, went on to martyr’s deaths, standing on the truthfulness of the Resurrection. Their testimony confirms the truthfulness of all that Jesus taught and of His identity as the Son of God, and God the Son.  

So enjoy what God has given you the ability to earn in this world but be sure to invest a significant amount of time and money into developing your relationship with God and in adopting God’s purpose to your life to go and make disciples and to share the hope that is found in Christ alone.  

Money can’t buy you love but the love that is found in Christ is a resource that comes to us freely and never runs dry.   

 

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, beginning Chapter 10.

 

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:

Don't Ignore the Warning Signs of Your Emotions

I played sports as a young man, and I have the scars on my knees to prove it. The incision of my first knee surgery cut across a nerve and I had no feeling around that area of my leg for several months. Sometimes I would sit down to watch TV and, without thinking, rest a cup of hot coffee on my numb knee. I couldn't feel anything, but before long I could sure smell something: my skin burning! For a while I had a neat little brown ring on the top of my knee, the result of not being able to feel anything there.

Your emotions are to your soul what your physical feelings are to your body. Nobody in his or her right mind enjoys pain. If you didn't feel pain, you would be in danger of serious injury and infection. If you didn't feel anger, sorrow or joy, your soul would be in trouble. Emotions are God's indicators to let you know what is going on inside. They are neither good nor bad; they are amoral, just part of your humanity. Just as you respond to the warnings of physical pain, so you need to learn to respond to your emotional indicators.

Someone has likened emotions to the red light on the dashboard of a car indicating an engine problem. You can respond to the red light's warning in several ways. You can cover it with a piece of duct tape. "I can't see the light now," you say, "so I don't have to think about the problem." You can smash the light with a hammer. "That'll teach you for glaring in my face!" Or you can respond to the light as the manufacturers intended by looking under the hood and fixing the problem.

You have the same three options in responding to your emotions. You can respond by covering them, ignoring them, or stifling them. That is called suppression. You can respond by thoughtlessly lashing out, giving someone a piece of your mind, or flying off the handle. I call that indiscriminate expression. Or you can peer inside to see what is going on. That is called acknowledgment.

The Duct Tape of Suppression

One of the members of our church had a son who went to college to become an architect. During his third year in school, Doug had some kind of a breakdown. His parents brought him home, but Doug wasn't getting better. They didn't know what to do, so they committed him to a mental hospital—against his will—for three weeks of observation. Doug never forgave his parents for putting him into the hospital.

By the time I met him four years later, Doug was an angry, bitter young man. He worked part-time as a draftsman, but he was basically supported by his parents. He heard voices inside his head, and he dialogued with them. He spent much of his time outside talking to what nobody else could see. Nobody seemed to be able to help him. His parents asked if I would talk to him, and I agreed.

I spent three months with Doug trying to help him accept himself and own up to his feelings. I asked, "How do you feel about your parents?"

"I love my parents," he replied. Doug loathed his parents, and his parents could sense it.

"Why do you love your parents?" I pressed.

"Because the Bible says we should love our parents."

Whenever I suggested the possibility that he hated his parents, Doug would deny it. Finally I asked him, "Would you agree with me that it's possible for a Christian to feel the emotion of hatred?"

"Well, maybe some could feel that way," he consented. "But not me."

Apparently my probing crowded Doug too closely because he never talked to me again.

Suppression is a conscious denial of feelings (repression is an unconscious denial). Those who suppress their emotions ignore their feelings and choose not to confront them. As illustrated by the experiences of Doug and Judy, suppression is an unhealthy response to your emotions.

King David had something to say about the negative effect of suppressing his feelings in his relationship with God:

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him (Psalm 32:3, 6, NIV).

David is not saying that God takes Himself out of our reach. When extraneous circumstances loom larger to you than God, it will not take long for your emotions to overcome you. When suppressed emotions build up within you like "mighty waters," you are less likely to turn to God. You will be driven by your emotions. It is important to be honest with God while you can, because if you bottle up your feelings too long, they will dominate what drives your life.

David also commented on the effect of suppression on relationships with people:

I said, "I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle, while the wicked are in my presence." I was dumb and silent, I refrained even from good; and my sorrow grew worse (Psalm 39:1, 2).

Emotional suppression may be one of the major reasons most people are sick for psychosomatic reasons. When David kept quiet about his sins, his "vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer" (Psalm 32:4). You never bury dead feelings; you bury them alive, and they will surface in some way that is not healthy. Suppressing our emotions leads to dishonest communication and is physically unhealthy.


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Finding Peace – God’s Power in us - Purity 487


Finding Peace – God’s Power in us            

Purity 487 08/03/2021   Purity 487 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo comes to us from a friend’s morning glide across Prospect Lake where they spent a few days camping at Prospect Lake Park in North Egremont, Massachusetts last week.   Today’s photo isn’t very flashy, but I love the reflected stillness of the waters and the sense of symmetry that comes as the early morning light shows us a mirror image of our world upside down.  

It's summer and many of my friends regularly take to the nature areas of our world to get away from it all when they want to decompress from the stress of their normal routines or want to seek a few moments of refuge as unexpected changes or losses have made them feel like their worlds have been turned upside down.   

If we are observant the one thing we can never honestly say is that “nothing ever changes”. While some patterns seem to be a constant part of our lives, every day is new and each one brings us closer to the ultimate reality where we will know the truth about God when we see Him face to face. 

But in the meantime we have to make it through today while trying to prepare for a future that we can never be certain of.  

Now that I no longer garage at home, every discordant sound from my Honda CRV has me concerned as it is my sole means of transportation, and I don’t want to suffer any breakdowns that will derail my travels or disrupt the flow of my otherwise peaceful days.  So I made an appointment to have my brakes and exhaust checked suspecting that one if not both of those systems are in need of some regular maintenance.  

My concern over my car is indicative of the fact that we must be self-aware and attempt to establish and maintain good health or balance in all the aspects of our lives if we want to maintain peace.  

Life will change on its own, sometimes with little warning, so I try and encourage my children to try to avoid problems by being diligent to perform regular maintenance with the things in their lives and to fix problems as soon as they come up because the impermanent nature of our world almost guarantees that another problem is just around the bend.  

In the transition of having to commute again, I have less time in the morning at home, so I was a little anxiety ridden over getting to work on time and maintaining my morning practices of prayer, Bible study, and journaling/blogging.  

I was happy to see that, as long as I maintained a degree of focus, I could indeed do it all in a timely manner.  

I was also thrilled to rediscover my practice of worshipping the Lord in song on my morning commute.  When I garaged at home, it was all business from the moment I left my driveway as I would immediately dispatch on my first job. 

While I would have worship music playing on route to my first job, my preoccupation with work and the fact that I was in a company vehicle inhibited my joyful expression of praise significantly.  

Yesterday, in my own vehicle, I was free again to enjoy a half hour of praising the Lord in song without reservations as I raced my way to the garage.   

So what could have been a continuation of my anxiety of getting to work on time was magically transformed to a rich part of my daily spiritual practice as my mind, will, and emotions were directed toward God and all who He is and all He has done in my life.  

So, when I got out of my car and walked onto the grounds at work, I was positively beaming with joy and took delight in greeting some of my fellow workers that I hadn’t seen in quite some time. 

Again, this is how we walk in the Spirit, while I could have been angry or annoyed at this unwanted change, because I focused on the Lord and my relationship with Him my morning and day was defined by peace and joy.   

God has given us the power to find peace regardless of our circumstances.  He gives us the ability to adapt to all the situations that life brings to our doorstep. So much so that some of us enjoy “roughing it” by retreating from our homes with all their modern conveniences and going to His creation to find peace and tranquility in a place where the world system is diminished, and His presence is more apparent.  

But please realize that we don’t have to pack up our tents and sleeping bags to find that peace.  God is omnipresent so if we simply turn our attention to Him, He will be there to give us strength, wisdom, joy, peace, and love.  So keep walking and talking with God, for me it’s the only way to go.  

                                                                  

(There is more content to help you walk out your journey of faith at MT4Christ dot org. You can also subscribe to the mt4christ247 podcast to hear this message, our discipleship classes, and our weekly Bible Study, on Apple, Google, and Amazon Podcasts, as well as Audible and Podbean).

#Christian #christianity #encouragement #freedominchrist #christiancounseling #jesuschrist #mt4christ #discipleship #victoryoverthedarkness #Christianpodcast #Bondagebreaker #mt4christ247podcast 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Luke 9:26 (NKJV)
26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels.

 

Today’s verse directs us to be open and to identify ourselves as Christians for all the world to see.   

Being a Christian in this world isn’t easy.  In our modern society, Christians are viewed with skepticism and contempt which is reflected by the fact that tolerance for other religious systems of belief is preached but the attitude toward evangelical Christianity seems to not be so tolerant as accommodations are being made for other systems of faith but the ability to openly practice evangelical Christianity is being increasingly regulated and legislated against.  

This hostile environment that would call Christianity hateful and the religion of bigots may cause those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ to not be so vocal about the exclusivity of Jesus Christ to save or about their identity in Christ.  These loud voices from an immoral world may cause some Christians to be silent about their faith as they don’t wish to judge their fellow man or be perceived to be unloving.   

But today’s verse tells us that we are not to be ashamed our Savior, Jesus Christ, or the Word of God, the Holy Bible.  Some Christians fearing the opinions of man try to put an emphasis on Jesus but choose to distance themselves from the Bible which reveals their ignorance and immaturity because it is from the Bible that we learn everything we know about Jesus.

So inseparable is Jesus from the Word of God that the Apostle John referred to Jesus as the “Word became flesh” (John 1:14), “the Word was God” (John 1:1), and “his name is the Word of God” (Rev 19:13). These verses indicate that Jesus is the personification of the written and spoken word of God.   You don’t get one without the other.  

So we are to not be ashamed of our faith in Christ, for on the contrary, Christ commanded his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations”, teaching them to “obey all the commands” that Christ has given us (Matt 28:18-20).   

Today’s verse is pointing to an authentic Christian faith that involves living our lives as disciples. But it also warns of the consequences of the possibility that one could deceive themselves by having a “form of godliness but denying its power”, meaning that some will believe they are Christians but will not truly put their faith in Christ with their lives and will be horribly surprised when at the hour of their death they are told “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23).     

So seek out your salvation with fear and trembling, God calls you to repentance and a new abundant life. So don’t be ashamed of the One who gives you all things. Speak the truth in love and give yourself as a living sacrifice to His kingdom.

The fruit of the Spirit grows when we practice our faith. Its not about perfection but it is about continually following the ways of the Lord and identifying ourselves publicly as His children.    

 

 

 

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, beginning Chapter 10.

 

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:

Chapter 10

You Must Be Real to Be Right

I met Judy when I was fresh out of seminary and ministering in the college department of a very large church. She was a 26-year-old university graduate who had a teaching credential, but she looked like a flower child from the '60s. She wore tattered jeans and no shoes, and she carried a well-used Bible.

Judy was a church hopper and attended a women's Bible study class that met in our church. She had sought counseling from the leader of the class several times about her many problems. When the leader learned that Judy had been institutionalized three times in the previous five years as a paranoid schizophrenic, she felt totally inadequate to counsel her. So she asked if I would see Judy. Although I had no formal training in this area of counseling, I agreed to talk to her.

When Judy told me her story, she had difficulty remembering the details of the last several years. I tried to give her a few simple psychological tests, but she couldn't handle them. As we neared the end of our appointment, I felt frustrated because I was clueless about how to help her.

I said, "I want to meet with you again, but in the meantime I would like you to submit to the authority of this church."

As soon as I said that, Judy jumped up and headed for the door. "I've got to get out of here," she said.

I believe the Lord prompted me to ask, "Judy, is Jesus your Lord?"

She wheeled around abruptly at the door and snarled through clenched teeth, "You ask Jesus who my lord is." Then she stormed out.

I followed her down the hall and continued to ask her if Jesus was her Lord. Each time she responded by telling me to ask Jesus who her lord was. Finally I caught up with her and asked her again, "Judy, is Jesus your Lord?"

This time when she faced me her countenance had completely changed. "Yes," she said.

"Can we go back to my office and talk about it?" I asked, not really sure what I was going to say.

"Sure," she responded.

When we were back in my office I said, "Judy, do you know that there is a battle going on for your mind?" She nodded. "Has anybody ever talked with you about this before?"

"No one I've talked to has brought it up. Either they didn't know what's going on inside me or they were afraid to deal with it," she confessed.

"Well, we're going to talk about it and we're going to deal with it," I assured her. "Are you willing to do that with me?" Judy agreed.

We began to meet weekly. I assumed that her problems were either the result of a moral failure in her life or a history of exposure to or participation in the occult. So I quizzed her about the moral area and found no basis for her problems. I asked her if she had ever been involved in the occult. She had never even read a book on the subject. By this time I was really scratching my head because I couldn't figure out the source of her severe and obvious spiritual conflict.

Then one day we began talking about her family. She described how her father, a noted pediatrician, had divorced her mother and run off with a nurse. Judy's mother and other family members had vented their hatred and frustration openly. Judy, the only Christian in the family, thought she had to be a good witness. She was determined to be the loving, conciliatory daughter. So she kept silent while her emotions tore her insides to shreds.

"Let's talk about your dad," I suggested.

"I'm not going to talk about my dad," she snapped. "If you talk about my dad, I'm out of here."

"Wait a minute, Judy. If you can't talk about your father here, where can you talk about him? If you don't deal with those emotional issues here, where will you deal with them?"

I discovered two passages of Scripture that added significant insight to Judy's problem-plagued life. The first one is Ephes. 4:26, 27: "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity." Judy's unresolved anger toward her father was never confessed, and because she had been repressing her anger instead of confronting it, she had given the devil an opportunity, a "foothold" (NIV)—literally, a place in her life.

The second passage is 1 Peter 5:7, 8 (NIV): "Cast all your anxiety on him [God] because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Instead of casting her anxieties about her father upon the Lord, Judy tried to be spiritual by covering them up. By not being emotionally honest, Judy became spiritually vulnerable.

Judy began to face her unresolved feelings toward her father and work through the problem of forgiveness, which was the crux of her problem. Within a few months, this young woman, whom psychiatrists had given up as hopeless, made significant progress and became involved in the children's ministry at our church.


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Growing Pains – Welcome to Paradise - Purity 482

Growing Pains – Welcome to Paradise       

Purity 482 07/28/2021  Purity 482 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a barren mound of algae covered rock in the tropical waters off the shore of Christiansted, St Croix in the US Virgin Islands comes to us from a friend who recently had their whole family’s lives changed as their spouse’s new orders took them from the familiar confines of upstate New York to be stationed in “paradise” for the foreseeable future.   

It's Wednesday, and I thought this photo of this rock emerging from the Caribbean Seas was an adequate representation of a hump to mark the middle of the week and I thought it could also teach us an object lesson of how we can feel alone and challenged even when we have arrived in the paradise of positive changes.    

Recently due to an injury, I had to make an adjustment to my morning work-out routine, exchanging one form of exercise for another that would focus on the same areas of my body.  I have been working out 6 days a week since November and I have come a long way in terms of strengthening my core.  So when I decided to exchange sit-ups for toe touches, I was confident that I could make the transition without suffering too much and that the change in positioning would strengthen my back.  

On day one of the switch, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could indeed perform the exercises without any undue stress and felt assured that the change was a good one because I felt I was addressing the need to strengthen my back and I was confident it also helping my abs as I was stretching further than I was with the sit ups.    Win, win, right?  

I think that is right! But on day two, and now on day three, it has been made even more clear that the new exercise is also strengthening my hamstrings, as they are uncharacteristically sore.  The pain isn’t debilitating or anything but is a definite sign that I am literally stretching the limits that I wasn’t testing before.  

Some would say, “Oh it hurts? You should stop!”  But I am confident that this soreness is sign of progress.   To become stronger, we may have to suffer a little.   Even though we have come to a good place, we may have to suffer a little to come to a better place.   

Like our friend in the Virgin Islands, just because you have “moved to paradise” doesn’t mean that all your problems go away. Just because you have made it to the promised land, doesn’t mean that you have it all figured out and are free of suffering.  

Like the thief on the cross was assured by Jesus that he would be with Him in paradise, we who have placed our faith in Christ have been brought into a new and eternal life but that doesn’t mean that all our problems go away or that we won’t struggle in our transition of experiencing the new abundant life that Christ gives us.  

My story is a testimony of the struggles and pain that you can feel on the journey of walking away from the darkness of your former life and adapting to living by faith.  Although I would say that I “am over the hump” and have arrived in the paradise of a new home for my children and I, I have recently seen that the journey doesn’t end with me putting my feet up and basking in the sun carefree.  

There is more work to do. I still have issues from the past that are beyond my control to resolve that require my patience and that test my peace.  There is the unknown future ahead with questions regarding my children’s futures and my physical health, career, purpose, and relationships.   

While the present can be a challenge daily just to keep moving in a good direction, it is also necessary to realize that every day forward is leading us into our future path.  

The good news is that when we are walking with God, He directs our paths.  When we walk by faith, He can help us deal with our current sufferings and challenges in a way that will give us peace in the moment and because we are in harmony with Him, as we keep walking we will see that He is also moving us into His purposes.   

When we start seeing things begin to change or “suddenly start happening” as a big surprise, God knew all along what was lying ahead of us, and He was preparing us for it!  

So suck it up, or should I say, endure through your sufferings and challenges with the Lord each day and don’t worry too much about the unseen turns around the corner ahead in your life. If we keep walking and talking with God, we can trust that He is leading us into the good things He has prepared for us and that our current “growing pains” are strengthening and preparing us for when we get there.   

We may have made it to paradise but there is more in store for us as we walk with the Lord from here to eternity.     

 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Luke 9:24 (NKJV)
24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

Today’s verse speaks of the shift of focus that the Christian life demands. 

These are the words of Jesus that immediately follow His statement that if any wish to be His disciples (come after Me), they are to deny themselves and to take up their cross daily and follow Him. 

The contrast between the two statements in today’s verse make it clear that a choice needs to be made.      

If we choose, or desire, to save our life, we will lose it. 

While this statement may seem like a paradox it becomes meaningful by the contrast of the subsequent statement: “whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”

So if we choose to “save our” life, meaning, by contrast, to save our life for “our sake”, meaning to live our life for our purposes, our ideas, or our selfish desires, then we will lose it.   In and of ourselves, we lose our lives.

Considering Jesus’ other teachings regarding the kingdom of God, “losing your life” here points to suffering the judgement of a holy God and rightfully receiving His wrath.

Christ’s second statement in this verse is just the opposite, promising a “saved” life to those who surrender living their lives for “their sake” and choosing instead to live for Christ’s sake, (My sake).    

The requirement of surrender to God’s ways and purposes in the discipled life of a Christian is apparent here as Christ states that those who lose their lives for His sake will save their lives.  This points to our purpose of living and choosing to live out what we say we believe.   

While it is common to call Christians “believers”, we should understand that our faith needs to go beyond holding a set of beliefs or convictions and should instead be exemplified by a life where we are increasingly exchanging our ways for God’s ways.   

Not only does placing our faith in Christ and following Jesus assure us of our eternal life with Him forever, but it also infuses our lives here and now with life as we walk out of the darkness of living independently of God and move into the light of His presence, power, strength, and love. 

Today’s verse makes it clear, if we live our lives for ourselves we will lose it, but if we live our lives for Christ’s purposes, we will be saved. Christ is calling us into action.  He is saying to surrender the old life you were living and begin to live the new life He has for you.    

 

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 9.

 

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:

Strongholds of the Mind

Temptation

Temptation always comes by way of a thought, and the key to resisting temptation is to take that initial thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I found a humorous "Cathy" cartoon strip that illustrates how an unchecked initial thought carries her away like a runaway freight train:

Frame 1: "I will take a drive, but won't go near the grocery store."

Frame 2: "I will drive by the grocery store, but will not go in."

Frame 3: "I will go in the grocery store, but will not walk down the aisle where the Halloween candy is on sale."

Frame 4: "I will look at the candy, but not pick it up."

Frame 5: "I will pick it up, but not buy it."

Frame 6: "I will buy it, but not open it."

Frame 7: "Open it, but not smell it."

Frame 8: "Smell it, but not taste it."

Frame 9: "Taste it, but not eat it."

Frame 10: "Eat, eat, eat, eat, eat!"

The Scriptures teach that God has provided a way of escape from every temptation (see 1 Cor. 10:13). As illustrated by Cathy's experience, however, the escape probably would have occurred before the first frame. Cathy lost the battle when she decided to go for a drive. If you don't take captive the initial thought, you will probably lose the battle to temptation. We all have to learn how to practice threshold thinking. We need to take the way of escape the moment our thoughts are contrary to the truth and righteousness.

For example, a man struggling with lust sees a pornographic picture. He has the opportunity to respond by thinking, My relationship with sin has ended. I don't have to give in to this. I choose right now to take this thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I'm not going to look at it and I'm not going to think about it. He stops looking at the picture and gets rid of the magazine or leaves the place of temptation. If he hesitates at the threshold, stares at the picture, and begins to fantasize about it, he will trigger an emotional landslide, producing a physical response that will be difficult to stop. He must capture the initial tempting thought or it will probably capture him.

Consideration and Choice

If you begin to mull over a tempting thought in your mind, your emotions will be affected and the likelihood of yielding to that temptation is increased. The fact that our emotions are a product of our thought lives is the general opinion of mental health workers. We can't directly control our feelings, but we can control what we think. That is why the mind is the control center of all activities. You don't do anything without first thinking it. The physical and emotional responses to our thoughts may be so fast that we could think we have no control over the process, but we do. Every believer has a No button. "For as he thinks within himself, so he is" (Proverbs 23:7).

If what we think does not reflect truth, then what we feel does not reflect reality. Suppose on Monday you heard a rumor around the office that you were going to get laid off on Friday. You become more and more anxious each day. Then on Thursday you receive a memo from your boss asking you to go to his office at 10:00 a.m. on Friday. Your mind is entertaining all kinds of thoughts such as, Walk in there and hand him your resignation, or Why wait until tomorrow? Tell him off today." Friday comes and you are a bundle of nerves. When you open the door to his office, the top brass of the company shout in unison, "Surprise, you have just been promoted to top management!"

When you thought you would be fired, your feelings of anger did not conform to reality because what you believed wasn't true. The joy and relief you felt after the promotion did conform to reality because then you knew the truth. Many Christians don't feel saved, don't feel God loves them because of old thoughts raised against the knowledge of God. When we tear down those strongholds and take every thought captive in obedience to Christ, our emotions will begin to conform to the reality of God's love. If we choose to believe the lie, our emotions will take us further down the temptation trail.


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship