Run through a Sprinkler – The Revolutionary Beauty of Joy in the Chaos
Purity 491 08/07/2021 Purity 491 Podcast
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.
God bless you all!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship