Showing posts with label Mark. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark. Show all posts

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Close to Knowing Christ, Near Christ, By Christ, or In Christ? – Purity 671

Close to Knowing Christ, Near Christ, By Christ, or In Christ?  – Purity 671

Purity 671 03/04/2022  Purity 671 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the setting sun being reflected on the frozen surface of the Schodack Creek from the vantage point of my front porch comes to us from yours truly as I was motivated to get out of my car and go around to the front of my house to capture this sight at the end of the work day yesterday.  

Even though the temperatures were chilly yesterday, I found myself rejoicing over the sunshine and my relationship with the Lord as I reminded myself once again of how He has blessed me with my home “down by the River”. 

Now wait a minute, you may say, didn’t he just say it that the sun was reflecting on the frozen surface of the “Schodack Creek”?

Yes I did.  Although the waters directly in front of my home are declared on Google Maps to be that of the Schodack Creek, they are fed by the Hudson River just down the road a piece.  When I look to the left from my porch, I can see the waters of the Hudson River and the point where the River splits to become the Schodack Creek.

So even though there is a “creek”, ( and a state highway, and some Amtrack train tracks for that matter), directly in front of my house, I know and can see that these are the waters of the Hudson River. So when I refer to my house, I have always, I’m pretty sure for the most part, called it my house “down by the River”.

Now when people ask where I live I have said that I live on State Route 9J in Stuyvesant which is “right on the Hudson River”, south of Albany, because State Route 9J, the road on which I live, runs parallel to the Hudson River all the way from Columbiaville to Rensselaer NY.

When I tell people “I live on the Hudson River” I am always clear that I don’t have river access because the property across the highway, where the train tracks run is not deeded to me. But as other photos I have taken in the past from the front of my property, that pan left, show, I do have a wonderful view of the Hudson River.   

Since my wife has come to affectionately call my place “River House” and we both call it that now, and as today’s photo was focusing straight towards the creek in this photo, my heart is convicted this morning to confess all the truth regarding the location of my home, short of providing everyone with my exact address, which I guess is “out there to be discovered” and, available on a need to know basis.  I also will not be giving a tour of the interior of my home or at least, not today anyway.

Well, with all that said, I am happy to report that we have made it to the weekend, and it is my prayer that all my friends take some time to thank the Lord for all He has done in their lives and how He made a way for us all to be reconciled to Him through His Son Jesus Christ.   

You know, one term for being a follower of Jesus is being “in Christ”. And that designation can be a little confusing, 

Being in Christ is a little like my house “down by the River”  or my address being “on” or near the Hudson River.  

Obviously, Jesus came to earth as the Word made flesh over two thousand years ago when He lived a perfect sinless life, preached the gospel of the kingdom of God, performed miracles, was persecuted, tried, crucified, died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. Try saying that three times fast….

Anyway, to be literally “in Christ” in some weird physical sense like being “in the heart of Jesus”, is a physical impossibility.   Being in the “body of Christ”, does not mean being in His physical body next to His spleen and near His liver. 

The physical body of Christ has been glorified and Christ is still using it as He is seated in the heavenlies where He is interceding in prayer for all His followers until the day He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead as the Bible, and the Nicene Creed, affirms.  So being “in Christ” or in the body of Christ, obviously doesn’t literally mean being “in” Christ!

Being “In Christ” is a term that describes our relationship with Jesus. Christians place their faith “in Christ” – meaning we surrender to His Lordship; we believe that He was the Son of God and that His death on the cross was meaningful.  Being “in Christ” includes believing that Christ’s death was God’s redemptive plan for man and that we believe it and participate in that plan by putting our faith in, or trusting in, Jesus to save us.

So in terms of justification (being declared righteous), when we are “in Christ” we make the decision that when we come before God we will not try to defend ourselves based on our own merits.  When we are “in Christ”, we are putting all of “our chips” on Jesus and we are “all in”.   When we are in Christ, we admit that we are sinners that have no hope of being declared righteous based on our good works or nice attitudes.  When we are “in Christ”, we have admitted that there is nothing that can save us and that there is nothing that we are trusting in other than Jesus.  

When we put our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, spiritually we are united with Christ’s death and resurrection. The person we were before we put our faith in Christ dies, and we are made new creations as we are raised to life “with Christ” “in His resurrection. Putting our faith in Christ, gives us a new spiritual life that will go on for all eternity in God’s kingdom, in heaven and then on the new earth.

So this is one reason why Christ said we must be “born again” in John 3. We receive new life when we are “in Christ”.   

As I have tried to express, being in Christ is more than mentally agreeing that there was a man named Jesus who was a wise teacher or a worker of miracles. I can admit that other men have done good things and said wise things but that doesn’t necessarily mean I have a relationship with them.

Being “in Christ”, is even more than agreeing that Christ was the Son of God.  Again, we can recognize that someone is special or has great authority,  but our recognition of that fact doesn’t mean that we trust in them or submit to their authority.   

Doing these things, acknowledging what Christ did or even who Christ is, could be described as being “close to knowing Christ”,  or being “by Christ” or “near Christ”, but not “in Christ”.  

Just like my house is “down by the River” or my address is “near the River”,  my house and my address are not “in the River”.

So even though you may admit to who Christ is that acknowledgement only makes you “close” to Christ.  And as the saying goes "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades” which generally means that close doesn't count.  A close loss is still a loss. And when you are only “by Christ”, “near Christ” or “close to Christ”, if you don’t get “in Christ”, you will be lost.   

The difference between being in or out of the kingdom of God will be based on your relationship with Jesus. 

Knowing about Him is one thing, putting your faith in Jesus and following Him is quite another.  

When we put our faith in Christ, we become members of God’s royal family and membership has it’s privileges: like eternal life and the fruit of the Spirit growing in our lives. 

But you have to be “in it to win it”, so as we continue in the season of Lent before us I encourage you to draw close to God and confirm that you are “in Christ” by following the Lord’s will for your life. 

And if you know the Truth, the Way, and the Life already, be sure to share Him with those who may be “close” to knowing Jesus but whose selfish hearts may keep them out of that number when the saints go marching in. 


Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is :

Mark 9:23 (NLT2)
23  “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Today’s Bible verse comes directly from the words of Jesus and is part chastisement and part encouragement for those who doubt the ability of God to help them.   

This section of scripture details one of Christ’s miracles where Jesus heals a boy who is afflicted with by an evil spirit which causes him to foam from the mouth and to be violently thrown about. The boy’s father asks for Jesus’ help but adds the phrase ‘if you can” to his request. 

Jesus responds with today’s verse, chastising the father’s lack of faith, but encourages the man by assuring Him that anything is possible to a person who believes. Christ’s words are proven true as this man decides to proclaim his small measure of faith, and although he requests help with his unbelief,  is rewarded t with a big miracle, as the evil spirit is cast out of his son at the command of Jesus.

The operative lesson that we can draw from this testimony from the life and times of Jesus Christ is that we are to have faith in Jesus to help us and that because of who Christ is and because of what God can do, we should never declare anything as impossible.  

The biggest lie the enemy tells us is that somethings are impossible.  The enemy will tell us that it will be impossible to get out of certain situations or that it will be impossible for us to change. 

But when we get that discouraging and demonic message, we have to remember that anything is possible with God and that our faith in Christ gives us power to do things that simply were impossible before coming to Christ.  

So don’t proclaim your unbelief, instead trust that all things are possible with God if we believe and it is in accordance to His purposes.   

Remember, we don’t know God’s plan perfectly, so we might not always get what we want but when we are in Christ we always get what we need.

And if you need something that seems impossible, go to the Lord and He will either work out a positive solution through a miracle, but more likely though His providence, or He will give you the strength, love, and guidance that you will need to carry you through.


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

Today we continue sharing from June Hunt’s Codependency: Balancing an Unbalanced Relationship.

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 his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

F. Recovery Step #4: Find the Road to Freedom

When you are behaving in a codependent way, you are trying to get your needs met through a drive to "do it all" or to be another person's "all-in-all." However, you can "travel the road to recovery" by releasing your desire to control or to change the person you love.


Recognize that you are overly dependent on a person and instead place your dependency on God.

Admit that your codependency is a sin.

  • Pray that God will give you the desire to put Him first and to please Him in all your relationships.
  • Determine to look to the Lord to meet your needs for love, for significance, and for security.
  • Realize that God did not create you to meet all the needs of another person.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Examine your patterns of codependent thinking.

Don't believe that pleasing people is always Christlike.

  • Don't think that you should always assume the role of peacemaker.
  • Don't fear losing the love of others when you allow them to suffer the consequences of their negative actions.
  • Don't say yes when you really believe you should say no.

"Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place." (Psalm 51:6)

Let go of your "super responsible" mentality.

Confess that you are trying to be like God in the life of another person.

  • Trust God to be actively working in the life of your loved one.
  • Realize that you cannot make another person be dependable or responsible.
  • Rest in God's sovereign control over all people, events, and circumstances.

"What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone." (Exodus 18:17-18)

Extend forgiveness to those who have caused you pain.

Reflect on any type of abuse you have experienced in the past—verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual.

  • What has been unjust and painful in your life?
  • Whom do you need to forgive?
  • Would you be willing to release this person and your pain to God?
  • Choose to forgive again whenever your angry feelings resurface.

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13)

Prayer of Forgiveness

"God, You know the pain I experienced in my past. I don't want to keep

carrying all this pain for the rest of my life. I release (list hurts) into Your

hands, and I ask You to heal my emotional pain. Lord, You know what

(name of person) has done to hurt me. As an act of my will, I choose to

forgive (name). I take (name) off my emotional hook and put (name)

onto Your emotional hook. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for setting me FREE.

In Your holy name I pray. Amen."

Appropriate your identity in Christ.

Learn to live out of your resources in Christ Jesus.

  • Know the truth: "I can be emotionally set free because Christ lives in me."
    "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)
  • Believe the truth: "I can change my dependency on people through the power of Christ in me."
    "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)
  • Appropriate the truth: "I will nurture only healthy, godly relationships because I have been given Christ's divine nature."
    "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)

Set healthy boundaries.

Communicate the necessity for change.

"I realize that I have not been responding to you in a healthy way. I have been far too dependent on you to meet my needs. And I have sought to meet all of your needs. I am committed to having healthy relationships and to putting God first in my life. I know that I have had negative responses to you, and I intend to begin having positive responses by making decisions based on what is right in the eyes of God."

  • Establish what you need to ask forgiveness for.
    "I realize I was wrong for _____ (not speaking up when I should have, not being the person I should have been in this relationship...). Will you forgive me?
  • Establish what your limits of responsibility will be.
    "I feel responsible for _____. But I am not responsible for _____ (making you happy, making you feel significant...). I want you to be happy, but I don't have the power to make you happy."
  • Establish your limits of involvement.
    "I want to do _____ with/for you, but I don't feel led by God to do _____."

"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." (Proverbs 27:12)

Exchange your emotional focus for spiritual focus.

Make God and your spiritual growth your first priority.

  • Attend an in-depth Bible study in order to learn the heart of God and to grow spiritually with the people of God.
  • Memorize sections of Scripture in order to put God's Word in your heart and to learn the ways of God.
  • Redirect your thoughts to the Lord and take "prayer walks" (talking out loud to the Lord as you walk regularly in your neighborhood or on a trail).

"Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." (Psalm 119:35-37)

The cure for codependency is rooted in developing an ever-deepening relationship with the Lord. Your increased intimacy with Him will naturally conform you to His character. When you let the Lord live inside you, you can live in His power. This means that because Christ was not codependent you have His power to overcome codependency.

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)


"Lord Jesus, I renounce as a lie the thought that I could ever be truly abandoned or alone.

Thank You that You will never abandon me or leave me without support.

Thank You that no matter what I do or what my circumstances, no matter who is in my life or not in my life, You will be with me and provide for my needs.

Thank You that Your plans for me are for my good and that You will carry them out.

Thank You that You are not dependent on anything or anyone other than Yourself to bring about Your good intentions toward me.

I trust in You and You alone to give me meaning and purpose and fulfillment in life.

In Your holy name I pray, Amen."


Biblical Counseling Keys: Codependency: Balancing an Unbalanced Relationship..

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

( The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel:

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock ( ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Who Will Love Me for Me? – The Path That Will Lead You There- Purity 603

Who Will Love Me for Me? – The Path That Will Lead You There-  Purity 603

Purity 603 12/16/2021   Purity 603 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the nose of a kayak heading towards the light underneath a canopy of trees comes to us from a friend’s October vacation to the Florida Keys.  

It’s Thursday, and as is my habit, I share photos of pathways, roads, or waterways to encourage my friends to take a step into the spiritual realm by pursuing the truth, meaning, and purpose that is to be found on the path of Christian Discipleship.  The difficulties of this life can surround us but when we start to seek the Lord and His ways for living we discover that just like in todays photo, we might not be out of the woods yet but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the beauty of the journey, even in the midst of our struggles, and that we can know that we are progressively moving towards the light of the good things that God is preparing for us as we steadily walk away from the darkness of the world’s ways.   

I may not be teaching until January 6th, but my lifestyle of Christian Discipleship doesn’t end just because class is not in session.  This evening I will be visiting with a brother in Christ who “just appeared” at the recovery ministry I was teaching at a few years ago.  They didn’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol but were struggling with the sins of the flesh which according to statistics for both Christians and non-Christians is common among men. 

I had talked about how the Holy Spirit had progressively led me into sexual purity after I had victory over drugs and alcohol and this man approached me about being an accountability partner. Through the years, we have encouraged one another and have become good friends and we meet periodically to check in on each other’s lives.  Just as our journey of faith doesn’t end, good discipleship relationships endure through the years.   Discipleship/accountability relationships, when they are done right, allow the parties to be real with one another and foster spiritual growth.  

So seek the Lord and you will find company on the path of Christian Discipleship as people will “just appear” as the Lord sends people into your life with which you can grow.  

Another person the Lord sent into my life is my beloved fiancĂ©, TammyLyn.  She sought the Lord and found my discipleship classes on my podcast, felt compelled to come to my classes in person and the rest is Christian love story history: a story so awesome I can barely believe it but to doubt it would be to deny knowing about just how good our God is.   

Even though I am seeing my friend this evening, TammyLyn will be travelling down to River House to spend time with me afterward.  I told her that because of my appointment she didn’t have to bother as our quality time would be limited but she assures me that she doesn’t care about a few lost hours spent in the Lord’s service, she wants to spend time with me because she loves me, a concept that I admittedly struggle with accepting that someone could love me, for me.

My past, my former broken relationships, and my low self-esteem from before Christ still can affect the way I think about myself.  Sometimes I feel I have to earn love, or that people are just tolerating me and if I’m not careful they will leave, or that the love and happiness I experience in life will be good for a time but will be fleeting.  But TammyLyn assures me that she loves me for who I am and that we are getting married on January 1st because we are going to love one another for ever.  She’s the real deal and really loves me for me.  

As awesome as she is at assuring me of her love for me, I have to do the same thing for her. Only yesterday she thanked me for loving her at her best and worst, and even in the crazy situations that surround her. She thanked me for loving her even though she wasn’t “normal”.  

I assured her that I didn’t think any “normal” people existed and if they did they would not be interested in me and more than likely wouldn’t be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and I wouldn’t be interested in them.  

In our relationship, TammyLyn and I have agreed to love each other regardless of the physical distance between us or any of the madness that surrounds us because of our pasts.   We have agreed to love and accept each other for who we are, warts and all.  I have decided to lover her for her, and she has decided to love me for me.  

And that reminds me of the simply heart wrenching song by JJ Heller that documents various scenes of people struggling through life where they wonder if there is anyone out there who will help them, if there is anyone out there who will love them for who they are, if there is anyone out there that who will love me for me. 

The song climaxes with a man on death repenting and asking the same question.  The song says:  

“He utters a cry from the depths of his soul

"Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home"


Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside

And it said

"I know you've murdered and I know you've lied

I have watched you suffer all of your life

And now that you'll listen, I'll tell you that I..."


I will love you for you

Not for what you have done or what you will become

I will love you for you

I will give you the love

The love that you never knew” 


If you would like to be emotionally moved and possibly break down in tears as I did this morning, I am including the link to a video for JJ Hellers’ song on the blog. ( ). 

In this life, we may never find someone who will truly love us for us. But when you seek the Lord on the path of Christian Discipleship, you will find the One who knows all about you, and amazingly He will love you for you. 

So keep walking and talking with God, He loves you and He will lead you out of the darkness of this world and show you what love really means. He will give you the love you never knew.

Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verse is:

 Mark 10:14-15 (NLT2)

14  When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.
15  I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

 Today’s verses remind us that our understanding is limited and that it is through childlike faith that we enter the kingdom of God.  

 Hey, it had to be tough being an Apostle. You struggled to understand the teachings that Jesus gave, you were amazed by His miracles, and just when you thought you had an idea of what Christ was all about He would rebuke you.   

 Here, the Apostles, knowing how Jesus was the Messiah, thought that Jesus shouldn’t be bothered by some adoring children who wished to be in His presence, so they tried to bar access to Him.  Christ was a busy man and they had to keep the riff raff away as they were doing the Lord’s business, right? 

 Wrong. As well intentioned, or selfish?, the Apostles were, they were taught here that only Jesus would decide where he would go and to whom He would minister.  Jesus didn’t heal everyone at the pool of Siloam, and He didn’t come the first time to force His rule on the earth.  He came to show mankind that the ideas of “earning” our place in God’s kingdom by “doing everything” right was incorrect. 

Today’s verses indicate that it is only through faith alone, in Christ alone, that one can enter into the kingdom of God.  A child can’t perform like an adult. Their small frames are too weak to do the things adults can do. A child’s knowledge and experience are limited too.  Without the care of parents or other adults, children would suffer and possibly die.  

 So children trust their parents in everything.  The cares of shelter, food, or water are all assumed by children to be something that will be provided through their parents.  They don’t even think about what they need. They just trust that their parents will provide and care for them.  There trust is absolute. 

 It is this attribute of the children, that of trust, that of faith, that Christ points to, to teach his disciple’s what really matters. Their best efforts at doing what is “proper” or “doing everything right” won’t get them into the kingdom of God.  Only having faith in Christ, like a child’s absolute faith in their caregivers, will bring us into the kingdom of God.  

 So instead of trying to do things proper, or to do “everything right”, as your primary focus, make sure that you have a relationship with Jesus first.  It is only through faith in Him that we are saved from God’s wrath and instead of trying hard we should just put our trust in Him.    

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

 Today we continue sharing from A.W. Tozer’s Advent Devotional – From Heaven,  for Day 20 as this current resource series will lead us to Christmas Eve.

 As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Tozer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

DAY 20


… the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve …


Christmas as it is celebrated today is badly in need of a radical reformation. What was at first a spontaneous expression of an innocent pleasure has been carried to inordinate excess. In one section of Chicago, for instance, the excited citizenry vie with each other each year for the biggest, gaudiest, and most vulgar Christmas tree, on the porch, on the lawn, along the street; and one gigantic, flashily dressed and cold but determinedly smiling Santa Claus drives a fully lighted herd of reindeer across the yard and over the house!

How far have we come in the corruption of our tastes from the reverence of the simple shepherds, the chant of the angels, and the beauty of the heavenly host! The star of Bethlehem could not lead a wise man to Christ today; it could not be distinguished amid the millions of artificial lights hung aloft on Main Street by the Merchants Association. No angels could sing loudly enough to make themselves heard above the raucous, ear-splitting rendition of “Silent Night” meant to draw customers to the neighborhood stores.

In our mad materialism we have turned beauty into ashes, prostituted every normal emotion, and made merchandise of the holiest gift the world ever knew. Christ came to bring peace and we celebrate His coming by making peace impossible for six weeks of each year. Not peace but tension, fatigue, and irritation rule the Christmas season. He came to free us of debt and many respond by going deep into debt each year to buy enervating luxuries for people who do not appreciate them. He came to help the poor and we heap gifts upon those who do not need them. The simple token given out of love has been displaced by expensive presents given because we have been caught in a squeeze and don’t know how to back out of it. Not the beauty of the Lord our God is found in such a situation, but the ugliness and deformity of human sin.

Among the harmful abuses of the Christmas season in America is the substitution of Santa Claus for Christ as the chief object of popular interest, especially among the children.

The morality of Mother Goose stories and fairy tales has been questioned by serious-minded Christian parents, but my opinion is that these are relatively harmless because they are told as fiction and the child is fully aware that they are imaginary. With Santa Claus it is not so. The child is taught falsehood as sober truth and is thus grossly deceived during the most sensitive and formative period of his life.

What shall we do? Cultivate humility and frugality. Put the emphasis where the Bible puts it, on the Christ at the right hand of God, not on the babe in the manger. Return to the simplicity that is in Christ. Cleanse our churches of the unscriptural pageantry borrowed from Rome. Take the Scriptures as our guide and refuse to be pressured into conformity to paganism practiced in the name of Christ.

Tozer, A. W. (2016). From heaven: a 28-day advent devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

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


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

at, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

( The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and 

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


Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Did Jesus Ride in on Dominick the Donkey? - The Lord has Need of It - Purity 590


Did Jesus Ride in on Dominick the Donkey? - The Lord has Need of It - Purity 590

Purity 590 12/01/2021   Purity 590 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a snowy roadside forest comes today from yours truly as I was somewhat shocked to discover that winter is not only coming, it has already arrived for some as my work took me to Petersburgh NY where the residents have already had to shovel and plow a few inches of the white stuff off of their driveways and sidewalks.  

Yup, it’s December and even though winter doesn’t officially arrive until the 21st and I am blessed to be on the upper regions of New York’s Hudson Valley and have had no accumulation of snow thus far, I don’t care when the snow comes, for me when there is snow on the ground it’s winter.   

But not for me, not yet. Oh I hope I didn’t just jinx myself! Oh by the way, what I did just there, thinking that what I say will result in negative or positive affects on the created universe walks the fine line of superstition, faith, and magical thinking.   

Jinxes are one way that man tries to make sense of his created universe and the narratives we create can seem to make sense. I said x and y happened, but we have a tendency to only notice when those outcomes come or tend to craft the narrative with the benefit of hindsight.

 “Oh this thing happened? Why? Oh before x, I (the mighty and all powerful I) did or said y, thus causing x?”  

But that’s not really a causal relationship. ME causing things to happen is not necessarily true.  

So even if snow should fall on my beloved River House today, it is most likely not because God chose to humble me because of my words. Although, because God is sovereign, it could.  It’s all part of the mystery of our lives and trying to determine what is and is not God’s will, and what He is making happen and what He isn’t.     

Just because we can make up a compelling narrative about something doesn’t make it true. 

For instance, it’s December so Christmas music is being played and will be played on the airwaves, over the internet, and piped into stores from now until the 25th.  One of the “Christmas” songs that is beloved by some and hated by others is “Dominick the Donkey.”  

Now if you don’t know the lyrics of the song or the contents of the Bible, I might be able to convince you that Dominick was the name of the donkey that Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on the day that is celebrated as Palm Sunday.  

Right? It makes sense.  But wait that’s Easter…

Or I could say that Dominick was the Donkey that was original resident of the manger before Joseph and Mary’s arrival in Bethlehem forced him out of his stall but blessed him to be one of the animal witnesses of the birth of Jesus.  

No, No, No, or even better, I could say that  Dominick the Donkey was Joseph’s donkey from the start who carried the pregnant Mary to Bethlehem!  He then witnessed the Birth of Christ, AND then helped Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, escape from Herod’s men to Egypt! Dominick the Donkey helped Biblical prophecy’s come to pass!  

While my narrative is pretty cool and rather epic…. And I think could be the latest Christmas special, if it is not already, none of it holds up to the word of God.

According to, the name Dominick appears 0 times in the Bible. 

And the names of Jesus, Christ, Mary, and Joseph appear nowhere in Lou Monte’s original lyrics for “Dominick the Donkey”. 

What I could suppose, almost logically, and sounds good doesn’t reflect reality.  So as much as we sometimes would like to “name it and claim it”, we need to be careful what stories we are telling ourselves and others when it comes to the interplay of our faith and the things that happen.  

The best way to do that is to align what we say and do with the truth that is found in the word of God. 

While God has done miraculous things for His people in scripture and is capable of doing anything, we have to be wise and discerning and realize that even in the time of the Apostles and the early church when miracles were happening to confirm the truth that Jesus is Lord, there was a good deal of suffering going on and the Apostles were not anointed supermen and very few people were raised from the dead. 

So as we call for revival and for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on us, we should realize that our prayers will be answered, and the gifts of the Spirit will be given according to the Lord’s will.  God calls the shots and even if we craft our prayers to be spoken in scripture language and have met all the “right conditions”, He decides what will come to pass and He decides what gifts of the Sprit or otherwise will be given. 

As we walk into the Christmas season, let’s endeavor to know what the word of God says and to correct others, and ourselves about the things we might just be “supposing” are true.   Let’s try to not push our own narratives and instead decide to just proclaim the gospel.  Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  That’s what people need to hear.

Let’s make sure the season is full of joy but maybe a little less “magic” as we seek to speak the truth in love that will usher the curious away from Santa, the Grinch, and HE HAW HEE HAW, even the Italian Christmas Donkey and instead give them the hope that never dies and the life of peace and purpose that never ends:  a life lived to give glory to God that is saved through faith in Jesus Christ.  

So just as Christ sent His Apostles to “borrow” a donkey for His purposes, use whatever trappings of the holiday season to remind yourself and others for the reason of the season. And as we represent the kingdom of the God, try to believe in miracles but accept that even if our prayers for mighty moves of God are not met to our expectations, remember that Christ is enough, our created universe and our salvation through faith in Him are the miracles that we can know, enjoy, and experience on a continual basis.  

So keep walking and talking with God, believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and share it as much as you can as we step into December and take another step closer to Christmas Day and seeing our Lord face to face. 


Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Mark 13:31 (NLT2)
31  Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.


Today’s verse comes from the words of Jesus and assures us that His words will never disappear.

One of our biggest fears is death and an understanding of science tells us that even the universe will eventually run out of energy and die.  Our own observations and understanding of how things are paint a bleak picture of what lies ahead.  Everything seems like it is slowly disappearing before our eyes.  But Christ tells us a different story.

Today’s verse really challenges anyone claiming that Jesus was just some wise teacher. 

This “wise teacher” claimed to be the Son of God and God the Son. That’s quite a lesson.     

Here Jesus indicates that the current created universe will “disappear”, but His words will never disappear.  

So Christ came to the earth to assure us that there was more to life than what we could see.  He came to give us peace with God and to give us something that we could stand on: His word.  

Jesus assures us that He and His word transcend the created universe and that His wisdom and truth will endure forever.

Revelation proclaims that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and that God will share it with those who have put their faith in Jesus and receive everlasting life.  

We receive a new life when we place our faith in Christ, but in order to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit of peace, we have to trust in His word. 

It’s His word that tells us all we know about God and salvation, if we can’t trust His word to be true, we can’t have a true relationship with Him. 

When we come to faith in Christ, we essential say I” believe in what you say, Jesus”.

So take peace from today’s verse and remember that when you put your trust in Jesus that you can continually trust in His word and use it to ground you in His peace even as you walk through a world that seems to be falling apart.  


As always, I invite all to go to 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 “Evil and Suffering… Why? Is God Fair?


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.

G. How to Accept the Sovereignty of God

The word sovereignty means "supreme power" and "freedom from external control." These definitions describe God perfectly because no higher power exists, and He is certainly free from other controlling influences. The Bible says ...

"He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning." (Daniel 2:21)


S—Seek God in prayer for discernment in your circumstances.

"Lord God, how I need Your wisdom, Your discernment, Your understanding."

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray." (James 5:13)

O—Open your heart to God with complete honesty about your feelings.

"I am so confused—my emotions go up one minute, down the next."

"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." (Psalm 55:22)

V—Verify your belief in God's love for you.

"Thank You that You love me, no matter what."

"Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love." (Lamentations 3:32)

E—Expect God to change your life through the truth He reveals to you.

"Thank You that through this trial, You will teach me and change me."

"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees." (Psalm 119:71)

R—Realize that God is all-powerful and sovereign over your circumstances.

"I realize that all power is in Your hands."

Pilate said ...

"Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?" (John 19:10)

Jesus answered ...

"You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above." (John 19:11)

E—Expect God to work through all things to prove your faith and to bring Him praise, glory, and honor.

"I realize that You will use all situations, even bad ones, to strengthen my faith and to glorify Yourself."

"The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (1 Peter 5:10)

I—Invest time in studying Scripture and in prayer.

"I want to immerse myself in Your Word and in Your truths."

"I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." (Psalm 119:15-16)

G—Gain an eternal perspective of God's purposes for your present pain.

"I want to see beyond this situation to Your purpose for it."

"'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'" (John 9:3) (Also read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.)

N—Never allow bitterness to grow in your heart.

"I refuse to be resentful, but choose to rejoice in my relationship with You."

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce not food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior." (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

T—Turn to the indwelling Christ, who provides you with His power for victory.

"Thank You that I can rely on Christ within me to live His life through me."

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)

Y—Yield to God's sovereignty. You may never understand or have any answers for your suffering.

"I don't have to have all the answers, but I can know the God who does. I yield myself to Your sovereign control."

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

No heartache is wasted when put in the Master's hand.
When we enter our home in heaven,
we will see how our sorrows gave us sympathy ...
how our tears gave us tenderness ...
and how our crises gave us compassion.

June Hunt

Biblical Counseling Keys: Evil and Suffering... Why?: Why God? Why?.

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


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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship