Purity 286 12/09/2020
Today’s photo comes from my alma mater, SUNY Oswego, as they shared this
pic from the vantage point of the Edward Austin Sheldon Statue on campus this
week to encourage their students as they entered finals week. Sheldon
was so influential on education and beloved by his students that this statue
was commissioned in 1898, paid in part with penny donations from 200,000
students from more than 3,000 different schools.
I share because it’s sunrise or sunset sky is spectacular and to remind
all of us that although God created the heavens, He also created us, and Christ’s
teachings indicate that we are to love and serve one another.
Sheldon’s example shows us that we are also to teach one another what we
know. We all have the potential to
change someone’s life for the better. Our
knowledge, experience, and skills that the Lord has directed us into can be
utilized to change our lives and the lives of those around us. We can all be teachers and we can all
encourage others to live a life of purpose and hope.
While we can all be teachers, we need to take the risk to speak out and
be rejected. We have to leave the safety of our isolation and anonymity and let
others know what we know about life and truth.
As we draw near to the end of the year and Celebrate Freedom is entering
a type of “finals week” period in that we only have two meetings before our
holiday break, I am thankful for the opportunity to teach others what I have
learned since coming to faith in Christ in 2010 and allowing God to transform
my life through following Him. No matter
what type of work I may do to support myself, I feel my life’s purpose is to
help others come to know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to apply
it to their lives as a daily spiritual practice that will result in the fruit
of the Spirit growing in their lives.
For years of my life, I kept to myself and spent a lot of time in a
basement, alone, lost and hopeless. Not
seeing any meaning or purpose to life, I tried to leave the world outside and
just fulfill my selfish desires. But through
tragedy and heartache, I came to a point in my life where I had to know what
life’s meaning was.
After years of searching for truth and meaning in all the wrong places,
God reached out and told me the truth of His Son, Jesus Christ, through a radio
message. He literally breathed life into me through the Holy Spirit as I became
spiritually alive when I made Christ my Lord and Savior. I’ve gone from an isolated addict in a
basement to become a teacher and counselor to anyone who needs the truth and
the hope that comes from a life in harmony with God.
I learned that knowing the truth wasn’t enough. I had to live it and
share it. And while some will reject the
message, I am compelled to continually deliver it.
God has a plan for your life.
Keep walking and talking with God and go where He sends you.
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meditation verse was:
1 John 2:5
5 But whoever keeps His word, truly
the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
This verse is appropriate in my experience for two
reasons. As a disciple of Christ, my
intention is to keep His word by knowing what it says and by trying to live by
It is also meaningful because I was just speaking
to someone about our Christian walk and how when we walk in the Spirit, we
confirm that our faith is real. The word
says that it is by our fruit that people will know that we are His.
I pointed out to my friend that the best person we
can convince of our faith in Christ is ourselves! Our daily practices of prayer, meditation,
and Bible study are fruit. When we attend or serve the church or share the gospel,
it is another fruit. When we tell the
truth and forgive others, we are displaying the fruit.
Our faith isn’t just holding a set of beliefs. Our faith has to be lived out. Our faith has
to have action.
I explained that unlike our previous “viscous cycle”
(where the enemy hit us with a steady stream of temptation, sin, accusation, and condemnation), when we walk in
the Spirit we start to live out a new cycle: a virtuous cycle.
I explained our virtuous cycle like this:
- As disciples of Christ, we attempt to live the
Christian life. So we get MOTIVATION to actually try it.
- Our motivation leads us to perform GOOD WORKS
(all the disciplines of our faith and good deeds).
- The performing of “good works” gives us CONFIRMATION
– that yes, we are actually a Christian!
- Receiving this Confirmation is an ENCOURAGEMENT,
which leads us to be motivated and Repeat the cycle.
This virtuous cycle is where a discipled Christian lives
their life. Instead of the flesh and the enemy pushing us into that “viscous cycle”
again, our spirit and the Holy Spirit leads us into the cultivation of the
fruit of the spirit in our lives and into our purpose for the kingdom of God.
So encourage and motivate yourself into the good
works of faith that will confirm who you are in Christ and begin or continue a thriving
life of walking in the Spirit.
Today we continue chapter 5 of Anderson & Baumchen’s Finding Hope
Again, where the authors discuss mental strongholds.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and
encourage all to purchase Anderson’s books for your own private study and to
support his work:
Believing thoughts and feelings about yourself that are
not true inevitably establishes mental strongholds over a period of time. We
don't want you to get the impression that all the lies we have learned to
believe about ourselves and God come directly from Satan. The world and the
flesh are also enemies of the soul. Most false beliefs about ourselves and God
come from living in a fallen world. They are patterns of the flesh that can
only be changed by renewing our minds to the truth of God's Word.
Our Thoughts Captive
In one sense, it doesn't make any difference whether the
thought you are now thinking came from your memory bank, the television set,
another person, Satan or whether you just had a new thought yourself. The
answer to what you are to do about it is the same. Regardless of its origin, we
are to take every "thought captive to the obedience of
Christ" (2 Cor.
10:5). If what you are thinking isn't true or edifying, then don't think
Telling people just to stop thinking
negative thoughts is not a complete answer. You overcome negative thinking by
choosing to think and believe the truth, as Paul says in Phil. 4:8:
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever
is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if
anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (NIV,
emphasis added). In other words, we are not called to dispel the darkness;
we are called to turn on the light.
It is our experience that you can win
the battle for your mind if you are free in Christ (i.e., if you have no
unresolved conflicts between yourself and Him). But you can't if you have many
unresolved personal and spiritual conflicts. Paul drives this point home in 1 Cor. 3:2, 3,
when he tells Christians at Corinth that they were not able to receive the
truth because there was jealousy and quarrels among them.
That is why, when we work with people,
our first step is to help them resolve their conflicts, first through a process
of repentance, which includes submitting to God and resisting the devil (see James 4:7). Establishing
freedom in Christ and staying free are two different issues, however.
You maintain your freedom as you continue to believe the truth and live by
faith. After giving us that list of what to think about in Phil. 4:8, Paul
continues in Phil.
4:9 (NIV), "Whatever you have learned or received or heard
from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with
You are not alone in your struggle to
manage your thoughts. Every believer has to contend with the world, the flesh
and the devil.
We Often Believe
The following statements are some of the most common lies
that depressed people believe about themselves, life in general and their
relationship with God:
"I'm worthless and would be better off dead."
"I have no value and no meaningful purpose for being
"I'll never amount to anything."
"No one loves or cares for me."
"My situation is hopeless. I see no way out but to
"I'm stupid, I'm dumb, I'm ugly."
"I'm a mistake."
"God doesn't love me and He won't help me."
"Life is the pits."
"My future is hopeless."
"Nobody can help me."
The list could continue with many other
blasphemous thoughts about God, themselves and others.
To illustrate how destructive thoughts
are developed over time, listen to the testimony of Cheryl Dankers, who was
voted Mrs. Minnesota-America in 1996. Unlike the picture-perfect life that one
might expect from a pageant queen, Cheryl's life was filled with trauma,
rejection, depression, suicidal thoughts and years of emotional pain. She wrote
the following letter to Hal:
It was such a pleasure to meet and work with you at those two
benefits. Thank you for letting me share my story with you. I am still in awe
of what God has taken me through these last 20 years.
I had a lot of allergy problems which were finally diagnosed
when I was in second or third grade. It was very upsetting for my dad because
they could no longer have big parties. I was too allergic to cigarette smoke. I
remember my dad telling my mom, "Well, if she's so sick, put her in a
I excelled in school. I thought it was the only thing I
could do well. I got nearly straight A's. However, I sank my sadness and social
frustrations into bags of cookies, candy, potato chips, and gallons of ice
cream and Kool-Aid. The neighborhood kids called me "Schultzie" after
the "Hogan's Heroes" character who was overweight.
My parents partied a lot on weekends. There were many Sunday
mornings when I woke up because dad was vomiting in the bathroom. My parents
would have heated arguments, and many times dad threatened to leave. I remember
my sister and I crying on his lap, begging him to stay. Dad lost a number of
jobs because he quit or was fired. After he became a policeman in 1969, he
started drinking less. However, he was very controlling and verbally abusive.
My parents attended most of my band concerts and were proud
of my accomplishments in debate, although I felt they were overprotective. I
had several very close friends throughout school, one of whom I am still very
close to. Yet, I felt isolated and alone. I would throw parties and almost no
one would come.
I went to Bemidji State University in the fall of 1976.
During college, I developed a promiscuous lifestyle. Since this was the
pre-AIDS era, protection was not always used. By the spring of 1977, I was
feeling tremendous guilt and shame. I lost my motivation to work hard in my
classes, and I had gone through two different roommates. I developed a
friendship with a football player. When I would sit in rooms filled with
marijuana smoke, he always defended my right to say no to drugs. So I
considered him a friend. One very late night he knocked on my dorm room door.
He had an intense look on his face, so I let him in to talk. Before I knew what
was happening, he was on top of me (he probably weighed close to 300 pounds). I
kept telling him to stop and saying "NO! NO! NO!" But I was too
ashamed to scream "Rape!" because I was afraid no one would believe
me or help me. After he left, I took a long shower, trying to wash him off of
me. The next day, he was gone. He had returned home.
I planned my suicide. Since I couldn't swim, I decided I
should just start walking into Lake Bemidji. Eventually I would drown. I felt
like I deserved a violent death. I wrote down the names of people close to me
and gave a time frame of how long it would take until they would forget me. I
thought I had let everyone down. I felt dirty, alone, ashamed and unworthy of
God's love. Then I called out to God. I asked Him to rescue me and do something
in my life that would stop me from ending it. Somehow I knew that God was with
me, because I never contemplated suicide again.
Cheryl is describing a life filled with
rejection, guilt and emotional pain. Those growing-up experiences caused her to
think and therefore to feel that she was alone, dirty, ashamed and unworthy of
God's love. Those negative beliefs had a very destructive influence in her
After college Cheryl was married, and
her four-and-a-half years of marriage were filled with threats of violence and
emotional and sexual abuse. Then she was divorced, and life began to change for
her. She writes:
couple of weeks later, I signed a purchase agreement for a townhouse with an
agent by the name of Mike Dankers. We started dating in July, 1983. He said he
was a Christian, and we started attending church at Grace Church Roseville with
some of Mike's friends. During one of those first services, I invited Christ
into my life. This time, I knew it was for real.
My life started changing right away. I was baptized, began
teaching Sunday School, and most importantly, saw God's unconditional love for
me in a way I had never seen it before. I knew He had always been with me, but
now He was allowing me to experience Him. There was no turning back. Everything
I had learned over the years made sense to me. God was alive and at work in my
life. Mike and I were married in 1985.
In 1994, our church was going through some difficulties. We
brought in Neil Anderson's series, "Resolving Personal and Spiritual
Conflicts." During those seminars, I realized that I could forgive those
who had harmed me.
In May 1995, our church had almost a day-long service in
which people came forward to confess sin and recommit their lives to the Lord.
God used this time to cleanse and heal so many in our church who had been
hurting for many years. God used this opportunity to show me that, while I had
been faithful in forgiving others in order to move on with my life, I also
could forgive myself. I cried all day long, praising the Lord, and letting my
gallons of tears wash away all the guilt, shame and sadness I had felt for so
Just over a year later, I was crowned Mrs.
Minnesota-America. It was almost unbelievable. I was an overweight child who
had hated herself. I had gone through so much trauma in my life that I didn't
think I could ever be free. God cleansed all the self-inflicted hatred and made
me see how internally beautiful I was in Christ. Then I was able to "clean
up" the outside and serve Him faithfully wherever He leads.
Mrs. Minnesota-America, 1996
Free in Christ! Cheryl is no longer
living beneath a load of guilt and shame. Now that her identity in Christ was
firmly established, she was able to stand against the accusing and condemning
messages from the world, the flesh and the devil. She could see herself the way
God sees her—a new creation in Christ.
Nobody can fix your past. Not even God
will do that. Nevertheless, the gospel assures us that we can be free from the
past because we are not primarily a product of our past. We are primarily a
product of Christ's work on the cross and His resurrection. We are no longer in
Adam. Our primary identity is no longer in the flesh; it is in Christ. If that
were not true, then all Christians would remain helpless victims of their past.
Finding Hope Again: Overcoming Depression.