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Showing posts with label Persistence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Persistence. Show all posts

Monday, November 21, 2022

Mall Madness - Holiday Anticipation Got You Swamped Yet? - Purity 894


 

Mall Madness - Holiday Anticipation Got You Swamped Yet? - Purity 894  

Purity 894 11/21/2022 Purity 894 Podcast

Purity 894 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a stand of trees immersed in water set against the fading light of day comes to us from Arthur Cincotti who shared these  “swamp trees” with me via text on Thursday as he and his wife Suzanna are on a holiday road trip this week and stopped long enough to capture this scene while travelling through North Carolina.  

Well, the first thing I would like to do is to apologize for not posting anything yesterday, the author of our weekly Bible Study has been on the go this week and Saturday evening was crossing the mighty Mississippi River on the way to Louisiana and despite their initial hopes to produce a study “on the Road” had to call our regular study off. So I guess Sunday was our week off from Thanksgiving.

And I honestly I was thankful for the break but although I spent some time rejoicing in the presence of my wife, I also utilized a portion of the time that was normally spent in a lively discussion of the things of God to make some significant preparations for the conclusion of the Bonhoeffer series I am producing for the podcast and YouTube channel. 

I was finally able to determine just how long the herculean effort to share Bonhoeffer’s Discipleship was going to take and while I am not sure when I will produce and release the last installment of the series, I now know that there will be 19 “lessons” in total and that I will be releasing “lesson 12” sometime this week.   I was going to say Wednesday evening, but although I plan on recording my power point presentation of Bonhoeffer’s “The Messengers” on Wednesday at my countryside home, I don’t know if my cell phone’s hotspot will cooperate with my intentions when I am in “The Great White North” of Easton.  

I also realize that I am beyond the halfway point in this series, and even though I have been releasing them once a week, I want to be true to my original intentions to complete the series before 2023 begins.  I’m not sure how or if that will work out but after we get through this week we will be better able to get a grasp of what that will look like.  

Oh yeah, if you didn’t know, Thanksgiving is Thursday as in 3 days away!

I don’t know about you but my life is somewhat filled with activity and this past Saturday, even though part of me knew, and made preparations for, Thanksgiving this week, that knowledge didn’t really become meaning full until I was relaxing at my sister in laws birthday party this past weekend. “Thanksgiving is THIS THURSDAY? As in 5 DAYS away? (at the time).    Now only three days.   Where does the time go, right?  

So like the trees in todays photo, has the impending holiday on Thursday, and the Christmas season just beyond, have you swamped yet?   

Thankfully, I am not hosting any Thanksgiving celebration this year and am very happy to be going to my brother in laws on Thursday but I can recognize the stress that we may all be under in anticipation of all that is to come on Thursday and the weeks ahead.  

In fact, I had a real freak out a couple of weeks ago and because I had the day off on election day, I went Christmas shopping and got a lot of it done on November 8th!  

You see, I know how crazy my blogging, podcasting, ministry, working, two household, Christian Discipleship lifestyle can be and I have learned to look ahead to what needs to be done in the future and to have things ready when I get there.   With proper planning, it all works out, but you have to be diligent and sometimes, unfortunately, the world will not be on the same page you are.  

Yesterday, I had some unexpected “free time” on my hands as our regular growth group was cancelled so immediately, I thought of my need to get gift cards for Christmas and I realized that after Thursday we will officially be in the madness of the holiday season where the stores and parking lots will be filled with holiday shoppers. So I decided that I was going to “get er done” in terms of most of my Christmas shopping by getting the gift cards NOW, capital n-o-w. 

So off to the mall I went. I was positively gleeful over the availability of parking, the relatively small crowds, and the fact that the gift card kiosk had all the gift cards I needed!  And admittedly, I need a lot.  So just as I was going to congratulate myself on being super smart, the world “blocked my goal” of “getting ‘er done.  

The cashier at the store I went to informed me that there was a limit to the amount of gift cards I could purchase. The limit they were imposing would make my trip to the mall essential meaningless!

But like the male equivalent of a “Karen”, a “Ken” apparently, I decided that I didn’t need to waste my time with a drone at the cash register that was just trying to do their job according to the policies they have bee taught to enforce without question. I decided to take my request/complaint/significant purchase, $$$, to the miraculously vacant service desk.  

There were 3 people behind the service desk and at first I thought, surely one of them would sympathize with me and just help me “get ‘er done.”  But unfortunately instead of sympathy and assistance, I got apathetic, almost disdainful looks, and a repeat of the cashier’s apologies and explanations of things that I knew, from prior experience, just weren’t true.   

So I had a decision to make, I could continue to plead,  ask for a manager, or get angry or I could go around this obstacle by other means.  

You see, I always buy gift cards for the holidays in mass quantities and while you may have to play games in person at the store, a whole new level of freedom and efficiency comes from doing things on-line. I’ve done this before. So hold my Coke Zero or Bang Energy drink and watch this!

Immediately go to my phone, but quickly determine that my phone can’t move as fast as me and I was going to have to give up the quest until I could put in my orders on my lap top at home. So I more or less resolve to “get ‘er done” another day.  

So I go home and put my laundry in and take care of some other things around the house before I decide to attempt to order my gift cards and have them shipped to me instead of going to the store, which I discover I can’t do!  

The gift cards I wanted were “pick up only” but I discovered that the limit I faced online was a lot less restrictive than the ridiculous one they were seeking to enforce in person. 

Don’t you just love that it is easier dealing with “machines” sometimes than people?

For example, the self-checkout, I know some people object about the self-checkout.  “It costs people jobs” and “I don’t work here!” etc etc.  But me, I love them and even take some pride over my skill at getting through the self-checkout quickly. “Get out of my way, I’m getting ‘er done!”  

So because of that “great service” I get from my fellow man, where it is possible I will do things online nearly 99% of the time, with rare exceptions.  

So I discover that I can order quite a few gift cards at a time on line and place an order for the ones I can. Done.  But I still have more to get so I start to place another order.   When I realize that online order system, is actually trying to help me with a pop up that I ignored on my first purchase.  

The pop up invites me to bypass the limit on gift cards by creating a business account!

So, I do! My business is a not-for-profit online organization called – Mt4christ.org – where I produce Christian devotional type encouragements and educational materials for the masses, free of charge. 

So now I have a business account with this store, and I am able to order the rest of my gift cards in a single order! Awesome, right?   Oh it gets better.

I no sooner finish my second order than I get an email that tells me my first order is “ready for pick up! So even though I drove all the way home from the mall, I decide just to wait until my second order is fulfilled, and I will go back the way I came to “get ‘er done” TODAY.  

And I do, I got ‘er done. Thanks to the internet, telling the “people” to just give the guy what he wants, I got ‘er done.   

I know why “Karens” and “Kens” exist.  People stand on policy rather that on customer service and doing business.  People can’t think out side of the box that they are placed in and when some one demands that there needs be met as a right, the world turns against them and calls them entitled, privileged, or even racist, (It’s in the definition of a Karen) rather than changing policy they try to block their goals.  

But these “Mama Bears” and “Angry Old Men” know better. If they argue long enough or get to the right person with the pragmatism or authority to actually make a decision outside of a corporate flow chart, 90% of the time they succeed.  

Jesus shared the parable of the persistent widow to encourage us to keep pushing and a praying for “justice”.  So there is some wisdom in being persistent. 

However, I would recommend keeping your cool and maintaining your peace when you come up against opposition like this. People are just doing what they are told to the best of their abilities and as they say “our lack of planning, doesn’t constitute an emergency”, Karen, or Ken.  

So although, I got ‘er done yesterday – and without a fight, mind you– although I felt positively triumphant from beating “the system” with the system, I would recommend that you plan ahead in the days ahead so you won’t feel swamped by the stress that can come with the most “wonderful time of the year”.  

And remember, as Christians, we represent the King. So keep walking and talking with God and go in peace to all the world and show them you are a reasonable person who understands that your “needs” and “wants” are not “rights and that your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency, even if it feels like one.   

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As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org 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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 7

The Community of Disciples Is Set Apart

The Great Separation continues

The road of the disciples is narrow. It is easy to go past it; it is easy to miss it; it is easy to lose it, even for those who have already walked it. It is hard to find. The path is narrow indeed; there is a real danger of falling off on both sides. To be called to do the extraordinary, but not to see and to know that one is doing it—that is a narrow road. To give witness to and to confess the truth of Jesus, but to love the enemy of this truth, who is his enemy and our enemy, with the unconditional love of Jesus Christ—that is a narrow road. To believe in Jesus’ promise that those who follow shall possess the earth, but to encounter the enemy unarmed, to prefer suffering injustice to doing ill—that is a narrow road. To perceive other people as being weak and wrong, but never to judge them; to proclaim the good news to them, but never to throw pearls before swine—that is a narrow road. It is an unbearable road. The danger of falling off threatens every minute. As long as I recognize this road as the one I am commanded to walk, and try to walk it in fear of myself, it is truly impossible. But if I see Jesus Christ walking ahead of me, step by step, if I look only at him and follow him, step by step, then I will be protected on this path. If I look at the danger in what I am doing, if I look at the path instead of at him who is walking ahead of me, then my foot is already slipping. He himself is the way. He is the narrow road and the narrow gate. The only thing that matters is finding him. If we know that, then we will walk the narrow way to life through the narrow gate of the cross of Jesus Christ, then the narrowness of the way itself will reassure us. How could the road of the Son of God on earth, which we are to walk as citizens of two realms[232] at the boundary between the world and the kingdom of heaven, be a wide one? The narrow way has to be the right way.

Verses 15–20. The separation between community and world is complete. But now the word of Jesus presses into the faith-community itself, judging and separating. The separation has to take place again and again among the disciples themselves. The disciples should not think that they could simply flee from the world and stay safely in the small group on the narrow path. False prophets will come among them, and the confusion will make their isolation even greater. Someone stands beside me, externally a member of the community. A prophet or preacher stands there, a Christian by appearances, words, and deeds. But internally dark motives are driving him to us. Internally he is a rampaging wolf; his words are lies and his deeds deceit. He knows how to guard his secret well, but under cover he works his evil deeds. He is among us, not because faith in Jesus Christ brought him to us, but because the devil drives him into the faith-community. Perhaps he is seeking power and influence, money, fame by his own thoughts and prophecies. He seeks the world, but not the Lord Christ. He hides his dark intent in the cloak of Christian piety [Christlichkeit] and knows that Christians are easy to fool. Because of his cloak of innocence, he is counting on not being unmasked. He knows well that Christians are prohibited from judging, and he will remind them of that at just the right moment! No one can see into another’s heart. So he can deceive many a person to stray from the right way. Perhaps he does not even know all this, perhaps the devil who is driving him has concealed from him the truth about himself.

Such an announcement by Jesus could drive great fear into his disciples. Who knows the other person? Who knows whether or not lies are hiding and deceptions lurking behind Christian appearances? Deep suspicion, cynical observation, and an anxious spirit of judgment could seep into the community. This word of Jesus could cause loveless condemnation to become the fate of every sister or brother who sins. But Jesus liberates his disciples from suspicions, which would tear apart the community. He says that a bad tree brings forth bad fruit. It will reveal itself in due time. We do not need to look into the heart of anyone else. We should wait until the tree bears its fruit. In due time you will know the trees by their fruits. Fruit cannot fail to come for long. Here this does not mean the difference between words and deeds of the false prophets, but the difference between appearance and reality. Jesus tells us that people cannot live for long under the cover of appearances. The time to bear fruit will come, the time of open difference will come. Sooner or later their situation will be revealed. Whether the tree intends not to bear fruit does not matter at all. Fruit comes by itself. Thus the decisive moment of distinguishing one tree from another, fruit-bearing time, will reveal everything. Whenever times of decision come, revealing the difference between the world and the church-community, and they can come any day, in quite small, mundane decisions, as well as in the big ones, then it will be revealed what is bad and what is good. Then only reality persists, not appearances.

Jesus expects from his disciples that at such moments they will distinguish clearly between appearances and reality, and see the difference between themselves and people who only appear to be Christian. That relieves them of all curious scrutinizing of other people, but it demands truthfulness and determination to recognize the decision God is making. It can happen at any moment that pseudo-Christians are torn out of our midst, or that we ourselves are revealed as pseudo-Christians. The disciples are called, therefore, to deeper communion [Gemeinschaft] with Jesus and to follow him more faithfully. The bad tree will be cut down and thrown into the fire. All its grandeur will not save it.

Verse 21. The separation caused by Jesus’ call to discipleship goes even deeper. After the separation between world and community, between pseudo-Christians and true Christians, the next sorting out takes place within the confessing community of disciples. Paul says that no one can call Jesus Lord, except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3). No one can commit their life to Jesus and call him Lord out of their own reason, strength, and decision. But the possibility is considered here that someone could call Jesus Lord without the Holy Spirit, that is, without having heard Jesus’ call. This is even less comprehensible in those times when it did not bring any earthly advantages to call Jesus Lord. Instead, it was a confession which led straight into gravest danger. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.…” Saying “Lord, Lord” is the confession of the church-community. Not everyone who says it will enter the kingdom of heaven. The separation will even take place within the confessing community. The confession alone grants no claim on Jesus. On that day no persons can justify themselves on the basis of their confession. Being members of the church of the true confession is nothing we can claim before God. Our confession will not save us. If we think it will, then we commit Israel’s sin of making the grace of our calling into a right before God. This is sin against the grace of the one who calls us. God will not ask us someday whether our confession was evangelical, but whether we did God’s will. God will ask that of everyone, including us. The boundaries of the church are not the boundaries of a privilege, but those of God’s merciful selection and call. πᾶς ὁ λέων and άλλʼ ὁ ποιῶν [everyone who says … but who does]—“saying” and “doing”—this does not necessarily mean the relationship between word and deed. Instead, it is talking about two different kinds of human behavior before God. ὁ λέων κύριε—those who say “Lord, Lord” are those who make claims based on their having said “yes.” ὁ ποιῶν—“the doer[s]” are those who are humble in their obedient deeds. The former justify themselves by their confession; the latter, the doers, are the people who obediently trust in God’s grace. People’s speech here is correlated with their self-righteousness, and their deeds are correlated with that grace, before which people cannot do anything else except humbly obey and serve. Those who say “Lord, Lord” have called themselves to Jesus without the Holy Spirit, or they have made Jesus’ call into a right of their own. Those who do the will of God are called and forgiven by grace; they obey and follow. They do not understand their call to be a right, but to be judgment and pardon, and the will of God which alone they intend to obey. The grace of Jesus calls the doers: their deeds become genuine humility, genuine faith, genuine confession of the grace of the One who calls.[1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" 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. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com 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 (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 176–179.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Breakthrough will Come - Purity 794


 Breakthrough will Come - Purity 794

Purity 07/27/2022   Purity 794 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun situated between two groups of clouds and framed more or less in the middle of this scene over the waters of the Hudson River comes to us from yours truly as I captured this “answer to prayer” on Monday while visiting Margaret and William See Riverview Park in Stuyvesant NY with my wife.

The weather was milder on Monday afternoon because thunderstorms had rolled through the area earlier in the day and because things had cleared up I decided to take my wife for a short drive down river with the hopes of finding a secluded spot where we could enjoy a view of the river and each other’s company. 

Our arrival at the Riverview park in Stuyvesant was perfectly timed as we were alone, but a thick stand of clouds kept the sun hidden from view causing me to say something like: “Okay God, we just need those clouds out of the way” and shortly there after the sun came blazing through to our delight. 

Now you might say my “answered prayer” was just a coincidence or merely a product of time and wind, but I know God is sovereign and He directs our steps to put us in the right place at the right time. So I won’t claim a miracle necessarily, but I won’t deny that Lord is active in the world and providing things for us either. 

God uses His providence to bring His will about on the earth and to bless those who follow Him. God’s grace is His divine favor and it is experienced throughout the lives of those He calls into His kingdom, thus we keep walking and talking with God and see Him working all things together for good, because we love Him and are called according to His purpose.   

“Now Come on MT! The sun was going to come out anyway, it was inevitable!” – you might say.

You’re right of course, I guess. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate it coming out shortly after speaking to the One who created it and who has set the course of the movements of time and space.  And just because something that eventually happens appears to have been inevitable doesn’t mean we knew it was coming or that we didn’t desperately need it.   

In the fall of 2019, the Church of the City’s song “God turn it Around” was released at seeming just the right time in my life. I am sharing a link to a lyric video of it on the blog if you want to hear it (https://youtu.be/-Gv8VDqc-os)

Featuring Jon Reddick, the song is a prayer for God’s help and a declaration of the certainty of His working, right now, on the earth.  

The lyrics say:  

“I'm praying, God come
And turn this thing around
God, turn it around
God, turn it around
God, turn it around

I'm calling on the name
That changes everything, yes
God, turn it around
God, turn it around
God, turn it around

All of my hope
Is in the name
The name of Jesus
Breakthrough will come
Come in the name
The name of Jesus” 

(https://genius.com/Church-of-the-city-god-turn-it-around-live-lyrics) 

  In 2019, I needed “God, to turn it around” in a major way.  Overcome by personal and financial difficulties, I was in a dry season of struggle and affliction and although I had a vague plan of what I could do to be delivered to a new life, I had absolutely no guarantees of if or when, I would be able to find a place to live for my children and I in the wake a messy divorce. 

Just like asking God to move those clouds the other day, from October 2019 to June 22nd, 2020 I would go daily before the Lord in prayer and worship, pleading to the Lord to “turn it around.” And through out those months, weeks, and days, I saw the Lord moving things together for good time and time again in such a manner that I know the Lord was directing my path.   That song goes on to say: 

“He is up to something
God is doing something right now

He is healing someone
He is saving someone
God is doing something, oh, right now
He is healing someone
He is saving someone
God is doing something right now (right now)

He is moving mountains
Making a way for someone
God is doing something right now, right now”

(https://genius.com/Church-of-the-city-god-turn-it-around-live-lyrics) 

And then, again, 

“All of my hope
Is in the name
The name of Jesus
Breakthrough will come
Come in the name
The name of Jesus”

(https://genius.com/Church-of-the-city-god-turn-it-around-live-lyrics) 

Somebody might ask me, Yeah? How do you know God was with you? 

How do I know? Because I wouldn’t leave Him alone!  And His word says, that He will never leave us or forsake us!  

Also because, He had been with me.  That particular dark period of my journey, was certainly not the beginning of our relationship together as I had been saved in 2010 and been progressively led to surrender to His will for my life ever since. 

I had trusted the Lord to help me before then and He was faithful to “turn things around” before in major ways, mind you, but that stretch from 2019 to 2020 was the “Master’s class” of overcoming, sort of a advanced degree program in patience, perseverance, hope, faith, and trust that really has led to a life of abundant joy and peace.   That is why when I sing that song, it’s not just good feelings. That song was an anthem of victory and a prophecy of things to come and I know that God is doing something still, right now,  

God is saving someone. God is healing someone, right now!

God is moving mountains, God is making a way for someone, right now.  

And I know that He’s not done with me, or you, either.  

God’s presence in my life has been the One Constant that I could stand on in the last 12 years and it is why I can say without blinking: All of my hope is in the name, the name of Jesus!  

When you are going through problems, through simple intellectual reasoning, we can surmise that “this too shall pass”, these things won’t last forever…. But if all you are hoping for is a change that will be merely the product of the changes that come through time and space, that is one lonely road to travel.   

As I prepare for tomorrow’s, Grace Course meeting in which the topic is overcoming fears, I am more and more convinced that I must seek to impress upon the group the fact of God’s grace, obviously, but also will endeavor to emphasize the Lord’s presence in their lives. 

We can logically conclude that somethings are inevitable, but when you are walking and talking with God through the days of your lives, we can walk through the valleys of darkness with hope, expectancy, and joy.  

When we are going with the Lord, we can be sure that “Breakthroughs will come, come in the name, the name of Jesus.”  

So if you haven’t already, develop your daily spiritual practice of prayer, Bible study, and applying the wisdom of God’s word to your life. But remember, these disciplines are not just ways to learn or “be a good Christian” – I don’t think I would claim to be good at anything – but they are simply the means to communicate with the Lord and to develop your love relationship with Him – that the goal.  The transformation in our lives comes from loving God and becoming more like Jesus because we love Him and want to be like Him, not because we “have to” or “ought to” or “should”.  

The Lord invites us to everlasting life and to walk in His ways out of His love for us. Our break throughs come when all of our hope is in Him and we decide to follow Him to where He leads us.  

Earlier summer, I went to the River Rock Music Festival in Maine, and frankly I was enthused to go at first, but shortly before committing to go, I was driving home and was worshipping the Lord in song and “got” the impression that I was “supposed to go.”  So my attitude changed about it. I was going… but I didn’t really know why.   

But the first day there, Jon Reddick came out on stage – just him and a keyboard really.  The crowd either didn’t know him or wasn’t really impressed by him, I guess.  But me? I went to the front of the stage, and was right there as he sang “God turn it around” and I was overcome by the Holy Spirit’s presence and my remembrance of all that the Lord has “turned around in my life” and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was right where I was supposed to be, as I rejoiced and marveled at the absolute goodness and love of God. 

So, don’t just wait for the inevitable, go out and pursue it. But don’t do it alone, Be bold and courageous, because if you are walking and talking with God, he will go before you and he will go behind you. And he will be there every step of the way as you put all of your hope in Him.

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Matthew 7:21 (NLT2)
21  “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

Today’s verse are Christ’s words of warning to be sure that we are in the faith by doing the Father’s will for our lives.   

Nominal Christians are “Christians” in name only.  That means that they say they are a Christian but don’t necessarily have any fruit in their lives to prove they are a disciple of Jesus Christ.  A nominal Christian lives their lives much like their unsaved neighbors and generally don’t pray, read the Bible, have regular church attendance, or do anything for the church or Christian causes.  That varies of course, even nominals know they have to show up at church occasionally, give to charity, or be self-righteous in some way if they want to be able to continue to claim that they are Christians.

If they worry about their faith at all, nominals are interested in “what the minimum requirements of faith are” or what they “have to do” to be a Christian.  Nominals are into appearances and rules but have no  idea what a “relationship with God is like”  

They look at this verse and say: “Okay, I have to do God’s will to enter heaven. Tell me exactly what I have to do to be right with God to go to heaven.” They get out their pen and they get ready to make a list.   

The rich young ruler asked the same question – to which Jesus said to sell everything He had and to follow Him.  

As enthusiastic as the young man may have seemed to be into “being right with God”, those instructions sent him running to the exit.  

Give God everything and Follow Him, or as today’s verse says – “actually do the will of the Father”.  

I hope it is clear that God isn’t looking to have us “do stuff” to be right with Him. That’s religion. That’s a works based salvation and that’s the opposite of being saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  

We are to “be” God’s children and seek to do His will. That’s about a relationship. We can’t buy our relationship. Through faith in Jesus, God gives it to us. 

So what God wants us to “do” is to “be” who we are, His children.  A child who loves his parents will do their “will” by representing the family’s values with the way they live their life.  That’s calls us to do. 

We learn from our brother, Jesus, how to be a Christian and out of the love we have for the Father, we seek to do His will by being a Christian in all our ways.  

So don’t be a stranger, or be a Christian in name only,  show the Lord that you know that you are His by surrendering to His will by living like Christ taught us.      

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As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org 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 Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

Slavery to the Elemental Spirits (Galatians)

The novel teaching threatening the church at Galatia struck at the heart of the gospel (Gal 1:6–9). Evidently some zealous persons from Judea were teaching the Galatian Christians that they must be circumcised in accordance with the Mosaic regulations (and perform other legal requirements) in order to be saved. In Paul’s eyes, this requirement compromised the true nature of the gospel message, which is that salvation is given without performing any works of the law, a salvation by grace alone.

Paul also spoke of the Galatians “observing special days and months and seasons and years” (Gal 4:10). While Paul had no problem with Christians having personal convictions on such matters (Rom 14:5), he objected to these observances (including circumcision) being viewed as religious obligations, as part of the necessary response to the gospel message. In Paul’s mind, to turn to circumcision and legal observances was tantamount to returning to slavery—a slavery to the principalities and powers (stoicheia; Gal 4:9)!

For Paul both Jews and Gentiles were in bondage to the powers of darkness prior to conversion. He explained that unredeemed Jews are slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe (Gal 4:3). These hostile forces apparently exploit the law and use it as a tool to hold unbelieving Judaism in captivity. God’s redemption through Christ brings freedom—freedom from the law and freedom from servitude to the powers (Gal 4:3–5).

Likewise, prior to their conversion, the Gentiles “were slaves to those who by nature are not gods” (Gal 4:8). At one time they thought they were worshiping real gods and goddesses in their pagan worship, but they were soon to find out that these were mere idols—tools of the devil and his powers of darkness. The Galatians had appeared to have turned their backs on their pagan gods, but they were now tempted to add Jewish legal requirements to the pure gospel of Christ, which Paul had taught them. In Paul’s mind this would be trading one form of slavery to the powers for another.

According to F. F. Bruce, Paul was making the point that, “the stoicheia … not only regulated the Jewish way of life under law; they also regulated the pagan way of life in the service of gods that were no gods.… For all the basic differences between Judaism and paganism, both involved subjection to the same elemental forces.” He adds, “for those who did not live in the good of Christian freedom the stoicheia [‘elementary spirits’] were ‘principalities and powers’, keeping the souls of men in bondage.” The gospel is truly a message of freedom. Any form of legalism as a principle of Christian life is contrary to the gospel.

Both pagan religion and the Jewish law surface here as two systems that Satan and his powers exploit to hold the unbeliever in captivity and re-enslave the believer. As such, they function as two aspects of the world, or “the present evil age,” and illustrate how the powers operate in conjunction with the world.

Surprisingly, even something that is inherently good—the law—can be perverted by Satan and used to accomplish his own purposes. This evil influence came to the Galatians in the form of a new teaching propagated by people who appeared to them as credible and credentialed. On the surface the new teaching probably looked true and appealing to the Galatians. We might generalize from this that the influence of the powers comes in subtle ways. Only spiritual discernment can detect it One lesson to be learned from the situation of the Galatians as well as the Corinthians is the importance for every believer to be rooted deeply in sound doctrine, especially Christology. Satan consistently seeks to have us believe a lie about Christ and his redemptive work.

In light of these instances of satanically inspired false teaching, it is not surprising that at the end of his life Paul warned Timothy, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Tim 4:1). He was increasingly aware of this subtle, yet effective, method of Satan for bringing about the demise of the church.

Paul described those who bring such false teachings as having fallen into “the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Tim 2:26). This statement gives helpful insight into the character of false teachers. They are, in essence, Satan’s instruments. Satan and his powers work through these human agencies to deceive the church and lead it astray. All is not bleak, however. There is hope even for those who are the emissaries of Satan. God may still “grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 2:25). This could happen if they listen with an open heart to the leadership of the church. Paul urged the leadership to have an attitude of gentleness as they work with such people, always with an eye toward their repentance.[1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" 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. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com 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 (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 131–133.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Persistence – Problem solver or Problem child? – Purity 658


 
Persistence – Problem solver or Problem child? – Purity 658

Purity 658 02/18/2022   Purity 658 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of yellow and purple flowers amongst green grass and shrubbery in the foreground of the coast of Monterey Bay comes to us from a friend who is the midst of a west coast vacation tour as they began in Seattle, Washington, went through Oregon and now made it quite a way south to be in Monterey, California all in the matter of a few days.   It’s amazing how far we can go in such a short time and I myself will be in awe of the quantum leap that travel can provide as I begin my vacation/honeymoon at the end of the workday today!

Yes, Thank God It’s Friday! And Thank God for all that He has done in our lives!  This morning I am rejoicing over so much because God is good, and He wants us to appreciate what we have and where our life’s journey has taken us.  

First of all, I am ecstatic that Podbean resolved the problem I was having with the podcast.  From what I can surmise, Podbean must have instituted some measures of data protection that they didn’t have in place previously because tech support indicated that there was a “soft limit” to amount of data we could upload which they could expand in an instant.  My guess is that a system update put this “soft limit” on all the Podbean accounts to make sure the people with “free” Podbean accounts weren’t uploading beyond “this soft limit”.   For any of those “free users” that reached this “soft limit” of uploading they were being introduced to the choice to pay for an unlimited plan or choose not to upload again until next month!  

It’s my guess that this was Podbean’s corporate efforts to make their system more efficient and to “make them pay”. Well, I did pay and when tech support responded to my second trouble ticket (did they not get the first one?) the matter was resolved instantly.  

This whole minidrama points out how big a role that technology can play in our lives and how it can be a blessing because of the benefits it brings to our lives but how it can also become a curse when the technology doesn’t work.

You have to love the irony that surrounds the fact that often when we take steps to fix a problem or to improve things it sometimes leads to a whole host of problems that we didn’t anticipate and there seems to be an adjustment period where there is turmoil until we get the kinks worked out.    

Thus is life, a series of problems and our efforts to correct them.    As my pastor once said, in life we will be remembered as either “someone who fixed problems” or as “someone who was problem”.  

I am far less of a problem than I used to be, and I now endeavor to help people with their problems by sharing what I have learned through the various trials and errors of my life and the lessons I have learned from the Lord about  who I am in Christ and how to live according to His ways rather than mine.  

When problems arise, sometimes our efforts to fix them can frustrate us more than the problem itself because our minds, wills, and emotions seek to impose our desire to control the situation when we can’t.  

One lesson we may learn in life, which has some truth in it, is that if we get angry or upset and complain, that someone will fix it.  The more we make a stink, the more people will rush in to resolve our problem. 

However, I think people who utilize this strategy often enough will become people we will be remember as people who were “a problem”. 

These self-centered, self-important demanders of satisfaction make a nuisance of themselves and  even though they are difficult, nasty, and somewhat immature in their imposing of their will over situations, they somehow get their way.  

Not only that, but they will also preach to others the wisdom of being pushy and will tell you all about how “nice guys finish last”. 

Pushers of self interest will even use Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18 as a proof text of how we are to be persistent to get what we want.  

I would point out that while our faith demands persistence, Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow, or the unjust judge, was teaching us that,

Luke 18:1 (NKJV)
1  … men always ought to pray and not lose heart,

Which indicates a dependence on God, not a on our self- sufficiency.

And that is the persistence that I would encourage people to walk in, the one that relies on God and expresses the fruit of the Spirit.  Some of the fruits of the spirit are “peace, goodness, kindness, patience, gentleness, and self-control.”  

Self-control is not being controlling of other “selfs”.  Being a whiny, complaining, demanding person, and exhibiting kindness, gentleness, goodness, and patience in a genuine fashion are hard to imagine coexisting, although I could imagine some wolves in sheep’s clothing who think they can pull it off.  Careful Christian Karen… or Karl….    

Jesus Christ didn’t demand justice and He didn’t defend himself. He suffered ridicule and scorn and allowed his rights to be violated right to the point of death. Jesus’ life and death showed that He walked the walk as well as talked the talk, as His sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:38-48 spoke of valuing others more than ourselves, suffering persecution,  and loving our enemies.  


So when the “almighty ME”, rises up in our spirit to demand satisfaction we should pause and look at ourselves to see if we are a person looking to fix a problem or if we have lost our goodness, kindness, gentleness, patience, and self-control to the point that we have become “a problem”.  

Man, it can be a fine line between persistence and pushiness but as someone who had to walk though more than one season to overcome major obstacles in my life I can tell you that for the big problems, you can push, complain, and cry all you want but that strategy won’t move the mountain before you.  

No, for the big problems in life that can take months or years to overcome, you have to let that stuff go and put your eyes on the horizon and take steps toward the light of resolution even though there will be miles to travel before you are out of the darkness.  

What do you do with these problems? What do you do with that?  

Well, that’s where you learn what real persistence is. That where you learn what patience is.   While you certainly can have moments of anger and outrage along the path, its best to let them go and keep your eyes on the prize and grow in the fruit of the Spirit by walking and talking with God.   

That’s what Jesus was teaching us, to always pray and to not lose heart.  

And man, I can tell you that when you overcome, when you get free, when that mountain is moved, or when you emerge from the valley of the shadow of death, you will know the wisdom in doing things God’s way. 

Not only will you have joy that you will be able to recall and revisit to empower your walk for the rest of your days because you have been delivered, but you will have the peace that comes from knowing that you did it in God’s presence and according to the Lord’s direction. 

You took the path least travelled. You did things the way God would have wanted you to. And even though it was not easy, and even though you suffered along the way, because of the Lord’s presence, strength, and wisdom in your life you have made it through.  

So be persistent in prayer and don’t lose heart, by relying on the Lord and His ways rather than the ways of the world that “work” but compromise who you are as a child of God and representative of His kingdom.

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 119:125 (NLT2)
125  Give discernment to me, your servant; then I will understand your laws.

Today’s Bible verse speaks a simple request to the Lord to give us discernment to understand God’s laws.  

Okay,  I would just like to remind those of you who are the legal analysts out there that our walk with the Lord is not a matter of rule keeping, it is a relationship.  Also as I have stated before the concept of “law” should be understood to be “instruction”, a divine testimony of how we should live our lives.  

So the psalmist in this verse is basically praying to the Lord for discernment and understanding on how they should live their lives according to His ways.  The psalmist is requesting guidance on how to “walk in the Spirit”!

I would like to point out that the ways of God are spiritually discerned which means that the truth of God’s word, the experiential “eureka moment” impact of spiritual discernment, comes from the Holy Spirit revealing it to us.  

So it is important to ask the Lord for His wisdom in an attitude of continuous prayer. Part of seeking the Lord continuously in our lives is continually asking for His help and guidance in the things we should know and do.  

The living revelation of the Lord that comes from the Holy Spirit really testifies to the presence of God in our lives and the progressive nature of our faith. 

Suddenly a Bible verse that we have read several times becomes meaningful to us in a way it wasn’t before because the Holy Spirit is revealing it to us. He is giving us discernment and understanding as we seek it!  

The Lord loves us, and He wants us to get to know Him more.  So when I say, keep walking and talking with God, I really mean it!

Now you know what to talk about.  Ask Him to give you discernment and understanding of His ways and apply His wisdom to your life to reap the benefits of your growing relationship with the One who all knows all things. 


As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org 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.

C. What Are Common Codependent Relationships?

In a codependent relationship, one person is seen as weak and the other as strong. The weak one appears totally dependent on the strong one. But the one who appears strong is actually weak because of the excessive need to be needed by the weak one. In fact, the strong one needs for the weak one to stay weak, which in turn keeps the strong one feeling strong.

The ultimate solution—God's solution—for both of these weak persons is not to try to draw strength from each other, but rather to derive their strength from God. The Bible says,

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." (Isaiah 40:29)

Common Codependent Relationships

  • A wife is excessively helpless around her husband... and the husband needs his wife to stay helpless.
  • A husband is excessively needy in how he relates to his wife... and the wife needs him to stay needy.
  • A student is excessively tied to a teacher... and the teacher needs the student to stay tied.
  • A child is excessively pampered by the parent... and the parent needs the child to stay in need of pampering.
  • A parent is excessively protected by the child... and the child needs the parent to stay in need of protection.
  • An employee is excessively entangled with an employer... and the employer needs the employee to stay entangled.
  • A friend is excessively fixated on another friend... and that person needs the friend to stay fixated.
  • A counselee is excessively clinging to a counselor... and the counselor needs the counselee to continue clinging.
  • A disciple is excessively dependent on a discipler... and the discipler needs the disciple to stay dependent.
  • A victim is excessively vulnerable to a victimizer... and the victimizer needs the victim to stay vulnerable.
  • A layperson is excessively leaning on a spiritual leader... and the leader needs the layperson to continue leaning.

When we have a misplaced dependency, we have a misplaced trust. We are excessively trusting in the relationship to provide more than God intended. The Psalms describe a misplaced trust....

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." (Psalm 20:7)

Question: "When I was a struggling addict, my wife held our home together. Now that I have truly changed, why is she continually upset and threatening divorce?"

Answer: You changed the dynamic! After an alcoholic becomes healthy and whole, the strong codependent mate is no longer needed in the same way. The new dynamic changes the balance in the relationship. The strong one, who no longer feels needed in the same way, could choose to divorce, and remarry another needy mate in order to feel needed again. Obviously, divorce is not the solution. For both of you to become emotionally balanced and spiritually healthy is the solution. Just as every alcoholic needs to overcome alcoholism, every codependent needs to overcome codependency. The Bible says,

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will ishis good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

Question: "In the parent-child relationship, what is the difference between bonding and enmeshment?"

Answer:

  • Healthy bonding occurs when parents are connected with their children by being God's instruments to meet their basic physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. With healthy bonding, nurturing flows naturally from parent to child, leaving the child emotionally fulfilled and whole.
  • Unhealthy enmeshment occurs when parents need an excessive connection with their children in order to get their own emotional needs met. With enmeshment, nurturing flows unnaturally from child to parent, leaving the child emotionally drained and empty.

"Children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children." (2 Corinthians 12:14)

D. What Is Biblical Dependency?

  • God wants you to depend on Him—to totally rely on Him, not on people or things or self-effort.
    "My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge." (Psalm 62:7)
  • God wants you to depend on Him—to believe that He will meet all of your needs. You can safely reveal your hurts, your fears, and your needs to God. He will be your Need-Meeter.
    "The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." (Isaiah 58:11)
  • God wants you to depend on Him—to trust in Him to take care of your loved ones.
    "Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." (Psalm 62:8)
  • God wants you to depend on Him—to rely on Christ, whose life in you will enable you to overcome any destructive dependency.
    "The one [Christ] who is in you is greater than the one [Satan] who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

 

Question: "What is the difference between a codependent marriage and a healthy marriage?"

Answer:

  • An Unhealthy, Codependent Marriage
    • » The weak spouse has a deep-seated need for security and continually looks to the strong spouse to meet all needs. This means that the weak one stays weak.
    • » The supposedly strong spouse has a deep-seated need for significance and tries to meet all the needs of the weaker partner in order to make that mate dependent on the relationship.
  • A Healthy, Interdependent Marriage
    • » Each emphasizes the other's strengths and encourages the other partner to overcome personal weaknesses.
    • » Each encourages the other to be dependent on the Lord, while being responsive to the legitimate needs of the other.

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:4)

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 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. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com 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 (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship