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

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Alarm Clocks, A Sovereign God, and the Power of Perspective and Practice- Purity 927

Alarm Clocks, A Sovereign God, and the Power of Perspective and Practice-   Purity 927

Purity 927 12/29/2022 Purity 927 Podcast

Purity 927 on YouTube: 

Not sure why YouTube set things upside down! 

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a headlight illuminated highway pathway that runs alongside the silhouette of trees, while moving towards a cross like shadow of a utility pole with the outline of the Castleton on the Hudson Bridge in the distance, comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene during my commute home from work back on December 12th.  I took a bunch of shots during that drive and am not really sure of what to do with them. Some are better than others, some are blurry, but all of them capture the magic of twilight time and each document another step in the journey of one man’s simple drive home from work that testifies to the continuous beauty and mystery of our lives.  

Well, It’s Thursday and as is my old habit I am sharing this photo that features a pathway of sorts to encourage all who read or hear this message to get on our stay on the path of Christian Discipleship: to discover who you are in Christ, to experience your freedom in Christ, and to seek the Lord and to pursue the purpose that He has for your life.  

However, while I do wholeheartedly make this recommendation and believe that it’s pursuit is God’s purpose for all of our lives, I have to warn you that it comes with a cost and it is a path that is meant to be travelled continuously, meaning that it is a path that you must choose for yourself, because of the cost, but it is a path that once chosen should not be forsaken.   Verses like

Hebrews 6:4-8 (NKJV) indicate that we may not be able to come back to faith if we walk away, the text says
4  For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5  and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6  if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
7  For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God;
8  but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

This parallels the “sowing of the seed parable” where Jesus in explaining the parable to His disciples indicates that some receive the word but “become unfruitful”:

In Matthew 13:20-22 (NKJV), Jesus says:  
20  But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
21  yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
22  Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

So does our “falling away” of “stumbling”, lead to destruction or just an unfruitful testimony?  Christ’s teachings even warn us about maintaining our freedom and victory over the spiritual forces of darkness.  Describing a unclean spirit that has been cast out, Christ taught:

In Matthew 12:43-45 (NKJV) that  
43  "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.
44  Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
45  Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation."

When I taught at and later led Celebrate Freedom, a Christian recovery ministry, I would use these verses to warn about “giving into the demons of temptation” and falling into relapse and sin, and pointed to the fact that addicts often fall lower or harder, and sometimes into an early death, when they try to recover and then relapse.   The state of a person who once decided to walk with God but then for whatever reason decides to not follow or not believe in the Lord always seems to be worse. Instead of “finding their freedom again”, when people walk away from God they often go further into their former darkness, bondage, or hopelessness and sometimes with immediate tragic results.  

Ask me how I know…   

Well, I have seen it time and time again in others as my progressive walk of discipleship has seen many traveling companions come to a certain point where they decided to abandon their faith walk for other worldly pursuits, to remain in their spiritual infancy, or to go running back to their sin, or just to walk away without ceremony. I never thought I would get “ghosted” by someone who was supposedly walking in the Spirit but it happens.

Some of these “ghosts” actually go into eternity as victims of their poor choices and others remain a mystery.  In some cases, I honestly don’t know if these people who I had seen experience a measure of freedom or victory in their lives have gone on to enjoy it or if they doubted and went back to their lives of quiet desperation of depression and addiction or were revisited by their demonic “friends in low places” and are currently afflicted with condemnation and oppression. 

This is why Christ emphasized obedience and endurance to His disciples.  The Apostle Paul doesn’t encourage the church to seek out their salvation with fear and trembling or warn us to put on the full armor of God because we are safe. Our faith will be tested and only those who endure and decide to follow the Lord in Spirit and in truth on a continual basis will have the assurance that they will be “in that number, when the saints go marching in” to God’s kingdom.  

Our faith is to be practiced as well as preached and it is a journey of constant adjustments as the Lord will continually reveal to us the errors of our ways and the things that He would have us do.    It is a journey of both correction and accomplishment. The Lord has things for us to fix and He has things for us to build.  

When we seek the Lord and His will for our lives, our personal lives change and the direction we follow takes us ever towards Him and His purpose for our lives.  

Of course we don’t do this perfectly, and that’s okay, when we put our faith in Jesus, we have already been forgiven of everything we will ever do and are accepted into God’s kingdom.  Our journey is not about perfection, it’s about being faithful to the calling and about learning from our mistakes, it’s about experiencing peace and joy while we make progress.    

This morning I awoke from a “work anxiety” dream.  Although I am on vacation until January 4th, I was back at work early this morning in my dreams. Nothing horrific mind you, but the dream of me at work was anxious because I was given a task that I wasn’t going to complete and would have to refer to someone else, but in the dream I desperately “wanted to do a good job” and I was struggling with the fact that I wasn’t going to “get ‘er done”.   Even after I woke up from the dream, I was considering other possible solutions to the problem at hand, that didn’t exist.  

After putting the brakes on my thoughts of problem solving, I wondered just how long it would be before my alarm would go off. You know how this is right?

Quite often I awaken anywhere from 30 to 15 minutes before the alarm goes off and spend that time trying get those last few minutes of sleep, with or without success.  But this morning, I got the feeling that something was wrong and rather than trying to go back to sleep I checked my phone/alarm clock to discover I never set the alarm and was 2 hours past when I normally would get up. 

So all my plans for my normal morning routine have been altered.  I had plans to work out before Bible study, prayer, and blogging and was upset for a few moments before I “practiced” my faith.  

Just like a karate expert who knows how to defend himself from enemy attacks, I went into action by combatting the reactivity and beginnings of condemnation with a one two punch of the truth.  

I am on vacation, I can do whatever I want, in the order I want, any time today.  

I can work out later.  I can take a “rest day”. 

As for my spiritual practices, they are somewhat non-negotiable but because I am not a perfect person who has made similar mistakes in the past or been distracted and not managed my time wisely at all times, I knew that it wasn’t the end of the world and I would do what I could, because I know from my previous experiences at being less than perfect that “we can only do what we can do”.    

So although I felt the urgency to start blogging, I decided that my Bible Study had to come first.  There is nothing like the word of God to cool your jets and to make you realize what is important.  When you read the word, you can rest assured that no matter what else transpires that day, at least you did something of value and usually it will help us to remind us that as compelling as this world and our problems can be there is a Sovereign God above it all who has called us to be at peace with Him and He knows how everything will turn out.  

So was my forgetting to set my alarm on my phone God’s will?  

Well, it happened, so if nothing else it was “allowed” and who knows maybe it was intended to disrupt my regular routine… maybe He wanted to get my attention, maybe He wanted to remind me that I am not perfect, that I am weak while He is strong…  or maybe this was just a lesson to myself to be diligent to set the alarm!  

Well, I’m not sure about that stuff but as I “practiced” shifting my perspective and prioritizing my tasks I experienced the peace that comes from knowing that I am already accepted by God, I am positively blessed with where I am right now in life, I have an incredible past to marvel over, and I anticipate more of God’s wonder sand love in the days ahead.  

My morning Bible study was in Jerimiah 5 and 2 Kings 22 which just so happen to teach about harsh warnings to follow the Lord and rediscovering faith. They taught that there are negative consequences for those who don’t follow the Lord and that, for some, it is not too late to rediscover the word of God and to be blessed by the Lord when we answer His call to repentance.   

It's the end of the year, and I noticed once again, (has it always been this way?), the messages of mourning the “very bad” year we have had and other messages that are welcoming 2023 with fear, suspicion, and trepidation.   

I have seen friends suffer loss this year so I get it, some of us are hurting and I suppose it is “compassionate” to share these well intentioned messages of doom and fear, but honestly because I have learned to walk in the Spirit and have learned to keep things in perspective, it positively puzzles me why the basic practices of gratitude and shifting our perspective to consider the plights of those even worse off than “lil’ of me” haven’t been widely disseminated to the masses.  

But then I remember, why the prophets of old, like Jerimiah, had to speak of impending judgement. People don’t believe in the Lord. People don’t follow the Lord. They don’t know if there is anything to believe in and they don’t know if there is anything beyond the circumstances of their immediate lives.  And they certainly don’t know about the mental, physical, and spiritual consequences for their decision to live independently form God.  

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and if we disregard what His word says and fail to believe and follow Him our lives will be a progression or tragedy and woe as we age and continue to lose the things of this world that passing away as we march ever closer to eternity.  Without an eternal perspective, we will lament over every bump in the road or negative circumstance that we suffer because we have chosen to worship our personal happiness and the things that we can manipulate to produce it.  

So forgive me for seeming harsh and suggesting that people “get over it” when I see these well intentioned but sorry laments over the “very bad year it has been”. 

From someone who has been through the crucible of a life lived in the errors of atheism, addiction, false worship, and sexual immorality and who has suffered the pain of loss of loved ones to death and from broken relationships and who has seen the national tragedies of 9/11 and the recent paradigm shifting world changing waves of a global pandemic,  I don’t see how 2022 was a particularly bad year. 

Of course, I understand the personal tragedies I have suffered didn’t fall within the last 365 days, but I would continue to object to any messages that would encourage people to focus on the pain of the year past and actuallyfear the new year, instead of a giving a message of hope that is based on the reality of God, His Creation, and His plan for humanity and that encourages us to consider others more than ourselves and to thank the Lord for all that He has done, even in the storms of life, and all that He will do in the future.  

Without God, life is a bitter shame. So if you have suffered and have had a bad year, let me encourage you to make Christ your Lord and Savior, or to recommit yourself to Him,  and make the decision to never walk alone again, to make to make the decision to keep on walking and talking with God, forever and always.   

There might be a cost for the new life in Christ but the dividends for investing yourself into His kingdom are the peace that goes beyond all understanding and joy that comes from knowing you are accepted, secure, and significant with God.



Well, I’m short on time this morning because I overslept so I’m taking a vacation from sharing the “Bible Verse of the Day from the “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”, or  from the “Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Krus but I do encourage you to read the Bible every day, for yourself.

I am including a link to Ligonier Ministries: “Bible Reading Plans for 2023” ( as an encouragement to read the word this year - to have a plan, if you need one, to draw close to God through His word to experience the power that He wants to unleash into your life.  


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 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 Church of Jesus Christ and Discipleship


Chapter Thirteen

The Image of Christ, concludes

The form of Christ on earth is the form of the death [Todesgestalt] of the crucified one. The image of God is the image of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is into this image that the disciple’s life must be transformed. It is a life in the image and likeness of Christ’s death (Phil. 3:10; Rom. 6:4f.). It is a crucified life (Gal. 2:19). In baptism Christ engraves the form of death on his own. Having died to the flesh and to sin, Christians are now dead to this world, and the world is dead for them (Gal. 6:14). Those who live out of their baptism live out of their death. Christ marks the life of his own with their daily dying in the struggle of the spirit against the flesh, and with their daily suffering the pains of death which the devil inflicts on Christians. It is the suffering of none other than Jesus Christ that all of his disciples on earth have to endure. Christ honors only a few of his followers with being in the most intimate community with his suffering, that is, with martyrdom. It is here that the life of the disciple is most profoundly identical with the likeness of Jesus Christ’s form of death.

¶ It is by Christians’ being publicly disgraced, having to suffer and being put to death for the sake of Christ, that Christ himself attains visible form within his community. However, from baptism all the way to martyrdom, it is the same suffering and the same death. It is the new creation of the image of God through the crucified one.

All those who remain in community with the incarnate and crucified one and in whom he gained his form will also become like the glorified and risen one. “We will bear the image of the heavenly human being” (1 Cor. 15:49). “We will be like him, for we will behold him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The image of the risen one will transform those who look at it in the same way as the image of the crucified one. Those who behold Christ are being drawn into Christ’s image, changed into the likeness of Christ’s form. Indeed, they become mirrors of the divine image. Already on this earth we will reflect the glory of Jesus Christ. The brilliant light and the life of the risen one will already shine forth from the form of death of the crucified one in which we live, in the form of sorrow and cross. The transformation into the divine image will become ever more profound, and the image of Christ in us will continue to increase in clarity. This is a progression in us from one level of understanding to another and from one degree of clarity to another, toward an ever-increasing perfection in the form of likeness to the image of the Son of God. “And all of us, who with unveiled faces let the glory of the Lord be reflected in us, are thereby transformed into his image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).

This is the indwelling of Jesus Christ in our hearts. The life of Jesus Christ here on earth has not yet concluded. Christ continues to live it in the lives of his followers. To describe this reality we must not speak about our Christian life but about the true life of Jesus Christ in us. “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). The incarnate, crucified, and transfigured one has entered into me and lives my life. “Christ is my life” (Phil. 1:21). But together with Christ, the Father also dwells in me; and both Father and Son dwell in me through the Holy Spirit. It is indeed the holy Trinity who dwells within Christians, who permeates them and changes them into the very image of the triune God. The incarnate, the crucified, and the transfigured Christ takes on form in individuals because they are members of his body, the church. The church bears the incarnate, crucified, and risen form of Jesus Christ. The church is, first of all, Christ’s image (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), and through the church so too are all its members the image of Christ. Within the body of Christ we have become “like Christ.”

It now becomes understandable that the New Testament calls us again and again to be “like Christ” (καθὼς Χριστός). We are to be like Christ because we have already been shaped into the image of Christ. Only because we bear Christ’s image already can Christ be the “example” whom we follow. Only because he himself already lives his true life in us can we “walk just as he walked” (1 John 2:6), “act as he acted” (John 13:15), “love as he loved” (Eph. 5:2; John 13:34; 15:12), “forgive as he forgave” (Col. 3:13), “have the same mind that was in Jesus Christ” (Phil. 2:5), follow the example he left for us (1 Peter 2:21), and lose our lives for the sake of our brothers and sisters, just as he lost his life for our sake (1 John 3:16). Only because he was as we are can we be as he was. Only because we already are made like him can we be “like Christ.” Since we have been formed in the image of Christ, we can live following his example. On this basis, we are now actually able to do those deeds, and in the simplicity of discipleship, to live life in the likeness of Christ. Here simple obedience to the word takes place. I no longer cast even a single glance on my own life, on the new image I bear. For in the same moment that I would desire to see it, I would lose it. For it is, of course, merely the mirror reflection of the image of Jesus Christ upon which I look without ceasing. The followers look only to the one whom they follow. But now the final word about those who as disciples bear the image of the incarnate, crucified, and risen Jesus Christ, and who have been transformed into the image of God, is that they are called to be “imitators of God.” The follower [Nachfolger] of Jesus is the imitator [Nachahmer] of God. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1).[1]

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

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

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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), 285–288.

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 – – 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.   


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 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, 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

[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 (

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” 


  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”


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”


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.


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.      


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 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, 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

[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.