Mall Madness - Holiday Anticipation Got You Swamped Yet? - Purity 894
Purity 894 11/21/2022 Purity 894 Podcast
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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.
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
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 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.
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