Labels

Showing posts with label Proverbs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Proverbs. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The Epic Journey Continues - Relationships Dynamics Inventory – Purity 884

 

The Epic Journey Continues - Relationships Dynamics Inventory   Purity 884

Purity 884 11/09/2022 Purity 884 Podcast

Purity 884 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of the afternoon sun shining through a hazy sky over the Hudson River, and Schodack Creek, and my driveway comes to us from yours truly as I stopped to capture the view from my front yard upon return to my home “Down by The River” back on October 30th.  

Well, it’s Wednesday, and I am hitting the road to go to the shores of Lake Ontario in Oswego NY tonight after work as part of a spiritual journey that will culminate in my volunteering for the ministry that delivered the radio message that saved my soul back in 2010.   I will be serving at an Evening with David Jerimiah at the Key Bank Center in Buffalo on Friday and letting the Spirit guide me between now and then. So I am excited and short on time.  

This morning I utilized some information one of the participants from the Freedom in Christ course provided in the chat last night to create the Following “Relationship Dynamics Inventory”   and because I took the time to make it I am sharing it today on the blog and podcast.  So here goes: 

“Relationship Dynamics Inventory”

As we seek to walk in the Spirit and become aware of the lies we have believed and recognize the things we may have done, or have failed to do, or that we may have experienced from our parents/caregivers/family/loved ones/friends growing up, we have to take an honest inventory of our pasts and our past performance. 

A Freedom In Christ Course Participant shared the following list that he received from a ministry that seeks to reconcile relationships and to help people to honestly look at the things they have done or have been perceived to have done.

 

·       Lack of interest in things that are special to me

·       Breaking promises

·       Criticizing unjustly

·       Allowing my brothers or sisters to put me down

·       Misunderstanding my motives

·       Speaking carelessly

·       Punishing me for something I’d already been punished for

·       Telling me that my opinions don’t really matter

·       Giving me the feeling that you never made mistakes

·       Not being gentle when pointing out my weaknesses or blind spots

·       Lecturing me and not understanding that all I need is some support

·       Never saying, “I love you’”

·       Not spending time alone with me

·       Being insensitive and rough

·       Being thoughtless.

·       Never saying, “Thank you”

·       Speaking harsh words

·       Being inconsistent

·       Being taken for granted

·       Being told how to do something that I was doing on my own

·       Nagging me

·       Bossing me

·       Feeling unnoticed and unappreciated

·       Being ignored

·       Not being considered a thinking/feeling person

·       Being too busy to care for me

·       Being too busy to listen to what I have to say.

·       Dismissing my needs as not important, and yours are more important

·       Bringing up mistakes from the past

You can utilize this list by providing it to your children, spouses, family, or friends to allow them an opportunity to honestly assess you without fear of reproach and with the intention of reconciliation and rebuilding and healing broken or troubled relationships.

You can also use it for self-evaluation or evaluation of your relationship dynamics with parents, children, extended family, spouses, significant others, or friends.  

The basic principles of Christian Discipleship recommend that you repent of any known sins, study God’s word to renew your mind, develop a daily prayer practice, and to seek the community, counsel, and accountability of other mature Christians.

I would recommend that you also utilize the teachings presented in the Freedom in Christ Course and Victory Over the Darkness (regarding Handling Emotions Well, Forgiving From the Heart, Relating to Others, with the focus of working on one’s own character and seeking to meet the needs of others, without expectation) to help you in the process of evaluation and sanctification, before attempting any reconciliation.

For resources from Freedom in Christ Ministries go to: https://www.ficm.org/

This document is merely a tool to use for evaluation and should be used with wisdom and discretion.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.  

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yeah I know that is one harsh list of things we may have to face. The participant in our Freedom in Christ course actually provided that to his wife and children to get the hard truth of how they felt he was doing as a husband and father.  Talk about humbling.  

But sometimes we need the hard truth to help us to change and there is no truth harder or more true that the word of God.  When we are faced with our failures and sins and relationship blunders, hope can be found in seeking the Lord and in repentance.  

The Lord can help you to change. He can transform your life. And while He can’t change what happened in the past He can help you move past it and correct your course going forward.  

So look in the mirror and see how you are doing, but be sure to look in God’s word and see who God made you to be. If you are in Christ, you are new creation but you have to believe it and you have to start living like it, preferably in all the areas of your life.  

But God is gracious and patient and He will meet you where you are and guide you little by little, one day at a time, into the new life that He has for you. 

But you have to be honest and have to surrender and decide to follow Him.  So as I will be letting the Spirit lead me over the next couple of days to Oswego tonight and Key Bank Center at 3:30pm on Friday without much of a plan for in between, let me encourage you that even if you may not be 100 percent sure where the Lord will take you, you can trust that if you are following Him that it will eventually lead to a good place. 

So turn from the past and the ways of the world, and follow the Lord into a life that is EPIC and abundant with meaning and purpose and filled with the fruit of the Spirit.  

The EPIC journey the moment you follow Him. So put your faith in Christ and go.

 

 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Proverbs 24:12 (NLT2)
12  Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.

Today’s verses  reminds us of the sometimes painful realization that the Lord is all knowing and He will repay people as their actions deserve.  

Yeah, God knows everything including what we know and don’t know.  So that is why I recommend to all those I encourage to be honest with the Lord because there is no fooling Him.  

Also God is holy and will repay everyone as their actions deserve.  Without Christ as our Lord and Savior, that means hell.   

So put your faith in Christ and avoid any chastisement by being honest, by not making excuses, and by living according to the Lord’s wisdom and ways.

 

___________________________________________

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 6

On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life

The Hiddenness of Prayer continues

“Your will be done on earth as in heaven.” In the community of Jesus Christ, the disciples have completely surrendered their will to God’s will. They pray, therefore, that God’s will be done on the whole earth. No creature should obstruct it. But because the will of evil still lives even in the disciples trying to tear them out of their community with Jesus, they must also pray that the will of God rule in them more completely every day and break down their resistance. Ultimately, however, the whole world shall bend to the will of God and gratefully worship God in distress and in joy. Heaven and earth shall be subject to God.

Above all, Jesus’ disciples should pray for God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will. Of course, God does not need these prayers, but through them the disciples themselves participate in the heavenly treasures for which they are praying. Also, such prayers may hasten the end of time.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” As long as the disciples are on earth, they should not be ashamed of asking their heavenly Father for the things they need for their bodily life. God who created human beings on earth intends to preserve and protect human bodies. God does not intend that God’s own creation become disdained. Disciples pray for bread to be shared. None of them will be given it alone. They also pray that God give daily bread to all of God’s children on the whole earth, for they are all sisters and brothers in the flesh. The disciples know that the bread which grows from the earth comes down from heaven and is God’s gift alone. That is why they do not simply take their bread; they ask for it. Because it is bread from God, it comes anew every day. The disciples do not pray for advance supplies, but for the daily gift from God today, which sustains their lives in the community of Jesus and for which they praise God’s gentle goodness. This petition is proof of the disciples’ faith in God’s living action on earth doing what is best for them.

“Forgive us our sin, as we forgive those who sin against us.” The disciples’ daily sorrow is the recognition of their guilt. They, who could live without sin in community with Jesus, sin daily in all sorts of ways: they lack faith, are lethargic at prayer, lack bodily discipline, and give in to self-indulgence, envy, hatred, and ambition. So they must pray daily for God’s forgiveness. But God will only hear their prayer when they forgive each other’s guilt in a loving and willing way. Together, they bring their guilt before God and pray together for grace. May God forgive not only me my sins, but us our sins.

“Lead us not into temptation.” The temptations of the disciples are various. Satan attacks them from all sides and tries to bring them down. False security and godless doubt tempt them severely. Knowing of their weakness, the disciples do not provoke their being tempted in order to prove the strength of their faith. They ask God not to tempt their weak faith and to protect them in the hour of temptation.

“But deliver us from evil.” The disciples’ final prayer is to be that someday they be delivered from this evil world and inherit the kingdom of heaven. This petition is for a blessed end[188] and for the salvation of the Christian community at the last days of this world.

“For yours is the kingdom …” Daily the disciples receive this certainty anew from their communion with Jesus Christ, who is the fulfillment of all their petitions. In him God’s name is hallowed; in him God’s kingdom comes; in him God’s will is done. For his sake the bodily life of the disciples is preserved; for his sake they receive forgiveness for their sins. In his power they are protected from temptation; in his power they are saved unto eternal life. His is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever in communion with the Father. The disciples are certain of this.

As if to summarize the prayer, Jesus states once again that everything depends on receiving forgiveness, and that this forgiveness can only be received when living in the fellowship of other sinners.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 156–158.

---------------------------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




Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Importance of Worldview and Knowing the Truth - Purity 848


The Importance of Worldview and Knowing the Truth - Purity 848

Purity 848 09/28/2022 Purity 848 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a breathtaking mountain top view comes to us from a friend who paid a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, that straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, and shared this scene on social media on Tuesday. 

Well it’s Wednesday, and I thought our friend’s photo of the Great Smoky Mountains was a great way to visually represent our arrival to another “hump day” and to suggest that we use discernment when deciding on our “worldview” and to not straddle the border of the world’s view of the truth and the truth of reality that is revealed in God’s word. While we recognize the truth of what is going on in the world and in our daily lives, as travelers on the path of Christian discipleship, we want to interpret our experiences with the wisdom that the word of God teaches us.  

Without an objective standard of truth, our thoughts and opinions about various aspects of life are not necessarily qualitatively better than anyone else. Without an objective standard of truth, everything becomes relative and confusing as people will put forth beliefs and ideas that logically contradict one another and then demand that we must affirm that they are all somehow equally true. 

Last night in the Freedom in Christ Course Men’s group that I facilliate on Zoom, we examined the course’s teaching on the importance of knowing the various types of worldviews and how they contradict the Biblical worldview. 

According to the lesson - the Western world view generally bases its view on logic and scientific observations, but all but denies any spiritual realm that may influence events on the earth.   It can range complete Atheism, with no god all, or be deist, the belief that there is a God who created everything but has since left it to its own devices and does not intervene in the lives of men. 

The lesson also presents the “Non-Western worldview” – that generally believes that the universe is controlled by a kind of universal power that runs through everything and by spirits of many types.  This view can range from animistic (God is in everything), to pagan (there are local or tribal gods that can work for or against you) and spiritist – there are good and bad spiritual entities and those of the departed that can be communicated with).  Where the western view generally denies the spiritual realm, the non-western view has many forms and expressions that affirms it and seeks to manipulate it.  

And finally, the lesson presented the “post-Modern” worldview which is a reaction against past generation’s reliance on science and “experts” because, after all, the experts have often proven to be wrong.  Whereas previous generations have seen truth as something revealed by God or discovered by science, “post modernists” seek to test whether ideas are valid based solely on their own personal experiences. If it feels good to me, it’s okay.  

And thus we can have political and social movements and special interest groups, that deny aspects of objective reality or flies in the face of facts but who collectively promote and reinforce each other’s outlandish views on social media because it is “true for them”. 

And thus Christians are under constant pressure to “be loving” and to affirm other’s beliefs and lifestyle choices as not only “possible” but as equally valid and true, even though logic, reason, and the word of God indicate otherwise.   

The lesson points that none these worldviews- Western, Non-Western, or Post-modern give us a true view of reality. When they all make different claims about things like our eternal destiny it becomes a little clearer that they all can’t be right, because they contradict one another.   The following excerpt comes right from last night’s lesson:

Consider the most important question facing everybody in the world: What happens when you die?

• Hinduism teaches that when a soul dies it is reincarnated in another form.

• Christianity teaches that souls spend eternity in either heaven or hell.

• Spiritists think we float around as ghosts.

 • Atheists believe that we have no soul and that when we die our existence simply ends.

Can all those things be true at the same time?

To put it another way, does what you believe will happen to you when you die make any difference to what will actually happen?

 Or will the same thing happen to everyone when they die regardless of what they believed before the event?

Surely, if Hindus are right, we will all be reincarnated. If Christians are right, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. If atheists are right, all of our existences will come to an end. If spiritists are right we’ll all float around as ghosts. But they simply can’t all be true at the same time.

So it’s clear that there is such a thing as real truth that exists whatever individuals may choose to believe.

(Anderson, Neil T.; Goss, Steve. Freedom in Christ Participant's Guide: A 10-Week Life-Changing Discipleship Course (pp. 73-74). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.) 

So how can we know what is true? 

Christ came to tell us the truth. He lived a sinless life, taught wisdom and affirmed the truth of the Old Testament scriptures that predicted His coming, performed miracles as a sign that He was heaven sent, died on the cross for our sins,  and proved that everything He said was true and that He was God by not only rising from the dead, but also literally ascending to heaven in the presence angelic witnesses.  

The truth of Christ’s claims are seen in the spread of Christianity throughout the world and the transformed lives of the millions that have put their faith in Him and live according to His teachings.  

What’s even more amazing is that while other religions won’t name Him as Lord and Savior exclusive, every faith system from, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and others pay homage to Christ some way – either as “a god” among many”, a prophet, or a wise teacher.  Christ is special enough that even the religions that deny Him want a piece of Him.  

But Christianity doesn’t do the same because they believe Christ when He said:

John 14:6 (NLT2)
6  … “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.   

So as Christians know the truth and live by it. And we shouldn’t be surprised if the world hates us for it. For Christ said:

John 15:18-19 (NLT2)
18  “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.
19  The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.

But we shouldn’t hate the world back.  Christ came to save that which was lost and to taught us to love our enemies. Just before He told His disciples how they would be hated He said.  

John 15:17 (NLT2)
17  This is my command: Love each other.

So let’s do that. Let’s love one another, be kind, but also be clear about the truth.  Love doesn’t mean affirming someone when they are harming themselves and don’t know it.

Obviously, this is a hard road to walk on: to love one another but to stand on the truth of God’s word. 

So let’s keep walking and talking with God and see what He tells us as we seek to be the peacemakers and to reconcile ourselves and others to come into His kingdom.  

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT2)
5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
6  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Today’s Bible verse encourages us to trust the Lord and to seek His will in all you do. 

I love it when a plan comes together. I don’t plan these messages but I think God helps bring it together sometimes.  In last nights discussion, we addressed the fact that it was really hard to know what to do when talking to friends, loved ones, or others who don’t have a relationship with the Lord. How do we tell the truth in love? How do we stand for Christ and have peace with those who reject Him?  How do I live this Christian life without losing all the relationships in my life?  

I was honest and told the men to be discerning and to go to the Lord to direct their paths and pointed out how Christ usually answered questions with a question or gave answers that took into account who He was talking to.   So what do you do? It depends. 

While I could give advice to follow in every situation, that strategy doesn’t even work with regular problems on the earth because of the complexity of the realities that we face. That’s why politics is a mess. Life is not one size fits all.  

So I point to word of God every time because I know the author has the answers. As today’s verse directs our path, we should trust the Lord and lean not on our own understanding but we should seek His will in all we do and trust that He will show us what to do.   That’s walking in the Spirit.  So before you speak or act be sure check in with your heavenly Father and listen to what He tells you and trust Him to show the way to go.   

_____________________________________________

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.

Chapter Four

Discipleship and the Cross - continues

So Jesus has to make it clear and unmistakable to his disciples that the need to suffer now applies to them, too. Just as Christ is only Christ as one who suffers and is rejected, so a disciple is a disciple only in suffering and being rejected, thereby participating in crucifixion. Discipleship as allegiance to the person of Jesus Christ places the follower under the law of Christ, that is, under the cross.[5]

When Jesus communicates this inalienable truth to his disciples, he begins remarkably by setting them entirely free once more. “If any want to become my followers,” Jesus says. Following him is not something that is self-evident, even among the disciples. No one can be forced, no one can even be expected to follow him. Rather, “if any” intend to follow him, despite any other offers they may get. Once again everything depends on a decision. While the disciples are already engaged in discipleship, everything is broken off once again, everything is left open, nothing is expected, nothing is forced. What he is going to say next is that decisive. Therefore, once again, before the law of discipleship is proclaimed, even the disciples must accept being set free.

“If any want to follow me, they must deny themselves.” Just as in denying Christ Peter said, “I do not know the man,” those who follow Christ must say that to themselves. Self-denial can never result in ever so many single acts of self-martyrdom or ascetic exercises. It does not mean suicide, because even suicide could be the expression of the human person’s own will. Self-denial means knowing only Christ, no longer knowing oneself. It means no longer seeing oneself, only him who is going ahead, no longer seeing the way which is too difficult for us. Self-denial says only: he is going ahead; hold fast to him.

“… and take up their cross.” The grace of Jesus is evident in his preparing his disciples for this word by speaking first of self-denial. Only when we have really forgotten ourselves completely, when we really no longer know ourselves, only then are we ready to take up the cross for his sake. When we know only him, then we also no longer know the pain of our own cross. Then we see only him. If Jesus had not been so gracious in preparing us for this word, then we could not bear it. But this way he has made us capable of hearing this hard word as grace. It meets us in the joy of discipleship, and confirms us in it.[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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 85–86.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Pride, Expectations, Offense, & Isolation Remedies – Love, Humility, & Forgiveness - Purity 833


Pride, Expectations, Offense, & Isolation Remedies – Love, Humility, & Forgiveness  - Purity 833

Purity 833 09/09/2022  Purity 833 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a lone woman sitting on the rocky cost of Lake Ontario at sunset comes to us from Celestial Blue Photography as they captured this moment on August 30, 2020, and it was reissued on social media when Facebook prompted our friend to share their “memory” once again.  

Well, however rocky the course of the week has been in your life, we made it to the weekend, and it is my prayer that my friends enjoy it by counting their blessings rather and remembering offenses.    

This week I spent some time with family as my Mother’s 75th birthday was Wednesday and like today’s woman on the shores of Lake Ontario, I am sitting alone and reflecting on the rocky ground and rough edges of human relationships, but luckily the Lord has provided a lot of instruction on how to take corrective action when we become offended or our expectations are not met when it comes to our interactions with others.      

Although the path of Christian discipleship can be a solitary journey at times and the decision to follow the Lord with the way you live your life can make you feel isolated from others, Christ’s second great commandment reminds us that we are not supposed to isolate ourselves but instead are to endeavor to love others. 

And scripture also reminds us that even though our walk in the Spirit can be a solitary endeavor at times, somehow this walk isn’t just about us!  Our path is supposed to be one of humility and not pride, which just happens to be the root cause of our offense and can grow into relational difficulties.  

Of course, I have this insight only after spending some time in prayer, Bible study, and reflection this morning because in the moment I am not always skillful with handling offenses or unmet expectations and sometimes respond in my unenlightened ways of the past that centered upon myself, caused me to isolate, and forgot about that call to love others and forgive where necessary.  

So it’s back to the drawing board.  But the good news is that when we stay committed to follow the Lord’s ways for living, our errors are exposed and we can change the patterns of our thoughts and behaviors to correct the coping mechanisms we developed in the past that may have “worked for me” but just happened to not be good for you or the other people in your life.   

Here are some scriptures that will help us all to “put things into perspective”, about “what it is we should do” when we seek to represent God’s kingdom and subsequently have peace in our lives.   

Matthew 22:37-39 (NKJV)
37  Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
38  This is the first and great commandment.
39  And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'

Matthew 18:15 (NKJV)
15  "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.

 Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV)
21  Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
22  Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Luke 23:34 (NKJV)
34  Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

Yeah, in thinking about our responses to our fellow man when we encounter offense or unmet expectations in our human relationships, I figured I would go right to the source of wisdom, the living Word of God, Himself, Jesus Christ.  

These verses give us an idea about how we should seek to love our family, friends, and neighbors by resolving conflicts, if possible, and through an active and ongoing campaign of forgiveness.   

In talking to family the other night and in my relationships in the past,  I realized that the sense of our inner peace can really be tied to our view of ourselves, and our expectations of what others should or shouldn’t do in our interactions with them.  

As the sole born again Christian at my mother’s birthday dinner, the other night I had the mixed feeling of happiness at being with my family and feelings of isolation as I felt like a fifth wheel at times when I didn’t have a lot to contribute to some of the conversations. While the concepts, topics, and pop culture references that were discussed weren’t completely foreign to me, I realized just how much the Lord has caused me to change from my past, as my interests aren’t what they used to be and in some areas of conversation I had absolutely nothing to contribute. 

Also I noticed that I found myself somewhat saddened by the tone of the conversation as there were laments and complaints about certain aspects of life in our modern society that seemed somewhat hopeless. But I was also somewhat saddened by the fact that the solutions to problems or the ways to seek comfort that were being presented were either unwise or actually a root cause of the problems that were being discussed. 

It was all very subtle of course but as the evening moved on I realized the I was disturbed because the gripes of what was bad or the praise for what was good in life were all coming from a non-biblical world view where everything – the good or the bad- was highly circumstantial. In a non-biblical worldview, there was no big picture, and everything was subject to the changing circumstances of life and the solutions to problems were shortsighted to say the least.    

But unfortunately, as much as I could see the errors inherent in this non-biblical worldview, instead of feeling grateful for having the hope I have in Christ, I felt like I was a weirdo and felt isolated because I was different from the others.  

Don’t get me wrong. It was a good time. It was a good dinner. But I walked away from it drained because of the difference between my family and me. 

Which brings up my tendency to isolate. 

I am some what a people pleaser. So rather than have difficult interactions with people or if I feel my expectations are not being met, instead of causing trouble I will leave the situation and go somewhere to be by myself. 

This is of course, is not skillful, and is rooted in Satan’s original sin of pride.  

When we make much of ourselves, when we focus on “ME”, anything that doesn’t agree with us or meet the expectations of what “I” think should happen, will cause offense and separate us from God’s will that tells us to forgive, love, and serve others.  

So, we have to remember that and take corrective actions when we see that we are separating ourselves from the company of others.   Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done.

Just last night, I reunited with my wife but either due to the stress of the day or the fact that I found her in the midst of activity or was at a loss as what to do with myself, I foolishly declared my wife to be “the enemy” to my health goals because she was baking foods I am actively avoiding.

 What I intended to be a joke, turned into a mini conflict as I realized I, capital I, meant it.  My pride accused her of being against me and in the moment I couldn’t back away from it.  My pride put me in opposition to the one I vowed to love for the rest of my life.

So the old coping mechanism of isolating myself kicked into operation  and I found myself sitting alone in my office watching videos because I didn’t know how to re-enter into the mix as my wife was a flurry of activity, and my stepdaughter kept her in conversation until it was time to go to bed.

I wished her goodnight but the harmony in our relationship was not right.  My offense of my wife’s divided attention caused me to isolate and now will cause me to humble myself and seek forgiveness to re-establish the harmony of our relationship.  

And what’s to blame? Pride.  I subconsciously went into my countryside home with expectations then weren’t met and I allowed them to cause a disturbance in our lives. Because it was all about me, I didn’t think it was, but apparently it was, I have to seek forgiveness to make things right again.   

As humbling as this latest episode is, I hope that it will help me to realize that as much as I have learned and as much as I have changed from who I was in the past. The selfish – I – “Me” can still take center stage to cause problems.  

This is probably the most daunting task for people when they come to faith in Christ: to become “other focused”, to change our priorities from the “me” centered universe to one where we love God first and others second rather than please ourselves.      

OOOF. 

I tend to learn from trials and errors, so I have learned a lot and I guess I will chalk up last night’s fiasco as another lesson to learn from on the path to being the person God created me to be.   

So, try to learn from my mistakes, if you can.  

Try not to focus too much on yourself or allow the responses of others to determine the circumstances of peace in your life.   

As much as we need to forgive other’s “for they know not what they do”, we also have to be aware of what’s going on in us, what expectations we are setting up that can cause us to revert to unskillful ways of coping and leave us feeling isolated and in need of reconciliation with those we love.  

So keep walking and talking with God. His path is the way of love, humility, and forgiveness and if we manage our expectations to not think too highly of ourselves and to obey the command to love others we will spend a lot less time seeking forgiveness and a lot less time alone.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Proverbs 16:18 (NLT2)
18  Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.

Today’s verse reminds us that pride goes before destruction and that a haughty attitude can lead to failures.  

Haughty is defined as “arrogantly superior or disdainful” and it is a word that is not used often but describes pride perfectly.   Feeling superior requires us to elevate ourselves.  Be it because of our looks, talents, intellect, or supposed spiritual understanding we can be haughty when we feel we have something that other people don’t have or that we have more of it than others.  This arrogant view of our superiority requires a comparative analysis that results in our separating ourselves from others by declaring ourselves “different” from others.  Our “being not the same” can go either way too. We can see ourselves as better or worse than others but our holding onto that difference is pride and it leads to destruction.   

Pride will separate us from others here on earth and if we are not careful it will lead to our ultimate destruction for all of eternity as it could separate us from the Lord. 

Pride says you need anyone. Pride says you don’t need to be forgiven. Pride says it doesn’t need a Savior.   

On the earth, our pride will result in failure one way or another. Either our pride will be exposed as false when we fail to succeed in some way, or it will separate us from others.  

In heaven, it will result in our just punishment in hell.  

So let’s learn from today’s verse and follow the Apostle Paul’s advice in Romans 12:3 and not think too highly of ourselves by adopting an attitude of humility to avoid the falls and destruction that come from pride.  

 

______________________________________________________________________

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 begin 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.

Discipleship

Preface

In times of church renewal holy scripture naturally becomes richer in content for us. Behind the daily catchwords and battle cries needed in the Church Struggle, a more intense, questioning search arises for the one who is our sole concern, for Jesus himself. What did Jesus want to say to us? What does he want from us today? How does he help us to be faithful Christians today? It is not ultimately important to us what this or that church leader wants. Rather, we want to know what Jesus wants. When we go to hear a sermon, his own word is what we want to hear. This matters to us not only for our own sakes, but also for all those who have become estranged from the church and its message. It is also our opinion that if Jesus himself and Jesus alone with his word were among us in our preaching, then quite a different set of people would hear the word and quite a different set of people would again turn away from it. It is not as if our church’s preaching were no longer God’s word, but there are so many dissonant sounds, so many human, harsh laws, and so many false hopes and consolations, which still obscure the pure word of Jesus and make a genuine decision more difficult. We surely intend our preaching to be preaching Christ alone. But it is not solely the fault of others if they find our preaching harsh and difficult because it is burdened with formulations and concepts foreign to them. It is simply not true that every word critical of our preaching today can be taken as a rejection of Christ or as anti-Christianity. Today there are a great number of people who come to our preaching, want to hear it, and then repeatedly have to admit sadly that we have made it too difficult for them to get to know Jesus. Do we really want to deny being in community with these people? They believe that it is not the word of Jesus itself that they wish to evade, but that too much of what comes between them and Jesus is merely human, institutional, or doctrinaire. Who among us would not instantly know all the answers which could be given to these people and with which we could easily evade responsibility for them? But would an answer not also demand that we ask whether we ourselves get in the way of Jesus’ word by depending perhaps too much on certain formulations, or on a type of sermon intended for its own time, place, and social structure? Or by preaching too “dogmatically” and not enough “for use in life”? Or by preferring to repeat certain ideas from scripture over and over and thus too heedlessly passing over other important passages? Or by preaching our own opinions and convictions too much and Jesus Christ himself too little? Nothing would contradict our own intention more deeply and would be more ruinous for our proclamation than if we burdened with difficult human rules those who are weary and heavy laden, whom Jesus calls unto himself.[2] That would drive them away from him again. How that would mock the love of Jesus Christ in front of Christians and heathen! But since general questions and self-accusations do not help here, let us be led back to scripture, to the word and call of Jesus Christ himself. Away from the poverty and narrowness of our own convictions and questions, here is where we seek the breadth and riches which are bestowed on us in Jesus.

We desire to speak of the call to follow Jesus. In doing so, are we burdening people with a new, heavier yoke? Should even harder, more inexorable rules be added to all the human rules under which their souls and bodies groan? Should our admonition to follow Jesus only prick their uneasy and wounded consciences with an even sharper sting? For this latest of innumerable times in church history, should we make impossible, tormenting, eccentric demands, obedience to which would be the pious luxury of the few? Would such demands have to be rejected by people who work and worry about their daily bread, their jobs, and their families, as the most godless tempting of God? Should the church be trying to erect a spiritual reign of terror over people by threatening earthly and eternal punishment on its own authority and commanding everything a person must believe and do to be saved? Should the church’s word bring new tyranny and violent abuse to human souls? It may be that some people yearn for such servitude. But could the church ever serve such a longing?

When holy scripture speaks of following Jesus, it proclaims that people are free from all human rules, from everything which pressures, burdens, or causes worry and torment of conscience. In following Jesus, people are released from the hard yoke of their own laws to be under the gentle yoke of Jesus Christ. Does this disparage the seriousness of Jesus’ commandments? No. Instead, only where Jesus’ entire commandment and the call to unlimited discipleship remain intact are persons fully free to enter into Jesus’ community. Those who follow Jesus’ commandment entirely, who let Jesus’ yoke rest on them without resistance, will find the burdens they must bear to be light. In the gentle pressure of this yoke they will receive the strength to walk the right path without becoming weary. Jesus’ commandment is harsh, inhumanly harsh for someone who resists it. Jesus’ commandment is gentle and not difficult for someone who willingly accepts it. “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Jesus’ commandment has nothing to do with forced spiritual cures. Jesus demands nothing from us without giving us the strength to comply. Jesus’ commandment never wishes to destroy life, but rather to preserve, strengthen, and heal life.

But the question still troubles us: What could the call to follow Jesus mean today for the worker, the businessman, the farmer, or the soldier? Could it bring an intolerable dilemma into the existence of persons working in the world who are Christian? Is Christianity, defined as following Jesus, a possibility for too small a number of people? Does it imply a rejection of the great masses of people and contempt for the weak and poor? Does it thereby deny the great mercy of Jesus Christ, who came to the sinners and tax collectors, the poor and weak, the misguided and despairing? What should we say to that? Is it a few, or many, who belong with Jesus? Jesus died on the cross alone, abandoned by his disciples. It was not two of his faithful followers who hung beside him, but two murderers. But they all stood beneath the cross: enemies and the faithful, doubters and the fearful, the scornful and the converted, and all of them and their sin were included in this hour in Jesus’ prayer for forgiveness. God’s merciful love lives in the midst of its foes.[5] It is the same Jesus Christ who by grace calls us to follow him and whose grace saves the thief on the cross in his last hour.

Where will the call to discipleship lead those who follow it? What decisions and painful separations will it entail? We must take this question to him who alone knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows where the path will lead. But we know that it will be a path full of mercy beyond measure. Discipleship is joy.

Today it seems so difficult to walk with certainty the narrow path of the church’s decision and yet to remain wide open to Christ’s love for all people, and in God’s patience, mercy, and loving-kindness[8] (Titus 3:4) for the weak and godless. Still, both must remain together, or else we will follow merely human paths. May God grant us joy in all seriousness of discipleship, affirmation of the sinners in all rejection of sin, and the overpowering and winning word of the gospel in all defense against our enemies. “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30).[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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 35–40.