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Showing posts with label Purpose. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Purpose. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Stepping Out – Are They a Christian in a Boat - Purity 548


 

Stepping Out – Are They a Christian in a Boat - Purity 548                                                                      

Purity 548 10/13/2021  Purity 548 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a blue cloud filled sky over the Adirondack Mountains which is reflected in a lake, pond, or stream comes to us from a pair of friends who took “another fall trip deep into the Adirondacks” to enjoy the sights and the rewards of trout fishing.  Subsequent photos from our friend assure us that they are not a “catch and release” fisherman and the Lord provided a bounty on this fishing trip that would not only nourish their souls but also their bodies.    

With the holiday Monday, we find ourselves already at the “hump” of midweek so although the peaks of the Adirondacks in this photo are not prominent, they are present and make this photo’s selection appropriate for “hump day”.  

With the recent revelations of the changes that will be coming in the days and years ahead due to my engagement and future wedding and marriage, I have been overcome by a sense of wonder of how a life that has been surrendered to God can move in all kinds of directions.  

Like our friend who doesn’t “catch and release” the trout he catches on his autumn fishing trips, God doesn’t “catch and release” those He chooses to come into His kingdom. Since coming to Christ, I have endeavored to increasingly surrender my life to His ways and His purposes and along the way have often speculated on the direction that the Lord was leading me in.  

I confessed last evening to a fellow traveler on the path of Christian Discipleship how I thought that the move to my new house “down by the river” would lead to an assignment from God to co-pastor a church that was just down the road a piece. I also admitted to how I had “felt moved” to apply for an executive position at a local rehabilitation agency in Columbia County because I anticipated that the Lord would choose to move me out of my corporate job and place me in a career that would serve the recovery community.  

At the time, I could see both of these directions as real possibilities for the Lord to move me in.  In hindsight, I was working with incomplete information and making “best guesses” as to where the Lord might be sending me on this journey called life.  As it turns out neither “revelation” came to pass, and I no longer “feel” that the Lord is calling me to those vocations.  

That’s the great testing of God’s will for your life: If it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t God’s plan for your life.   Unfortunately, you only discover that something wasn’t God’s will for your life, AFTER you have tried and failed, hoped, and prayed, and envisioned the next steps with excitement and expectancy. 

Disappointments, regrets, and dreams that failed to come true are actively used by the enemy to drive us into depression, idleness, and separation from God.   One of the enemy’s favorites lies to whisper in our ears is the painful speculations over “what could have been”. 

“Oh what could have been, if only MR or Mrs. Blank would have loved me?” “

Oh what could have been if I had gotten that job?”

“Oh what could have been “IF ONLY”…..”

The enemy takes those hurts and uses them:

1.     To beat up the individual as lacking or inadequate, hello condemnation!

2.    To blame God for not granting us the “desires of our hearts”

3.    To convince us that there is no God, and we are all alone in our suffering and inadequacies.  

But on the flipside of those disappointments of “what could have been” and those “if only” speculations, is the fact that we can see the will of God reflected in what we don’t get, where we have been, and in in the present moment and where we find ourselves.  

“Que sera, sera” – Whatever will be, will be -  may sound like a listless or fatalistic way to face the future if we just “wait and see” what will happen in our lives but the truth of God’s sovereign will should give us great peace and challenge us to boldly pursue what we think the Lord is calling us to.     

I know the series of “Checking the Clues” is over but this morning in my ponderings of future possibilities in the days ahead considering “where will I live”, “where will I go”, and “what will I do”, I imagined Dr. Seuss’ Sam I Am appearing to ask another “Green eggs in Ham” question in regards to our faith life:

“Are they a Christian in a Boat?”

As the previous series taught us about examining the “clues of authentic Christian faith”, when we ask a question about someone else’s faith walk, the question invariably is posed to ourselves as well.    

So contemplating Sam I am’s inquiry about “boats”, I envisioned the Apostle Peter calling out to Jesus Christ walking on the sea of Galilee and saying: "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." To which Jesus only gave the single word of assurance to “Come!”

Would you step out of the boat onto shifting seas, based on one word from Christ? Would you take the risk of falling? Would you dare to possibly look foolish and get “all wet” in another failure?

Are we a Christian if we just sit in the safety of “the boat”?

Or are we to step out in faith to whatever the Lord calls us to, even if it’s scary or uncertain?

I’ve told you about some of my speculations regarding my faith walk that didn’t come to pass.  As the song says, “The futures not ours to see”, but that doesn’t mean we are not to try to discern where the Lord is calling us to go. While we are operating with incomplete information, we have to make our best guesses about what the Lord would have us do.  

The dreams and hopes we have may not come true, but our failures and disappointments will be a part of our journey that leads us to God’s will for our lives.

Just because “whatever will be will be”, it doesn’t mean that we are not to call on the Lord and ask Him if we are to step out into new possibilities.  

Some may look at Peter’s fear and failure to walk successfully on the water as a reason to not take any chances, but the thing is although Peter may have looked foolish in the eyes of man, he learned what it was like to boldly step out in faith and most importantly he learned that even if he fell the Lord would always be there to catch him.   

The same Peter who denied the Lord Jesus out of fear of persecution, was convinced by the Resurrected Christ that Jesus wouldn’t just catch him in this life. Seeing that Jesus was the Son of God and God the Son, caused the one who ran away to come back and lead the church and to face a martyr’s death knowing that Jesus would catch him on the other side of this life too.   

So keep walking and talking with God. If you feel that the Lord is calling you somewhere or to some new opportunity, answer the call and “step out of the boat” knowing that even your failures will be part of God’s plan for your life.   The futures not ours to see but when we are in Christ we know that where we have been, where we are now, and where we will be will all be for our good, will be a part of God’s will for our lives, and will be for His purposes.


Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Matthew 28:20 (NLT2)
20  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Today’s verse reminds us of what we are to pass on to those we teach and assures us of the Lord’s presence in our lives.  

In the previous verse the Lord commands us to : “Go…. and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Beyond baptizing them, we are to teach the disciples that we make “to observe all the commands ” that Jesus gave us.   These words of Christ command us to know what He taught the Apostles and to “obey”, or apply, the teachings to our lives.  As disciples we don’t just know intellectually what Jesus taught, we are to live by what he taught.

Also we are not pick and choose what teachings of Jesus we are to obey; we are to obey all the commands Christ gave to us.   

So the picture Christ is painting for His followers is to live a devout and holy life.   

Jesus knew that the world hated Him for what He taught and tried to live out in their presence so His final words in the gospel of Matthew are designed to assure us that He will be with us “even to the end of the age.”  

Teaching others to and choosing to observe all the things that Christ commanded for ourselves may not be an easy path to walk upon, but Christ’s death, resurrection, and words assure us that it is the right way to go and that He will be with us all the days of our lives. 

So know the word of God and the teaching of Christ that are contained within it. Observe all that Christ commanded us and go and make disciples of all the nations knowing that when the end of the age comes, Christ will be with us, always and forever.  

  

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

 

Today we continue sharing from June Hunt’s Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating  

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

F. What Is God's Heart on Dating and Courtship?

God is the author of relationships, a fact clearly revealed in His relationship with the first man and woman He created. He spent time with them daily and knew them intimately. His heart is for every person to have a relationship with Him, not just as Creator but as Friend, as a close companion. And He is also deeply interested in our relationships with one another and has revealed His heart... His thoughts...His desires for us in His Word.

Since dating is essentially an activity in which relationships are formed and either valued and nurtured or devalued and destroyed, God is thoroughly tuned in to our dating experiences and nothing escapes His eyes....

"Does he not see my ways and count my every step?" (Job 31:4)

God's Heart on Dating

  • God desires that believers date only those who have yielded their lives to Christ and are in right relationship with Him.

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?...Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).

  • God desires that we know, practice, and recognize the attributes that accompany someone who loves the Lord and His people, and choose to date only such a person.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

  • God desires that we and those we date live according to His Word and be committed to purity.

"How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word" (Psalm 119:9).

  • God desires that we and those we date be sanctified—set apart for God, set apart from sin—by avoiding sexual immorality.

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality" (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

  • God desires that we learn and practice self-control both in our minds and bodies, especially regarding those whom we date.

"Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable" (1 Thessalonians 4:4).

  • God desires that we and those we date flee sexual lusts and pursue purity of mind and heart along with peace, faith, and love.

"Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).

  • God desires that we make a habit of regularly confessing our sins and viewing ourselves and those we date as forgiven by God, purified of all unrighteousness, and worthy of being treated with respect.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

  • God desires that we speak the truth in love to one another and grow to become mature in Christ.

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ" (Ephesians 4:15).

  • God desires that we encourage one another and build each other up.

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

  • God desires that we sharpen one another in character and in our spiritual walk.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).


Biblical Counseling Keys: Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating.

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

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, September 27, 2021

Happily Ever Monday? – Can’t I just Chill.. in Christ? - Purity 534

Happily Ever Monday?  – Can’t I just Chill.. in Christ?    - Purity 534

Purity 534 09/27/2021   Purity 534 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of the waters of Lake Ontario comes to us from a friend who in part celebrated their birthday by visiting the scenic wonders at Chimney Bluffs State Park in Wolcott NY on Saturday. I share it today because of its scenic beauty and because the peaks and valleys of the bluffs on the shores of Lake Ontario can represent the ups and downs that we will experience in life that make us wonder what our ultimate purpose is.  

Yesterday in our Bible study discussion Arthur and Suzanna Cincotti and I discussed the concept of giving God glory and how, because He is the author of all creation and will determine the course of all existence through history, and as the Westminster Catechism (https://www.apuritansmind.com/westminster-standards/shorter-catechism/) affirms, the chief end of man, our purpose, is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. 

While that is man’s stated end, or purpose, the concept may seem overly spiritual, sentimental, or just confusing and is often simplified as “living a good life” of being personally responsible and morally upstanding, for the most part.  So even for those that want to “glorify God” and enjoy Him forever, this purpose could just be seen as an underlying subtle part of our normal lives with its traditional goals of finding a career, a life partner, and having a family.  

These traditional goals are prominent in our lives because they are integral in providing us with the means to support ourselves and a measure of our need to feel accepted, significant, and secure.   We may spend years pursuing the goals of achieving a certain career position or in finding that life partner that will “complete” us and building a family. 

We pointed out yesterday in our discussion that these goals are good and can lead to a thriving life of success and familial happiness but if God is not honored in that life journey, all the accomplishments and close personal relationships that were enjoyed will prove to be of little value as the person finds themselves separated from God and consigned to the outer darkness of Hell where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”.

So obviously we recommended a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ to remedy this situation. But as I have thought about our life’s purpose today, I am pondering the question of next steps, for those who are saved and who have reached their goals in life and ministry.  

Because of the dissolution of my marriage in 2018, I had to face the challenges of building a “new life” for myself by finding a new home and a direction for the rest of my life, all the while having to work and try to direct my children.  The Lord has been with me and provided for everything I needed in that regard.   

As I walked alone, the question of the possibility of a new life partner was always an “out there” possibility which I didn’t make any overt attempts to pursue but at the same time was one that I hoped would materialize some day and one that I remained open to receive.  

The Lord has graciously sent a beautiful faithful woman of God into my life and even though it took me some time to realize she was “right here in front of me” I finally woke up and have been overcome with joy as we have not only confessed our love for one another but are eagerly anticipating being married.  So to paraphrase Sammy Sosa’s “baseball has been very, very, good to me”, in my Christian walk , God has been very very good to me!

I am thrilled that my “happily ever after” is on the horizon, but as we all know life is not a fairy tale and “happily ever after” even in the Disney universe, now, usually results in a sequel!

Because life is continuous our journey doesn’t end. So even though we can accomplish some life goals and actually experience receiving the desires of our hearts, we still must go forward in our life. 

The question for the Christian is: Now that you have gotten what you were hoping for, what do you do next?  Do you stop your walk on the path of Christian Discipleship to set up house and relax with a new ministry of offering thanks and praise from the comforts of your couch?   Can we just chill… in Christ?

I absolutely love the song “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol that asks the question:

“If I lay here,
If I just lay here,
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?
 

Now that I have found the love of my new life in Christ with Tammy Lyn can I just spend the rest of my days with the purpose of just loving her in Christian wedded bliss, forsaking all other activities?

As appealing as that might sound, the harsh realities of Monday morning help us with answering that question.   We still must provide for ourselves. We still have to work. We still must deal with the challenges of changing circumstances. 

And because we are in the world, as Christians we are called to do more than just chill…  in Christ.  Sure, I have found the love of Christ and now have found the person who I am certain will be the love of my life… but other people out there haven’t secured their place in God’s kingdom and are walking in darkness and the suffering that I knew all too well for most of my life. 

So while I may want to lament over another Monday morning and the fact that, while I have found the love of my life in Tammy Lyn, we still have miles to walk before we can be married and live together, I need to remember that God didn’t bring me into His kingdom for my personal happiness.

God calls us into His kingdom to represent Him on earth and to share His love. We are to use our lives to glorify God and to endeavor to expand His kingdom by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ through our words and actions.  

So don’t be down in the dumps because its Monday and we have to go back to the grind and leave the good times of the weekend behind.  God has given us eternal life and we should rejoice over that regardless of the day, or the circumstances of our lives.  

He has provided for us and blessed us, so we can rejoice over that too.  But we should never become so “happy” that we forget that the people of the world desperately need God and they need to know the truth of how they can be reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. 

So keep walking and talking with God. Rejoice over all He has done for you but be sure to shine a light in the darkness by representing His kingdom by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, any way you can.

 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NKJV)
13  For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

Today’s verse speaks of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the practice of thanksgiving.  

As Christians, we have been saved from God’s wrath and our just punishment because of Jesus Christ. If we were to spend the rest of our lives suffering, we would still have ample reason to thank God!

And even if we went through various trials and sufferings for the rest of our days, the likelihood is that no matter what we suffered, our suffering could somehow have been worse.  Even those who have been prisoners of war or consigned to concentration camps have been able to recognize that some days were better than others and they were able to find things to be thankful for in the most horrible and abysmal circumstances.

So as we recommend for all Christians, begin, or continue, the daily practice of giving thanks to God for: who He is, what He has done in general, and what He has done for you specifically.     

Today’s verse also speaks of the fact that the “good news” is not something that man made up but is God’s plan for the redemption of men and that we are to share it with others.  This verse indicates we are to present the gospel with the Word of God in order to let God “effectively” use us to bring people to believe in Him and be translated into His kingdom.   

So thank the Lord everyday for your salvation and all He is, and for all He has done for us in general, and for what He has done for you personally.

Let your thanksgiving draw you closer to the Father and motivate you to share His love with the world that dearly needs it.   

 

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

 

Today we continue to share from June Hunt’s Boundaries: How to Set Them, How to Keep Them.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

G. How to Respond When Boundary Lines Are Crossed

According to Bill Rodgers, Jacqueline Gareau's public response to crossed boundary lines has been "amazing." "She doesn't have any ill feelings to Rosie at all," Bill further shares. "To lose this moment is pretty hard to deal with. She just kept cool under fire. She never said anything terrible about Rosie. She didn't say anything negative about the BAA [Boston Athletic Association]. She was just cool, and she's the same way today."

Considering Jacqueline's incredible athletic accomplishments, it is "amazing" that she has been so genteel toward someone described as a genuine cheat. She wins nine marathons, competes on the Canadian Olympic team, wins the extremely fatiguing Mount Washington Road Race three times, and is named Canadian Marathoner of the 20th Century.

Jacqueline manifests a forgiving heart toward Rosie, a vital virtue in Scripture. . . .

"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."

(Matthew 6:14)

We all have physical, moral, and personal boundaries that should not be violated. Do you know your specific boundaries? Do you know how to respond when your boundary limits have been trampled? Do you know where to draw the line?

To help identify your boundaries, pay attention when your emotions are intense, dark, shaming, or guilt-ridden in response to something someone has said or done to you. . . . Your boundaries are being crossed.

The following responses will help you educate those in your life who are verbally and emotionally crossing the line.

"Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses."

(Proverbs 27:6)

• Inform:

"Do you realize that you are speaking loudly?"

"Do you know how your words are sounding?"

"Do you know that you are saying things that are making me feel uncomfortable?

• Identify:

"Please lower your voice."

"Please stop using that kind of language." "Please explain your anger."

• Implore:

"Stop insulting me with your words." "Stop these painful outbursts."

"Stop hurting me in this way."

• Insist:

"You must stop speaking to me in that tone of voice."

"You will have to change this way of communicating with me." "You may not continue to hurt me in this way."

• Instruct:

"This is how I want you to speak to me."

"When you communicate with me, this is what I expect..."

"When vou (name behavior). it hurts me. This is what I want vou to do."

• Invite:

"I am open to working this out when you can be reasonable."

"I care about you and our relationship, but I need you to change your ways when communicating with me."

"I am willing to go to counseling with you if you agree."

• Impact:

"I am now leaving in order to protect myself."

"Because this behavior is unacceptable to me, I am going to distance myself from you for a time."

"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." (Proverbs 29:25)


Biblical Counseling Keys: Boundaries: How to See Them - How to Keep Them.

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

 

 

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Run through a Sprinkler – The Revolutionary Beauty of Joy in the Chaos - Purity 491


Run through a Sprinkler – The Revolutionary Beauty of Joy in the Chaos

Purity 491 08/07/2021  Purity 491 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of an August sunset on the shores of Lake Ontario at Lakeside Park in Oswego NY comes to us from our friend at Celestial Blue Photography.  Rocco Saya has a talent for capturing the wonders of God’s creation with his camera and here he serves up a summertime memory worthy of a Country Time Lemonade ad. 

Am I dating myself with that reference?  For the kids, and adults that don’t remember, I am including a link to a Country Time Lemonade Ad from the 90’s (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtQEh8h7diw). The campaign highlighted the simple beauty of the summertime season, and its syrupy sweet narrative was so wholesome and nostalgic it plucked at the heart strings of our souls.

The Country Time Lemonade ad campaign was sweeter than the lemonade and its wholesome flavor made my young 90’s angsty soul, that had been struggling with the big existential questions of life and meaning, sick as the idea of a world shrouded in suffering and death should ever be portrayed as sweet and innocent. 

The narrator’s voice and the ads’ sweet images grated on my soul, so I purposely share the ad that invites you to “run through a sprinkler” because I some how thought that these ads were indicative of the problems of a world system that was trying to lull us to sleep and control us.  

I saw the world as controlled by the rich and powerful and these ads only served their agenda to keep the masses happy, poor, and asleep.  I saw the world as corrupted by riches, racism, and nepotism and my stance was to “fight the power” by rebelling against the laws and authoritarian structures that I encountered.

But I did recognize the power of those structures to punish. I only rebelled in an undercover and subversive way which would not result in my incarceration or any other negative consequence, for the most part, except for those times when my alcohol and drug us and my wild spirit of rebellion drew me beyond my senses. 

Although there might have been some truth to my view of the world back then, little did I know that the conspiracy was much larger and that the unforeseen demonic forces of darkness were not only influencing the world but had me in their hip pocket as my anarchistic attitudes of rebellion and chaos made me an unwitting pawn in Satan’s game!

But thank God, the Lord decided to open my eyes to the truth that He is over and above all of this world and that despite the darkness of the world’s systems and the evil that men do, there is great beauty to behold and I now have the assurance that I don’t need to “fight the power” because God will one day reclaim and renew this world and make all things right.  

So even in light of the state of this post pandemic world,+ with our concerns over questions of safety, security, and control, we must choose to remember that God is in control and that there is still beauty in the world to enjoy and experience.  

Little did I know that the best way to “fight the power” of the world and all of its systems, fears, and concerns, was to trust the Lord and to simply enjoy my life and share the eternal hope that lies in Christ alone.  

Who knew that the simple act of “running through a sprinkler” and delighting in the glory of all that God has given us was a revolutionary act that defies the demonic forces of this world that is geared to drive us into fear, suspicion, anger, and despair?  

We made it to the weekend, so fight the powers of darkness, by loving the people in your life and by enjoying all that God has given us.  Laugh in the face of death and the devil and tell him that you are not afraid because the Lord of all creation has already won the war and we will celebrate the victory that Christ won at Calvary by living the abundant life He has given us and by proclaiming the name and hope of Jesus from here to eternity!  


This morning’s meditation verse is:

Luke 9:23 (NKJV)
23 Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Today’s verse is Jesus Christ’s instructions for all those who would claim to believe in Him, to follow.       

I encourage people, and specifically those who would identify themselves as Christians, to “seek the Lord” and to follow where He leads us.   I increasingly take exception to the term “believer” when referring to Christians because the word of God calls us to surrender to the Lord as His slaves and to follow Him.

John MacArthur’s book, Slave, details how the proper translation of the Greek word “Doulos” which is rendered as of “servant” or “bond-servant” most translations of the Bible, should be “slave”.  As “slaves of Christ”, we are to follow Him.      

The wonderful thing about God is that while He could, He doesn’t whip us into obedience because He wants us to choose to follow Him out of our love for Him.  Christ indicates this in today’s verse by saying, “if anyone desires to come after Me”.   That phrase indicates the “love choice” that everyone who would claim to be a Christian is free to make.    

This love choice of deciding to deny ourselves, take up our crosses DAILY, and follow Him is a decision that is based on our trust in the Lord and our genuine affection for Him.  And I think that results of making this “love choice” to follow the Lord in this way can be the difference between life and death and between victory and defeat.   

If we shy away from this command to follow and only to decide to “just believe”, we run the risk of being like “the believers” in Luke 13:25-27 who had a shallow “relationship” with the Lord only being able to say to Jesus that they “…ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.”, and ultimately being rejected by the Lord who said that they were to depart from Him, for He never knew them.  

The decision to “just believe” and not follow Christ can possibly have grave eternal consequences but even if it doesn’t it certainly will result in a life that will fall short of the glory and victory that one could experience by “taking up our crosses”, the phrase that points to the Lord’s individual purpose for us in sanctification and good works that He has prepared for us.  

So consider your life of faith and accept the invitation of Jesus to follow Him.  Living in harmony with the Lord has its own rewards. By following the Lord, we experience the growth of the fruit of the Spirit, the assurance of our salvation, and the glory of fulfilling the purposes that God made us for. 

 

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, beginning Chapter 10.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:

Emotional Honesty: How to Dish It Out and How to Take It

Early in my pastoral ministry I received one of those middle-of-the-night telephone calls every pastor dreads: "Pastor, our son has been in an accident. They don't expect him to live. Could you please come to the hospital?"

I arrived at the hospital about one in the morning. I sat with the parents in the waiting room hoping and praying for the best but fearing the worst. About 4:00 a.m. the doctor came into the waiting room and said, "We lost him."

We were devastated. I was so tired and emotionally depleted that instead of offering them words of comfort, I just sat there and cried with them. I couldn't think of anything to say. I never felt so stupid in my life. I thought I had failed the family in their darkest hour.

Soon after the accident the young man's parents moved away. About five years later they stopped by the church for a visit and took me out to lunch. "Neil, we'll never forget what you did for us when our son died," they said. "We didn't need words; we needed love. We knew you loved us because you cried with us."

Now looking back, I realized I had done what Jesus would have done. I wept with those who wept. When grief-stricken Mary and Martha greeted Jesus with the news of Lazarus's death, He wept (see John 11:35). Paul commanded, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). We are not supposed to instruct those who weep.

One of our challenges in life is to learn how to respond to others when they honestly acknowledge their pain. Job was in pain when he said to his three friends who were less than helpful, "Do you intend to reprove my words, when the words of one in despair belong to the wind?" (Job 6:26). We should not be listening to what people say in the midst of extreme pain. We should be responding to the pain, not the words that express it. In too many cases we ignore the feelings of hurting people, fixate on their words of despair and then react to what they said or how they said it.

For example, let's say a Christian couple you know loses an infant to crib death. Overcome by grief they ask, "Why did God do this?" Don't answer that question. First, you don't know the answer. Second, their question is an emotional reaction, not an intellectual inquiry. All that their words reveal is the intensity of their pain. Respond to their emotional pain with empathy. There will be ample time to give theological answers later when the emotional pain of their tragic loss has subsided.

Although words should not be the primary focus in emotional acknowledgment, you can guard your intimate relationships by monitoring how you verbally express your emotions to others. For example, you are having a terrible day at the office, so you call home and say to your wife, "Honey, I'm having a bear of a day. I won't be home until about six o'clock and I have a meeting at church at seven o'clock. Could you have dinner ready when I get home?" She verbally agrees to your schedule.

When you hit the front door you are physically exhausted and emotionally stressed. On an emotional scale from one to ten, you are a nine. Then you discover your wife doesn't have dinner ready as you requested. "For crying out loud," you blaze at her, "I wanted dinner ready at six o'clock! That's why I called you!"

Is your wife really the cause of your emotional outburst? Not really. You had a terrible day and you were tired, hungry and stressed out before you got home. It is not her fault. Anything could have set you off. You could have just as easily kicked the dog. Yet you level your wife and chalk it up to emotional honesty.

Don't forsake love in your eagerness to be honest. Upon learning that dinner is not ready as you asked, you could say, "Honey, I'm near the end of my rope physically and emotionally." That kind of nonaccusatory honesty accomplishes two important things.

First, by not blaming your wife, you let her off the hook. She knows you are not mad at her. Second, because she doesn't have to defend herself, she is free to meet your needs. She can say, "I'll have dinner ready in about 10 minutes. Go to the bedroom and relax; I'll keep the kids off your back. I'll get you to your meeting on time."

Suppose you are the wife and you have had a terrible day at home. Your husband comes home whistling a happy tune and asks if dinner is ready. "What do you mean, 'Is dinner ready?'" you explode. "Do you think all I have to do is cook for you? The kids have been on my back all afternoon and . . ." That is emotional honesty, all right, but you are going down in flames and you are taking your husband with you.

Rather, you can say, "Honey, I've had it. The washing machine broke and the kids were little terrors today. I'm right at the edge." Your nonaccusatory honesty keeps your husband from needing to defend himself and opens the way for him to say, "Hey, everybody, it's McDonald's time!"

When it comes to acknowledging emotions with your inner circle, honesty is the best policy, but be sure to speak "the truth in love" (Ephes. 4:15).

Another important guideline for acknowledging and expressing your emotions is to know your limitations. Be aware that if you are at a seven or eight on the emotional scale—angry, tense, anxious, depressed—it is not a good time to make decisions about important matters. Your emotions may push you to resolve what you are struggling against, but you may regret your resolution if you push too hard. You will say things you will later regret. Somebody will get hurt. You are far better off if you recognize your emotional limits and say, "If we keep talking, I'm going to get angry. May we continue this discussion at another time?"

Realize also that a lot of physical factors will affect your emotional limits. If you are hungry, postpone a potentially emotion-charged discussion until after dinner. If you are tired, get a good night's sleep. Women, be alert that certain times of the month are more conducive to positive emotional expression than others. Husbands, you will be wise to understand your wife's monthly menstrual cycle for the same reason.

The important process of renewing your mind includes managing your emotions by managing your thoughts and acknowledging your feelings honestly and lovingly in your relationships with others. Responding to your emotions properly is an important step in keeping the devil from gaining a foothold in your life.


Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship