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Showing posts with label Rainbow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rainbow. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands - Purity 475

                                               

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

Purity 475 07/20/2021   Purity 475 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo comes to us from our dear friends and the co-hosts of our weekly Bible Study, Arthur, and Suzanna Cincotti, who know how to appreciate the wonder of God’s creation and to not take themselves too seriously.  Here Suzanna has positioned Arthur to be the recipient of God’s blessings as they enjoyed a recent rainbow in the front yard of their home in Stottville, NY. But the quizzical look on Arthur’s face makes me pretty certain that he fully intends to share all that he receives with his dearly beloved wife and anyone else who is in need.  Our weekly Bible study highlights our common desire to grasp the truth of God’s word, receive the blessings of knowing Him more, and sharing our thoughts and insights to help other Christians with walk.  To listen in to our Bible Study discussions, check out the mt4Christ247 podcast available on most podcast services.

Today’s photo reminded me of the African American spiritual, “He’s got the Whole World in His Hands” that was first published in 1927 and became an international pop hit in 1957 when English singer Laurie London covered it.  But I have to say I prefer Mahalia Jackson’s version that captures the soulful origins of the song that reminds us all that God’s got this!  

I listened to Mahalia Jackson version just now and Amazon music started sharing more of her gospel music after it finished and my spirit soared. I had to stop it to concentrate on finishing today’s blog.  But I highly recommend you check out her gospel music, oh brother, talk about Worshiping with your soul and spirit!

Anyway, God does have us. He’s got the whole world in His Hands!  So as we have made it through Monday and head into day two of the work week, let me encourage you that God is over and above all things. He loves you dearly and wants you to come into harmony with His plan for your life through placing your faith in Jesus Christ and by living your life with and for Him. 

The peace that goes beyond all understanding only comes through seeking and following the Lord.  Don’t harden your heart, open it up to Him.

Give your pain and heartache to the One who can heal it.

Give your fears and anxieties to the One who will give you strength and protection. 

Give your confusion and chaos to the One who defines Truth and puts all things in order. 

If you’ve felt that you’ve “quenched” the Spirit, turn from the selfish life you’re living and surrender to His wisdom, power, and love.

Don’t just pray for it. Pursue it. Change your mind. Change your heart. Change the direction of your life by following the One who brings you out of the darkness and bathes you in His magnificent light.  

So keep walking and talking with God.  He’s got you and me, brother in His Hands. He’s got you and me sister in His Hands. He’s got the whole world in His Hands!  


This morning’s meditation verse is:

Mark 12:25 (NKJV)
25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Today’s verse contains a mystery straight from Jesus that can confound us but can also bring some of us a great deal of comfort and hope.    

The Lord recently shared Mark 12:26-27 a few days ago via our random verse selection. Those following verses encouraged us of the truth of a resurrection of the dead and our lives’ continuity into the kingdom of God.  

The context of this verse is Christ answering the Sadducees’ hypothetical question about woman who had the dubious distinction of marrying and outliving seven brothers.  Like wow, I suspect she might have been a “black widow”. She mates and she kills. 

But seriously no foul play is mentioned, each husband dies, and she marries next brother, until all the brother’s die and then she also dies.  The Sadducees ask Jesus which brother will be her husband in the resurrection, which they don’t believe in.    

Christ gives us a spiritual insight that puts our earthly concepts of life and fulfillment on its ear.  Jesus responds that we” neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven” when we rise from the dead.      

This is one verse that isn’t given much explanation and is certainly not highlighted at the weekly church service that seems to almost exclusively minister to married couples.  

Our earthly conception of family and fulfillment is the highlighted in the American dream of a married father and mother with a few children.  While that maybe the model that we are to seek to follow here on earth, from Christ’s words, it seems that there may be a whole different program after the resurrection. 

While well meaning pastors assure congregants that we will all see our lost loved ones and things will be much like they are here on earth when we get to heaven, Christ’s words may be describing a whole different society where the spiritual aspects of our relationships will supersede the needs that marriage meets here on the terra firma.    

With this one verse there is lots of room to speculate. For instance, the happily married among us could say “Well Jesus is just saying that there are no “new” marriages. They don’t marry, meaning no weddings, and they are not “given in marriage.” meaning no engagements.  Looks like you missed your chance at wedded bliss, sorry!”  

Anyway, as distressing as Jesus words could be for the happily married among us, His words could actually be a comfort to those who are single, divorced, or who are suffering in a bad marriage.  Christ words tell us that His kingdom will be different. 

While a happy marriage may be the be all to end all, here on earth because of the concept or myth that we each have a soul mate somewhere out there that will complete us, Christ words put marriage in its place as secondary to kingdom of God.   

As nice as your wife or husband may be, there is only One Person who completes us: Jesus Christ.  

So Jesus’ words here are a mystery, and whether you are happily married or not, whether you’ve never been married, or are divorced, we don’t have to fear them.

Christ’s words indicate that we have much to learn about our lives beyond the testing grounds of this fallen world, but the good news is that as long as we have Christ as our Lord and Savior we know that the next place will be good and that we will be with the One who completes us 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 with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 8.

 

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:

Proper Guidelines Lead to a Proper Walk

3. Fulfillment. Key Concept: Role Preference

Fulfillment in life can be summarized by the simple slogan, "Bloom where you're planted." Peter said it this way: "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another" (1 Peter 4:10). Fulfillment is discovering our own uniqueness in Christ and using our gifts and talents to edify others and to glorify the Lord.

God allowed me to understand this simple principle before I entered the ministry while still employed as an aerospace engineer. I knew God wanted me to be an ambassador for Him on the job, so I started a breakfast Bible study in the bowling alley next door to the office. My announcement about the Bible study had been posted in our office for only about an hour when a Jewish fellow pulled it off the wall and brought it to me. "You can't bring Jesus in here," he objected.

"I can't do otherwise," I said. "Every day I walk in here Jesus comes in with me." He was not impressed with my response!

One of the men who found Christ through the Bible study became a flaming evangelist. He passed out tracts everywhere he went. When I left that aerospace firm to enter seminary, he took over the Bible study.

A few months later I went back to visit my friends in the Bible study. "Do you remember the Jewish fellow?" the leader asked.

"Sure, I remember him," I said, recalling his brash opposition to our Bible study.

"Well, he got sick and almost died. I went to the hospital and visited him every night. Finally I led him to Christ."

I was ecstatic at the realization that I had become a spiritual grandparent. The sense of fulfillment was exhilarating. It all happened because I started a simple little Bible study where I worked so I could do what Paul said: "Do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Tim. 4:5).

God has a unique place of ministry for each of us. It is important to your sense of fulfillment that you realize your calling in life. The key is to discover the roles you occupy in which you cannot be replaced, and then decide to be what God wants you to be in those roles. For example, of the six billion people in the world, you are the only one who occupies your unique role as husband, father, wife, mother, parent, or child in your home. God has specially planted you to serve Him by serving your family in that environment.

Furthermore, you are the only one who knows your neighbors as you do. You occupy a unique role as an ambassador for Christ where you work. These are your mission fields, and you are the worker God has appointed for the harvest there. Your greatest fulfillment will come from accepting and occupying God's unique place for you to the best of your ability. Sadly, many miss their calling in life by looking for fulfillment in the world. Find your fulfillment in the kingdom of God by deciding to be an ambassador for Christ in the world (see 2 Cor. 5:20).


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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


Friday, December 11, 2020

Purity 288: Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Purity 288

Good morning!

Today’s photo was taken on the first of December. I had previously shared a different vantage point of this double rainbow, but I love this one and how it borders State Route 9J almost as if the Lord is telling us that He is with us as we travel this road and that He is leading us to better days ahead.  

I also commented when I shared this vision that my mother, Kathy, while hospitalized in CMH for COVID-19, had seen it and considered it a sign that all things would be well as long as she was patient and trusted the Lord.  

I am ecstatic to report that the Lord’s goodness, her faith, and your prayers have resulted in her steady recovery over COVID-19 and she was released from the hospital yesterday and has returned home! 

She had been in the hospital since just after Thanksgiving and reported that it was strange coming home after such an extended leave, but she was filled with joy at being reunited with my Dad and their dog, Milo.   She is focused on her full recovery and returning to her regular routine but is going to ease into it.

For those who know my mom, that may be easier said than done as she is a woman of constant activity.  My mother’s zest for life is infamous and upon hearing of her release yesterday, one of my brothers quipped “God help us all!”

But seriously, our entire family is overjoyed at our mother’s steady return to health and are excited at the prospect of having here back on her feet for the celebration of Christmas. 

My family and I would like to thank everyone for their prayers for my parent’s recovery over COVID-19. We deeply appreciate the outpouring of care and concern through this difficult time.  

Christ repeatedly told those He healed that their faith had made them well. God is the healer, and we thank Him for His mercy and love that has been expressed in this latest interaction in our lives.  

(There is More at the restricted blog). Follow me on Twitter, MeWe, or Parler for easy access.  Blog M T 4 Christ dot org – This is where the Facebook post ends.)

This morning’s meditation verse was:

1 John 1:7 (NKJV)
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

For the fourth day in a row, the “random draw” of Bible verses has given us a verse from 1 John.  As I said yesterday “It is an awesome epistle, and the Lord might be calling us to glean its wisdom and apply it to our lives.” So, I will be taking time this weekend to read it in its entirety! 

The epistles are letters to “the Church” so you can consider these entries in the New Testament to be specifically for you.  

After I “got saved” in 2010, one of my questions was “now what?” After living for so long according to my ways, only concerned with fulfilling my selfish desires, I honestly didn’t know what God wanted from me or how to act.  But the epistles of Paul, Peter, and John are filled with the fundamentals of our faith and suggestions and encouragement on how to walk in the Spirit. 

Our “worldly wisdom” has to be replaced with God’s truth because, as new creations in Christ, we will only find peace by living in harmony with God by following His ways and His truth.   This verse from First John basically tells us that.

If we walk in the light as He is in the light (according to God’s ways), we will have the community bond of believers who have a common belief and a common cause (fellowship), and we will walk in the freedom of a life forgiven and freed from sin (for the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin). 

This verse tells us we are cleansed “from all sin” - that means two things:

  1. We are forgiven of ALL SIN - past, present and future sins.  That’s what the blood of Christ does!  His blood has marked us as justified – forgiven and consider “just as if” we never sinned.  There is nothing that can separate us from God’s love and nothing that we can do to change it. 
  2. We are given a power to say no to sin like we never had before.  Our spirit has been made alive and the Holy Spirit dwells within us.  If we turn to God’s ways for our lives, we can leave the darkness of our sin behind. 

So rejoice over what the Lord has done for you and seek His wisdom, guidance, and strength to walk it out, once step at a time, and one day at a time. 

 

Today we continue chapter 5 of Anderson & Baumchen’s Finding Hope Again, where the authors discuss difficulties we face when we try to live independently of God.  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work:

From the Beginning

Ever since Adam chose to act independently of God, humankind has struggled to find its identity and craved the acceptance and affirmation of others. Because, in our sin, we were all spiritually dead (i.e., separated from God), we learned how to live our lives independently of God. We had neither the presence of God in our lives nor the knowledge of His ways. So we all tried to make a name for ourselves and determine our own purpose for being here.

Such futile pursuits were condemned by the prophets:

Thus says the Lord, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23, 24).

We do not come into this world possessing a built-in sense of identity, nor do we inherently feel good about ourselves. Without God's presence in our lives, we try to derive those basic needs from the world.

Most of our attitudes and beliefs about ourselves are assimilated from the environment in which we were raised. Nobody had perfect parents, because all parents make mistakes in raising their children. According to Dr. Gary Collins, children rarely are damaged by the minor errors all parents make, but real feelings of inferiority do come when parents:

1.    Criticize, shame, reject and punish repeatedly.

2.    Set unrealistic standards and goals.

3.    Express the expectation that the child will fail.

4.    Punish repeatedly and harshly.

5.    Avoid cuddling, hugging or affectionate touching.

6.    Imply that children are a nuisance, stupid or incompetent.

7.    Overprotect or dominate children so they fail later when forced to be on their own.

Inadequate Solutions

Because parents are imperfect, many people have had such experiences during their childhoods. In helping hundreds find their freedom in Christ, we have made the need to forgive parents from the heart a critical part of the process. When people pray and ask the Lord to reveal to their minds who they need to forgive, Mom and Dad are the first two people mentioned 95 percent of the time. But struggling people deserve to be warned of less adequate approaches.

Secular Self-Esteem

I can't think of a topic that produces a bigger and more tangled mess with more inadequate solutions than identity and self-esteem.

Non-Christian counselors and therapists emphasize restoring a healthy self-image, building self-esteem and enhancing self-worth. This sounds good on the surface. Closer examination, however, reveals that the secular mind-set sometimes produces a person who is self-satisfied, self-indulgent sexually and self-reliant apart from God.

Picking ourselves up by our own bootstraps and stroking one another's egos is not going to get it done.

America is besieged by a low sense of self-esteem. Rather than seeking quick-fix solutions from pop psychologists, we ought to encourage people to seek their self-worth through Christ. Imagine the consequences if we could get people to understand that their value is not self-determined, but has already been determined for them by God.

Even among Christians we hear many inadequate solutions for attaining our identity and sense of worth. It has been suggested that a man gets his identity from his work, and a woman from bearing children. Perhaps some see that in Genesis 3, where the Bible says that the woman shall bear her child in pain and the man shall work by the sweat of his brow.

But that is a fallen identity. What happens if the man loses his job? Does he lose his identity? What happens if a woman never marries or can't have children? Does she lose her identity? Who we are has already been established by God in creation and redemption. What name could you make for yourself that would be better than calling yourself a child of God? From where does your identity and self-worth come?

Spiritual Gifts?

Do we get a sense of worth from spiritual gifts? No! Right in the middle of the most definitive teaching about spiritual gifts Paul says:

Those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness, whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked (1 Cor. 12:23, 24).

Talents?

Then do we get our sense of worth from talents? No! God has given some of us one talent, some two, and others five (see Matthew 25:14-30). We might ask, "God, how could you do that? Don't you know, Lord, that only the five-talent person could have any legitimate sense of worth?" That is not true. In fact, super-gifted and talented people often struggle more because they attempt to find their worth in their talents. That can draw attention to themselves when not used to edify the Body, the Church. The attempt can also distract them from developing their character and relationship with God, which is the source of true fulfillment.

Intelligence?

Surely our sense of worth must come from intelligence. No! "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise" (1 Cor. 1:27). God has not distributed intelligence equally any more than He has gifts and talents. He has equally distributed Himself. Only in Christ is there equality:

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:26-29).

Appearance, Performance or Social Status?

Perhaps the most fickle of all false foundations are appearance, performance and social status. A fallen humanity labors under the following false equations:

Appearance + Admiration = A Whole Person

Performance + Accomplishments = A Whole Person

Social Status + Recognition = A Whole Person

Recognition is not the same as acceptance, and the respect given by others may be more for the position than the person. No matter how hard one tries, someone will come along and look better or outperform us. Talents and appearances will also fade with time. When we strive for the acceptance, recognition or admiration of others, then it is they who determine our worth. If they judge us unworthy, are we then worthless?

What a tragedy to put your identity and sense of worth in someone else's hands. Who is qualified to judge your worth? Who has the right to declare you to have value? Will another pot declare a pot seemly or unseemly? Only the Potter has the right to determine who we are. The value He placed on our lives cost Him His only begotten Son. The true equation is: You plus Christ makes you a whole person.

Certainly nothing is wrong in having gifts, talents, intelligence and appearance. They are life endowments given to us by our Creator. We are to be good stewards of such endowments. But if someone endowed us with a new car, we would not find our identity and sense of worth in the car. We hope we would understand that the giver had already found value in us; that is why he gave us the car. And even though no strings were attached to the gift, we would want to use the car in a way that shows appreciation for the gift. To abuse the free gift would be to insult the giver.


Finding Hope Again: Overcoming Depression.

 

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

 

God bless you all!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Purity 280: Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Purity 280 12/02/2020 

Good morning!

Today’s photo was taken by yours truly yesterday in Castleton on the Hudson as I pulled over to get a pic of the double rainbow that the Lord decided to grace us with.    

I chose this pic because I took it, and because it was a breath of fresh air after the previous day’s torrential downpours.  It also reminds me that the Lord can give us glimpses of beauty in the midst of the storm and that no matter how dark and intense the storms in our lives may be, they don’t last forever. 

Also, my mother told me that, somehow from her vantage point of her hospital room at CMH, she saw it and she considered it a good sign and it gave her hope. 

The most frustrating thing about having a loved one in the hospital, in general, is trying to decipher the reports about their diagnosis and prognosis and to get a realistic picture of what to expect according to the medical experts and how that information is later interpreted and reported by the one telling you, be it the patient themselves or a second party. 

No matter what our disposition is normally, I think we all become optimists almost to the point of denial as we are just predisposed to the belief that “everything is going to be okay” or “of course they will be healed”.    For anyone who has suffered traumatic losses, we know that this particular sentiment although true more times than not isn’t always true and that bad things can happen.  

After receiving different reports about my mother’s progress, I have cycled from not concerned, to fearfully concerned, to relieved and assured of healing on its way, to becoming not so sure.   Reports of vital signs in and of themselves can lead us to say “Oh, they’re fine…” and then subsequent reports of treatments and doctor’s orders can make you say: “What are they doing… whoa… this is no joke.. this is serious”.

My mother’s condition is serious. That’s why she’s in the hospital. 

However, she believes she is getting better and is going to get well and eventually be released, prayerfully by the end of the week. 

Regardless of reports and what anyone thinks, God is the only one who knows what will happen and He is the author of every healing that takes place.   So, until my mother walks out of that hospital, I will continue to petition the Lord with prayer to bring her through.

Regardless of the outcomes, I know that God’s plan is best, and I thank Him for the love that He provides me through the relationship with my mother.  He has blessed us beyond measure in our lives and, while I pray for a good outcome, I fully accept His will for our lives.  That’s all we can really do anyway, trust Him.

My mother was our example of faith in God growing up and I know she goes to the Lord in prayer often. If it’s our faith that makes us well, I know she has more than enough. 

The word says that the promises of God are “yes and amen”.  So, last night I texted my mother a few Bible verses to encourage her not to be afraid and to know that our God is with her and He can comfort and heal her.  She simply responded “Amen” with a heart emoji.  She expects to get out and she agrees with the Bible verses that say she will.  Amen, indeed.    

(There is More at the restricted blog). Follow me on Twitter, MeWe, or Parler for easy access.  Blog M T 4 Christ dot org – This is where the Facebook post ends.)

This morning’s meditation verse was:

Psalm 37:5 (NLT2)
5 Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.

I know this verse to be true, more ways than one. I am still in progress, but I continually am trying to commit my life fully to following the Lord and trusting Him.   I can testify that He has helped me over and over and over.  While I came to be “born again” in the spring of 2010, I honestly think that the Lord has been with me all my life, protecting and guiding my path even when I turned my back on Him, was lost in the darkness of my own sin, denied Him, and went after other gods. 

It's been said that God never wastes a hurt and now I know that’s true because as I give testimony of the truth of Jesus Christ to save and transform our lives, I understand what it’s like to not believe, to live selfishly, to feel alone and lost and I try my best to explain what true faith in Christ means: God with us.  

Commit everything to the Lord and Trust Him and He will help you.  Start a life free of regrets. Keep walking and talking with God.  

Today we continue to share from Anderson & Baumchen’s Finding Hope Again, where they discuss three of the areas where we have conflict with God’s word that we need to resolve to overcome depression.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work:

Counterfeit vs. Real

In making a public profession of faith, early Christians would stand, face the west and say, "I renounce you, Satan, and all your works and all your ways." This was the first step in repentance. The Catholic Church and most other liturgical churches still require that statement to be said at confirmation.

In addition to that generic statement, individual Christians would specifically renounce every counterfeit religious experience they had, every false vow or pledge they had made and every false teacher or doctrine they had believed. We encourage every person we counsel to do this as well.

To renounce means to give up a claim or a right. To renounce means that you are making a definite decision to let go of your past commitments, pledges, vows, pacts and beliefs that are not Christian. "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy" (Proverbs 28:13, NIV).

Some people commit themselves to Christ and choose to believe the Word of God, but they hold on to past commitments and still believe what they always have believed. That would make salvation a process of "addition" instead of transformation. Such people just add something to what they already had.

Every believer must decisively let go of the past, which is the first step in genuine repentance. If we totally embrace the truth, then we are also defining what is not true. Our new life in Christ was made possible because of His crucifixion and resurrection. Our sins are forgiven, but nobody pushed the "clear" button. Now that we have the mind of Christ (see 1 Cor. 2:16), we must renew our minds to the truth of God's Word.

The apostle Paul reveals the close link between renouncing and not losing heart (i.e., not being depressed or discouraged):

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor. 4:1, 2).

Paul is contrasting the truth of divine revelation with that of false teachers and prophets. Knowing God's holiness and His call for church purity, Paul exhorts us to renounce every immoral practice, every distortion of truth and any deceitfulness of the heart.

God does not take lightly false guidance and false teachers. In Bible times such teachers were to be stoned to death, and there were serious consequences for those who consulted them. "As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people" (Leviticus 20:6). Similar warnings about false teachers and false prophets are found in the New Testament. That is why it is necessary to renounce any and all involvement with false guidance, false teachers, false prophets and every cult and occult practice. We don't want to be cut off by God; we want to be connected to Him.

Deception vs. Truth

The ultimate battle is between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, between the Christ and the anti-Christ, between good and evil, between the father of lies and the Spirit of truth. Therefore, an important step in being set free from depression is the process of sorting out lies and choosing the truth.

We are admonished to speak the truth in love (see Ephes. 4:15, 25), and to walk in the light (see 1 John 1:7). Many who struggle with depression believe lies, walk in darkness and avoid intimate contact with others. In order to overcome depression, and live free in Christ, we must choose the truth by winning the battle for our minds. This requires an uncompromising commitment to God's Word, regardless of how one feels.

The first step in recovery is to admit that we have a problem, then find at least one person with whom we can be totally honest. The worst thing we can do is to isolate ourselves and sit alone with our troubled thoughts.

The Greek word for "be anxious" is merimnao, which may have been derived from two words—merizo, which means "divide," and nous, which means "mind." An anxious person is double minded, and James says that a double-minded person is unstable in all his ways (see James 1:8). Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other....For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life" (Matthew 6:24, 25). There can be no mental peace or emotional health if one is double minded.

Bitterness vs. Forgiveness

We have never met a depressed person who isn't struggling with bitterness. Depressed people carry the emotional scars and bear the pain of wounds others have inflicted upon them. They have never known how to let go of the past and forgive from the heart. Some have chosen not to. They hang on to their anger as a means of protecting themselves from being hurt again—but they are only hurting themselves.

Forgiveness is the key to overcoming bitterness. Forgiveness is to set a captive free, then to discover you were the captive. We cannot be liberated from our past or be emotionally free in the present without forgiving from the heart. The future threat of torture that Christ promised to the unforgiving (see Matthew 18:34) turns out to be a present reality.

But God is not out to get us; He is out to restore us. He knows that if we hang on to our bitterness, we will only hurt ourselves and others (see Hebrews 12:15). As Paul said, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Ephes. 4:31, 32).

We forgive others for our sake, and for the sake of our relationship with God. What is to be gained in forgiving others is freedom. We are also warned by Paul that we need to forgive others so that Satan doesn't take advantage of us (see 2 Cor. 2:10, 11). This critical issue must be resolved in order to find freedom from depression. Trying to overcome depression while holding on to our bitterness is like expecting physical well-being while simultaneously eating both health foods and poison.


Finding Hope Again: Overcoming Depression.

 

------------------------------more on tomorrow--------------------------

 

God bless you all!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

AFRICA and BACK HOME

Bloggers blog right? or write? RIGHT!  
I have been gone too long. I need to share to tell you, and to remind myself, of all the wonderful things the Lord has done for me.


Well I made it back alive from my mission trip to Africa.  My life was never really threatened but we are never promised tomorrow and I suppose there were plenty of moments in my trip where my life could have ended:

 plane crashes (6 flights in total),

disease (Ebola screenings!),

street violence (I’m assuming Soldiers/police in downtown Harare and in the Shop Rite in Livingstone carry AK-47s for show),

falling to my death from a fool hardy trip halfway down a 500 foot gorge (I was wise enough to turn back when I realized that Crocs didn’t offer the best footing and that it wasn’t  worth it.  An exhausted companion who did the entire trek later confirmed “It was stupid!” Apparently the river below didn’t offer much more than the view from above, except swarms of mosquitoes and flies. )

However, the Lord watched over me and I am safely back home.



It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. The fact is dedicating two weeks of my life solely for the Lord’s purposes was one of the greatest things I have ever done.   I felt like I was my ideal self:  all my time could be categorized as working for the Lord or proclaiming the gospel and my personal testimony.   All throughout the trip I felt I was being led by the Holy Spirit. Every devotional or gospel message seemed to lead to the next in a purposeful unfolding that made everything I encounter seem truly momentous: AS IF IT WERE MEANT TO BE!!! 

The mission  team from my church were united in spirit and purpose with no division or conflicts which isn’t always the case with large groups of diverse people (16).  I found a new level of respect for Pastor Jaron Halsted and Pastor Mike Lambert as they ably lead and ministered to the group with great skill. 

The team spent a week in Harare Zimbabwe where we did concrete and tile work that would help support an orphanage that was funded by Pastor Ephiel Mukamuri of Logos Rhema Ministries. Pastor Ephiel welcomed the team into his home and was a most gracious host providing for all the teams needs during our visit.  While in Zimbabwe, I spoke at Pastor Ephiel’s church and two schools that he supports sharing my personal testimony and the Gospel.   We ended our time in Zimbabwe with a picnic with the orphans, dancing, and praising the name of Jesus in song.   


The team then went to Livingstone Zambia where we did brick and mortar work for a school that the Temple of Power church is building.  Pastor Nelly Chibwela opened up her home and heart to the team richly providing for our needs during our visit.   While in Zambia I preached at Temple of Power Church and at Pastor Buster Tembo’s House of Testimony Church.  Near the end of our trip the team crossed the border into Botswana for a day long Safari, where we took a river Safari and then hopped into trucks going into the bush!  The African landscape was graced by spectacular blue skies and sunshine as the team spied, herds of elephants, lions, wart hogs, baboons, crocodiles, hippos, impalas, lynx, and cheetahs.  Our final day in Zambia we went to the awesome splendor that is Victoria Falls. 




My time in Africa was well spent and I don’t regret it but in life sometimes things aren’t always so wonderful. 

The truth is my wife, who doesn’t share my zeal for missions or evangelism, was not happy with my decision to go to Africa.  I had made a determined decision to go regardless of her feelings and she barley communicated with me while I was away. What made matters even worse was that Michele suffers from recurring kidney stones and infections. She was hospitalized just before my trip but she was out when I left, granted with a subsequent appointment to remove a stint while I was to be away.  Things took a turn for the worse and she had to be hospitalized while I was away, another stint had to be put in.  She was extremely angry for what she sees as me abandoning her.  Upon my return , she was cold telling me she had contacted a lawyer in regards to getting a divorce.  She was also very ill. She refused to go to the Hospital that day but after a night of vomiting and not being able to keep anything down we were headed back to Albany Medical Center.    

While I was in Africa, I had left under the strain of a spouse who didn’t fully support me and I could understand why some people leave their families, or some people go into the mission field for good.  The problems of my life back home were gone, geographically distant and removed.   I really felt the urge to leave, find a nice Christian woman, and spend our lives being missionaries.  However, the Holy Spirit was leading me while in Africa. The messages I heard were about forgiveness, hope, and love.  I strained and prayed mightily for guidance but as much as I was taken with the life of a missionary and preacher that I had come to experience everything I heard told me to go back home and minister to my wife, to show her the love of Christ that has changed my life so much.  I sulkily agreed that this was what the Holy Spirit was telling me to do, so I reluctantly agreed to go home, apologize to Michele, and to begin to honor, love and obey her as our wedding vows commanded.  

So I apologized and started to do things to be there for my wife, reluctantly agreeing to stop going to Bible college to be there for her.   I took her to her doctor appointments and started doing things around the house to get things in order.  I still had fantasies about running off with some Christian woman and being a missionary but I decided to serve my wife regardless of my irrational feelings.  Understand me when I say I was really grieved about this conflict between my desires and what God was telling me to do but I also felt good about being there for Michele and getting the house in order (AS IF IT WERE MEANT TO BE).   

I’m happy to report that after days of speaking words of encouragement and serving my wife I had a revelation about my irrational thoughts.  I discovered that all my thoughts of running out of my marriage were just insane flights of fantasy that I had given power to by dwelling on.  I realized that in my mind leaving my wife and finding love elsewhere was built as an option to consider so I had opened a door to sin.  It’s the tenth commandment : You shall not covet (Exodus 20:17).  I was wanting things that weren’t mine and it was wrong.  As a married man, I was supposed to love my wife like Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25). I haven’t been faithful to my wife like I should have been.   God was calling me to repent.
I am happy to say that Michele has fully recovered from her infection and that she has forgiven me.  I have made it plain to her that I am going to love honor and obey her to the best of my abilities and things are going well. 

I was chasing after God relentlessly to the exclusion of my wife.  I felt the call to the mission field and went in faith.  My visions of a revival sparked by my visit to Africa weren’t realized but the Holy Spirit spoke to me. Apparently, God wanted to get me alone for a while to show me what was important. Galatians  5:22-23 says” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” I have spent two and a half years learning about God and faith but hadn’t put the lessons I had learned into practice in my marriage.  God sent me to Africa to show me that He is awesome and ever present and to tell me to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in my life and marriage.  .

I know I will be challenged and I might fail sometimes. I know that I may never get my wife on board with the Spirit-filled Christian life that I want to live. She may tire of me and leave me but I am going to try to do God’s will for my marriage.

Pastor Mike’s wife, Sue Lambert, had to endure 8 years of marriage to him before he gave himself to the Lord. Now he is a Pastor!

In the Bible, Joseph was in prison for years before he was raised to prominence and saved his family and the entire nation of Egypt.   Moses spent 40 years in the desert serving the Lord and never set foot in the Promised Land.  Paul was rendered blind when Christ was revealed to him with no knowledge that his sight would be restored and he would go on to give his life spreading the gospel. 

The point is serving God isn’t without hardship and it is not about receiving a reward here on earth (Matthew 5:12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.). 


I am going to try to do what God would have me do in my life and marriage without the expectation of reward.  I am going to serve, honor and love my wife as an expression of my faith in Jesus Christ.  .