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Showing posts with label Salvation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Salvation. Show all posts

Monday, January 10, 2022

Braving the Storm - Representing the Kingdom by Showing Up - Purity 624


Braving the Storm -  Representing the Kingdom by Showing Up -  Purity 624

Purity 624 01/10/2022   Purity 624 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the ice covered shores of Lake Ontario in Oswego NY underneath a light blue and pink sky of morning comes to us from Celestial Blue Photography as Rocco Saya is once again out and about and braving the chilly weather to capture scenes of God’s creation.    

It’s Monday again and the local forecast in my neck of the woods calls for below freezing temperatures for the next few days which may leave some of us with the desire to just stay inside and not go out there.  But as providers for ourselves and our families we will brave the cold and get out to do the work that provides for our needs and wants.    

Yesterday, in Easton NY, we awoke to a glazing coating of ice covering everything and sleety rain that made me question whether or not I should go to church or just catch our service online. But as someone who had on average a 45 minute commute 5 days a week for nearly 25 years I have experience in driving in northeast winters and know what to do: go slow and be careful.  So my wife, stepdaughter, and I headed out and quickly discovered the way we were headed hadn’t been properly salted yet as an oncoming driver warned us that just down the hill from where we were headed there was a car off the road whose driver was warning them to not come that way as the road was a sheet of ice.  

I have been reading through Proverbs lately and that wisdom and my experiences has taught me to heed a warning. So we turned around and went to the main highways to get to church and found the way to be less icy and made it to church in time to catch the last song of worship before the pastor’s message.   

The crowd was a little smaller than usual, but I was impressed by the number of people that “braved the storm” and brought themselves to the in-person service even though our church provides online viewing of services.  This fact demonstrated to me how we, as Christians, value community and how we wish to honor the Lord by showing up to his corporate gathering no matter what the weather is like.  

The Pastor reported that the first service had four new attendees and it reminded me of the importance of being faithful and showing up.  My wife reported that after our service she witness a child who must have been a new attendee to the 10:30 service, tell their parents that they “liked this church!” and wanted to come back again.  If the church was closed due to the weather those 4 new attendees from the first service and this child who delighted over what they found at our church would have left and may never have come back again.

The church was open because that’s just what Christians do: they are faithful to worship the Lord and show up to work for His glory.  

It all reminds me of Charles Spurgeon’s testimony of his salvation. Spurgeon got saved because of a snowstorm and the grace of God, of course.  As a 15 year old Spurgeon grew up in a Congregational church but believed he was lost to the fires of hell because of his sinful nature. One winter day his path to church was diverted by a snowstorm and seeking shelter from the storm he ended up attending a Methodist service where the regular pastor had been prevented from attending.  An unknown substitute lay preacher stepped into the pulpit and read his text—Isaiah 45:22—“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.”

“Spurgeon’s Autobiography records his reaction:

“He had not much to say, thank God, for that compelled him to keep on repeating his text, and there was nothing needed—by me, at any rate except his text. Then, stopping, he pointed to where I was sitting under the gallery, and he said, ‘That young man there looks very miserable’ … and he shouted, as I think only a Primitive Methodist can, ‘Look! Look, young man! Look now!’ … Then I had this vision—not a vision to my eyes, but to my heart. I saw what a Savior Christ was.… Now I can never tell you how it was, but I no sooner saw whom I was to believe than I also understood what it was to believe, and I did believe in one moment.”” (https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-29/spurgeons-conversion.html)

Spurgeon walked out of that service and back into the snow a Christian and he would go on, with the Holy Spirit’s anointing, to win countless souls for Christ and became known as “the Prince of Preacher’s”   And the Lord used a snowstorm and a substitute lay preacher to bring the word of salvation that made it all happen.  

Spurgeon knew he wasn’t right with God, but he hoped for heaven, so he went through the motions of going to his regular church where he was deaf to the gospel, but God knew his fear and used a snowstorm and a church that preached the message of salvation through faith in Christ alone to save him and many others.   

So brave the storm and keep seeking the Lord and keep showing up to represent His kingdom and the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  You never know when the Lord will direct your path in a way you didn’t expect or if He will ask you to step in to serve in someone’s place to be used by the Him to do a work that will bring someone out of the fires of hell or that will give God glory.

So bundle up if it’s cold out there and remember that wherever you go God is with you and wants you to get to know Him more and seek His purpose for your life.  So keep walking and talking with God because he can change things from “just going to the motions” to something wonderful when you least expect it.    

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 8:33 (NLT2)
33  Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.

Today’s verse reminds us that God gives us right standing with Himself by Himself, meaning through grace and the work of Jesus Christ.  

That means we didn’t earn our salvation and we can’t earn our salvation. Our right standing with God only comes through our placing our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.     

That is great news because that means no one can accuse us of “not doing it right” or that we have failed to do something to be a Christian.  While there will be many things that we can and will do on the path of Christian Discipleship that will show ourselves and others that “I really am a Christian!” those Christian disciplines don’t make us a Christian, our faith in Jesus Christ does.  

“Does that mean I don’t have to do anything?!”  Yes, it does. 

But if you have been forgiven of all your sins and have been granted eternal life in God’s kingdom, you shouldn’t want to “do nothing”.  

If your heart towards the Lord would lead you to just keep on living your life for yourself without pursuing the faith that gave you salvation, you should question who it is you believe in.  Do you believe in Jesus, or do you believe in yourself? 

Christ never asked anyone to believe in Him. He called people to follow Him.  So if we are not following the Lord’s call on our lives to know His word and His will for our life we should wonder if we really are “in this thing” called Christianity.   

If you don’t produce any fruit, the enemy and the world will accuse you of not being a Christian.  

Now if you have put your faith in Christ, those accusations don’t change your standing with God but instead of making you fear your salvation they should motivate you to follow the Lord so that you can have the assurance of your salvation and find your purpose in His kingdom.  

Accusations are one of the enemy’s weapons to make us unfruitful Christians and to torment us. Our best defense against the accusations of the enemy is to endeavor to represent the Kingdom of God by learning what God’s word says and by applying it to our lives.  The more we walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit and live a Christian Disciple’s life the more we will see how the enemy’s accusations are meaningless because we are covered by Christ’s atonement on the cross and we are actively following Him.   

So if someone accuses you of “not doing it right” or says your sinful ways prove you are not a Christian, tell them that it is only by Christ that you are saved and that although you may not be perfect you are a child of God because of your faith in Jesus and you are in the process of leaving the darkness of this world behind and are following Jesus to be more and more like Him. 

Our walk isn’t about perfection, it’ about progress, and its about putting your faith in and following the one who is perfect: Jesus Christ. 

 

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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 4.   

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

BEGINNING STEP THREE

 

Let me encourage you to ask God who it is that you need to forgive and then I will explain what forgiveness is and how you can do it. In the following prayer, all you are asking for are the names of the people you need to forgive.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the riches of Your kindness, forbearance, and patience, knowing that Your kindness has led me to repentance (Romans 2:4). I confess that I have not extended that same patience and kindness toward those who have hurt or offended me. Instead I have held on to my anger, bitterness, and resentment toward them. Please bring to my mind all the people I need to forgive in order that I may do so. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

MAKING THE LIST

When you have finished praying, write down on a piece of paper every name that comes to your mind. About ninety percent of the time, mother and father are mentioned first. The first few names that come to your mind are usually the people who contributed to your greatest source of pain. Some may be tempted to think, “There isn’t anybody I need to forgive.”

That is highly unlikely since we have all suffered at the hands of someone else. Write down the names that are coming to your mind right now. The Lord wants you to live a liberated life in Him, but you can’t if you are bound to the past in bitterness. He has commanded you to forgive for your sake, so He will bring to mind both the people and the events that you are chained to in unforgiveness. When you forgive, you set the captive free, only to realize that you were the captive. Who are the relatives you need to forgive? Teachers? Employers? Friends? Co-workers? Church leaders?

DEALING WITH SELF AND GOD

The two most overlooked names are “yourself” and “God.” In many cases, anger toward self or God is greater than anger toward any other person. The devil capitalizes on our ignorance of God and His ways and on our irresponsibility by pummeling us with thoughts such as God isn’t going to help you. He doesn’t love you. How can you be a Christian and do the things you do? Look how weak and helpless you are. People who struggle with such thoughts are angry at themselves and/or God, and are disillusioned by the Christian life.

The concept of “letting go” of anger, guilt, and condemnation toward self is something many have never considered. Those feelings are rooted in our failure to understand God’s cleansing and forgiveness. Only God can forgive our sins, which separate us from Him, and He has. But we need to forgive ourselves for our failures, for letting God down, and for hurting others. Otherwise we believe the subtle deception that we must atone for our own sins.

Believers paralyzed by condemnation are being victimized by the accuser of the brethren (Satan), or by their own faulty consciences, rather than the truth of God’s grace. The latter is psychological guilt based on years of performance-based living and legalistic religious beliefs. These kinds of people live as though Christ’s death was not sufficient to cover their sins. You can hang on the cross if you want to, but it won’t do you any good. The Apostle Paul warned us when he said, “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in selfabasement.”67

You are not being presumptuous by forgiving yourselves, because you are not accomplishing forgiveness from God. Only God can forgive our sins through His Son. Forgiving ourselves is actually receiving forgiveness from God. Forgiving ourselves is saying in effect, “Lord, I believe that You have forgiven me and cleansed me of my sins. Because of Your great love and grace—not because I deserve it—I choose to no longer condemn myself when You have forgiven me. I receive Your forgiveness and cleansing.”69

 ---------------------------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

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Way I Am versus What He says I am – Purity 615

 The Way I Am versus What He says I am – Purity 615

Purity 615 12/30/2021  Purity 615 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of “a brother and a friend” facing the setting sun on one of the beaches in Sandy Hook NJ comes to us as they recently made this epic photo their profile pic earlier this week.  His identity is obscured as he was looking in the opposite direction of the camera and his name is being withheld because even though we are brothers, from our college days, and friends, he may or may not be in agreement with everything I have to say. I would like to think we can be friends even when we don’t agree on everything.  

I hope he won’t take offense at my using his photo, like some ex-friends, to highlight the natural beauty of God’s creation that is all around him and the fact that our identities are likewise a part of God’s all surrounding kingdom.   To my friend, if you do take offense, I ask for your forgiveness, sir.  Like the Blues Brothers, I am on a mission from God and I got the indication that the Lord had need of it. 

In perhaps what is one of his signature songs, “The Way I Am”, the rapper Eminem, instead of defending himself or trying to deny the media reports about him, decided to embrace the chaos, proclaiming: 

I am whatever you say I am
If I wasn't, then why would I say I am?
In the paper, the news, every day I am, huh
I don't know, it's just the way I am

Eminem wasn’t really agree with the media reports of course and was making his own report of how the media tried to classify him in a certain light, how people were out to profit from him, and how he had no privacy because he realized his dream of fame and fortune but had to suffer the insults of the mainstream music industry who didn’t embrace him at the time as  he states that “Radio won’t even play my jam”.

When I listened to Eminem back in the day, I used to pump that song to the max and angrily sing along with Marshal Mathers because after the loss of my infant son I had become disillusioned with the American Dream and life in general and idolized the Detroit rapper and the way he angrily proclaimed how he didn’t care what anyone thought about him, he was who he was and that was just the way he was.    

As we go through life, we grow from children to adults having to decide who we will be in life through our choices. The things we like, the things we do, our tastes, our talents, our personality, and our relationships all come together to paint a picture of who we are, and our thoughts and actions are directed by who we perceive ourselves to be. 

If the world tells you are an angry person, and you agree with it, you will behave in a way that is consistent with that perception. When offended, you will lash out because that’s “just the way I am.”  

In Hamlet, Polonius advises his son Laertes: “to thine own self be true”, but as we can see who that “own self” is can be shaped by the world around us and what we decide to be.     

The world will judge you on your performance. If you don’t have riches, beauty, or accomplishments you won’t be much in the world’s eyes.  

Satan and his demonic minions will encourage a spirit of rebellion in you and will insist that you are your own boss and like to do things your way and that no one is going to tell you what you can and can’t do. 

You may unwittingly have sympathy for the devil and agree with him, as our American culture stresses individual freedom and has increasingly redefined the standards of morality to accept things that were once considered perverse, shameful, or illegal as normal.  

Who we are is influenced by what we believe and how we choose to live according to those beliefs.

So as much as some of us like to think of ourselves as “self-made men”, we should recognize that we are influenced by the world, but we should also consider the Creator of the world, God.  

There are no “self-made men as God created the heavens and the earth and all the living beings that inhabit it.  

Part of our conflicts in choosing “who I am” comes from the fact that God made us in His image and gave us all a conscience, writing His law on our hearts.

Even though we may know in our hearts when we do wrong as children, we can harden our hearts and change our minds to accept our sins as normal and acceptable as we grow into adults.  

And for most of us, who aren’t completely hardened in our own concepts of morality by sin, if we are honest, we know we are doing wrong and we are not right with God but feel utterly hopeless to change it because it’s “just the way I am”, right?  

Well, the word of God tells us you can have a new and eternal life when you put your faith in Christ. So although you may feel set in your ways, God makes a new way when you come into relationship with Him.   

No matter what you define your self as or what you have “made” yourself into, you don’t have any power to forge your own path into eternity. Those who don’t put their faith in Christ will have to face Him one day to be judged and suffer eternal separation from God in a place described as outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Not a pleasant thought, I know, but I have to share it because Jesus warned of it, and I have come to know that God is real, and people are only saved from His wrath by making peace with Him by putting your faith in Christ. 

Just as our friend’s photo would be pretty lame, without the beauty of God’s creation surrounding Him,  we don’t live in a vacuum. We live in the world and will be subject to the Creator of it.  We have to come into harmony with that Creator as our purpose in life and the only way we do that is by aligning ourselves with Him by accepting His plan for our redemption and making Christ our Lord and Savior.  

The world is a maelstrom of changing ideas, fashions, and philosophies but God’s word stands forever and what it says about us should be considered.  

Without Christ, we are sinners waiting for judgement. 

With Christ, we are saints that have been forgiven and provided with life eternal and power over sin.      

So consider the big picture and the fact that you are living in the context of God.   Instead of embracing the lies of the world that pass away, choose to believe the word of God that will stand forever.  

Instead of being “just the way I am”, listen to the Great I AM and inherit all of the promises of God and a new identity based on what He says about you by putting your faith in Jesus Christ.   

Our struggles to find an identity in this world come from the fact that we choose to ignore the big picture and deny the fact that the Creator made us and has a plan for our lives.  

The struggles with our identity stop and peace, love, and joy come when we stop worrying about “whatever they say I am”,  and we choose to agree with and own our identity of who we are in Christ. In Christ, we are accepted, secure, and significant.  

Hey, we all make our own choices of who we will be in life, but I just want to encourage you to consider who you will be when this life ends and the possibility for living out a new life in Christ where you can know and experience progressive goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, self-control, peace, love and joy.  

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Philippians 2:13 (NLT2)
13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Today’s verse teaches us that the power in our Christian walk of faith comes through God working in us.   

Every person who puts their faith in Christ receives the Holy Spirit. After salvation, the Spirit of God encourages us to live according to God’s ways by making us more sensitive to the “wrongness” of our sins and by drawing us to pursue the things of God and to turn from our old ways of doing things.  

As stated above, we, even people who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, can harden our hearts to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and continue in our lifestyles of sin.  

But as today’s verse indicates, when we choose to follow the Lord’s will for our lives to be sanctified and listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we receive “the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”  

So if you are wondering why you haven’t changed much from when you said “Yes” to Jesus as your Lord and Savior, it is because you are not choosing to follow Him consistently and you are not letting God work within you because of your choosing your ways rather than His.  

So let go and let God work within you to give you the desire and power to do what pleases Him by simply praying to God that His will be done on earth, and in your life, as it is in heaven. 

Keep walking and talking with God and you will be amazed as your desires change and you see Him working in your life.  

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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we begin sharing from Chapter 2.    

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

Chapter 2

OVERCOMING FALSE GUIDANCE

If you really want to experience your freedom in Christ, the first step is to renounce previous or current involvement with any activity or group that denies Jesus Christ, offers guidance through sources contrary to the Word of God, or requires secret ceremonies or covenants. The Bible teaches that “he who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” 44 Renounce means to forsake or say no to something or someone. Renounce is the first step toward repentance, which means to turn away from something and towards something else. Repentance literally means a change of mind, but it is much more comprehensive in its application.

When the Pharisees and the Sadducees came to be baptized by John, “He said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance.’”45 Jesus knew their repentance was incomplete. They wanted the blessing of God but didn’t want to give up their traditions, practices, and religious positions.

THE NEED TO RENOUNCE

The public declaration: “I renounce you Satan and all your works and all your ways” has historically been a part of the Church’s profession of faith since its earliest days. To this day members of most liturgical churches are encouraged to make that public profession at salvation or confirmation. In the Early Church, believers would literally face west and make that declaration. Then they would face east and declare their belief in God. The statement is only generic, however. Every work of Satan and every way of Satan had to be renounced in order for repentance to be complete.

To be free from the past, it is necessary to specifically renounce every false religion, false teacher, false practice, and every means of false guidance you have participated in. Many people come to Christ and make a profession of faith, but continue in their old ways of seeking guidance and participation in false religious practices. That is not complete repentance. If we declare something as true, then it is just as important to declare the counterfeit as false. You cannot believe the truth and believe a lie at the same time and experience your freedom in Christ.

The Cross dealt with the forgiveness of our sins. The Resurrection provided us with new life in Christ, and the Ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father assured us of the authority and power to live a victorious life in Christ. But the moment we are born again, our minds are not totally renewed. That is why Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”46 The Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension make all that possible. Now we can repent and renew our minds. We can renounce the lies, the false guidance, and the false teachers. And we can choose the truth as led by the Holy Spirit.

DEMONIC FORCES AT WORK

The Apostle Paul warned us what we can expect in this world: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”47 Concerning the last days, Jesus said, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”48 These deceptive belief systems and false teachings are counterfeits. They may appear to mimic the truth, but they are in fact satanically inspired lies. They are taught by false teachers who often represent themselves as followers of Christ.49

When assessing counterfeits of Christianity, no criterion is more important than the doctrine of Jesus Christ. If any person or group will not or cannot say that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the King of kings, and the great I AM, then they should be considered suspect.50 Many people under the influence of Satan can say that Jesus is Lord, but when asked to say Jesus is their Lord, they simply repeat, “Jesus is Lord.” The Devil knows that Jesus is the Lord of the universe, but will not profess Jesus as his Lord, nor will his followers.

A second identifiable trait of false religions and the occult is an offer of salvation or enlightenment through something other than faith in the finished work of Christ. Satan blinds the minds of people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.51 New Age proponents teach that we are not separated from God by our sin and therefore have no need to repent. They say we are God and only need to be enlightened. What a lie!

Third, psychics, gurus, shamans, and false prophets offer a special quality of life, esoteric knowledge, or special power that is available by connecting with cosmic energy sources, secret rituals, ceremonies, or covenants. Occult means hidden, concealed or secret, which is in total contrast to the nature of God, who does everything in the light. What is really hidden from view, however, is Satan, the puppet master. His goal is to keep humanity in bondage by drawing us away from the truth that would set us free. Genuine repentance is the means by which we experience our freedom, as we renounce the lies and choose the truth.

TAKING A VERBAL STAND

The believer has a responsibility to submit to God and resist the devil.52 In doing so they are recognizing God’s authority over their lives and His authority over the demonic realm.53 They are taking their rightful position at Christ’s right hand and standing against the devil, using the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. They are exercising dependence upon God and the authority they have in Christ.

The Bible relates the story of unregenerate men who tried to exert authority over the demonic realm by using rituals and incantations. Such futility will bring disastrous results. The seven sons of Sceva were unbelievers trying to cast out demons in Jesus’ name without an authentic relationship with Him.54 They were stripped of their clothes, beaten up, and kicked out. Their efforts were similar to occultic practices that try to manipulate the spirit world to do their will, but not God’s will.

The biblical example of breaking counterfeit religious ties with the past is found in Acts 19:18-20. Many of the new Christians in Ephesus had been deeply involved in false religions and the occult through worship at the Temple of Artemis. Luke writes in verse 18, “Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices.” The open disclosure of occult practices was followed by the positive action of ridding themselves of anything associated with that darkness. “And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of all.”

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

 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

For Unto You a Child is Born – The Boy Who Lived - Purity 607


For Unto You a Child is Born – The Boy Who Lived - Purity 607

Purity 607 12/21/2021  Purity 607 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a quaint New England lighthouse on the shores of Cape Cod comes to us from yours truly and the distant past as I captured this scene while on a whale watch cruise during a family vacation in the Summer of ’09, maybe or sometime in the 2000’s. I wasn’t the most diligent in labeling my photos in years past and the technology I used didn’t timestamp it, but I do believe this comes from a trip that was B.C. before Christ.      

Speaking of another B.C., if you happen to see my son today, Brennan Clark, be sure to wish him a happy birthday as he began his epic journey of life in this world 20 years ago today. Brennan’s coming was dramatic and his life has been filled with drama in various ways ever since. 











Brennan is a twin and my eldest born son as he and his brother, Holden, were born two months premature with Brennan being the first baby born and the only son I held on the day of his birth as the team of doctor’s and nurses whisked both babies away from us after Holden was delivered, something I interpret as somewhat prophetic in the wake of Holden’s death to pneumonia in March of 2022.  

We didn’t know Holden’s days were numbered at the time and by all appearances he was the healthier of the two twins, weighing about 8 pounds to Brennan’s 5.  Holden was allowed to come with us shortly after his birth, but Brennan had to stay in Albany Med’s NICU for a time before it was deemed safe for him to come home.

When Brennan was allowed to come home, he came home with a heart monitor which would beep loudly whenever Brennan’s little heart would skip a beat, causing his parents to run in a panic to his crib. We nicknamed Brennan “beeper” because of it but we had the utmost confidence that he would live.  

We had confidence both of our boys would live and when they both had colds in March 2022, we rushed them to the doctor on a Saturday to get them checked out.  The doctor assured us that the boys were over their colds and that they would be fine.  Two days later I received the traumatic shock of my life as I woke up with Holden dead in my arms as I had fallen asleep with him in the recliner in our living room.  



I thought I had inadvertently killed Holden in his sleep somehow, but the coroner’s report explained that Holden’s cold had turned into pneumonia and that was the cause of death.  Although I have the utmost assurance that Holden is alive in heaven with God, he is my son who died.

But Brennan, the smaller of the two twins, who was delayed in coming home with great concern and a heart monitor, got over his cold and lived. 

And boy has he lived. A few days ago I wrote about something being the gift that keeps on giving and that is how I feel about my son, Brennan, sometimes.



Both my son, Brennan, and daughter, Haley, are artists. Haley draws, paints, and writes stories and actually was the first of my children to bravely enter into the performing arts but Brennan followed in her footsteps and wasn’t content to stay in her or in anyone else’s shadow.  

Brennan was always an intelligent boy and excelled academically from the start but his penchant for questioning tradition, the status quo, and authority that he may have inherited from his father would also cause him to get in trouble as his passion would occasionally cause him to rebel or lash out in unpredictable ways or cause him to literally escape the school grounds.      



Thankfully, his passions eventually found a more acceptable way of expression in the performing arts as he became a soloist in the school choirs and one of the lead performers in the school dramatic performances. 

I took great pride in Brennan’s musical and dramatic performances and because I knew what a gift from God that he was, this was the boy that lived after all, I would go to all of his performances. But unlike some parents that aren’t shy to point out their relationship to their child star, I was content to stand in the shadows and not take any of his glory for myself.  I figured that Brennan is a gift from God that was not just for me but for everyone that his life will touch. 

That once small life that the experts doubted was meant to survive and to thrive. My son, the boy who lived, was meant to survive because of God’s sovereign will and the joy that he brings to people who see him perform and who befriend him. The talents that God gave Brennan point to the joy of living and the God who gave him life even if he isn’t always confident in his direction or sure of his course.



Brennan was slated to be the lead for his school’s spring musical in 2020, Little Shop of Horrors, before Covid-19 and horror of forced lockdowns cancelled his performance and his senior year in effect.   

Brennan stagnated in the wake of Covid-19, graduated in summer school, and spent a “gap year” in my home neither working nor going to school.   In that gap year, I gave many a pep talk and words of encouragement which seemed to fall on deaf ears as Brennan continued to stay home.   In that gap year, many people gave lots of advice on what I should do to straighten Brennan out, but I remained patient and encouraging, hoping that he would once again enter into the world to share his talents and himself with those who could use him.

He was my son and unlike like his father he wasn’t involved in alcohol or drugs and as far as I was concerned he could take his time in finding his way, although I admittedly was tested in my patience.   

Thankfully, the boy who lived decided to live again and this past fall he became a full time student at Hudson Valley Community College and recently had the male lead in the college’s production of Little Women, playing a character who didn’t ascribe to the status quo and was willing to think outside of the box, and to use his talents and resources for others, and to do anything for love.  

Not surprisingly, Brennan has new friends and a new attitude.  He is not sitting around the house anymore and although He may not be sure of his ultimate purpose he is giving himself to the world again.  

So today he will be going to Koto for his traditional hibachi birthday dinner but because of the difficulties in the post-divorce landscapes of our lives I won’t be in attendance. Brennan will be enjoying his 20th birthday dinner without either of his parents.   

Last night he said he knew I would understand why and said that “I didn’t care”.  I assured him that it was fine and that it was only natural for a man in his 20’s to gravitate towards his friends and wish to avoid any familial drama. 

I’m a grown up and don’t need to go to the birthday party but my absence shouldn’t be seen as a lack of care.  

While I don’t need to be at the party, my son, and daughter, should know that I love them dearly and only wish the best for them. I have tried to raise my children to be independent and I want them to find their way in the world.  Their lives are their own and I am immensely proud of each of them.  I understand that my children are a gift from God that I am to steward and then release into the world for His purposes and for His glory.  So I am content to stand in the shadows and love them from a distance, to be proud of them, and to take no portion of their praise or glory.

I can only hope that they know that as much as I love them, their heavenly Father, God, loves them too.  God loves them much more than me and He sent His Son to earth to prove it.

Father God stands in the shadows of our lives. He provides for us and pours the talents and abilities we have into us.  No matter what mistakes we make or how we perform He loves us.  And when we listen to His advice, follow Christ’s example, and walk into the good works that God has prepared for us, He is immensely proud of our accomplishments and basks in the glory of what we do that reflect His likeness.   

As I am reminded of and celebrate my son’s birth today, I would encourage everyone to get to know that Son who was born in Bethlehem whose purpose was to reflect His Father’s image and to use His talents and love to bring us to Him.   

The Father stands in the shadows loving you and He sent His son to give Him glory and to bring you home.  So go home for Christmas. Take the Son’s hand by making Him your Lord and Savior and take the eternal life and peace with God that comes from accepting His love.


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

This morning’s meditation verses are:

Proverbs 2:10-11 (NLT2)
10  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.
11  Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.

Today’s verses conclude our short walk into Proverbs 2 and speaks of the experiential aspect of wisdom and the protection that comes through living it out. 

Today’s verses speak of an emotional aspect of wisdom. It’s not just good thoughts that enter our brains when we interact with God’s wisdom.  The term wisdom means applied knowledge.  It is one thing to know facts, it is another to use those facts in how you live your life.  

While we can’t assume that any knowledge is universal, most of us would admit that somethings, like smoking or eating non-nutritious foods, are unhealthy or not good for us.   While it is great to know that these habits can cause us to suffer, the knowledge doesn’t help us unless we apply it to our lives and decide to abstain from them.  

Spiritually, we can also “know” certain things but unless we apply our spiritual knowledge we could be led astray. When we let others make choices for us, we have to be careful and are responsible for the consequences of those decisions.  

Recently, that boy who lived, my son, Brennan went shopping with his girlfriend to purchase Christmas gifts for their small group of friends. Brennan took a back seat and relied on his girlfriend’s suggestions for their various friends’ gifts.  

 

One in their circle of friends apparently has macabre tastes and an interest in the occult. So Brennan’s girlfriend decided that their friend might enjoy a small giftset on witchcraft.  The box advertised that it contained a guide to magic, spells, and potions and promised that its spells would help to “de-stress”, to make your wishes to come true, and to give you a new adventure for your life.   

 

Brennan doesn’t believe in witchcraft and didn’t think much of it. So when I came home this weekend I found this witchcraft gift set sitting on my kitchen table!

 

I teach spiritual warfare. I know that witchcraft is prohibited in the Bible and is essentially the worship of demons and has great potential for harm.  So filled with righteous indignation and a desire to cleanse my house of this demonic gift, I took it and immediately constructed a bonfire to destroy it.  While I was at it, I also threw in a few books I had purchased that highlighted aberrant religious practices that I had re-purchased under the guise of research but when the spirit to cleanse house came they simply had to go to. 

 

So the house is spiritually cleansed for Christmas, Brennan has professed his non-involvement with the occult and fully understands that my home is a Christian home and hopefully will understand that the occult is not to be trifled with.  

 

So sometimes you have to apply your knowledge, in dramatic experiential ways.  I knew witchcraft was no good and followed the Bible’s teachings on what to do with occult books: we are to burn them.  

 

Knowing that material is out of my house, has been destroyed, and can’t harm anyone else fills my heart with joy. 

 

As today’s verses testifies:  Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.”  So know the word of God, stand on what it says, reap the joy of understanding it, and enjoy the safety that your wise choices that are based on the word of God brings.  

 

 

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 A.W. Tozer’s Advent Devotional – From Heaven,  for Day 25 as this current resource series will lead us to Christmas Eve.

 

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

DAY 25

THE WONDERS OF GOD DECLARED

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

JOHN 1:18

Now the mystery of atonement had to be performed. Why in the Old Testament did the priest go behind the veil to perform the ritual of atonement and then come out from behind the veil? It was God saying, in beautiful symbolism, that there would be a day when another priest, with other blood, should enter into a realm where the mind of man could never penetrate, and there in a mystery too deep and dark and wonderful for man to understand, all alone with none to help him. Not David, not Abraham, not Paul—no one. Alone in the silence and the darkness he should make atonement for sin.

And that is what happened. God stepped back and allowed Him to die. But briefly and quickly, His heart was joined again to the love of God, for three days later He was raised from the dead and later ascended to the right hand of God the Father Almighty. And one day He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

Now consider the closing line: “has made him known.” What has Jesus declared about God? There are profundities that He could never declare, there are depths that He could never declare. But there are some things He could declare and did and does. He could declare God’s holy being and, above all, for us poor sinners, He declared God’s love and mercy. So He has set Him forth, and Jesus Christ tells us in His tender, human being, that God has a care for us.

I remember hearing years ago of four or five sons who had been reared in a home, and the old folks were wordless. They did not say much; they did not show much affection. Nobody did. And the boys didn’t. After they were babies, they quit kissing their parents and quit using words of affection and grew to be strong men, and married and separated and got away. They seldom came home and seldom wrote. And when Mother’s time had about come, they sent for the boys. They said if they wanted to see her, come. They came, all of them—big, fine fellows now, each with his own home and his own business and job. As they stood around her bed, one of them said, “Mother, we want you to know that you’ve meant a lot to us boys. We haven’t been unappreciative. We’ve loved you, and we thank you.”

And then they separated and when they were gone from her, she turned and said to someone by her side, “Oh, if they had only told me before. These years I’ve wondered if I had meant anything to them. These years I thought I had failed them. Now they tell me, ‘We’re so thankful.’ If they had only told me earlier.”

You know it is possible to feel a lot that you don’t tell. It is possible to have fine intentions that you never make known. And how easy it might have been for God to have loved us and never told us, to have been merciful toward us and never revealed it. But the Scripture says that nobody ever saw God but the only begotten Son. Some translations say, “the only begotten God,” who is “in the bosom of the Father.” He has told us. He came to tell us what the silence never told us. He came to tell us what Moses could not even tell us. He came to tell us that God cares and God loves and God has a plan and God’s carrying out that plan. And before it all is finished there will be a multitude—redeemed, out of every tongue and tribe and nation—that no man can number. That’s what He told us.

He revealed God’s being, love, grace, mercy, good intention, redemptive intention, saving intention. He gave it to us. Here it is. It is ours! Now we have only to turn and believe and accept and take and follow, and it all is ours.

Tozer, A. W. (2016). From heaven: a 28-day advent devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

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

 

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship