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Showing posts with label Stephen F. Olford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stephen F. Olford. Show all posts

Monday, April 15, 2024

Why God Chose You - Purity 1326


 Why God Chose You - Purity 1326

Purity 1326 04/15/2024 Purity 1326 Podcast

Purity 1326 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of an Eric Carle’s illustration of the dove returning to Noah’s Ark carrying a freshly picked olive leaf in its beak, proclaiming good news that the flood waters had receded, comes to us from yours truly as I imperfectly captured this work of art and a reflection of my wife and myself in the glare, during my visit to the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst Massachusetts this past Saturday.  Eric Carle’s illustrations were featured in Issacc Bashevis Singer’s children’s book that answered the question: Why Noah Chose the Dove?

I can’t tell you why Noah chose the dove just yet, because I never read that book. My wife and I only learned of its existence on Saturday – and yes even though it is out of print, TammyLyn did track it down and ordered a copy of it before we left the exhibit displaying this work from it. So maybe I’ll take some photos of it when we receive it to reveal what Singer came up with.   Stay tuned.

Anyway, it’s Monday, and after a week’s “stay-cation” at my place down by the river that gave me time to rest and recuperate after a particularly busy first quarter of the year, I am ready to get back to work as my vacation gave me the opportunity to rest my body and mind but it also allowed me to lose focus with my health goals as I compromised in the discipline department when it came to fighting the good fight against my food addiction by indulging in foods that should be avoided and to eat too much in general.  

When it comes to overcoming an addiction, we really have to change our lifestyle, and to do that we have to change the way we think.  Unfortunately, the beliefs that “Vacations are for Taking a Break” and “You mustn’t waste food” combined their efforts against me and caused me to “clean out my freezer” of foods unhealthy and forgotten – now they're gone! – and to give up and just give in general with “comfort foods” by the week’s end.   So I am ready to repent and get back on track.  

My “idle time” also gave the enemy plenty of opportunity to attack me as I was plagued by frantic thoughts concerning the future, condemning thoughts about the past and present, and had a couple of disturbing dreams as well! I rolled with the punches of course but this morning upon waking I said some quick prayers of confession to cover anything I had done or left undone that could be considered sin and I also prayed and chose to forgive those who have offended or hurt me – including myself and God just to be on the safe side – and to be able to be free of any guilt, shame, or condemnation for my shortcomings and to rise to newness of life. 

The enemy’s anxiety-laden attacks caused me to doubt my future, my adequacy, my identity, and my purpose in life and even caused me to ponder the question – Why would You ever choose me, God?     

My demonic-driven or self-inflicted anxious ponderings was declaring the antithesis of a “Stuart Smalley” affirmation: 

“I’m NOT good enough, 

I’m NOT smart enough, 

And Doggone It, people DON”T Like Me!”  

So why would You choose me, or any of us Lord?  

Luckily, I have learned that when we want wisdom we are to ask God for it and the depository of God’s wisdom to mankind is contained in His Word, the Holy Bible, and is delivered to man through His Holy Spirt.  So as I seek to be built up in my faith again and started to wonder about this question of Why God would choose me? – The Holy Spirit – brought a few verses to mind reminding me why He would choose us.  

Part of the condemning dialog that low self-esteem or the enemy brings to us, has us to consider our more worldly and successful neighbors.  Coveting is a sin for a reason – it drives us to sinful thoughts and actions to obtain what our flesh considers to be precious – so we perceive ourselves to be less than in some regard and condemn ourselves for not being good enough.   To which the Holy Spirit pointed me to.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NLT2) that tells us:
26  Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
27  Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
28  God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
29  As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

We are not to put our self-worth in the things of this world for we are rich in Christ and although the world thinks of Christians as fools to be pitied – God intentionally chose us to show the wise that it is not through earthly wisdom, wealth, or accomplishments that we are approved by God.  It is by grace and faith in Christ alone that we are accepted by God.  So that answers – the “not good enough” and “not smart enough” condemnation – No, we are not “good enough or smart enough” by the world’s standards – but we have been given God’s goodness and Divine wisdom that will confound the sinful and prideful world when God brings His kingdom to earth. Instead of being dragged into despair over our shortcomings, we should rejoice that God accepts us in spite of them and invites us to walk with Him to accept them and possibly overcome them through Him. 

Another poison pill in the whirlwind of condemnation that blew in my direction this past week was in the area of purpose. In my zeal to serve the Lord I often beat myself up that I “blew my chance” or that “I’m not doing enough for the kingdom” and when I face difficulties, rejection, or uncertainty of “where my life is leading”, I see my inadequacies and wonder if I can ever do anything right and worry about the future.    To which the Holy Spirit gave me:

John 15:5 (NKJV) where Jesus tells us:
5  I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

That tells me that it is only because of God that I will be able to do anything for the kingdom, so I should give myself a break and just let go and let God in the sense that I should stop striving and gripping over what “I can do for the kingdom” and instead just follow the Lord and let Him do what He wants through me. 

And finally, in my condemning ponderings, I thought of the broken relationships I have suffered and the chilly receptions I sometimes receive because of my faith, or lack of skill walking through this world.  I’m not thought well of by some and when I think of my performance or attributes I can’t necessarily blame them.   But to this the Holy Spirit reminds me of: 

John 15:18-19 (NKJV) where Jesus told us plainly:
18  "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
19  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

God chose us. Jesus chose us. And this passage indicates that there may be something beyond the visible in the world’s rejection of us and it ultimately shows us that the world’s opinion of us and their persecution of us don’t matter.  God chose me! And you know the Lord Jesus, He chose you too.   And if you are asking why, let me remind us:

In John 3:16 (NKJV) , Jesus tells us why:
16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

God loves us and reveals the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to save us and to give us eternal life – and we have it now and God’s word tell us in:

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT2)
38  … that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
39  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are chosen, made alive forever, and loved by God and if you are still wondering why He chose us – or what He wants us to do now or with the rest of our lives,  Jesus tells us in

Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT2) where he says:
19  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
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.”

God’s word assures us that, in Christ, we are chosen and loved and given a purpose. His word is filled with other directions for us to obey and other promises to fill us with hope. So if the world beats you up or you are putting yourself down, stop it! – by remembering that you are chosen and free to live in the love of God forever and the only purpose that you have to worry about is in enjoying and sharing the love of God with others. 

In Christ, you are “good enough, smart enough, and MY LORD – the One who matters most loves you. SO rejoice, don’t lose hope, and don’t forget who you are now that God has chosen you to live for Him.

 

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Death and Eternal Life

2 Corinthians 5:1-8 (ESV)
1  For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2  For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,
3  if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.
4  For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
5  He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6  So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,
7  for we walk by faith, not by sight.
8  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Today’s verses fall under the eighth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Death and Eternal Life.  

8. Believers who have died are absent from the body, but at home with the Lord.

Today’s verses tell us that we need not fear death for we will be present with Him.  That’s our worst-case scenario, right? Death?  But, in Christ, we live – FOREVER. We have peace with God so enjoy it. Don’t be afraid the Lord has us in the palm of His hand and we are forever safe in His love and in His kingdom. 

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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 “According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament” By Stephen F. Olford – A Collection of Devotional Journals: 1940-1941.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Olford’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

EVENING READING: JOHN 18

“Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would
come upon Him, went forward and said to them,
‘Whom are you seeking?’” – John 18:4

What grace is this! What love! “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends” (John 15:13). But this Man handed himself over to His enemies, not His friends. They had come with lanterns and torches and weapons – they were His enemies.

It was night when this greatest of incidents took place. Judas knew that the Lord Jesus resorted to the garden, but probably could not distinguish Him right away in the dim light of the torches and lanterns. But the blessed Master, with His face set to do His Father's will, never flinched, but walked out to meet His enemies, saying, “I am He” (John 18:5).

Lord, give me the love that knows no fear
– the perfect Love.[1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Practicing Presence – The Essence of Worship - Purity 1325


 Practicing Presence – The Essence of Worship - Purity 1325

Purity 1325 04/13/2024 Purity 1325 Podcast

Purity 1325 on YouTube: Coming Soon!

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a spectacular nighttime sky over the silhouette of a mountain horizon comes to us from an unknown FB friend with a really good camera, mad photography skills, or both, who shared this scene on social media on or around April 23rd, 2021.  If this beauty is yours and you would like the photo credit you deserve, let me know and I will update the blog after the fact.    

Well, It’s Saturday and I share today’s photo because of the awe it inspires and how it points to the Lord. Our created universe points to a Creator and when you take a moment to look beyond yourself it is natural to come to a conclusion that there is a God and He is good.  

Yesterday, I drove up to my countryside home because in spite of the rain I encountered on the way, I knew that the trip would be worthwhile because of the company I would find there, that of my beloved wife, TammyLyn. Regardless of the weather, I find peace and joy in the presence of the woman I love, and it is only natural to express my affection for her when we are together. When I am with her I express my appreciation for her with compliments, acts of service, and physical touch.  My love for her causes me to do these things naturally and doesn’t much matter what we have planned for our time together, I find peace and joy just being with her. 

Similarly, I can find peace and joy when I go out into nature and take a hike and start to appreciate that the beauty of what I found there was provided for us through God’s handiwork. 

After dinner last night, the rain stopped and in despite the flooding from the downpour that created rushing streams of water running over the countryside, my canine friend, Harley, and I took our walk down “Freedom Road” and as we made our return trek from the clearing at the end of that old wheel rutted dirt and gravel pathway, I stood in awe over the beauty of the overall scene of the surrounding farmlands and how the sky was filled with clouds in motion and how the last lights of day was breaking through them all as they dispersed themselves on the horizon.  As I slowly walked back I marveled over beauty of the scene before me but before I reached the roads end, I started thanking God for the wonder of the world He created, my life, and all that I have been blessed with as I have walked through my life’s journey up to that point. My sense of peace, joy, and gratitude over that present moment was deep and I just had to how I reached out to God to know I appreciated it and Him.

When we get out of our heads and just notice what’s going on around us – the wonder of God’s creation and the miracles of our everyday lives, it is only natural to worship the Lord. 

These experiences all happened yesterday but I encounter similar moments of peace and joy quite often because I “practice presence” with the Lord. I live in the context of my Christian faith by literally “walking and talking with God” – what I think of as the essence of a discipled or surrendered Christian life – but it also could be considered as the “essence of worship” which is only natural when we contemplate or spend time with God.  

Neil Anderson shares similar thoughts from his latest blog this week and I felt to share the good doctor’s thoughts here to emphasize just how natural it should be to worship God.   Neil Anderson writes:

“The Essence of Worship

When I taught at Talbot School of Theology there was a student on campus who was seven feet six inches tall. I felt sorry for him, because people would stare, i.e. until he looked back. They probably didn’t want to, but they could hardly keep themselves from doing so. I found myself sneaking glances at him. Most strangers said nothing to him other than an occasional, “How is the weather up there?” Everyone thought, “That man is really tall!” That is the natural response to attributes that are unusual or outstanding, which is the essence of worship.

Worship is ascribing to God His divine attributes. God doesn’t need us to tell Him who He is. He is completely secure within His own Godhead. Nor do we worship God to appease Him. Some believe that if they keep telling God how good He is, He won’t deal harshly with them, or will grant them favors. That is spiritism, and that is not why we worship. We worship God, because we need to keep fresh in our minds the divine attributes of God. You will never be alone if you know that God is omnipresent. You will never feel powerless if you know that God is omnipotent. You will never feel unloved if you know that God is love.

Suppose you saw the student mentioned above, but he was a mile away. He would appear to be similar to any other mortal, and seeing him from a distance would solicit very little response. If you were standing next to him, you would be in awe. Your natural inclination would be to say or think, “Man, you are really tall!” The dominant thought in your mind would be on that singular attribute.

Such is our relationship with God. If you are not practicing His presence, He would seem to be a distant figure, and not too large. He would be easy to ignore. But if you were ushered into His presence you would be overwhelmed by His attributes. If that happened you wouldn’t say, “Praise You.” You would say, “Holy, beautiful, wonderful, powerful, etc.” Nobody would have to tell you to do that. Angels are not forced to worship God. In God’s presence they naturally proclaim His divine attributes.

When I first saw a giant redwood tree in the Sequoia National Park, I stood at its base and was overwhelmed by how big it was. I wanted to tell everyone, “Look at the size of that tree. It would take more than twenty men to put their arms around it!” I don’t worship trees or people. I am naturally in awe of nature, but it is just showing forth the glory of God (Ps. 19:1). I worship God who created trees, sunsets, and rainbows.

The closer I draw to my Creator, Redeemer, Savior, and Lord, the more natural it is to worship Him, and share Him with others. Should I feel disconnected from Him, I recall to my mind His divine attributes and “therefore I have hope” (See Lam. 3:21-24).  (https://blog.ficm.org/blog/the-essence-of-worship)”

That was from Neil Anderson, and I hope it encourages all my friends to take some time this weekend to draw close to God and to worship Him. When we recall to mind His divine attributes and realize He is with us, we can connect with Him and enjoy His peace, His joy, and His hope.

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Death and Eternal Life

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (ESV)
13  But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
14  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
15  For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
18  Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Today’s verses fall under the sixth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Death and Eternal Life.  

7. Believers who have died are absent from the body, but at home with the Lord.

Today’s verses command us to encourage one another with the fact that Jesus will return one day, causing those who place their faith in Him to rise from the dead and to meet Him in the air before He reclaims the earth to rule and reign with us for 1,000 years.   Death is not the end. And for the Christians who have left this mortal coil, their “eternal rest” in heaven will be interrupted as they follow Jesus into resurrected life.   They may be absent from their bodies currently, but they are present with the Lord and will come with Him at His glorious return.   And whether we pass before Jesus comes back or not, that’s good news.

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

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 “According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament” By Stephen F. Olford – A Collection of Devotional Journals: 1940-1941.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Olford’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

MORNING READING: JOHN 17

“These are in the world … They are not of the world …
I also have sent them into the world… . That the world
may believe that You sent me.” – John 17:11, 16, 18, 21

“These are in the world” (v. 11). This is the believer's presence in the world. It is the sphere into which every man is born. It is the place in which he has to live. If he is to be kept from evil, he must seek the necessary power through the name of God.

“They are not of the world” (v. 16). This is the believer's position in the world. He is not of it, so must live entirely independently of it.

“I also have sent them into the world” (v. 18). This is the believer's purpose in the world. As Christ was sent with and for a purpose, even so is the believer sent, “That the world may believe …” (v. 21).

I do pray for power and grace to live in relation to the
world as You have taught me here in Your Word. Amen.[1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Friday, April 12, 2024

Draw Near to God and He Will Draw Near to You - Purity 1324

Draw Near to God and He Will Draw Near to You - Purity 1324

Purity 1324 04/12/2024 Purity 1324 Podcast

Purity 1324 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a Canadian goose on the shores of a tranquil lake at the early hours of sunrise or the late hours of sunset comes to us from an unknown FB friend who shared this photo on social media on or around May 15th, 2021. If this magic moment was yours, give me a heads up and I will update the blog to photo-credit you after the fact. 

Well, It’s Friday, and as I enter into the last “workday” off on my week’s staycation down by the River, I am thankful for the opportunity to find rest and to be restored after a busy “Freedom in Christ” season.  Last night  I met with Sue Huber, FICM’s national course coordinator and other online course facilitators to debrief and to celebrate another round of discipleship courses that led our students to know who they are in Christ and to experience for the first time, or to increase, their freedom in Christ as our ministry is discipleship (teaching people what we believe, why we believe it, and applying it to their lives), repentance (actually turning from our behaviors and beliefs that are contrary to God’s word and will for our lives) and of reconciliation (where we confess our sins, accept God’s forgiveness, and forgive those who have sinned against us).  Sue Huber perhaps said it best last night as one of her concluding statements was “Our ministry is the gospel”.   

All we do as course facilitators is to lead people to understand it, to choose to believe it, and to let it work in their lives by going to the Lord in prayer and resolving all the areas of personal and spiritual conflicts that have been keeping them from living the gospel. Our faith in Christ should change us. It should give us peace and joy and when we get real with God and surrender to His will and ways for our lives, we can experience it. 

Even though this “Freedom Season”, has presented some real challenges to my sense of peace and joy at times and made a week’s “staycation” absolutely necessary, I am rejoicing over the work that has been done and the rest I have enjoyed over the last few days.  Peace and joy are never far from those who know who they are in Christ and who keep on walking and talking with God. 

James 4:8-10 (NKJV) tells us to
8  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9  Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
      

I know, we love to cherry-pick the “good sentiments” from these verses and exclude the ones that chastise us – but in order to be lifted up by the Lord – we must be cleansed, purify our heats, change our double minds, lament, mourn, and weep over our sins – to be woken up from the world’s sinful hilarity and to see we have gone astray. We must repent… and then the Lord can lift us up to new heights of joy and peace that come from being reconciled to the Lord and living in harmony with Him.

In the freedom appointments I have conducted over the last month, I watched men humble themselves and lament over the sins of their pasts but at the end, they reported having a “quiet mind” and a new sense of peace that only comes from the Lord when you draw close to Him and He lifts you up in freedom. 

These men “got real” before the Lord and they walked away with a real sense of freedom – because their reconciliation with God and their healing is real and they can enjoy it for the rest of their lives if they simply agree to choose to believe it, tell others all about it, and keep on walking and talking with God. 

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

For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verse come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Death and Eternal Life

Revelation 14:13 (ESV)
13  And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

Today’s verse fall under the sixth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Death and Eternal Life.  

6. Those who die in the Lord are blessed.

Today’s verse tells us the those who die in the Lord really can rest in peace – we may rest from our labors for our “deeds follow them” – meaning that the good work we do for God’s kingdom will not be forgotten or lost at the hour of our deaths- they will follow us into eternity and be rewarded.  

Some Christians hesitate to read Revelation because of the apocalyptic end time scenes that tell us of the great tribulation that is to come but as today’s verse challenges us to understand, we need not fear death for we who are “in the Lord” – in Christ -  are not cursed – but are blessed at the hour of our death.  We don’t need to ask Mary to pray for “us sinners” now or at the hour of our death because we are forgiven and free in life, and blessed when we die physically because we will live spiritually and receive glorified bodies just like Jesus’s resurrected body when we are called into eternity.

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

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 “According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament” By Stephen F. Olford – A Collection of Devotional Journals: 1940-1941.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Olford’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

EVENING READING: JOHN 16

“Whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.”
– John 16:2

Here is certainly a sad state of spiritual affairs. There is coming a time, and in fact in some places it has already come, when the departure from truth shall be such that men who will not accept the real Truth will persecute and kill the very servants of God. Of course, this primarily applies to the time when the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel and our Lord, will be set up in the temple at Jerusalem, and the great tribulation shall take place. But even now, it is possible to be so misunderstood by those who profess to bear the truth, as to provoke hatred and persecution.

Enable me to stand for You, whatever the odds.
Amen.[1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Some Drugs and Alcohol – Modern Recovery’s Ancient Lie - Purity 1323


 Some Drugs and Alcohol – Modern Recovery’s Ancient Lie - Purity 1323

Purity 1323 04/11/2024 Purity 1323 Podcast

Purity 1323 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a rocky pathway cutting through an evergreen forest comes to us from an unknown FB friend who shared this scene on or around April 25th, 2021.  If this trail photo is yours and you would like to be acknowledged, give me a heads up and I will update the blog after the fact. 

Well, It’s Thursday and I share today’s photo as part of my continuing campaign to clean out my I phone’s photo archive and because I can use it to encourage all my friends to get on or to stay on the path of Christian Discipleship which very well lead you to walk free of bondages and addictions.  

Wednesday nights I oversee a Christian Recovery Support Group, Celebrate Freedom, at Starpoint Church and when you try to help people walk away from their hurts habits and hangups you have to walk the thin line between compassion and coddling, and truth and lies, as we seek to encourage others to get out of their denial, see the lies they have been believing, and accepting the new life of freedom that the Lord gives to every Christian. 

The number one lie we have to combat in our ministry I think is that “Christianity ( – or Christian Recovery – or Sobriety –) works for some people but not for me”  It’s the false belief that we – individually – are somehow different, too weak, or just incapable and will never be free.   Just this morning I was reading about this lie in Neil Anderson’s “Who I am in Christ: A Devotional and so I will let the good doctor, tell us how:

“We Are All Children of God

One of Satan’s most common lies is that somehow you and I are different from other people. We may think, God accepts these other people but not me. I have researched more than 1, 725 professing Christian high schoolers. Seventy-four percent believed Christianity works for others, but it doesn’t work for them. Is that true? Of course not. But if they believe that, will it affect the way that they live their lives? Yes, it will. In privacy, I have actually had reasonably functioning adults tell me they think they may be aliens. This may sound bizarre, but Satan has done such a number on their thoughts, many have literally believed they are totally different from other people. But it’s not true. All Christians are children of God, fellow citizens with God’s people.[1]

Our lesson last night at Celebrate Freedom taught us that we have to humble ourselves and ask God to change us.  We are not changed by our own willpower or cunning, when we submit to God we receive His strength and guidance that transforms our hearts and minds to give us a new life of freedom and victory over the sins of the flesh that only He can make possible. 

Modern Recovery philosophy goes against this fundamental principle of faith that is still supposedly a part of the 12-step methodology for overcoming addiction.  Because the original Christian core of the 12 Step model was compromised to include people who didn’t have in Jesus Christ specifically early on and instead decided to be “practical” and allow for a non-specific, nebulous, or personally fabricated concept of a “Higher Power” and because our Western society has increasing become Post Christian it should come as no surprise that concept of Recovery is being compromised to “Harm Reduction”. 

While I understand that the idea of Harm Reduction is intended to save lives and address real-life substance abuse problems practically, they are based on hopelessness surrendering to beliefs that state that:

·       Illicit drug use is part of our world, and it is best to manage it rather than condemn and eliminate it. 

·       Drug use is a “complex, multifaceted phenomenon” rather than a simple and deliberate choice of the will.

·       Some ways of drugs are safer than other ways and thus acceptable.

·       Cessation of all drug use is NOT the criteria for success.  

·       Our community should assist those who use drugs to do it safely,

·       Addicts should have a voice in defining public policy to continue the practices of their addictive lifestyle.

·       Affirm that socioeconomic, class, or race factors affect someone’s capacity to get free. (Racist…?).

(https://harmreduction.org/about-us/principles-of-harm-reduction/#:~:text=Harm%20reduction%20incorporates%20a%20spectrum,along%20with%20the%20use%20itself.)

While I certainly agree with the principle of harm reductions that seek to meet the addict “where they are at” and work toward practical and progressive improvement, the overall philosophy perpetuates the problem.    

And please understand, I know how bad it is out there and I know it is only getting worse. I have lost friends to overdose, and I have seen others walk away from addiction alive and well. The ones that are alive and thriving didn’t seek to “reduce harm” by finding an acceptable or safe place for drugs in their lives, they progressively worked to eliminate it from their lives altogether and they did the impractical thing of putting their trust in God through their faith in Jesus Christ to do so.  

Also please hear me, these harm reduction policies are in effect, and they are doing good work, so I am not looking to eliminate them.  Instead advocating for the best life of those who have successfully “reduced the harm” of their addictions by seeking to encourage them to keep going further into their recoveries and to put their faith in Jesus to be completely free. 

I practice harm reduction strategy by encouraging our support program participants to take on one problem at a time, to use medically prescribed treatments to stabilize, and to focus on progress rather than perfection, and to define their own recoveries but at the same time, I will point to the real possibility – that existed at one time in their lives – of being completely free of the need for drugs or alcohol in their lives.  We are all children of God in that we were made in His image, and it is only in the most deranged and dysfunctional environments were babies or children given alcohol or drugs as a means of coping. 

Most of us managed to get to early or late adolescence before our exposure to alcohol and drugs and I believe that clearly demonstrates that alcohol and drugs DO NOT need to be a part of our lives as adults.  We shouldn’t play nice with the poison we should have never taken and instead should have the “childlike” faith that we can live a simple and pure life like we once did as children and that nothing, including the color of one’s skin, their social economic status, or their class makes them less capable of being free from drugs and alcohol.  

So I might encourage you to establish a course of recovery that will be practical and meet you where you were at, but I would encourage you to trust in the Lord to guide you to a full cessation of drugs and alcohol.

 Eric Clapton got off of heroin by going into seclusion and drinking wine, but the legendary guitarist nicknamed “God” or “Slowhand” by some didn’t stay there. Eventfully, Clapton knew alcohol would kill him and instead of living out life just “reducing the harm” of his addiction, he went into treatment and eliminated it, despite many personal tragedies after he was sober. “Eric Clapton is living proof that addictions can be overcome and that people can go on to succeed in life beyond their wildest dreams, even despite losses, obstacles, and the immense challenges of life.” (https://clearskyibogaine.com/eric-clapton-and-drug-addiction/).

While I don’t know Clapton personally, there is an indication online that His victory followed a “Christian commitment” in rehab. I like to believe that is true and that Eric is my brother in Christ because if he is our stories are similar.

I suffered from alcoholism since I was seventeen years old and I was never going to quit, even after I put my faith in Jesus, because I didn’t think I could – that I was “different” or incapable of it.  But in 2015, Pastor Bob Costello began a Christian Recovery Ministry at my local church, and I answered the Lord's call on my heart to trust Him to help me overcome what I thought was impossible. And after a relapse two weeks in, I knew if I wanted to be free I couldn’t play nice with alcohol and just seek to reduce its harm in my life – I had to stop altogether. To be free, I had to actually be free and by the grace and power pf God, I have walked ever since.  

So when someone in recovery tells me they are smoking weed for their anxiety or that they just had a few drinks (is 13 a few?),  I encourage them to keep walking and talking with God because although that is where they are right now, the Lord will encourage and empower them to not stay there if they choose to follow Him.  

Harm Reduction’s lies are ancient ones. The Lord and the concepts of Recovery and Freedom would rightly say that drugs and alcohol have no part in the ex-addict’s life.  Satan and the hopeless extremes of Harm Reduction policy would say you aren’t capable of freedom and it's best just to live with your personal demons and tell your family and the community at large just to help you to do so,  rather than cast them out.  

Don’t believe the lies that would have you compromise with the sins of the flesh. We might have to be practical in how we deal with lifelong hurts, habits, and hang-ups but we should never surrender to them because who the Son sets free can be free indeed.

 

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Death and Eternal Life

Psalm 116:15 (NIV2011)
15  Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.

Today’s verses fall under the fifth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Death and Eternal Life.  

5. The death of the Lord’s saints is precious.

Today’s verse is tough one. Death is precious! No, Lord it’s scary and sad! – You might think,  but look higher brothers and sisters. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  Those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ have eternal life and Jesus has gone ahead of us to prepare a place for us in God’s kingdom.  So death has indeed lost its sting.  The death of God’s faithful servants is precious in His sight because it means that we will be with Him.  Don’t be afraid of death.  Jesus overcame death and the grave to show us He is God and that He can be trusted in to save those who believe in Him.

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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 “According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament” By Stephen F. Olford – A Collection of Devotional Journals: 1940-1941.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Olford’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

MORNING READING: JOHN 15

“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit;
so you will be My disciples.” – John 15:8

The fruit in Chapter 15 of John is the fruit of character – namely, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). The production of these fruits, or better this fruit, is firstly, glorifying to God, and secondly, the expression of true discipleship.

These two great things were the supreme objects of Christ's life upon this earth. He lived and died to glorify the Father. He lived and died as the devoted loyal Bondslave of God.

These two objects can never be achieved without an unbroken fellowship and union with Christ (abiding). This is maintained through constant cleansing by the abiding Word and filling of the Spirit.

Cleanse me and fill me, Lord.
Produce in me Your sweet fruit of character. Amen.[2]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


[1] Neil T. Anderson, Who I Am in Christ (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2001), 79.