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Showing posts with label Testimony. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Testimony. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Last Call Before Mourning – Purity 757


Last Call Before Mourning  – Purity 757

Purity 757 06/14/2022 Purity 757 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo a group of palm trees under a 4 p.m. sun comes to us from a friend who recently visited the shores of Kahekili Beach in Kaanapali, Hawaii.  Our friend enjoys snorkeling here and decided to scatter some of the ashes of their beloved grandmother 25 yards off the beach between these palm trees in one of the most breathtaking views on the island of Maui to honor her memory.  So now they can visit her every year, and if we ever visit Maui, our friend invites us to visit her too.  

Deciding what to do with the ashes of our departed loved ones is a highly personal decision. When my ex-wife’s mother died, my family took a trip to southwest and spread her ashes in a couple of undisclosed locations in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico because Mary had deep affections for those areas of the United States and had vague plans to retire there someday.  So we honored her memory with the trip and released her ashes to desert winds to mingle her ashes with the sands that she loved.

The spreading of ashes was our way of honoring her wishes and it was a way of saying goodbye to her. Our relationship with her, although it hasn’t ended, has changed.  Our relationship with her lives on in our memories of course but the spiritual reality of life beyond the grave indicates that we very well may see her again.  

As far as the departed go we may not always know if they a saving relationship with the Lord, but in Mary’s case, I can testify that even though she was far from perfect, quite far actually, I can state when push came to shove, and when things were serious concerning the state of her health and the uncertainty of the length of her life, Mary named Jesus as her Lord and Savior. 

And as funny as it sounds, Mary’s health crisis that eventually led to her death was one of those time stamps of my entrance into God’s kingdom.   In 2010, Mary suffered a ruptured ulcer and had to section of her intestines removed. The doctors tried to put her back together but she wounds never really healed, and after a subsequent surgery to try to put her back together again, after 18 months of being in the hospital, the pain and trauma of that surgery caused Mary to decide to give up the fight and let nature take its course.

But before that end there was a beginning, Mary was in the ICU after her rupture and I was a full fledge practicing Buddhist at the time and working construction as part of  splicing crew.  I did a lot of flagging of traffic in those days.  After Mary’s admittance in the  hospital, I looked up some Buddhist medicine chants/prayers I guess, and while I would flag traffic at work, I would speak those unintelligible words and phrases in hopes that their utterances would somehow result in “good karma” and healing for my mother-in-law.   I know, they didn’t work. Surprise…. OOFF. 

So that the environment in which the Lord decided to come into my life and pull me out of the darkness.  Doing Buddhist medicine chants in the morning, I got saved by a Christian gospel radio message in the afternoon of March 19, 2010.  But I believe that I wasn’t the only one the Lord had in mind when He brought me into His grace.    

So, full fledge Buddhist gets saved and his mother in law is in the hospital and it is not clear if she will live our die, so what do you do?   You try to save her too!

So sometime after my salvation, I went to my mother in law’s hospital room and to lead her through a sinner’s prayer to confirm that Jesus was her Lord and Savior. 

My ex-wife who had the dubious pleasure of watching the shifting winds of change of her husband’s life and personality through the years, thought I was absolutely insane, I think, and she wasn’t happy about my new found faith in Christ and my status of a self proclaimed “born again Christian”, as evidence by our eventual divorce.

But it was desperate times with her mom, and even though she didn’t quite know what to make of what had happened to me, Michele didn’t try to stop me when I told her I wanted to pray with her mother.  

Mary was a mess.  Her hospitalization had done a number on her and when I sat before her to pray her voice was a dry almost soundless whisper but she was fully conscious and relatively normal after her extended stay and release from the ICU.  So she was fully awake and in her right mind, as far as Mary went anyway, shots fired. What? I kid.  If you knew Mary Sapp, you know what I’m talking about. 

Mary was an ultra-liberal feminist and protesting champion for almost any disenfranchised group or cause but she did have a semblance of Christian faith, as an Episcopalian, and even served on the vestry of her Episcopalian church. Before we anoint her St. Mary though let me be clear that it was liberal church. I was liberal I went there before walking away from Christianity.  The reverends their were good servants of the church and I always enjoyed the liturgical services they performed and the messages they delivered.  But Reverend Keith and Reverend Bob were gay.  Yup, not like flamboyantly gay, but cohabiting life partner quasi closeted gay.  So yeah, I was married by a gay minister. Wide and Deep were the errors of my former existence.    

So after coming to faith in Christ and understanding that church membership, no matter liberal or conservative, wasn’t enough to save you, I wanted to make sure that my mother-in-law was specific in naming Jesus as here Lord and Savior. It is by grace alone and through faith in Christ alone that we are saved, and with Mary’s life in question I wanted to make sure she was “in” the kingdom.  

So, I sat down in front of Mary and explained that I had put my faith in Jesus Christ and that I wanted to lead her through a prayer to make Jesus her Lord and Savior.   Much to my surprise, she didn’t object or smirk but wholeheartedly and enthusiastically agreed to be led through the sinner’s prayer. Even though her voice was a whisper, Mary prayed the prayer to be forgive of her sins and that proclaimed Jesus as the Lord and Savior of her life.     

So when comes to her eternal destiny, even though it’s hard to imagine considering her past, I believe that Mary put her faith where she needed to, in Christ alone, and that she has been saved from God’s wrath and is in His kingdom now.   

After my salvation, I couldn’t just assume Mary’s service on the vestry of her liberal Episcopal church meant she had faith in Jesus.  Even though I didn’t know the scriptures verses at the time, I had

Romans 10:9-13 (NKJV) in mind, that tell us
9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11  For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."
12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13  For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."  

In a hospital room, with tubes, scars, and a raspy voice that was only above that of a whisper, Mary Sapp called on the name of the Lord, and because the word says it, I believe she was saved by the Lord’s mercy and grace.  

So as we begin the second day of the work week, keep walking and talking with God. And  let’s be clear and let’s be specific in who we believe in and make our loved ones know about the gospel of Jesus Christ and clear up any misconceptions they may hold about “being a good person” or having their “good works outweigh their bad works” and let them know that salvation and the forgiveness of sins only comes by faith in Christ alone. And let’s be bold to encourage our friends, family, and anyone else to call on the name of Jesus, as Lord and Savior, to be saved.  

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Peter 1:22 (NLT2)
22  You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us of what happened at our salvation and the obligation of love that comes with it.  

The verse says we “must” show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters as we are called to love each other deeply with all our hearts.   As my testimony stated, we may be called to love difficult people and be called to make sure they are indeed our brothers and sisters in the faith.  

The greatest act of love, as demonstrated by Christ, is to save that which is lost, to save someone’s life.

So if we are unclear about someone’s salvation or if we know they are not in the body of Christ, we must show our love for them by praying for their salvation and by delivering the good news and encouraging their reception of God’s free gift.  

But we are also called to not stop there, we are to love our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ after they are saved too. And that could be difficult!

If you ever wondered where you could learn to be faithful, kind, gentle, forgiving, loving, and patient, wonder no more! The place where you can learn to practice those characteristics of a mature Christian is the local church!   

People are people and just because we are all saints the moment we put our faith in Jesus doesn’t mean we will always act like saints.   So the local church is where we can develop godly friendships and relationships, that will require the application of our faith.  

IF we love our brothers and sisters we will be patient with them, we will be kind, we will be faithful in our dealings with them. We will be gentle in our interactions.  We will undoubtedly be called to forgive from time to time. And all of that will strengthen our patience.  

So if you don’t attend church, you should. It is in the body of Christ where we can grow as Christians, and if we are not taking a chance and putting ourselves out there to show the love of God, we won’t grow into the person God would call us to be.  

It is because of God’s love that we will live, and so we should share that love and grow in that love as part of our purpose to be more like Him.   

 

 

 

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 Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

Simon the Magician: Acts 8

In the book of Acts Luke records four separate instances involving the use of magic. In three of these instances Luke directly connects the magic with the work of Satan or his demons.

In Samaria a magician named Simon was bringing great attention to himself because of the amazing things he accomplished with his magic. So awestruck were the people of Samaria that they nicknamed him “The Great Power” (8:10).

Philip’s preaching of the gospel proved more compelling, however, and many Samaritans turned their lives to Jesus Christ, eventually even Simon. Luke paints Philip’s ministry in terms of what some missiologists would today call “a power encounter.” Although Luke does not describe it in terms of a showdown between Philip and Simon, he clearly indicates that Philip’s display of divine power is what gave him his hearing: “When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said” (8:6). Philip’s miraculous signs completely overshadowed Simon’s. Philip made evil spirits come out of many people and healed numerous paralytics and cripples.

Luke simply tells us about Simon’s conversion without going into detail about whether he too had evil spirits commanded out of him. Unfortunately Simon allowed his affection for supernatural powers to take precedence over his devotion to the Lord Jesus and asked to buy the ability to impart the Holy Spirit to others. Detecting his perverse motives, Peter rebuked him in the strongest of terms, telling him to repent of his wickedness and observing that he was “full of bitterness and captive to sin” (8:23).

Some later church tradition claims Simon continued in his quest for divine power and became the originator of what would be known as Gnosticism. The second-century apocryphal book Acts of Peter vividly narrates Simon losing in a “power encounter” with the apostle Peter in Rome. After leading many astray with his heretical teaching, Simon allegedly flew in the air over the city of Rome, defying Peter. Peter prayed to the Lord, and Simon was struck down, causing his leg to break in three places.

A Jewish Magician and False Prophet: Acts 13

Luke surprises us by introducing his readers to a Jewish magician who went by the name Bar-Jesus (son of Jesus), or Elymas (13:4–12). Actually, we will later find (chapter four) that there was widespread Jewish involvement in magic, witchcraft and sorcery. The apostle Paul encountered this magician on the island of Cyprus at the outset of his first missionary outreach. Interestingly, this sorcerer was formally attached to a major political figure on the island, the proconsul Sergius Paulus.

Luke does not elaborate on the extent of the influence Elymas wielded with Sergius Paulus. Since political officials frequently consulted astrologers and diviners for guidance, we are safe to speculate that Elymas’s influence extended to the proconsul’s governance and to the political and economic structures he was responsible for. Most important for Paul, however, was the decisive opposition the magician presented to communicate effectively the gospel to Sergius Paulus and perhaps even to the area over which he governed.

Luke presents this sorcerer as the major opposition to Paul’s mission. Paul perceived the man to be under the control of Satan himself and pointedly revealed his true character to his face: “Filled with the Holy Spirit, [he] looked straight at Elymas and said, ‘You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?’ ” (13:10). Paul then took firm action against the magician. He announced that the hand of the Lord Jesus would be against him and he will be blinded. Immediately Elymas lost his sight. The “power encounter” again proved effective for the success of the gospel; the proconsul put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Spirit of Divination: Acts 16

While Paul was in Philippi, a slave girl with a “spirit of divination” troubled Paul greatly by following him and his companions around day after day shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” This spirit of divination was literally a “Python spirit” (Greek=pythōn), according to Luke. By this spirit, the girl was able to predict the future. Meanwhile, some profit-seeking individuals, who later created great problems for Paul (16:16–21), exploited her and her supernatural ability.

The Python spirit was associated with the oracle at Delphi in Greece (about eighty miles northwest of Athens), where the female prophetess was called a Python. In classical mythology the Python was a serpent that guarded the Delphic oracle and was slain by the god Apollo. Throughout antiquity people came from all over the Near East to consult the oracle at Delphi for advice. It was widely believed to be the center of the earth. An opening in the ground at the site emitted a gas that the Delphic prophetess would breathe in order to receive her prophetic insight. She would then pass on the information to the person in verse form. The grateful traveler would then depart, leaving votive offerings and expensive gifts.

Many people also believed the Pythian prophetess had a god living within her belly. This belief led to her being called “a belly talker,” since she was observed talking in a deep second voice while making her predictions. In fact, some ancient literature attributes this second voice to a daimōn.

Because Paul clearly believed a demon controlled this girl, he commanded the spirit within her: “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” Without any argument or hesitation, the spirit departed. Luke’s attention then shifts to the irate reaction of the girl’s owners, and this brief account is all that we know about her in Scripture.[1]

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

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

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

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 31–33.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

The Glorious Pathway to a Beautiful Ending – Purity 735


 
The Glorious Pathway to a Beautiful Ending – Purity 735

Purity 735 05/19/2022   Purity 735 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a boardwalk pathway running along the waters of the Hudson River comes to us from a friend who visited the Saugerties Lighthouse back on April 28th.   Even though I can’t see the lighthouse in this photo, I trust that my friend was telling their friends on social media the truth and that if we followed in their footsteps we would find the lighthouse at the end of this path and that we would undoubtedly see it and enjoy its beauty as we walked toward it.   

Well, it’s Thursday, and by now it shouldn’t surprise any of my friends that I am sharing another photo of a pathway today because Thursdays nights have been the day on which I have taught and encouraged others to follow the path of Christian Discipleship to experience their freedom in Christ and to overcome besetting sins and negative emotions that prevent Christians from experiencing the peace and joy that is to be expected when we walk in the Spirit.  

Although I first “believed” and made Jesus my Lord and Savior back in 2010, and I set about coming to know what His word said and what being a Christian meant in earnest in the years leading up to it, I didn’t really “put my money where my mouth was”, I didn’t really repent until 2015, when Pastor Bob Costello started a Christian Recovery program at my local church, and I decided to trust the Lord to free me from the bondage of addiction that I had put myself in since being a young adult. We are talking about 20 hard core years of willful enjoyment of alcohol and drugs here.  And not only did I think I was unable to stop, I frankly didn’t want to stop.

Although I had been a Christian for a few years, I hadn’t given up my besetting sin even though I was sincerely trying to seek the Lord.  I not only attended church twice a week, I also served in the church as an audio visual tech. I went to Bible study once a week.  I already had gotten my Associates degree in Biblical Studies and was working on completing my Bachelor’s degree in Bible College! 

But even though I had given myself to all of these pursuits and had tried to repent of my addictions on my own with little success, in 2015 – I publicly let everyone know that I was going into recovery and trusting the Lord to help me overcome the vices I thought I would never give up. 

The Lord is faithful and if you humble yourself and surrender to His will for your life, He will lift you up and give you the strength to walk away from the darkness of your past. 

So after successfully completing the program, I began teaching on Thursday Nights at the recovery ministry and eventually transitioned to teaching Christian Discipleship in 2021.  And tonight I will continue in my endeavors to encourage Christians to apply their faith to their lives by facilitating the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course on Zoom for Freedom in Christ Ministries.   

I share these messages of encouragement on the blog and podcast and volunteer my time to share the message of Freedom in Christ because I have “been there” and “done that”. I have walked the path of Christian Discipleship through some very dark valleys in my life’s journey and I know that faith in Jesus Christ and living according to the life principles set forth in the word of God is the pathway that is rich in meaning and purpose, is paved with the fruit of the Spirit, and just happens to lead to everlasting life.  

I know that the word is God is true because I have experienced the Lord’s presence and guidance in my life and simply have no choice but to give Him honor and praise and encourage others to come to know the Lord and to experience their freedom in Christ  for themselves. 

Somewhere along the path, early in my walk, I fell in love with the Barlow Girl’s song “Beautiful Ending”.  I am sharing a link to a YouTube video of it, on the blog (https://youtu.be/XO0lBwYCehc) because my stating the lyrics probably won’t do it justice.   But the song says:  

“Oh, tragedy
Has taken so many
Love lost cause they all
Forgot who You were
And it scares me to think
That I would choose
My life over You
Oh, my selfish heart
Divides me from You
It tears us apart

So tell me
What is our ending?
Will it be beautiful
So beautiful?

Oh, why do I
Let myself let go
Of Hands that painted the stars
And hold tears that fall?
And the pride of my heart
Makes me forget
It's not me but You
Who makes the heart beat
I'm lost without You
And dying from me

So tell me
What is our ending?
Will it be beautiful
So beautiful?

Will my life
Find me by Your side?
Your love is beautiful
So beautiful

At the end of it all
I wanna be in Your arms”

 

And repeat! Bridge, Chorus, Chorus.  

That song was a huge inspiration for me in those early days of my faith because it pointed to my ultimate salvation, of when I would see God face to face. But it also stretched my heart to love the Lord, for the gift of His forgiveness and the power He had poured into me with the Holy Spirit.  It not only gave me hope for that final destination, it gave me hope for overcoming the many problems in my life by walking with Him.  Is that not in the song?  Must have been the Holy Spirit encouraging me!    

And so I sang that song. I lived that song. And I saw the beautiful ending of my struggles come into sight the more I followed the Lord. And even in the darkest days, it drove me to believe that I would find a beautiful ending, not only in heaven, but here on earth.  

And can I tell you? I found it.  But guess what this is a pathway. Our journey is not over. I keep walking and talking with God because I know that there is another “beautiful ending” somewhere down this road and many more before I see the Lord face to face.   

So let me encourage you. God has a beautiful plan for your life. There may be great suffering in our journey but the beauty of our path begins with the reception of the gift of our forgiveness and a new and eternal life.  

If we forsake the gift, if we accept Jesus and then just go back to the normalcy of our dark pre-Christ existence, if we fail to answer His call on our life, we will lose sight of the beautiful thing He has done for us and we will not walk into the beautiful things that He wants us to see before we see Him face to face, before we are in His arms.  

So turn from the world and start, or keep on, walking and talking with God. Surrender to His will and guidance. He has beautiful things for you to see. So start walking in His direction, because even though I know you can’t see it yet,  I swear that your beautiful endings are down this pathway and I promise that you will eventually see them in the distance, reach them and then move on to the next beautiful ending that the Lord has for you, before you get to that ultimate beautiful ending which is really just another beginning as we will live, rule, and reign with God for ever and ever. Amen.

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Proverbs 2:5 (NLT2)
5  Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us that when we understand what it means to fear the Lord, we will gain knowledge of Him.  

Pretty simple huh, the Word means what it says. Uh Oh, Are we supposed to fear the Lord? 

Hey, let’s keep it real life and death are scary matters.  And the Word of God is filled with the Lord’s warnings to be right with Him or be subject to His wrath.  

Yeah, Hell isn’t Satan’s kingdom. It’s his prison and God is the one who sends him, and everyone else who rejects Jesus as Lord and Savior, there.  

So yes having a healthy fear of the all powerful and holy God of all creation is wisdom.  However, because God graciously offers us forgiveness and adoption into His kingdom through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, we don’t have to be afraid of God.  

God loves us and wants us to come to Him. His warnings of His judgement and wrath are done out of love. He wants us to know the consequences of rebellion and denying Him.

In the world they have “scared straight” programs, where trouble youth are brought into prisons to see the harsh reality of where their criminal behaviors will ultimately lead them. The intention isn’t just to terrify the children with the possibilities of confinement, violence, and degradation that are part of life in prison. The intention is to cause them to see the error of their ways and to avoid the consequences.   

The fear of the Lord is supposed to draw us to surrender to Him and to follow His wisdom and ways.

So the fear of the wrath of God is one aspect of gaining knowledge of God. 

But another aspect of this “fear of the Lord” should include the simple but awesome fact that God is Creator.  Think of it. As big as this universe is, as old as it is, God was before it all. He imagined and created it all. 

I sometimes get tripped up just thinking about the vast multitudes of people on the earth and consider the fact that God knows everyone of them and the intentions of their hearts.  

The fear in this sense is “respect”. How great and might is He!  So we are to have a healthy fear of God, His ways are higher than our ways but He calls us to be with Him and to know Him and it is an offer we should accept.

 

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 John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

Inspiring Sacrifice for Lesser Causes

In fact, in wartime sinners often rise to remarkable levels of sacrifice for causes that cannot compare with Christ. The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ look like the Treasure he is. No war on earth was ever fought for a greater cause or a greater king.

But oh, what bold risks and daring sacrifices these lesser causes have inspired! On February 19, 1944, the battle for Iwo Jima began. It was a barren, eight-mile-square island six hundred miles south of Tokyo, guarded by 22,000 Japanese prepared to fight to the death (which they did). They were protecting two air strips that America needed in the strategic effort to contain Japanese aggression after Pearl Harbor and preserve the liberty that America cherished. It was a high cause, and the courageous sacrifice was stunning.

The hard statistics show the sacrifice made by Colonel Johnson’s 2nd Battalion: 1,400 boys [many still teenagers] landed on D-Day; 288 replacements were provided as the battle went on, a total of 1,688. Of these, 1,511 had been killed or wounded. Only 177 walked off the island. And of the final 177, 91 had been wounded at least once and returned to battle.

It had taken twenty-two crowded transports to bring the 5th Division to the island. The survivors fit comfortably onto eight departing ships.

The American boys had killed about 21,000 Japanese, but suffered more than 26,000 casualties doing so. This would be the only battle in the Pacific where the invaders suffered higher casualties than the defenders.

The Marines fought in World War II for forty-three months. Yet in one month on Iwo Jima, one third of their total deaths occurred. They left behind the Pacific’s largest cemeteries: nearly 6,800 graves in all; mounds with their crosses and stars. Thousands of families would not have the solace of a body to bid farewell: just the abstract information that the Marine had “died in the performance of his duty” and was buried in a plot, aligned in a row with numbers on his grave. Mike lay in Plot 3, Row 5, Grave 694; Harlon in Plot 4, Row 6, Grave 912; Franklin in Plot 8, Row 7, Grave 2189.

When I think of Mike, Harlon, and Franklin there, I think of the message someone had chiseled outside the cemetery:

When you go home

Tell them for us and say

For your tomorrow

We gave our today

O Lord, Don’t Let Me Waste My Life!

I am deeply moved by the courage and carnage on Iwo Jima. As I read the pages of this history, everything in me cries out, “O Lord, don’t let me waste my life!” Let me come to the end—whether soon or late—and be able to say to a family, a church, a city, and the unreached peoples of the earth, “For your tomorrow, I gave my today. Not just for your tomorrow on earth, but for the countless tomorrows of your ever-increasing gladness in God.” The closer I looked at the individual soldiers in this World War II history, the more I felt a passion that my life would count, and that I would be able to die well.

As rainy morning wore into afternoon and the fighting bogged down, the Marines continued to take casualties. Often it was the corpsmen [medics] themselves who died as they tried to preserve life. William Hoopes of Chattanooga was crouching beside a medic named Kelly, who put his head above a protective ridge and placed binoculars to his eyes—just for an instant—to spot a sniper who was peppering his area. In that instant the sniper shot him through the Adam’s apple. Hoopes, a pharmacist’s mate himself, struggled frantically to save his friend. “I took my forceps and reached into his neck to grasp the artery and pinch it off,” Hoopes recalled. “His blood was spurting. He had no speech but his eyes were on me. He knew I was trying to save his life. I tried everything in the world. I couldn’t do it. I tried. The blood was so slippery. I couldn’t get the artery. I was trying so hard. And all the while he just looked at me. He looked directly into my face. The last thing he did as the blood spurts became less and less was to pat me on the arm as if to say, ‘That’s all right.’ Then he died.”

In this heart-breaking moment I want to be Hoopes and I want to be Kelly. I want to be able to say to suffering and perishing people, “I tried everything in the world.… I was trying so hard.” And I want to be able to say to those around me when I die, “It’s all right. To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

When the Trifling Fog Clears

At these moments, when the trifling fog of life clears and I see what I am really on earth to do, I groan over the petty pursuits that waste so many lives—and so much of mine. Just think of the magnitude of sports—a whole section of the daily newspaper. But there is no section on God. Think of the endless resources for making your home and garden more comfortable and impressive. Think of how many tens of thousands of dollars you can spend to buy more car than you need. Think of the time and energy and conversation that go into entertainment and leisure and what we call “fun stuff.” And add to that now the computer that artificially recreates the very games that are already so distant from reality; it is like a multi-layered dreamworld of insignificance expanding into nothingness.[1]

 

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

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

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

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 122–125.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Gone with the Wind – Collision Course with Christ - Purity 701

Gone with the Wind – Collision Course with Christ  -  Purity 701

Purity 701  04/09/2022  Purity 701 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of an epic shot of tree under a cloud filled sky of blue and gold, atop a hill on the “Knapp Kin Farm”, with the setting sun cresting on horizon, comes to us from our brother, friend, and Bible study author, Arthur Cincotti.  This one is “hot off the presses” as I received it last night and thought to myself: “It looks like Arthur made the weekend edition!”  and had a good laugh about it because it is a running joke between us about how Arthur covets to have his photographic visions featured as the “photo of the day”.   

Well, It’s Saturday and we made it to the weekend. Even though rain is in my local forecast, it is my prayer that all who read or hear this message have a wonderful “Palm Sunday” weekend where you will use the next two days to enjoy yourselves and take time to thank the Lord for all He has provided in your life.  

A life of contentment comes from being grateful for the things we have and from giving thanks to the God who gave us life and who is directing the course of history, resulting in all the “days of our lives”.    Arthur’s sunset shot reminded me of some of the epic landscape scenes from “Gone with the Wind” and it has me considering the landscape of my life and how it truly has been a dramatic journey that could rival that of Scarlet O’Hara, or that of Forrest Gump!

Although “Gone with the Wind” and Forrest Gump featured stories of the main characters going through various times and season throughout history, the thing that stood out in those dramas perhaps more than the changing events from one era to another was the relationships that developed, ended,or endured through the years of the character’s lives.   

Over the last two days, my job has brought me to two very different locations that caused me to remember different chapters of my life that are now in the distant past but play a part in the person I am today.  

I am a field technician for a telecommunications company, aka a telephone repair guy, and my job can take me to anywhere in the greater Capital district where a phone is connected.  On Thursday I had a trouble report for the St, Anthony of Padua Shrine in downtown Troy.  Before realizing my mistake and going to the shrine’s office building where the phone trouble actually was, I foolishly just walked into the shrine which was completely empty and reverent.  

Although I almost immediately realized my mistake, I walked from the back of the shrine all the way up to the front, on the left side of the altar. Even I wasn’t foolish enough to go down the middle aisle! I think the middle aisle at Catholic Churches is reserved for the most bold and holy to walk down. The sheepish sinners who don’t attend services every week tend to use the entry points on the left or right sides of the sanctuary.  

Even though I had never been to this particular shrine/church, I was impressed by its pristine facilities and reverent atmosphere. I had grown up in the Catholic Church so I was filled with feelings of nostalgia over seeing the old familiar sights of a catholic church. The candles, the colorful stained glass window displays, the stations of the cross that ran along the aisles, the altar, and various statues of saints gave me that old familiar feeling of fear and awe that told me that I was on holy ground and I best be quiet, reverent, and respectful.   Before leaving I mentally apologized for my intruding to the empty sanctuary.  

The phone trouble turned out the be in the central office, so I just had to put in a trouble ticket for a central office technician to wire the dial tone on the frame and was done.  But before I was left I went back into the sanctuary’s alcove and grabbed one of the free “2022 Catholic heritage” calendars that I had saw on the way out.  The cover art of a pristine Jesus was calling for me to take it home and I couldn’t resist.     

I have a real heart for my catholic roots that fills me with a strange mix of longing, sadness, and horror. The catholic church was proficient in teaching me that I was a sinner but it didn’t adequately teach me that I was saved through my faith in Jesus Christ alone. 

It had taught me all about the reverent worship and traditions of the mass but my experiences there also taught me about hypocrisy and surface level faith that didn’t survive beyond the four walls of the church. 

It didn’t teach me that many of it’s traditions have no Biblical basis and were basically established by some church official who thought it was a good idea.

It hadn’t taught  me about idolatry or that we don’t need an intercessor to speak to the Lord on our behalf.

It didn’t teach me that I was loved, accepted, secure, or significant in Christ and that I could boldly walk down the center aisle, regardless of my past sins, to approach God on His throne.  

In considering all the things I have learned through the study of God’s word and what I didn’t learn in the Catholic church, I am filled with sadness because, just like the reformers must have thought back in the times of Martin Luther, “it didn’t have to be this way”.

Instead of “reforming” and repenting of its doctrinal errors, the leadership of the Catholic church stood by their traditions even though some of them confound the gospel of grace and are in conflict with Biblical principles.   

My mom, dad, and all my brothers and their families are still catholic so it is my hope that somehow their “confirmation” of faith in Christ will put them in a state of grace. I hope their simple “I do.” that they delivered in response to the Bishop’s question of

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?

Will be enough to make them to become a part of the bride of Christ, the church in His eyes. Sometimes I think the less you know about what the Catholic church teaches the more likely you are to be saved…

I have cleaned up my act now and it saddens me that I could be a “good catholic” if I wanted to be, but I know that it is better to choose to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and try to live by the truth of the word of God rather than by the arbitrary rules that were created by men.

It angers me that Christianity has been so divided at times and I almost wish for a return to the cathedrals of the ages of the past if it could mean that we would have one church, but honestly I would rather have a million different denominations of Christianity that attempted to be authentic in their faith and in their attempts to obey the word of God  rather than have a single body that was defined by hypocrisy, error and compromise.

I know that God is merciful and gracious, and I pray that all who hear or see this message, especially Catholics, would make a simple confession to make Christ their Lord and Savior and to study the Bible and let the Lord’s word direct their path.

Well, that was Thursday, and on Friday I had an almost polar opposite trip down memory lane, as I was called to a telephone trouble at a fraternity house of RPI.  

The phone facilities in the fraternity house were in the basement and to gain access I had to go through a couple of stale beer smelling bar rooms to get the communications terminal.  

For those who don’t know, I pledged a fraternity in SUNY Oswego in 1991 and enjoyed all the benefits of membership for the remainder of my college career.  Wild escapades, hazing, secret initiation rights, , women, drugs and alcohol were all part of the  rock n roll fantasy existence of my college days and coming into a fraternity house all these years later caused me to remember the good, the bad, and the ugly of my youthful exuberance.   Such joy, such loneliness, such great friendships, and so many broken things both materially and relationally.    

My fraternity house was burned to the ground by an angry neighbor who was never arrested for the arson they perpetrated. And although the fraternity carried on and got a new smaller house, there really is no going back to my “college home” again. Those days are gone. And as much as I fondly remember my brothers and other friends from those days, I don’t miss the pain of suffering from addiction, loneliness, confusion, ignorance and rejection I experienced in those days.  

When I saw that frat house, part of me lamented of the way I had lived while another part of me wished I could do it all over again.   But I realized that there is no going back and that I couldn’t take the wisdom I have now back to those days.  The times were different, the technology was different, but most importantly I was different.   I didn’t know Christ and if I did I may have not met all the people who I still consider to be friends.

All these nostalgic musings of the Catholic Church and the subsequent age of total depravity of my college days are marked by errors and regrets but I honestly would have it no other way. Everything I suffered and learned from in those eras of my life put me on a collision course with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

If I wasn’t so lost, maybe I would have never sought the Lord and maybe I would have never found Him.  

But now I have the best of all possible worlds I guess. I sinned. I suffered. But I was saved.     

And through it all I met so many people along the way. I made so many friends and acquaintances that made my life the epic drama that it has been. We have had moments of joy, hilarity, love, and loss.  Many of the people I have met have faded into the past and left the stage, but others have endured to remain constant characters in my life.   And whether those relationships are active, over, on hold, or to be continued, I thank the Lord for giving me company through the many years of my life.  

God made us and He put us in this particular time and season.  And through a combination of our free will and His sovereign will, we have encountered all the people of our lives during all the days of our lives. He provided us with the people who challenged us, who encouraged us and who loved us.  

While we can remember our pasts with fondness, we should never dig in our heels to try to stay in a season that is “Gone with the Wind”, instead we should remember where we came from, learn from our mistakes, and walk into the remaining mystery of life with God as the source of our wisdom and strength.  

So keep walking and talking with God.  Take time to praise His name on Sunday – Hosanna in the Highest, right! but also take time to enjoy the things and people you have in your life right now because in this life that always moves forward through time and space we never know what characters will make a dramatic exit or which ones will stay and remain.    

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Matthew 19:29 (NLT2)
29  And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.

Today’s verse are the words of Jesus that acknowledge the cost of our faith and the promise of a great reward for our faithfulness.  

Hey, we talked about those changing times and seasons of life and all those characters that would come and go, and today’s verse is most appropriate to that theme because when we make Jesus our Lord and Savior, we are almost guaranteed to suffer the loss of some pre-Christ relationships.  

I have suffered some major relationship losses because of my decision to follow Christ.  It wouldn’t be a stretch for me to agree with today’s verse when it speaks of giving up houses, property, and relationships for the Lord’s sake.  

My conversion to the life of a disciple of Christ has been so dramatic and transformative that I can barely recognize myself at times! Wow, this IS ME!  So I can’t necessarily blame some people who loved the wild funny sarcastic party animal for rejecting the “born again…M.T.??? What the hell does that mean?:”

I would try to defend myself and say that I haven’t changed all that much but that would be a lie. I have been given a new life in Christ and the manifestation of that new life is constantly unfolding as I surrender more and more of myself to be conformed to the image of Christ.  Believe me, I marvel at how the Lord has been sanctifying me little by little as I agreed to follow Him. 

My interests and hobbies of the past have been replaced by a zeal to know God more and to live according to His wisdom.  The good news is that this path of Christian Discipleship isn’t a chore. It isn’t a drudgery. It is the pathway of peace and joy that doesn’t require substances to alter my mental state or arranging circumstances to make me happy.

So as today’s verse is telling us the truth when it tells us that we will be rewarded a hundred times for the things we give up or loss for the Lord’s sake. Duh, these are the words of Jesus. He is the Truth the Way and the Life so obviously what He says is true.  

But if you are doubtful let me assure you, your new life in Christ will be worth whatever losses you may have to suffer to follow Him.  Not only do we get eternal life through our faith in Christ, but when we apply His love and wisdom to our lives we can experience all the fruit of the Spirit in our lives here and now.  

We all must decide how we will spend our lives and where we will spend eternity.  If you choose your dysfunctional or even really nice relationships over Jesus, there will be hell to pay.  But if you choose to honor God by placing your faith Jesus, although you may suffer earthly losses, you will be given so much more when you are given the honor of entering the kingdom of God and becoming a member of His royal family.

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 June Hunt’s Overeating: Freedom from Food Fixation.  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s  books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

K. How to See That Success Is Just a Choice Away

Life and death … blessings and curses …

God places before His people, the nation of Israel, two distinct paths leading in entirely different directions. They are free to choose which path they will follow, but they must also be prepared to accept the consequences.

God longs for the Israelites to choose “life”—loving Him, obeying Him—and thus receiving from Him boundless blessings. But should they choose “death”—forsaking Him, failing to honor His hallowed name—then cursing and great disaster will befall them.

You, too, have two distinct paths before you … choosing to seek God’s help in overcoming your overeating habits and finding victory or choosing to stop overeating in your own strength and facing defeat after defeat. As with the Israelites, God wants you to “choose” Him, and you’ll soon discover that success is just a choice away.…

“Now choose life, so that you … may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life …”

(Deuteronomy 30:19–20)

My Daily Choices for Change

Decide each day to accept this challenge for change. Accept the challenge to make these daily choices—realizing success is just a choice away.

Life is a series of choices, therefore …

•     I choose to give control of my life to the Lord Jesus Christ.

•     I choose to change my eating through the power of Christ within me.

•     I choose to live to please God, not to please my appetite.

•     I choose to make wise choices when tempted to eat unwisely.

•     I choose to make right choices when tempted to eat excessively.

•     I choose to glorify God with how I treat my body.

•     I choose to focus not on food but on faithfulness to the Lord in my life.

•     I choose to let God be my God—not to let food be my god.

Although I’ve failed in the past, with God’s help I don’t have to fail in the future!

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

(Psalm 73:26)

There is only one God.

So if food is your god,

then God is not your God.

—June Hunt

“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,

do it all for the glory of God.”

(1 Corinthians 10:31)[1]

 

 

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

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

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

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


[1] June Hunt, Biblical Counseling Keys on Overeating: Freedom from Food Fixation (Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart, 2008), 40–42.