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

Friday, November 11, 2022

Enjoying the Journey – Don’t Fear the Falls and Don’t be “Hostel” to New Things - Purity 886

 

Enjoying the Journey – Don’t Fear the Falls and Don’t be “Hostel” to New Things -  Purity 886

Purity 886 11/11/2022 Purity 886 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo a bright midafternoon sun shining over one of the “natural” wonders of the world comes to us from yours truly as I decided to make the best of the somewhat long drive to Buffalo by going to Oswego last night Wednesday and by skipping along the coast of Lake Ontario along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail for a time yesterday before making a bee line for Niagara Falls.   The welcome center for the American Falls may be under construction, and it may have been “offseason” but there were no lines, the crowds were small, and the observation deck was open and didn’t require a ticket!   Add to that the bright afternoon sunshine and I really couldn’t have asked for more as my trip to the Falls was the climax of my decision to enjoy my journey to Buffalo.  

Well, It’s Friday and although I am not sure what I will do with the hours between now and when I check in as a volunteer for the Evening with David Jerimiah Event at the Key Bank Center at 3:30pm, I wanted to take the time to encourage all who read or hear this message to occasionally force yourselves to enjoy the journey by being intentional in trying new things, doing things differently occasionally, and appreciating the way to your next destination.   

When I travel I am normally pretty destination driven. IF I’m going to X, let’s get to X and let’s get to X as soon as possible!  But on occasion, not too often mind you, I will make the intentional decision to go a different way, not concern myself with the travel time, and to stop and see and appreciate things along the way.   

When I first heard about tonight’s event in Buffalo, I got the sense that this would be a wonderful opportunity to “be spontaneous” and to do a small act of service to the man and ministry  that delivered “THE MESSAGE” that saved my soul and began my new life in Christ.

Even though  I could have just used today’s holiday – Happy Veterans’ Day – Thank You For Your Service – to drive out to Buffalo in time to make the event, I decided to leave Wednesday evening and use a personal day yesterday so I could take some time to visit my alma mater’s city,  and to just see where the Lord lead me as I slowly moved west to Buffalo.  

Okay maybe I wasn’t completely spontaneous because  I was responsible in scheduling the time off from work and did book my stay at the Knight’s Inn in Oswego and the Hostel Buffalo Niagara well in advance. But other than making sure I had a place to lay my head before going, I decided to take my time and to take a more scenic route and to stop at Niagara Falls before going to my 2 day hostel home in Buffalo. 

So yesterday, after dropping off an old fraternity shirt I have no use for in the mailbox of the new Psi Phi Gamma fraternity house on West 4th Street, I went to the Oswego Marina and drove along the Lake Ontario shore up to the SUNY Oswego Campus.  I took a few pictures of the lake behind Riggs and Johnson Hall and then set the GPS for Niagara Falls.  

But I quickly realized that the GPS was going against my desire to drive along the coast, so I decided to put in Sodus Point as a destination and try to keep the lake close.  I had a great morning driving around soudus bay, to the point and then stayed on lake road, making stops at B.Foreman Park, The Lakeview Shelter at Webster Pier, and the Irendequoit Bay Outlet Pier and Beach.   But when I reached the Seabreeze Amusement Park, my leisurely pace, the unfamiliarity where I was, my desire to visit Niagara Falls and to get to the Hostel Buffalo Niagara before 5pm, all caused me to take the GPS’s quickest route to the Falls.  As I headed south and realized I had only gone as far west as Rochester I was a little disappointed because I wanted to take the long way around to Niagara Falls initially but my stopping to smell the roses had taken time and I had a date with the Niagara Falls. So I hit the thruway with enthusiasm, driving very fast, and made it to the Falls around 2 pm. 

The Falls were as magnificent as ever and I took some time to intentionally sit on a park bench to enjoy the view and to thank the Lord for the wonderful weather and all the wonderful sights I had seen thus far, and of course to thank Him for where He has brought me in life.

And of course, when you think about how good life is because you are experiencing pleasant circumstances you naturally think about the people you love. So I thought about my wife TammyLyn and sent her some photos to let er know that I was thinking of her and that I wished she was with me and that I loved her. 

After some anxiety over finding a place to park my car, I eventually made it to the Hostel in Buffalo, which admittedly is a new experience and caused a bit of anxiety too!   

Think college dorm room, meets fraternity house, meets army barracks, and maybe a bit of the apartment on “Friends”… The Hostel Buffalo Niagara is a laid back pad man, can you dig it…

Okay, I’m a nerd and as I planned this spiritual pilgrimage I decided to intentionally step out of my comfort zone and stay at a hostel.  Hey if you are going to try new things you actually have to plan new things and do them so, I am doing it. 

And although my anxiety level was up, because Mr. Spontaneity hasn’t stayed in Buffalo before and couldn’t reserve parking, WHAT!, I have now, this morning, settled down, now that  I have gotten some sleep and my horror movie fears of murder, theft, and sexual assault at the hands of strangers were baseless.  

I am currently in the “Lounge” typing this out and may even be so bold as to do the podcast if no one else is around…. 

Anyway, I am alive and well and looking forward to this afternoon and tonight’s event where I will be able to serve, worship, praise, and thank the Lord for who He is and for all that He has done.  

So, it is my prayer that all who hear this will enjoy the journey of this life by connecting with God thought faith in Jesus Christ and then by travelling with God everywhere you go.   And even if you have fear and anxiety of doing new things or doing things differently, let me encourage you that when you do them with the Lord, you never have to worry because He will never leave you and He will guide you in the way you should go. 

So keep walking and talking with God, it’s the only way to travel!

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Hebrews 12:11 (NLT2)
11  No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

Today’s verse tells us a hard truth but reminds us of a greater purpose.  

Today’s verse tells it like it is: discipline is painful!   Some of the changes that will help us to become more like the people God made us to be will require some concerted effort to renew our minds and possibly shape our bodies to accomplish.  The changes that we want and the deeper relationship with God requires that we be disciplined in instituting solutions and in the regular application of Biblical wisdom through Bible study and prayer.   

Developing new habits and crucifying the flesh can be a daunting task but if we remain diligent in our seeking the Lord and in doing what He directs us to do, we will eventually create new godly habits and see significant results as our minds are renewed and our hearts are surrendered to God.  

So discipline might be painful but as today’s verse assures us, it will reap a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in the way. So keep at it, keep pursuing the Lord and the person He wants you to become.    

___________________________________________

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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

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

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 6

On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life

The Hiddenness of Practicing Piety concludes

Asceticism is self-chosen suffering; it is passio activa, not passio passiva, and, therefore, most vulnerable. Asceticism is constantly threatened by the godless, pious wish to make oneself equal to Christ through suffering. One’s own claim to take the place of Christ’s suffering, to complete the work of Christ in suffering, namely, killing off the old self in us, is also lurking dormant within asceticism. In this, asceticism usurps the bitter and ultimate seriousness of Christ’s work of salvation. Here asceticism makes a dreadfully harsh show of itself. Voluntary suffering should serve only better ministry and deeper humility on the basis of Christ’s suffering. But here it becomes a terrible distortion of the suffering of the Lord himself. It wants to be seen; it becomes a merciless living reproach to other people, for it has become the path to salvation. In such “public” ostentatiousness, its reward is really squandered, because it is sought from other people.

“Put oil on your head and wash your face” could likewise become an opportunity for subtle pleasure or self-praise. But that would misinterpret it as a disguise or mask. Jesus, however, says to his disciples that they should remain humble in the voluntary exercises of humility, that they should never burden others with such exercises, using them as a reproach or a law. Instead, they should become grateful and joyous that they are permitted to remain in service to their Lord. What is meant here is not the cheerful face of a disciple seen as a Christian stereotype, but the proper hiddenness of Christian deeds, the humility which does not know of itself, just as the eye does not see itself, but only others. Such hiddenness shall be revealed one day, but only by God, not by oneself.[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/@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 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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 160–161.


Thursday, November 10, 2022

You Can Never Go Home Again - A Walk Among the Tombstones - Purity 885

 

You Can Never Go Home Again - A Walk Among the Tombstones -  Purity 885

Purity 885 11/10/2022 Purity 885 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a lamp post illuminated pathway leading to the Oswego River reflecting the multicolored lights of the city, all underneath the relatively white and pure light of the full moon comes to us from yours truly as I decided to go a walk into the night to revisit some old familiar haunts in my alma mater’s city. 

Well, it’s Thursday and as different as today is from most Thursdays I wanted to be consistent in my efforts to encourage others to stay on or to get on the path of Christian Discipleship by sharing another photo of yet another pathway as a visual representation of my sentiment that life is a journey to be walked out and it is best done in the presence of God, specifically through a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior.  

Yeah, after last night’s walk through Oswego’s Riverwalk and some of the familiar haunts on the Oswego’s West Side, I am feeling somewhat nostalgic and disturbed about what I saw and what I felt as I walked through the shadows of Oswego’s streets and my contemplation of my college days in the distant past.  

A lot has changed since my college days and my last visit to Oswego. I am no longer the person I used to be when I lived in Oswego, and no I won’t just say “went to college in Oswego” because that would cheapen the truth of my experience. 

From 1990 to 1994, although somewhat sheltered and provided for by the generosity of my family who paid for my “studies”, I had the opportunity to really explore who I was and who I wanted to be for the first time without the shadow of my family, of being just one of those “Clark boys”, impacting how others or how I myself, saw me.  

I got to be “me” for the first time in my life and it was in those years that the small dream to be a writer, that really began after reading Stephen King when I was thirteen, started to blossom and shape who I thought I was.  I saw myself as born of the same stock as Stephen King, Earnest Hemmingway, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, and even William Shakespeare.  I fell in love literature and the idea of being a writer but as bold as I was to fill my portfolio with wild experiences of running into the night, I didn’t really have a direction and certainly have the disciplines to write on a consistent basis. 

Even though I now write six days a week, what!,  I failed at the most basic level, that writers write!, right?. For all my confidence and courage to question authority, to anarchically defy it,  and to push the boundaries of my experiences, I was sheepish in actually pursuing writing. It was an unknow and unfamiliar path I was in love with, and I was afraid to follow it because I didn’t know where it was going to go, and I felt inadequate in light of the writers’ talent that I admired.    

Also I had really tied myself up in knots in terms of addiction. While I prided myself as being able to handle my liquor and to do the drugs and not let the drugs do me, the not so pleasant consequences to wild living and the resultant dependency revealed that I wasn’t as free as I thought. But that would only take divine intercession and 25 years to figure out.  

On last night’s tour of Oswego, I started with a sense of excitement and exhilaration as the crisp blowing winds coming off of the Oswego River reminded of my youthful exuberance for the night.  I gloried in those first steps of how wonderful the River looked and how good God was to safely bring me here to experience the beauty of the moment and I thanked God for the experience.  

But then I walked on down to the familiar haunts on Water Street, that were no longer familiar, and discovered not only disappointment and a sense of grief over the things that had changed but also felt shame and regret and deep sympathy for younger me, who was oh so ignorant, oh so lost.   Old City Hall was a favorite drinking establishment of mine on Water Street back in the day but while the building is still there it doesn’t appear to be to be a bar, or anything else, today.  Across the Street, The Ferris Wheel another less preferred bar is still in business, but as I chose Wednesday as the day of my return, downtown Oswego was a veritable ghost town, which I was actually glad for.  

I don’t think the party scene is, in terms of alcohol, is anywhere near what it was in the 1990’s in Oswego, but I was glad that I didn’t have to navigate around groups of college students out on the streets seeking for thrills.  And the solitary, dark, coldness, really brought home that those days in my past in Oswego are over, and that person of who I was back then have died.  

But that’s a good thing. I’m alive in Christ and a whole lot smarter than I used to be.  

As sad as seeing how things had changed, how businesses and buildings themselves were just gone,  I was glad that there was no nostalgic pull to return to the days of old.

But with that said, my wanderings did bring me to visit a few sites that I fondly remembered. I passed what I believe were a couple of sorority houses back in 1990s t and a house where my friends had lived on West Third Street,  But again these buildings weren’t sorority houses anymore and my friends had moved out nearly 30 years ago, 30 years… 

Although I didn’t quite know where I was going last night, I did have a plan. I always loved Oswego’ Old Style movie theatre on West 2nd Street, as a pretense to get me out of my motel room way out near the shopping centers on the east side, I decided to go see a movie. I ended up nodding off to Prey for the Devil, which is not exactly high praise, because I figured it might give a couple of jump scares and I could consider it as more research for spiritual warfare. 

But before the movie, I had this pull to “get to the house”.  I was a member of a fraternity and that command to “get to the house” that would yell at pledges was always answered by me eventually while a student and as alumni.  The house was where to go. Brothers were there. Parties, fun times, and women were there! Get to the house!

So I followed that call.  

But the thing is, that while my fraternity still exists, “The House” at 30 West 5th Street was burned down by an arsonist during winter break of 1992.  Although there was initially talk of rebuilding, the fraternity eventually sold the land and bought a new much smaller, rather comparatively dismal, new house. 

So as I walked through the shadows of the night and the recollection of the past, I was a man without a home but still called to go.  No one has done anything with the property at 30 West 5th Street. Someone put up a doorway trellis where our pathway once led up to the stairs of what was a mammoth house.   So I took a photo of it, like someone taking a photo of a loved one’s tombstone.  (if you would like to see all the sights from last night’s wanderings I am sharing a link to my Facebook post that presents them. The last photo in the collection is the Trellis, it’s a little creepy.”

Photos From Oswego on Facebook

So while the walk through the tombstones of my past in the city of Oswego was a little sad, and the movie barely succeeded in keeping me awake,  I walk away from it all with a sense of gratitude and gladness.  

I loved my times in Oswego even thought they were severely worldly and broken in light of what I have come to know about the Lord and the meaning of life,  but that was my life.  I’m glad I searched for who I was back then. I’m glad I was bold and courageous in establishing “me”.

In truth, although I have regrets about the bad things that happened and the fact that my fear, feelings of inadequacies, and addictions kept me from following my dream, I can’t say that I didn’t give it a try. I tried to live according to world told me that would lead to my happiness but when you are following a lie it doesn’t matter how earnest you are, or aren’t, in pursuing it.  A lie can never lead to truth, and it shouldn’t be surprising that doesn’t bring peace either.  

But God is good, and He was gracious to show me the only thing that matters in life is knowing Him and living according to His ways.  

All the parties, friends, and excitement of youth are good for a season, but time marches on and that progression really reveals that we were living in an illusion. To quote John Cougar Mellencamp’s Jack & Diane: “Changes come around real soon, make us women and men”.   So we can’t stay there in the good old days, that were really a lie, a fleeting moment of our lives that were based bad information.

However, we don’t have to be sad about moving on into the hard truths about growing older and having to provide for ourselves. 

That is of course, if we really pursue the truth and seek the mystery of God.  The good news is unlike last nights journey through the night, when we seek the Lord things don’t get darker, things get brighter as God will reveal just how good He is and how good our lives can be when we stay in His presence and follow where he leads.  

So keep waling and talking with God. If you aren’t doing that, get on that pathway that leads to life and life more abundantly. You don’t have to deny your past, but you can get past it by coming to understand the depths of what we didn’t know and how much better God’s way is for us.     

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

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Galatians 6:7 (NLT2)
7  Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.

Today’s verse urges us to not be misled into thinking we can somehow avoid God’s justice and teaches us that we will indeed reap what we sow.  

Okay the verse says harvest what you plant, and actually I would encourage everyone to check out the New King James version of this verse, and to use the NKJV as your foundational reference if you study the NLT.

Galatians 6:7 (NKJV)
7  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

So as you can see, the NLT says the same things, basically, but it is different. Study all the versions of the Bible if you like but be assured that if you consult more than one version and study the whole counsel of God, you won’t go astray.  

As for going astray, that reminds me of my college days where among other worldly philosophies, I believe dthat “rules were made to be broken” but I always had the hopes that my cleverness would keep my violations hidden or at least keep my safe from prosecution and suffering.  

But it didn’t, I was arrested and changed once, detained and questioned and let go on a few occasions. I also suffered the negative physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual consequences for my rebellious and wild living. 

As much as I may have “gotten away with” things in some areas, I didn’t fully realize that there was no getting away from what I planted.  In some way or fashion, I, and everyone of us will reap what we sow.  

Cause and effect relationship show us this in the natural, but we should really be concerned with the unseen, our futures and where we will stand when God calls us to give account of our lives.  

No matter how much you get away with in life and no matter how skilled you are at keeping negative consequences at bay in this life,  the jig is up when you die, as the word tells us that it is appointed for men to die once and then to be judged. 

Sorry those who believe in reincarnation – one life only.

Sorry Atheists, there is a God, and He will judge you whether you believe in Him or not. 

And sorry,  if you don’t make Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life,  there will be hell to pay.  

You won’t avoid God’s justice and you will ultimately reap what you sow.  

So, trust in Jesus, rejoice over your salvation, but be sure to take today’s verse to heart in all its implications by also repenting our old rule braking ways and follow the Lord’s plan for your life, your sanctification.

___________________________________________

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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

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

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 6

On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life

The Hiddenness of Practicing Piety

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:16–18).

Jesus takes it for granted that disciples will keep the pious practice or exercise [Übung] of fasting. The life of a disciple requires the strict practice of austerity. The only purpose of such practices [exercitia] is to make disciples more willing and more joyous in following the designated path and doing the works required of them. The selfish and lethargic will, which resists being of service, is disciplined; the flesh is chastened and punished. The practice of austerity makes me feel the estrangement of my Christian life from the world. A life which remains without any ascetic discipline, which indulges in all the desires of the flesh as long as they are “permitted” by the justitia civilis [civil order], will find it difficult to enter the service of Christ. Satiated flesh is unwilling to pray and is unfit for self-sacrificing service.

So a disciple’s life requires strict external discipline. This is not to suggest that the will of the flesh can be broken by discipline. The daily death of the old self cannot be achieved by anything other than faith in Jesus. But persons of faith, disciples whose will is already broken, whose old selves have died to Jesus Christ, do know precisely the rebellion and daily pride of their flesh. They know their lethargy and lack of discipline and know that to be the source of arrogance which must be conquered. This takes place in daily and extraordinary practice of discipline. The disciples are meant when it is said that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Therefore, “watch and pray.”[192] The spirit knows the path of discipleship and is ready to follow it, but the flesh is too fearful; the path is too difficult for it, too uncertain, too arduous. So the spirit falls silent. The spirit affirms Jesus’ commandment to love one’s enemies unconditionally, but flesh and blood are too strong, so that the commandment does not become the deed. Thus in daily and extraordinary exercise and discipline, the flesh must learn to understand that it has no rights of its own. The daily, orderly exercise of prayer helps in this. So does daily meditation on the word of God, as do all sorts of practices of physical discipline and austerity.

At first, the resistance of the flesh against these daily humiliations comes frontally; then later it comes hidden behind the word of the Spirit, that is, in the name of evangelical freedom. The flesh’s resistance to the word of Jesus becomes evident whenever evangelical freedom from legalistic coercion, from self-martyrdom, and mortification is played off against legitimate evangelical use of discipline, exercises, and asceticism; whenever lack of discipline and disorder in prayer, in using scripture, or in one’s physical life are justified in the name of Christian freedom. In such circumstances people have lost sight of the fact that daily life in discipleship is foreign to the world. They have also lost sight of the joy and the true freedom which genuine discipline gives to the life of disciples. Christians will have to attack the resistance of their flesh whenever they recognize that they have failed in their service, that their willingness has weakened, that they have become guilty influencing the lives of others or causing the guilt of others, that their joy in God is fading, that their strength for prayer is no longer present. Christians who recognize that will try to get ready for better service through spiritual exercises, fasting, and prayer (Luke 2:37; 4:2; Mark 9:29; 1 Cor. 7:5). The objection that Christians should take refuge in faith and scripture and forsake asceticism is without any merit. It is without mercy and has no power to help. What is a life of faith, if not an endless manifold struggle of the spirit against the flesh?[195] How can anyone live in faith whom prayer makes slothful, who is tired of scripture, or whose joy in God is stolen by sleeping, eating, or sexual desire?[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/@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 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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 158–160.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Pumpkin Ale, Fat Shaming, and Demons - Purity 869

Pumpkin Ale, Fat Shaming, and Demons - Purity 869

Purity 869 10/22/2022 Purity 869 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a stunning scene of a clear blue sky and early autumn colors reflected in the surface of what we suspect to be the fourth of the eight Fulton Chain Lakes comes to from a friend who captured this scene near their home in Inlet NY back on October 10th. They shared a few pictures that day on social media proclaiming that experiencing the autumn splendor was “food for the soul”.  

Well, It’s the Saturday before Halloween weekend, and while I encourage my friends to get out there this weekend and liberally take in all the flavors of the season, I have to recommend we use wisdom and moderation in our seasonal celebrations.  

As someone who, with the Lord’s help, has won a victory over addictive tendencies and who now attempts to continuously live by walking in the Spirit, I know the dangers of how the flesh will use seasonal celebrations to fuel its fire and cause us to be in bondage.   

For instance, the alcohol industry knows how to encourage consumption during all the seasons of the year, as the breweries and wineries will release and market various potent potables for the spring, summer, fall, and winter.  This month will tempt people to try Oktoberfest themed beers, Pumpkin Ales, and Hard and not so Hard Apple Cider beverages.  In my limited research this morning, I even saw a link that told me that there were “20 Scary Beers” from various micro and not so microbreweries that feature occult or horror themes that would be perfect for Halloween. And you might think that wine drinkers are too sophisticated for something like that but you would be wrong, there are lots of scary labelled wines available too.  I find it positively frightening because I remember how I was a slave to the booze and my addiction would use any pretense to keep the party going 24/7.  So for my friends who drink, be careful, a lifestyle of periodic or constant drunkenness is not only a risk to your physical and mental health, it also is indicated as something that can separate you from the Lord’s kingdom.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NLT2) tells us
9  Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10  or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
11  Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.    

Yeah, I know those two verses hit a whole lot of people below the belt and may cause some to doubt their salvation. If that’s you, I would encourage you to repent. 

Believe me  I was a big drunk AFTER I was born again and when I read all the verses on drunkenness, I was not happy!  But as I knew the Lord had saved me and I wanted to follow Him, I followed His leading into recovery and now rejoice over my freedom over drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality.  Yeah I took that verse literally. And now I can say I WAS like that but now I have been “cleansed; … made holy; … made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”      

I thought it would be impossible to change from my drunken ways after living most of my adult life, from 17 to 43 years old, in the bonds of alcoholism but God was with me and led me out of that darkness for good.  I don’t identify as an “alcoholic” or a “person in long term recovery” or a brother who “struggles with alcoholism”.  The struggle is over the war has been won. The Lord gave me victory and freedom and I identify as a child of God, an ambassador for God’s kingdom and a disciple of Jesus Christ. I have been healed. I have been made new. And I ain’t going back.  

But I am not perfect and still fall into temptation on occasion.

WHAT???

Relax, I can claim, because of the Lord, continuous victory in the areas of drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality still but I have also been fighting a war with the flesh when it comes to junk food or sugar.  

I have come to realize that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and that Christians should be good stewards of their physical health. Obesity is not good for your physical, mental, or spiritual health as the same characteristics of addiction (the cravings, seeking comfort, lack of self-control, and binging) are present in lifestyles that are food focused.  

Just like we have to be wise stewards of our bodies by not filling them with alcohol and drugs, we have to be discerning in what we eat.  

Just like the alcohol industry releases and markets seasonal potent potables, the food industry is even worse in its creation of holiday and seasonal packaging and special limited time items that cause us to “try it while we can!” with all the gusto of a beer guzzling alcoholic.  

The world system, the flesh, and the devil are insidious in tempting us to FEED the FLESH rather than walk in the Spirit.   The world system, our fellow man, like a drug dealer, does it for profit.  The enemy does it to keep us from seeking our peace and comfort from a spiritual connection with God. 

I’ve come to realize that my addictive tendencies were present in the way I ate. After reading “The Daniel Plan” I learned that food industry engineers food to make us want to crave it and in essence become addicted to it. So they recommend non processed foods that don’t have the sugar and carbs that keep us coming back for more and keep us in the constant struggle of the battle of the bulge.   

I have made some significant gains, meaning losing some pounds, because of this realization and from my efforts to be more cognizant of what I eat.  I have eliminated a lot of the sugar and carb filled foods that I used to eat and now try to follow a keto friendly lifestyle to reduce my weight and to reduce the pains that come from being too heavy. 

My father was an athlete in his youth but over time due to liberal use of alcohol and unhealthy eating his weight increased and now that he is in his seventies he is hobbled with chronic back pain, and actually has another surgery scheduled in December to try to “fix the pain”.   

While I can’t claim to have learned from all my father’s mistakes in life, I am trying to learn from this one. I see that it is unwise to carry too much weight as we age. If you have back or other pains because of your weight now, they will only be compounded as you grow older. We have to stop the madness, seek the truth of nutrition, and lean on the Lord to help us overcome this struggle.  

It's not easy. Most of the world is blind to this and as we move forward in time it looks like it is getting worse.  

In the campaign to stop bullying and stop the opposite extreme eating disorders of anorexia and bulimia, the term “fat shaming” has come on the scene.  Rather than encouraging the obese to attempt to change their unhealthy lifestyles, society now demands that we leave people alone to suffer and die under the weight of their food addictions and the rise in their mortality rate because of their obesity. 

To encourage someone to repent of their unwise living or “repent of their sin” (See 1 Corinthians 6:10-11) is now unloving.  Our society has taken the stand of the antichrist by telling us to accept our neighbors and ourselves as we are, in our broken states, rather than do what God would encourage us to do: to repent and to do what is “right”? 

IN Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT2), God said to Cain:
6  “Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected?
7  You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”  

God doesn’t want us to be slaves to our flesh or any other sin that would control us.  And there are plenty of Bible verses that address the obesity thing (https://www.openbible.info/topics/obesity) to encourage a change in that area.  

So I have been fighting the good fight and avoiding sugar filled snacks, but last night as I was volunteering at a Halloween themed event for Operation Adopt a Soldier in Saratoga, as the night drew to a close, I ate some cookies and candy bars that were made available for the volunteers!

So I failed to be true to health goal.  I know its not the end of the world and that there is certainly enough grace to cover this “transgression” and may have the liberty to “treat ourselves” from time to time.  

Our failure to be perfect in our behaviors is why we need Christ. Even when we try to live a life walking in the Spirit, because the word of God is true, we will have some sin in our lives.  So when we fail, we could condemn ourselves but we shouldn’t. That’s why we needed Jesus to save us by faith and grace. We couldn’t do it on our own.  So if we stumble we should not beat ourselves up but thank God that He has accepted us even though we are far from perfect.   

But at the same token, we should realize that staying in our broken states is not where God wants us either.  While there is grace enough to cover all our sins, the Lord still calls us to be sanctified because He wants us to be more like Him and He knows that when we follow His wisdom and ways and walk in the Spirit, we will experience all the peace, joy, love, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, and self-control that He has for us.  He knows His way is the best way for us.  

Right after these fruit of the Spirit are listed in Galatians, God’s word says:  

Galatians 5:24-25 (NLT2)
24  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
25  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

In listing the fruit, I have seldom heard (or maybe didn’t listen to) pastors focus on verse 24: to crucify the flesh, our passions and desires.  

These are instructions to the church. So while we may not be perfect like Christ, we should endeavor to lean on the Lord and do what is “right” by obeying the word of God and to follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives, rather than being pulled astray by the regular and seasonal pulls of the flesh.  

So be wise and discerning of how you live and be aware of the regular and seasonal temptations that will try to lead you astray.   If Keep walking and talking with God and you can make progress, because when we live in the Spirit we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.  And if you mess up, like I did last night, just don’t give up.  

Remind yourself just how much you need the Lord and just how good He is to love and accept us regardless of our performance, and then dust yourself off and start walking in  the Spirit again.   

Instead of an “NLT Bible Promise Book for Men verse of the day, because we are in the season of Halloween, I am deciding to share an excerpt from the Freedom in Christ Ministries blog,  by Dr, Jonathan Carl  that I saw yesterday ( https://blog.ficm.org/blog/halloween-silly-and-serious) that presents some frequently asked questions that we should consider during this rather macabre season. 

Dr. Carl writes:

Here are four “frequently asked questions we should consider…:

1.    Is demonic possession real? What can a demon do to me? Can the devil or a demon make me do something I don’t want to do?

Yes, demonic possession is real. Demons can tempt, attack, and live within humans. Satan already controls everyone who is not born again with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. While not every unbeliever is possessed by a demon, demonically-possessed humans sometimes evidence (manifest) the presence of demons in supernaturally scary ways.

2 Corinthians 4:4 “the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers”

2.    Can a Christian be possessed by a demon? “Demonized”? “Have” a Demon?

No. If someone truly repents from sin, treasures Jesus more than anyone or anything, and trusts in Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, then they are saved and in-dwelt by God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11, 1 Corinthians 3:16). A genuine believer cannot be possessed or controlled by a demon since Jesus is in them through the Holy Spirit. Believers can be tempted and deceived by demonic spirits and influences. Christians have personal responsibility for their actions, inactions, and beliefs and accordingly must “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

 

2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

3.    Can a Christian be harassed by a demon? Oppressed? Attacked?

Yes. As one example, we know that the apostle Paul was attacked and harassed by a demon. We do not always know the specifics of why demons attack true believers. We do know that if we dependently seek God in these seasons of attack, He will strengthen and grow us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, 1 John 4:4).

2 Corinthians 12:7 “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger [angel] of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”

 

4.    Can someone be a Christian and their life not demonstrate real change?

No. True believers always evidence a changed life through the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit (Matthew 13:19-23, Galatians 5:16-24, 1 John). Genuine Christians are not perfect but will manifest a decreasing pattern of sin and an increasing pattern of righteousness. May you be able to look backwards and see God’s progressive work on your life and look forward to how He will continue to mature you as you seek Him in spirit and truth.

1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Dr. Carl concludes the blog entry by writiing: “As you see scary or silly Halloween costumes, decorations, and advertisements, may you be reminded that this is not simply a pretend subject. Our spiritual state matters. Satan and his demons are on the prowl, seeking to deceive and destroy us. If you are not yet a Christian, why would you wait another day to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior?

If you are a Christian, have confidence that God is with you and in you. Do not fear. Put on the full armor of God daily and be like Paul, seeking to “boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel” everywhere you go. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

1 John 4:4 “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

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If you want a free resource about spiritual warfare in the early church? Summaries of some of Neil Anderson’s most important works? A Bible reading plan for 2023? Then please visit www.spiritualwarfare.blog/free-books for some of Dr. Carl’s free e-books and writings.

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 51:17 (NLT2)
17  The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Today’s Bible versesdescribes our condition when we give up those myths and lies of the world and finally repent and surrender to the Lord. 

The spirit of broken man is the spirit of rebellion and self-sufficiency. We try to live independently from God and forge our own destinies, as if we could control anything in an ultimate sense.  Or we will try to please God with “good works” thinking if we just perform the right “sacrifice”, God will accept us.  

But today’s verse indicates the God desires us to submit to Him and repent. Our surrender to the Lordship of Christ not our sacrifice is the only thing that God wants or will accept.  

So remember what God desires and give Him wants by living a life that is repentant and surrendered to His will.   

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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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

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

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

Kindred

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny” [Matt. 5:21–26].

“But I say to you”—this is the way Jesus summarized everything he said about the law. After his previous words, it is obvious that Jesus is not to be understood here as a revolutionary. Nor should we assume an exchange of opinion versus opinion in the manner of rabbis.[82] Instead, Jesus expresses, continuing what he has said thus far, his unity with the law of the Mosaic covenant. But precisely in his true unity with the law of God he makes clear that he, the Son of God, is the Lord and Giver of the law. Only those who perceive the law to be the word of Christ can fulfill it. He rejected the sinful misunderstanding in which the Pharisees were caught. True knowledge of the law lies solely in knowing Christ to be the Lord and the fulfiller of the law. Christ has laid his hand on the law and claimed it. In doing so, he did what the law truly intended. But in this unity with the law he is considered an enemy by the false understanding of the law. By honoring the law, he gives himself up to the false zealots of the law.

The commandment to which Jesus first refers his disciples forbids murder and entrusts the disciples with the well-being of their brothers or sisters. The life of one’s brothers and sisters was granted by God and is in God’s hand. Only God has power over life and death. There is no place in the faith-community of God for a murderer. Murderers are liable to the judgment they themselves exercise. The protection of God’s command extends not only to brothers and sisters who belong to the church-community but beyond.[85] This is clearly shown by the fact that the actions of a follower of Jesus do not depend on the other person’s identity, but only on him whom the disciple follows in obedience. Jesus’ followers are forbidden to commit murder under penalty of divine judgment. The life of a brother or sister is a boundary for Jesus’ followers which may not be crossed. But anger already crosses that boundary. It is crossed even more by words bursting out of us in haste (Racha [insults]), and it is crossed finally when we intentionally deride someone else (you fool). Every anger attacks the life of the other person; it begrudges others their lives; it craves the other’s destruction. There is no distinction between so-called just anger and unjust anger. The disciples should not even know what anger is, because anger is an assault on God and the other person. The angry words bursting out of us, which we take so lightly, reveal that we do not respect the other person, that we view ourselves to be superior, and that we thus value our own lives more than the other’s. Such words are an injury to a sister or brother, a thrust to the heart. They are intended to strike, wound, and destroy. But intentional words of derision rob sisters and brothers of their dignity in public. They intend to make other people despise them, as well. They aim in hatred to destroy another’s internal and external existence. I pass judgment on another. That is murder. A murderer is handed over to judgment.[1]

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 120–122.