Showing posts with label Virtuous Cycle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Virtuous Cycle. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

For His Glory – Captives Set Free – Purity 674

 For His Glory – Captives Set Free – Purity 674

Purity 674 03/09/2022   Purity 674 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a sky set ablaze by the setting sun comes to us from a friend who captured this sight somewhere near their home in upstate New York on Christmas Day of 2020.  

Well it’s Wednesday and as we seek to successfully transcend the midway point of the work week our thoughts this morning are on the goodness of God who has not only made things like a spectacular sunset possible but who also allows for His light to shine into people’s lives to drive away the darkness of the past.  

I was sort of at a loss of which photo to share today so I played “iPhone photo roulette” and just dialed it back, at first thinking to grab a photo from March a year ago but as nothing grabbed my attention I just kept going until I saw a few photos that highlighted this sunset that I saved to my phone on Christmas Day in 2020 and now my thoughts recall what was happening at that time.  

I know what you are probably thinking: “Oh 2020, here goes a Covid-19 report…” but as much as I could share a story about how Covid-19 impacted our Christmas that year, my thoughts are more on the here and now and how the things that I decided back then have played a part in the present.  

In November of 2020, I finished my master’s degree in Christian Counseling and immediately decided to become a Community Freedom Ministry Associate through Freedom in Christ Ministries’ CFMU, Community Freedom Ministry University. So no sooner did I finish one college program did I sign up to complete another.   

My exposure to Neil Anderson’s work and experiencing new levels of freedom after going through the Steps to Freedom in Christ inspired me to start a CFM at my local church and to hopefully lead others through the Steps. 

So in December of 2020, I was in the midst of completing my studies at CFMU and would eventually graduate, launch a CFM at my local church, and since then I have been called to facilitate a Men’s Freedom in Christ Course for Freedom in Christ Ministries’ Northeast Region online via Zoom.      

And last night I lead another man through the Steps to Freedom in Christ!

Did I know way back in December of 2020 of all the things that God would do in my life in a couple of years’ time? Absolutely not. When I signed up for CFMU, I had no degree of certainty of whether or not my efforts would be fruitful and, in truth, in many ways you could doubt the effectiveness of my ministerial efforts.

But I have discovered that it is not my efforts alone that produce fruit. Now just so I am clear, for personal maturation, our efforts make a huge difference as the Lord will use our efforts to seek Him to increase our faith.  Our maturation is a cooperative effort between us and the Holy Spirit and we must do our part to grow.  But He helps and guides us in the process too. 

However in terms of helping others, the Holy Spirit is the one that will bring the increase. He will use the things we do to bless others, but it is not because of us that transformation comes .  

In last night’s freedom appointment, I may have led my brother through the Steps to Freedom in Christ, but it was his faith and the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit that made the process fruitful.

Only the Holy Spirit grants repentance and because this man decided to humbly come before the throne of grace to renounce the lies that he believed, forgive those who had harmed or offended him, and to confess all of the pride, rebellion, and sin in his life was he able to resolve all of the spiritual and personal conflicts of his past and experience the joy and peace that comes from being set free.  

When we decide to humble ourselves and to follow the Lord, He lifts us up and guides us to experience His forgiveness and love that sets us free.   

Just like I didn’t know all the things that would happen as I was doing my studies at CFMU back in December of 2020, my brother who was set free last night didn’t know what would happen when he stepped out in faith to take an online Freedom in Christ Course.

And that’s the thing about walking in faith, we don’t know what will happen, but we decide to trust in the Lord anyway. We agree to our part to follow Him and trust Him to do the rest. When we do that the Lord rewards our faith with blessings we couldn’t imagine when we made that shaky first step forward on His path.

The road that leads to the victory and freedom that the Lord has for us may not always be easy but it a sure path that is paved with our obedience and faith and is guided with His direction.

So keep walking and talking to God, the places He will call you to can not be fully known before hand but I have discovered that if we just keep saying “Yes” to Him, and if we just keep doing what needs to be done before us moment to moment, we will eventually discover that those shaky first steps of faith, and all the ones we make thereafter, are all a part of a magnificent journey that takes us from faith to faith and that leads us from glory to glory.      


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

This morning’s meditation verse is :

Romans 5:4 (NLT2)
4  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

Today’s verse encourages us that our endurance in following the Lord will lead to our character to grow stronger which will in turn make us confident of our redeemed status.   

Our deliverance from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light is instantaneous the moment we put our faith in Christ. However, our salvation is merely the beginning point of our life of faith and the transformation that the Lord calls you to.  

Recently, I have been increasing convinced through my study of Charles Stanley’s book “Relying on the Holy Spirit.” (Search Relying on the Holy Spirit:  Experience the joy-filled walk with God under the anointing of the Holy spirit (In Touch study series)) that the most important fruit that we are called to produce as Christians has to do with our character.  


Stanley points out that there are two kinds of fruit in our Christian walk:

·       The fruit that is represented by good works that we do

·       The fruit of a changed character, which is associated with our maturation as Christians  


I think that one of the major problems with our Christian walk can be when we focus on our good works more than the changing of our character.  


Spiritual materialism is “doing good things for God” and expecting blessings in return. While we should do good works, when we do them expecting something in return we are doing them out of an expectation, or out of a perceived obligation, rather than doing them as an expression of our love for the Lord or out of love for our neighbor. 


We could do lots of “good works” with our hearts being divorced from the activity.


How can we change our hearts?   


We change our hearts by coming to the Lord humbly to learn from Him and to apply His wisdom to the ways we think and feel as well as to the ways we behave.   When we ask the Lord to help us with this interior work , and obey whatever call He has on our lives, we are called into situations where we will be tested and will have to endure.   


Whether it’s challenging physical work, dealing with difficult people, or just shifting the paradigms of the ways we think,  the Lord will put us through processes that will stretch us and if we endure through these processes, our characters will be changed to align more with God’s word and subsequently our character will be strengthened and we will grow ever more confident in our salvation and our place in God’s family.   


I have described the “virtuous cycle” before and it shows how “good works” gives us confirmation of our status of “actually being a Christian!”  which in turn encourages us and motivates us to do more “good works” which keeps us growing in our faith.  

But I would like to also point out that these “good works” are not just physical activities. The “good works” we do as Christians also includes renewing our minds,  learning the ways of the Lord, growing in our heart understanding of who we are in Christ, and knowing the love of God.   

Those “good works” that contribute to our Christian character should not be neglected as they often do more for our relationship with God and contribute to our experiencing our freedom in Christ more that any “good deeds” that we “just do to do” could ever hope to accomplish. 

So endure through the process of walking in the Spirit because that will lead to the strength of your character which will in turn will contribute to your assurance that you truly are a child of God, that has been redeemed because of your faith in Jesus Christ, and who has been called to do some mighty works for the kingdom of God, that may require the stretching of our souls and spirits as well as the things that may cause our brows to sweat.    

As always, I invite all to go to 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 Envy & Jealousy: Taming the Terrible Twins.

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.

B.  What Is Jealousy?

     Jealousy is resenting another’s rivalry or unfaithfulness, with a desire to guard or maintain what one possesses.

     Jealousy is possessiveness.

     The Greek word for “jealousy” is zeloo, which means “zealous or burning with jealousy.”

“When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes. As they danced, they sang: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.’ Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’ And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”

(1 Samuel 18:6–9)

Q   “Why is God called a jealous God?”

Jehovah God initiated a special covenant relationship with the Israelites. Because of His love for Israel, God felt jealous pain when they threatened to destroy the covenant relationship and became disloyal.

“Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14)

Q   “Is jealousy always wrong?”

No. It is natural and normal for feelings of jealousy to surface when a meaningful covenant relationship is threatened by unfaithfulness.

“This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and defiles herself while married to her husband, or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the Lord and is to apply this entire law to her. The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.” (Numbers 5:29–31)

”I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2–3)[1]


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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

[1] June Hunt, Biblical Counseling Keys on Envy & Jealousy: Taming the Terrible Twins (Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart, 2008), 2.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Purity 286: Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 Purity 286 12/09/2020 

Good morning!

Today’s photo comes from my alma mater, SUNY Oswego, as they shared this pic from the vantage point of the Edward Austin Sheldon Statue on campus this week to encourage their students as they entered finals week.   Sheldon was so influential on education and beloved by his students that this statue was commissioned in 1898, paid in part with penny donations from 200,000 students from more than 3,000 different schools.  

I share because it’s sunrise or sunset sky is spectacular and to remind all of us that although God created the heavens, He also created us, and Christ’s teachings indicate that we are to love and serve one another. 

Sheldon’s example shows us that we are also to teach one another what we know.  We all have the potential to change someone’s life for the better.  Our knowledge, experience, and skills that the Lord has directed us into can be utilized to change our lives and the lives of those around us.  We can all be teachers and we can all encourage others to live a life of purpose and hope.

While we can all be teachers, we need to take the risk to speak out and be rejected. We have to leave the safety of our isolation and anonymity and let others know what we know about life and truth.   

As we draw near to the end of the year and Celebrate Freedom is entering a type of “finals week” period in that we only have two meetings before our holiday break, I am thankful for the opportunity to teach others what I have learned since coming to faith in Christ in 2010 and allowing God to transform my life through following Him.  No matter what type of work I may do to support myself, I feel my life’s purpose is to help others come to know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to apply it to their lives as a daily spiritual practice that will result in the fruit of the Spirit growing in their lives. 

For years of my life, I kept to myself and spent a lot of time in a basement, alone, lost and hopeless.  Not seeing any meaning or purpose to life, I tried to leave the world outside and just fulfill my selfish desires.  But through tragedy and heartache, I came to a point in my life where I had to know what life’s meaning was. 

After years of searching for truth and meaning in all the wrong places, God reached out and told me the truth of His Son, Jesus Christ, through a radio message. He literally breathed life into me through the Holy Spirit as I became spiritually alive when I made Christ my Lord and Savior.  I’ve gone from an isolated addict in a basement to become a teacher and counselor to anyone who needs the truth and the hope that comes from a life in harmony with God. 

I learned that knowing the truth wasn’t enough. I had to live it and share it.  And while some will reject the message, I am compelled to continually deliver it. 

God has a plan for your life.  Keep walking and talking with God and go where He sends you.

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

This morning’s meditation verse was:

1 John 2:5 (NKJV)
5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.

 This verse is appropriate in my experience for two reasons.  As a disciple of Christ, my intention is to keep His word by knowing what it says and by trying to live by it. 

 It is also meaningful because I was just speaking to someone about our Christian walk and how when we walk in the Spirit, we confirm that our faith is real.  The word says that it is by our fruit that people will know that we are His.  

 I pointed out to my friend that the best person we can convince of our faith in Christ is ourselves!  Our daily practices of prayer, meditation, and Bible study are fruit. When we attend or serve the church or share the gospel, it is another fruit.  When we tell the truth and forgive others, we are displaying the fruit.  

 Our faith isn’t just holding a set of beliefs.  Our faith has to be lived out. Our faith has to have action.  

 I explained that unlike our previous “viscous cycle” (where the enemy hit us with a steady stream of temptation, sin,  accusation, and condemnation), when we walk in the Spirit we start to live out a new cycle: a virtuous cycle. 

 I explained our virtuous cycle like this:


  1. As disciples of Christ, we attempt to live the Christian life. So we get MOTIVATION to actually try it.
  2. Our motivation leads us to perform GOOD WORKS (all the disciplines of our faith and good deeds).
  3. The performing of “good works” gives us CONFIRMATION – that yes, we are actually a Christian!  
  4. Receiving this Confirmation is an ENCOURAGEMENT, which leads us to be motivated and Repeat the cycle. 

 This virtuous cycle is where a discipled Christian lives their life. Instead of the flesh and the enemy pushing us into that “viscous cycle” again, our spirit and the Holy Spirit leads us into the cultivation of the fruit of the spirit in our lives and into our purpose for the kingdom of God.  

 So encourage and motivate yourself into the good works of faith that will confirm who you are in Christ and begin or continue a thriving life of walking in the Spirit.  

 Today we continue chapter 5 of Anderson & Baumchen’s Finding Hope Again, where the authors discuss mental strongholds.

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

Mental Strongholds

Believing thoughts and feelings about yourself that are not true inevitably establishes mental strongholds over a period of time. We don't want you to get the impression that all the lies we have learned to believe about ourselves and God come directly from Satan. The world and the flesh are also enemies of the soul. Most false beliefs about ourselves and God come from living in a fallen world. They are patterns of the flesh that can only be changed by renewing our minds to the truth of God's Word.

Taking Our Thoughts Captive

In one sense, it doesn't make any difference whether the thought you are now thinking came from your memory bank, the television set, another person, Satan or whether you just had a new thought yourself. The answer to what you are to do about it is the same. Regardless of its origin, we are to take every "thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). If what you are thinking isn't true or edifying, then don't think it.

Telling people just to stop thinking negative thoughts is not a complete answer. You overcome negative thinking by choosing to think and believe the truth, as Paul says in Phil. 4:8: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (NIV, emphasis added). In other words, we are not called to dispel the darkness; we are called to turn on the light.

It is our experience that you can win the battle for your mind if you are free in Christ (i.e., if you have no unresolved conflicts between yourself and Him). But you can't if you have many unresolved personal and spiritual conflicts. Paul drives this point home in 1 Cor. 3:2, 3, when he tells Christians at Corinth that they were not able to receive the truth because there was jealousy and quarrels among them.

That is why, when we work with people, our first step is to help them resolve their conflicts, first through a process of repentance, which includes submitting to God and resisting the devil (see James 4:7). Establishing freedom in Christ and staying free are two different issues, however. You maintain your freedom as you continue to believe the truth and live by faith. After giving us that list of what to think about in Phil. 4:8, Paul continues in Phil. 4:9 (NIV), "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

You are not alone in your struggle to manage your thoughts. Every believer has to contend with the world, the flesh and the devil.

Lies We Often Believe

The following statements are some of the most common lies that depressed people believe about themselves, life in general and their relationship with God:

"I'm worthless and would be better off dead."

"I have no value and no meaningful purpose for being here."

"I'll never amount to anything."

"No one loves or cares for me."

"My situation is hopeless. I see no way out but to die."

"I'm stupid, I'm dumb, I'm ugly."

"I'm a mistake."

"God doesn't love me and He won't help me."

"Life is the pits."

"My future is hopeless."

"Nobody can help me."

The list could continue with many other blasphemous thoughts about God, themselves and others.

To illustrate how destructive thoughts are developed over time, listen to the testimony of Cheryl Dankers, who was voted Mrs. Minnesota-America in 1996. Unlike the picture-perfect life that one might expect from a pageant queen, Cheryl's life was filled with trauma, rejection, depression, suicidal thoughts and years of emotional pain. She wrote the following letter to Hal:

Dear Dr. Baumchen,

It was such a pleasure to meet and work with you at those two benefits. Thank you for letting me share my story with you. I am still in awe of what God has taken me through these last 20 years.

I had a lot of allergy problems which were finally diagnosed when I was in second or third grade. It was very upsetting for my dad because they could no longer have big parties. I was too allergic to cigarette smoke. I remember my dad telling my mom, "Well, if she's so sick, put her in a hospital."

I excelled in school. I thought it was the only thing I could do well. I got nearly straight A's. However, I sank my sadness and social frustrations into bags of cookies, candy, potato chips, and gallons of ice cream and Kool-Aid. The neighborhood kids called me "Schultzie" after the "Hogan's Heroes" character who was overweight.

My parents partied a lot on weekends. There were many Sunday mornings when I woke up because dad was vomiting in the bathroom. My parents would have heated arguments, and many times dad threatened to leave. I remember my sister and I crying on his lap, begging him to stay. Dad lost a number of jobs because he quit or was fired. After he became a policeman in 1969, he started drinking less. However, he was very controlling and verbally abusive.

My parents attended most of my band concerts and were proud of my accomplishments in debate, although I felt they were overprotective. I had several very close friends throughout school, one of whom I am still very close to. Yet, I felt isolated and alone. I would throw parties and almost no one would come.

I went to Bemidji State University in the fall of 1976. During college, I developed a promiscuous lifestyle. Since this was the pre-AIDS era, protection was not always used. By the spring of 1977, I was feeling tremendous guilt and shame. I lost my motivation to work hard in my classes, and I had gone through two different roommates. I developed a friendship with a football player. When I would sit in rooms filled with marijuana smoke, he always defended my right to say no to drugs. So I considered him a friend. One very late night he knocked on my dorm room door. He had an intense look on his face, so I let him in to talk. Before I knew what was happening, he was on top of me (he probably weighed close to 300 pounds). I kept telling him to stop and saying "NO! NO! NO!" But I was too ashamed to scream "Rape!" because I was afraid no one would believe me or help me. After he left, I took a long shower, trying to wash him off of me. The next day, he was gone. He had returned home.

I planned my suicide. Since I couldn't swim, I decided I should just start walking into Lake Bemidji. Eventually I would drown. I felt like I deserved a violent death. I wrote down the names of people close to me and gave a time frame of how long it would take until they would forget me. I thought I had let everyone down. I felt dirty, alone, ashamed and unworthy of God's love. Then I called out to God. I asked Him to rescue me and do something in my life that would stop me from ending it. Somehow I knew that God was with me, because I never contemplated suicide again.

Cheryl is describing a life filled with rejection, guilt and emotional pain. Those growing-up experiences caused her to think and therefore to feel that she was alone, dirty, ashamed and unworthy of God's love. Those negative beliefs had a very destructive influence in her life.

After college Cheryl was married, and her four-and-a-half years of marriage were filled with threats of violence and emotional and sexual abuse. Then she was divorced, and life began to change for her. She writes:

A couple of weeks later, I signed a purchase agreement for a townhouse with an agent by the name of Mike Dankers. We started dating in July, 1983. He said he was a Christian, and we started attending church at Grace Church Roseville with some of Mike's friends. During one of those first services, I invited Christ into my life. This time, I knew it was for real.

My life started changing right away. I was baptized, began teaching Sunday School, and most importantly, saw God's unconditional love for me in a way I had never seen it before. I knew He had always been with me, but now He was allowing me to experience Him. There was no turning back. Everything I had learned over the years made sense to me. God was alive and at work in my life. Mike and I were married in 1985.

In 1994, our church was going through some difficulties. We brought in Neil Anderson's series, "Resolving Personal and Spiritual Conflicts." During those seminars, I realized that I could forgive those who had harmed me.

In May 1995, our church had almost a day-long service in which people came forward to confess sin and recommit their lives to the Lord. God used this time to cleanse and heal so many in our church who had been hurting for many years. God used this opportunity to show me that, while I had been faithful in forgiving others in order to move on with my life, I also could forgive myself. I cried all day long, praising the Lord, and letting my gallons of tears wash away all the guilt, shame and sadness I had felt for so long.

Just over a year later, I was crowned Mrs. Minnesota-America. It was almost unbelievable. I was an overweight child who had hated herself. I had gone through so much trauma in my life that I didn't think I could ever be free. God cleansed all the self-inflicted hatred and made me see how internally beautiful I was in Christ. Then I was able to "clean up" the outside and serve Him faithfully wherever He leads.

Cheryl Dankers

Mrs. Minnesota-America, 1996

Free in Christ! Cheryl is no longer living beneath a load of guilt and shame. Now that her identity in Christ was firmly established, she was able to stand against the accusing and condemning messages from the world, the flesh and the devil. She could see herself the way God sees her—a new creation in Christ.

Nobody can fix your past. Not even God will do that. Nevertheless, the gospel assures us that we can be free from the past because we are not primarily a product of our past. We are primarily a product of Christ's work on the cross and His resurrection. We are no longer in Adam. Our primary identity is no longer in the flesh; it is in Christ. If that were not true, then all Christians would remain helpless victims of their past.

Finding Hope Again: Overcoming Depression.


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God bless you all!