I’d Be Remiss Not To Send This Out …. especially the day before Advent begins!

The Focal Point of Spiritual Power …except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ… Galatians 6:14 November 26 My Utmost For His Highest

If you want to know the power of God (that is, the resurrection life of Jesus) in your human flesh, you must dwell on the tragedy of God. Break away from your personal concern over your own spiritual condition, and with a completely open spirit consider the tragedy of God. Instantly the power of God will be in you. “Look to Me…” (Isaiah 45:22).

Pay attention to the external Source and the internal power will be there. We lose power because we don’t focus on the right thing. The effect of the Cross is salvation, sanctification, healing, etc., but we are not to preach any of these. We are to preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2 ). The proclaiming of Jesus will do its own work. Concentrate on God’s focal point in your preaching, and even if your listeners seem to pay it no attention, they will never be the same again. If I share my own words, they are of no more importance than your words are to me. But if we share the truth of God with one another, we will encounter it again and again. We have to focus on the great point of spiritual power— the Cross. If we stay in contact with that center of power, its energy is released in our lives.

In holiness movements and spiritual experience meetings, the focus tends to be put not on the Cross of Christ but on the effects of the Cross. The feebleness of the church is being criticized today, and the criticism is justified. One reason for the feebleness is that there has not been this focus on the true center of spiritual power. We have not dwelt enough on the tragedy of Calvary or on the meaning of redemption. Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 27-29; 1 Peter 3
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

We are not fundamentally free; external circumstances are not in our hands, they are in God’s hands. The one thing in which we are free is in our personal relationship to God. We are not responsible for the circumstances we are in, but we are responsible for the way we allow those circumstances to affect us; we can either allow them to get on top of us, or we can allow them to transform us into what God wants us to be. from Conformed to His Image, 354 L

The Direction of Our Focus…. even though decay prevails

Awakening early Thanksgiving mornings continue to be as they have been traditionally since 1972 and throughout my adult years, very focused moments of reflection and evaluation of the twists and turns that my life’s expressions are currently exhibiting to me.  I find the final words from Oswald in this clip uniquely challenging to me as I now contend with descending the ladder of life (nothing makes us loose heart quicker than decay…) rather than vibrantly climbing to new physical and mental heights of expression. But the direction of our focus must always remains upward, even though decay gains momentum….. Because light comes through them! Again, it’s our spiritual perspective. So our eyes look to the Lord our God. ALWAYS! Go forth with thanksgiving >>>>>  merlin  

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters…, so our eyes look to the Lord our God… Psalm 123:2

My Utmost for His Highest… Nov 24

This verse is a description of total reliance on God. Just as the eyes of a servant are riveted on his master, our eyes should be directed to and focused on God. This is how knowledge of His countenance is gained and how God reveals Himself to us (see Isaiah 53:1).

Our spiritual strength begins to be drained when we stop lifting our eyes to Him. Our stamina is sapped, not so much through external troubles surrounding us but through problems in our thinking. We wrongfully think, “I suppose I’ve been stretching myself a little too much, standing too tall and trying to look like God instead of being an ordinary humble person.” We have to realize that no effort can be too high.

For example, you came to a crisis in your life, took a stand for God, and even had the witness of the Spirit as a confirmation that what you did was right. But now, maybe weeks or years have gone by, and you are slowly coming to the conclusion— “Well, maybe what I did showed too much pride or was superficial. Was I taking a stand a bit too high for me?” Your “rational” friends come and say, “Don’t be silly. We knew when you first talked about this spiritual awakening that it was a passing impulse, that you couldn’t hold up under the strain. And anyway, God doesn’t expect you to endure.” You respond by saying, “Well, I suppose I was expecting too much.” That sounds humble to say, but it means that your reliance on God is gone, and you are now relying on worldly opinion. The danger comes when, no longer relying on God, you neglect to focus your eyes on Him. Only when God brings you to a sudden stop will you realize that you have been the loser. Whenever there is a spiritual drain in your life, correct it immediately. Realize that something has been coming between you and God, and change or remove it at once.
Wisdom from Oswald Chambers
There is nothing, naturally speaking, that makes us lose heart quicker than decay—the decay of bodily beauty, of natural life, of friendship, of associations, all these things make a man lose heart; but Paul says when we are trusting in Jesus Christ these things do not find us discouraged, light comes through them.
from The Place of Help

Reflecting the Humanity of Christ Today….

Contrary too often, to common belief & practice in the church, the test of a saint’s life Is not merely overt success, but rather, being found faithful on the human level of life.

Click the link below for November 16 Utmost for His Highest reading detailing “whatever you do, do all to the the glory of God.” I Cor 10:31

https://click.messages.odb.org/?qs=290d98d95e767655a9d950c48604d288e5fc6d1dcefffbfd9424f234ba2ecd8ae3d6c3076cd0e53497cd58c71acbf05a205e0748a49ff092c9488ca5659ee773

Wisdom from Oswald Chambers:

Seeing is never believing: we interpret what we see in the light of what we believe. Faith is confidence in God before you see God emerging; therefore the nature of faith is that it must be tried.

IT IS WRITTEN….

November 15

Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:11

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He faced it head-on with the Word of God, quoting it to silence Satan: “It is written,” “It is written,” “It is written” Luke 4:4, 8, 10). So folks, if Jesus triumphed over temptation with God’s Holy Word, how could we ever think today with the world’s prevailing selfish evil narrative, that we can live a life of holiness and purity apart from it?

Just as God has created a physical immune system to equip our bodies to ward off diseases, (that the world system has for decades deliberately compromised) God has provided us a way of overcoming temptation assuring our continual immunity. Only by rooting (planting, hiding) His Word in our hearts, does God implant in us His spiritual immune system empowering us to live godly lives. Jesus Himself models the best spiritual antioxidants for strengthening and protecting ourselves against the infection of Satan’s temptations – the godly discipline of reading (studying, pondering) and then, obeying God’s Word.

Are you polluting your spiritual immune system with junk food – the pollutants of the world’s system? Let’s commit to daily filing our hearts with God’s Word to fight temptation like Jesus did: It is written….

Prompted by and revised by merlin from David Jeremiah’s “Destinations – Your Journey With God”

Ozzie Sorta Upsets Our Religiosity Apple Cart. Again!

Never believe that the so-called random events of life are anything less than God’s appointed order.

Beware of being so obsessed with consistency to your own convictions instead of being devoted to God.

Click on the link below for Oswald Chamber’s Nov 14 Discovering Divine Design

Blessings >>>>> merlin

https://click.messages.odb.org/?qs=81d94667b9fd649c60954e66cb179619368e929ae9984fb61b88f2dce4f21e3fb97960119acd3e3cbce181ccca84dd56922baf157122721464d9b4cff794d9be

Positive Pinholes

“But if I obey Jesus Christ in the the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God. Then, when I stand face to face with God, I will discover the that through my obedience thousands were blessed.” Utmost for His Highest Nov 2. Click below.

https://click.messages.odb.org/?qs=9b2a06493ac035f3ef9f45d27e092c58df371afd0a2c704f6d685488108038a65f6d1a02d63d2ab7a33b04dd14e976c06531c8c982b89541c2954c6819748f4c

The Colossal Misunderstanding of Our Time….

Sharon Hodde Miller

“borrowed & slightly edited” from Christianity Today’s CT Pastors Special Edition Fall 2022

No amount of information can persuade the closed-minded. It’s a lesson I’m still learning.”

“In 2020, as church leaders faced the triple whammy of the pandemic, nationwide racial tension, and a polarizing presidential election, the climate inside our churches changed with it. Our sanctuaries‘ air became polluted by deep partisanship, which meant every decision, every statement, every sermon, and every social media post coming from pastors was interpreted through a political filter.

In A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, author and family therapist Edwin Friedman, described our limited influence this way: “The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change.”

As much as we wish it were otherwise, information has far less influence than we give it credit for: Downloading the “facts” into others’ brains is not going to magically change their minds, but I will be first to admit this hasn’t stopped me from trying. God is showing me that I’m not merely attempting to guide them – I’m actually trying to control them. I am relying on knowledge, information, and the truth of God’s Word to function like reins on a horse, instantly directing others in the direction I want them to go.

But time and experience are teaching me that I am severely overestimating my own power to convince. Jesus himself hinted at the limited power of our arguments by concluding some of his hardest teachings with the statement “Whoever has ears, let them hear” (Matt 11:15). The implication is that some will not hear. They will not understand – not because they cannot but because they will not. No amount of convincing, no matter how compelling the evidence or airtight the logic, will move them. Not if they do not wish to be moved.

Research has shown this to be true. When we use information to change someone’s opinion, it can, in some instances, have the reverse outcome. The backfire effect is a term used in psychology to describe the doubling down that occurs when people are presented with information that contradicts their own beliefs. Further studies have shown that this phenomenon is especially likely to occur when belief is tied to identity. When new information feels like a threat to one’s identity or way of life, one is much more motivated to reject it.

Fortunately, I have learned to discern those persons who are receptive from those who are not. Bad faith assumptions about our motives, or a lack of genuine curiosity about our decisions are both sure-fire signs that our explanations will be wasted.

Identifying this struggle with control has helped me greatly in two specific ways. The first is captured well by the phrase “When you name it, you tame it.” Tension in my neck, back, jaw; the spiraling of my anxious thoughts; and insomnia that follows are telltale signs that I’m trying to control something God has not given me to control. Naming this temptation helps me reframe what is really happening: I am not trying to shepherd (disciple) my people; I am trying to control them.

Second, this realization about control has emphasized the priority of listening as key to pastoral ministry. When we try to control one another with arguments or attempts at persuasion, we often push our dissenters even farther away. In a loud environment like this one, the practice of being “quick to listen, slow to speak” is not just biblically faithful (James 1:19) but also a missional imperative.

Consequently, in both structured and spontaneous ways, we are seeking to intentionally listen to our congregants – especially to those who may be disgruntled or angry. Understand these times of focused listening serve as a countercultural witness in an ever-darkening society fractured by its issues with control.

Facing off with the ongoing temptation to controlling vs listening is crucial for everyone’s spiritual health, regardless of position. We cannot control our people – and attempting to do so will only do more damage. When we encounter the limits of our influence, we can either resist, OR, recognize this as an opportunity to lay down the burden we were never meant to bear. Perhaps the limits of our persuasion are not always a sign of the Fall, but rather a sign of the right order of things. May they remind us that it is time to take up the lighter yoke and to fully trust the Spirit – the one true mover of hearts and enlightener or minds – to do the heavy lifting for us.   

Sharon Hodde Miller co-leads Bright Church in Durham NC with her husband, Ike. Her latest book is The Cost of Control (Baker Books 2022)

FYI:

Dr Henry Cloud in Necessary Endings (book reviewed on Oct 27 blog), identifies a person’s utmost hopelessness (hitting rock bottom) is often the precursor to opening minds and meaningful conversation leading to effective necessary endings, and promising beginnings.  In chapter Seven, The Wise, the Foolish, and the Evil details the Biblical basis for these categories and why they are pertinent for Christ-Followers today, and especially so as both church and society trends toward deconstruction, and hopefully, the future awakening. merlin

Book Review: NECESSARY ENDINGS

 by Dr. Henry Cloud

Great is the art of the beginning, but greater is the art of ending.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today may be the enemy of your tomorrow.

                Regardless your season of life, the tomorrow that you desire and envision may never come to pass if you do not end some things that you are doing today. For some people, that is clear and easy to execute. They end the things that are holding them back. For others, it may be much more difficult.

                Endings are a natural part of the universe, and your life and business must face them, stagnate or die. They are an inherent reality. You will also see that there are different kinds of endings and that learning how to tell one from the other, will ensure some success and prevent many failures and much misery, ending substantial pain and turmoil that you or business may now be encountering.

                There are reasons why you may not see the endings that are right in front of you, and reasons why you are unable to execute the ones you do see but feel paralyzed to deal with. But more than learning to see them, there are successful strategies for dealing with them.  

                There is hope for some people and some business problems that seem hopeless to you now, but the problem has been in the misdiagnosing what there’s hope for, and where there’s none, and in mistaking which tactics will not help you realize that hope and which ones will.

The Universality of Endings:

Why endings? Whether we like it or not, endings are part of life. They are woven into the fabric of life itself, both when it goes well, and also when it doesn’t. On the good side of life, for us to ever get to a new level, a new tomorrow, or the next step, something has to end. Life has its seasons, stages, and phases. Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all their talents and abilities should afford them. There are relationships that should go away, practices and phases that must be relinquished, and life stages that should come to an end to open the space for the next one. A breakup, and ending of some friendships or activities, or an unplugging from some commitments often signals the beginning of a whole new life. We call it pruning.

Some endings are not a next natural step but are just as necessary. We wish they weren’t, but they are. They come about not in pursuit of growth to the next level, but because something has gone wrong. It’s been said some things die and some things need to be killed. Refraining, giving up, throwing away, tearing down, hating what we once cherished – all are necessary. Endings are the reason you’re not married to your prom date nor still working in your first job. But without the ability to do endings well, we flounder, stay stuck, and fail to reach our goals and dreams. Or worse, we remain in painful and sometimes destructive situations. Endings are crucial, and, we rarely like them. Hence the problem.

Why We Avoid Endings

  1. We hang on too long when we should end something now.
  2. We do not know if an ending is actually necessary, or if “it” or “he/she” is fixable.
  3. We are afraid of the unknown.
  4. We fear confrontation.
  5. We are afraid of hurting someone.
  6. We are afraid of letting go and the sadness associated with an ending.
  7. We do not possess the skills to execute the ending.
  8. We do not know the right words to use.
  9. Our dismal track record of endings wants us to avoid more pain.
  10.  And not learning from former endings, we repeat the same mistakes

No doubt, we all identify with more of these above points than we prefer.

Dr. Cloud’s classic ten methods to combat our “ending afflictions” in this book are summarized below.

  1. Become aware of the absolute necessity for some endings to occur…
  2. Equip your to diagnose when a relationship has hope of getting better and when it should end.
  3. Equip you to diagnose what kinds of people deserve your trust and those who don’t.
  4. Insert endings vocabulary into your continuous improvement culture.
  5. Normalize the idea of endings expecting them rather than being surprised.
  6. Help you actually to get comfortable with all aspects of endings
  7. Understand why previous ending negotiations were not successful.
  8. Learn to execute endings with a flourish, if & when at all possible.
  9. Create vision and energy for a brighter future as you become unstuck.
  10.  Help you stop repeating the same issues over and over again.

At least now, you know where to begin your battle to achieve your necessary endings. As it has been said, the ball is now in your court. Execute well. Isn’t it fun to get unstuck – regardless it be in snow or mud; BUT ESPECIALLY SO, in real time life? merlin

Another Ever Present Danger: The War on Work

I found this interesting article, The War on Work, from the Politics & Ideas section of the November issue of the Commentary on my desk this morning, sent me again by my friend Chuck. Written by Barbara Swaim, an editorial-page writer to the Wall Street Journal, she presents a historical sketch of work’s evolvement up to the current mass exodus from the working world, dubbed as the “Great Resignation” by economists.

Swaim mentions Nicholas Eberstadt’s 2016 book “Men Without Work” and it’s post-pandemic reissue of the book. She limits her broad comments to four sectors: government, higher education, consultancy, and nonprofit. Earthy in her perspective, she offers her father’s 25 years of operating a small ocean front SC lodge as an example of the core of dignified work: It blesses someone else. In fact, the first to work with a meaning and an end was God Himself.

Swaim draws from such as Tocqueville, Marx, the 1991 film “Slacker;” even Jonathan Swift’s memorable parodies of Lemuel Gulliver vain delusions while visiting the Academy of Lagado. She identifies that much of the confusion today in the four sectors she examines, arise from a misunderstanding of what their markets are. Markets are the oldest and commonest way to distinguish between things that have value and things that don’t.

Unquestionably, this article is way beyond my norm, and I think that is good. I need to mentally stretch daily. Neither do I recall a sermon recently on the attributes of work, though many imply attachments. Hence, I’ll open this can of worms. Understand though, these worms have no nutritional value, if that thought even crossed your mind!

Click on the link below to open the article. Be warned the article though long, is easily and effectively skimmed.

My Two Cents About Complacency, Urgency and Differing Opinions as Fueled by PA Amish farmer, Amos Miller

David asked Ahimelek, “Don’t you have a spear or a sword here? I haven’t brought my swords or any other weapons, because the king’s mission was urgent.” I Samuel 21:8 (NIV)

In no way today, am I advocating securing physical weapons to combat the offensive evil in our culture. I employed this verse because it implies urgency, in fact, David evidently was separated from his weapons when he got the urgent message necessitating his request of Ahimelek. So we today, are being lulled into complacency not realizing the approaching hour, and even though we Christ Follower’s (CF’s) are continually Spirit empowered and embolden as detailed in Ephesians 6:10-18 and always ready to be engaged, or to give an account…. Perhaps our non resistant culture has been so effectively euthanized by the both church and secular media we’ve become clueless of our 1.) spiritual reality, 2.) resources (remember people + prayer + His Presence = POWER), 3.) its transforming results, and 4.) then experiencing the restoration.

The question today is not merely “fight or flight” as with David’s request for weapons, but pushes us out much further far beyond fight or flight, to effectively encountering differing opinions, a lost art today. Perhaps the clip below serves as another example of our rich cultural legacy loosing its luster, and now, more or less, relegated to an enduring confining complacency.

Somewhere as a child or a teen, I read accounts that the underground CF’s, long before the anabaptists emerged, being frequently skilled artisans and educated, having fled the persecution in the cities and villages, taking refuge in the desolate areas of Europe becoming simple peasant farmers who in time, were credited with playing a major role in eroding the continuation of the Dark Ages because these observant focused scientific agriculturists flourished sufficiently providing sustenance to free others from food production to begin the innovative steps needed to birth the Industrial Revolution. They were the leaders in improving the breeds of milk and meat animals, but only by simple selection. They advocated crop rotation and the use of legumes, all of which is still being practiced on the Amos Miller’s farm.

Therefore, I read with interest the clip below also listening to the Tucker Carlson interview realizing now that both the church and our culture is in the process of reverting to the Dark Ages under the guise of a “Reset.” And yes, isn’t it interesting that agriculture and the church are both still the key components? To either flourish, as Christ established His church, or to “control” food production, just to eliminate billions of us. Even Communist China understands food production better than we Americans. Look at the stats on their stockpiling of commodities vs ours, and their refusal to practice the globalist insanity as did NA and Europe; but their absolute delight that we have so embraced this “Reset,” fueling their desire to “rent” our exquisite cropland ASAP.

John Kotter of the Harvard Business School, author of 21 books, in his 1996 book”Leading Change,” and his 2002 book “The Heart of Change,” describes his eight stage model developing urgency as an essential element for those wanting to be successful, for most people are more complacent than they realize. “Insufficient urgency,” he writes, “with all its consequences, can be found in winners and losers, businesses and governments. It can undermine a plant, an office, or a whole country. Conversely, in all of these situations, a high sense of urgency can help produce results, and a whole way of life.”

Need I say more? Just my two cents folks! I rest my case. Enjoy the clip. FYI, I’m planning to open the blog this week for your comments. It is time we burst the imposed bubble we’re in and begin actually communicating. However, please do so only in complete “wholeness!” Listen to Pastor Craig’s message from today on “Differing Opinions” on the Kidron Mennonite website for such “wholeness” details.

Blessings on your journey this week!

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/amish-farmer-threatened-by-us-govt-shines-light-on-the-suppression-of-non-processed-foods/