Where Do We Go From Here?

How Tomorrow’s Prophecies Foreshadow Today’s Problems by David Jeremiah

Presented here verbatim, from the book’s Introduction because I believe the content has implicit succinct value for we truth tellers in community today. David Jeremiah should need no introduction. Enjoy. I have copies to loan.

“While writing this introduction, I’m watching the grim recovery efforts in Surfside, Florida, where the Champlain Towers South condominium collapsed in the dead of night, one floor pancaking onto the next, burying scores of people under tons of concrete. Most were sleeping in their beds, unaware of the suddenness of the coming catastrophe.

There had been signs, including warnings of water seeping beneath critical parts of the structure and weakening its integrity. But the alarm sounded too late.

Three thousand miles away, residents of San Francisco’s lavish Millennium Tower absorbed the news with apprehension. Their fifty-eight-story skyscraper with its dazzling views and luxury amenities has sunk eighteen inches into the soft downtown soil on which it was built. It’s tilting, and some view Surfside as a warning to the new Millennium.

I’m concerned about the new millennium too—our trembling twenty-first century. I’m burdened for the underpinnings of our culture, our eroding foundations and structural cracks. Like you, I’ve studied the signs of the times and believe we’re approaching a global cataclysm—one predicted in our Scriptures and unfolding before our eyes.”

All this came to me in a sort of rush months ago as my wife, Donna, and I were having breakfast. We made the mistake of watching the morning news. Every story was more distressing than the one before. We sat there viewing the burning cities, backbiting politicians, runaway infections, heated elections, social upheaval, racial tensions, skyrocketing crime, shouting pundits, deafening lies, eroding sands, and cracking foundations.

I looked over at Donna and said, “You and I are watching the dismantling of America.”

This book was born in that moment.

I began to look at these crises and controversies in a new way. I realized they are not isolated movements, philosophies, or events. They are as interconnected as a spider’s web. COVID-19 seemed like an arbitrary crisis as it unfolded, but it didn’t occur in a vacuum, and the world’s response revealed our souls. Add to that emerging globalism. We’re only one existential crisis from a one-world government.

And what about our worldwide economy, hanging by a strand?

Think of the degradation of our culture. It seems as if every member is a lover of self, a lover of money, a lover of pleasure—and eager to cancel anyone who disagrees with them. This translates to extreme persecution for the church in much of the world and to eroding religious liberty at home. Across our country, an unprecedented spiritual famine is causing an epidemic of emaciated hearts. In the process, many professed Christians are abandoning the faith. This has created a vacuum for the rising tide of socialism to flood into our land.

Simultaneously, events in the Middle East are turning Jerusalem into the powder keg of history. Again! Throw a pandemic in the midst, and there you have it—a world in chaos.

I’ve told you all that to say this: I refuse to be discouraged, and so should you!

This is no time to retreat. It’s time to live by conviction. When Moses sent the twelve spies into the promised land to reconnoiter the territory, ten of the spies were overwhelmed with fear and despair. They were daunted by the giants they saw. But two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, said, in effect, “Let us go forward! We can take the land!”

Years later in recalling the event, Caleb told Joshua, “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions” (Josh. 14: 7 NIV, emphasis added).

Well, in this book I’ve explored the territory of our times, and I am bringing back a report according to my convictions. This is not bravado. I’m speaking as honestly and as humbly as I can when I tell you we cannot be still, we cannot be silent, and we cannot live by lies. We must live by our biblical convictions. We can no longer ignore the warnings or sleep in beds of ignorance. I believe we’re approaching the consummation of the ages.

For as long as I’ve had a Bible, I’ve studied scriptural prophecy. I’ve preached and written about the last days from the beginning of my ministry. Perhaps you’ve read some of my previous books regarding the Bible’s message on the end of the world and the return of Christ. I love writing about biblical prophecy because it’s God’s transfusion of hope to our hearts.

But I’ve never written a prophecy book like this one. In the pages that follow, I’m going to deal with ten prophetic issues as current as the morning news. In each chapter, I’ll tell you where we are, what it means, and where we go from here. We’ll thread our way through problems that Jesus predicted—precursors of the tribulation—and we’ll learn how to do the next right thing.”

The Lord told us about this epoch in advance, and it’s a privilege to be His agents on the crest of history. We are not helpless, and our world is not hopeless. Even as the world collapses, the Lord is building His church. We can say something, do something, pray something, preach something, and live by the convictions of Christ.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago, “In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousandfold in the future.” 1 God’s people are more than conquerors. We have a way forward. I urge you to study the marching orders at the end of every chapter in this book. Put into practice the things I’m going to recommend. Set your mind fully on the hope you have in Christ, and be ready to pay any price, challenge any foe, and confront any lie for the sake of the gospel.

At any moment, Jesus Christ will descend from heaven for His people. We haven’t long to wait. But until then, we need to understand what the age requires—and we need to do what the Lord commands.

In one of the strangest stories in the Bible, the Lord grabbed the ancient prophet Ezekiel by the hair of his head, transported him in a vision from Babylon to Jerusalem, and dropped him into a scene of unimaginable evil (Ezek. 8: 3). Ezekiel saw the depravity and decay of his own country, a country which he deeply loved. His nation was disintegrating. But God gave him a work to do. He commissioned him to be a watchman on the walls.

God may not grab your hair, but I pray He will grab your heart. I pray He will show you afresh the triumph of the gospel and call you as His watchman to sound the alarm and to proclaim the truth.

Remember what God later told Ezekiel, “I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one” (22: 30 CSB).

I want Him to find at least two!

One you, and one me.

Come, join me in dedicating the rest of your earthly life to living by biblical convictions, exalting in the triumph of the gospel, and doing all you can to repair the structures of society and to stand in the gap before the Lord on behalf of the land. Don’t be fearful, and don’t let the times overwhelm you. This world will not end in rubble, but in His return! Our risen and exalted Lord Jesus Christ, our enthroned Savior—He knows the way forward.

He will show us where to go from here.”

Bono & Eugene Peterson Interview 2015 : THE PSALMS

Eugene H. Peterson, (1932-2018) was a pastor, scholar, author and poet. He wrote more than thirty books, including his widely acclaimed paraphrase of the Bible, The Message; and numerous works of spiritual formation, including Run with the Horses, and A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

Paul David Hewson, whose stage name is Bono, was born May 10, 1960 is the lead singer of the Irish rock band U2 and one of the most talented performers in the history of rock and roll. While still in high school, Bono and his three friends formed a band, practiced a lot, innovated a unique sound, topped the pop charts, sold 44 million albums, won 22 Grammys, and got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

All the while, Bono founded multiple charities, met with world leaders, advocated tirelessly to fight global poverty and disease, and was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2005 sharing the title with none other than computer billionaire, Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda. Times honored Bono for having “charmed and bullied and morally blackmailed the leaders of the world’s richest countries into forgiving $40 billion in debt owed by the poorest.” Time began choosing a “Man of the Year” in 1927, to pick the “person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year, for better or for worse.” Hitler was named in 1938 and Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.

FYI, Charles Lindbergh (1927) was the first and youngest person to receive the Time distinction at 25 years old. Recent winners in 2018 were The Guardians and the War on Truth, 2019 Greta Thunberg, and the final persons to receive the award evidently since no one was named in either ’21 or ’22, was Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in 2020. Certainly more trivia than necessary!

The clip below is a 21 minute interview featuring the connection between Bono and Eugene in the Peterson homestead near Glacier Park and Kalispell MT. Eugene returned to the family homestead after his retirement as a pastor near Laurel MD. His brother was pastor of the Fredericksburg Presbyterian Church although I am not aware of the years he served there. Enjoy.

How Four Adoptions Led to a Magazine

Learn how one man’s faith persevered through his identity in Christ amongst truth tellers in community culminating in a worthy magazine based on scriptural principles introducing His light into a spiraling culture going a muck….

What do the Amish, little ones with special needs, two nonprofits, four adoptions, two one-room schoolhouses from the 1800s, and a monthly print magazine have to do with homesteading in 2023? It is the story of our family, and it is a joy to share how the Lord has pieced it together over the last twenty years. My name is Marlin Miller, and here we go!

I was raised Amish in Ohio, with family and community playing a huge role in my youth. In fact, I think I have more than a hundred first cousins with around half still Amish. My dad’s youngest sister, Alma, had Down syndrome. My dad would cross the most packed-out room to meet families who had a child with special needs and make new friends. Today, my own family has many opportunities to do the same, and every chance I have, I share the line he exuded in those conversations… “it doesn’t take a great family, it makes a great family.” Pop, that’s what I called my dad, passed away while he was driving truck 11 years ago. He was only 55. We can hardly wait to see him again and introduce him to his two youngest grandsons.

After we had been married for several years, my wife, Lisa, and I walked the road from infertility to adoption. Our prayers changed from “Lord, please bless us with a child” to “Lord, please bring us the children You want us to have and equip us to meet their needs.” Our oldest son was placed with us just two weeks after our home study was approved. He was almost four years old, and at the time, it had not yet been determined that he is on the Autism spectrum.

Lisa taught first grade in a public school where all her students were Amish. But two years after we adopted our first son, she felt a change was coming and it soon did. Our adoption agency called us about a baby girl with Down syndrome who would soon be born. We were one of the few families who were open to adopting a child with Down syndrome, and after meeting her birth family, we soon met our new daughter. She was in the NICU for seven weeks and had multiple surgeries. In fact, we almost lost her a few times. Adelaide finally came home with a feeding tube and a steep learning curve.

Lisa put aside her teaching career to care for our baby’s needs. Two years later, we felt called to adopt another baby with Down syndrome. The NDSAN [National Down Syndrome Adoption Network] matched us with our third child. The sweetest little boy, Bennett, was born prematurely and 18 hours away. After another NICU stay and a month out of state, Bennett was able to be free of the oxygen tank and apnea monitor he had worn since his birth, and we made the long drive back home, now a family of five. While we were certain our family was complete, the Lord had other plans. Nearly five years ago, we adopted our youngest son, Miles, who has Mosaic Down syndrome, in a most unexpected but most welcome surprise adoption.

Twelve years ago, I began praying for a special combination: an income that provided for the family while allowing the time we needed to care for our children. The answer lay in my heritage… and my job. I was a sales representative with a local newspaper (at the time). Because I grew up Amish, I can talk Pennsylvania Dutch, the language of the Amish community. Our magazine’s inspiration came through a very simple conversation; what if we could build a print magazine expressly for Amish folks? After putting a few bigger pieces together, we ran two pilot issues as a test with promising results. I told Lisa that I thought this idea was going to hold water, but we must retool it. And so, we spent time thinking and praying through what the content and focus could be.

An Amish family on a horse and buggy rides by the Plain Values office in Winesburg, Ohio.

Together, we came up with three pillars for the type of content we wanted this new magazine to rest on. The first two pillars drew from our own experiences—the dignity of children with special needs and the beauty of adoption. I personally believe adoption is why God created the entire universe. There is no better manifestation of His adoption of us (vertically) than the adoption of a child into a family (horizontally) right here and now!

As we worked through all this, I told Lisa the ONE thing, that huge bucket list thing I wanted to see the Lord do, was to use our work to bring a child with Down syndrome home to his or her forever family. I didn’t care how big a role we played. I just wanted to see that happen someday; after that, the rest can burn to the ground. Thankfully, our work hasn’t burned down yet, and in the last 10 years, the Lord has used Plain Values and our team in some form to help with more than 20 adoptions of little ones with Down syndrome and other special needs. Praise the Lord! A few years back, we began a nonprofit, Room to Bloom, to highlight and advocate for those exact kids with special needs that are so often forgotten. The story of Room to Bloom will be an upcoming post all to itself.

The third pillar of the magazine’s content was to highlight the Lord’s work being done at home and around the world, especially in situations where people doing that work needed prayers, donations, or volunteer assistance. Our hope was to share these organizations’ stories and be a stepping stone for people who may not have a smartphone to connect with the causes they care about. The results of that hope have been nothing short of incredible. We have shared stories of need on the field in which readers have sent tens of thousands of dollars, boots, blankets, and even themselves and their youngsters! At times, vanloads of volunteers have shown up to help distribute lovingkindness.

As I write this, I almost have to pinch myself in wonder of all the Lord has accomplished through a goofball like me. Today, Plain Values is read by hundreds of thousands every month, and our numbers are growing fast. We will always maintain the three foundational pillars. Still, over the last couple of years, we have added a fourth pillar, homesteading, because it has played such an important role in our family.

Both Lisa and I grew up helping in a big garden, canning and putting food by, raising chickens, and working as a family together at home. We have continued those traditions with our own family and enjoy working together on outdoor projects to add to our garden space, plant trees, build chicken coops, and continue to learn new skills. We’ve added lots of content about the homesteading lifestyle to Plain Values through monthly columns written by Joel Salatin, Rory Feek, Shawn and Beth Dougherty, and Melissa Norris. They bring years of experience and wisdom inside the homesteading and farming arena.

A few samples of Plain Values Magazine

As non-Amish folks have learned of Plain Values and subscribed, we have been reminded of today’s massive desire to read and learn about how the Amish live and mimic that simplicity. To help with that, a few months ago, we began a monthly roundtable written by Amish farmers, preachers, and even an Amish farmer’s wife, who joins in occasionally. Ivan, Jerry, Daniel, and Emily discuss topics on everyone’s mind, such as the impacts of technology on our families from the Amish lens. It has quickly become a favorite column. Readers continually send questions and topics on which they would like the panel’s perspectives in a future issue.

We believe it is time for the American church to engage within communities and really be the hands and feet of Christ. Plain Values is all about living in authentic community with those around us. From the farm and homestead life to educating our children with Biblical framework and worldviews, Plain Values aims to bring common sense and old-school wisdom back to life once again.

Miles playing with his dump truck in the garden

We are doing our best to enjoy the simple things in life, to stay connected to our community, and to slow down, so we don’t miss what’s truly important. If you are looking for a monthly print magazine with heart, we humbly ask you to consider joining the Plain Values family. When you subscribe, you automatically help bring hope and a family to an orphaned child with special needs. How does that work, you might ask… every time a family joins the PV family, we give a chunk of that money straight to Room to Bloom to help bring a family and their son or daughter closer to each other and ultimately home together.

Since I can’t give you a hug through these screens and say thanks personally, please use the code GAB23 at checkout for a special savings and a hearty “thank you” for your support. Visit plainvalues.com to learn more and subscribe. While you are there, you just might catch a glimpse of what is in the works with the two one-room schoolhouses and a second nonprofit. You can also follow us on Gab here

Till next time, may you find joy in the simple things.

https://news.gab.com/2023/01/how-four-adoptions-led-to-a-magazine/

“What Do You Mean, A Vertical Focus?”

And may The Strong Man give you grace in that man’s eyes so that he’ll send back your other brother along with Benjamin. For me, nothing’s left; I’ve lost everything. Genesis 43: 13-14.

Sadly today, for many of we Christ-Followers seeking truth amongst today’s chaos, while being the “quiet in the pews,” Jacob’s words might ring strangely predictive, “For me, nothing’s left; I’ve lost everything.” Shame on us for being such defeatists!

I wonder what those ten men, those grown sons of Jacob, talked about during their journey from Canaan to Egypt? I have an idea it might have been the same things we would have talked about had we been in their sandals. I also believe these men were beginning to be broken. Perhaps they spoke of how much they missed their brother Joseph. With Benjamin now among them, maybe they felt this was a great time to express their sorrow over their past actions and, together sincerely request El Shaddai’s power and protection.

I so want to believe that God was starting to melt their hearts before Him! In fact, that is the beauty of this story as it progresses. We’re led to wonder what exactly they were thinking. We so desperately want to cut to the chase to see the happy ending, but we must wait. Because there is always something to learn along the way, especially today for us.

I actually compare the unrecorded conversations during the ten brother’s journey from Canaan to Egypt, to quite possibly our conversations today while on our spiritual journey from decades of secure abundance  to now witnessing the attempt to either take down or at best, deconstruct western civilization. Its pending uncertainties as they are now being revealed to us, may indeed prove exponentially more traumatic than Joseph’s identity to his ten brothers. Perhaps as with them, we too tend to be negative rather positive when facing such challenges.

We tend to view life horizontally seeking relief and direction among our traditional western cultural sources and our peers rather than seeking our guidance from Almighty God vertically as being the forgiven, transformed, empowered discipling bond servants of Jesus Christ serving as His ambassadors until our death permits retirement. We need some course-correction techniques to break us free from the pervasive destructive narrative in the media.

I can think of at least three methods enabling our transformation to a vertical focus.

First, recognize and admit your negative mentality. So much of the cure is in our confession. Immediate correction begins with honest admission; as Jamie Winship says, “knowing your identity in Christ releases you then to be truth tellers in community.” A paradigm shift!

Second, force a vertical focus until it begins to flow freely. I have never seen a habit just lie down, surrender, and die; we have to make a conscious effort if we hope to break longstanding habits. If we are negative today, chances are very good that when we wake up tomorrow we’re still going to be negative. We must force our vertical focus.

Third, stay open to a new idea for at least five minutes. Don’t try it for an entire day; you might panic. Just rest in your spiritual optimism each day for five minutes at a time. When something new, something unexpected, confronts you, don’t respond with an immediate “Nope! Never!” Wait five minutes. Hold off. Tolerate the possibility for five minutes. You’ll be surprised at the benefits of remaining open.

 Bottom line though, the key to joyful vertical focus is only achieved by being obedient, forgiven, transformed, empowered discipling bond servants of Jesus Christ! Never Settle For Less!

Inspired by the Charles R. Swindoll devotional titled “Great Days with the Great Lives”and edited for our perspective today, by merlin.

Whence The Source of Christ-Follower’s Selflessness?

Relax in God’s Overpowering Purpose For Being Counter Cultural

I have appeared to you for this purpose… Acts 26:16

The vision Paul had on the road to Damascus was not a passing emotional experience, but a vision that had very clear and emphatic directions for him. And Paul stated, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19).

Our Lord said to Paul, in effect, “Your whole life is to be overpowered or subdued by Me; you are to have no end, no aim, and no purpose but Mine.” And the Lord also says to us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go…” (John 15:16).

When we are born again, if we are spiritual at all, we have visions of what Jesus wants us to be. It is important that I learn not to be “disobedient to the heavenly vision” — not to doubt that it can be attained. It is not enough to give mental assent to the fact that God has redeemed the world, nor even to know that the Holy Spirit can make all that Jesus did a reality in my life. I must have the foundation of a personal relationship with Him. Paul was not given a message or a doctrine to proclaim. He was brought into a vivid, personal, overpowering relationship with Jesus Christ.

Acts 26:16  is tremendously compelling “…to make you a minister and a witness….” There would be nothing there without a personal relationship. Paul was devoted to a Person, not to a cause. He was absolutely Jesus Christ’s. He saw nothing else and he lived for nothing else. “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
PERTINENT WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
God created man to be master of the life in the earth and sea and sky, and the reason he is not, is because he took the law into his own hands, and by attempting to become master of himself, gave up the mastery for all of which he was created.
from The Shadow of an Agony, 1163 L

https://click.messages.odb.org/?qs=665685b8eebd38ac63ad3c1c2cc14c75404b0ceece9938f29bbde49005cf4075449f7ae804696650982ff3f9844abc644f4fb187e8aca8b7dbeaaeb66c49ce8e

The Secret to Being Transformed is by BEHOLDING!

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image… 2 Corinthians 3:18

The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you. It is almost always something good that will stain it— something good, but not what is best.

The most important rule for us is to concentrate on keeping our lives open to God. Let everything else including work, clothes, and food be set aside. The busyness of things obscures our concentration on God. We must maintain a position of beholding Him, keeping our lives completely spiritual through and through. Let other things come and go as they will; let other people criticize us as they will; but never allow anything to obscure the life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it. The most difficult lesson of the Christian life is learning how to continue “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord….”

Too often today, the emphasis is placed on the furtherance of an organization; the bottom lined though usually unstated is, “We must keep this thing going.” Rather, if we are in God’s will, the work will go on, perhaps even thrive; if we’re not, it won’t.
A recent book devoted to clarifying this is John Bevere’s “Good or God: Why Good Without God Isn’t Enough.” I have copies to loan. Click the link below to the Utmost devotional for Jan 23.

https://click.messages.odb.org/?qs=290d98d95e767655a9d950c48604d288e5fc6d1dcefffbfdf1073c8e7fcde7c84293a74edd1bdba716d99208e80a50c06309fe27468ccabe0bab4d3e10325595

No Scarcity Here!

Infinite Grace To Give

And God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. II Cor 9:8

We used to think of air and water – perhaps sunlight also – as being available in super-abundant quantities, more than was needed; but no longer, as the question now is whether the scarcity is actual, or merely contrived to enhance an agenda or promote a narrative. Time will reveal all truth.

Today clean air has become a rarity in many parts of the world, and experts are predicting that clean water will be fought over by nations in the future. Food, air, and water are now becoming limited rather unlimited resources.

But take heart, there is one resource needed for life – indeed, the most important resource of all – that exists for Christ-Followers (C-F’s) in infinite quantities: the grace of God. Nowhere in Scripture is grace pictured in limited terms. There is always more grace to come, more grace to replace grace that has been given. Because true giving is enabled by grace, our ability to give knows no limits. Paul writes here in this passage that God is able “to make all grace abound” toward us, that we will always have “all sufficiency,” and “abundance for every good work.”

If you sense God is leading you to give, I urge you, do not hold back for fear of running out. When you open your hand to give, grace is able to fill your empty hand with exactly what you need, and much more. Take particular note that today’s predominance of fear of scarcity such as of material goods in our supply chain, may well be for C-F’s their empowering link to the infinite quantities of the grace of God by contemplating this year on Him capably “making all grace abound toward us,” that we possess “all sufficiency and abundance for every good work.” No limits! This infinite source is indeed totally awesome! And so freeing!

Enjoy!

Inspired by and adapted from David Jeremiah’s January 17 devotional, “Destinations: Your Journey With God.”   

God’s Orchard?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control. Galatians 5:22-23

The “fruit of the Spirit”consist of nine qualities that summarize the essence of Christ’s character that He wants to develop in His people by His Spirit. In other words, our personality traits should line up point-by-point with Galatians 5:22-23 as we grow to be like Christ. So lets talk definitions of each of these nine to insure we’re perfectly clear!

LOVE is the determination to meet the needs of someone else, perhaps even before your own.

JOY is the ability to appreciate life.

PEACE is the calmness and confidence of knowing God is always in control.

LONGSUFFERING  is the knack of putting up with people and circumstances in a loving manner. 

KINDNESS is the practice of going out of out your way to do nice things for people.

GOODNESS is both the display and implementation of moral integrity.

FAITHFULNESS is the habit of being utterly dependable.

GENTLENESS is the soft covering of strength.

SELF-CONTROL is the capacity of doing what we don’t feel like, and not doing what we do feel like.

Do these attitudes describe you?

Ask the Lord today to mature you this new year in His orchard to further develop within you these nine fruit.

“Destinations: Your Journey With God” devotional by David Jeremiah January 7. Adapted  from a sermon by Robert J Morgan.

Prerequisite Sight Needed That We Might See & Know His Gift

The My Utmost For His Highest reading today, Jan 10, is responsible for my formulating the following questions for your consideration after which you may click on the link below so you can read the devotional for yourself for even greater clarity. Enjoy!

How do we identify or even quantify our call to discipleship in the fellowship process of His Kingdom?

Are we being sent to assist in opening others eyes so they too, may receive their forgiveness of sins?

Do we fail to thrive because we’ve not yet received and acknowledged our gift?

Is our gift limited to the absolute and total assurance of forgiveness for our Sin?

Is our work for Jesus (by the act of either discipleship or being ambassadors) to open people’s eyes so that they may turn themselves from darkness to light?

Such action (turning from darkness to light) by me or you is not salvation; it is conversion— the required effort by an “awakened and seeing” human being.

Perhaps the current stalemate in the church today is because that though our eyes have once been opened, we’ve not yet received our gift? Perhaps this process of our identity pretension is feeding the chaos and confusion characterizing our churches today?

Should not a born again person KNOW that he has received the Gift of Salvation from Almighty God and not merely think because he made a decision, that he is redeemed…. when such thinking may fuel dangerous pretensions and possibly even, the cultural social gospel phenomena ?

Therefore, by not knowing but merely thinking so, is it possible for you and I to make vows and promises being determined to follow through and not realize none of that is actually salvation?

Does not our salvation bring us to right standing with God where we are able to receive our gift from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, namely the forgiveness of our sins?

Is it not then this position of right standing (our inheritance among the sanctified) for the one who has received the gift of salvation and is engaged in the process of sanctification, to deliberately forfeit all rights to himself/herself and inwardly agree to being sent forth that we may indeed help “to open their eyes…that they too may receive their gift, the forgiveness of sins.” Acts 26: 17-18.  

Fellow Seekers, this indeed, is heavy stuff to process. Now you may read what Oswald Chambers wrote titled The Opened Sight that sent me down these bunny trails… Perhaps we snicker at the Pharisee 600+ executive orders that Jesus contended with, but what are we doing that succinctly and precisely clarifies His methodology for living and building His Kingdom today in our spheres of influence?

https://click.messages.odb.org/?qs=290d98d95e767655a9d950c48604d288e5fc6d1dcefffbfdf56b27764cf9466c0a88e50532774164a457ad7d09f5f1f291432a2393c75f0f4771111e2ccfe7bd

Book Summary: “Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering” by Timothy Keller

Over a decade ago our youth pastor, Thomas, introduced us to the writings of Keller and we’re so very grateful. Back then I had a very limited library, and even fewer reading interests as Loretta both selected and purchased virtually all of my books in the hope, quite simply that I’d mature, and for what its worth, she has not yet quit seeking new reads for me, whereas I am buying all the proven wisdom books we utilize in facilitating relationship healing by the reading & implementation of them. Keller, today being an accomplished author, is widely read and respected. The past four years I’ve revisited this WWGTP&S book numerous times for its insights and two nights ago was led to pull it up on Kindle and read just the Epilogue after which I was prompted to blog it below ASAP.

Loretta and I are continually searching to assist spiritual seekers to prepare for future times of testing, likely to involve pain and suffering. I believe this book may serve as a guide for you to succinctly spiritually prepare for our inevitable future pain and suffering, regardless of it sources and dimensions.

Understand such spiritual strategy preparedness requires dimensions, for example, far beyond merely mounting fire extinguishers throughout your home and have everyone try one outside on a real fire. Also realize, Walking with God through Pain & Suffering reminds me more of Deuteronomy 6:9 by admonishing us to be “writing them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…” Loving communication is always required. Enjoy your responsibility and opportunity today to prepare.

If we know the biblical theology of suffering and have our hearts and minds engaged by it, then when grief, pain, and loss come, we will not be surprised, and can respond in the various ways laid out in Scripture. Here they are organized into ten things we should do.

First, we must recognize the varieties of suffering. Some trials are largely brought on by wrong behavior. Some are largely due to betrayals and attacks by others. Then there are the more universal forms of loss that occur to all regardless of how they live, such as the death of a loved one, illnesses, financial reversals, or your own imminent death. A final kind of suffering could be called the horrendous—such as mass shootings in elementary schools. Of course, many actual cases of suffering combine several of these four types.

Each kind of suffering brings somewhat different kinds of feelings—the first brings guilt and shame; the second, anger and resentment; the third, grief and fear; the fourth, confusion and perhaps anger at God. While all these forms of suffering share common themes—and are addressed in common ways—each also requires its own specific responses.

Second, you must recognize distinctions in temperament between yourself and other sufferers. You must be careful not to think that the way God helped some other sufferer through the fire will be exactly the way he will lead you. Simone Weil outlines the experience of affliction as consisting of isolation, self-absorption, condemnation, anger, and “complicity” with pain. A quick look at this list reveals that these factors will be stronger or weaker depending on a person’s emotional temperament and spiritual maturity, and also depending on the causes behind the adversity. Make adjustments.

Third, there is weeping. It is crucial to be brutally honest with yourself and God about your pain and sorrow. Do not deny or try too much to control your feelings in the name of being faithful. Read the Psalms of lament or Job. God is very patient with us when we are desperate. Pour out your soul to him.

Fourth, there is trusting. Despite the invitation to pour out our hearts to God with emotional reality, we are also summoned to trust God’s wisdom (since he is sovereign) and also to trust his love (since he has been through what you’ve been through). Despite your grief, you must eventually come to say, as Jesus did (after first honestly entreating, “Let this cup pass from me”), “Thy will be done.” Wrestle until you can say that.

Fifth, we must be praying. Though Job did a lot of complaining and cursed the day he was born—he did it all in prayer. It was to God he complained; it was before God that he struggled. In suffering, you must read the Bible and pray and attend worship even though it is dry or painful. Simone Weil said, if you can’t love God, you must want to love God, or at least ask him to help you love him.

Sixth, we must be disciplined in our thinking. You must meditate on the truth and gain the perspective that comes from remembering all God has done for you and is going to do. You should also do “self-communion.” This is both listening to your heart and also reasoning and talking to your heart. It means saying, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? Forget not his benefits, his salvation” (Ps 42; Ps 103). This is not forcing yourself to feel in a certain way but rather directing your thoughts until your heart, sooner or later, is engaged. Much of the thinking and self-communing that we must do has to do with Christian hope. Heaven and the resurrection and the future-perfect world are particularly important to meditate on if you are dealing with death—your own or someone else’s. But it is crucial in all suffering.

Seventh, we should be willing to do some self-examining. The biblical image of suffering as a “gymnasium” suggests this. We must exercise care here. This does not mean we should always be looking within ourselves for the cause of our suffering. Job’s friends tried to do that, though Job’s suffering did not occur because God was trying to correct him for something. Nevertheless, Job grew in grace and maturity, and every time of adversity is an opportunity to look at ourselves and ask—how do I need to grow? What weaknesses is this time of trouble revealing?

Eighth, we must be about reordering our loves. Suffering reveals that there are things we love too much, or we love God too little in proportion to them. Our suffering is often aggravated and doubled because we turned good things into ultimate things. Suffering will only make us better (rather than worse) if, during it, we teach ourselves to love God better than before. This happens by recognizing God’s suffering for us in Jesus Christ, and by praying, thinking, and trusting that love into our souls.

Ninth, we should not shirk community. Simone Weil speaks about how isolating suffering can be. But the early Christian communities were famously good places to be a person in suffering. Christians “died well,” the early church authors claimed, not because they were rugged individuals but because the church was a place of unparalleled sympathy and support. Gospel doctrine should make it impossible to grow many “miserable comforters” like Job’s moralistic friends. And the Christian gospel accounts for and assigns meaning to the experience of suffering as secular society cannot. Find a Christian church where sufferers are loved and supported.

Tenth, some forms of suffering—particularly the first two among the four types listed above— 1.) sufferings caused by our failures & 2.) sufferings caused by bad behavior – require skill at receiving grace and forgiveness from God, and giving grace and forgiveness to others. When adversity reveals moral failures or sinful character flaws, it means we will have to learn how to repent and seek reconciliation with God and others. When our suffering is caused by betrayal and injustice, it is crucial to learn forgiveness. We must forgive the wrongdoers from the heart, laying aside vengefulness, if we will ever be able to pursue justice effectively. Doing all these things, as George Herbert writes, will first bring your “joys to weep” but then your “griefs to sing.””

— Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller