Archive for the ‘ Temptation ’ Category

Out for a Walk … And a Run

Hurry over to Proverbial Thought for some wisdom from Proverbs!

Once again, I bring a story of our wonderful puppy! (You may remember the entries found here, here, and here.)

When we go out for a walk, we frequently find things of interest.

At least, he finds things of interest, things I usually find less interesting.

These things range from fast food wrappers, bones, other pieces of trash, spills on the walkway/blacktop, larger dogs, and cats.

He may not always be aware of the danger posed by such things, such as germs/bacteria, parasites, or fights with other animals. I am aware of these dangers, and I am quick to say “Not good for us. Come on!”

Here is what usually happens: he tugs on the leash toward the desired item until I give a quick tug right back, then he runs full speed away!

Perhaps you see where I might be going with this:

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome,and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
Genesis 39:6-12, NIV

Sin is rather glamorous to us. We should face the facts: it can be fun and enjoyable to sin. If it was not enjoyable, there would be little or no problem with sin in our world!

It may look attractive, fun, or sweet, but, like with my puppy, it is garbage and dangerous.

We may strive to get close to it, to push our boundaries of what might be safe. It is just like Joseph with Potiphar’s wife. Odds are Potiphar knew his wife was “easy,” and Joseph could have alerted him to the situation. Instead, he only tried to ignore it instead of deal with it. (To be fair, he was only a servant, but work with me here!)

Eventually, he knew the cost of disobeying God was too great, and he literally ran. Because he toed the line too long, even though his master probably knew the truth, it cost him.

Notice my puppy still finds things and has to run away.

How many times do we fail to run away?

What thing or person do you refuse to run away from to protect yourself and honor God?

Online pornography? An attractive co-worker? Too much time on Facebook/P!nterest/news sites? Weekly lottery tickets? Gossip? Taking the excess [anything] from work? Driving too fast? Cutting corners to save time/money?

Stop pulling at the leash. Stop ignoring situations and God’s commands.

RUN!

Sometimes it means putting away the computer, or even giving it up completely (I would miss you, but I understand). Sometimes it means avoiding the store or certain people. Sometimes it means asking for a transfer or even quitting your job. Sometimes it means giving up the keys.

RUN!

Sin is never worth the cost.

Besides, I like cuddling with and getting kissed by my puppy.

God likes being close and indwelling us.

If my puppy gets into the garbage or a fight, I am wary of even touching him or letting him touch me.

Our sin is pushing God out.

RUN FROM THE TEMPTATION AND THE SIN!

RUN TO THE OPEN ARMS OF GOD!

Walking the Boundary

Play it safe and get some wisdom from Proverbial Thought!

In early May I talked about my wonderful puppy and the lessons he helps us learn about our walk with God (here and here).

Now for another puppy inspired lesson!

He has a really funny habit.

Whether it is something we are eating/using/moving or something we left sitting out and he wants it, he makes an attempt to get whatever it is.

We sternly warn him to stay away (“Not for puppies! Stay away!”).

What does he do?

He gets as close as he can, laying down with his nose a few inches away. Then he scoots closer, without standing or even sitting up, to the point that his nose is less than an inch away. He might even try to lick at whatever he is not supposed to have when we look away.

We calmly say, “No. Not for you.”

He growls, bares his teeth, yips, and scoots back an inch or two … only to scoot closer, again.

Draw near to …

How many times do we do this very thing?

God’s Word warns us “Do not commit adultery.” Jesus goes as far as to say, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

Yet, we ask our pastors “How far is too far when dating?”

God’s Word warns us “Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, ESV)

Yet, we watch all manner of TV programs and movies full of things promoted as good that the Bible warns are dangerous or evil.

God’s Word warns us “Do not gossip.”

Yet, we ask for prayer requests for our neighbors, and share way more information than is necessary.

God’s Word asks us to “Draw near to God . . . resist the devil” (James 4:7-8).

Yet, we say we are satisfied attending church once a week and never sharing or faith or helping others … or we never open or Bible … or never pray … and we say “I am so close to God!”

We spend more time walking as close as we can to sin while maintaining the appearance of righteousness.

10 Listen, my son, accept what I say,
    and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
    and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
    when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
    guard it well, for it is your life.
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
    or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
    they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness
    and drink the wine of violence.
Proverbs 4:10-17

“Woe to you, . . . you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
Matthew 23:27-28

Rather, what we should be doing is this:

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James 4:4-10

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 02/03/2013

Do not forget to get your daily dose of wisdom at Proverbial Thought!

Do you have struggles? Are there things that come between you and your relationship with God? Do you feel tempted by things that should not be temptations or simply seem too strong to beat?

Good news! There is hope!

God is the only One who can help. If we trust in Him, He can help us overcome. If we do not trust Him, He may still help us overcome!

This poem was written in August of 2007, when I was still living at United Christian Youth Camp on borrowed time! I just wanted something to happen that would either get me work or get somewhere useful! I began to realize I may have been letting my ambitions and desire to do something come between me and God.

i have temptations

i have temptations
that i deal with daily
i have struggles
that i let defeat me
i have many problems
that seem to be too large
i have giants around me
that taunt and barrage

but my God comes in
and He changes me
my God comes to me
and sets my mind free
my heart
my soul

i have temptations
that God saves me from
i have struggles
that strengthen my resolve
i have many problems
that seem to recede
i have giants around me
that with God i can defeat

“The One Who Bites Your Skin Is Dead”

For more than a week I have been sick with a cold. It is rather miserable, but if this is the biggest of my worries then life is pretty good.

Now for an intimate confession.

In this last week I also had to confess to my wife that in my tiredness and even exhaustion from work, ministry, and school, I have struggled with lust for the past few weeks. This is something that was “defeated” years ago, so you can imagine my surprise to finding it an issue. The thing that usually brought me back to my senses was the thought of my wife.

When I got sick enough to have to miss work last week, I had a lot of time to focus on prayer. One of my prayers was “Lord, there is so much going on in life. I do not need this temptation attacking me again. Take me back to that place of repentance, learning what it really means. Help me daily to defeat this lust.”

Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I had trouble sleeping due to my congestion and headaches, but I had a lot of dreams. They were interesting and even silly, and I woke myself (and my wife) up because of acting out the end (running) and talking out loud.

Throughout, however, I kept hearing this one line, kind of like from the movie-voice-over guy:

“The one who bites your skin is dead.”

I did not know what it meant. It made absolutely no sense to me, whatsoever. Simultaneously, I was tired and disoriented from my head cold-induced dream-filled, sleep-deprived night.

It was not until Saturday night (after watching The Avengers!) that it finally occurred to me.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[g]

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[h]

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57

Firstly, God definitely heard my prayer. My lust has not been a problem since last week.

The initial thought is not a sin. Entertaining the thought and then acting on the thought is a sin. Yes, our thoughts can be a sin, but only when we dwell on them.
God has given me the way out promised, but He has also given me His strength and healing.

Secondly, I was reminded of this passage.

It is through Jesus Christ we have victory! Our Lord and God deserves all the praise.

Also, I have little problem with universalists, but this is one of their prized passages showing all people will enter paradise someday. However, this is written to believers. If I were to write a letter to my youth group saying “we all get to go on a retreat this summer because the fee has been paid,” everyone not in the youth group (children, adults, non-attendees/people from other churches) who read the letter and assumed they were going would be understandably laughed at (in love, of course) as misunderstanding the context. I firmly believe this to be the case.

(I do not “laugh at” universalists because I disagree with them. They are still brothers and sisters in Christ unless God says otherwise or their conduct proves otherwise. In fact, I understand where they are coming from, but I think they are missing the full context. I know there are times I do the same, so I have grace as I know our Lord does.)

However, this is not the point of today’s posting. This is:

We have freedom from sin through our Lord’s sacrifice, and He gives us the strength to endure temptation.

At the end of history we will be free from temptation, and our Lord can help us with temptation during this life. But we must also remember we will have temptation in this life. We were never promised freedom from temptation until Christ Jesus returns in glory.

I am evidence that we still fail. Peter and Paul admitted to failing. This is why we are told to take every thought captive. I failed for a time, but our God is full of grace and mercy.

Do you trust God to help you? Do you believe He has enough grace and forgiveness for you?

He does.

It may be hard to believe at times, but He helps our faith grow through practice and endurance.

Endure, brothers and sisters.

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 01/29/2012

I really like the way God works. Today’s poem actually lines up with the topic of the past couple weeks. Also, I attended the “Calvinism, Arminianism, and Free Grace Seminar” yesterday. John Correia was the main speaker helping everyone understand better what Calvinists, Arminians, and he and others within the Free Grace Theological background believe. (If you have not heard of Molinism yet, look it up!) Anyway, one of the things discussed by two of the speakers included justification by works and our own sinful nature. I thought of all of the “religion” talk of the past few weeks. Then I saw what poem I had for this week, and WHOA!

I hope you enjoy:

my greatest tempter

my biggest foe i cannot name

this person leads me astray

i cannot get very far from him

he is everywhere that i am

he constantly tempts me with sin

and keeps me away from Him

this enemy of mine you see

for this person is actually

                                                 me

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 23.

I love you with all of my bowels

If you had not heard the teaching, yet, instead of saying “I love you with all of my heart,” for centuries people essentially said “I love you with all of my bowels” or intestines or guts or whatever. It makes sense, too, when you consider “falling in love” frequently includes feeling sick to your stomach!

I propose something a little different today.

What if it is not necessarily love, but merely lust or physical attraction?

I am not saying love for another person will not cause physical manifestations within our bodies. I have experienced it. My wife and I occasionally joke around, saying “You make my bowels move” to say “I love you.”

However, I also remember something else as I think back on my life. The times in which my bowels seemed to move for someone the most I was thinking not so much about the long-term benefits of a relationship as the instant gratification of the flesh.

“I want to touch her just once.” “I want to know how [various parts of her body] feel.” “I bet the sex would be great!”

In truth, the times I feel “my bowels moving” for my wife very frequently are when I am ready to take her to the bedroom (wink wink, nudge nudge). Many people with whom I have talked (teens, young adults, older adults; men and women) have also said that those physical emotional responses have largely led to thoughts of physical (read: sexual) interaction with another person.

I guess this is more a warning than anything else, especially to young readers (high school/college): Be careful of those feelings.

How many people have rushed to marriage because “He makes my stomach hurt … in that good way!”
How many people have had sex outside of marriage because “It felt like what was right!”
How many people have not listened to others because “My whole body seemed to tell me it was the right thing to do!”

How many divorces could have been avoided?
How many diseases and unwanted pregnancies could have been avoided?
How much heartache could have been avoided?

The heart [bowels/body/emotions] is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 2:1

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

Matthew 15:19

I added some meaning and italics.

The point is as I said above: we cannot always trust our emotions and when our bodies react.

This is what the LORD says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

Jeremiah 17:5

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5

Why are rules set in place for our relationships? It is not to deny our freedom or punish us. In fact, rules for relationships are their to protect us and remind us that we have a tendency to really mess things up in our lives!

We must remember to keep our emotions and bowels and hearts in check by trusting that God just might know us well enough to know what is best for us. We must remember that we can so easily be deceived by our own emotions if we base our understanding on us and not what God has told us. We must remember the need of hearing the Holy Spirit, and that means we need to learn to be able to listen to Him in all things.

Love the Sinner, Acknowledge the Sin

Jesus loves everyone!

Love the sinner, hate the sin!

That is a slogan we are used to hearing. I have used it myself.

Would it be better to say “Love the sinner, acknowledge the sin”?

I can already hear some people saying “But you can’t call people sinners! It is too offensive!”

My response: “I get offended the way some feminists say “man” or “men”. I get offended when black/dark-skinned-Americans (because, seriously, YOU WERE NOT BORN IN AFRICA! I am not a “European-American” and you are not an “African-American”! Most of your families have been in the United States for generations! I guess this is another offense. “Asian-“, “Mexican-“, “African-“, and any other “whatever-Americans” are those who have immigrated here and earned citizenship. If you are born here, you are AMERICAN.) … anyway, I get offended when blacks call each other (for those who are too sensitive, I will censor myself this time) “the n-word” but get upset when someone says it – even when quoting someone. I get offended the way some people say “Christian”. I get offended by the way some Christians say … a lot of things Christians say!

Therefore, perhaps it is not the word that is offensive, just the way it is said or used or perceived. I know I did not like being called a sinner when I heard “those Christians” say it before I became a believer. When I started going to church, however, it was presented as “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (see Romans 3:23, if you are wondering), and informed every single person who has lived (short of Jesus, but He is also God!) is a sinner. They explained why we are all sinners.

Get over yourself.

Back to the point …

Maybe we should just learn to love others. “But they party all the time!” “But he’s gay!” “But she had a baby outside of marriage!”

What did you do? Who are you?

“But God  demonstrates  His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,  Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NASB)

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” (1 John 4:7-9, NLT)

I am pretty sure love is important (not mushy feelings, the willful decision to care).

We might also want to tread carefully if a something is the central focus of a person’s life. Homosexuality is not an act, it is a way of life. Alcoholism is not an act, it is either a mental disorder, a way to deal with life, or simply all that is known by them. This also goes for many addictions, habits, and lifestyles. I grew up gossiping, angry, and violent. It was what I saw all around me, it was all I knew, and it took a while to change.

I am not saying homosexuality and alcoholism are the same thing. Read my last post! Perhaps people really can be born a certain way! We do know some alcoholics are born lacking a chemical that alcohol (and sometimes drugs) fill (I read it in an AA booklet from a friend and have seen medical reports on it … I wish I could remember the name!) There are also women in India (I forget what the name is) who have very masculine features (and are considered holy).

Can I get some feedback?! (think black preacher voice for that question: “Can I get a witness?!”-style. I really enjoy their enthusiasm and the way their voices sound!) What are some thoughts? Let’s get some conversations started!