Our third receptor of temptation is something we all struggle with. So far we’ve looked at how our hunger and our sight are receptors of temptations and how to overcome them. Large parts of those temptations are aimed at our souls from the outside. We see something and want it. In those cases, there is something we see, hear, or feel that triggers a desire to have. The third temptation source and receptor are almost entirely in ourselves. The key verse for this series is found in 1st John. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of Go
For nine years—when our two boys were in Middle and High School—we ran a lawn mowing business named Hoerr’s Lawn Care. In peak season, we mowed 25 yards per week, mostly for neighborhood widows and widowers who had fenced-in yards with small gates that wouldn’t accommodate the big mowers from commercial services. Most of our customers were very delightful, but we had one elderly widow named Edna whom we absolutely could not please. We either mowed too fast, or there were too many clumps of clippings, or we didn’t pick up the sticks adequately before mowing. Edna was simply a bitter, unhappy, unthankful person. Edna stood in stark contrast with Dean—the lonely, chain-smoking widower who had a hard life. He’d lost his wife years before and even though his children and grandchildren were i
I have these rules; guidelines, reminders, and challenges to navigate the highways of life. Some folks may not be very comfortable with today’s rule. It seems squishy and unsure about things, but there is an important attitude of the heart behind it. This rule is “always leave room to be wrong - especially when certain.” It may seem that this rule is designed to provide wiggle room for when things don’t go as planned but that’s not the primary purpose. This rule is meant to foster attitudes of humility and openness towards others. Besides, there have been too many times when I was wrong even though I was certain about something. The practical application of this rule means putting the burden on myself instead of another. A common occurrence in our home is my forgetfulness of events
Allow this article to remove some pressure and anxiety from your life. Tall order? Perhaps. Consider this to be the pin which pops the balloon. But before we get too far perhaps I should identify the balloon. For practically everyone that chooses to follow Jesus, there is an aspect of performance anxiety. We strive to fit in with our faith community in the ways we dress, the ways we talk, and the attitudes and perhaps even the doctrines we adopt. Even if your church has a “come as you are” attitude this anxiety remains. But that is only a visible piece of a much larger iceberg. We also have aspects of performance anxiety when it comes to following Jesus. Am I doing the right things? Am I fulfilling His purpose? Am I on the right path? Am I spiritual enough or religious enough to ple
Imagine for a moment walking up to a dessert table with two choices. One is a perfectly shaped wedge of apple pie. Its golden brown crust is warmly inviting, the apple filling firm but oozing goodness. The second choice also seems to be a slice from that same pie but it is squished and broken with filling spilling out to cover the dessert plate. Which would you choose? Most of us would take the more attractive of the two slices of apple pie. Why is that? They both have the same ingredients and the taste. The only difference is their looks. Yet, we choose the one we perceive as more pleasing to the eyes. This choice is an example of our second receptor of temptation, what John called the lust of the eyes. Our eyesight is our most powerful sense. With these wonderfully designed organ
In a land far from here, in a time long forgotten, there were two villages separated by a deep chasm. On the east side of the wide rocky gorge was Becket’s Corner, to the west lay Paradise. For a time when the elder’s grandfathers were young, a wobbly suspension bridge provided passage, commerce, and sharing between the two villages. Over time the villages grew apart, each community blaming something the other had done. Then, one night, the bridge was gone. Both sides condemned the other for the destruction with pointed fingers, but neither could prove anything. While a few mourned the loss of the bridge most didn’t seem to care. They were content, even happy, to be on their own. One day in a far-off city, many many years after the bridge fell, Jason from Becket’s corner met F
The powerful blast of an atomic bomb is from the dividing of atoms in a process called fission. What I’m seeing across the church (and in our nation) is something like fission. There is energy and passion released in our divisions. We feel justified since we’re “not like them” and feel empowered as we push them away. This energy of division is easily seen in many areas of life, but in the church, it can only exist because of a lie. The lie that permits our division is fake unity. This fake unity is built around traditions, doctrines, worldviews, and political views. It’s a unity that fools our senses since it looks and feels like unity. After all, we all agree, we’re alike. But it is a unity created by subtraction as unwanted and uncomfortable differences are energetically rejected.
Where would you like to go for dinner? That’s the question Betty and I often ask each other after church. What are you hungry for? What sounds good? One of us may ask the other. Steak? Seafood? Mexican? Italian? Hamburgers and fries? Bar-B-que? Deli-style? We keep going through the list of opportunities until someone says, “that would be good.” Here’s the thing, this kind of hunger-driven decision making is also one of the ways temptation trips up our walk with Jesus. So far in our exploration of overcoming as promised in 1 John 5:3-5 we’ve discovered that overcoming may not be what we often assume. While John does say that “everyone born of God overcomes the world” the context is the commands and overcoming the temptations we all face. We’ve also learned that there are three sources o
A few years ago I wrote a series of articles on God’s intentional tensions. Those seemingly contradictory verses which are campfires for division. Instead of staking a claim for which side is right I staked out the middle-ground and found God’s truth in both sides. In that series, I compared this middle-ground to a guitar string that only sings when held in tension between two points. In this article, I’m adding an additional tension to that series, the tension between freedom and holiness. Getting this tension right has been an issue since the earliest days of the church. Consider Acts 15 and the Jerusalem council concerning what laws the Gentiles (non-Jews) should adhere to. Verse 7 begins by saying “after there had been much debate…” While the Jerusalem Council did arrive at a conclu
It all began in a garden. A lush paradise where every need was met and there was only one “don’t do this” rule. The rest, as they say, is history. Adam and Eve broke the “don’t do this” rule, played the blame game with God, and changed the course of humanity. That discord between going our own way or going God’s way has plagued us ever since. But that is not the end of story. Last week we looked at An Overcoming Life and discovered that overcoming is different than we may have imagined. John wrote, “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
There are many Biblical phrases that have become idioms in our culture. Phrases like “the blind leading the blind”, “go the extra mile”, or the “writings on the wall” all have their origin in the pages of the Bible. Another such idiom is “fight the good fight.” But the problem with idioms is that they are often divorced from their original meaning and purpose. I’ve heard this phrase about the good fight used in connection with any number of meaningful causes, sometimes even from both sides of the same conflict. So, let’s take a step back and look at what the Bible says about the “good fight.” In a way, we begin with the end. In 2nd Timothy Paul is saying farewell. He feels he will soon die. The early church fathers tell us Paul was beheaded at the direction of Nero in Rome. Paul wrote,
Reading the Bible and hearing those precious promises can be disheartening at times. We read about how we overwhelmingly conquer through Jesus in Romans 8:37, but our lives may feel like a train wreck and a constant struggle. We see the promise of having a rich, satisfying, and abundant life in John 10:10, but only see failure. We hear that everyone born of God overcomes the world in 1 John 5:4-5, but we often feel like wheat between the grinding wheels of a flour mill. How do we solve this discord between God’s promises and our real lives? For the next few weeks, we’re going to practically explore the Biblical concept and promise of overcoming. Let me say up front however that this is not a magic formula to a wonderful life with a fat bank account, a perfect spouse, a well-paying enjoy