Monthly Archives: January 2009

Resisting temptation

Here are a baker’s dozen of practical ideas I have found to be helpful in resisting temptation and avoiding sin, especially as it relates to sexual temptation:

  • Remember who you are in Christ (Romans 6:1-14).
  • Listen to the alarms.
  • Recognize when/where you are vulnerable.
  • Limit your input (Job 31:1, 7, 9). The more input you receive, the harder it is to be satisfied with one person.
  • Don’t be a temptation to the opposite sex. (Women – Dress thoughtfully, so as not to tempt a man. Men – Speak carefully, so as not to flirt with a woman.)
  • Count the cost (Colossians 3:4). Think of the consequences.
  • Ruthlessly kill temptation (Colossians 3:5).
  • Satisfy each other in marriage (Proverbs 5:15-20), so as to protect your spouse from being tempted.
  • Call someone. Maintain accountability.
  • Run! (1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:22).
  • Rely on God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:16).
  • Guard your heart.
  • Pursue Christ.
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Posted by on January 31, 2009 in Personal growth, Scripture, Theology


How holy do you want to be?

On three different occasions in the gospels, Jesus challenged his audience to take decisive action in avoiding sin (Matthew 5:29-30; 18:8-9; Mark 9:43-48). He says to remove whatever is leading you into sin, even if it is your right hand, right foot, or right eye. Jesus is not advocating a literal self-maiming, but rather a ruthless moral self-denial. Since the right side of the body was considered to be the dominant side, he is suggesting that to avoid sin, we must be willing to sacrifice even the best part of our life. When he states that it is better to go into heaven missing a body part rather than go into hell as a whole person, his point is that a temporal loss, however painful, is better than an eternal loss.

I’m not sure that we really agree with that. Many of us would say we want to be holy, but only in moderation. We want to order holiness as a side dish, not as a main course. We want to buy a pound of holiness from the grocery store, not a truck load from the manufacturer.

As Jesus points out, holiness is not something we gain through osmosis. It requires decisive action. “If your eye causes you to sin,  don’t look. If your foot causes you to sin, don’t go. If your hand causes you to sin,  don’t do it.” Through his use of hyperbole, Jesus is emphasizing single-eyed, single-handed, single-hearted devotion. We must take decisive action to avoid sin.

In order to avoid sin and pursue holiness, am I willing to:

  • Turn off the TV, rather than surfing and “hoping” to catch a risque program?
  • Change my daily routine, in order to stop a bad habit or start a new one?
  • Drive home a different way, so as to avoid a suggestive billboard or store?
  • Cancel a magazine subscription, or at least skip the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition?
  • Cancel cable TV, or at least block the premium movie channels?
  • Put filters on my computer to block access to sex-related websites?
  • Change jobs to avoid co-workers who constantly provide temptation?
  • Refuse to see an R-rated movie, even if it an Academy Award winner?
  • Be out of step with culture because I don’t watch blockbuster movies, miss out on hit TV shows, don’t read best-selling novels, and/or keep us with the latest gossip?

To what extent am I willing to pursue holiness? How holy do I want to be?

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Posted by on January 30, 2009 in Personal growth, Scripture, Theology


Noah Today

What if God told Noah to build an ark in 2008? What obstacles might he have to overcome? A friend sent me the link to NOAH TODAY. Discover a politically correct updated version of the story of Noah. Pretty funny and way too accurate.

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Posted by on January 27, 2009 in Culture, Fun


The incredible, shrinking vision

About 350 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness.

In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?

Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision.

With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without it, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries.

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Posted by on January 26, 2009 in Church, Personal growth


A guide for prayer

Several years ago, my friend, Tim Jack, put together “A biblical prayer guide,” using Scripture to guide a person in praying for specific issues and needs. I have used it on several occasions to lead corporate prayer times at church and found it to be very helpful.

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Posted by on January 20, 2009 in Prayer


Thank God for grace

On his deathbed, a Salvation Army leader stated,

“I deserve to be damned; I deserve to be in hell; but God interfered.”

Cited by Mark Dever in Twelve challenges churches face.

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Posted by on January 17, 2009 in Books, Quotes, Theology


When your plane goes down

Yesterday’s news lauded the heroic efforts of Capt. C. B. “Sully” Sullenberger as he landed his crippled jet on the Hudson River. The fact that he landed an “80,000 pound glider” safely on water and all the passengers and crew lived to tell the tale is astonishing indeed. It is the stuff of legend. Being a 29-year veteran at US Airways, a former Air Force fighter pilot, training three days a year on what to do in an emergency such as losing both engines, and leading a safety consulting firm helped prepare him for this event and bring about a happy ending.

What would happen if that occurred in your life? If an unintended accident crippled you, would you walk away unscathed? If you lost two of the engines of your life, say your job and your health, could you land safely and find shelter? Could you survive the crash?

Ephesians 4:13-14 indicates that one of the marks of spiritual maturity is the ability to withstand the storms of life.

“. . . until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (ESV – English Standard Version)

According to this passage, a knowledge of God helps develop this kind of stability. Rather than book learning, this type of knowledge is gained by experience. It is not learned solely in the classroom or even the flight simulator, but it is gained in real life, on-the-job training. It comes through a combination of Bible study and seeing God answer prayer in daily life.

There is an important sequence in this passage. Maturity comes before the storm. Gaining a first-hand knowledge of God leads to stability in our lives.

Just as Capt. Sullenberger prepared for disaster before it happened, so we too need to know God better before the warning lights of our life begin to flash.

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Posted by on January 16, 2009 in News stories, Personal growth, Scripture