Off to Camp!

Attention all recycled teenagers!

I leave Thursday for teen summer camp which takes place in beautiful, serene Camp Hye Sierra near Sequoia National Park in California. Camp is eight action-packed days from June 28 to July 5. This will be the fourth year my wife and I are privileged to serve as staff.

Who knows … maybe I’ll see some other moose soaking up the scented pines and redwoods!

Ninety-nine teens (50 girls and 49 boys) arrive Sunday afternoon.  They represent 16 states:  New York, New Mexico, California, Georgia, Ohio, Texas, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, Indiana, Arizona, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Campers will be split among eight dorms (four boys, four girls) which are “age banded” so like-ages are grouped together in the same dorm. This also allows our Christian Living instructors to speak directly to that age group.

Adding their spark will be nine junior campers.

But the real news might be our road trip out and back. Try to imagine me driving a van with five teenagers (none ours!—our four kids are past that age) from Colorado along for the ride! Calling it “the unexpected” is an understatement!

So you likely won’t find a blog here until after July 7. But you’d be welcome to follow my camp blog at www.ucgcamps.wordpress.com.

The camp has been praised by many as a model of how to run a godly teen camp. And seeing what God is doing with teens, making future Christian leaders, is sure to inspire and energize you!

I plan to be back here with a new post about July 8th.  So why not go off to camp yourself!

How to Resist Temptation #4

What is the complete process given in the Bible for how to resist temptation? Previous posts discussed the foundational key: Diligent faithful daily mindset. Then Consider the consequences, Don’t go near her house, The most important step I keep overlooking, What Christ did to resist temptation and Flee.

OK, now you can resist anything!

You can … but when you fail (1 John 1:8), God is ready to forgive (Psalm 86:5)

So there is one more step in the process the Bible gives for resisting temptation:

  • Yield to God’s forgiveness.   Never resist Him!

–Temptation exposes our real selves.  C.S. Lewis observed “No man knows how bad he is until he has tried very hard to be good.” –Temptation exposes man’s feebleness and discloses God’s faithfulness. –Temptation helps us grow in humility.  Turning from self to Christ. –Temptation helps us get stronger.  You won’t overcome the full force of temptation until you hang in there long enough.

Tempted is translated from the Greek word PEIRAZO meaning “to test, try, prove.”

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to is eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you” (1 Peter 5:10).

“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 24, NIV).

How to resist temptation in a nut shell (a fitting description of most of us): God living in you.

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How to Resist Temptation #3

What is the complete process given in the Bible for how to resist temptation? Previous posts discussed the foundational key: Diligent faithful daily mindset. Then Consider the Consequences and Don’t Go Near Her House.

But when all evasive maneuvers fail and a dogfight ensues:

  • The most important step I keep overlooking

God’s not tempting you (James 1:13-15).   We are tempted by the three hissing S’s: Self, Satan and Society. But we absolutely need God’s help to resist temptation from these three sources.

In Matthew 26:41 Jesus advises us to keep watching and praying that we enter not into temptation, and He set the example.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus did not rely on Himself though He was God in the flesh (John 5:30).  He prayed for one hour, then He prayed again, and then again—and He would have kept on praying—until He had His will in total submission to God’s.

Remember the popular TV show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?  Regis Philbin would ask at the moment of highest tension  “Is that your final answer?”  Jesus’ answer to His final test must be our answer in temptation: “Your will be done, not mine!”

On the show, a contestant could call on a lifeline.   Jesus is our lifeline, and we must call on Him at the moment of temptation.

What makes us think we can resist on our own power!  Too often it’s because we don’t really want to turn away.  At this moment of weakness we want to do this!  An idol we want to smash when in our diligent faithful mindset demands we bow down.

It’s sad to admit but sometimes:  Yes, I should cry out to God for His help!  Wait!—not yet.  Let me just stick my toes in the water.  I’ll stop when I see the line in the shifting sand.  What riptide?

In “The Pattern of Failure—Lessons from 246 Pastors Fell Within 2 Year Period,” Garrett Kell warns, “If you flirt with sin, you will fall into sin.  Sin’s slope is slippery.  The longer you walk along the edge of the abyss, the more likely that your feet will slip…. The men in the study put themselves in dangerous situations again and again.”

At the first hint you are being tempted, immediately cry out to God!   This is the step in the temptation process where I usually fail.

  • What Christ did to resist temptation

In Matthew 4 when being tempted by Satan, in every case Jesus did not hesitate, reason or listen to angels debating on His shoulder.

There was a poor country pastor dismayed by his wife splurging on a $350 dress.
Wife:  The Devil whispered to me “You look great in that dress.  You should buy it!”
Pastor:  At first temptation you should have commanded “Get behind me, Satan!”
Wife:  I did but then he said it looks great from the back, too!

Jesus did not discuss with Satan!

Satan:  What’s wrong with you making yourself a little bread?  I can rustle you up some Wonder Bread—you wonder if it’s bread!

Jesus decisively answered Satan’s lures with “It is written …”  Jesus knew His Bible!   He inspired every word of it (2 Timothy 3:16), He lived it, and He wielded it (Hebrews 4:12)!

Psalm 119:11 instructs “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The Bible notes Satan’s three best shots at Christ.  At the end of the third temptation, Jesus commands “away with you Satan!”

But Satan did not wait until the end of 40 days.  Luke 4:2 says Jesus was tempted 40 days.

Satan must have thrown some other tempting offers:  “Hey, aren’t you the one who said it’s not good for a man to be alone?  3-1/2 years with those fishermen is gonna get old real fast!”

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted (tested) as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-15).

Peter warns us, “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him steadfast in the faith knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”

Paul warns us, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.  No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

It seems like God has more confidence in us than we do!  God allowed Satan to tempt Job but with restrictions.

  • Flee!

In verse 14 above Paul added “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”

What tempts you regularly … is it an idol for you?  Anything that comes between you and God? Anything you put before God in time, money and priority?  We all have some idols to smash!

The classic story about fleeing temptation is in Genesis 39:9.  Joseph was stuck in Potiphar’s palace. He did what he could to stay far from Mrs. Potiphar and told her what she had in mind would be sin. When she grabbed him by his tunic, Joseph wriggled out like Houdini and fled!

When you flee, leave no forwarding address!

Stay tuned for the last post in our four-part series:  How to Resist Temptation #4

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How to Resist Temptation #2

What is the complete process given in the Bible for how to resist temptation? Last post discussed the foundational key: Diligent faithful daily mindset.

Next we must:

  • Consider the consequences

Sin caused Jesus to suffer and die and it earns eternal death for us.  We’d be doomed if grace were earned!

Sin adds grief, subtracts faith, multiplies trouble and divides brethren! Thanks to thoroughly studying God’s law, and having His Holy Spirit to love it and desire to fulfill it even in the Spirit of the law, we know what sin is and passionately want no part of it. To have victory over temptation, we need to consider the negative consequences.  Yes, but far more powerful is dwelling on the wonderful results of doing the right.

The passing pleasures (Hebrews 11:25) of sexual sin cannot compare with the steady day-in, day-out joy of a happy marriage with God at the center of it!

Powerful is the joy of pleasing God!  We do not want to provoke, grieve, tempt and limit the Holy One of Israel (Psalm 78:40-41)!

When I was going out-of-state to college, my mother was worried about me drinking.  I promised her I would wait until age 21 to ever have any alcohol.  Doing that to make my mother happy was such a stronger pull than being tempted to drink.

In one class the professor asked for reasons to avoid pre-marital sex, and the class dutifully contributed the usual penalties for messing up.  I was barely staying awake.  The professor jolted me to attention when he turned the age-old temptation problem in a completely positive direction.

The reason to avoid pre-marital sex is so you can have a wonderful wedding and night!  You would never know what you denied yourself if you didn’t make it to that glorious day.

Our mindset must be to avoid bad consequences and pursue good results that make God, mate, family and others happy.  But we also must physically avoid sin.

  • Don’t go near her house

Proverbs says whatever sin might be the issue, don’t go down her path (Proverbs 4:14-15).

If we want to be in God’s House of resurrected sons, don’t go near “The House of the Rising Sun!”  We have to choose the right Doors.

Computer users are advised to keep their computers in public areas of the home.  Tabloid alert in the grocery checkout lines!

ice cream

If you can’t resist gluttony with ice cream, chuckle when Erma Bombeck says “If I had it to do over, I’d eat more ice cream!” But don’t keep Haagen Dazs in your frig!

In spite of all attempts to keep a lid on it, suddenly temptation’s in front of you!  And starting to melt if you don’t lick it!

Stay tuned for the next post in this four-part series:  How to Resist Temptation #3

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How to Resist Temptation

“I can resist anything except temptation.” That candid admission of how easy we slip into sin’s commission is famously attributed to Oscar Wilde, an Irish playwright.

His solution to get rid of temptation:  “give in to it!”

How can we resist temptation?  It’s too important to settle for a Wilde guess!

What’s the answer to temptation?  “No.”

Good answer but hope that’s worked better for you than it has for me! You know the feeling … it gets so discouraging to give in, give in, to the same old sin.

For over a year now I’ve been wanting to piece together the complete process given in the Bible for how to resist temptation. I did this for myself, but wonder if I can tempt you to want this information for yourself.   We need to study these scriptures, pray about them, meditate on them, fast about them and resolve to do them.

  • Diligent faithful daily mindset

The foundational key is the regular mindset we have day in and day out.  We want the mind of Christ (Philippians 4:5).  We bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

We pray as Jesus taught, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil [the evil one]” (Matthew 6:13).

A four-year-old boy learning the Lord’s prayer recited “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us some email.”

A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn’t find a space with a meter. So he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: “I have circled the block 100 times. If I don’t park here, I’ll miss my appointment. FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES.”        When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note:  “I’ve circled this block for 10 years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.”

All of us can say:  “Lead us not into temptation.  I can find the way myself!”

Being renewed in the Spirit daily (Ephesians 4:23) will keep the flesh in check.  When we set our heart on the things above (Colossians 3:1), then our interests in “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) diminish.  Being transformed by the renewing of our minds will help us not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2)!

Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit.   Einstein is credited with using his brain capacity more than any other human—about 10%.  This seems to be the maximum achievable through the spirit in man (1 Corinthians 2:11)—the spirit that distinguishes humans from animals and means that we are not animals as is often erroneously claimed.  Perhaps the missing 90% will be achieved when we have the “fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19) and are made 100% Spirit in resurrection.

For now daily we need the Spirit-led mindset that makes us so occupied with doing God’s ways that we don’t have time to be tempted to flout them.

Stay tuned for the next post in this four-part series:  How to Resist Temptation 2

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Talk About Blood Moons & Shemitah

thYBIAFCXDTalk, talk, talk about blood moons!  Blood moons on or near four of God’s biblical festivals–the fourth one due on Sept. 28th!

And talk some more about the Shemitah ending on Sept. 13, 2015 being the seventh seven-year period, meaning the following year would be the year of Jubilee!   Jonathan Cahn, author of “The Harbinger,” says the five greatest economic crashes of the last 40 years – 1973, 1980, 1987, 2001 and 2008 – all occurred in Shemitah years.  So that would mean big trouble coming this September!

For sure, the blood moons are exciting!   But as Sgt. Joe Friday used to demand on the old Dragnet show, just the facts, ma’am!

The blood moons of Joel 2:31 occur during the sixth seal.  At the end of the first four seals, one fourth of the earth is dead (Revelations 6:8)! All the talk hasn’t killed that many of us yet!

Unless the five seals happen by the last of the four blood moons on Sept. 28th, these blood moons are not “the heavenly signs” immediately preceding Christ’s second coming.

The first three blood moons I didn’t see.  The heavenly signs will terrify all on earth.

I haven’t heard of any shocking catastrophes correlating with the last three blood moons.   We’ll see what God allows on the fourth.

What about the Jubilee business?

Let us never forget that Jesus said nobody knows the day nor hour of His return except the Father only (Matthew 24:36). But the Bible gives every indication that He will return in a year of Jubilee (Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4:18-19). The events of His return and new administration would fulfill what a Jubilee is all about. Peoples restored to their inheritance. Debts can be forgiven even in a spiritual way once proud humanity has been spanked and humbled.

A Jubilee year is proclaimed on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9). Liberty will truly come when Satan is put away, and the best Day of Atonement is surely going to be the one right after Christ’s return.

Evangelists have liked to scare people down the aisle by shouting “Jesus might come tonight!”  The Bible proves this utterly wrong because it states many events that must happen first—3-1/2 years before the second coming—and they haven’t happened yet.   It will be at least 3-1/2 more years before Jesus returns.

This indicates the “experts” are wrong about next year being a Jubilee year.  If it were, and Jesus is returning in a Jubilee year, this His return would be 50 more years away. Who thinks this sinking world could possibly last that long!

Here’s what to talk about—God’s biblical festivals which reveal His plan of salvation (Leviticus 23). They picture harvests in Palestine which reveal how God is harvesting His sons and daughters for His family.

Keeping them prepares us for the end-time events that are surely coming and Jesus Christ who is surely coming.   “What manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” is what prophecy should make us talk about (2 Peter 3:11).

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