Desiring the things that are off limits…

God placed Adam and Eve in the garden and gave them everything they would need. The garden was perfect in every way. Only one tree’s fruit was off-limits.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…(Gen. 3:6)

Eve desired  what was forbidden. God has placed certain areas off-limits in our lives too. This principle alone may awaken our desires.  For its often when we’re told we can’t do something, that we discover a growing desire to do that very thing (Rom. 7:8).

Whenever I have asked an audience the question, “Have any of you ever touched the painted surface when the sign read, “Do not Touch! Wet Paint!” I’m amazed at the numbers of hands that go up. The follow-up question, “Why didn’t you obey the sign?” always brings the same sheepish response, “I just wanted to see for myself.”

Just like Eve, we prefer personal experience over a command. If the command was given, we reason, someone, somewhere is keeping something from us that we deserve.

Our minds reeling under this intoxication, our desires are quick to redefine right from wrong and justify our actions. So our desires promise the fulfilment of a feeling. Never mind that it’s short-lived a best.  That’s why it’s always better to trust God’s Word than your feelings…

The truth about how anger works…

I struggle with anger. Perhaps you do too. When I succumb to my anger it feels like I don’t have control over my emotions, thoughts, and choices. It seems like decisions are being made for me. It feels like I’m in a box. But is that reality? The following video illustration helps to clarify. If you are receiving this via email or Facebook you may need to go to the home page  to view it. Special thanks to Pastor Jack and his family for participating. Running time about seven minutes.

The angry man believes certain things about his emotions, thoughts and choices. He believes them so strongly, because he feels them so deeply. But God’s word offers rock-solid truth, and that unchanging truth brings hope. The best way to correct the faulty belief system of the angry man (and hence gain victory over our angry responses) is to put it up against God’s Word. The following slide shows us how…

Practical implications of the humanity of Jesus

Sometimes the simplest verses seem to be the hardest to live out.

Consider this one, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6).

The Bible teaches that Jesus was fully God. But if your portrait of Jesus is void of his humanity, his teaching and example will seem to be beyond your reach. Living just like Jesus will seem unreasonable. You might even wonder if it’s possible.

But here is a significant truth behind the incarnation of Christ: Jesus walked where you walk so that you might learn to walk like he walked.

If Jesus was fully human, as the Bible declares, then he lived out his entire earthly life under the intrinsic limitations of humanity.1 His victory over temptation was possible through his reliance upon the resources that are available to you and me today. Let that thought settle in. Jesus did not reach outside of his human limitations when being tempted to sin. He operated within the confines of his humanity when he battled temptation. That’s what it means to be tempted like we are yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).

To embrace Jesus’ full humanity is one of the most significant “how” factors for living the Christian life. Practically speaking, once you are in Christ, victory over the temptations with which you struggle, will not come from the latest trend, program, or motivational speaker – these will only bring temporary change. Your growth and change will take place only as you learn to avail yourself of the same resources that Jesus, being fully man, depended upon.

1 I am indebted to Dr. Doug Bookman presently with the Shepherd’s Seminary for the phrase, “the intrinsic limitations of humanity.” Several years ago I was preparing to teach the Life of Christ at the church where I pastor and a friend directed me to Doug Bookman’s teaching. He has great insights on both the deity and humanity of Christ.

Just say “No” to Temptation with the Scripture

The best way to defend against the tempter’s lie is to know God’s truth. Jesus answered Satan’s temptations with specific scripture.

To know your opponent’s modus operandi is essential in any field, but particularly for an NFL quarterback. Sportswriter Pete Prisco explains it best,

“Watching film, or tape to be precise, is key to the success of any quarterback no matter the level of play. But in the NFL, it’s even more so with all the complicated defenses and looks now thrown at quarterbacks, who must decipher it all in split-second decisions or risk throwing an interception that will show up on all the highlight shows.

They’d better know their stuff, and know it well.

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is legendary in his film study. He has a film room in his basement. Manning loves studying tape, almost needs it like a drug. Others don’t put in the time and end up in quarterback bust-land.” 1

When you read Jesus’ temptation account (Matt. 4. Luke 4) it’s easy to see that Jesus understood his opponent. As Satan tempts through deception, Jesus answers with God’s Word of truth. His remarkable ability to recall the right Scripture for the specific situation is the pattern we should emulate.

If you could watch tape on your opponent you would see that his regular method of temptation is to deceive. He returns to it again and again. But what Satan lacks in originality he makes up for in thoroughness. He is mercilessly meticulous. He understands the desires of the human heart, and the best way to lure and entice us to sin (James 1:19-20).

Yet, because Satan often returns to deception as his means of temptation, you and I can game – plan for his attack. Jesus did. He knew the right verse for each situation. A part of my game plan has to been to memorize the Scripture in conjunction with Satan’s lies.

Satan, as the deceiver, often brings his temptations in the same way (1 John 2:16). Sometime ago it occurred to me that if I could memorize the lie that Satan brought, and the corresponding truth from God’s Word I would be more prepared for the temptations I faced.

This was the kind of reliance Jesus had upon the Scripture (Matt. 4, Luke 4). He has the right verse for each specific situation.

Developing a select set of verses to answer temptation is essential in the life of any believer. We have developed a verse memory pack that contain 33 of the tempter’s lies and God’s Word of truth as a defense against the temptation. You can download them for free at our church’s website.

For additional resources on this subject including notes, audio, video, and a really cool sword fight please visit:


Hiding or Confessing Sin?

There is a word that is small, but in spite of its size it has left a significant impact. It has disrupted nations, families, marriages, and one’s relationship with God. It is discussed in nearly every form of religion, but in no other sacred book is the word treated as thoroughly as it is in the Bible. The word? Sin. Just three little letters, but its impact has touched every human being’s life. It means to violate a law of God, and that violation was so horrific that it caused the death of Christ to restore us to God. Remarkably people have always responded to sin the same way, which is to cover or hide it. The Biblical record shows this. Upon committing the first sin, Adam and Eve hid themselves from God even though they didn’t know why they were doing it  (Gen. 3:8). Upon taking spoil from a battle that he wasn’t supposed to Achan hid the gold and silver under his tent. Having committed adultery with his neighbor’s wife King David devised an elaborate scheme that included the killing of her husband in an attempt to keep his sin hidden. Yet, in every one of these attempts to cover a sin, God revealed it.

David understood that when he recorded in Psalm 32, “when I kept silent my bones grew old.” In fact David only thought he had hidden his sin. God revealed it to the entire nation. That is where David learned a vital lesson about sin. When we cover it God reveals it, but when we reveal it God covers it. He opens Psalm 32 this way, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Remarkably, when David confessed his sin to the Lord he found forgiveness! God wishes for us to deal with our sin through humility and confession. But often our pride is what stubbornly refuses to admit our guilt, and instead attempts to hide the sin. If that has been the pattern of your life please know God longs to bring forgiveness. And He is so serious about that that He may reveal your sin, just so that you would admit your need.

Like a Roaring Lion

We live in a world where lions lay around lazily in the zoo cages. Gettting up for an occasional stretch or yawn. The Bible gives this strong warning though: “Be soberminded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Check out the following video clip, and ask yourself, “What adjectives describe the lions?” Do you see see your adverary in the same way?