Temptation

You don’t have to fail to know the full weight of temptation. In fact, those who don’t give into temptation are the only ones who know the full weight of it. When we give into temptation quickly we don’t know how severe it really was. For example, only the weightlifter who completes the lift knows the full weight of it.

Good news for Christians: God can help us overcome temptation and give us victory over sin. Jesus knew the full weight of temptation, and He never failed. He can relate to the temptations we struggle with and he sympathizes with us.

Hebrews 2:18: Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Also, your temptations aren’t unique to you.  Others wrestle with them as well.  And more good news is that God will provide a way out if you let him.

1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is just; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Hat tip: Walk in the Word

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Weekly roundup

1. The title says it all: DUI Suspect Shows Up Drunk For Court Hearing (hat tip: LoneStarTimes).  Seriously, this is pretty sick.  Let’s recap:

  • The guy admits to drinking a 12-pack a day “and then some”
  • it is his second DUI conviction (who knows how many times he has driven drunk?)
  • His blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit
  • He shows up drunk to court
  • He only got a sentence of 30 days to 6 months!  This guy will be back behind the wheel in 180 days or less. 

2. Some truly encouraging news – Chinese churches are growing like wildfire.

3. Houston Police officers were told by their leaders not to chase minor traffic offenders who refuse to stop.  Did it occur to them that while the traffic offense was minor that fleeing an officer was a felony?  How about the fact that anyone who flees an officer isn’t doing it just to avoid a ticket.  They probably have something bigger to hide.  Finally, if you are going to implement such a policy, why tell everyone about it? Police do a difficult and important job.  Their leaders could be doing better.

Mark 4

Greetings!

This reading is Mark 4.

Jesus often taught in parables, which are short stories that have settings familiar to the listeners.  The parables typically had one major point.  Some thought and reflection is required to understand them (I don’t know if I understood any parables the first time I heard them).  They often seem to go against the wisdom of the world, but upon further study they reveal great truths about God and his plan. 

Jesus wasn’t trying to trick anyone by saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  He was pointing out that unless you truly desire to know the truth you won’t be able to understand him.

The four soils is one of the many farming illustrations in the Bible.  The seed of God’s Word is spread all over, but the results vary:

  • Some ignore it completely.
  • Some receive it with joy but have no roots, so they fade away.
  • Some hear it but let the worries of life choke it out.
  • Some hear it and accept it and produce a great crop.

Which kind of soil have you been?  Remember, this is a parable.  Just because you ignored the Word of God once doesn’t mean you can’t hear it now and let it thrive in good soil. 

I understand v. 25 to be saying that if we have faith we will be given more, but if we don’t have faith we’ll lose what we have already.

The message of the mustard seed is probably one or more of the following:

  • An image of evangelism (spreading the Word of God)
  • A metaphor for spiritual growth in Christians
  • The coming of God’s kingdom

The chapter ends with an astounding miracle.  Jesus has already been healing many people from serious diseases.  Now He shows his power over his creation by calming a storm.  Can you imagine what the disciples were thinking after that?  Remember that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He lives, and He can help you with the storms in your life today. 

Reflect on what stood out to you in this chapter and share your comments if you like. 

The next reading is Mark 5.

Government & bedrooms

A common pro-choice sound bite is that “Government should stay out of our bedrooms.”  It is an emotional play on the theme of privacy, but the logic is poor for several reasons.  

I don’t know of any abortions that occur in bedrooms.  I’m pretty sure that most take place at abortion clinics. 

Rape, incest, pedophilia, murders, thefts and a host of other crimes can occur in bedrooms, but I don’t hear anyone suggesting that the government ignore those.   

I realize the first two items were taking the claim literally, but the pro-choice reasoning also fails in a figurative sense.  Groups that claim to want the government out of bedrooms sure have cashed a lot of government checks for “educating” our youth on sexually related matters.  As detailed here, Planned Parenthood and the like appear to have a great deal of interest in your bedroom activities and those of your children, and they crave and receive massive government funding.  If by “government out of our bedrooms” they mean “government out of our sex lives,” then Planned Parenthood supporters should ask that they refund all the money they have received ($3.9 billion since 1987) and get out of our schools.  

As with most pro-choice arguments, this claim ignores the primary issue of abortion: Whether or not an innocent human being is killed.  If abortion doesn’t kill an innocent human being, then of course the government shouldn’t be involved in determining whether the procedure is legal.  However, if it does kill an innocent human being, then it really doesn’t matter where the life of the unborn started.   

Quote of the day – Tolerance – revised and expanded!

OK, it turns out the original quote was out of context (Hat tip: Alan, editor-in-chief).  I can’t remember if the source I got it from had it out of context or if I misread it. Either way, my bad. 

But all is not lost.  The quote was still poor, just for different reasons.  And I didn’t even need the quote to make my original point; it was just a good catalyst.   

First, comments from Alan about the quote:

He is talking about academia, in general. The article, titled “One University, Under God” begins by examining the separation of church and state, and how that separation has changed over the last 15 years in politics. Then he moves to how the relationship between the academy and religion have also changed. He’s been talking about the fact that religion has always been an object of study in the academy and then he says….

Now, the original quote in bold plus the context around it:

“But it is one thing to take religion as an object of study and another to take religion seriously. To take religion seriously would be to regard it not as a phenomenon to be analyzed at arm’s length, but as a candidate for the truth. In liberal theory, however, the category of truth has been reserved for hypotheses that take their chances in the “marketplace of ideas.”

Religious establishments will typically resist the demand that basic tenets of doctrine be submitted to the test of deliberative reason. (The assertion that Christ is risen is not one for which evidence pro and con is adduced in a juridical setting.) That is why in 1915 the American Association of University Professors denied to church-affiliated institutions of higher learning the name of “university”; such institutions, it was stated, “do not, at least as regards one particular subject, accept the principles of freedom and inquiry.”

What that meant, in effect, was that in the name of the tolerant inclusion of all views in the academic mix, it was necessary to exclude views that did not honor tolerance as a first and guiding principle.

Walter Lippmann laid down the rule: “Reason and free inquiry can be neutral and tolerant only of those opinions which submit to the test of reason and inquiry.” And what do you do with “opinions” (a word that tells its own story) that do not submit? Well, you treat them as data and not as candidates for the truth. You teach the Bible as literature — that is, as a body of work whose value resides in its responsiveness to the techniques of (secular) literary analysis. Or you teach American Puritanism as a fascinating instance of a way of thinking we have moved beyond.”

Stanley Fish, “Chronicle of Higher Education”

His reasoning is flawed because he dogmatically states that religion cannot be a candidate for truth.  All religions make truth claims, many of which can be tested.  Christianity, for example, is historical and evidential.  Not everything can be verified, but by using the same criteria we apply to other historical works and events we can validate a great deal. 

For example, archeology has been called “the Bible’s best friend” (Note to self: do a post on that someday).  If you can find a historian that thinks the tomb wasn’t empty on Easter morning, I’d like to hear his reasoning (I’m not aware of any who make that claim).  There are at least six non-Biblical historical works that refer to Jesus, so we can say with confidence that we are dealing with a real person in history.  The quality and quantity of the New Testament manuscripts far exceeds that of any other works of antiquity.

His notion that Christianity doesn’t take its chances in the marketplace of ideas is simply wrong.  Christianity freely submits to the test of reason and inquiry.  Contrary to the myths, the Bible teaches us to think critically.  Here are a few off the top of my head:

  • We are to love God with our hearts, souls and minds.
  • In Acts 17:11, The Bereans were lauded for critically examining what Paul taught to determine if it was true.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:21: Test everything, hold onto the good.

And I still think the original quote sounds mushy regardless of the context.

Back to my original rant comments.  I’ll revisit the tolerance and postmodern topics later.

The classical view of tolerance was to respect people even when you disagreed with their ideas.  After all, you can only tolerate something if you disagree with it.  If you agree with it, there is nothing to tolerate.  The new, twisted definition of tolerance is to disrespect the people who hold different beliefs and the ideas they hold.  Which, of course, isn’t tolerance at all.  It is arrogance, pride, oppression and fear masquerading as tolerance.

Also see The Intolerance of Tolerance by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason.. 

Mark 3

This reading is Mark 3.

This chapter begins with something you’ll find throughout the Gospels: Jesus healing someone on the Sabbath.  The Sabbath was Saturday, a Jewish Holy day set aside by God.  There were various Old Testament laws prohibiting work on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees (a group of devout but often hypocritical Jewish leaders) had added many rules themselves.  Instead of being overjoyed that the man’s shriveled hand was healed, they were so jealous and angry that they wanted to kill Jesus.

Note that most of Jesus’ miracles are of the visible variety.  Leprosy disappears, eyesight is returned, paralyzed people walk, etc.  These weren’t things you could fake.  Try finding that with the “healers” you find on TV.

As Jesus’ fame grew, his family initially thought he was crazy (v. 21).  His brother James, who wrote the book of the Bible of the same name, didn’t follow Jesus until he saw him after the resurrection.

The teachers of the law accused him of being possessed by Satan.  Jesus is ever the clear thinker and exposed their foolish reasoning. 

Some people worry that they have blasphemed the Holy Spirit (v. 29) and cannot be forgiven.  This is sometimes called the unforgivable sin.  As a rule of thumb, if you are worried about having committed that sin you probably haven’t committed it.  It is typically considered to be an ongoing and complete rejection of the Holy Spirit of God.  God the Father reaches us through God the Holy Spirit so we will put our faith in God the Son (Jesus).  So if you completely reject the Holy Spirit you won’t get the message.  It isn’t too late to turn to Jesus if you haven’t done so already. 

Enjoy the chapter and feel free to post any thoughts or questions you have!

The next reading is Mark 4.