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Temptation – Worth the Risk

Temptation is on my mind. Wanna guess which one!?

No, not that one.

I’m thinking about how I teach my kids to deal with temptation. More specifically, I’m thinking about how I react to my kids when I realize they are facing a temptation.

Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about any one particular temptation, but temptation in general, from simple disobedience to the kind of temptation that leads down a destructive path. How do I react to my kids when I realize they are tempted?

I know what I want to do. I want to give them wise instruction. I want to inspire them with an example of my own success, or where I’ve failed, the success of others. I want to encourage a loving self-discipline that equips them to choose the wise path. I want them to succeed…even if that means I have to force success on them.

Did you see where I crossed the line? It’s that last sentence.

Temptation can be a scary thing. Give in to the wrong thing and the consequences you face may be irreversible. I don’t want my kids to play with fire. They might get burned. So, out of fear and concern, discipline comes prematurely. Instead of correcting bad behavior we correct at the first glimmer of temptation. It’s compounded by the fact I’m disappointed they found that tempting in the first place. We overreact and underestimate. Instead of offering wise counsel that leads our children to choose for themselves we remove from them the responsibility for making the choice in the first place. And with that form of discipline we make the temptation for the child even more enticing.

Yes. We protected them from one thing but created in them a curiosity that won’t be satisfied until they experience the victory that comes from choosing for themselves.

It’s a fine line we walk as parents. Every child is different, every situation unique. We must learn to discern when it’s time, to step in the way to protect, or to step out of the way and let our child discover what they’re capable of.

Give your child room.

Don’t be disappointed when they are tempted. Be proud of how they overcome.

Temptation: The Appetites that Define Our Choices

Starting the book of James today. Five chapters, five days. Another entire book of the Bible! Keep reading!


James 1

I like chocolate. Ice cream is my desert of choice. Me and cookies and milk, we get along. I have an appetite for these things. I find them tempting. When I’m the least bit hungry, even when I’m not hungry at all, if they are nearby, I find myself struggling to decide. To eat or not to eat.

Coffee is a different story. So are vegetables. I’ve never once struggled over whether or not to eat brussels sprouts. No matter how much brown sugar and bacon you cook them in green beans have never caught my attention. Put as much cheese as you want on the broccoli I still won’t eat it. I don’t find these things tempting.

I find then a principle. Temptation is about my appetite. It’s about what I like, what I want, what I desire. It leads to a conclusion. If I want to overcome sin I have to overcome temptation. My appetite for sinful things has to shrink while my hunger and thirst for righteousness must grow.

That’s not any more natural for me than waking up tomorrow and craving turnips.

That’s not any more natural for me than waking up tomorrow and hating chocolate.

For my diet to be different something has to change…in me. More specifically, something has to change me.

Overcoming temptation isn’t about turning over a new leaf. When you do, you just find old dirt. It’s not about will power. A person can only endure so long. It’s about a change of heart that leads to a change of appetites expressed as a change of choices.

That only comes by the grace and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ.

What temptations trip you up? What sinful desires will you give in to today? Don’t be fooled. You weren’t tricked. You’re not stupid. You may be weak, but your weakness is understandable. We sin because we like it. We’re tempted by that sin because we find it attractive. We pursue wrong things because we have an appetite for sin.

James 1:13-14 says, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.  Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.

Today, you will face temptation. How will you overcome? Here’s how I handle it.

  1. PRAY – ask God to remove you from temptation. Ask him to change your appetite for sin and give you a hunger and thirst for righteousness.
  2. KNOW – Do you know what tempts you? Where are you weak? How are you strong? Understand the limits of your faith. Recognize temptation. When you give in, go with your eyes wide open and understand the consequences of your choice. Better yet…
  3. PLAN – to avoid those things that tempt you. Don’t go where they are. Don’t stay when they show up. Don’t watch, listen, look, flirt with, or entertain the notion. Decide beforehand how you will respond when tempted. Rehearse your reaction. Practice your reply. Decide now.
  4. REPENT & FORGIVE – you will face temptation. Sometimes you will give in. Be quick to repent. Once you’ve repented forgive yourself. God has. Now go do better.
  5. PRACTICE – practice is the systematic process of overcoming small failures and reinforcing right choices. Make righteous choices in small bites. Do the simple right thing in this moment before things get too overwhelming to attempt. Like learning to drink coffee, take small sips before you gulp. When you get burned by temptation clean up the mess and try again. Practice is how we improve.

Temptation doesn’t have to run your life. God will help you overcome.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who fills my life, helps me along the way and convicts me of sin, righteousness and judgement. Today, fill me with your Spirit and the fruits of your Spirit. Protect me and my family from sin, temptation and harm. Remove my appetite for sin and replace it with a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Help me recognize temptation when I see it. Help me know what to do. Give me the strength and the courage to make the right choice. Help me do this for your glory and the good of  myself and my family. Thank you.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

A Prayer for My Family

My daughter was born with respiratory problems. She spent the first 4 days of her life in the EOPC at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, OK. There was an IV in her foot, breathing mask on her face and they kept her in a well lit pod you had to reach into in order touch her. It was scary. Thankfully, she recovered relatively quickly.

She came home with an IV in her head. We had to administer antibiotics daily. There I was, a first-time father, with a beautiful baby girl, completely powerless to take away the hurt, fix the problem and make her healthy. At one point, as I held her and she received another round of medicine, I realized, no matter how much I may want to, I will never be able to protect this girl from all the hurts this world can inflict on her.

It was an overwhelming thought.

When I’m overwhelmed I pray. While I’ll never be able to protect my daughter from a broken heart, or save her from the bad choices of stupid people, I know the One who can. So I turned my thoughts toward God and began to poor out my heart to Him. It’s a simple prayer I continue to pray for my family and myself to this day. It goes like this:

“Father, protect my family from sin, temptation & harm.”

Short, sweet, to the point – but there’s a depth of meaning just beneath the surface of every word.

Protect my family from SIN.

I’ll be honest. I’m a knucklehead. I’m going to make mistakes. Sometimes I’ll just step it in it. Others, I’ll deliberately run headlong the wrong direction simply because I want to. Either way, my sin has consequences. God forgives my sin. Even through His forgiveness sin often comes with consequences. I may deserve these consequences, but God, please rescue my wife and my kids from the consequences of my bad choices. Do what you want with me, but don’t make them pay the price for my bad choices.

Protect my family from TEMPTATION.

Let’s face it. We sin because we like it. If it were ugly, nasty or gross it wouldn’t be tempting. But it’s not those things. Sin is always attractive. It usually looks like a good idea at the time. We choose it. We stumble, not because we’re stupid, but we have an appetite for sin. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus prayed, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” What if we asked God to change our appetite for sin? What if we asked Him to give us a hunger and thirst for righteousness? What if sin became repulsive and righteousness became our driving thirst?

Protect my family from HARM.

Our world is a dangerous place. We’re going to face problems caused by other people, circumstances or simply because life happens. God can protect us from harm. Matthew 28:18, Jesus says, “…all authority has been given to me on heaven and earth.” Jesus has all authority over all things. He can use his power on your behalf. He can do this to fix things. He can do this to protect. He can do this to save. Sometimes, when we face the potential for harm Jesus will use His power on our behalf.

Matthew 28:20 says, “…and lo, I am with you always…” Sometimes Jesus doesn’t fix the problem. Sometimes He allows the hurt to happen. When He doesn’t use His power on your behalf He promises to walk through the situation with you. We may not understand, we may not agree, we may not like it, but sometimes the hurt is necessary. The Bible says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” When Jesus doesn’t use His authority on your behalf to protect or to fix He will walk through the situation with you and produce in you a story that will ultimately benefit you and others. It becomes the epic tales we tell of battles won, insurmountable odds overcome and the glory of our God at work in us, through us and sometimes even in spite of us.

How will you pray for yourself and your family today? Perhaps this simple prayer is a good place to start.

“God, protect my family from sin, temptation & harm. In Jesus name I pray. AMEN.”