How to Resist Temptation Like Jesus

The Lord's strategy in the Judean Wilderness also works today.

Everybody faces temptation. And on some level, everybody has fallen to it. Everybody but Jesus. I have walked in the wilderness where Satan tempted Jesus.

Judean wilderness

(Photo: Judean wilderness. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Good grief, what a place. As far as my eye could see, it was empty, dry, and depressing. I tried to imagine the solitude and struggle Jesus would have endured for over a month. But I could not.

How did Jesus resist temptation here?

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Your Heart is a Reservoir for Truth

Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah mirror how God gave both rain and His Word for life.

I recently had a man in his 60s tell me, “I have to spend daily time reading the Bible. I mean every single day. I need it.” His words simply affirmed what the Bible makes clear for all of us.

Reading the Bible—Your Heart is a Reservoir of Truth

(Photo: A cistern near Michmash. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God used a simple, physical resource like rain water to teach the spiritual truth that He alone is the true source of life. This truth hasn’t changed for us. The need for water illustrates the need for truth—both essential for life.

When the rainy season begins in Israel each fall, the High Holidays draw to a close with the celebration of the holiday, Shemini Atzeret, which means, “the assembly of the eighth [day].” (The holiday originates from Leviticus 23:36.) Following the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, the act of bringing a sacrifice to God was replaced with the tradition of praying for rain, called Tefilat Geshem, the only exclusive ritual of Shemini Atzeret.

Where there is water in Israel, there is life. And where there isn’t water? The rule in antiquity was simple. Pray for rain and dig a cistern.

If you’re feeling dry in your spiritual life, there’s only one way to slake your thirst.

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What Do You Think of When You Hear a Rooster?

One morning when I was in Jerusalem, I chose to have my devotions on the Mount of Olives at sunrise. Making my way through the Old City’s dark and narrow streets, I passed beside the Temple Mount and exited the city on its east side.

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

(Photo: Overlooking Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Photo: צולם ע, via Wikimedia Commons)

After climbing the steep ascent of the Mount of Olives, I sat near its summit as the sun began to warm my back. Turning to Matthew’s Gospel, I read about Jesus leaving the Temple, predicting its destruction, and sitting on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24:1–5).

Looking across the Kidron Valley at the Temple Mount—now crowned with a Muslim shrine—I thought about how Jesus’ prediction proved true. Because Israel rejected Him, they ultimately lost the very objects they hoped to secure through His death—their Temple and their nation (John 11:48).

Suddenly I heard a sound that jerked my mind in another direction.

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My Biblical Encounter with a Russian Prostitute

I discovered there isn’t time to ponder your reaction when propositioned by a prostitute. Your first response is your response. It happened to me in a Russian hotel.

My Experience with the Bible and a Russian Prostitute

(Photo: St. Basils Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square. By Soerfm. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I went with some missionaries to Moscow to help train national pastors. On our first morning, I headed to the hotel lobby to meet our team. Stepping out of the elevator, I scanned the lobby for others in our group. I saw no one I knew.

A small group of ladies at the bar sat and chatted with each other. All of them, that is, except one. This one very attractive woman was smiling and staring—straight at me.

As our eyes met, I suddenly remembered someone told me that prostitutes sat in the bar, looking for customers. This woman kept smiling and then leaned forward—and a literal chill ran up my back. I can still feel it. I froze.

At that moment, I heard three very distinctive words in my head.

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10 Ways Woodworking Affirms Your Spiritual Life (Part 2)

Years ago my wife bought me a table saw for Christmas, and I’ve enjoyed the first hobby I’ve had in my life. I like what the Canadian born physician, Sir William Osler, once told an audience of medical professionals:

No man is really happy or safe without a hobby, and it makes precious little difference what the outside interest may be—botany, beetles or butterflies; roses, tulips or irises; fishing, mountaineering or antiques—anything will do as long as he straddles a hobby and rides it hard.

The master carpenter scrapes it smooth.

(Photo: by Just plain Bill. Own work, CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

But woodworking is more than a hobby. It has marvelous metaphors for your spiritual life.

In an earlier post, I shared the first half of 10 ways I’ve discovered that woodworking affirms your spiritual life:

  1. You will have to cut cross grain, so stay sharp.
  2. Good tools save you time and give you better results.
  3. You can do a lot more than you think with the little you have.
  4. Following a plan gets you where you want to go with greater success.
  5. Mistakes always teach you, and they rarely ruin the piece.

In this post, let’s complete the list it’s taken me years to write.

What would you add to the list?

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10 Ways Woodworking Affirms Your Spiritual Life (Part 1)

My favorite Jewish carpenter other than Jesus is Norm Abram. I’m a weekend woodworker, and the hobby has done more than just save me money and provide a healthy diversion for my mind.

It’s more than sawdust and saw blades. For me, it’s also spiritual.

10 Ways Woodworking Affirms Your Spiritual Life (Part 1)

(Photo: Completing a recent project)

During the many hours I’ve spent woodworking, I’ve come to realize how much of the craft relates to our walk with God. I’m not alone. The Shakers of the 19th-century viewed the craftsmanship of their unique furniture as an extension of their worship of God.

I want to share with you 10 ways I’ve discovered that woodworking affirms the spiritual life. I’ll do this in two posts.

For fun, I’ll also show you some pictures of stuff I’ve built.

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How to Quit Slapping Your Spiritual Snooze Button

I never trust myself with a snooze button. It’s too easy to tell myself, “Just 5 more minutes,” about 7 more times. Plus, snoozing never helps! I feel just as tired after snoozing as I did beforehand. I gain nothing. I’ve only lost time.

How to Quit Slapping Your Spiritual Snooze Button

(Photo by diego_cervo, via Vivozoom)

The problem of “mind over mattress” is one we all face, and we all deal with it in different ways.

  • Some people set the alarm earlier to allow for the snooze.
  • Others put the clock out of reach so they have to get up to turn off the alarm.
  • Others tell themselves, Tomorrow I’ll begin to get up on time; but not today.

Spiritually speaking, we’re often called to “wake up” and get moving.

The problem? We’re tempted to slap the snooze button.

But when we do, we never gain anything.

We only lose precious time.

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The Southern Steps and Psalms of Ascent Reminders

Who would have ever thought to use stairs as a memory-trigger? At the southern edge of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, a 200-foot wide flight of stairs represents both original and restored steps from the Second Temple period.

The Southern Steps and Psalms of Ascent Reminders

(Photo: Reading the Psalms of Ascent on the Southern Steps. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Millions of sandals (including Jesus’) shuffled up these steps in antiquity as Jewish pilgrims came from all Israel and the Diaspora to worship the Lord for the annual feasts.

Some suggest the pilgrims sang the Psalms of Ascent on these steps. If so, the place brought to mind critical themes.

The place echoes of our need to be reminded of what we already know.

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How to Fix Foundation Problems in Your Spiritual Life

Years ago, my grandmother’s 1909 house got a fresh layer of wallpaper. But only weeks later, I noticed in a high corner the wallpaper had buckled, and in some places, it had even split.

Fix Foundation Problems in Your Spiritual Life

(My grandmother’s house, built in 1909)

When I asked her about it she said: “Oh, the house needs foundation work. Every time the seasons change and the wind blows a different direction, the whole house shifts.”

That made sense. For years I shaved inches off most of the doors trying to get them to close. But the repair only lasted until the wind shifted again.

Look closely at the lives of your friends and family. Maybe even your own life.

You’ll see this old house’s problem in vivid display.

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How to Ponder Scripture Every Time You Stop

Not long ago I stopped at a stop sign so intriguing that I doubled back to take its picture. Here it is.

Stop and Ponder Scripture

(Picture I took: Stop and Ponder Scripture)

What a great sign! After snapping the picture, I pulled to the side of the road and watched the next five cars that pulled up to the stop sign. Only one stopped. The rest rolled on through.

Later, I got to thinking about the intersection. “STOP—Ponder Scripture.” The command is there—and at a crossroads many stop at every day. Yet the surrounding neighborhood seems unaffected. They see the stop sign—but not the street sign.

I confess that, at times, I do too.

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