Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Reveal who you are.
Set the world right.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil."
(The Lord's Prayer in Luke 11 from "The Message")

"Keep us safe from ourselves..."  There is an old Clint Black song where the refrain goes:
"Wherever you go there you are
You can run from yourself but you won't get far
You can dive to the bottom of your medicine jar
But wherever you go there you are"

Most of my temptations and struggles come from inside me. Going somewhere else, or self medicating myself will not work for long.

I am a person capable of great good and generosity. And I have a dark side capable of great evil and self-centered egotism.

Buddha recognized this inner battle and argued that desire needed to be eliminated. St. Paul recognized this. He wrote to the Colossian Christians: "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." Colossians 3:5

Both recognized that it this is not the path of least resistance but that it will take a lifetime of effort.

For lazy people like me, we want this to be a one time deal. I prayed as a young person for God to free me from those temptations in Paul's list, sexual immorality,lust, greed. I wanted an instant cure.

It took me a while to realize that the putting the selfish, greedy, self-centered part of me to death was a daily, hourly, sometimes minute by minute way of living.

AA has a line, "Fake it till you make it." By that people mean: "Do the actions of a sober person even when they feel unnatural to you. Eventually the reverse will happen."

Ask for help from God, and then take a cue from Paul's advice a few verses later: "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

In other words when temptation comes, go and find something good and positive to do and do it.

And when you blow it or someone else blows it then take his advise from the next line: "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

Obviously Paul and many other wise people who have traveled this road know the ups and downs themselves, and have wisdom to give us.

Finally, don't try to do this alone as he says a few verses later: "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts."

Share your struggles and victories, prayers and worship with each other. Paul seems to think that the message of Christ lives not just in us, but among us. This spiritual life is not a solo journey but a corporate one.

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