Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity

Satan’s Three Lies

posted by Carolyn Henderson

This is Archie Goodwin, whose expression gives us an idea of how we should approach the lies Satan feeds us. Keep your eyes open, and stay alert. Don’t let him step on you.

If you read the Gospels at all, at some point you’ll run into the temptation of Jesus, by Satan, in the desert, since the story is in three out of four of the books (Matthew 4: 1-11; Mark 1: 12, 13; and Luke 4: 1-13).

Like many accounts in the Bible, it’s easy to read through these quickly and say, “Oh, yeah, I’ve seen that before,” and not slow down to focus on what the passage is saying. What it’s saying, however, is pretty important to us, because it shows us the three major ways that Satan tempts, teases, and tortures us because those are the three options he offered to Jesus:

Jesus “was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” (Luke 4: 1)

What are these temptations?

The Bare Necessities

1) We doubt that God will meet our basic needs. At the end of 40 days of no eating, Jesus was hungry, so Satan told Him,

“If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

We ourselves use a variation of this when we pray to God, “If you’re really God, then provide me with the rent money. And the car insurance is due next week.”

God knows we need food. And clothes. And He understands that, though we no longer walk around in robes and herd sheep for a living, the exigencies of modern life are heavy upon us:

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matthew 6: 31-32)

That’s what Jesus tells us. What we can tell Satan is what Jesus told him, earlier:

“It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.'” (Luke 4: 4) Satan wants you to doubt God; God wants you to trust Him. Choose.

Money. Power. Stuff.

2) We want the good things in life, and those good things aren’t free.

Luke 4: 5 tells us that “the devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.'”

The beauty of God’s creation is meant for all of us, not just a select, greedy few. Field of Dreams, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

Most humans can be bought for far less, and they have been. In the big leagues, we find elite cadres of beings who control world markets, media, politics, and people, but on a smaller level, we all succumb to Satan’s lie when we don’t mention, to the person interested in buying our car, that it inexplicably stalls at random times, and the mechanic can’t figure out what’s wrong with it.

We’re so desperate to get that few hundred dollars that we’ll lie — and face it, holding back information that you have, they don’t, and will make a difference in the final sale, is a lie.

Jesus tells us, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6: 33). By the time we seek, and find God’s kingdom and righteousness, the stuff we were looking for before won’t matter as much, and Satan’s offer may not seem so tempting. But it will continue to be so when we seek the riches of the world first, foremost, and primarily over the kingdom of God.

Believing the Lie over Trusting the Truth

3) We distrust the innate, and inerrant, goodness, compassion, and mercy of God.

“The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down from here. For it is written — “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully.”‘” (Luke 4: 9-10)

We’ve all experienced prayers that go apparently unanswered, and when things don’t go our way, it is very, very tempting (there’s that word) to believe that God has forgotten about us, or He prefers other people to us.

“Prove to me that you love me, God,” we pray. “Give me a sign.”

And while there is nothing wrong, in and of itself, to ask God to show us, somehow, in what direction to go, it’s a sure recipe for failure to make the existence, or not, of any sign the evidence of God’s care for us. He’s already told us, multiple times, that we matter to Him:

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41: 10)

Either we believe Him, or we don’t; either He’s telling the truth, or He’s lying. If He’s telling the truth, then it’s offensive to ask Him to prove Himself (“Do not put the Lord your God to the test” Luke 4: 12). If He’s lying, then we have no hope at all, and it’s a waste of time my writing this column.

Those are the three major lies, and knowing what they are and that they will be used against us — regularly — is the first step toward not falling into their pit.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4: 7)

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I write on a regular basis about us regular people, and how we follow our extraordinary God. We do it one by one, personally, in a relationship with Him, and we do not need any mediator — priest, pastor, psychologist, or pop culture Christian celebrity — to “help” us with this.

Posts similar to this one are

Why You (Probably) Shouldn’t Pray for a Sign

When Our Dreams Never Come True

Trust God and Get Your Jammies on

 

Worthless in the World’s Eyes

posted by Carolyn Henderson

Lots of things, like children, are considered worthless in the world’s eyes. Do we need to accept this way of thinking? Wild Child, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

Tradition is great stuff. If you attend church, you know that once a year you’ll read Luke Chapter 2 — the birth of Jesus, and given the amount of actual Bible reading that too many Christians do throughout the rest of the year, this may be the only time they see it.

Which is too bad, because we’re so caught up with lighting candles and preparing Advent speeches and trying to find the baby Jesus statue of the Nativity set, that we miss the overwhelming significance of this One-Time-in-the-Universe event.

This was it, folks — the fulfillment of a promise made long long ago in the garden, where Adam and Eve hung their heads in shame because they messed it up, big time, for all of us. There was absolutely no way they could fix what they broke, because, “your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing. There is no one to plead your cause, no remedy for your sore, no healing for you.” (Jeremiah 30: 12-13)

God Alone Could Fix This

Only God could fix this, and on that night in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago, He sent His Son, our Redeemer and Savior, in the form of a baby. God never does things the way we expect Him to. Human logic dictates that He should have sent an elite squadron of heavenly hosts in black op, with Angels emblazoned across the back.

But back to Luke: take a close look at verses Luke 2: 8-20, in which the angels — THERE they are! — appear to a group of “shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.”

Have you ever wondered why they appeared to shepherds, other than that, thousands of years later, shepherds would make a great addition to the figurine collection in a Nativity set?

Shepherding 101

We don’t have a lot of shepherds in our societies today, and the average university student doesn’t embark upon a degree leading to Shepherding Management and Business Techniques, with a minor in Goats. Shepherds, in Jesus’ day, were the equivalent of office drones in ours, or retail clerks — hardworking hourly wage earners who put in long hours for little pay, receive little or no recognition for their skills, ambitions, intellect or cognitive abilities, and have no need to keep Linked In profiles because they’re not considered professionals, at all.

They’re — in the world’s eyes — nobodies.

Like me. Without meaning to sound like Eeyore, I’m a nobody, an ordinary person who doesn’t know what a stock option looks like, a writer who is — according to a recent article about these things — “one of a large population of underpaid bloggers providing content for little or nothing.” (Ouch.) There are millions of us — ordinary people who are tired of being talked to and instructed and manipulated and controlled, and our primary fault is that we let people do this to us: we buy their books. We read about them in People Magazine. We Tweet about their inanity. We make Facebook memes of their funny, or pithy, statements.

We feed and feed and feed the egos and bank accounts of all sorts of people who account themselves important for no other reason than that they — and we — think they are. Money does talk, doesn’t it?

Who Got the Message?

And yet, when it came time to announcing the most important event in the world, the people who learned about it first (other than Mary and Joseph, a couple of other nobodies), were a bunch of office workers; er, homemakers; no store clerks; uh, under-and un-employed workers; nah, people — just ordinary people whom nobody thinks about most of the time because they are so extraordinarily unimportant.

Ordinary people, doing ordinary things — this is human history from the beginning, and it’s the part that matters to most of us. Sophie and Rose, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

There were plenty of professorial persons nearby. And clerics, religious leaders, political statesmen, successful business owners, military personnel, even middle managers — but the angels did not appear to any of these. They made their announcement to unimportant people — so unimportant that they’re not given a name in the Bible, but so significant that the Christmas Story is not complete without them.

And “they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Luke 2: 16-18)

In the eyes of the world, my friend, you’re worthless. Politically, socially, financially, academically, religiously — if you’re not in the elite group, or even the lower-level important ones, you’re a loser, and we ordinary people spend a lot of time dealing with the collateral damage and fallout that these elite people create.

But God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11), and since “a man can receive only what is given him from heaven,” (John 3: 27), we shouldn’t expect that our position in life would be so important to God that He chooses to communicate with us, or not, based upon it.

God has a purpose for all of His children.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity where I remind you, my ordinary brother and sister, that mega-corporations and conglomerates are religious as well, and Christianity has been infiltrated with big corporations that call themselves Christian, but act oppositionally.

When you find yourself talking to someone in a “calling center,” ask yourself, “What is it about this corporation that makes me think it actually cares about me, as a person? And if I’m just another number to it, why do I trust it so?”

Posts similar to this one are

The Gifts We Give to God — When We Have Nothing Acceptable to Give

False Leaders, Speaking in Our Name

Christian Leadership and Ordinary People

The Gifts We Give to God — When We Have Nothing Acceptable to Give

posted by Carolyn Henderson

We learn to love, because someone bigger, wiser, and stronger loves us first. Beachside Diversions, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas and Framed Canvas Art.

When I was a very young child, I wanted desperately to give my mother a proper present, but being a child, I was unable to buy or make something of the quality that she deserved.

So I made regular raids into her bedroom, picking up an item that she already owned and loved, and wrapping it for her.

“Here,” I handed her an icon of the virgin Mary that I had pulled off the top of her dresser. “This is for you.”

“How delightful!” each time she accepted the gift as if 1) she didn’t already own it and 2) I hadn’t already given it to her. Some days, I gave her that icon three or four times.

Nothing Acceptable to Give

My own granddaughter, at five, does the same these days, and I regularly receive books, tea cups, and trinkets that I already own. And each time, like my mother before me, I receive them as they are intended: gifts from someone who wants desperately to give something, but has nothing acceptable to give.

So we are with God: He is the ultimate Gift Giver, the creator of everything including us, and there is nothing that we own or are that He hasn’t already supplied us with. Vaguely aware, like five-year-olds, of the disproportionate nature of our relationship, we seek to give Him something that is worthy of His receiving, only, like five year olds, we are incapable of creating anything of this quality.

“I give Him my love,”  people say. “and my worship, and my faith.”

You Didn’t Make These

That’s all fine and good, but they’re not yours, you know — we love Him because He loved us first (1 John 4: 19) and the very faith we need to believe in and trust Him generates from God Himself — John 6: 44 tells us, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,” and Ephesians 2: 9 reminds, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”

But too frequently we do boast, attributing our feelings of love, the songs we sing, our upright and righteous external activities, as gifts that we generate from within ourselves and graciously offer to His hands. We forget that any mercy, any grace, any kindness or compassion or form of righteousness that we exhibit, are essentially items on God’s dresser that we pull off and wrap.

What do we give the Person who made everything, including our lives and our souls? Child of Eden, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Framed Canvas Art.

In John 14: 23, Jesus tells us, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Because God lives within us, we tell ourselves that we should be good, always, and if we’re not, then we’re not real Christians somehow.

But Galatians 5: 7 reminds us that “the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature, They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

Saved, but Sinners

We are saved, but we must not forget that we are saved sinners, and as long as we live on this earth, we will battle with our flesh. Part of this battle means that we won’t always feel worshipful, grateful, patient, and trustful of God’s compassion and love in our lives. There will be a day when we long for and ache for something so badly, so achingly, so strongly — and God remains silent — that we lash out in anger and frustration.

And then immediately chastise ourselves because we’re not supposed to feel like that.

This happened to me. I had been in a state of prayer, for a long long time, for something — a wild irrational dream that only God could put in my heart — but which He did not choose to fulfill, or take away. Standing at the edge of the beach, with the Red Sea in front of me and Pharoah’s troops behind, I gave Him the only thing I had left within me to give:

I gave Him my frustration, my anger, my hurt, my pain, my envy, my malice, my bitterness, my total and absolute distrust in His word and His nature, and I dumped it all at His feet. It was a pathetic, ugly offering, but as far as anything I could generate or make, all on my own, it was all I had. I emptied myself of myself, and asked Him to fill me with Him.

It’s in the Bible as Well as in Our Hearts

If you can’t do this, if you can’t admit that these feelings abide deep, deep within you, then be Scriptural and just read God a verse:

“Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10: 1)

“Why have you forgotten me?” (Psalm 42: 9)

“Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?” (Jeremiah 15: 18)

These thoughts, deep in our hearts, are no surprise to God — but until we allow Him to show them to us, we will mistakenly think that we do not have them. And we will continue to pluck gifts off His dresser, wrap them up in our own paper, and offer them back to Him, as if we had actually created them ourselves.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity. Just today, I read a blog by a Christian castigating herself because she was impatient in her waiting, and she wasn’t rejoicing and singing through the long, long process of nothing-really-happening that she was going through.

Waiting is hard enough. Why make it worse by trying to be someone we are not, and insisting that we intrinsically possess attributes that only God can give us, and this only through our submitting to His Son?

Posts similar to this one are

When Our Dreams Never Come True

When You Can’t Take It Anymore

Praying for Something BIG? Five Points to Ponder

Bible Reading 101

posted by Carolyn Henderson

Bible reading, like any other activity we do in life, has to fit with how we move and think. Otherwise, we don’t do it. Dancer, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print available at iCanvasART and Framed Canvas Art.

Christianity is all about being honest, and if most of us were honest with one another — say, about reading the Bible — more of us than we think would have conversations like this:

“I know I should read the Bible, but I really don’t. It bores me. It’s too hard to read.

“But I do listen to the sermon every Sunday.

“And I have a devotional that gives me a verse or two at the top, and then explains it. I do that, and it’s okay.

“Do you think God’s mad at me?”

He’s Not Mad at Us

We spend a lot of time worrying about if God is mad at us. In a Father/Child relationship on earth, this would be considered dysfunctional, but within Christianity, it is the unfortunate norm.

No, God isn’t mad at you because you don’t read the Bible, but He does want you to read it for the simple reason that you can’t know who He is and what He’s like unless you get to know Him through this Book He gave us. If you’re not into reading it on a regular basis, let’s make it easier:

Get Your Sleep

1) You don’t have to get up at 4 a.m. I know, I know, we’re “supposed” to set aside a designated Quiet Time, but if that hasn’t worked for you by now, then it probably never will. That’s not how you operate.

Me? I sit down and just read the thing, generally at night, usually with people milling about the room. We’re all quietly reading or writing or drawing or doing homework. Without my arranging it this way, an evening reading of the Bible has become part of my life, simply because I haven’t made a big deal out of it.

It’s a Book

2) Just read it. Once you mention “Bible Study,” people will foist all sorts of books on you instructing you how to do this inductively, or deductively, or whatever -ely they come up with. While you may choose, someday, to sit down with notebook and highlighter and markers and do all sorts of cross referencing and note-taking, this is not someday.

Reading is supposed to be a pleasurable activity. When it isn’t, we don’t do it. Seaside Story, original painting by Steve Henderson, sold. Licensed open edition print available at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, Light in the Box, and Framed Canvas Art

Yes, it’s important to grow and study Scripture deeply, but if you don’t even start because the process sounds too difficult and time-consuming, then the end result is that you’re not reading the Bible at all.

Pick a book, any book, preferably one that is fairly straightforward and easy to read: Genesis, for example, reads like a story, while Isaiah, or Job, are filled with poetry and symbolism — a bit more difficult, that. Start, literally, at the beginning and read Genesis, as if you were reading a story. Then move on to Exodus as the story continues, and feel free to skip past all the instructions for building a tent-style tabernacle. Jump around. It’s not a sin.

Notes Help

3) A Study Bible is nice — one with notes below and introductions to the individual books, giving you an idea of when the action took place and where, who wrote the book, and why. Cross referencing verses take you to passages that relate to one another.

Try to avoid Bibles with notes and commentary written by a single (or multiple, actually) celebrity Christian, since you’ll effectively be learning from one man’s (or woman’s) perspective, and that’s never been God’s intention. And even when the notes are written by a composite team (I use the 1985 New International Study Bible), remember that while the Bible is inerrant, the notes are not.

Archaic, or Contemporary?

4) Speaking of Bibles, get something you can understand. There are many people out there who swear by the King James Version, but I’m not one of them. My daily e-mail features a Bible verse in KJV, and most of the time I have to look up the verse in my NIV to figure out what is being said.

I don’t speak, or write, in thees and thous, and faced with a Book full of them, I wouldn’t read it either. At the same time, the KJV comes highly recommended for its accuracy to the original, which is more than can be said for new, cool editions replacing God the Father and Jesus the Son with gender-neutral and politically correct language in the name of making the book “easier to read.”

To some extent, the Bible will never be “easier to read,” and if you dumb it down to the third grade level, you will lose nuances, meaning, and accuracy. In your average bookstore, you’ll find a wide variety of versions. Spend a little time with each version’s introduction, researching who put it together, and, as in item 3, stay away from products with a celebrity Christian on the front.

It’s Not All About You, or Me

5) Don’t worry about applying everything you read to your personal life. While the Bible is our guide to living, not every single verse is applicable to your life and situation, and if you only read it to find these verses, you’ll miss a lot.

Read the history in the Old Testament; steep yourself in the language of the Psalms; listen, truly listen to Jesus’ words in the Gospels. What you need will come back to you when you need it.

It’s True. Really.

6) Blow your mind. Approach the Bible with this thought: “This stuff is true. It’s not symbolic, it’s not a bunch of stories, it’s not incompatible with real life, because it is real life.”

The historical elements in the Bible — the parting of the Red Sea, Elijah raising the widow’s son from the dead, Jesus feeding 5,000 people — really happened, and for many of these miracles, there is not natural explanation other than that they are miracles.

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to read the Bible, and when we’re stuck on that thought, we move nowhere, and read nothing. Do what works for you, but do something.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I encourage believers to seek God, and not worry about other people’s methods for doing so. God’s ear is inclined to our cry, and He’s not the one making everything so difficult.

Posts similar to this one are

Reading the Bible Makes Me Fall Asleep

Reading through the Bible in a Year (YAWN)

False Leaders, Speaking in Our Name

Previous Posts

What Kind of Vibes Do We Give Off?
I saw an old photo the other day of a man I never knew. What leapt out from the faded ink and crumpled paper was kindness, a sense of humor, and generosity of spirit. He looked like someone I would like to meet, and given that we are eternal beings, I look forward to the day that we do. [caption

posted 7:54:14pm Nov. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Grasping the Goodness of God
For many years of my young middle adulthood, life was smooth. Not perfect, obviously -- when you raise a family of six on one ridiculously modest income, there's always the stress of making the mandated property tax, insurance payments, and assorted fees involved in living in a "civilized," bureauc

posted 9:09:40pm Nov. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Rich Christian, Poor Christian -- Which Are You?
I have just spent the last hour cleaning off my desk. To my left is a pile of papers that, if they were dollar bills, would buy me a weekend trip to Hawaii. And that's just envelopes and circulars: the stuff with identifiable information on it is burning in woodstove hell. Such is reality in the

posted 6:52:15pm Nov. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Why Standing up for Yourself -- at Church -- Is So Important
Just how obedient are Christians expected to be -- and who expects them to be this way? In recent posts, I've been discussing Christian submission toward leadership (Must We Obey Church Authorities? and Is It So Bad to Be a Lone Wolf Christian?), and you can't bring up that topic without someon

posted 8:12:10pm Nov. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Must We Obey Church Authorities?
Obedience, subservience to authority, submission, docility, accountability -- these concepts are so prominent, and so interwoven within many Christian circles, that you'd think they were the foundation upon which Christ taught. [caption id="attachment_1283" align="alignleft" width="365"] Whom do

posted 10:44:38pm Nov. 17, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.