Temptation Tracker, BLAST (Parts 1-3)

It has been several posts since we looked at the temptation tracker.  Much has gone on since I started writing about the Temptation Tracker.  We had the Online Conference with the Southern Baptists of Texas so we posted all of those videos from the conference.  We just had another baby boy so I wanted to post pics of him.  Also, I just posted about End of the Year Giving.

Now I feel like it is time to get back to the Temptation Tracker.  With that said, I am going to post the three blog posts I did back in September and October on the Temptation Tracker.  My next blog post will be Part 4 of the Temptation Tracker, and my next several posts will deal exclusively with the Temptation Tracker.

Temptation Tracker, BLAST-Part 1

My next several blog posts will have to do with the temptation tracker.  I am trying something new.  I believe that God has given me some unique insight on this.  Therefore, I am asking this about every blog I post on the Temptation Tracker.  Can you post the link to the blog on your facebook or twitter, etc?  I do not use social media because of my past struggles with pornography, and there are many things on social media that could potentially trip me up.  I would just rather avoid the temptation completely (this is the same reason I don’t have a smart phone).  But I also know that social media is a powerful communication tool.  I would love for this insight that God has given me to be communicated to as many as possible.  If you so desire, you can also post this link to a sermon I did about the temptation tracker specifially:

Temptation Tracker Sermon

Just a reminder about where this came from.  I spoke at a school a few years ago, and I met a guy who had come up with a temptation tracker to help folks track lustful temptation.  I have since found that this helps us track all temptation to bow down to idols.  First, we must identify what that idol is, and the tracker can help you determine the root issue behind your idolatry struggle.

I always like to give credit where it is due:

Temptation Tracker (created by Doug Hutchins with goingtransparent.com)

To see more on this on my site, click on this link: TempationTrackerPage

One of the things the temptation tracker helps us identify is what emotionally triggers us to bow down to other idols.  Every time a person is tempted to bow down to a false idol, they need to account for what they were feeling emotionally during that temptation.  It looks like this-

Feeling: how were you feeling when temptation hit (Remember: BLAST)

  • Bored
  • Lonely
  • Afraid
  • Angry
  • Stressed
  • Sad
  • Shame
  • Tired

Let’s look at B, the issue of boredom.

I believe that being bored is actually a purpose problem.  We live in a culture where we believe the purpose of our life is to actually be entertained.  If I am not constantly entertained, then boredom can set in.  I have found this to really be hurting the young men in our American culture.  The American church is not exempt.  Many churches have resorted to entertaining those who come into their worship services.  Why?  If I am not entertained, then I may get bored.

The reality is we were not created for the purpose of being entertained.  We were created for the purpose of worshiping the One who created us and redeemed us at the cross.

Consider Colossians 1:13-22.

  • Followers of Jesus were rescued from the Kingdom of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of Light.
  • Followers of Jesus were purchased by Christ’s blood on the cross and are forgiven of all sins.
  • Jesus is Creator of all things, and all things (including us) were created to worship Him.
  • Jesus sustains all of creation.
  • Jesus is the head of the Church, and He has first place in everything.
  • Through Christ we can be reconciled to God the Father.
  • Followers of Jesus used to be engaged in evil, but because of Him, we are now holy and blameless.

I have been rescued from darkness by Jesus so I worship Jesus!  

I have been forgiven by Jesus so I worship Jesus!

I have been created by Jesus so I worship Jesus!

Jesus sustains creation so I worship Jesus!

Jesus has first place in all things so I worship Jesus!

I have been reconciled to God the Father by Jesus so I worship Jesus!

In Jesus, God the Father sees me as holy and blameless so I worship Jesus!

What does this look like?

When I wake up in the morning and get ready, I am worshiping Jesus.  When I spend time with Jesus, I am worshiping Jesus. When I eat breakfast, I am worshiping Jesus.  When I go to work, I am worshiping Jesus.  When I eat lunch, I am worshiping Jesus.  When I continue working, I am worshiping Jesus.  When I get home and eat dinner, I am worshiping Jesus.  When I engage my wife and children in the evening, I am worshiping Jesus.  When I put my younger kids to bed, I am worshiping Jesus.  When I lay down to go to bed, I am worshiping Jesus.  No matter what I am doing, I am worshiping Jesus.  If this sounds redundant, it is meant to sound that way.  All of life is about worshiping Jesus.  I was created for that, and I was redeemed by Christ at the cross to do that.

If I am not worshiping Him when I am doing life, then there is a good chance I am worshiping myself.

When I worship myself, I often times can be looking to be entertained.  When I constantly need to be entertained, boredom can set in.  When boredom sets in, I lack purpose.  When I am experiencing a lack of purpose, I am really prone to temptation to bow down to idolatry.

What’s the point?

I can find purpose in whatever I am doing if I am doing it to worship the One who created me and died and rose again on my behalf.

Are you bored?

Are you lacking purpose?

Can you see how Christ wants you to worship Him in everything?

Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to worship Christ and Christ alone!

I want this to be the aim of my life, and I want it to be what I model for my children-Created to be entertained? NO WAY! Created to worship the Creator!

Pray that God will help me to live out this aim.  Pray that He would help you do the same thing!

If boredom is potentially leading us to idolatry, let’s run to Jesus and find our purpose in worshiping Him!

Temptation Tracker, BLAST-Part 2

Let’s again look at B, the issue of boredom.

In my last post I said that I believe boredom is actually a purpose problem.  I do not exist to be entertained, but I exist to worship my Creator!

Let me give you a link to an interesting article.  This article shows that many young men are choosing video games over work.  Work is too boring and unfulfilling the article says.  Click here to read:

Chicago Tribune Article

May God help us in this nation!!!

Enough of that rant.  Back to my thoughts on boredom.  Another way to really address boredom is through serving the less fortunate.  Boredom feeds my entertainment desire, and the desire to constantly be entertained can produce intense selfishness.

What is the cure for this?

Serve others!

Isaiah 58:6-11 says this:

Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke?  Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?  Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. 

When I am selfish, I tend to only be thinking about myself.  In my experience, if I am bored, then I am typically being selfish.  What if I lived out Isaiah 58?  Let’s back up.  What would motivate me to live out Isaiah 58?  Answer=The Gospel!

Christ is MAJESTIC, and I don’t measure up to His greatness.  I deserve hell, but because Christ is MESSIAH, He rescues me from sin and hell.  This motivates me to let Him be MASTER of my life.  When He is in charge of my life, then I will live out His MISSION.

Part of His mission is serving the less fortunate.  Questions to ask yourself?

  • Am I currently in bondage?  Am I helping others out of bondage?
  • Am I serving the poor?  If so, how?
  • Am I feeding the hungry?  If so, how?

Please note serving the poor and feeding the hungry can be the physically poor and hungry, and it can also be the spiritually poor and hungry.

When I am in those darkest of places, do I live out Isaiah 58?  When I allow boredom to lead me to idolatry, do I live out Isaiah 58?

Practical ideas:

  • Focus on God’s creation to help elevate His Majesty in your life (See Job 38 & 39 or Isaiah 40)
  • Worship Him in song that He is Messiah (Sing Jesus Messiah, by Chris Tomlin)
  • Let Him be Master (Constantly ask yourself throughout the day, “Who is master of my life?”)
  • Live on Mission (What neighbor needs me to serve them?  What local shelter or mission could I volunteer at?  What child with Compassion International could I sponsor?)

Please note to sponsor a child with Compassion, click here:

http://www.compassion.com/

My light will break forth like the dawn when I am living for Him and Him alone.  When I live for Him alone, I will serve those who are in bondage, poor, hungry, etc.

What if every believer in your local church did exactly that this week?  What impact would be made for God’s Kingdom!

Would we only live for Him and His Kingdom!

Temptation Tracker, BLAST-Part 3

Let’s look at L, the issue of feeling lonely.

I really understand loneliness.  I wish I didn’t, but I really do understand it because I have experienced it a great deal in my life.  There are a variety of reasons why I have battled feeling lonely, but the bottom line is I truly know what this feels like.

However, me feeling lonely is not as big of a deal as knowing that Jesus felt this way.  If you read Matthew 26, you will find Jesus in the garden praying right before He is to die on the cross.  While praying, He asks His disciples to pray with Him.  They continue to fall asleep on Him.  As He is praying, it seems He is in intense distress, and His closest friends are not with Him.  Wow!

His loneliness continues in Matthew 27 on the cross.  As He bears the weight of mankind’s sin on His back, God the Father turns His back on Jesus.  Christ cries out, “Why have you forsaken me?”.

It is encouraging to know that Jesus Christ struggled just like you and I struggle.  Hebrews 4 tells us that we have a Great High Priest who understands our weakness.  How does He understand?  He experienced being lonely.

Genesis 2 tells us that it is not good to be alone.  This is before the fall.  Perfect garden with perfect man with perfect God, and there is loneliness.  God said being alone is not good.  Wow!

Loneliness is not a sin, but God does not want me to stay in a place of loneliness.  What do I need to do when I am lonely?  If I am not careful, feeling lonely will lead me to bowing down to idolatry.

Here are some practical ideas I have to combat loneliness:

  1. Remember that Jesus wants relationship with me.  My sin keeps me from relationship with God, but God made a way through Jesus for me to have a relationship with Him.  It is possible you are lonely because you don’t have a relationship with Jesus.  You need to come to faith in God.  How?  Surrender yourself to Him by repenting of your sin and receiving the free gift of Jesus.
  2. Remember Jesus wants to dine with me.  Revelation 3:20 communicates to me that Jesus Christ wants to have an intimate relationship with me and spend time with me.  When I am lonely, I am usually resistant to spending that time with Jesus.  I must remember that He wants that intimacy with Him and spending time with Him helps me in my loneliness.
  3. Surround myself with people who point me to Jesus.  In Mark 2, there is a paralyzed man who can’t get to Jesus.  He had four friends who literally carried him to Jesus.  I need friends in my life who will point me to Christ.  Many times when I feel lonely, I don’t want to reach out to people that are connected to me.  One of the greatest things I can do is to reach out to those one or two people in my life who will remind me to take my loneliness to Jesus.
  4. Sometimes there will be times when I don’t want to reach out to Jesus or my closest friends.  These are usually really dark times.  I have found one Psalm to really help me during that time.  That Psalm is Psalm 88.  I think it is the loneliest Psalm in the Bible.  There is really no resolution to it either.  I am glad that chapter is in Scripture because it helps me to know I can talk to God that way when I feel super lonely.

All of these above ideas have helped me in my loneliness, but I want to specifically focus on #4.  One of the loneliest times in my life was when my son, Caleb Micah, was born stillborn.  It was brutally hard.  His death came right after our church plant had collapsed.  I was in a really dark place.

I stumbled on Psalm 88.  One night in particular I was having a really tough time, and I went outside to work in my yard to take my mind off of how I felt.  I started trimming hedges.  The next thing I knew I had destroyed those hedges.  I decided to just take them out of the flower beds.  There were 6 of them.  I used a tool to cut the limbs of the hedges down to where all that was left were 6 stumps.

At this point I am really crying out to God about how I feel and how lonely I am and how my heart is not in a good place.  I start using a shovel to pull the stumps out by the roots.  I finally get to my last stump.  As I am pulling on the last couple of roots, I trip and fall.  On the ground, I just look up to heaven and cry.  I felt so lonely, but somehow in that moment I knew God was with me.

I look back on that night as a turning point for me.  Jesus met me in my loneliness as I was destroying those shrubs.  It would have been much easier for me to run to anything idolatrous there (examples: distract myself with going back to work, go watch porn, go watch sports, play a bunch of video games, eat a bunch, etc.)

I am so thankful to the Lord that He gave me some shrubs to destroy so I could cry out to Him in my place of deep loneliness.  That was my Psalm 88 moment.  I took my loneliness to Christ, and I was finally able to see that He was with me.

Where are you today?  Wherever you are, don’t take your loneliness to idolatry.  Take it to the feet of Jesus!

 

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