Monday, Monday 

I have this morning off to go and get my car inspected. I dread sitting and waiting on my car, but what other choice do I have. I’ve always hated going to the mechanic. Now if my mechanic looked like the one above, I might not hate it so much, but alas, he doesn’t. In fact the mechanic that I go to is owned by a woman. They seem the most fair mechanics I’ve ever dealt with.


Temptation 

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But he answered, “It is written, 

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” 

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, 

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ 

and 

“‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” 

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, 

‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”. Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, 

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” 

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:1-11
As the passage above shows, Christ faced temptation, though because he was God in flesh, he only faced temptation by Satan, but was not tempted. Temptation is something we all face as Christians, no matter how long we have been following Christ.  There are a few practical things, however, that we can do to grow stronger and smarter in our struggle against sin. We can learn how to avoid temptation by practicing these five steps.

Recognize your tendency toward sin.
James 1:14 explains that we are tempted when we become enticed by our own natural desires. The first step toward avoiding temptation, is recognizing our human tendency to be tempted by our own fleshly desires. Temptation is a given, so don’t be surprised by it. Rather, expect to be tempted. Be prepared for it.

Run away from the temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  When you are face to face with temptation, look for the way out that God has promised and then run as fast as you can.

Resist with the Word of truth.
Hebrews 4:12 says God’s Word is living and active. Did you know you can carry a weapon that will make your thoughts obey Jesus Christ? If you don’t believe me, read 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 One of these weapons is the Word of God.

Though it can be helpful to read God’s Word when you’re being tempted, sometimes that’s not practical. Even better is to practice reading the Word daily, so that eventually you have so much of it inside, you are ready whenever temptation comes. If you are reading through the Bible regularly, you will have the full counsel of God at your disposal.

Refocus with praise.
How often have you been tempted to sin when your heart and mind were fully concentrated on worship to the Lord? Praising God takes your focus off of yourself and puts it on God. You may not be strong enough to resist temptation on your own, but as you focus on God, he will inhabit your praise. He will give you the strength to resist and walk away from the temptation. May I suggest Psalm 147 as a good place to start.

Repent quickly when you fail.
In several places the Bible tells us the best way to resist temptation is to flee from it (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). Yet still we all fail from time to time. We fail to flee. Notice I didn’t say, repent quickly if you fail. Having a more realistic view—knowing that at times you will fail—should help you to repent quickly when you do. It is not the end of the world when you fail, but it is very dangerous to persist in your sin. Going back to James 1, verse 15 explains that sin “when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

The following prayer may also bring some solace when we face temptation:
Dear Lord, 
You know the temptations that I am facing today. But your Word promises that I will not be tempted beyond what I can bear. I ask for your strength to stand up under the temptation whenever I encounter it. Your Word also tells me you will provide a way out of the temptation. Please, Lord, give me the wisdom to walk away when I am tempted, and the clarity to see the way out that you will provide. Thank you, God, that you are a faithful deliverer and that I can count on your help in my time of need. 
Amen

Moment of Zen: Pump Jockey


This picture reminds me of the book The Winter of Our Discotheque by Andrew W.M. Beierle. It begins with the story of a surfer who is washing off the salt water behind a gas station when a customer pulls up. He quickly gets into his coveralls but doesn’t zip them up and leaves them undone, enough to see his wet pubic hair. The story then continues from there and I am doing it no justice because it is one of the single sexiest things I’ve ever read in literature. Before it became the beginnings of a novel, it was featured as a short story in Rebel Yell called “Pump Jockey.”


Hands


I am one of those people who does not know what to do with their hands. Well, sometimes I know what to do with my hands, but I’m speaking of when they are idle, such as when you are standing and listening to someone talk to you. If I put my hand on my hip, I look effeminate. If I have my hands by my side, I look awkward. Where I work, hands in your pockets is deemed unprofessional (something to do with the military, I don’t get it). If I cross my arms, I look angry or defiant. I never know what to do with my hands, so I tend to try to find something to hold on to, hoping that comes across as okay.


Breakfast 


I don’t often eat breakfast even though I know I should. However, if the man above was serving me breakfast I’d eat every morning. Usually, breakfast for me is a cup of coffee. But there are many benefits to eating a proper breakfast.

The literal meaning of the word “breakfast,” is to break the fast between dinner and the meal eaten after a person wakes up the next morning. If you think about the amount of time spanning between dinner and breakfast, the meaning of the word is very fitting. For most people, it can be up to 12 hours since their last meal, and yet like me, they are quick to skip it as they rush out the door. Here are 10 benefits of eating breakfast and why it should be considered the most important meal of the day:

1. Energy Boost to Start the Day
2. Sharper Focus
3. Breakfast Helps Reduce Morning Crankiness
4. Metabolism Boost
5. Prevents Starvation
6. Keeps You From Overeating
7. Allows You to Properly Portion Your Meals
8. Helps Lower the “Bad” Cholesterol
9. Breakfast Can Be Nutritious and Delicious
10. Eat Breakfast to Lose Weight


More Snow


Snow is supposed to start late tonight and continue on to late Thursday. Unlike the last 12+ inches of snow we just received, this new system is going to slowly dump 5-10 inches on us. I’m getting a little more used to the snow, but I still hate cleaning it off my car in the mornings. The snow keeps piling up though. At my office, it has already reached up past the first pane of my window. That’s only like 2 feet, but that’s more than I’ve seen since I moved to Vermont.


My Funny Valentine 

My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Unphotographable
Yet you’re my favorite work of art

Is your Figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?

But don’t change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is Valentines day

Is your figure less than Greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to Speak
Are you smart?

But don’t change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is valentines day.

“My Funny Valentine” is a show tune from the 1937 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical Babes in Arms in which it was introduced by former child star Mitzi Green. The song became a popular jazz standard, appearing on over 1300 albums performed by over 600 artists. In 2015 it was announced that the Gerry Mulligan quartet featuring Chet Baker’s version of the song was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry for the song’s “cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s audio legacy”.


Snow

Snow, snow, snow. Too much snow. We are getting more than 12 inches of snow yesterday and today. It is the most I have seen since I moved to Vermont. Quite honestly, I am not prepared for this much snow. I hope that they will delay the opening of the school (and thus the museum) or cancel school for the day. I doubt they will do either, but I can hope they will.

Luckily, they did plow the parking lot of my apartment. If the snow wasn’t too much last night, I’ll be able to get to work. So much uncertainty, but maybe I just worry too much.


The Old Rugged Cross 

This is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, hymns. “The Old Rugged Cross” has always been a song that fills my heart with emotions of love, joy, and nostalgia. It’s a very spiritually moving song, and for me it is the epitome of Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to The Lord.

The Old Rugged Cross
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

This popular Christian song was written in 1912 by George Bennard, an evangelist and song-leader. Though a native of Youngstown (Ohio), Bennard was reared in Iowa. He retired to Reed City, Michigan, and the town had honored him by maintaining a dedicated museum relating to his life and ministry.

As a Methodist evangelist, Bennard wrote the first verse of the hymn in Albion, Michigan, in the fall of 1912. He was helped by Charles H. Gabriel, a well-known gospel-song composer with the harmonies and it was published in 1915.

The song was popularized during Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns by Homer Rodeheaver and Virginia Asher (members of his campaign staff).

The hymn tells about the writer experienced as a Christian rather than his adoration of God.


Moment of Zen: Morning Kiss


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