How Unlearning the Past is like Untying a 6-Ton Elephant

God gives 3 steps to freedom from the lies that hold you back.

We’ve all heart it. When we’re young and impressionable, some unthinking, insensitive person says it to us. Maybe it’s a parent or a teacher. Or someone of the opposite sex. Or a preacher.

The secret to untying your 10-ton elephant.

(Photo by SuperJew. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.)

They tell us things like:

  •  “You’re stupid! You’ll never amount to anything.”
  •  “Your nose is ugly.”
  • “You are going to hell for that!”
  • “You’re not very good at what you do.”

Ever heard words like that? I sure have.

These words embed in our brains like a stake in the ground. Loosening that stake is like trying to untie a 6-ton elephant.

But God can help you. In fact, He already has. Here’s how.

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4 Excellent Strategies to Really Conquer the Tug of Temptation

When you feel the pull, here's what to do.

Temptation tugs hard at our hearts at times. It’s like pulling a rope tied to an elephant. In this tug-of-war with our hearts, we need a mindset that goes beyond a defensive strategy and takes an active approach to sin and temptation.

4 Excellent Strategies to Really Conquer the Tug of Temptation

(Photo by Photodune)

Here are 4 basic strategies to help you battle the tug of temptation and sin on your heart.

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How to Strengthen Your Vulnerable Buffer Zone

The foothills of Israel's Shephelah offer lessons on keeping spiritually alert.

Do you have a buffer zone between you and what can harm you? I’m talking about putting a safeguard between you and evil influences that can cause compromise in your walk with Jesus Christ. We see an illustration of this buffer zone throughout Old Testament history in the foothills of Israel’s Shephelah.

The Shephelah

(Photo: The Shephelah. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Between the Philistine plain and the Hill Country where God’s people dwelt lay 10 miles of low rolling hills. This buffer zone was known as the “Shephelah.” The hills of the Shephelah served as a geographical buffer that represented a spiritual barrier.

You have a Shephelah in your life as well. Here’s how you can guard it.

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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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Christians Struggling with Sin and 4 Lies We Believe

In more ways than one, the truth will set you free.

Everybody sins. But when Christians do it, reactions vary. The culture says we’re hypocrites—and often uses our sin to justify their own. Other Christians may view our sins as proof we aren’t even saved.

Christians Struggling with Sin and 4 Lies We Believe

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

But the people who offer the most brutal judgment against our sins?

Very often, it’s ourselves.

That’s because Christians struggling with sin tend to believe these four lies.

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God’s Commandments—His Rules Have Reasons

You can learn today what the tribes learned too late.

The names may not sound like much. Names like Beth Shean, Taanach, Megiddo and Gezer. These were cities whose residents the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim failed to drive away. So what?

God’s Commandments—His Rules Have Reasons

(Photo: Megiddo sat in a strategic spot. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Why not let the inhabitants live in this region since they wanted it so badly? The Lord knew why. The failure of the tribes to drive out the inhabitants defied God’s commandments to resist the culture. Instead, God’s people tolerated the culture . . . and then embraced it.

Their example urges us to evaluate God’s commandments in our own lives.

His rules have reasons. (And they are good ones.)

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You Have a Spiritual Freedom You May Not Realize

Juneteenth offers an essential reminder to our spiritual lives

Freedom from anything begins by knowing you are free. Juneteenth is short for June 19th—a state holiday in Texas. It commemorates the day in 1865 that good news arrived: all slaves were free.

You Have a Spiritual Freedom You May Not Realize

(Photo by Photodune)

But the news wasn’t new at all. The slaves had been set free long before, but that freedom had been a secret for two and a half years.

  • When Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, effective on New Years Day, 1863, the act freed all slaves.
  • But many southern masters kept the information a secret from their slaves.

Juneteenth teaches us something important about freedom: it’s useless unless you know it’s true and you live like it.

As a Christian, you have a spiritual freedom you may not even realize.

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Rephidim—How to Win the Battle You Face Today

You wake up to it each morning. It follows you as you go through your day. It’s waiting for you in every room and conversation. Your battle cleverly disguises itself in many forms.

Rephidim—How to Win the Battle You Face Today

(Photo by Photodune)

Your battle appears as a person, or as money, or as a tense situation at the office.

But the reality is that the battle you face each day has another source. The fight that God’s people faced at Rephidim proved that point.

The battle is spiritual—and there’s only one way to win.

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Who is Guarding Your Great Wall?

I recently went to China with colleagues from Insight for Living. What a vast and beautiful country—and so much potential for ministry. While there, several of us got to visit the Great Wall.

Who is Guarding Your Great Wall?

(Photo: By Hao Wei from China. Flickr. CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I was amazed at how vigilant the wall builders were to ensure the safety of their country against potential enemies. (See some of my pictures below from my Instagram Feed.) Of course, history reveals that a guard allowed the enemy to enter through a gate and compromise the wall’s security. 1500 miles of wall compromised by one traitor in the gate.

In our spiritual lives, we have that same traitor.

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Self-Control—It’s More than Sexual

Marrying context and desire brings joy—not shame.

Too often, self-control kicks in only as a matter of pride. We apply the brakes by asking questions like: Will I look foolish if I have a third slice of cake? Not terribly spiritual, but hey.

Self-Control—It’s More than Sexual

(Photo by Photodune)

Life hands us daily situations in which self-control seems impractical, irrational, and even impossible. And yet, amazingly, at other times:

  • While arguing with our spouse, and the phone rings, we answer the call and suddenly we have self-control.
  • Our boss lays into us about something that’s totally unfair. We fume, but bite our tongue.
  • Our tummies start to expand beyond our belts and bathing suits. So we cut back on sweets.

When our reputations, our jobs, and our physiques are at risk, we apply self-control. Why? Because something more important than immediate satisfaction seems threatened.

But somehow sex is different?

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