Can You Tell the Difference between a Test and a Temptation?

Either way, our reaction should be the same.

Sometimes it’s tough to tell whether we’re facing a test or a temptation. Situations of struggle don’t always come with a label to clue us in on the source. They key is to know the different purposes of each. 

Can You Tell the Difference between a Test and a Temptation?

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A great example is the road tests automakers perform on one another. As objective as the tests claim to be, the goals remain clear. GM tests Ford to show Ford’s weaknesses. GM tests GM to show its strengths. When Ford does the testing, however, they test GM to show its weakness. 

This type of testing is biblical. Both God and Satan perform tests on you and me. These road tests reveal how the rubber meets the road in our Christian lives.

But the two tests have two completely different goals. Can you tell the difference?

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Kadesh Barnea—How to Follow and Not Get Ahead of God’s Will

Why our goal is not a place to go, but to journey beside God.

Which seems worse to you? Refusing to follow God even though He promises success, or stubbornly pressing forward without Him? Sometimes it’s tough to tell the difference.

Kadesh Barnea—How to Follow and Not Get Ahead of God’s Will

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God’s people swung on both extremes of this pendulum in the course of one day.

What their experience teaches us can guide us as we anticipate the future God has for us.

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How to Put Your Faith in Front of Your Feelings

Why Your Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Bad Day Doesn’t Define Your Life

How do you deal with bad days? In the midst of those moments, it’s easy to feel like things will never get better. The emotion clouds our perspective

How to Put Your Faith in Front of Your Feelings

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When our daughters were toddlers, my wife would read them Judith Viorst’s wonderful little book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Poor little Alexander had a bad day not because bad things happened. As it turns out, those things happen to everybody. It was a problem of perspective.

When we look at our lives, we tend to rubberneck the wrong direction.

Ultimately, our problem is with God. But we don’t say that. We’ll point to people as the reason pain lurks in our lives. Parents, bosses, children, spouses, and even the devil has his part to play. If God would only bring relief, all would be well.

It’s a problem of perspective, not of circumstance. We need God’s perspective.

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Why We Should Default to Grace Rather than to Criticism

I heard them board the airplane before I saw them. A mother was pushing one toddler in front of her and dragging another behind. The only available seats were the three right in front of me.

Why We Should Default to Grace Rather than to Criticism

(Picture: Meet Theo.)

I had never considered childproof locks on airline seatbelts. Now, I’m certain there’s a market for them. I would have bought one.

For more than two straight hours I watched the younger son—who reminded me of Bugs Bunny’s Tasmanian devil—jump, flail, thrash, flap, flop, hop, laugh—but mostly, scream. I don’t remember the name of the older son.

But I’ll never forget the Tasmanian devil’s name: “Theo.” I know because I heard it 863 times.

Absolutely undaunted, the mother used her large voice without embarrassment to correct Theo. She also informed the rest of us what was about to happen.

Once after Theo took his crayon and marked on the wall of the airplane (see the mark on the wall at left?), she jerked him from the window seat and announced to the rest of us, “Sorry about the screaming for the next 10 minutes, folks!” She was right. Little Theo let us have it.

My First, Second, and Third Reactions

  1. My first reaction was to wonder why the mother hadn’t brought along a gallon of Tylenol PM. (If not for Theo, then for the rest of us.)
  2. My second reaction to this irritation was—I confess—frustration and resentment. After all, I paid just as much for my loud seat as the lucky people in the quiet part of the plane.
  3. But my third reaction took my attitude in a completely different direction.

God boarded the plane at that moment and somehow found room in my narrow heart.

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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.

You Have a Spiritual Freedom You May Not Realize

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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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How Jesus’ Powerful Personal Hope Can Lift You Up

The geography of the Ark of the Covenant mirrors Jesus' Ascension—and ours.

Do you know what one, primary, personal hope drove Jesus’ life? What He looked forward to the most? It’s important we do know, because the same hope should drive our lives.

How Jesus’ Powerful Personal Hope Can Lift You Up

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As I have read the gospels, one reality has jumped out at me stronger than ever. Jesus’ goal was not merely the cross. Even as great as the resurrection was, Jesus still had another hope beyond that.

It’s good news you can apply by the end of this blog post—and then for the rest of your life.

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Why Your Spiritual Consistency is Worth the Cost

The benefits far outweigh what you pay each day to walk faithfully.

Mondays are not the best days for car trouble. One morning I hopped in my car and inserted the key in the ignition. When I cranked it—I kid you not—the car made the sound: “Ugh.”

So I pulled out the jumper cables. But two days later, the car sang the second verse of the same song: “Ugghhh.”

Why Your Spiritual Consistency is Worth the Cost

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Later that day, my auto mechanic gave a simple diagnosis: I needed a new battery.

Now, I could have said: “Hey, you know, a car starting every other day isn’t so bad. It sure beats walking. I guess I don’t need a battery.” Guess again. I bought a battery—a big one. If my vehicle runs inconsistently, it’s of little value to me. At the same time, keeping the car running reliably comes down to one thing. 

It costs me.

The same is true of our spiritual lives.

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If You’ve Ever Thought of Touring the Holy Land, Now is the Time

It’s a fact: a tour to Israel changes the way you read your Bible. I’ve seen in the lives of hundreds of Christians. I’ve experienced it myself. If you’ve been, you know what I mean. If you have yet to go, now is the time. 

10 Reasons a Tour to Israel Belongs on Your Bucket List

(Photo: Mount Arbel overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

I’m convinced you should do your best to take a tour to Israel at least once in your life.

Here are 10 reasons you should consider going to the Holy Land now.

(By the way, if you’d like to join Cathy and me for our tour this fall, time is short! The tour is filling up and registration ends next month. Get more info here. There’s also a tour next March.)

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Rephidim—How to Win the Battle You Face Today

Our struggles are not new, and neither is the secret to victory.

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

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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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2 Helpful Truths When God’s Plan Seems Delayed

What helps you when God’s plan seems stalled?

Most mornings the national news seems downright depressing. Political corruption. Religious hypocrisy. Sexual disorientation. I confess, sometimes it’s tough to see God working in the world.

2 Helpful Truths When God’s Plan Seems Delayed

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We seldom ask the questions out loud. But we all think it: Where exactly is God working in this fallen world? Why does He seem so silent—and even distant?

We know the answers in our heads. The Bible gives us good ones:

  • God allows evil so that we may choose good. Yep. Got it. God is patient (2 Pet. 3:9).
  • God uses evil for His good purposes. Yes, of course. God is sovereign (Rom. 8:28).

These answers give an explanation for what we see. But what about what we don’t see?

How come there seems so little of God’s work in the world?

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