How to Keep Your Spiritual Horse from Racing to the Barn

Our greatest motivation to obey comes from a better place than fear.

Have you ever ridden a horse that wanted to run for the barn? You have to keep constant tension on the reins, and never for one moment relax your grip. Actually, you’re riding that horse right now. 

How to Keep Your Spiritual Horse from Racing to the Barn

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I remember once as a boy riding a horse on my grandfather’s farm. The horse figured out he could go to the barn whether I wanted him to or not. So, off he (not we) started running! After about 60-seconds of a full-on run, the saddle loosened and I fell off sideways— spinning and flipping in prairie dust and brambles.

My only consolation was the hope that the saddled chaffed the horse as he wore it upside down.

For some real horses, you have to keep them from even seeing the barn. If you neglect to control your mount, and that animal begins to trot barn-ward, you will find yourself riding an animal out of control. There’s no stopping it.

I can’t think of a better illustration for the struggle in your spiritual life.

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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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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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What Can You Do When You’re Not Sure What to Do?

One decision can help you choose what’s next.

You may feel stuck. At first, your situation looked great. It promised advantages, hope, joy, and happiness. It looked better than where you were, so you jumped. Now you’re not sure what to do.

What Can You Do When You're Not Sure What to Do?

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Turns out, it wasn’t the dream job, the ideal marriage, the best neighborhood, or the perfect church. It seems more like bait and switch.

It seemed the best decision, but now—you’re not so sure. You feel stuck.

What can you do when you’re not sure what to do?

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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

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

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Finding the Motivation for Giving All of Your Heart to God

It comes from a past action that wasn't even yours.

There is a past action that dictates your motivation for living for God. It’s an action you can’t change. In fact, the action wasn’t even yours. But it can help you give it all to God.

Finding the Motivation for Giving All of Your Heart to God

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Years ago I owned a different car—a sports car. Sitting behind those eight cylinders, I could go from zero to too-fast in about five seconds. (Of course, I never did). After Cathy and I had our first daughter, I decided I needed a family vehicle. Car seats don’t fit in Firebirds.

So I sold the car.

A few months later, I found a spare set of keys to the car, and I thought: I need to get these to the new owner. Even though I could have kept the keys (as insignificant as it seemed), they really weren’t mine to keep. I had sold them, in a sense, when I sold the car.

Living for God is like finding a spare set of keys to a car you no longer own.

In fact, you have a whole lot of keys that aren’t yours, because of that past action I mentioned.

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Hezekiah’s Tunnel and Wall Give a Lesson from Archaeology

Scripture is supported by what we can dig out of the ground.

The ancient world had a bully system that worked in straightforward terms. A nation would conquer a region and demand tribute—annual payment of money and goods. If you didn’t pay tribute, they’d come and kill you. Pretty simple system.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

(Photo: Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

King Hezekiah refused to pay tribute to the bully. So the Assyrians invaded Judah.

Archaeology has unearthed treasures that reveal Hezekiah’s faith in God. How does it strengthen your faith to see the Bible in archaeology?

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Kiriath Jearim—A Noteworthy Hill Nobody Notices

A reminder that God gave His Word for a reason.

It’s a place between important places. Few individuals, if any, journey there directly. Most would miss it, in fact, if they didn’t know to look. Yet Kiriath Jearim was profoundly significant.

Kiriath Jearim—A Noteworthy Hill Nobody Notices

(Photo: Kiriath Jearim, Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Modern commuters along Israel’s Route 1 drive by the site every day, their minds on their routines. Even tour buses rarely point to the place, much less stop there.

The tourists who do pull over often do so only to snap pictures at the Elvis American Diner (also known as the “Elvis Inn”). A 16-foot-tall bronze likeness of Elvis Presley greets every visitor. Inside the diner, Elvis music is all they hear as they eat their Elvis Burgers. But Elvis isn’t what makes this hill noteworthy.

Around the corner from the offbeat diner, near the modern Israeli Arab village of Abu Gosh, sits the site so few see and even fewer visit—the biblical site of Kiriath Jearim.

You’d never know by looking, but the physical symbol of God’s presence in Israel rested for about a century on this overlooked hill.

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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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How to Change Your Past with 2 Mind Hacks

A couple of daily decisions can help you change the past that will be.

Think about the worst mistake you’ve made. If you’re like me, it probably ranks as the worst because of the fallout it caused. After all, some wrong things we did seem to have had little effect. But the ones that backfired on us we view as the big ones.

How to Change Your Past with 2 Mind Hacks

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The trouble is, we never know which compromises will end up being the big ones.

Reuben, the oldest son of Jacob, blew it big-time. From his example, we can learn to make two daily decisions that can change your past.

More specifically, we can change your past that will be.

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