A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

It’s nice to wish upon a star,
but what happens after you eat them all?

I am normally careful about what I eat.

When out for lunch,
who needs a pizza or sub
when you can have  a garden salad?
( with dressing on the side of course)

Red meat in my diet
occurs as often as a lunar eclipse.
And fried food ?????
It is the work of the devil.

My  weakness…….

Starting with all things chocolate,
and proceed directly to all things baked.

Put the two together 
and I am on my knees ….

That’s when the box came.
We’re aren’t talking a small box….
Oh  no, no, no.

This would be the king size box of chocolaty star cookies,
the same cookie that I loved as a child.
A star shaped graham cracker cookie
draped in fudge chocolate
and festooned with sprinkles.

It was enough cookies to feed
a Vacation Bible School crew…..
for a month.

Not this guy,  not this cookie.
It took  less than 24 hours……

A good friend gave me this jumbo gift at the end of a long day.
It was the perfect comfort snack.
It was also the perfect storm.
I was tired. I was hungry.

It began on the ride home that night
I am a firm believer that calories don’t count when consumed in the dark.
You might be surprised how many calories I avoided during a 4 minute drive.

After I arrived home,
I settled in to watch some television.
Trying to show some measure of restraint,
I only took a handful of cookies on which to nibble.
That lasted till the first commercial.
All I can say is that the show had many commercials.

Because I had the next day off,
it seemed like an awesome day to have
a breakfast consisting entirely of chocolaty star cookies.

Because by lunch, I was still on my day off,
it seemed like an awesome day to have
a lunch consisting entirely of chocolaty star cookies.

It was an equally awesome day 
for  several additional snacks.

By 3pm,
I had a headache,
and I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience.
While outside of my body,
I saw myself eat several more cookies.

As the clock tolled 7pm,
it dawned on me that I had ingested nothing but
chocolaty star cookies for the last 24 hours.

As I grabbed the now all-but-empty box
and looked at the nutritional statistics,
I did the math and realized that I
would have to do my regular gym workouts
through two more presidential elections
just to work off the damage.

All of us face those moments
when we have to choose
between the things that are best for us
and the things that can hurt us.

It’s called temptation.
It’s when we are enticed to go beyond the
good parameters that the Lord has placed for us in our lives
and go to places that will ultimately hurt us and/or others.

There is nothing wrong with eating a cookie.
But there is nothing right with eating enough cookies to feed an army.

Temptation in  itself is not a sin.
But yielding to it is.

None of us is immune to temptation,
but each of us is responsible for what we choose.

I allowed myself to be in a place where I was
tired and hungry.
And for the next 24 hours, it owned me.
And for 2 subsequent days
I felt its side effects.

Overcoming temptation requires  one to
take responsibility for what one is doing.
to recognize one’s weaknesses,
to avoid situations where one is prone to surrender,
to see the larger consequences as opposed to the smaller gratifications,
to seek a friend for whom to be accountable,
and to make prayer, and reading God’s Word a part of one’s daily life.

Jesus didn’t depend on himself to avoid temptation,
and neither should we.

Wishing upon a star won’t save us from temptation.
But trusting in the Creator of those stars
in ways that take our conscious decision will.

That starts with recognizing and guarding our weak spots.
No  more chocolaty stars for me

And let’s not even get started on the peanut butter cups…..literally!

“No temptation has overtaken you
but such as is common to man;
and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be
tempted beyond what you are able,
but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also.”
    I Corinthians 10:13

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