Tag: temptation

Strongest Man In History

20130615-145408.jpg“Strongest man in history”? Ever heard of a man named Louis Cyr? He is purported to be the strongest man who ever lived.

“Cyr was born in Saint-Cyprien-de-Napierville, Quebec, Canada. From the age of twelve Cyr worked in a lumber camp during the winters and on the family’s farm the rest of the year. Discovering his exceptional strength at a very young age, he impressed his fellow workers with his feats of strength. He had learned of the story of how a legendary strongman (Milo of Crete) had carried a calf from birth to a full grown bull and attempted to do the same, one day the calf bolted, kicking him in his back so he then began carrying a sack of grain a half-mile everyday adding two pounds each day. According to one of his biographers, his mother decided “he should let his hair grow, like Samson in the Bible.” She curled it regularly.

In 1878 the Cyr family immigrated to Lowell, Massachusetts in the United States. It was in Lowell that Cyr changed his name from Cyprien-Noé to Louis, as it was easier to pronounce in English. Again his great strength brought him fame. At seventeen he weighed 230 pounds (104 kg). He entered his first strongman contest in Boston at age eighteen, lifting a horse off the ground, the fully grown male horse was placed on a platform with 2 iron bars attached enabling Cyr to obtain a better grip. The horse weighed at least 3/4 of a ton.

While several of Cyr’s feats of strength may have been exaggerated over the years, some were documented and remain impressive. These included lifting a platform on his back holding 18 men, lifting a 534 pound (242.72 kg) weight with one finger and pushing a freight car up an incline. He also beat Eugen Sandow’s bent press record (and therefore the heaviest weight lifted with one hand) by 2 pounds to a total of 273 pounds (124 kg).

Perhaps his greatest feat occurred in 1895, when he was reported to have lifted 4,337 pounds (1,967 kg) on his back in Boston by putting 18 men on a platform and lifting them.[3] One of his most memorable displays of strength occurred in Montreal on October 12, 1891. Louis resisted the pull of four draught horses (two in each hand) as grooms stood cracking their whips to get the horses to pull harder. A feat he again demonstrated in Bytown (now Ottawa) with Queen Victoria’s team of draught horses during her ‘Royal’ visit. While in Bytown(Ottawa) he volunteered with the police when they took deputees to round up a local gang of miscreants, they turned him away claiming he would be too slow due to his bulk. He challenged the regular officers to a foot race, beating the majority and they took him on.

In The Strongest Man in History, Ben Weider says that Cyr’s records remain “uncontested and incontestable.”

Cyr died in 1912 of Bright’s disease (now known as chronic nephritis ).

At his peak Louis was 5’10” in height and weighed 310 pounds, with a 21″ neck, 54″ chest, 45″ waist, 22″ biceps, 19″ forearms, 11″ wrists, 33″ thighs, 23″ calves.”

(Article copied from Wikipedia)

What a day we’re living in! Physical fitness, strength training, aerobics, and a number of other programs are all the rage. A major research firm looks at the US fitness and exercise equipment market as about $5 billion annually. There’s such a push for our kids to eat healthy and exercise more. And while it’s important for each of us to have a healthy body and mind, what about the third part of our makeup – the spirit?

People treat their bodies as if they expect them to last forever. That’s not a bad thing, but how do they treat their spirit? Or, how do they treat their character, which is really an outflow of their inner most being. How much time and money goes into that training course?

What makes a person strong? Louis found ways to increase strength by daily increasing the weight, or resistance, to his training regimen. He did, however, opt out of using a live calf when it became too lively. But increasing the resistance was a good thing for him; and is for each of us, as it helps one develop and become prepared for anything we may face.

Strength wasn’t designed by God simply to flaunt! Muscles weren’t created to oil and flex. They weren’t really created to lift tractors or horses, unless there was an emergency which required it.

Louis Cyr showed his strength by lifting things, things with no emotion, no enticing power; things that weren’t trying to seduce, trap and kill. How do you show yours?

I will discuss, briefly, someone who I believe was the strongest man in history. No, I’m not talking about Samson. He actually was one of the weakest! His strength was supernatural, to be used for the glory of God. But it wasn’t long before he acted like it was his; to be used for his pleasure.

I personally think Samson was about 5′ 4″, weighing about 110 pounds. His neck size was like 13″, waist 24″, chest 26″, biceps 11″, thighs 15″, and a 6″ nose (which grew to twice the size when he got mad). Think about it; if he LOOKED like a muscle bound beach bum, why would Delilah need to ask him where he got his strength?

Anyway, my strong man hero is Joseph. You know, the guy with a fancy robe, wild dreams, and a strong spirit. A strength in character that allowed him to face things designed to either destroy or strengthen a person.

Some people believe that experience is the best teacher. That’s true, if the experience doesn’t kill them while they’re learning. Ever see people lifting weights, especially a bench press? They don’t lift by themselves. They don’t want the “experience” to injure or kill them. They’re either spotted or they don’t lift.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his older brothers. That alone was a huge test of his inner strength. But while he was serving as a personal servant to a man named Potipher, the test of Joseph’s lifetime would take place.

“Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God. So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.

But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. And so it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside, that she called to the men of her house and spoke to them, saying, “See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew to mock us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. “And it happened, when he heard that I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me, and fled and went outside.” So she kept his garment with her until his master came home. Then she spoke to him with words like these, saying, “The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us came in to me to mock me; “so it happened, as I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me and fled outside.”

So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, “Your servant did to me after this manner,” that his anger was aroused. Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” (Genesis 39:6-21 NKJV)

Joseph was constantly barraged with temptation; suggestive talk, lustful eyes, and flirtatious touching. Since Joseph wore skin like every other man I’ve known, I’m sure he had to battle the lurid thoughts that would attack him while he tried to sleep at night.

Wow! Joseph had his own personal gym and “trainer”. Resistance! Weight training! One major problem; these “weights” kept coming at him every day.

Finally, the temptress took hold of Joseph and demanded, “Lie with me!”

Here’s where I see Joseph exhibiting the strength that established him as the strongest man in history. He had to lift free of evil desire, lust, fingernails, soft lips, perfume, and an empty house; all the while keeping his focus on God and his integrity with his employer. The strength of character his situation demanded was more than most people can fathom.

You see, there’s a time to oil and flex, but Joseph was way beyond that. He knew it was time to run away as fast as he could. It took real strength to do that.

Finally, I would like to advise you to work out regularly; physically if you’d like, mentally as well, but spiritually for certain. You can’t wait until someone drops a 1,000 pound temptation on you before you try and lift it.

Practice holiness and right living now.

Before someone thinks you’re a stud.

Before the weight is dropped around your neck!

Dangerously Disengaged

20130517-070404.jpg“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”” (2 Samuel 11:1-5 ESV)

King David was a mighty warrior, lover of God, worshipper, king, and a man. God referred to him as a “man after My heart.”

Unfortunately, some of the best men and women of God let their heart become divided between God’s will and their passion. It happened to David.

David pulled away from going to battle, sending Joab in his place. Nothing against Joab, but it was the king’s place to lead into battle. But for some reason, David disengaged.

Maybe he was tired. DisengagedMaybe he had a doctor appointment. Perhaps he planned on seeking the Lord for a season. There could have been a number of reasons that made him choose to stay away from his responsibility that day, but, regardless of the reason, there he was. By himself. Disengaged from his calling, and open for temptation. That’s when Bathsheba caught David’s eye.

It would come as no surprise to discover David had noticed Bathsheba before. He’d probably seen her in the neighborhood, at church, maybe at the horse stable. Maybe her husband, Uriah, one of David’s best warriors, had introduced the two at some point. So when David pulled away from his duty, he became vulnerable to the tempter.

It’s not like this was the first time he had experienced temptation. In 1 Samuel 25, David was running throughout the wilderness, he and 600 men, trying to keep away from King Saul. Tired and hungry, they met a rich man named Nabal (which means worthless). When asked if he could donate some food for the troops, Nabal responded roughly, refusing to give assistance.

David was furious! However, as he began preparing for the slaughter of Nabal’s household, word had gotten to Nabal’s wife, Abigail, regarding the incident between David and her husband.

Abigail, upon hearing of the impending slaughter, went to David to intercede not only for her husband, but for David, as well. She said to David, “Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the Lord your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. And when the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord taking vengeance himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”

And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand! For as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.” (1 Samuel 25:28-34 ESV)

David was reminded of his God, his calling, and his conscience. This helped David stay engaged in God’s business, and away from a spirit of vengeance.

How about you? Have you disengaged from your calling, your marriage, your family? Has your passion for God diminished? Has something or someone else caught your eye, pulling you away from your responsibilities? Have you left yourself unguarded to the tempter? You say you just need to rest, but, deep down, is there a desire for something exciting, out of the ordinary?

Stay disengaged from God’s will, His battles, and you just may find yourself in the battle of your life; for your life!

Thoughts? Comments? Questions?

Four Anchors

anchoranchoranchoranchor

Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land. And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come.
Acts 27:27-29 NKJV

Paul’s journey to Rome, with its storms, treachery, shipwreck, and rescue, would make a great movie! But just in case that doesn’t happen for a while, there is something in this story I must tell you about.

The ship and all 276 people aboard had just endured almost 2 weeks of stormy weather. It had been so bad, many had feared for their life. Now things were going fairly smooth, other than they had no idea where they were.The sailors were extremely cautious at this point. Traveling at night, they relied largely on their experience and gut feeling to alert them of possible danger. About midnight, the crew sensed they were drawing close to land. To know for sure, they took soundings (using a line with a lead weight on the end, they measured the depth of the water) a couple of times. They discovered land was fast approaching and the ship was in danger of colliding with the shore. So, to avoid the collision and disaster, they lowered four anchors and waited for the sun to come up.

Everyone has gone through, is going through, or WILL go through, storms. Each person runs the risk of becoming shipwrecked, or even worse, destroyed, as a result. But as the story illustrates, God shows us a safe way to travel, to keep from destroying ourselves and others, even through the toughest times. And though a lot of storms are not our fault, just knowing where to place the blame doesn’t help the situation.

Have you ever been overtaken by a storm? No warning, not a clue anything was brewing. It happens all the time. It was happening on Paul’s ship. The soldiers weren’t aware of danger, the prisoners (outside of Paul) didn’t really care – they were probably as good as dead, anyway. But someone on Paul’s ship with life experience recognized the possibility of impending danger; and the experience became the wisdom necessary to avoid certain disaster. Even in the dark, where it was impossible to see, the experienced ones knew what to do until they could see the issue for what it was. And in each of our lives there’s someone with the experience and wisdom to help us know how close danger is and what to do until revelation comes.

The sailors (experience and wisdom) said, “Drop four anchors and we’ll wait for the sunlight.” Light, daylight, sunshine, all speak of revelation knowledge. God, opening the eyes of their understanding, allowing them to see things from His perspective and with His wisdom.

“Drop four anchors…” Four anchors to hold them in place, to keep them from drifting, from wandering; giving them stability until the next step for action could be discerned.

In our life’s journey, these four anchors are extremely important. They help us stay in place and not drift when we can’t see what’s around us. Something that gives us stability and helps keep us from drifting. These four anchors are:

1) Hear the truth – “So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.” Hebrews 2:1 NLT

Don’t trade the weighty anchor of truth for something that is only fluff. The anchor of truth can smash our foot if we drop it there, but it will also keep us from being blown about by every wind of doctrine.

2) Hope – “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” Hebrews 6:19 NKJV

The hope of God’s promises is an anchor for our soul – our mind, our will, and our emotions. As our soul is anchored, we have greater confidence to go boldly to the Throne of Grace. Encouragement.

3) Helpful Friends –” Faithful are the wounds of a friend…” “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. ” “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” Proverbs 27:6,17; Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 NKJV

Friends – people who love us enough to tell us the truth AND walk with us during dark moments. People who will help us with our resolve and be there through the restoration process.

4) Holy Spirit – “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:7-15 NKJV

The Holy Spirit KNOWS what’s going on and WHY it’s happening. He will guide us INTO ALL TRUTH. He will guide us OUT OF ERROR. This anchor will keep us from turning around.

Life’s a crazy, dangerous journey at times. We all need people speaking into our lives who have the experience, wisdom, and love to help alert us to possible danger. We must listen to them, and not push them aside when we don’t like what they say.

If you’ve been running through life without these four anchors, I encourage you to stop now and secure the anchors you’ll need. Because you WILL need them.
Keep the anchors within reach, for when the slightest “drift” is detected, it’s time to act.

Curiosity Killed The Cat

Curious CatPeople have a tendency to fear the unknown. Maybe that’s better than being curious.

Many are those who, because of curiosity, have been “picked off” by the adversary. Each one felt, at one time, they could handle the knowledge of the unknown. But how much better it would have been had they simply remembered the old adage, “curiosity killed the cat.”

Before venturing into the unknown, ask yourself a few simple questions: 1) Why am I curious? 2) Do I fantasize about the unknown? 3) Can I investigate this with my spouse? 4) Am I being truthful with my friends? 5) Did I just lie to myself?

It’s a good idea to discuss your “trek into the unknown” with a trusted friend. Someone who loves you, but isn’t impressed with you, or who doesn’t work for you.

“A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty.” (Proverbs 28:19 NLT)

“By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.” (Proverbs 16:6 ESV)

You really don’t need to know why that person smiled at you like they did. There isn’t a valid reason for you to click on that particular web site, while you’re alone in the house.

Curiosity can be a good thing, or a deadly trap. Don’t “boldly go where angels fear to tread.” Back off, trust God, ask the questions, and live longer, without regret.
Curious Cat 2

Search Me O God

Search Me, O God

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Ps 139:23-24 NLT

It was over 20 years ago that I wrote the song, “Search Me, O God”, based on Psalm 139:23,24.

Have you ever talked with someone who was absolutely sure they would never flake out on God? Someone who was so confident in their ability to stand against any and all temptations or adversities, without so much of a bend?

Someone who could ignore scriptural warnings such as…

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the forces of life.” Proverbs 4:23

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:9,10 NKJV

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV

Well, that someone was me.

I wrote the song for some people in our church who were struggling with being true to their marriage vows. Seemed like a good song for them. But a year later, I was dealing with the very same thing!

I didn’t pay attention to the warnings of the Spirit, the Word, and other Christians. I felt I knew my heart, in spite of what God said in His Word; in spite of the warnings.

Now, when I sing this song, I’m not singing it for anyone else. I sing it as a prayer for me!

Yes, thank God for His mercy and restoration. Thank God for new hope, new opportunities! But it is a whole lot better, and safer, to keep out of traps and shackles strewn across the land of my heart.

Now, as far as I know, I am loving the Lord and serving Him with all my heart…

…as much as I know my heart.

Search me, O God, and know my heart
Try me and know my thoughts
See if there be any wicked way in me
And lead me in the way everlasting

When the storms of life are raging and my feelings all confused
Lead me to the Rock that’s higher than I
May Your Spirit gently woo me and help my heart to see
That not everything I feel is Your desire
O may my life be consumed by Your Holy fire.

As from glory to glory I travel, upon the road of faith
Remind me that it’s You Who holds my hand
And if I’m walking on the water, or drowning in my tears
Help me be secure in Your plan
In love, faith, and holiness to stand.

Pictures Paint…Choices

Slaughterhouse 4“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters” (James 1:12 – 1:16 NLT)

So she seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery. He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter. He was like a stag caught in a trap, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart (Proverbs 7:21- 7:23 NLT)

The power of encouragement is evident in the above scriptures. Both James and Solomon are warning and encouraging the reader to pay attention, don’t get caught off guard, and make wise choices. The choices one makes will determine whether they live or die; it’s that serious.

 Slaughterhouse 5 Slaughterhouse 2Take for example Solomon’s words: Pretty speech, flattery, whatever was needed to get the young man to follow, that’s what she used. Prey on the weak spots which, for most men, are their eyes and ego.

What a descriptive word: like an ox going to the slaughter. I worked at a meat packinghouse for a while in the 80’s. Never worked the kill floor, but “visited” there once. Wow. Picture the animal as it’s poked and prodded into the livestock trailer. Have you ever followed one down the road? Whew! Now see it as the trailer backs into the gathering area, is poked and prodded more, is herded through a narrow gate, onto the kill floor. Its head is bashed with a stun gun, legs are manacled, body lifted above floor as it hangs by its hind feet. Then the knife and flow of blood; flowing, flowing, flowing until the last drop of life is pooled on the floor.

This is the picture Solomon had in mind.Slaughterhouse

Remember, though, the picture was intended to warn, to encourage, young men (and old men) to watch their step, guard their heart, and stay clear of the slaughterhouse. Not an easy feat, these days. Bombarded on every side, voices and images flash before us endlessly. But the Lord will give you the strength to overcome; ask Him, believe Him, and turn away from the kill floor.

For those who’ve already been a participant in the packing house regimen, God, through Jesus, is the God of restoration and new life. Repentance is the key that unlocks the door, removes the shackles, and even causes the dead to live again. 

I know…

jumping calf

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