Day 5: Temptation

I am amazed over and over as I travel this journey of self discover and discipline. I am amazed at how many people are keeping up with my experience through this blog. I am amazed at how many people have already chosen to contribute in an effort to Stop Hunger. Now. And I am amazed at how “easy” it has been living on the Stop Hunger Now meals.

Let’s see: Wed. 2.5 cups, Thurs. 2 cups, Fri. 2 cups, Sat. 1 cup = 7.5 servings in 4 days or 1,875 calories. Before this experience, that would be a good meal and a snack. And I am not hungry. However…..

As one of my fellow travelers on this journey has said in his blog, I have been tempted. Dan managed to survive the annual Bar-B-Que at Mt. Gilead UMC this weekend. He did not give in to the wonderful slow roasted meat, the carefully prepared Stew — He did cave and add a little of their secret sauce to his rice, but then seasonings are allowed. Most of the places where these meals are used DO have seasonings — often nothing TO season, but seasonings.

His comment on temptation brings up an interesting thought. This Sunday’s theme if one follows the Lectionary focuses on temptation. I will be preaching on this topic later this morning at our 10:55 am worship service. I shared my experience with my daughter eating Zaxby’s in the car on our drive home from LaGrange College and the tempting smell of that chicken and fries. Yesterday, I traveled back to a community to conduct a funeral for a young man who died from a massive heart attack. While in town I stopped by to see friends that run a wonderful business — Hot Dog Heaven. And let me tell you, it is heaven. I had not considered how this visit would impact me. I was thinking about touching base with friends, and found myself surrounded with such wonderful smells: hot dogs, fries, onion rings, pizza, hamburgers, and more. And yes, I was tempted. Not because I was hungry. I had not eaten yet when I stopped, but it was a craving for taste.

David has commented on his blog that variety and taste are what he is missing as he eats the Stop Hunger Now food. And again, not for hunger but for taste. And that brings me back to our topic of discussion for worship today. Temptation.

Temptation. We all have our own ways of dealing with it. Some of us flee from it. Others, less wise, embrace it.

Karen Hickey embraced it. Karen, of St. Louis, MO had often wondered how it felt to be handcuffed. She found out the hard way.

The 22-year-old secretary discovered a pair of old handcuffs that her boss had brought to the office. She couldn’t resist trying them on.  “Next time, I’ll ask first if there are any keys,” Miss Hickey said. She remained handcuffed for two hours until firemen working with electric cutters freed her.

That illustrates one truth about temptation. It’s usually easier to get into something unwise than to get out. There are all kinds of truths about temptation.

Sometime back the New York City Dept. of Transportation decided to check its files for the people who had accumulated the largest number of parking tickets. Would you like to guess who won this dubious prize? Surprise!  Four of the top 10 were people whose job it was to write parking tickets. Each of them had accumulated in excess of $5,000 in unpaid fines.  I guess they thought the law didn’t apply to them. Another truth about temptation: none of us are exempt.

We ought to learn a lesson from the Goodyear blimp Columbia. Some years back the giant 192-foot-long helium blimp was punctured by a small radio-controlled model airplane. The damage was too slight to cause the blimp to crash, but the hole in the blimp was big enough to cause a constant loss of helium. Hence, the blimp wouldn’t function the way it was supposed to and could only limp along until the hole was finally repaired.  Third truth about temptation: sometimes it is not the big temptations, but the small ones that cause us to limp along with holes in our lives that we try to ignore when we need to face the problems and get them fixed.

Let’s turn to the scriptures to get God’s word on temptation. Gen. 3:1-7:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

The serpent tempted Eve with forbidden fruit. I’m surprised it wasn’t chocolate, aren’t you?  In either case, the result would have been the same.

Temptation has been around a long time. I don’t see it going away any time soon. The question is: What are you and I going to do about it?

I survived the temptation to break my fast twice this week. Dan faced it Saturday. David faces it every time he craves variety. I am sure John faces it in his journey as well (John has an advantage over the rest of us. He was already on a vegetarian diet for some time.) You will face it in your journey of life as well.

If we will look to Jesus Christ, we will find the strength to resist the temptations of life. I was able to resist with my daughter because I had to keep my hands on the steering wheel. I was able to resist at Hot Dog Heaven because my friends knew about my fast and did not offer me anything to eat — thereby supporting me and helping me resist the temptations in my life.

One temptation we all face when we see something tragic is the temptation to say: That’s so sad. Someone ought to do something about that. We do this when natural disasters strike, when we see the commercials about hungry children around the world. The temptation is to acknowledge that tragedy and not make an effort to do something about it.

Our 4 for 40 Project intention is to make persons aware of a crisis in the world. And to provide a vehicle for persons to not just acknowledge it, but to take action. To actually DO SOMETHING about it. And it is so easy. For every quarter you can donate, someone gets to eat. And that meal may actually mean the difference in life or death. Right now, Stop Hunger Now is working to move meals into Japan following the earthquakes and tsunami. They are compact, highly nutritious, and easy to transport. They can be shipped, trucked, and even dropped by air. And they will feed so many persons.

I invite you to join us in making a difference. Every contribution is important. For now you can send your contribution to: Stop Hunger Now, c/o Senoia UMC, PO Box 98, Senoia, GA 30276. E-contributions will be possible soon. Keep tuned for that. And to brighten your day, and to celebrate Truitt Cathy’s 90 birthday I want to share a YouTube link. One of the things I miss on this fast is the new spicy chicken sandwich Chick-fil-A created just in time for me to not be able to eat one.

Click Here.

And join me Wednesday night on 92.5 The Bear at 8:00 PM for a live interview. You can tune in or you can log on to listen online: http://www.925fmthebear.com.

Until the next time….The Hog Father

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