Archive for April, 2013

Counterfeit Benjamin

I went to the bank once with my friend so he could cash his check; then we stopped by a store so he could get a few things. When it came time to pay for his goods, he handed the cashier a hundred dollar bill. She rubbed her fingers over it and made a face. It was not a good face.

She proceeded to hold it up to the light. She turned it over and over in her hands. She studied that bill like there was going to be a quiz. She even sniffed it.

My buddy asked if there was something wrong. She informed him the bill was counterfeit. We didn’t believe it. My friend objected and told her he had just gotten it from the bank, so there was no way it was counterfeit.

That’s when she broke out her marker and settled things. It was indeed a counterfeit.

Schooled

My friend was incredulous and, I have to admit, so was I. How could this convenience store clerk spot a fake hundred dollar bill when a bank teller could not?

Aren’t bank tellers like professional money handlers or something? They are around money all day. Shouldn’t they be the first ones to spot a counterfeit?

McDonald’s sends their employees to Hamburger University to learn how to put a slab of beef between two pieces of bread. Shouldn’t tellers have to go to Phony Money University or the College of the Real McCoy? I mean seriously…right?

I had to know what made her the Qualified Queen of Counterfeit Cash. She proceeded to explain.  She had worked at her father’s store when she was younger. Her father worked many hours to make ends meet but they still struggled. Occasionally she would get hit with a counterfeit bill and her father would become upset with her.

She determined that it would never happen again. She studied the bad bill religiously. The feel and texture of the paper. The color of the ink. The way light shone through the paper. In time she could tell a bill was counterfeit the second it was placed in her hands.

She proudly proclaimed, “I never got stuck with a bad bill again.”

Too bad my friend could not say the same.

So It Got Me Thinking 

How come the bank teller was not as passionate as Sally (we learned her name) was about spotting counterfeit money?

This is the conclusion I came to: Sally had a personal stake in the ability to determine whether a bill was fake or not. If she had continued to be fooled by the bad bills, her family business would suffer, her father would be disappointed with her, and she would probably lose her job. Learning how to spot phony money directly benefited her.

But more importantly, she had made a decision. She had taken a stand. This was never again going to happen to her. She would be the Victor not the Victim.  She not only made that declaration but she followed it up with action. She took the steps necessary to learn everything she could about spotting fakes. She told us she also spent quite a bit of time studying and examining real money. In fact, she shared with us, she had spent considerably more time studying the genuine article.

Imposters

False teachers are just as real as fake money. The trick is knowing when someone is trying to deceive you. But is it really a trick? Was Sally’s discovery of the counterfeit one hundred bill a trick?

Sally had taken the necessary steps to condition herself to become an expert in the field of identifying counterfeit money. Being informed is not a trick. Knowing what to look for is the key to success. An intimate understanding of the genuine article hinders an imposter’s ability to deceive you.

What Big Teeth You Have, Granny 

I’m sure you’ve heard the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood. The wolf eats granny, slips into her pajamas, and hops into bed. In the story, Red sees right through the costume. But that is not always the case in real life.

Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts warns us:

I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away the disciples after them. So be on guard! (Acts 20:29-31)

And Jesus warned, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, (or dressed as granny), but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”

The wolf in the fairy tale was easy to spot. He had more hair than granny. More teeth than granny. And he had big feet. But how are we supposed to spot the wolves?

Red Riding Hood knew the answer. She knew what her real granny looked like.

Know What The Real Jesus Looks Like 

 

Get Out Your #2 Pencils

Posted: April 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

This blog was previously published but re-written for a teen audience.

We all know what that means…a test. I don’t know about you, the only test I like is an open book test. Those are always easy for me, because the answers are right in front of me. It’s a no brainer.

In Matthew Chapter 4 we see that Jesus was tested as well. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the DEVIL . After fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew4: 1-3)

Time To Bake The Bread

I don’t know about you but I’d be putting on an apron and making me some bread. But not Jesus. He knew the right answer. If you were paying attention yesterday, so do you.

Jesus answered, “It is written; ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'”

I’d be like, in your face Satan and I’d swan dive into the angels arms.

But not Jesus. Again he knew the right answer.

Jesus answered him, “It is written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I give to you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus had enough of Satan’s nonsense.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.””

Then the devil left him and the angels came and attended him.

Method To His Madness

The devil did not come to Jesus in his moment of strenght. When Jesus was being baptized and his Father, God was praising him. When the Holy Spirit was floating down on him like a dove.

The devil knew he had no chance of getting Jesus to sin. Satan knew Jesus would not fall for his tricks. Not when he was so close to the Father. He waited for Jesus to be at his weakest moment, his lowest period in his life.

It’s also important to note that when Satan was tempting Jesus, he was using scripture. He know the word of God better than most of us. He has fooled many people with this technique.

Satan Means Well Right?

Just imagine if you had not eaten for 40 days and 40 nights, we can’t even go 40 minutes sometimes, without snacking. Imagine roaming around in the heat of the barren, hostile desert without food for over a month. Your body, frail and exhausted, every step a monumental effort. Your mind unable to think straight. Your laser focus; GET FOOD NOW!

That’s when Chef Satan makes his move. That’s when he puts out the spread, the all you can eat buffet. Prime rib, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, baked lasagna, and roast beef. Just the smell of the savory aroma causes you to salivate. And what’s this? An entire table of cakes and pies.

You would do anything to devour this delectable smorgasbord of awesomeness. I’m getting hungry just writing about it and I just had lunch 20 minutes ago.

This is when Satan knows he has a chance of snaring you. When you are weak and starving, craving sustance, broken and alone. He will bring all the things YOU think YOU need to restore yourself.

How can this be bad, right? It’s only food. It looks amazing and smells so good and you are starving. Satan is just trying to help…right? Maybe he ain’t so bad after all. People have just misunderstood him. They’ve been misinformed.

Before you know it, you’re caught up in his trap. Only after you have put your trust in him, do you find the food is rotting and full of maggots.

How was Jesus able to resist the temptations? How come he did not fall for it? Jesus did not fall into Satan’s trap because he was close to the Father through His word. Jesus used scripture to counter Satan’s attack. Jesus had hidden the Word in his heart. To him, it was an open book test. He had memorized the answers. A test is always easier when you are prepared. Remember a test is not meant to teach you something, it’s to see what  you’ve already learned.

Study to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

(2 Timothy 2:15)

If I offered to take you to dinner and gave you the choice of either The Outback Steak House or Burger King, most of you would choose The Outback for obvious reasons. Better Quality food, atomsphere, a 20 oz. New York Strip steak, etc.

But what if I took you to Burger King , and after you filled up on a Whopper and fries, I said “Hey would you rather go to the Outback Steak House?” You’d probably be pretty upset. You’d wonder why I did not suggest the Outback first.

You’re too full now to enjoy a thick juicy steak and baked potato.  Forget about the Blooming Onion.

As you were enjoying your Whopper, you would have been happy and content. You would have been thinking wonderful thoughts about me for treating you to dinner

Only when you found out about what you could have had, would you become upset. You’d start to regret the Whopper and crisp golden fries. The food might begin to feel like a lead weight in your stomach. How could something that seemed so good at the time seem so bad now? What was the difference?

Knowledge

Knowing what you sacrificed for that Whopper and fries. The knowledge of what you could have had. The image of the sizzling steak and steaming baked potato, topped with piles of bacon and smothered in cheddar cheese is overwhelming.

You wish you could turn back time, take a do over, a mulligan. but you can’t. No matter how much you want that steak, there is just no room in your stomach.

Hungry As A Hostage

To truly enjoy a meal at the Outback Steak House, you need to be hungry. You need to have an empty stomach. You don’t eat at home before you go out to eat, at least not if you are smart. But there have been occasions where I went to my mom’s house for dinner and upon my arrival, was tempted by a triple chocolate cake she had baked. I’d take a big chunk against my mother’s sound advice; “You won’t have room for supper. Wait!”

I always assure her I’m so hungry, it won’t ruin my appetite. Guess who is always right.

I argue my point, “I never have room for dessert after dinner, so I’ll eat my dessert first. And please don’t act like you’ve never used that line before, cause we both know you have.

Being tempted by the cake is not the problem. The problem starts when I don’t resist the temptation. When I start reasoning with myself. I convince myself it won’t hinder my ability to eat the dinner my mother went through the trouble of preparing for me.

Salad = Sin

Okay maybe not. But the same thing happens when I go to the Olive Garden. Those evil people bring me a big bowl of salad and that little wicker basket filled with piping, hot buttery breadsticks, nestled is that crisp white linen blanket.

I devour 3 plates of salad and 4 breadsticks while I’m waiting for my Italian Trio of goodness to come. But then the waitress comes and asks, “Would you like some more salad and breadsticks?” And she is so polite I don’t want to hurt her feelings so I say, “Absolutely!” I mean what was I suppose to say?

Two more plates of salad and 3 breadsticks later, I can’t move unless I unbutton my pants.

Right on cue, my Trio of chicken parmesan, lasagna, and fettuccini alfredo arrives. The waitress smiles and asks, “Can I get you anything else?” I’m like yeah a box because I’m stuffed.

You can’t eat a loaf of bread and 2 heads of lettuce and exspect to polish off a boat sized plate of pasta. Your stomach needs to be empty.

What’s My Point?

So you may be wondering, Is there some Bible message in all this?

Actually, believe it or not, there is. Sure there is the obvious part about temptation but there is more to today’s message then the evils of being tempted. It’s about being filled up with the wrong stuff. It’s about not having room for the right stuff.

When Satan was tempting Jesus with food, Jesus was able to resist because he was already full.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. ‘” (Matthew 4:4)

Jesus was quoting Old Testament scripture. He was filled with God’s word. Jesus filled himself with the things of his Father.

Knowledge of the scriptures gave Jesus the ability to resist the devil. He was filled with the right things.

Food For Thought

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

                                                                                                              (Psalm 119:11)

Don’t Spoil Your Appetite