Friday, February 15, 2013

Lent For Everyone, Day 3: Blogger Friday, Temptation, and the Draw of Others' Opinions




Oh. Hey....

Yeah, that's me this morning. We celebrated Valentine's Day with my mother- and brother-in-law playing Star Trek Settlers of Catan last night, and we were up til about eleven. Then I had a lot of trouble getting to sleep because the shoulder I landed wrong on in karate last week was flaring up. Plus I forgot to set the alarm, and Baby must be pretty tired too because she didn't wake me up. So... slow start to the day. TGIF!

I won! Resistance is futile!
Not something you want to land wrong while doing... trust me!

Let's see... where were we.

Oh, right. Lent, Day 3. Matthew, Chapter Four. The Temptation of Jesus and the Calling of the Disciples. Got it.

Well, needless to say I'm kinda lacking inspiration today, but two key points to today's study did manage to pierce the caffeine-withdrawal haze of my brain this morning.


In this passage, Jesus is tempted three times in the desert. He was obviously there a long time (forty days and nights), and I'm sure internal temptation had already been triggered when Satan showed up. How can you fast that long and not notice you're hungry, after all. Jesus was human. So he already had himself to fight off when Satan shows up and tempts him with an offer of food. And then with the jumping off a building thing. And finally Satan just pulled all the stops and said “Bow to me.”

Maybe it's the mommy in me, but in this passage I tend to see Satan as a whiny two-year old. First he asks Jesus to do something, something innocuous-- as Jordan pointed out-- that wouldn't necessarily hurt anyone. But it wasn't in Jesus' plan. Then Satan goes a little further. “Jump off this building,” he says. “Angels will catch you!” But Jesus isn't about to give in to dumb ideas just to display his own bravado. And then Satan seemingly throws a little hissy fit: “I'll give you all this stuff if you do what I want!” He's bargaining  with almost a seed of desperation in his voice (if Jesus hadn't banished him after this, we probably would have seen the Prince of Darkness throw himself down on the desert sand and start kicking and screaming).

I gotta admire how Jesus kept his cool. Mostly because I so rarely do. Baby has been doing the typical 2-year old thing lately and testing every boundary as often as she can. We deal with a LOT of tantrums daily around here. And frequently, I find myself, tired and irritated and at my wits end, shouting right back at her. But that only makes her more upset, and makes me feel foolish for arguing with a two-year old. So I've been trying a different tactic lately: staying calm.

Big Boy's “case worker” (not really sure what to call her, but she works for the school district and does visits to make sure that his special needs learning plan is being implemented at home and daycare as well as at school) actually got me started on it. She gave me a paper with the 3-Step Guide toCompliance to use with Big Boy, and she suggested it might work well for Baby too. And while I don't always follow it exactly, it really got me thinking about regulating my reactions. So now, when Baby either isn't listening or hasn't done something correctly, I always react the same way. And when it's time for punishment, instead of becoming angry, I've started calling her over, asking her why she is getting punished, doling out the punishment quickly, and then holding her afterward while she processes it. And actually, it has worked wonders. Not just for Baby, but for me too! I don't get so upset, because I have a process to fall back on. And because I'm not upset and shouting, Baby really seems to listen better.

And to me, Jesus seems all about keeping his cool here. Instead of getting emotional, he pulled a Spock and stayed serene and logical, countering Satan's increasingly belligerent attitude with Scripture. 

Scripture... logic... same difference...

And in the end, Satan left and Jesus was ministered to by angels. Now this is something I could totally use!
I'm pretty sure this is what the ministering angels looked like.

Alright... one portion down. Hold on while I top off my coffee...

Ahh, that's better. Now then...

The Calling of the Disciples

I find myself putting myself into the shoes of Peter, Andrew, and the other disciples who were called to leave their nets and fathers' boats and follow after Jesus. I'll let you in on a secret: I probably wouldn't have followed Jesus.

I have a bad habit of dwelling an inordinate amount on what other people think. In fact, at this very moment I'm having trouble focusing on finishing this post because I just had a negative interaction with a friend on Facebook, and it's eating at me. But Peter and all the rest just up and left their nets and father and family and job when Jesus beckoned to them. Was that a popular decision in their communities? Surely not! Maybe if it had been one of the leaders of the Pharisees beckoning, and if it had been a great and obvious honor to them and their families. But Jesus was still a relative unknown at this juncture, some guy from Nazareth (the "bad part of town"), vaguely associated with that crazy preacher guy, John, who was now in prison, and who didn't have a home or even a place to lay his head. He was basically a vagrant! Peter and all the rest's families must have been mortified to know that their bright young sons with so much potential, and who were someday expected to take over the family business, just threw it all away to follow after this weird Jesus fellow.

I'm actually facing a decision in my own life right now that could potentially mean God calling me to leave behind some things, things that I am heavily invested in, and it would would possibly mean disappointing friends or people I know. And even though it would be a move that would greatly strengthen our family and help us and others in multiple ways, the idea of disappointing those others is enough to make me dread and put off making the decision. I hate confrontation. I hate feeling like I've disappointed others. And while I know in my head that God's opinion is the one that matters most, His constant love for me and the fact that I don't physically interact with Him on a daily basis make His disappointment somehow sting a little less in the face of disappointing people I know and care about and see often.

But I don't want to be that way. I am constantly bemoaning how reliant I am on others opinions of me, and how little God's expectations seem to influence me when pitted against others. But I'm not sure how to change. I want to be a Peter or an Andrew, but most of the time, I find myself with the rich young man or the crowds who left Jesus after he preached a hard message in John 6:65: sadly walking away because he is just asking too much...

What do you think?

Whose opinion usually wins out in your life: God's or man's? 
Why? And if it's wrong, how can we change it? 
Leave a comment!

Since it's Blogger Friday, I just wanted to reextend the invitation for you to join us on this Lent journey. If you have the Youversion Bible App (available for free on any smartphone, tablet, or online), we are reading through the Lent For Everyone topical study by N.T. Wright. We would love to come together as an online community of Christian bloggers and share this experience together. So feel free to link up! We're only on Day 3, so plenty of time to catch up!

Other Lent for Everyone bloggers:


  1. Hope your shoulder feels better soon. We just got Settlers but haven't played it yet. Can't wait!

    1. You are in for a treat then! We've gotten our whole family addicted to Settlers! Thanks for the well wishes on my shoulder. I think I keep sleeping on it, which just keeps it sore, but it is healing!
      Thanks for reading! :)