A Twist of Faith - Chapter 7
Lead us not into temptation
or Temptation? I create my own values!
Skip down to "Sacred Prostitutes"| Julian of Norwich | Deepak Chopra | Dalai Lama
"We are not just passing on our theologies... We are responsible for shaping them in new times."  Mary Farrell Bednarowski, speaker, Re-imagining conference.
"Every woman has the birthright to ... strip culturally imposed roles and unveil her own mystery." Deborah Turner-Bey
"We listen to our bodies, minds and emotions to inform us about truth--our own and others....We draw forth our creativity and self-expression as images for what is welling up in us." Weaving Our Wisdom Together
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:13
Graceful like a dancer, Christina moved across the stage. Above her hung the flags of the nations and a banner announcing "The State of the World" -- a five-day global conference convened in San Francisco by Mikhail Gorbachev.  The theme and its vision of global renewal fit her well, for in her flowing white maternity gown and long golden hair, she resembled a New Age painting of an ethereal earth goddess ready to birth new life. Clutching the microphone, she began to sing a prayer to her universal god:
"O faithful One... I call on thee
O holy one, O helping one... Abiding hope, I call on thee
Beloved, compassionate, source of all being
God of grace, come down. "
The prayer, she explained, was from her Baha'i prayer book. The music was her own, supposedly given by the unknowable, compassionate god of Hinduism, of Buddhism, of Christianity, and of all spiritual avatars throughout time.
Christina's global spirituality set the stage for the evening plenary -- a metaphysical message by top-selling author Dr. Deepak Chopra, director of the Institute for Mind/Body Medicine in San Diego. "The universe is seeking to fulfill itself through us," he said. "Are we up to the responsibility?" His next point shows the much repeated motif of the conference:
Can you step out of the river of your own conditioning and see the world as if for the first time? For only then is there an opportunity to create a new body -- but more importantly, a new world. We cannot do it the way we have done it in the past. It is time to change the whole paradigm through which we view physical reality.
The political, spiritual, and business leaders gathered in San Francisco on the evening of September 28, 1995, had already made that paradigm shift. By the third day, it was obvious to me that the speakers and their enthusiastic audience, including Barbara Marx Hubbard and Jane Fonda, saw reality from a decidedly global perspective. Again and again, Gorbachev and his hand-picked "global brain trust" told over 1000 guests and participants that new universal values were needed to guide the world into the 21st Century. These values must replace the Christian world view, eradicate poverty and oppression, and establish a new kind of tolerance, unity and equality.
That their noble goals clashed with more selfish interests didn't bother the world's leading visionaries. One moment they decried human injustice; the next, they bemoaned human existence. "Don't feed them," suggested Ted Turner in a discussion on reducing consumption to save the earth.
Sam Keen, author of best-seller Fire in the Belly, made an even more provocative statement in his summary of the discussions on the "Global Crisis of Spirit and the Search for Meaning:"
"Religious institutions . . . . must speak far more clearly about sexuality, about contraception, about abortion, about values that control the population, because the ecological crisis, in short, is the population crisis. Cut the population by 90% and there aren't enough people left to do a great deal of ecological damage."
At the end of the conference, the publisher of Earth Vision magazine told me about her disappointment over the seeming hypocrisy. "I don't believe they really care all that much about the poor," she said. "An evening meal here costs over $120 per person, yet they talk about equality, justice, and raising consciousness. Why couldn't they have served just one meal of rice? That would have done more to raise our awareness than all their promising words."
Just then, Shirley McLaine walked by, so I asked her what she thought of the conference.
"It was good. It helped raise consciousness," she answered.
"But wouldn't it have raised consciousness more if one of the meals had just been rice instead of gourmet meat and elegant desserts?"
She frowned. "People paid a lot of money to come here," she answered. "They deserved good food."
What do women really want?
The new paradigm is here, and its noble visions hide all kinds of ignoble plans. We may all agree on a few "universal values" such as love, peace, and unity. But whose values must conform in order to create the new unity -- those of feminists or of traditional women? Even when we agree on the words, we may disagree on the meanings. You've seen how values differ from one paradigm to the other, and the loftiest of them may fade in the light of earthier wants such as dessert, clothes, power, and popularity.
It's easy to hide personal wants behind utopian visions and global spirituality. That's what Gorbachev's global conference did. Psychotherapist Deena Metzger did the same in her article, "Re-Vamping the World: On the Return of the Holy Prostitute:"
"Once upon a time, in Sumeria, in Mesopotamia, in Egypt, in Greece, there were no whorehouses, no brothels.... There were instead the Temples of the Sacred Prostitutes. In these temples, men were cleansed, not sullied, morality was restored, not desecrated, sexuality was not perverted, but divine.
"The original whore was a priestess, the conduit to the Divine, the one through whose body one entered the sacred arena and was restored.... It is no wonder that . . . the prophets of Jehovah all condemned the Holy Prostitute and the worship of Asherah, Astarte, Anath and the other goddesses. Until the time of these priests the women were the one doorway to God."
Do you see the two paradigms? One sees reality through the filter of biblical truth; the other looks through the lens of feeling-based paganism. From Ms. Metzger's new-paradigm perspective, the sex rites of ancient Middle Eastern paganism sound great. To the Old Testament prophets, they looked bad. Ms. Metzger needed a story that would tell her side, so she used her imagination. It filtered out facts that clashed with her vision and embellished those that fit. She understood the process well: "Whatever rites we imagine took place . . . [depends on] whether we elevate them as do neopagans or condemn them as do Judeo-Christians." Today, some link the ancient prostitutes to "orgies and debauchery." Others link them to cleansing and divinity. Most choose something in between.
Some of Ms. Metzger's feminist sisters would probably disagree that the ancient practice of "sacred" and compulsory prostitution is good for the soul, but that doesn't matter. Women don't have to agree. Today, each woman may claim the right to stand unchallenged on her own truth and values, and Metzger's "truth" sounds good to those who prefer to cloak sex with spirituality.
Janie Spahr, co-founder of CLOUT (Christian Lesbians Out Together), links sex to sacredness. seems at ease among the latter. "Sexuality and spirituality have come together, and Church, we're going to teach you!" she announced at the Re-imagining conference. Her theology, she explained, is first of all informed by "making love with Coni," her lesbian lover. Is she implying, as modern pagans do, that sex is a channel for spiritual energy?
"Sexuality is a sacrament," writes Starhawk, the Wiccan author you met in chapter 4. "Religion is a matter of relinking, with the divine within and with her outer manifestation in all of the human and natural world."
"In a sacred universe," continued Ms. Metzger, "the prostitute is a holy woman, a priestess. In a secular universe, the prostitute is a whore. . . . The question is: how do we relate to this today, as women, as feminists? Is there a way we can resanctify society, become the priestesses again, put ourselves in the service of the gods and Eros? As we re-vision, can we re-vamp as well?"
The answer is a resounding "yes". People have already re-visioned sex. The "vamping" process is well under way. Just look at television and newspaper ads. Our Sunday morning papers as well as contemporary women's magazines parade the same titillating pictures once hidden in private pin-up calendars. Our culture has been cut loose from its moorings, and any new current can take it for a ride. That the feminist movement flows in the same direction as Gorbachev's—at least for the moment—only speeds it forward.
Yet, like the proverbial frog in the slow-heating water, most people haven't notice.
Dancing bare-breasted to music from a make-shift stage in a Michigan forest, a woman spun, swayed and rejoiced, while her more inhibited new friends watched with admiration. Joining nearly 8000 other women, she had come to the annual Womyn's Music Festival seeking "wisdom in a society where the only rules, the only standards of beauty and femininity, are their own."
Calling themselves "womyn" to distance themselves from men, they had come from "as far away as Australia," wrote reporter Robin Givhan. For six days, they would empower themselves through aboriginal music, Native American rituals, and unforgettable workshops on such topics as feminism and women's cycles. Serving no god but themselves, they could worship their bodies and honor their own blood. There's no need for the cleansing blood of Christ.
A matriarchal leader who called herself Coyote lead a workshop called "Our Sacred Bloods: An introduction to Women's Mysteries." Nude except for a sarong around her waist, she clasped the hands of the women at her sides and formed a ritual circle to draw power from the earth. Together they would "to tap into the energy created by thousands of women working together in their utopia."
Utopias are deceptive illusions, yet utopian beliefs can be far more resistant to reason than stark reality. When these beliefs match politically correct thinking as well as the cravings of human nature, the facts make little difference. Remember, Satan usually tempts us with lures that match our basic desires. If it feels good, looks good, and sounds good, we want it. Even God's most noble values -- love, peace and unity -- can be twisted into lies that serve a contrary purpose.
All values sprout from basic beliefs or assumptions. The values that first molded our nation were based on biblical truth -- not Iroquois government as some historical revisionists claim. The new values are rooted in these New Age and Neopagan assumptions:
The earth and all its parts are sacred
Therefore everything is naturally good
Therefore I am sacred and good
Therefore there is no sin
Everything is connected to the same spiritual source
Therefore insights from my "inner self" are true
Therefore you and I can find "common ground"
Therefore biblical Christianity doesn't fit
God shows us the opposite way: love Him first, share His love with others, then we discover our identity in Him. As you can see, the two ways are incompatible:
Knowing divine self
Finding God's will
Getting in touch with one’s feelings
Loving God, then each other
Loving self, then others
Oneness with God and other Christians
Unity with everything
Loving sinners, hating sin
Tolerance for anything (except intolerance)
Look at the following from a new paradigm perspective. See the difference:
Unity means compromise -- according to new paradigm rules. A Christian's refusal to compromise her beliefs is unacceptable.
Freedom means my right to express myself without hindrance from family or culture. It doesn't include another woman's right to express herself, if her words or action threaten my comfort zone.
Peace means agreeing to tolerate all beliefs and people -- except Christianity and those who refuse to respect my lifestyle.
The key to the feminist transformation is tolerance -- tolerance for all the new feminist values, ways and lifestyles. This politically correct tolerance, which shows no tolerance toward the old ways and values, is essential to silencing all critics.
Life has changed at St. Olaf College since I was a student there. Years ago, Minnesota's venerable "college on the hill" seemed the ultimate in both Christian and Lutheran education. But multicultural education has replaced biblical integrity, and a new global emphasis has opened the door to professors who promote Hindu and other "mind-body" beliefs instead of biblical truth. The chapel, once a sacred sanctuary for worshipping God, has become a moral battleground.
One spring morning in 1989, English teacher Rebecca Mark gave the chapel talk. She first introduced the point of her message:
"To speak the words, 'I am gay. I am proud to be gay,' at this place where silence has reigned too long, is not enough. I am not alone. ... I am called upon to be the voice of many who have been silent. ...
"As a gay woman I speak through the earth. The word gay comes from the goddess Gaia, the Greek earth mother goddess. I speak not as a sinner, but as the Mojave shaman. . . I speak from the voice of thousands of gay spirit leaders, healers and teachers in Indian culture. . . . I speak as . . . those who have known death and rebirth. And I too mourn. . . ."
Ms. Mark mourned the cruel slurs and spiteful rejection suffered by gay students, and she was right to do so. God calls us to love, not hate those who miss the mark. His love reaches out to all who hurt, including those who yield their bodies to promiscuous lifestyles, whether homosexual or heterosexual. But her call reached far beyond a condemnation of cruelty. It sent a vision of multicultural solidarity that demands a radical change in the very heart of Christianity. It summoned God's people to not only approve promiscuous and destructive lifestyles,  but also embrace the pagan spirituality that sacrilizes sex.
She ended her talk with a sensual poem by an American Indian women who blended lesbian love with a spiritualized earth mother. Then she invited the students and faculty -- all who "can wear the pink triangle proudly" -- to come forward as a "sign of community and liberation." Singing "We are gay and straight together," they streamed to the front of the church to claim the badge of their new identity.
The enthusiastic response was no surprise, for our today's culture prefers tolerance to truth. So did ancient Israel. "Why do you tolerate wrong?"  God asked the people He loved, knowing that their presumptuous tolerance would lead to violence and destruction. They didn't listen. Neither does our culture today. (Look up tolerance in your Bible concordance and see what God says about it.) Instead, we excuse what He calls sin and mock the peace He longs to give. The results are devastating.
Read what He says about sex outside marriage.
"Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
The nature of temptation
God shows us that sexual sins are especially damaging to us both physically and spiritually. Yet, neopagans tout the healing and cleansing effects of "sacred" promiscuity. Interesting twist, isn't it?
Those who tolerate sin become blind to its meaning. Women cannot maintain utopian illusion unless they hide opposing truths. They can't trust their sacred self without rationalizing away its unholy bent. So they shift God's label for sin away from the things they want and attach it to the things they despise: Promiscuity? That comes from loss of self-esteem caused by the guilt feelings stirred up by Christians who criticize my lifestyle. Anger? Try the same reasoning.
Do you see how easy it is to be "good" if you use the "right" reasoning? Just re-imagine the old values. Base your beliefs on your momentary feelings, not on God's time-tested Word. Look at the difference a paradigm shift makes.
is . . .
separation from God
from (spiritual forces in) nature
rebelling against God
the god(dess) in self
loving self first
lack of self-discipline
to a patriarchal god
not tolerating sin
Tolerating sin destroys shame. Some years ago, I watched the pastor's wife in a Presbyterian (USA) church teach a Sunday school class called Women at the Well. She first "centered" the class with a chant by mediaeval mystic Hildegaard of Bingen whose pantheistic images sounded more Buddhist than Christian. Then she read a quote by Thomas Merton, the Catholic mystic who embraced Tibetan Buddhism. Finally she gave us a two-page handout from a book called Soul Friend: An Invitation to Spiritual Direction. It told me that today's mysticism, which blends acceptance of sin with a permissive feminine God, isn't all that new:
"In the fourteenth century in Europe there was a great flowering of mysticism, and out of this period came some of the greatest spiritual guides of all time whose writings are highly relevant today. . .
"Julian of Norwich . . . claims that 'God showed me that sin need be no shame to man but can even be worthwhile.' She seems to mean by this that sins are disguised virtues, for 'in heaven what sin typifies is turned into a thing of honour.' "
". . . In Julian's theology, we find the fullest expression of the concept of the femininity of God. 'God is as really our Mother as he is Father,' she says. 'Our precious Mother Jesus brings us to supernatural birth, nourishes and cherishes us by dying for us.' "
It's true that our sins show us our need for Christ's redemption, but they are not "disguised virtues. " They don't typify something of honor, nor can they be softened by putting a feminine face on God. We can live without shame only because God has forgiven us, not because sin has lost its sting. If I condone my own sins, I will neither come to the cross nor appreciate God's wonderful mercy. Nor would I fight the seductive pull of Satan's temptations -- especially those that look almost too good to resist.
As you saw in chapter 6, Satan can only pervert God's good. Our Father invented delightful food, human affection, sexual pleasure, satisfying work, spiritual insights . . . Everything good came from Him. Satan can only distort and imitate God's precious gifts, or tempt us to grasp too much or too little, or take it at the wrong time, or in the wrong place. You know the results: pain, confusion, anger, addiction, broken relationships, decaying culture and much more. (See the rest in Galatians 5:19-25)
Temptations can be aimed at our body, soul or spirit, and Satan knows which part of us is most vulnerable at any time. He tries to incite the body to crave physical sensation, the soul to desire emotional stimulation, and the human spirit to seek supernatural experience -- "higher wisdom," positive affirmations, etc. -- often in territories outside those made safe by God. Like foolish sheep who leave the green fields of the shepherd for an illusion of richer fields behind the fence, we follow Eve's example:
"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [body], that it was pleasant to the eyes [soul], and desirable to make one wise [spirit], she took of its fruit and ate." (Genesis 3:6)
"For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh [body], the lust of the eyes [soul], and the pride of life [spirit]—is not of the Father but is of the world."(1 John 2:16)
The things God labels as sinful lust, the world now sees as psychological addiction or obsession for which a person is not responsible. Denying sin's power doesn't soften its consequences. "Each one is tempted when he is drawn away, by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (James 1:14-15)
Utopian dreams lead where?
"If we make a god of sexuality, that god will fail in ways that affect the whole person and perhaps the whole society,"  wrote author Philip Yancey. One day while browsing through the windowless warrens of a university library, he discovered a 1934 book called Sex and Culture by scholar J. D. Unwin. It showed Yancey a direct tie between monogamy and the "expansive energy" of civilization. Unwin, who had studied the sexual practices of 86 different cultures, concluded that --
"In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence."
Did you catch that? Sexual immorality led to social decay. Babylon, Sumeria, Greece, Rome and other ancient pagan civilizations disintegrated when sexual boundaries disappeared. While temple prostitution and ritual sex had been permitted within prescribed boundaries from the beginning, unbridled promiscuity had been taboo. Its return signaled cultural decline.
Unwin couldn't explain why. But the pattern he saw impressed him enough to propose that British citizens "take vows of chastity before marriage and observe strict monogamy after marriage—all for the sake of the Empire."
God's principles can bring order into chaos even when followed by non-Christians. For those who trust God, they bring triumph. But those who reject them suffer consequences they can't understand. Yancey showed why:
"For the Christian, sex is not an end in itself but, rather, a gift from God. Like all such gifts, it must be stewarded according to God's rules, not ours. "
That our schools have taught the opposite for decades, has caused untold damage to our youth and culture. Listen to the philosophy behind the sex education promoted by SIECUS (Sex Information and Education Council of the United States):
"The purpose of sex education is not. . . to control and suppress sex expression, as in the past. . . . The individual must be given sufficient understanding to incorporate sex most fruitfully and most responsibly into his present and future life. " (Emphasis added)
SIECUS has been working with Planned Parenthood to bring social change. The behavior inspired by their irresponsible agenda has brought devastating results. Consider these statistics:
Every 24 hours in this nation more than 12,000 teenagers contract a sexually transmitted disease. Thirty percent of all STD's contracted are incurable.
Each year 1.3 million new cases of gonorrhea are reported. 
One million teenage girls, nearly one in 10, become pregnant each year. 
About one and a half million unborn babies are aborted each year.
"Current sex education programs are designed to destroy the normal; embarrassment and modesty of children," writes Stanley Monteith, M.D., author of AIDS: the Uneccessary Epidemic, in his informative newsletter, "yet it is that modesty that has traditionally been a barrier to early sexual experimentation and promiscuity." 24
The root problems isn't homosexuality or promiscuity or even paganism. It is the loss of truth as our moral standard. When school teachers blur the line between right and wrong, why should students say "no" to temptation? Why not try all the "new" sensations that beckon? Young people do -- and face cravings they can't control. Unlike biblical love, lust will not wait; and obsessive lust has a way of displacing God's kind and patient love.
Bondage can follow any repeated sin. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts,"25 warns Paul. But many feminist who claim control over their bodies have already yielded that control to a stronger force. Most women "make a choice for life when they take up smoking as teen-agers," concluded a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Three quarters of them will find it too difficult to quit later." 
"Most of the things likely to produce enduring happiness -- education, employment, stable families -- require us to forgo immediate pleasures," writes Columnist George Will. "What happens when that discipline fails? Look around." 
It doesn't take long to see results. We have become a society obsessed with sex, food, looks, shopping, drugs, gambling, and coddling our feelings. But we feel no shame, because we dare not name sin. As a schoolgirl said when her 15-year-old classmate stabbed another student in the back. "What's the big deal? People die all the time. So what?"
Any sin is a big deal. Even the smallest ones will separate us from God if we don't follow His way back to peace. Neopagans may deny sin's power, Buddhist may offer noble alternatives, and the New Age movement may inspire a massive leap in consciousness, but they all miss the point. Humanity can never evolve beyond its need for the cross.
From tolerance to disillusionment
Some years ago the Dalai Lama, spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhists, stopped by the Bay Area to teach "empowerment" rituals at San Jose State University and to "invoke the spirits of this area" on Mount Tamalpais. After summoning "the blessings of enlightened spiritual masters" such as the Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, and Mohammed in a healing and peace ceremony, he would lead San Francisco's religious leaders in a joint commitment to pursue world peace.
The newspaper made occult healing sound so normal. Saddened by the promotion of spiritism, I prayed that God would block the demonic forces. The morning of the scheduled appearance I drove to Grace Cathedral and once again joined the waiting throng, knowing that friends at home prayed with me for God's intervention.
The Dalai Lama was scheduled to arrive at 3 p.m. On the hour, heads turned back toward the huge doors. At 3:20 we were still waiting. And at 3:45, creaking benches and impatient voices suggested that people were growing weary of waiting. Finally, an hour late, the doors swung open. Enveloped in a smoky cloud of incense -- believed to purify the environment and heal relationships -- the procession of spiritual leaders marched up the aisle. All except the Dalai Lama. Our eyes stayed fixed on the back doors.
"Unfortunately the Dalai Lama is indisposed," said a voice from the podium. The unwelcome words crushed all hope. In the midst of confused whispers and a few hurried departures, the ceremony proceeded with prayers from various church leaders. But the sound system didn't work. "We can't hear!" shouted the people. But nobody solved the problem.
Walking out after the aborted ceremony, I noticed a woman crying. "Are you all right?" I asked. She didn't answer. "Would you like to talk or would you rather be alone?" I didn't want to intrude.
"I'm so disappointed," she burst out. "This was such a failure. I couldn't even hear what they said."
"It was confusing, wasn't it? How could the Dalai Lama be disabled after the healing ceremony this morning?"
Sadness filled Sue's voice as she answered. "I don't understand. It sounded so perfect. All the religions joining together. Why did everything go wrong?"
Seeking answers that would touch her heart, I prayed. Suddenly thoughts began to flow. I said, "Maybe God doesn't like our attempts to control the world and seek oneness apart from Him."
"Why wouldn't He want us to get together and make the world more peaceful?"
"Maybe He knows that our plans wouldn't work, and that by trusting ourselves and magic powers rather than Him, we would lose sight of the only real hope we have."
"But the Dalai Lama trusts God. His monks just came from the Vatican where they talked with the Pope and his monks about unity and meditation."
"I wonder what kind of unity Christians can enjoy with Buddhist monks without compromising their faith. Christianity is God-centered and Buddhism is self-centered." I waited a moment before continuing. "I don't dare rely on myself anymore. It's so much easier to admit my weaknesses and trust the only One who can give me the strength I need -- Jesus Christ."
"But why is He any better than the other great teachers? They all taught the same things. They all said we should love each other and be kind and tolerant."
"Many did say that. I guess everyone knows deep inside that love is good and hate is bad. It seems to be part of the understanding God puts in each of us. But none of those religions can do more than tell us what to do. Then each person has to muster the strength to follow their ideals on their own in the midst of all kinds of problems and irritations. I don't think I could do that."
"Isn't that why we need to learn tolerance? We have to love and tolerate each other so we can live in peace."
"But the Christian God does more than that. He wants to fill us with His life and peace so we can do what is right. He knows we can't do it ourselves, so He enables us." We talked a long time. Her futile search for peace had led her on and off numerous spiritual paths. Now, in her frustration, she was ready to listen to the only One who could love, shepherd, and fulfill her. We prayed together, and agreed to meet again soon.
All the way home I praised my Lord, who once again had proven Himself the sovereign, omnipotent King of Kings.
Dealing with temptation
Sue began her search when disillusioned with "Christians" in the church she was raised. Her disappointment begs the question: If Christ is King and He lives in us, why don't we always demonstrate His love? I can think of several reasons. One is simply that we focus on the wrong values. We let the tempter turn us away from what God wants for us to seductive substitutes. Though we want to do "our utmost for His highest," we choose to live by more earthy values. To escape the trap, look how Jesus dealt with temptation.
Jesus felt painfully weak after forty days without food. Satan knew it, so he suggested that Jesus use His divine power to turn a stone into bread -- an easy miracle for the King of the universe. But Jesus had already made up His mind not to use supernatural strength to escape His own suffering. So He countered the temptation with a Bible verse that pointed to a higher value. "It is written," He said, claiming the authority of Scriptures, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'"
Ready with more tricks, the devil showed Him the riches of the world and offered to give it all to Jesus if He would fall down and worship him. Weak as He was, Jesus again looked from a temporal value to an eternal good: "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.' "
Finally, the devil brought Him to the pinnacle of the temple, and suggested that Jesus demonstrate His godly authority. Determined not to deviate from His plan, Jesus answered, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"
The devil finally gave up and left Jesus alone "until an opportune time."
Food, riches and power all have value, but God's Word is worth far more. Miracles and great testimonies can strengthen our faith, but they can also bring pride along with praise and may actually weaken our trust in what God does through "ordinary" circumstances.
The key to victory is hidden in the words of an old hymn:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
When we focus on God's highest and best, we won't settle for second best. As long as we see reality -- human needs, suffering, injustice... -- from a human perspective, we'll pick the wrong solutions. But when we ask God to show us life from His heavenly perspective, everything looks different. All the hurts and irritations fade in the light of who God really is, and in the wonder of His eternal plan.
God rarely picks the easiest course for us, for His training process is far more important than our short-sighted goals. If we want power to please ourselves, He may use tedious chores to train us to take our self-focused goals to the cross. If we want to fulfill lofty humanitarian visions, He may first teach us to prove His love among unloving people. His way up may first lead down -- down to the place where we best learn the lesson of trusting God no matter where He leads us. Jesus, not only tells us so; He walked there first:
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God. . . . made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:5-8)
On that cross, we were saved -- we were "crucified with Christ,"  freed from the power of sin. If we are joined to Him by faith, we can now choose to let His love rule our lives -- or to do our own thing. If we choose His way, our human weakness becomes an opportunity to demonstrate His strength. For "God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty." (Corinthians 1:27)
Admitting our sin to God softens the human tendency to judge, criticize and rationalize, for it puts us all together at the foot of the cross. Here we are equal, for none is perfect. Here we receive the daily cleansing Jesus offers. Here we learn to empathize with others who fail, so we say with genuine humility, "There, but for God's grace, go I."
Any quest for personal power and authority only gets in His way. I may feel more capable than someone else for a certain job or role, but my Shepherd usually prefers to work through my weaknesses rather than my strengths. When I see reality from His eternal perspective, He frees me from the pursuit of human praise and admiration. "I count all things loss," said Paul, "for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him. . . ."
God's kindness amazes me, but He seldom empowers our work if we refuse to accept His choice and place for us. He knows best where we belong. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." His Word helps us find those "good works," and His boundaries keep us close to Him.
The essential questions boil down to a simple choice: What do I value most -- human pleasure and power, or God's daily strength and approval for all eternity? Either way, life will be full of challenges -- and all the more so as our culture sheds the values that kept us safe. But when we pursue His values and not our own, He will be our shelter. His promise is as true now as it was in Isaiah's days:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. . . . When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. . . . For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. . . . you are precious and. . . I love you." (Isaiah 43:1-4)
Hold on to that promise, for you will surely pass through fires. Evil exists, no matter how hard people try to imagine it away. "Therefore hear this," continued Isaiah,
"...you who are given to pleasures, who dwell securely, who say in your heart, 'I am, and there is no one else besides me . . . .'You have trusted in your wickedness; You have said, 'No one sees me'. . . .Therefore evil shall come upon you . . . .you will not be able to put it off." (Isaiah 47:8-11)
One of Satan's most destructive temptations is to demean God, prompting us to challenge His wisdom with questions such as this: "If God is both sovereign and good, how can He allow evil?" God is both sovereign and full of love -- and He does allow evil! The next chapter will show why -- and how to triumph over it.
Next: Chapter 8 - "Deliver us from evil"
Re-Imagining Conference Tape 1-1, Side B.
Manuela Dunn Mascetti, The Song of Eve (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990), 234.
 "Weaving Our Wisdom Together," a brochure from Women's Alliance, Oakland, CA.
[4Organized by the Gorbachev Foundation, the five-day State of the World Forum convened in San Francisco on September 27. The former head of the Communist empire had gathered "nearly 500 senior statespeople, political leaders, spiritual leaders, scientists, intellectuals, business executives, artists and youth from 50 nations to begin a process of deliberation on the central question of what priorities, values and actions should guide humanity as it moves into the next phase of development," said Jim Garrison, President of the Gorbachev Foundation.
"Human interdependence," he continued, "must now become our watchword as we move into the global civilization which lies ahead: interdependence with each other, interdependence with the earth, interdependence with the Spirit which perennially guides the affairs of humankind."
Re-Imagining Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 4-7, 1993.
Starhawk, The Spiral Dance (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979), 23.
Robin D. Givhan, "Freely Female," Detroit Free Press, August 25, 1991.
See chapter 3. A good resource on Native American spirituality is Clark Wissler's, Indians of the United States (New York: Anchor Book, 1940), 70-71.
Among the books authored by St. Olaf College faculty and endorsed and reviewed on page 5 in St.Olaf (November/December 1994), were The Limits of Scripture: Vivekananda's Reinterpretation of the Vedas by Anantanand Rambachan, a religion faculty member, and Consciousness and the Mind of God by Charles Taliaferro, which offers "a holistic understanding of the dualist person-body relationship." Rambachan leads a weekly Hindu fellowship for Hindu students and others interested in Eastern spirituality.
Habakkuk 1:3. See also Habakkuk 1:13; Revelation 2:2, 2:20 (NIV)
Cited by class "hand-out" from Richard J. Foster, Renovaré: Devotional Readings (Vol. 1, no. 43, 1991), no page number shown.
Kenneth Leech, Soul Friend: An Invitation to Spiritual Direction (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), 146. Leech cites Julian's Revelations of Divine Love, 35, 37-39. These pages don't match the translations I have examined. The closest translation I could find was Julian of Norwich: Showings (New York: Paulist Press, 1978) translated by Edmund Colledge, page 154: "God also showed me that sin is no shame, but honour to man. . . . It is to them no shame that they have sinned -- shame is not more in the bliss of heaven -- for there the tokens of sin are turned into honours." These words are taken out of context; they do not reflect Julian's overall view of sin. However they do show how certain passages are being used to validate the feminist concept of sin.
Ibid., 147. Leech cites pages 59-61 in Divine Revelations, but again, these page numbers do not match the translations I found. Instead, I would like to cite a few similar quotes from Julian of Norwich: Showings (detailed above): "As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our Mother, and he revealed that in everything, and especially in these sweet words where he says, 'I am he . . . the power and goodness of fatherhood; I am he, the wisdom and the lovingkindness of motherhood. . . I am he, the Trinity; I am he, the unity; I am he, the great supreme goodness of every kind of thing. . . . As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our Mother. Our Father wills, our Mother works, our good Lord the Holy Spirit confirms." (pages 295-6) "Julian also wrote, "The second person of the Trinity is our Mother in nature. . . in whom we are founded and rooted, and he is our Mother of mercy in taking our sensuality. . . . So our Mother works in mercy on all his beloved children who are docile and obedient to him." (page 294) "So our Lady is our mother, in whom we are all enclosed and born of her in Christ, for she who is mother of our saviour is mother of all who are saved in our saviour; and our saviour is our true Mother, in whom we are endlessly born and out of whom we shall never come." (p. 292)
Philip Yancey, "The Lost Sex Study," Christianity Today (December 12, 1994); 80.
Lester Kirkendall, in his article included in Sexuality And Man, a collection of articles written and compiled by SIECUS board members. [I have this book in one of my many boxes. I will find it and provide the page number for the galleys]
Haven Bradford Gow, "Consequences of Sexual Revolution," Christian News, July 3, 1995.
Associated Press, "Experts Say New Generation Is in Trouble Already," San Francisco Chronicle, June 9, 1990.
Stanley K. Monteith, "Anticipated Worldwide Death Toll: 1 Billion People," HIV-Watch (Vol. II, No. 1); 7.
A. J. Hostetler, "Three-Quarters of Female Smokers Say They Want to Quit, But Can't," Christian News, February 27, 1995.
George Will, "Moral Sense Ability," San Jose Mercury News, December 20, 1993.
William K. Kilpatrick, "A school-girl said: What's the big deal?" Los Angeles Times (I have the article, but no date. Will get the rest for the galleys)
The title of a wonderful daily devotional by Oswald Chambers.
[33i]2 Corinthians 4:7-11, 12:9-10;