Sunday, February 24, 2013


In the Bible, Jesus' temptation for 40 days outside the city walls is described in Matthew 4:1-11. I've put the relevant section at the bottom of this blog.

This speaks, very strongly to me today. I have again given up alcohol and unhealthy food for lent. I think I'm on day 11 at the moment but have lost count. It does clear my mind but also allows other thoughts to bubble up.  

I feel that I am "in the desert". Other translations describe Jesus as being outside the city walls rather than the desert. I am physically out of the "city walls" of home and in a different land.
I have been tempted.
Whether it is tempted by the hot buttered toast I made for my son for breakfast or other temptations.
I know that many of my friends are atheists and I describe myself as an atheist who has Christian lapses and I am by nature atheist but hoping that I am wrong.
Alain de Botton has written a fascinating book, where he explores what atheists could learn from religion.
Whilst I have turned to the bible for inspiration I know that many people of other faiths or non-faith do a similar thing - it might be called "detox" or "retreat".

I'm also reminded of a lovely part of the film "Evan Almighty" where the "God" character Morgan Freeman explains how we can learn lessons from life. You can watch it here - 

He says "If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience, or does he give them the opportunity to be patient?"

I'm fascinated by this thought process. Have I asked for something subconsciously or otherwise? Recent experiences have forced me to articulate what I do and don't want from life. If hadn't had those experiences I would not be so clear in my thinking.

This quote from Proverbs 26:24 (NIV translation) came to me today as well - 

"Enemies disguise themselves with their lips but in their hearts they harbor deceit".

The Message translation puts it even more strongly - 

Your enemy shakes hands and greets you like an old friend,
    all the while conniving against you.
When he speaks warmly to you, don’t believe him for a minute;
    he’s just waiting for the chance to rip you off.
No matter how cunningly he conceals his malice,
    eventually his evil will be exposed in public.

I'm in a country where I'm trying to communicate in another language so there's always the strong possibility of misunderstanding and mistranslation to add to the confusion but that doesn't mean that deception doesn't exist.

As usual, I am left with more questions than answers.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]
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 is written:
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]
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 will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

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