Summary: This sermon is about how to deal with tempting thoughts!
Jenny struggled with depressing thoughts. Most of the time she knew she had a really good life. Good job. Roof over head. Great boyfriend. But she had these occasional piercing thoughts that of doubt and depression.
John was a great guy. Everybody at work loved him. Great wife, wonderful children. He was headed to the top. But throughout the day he struggled with temptations. He could be going along fine, and suddenly thoughts about women, other than his wife, we tempting him.
Marie thought she had her problem under control. She attended church, was active in Sunday School, seemed to be walking strong and sure enough she was shopping and suddenly the temptation had resurfaced. Temptations to shoplift, to take something that wasn’t hers. Thoughts, like bullets shooting through her mind.
Bill had been clean and sober for nearly ten years. He was still going to AA, but even wondered sometimes now if he really still needed to go. He had rebuilt his life, married a new wife and started over again. He always avoided alcohol, bars and anything that tempted him. Then he went on a business trip and the hotel desk clerk asked him during check in “do you want a key to the mini bar?”. There wasn’t an immediate “no” – his mind was racing – tempting thoughts, a little voice screaming “go ahead, what can it hurt?”
In the coming weeks, I really feel lead to deal with what I will call “life issues”. This week’s life question being, “How do I deal with tempting or bad thoughts?” I came across a web discussion board; actually not so much discussion as certain “staff bloggers” from various denominations post on various issues and list how their background deals with the issue. The site itself is called “Internet Monk” but the discussion I came across was called “Liturgical Gangstas” as was about “spiritual warfare”. At its center, these thoughts that bombard the mind are spiritual warfare. A United Methodist perspective was provided by Rev. Matthew Johnson (NFI), though I do not know who that is. He states clearly our problem:
“I don’t know that there is a theme or a practice of spiritual warfare in my tradition. We Methodists tend to be dispassionate when it comes to spiritual warfare. We do have some charismatic people and groups within our denomination, but my experience as a cradle Methodist is that the general attitude toward spiritual warfare can be summed up this way: “Meh”.
In my experience, United Methodists rarely talk about spiritual warfare and even fewer practice the more popularized versions of spiritual warfare. There is very, very little literature about spiritual warfare in our denomination both currently and historically.”1 (Internet Monk, Johnson, Rev. William., “Liturgical Gangstas 16: Spiritual Warfare”)
We can fight, that which we don’t know about, or that for which we are obviously ill prepared. That means we not only have to know Jesus, but we must also learn and grow by studying his message.