“Ivory Tower Living”

I have an old Amplified Bible that I have studied from for about twenty-five years. You know the kind of Bible – the front cover is gone, it is dog-eared, dirty, marked up with ink and highlighters – and is one of your greatest treasures. My grungy Amplified Bible chronicles years of promises I have received from God’s Word. As a rule, when a Scripture has a special impact, I highlight it then put the date and what was spoken to my heart in the margin.

For instance, Proverbs 24:10 tells us “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” It is circled in orange and in the margin I have written “I will never faint when adversity arises – 4/26/86.” In 1986 I had been a Christian for about nine years, my husband was the pastor of a rapidly growing church, finances were plentiful, we were young with two beautiful children, God was blessing and life was abundantly good. At that time in my Christian life, there had been no adversity to speak of. So, with great assurance I made the bold statement “I will never faint when adversity arises.” But the truth was I didn’t know whether I would or not because I hadn’t been through adversity to find out. I call that “Ivory Tower Living.”

“Ivory Tower Living” is a place where the adversities of life haven’t yet affected us and we have formed a mind-set based on theory not experience. Let me give you a few examples of “Ivory Tower” statements: A wife will say “If my husband ever does ‘that’ I will walk right out!” or a husband will say “If my wife ever does ‘that’, I’m out of here!” Until we have walked through these adversities, we don’t know what we will do. It’s easy to make bold statements when we are walking through a pleasant meadow. It is another thing to make the same bold statement when we are walking through the harsh realities of life. Have any of you parents ever said “my child will never do ‘that’” and later have to “eat” those words? “Ivory Towers” always topple and only then do we find out who we really are.

Genesis 1:27 tells us “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” You see, in the Garden of Eden a male and a female were created in the very image of God – but something happened. There was a defacing of that image. But, praise God, He sent Jesus Christ so that His image could be restored to mankind. Romans 8:29 says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son,…” Each one of us has been predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. The word “conformed” indicates a changing from one form to another. In this case, a changing from what we currently are to the very image of Christ. How can such a drastic change take place you may ask?

Isaiah 48:10 says “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” I can hear you saying, “Oh NO Mollie, please don’t start talking about furnaces and affliction!” But look closely at that scripture. Where does God chose you? It is in those furnaces of affliction you are walking through. There are no “Ivory Towers” in furnaces of affliction.

In 1986, when I was making my bold statement about something I had never walked through, it was only theory to me. Today, after my “Ivory Tower” has been knocked over and I have been in furnaces of affliction, I know from experience whether I will faint or not. It is what goes on in the furnace and what comes out of the other side of the furnace that defines who we are.

Where are you today? Are you in a trial? Are the fires in your furnace of affliction growing hotter each day? Then please know for a fact that God is right there with you. He is forming His image in you and the result will fit you for your destiny of an eternity in His presence.

  Mollie Steenson 3ABN Vice President, General Manager

“The Truth About Temptation”

Temptation is not sin; however, it is the decision to do right or wrong and the action that follows. If it’s not dealt with, it will breed sin. Jesus was tempted in all manners just like we are, but without sin, so to be tempted must have a purpose. So what is this purpose?

To answer this question, we must look closely at the origin of temptation. James tells us emphatically the when, where, why and how it occurs. In chapter 1:12-16 James Amplified says, “Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death. Do not be misled, my beloved brethren.”

To fully understand the purpose of temptation, we must admit that it does not come from God; it comes from Satan and is embraced by us. Temptation is birthed out of our own lusts and desires to go against God’s will. In the Garden of Eden, Eve displayed the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. In the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus with the same three things. He hasn’t changed his mode of operation.

Satan can only tempt us with something that we desire. I hate beets, they taste like dirt—I wouldn’t eat a beet for a hundred dollars (well maybe.) Nonetheless, Satan cannot tempt me with beets and will never even try. J.D. Quinn doesn’t eat turnip greens (I love them), therefore JD will never be tempted with turnip greens. He won’t even taste Mollie Sue’s turnip greens and they’re great. Maybe they taste like beets to him.

So what is the purpose of temptation? It is to build our character, so the Lord may rejoice because we overcame that temptation. If we are to overcome temptation we must discern it correctly–then we must examine ourselves for cracks in our character. It is these cracks that allows Satan to see our weaknesses. Whenever we are tempted, we should rejoice in the Lord and ask Him to help us overcome this temptation. I have overheard people pray for God to remove the temptation; however, that will never happen. A pastor friend of mine fell into sin because he prayed for God to remove the temptations—he prayed wrong. He should have said, “Thank you Father, for revealing this flaw in my character, now that I recognize it and admit it, I ask You to please help me overcome this temptation before it becomes sin.”

Are you fighting temptations? Then you have cracks in your character and Satan will pry them open causing them to become sin. Don’t let him do it—ask our loving Father for strength.

“Let us have more confidence in our Redeemer. Turn not from the waters of Lebanon to seek refreshment at broken cisterns, which can hold no water. Have faith in God. Trustful dependence on Jesus makes victory not only possible but certain. Though multitudes are pressing on in the wrong way, though the outlook be ever so discouraging, yet we may have full assurance in our Leader; for “I am God,” He declares, “and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22). He is infinite in power, and able to save all who come to Him. There is no other in whom we can safely trust.” (In Heavenly Places, page 17)

  Pastor Hal Steenson