Monday, December 01, 2008

Greetings From Jerusalem

Marhaba, Shalom and Hello!! :)

Greetings from Jerusalem. i arrived here a few days ago, and am almost recovered from my jet lag. It's good to be back here. I've been away for a year. It's hard for me to believe that!

It's been great to see several of my friends and get caught up on their lives.

I went yesterday to Jericho, the ancient city. I love being there. I ate lunch with a good friend at a Palestinian restaurant there. It is always one of my favorite meals!

The restaurant sits in the shadow of the mt. of temptation, where Jesus spent his 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. (Matthew 4:1-11) It is a powerful place. It always makes me reflect on integrity and the choices that face us when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances.

When Jesus was on the Mount of Temptation, he was presented with several rewards and comforts, if he would turn from the right path. Each time, he resisted the temptation and chose the path of integrity and faith. He did not compromise to ease his discomfort (hunger) or to secure rewards in the physical realm. He stayed the course.

It's a powerful teaching about being in dire circumstances and still choosing the right and best path.

I had a discussion with a client recently. They were suggesting that a questionable choice they made under pressure wasn't necessarily bad because 'it happens all the time' and 'everyone does it.' My response was 'just because everyone does it' and the fact that 'it happens all the time' doesn't make it the 'right.'

Jesus in his experience on the mountain stood firm against the temptations he was presented with. When he passed this test, the angels came and ministered to him, providing him with comfort and relieving the distress caused by the 40 days and nights of fasting. In this story we see that when we take the right course, don't take short cuts and follow our faith, we will eventually be rewarded.

Jesus received what he needed (from the angels) when he did not give in to faster ways of meeting his needs.

In the movie, Cinderella Man, the story of James J. Braddock - the depression era boxer, there is a scene where James Braddock's young son steals a salami from a butcher shop. He is terrified that his parents will not be able to keep he and his siblings at home. He feels that if he can help provide for the family he can prevent that awful outcome. He stole the meat, because he believed it was the only way he could get what he wanted, which was to stay with his parents. He is caught, and his father makes him return the meat and apologize. He gives him a stern talking to about how stealing is no way to address their problems. What's wrong is wrong. He then comfots the boy about his fear of being abandoned. The boy learns a valuable lesson that doing something wrong, even when for good reasons, is still wrong.

Having tough times does not give us license to abandon our beliefs and our integrity. It might be the most important time for us to stand strong in our beliefs and do the right thing. Only then, can the angels minister to us!

When we are in fear, it is easy to be tempted to grasp after something to make us feel more secure or to take away our pain. It is a dangerous way of taking a short cut. That rarely, if ever turns out well.

Standing strong when 'easy answers' present themselves is not a trivial task. It takes a lot of strength and determination. Jesus modeled this beautifully on the mountain. It's an inspiring example for us all!

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