The Temptation Trap

Psalm 141

A psalm of David.

Image via Waiting for the Word on Flickr: I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;
    hear me when I call to you.
2 May my prayer be set before you like incense;
    may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
    so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
    do not let me eat their delicacies.

5 Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
    for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.

6 Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs,
    and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken.
7 They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth,
    so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”

8 But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord;
    in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.
9 Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers,
    from the snares they have laid for me.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
    while I pass by in safety.

When you are surrounded by corrupt people on every side and when your environment is one which is hostile to the Christian life, it can be very easy to lose conviction and be drawn into sin. This is the situation out of which the psalmist struggles in Psalm 141. He has an urgent need for the sustaining power of God to keep him from falling into the sin of those around him: “O Lord, I call to you; come quickly to me” (v. 1 NIV).

The one praying asks God to sustain him in righteousness. “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord … Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers” (vv.3-4 NIV). The danger of being in the midst of corruption is that we can be corrupted in thought, word and deed. The speaker of this psalm knows that his only hope to keep him from falling into sin is the sustaining power of God. We need to be constantly asking God to sustain us from sin.

The psalmist specifically asks God for a righteous person to be brought into his life and hold him accountable. “Let a righteous man strike me – it is a kindness; let him rebuke me – it is oil on my head…” (v. 5 NIV). The firm word of accountability is a blessing from God.  This man knows that he needs someone in his life who will hold him to his vow to keep God’s standards. Pray that God will send someone into your life to hold you accountable to God’s standards.

The speaker also avoids falling into temptation by maintaining a focus on the Lord. “But my eyes are fixed on you” (v.8 NIV). Only by keeping thoughts and meditations on the Lord and His Word can corruption be avoided. The times when we lose that focus are the times when we will drift into sin.

Prayer: God, you alone can sustain me from sin and corruption. I am weak. Put someone in my life to hold me accountable. Be a powerful presence in my life so that I can stay focused on you.

The Rev. Charlie Holt
St Peter’s Church
Lake Mary, FL

Originally posted here. For help studying the Bible, please find the Old Testament Study Guide and the New Testament Study Guide sections of the Bible Challenge website.

The Meditations of a Pilgrim

The meditations of a pilgrim anticipate the destination. The pilgrim’s mind is filled with ideas of what it will be like when he “gets there.” We do the same thing; on Image via Waiting for the Word on Flickrlong road trips to vacation sites, our thoughts are filled with anticipation and excitement. The goal of a Israelite pilgrim was Jerusalem. For there God’s presence manifested itself in a special way within the Holy of Holies, in the temple of God. The temple was known as God’s house. Oh, it did not contain Him, but the temple was the footstool of the Heavenly King whose throne was in heaven. At Jerusalem, man could approach the very throne of God.

Jerusalem was the place where all the tribes of Israel would go to offer praise to their king, the Lord.  It was the place where justice reigned (v.5).  It was a place of security.  Jerusalem was a place which was safe and peaceful. Read King David’s sentiments about the Holy City:

Psalm 122

A song of ascents. Of David.

1 I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
2 Our feet are standing
in your gates, Jerusalem.

3 Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
4 That is where the tribes go up—
the tribes of the Lord
to praise the name of the Lord
according to the statute given to Israel.
5 There stand the thrones for judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
7 May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
8 For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that “here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14 NIV).  Old Jerusalem in all its glory is a mere shadow of the great glory of the heavenly Jerusalem.  We are citizens of that heavenly city.  As pilgrims to that city, we should meditate on what it will be like when we “get there.”  In one sense, we are already there; for even now, the temple of God is the people of God.  We are at the footstool of His throne every time we assemble for worship.  Now we can offer Him praise at His feet and petition Him for peace and security.  Yet we are on a long road trip to the New Jerusalem.  There, we will see God’s face.  There, righteousness dwells and justice reigns.  The glory of God will be seen in its fullness.

Prayer:  Heavenly King, your Kingdom must be a glorious place filled with great joy and love.  Heaven will be great, Oh Lord, for you will be there.  I cannot wait to be with you and see you face to face.

The Rev. Charlie Holt
St. Peter’s Church
Lake Mary, FL

Originally posted here. For help studying the Bible, please find the Old Testament Study Guide and the New Testament Study Guide sections of the Bible Challenge website.

Guard the Deposit of Faith

Paul’s final charge to Timothy is to “guard the deposit entrusted to you”(6:21) As a minister of the Gospel, Timothy is being sent into a battle on to the frontlines for the very Gospel itself. He needs strong encouragement to see the importance of the task and ministry with which he has been entrusted.

He repeats the encouragement in his second letter to Timothy:

Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 1:13, 14

The need for Paul’s letter to Timothy was occasioned for two main reasons: geography and time. First, Paul was simply not able to be in more than one place at a time. The delegation of leadership to others was an essential task for Paul if there was to be a geographically broad gospel movement. As Paul traveled on his missionary journeys moving from region to region, city to city, town to town, many new congregations were planted. New leadership had to be developed in each region, city and town. Coordination and support of those various congregations also became mission critical for the gospel.

The second issue was related to time. Paul was always keenly aware that his days of “fruitful ministry” were numbered. The issue of succession was critically important to Paul as he empowered Timothy to lead and then to identify and empower more leaders for the churches.

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:1-2

In this way we see, the first examples of succession and delegation at work in the church in the personal and pastoral relationship between Timothy and Paul. For Paul, the issue is not merely the passing of a torch humanly speaking, but for him it was critically important that the content and character of the gospel be guarded in order that it may be passed on faithfully to the next generation of leaders.

As each generation considers its own faith, it must also keep in mind the needs of the next generation of believers. We are given a sacred trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ, a trust to be guarded that it may be faithfully conveyed.

In what ways are you delegating and passing on the deposit of faith which has been entrusted to you? Do you have a Timothy in your life?

Guard the deposit of faith!

CF Diocese Bishop Candidates Online

The candidates for election of the Next Bishop for the Diocese of Central Florida have been officially announced. I am humbled and honored to be nominated as one of the seven candidates. I ask for your prayers for me, the other candidates, and the diocese as we offer ourselves to be transformed by the will of the Lord, his good pleasing and perfect will. (see Romans 12:1-2)

You can learn more about all of the candidates by going to the Diocese of Central Florida Bishop Search Website. There is an ongoing forum where the candidates are actively in discussion. (Online Q&A Forum)

To view and read my materials: Click Here

I also invite you to listen to a presentation I have given about the call, qualifications and role of a Bishop: Click Here

Most of all, please be praying for this process of discernment. Jesus Christ is leading us.

I am faithfully yours in Christ Jesus our Lord,

Charlie Holt+


“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’

by Brooke Holt

from Brooke’s Blog: “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and
have it abundantly.” –John 10:10
I grew up on Mick Jaggar’s words in his song “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”. Mick didn’t seem to experience satisfaction in life so why could I expect to? He was the famous one living a life of fame, wealth and privilege. If his life was lacking, how could I expect more for myself?These words ring true for far too many of us today. We live surviving, and we think that is the way it is supposed to be. I believe that Jesus’ words in John 10:10 say something else. Jesus came to bring us life–abundant life.

Does abundance equal satisfaction? What I have found for myself and for the many women with whom I have worked over the years is that we have holes in our hearts. Blaise Pascal called these holes “God shaped vacuums”. In our desperation to find meaning in life, purpose, peace, we seek to fill these holes or vacuums. It is like the young child trying to fit that piece in the puzzle. She tries each and every piece except the one that fits.

That certainly has been the story of my life. I have tried to fill my “God shaped vacuum” with everything: performance, money, success, a husband, children, food, alcohol, shopping, affirmation. Sadly, the list could go on for days. Like the frustrated child, I have found that while those things brought a temporary fit or filling, they never truly filled the void. The puzzle piece just wouldn’t stay; it didn’t look right and it definitely didn’t feel right. My hole was still there. My hole hurt!

When I look back to the passage in John, Jesus had been teaching about the sheep and the good shepherd (John 10:11). I understand that there are many things and people in life who make promises. These things or people try to fill the vacuum, but they fall short. Instead of satisfying, they rob me of peace and purpose. These are the thieves. The thieves are different in each person’s life. Now, I understand why “I can’t get no satisfaction” — I am not looking to the true shepherd!

The call of Jesus is to follow the true shepherd. He is the true shepherd. He is the answer to our God-shaped vacuum. The path to abundance is one of trust, surrender and faith. When I follow the Good Shepherd, life may not always be easy, but it is full, full of God’s promises, provision and His wonderful plans of redemption and purpose. It is in His plan that I find the satisfaction, the abundance that I seek. It is here that I learn to thrive instead of survive.

What Defines You?

By Brooke Holt

From Brooke’s Blog: What Defines You?

The great debate began for me the day before our half marathon – wear the Garmin watch or not. Part of me wanted to run free, free of numbers, times, distances. Part of me wanted to make sure that I was running smart, and the other part of me wanted to make sure that I was running fast. I had a goal time. In order to reach that goal, I had to maintain a certain pace. Minutes before walking out to the race, I put on the Garmin. Freedom is not something I am especially good at; that morning, freedom was too risky!

Throughout the race, I was delighted by the awesome scenery and the supportive crowds cheering us on. The crowds’ cheers made me feel like a champion. Despite that, I found myself constantly looking down at that Garmin watch to see if I was performing up to my standard. Most of the race, I was disappointed in my pace realizing that I was not on track to meet my goal. Occasionally, I was pleased with myself feeling like I was measuring up, but that never lasted long as I saw my goal become more and more unattainable.

In the Donna marathon and half marathon, the last bridge is the final great hurdle. As you run, it feels like you are headed up forever. I was struggling, struggling not just to keep pace but struggling to keep going. In the midst of that struggle, I kept looking at the Garmin. At this point, I knew that I wouldn’t reach my race goal. Knowing that, how did I press on with the race? Everything within me said you failed. Walk. Quit. This hurts too much. You didn’t make the goal so why continue the torture of this climb. There was a silent battle going on inside of my mind.

In the midst of that silent battle, God asked me a question: “What defines you?” Does this race define you? If you make the goal, are you then good enough? I wrestled with this question and began doing some soul searching of the many ways I have defined myself: athlete, coach, mother, wife. The list can go on and on as I have sought to prove my worth as a person through my performance. On that bridge, God asked if I could let Him define me. God asked if I could take my goals and entrust them to Him. He had the audacity to even ask for my race. Struggling, I had no other option but to give it to Him.

That decision to give God the race was the highlight of my run. God came alongside of me and assured me that I had met the goal, His goal, for my race. He was able and willing to define me. Fortunately, His definition was so much greater than my goal time. I was flooded with peace. My bodily challenge did not go away. The bridge remained and there was still another mile to run once that bridge was crossed. But, I ran differently. I didn’t look at the Garmin anymore. I kept talking to my daddy, the one who chose me, loved me and defined me.

A man had been running in front of me just within my view for many miles. On the back of his shirt was the sign of the Christian fish with the cross in it. The top of the shirt posed the question: “Why do you run?” I smiled and told God that I run because I can feel His presence when I do. It is a gift, and I am called to run with freedom and joy in the race that is set before me.

Our training group had just concluded a Bible study on Ephesians the day before the race. As I looked back on that book of the Bible, I read chapter 2 verses 8 and 9 with new understanding:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

All I am and all I have is a gift from God. Whether I meet my half marathon goal of not, I am still “his workmanship” or as the New Living translation writes, “his masterpiece”. What an amazing way to have God describe me! When I talked to my children about what this means, each had wonderful thoughts to share. My youngest child, Saxon, had a great insight at the end of our conversation: “Mom, we are awesomely made!” My heart swelled. Saxon got it. We are awesomely made and we are awesomely loved.

Now, if I can live as if that were true. No race should define me. My appearance does not define me. My performance does not define me. All the good things in my life do not define me. God defines me. He is the Creator; He is the King. That Creator and King decided to call me his daughter. In fact, I am His masterpiece–awesomely made!