7 links worth seeing

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Full-Time Job

As the school year comes to a close, 2014 graduates enter an uncertain time. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before my first full-time job that your campus career center won’t tell you.

Singled Out in Church

I love the church. I love that I grew up in the church. Because I love the people who cared for, prayed with, loved, and taught me during this time, I grew up considering church as family. That is, until my place in the church—or in the family—became less defined.

Why We Should Say “Yes” to a Culture of Marriage

While promoting pro-growth economic policy (as the authors propose) is important, retreating from marriage is not the answer. Restoring a marriage culture is essential for the welfare of men, women, and children.

7 dangerous Apps that parents need to know about

A look into the some of the scariest Apps for your kids.

Spite Is Good. Spite Works.

Psychologists are exploring spitefulness in its customary role as a negative trait, a lapse that should be embarrassing but is often sublimated as righteousness, as when you take your own sour time pulling out of a parking space because you notice another car is waiting for it and you’ll show that vulture who’s boss here, even though you’re wasting your own time, too.

Reality check on sexual temptation

The sight of a beautiful woman has special power to hold men captive. The atmosphere changes when a good-looking lady enters a room full of men. This will always be the case and it’s not entirely wrong. God designed a natural attraction between the sexes. It’s a universal reality and arguably essential to our survival. But what is natural is easily perverted in the hearts and hands of fallen people. Attraction degenerates into lust and leads to sexual immorality. People get hurt.

Sex After Christianity

Gay marriage is not just a social revolution but a cosmological one.

 

Four warning signs for women

(From: When Women Lust, by Eowyn Stoddard)
______________________________________ 

We know when a man has sinned as he takes the body he wants through indulging in pornography or visiting a prostitute. But what does it look like for a woman to act out on her lust? She cannot take the body she desires to have, so what does she do? For the most part, her sin remains hidden. Still, there are some tell-tale signs of her sin, which I will describe in the first person because I struggle with this too.

Signs of Struggle

  1. Self-Pity – The first feeling lust produces in a woman is dissatisfaction with her own body. We have compared our body with someone else’s and fallen short. We imagine the other woman is sexier, more confident in herself, and overall better off. This leads us to self-pity.
  2. Insecurity – Feeling sorry for ourselves makes us feel insecure. We feel threatened in our own femininity and start worrying about our husband or fiancé or boyfriend finding a new woman more attractive. We transpose this subjective fear into reality. Because I am struggling with lust, I assume my man must be, so I fear our relationship is threatened anew with every new attractive woman we encounter.
  3. Criticism – We feel the need to put down other women. We rationalize our struggle by leveling the playing field in our own minds. The thinking goes like this: “Well, she may be very sexy, but she probably isn’t very intelligent,” or, “Her hair is perfect, but I’m sure glad I don’t have those legs.” We would never say anything cruel, but we think it to make ourselves feel better.
  4. Activism – If none of this makes us feel better, we embark on a never-ending cycle of self-improvement. We feel the need to regain ground because our place at the top has been threatened. This is a form of works-righteousness in which we attempt to prove to ourselves, the world around us, and ultimately even to God that we can change ourselves into our own image, the perfect one we’ve created, one we so desperately want to attain. We make new dietary resolutions, new and better workout plans, and buy new clothes and cosmetics so we can look sexier.

Let’s not waste precious time trying to be someone else. Being satisfied in God alone will make you and me irresistibly attractive women, inside and out, because his love will shine through us for the world to see.

Pursuing Wisdom (p. 3)

This is part three of a four-part study in the early chapters of Proverbs. Each post has study and discussion questions for personal or group use. Since the early chapters of proverbs are words from a father to a son, these lessons are especially helpful for parents who desire to lead their children in the way of wisdom. The study will be based on four main points.

3. Abstain from Sexual temptation

In Proverbs 2:16-19, Solomon introduced his son to another voice of temptation — the voice of the adulteress or wayward wife. Her words are not overtly perverse like those of the wicked men.  Instead, she uses “seductive words” and “flatters with her words.” Three chapters are devoted to this warning (Proverbs 5,6,7).

In Proverbs 2:16, the primary concern is the “adulteress” (NIV); or “strange woman” (NASB).  Some translations refer to her as a “foreigner” or “loose woman” (loose meaning outside the family).  In Proverbs 5:3, again concerns the “adulteress”.  Proverbs 6:24-32 uses a variety of identifications:

      • “the immoral woman”
      • “the wayward wife”
      • “seductress”
      • “the prostitute”
      • “the adulteress”

Proverbs 6:29 and 32 refer to the man who “sleeps with another man’s wife” and who “commits adultery.” 

Summarizing the various terms, the woman is “strange” or “foreign” — not necessarily in the sense that she is from a strange land and different ethnic group than Israel.  Instead, she appears to be an Israelite woman: “who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God” (Proverbs 2:17).

Reference to the “covenant she made before God” implies an Israelite woman.  Therefore, her “strangeness” or “foreignness” which the terms clearly imply has more to do with her deliberate act of violating the covenant and standards of her people. She has cut herself off and distanced herself through her immorality. 

Along these same lines, one commentator suggested that, “By betraying her covenant of marriage, this woman looses herself from the covenant community and turn her back on the covenant of God.” 

We should assume that Solomon is very concerned about the danger she presents since he devotes a significant amount of space to the warning about her to the warning about her. Next to wisdom, no other theme is given more attention than warnings about sexual temptation (See: 2:6-19; 5:1-23; 6:20-35; 7:1-27; 9:8-18). 

There is a tone of urgency and deep concern in Solomon’s warnings.  “Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.  Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel” (Proverbs 5:7-9). 

Think about it

The intent of these passages is to communicate that, “nothing in life so clouds our judgment and makes stupid fools out of the wisest of us as succumbing to illicit passion. All our useful energies are drained off to defend or conceal that behavior.  The colossal compromise of adultery colors all our other value judgments and causes us to stagger along life’s road half tipsy.  To the teachers it was worth every possible effort to prevent their young people from falling into this bottle-dungeon of perverted sexuality whose walls sloped inward to the top and make escape only a fantasy “ (David A. Hubbard, p. 88, C. C. Proverbs). 

 The larger area of concern here is the reality of sexual temptation— which is not limited to any one culture or period of history. Therefore, as we consider the context of this text, we need to be careful to relate the larger concern of sexual temptation to other scriptures and to our lives.

We face an even greater challenge when addressing this subject — the challenge of living in a culture that has lost its connection with any clear sense of standards for sexual conduct.  More than that, as Tim Stafford has written,

“The old consensus about how we should live sexually has shattered, and we have not yet arrived at whatever will replace it.  We have only arrived at chaos, and with it great pain and confusion.  Families shatter. Children grow up with a series of unfamiliar men.  They move from home to home, experiencing dizzyingly different level of poverty and affluence.  The old ways of courtship, marriage and family are shaky.  We didn’t go looking for chaos.  On the contrary, chaos is the end result of an unprecedented push for pleasure.  Americans have never known so much about their sexuality, talked so much about their sexuality or tried so hard for happiness in the sexual realm.  Magazines and books and TV shows endlessly discuss how to find sexual delight.  But the results have been disastrous on every level . . . we have come perilously close to embracing lust as a fundamental human characteristic — if not a right.” 

A word from God

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality: that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.  The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you.  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.  Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit” (I Thess. 4:3-8). 

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How would you describe your handling of with sexual temptation?

Victorious, struggling, defeated, overwhelmed, good days and bad days, ____________________.

2. Identify your primary sources of struggle with sexual temptation: TV, internet, movies, magazines, books, relationships, etc…

3.  How does the following teaching of Jesus relate?

Matthew 5:27-30 - “You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

John Stott explains: “If your eye causes you to sin because temptation comes to you through your eyes (objects you see), then pluck out your eyes. That is, don’t look!  Behave as if you had actually plucked out your eyes and flung them away, and were now blind and so could not see the objects which previously caused you to sin. Again, if your hand or foot causes you to sin, because temptation comes to you through your hands (things you do) or your feet (places you visit), then cut them off. That is: don’t do it! Don’t go! Behave as if you had actually cut off your hands and feet and flung them away, and were now crippled and so could not do the things or visit the places which previously caused you to sin” (Sermon on the Mount, p. 89).

  4.   What do I find most helpful for overcoming sexual temptation? (Recommendation: Memorize all the serves on the previous page)

  5.   Read and discuss the following

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18).  What level of pride is required to believe that sexual sin could overtake Lot, Samson, David (“a man after God’s own heart”), Solomon, the Corinthians and a host of modern Christian leaders, but not me?  Paul’s warnings deserve a prominent place on our dashboards, desks and computers: “But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Gal 6:1); “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”  (1 Corinthians 10:12).

 God does not want us to be presumptuous, but nor does He want us to be paranoid.  We do not have to live each day teetering on the edge of immorality or paralyzed by the fear of sudden fall. In the specific context of seeking to be sexually pure and resisting sexual temptation, the wise man says this to his son:

“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.  Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared” (Pr. 3:21-26).

If we walk daily with Christ, being alert to what’s happening in our minds and implementing steps of  righteousness and wisdom, then we can go our way “in safety” and “not be afraid.” (From: Sexual Temptation: How Christian Workers Can Win the Battle,  Randy C. Alcorn )

6. Relate I Corinthians 7:2-5 to the concern of sexual temptation.

“But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (I Corinthians 7:2-5, NLT)

Scripture dealing with sexual temptation: 

    • Ephesians 5:3-5 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body n in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; …”
    • Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
    • Proverbs 6:32 “But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself.”
    • Proverbs 28:13,14 “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.”
    • Psalm 32:1-2,5  “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’– and you forgave the guilt of my sin”
    • 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
    • Romans 13:14 “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
    • 1 Peter 2:11-12  “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Steve Cornell

Sex and Marriage

One of the main sources of marital conflict is sex.

This often seems strange to engaged couples. Why would sex be a problem? I tell them that the reason for conflict over sex is the very thing that makes it possible. It involves male and female.

Men and women tend to approach sex very differently and couples need to understanding this in order to minimize the conflict.

Analogies are usually inadequate but when it comes to sex, I suggest that men are like the microwave and women are like the crock pot. Let me explain.

The act of sex itself registers more with men than the relationship leading up to it. The relationship leading up to it tends to be more important for women when it comes to sex.

If couples want to have a better love life, husbands must be more intentional about cultivating the relationship and wives must try to be more intentional and take initiative in sexual matters.

It’s also important for Wives to know that they can be a source of protection for their husbands in the area of sexual temptation (I Corinthians 7:5). I don’t say this to lay blame on a wife when a man refuses to resist temptation but, far too often, wives do not take the sexual part of marriage as seriously as they should.

When I teach on this subject, I remind wives that when a man goes to bed with a woman, there is a good chance he thinks about sex most nights. But when he feels like he always has to be the one to initiate or even has to “ask for sex” with his wife, a man’s self-respect will be damaged in ways that lead to other problems.

This is particularly problematic when a woman used sexual advances to win a man before marriage and then shuts down sexually in marriage. In these cases, deeper changes in thinking need to happen to protect the marriage.  

Open and humble communication are essential in this area. Couples must view sexual frustration as a threat to their marriages.

Prolonged sexual abstinence in marriage is forbidden in Scripture. In fact, Scripture specifically identifies this as an opportunity for the evil one to tempt married people because of lack of self-control (see: I Corinthians 7:3-5).

If interested in further consideration of this aspect, consider, “Do you wish you had more sex in your marriage?

Steve Cornell

Differences between men and women

Counselors have agreed for many years that sex is one of the four or five main areas of marital conflict.

I love asking young couples preparing for marriage why sex would be such a big source of conflict in marriage. If they’re striving for purity in their relationship, one of their toughest challenges is keeping their hands off each other! 

Most engaged couples don’t understand why sex would be a source of marital conflict. It sounds strange to them. So premarital counselors must look down the road and help them to think realistically about life — and, reality is not unclear on this matter. 

I tell singles and engaged couples that one of the primary reasons sex is a source of conflict in marriage is the very thing that makes it possible. I always get a look of confusion from them until I say: “It involves a man and a woman!” Then, after awkward laughter, they return to their confused look. To help them understand, I use the illustration of microwaves and crock-pots. 

Microwaves and Crock-pots

Men tend to be like microwaves when it comes to sex; women tend to be more like a crock-pots. Sex for most women is more of an extended part of an overall relationship. It tends to be more of a physical act for men.

I am not validating all that could be implied by the imagery, I am just trying to illustrate general facts. The point of the imagery is that men and women typically approach sex differently.

In most marriages, sex will be more of an area of intentional giving for women. But relationship-building will require more thoughtful intention from men. A primary reason sex is a source of conflict is the fact that husbands tend to want more sex in marriage than their wives. When you factor in how a man often tends to connect his sense of self-respect to sex, things can get really bad if he feels rejected or like he is always the initiator.

I’ve sometimes observed resentment from husbands over the way their wives were sexually aggressive before marriage and shut down after marriage. Some single women (sadly) assume that they must use sexual advances to “win” a man. In doing this, they give him the impression that this is how life together will be. I’ve talked with men who resentfully express how they had more sex with their wives before they were married. 

Lest I sound like I am picking on women, in a similar way, men are often guilty of using intentional relationship building to “win” a woman and then shifting into complacency after marriage. The pastor who performed our wedding charged me with these words: “The graces you used to win her love, use to keep her love.” 

Sober words for married couples:

When it comes to the sexual part of marriage, couples should pause over these words:

“But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (I Corinthians 7:2-5, NLT)

If couples want to have a better love life, husbands must be intentional and take initiative in building relationship and wives must be intentional and take initiative in sexual matters. 

Wives, please remember that you are God’s source of protection for your husbands. Couples must view sexual frustration as a threat to their marriages. Prolonged sexual abstinence must not be permitted in a marriage. Scripture specifically identifies it as an opportunity for the evil one!

Teach singles 

Men and women are different. Without some prior discussion about this reality, the differences will likely become unnecessary sources of selfishness and conflict. Many images have been used to explain male/female differences. Men are from Mars, women from Venus; Men are like waffles; women like spaghetti. The differences are real and should be studied by couples preparing for marriage. Once understood, couples should consider the way God can use their differences to build stronger oneness. 

A unique challenge in the Church

The challenge to allow differences lead to oneness is sometimes hindered by an unfortunate tendency to use biblical references to headship and submission to diminish the uniqueness and contributions of wives. When a husband insists that life conforms to his dominant identity, he violates God’s original plan for marriage and fails to embrace the original truth that it’s not good for the man to be alone. 

I’ve also observed women who suppress their identity under more dominant men who frankly need their gifts and strengths. Sometimes these women entertain misguided understandings of headship and submission. Trying to be “submissive wives,” and letting their husbands be “leaders of their homes,” these women violate the original design by not fulfilling a complementary role for husbands who badly need their unique gifts. 

The original plan assumes the necessity of individuality and uniqueness (in both husbands and wives) for the completion of oneness. The two must become one — without one disappearing into the other.

 Steve Cornell