Character is Seen in the Ordinary

Share Button

Character test

It has been said that character is who you are when no one’s looking. Who we are in a crisis or during difficult times is developed by who we are during the ordinary times of life.

For help in developing the skills to navigate the unordinary events of life, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.

My Name is Pride

Share Button

pride apple
My name is Pride. I am a cheater.

I cheat you of your God-given destiny…because
you demand your own way.

I cheat you of contentment…because you
“deserve better than this.”

I cheat you of knowledge…because you already
know it all.

I cheat you of healing…because you’re too full of
me to forgive.

I cheat you of holiness…because you refuse to
admit when you’re wrong.

I cheat you of vision…because you’d rather look
in the mirror than out a window.

I cheat you of genuine friendship…because
nobody’s going to know the real you.

I cheat you of love…because real romance
demands sacrifice.

I cheat you of greatness in heaven…because you
refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.

I cheat you of God’s glory…because I convince
you to seek your own.

My name is Pride. I am a cheater.

You like me because you think I’m always looking
out for you. Untrue.
I’m looking to make a fool of you.

God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry…
If you stick with me
You’ll never know.

(Beth Moore)

(Quoted From: How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong)

The Unbearable Burden of Uniqueness

Share Button

burden

The Unbearable Burden of Uniqueness

By Derek Rishmawy

Life can be lonely and painful at times. Indeed, one of the great pains of life is the experience of loneliness. Before sin entered, God said it was “not good” for Adam to be alone (Gen. 2:18) and so he gave him a companion—someone to share his bread, his life, his task in the world. One of the immediate effects of sin, though, was to divide the man and the woman (Gen. 3:12). Alienation from God leads to alienation from each other.

Most of us have known that pain. That bittersweet moment after a personal victory when you realize there’s nobody to share it with. Or worse, that hour of tragedy when it seems there’s no one to call.

It’s even worse when you’re “unique.” In Instruments in The Redeemer’s Hands, Paul Tripp explains the way feeling like that special snowflake can go bad and keep our relationships perennially casual and impotent as sources of comfort and change:

Another reason we keep things casual is that we buy the lie that we are unique and struggle in ways that no one else does. We get tricked by people’s public personas and forget that behind closed doors they live real lives just like us. We forget that life for everyone is fraught with disappointment and difficulty, suffering and struggle, trials and temptation. No one is from a perfect family, no one has a perfect job, no one has perfect relationships, and no one does the right thing all the time. Yet we are reluctant to admit our weaknesses to ourselves, let alone to others. We don’t want to face what our struggles reveal about the true condition of our hearts. (164)

While it’s true that your story is your story, it’s also a human story, an Adam and Eve story. Your hopes, fears, scars, emotional paralysis, history of hurt, betrayals, judgments, anxieties, pains, and sins have quirks and twists peculiar to you. But they also participate in the general character of life east of Eden.

You are not fundamentally alone in your experiences. Only human narcissism says our burdens are essentially unshareable and our woes unredeemable.

The Pride of Unique Despair 

I remember when in college this truth flooded my mind with light. It was a particularly angsty time for me—school, girls, church, and the looming question “What am I going to do with my life?” I think that’s a given for most 20-year-old guys. In any case, I’d just met my new best friend, Soren Kierkegaard, and was reading through The Sickness Unto Death. In it he traces the labyrinthine ways sin can distort our self-understanding. In a particularly eye-opening section, Kierkegaard observes that pride can take many forms, like the devious assumption that your weakness is beyond God’s help. It’s not that you’re so great you don’t need it, it’s that you’re so miserable you can’t receive it. It’s the narcissism of thinking no one understands—not even God.

I had been trapped in a form of pride so subtle it took a long-dead Dane using abstruse language to expose my folly—to pry open my eyes and reveal the dark comfort I took in being uniquely pained and in feeling beyond God’s comfort and the understanding of my fellow man. Oh, to be 20 again.

Contrary to my youthful, turmoil-filled estimation, the basic theological and practical reality is that people do, in fact, understand. Everyone may not know your particular pain—the multifarious permutations of human tragedy and depravity are endless—but someone does. Someone else has wept as you’ve wept, struggled as you’ve struggled, failed as spectacularly as you’ve failed.

You are not unique. And you don’t have to grieve or heal alone. This is good news.

Our High Priest and Brother

The author of Hebrews points out two ways this reality is particularly true for the Christian:

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. . . . Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God to  to make a sacrifice of atonement for all the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. (Heb. 2:10, 14–18)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Heb. 4:15)

1. Jesus has gone through it alongside us. In the incarnation, the Son became our brother, our high priest, by taking on flesh and enduring all we’ve endured, except without sin. (And even that doesn’t mean he didn’t know the weight of temptation—in order to resist it, he had to bear its full weight.) Jesus knows your pain. He knows your suffering. He knows your struggles. He took it on by becoming our brother, human alongside us, and by tasting the full range of experience and loss so that he could overcome it all.

The bottom line is this: the Son of God knows what it’s like. He understands. You’re not alone. What’s more, he went through it all to fix the problem. Whatever shame, guilt, or fear you have, Jesus took it to the cross and rose again, leaving your sins in the tomb—never to be seen again.

2. Jesus gave us brothers and sisters. Jesus became our brother in order to “bring many sons to glory.” He didn’t just save you from your sin and misery; he saved a company, a worldwide family of fallen, feeble, being-redeemed people for you to walk alongside. Your local church is full of “unique” persons just like you—persons with deep scars Jesus is healing, broken hearts he is mending, histories of slavery he is redeeming, and lonely silences he is speaking into. It’s like I recently told a student in my church: “Everybody here has a story just like yours. The details are just different.”

And the miracle of grace is that God wants to use those stories and all the broken twists and turns to speak grace, by his Spirit, into the lives of his children.

Break the Silence

The point of Tripp’s quote is that you have every reason to break the silence. Don’t believe the narcissistic lie that you’re alone in your pain and sin. You’re not. Take courage, humble yourself, and transform a merely casual relationship into a truly personal one by reaching out to someone. Let them in on your anger issue. Tell them about the family trauma tearing you up inside. Share your work troubles. Confess the terror you experience whenever you consider your future. It’s only when we confess what’s really going on in our lives that someone can speak a word of grace and comfort. Only then can the healing truly begin.

You don’t have to carry the unbearable burden of uniqueness. The gospel means you can be saved just like everyone else.

 

Where is Your Focus?

Share Button

focus on God

 

Where we focus our attention is going to impact and drive our emotional state. If we ruminate on our problems or on those we blame for our situation, we will continue in a state of distress.

To learn how to deal with our distress and find help and rest, contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003.

Extend to Others What You Have From God

Share Button

hay

Extend to others what God regularly extends to you. Love. Patience. Forgiveness.
-Lecrae

The 2 Questions That Could Save Your Relationship

Share Button

The 2 Questions That Could Save Your Relationship

Does your partner really know what you want? Time to find out.

By Kira Asatryan

Conflict in coupleMany of us believe that shoring up a declining relationship requires substantial effort. While this is often true—especially if a betrayal of trust has occurred—most relationships can be greatly improved by posing two simple questions to your partner.

These questions work because they address the two most important aspects of relationship healthunderstanding one another and caring about one another.

Luckily, the questions are also open-ended enough to apply in almost any situation, regardless of the cause of the relationship decline:

1. “What do you want me to understand better?”

When we are struggling to connect with a loved one—particularly a romantic partner—we often put a tremendous amount of energy into getting our own point across to the other person. We focus on what we’re upset about, try to communicate it clearly, and rephrase and repeat until we feel that the other person gets it. Shouldn’t we attempt to understand what the other person is saying, too?

The question, “What do you want me to understand better?” reverses the normal dynamic of a disagreement. No longer are you trying to convey your point while your partner does the same. Instead, you focus entirely on understanding the other person’s point—a gesture of compassion, engagement, and interest that works wonders to quell resentments and relax feelings of gridlock.

Beyond the fact that this question shows love and compassion for the other person, the information you gain from the answer will be invaluable. Your partner may explain something directly relevant to your current argument that you never understood before—or something about himself or herself that increases your understanding of the individual overall.

For example: You and your partner are fighting about household chores and who will do the laundry (or dishes, etc.). You ask, “What do you want me to understand better?”—and you expect a response related to the duties. Instead, he or she says, “I want you to understand that I grew up in a family where no one ever yelled, so when you yell at me I have a hard time listening to you.” This information about your partner is much more important than anything related to the dishes!

2. “How would that look?”

Often, we communicate well enough with our partners to know—generally—what they want from us: She wants him to be more affectionate; he wants her to help more around the house. But couples can still encounter major problems despite knowing this: We may know what the other person wants, but not know how they want it.

In other words, the delivery matters. If she says she wants him to be more affectionate, and he incorrectly interprets the how of that to mean initiating sex more often, this could cause major problems. She may act dissatisfied with his efforts—even discouraging him—or she may even turn against him for not giving her what she “asked for,” when, in reality, he never really understood what she meant.

When he first heard from her that she desired more affection, he could have asked her, “How would that look?” She could then have described how she imagined the idea of “showing more affection.” To her, “showing more affection” would look like a kiss in the morning, a text at lunchtime, or eye contact during sex. These are the delivery methods that work for her. And had he asked, he would have information that could significantly improve the relationship.

The next time you feel your connection sliding into decline, try these two simple questions for instant closeness. They may just save your relationship.

**********************

For more relationship help, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.

 

15 Ways to Fight Lust With the Sword of the Spirit

Share Button

15 Ways to Fight Lust With the Sword of the Spirit

By Kevin DeYoung

lustIt is almost impossible in the Western world to escape sensuality. Sex is on the television, in the movies and in our music, online on adult websites like hdtubemovies.xxx, on the side of buses, during halftime shows, in our books and in glossy close-ups at supermarket check-out. Sex is all around us in the mall, dripping off every beer commercial, and two stories high on our billboards. Sexual sin is walking around our high schools, flaunted across our universities, and hiding in our churches.

And of course, sex is on the internet. Pornography and sex-related sites such as fucked tube make up 60 percent of daily web traffic. Of internet users in the U.S., 40 percent visit porn sites at least once a month, and that number increases to 70 percent when the audience is 18-34 year old males. Half of hotel room patrons purchase pornography from their rooms. 90 percent of 8-16 year olds with internet access have viewed pornography online, and the average age of exposure is eleven.

The seventh commandment is not just broken in this country; it’s being smashed to pieces.

And sexual sin is not just an “out there” problem. Any pastor will tell you stories about how sexual sin has destroyed people in his congregation. None of us are immune from the dangers of sexual immorality. In a Christianity Today study from several years ago, 40 percent of clergy acknowledged visiting pornographic websites. Another survey found that 21 percent visit regularly. Yet another survey at Pastors.com found that 50 percent of pastors reported to viewing pornography in the previous year. And then there’s the underlying issue of the heart. The seventh commandment doesn’t just forbid adultery and pornography regardless of whether it’s in a magazine or on a website like m-porn.xxx. It forbids every action, look, conversation, thought, or desire that incites lust and uncleanness.

So how in the world, in this world we live in, and with our sex-saturated hearts, can we obey the seventh commandment?

Let me suggest fifteen passages of Scripture that can help us fight lust and the temptation to sexual immorality.

1) Proverbs 5:18-19 “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” This may seem a strange text for fighting sexual temptation, but married couples need to know they have delight at their lawful disposal. We need to know that sex is good, intimacy is good, bodies together in marriage are good. Good, glorious sex is spiritual warfare for the married couple.

2) Lamentations 3:25-27 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” This a verse is for singles. Granted, this passage isn’t talking about waiting for a spouse. It’s about waiting on the Lord. But that’s the point: the Lord is good to those who wait for him. He knows what you need. The preceding verses tell us “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” Don’t think “How can I live without sex for another year or decade or two decades.” Think about today. The Lord has given you grace for this day and he will give you grace for the every subsequent day in which you follow God in the midst of unmet desires.

3) 1 Peter 3:15 “In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Before you take a second look or dress yourself so that others will, think: “Will this make me more ready to talk to someone about Jesus?” Sensuality deadens the spiritual senses and makes us less courageous and effective witnesses for Christ.

4) 2 Peter 3:10-14 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…Therefore…be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” Do you want to be cheating on your husband, masturbating, or watching Game of Thrones when Christ returns?

5) James 1:14-15 “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” This passage helps us understand how temptation works and reminds us that feeling tempted is not necessarily the same as sinning. Temptation beckons us to do what we should not do. That’s not sin. When the desire is nurtured it conceives and gives birth to sin (sin in the flesh or sin in the mind). Sin then grows and matures and leads to death. It is not lust to be attracted to someone or notice he or she is good looking. It is not lust to have a strong desire for sex. It is not lust to be excited about sex in marriage. It is not lust to inadvertently notice a woman bathing on the roof. It is sin to keep noticing and start scheming. Stoke the fires of this lustful passion and it will bring forth death. Just ask King David.

6) Hebrews 2:17-18 “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Jesus was tempted, not as we are from a sinful nature. But there were external voices calling him to sin. Let us not underestimate the real nature of his temptations and undercut his sympathy and his ability to help. Jesus was hungry in the wilderness. He had a desire, a want. He was enticed to make the stones bread so he could enjoy the pleasure of food. But he told the devil, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Matt. 4:1-3). In our moments of sexual temptation, we need to think, “Flesh does not sustain me. Jesus does.”

7) Romans 14:21 “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” As Christians, we want to help each other avoid sin, not lead one another into it with flirting, coarse joking, and immodest dress.

8) Matthew 5:27-30 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” We are not good fighters. We make excuses. We don’t get radical. We pray a few prayers, feel bad all the time, tell a friend to ask how we’re doing once in awhile and that’s it. We need more decisive action than that. Avoid the movies, get rid of your internet connection, don’t kiss before marriage, throw out your t.v., tear out your eye—whatever it takes to battle lust. There are too many whole-bodied people going to hell and not enough spiritual amputees going to heaven.

9) Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” There are often temporal consequences for disobedience. It could be STDs, baggage in marriage, a guilty conscience, getting mired in a deeper addiction, distraction at work, a pornography fetish you pass on to your children, destroying your family, your marriage, or your ministry. There are also eternal consequences if you give yourself over to this sin. Galatians 6:8 “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

10) 1 Cor 6:15-20 “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!…Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” We need a theology of the body: the body is good, but it’s not yours. Jesus didn’t just die to ransom our souls. He also died for your body. It belongs to God. It is a member of Christ’s body now. Surely, we don’t want to employ Christ’s body in some sexual escapade or his eyes in viewing pornography or his mind in sensual fantasy.

11) 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Cultural liberalism says, “Just be yourself.” Self-help doctrine says, “You can find a better you if you just dig deep enough.” Moralism says, “Be a better person.” The Bible says, “You are a new person by God’s grace, now live like it.” “Be who you are” is the gospel motivation for holiness.

12) Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” No one fights a war by himself, and no one will have victory over sexual sin on his own. You need to talk to others about your struggles and listen just as well. Be honest. Ask good questions. Don’t just confess and feel better. Repent and change. Don’t just sympathize; admonish. Follow up with your brothers and sisters. Pray and remind each other of the gospel.

13) James 4:6 “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” God always gives more grace. So keep coming to him with your sin and all your commandment violations. Confess like David in Psalm 51 that you have sinned against God. Confess that God is the most offended party as a result of your sin. And then believe like David in Psalm 32: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity.” We will never experience growing victory over sin unless we are quick to turn to Christ all the times we fail.

14) Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This has been the most helpful verse for me in fighting lust and the temptation to sexual immorality. We need to fight desire with desire. Satan tempts us by holding out something that will be pleasurable to us. We aren’t tempted to gorge ourselves on liverwurst, because for most of us, it doesn’t hold out the promise of great pleasure. But sex does. Pornography does. A second look does. The Bible gives us many weapons to fight temptation. We can tell ourselves it is wrong, it is sinful, it will lead to bad things, it isn’t what I should do as a Christian. All of those are helpful. But the one weapon we rarely use is more pleasure. We need to fight the fleeting pleasure of sexual sin with the far greater, more abiding pleasure of knowing God. The fight for sexual purity is the fight of faith. It may sound like nothing but hard work and gritting your teeth–the very opposite of faith. But faith is at the heart of this struggle. Do we believe that a glimpse of God is better than a glimpse of skin? Do we believe that God’s steadfast love is better than life (Psalm 63:3)? We’d probably sin less if we spent less time thinking about our sins, sexual or otherwise, and more time meditating on the love and holiness of God.

15) Ephesians 1:19-21 “…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” The great power that created the world, and saved us, and raised Jesus from the dead–that same power is now at work in you. We must believe that God is stronger than sexual temptation, sin, and addiction. If you believe that God brought a dead man back to life, you should believe that you can change. Not over night usually, but from one degree of glory to the next. Work out your salvation from sexual sin with fear and trembling, for God’s power is already at work within you.

*****************************

For more help, contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.

9 Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse

Share Button

9 Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse

By Justin and Lindsey Holcomb

god made all of meWe are asked lots: “What are some practical things parents can do to protect their children from sexual abuse?” We ended our children’s book, God Made All of Me, with a note to parents and caregivers answering this question. Here are the 9 practical things you can do to protect children.

1. Explain to your child that God made their body. An explanation can look something like, “Every part of your body is good, and some parts of your body are private.”

2. Teach proper names of private body parts. 
It might be uncomfortable at first, but use the proper names of body parts. Children need to know the proper names for their genitals. This knowledge gives children correct language for understanding their bodies, for asking questions that need to be asked, and for telling about any behavior that could lead to sexual abuse.

Clearly identify for your child which parts of their anatomy are private. Explain to your child that “some places on your body should never be touched by other people—except when you need help in the bathroom or are getting dressed or when you go to the doctor.” You can do this with young children during bath time or have your child dress in a bathing suit and show them that all areas covered by a bathing suit are “private.” The bathing suit analogy can be a bit misleading because it fails to mention that other parts of the body can be touched inappropriately (like mouth, legs, neck, arms), but it is a good start for little ones to understand the concept of private parts.

3. Invite your child’s communication. Let your child know they can tell you if anyone touches them in the private areas or in any way that makes them feel uncomfortable (even areas not covered by the bathing suit)—no matter who the person is or what the person says to them. Assure your child they will not be in trouble if they tell you they’ve been touched inappropriately—rather, you will be proud of them for telling you and will help them through the situation.

4. Talk about touches. Be clear with adults and children about the difference between touch that is OK and touch that is inappropriate. To your child say something like: “Most of the time you like to be hugged, snuggled, tickled, and kissed, but sometimes you don’t and that’s OK. Let me know if anyone—family member, friend, or anyone else—touches you or talks to you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.”

Teach little ones how to say “Stop,” “All done,” and “No more.” You can reiterate this by stopping immediately when your child expresses that they are all done with the hugging or tickling. Your reaction is noteworthy for them as it demonstrates they have control over their bodies and desires.

If there are extended family members who may have a hard time understanding your family boundaries, you can explain that you are helping your children understand their ability to say no to unwanted touch, which will help them if anyone ever tries to hurt them. For example, if your child does not want to kiss Grandpa, let them give a high five or handshake instead.

5. Don’t ask your child to maintain your emotions. Without thinking, we sometimes ask a child something along the lines of, “I’m sad, can I have a hug?” While this may be innocent in intent, it sets the child up to feel responsible for your emotions and state of being: “Mom is sad . . . I need to cheer her up.” If someone wanted to abuse a child, they might use similar language to have the child “help” them feel better and the child might rationalize it as acceptable if this is something they do innocently with you.

6. Throw out the word “secret.” Explain the difference between a secret and a surprise. Surprises are joyful and generate excitement, because in just a little while something will be unveiled that will bring great delight. Secrets, in contrast, cause isolation and exclusion. When it becomes customary to keep secrets with just one individual, children are more susceptible to abuse. Perpetrators frequently ask their victims to keep things secret just between them.

7. Clarify rules for playing “doctor.” Playing doctor can turn body parts into a game. If children want to play doctor, you can redirect this game by suggesting using dolls and stuffed animals as patients instead of their own body. This way they can still use their doctor tools, but to fix and take care of their toys. It may take some time for them to make the shift, but just remind them gently that we don’t play games, like doctor, with our bodies. If you find your child exploring his or her own body with another child, calmly address the situation and set clear boundaries by saying, “It looks like you and your friend are comparing your bodies. Put on your clothes. And remember, even though it feels good to take our clothes off, we keep our clothes on when playing.” [Dialogue from Stop It Now! tip sheet:http://www.stopitnow.org/talking_to_kids]

8. Identify whom to trust. Talk with your kids about whom you and they trust. Then give them permission to talk with these trustworthy adults whenever they feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused about someone’s behavior toward them.

9. Report suspected abuse immediately. You’ve read these steps, now consider yourself an advocate against childhood sexual abuse. Report anything you know or suspect might be sexual abuse. If you don’t, it’s possible no one else will.