10 Diagnostic Questions for Your Marriage

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Ten Diagnostic Questions for Your Marriage

By Kevin DeYoung

I was recently talking to a friend of mine who suggested that laughter is often a very good indicator of how well the marriage is going. When the silliness slows down, it may be because you are in a season of suffering, but it may also mean you’ve exited a season of peace and trust. The couple that laughs together lasts together.

This insight got me thinking: what are some other questions that can help diagnose the health of our marital life? Here are ten that may prove useful.

1. Do you pray together? This may be the hardest one, so I’ll put it first. While I do know of good marriages where the husband and wife don’t pray together nearly as much as they would like, I don’t know any bad marriages where the husband and wife pray together all the time.

2. Do you still notice each other? I don’t remember much about the movie Dave (the 90’s flick about a lookalike who stands in for a deceased president), but I remember a scene where the pretend president (played by Kevin Kline) is caught staring at the legs of his “wife” (Sigourney Weaver). Later it is revealed that she knew from that early moment that this man was not her real husband, because her real husband (who died having an affair) hadn’t looked at her legs for years. Okay, it’s not a great movie, but it’s not a bad lesson. Is there any chance anyone would ever catch you noticing your spouse as attractive?

3. Do you ever hold hands? In the movies? On the couch? Walking around the block? During prayer at church? In the car? We all love to see old couples holding hands. It always made me feel good as a kid to see my dad reach for my mom’s hand while driving (yes, it was sometimes dangerous). If this simple act of affection is missing, more may be missing than you realize.

4. When is the last time you said “I’m sorry”? Not as an excuse. Not with a snarl. But a sincere, tender, broken-hearted apology.

5. When is the last time you said, “Thank you”? I’m not talking about politeness when passing the salt. I’m talking about a specific expression of gratitude for doing the dishes, for letting you sleep in, for working hard to provide for the family, for watching the kids all day, or for making your favorite meal.

6. When is the last time you planned a surprise? A few weeks ago I got my wife flowers for no particular reason. It just felt like it had been too long since I had gone out of my way to give her something nice. Do you still surprise each other with gifts, with special outings, with a kiss out of the blue, with coming home early (or staying up late)?

7. When is the last time you embarrassed the kids together? Children should roll their eyes from time to time because of how silly mom and dad can get. They should see you dancing, see you kissing, see you acting utterly goofy. The kids will hate it, but deep down probably love it too. Children need to see their parents having a grand time together.

8. When is the last time you went out and talked about something other than the kids? You don’t have to spend money. You can go on a walk, grab a swing, or drink water (it’s always cold!) at Panera. Just get away from the kids and try not fixate on them when they’re not there.

9. What would others think about your spouse just by listening to you speak about him or her? We all have occasions where we talk about our spouse to others–in a small group, at a prayer meeting, to another friend, to a family member, to the pastor. If someone could overhear everything you said about your husband or wife in a month, and then they met your spouse for the first time, would they be surprised by the person they found? From your conversation, would others guess that your spouse is a prince of a guy or queen of the harpies?

10. Do you think more about what you aren’t giving or about what you aren’t getting? We all get hurt in marriage. We all get disappointed. Stick with someone until death and you are bound to be wronged a time or two. But as you think about what needs help in your marriage, are you fixated on your spouse’s deficiencies or your room for improvement? To love like Christ is to commit to loving well even when we are not loved as we deserve.

A Framework for Purity

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A Framework for Purity: Fighting Lust with Lust

By Erik Raymond

Like any pastor I find myself talking with men about pornography and other expressions of sinful lust. Through the years I have found that there is a biblical framework that is often neglected when counseling through this issue. I have laid it out in some detail here, and I regret that it is so long. However, I post it because it has served to help many through the years. In short the post is broken into three parts: 1) What is Lust? 2) Where is it sourced? 3) How do I combat it? The answer to this is not to stop desiring things but to properly desire God. Hence the title, “Fighting Lust with Lust”. We combat sinful lust by fixing our “lust” upon the glory of Christ. In other words, we slay sin by savoring Christ.


Help ButtonAwhile back I preached a sermon in which I emphasized the deception and danger of lust. I regretted not being able to further develop the topic, specifically how to fight lust. The answer to lust may surprise some, but it is the answer and frankly the only answer to lust that ultimately works.

WHAT IS LUST?

The word translated lust in the New Testament is epithumia. The word simply means ‘desire.’ This desire can be good or bad; whether it is good or bad depends upon how it aligns with God’s revealed will.

For example, we do not understand a potential elder candidate to be in sin who is desiring (epithumia) to the work of an overseerer (1 Tim. 3:1). In this case the desire is a God-honoring desire; therefore, it is not a sinful lust.

On the other hand, we have the sin of lust. In our greed we crave or desire something that is not consistent with what God has revealed or provided. Simply put, sinful lust is to desire something that we believe to be good outside of what God has called good. It is to put our own will and pleasure above God’s.

This is seen quite clearly through the example of sexual lust. God has said that sex is to occur within the framework of marriage (between a male and a female). Therefore, any sexual lust is a craving to experience the intimate pleasures reserved for the marriage apart from this sacred institution. Therefore, it pursues enjoyment apart from and in contrast to God’s clearly revealed will. When a man sits and quietly fixes his eyes and heart upon a woman (whether it be on a computer, television, photo, in person, or in his imagination) and then begins to desire her sexually, this is sinful lust. The man has lustfully craved sexual satisfaction apart from what God has called good.

So with this basic introduction and framework of lust established, let’s make some biblical observations about lust. We understand from Scripture that sinful lust is as much a part of our unbelieving lives as breathing (Eph. 2:3; Titus 3:3) and that it is not to be characteristic of the Christian life (1 Pet. 1:14; 2:11; 4:2-4).

  • Jesus tells us that the nature of lust is demonic (John 8:44).
  • The Bible reiterates that this lust is sourced in our own hearts and it fastens itself on stuff; people, things, and other expressions of vain glory (James 1:14-16).
  • A desire for, a lust for stuff chokes out the Gospel seed (Mk. 4:19).
  • The lusts of the world are clear, succinct, and doomed (1 John 2:16-17).

THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM

So why do we sinfully lust? Everyone yells in unison “Sin!” or “Pride!” or “Greed!” or some other answer that we know to be true but too often do not understand how it works. My contention here is that if you do not know why and how your heart works you will not effectively wage war against its fleshly passions.

Why do we sit and meditate about how successful we will be? Or how people will like us? Why do we strain our necks to covet and long for what we do not have? Why do women envy other women’s beauty, style, wardrobe, sense of humor, mothering skills, or professional skills? Why does a man find himself sinfully staring at a woman who is not his wife? Why does he find himself daydreaming and fantasizing about how he would orchestrate his life if he were sovereign? It is because we are longing for something. We are have discerned that we are empty and now are seeking to fill ourselves up.

At the heart level there is an appraisal that takes place. Each one of us, whether a Christian or not, are governed by our hearts. It’s been rightly said that our hearts are the control tower of the person. It is the seat of our emotions and what governs our actions. Our hearts are confronted with stuff and they confront us with stuff. The natural fallen tendency is to appraise stuff through the lenses of self-exaltation rather than divine exaltation. We naturally fasten our lust upon that which seems to provide us with immediate pleasure, comfort, happiness, or honor. The shiny hooks of the enemy dangle before us in the form of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Our hearts are lured after what we want and think we need. Is this not your experience? It is also the testimony of Scripture (James 1:14-15; 1 Jn. 2:16-17).

When we are confronted by our hearts we are forced to make a choice between that which God calls beautiful and which our sinful hearts calls beautiful.

For example, consider the area of pornography. Here is the scenario men, you are working on or browsing the internet on your computer and have a desire to look at pornography. So you open up a web browser and go to the atube site in attempt to satisfy what you are craving. In doing this, realize that what has happened is that you have just declared that these images are chiefly beautiful and worthy of your desire. You have elevated your selfish lust to a position of supremacy above what God has called beautiful. You have exchanged the beauty of God for the beauty of a fleeting image. Your sinful heart has just robbed the glory of God of what is due him by ascribing glory and beauty to this image. God has not willed that you have expended your sexual passions on this image but rather to sanctify your passions and employ within the context of a marriage. The craving, appraisal, and exchange happen so quickly. And, the advancement in technology, it is increasingly easy.

Then the heart shows its ability to deceive and trick (Jer. 17:9-10). Men may begin to deal with their sin in number of ways (some become paralyzed by guilt, others work to rationalize, others begin thinking in terms of being a victim). However it is dealt with we mustn’t forget our Lord’s shocking and sobering statement that one who lusts is as guilty as the one who has actually engaged in the action (Matt. 5:27-28). Those entangled in the sin may look around to blame others but at the end of the day must realize that biblically speaking it begins with us. Everyone who succumbs to lust does so on their own accord.

James 1:14-15But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

Notice here that we are tempted when we are carried away and enticed by our own lust. We are drawn and lured after our own lusts. We are enticed by our unbiblical appraisals of stuff.

How serious is this? What does a full-grown seed of lust look like? Notice that the result of this lust is death. Our unbiblical appraisal of and pursuit of stuff has a declared end and it is death. Men, how would you change your viewing habits if as soon as you thought an impure thought you knew that you were going to simultaneously explode? I wonder how often ladies would sit and talk about how they wish they looked like so and so or be like so and so if they at once were to be struck dead? While it may seem like I’m engaging in some extreme examples that aren’t relevant, let’s remember that in matters of sin we are talking about death (Rm. 6:23).

WE ESTEEMED HIM NOT

In light of the appraising that goes on, consider the Lord Jesus. The passage everyone needs to meditate upon when dissecting their lustful habits is Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:2For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

Jesus, with all of the beauty of God in bodily form, dwelling among human flesh and he is, from a human perspective, devoid of beauty and unworthy of attraction. He isn’t attractive to the heart.

Doesn’t this get right at our issue? How does the incarnate Son of God compare with the beauty of this world? In heaven we will engage in unhindered worship of this same Jesus and there will be no longings for this present world, for all of our desires and longings will be terminating on their chief end Jesus Christ! He is, after all, the very source and expression of goodness. We will forever be with God, at whose right hand there are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:10).

Remember what happened to Christ as a result of him not being highly esteemed.

Isaiah 53:3, 5He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him… But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

As a result of this lack of esteem, desire, and attraction, there was a barbaric crucifixion. It is no different today. When you and I fasten our lusts upon something that is sinful then we are weighing Jesus upon the scales against these same desires. The result is that he is found wanting. We measure the object of our lusts as beautiful and the infinitely beautiful Son of God to be… unattractive.

We need to think in these terms as we quietly employ the lusts of your flesh. Any ‘innocent’ desires that are the offspring of our glory-starved hearts have a target in mind and it is, and always will be, the slaying of God and the usurping of his authority.

No matter what setting you find yourself in, you must battle your heart. You may say “I don’t struggle with porn.” Praise God! But friend, you do struggle with lust. Every one of us struggles with the continual waywardness of our own hearts and our insatiable desire for comfort, honor, and control. It was Calvin who said that the human heart is an idol factory.

Peter reminds us of the priority:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”” (1 Peter 1:14–16)

If we do not know what our former lusts were, perhaps they are not former. The Christian life is a battle that is characterized by a tenacious, fanatical, and relentless pursuit of holiness. If we are not walking against the worldly and fleshly current in pursuit of holiness than perhaps we are lifelessly floating downstream.

So how do we fight this sinful lust?

FIGHTING LUST WITH LUST

We have looked briefly at what sinful lust is, seeking ‘goodness’ apart from God, and where it is sourced… in our own hearts. In conclusion, let’s think about the chief auxiliary in combating lust.

The title of this article is intended to make us think. As we considered the fact that lusts are desires, and in the Scriptures these desires can be good or bad, this depends on how they line up with the will of God. So how do we fight these desires? We do it with desires. Your chief defense against sinful lust is an all-out offensive of sanctified lust, if you will. It is to set our hearts upon the supremacy, sufficiency, and beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in this posture of continual satisfied delight in Jesus that the lusts of our flesh and this world evaporate into vapors like the steam on our morning coffee.

So here are some helpful tools in fighting lust:

Admit you have issues

Too many of us walk around thinking we are ok. Just because we are not in triage does not mean we are perfectly healthy. We are sinners who are saved by and absolutely dependent upon divine grace. We need this grace every second of every hour. Our hearts are continually fighting for airtime; we are to be continually waging war on our hearts.

I love to ask people, “How is the battle going?” The battle is for holiness and against the exaltation of self through our own sin. The Christian life is not a stroll through a field to pick flowers and sip lemonade; it’s a battle. We should be dressed in armor, progressing through the battlefield with a single-minded resolve and fully dependent upon our Commanding Officer.

Agree with God about his beauty

This is the key. God is the very source of beauty. Furthermore, he defines what beauty is. We have God revealing himself in the Scriptures to be the very pinnacle of beauty and in his beauty he eclipses all things. Contemplate the reality that God does not decay or fade, but he is just as fresh, beautiful, and glorious today as he was when Paul preached the glories of Christ, when Jesus walked the earth, when David penned his songs of praise, when Moses cried out for a glimpse of his glory, when Abraham believed, when Adam and Eve walked with him in the garden, when the angels sang of his glory during creation, and when the Trinity enjoyed eternal fellowship and worship prior to the creation of the world. Now add to that that his beauty will never fade away. He will always be this glorious, this beautiful, this appealing, this attractive! He is the eternal God whose beauty is eternally untarnished.

The Father has spoken from heaven as to his appraisal of Jesus. We have read of this divine endorsement of the Savior at His baptism,

Matthew 3:17“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Further, Matthew writes that Jesus is the eternal delight of the Father with whom the he is “well pleased” (Matt. 12:18).

Friends, can we not find ourselves in agreement with God as to His beauty? We must come to the Word of God to have our minds shaped and conformed by God. He says he is infinitely beautiful and worthy to be the unceasing object of our satisfaction and delight. Do you agree? Can you look back at him and say, “This is my beloved Savior with whom I am well-pleased!”

If you do, then your cravings and lust for things of this world and of your flesh will be starved out by your relentless enjoyment and pursuit of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

You can throw your computer out the window, but that won’t kill your lust. You can never go to the mall, but that won’t kill your lust. You can cut out your eyes, but that won’t kill your lust. You can move to a cave in Montana, but that won’t kill your lust. You can employ legalism, but that won’t kill your lust. All of these things fall short because they are external amputations when we need a heart transformation.

Notice that the Apostle Paul tells believers to put off such things as lustful cravings (Col. 3:5-8).

Colossians 3:5–8 – Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

Notice that verse 5 says “therefore”. The action of mortification or putting to death the deeds of the flesh, to include sinful lust, pivots out of what has just been said. Notice what the verses just before say:

Colossians 3:1-4Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

You are putting to death lustful passions with your ceaseless passion for Jesus Christ, “keep seeking the things above”… “Set your mind on the things above...” It is this seeing and savoring of Jesus Christ (as Piper would say) that brings about the holiness that is required. The mortification of sin, the putting to death of sinful lust comes from a persistent, relentless, intentional, pursuit of the things above. These are things that are consistent with the new creation inaugurated by Christ the King.

But there is more here.

You see in Colossians 3:1 there is another “Therefore” statement. What did he just pivot out of? Chapters 1 and 2 declare the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus over and against everything. It is as if the Apostle Paul has packed a semi-trailer full of Christological truth and then drove it to your house and dropped it in your living room. He means to make you marvel at the gloriously infinite worth of Christ!

And as a result, the Christian is to see that all of the apparent competition and rivals to Jesus are completely eclipsed by the his resumé! He is seen to be absolutely supreme and sufficient and so therefore the only choice for your worship. He is it.

To see Jesus as supreme and sufficient is to see everything else as insufficient and lacking. To see stuff as worthy of your lust (coveting, craving, etc.) is to see Jesus as lacking. To seek goodness outside of what God has called good is to appraise Jesus and find him lacking. We need to think like this. We need to live like this. Our lust for selfish pleasure does have consequences. Whether we are talking sexual lust, material lust, professional lust, or whatever, we are talking about the removal of attributes of God and the imputation of the attributes of supremacy and sufficiency to stuff, and this is the height of idolatry (Col. 3:5).

This is why it is so critical to be in the Word of God daily. To find ourselves in subjection to the Divine Word, that we might have our minds transformed and renewed according to the will of God, that we would think his thoughts after him, appraising that which is excellent and rejecting that which is sinful (Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 5:1-2). Furthermore, we are to drive the Word deep into our hearts through prayer and contemplative meditation; for we are people who need our hearts broken and reminded of the absolute beauty and attractiveness of God that we might see and savor his supremacy and sufficiency in all things. There is little doubt that this is what Paul had in mind as he writes these words in Colossians 3.

Colossians 3:16-17Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

How do we fight lust? We fight lust with lust. That is, a ceaseless pursuit of the delight of God, which is a delight in God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping

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Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping

Stress and depression can ruin your holidays and hurt your health. Being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help ward off stress and depression.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests — stress and depression. And it’s no wonder. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few.

But with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.

Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression

When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

    1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
    2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
    3. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
    4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
    5. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:

    • Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
    • Give homemade gifts.
    • Start a family gift exchange.
  1. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup. You could have a Bratislava stag do themed party to bring back the possible old days when you were younger going out partying and enjoying yourself.
  2. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
  3. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

    Try these suggestions:

    • Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  4. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

    Some options may include:

    • Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
    • Listening to soothing music.
    • Getting a massage.
    • Reading a book.
  5. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

Take control of the holidays

Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

Don’t Let Unspoken Rules Ruin Your Christmas

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Don’t Let Unspoken Rules Ruin Your Christmas

By Les & Leslie Parrott

Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Ephesians 4:29

Everyone lives by a set of rules that is rarely spoken but always known. Needless to say, unspoken rules become more vocal when our spouse “breaks” them.

This became painfully obvious to us when we visited our families for the first time as a married couple.

One Christmas, we flew from Los Angeles to Chicago to be with our families for the holidays. The first night was at my (Leslie’s) house.

As was my family’s custom, I woke up early in the morning to squeeze in every possible minute with my family. Les, on the other hand, slept in.

I interpreted Les’s sleeping as avoidance and rejection and felt he did not value time with my family.

“It’s embarrassing to me,” I told Les. “Everyone is up and eating in the kitchen. Don’t you want to be with us?”

Les, on the other hand, didn’t understand my intensity. “What did I do? I’m just catching up from jet lag. I’ll come down after my shower,” he said.

As I found out later, Les expected a slower, easier pace during the holidays, because that’s the way it was at his house.

In this incident, Les had broken a rule he didn’t know existed, and I discovered a rule I had never put into words. Both of us felt misunderstood and frustrated.

We both had our own ideas about what was acceptable, and it never occurred to either of us that our expectations would be so different. Each of us became irritated by the other’s unspoken expectations and frustrated that the other did not live by the same rules.

Since that first Christmas we have learned to discuss our secret expectations and make our silent rules known. We have also helped the couples we counsel to become more aware of their own unspoken rules, to keep little problems from becoming big ones.

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If you would like some help in working through unspoken and spoken rules and expectations, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our counselors or coaches.

Funday Friday: Some Frosty Humor

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Here’s some Funday Friday frosty humor to warm up your funny bone.

frosty humor

Search Me, Try Me, Lead Me

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Psalm 139

When we are struggling with thoughts and emotions that are disrupting our lives, it is easy to cry out, “Just tell me what to do!”

In this quick-fix, fast-food culture we are too easily deceived into believing that is we just “do” something our problems will go away.  Now, changing certain behaviors can help and many times a change in behavior is necessary.  But only changing our behavior can be like putting a bandage over a bleeding wound due to a splinter.

The bandage covers the wound and may stop the bleeding, but if the splinter remains the real source of pain isn’t actually dealt with. In fact, as long as it remains the wound will continue to fester and get worse until the “behavioral bandage” just doesn’t seem to be getting the job done anymore.

The key is to expose and deal with the deeper wound so that true healing can occur.   When that is accomplished then the bandage really finds its healing use as it helps keep the cleansed wound clean.

For those who find their Christian faith to be an important part of the healing process, Psalm 139:23-24 is a helpful prayer in this deep healing process:

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting!
(Psalm 139:23-24 ESV)

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If you or someone you know would like to have someone walk with them in the deep heart healing process, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a coach or counselor.

When Love Saved Me From Porn

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Keyboard pornWhen Love Saved Me From Porn

By Cam Huxford

Editors’ note: What follows is the background story to Ghost Ship’s new song “Hesed,” available to stream. After reading (or listening to) Cam’s story, be sure to check out Ghost Ship’s new album Costly.

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Few things in this world are constant. Even the most steady things in our lives are changing. The sun that rises each day with seeming reliability is slowly dying and will eventually burn out. The moon that seems to faithfully pull our tides is moving an inch and a half further away from us each year. This world is an inhospitable environment for stasis. Things do not stay the same here. The way of this world is change, the relentless wave of growth and deterioration. Even the most stable things in our lives are changing. The people we love are growing older. The wooden beams that hold up our homes are decaying. The ground we walk on in our neighborhoods is eroding. We ourselves are fading because our own DNA is slowly shifting and disintegrating as we age. However, X-rated content from sources like cartoonporno.xxx remains as strong and popular as ever.

But there is something on this earth that defies these brutal patterns. It repels the entropy of this world and stands constant, unbreakable, lasting, steady, stable, firm, and permanent. Hesed—the love of God. Hesed is the Hebrew word in the Old Testament for God’s covenant love for his people. The word conveys a love that can’t be broken because it’s rooted in God’s covenant with us that can’t be broken.

The love of God is constant. It has not changed and will not change. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and amazingly, so is his love for us. The reason such steadiness is possible is because this great love is based on God’s character and actions rather than our own. It is indelible because it is firmly established in his grace-based covenant with us. In a violently fluctuating world, hesed remains. It remains immutable, steadfast, constant, true.

This is my story of discovering unyielding hesed in my life:

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When I got married, my father officiated the ceremony. I remember him holding up a gold ring and saying, “This is a symbol of eternity. It’s a perfect circle. A circle is infinite, unending. It goes on forever. It symbolizes God’s love for you and the love you are called to have for each other.” He then quotes, “Love never ends” (1 Cor. 13:8). As he hands the ring to my bride, I catch a glimpse of an inscription within, and an abbreviated Scripture reference: Song of Solomon 6:3. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. She takes the ring and puts it on my finger. Then, for the next four years, I hid from her.

Those years weren’t all bad. There were many good things that happened, many good memories. But I was always hiding. The secret I hid was that I was looking at pornography as I’d done since childhood. Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an interest in X-rated websites such as https://www.videoshd.xxx/, but as soon as they begin to take over your life, from personal experience I can say that it is time to stop. It was this weird corner of my life I’d compartmentalized so well that I rarely thought about it. Maybe I’d hidden it so long that I was hiding it from myself. Maybe I’d lied about it so long that I was lying to myself. I never got caught. We never talked about it. She was never suspicious. I never even thought to confess it.

Then one Sunday, four years after our wedding, we’re sitting in church, and I start to feel uncomfortable. The preacher tells a Bible story of a husband who sins against his wife. The husband confesses his sin to her, and she responds: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. The preacher notes that her response is a statement of covenant. Same structure as God’s covenantal statements found elsewhere in Scripture. “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” Period. No conditions. No clauses. I hear for the first time about something calledhesed.

Covenant love.

As I sit there shifting nervously in the pew, I think, “What kind of love is this, bound so tightly in this covenant that it can’t be broken? How can it not be broken if one side of the covenant is not upheld?” I start to get more uncomfortable. I blush. I shift. I sweat. There’s no love that can’t break. There’s no love I can’t break. Oh, I could break it, as bad as I am, the lies I’ve told, the things I’ve hidden. I could break it. Is it not just another contract that says “I will love you if you love me”? Love is just like everything else on this earth in that it has conditions. But this love—this hesed—is a covenant that says “I am yours, and you are mine . . . forever.” No conditional clause. Oh, God, I could run a million miles and you would catch me. I moved 3,000 miles to hide from you, and you found me here. I can’t escape your love, or break your love. With all I’ve done you still love me. You love me no matter what . . . forever. “Love never ends.”

After church, we walked to a nearby park, and I confessed everything to my wife. That day, God’s lovingkindness—his longsuffering, unbreakable, blood-bought affection—led me to repentance. And amazingly, she forgave me. To this day, her response is one of the greatest pictures of hesed I’ve ever seen. She responded with covenant love.

A few days later I was washing my hands, and when I picked up my ring from the ledge of the sink to put it back on, I noticed the engraving. I hadn’t looked at it for years. My father’s words echoed in my head. The gold circle seemed to perfectly describe the passage engraved into it.

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine (Song of Solomon 6:3).

Gratitude: A Matter of Attitude

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Gratitude: A Matter of Attitude

By Dr. George Simon, PhD

For years now, research evidence has been piling up about the many benefits of being grateful. But is it really possible to cultivate a grateful attitude, how would a person go about doing it?

I’ve written before on the emerging science of gratitude and how being thankful can positively impact many aspects of a person’s life (“Gratitude is Good for You — Really!” and “Evidence Mounts on the Power of Gratitude”). And it seems that with every passing year new benefits for this timeless virtue are being discovered. In fact, so many benefits of gratitude have been uncovered that researchers have now begun to catalog them. Some recent literature surveys have gleaned over 30 measurable benefits of being grateful to our mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and even our occupational well being.

Being a more grateful person is a good way to become a happier person. In fact, gratitude can positively impact any number of our emotions. Unlike some other things in life that have the power to pick up our spirits for a time (like trying new and exciting things, getting a raise, receiving an unexpected gift, etc.), cultivating a thankful heart produces results that can last a lifetime. Being grateful is good for our social life, too. When we carry a grateful attitude, we tend to be nicer, more receptive and accommodating, and more appreciative of our friends, relatives, and associates. In turn, doing such things generally translates into people liking us more, wanting to be around us and do more things with us, and being more generally inclined to show kindness to us — a really positive, energizing cycle of relationship enhancement. Gratitude is also good for our physical health, helping us be less worried or anxious and helping us keep a positive emotional balance and a positive mood. Being grateful has benefits to our overall personality and character development. The more grateful we are, the less self-conscious and materialistic, and the more self affirming and optimistic we’re likely to be, all of which helps us to be a better person…

For more on the benefits on gratitude and how to cultivate greater gratitude in a practical way, read the original article.

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For more help in cultivating gratitude in your life, contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our coaches or counselors.

Don’t Let FOMO Kill Your Mojo

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Fomo mojo

Funday Friday: Optometry Humor

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Here’s a little optometry humor for your Funday Friday:

Cat Vision Joke