7 Secrets To A Lust-Free Summer

Before we know it, summer will be here.   I can already picture long weekends down the shore, the scent of freshly-cut lawns, the sounds of the ice cream truck, and… a bunch of stuff I’d rather not see.

Like women who are dressing to get attention.  Babushkas get traded for bikinis, and that’s a temptation for most of us men.

We want to honor God and the women around us, but that doesn’t just happen all by itself.  It takes some effort and intentionality.

In this post, I want to convince you that it’s worth the effort and then give you 7 specific strategies for success.

Lust: What’s The Big Deal?

Some of my secular readers, and even some Christians, may be thinking, ‘Seriously, what’s the big deal?  There’s no harm in just looking.  Or not much, anyway’.

Is that really true, though?

Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’  But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.

Jesus isn’t naive.  He understands that it’s worse to actually sleep with someone than to look at them with lust.  His point is that wrongful desire, which we can’t see, is ultimately behind our sexual sin, which we can.

Lust & Your Favorite Dessert

Author Paul Tripp illustrates this by using an everyday example we’re all (waaay too) familiar with.  Dessert.   Let’s say we’ve just finished dinner and we’re stuffed.  We know we shouldn’t eat that strawberry shortcake staring at us from the middle of the table.  But, truth is, we really, really want it.  The obvious truth is that we don’t want to just look at the cake.  We want to eat it.

It seems crazy to say it, but lust works the same way.  Lust doesn’t just want more lust.  It wants the actual experience.  (See David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11).  That’s why Jesus says what we do with our hearts and eyes is a big deal.

As we rapidly head toward summer and the temptations it presents, we need to be convinced sexual purity is critical if we’re going to stay safe and love the people around us.

Are you convinced?  Really?

7 Secrets For A Lust-Free Summer

If you are convinced, what can you do about it?

  1. Attack it at the root.  Since all our actions can be traced back to the hidden, but real, dynamics of our hearts, this is where the real battle occurs.  Biblical counselor John Bettler has a great, short article where he lays out the ‘pyramid of lust’.  I can’t unpack it all here, but read the article and pray through it.  The basic idea is that underneath obvious sexual sin at the top of the pyramid lies less obvious relational and ‘life’ lusts that drive it.  For example, someone’s struggle with pornography may really be about an easy escape from his loneliness.  Dealing with that is the key to long-term transformation.
  2. Build community.  This should include some loving accountability, but goes way beyond it.  We need to develop healthy, give-and-take relationships where using and objectifying people become less and less natural.
  3. Be where God has placed you.  The story of David’s downfall with Bathsheba begins with this interesting observation: ‘In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war… David stayed behind in Jerusalem’ (2 Samuel 11:1).  That set the stage for him to see Bathsheba and everything unraveled from there.  Sometimes what God is calling us to do is hard, but doing it insulates us from other, far worse things.
  4. Memorize relevant Scripture.  As a starting point, check out this list of 25 verses. Extra credit: find passages that force you to think a little, like 1 Timothy 6:6-10.  This passage is actually about money, but can easily apply to other challenges like sexual sin.  So you have to engage with it (and God) instead of just robotically memorizing it.
  5. Use the Joseph strategy.  When Potiphar’s wife tried to take Joseph to bed (Genesis 39), he didn’t stand there and have an extended discussion with her.  He ran away.  If certain situations are a temptation for you, why not just avoid them as much as you can?
  6. Be careful what you watch and consume.  We know that our bodies will pretty much reflect what we eat, right?  It’s the same with our eyes and hearts.  Are you discerning about what you watch on TV and Netflix?  The stuff you look at online?  If you need to make changes here and have been putting it off, make a commitment to do it. Today.  And tell someone else so that you actually follow through.  Covenant Eyes, Net Nanny, and OpenDNS (whole-house filter) are some good starting points.
  7. Be thankful for your spouse or boy/girlfriend.  If God has blessed you with a wonderful boy/girlfriend or spouse, thinking about them is one of the best ways to honor God – and them! – that I can think of.  My wife Sharon is awesome.  She’s beautiful, funny, a devoted mom, is all-in with our ministry and loves God more than me.  When I think about her, stuff that could be tempting loses its power. Even if you’re in a relationship that isn’t great, though, focusing on what is great about it will only help you.

Obviously, this isn’t a magic formula or quick fix.  But our efforts in this direction really add up and it’s worth it.

Summer is just around the corner and we need to be prepared.  Although our culture doesn’t think that keeping our minds and eyes pure is a big deal, God says it is.  With a little consistent effort this is a fight we can win.

Questions For Reflection:

  1. Which of the suggestions above would help you the most as you prepare for purity this summer?
  2. How can you specifically start to apply it?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Hope For When Your Heart Is Shutting Down

Our hearts are always shutting down.

It can begin with a defining moment where someone says something you can’t forget.  Or maybe it’s been many small disappointments with someone who failed you.  Again.

Either way, it’s so natural to hold people (including God) who disappoint us at arm’s length.  It feels safe and hurts less, but ultimately has disastrous consequences in our lives.

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Easter, God’s Invitation To Hope Again In Life’s Hard Places

As we look toward Easter and the hope of the resurrection, it’s hard not to think about the things in our lives that need transformation, isn’t it?

Strained relationships with family and friends.  Flabby, aging bodies.  Exams and assignments that don’t seem very relevant to the careers they’re supposedly preparing us for.  Your annoying next-door-neighbor or roommate.  Unjust deeds that go unnoticed or unpunished.  And… yeah.

Is there any place in our lives that doesn’t need the hope that Christ brings?

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Seeing God For Who He Really Is

The day wasn’t going well.

We had just learned that my autistic son Matthew’s therapy costs were going to be about a third of my salary.  And, that the insurance company wasn’t going to cover a dime.

As the day wore on, I found myself getting angrier and angrier at God.  ‘God he needs this therapy to make progress, but there’s absolutely NO WAY we can cover it. Wasn’t it enough that you gave us a son with autism?  What are you going to do about it?!’

I wasn’t really asking.  I had been deeply shaken by Matthew’s diagnosis, and this latest bad news seemed to further confirm God’s lack of concern and ability to help.

Can you relate to my microscopic faith and small view of God?  Do you ever feel like you ‘know’ the right answers but wonder if they really mean anything in your real, everyday life?

After 25 years of being in Christ, I’m convinced that our biggest problem is that we really don’t think much of God.  We believe a lot of true things about him, but in practice our confidence in him is pretty low.

I don’t want to live like that, and I know you guys don’t, either.  How can we develop a massive view of God that matches who he really is?

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9 Topics You Absolutely Need To Cover In Your Premarital Counseling

So, you’d like to get married.  You’ve heard that premarital counseling is a good idea. (Good call.)

But not all premarital counseling is created equally.  How do you make sure you cover the things that matter most?

happy young couple in field of yellow flowers

Photo by Micah Camara

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7 Signs Your Relationship Isn’t Marriage Material

Getting Ready For Marriage Series #2

As he described the pain and frustration in his marriage, it tore me apart.  Although his wife identified with Christ, her lack of spiritual interest had only grown worse over the years, leaving him lonely and unfulfilled.  At this point, all he could do is pray.

In my first post in this series, I wrote about whether Christians should date people outside of the faith.  That certainly happens, but most Christians find themselves in a much murkier situation: wondering whether the Christian they’re dating (or thinking about dating) is really marriage material.

As this short story from my friend shows, getting this decision right is absolutely critical.

So let’s take a look at 7 warning signs that your relationship may not be marriage material.

This post is the second in my monthly Ready For Marriage Series, designed to help you cover essential premarital topics so that you can a great marriage that honors God and brings life to others. You can sign up here to make sure you receive future posts.
deep water sign photo

Photo by ell brown

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Six Ways To Pursue Spiritual Intimacy In Marriage (Guest Post at Desiring God)

If you find it difficult to consistently connect spiritually with your spouse, you’re completely normal.

But there’s hope in Christ for marriages like yours.  And mine.

couple holding hands photo

Just a quick heads-up that I’ve written a guest post over at Desiring God about this: Six Ways To Pursue Spiritual Intimacy In Marriage.

I hope that it helps you pursue greater spiritual intimacy with your husband or wife.  (Or any couple on the road to marriage, really.)

Re-Thinking Spiritual Intimacy In Marriage (Part 2)

Spending time with God, together with our spouse, is one of the hardest things most Christian couples face.  Whether it’s full schedules, interruptions from kids, fear of being vulnerable or spiritual warfare, pursuing God together is very hard in most marriages, including mine.

husband wife smiling and hugging photo

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Re-Thinking Spiritual Intimacy In Our Marriages (Part 1)

As we laid in bed together, lights out, it had become later than I realized.  Even though we were both exhausted from a long day, I wanted to lead us in finishing the day with prayer.

But every time I wanted to say something, something held me back.  Frustrated with myself, we eventually just drifted off to sleep.  When I woke up the next morning, I felt a little smaller than the night before.

If you’re married, or in a serious relationship, I bet you understand.  You want to be spiritually intimate, but it’s hard.  Really hard.

Some of you may not experience much struggle here.  You have no problem praying or reading the bible with your spouse.  And yet, you may still not feel entirely connected, either.

What’s going on?

Some things – like sin in its various forms – are obvious, but I suspect it’s partly in the way we’ve defined ‘spiritual intimacy’, too.  When we think about it more deeply, we get a bigger picture that I think will both encourage and challenge you.

close-up of husband & wife hold hands (black & white photo)

Photo credit: mescon via Foter.com / CC BY

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Four Big Lessons For Your Thirties

30 was so strange for me. I really had to come to terms with the fact that I’m now a walking, talking adult.

— CS Lewis

If CS Lewis said it, it must be true, right?  Thirty – and the decade that follows – is a wonderful, ‘strange’ decade where we come of age.  Some time ago, I did a post on 7 lessons for our twenties, and here this occasional series continues with some lessons for our thirties.

30 Años eljoja via Compfight

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