Tag Archives: Lust

A Case for Delayed Gratification

English: King Solomon in Old Age (1Kings 4:29-...I am my lover’s,
    and he claims me as his own.
Come, my love, let us go out to the fields
    and spend the night among the wildflowers.
Let us get up early and go to the vineyards
    to see if the grapevines have budded,
if the blossoms have opened,
    and if the pomegranates have bloomed.
    There I will give you my love.
There the mandrakes give off their fragrance,
    and the finest fruits are at our door,
new delights as well as old,
    which I have saved for you, my lover.
Song of Solomon 7:10-13 (NLT)

In today’s chapter, young King Solomon offers another flattering and erotic shower of compliments on the young woman he is courting. Earlier in the song he complimented her from head to foot. This time he moves from feet to head and you can feel the pent up sexual tension as the images and euphemisms gain a stronger sexual tone. Solomon is hot after this young woman.

The woman picks up the song and we find that she has finally been claimed by Solomon. She will become his wife. Solomon’s words and romantic verses have obviously had the desired effect because no sooner has she been claimed as his bride than she suggests that they proceed to a fertile, outdoor love fest. The chapter ends with the young woman declaring that she has saved herself for him, and for this moment.

There is something beautiful in the build up to this moment. I found it ironic that today is chapter seven. Seven, in biblical numerology, is the number of completion and here in the seventh chapter the completion of the long courtship, the claiming of the bride, and the bride’s invitation to consummate their love. We live in a generation of mobile phones, fast food, ATMs, overnight delivery, video streaming, music streaming, and more information available at your fingertips than has existed in all the libraries in all the world combined. We have been seduced by gratification of our temporal desires 24/7/365. This spills over into our sexual lives in the form of porn, sexting, hooking up, and the death of courtship as we have known it for centuries. My daughter linked this article in a comment to my post last week. I replied that it makes me want to get all the millennial young men in a room and have an intervention.

Do not hear what I am not saying. I do not intend for this to be the rant of an old man against technology and the younger generations. Rather, in contrast to where our culture seems to be heading, I hear in Song of Solomon the wisdom, art, and beauty of love that takes time, effort, and creativity to develop. I am reminded that delayed gratification makes the climactic sensual feast deeper, more meaningful and ultimately more pleasurable.

Burning Down the House

Can a man scoop a flame into his lap
    and not have his clothes catch on fire?
Can he walk on hot coals
    and not blister his feet?
Proverbs 6:27-28 (NLT)

I still have a vivid memory of our daughter Madison reaching for a red hot burner when she was only a few years old. Fortunately, I reached her before her little mits fell on the searing coil. It was the classic scenario of teaching a child to keep away from that which will burn her. She learned the lesson, as most of us do. But, this nearly universal childhood lesson becomes an apt word picture for other life dangers.

Solomon uses the word picture as he asks the poignant questions above in addressing the topic of adultery. Along my journey, however, I’ve found that the same questions can be asked of any illicit behavior that results from indulging the sexual appetite. So I’d like to broaden the topic this morning from simple adultery to things like lustful thoughts, pornography (romance novels and erotica can prove just as spiritually deadly as hard core internet porn, by the way), extramarital flirtations, prostitution, and etc.

Please understand that I am not going on some puritanical, Focus on the Family rant. This is actually a very simple spiritual principle and it’s intensely personal. My life bears the scars from these flames and I write that which I know from personal experience. So listen up, my friend and hear me when I say: If you play games with the dangerous flames of sexual appetites you’ll eventually get burned. It might not happen right away. Like a drug, the aphrodisiac of sexual lust offers a potent high for seemingly little risk. At least, it seems that way at the beginning. But once you start chasing that high and the flames intensify you will not escape without getting burned.

At best your own spiritual life will be slowly reduced to the ashes of a desperate loop of guilt, shame and despair while you struggle to hold together and maintain a spit-polished facade for the rest of the world. At worst, you will burn down your house and scorch your loved ones with you.

Avoid the flames. Learn to control your sexual appetite. If you’re in the midst of the fire and your life is burning down around you then run for help today. It’s not too late. God is a God of grace, forgiveness and redemption who offers springs of living water in exchange for the destructive flames. It may not be easy, but it will be good.


Word to Canvas


I’ve never had one of my messages translated into a work of art before. Very cool.

This from the artist, my daughter Taylor:

I never showed you this. I did this painting based off your sermon from Westview and used Robert Motherwell’s theory of abstraction. So lust of the flesh became the fruit/female figure shapes. Lust of the eyes and pride of life are tied into the kingdom/building/root-esque black shapes. It’s not my favorite, but the point was to use a well known artists abstraction theory so that’s what I did. I like how they’re all kind of awkwardly connected and in these bright, happy colors because we love to mask how dark those things are.

Chapter-a-Day Mark 7

Official seal of the National Organic Program
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“Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.) And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” Mark 7:18-23 (NLT)

I have watched with interest as the growth of the natural, healthy, and organic food market. Ten or fifteen years ago the health food market was confined to small mom and pop stores in major cities and food co-ops for the granola set. Today, almost every major grocery store carries a plethora of all natural and organic foods. There are now large, national chains of health food stores.

Our culture has increasingly embraced more healthy and organic foods in contrast to the highly processed mass market foods available in every grocery aisle. I’m not adverse to this. I think it is a good thing. God advocates taking care of our bodies and treating them like a temple.

Nevertheless, I remember Jesus’ words: “What does it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul.” Reading Jesus’ words about food in today’s chapter, I hear Him making a corresponding point. What does it profit you to eat all natural and organic food, and work to keep your body in optimum health, if on the inside your spirit is withering in anger, depression, malice, greed, lust, or shame?

Our bodies are good for, at best, eighty to just over a hundred years. Our spirit is eternal. Where should I make the greatest investment?

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Chapter-a-Day Matthew 5

The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things...
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“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” Matthew 5:6 (MSG)

I have never heard a message delivered about appetites. Someday, when God gives the opportunity, I’m going to do so. Over the last several years of my own journey I’ve come to understand that my life reveals my appetites, and my appetites reveal the condition of my heart.

I can draw a dotted line between those things with which I struggle and appetites out of control. The first bite of forbidden fruit was rooted in Adam and Eve’s appetites. The fruit was pleasing to the eye and they wanted to possess it. It was so juicy, looked so scrumptious that they wanted to taste it. It would make them like God and they wanted to experience it. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are appetites without a governor. Every one of the seven deadly sins (greed, lust, sloth, envy, pride, gluttony, and wrath) are unbridled appetites.

Today, I’m asking myself: For what do I truly hunger? For what do I truly thirst?

The fruit of my life will reveal my appetites.

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Capter-a-Day Romans 7

Cheetos are commonly considered a junk food.
Image via Wikipedia

 The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong. Romans 7:10-11 (MSG)

There was a drawer in the kitchen when I was a kid. It was a big drawer. The bottom drawer of the pennensuila to the left of the stove. It was the drawer. In that drawer were potato chips, Oreo cookies, Little Debbie snack cakes, and the occasional gold mine of cream-filled Hostess treats. To a young kid, it was junk food Nirvana.

When I got home from school, it was snack time. A Coke and a snack. One snack. Only one snack. That was the law. Thus speaketh almighty mom. “You don’t want to ruin supper,” she said.

So, I would wolf down my coke and cookies before heading downstairs to turn on after-school television: The Brady Bunch followed by Hogan’s Heroes. It always happened somewhere half-way through the Brady Bunch, right when Peter or Jan found themselves in the midst of a polyester, bell-bottomed predicament.

I really wanted another snack.

But mom said, “It would ruin my supper.”

“So what,” I said to myself. “It’s chicken and noodles. I hate chicken and noodles.”

Listen for the footsteps upstairs. Mom’s in the living room. Quietly make your way up stairs. Watch that third step; It creaks. Tip-toe down the hallway. Peek around the corner. Where’s mom sitting? Good! She’s on the couch facing the other way. Just a few more quiet steps to the drawer of forbidden fruit pies! You gotta love that dad made these drawers so quiet. Grab the stash, then quietly dash back downstairs.

I don’t know how many times I successfully made a sneaky snack run.  Sure, I got caught a few times, just like the Brady kids. But I was successful more often than not, which prompted me to do it again and again.

I thought about the snack drawer when I read today’s chapter. It perfectly illustrates for me the sin nature that Romans explains. That sinful nature in me takes the command that was meant for my good, and turns it into a lustful desire to disobediently appease my out-of-control appetites.

Unfortunately, the older you get, the commands are more important and the disobedience yields more disastrous consequences.

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Chapter-a-Day 2 Kings 14

Picking a fight. Amaziah wouldn't take No for an answer. So Jehoash king of Israel gave in and agreed to a battle between him and Amaziah king of Judah. They met at Beth Shemesh, a town of Judah.

 Judah was thoroughly beaten by Israel—all their soldiers ran home in defeat. 2 Kings 14:11-12 (MSG)

As the youngest of four children, I learned a certain life lesson early: don't be gettin' the big head and don't be pickin' fights, especially with people (or siblings) bigger than you. It's simply not a good idea.

Another life lesson I picked up regrettably late in life: if you are feeling so driven to do something that you won't take no for an answer, then stop. Take a deep breath. Think about it. Ask yourself why. Get help. Obsession is generally a sign that, as Shakespeare put it, "something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

Amaziah's two victories had him feeling all manly and over confident. Driven by pride, or greed, or lust he picked one fight too many. He ended in captivity, the walls of his city in ruins, his treasures looted. What a great word picture of what happens when we allow ourselves to be driven and obsessed by our pride and flesh. We become captive to sin, our lives reduced to ruin.

God, grant me the wisdom to learn from Amaziah's example. May darkness and hatred be my only conquest. Be, O God, the only treasure my heart truly desires. Set me free from captivity to my self-centered obsessions that I might be captivated only by your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and richteabiscuit