Category Archives: Temptation

Cheated of Cheesecake?

Today was one of those good days when my employer fed me lunch on their dime. A guest speaker, Joshua Neufeld, the artist behind such graphic creations as The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media or A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (Pantheon Graphic Library), a graphic account of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, had given a lecture. We gave him a luncheon (and presumably a wad of money).

As I sat down to the table, I found the usual fare, including glasses of water and tea. We’re swanky at JCCC! But then I saw the precise slice of dessert pictured here lurking just past my super-healthy grilled chicken salad. Not only were they tempting me with cheesecake, but they’d drizzled caramel or somesuch all over it. I knew that, given my October Resolve to control my eating, I could not indulge in this delicacy. It would be colossally hard!

That’s what I told Penny when I got home. “It was hard.” Then I thought about it for a moment and realized that not eating that marvelous confection really had not been that hard. I looked at it. I saw Beth to my left eat about half of hers. Maureen to my right ate most if not all of hers. Mine never moved.

That’s when I found myself reminded that resisting temptation is not the incredibly difficult thing that we make it out to be. Temptation came my way not by the hand of Satan but my the hand of JCCC Food Service. The desire for it might have been nudged forward by Satan, but for me to truly be tempted, to find it hard, I would have to turn that desire over in my mind.

James 1:13-15 describes the process by which temptation develops. It starts with an idea, but it only moves from desire to sin to death when I allow myself to be “drawn away and enticed by [my] own evil desire.” It’s not the cheesecake’s desire. It’s not Satan’s desire. It wasn’t the desire of Beth or Maureen. It was mine. All I had to do to win the moment was not to feed–either literally or figuratively–that desire.

So You Want to Win the Lottery?

All that glittersI’d love to have a bucket full of money come my way. Wouldn’t you? Every day, it seems, I watch people clog the checkout at QuikTrip as they agonize over their Lottery ticket purchases or gleefully collect the $25 they “earned” after buying $50 in tickets. (And they typically give that “winning” back for more tickets.)

In case you’re tempted by the lure of easy money, consider the fates of 21 Lottery winners who wound up being Lottery losers. This one is typical.

David Lee Edwards split a $280 million Powerball jackpot with three others, a win that came while he was unemployed and living in his parents’ basement. After taxes, he received a lump sum of $27 million. He bought a $600,000 house, a $1 million fleet of cars, a $78,000 watch, a $1.9 million jet, 200 swords and other medieval weapons, and a $4.5 million fiber-optics installation company. He also married a woman 19 years younger than he was.

Within a year, he had spent $12 million. The house was soon lost to foreclosure, his wife was arrested for stabbing a boyfriend, and David died at age 58 in 2013.

A jet and 200 swords? Wow. Beware of what you hope for. Jesus warned his followers about the lure of wealth: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13). In my experience, when we serve God, the money, though not in epic quantities, will come along for the ride.

Is This Really Women’s Health

Eyes CoveredI recently added Women’s Health magazine to my RSS feeds that I review to find materials for this blog. (What? You thought I just came up with this stuff out of thin air?) While I immediately spotted a couple of articles that had good potential, I was bothered by something.

Over in the right-hand column, Women’s Health places a number of links to other articles, complete with little thumbnail photos. In a recent column of ten such links, I found four that were downright uncomfortable for their sexual content and a fifth that I knew would be (and was) if I read the article. A sixth link made me squirm for the anatomy it discussed, but I reminded myself this is Women’s Health.

So here’s my question. Is the health of women really this centered around sexual practice or is this just a way of selling magazines and provoking page views (and thus ad views)? Do women (or easy-blushing male bloggers) really need to have sex thrust in their faces this often while reading about groceries or yoga?

Of course, male-oriented magazines are probably no better, although I haven’t done a statistical analysis there. Either way, I’ll probably be linking some to Women’s Health, so be careful when casting your eyes down the right column.

Another Reason to Run

Tony Reinke points us toward a great question: Are you willing to run? This question is not a call to physical exercise. Instead, it is a call to run from temptation–especially sexual temptation.

Some of life’s most important decisions are not complex. Yes, there are layers of affections to address and complex motives to uncover sometimes, but in the moment of temptation (especially sexual temptation) we must be willing to simply run.

In the animal world, we talk of the “fight or flight” response. Psychologists have broadened the possibilities to include freezing and fawning. In the case of temptation, the third “F” should probably be Fold–as in give up and give in to the temptation, whether it be sexual, substance-based, or something else.

As someone who has thought he was strong enough to fight certain temptations in the past only to find himself folding, I have to argue here for flight, for running.