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Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

5 Spiritual Helps to Overcome Temptation

posted by Linda Mintle

In the past few weeks, I’ve been commenting on the way television shows handle temptation. Typically, what we see is the power of the temptation and no power to resist. So, from a Christian perspective, what works to overcome temptation?

First be encouraged by this scripture which tells us we can overcome temptation with God’s Help.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV):  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

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1) Flee from it. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee from sexual immorality.” In recent weeks, Grey’s Anatomy has been an excellent example of how easy it is to give in to temptation when you indulge your desires and allow the moment to take over. God knows that our natural desire is to give in to temptation when we entertain it. Rather than indulging a temptation, we are told to run from it. Indulging temptation only gives strength to it.

2) Trust God to help you, not yourself. The greatest risk to falling into temptation is thinking that you alone can handle it. Distrust yourself and trust God. Dependence on Him and not self is the key to overcoming.

3 Watch and pray. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41). This was Jesus’ instruction to his disciples. He knew they had good intentions, but that their human nature was subject to weakness. The way to overcome is to stay watchful of the pitfalls and pray. Prayer is our communication with God. Talk to Him about the temptation. Ask Him to strengthen you when you are weak. When we are weak, He is strong.

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4) Put on the full armor of God. Ephesians 6:11–Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” The war that is waged is one of principalities and powers and requires putting on the full armor of God to resist temptation.  The darts of temptation need to be met with the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Without protection, we are easily wounded by the arrows that pierce.

5) Fear the Lord. A healthy fear of the Lord is crucial to a successful walk of faith. Sin brings destruction. God’s way is meant to keep us from the snares of sin and the negative consequences that follow. Our loving Father shows us the way to escape unnecessary heartache. If we fear God and think about His ways, we can choose to walk an upright life with His help.

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Grey’s Anatomy: The Reality of Temptation

posted by Linda Mintle

My last blog on Grey’s Anatomy ended with the hope that the writer’s would work us through April’s sexual encounter with Jackson. I was particularly hopeful that she would move from feeling as if Jesus hated her for giving in to sexual temptation, to receiving his grace and forgiveness. Just like real life, last week’s episode didn’t resolve that easily.

April, still reeling over her decision to give in to premarital sex after maintaining her virginity all this time, finds herself in the bathroom, stressed to the max during her boards. Since Mer and Christina won’t allow her in the women’s bathroom, she barges in to the men’s room and tells them to get over it. They are all doctors. But there, she encounters Jackson (the source of her temptation) once again. Jackson is distressed with mommy issues during his boards. The stress and the pressure bring the two together again. As they commiserate, they discuss the sex and April brings the discussion to a critical point. Giving in to temptation feels good.

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This conflict and confusion are real. We have our values, our beliefs. We have the Word of God that gives us the guidelines of appropriate sexual behavior. Basically, sex outside of marriage is wrong.

April knows all of this but is confronted with temptation. Now that she has given in to it, she knows how good it feels.

And this is real life struggle–how to resist temptation when temptation feels really good for the moment. This is the struggle most of us face, whether it is overeating, sex, overspending, etc.  And of course, a reason we fall into temptation is because it feels good for the moment. So April, who doesn’t “flee from temptation,” but engages it once again, gives in again. She has sex in the bathroom.

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Then, during her boards, she has a sort of coming out moment. She tells the reviewers that she would first pray with a terminal patient. Doubt overtakes her for the moment as she wonders if God is still listening to her given her sin.

What follows is an ah-ha moment of realizing she has been hiding who she is for years, afraid of being laughed at, judged and considered less of a doctor because of her faith.

Her strongest line is then delivered. “I’m done hiding.”

The dialogue is well-written and represents the struggle with living out one’s faith in a culture that is filled with temptation and often negatively judges people of faith.

We have no idea where the writers will take us from here in terms of her character. She completely melts down after these brief insightful moments. How will they handle the impulsive sexual experiences when every day life returns?

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I liked seeing the struggle of faith–giving in to what feels good, confused by how that impacts her relationship with God, and coming to the conclusion to stop hiding.

If April stays with her faith, works through forgiveness, and learns to be true to herself, that would be redeeming and hopeful. And even if they allow the character to struggle to integrate her faith into everyday life, that could be good if it is done with writers who understand the Christian faith. But usually, writers of Christian characters make Christians look like crazy people. They don’t usually know how to make faith work or show the victorious side of living out one’s faith.

So here is hoping this could be different.

 

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Does Watching TV Depress You?

posted by Linda Mintle

Last night, I was channel surfing on the television. I landed on a show that chronicled the last 24 hours of a death row inmate about to be executed. I couldn’t watch it to the end. The last hour was too graphic and the details of the execution were disturbing. I had to change channels.

Next, I found the TV show, House (a medical show). One of the main characters was taking an extreme chemotherapy treatment that could kill him or save his life. The physical agony of enduring chemotherapy was very well depicted. It was grueling to watch and I found myself praying for everyone I know going through chemotherapy. But in the face of death, there was no talk of God, forgiveness or eternity.

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Next, I found one of the many cop shows. This story line was about rape, violence, infidelity and betrayal.

Finally, I just stopped watching. It was all so depressing. During all the horror and crises, there was never any talk about God, or faith as a solution or comfort. People faced death and trauma repeatedly on these shows and no one ever included faith. Yet, in my experience, it is during those times when even the weakest person, considers the possibility of  God and turns to whatever faith he or she might know.

But we rarely see a story line that offers faith as part of the human experience. Instead, we watch the results of secular angst.

So I wonder, are the writers of these shows so completely disengaged from religious faith that they find it impossible to ever insert God into a story line?

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Are they reluctant to show people turning to God or in relationship with God? If so, why?

It was depressing to watch people victimized, ill, facing death and suffering with no offer of hope, redemption or spiritual comfort.

It was like watching a grueling marathon –people were bruised and injured, but trying to endure to the end! I know the Christian life can feel this way but at least there is the hope of a better day!

More than depressed, I was sad to note that the peace and comfort offered by a relationship with God is missing in most media programming. Without the faith element, life can be very depressing and that is not a place I want to go.


 

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Exciting New Research on Autism

posted by Linda Mintle

Autism is a developmental brain disorder that cannot be medically diagnosed and treatment can be difficult. According to a 2008 CDC study, autism affects 1 in 88 children, a number that is up 78% since 2002.

One of the many challenges has been to find treatments that are effective. Right now, Eastern Virginia Medical School is conducting clinical trials that might bring a break through in treatment. Dr. Stephen Deutsch and Dr. Maria Urbano have been studying a type of mouse that has trouble socializing. These mice have very similar symptoms to humans with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) when it comes to social interaction. The mice do not interact with other mice. But in the clinical trials, the researchers gave these socially challenged mice a drug used in TB treatment called D-Cycloserine. When the drug was administered, the mice became just as social as other mice. Dr. Urbano is developing human trials with teens and young adults (ages 14-25) who qualify for the study. If the drug has the same impact on the teens, it could really improve their social skills and quality of living.

Right now, there are no medications  used to treat social impairment, a common marker of these disorders. So watching this socially impaired strain of mouse respond so positively to the medication brings hope for an effective treatment in this area of functioning. It certainly is a step to unraveling these complicated disorders.

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