Monday, July 29, 2013

Avoiding Raunchy Movies Doesn't Make You Legalistic

We read the following article this weekend by Larry Tomczak… and said AMEN!! We pass along, not to judge or condemn, but to hopefully spur this generation toward Holiness & Revival.

For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. 1 Peter 4:17

Recently my wife and I attended a decent movie when we had an encounter with a Christian woman in the lobby. Making conversation, I inquired what film she was seeing and had to conceal my cringe when she told me the title of the flick. 

"Are you aware of the content?" I gently inquired, as I had previously read a review. Not wanting to come across as self-righteous or critical, I bantered with her a bit about what she was about to partake of. She giggled and then shrugged it off by saying, "Well, I already bought the ticket!" To which I smiled and said, "Nobody stands at entrances; there's a bunch of other decent flicks." "Well ... I like the actress who's one of the leads," she said.

I knew this was a losing cause. 

What was it my sister in the Lord saw as she sat in that theater? An R-rated profane comedy starring "America's sweetheart" (from the godly film The Blind Side) featuring constant crude jokes about female and male genitals, 150 F-words, characters misusing God's name more than 60 times, adultery, violence (including people shot in the head and genitals with blood spurting), drunkenness, cocaine use, stealing and a nonstop barrage of human indecency. 

"At least there weren't any major displays of nudity, homosexuality or gore!" you might say. 

True, but are Christians really in touch with what's happening today to entertainment? How many in our ranks are sadly being seduced to compromise and just "go with the flow"? We don't want to be accused of legalism, you know. 

Hollywood churns out shocking raunchfest movies-directed primarily at youth-intended to gross people out at a torrid pace. Feces, vomiting, bodily functions, profanity, nudity, sexual perversions, self-pleasing and as many crass and crude jokes as possible is standard fare. Next up in the long line of films like this is “The To-Do List” about a young high school girl trying to prepare herself for college by systematically learning the ins and outs of every kind of imaginable kinky sexual activity-no holds barred. It ought to be hilarious! 

The music industry is right in line, serving our young people video nudity on top of lyrics that likewise are downright shameful. Justin Timberlake's blockbuster "Tunnel Vision" features naked female dancers, which YouTube justifies as having "educational" and "artistic context." Robin Thicke has the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Top 100 with "Blurred Lines," the video of which features totally topless and bare-behind dancers. Right behind, at the No. 2 spot, is our dear former Disney princess Miley Cyrus with her defiant anthem "We Can't Stop!"-a totally disgraceful display of rebellion and sensuality. Hannah Montana, come back, please. I'm prayin' for you! 

I'm not citing these examples to discourage the reader but rather to awaken us to how far our culture has crumbled, how desperately we need revival and how those of us who are parents must remain vigilant in our homes.

Navigating the Gray Areas

From television to music to the Internet and other entertainment choices, we daily confront situations that affect our walk with Jesus and our character. As Hebrews 12:14 teaches, without holiness, no man will see the Lord. 

Religion can come up with lists of dos and don'ts, but those lists don't deal with our hearts. If we are determined to glorify God in every area of our life, may these 10 questions help us evaluate entertainment in order to walk in a manner pleasing of the Lord:  

1. Is it beneficial—spiritually, mentally and physically—to me as a Christian? (1 Cor. 6:12)

2. Can I do it in fullness of faith? If I doubt, better do without! (Rom. 14:23)

3. Will it enslave me and bring me under its power? (1 Cor. 6:12)

4. Does it glorify God? (1 Cor. 10:31)

5. Is it good stewardship of time and/or money? (1 Cor. 4:2)

6. Will it dull my spirit and cause me to lose my edge in God? (Rom. 12:11)

7. Will it grieve (sadden) the Holy Spirit? (Eph. 4:30)

8. Will it edify others? Does it seek their good? (1 Cor. 10:33)

9. Is it worth imitating? (1 Cor. 11:1)

10. Could it cause others to stumble? (Rom. 14:21)

Sometimes evaluations are easy to make based on clear-cut Scripture teachings. Where it's not crystal clear, may these guidelines guide us.

I don't know about you, but I want everything God has for us as His people in these climactic hours of history. Entertainment is undoutedly eroding, but the true church of Jesus Christ is arising! As Scripture promises, it will be a glorious church before His return. We have a chance to be a part of seeing that bride radiate in all her beauty. Will you join me?

Larry Tomczak is a best-selling author and cultural commentator with over 40 years of trusted ministry experience. His passion is to bring perspective, analysis and insight from a biblical worldview. He loves people and loves awakening them to today's cultural realities and the responses needed for the bride of Christ-His church-to become influential in all spheres of life once again.
Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy star in 'The Heat,' which features crude jokes, curse words, the frequent misuse of God's name, adultery and more. (Twentieth Century Fox)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

12 Ways to Kill a Great Idea

Ever watched a really good idea just Die?

Just crash and burn right in front of you?

How many GREAT IDEAS never come to life? How many answers to life’s problems die before they have legs?

Entire movements have gone down in flames because of boneheaded approaches to good ideas. This isn’t to say we can’t afford to make mistakes. In fact, the only way to know we’re taking risks is to make mistakes. We can’t afford not to make them. But we also can’t afford to ignore timeless principles of “Idea Delivery effectiveness.”

Here are 12 ways to kill a great idea… (Warning: sarcasm ahead)

1. Form A Committee. In this way, you’ll be able to devote more time to keeping minutes and electing officers and less time to solving problems. Also, we’ll be able to prevent a single great leader from running with the idea without feeling the need to check with several people with different opinions before proceeding.

2. Be Sure To Control It. Before you even start executing a good idea, be sure to write plenty of rules and parameters so that no one feels the freedom to run too fast with it. Freedom is the enemy when we’re trying to kill good ideas.

3. Devote A Lot Of Time To Calculating The Costs. Be sure that everyone understands just how much failing can cost us so that we inch along, paralyzed by fear.

4. Assume It’s Everyone’s Responsibility. If we’re able to say, “Our church should really be doing this,” it takes the pressure off anyone in particular who might actually take ownership. In this way, no one gets blamed for the death of the idea ... at least not individually.

5. Assume It’s Your Responsibility Alone. If we get help, we’ll just saddle people with the burden of investing their time into meaningful pursuits rather than having more free time to not develop their gifts for kingdom influence.

6. Vote On It. This will give everyone a sense of power and let them decide that they’re “against” the idea even if it isn’t something they understand. After all, majorities of people are usually smart, right? Besides, in the end, it’s really about keeping as many people as possible happy.

7. Avoid Learning From Others Who Have Acted On Similar Ideas. Never ask people who have succeeded or failed before. It’s better to re-invent the wheel, take full credit (or blame) in the end and brag on how much we’ve been able to do (or not do) all on our own.

8. Keep Young People Out Of It. They’re all too inexperienced and unwise to lead anything. Besides, do the voices of the young really matter? I thought they were meant to be seen and not heard ... or valued.

9. Keep Old ... Advanced ... Experienced People Out Of It. After all, they’re just all grumpy, afraid of change and set in their old-fashioned ways. Their years of wisdom and experience will just complicate matters.

10. Keep Women Out Of It. In all honesty, even in sarcasm, I’m too afraid to touch this one. I can just testify it’s boneheaded.

11. Execute The Idea Purely In Our Natural Power. God’s power is just too much. The Holy Spirit can’t even be seen visibly, especially at committee meetings. Besides, we need to be busy executing, not wasting time in prayer.

12. Take A Little More Time To Talk About Your Intentions For The Good Idea. As long as you’re intending to do something good, it’s as good as doing it, except that it never gets done. But you will have meant well when it’s all said and not done.

I’m guilty of at least a majority of these at one time or another in my own leadership, so I’m not sharing this out of arrogance but in confession….

Don’t let anyone or anything Crush and Kill your God Given Ideas & Dreams! 

Live Big!
Live Bold!
Live Brave!

Monday, April 15, 2013

With All Your Mind

Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:12

Your mind has been highly trained, programed in fact.
Maybe you didn't know that, but it's true. From the day you were born, you have been taught how to live. Your family, your culture, and your own exploration have given you plenty of ideas about who you are, how your world works, and what your God is like. The problem is that you've grown up with a limited mind in an almost unlimited corrupt world.

According to the Bible, we all begin with a darkened understanding. Despite the best intentions of our families and friends, our culture, and our own senses, we have distorted perspectives. Our understanding is only as good as the influences that have shaped it. And, in most cases, that's not good enough. What's the solution? Paul says to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). That means that once we've embraced God's truth in Christ, we're to embrace His truth about everything. HIS Truth about Family, Finances, Social issues. We are to reject our old perspectives and live by the Spirit of truth.

Living the gospel, of course, is not simply a matter of the intellect. If it were, brilliant people would have it made, and the mentally handicapped would be far from God's blessing. But we know that isn't the case. We know that when God talks about obtaining wisdom from Him, it's about perspective and wise living. It's about knowing what to do with the circumstances, the gifts, and the relationships He has given us.

Do you know what to do with God's resources? Do you know how to spend your life? Knowing such things requires a lot of time in His presence, His Word, and the community of faith He has placed us in. The only way to retrain a mind is by immersion. What you repeatedly hear you WILL eventually believe. Old thought patterns are simply too deep; they can't be redirected without considerable trauma. Let the Spirit of God, the Word of God, and the people of God immerse you in His grace. Let your mind love Him in every way.

Better Thinking = Better Living

Here are four unique ways to love the Lord with our minds.

1. Reason…. Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:”

To reason is to think, understand and form judgments by a process of logic. I believe that part of loving God with our entire mind is loving him logically. For guys like me this is a relief. I enjoy strategic thinking and order. I must note though, that reason should never trump revelation. The mind is the learner not the leader. The heart is the leader. Many times the heart receives from the Lord first and the mind cannot make sense of it, at least initially. Eventually the mind catches up with what the heart received. When we prize reason over revelation we have a God made in our own image and likeness. Faith in many ways goes beyond reason. It looks to the impossible and trusts in the All-Knowing God.

Yet reason is powerful. We can systematically and logically look at the ways God has intersected our lives and give Him praise.

2. Knowledge… Heb. 10:16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

To love God with all our mind involves taking time to fill our mind with God’s Word and to rightly agree with who He is. When we grow in truth we gain knowledge.

Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

When we come into agreement with God it awakens love in us. Love itself includes great depths of knowledge. Loving God is continually refueled when the mind encounters truth over and over. Knowing truth and loving God are deeply connected. Jesus is the Truth. As our mind grows in the knowledge of Jesus we are liberated to love Him more.

3. Memory…. Isaiah 63:7 “I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us.”

The Bible is filled with commands to remember. Memories lead to gratefulness and worship. When we use our minds to remember His kindness, faithfulness, patience, peace etc. we build a foundation of faith, hope and love. We are loving God with our remembrance.

For some, we cannot forget the negative events of the past because the past has a voice. We must triumph over it with truth. Don’t allow your past to freeze you but rather lead you into the depths of God’s love. Our thinking about the past can affect us positively by remembering the truth about God’s goodness toward us in forgiving, delivering and providing for us.

4. Imagination…. Psalm 8:3 “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained;”

Isaiah 55:8 “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

God has given the mind the power to imagine. Some call it dreaming big dreams. Some say get a “picture” of your future. While others say if you can see it, you can be it. Imagination sees, creates and thinks outside the box.

In our imagination heavens thoughts can come to us and be captured. With our imagination we actually can extend our knowledge to explore the possibilities we have in God in all areas of our lives. This releases love which is anchored in faith.

We have the mind of Christ. Let’s love Him with it!

Philippians 4:8 “And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

See YOU in Church

Live Smart

Live Big