Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Crumbling Fascade of Teen Idols

I know I have harped on this subject before, but parents really need to be very careful in what role models they allow for their child.  I see so many children with unhealthy obsessions with certain pop stars.  Parents still buy the music from questionable artists or watch television shows with questionable themes or stars all to the detriment of their children.  Some parents allow their children to play violent and inappropriate video games.  Perhaps it is easier to be a friend than a parent, but that is not what any parent is called to do. 
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4 NKJV
Parents, I can not emphasize enough the fact that just because someone is promoted or even claims to be a Christian, that this person is a good role model (or even a Christian).  You have to understand that celebrities are not projections of who they are, but they are carefully crafted and promoted by the entertainment industry.  They are promoted as wholesome or Christian because that is the market the want to reach.  It really has little or nothing to do with what they really believe.  I am not saying that they are not Christian.  There are many solid Christians even in entertainment.  However, that list does not include some formerly popular ones like Miley Cyrus or current popular ones like Justin Bieber.  I can not tell you hearts, but I can tell you their actions and what things they have said.  If you think that they are good influences for your children, then get ready to be a grandparent much sooner than you would like. 

First let us look at a star who has faded.  There was a time when Miley Cyrus ruled the children's entertainment world.  Many young girls were lured to her television show and many parents were comforted by handlers cleverly marketing her as a wholesome all-American chaste young girl.  Even though the videos of her dirty dancing with older men, the time she said she liked to get high, or having her underwear model boyfriend live with her (and her parents), she was still held up as some kind of role model.  Parents put their heads in the sand and allowed their children to be influenced by a promiscuous want-to-be pole dancer.  Even though she is all but washed up because no one really cares to see an untalented former-child star turned want-to-be sex symbol, she still has some advice for parents.  She says that parents should share with their children how "magical and cool" sex is.  I thought her carefully crafted persona said that sex was something that should wait until marriage?  Funny, I did not know she was married.  Then again, that is who your child's former role model really is. 

Now let us look at a start who still gets the tweener girls screaming.  Let's talk about Justin Bieber.  He does say that he is a Christian, so that means he is a good role model right?  I guess if you think pictures of him giving the finger to photographers is something you want your child to aspire to then I suppose it is just fine.  Then again maybe you want your tween daughter to share a hotel room with her boyfriend, because that is another thing that your daughter's role model does.  Then again, Mr. Bieber is legend in how poorly he treats others, including his own staff, so maybe your want your daughter to be disrespectful of elders, just like her role model.  Or maybe you want your daughter wanted for questioning for beating someone up, just like her role model?  At least Mr. Bieber will not convince your daughter into having premarital sex, right?  Well, there is the pesky interview in Rolling Stone magazine where he said that waiting should only last until you are "in love."  Considering there are millions of tween and teen girls who are "in love" with Justin Bieber, never mind, I do not even want to think about that.  Even if he was as wholesome as his handlers want you to think he is, is it healthy for anyone let alone a child to be that obsessed over one person?  Of course, such obsession never leads to looser morals in regards to sex right?  I guess only if you have your head in the sand.

Before I close, I want to mention video games.  Video games are not role models, I know, but it is just as important.  Just as girls get obsessed with characters, boys get obsessed with video games.  The kind of games I see young boys playing are appalling. They involve graphic violence, sex, foul language, death, and glorifying bad morals.  Apparently many parents think  that "Rated M" means "Rated My Child."  It is no wonder that oftentimes these children lose interest in everything else to where playing video games becomes all they want to do.  It is no wonder that their school work suffers.  It s no wonder they become disobedient and disrespectful.  At least it is no wonder to anyone who has eyes to see and does not have them buried in the sand wondering why their child is having such problems. 

The point I am making is to start being a parent and taking the time to do some research before getting sucked into false images created by entertainment companies.  They have zero interest in role modeling your child.  They only care about making money.  They are not mentoring ministries, they are businesses designed to make a profit.  When looking for a role model, look for the real deal.  Look for a pastor, a teacher, a youth leader, a family member, or someone who has a proven track record and solid testimony. Even better, look in the mirror.  You are your child's greatest role model.  Whatever you do, your child will mimic whether or not they want to.  Who of us does not have those moments when we realize that we just did something that we hated when our own parents did it?  I am sure all of us have because that influence affects us whether or not want to it to or whether or not admit it does.  Part of being a role model is turning things off that are bad influences and protecting your child from those same influences (on a side not, another reason why public school is not appropriate for a Christian child).  Be that role model.  Be who you want your child to grow up to be.  And, please, protect your child from role models who will only lead them into sin. 
Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."  1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Destructive Power of Envy

What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." Romans 7:7 NKJV
Of all the sins Paul could have mentioned, it was covetousness (or envy). You may argue that maybe that was Paul's sin, but we know better.  Paul was guilty of murder in that he consented to the deaths of Christians killed for their faith.  Paul was guilty of blasphemy in the horrible things he said about Jesus while he was persecuting Christians.  Paul even declared himself to be the chief of sinners.  But of all the sins he could have chosen, he chose envy to use as an example.  I think that is because envy is a source of all kinds of evil. 

Money may be the root of all kinds of evil, but envy is the water that nourishes that root.  Think about it, why would you need all that money if it was not because you envied what other people had.  We desire riches so that we can have whatever it is that we want.  We see someone living in a beautiful large home on the ocean.  We see someone driving a nice car.  We see someone who always has the latest and greatest gadgets.  We see people who go on lavish trips or dine at the finest restaurants.  We see it and we want it.  We envy it and it is that envy to drives our desire for more and more money. 

Of course greed is not the only wickedness that springs from envy.  Lying does as well.  Envy is the source of all kinds of dishonesty.  We lie on our taxes to get more money back.  We lie on a credit application to get approved for the car that we want.  We pad our resume to get the job that we desire.  Sometimes when we can not get the life that we envy, we just pretend that we already have it.  We lie to our friends and family making up fanciful stories about past and present parts of our lives that simply do not exist. While we can not have the life we desire, we can at least be treated by others as though we do.  Material goods or lifestyles are not the only things we envy.  We also envy power and so politicians will lie about all sorts of things to cheat people out of their votes in order to obtain that power. We also envy love and we make up many things about ourselves or our intentions to try and win over the one that we lust after. 

Envy is also a source of thievery. If we can not earn or lie our way into the things that we want, we just steal it.  Whether you are robbing a bank, shoplifting from a department store, stealing an identity, or mugging a stranger in the street, it is all just to get what you want.  In fact, it is envy in its purest form as you see something that someone else has and you just take it.  This even includes such wickedly evil things as rape.  Rape is envy in that you want someone that you can not have or something that person is not willing to give and so you just take it.  Maybe you do not consider yourself to be a criminal, but does that mean you are not guilty of theft before God?  Have you ever copied a song from someone else?  That is stealing.  Have you ever watched a pirated movie?   That is stealing.  Just because it is something accepted by society or that you have never been caught, it does not mean you are not guilty of theft. 

Envy is also results in murder.  In fact, the Bible tells us that the chief priests handed Jesus over to be executed out of envy.  Whether this be while robbing someone or some business or how you try to cover up another horrible crime you committed, that seed of envy has grown into murder.  Sometimes it is more direct. Sometimes you want something someone else has and the only way to get it is to commit murder.  Sadly, many people will go that far and there are many dead victims of the evil of envy.  Of course, someone does not have to be dead to make one guilty of murder.  Jesus told us that if we even hold anger in our hearts toward another, we are guilty of murder.  Have you or do you hold anger in your heart for something someone else has that you wanted?  If so, you are guilty of murder.

And, finally, envy is what drove Satan to wage war on God.  He was envious of what God had and was prideful enough to believe he deserved it.  The ensuing war cost heaven one third of its angels, swept away after being caught up in the lies of Satan.  Satan was cast down to earth, tempted Eve leading to the fall of man, tried to tempt our Lord into following him, and remains a thorn in all our sides even until today desiring nothing more than to drive us away from God.  Of course, this is not the only war that envy has caused.  How many wars have been fought and how many souls have been lost because one nation wanted something that another nation had.  How many lives have been lost because some leader wanted more land, more resources, more slaves, more followers, or more power? 

Of course envy does not start at any of these tragic ends, but if left unchecked it will go there.  Envy is like a cancer that will take on a life of its own if not dealt with early on.  I realize no one here imagines that they will lie, steal, kill, rape, or start a war to just get something that they want.  Neither did any one else who ended up there.  Even before any of the extremes I have mentioned, I have seen envy destroy friendships, relationships, marriages, families, businesses, churches, and even lives.  I urge you, be vigilant when those covetous feelings arise in your heart.  Take them captive and give them over to the Lord.  Learn to be content with what the Lord has given you and find joy in the blessings you already have.  I can tell you I have met many people who wish they would have done that but only learned too late just how wicked and strong envy can become.
Who [is] wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct [that] his works [are done] in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but [is] earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking [exist], confusion and every evil thing [are] there.  James 3:13-16 NKJV

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Celebration Time

Anyone who knows me knows that I take the Bible very literally when it lays out the structure of our church services.  The Bible is very clear that our services should be ordered and structured and people should not act in such a way that draws attention away from God and onto themselves.  However, I do not believe that church services should be morbid occasions where any show of emotion is considered unseemly.  I have been to churches such as that.  I have been to a wedding in a church where at no point in the service was any kind of applause allowed, not even at the end.  Also, this morning in the news there was an article about a young woman who is battling a horrible infection that has cost her dearly.  Apparently, after many days and surgeries, after being counted all but dead, and after losing a leg, 2 hands, 2 feet, and part of her abdomen, she is awake and talking on her own.  The father received this news and kept quiet in church even saying that his fellow worshipers would not appreciate his outburst.  While I have serious concerns about their faith considering other comments they have made, I do hope that his brethren would not have been put off if, after receiving news like that, that he jumped up and praise God for the news he had received.
And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.  But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.  Mark 2:19-20 NKJV
Then Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw [it], gave praise to God.  Luke 18:42-43 NKJV
The passage about marriage Jesus poses the obvious absurdity of fasting during a wedding or even in the lead up to a wedding.  It was a time of celebration, not a time to be somber.  This same symbolism is used in the parable of the virgins, the marriage supper of the lamb, the wedding where Jesus turned water into wine, and others.  A wedding, that being a wedding done in accordance with the Word of God (ie. A Christian marrying a Christian and not including any kind of plural or homosexual marriage) is a time of celebrating.  There should be joy.  There should be clapping, feasting, celebrating, and praising God for the union that He created.  This is not taking glory away from God, but giving glory to God for the joyful work He performed in bringing those two believers together. 

As for illness, the example I have is but one of many I could have chosen.  When Jesus healed someone, they rejoiced, celebrated, and gave glory to God.  I realize there are times that Jesus told them not to let anyone know how they were healed, but that was not to say that they were not to glorify God.  Quite honestly, if God did not want anyone to know about those healings, then why would He have recorded them in the Word of God for all of us to read?  The fact is that if you are in the middle of church and you receive news that a miracle healing had come through that you (and the rest of the church) were praying on, I would say that that you should rejoice.  The reason why is given in the example I used.  When the healed man gave glory to God, the others witnessed what had happened and also gave glory to God.  When they gave glory to God, news of what Jesus had done spread to others who also would glorify God and seek after Jesus.  This, again, is not an example of just drawing attention to yourself or a distracting form of worship, but it is giving the glory right to God.  It is sharing a miracle that God has performed.  It is encouraging others who are also waiting on God.  It gives great joy to all who were praying that God heard them and answered in a profound way.  God performs miracles as a testimony to Himself, the joy of that work is meant to be shared to spread that testimony.  Please, do not hold back sharing those wonderful works God has done in your life. 

There are times when God does something so truly amazing in our lives that it is a struggle to hold back the joy.  Don't fight it. I know, especially for stoics like me, it is hard to just let go and show the emotion we are feeling in our hearts.  True strength, though, is not in holding back our emotion out of fear of what others may think, but in not being ashamed of sharing and showing that joy with others no matter what they think. 
Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: " 'Blessed [is] the King who comes in the name of the LORD!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"  And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."  Luke 19:37-40 NKJV

Monday, May 21, 2012

Personal Update

This week is going to be a extremely busy. I think that this week I will be reposting some timely classics.  Today, before I sign off for the week, I just want to post an update on how things are going with my wife and I. 

Many of you read my post about my New Years resolutions.  We have already accomplished several of those items, including paying off our credit card debt and replacing our cars, but we still have much to do.  Of course, those were merely my requests and only God knows exactly what is planned for us for this year.  We are still trying to sell our home and still praying about moving north.  To be honest, I can not say with any surety that north is the direction God is calling us.  It seemed that way for a long time, and it might still be that way, but I can not say for sure.  Perhaps that is my flesh talking as I just have no joy at my job and I really do enjoy the area that I live in, but it is an area that my wife and I are really hoping for direction.  Either way, if we stayed south, I would have to find a job south.  If we moved north, my wife would have to find a job north.   Living now in South Jersey for nearly two years, I really have come to like it.  It really is a different culture and I do know if I want to move back to the central Jersey way of life.  North and Central Jersey really are two different worlds and it gets harder and harder to try and exist in both.  Moreso, the 184 miles of commuting I am doing each day negatively affects my health, my stress level, our finances, and, should have children, time with them  As for children, that is something my wife and I would also really like your prayers on.  I get asked often about our plans for children and all I can say is that it is a work in progress and we are waiting on the Lord. 

So that is basically where we are.  We are moving forward in some places and staying still in others.  We are excited about some things and struggling to not get frustrated by others. In some areas there is clear direction and in others we just do not know.  We are in the middle of a transition and we really do not know what things will look like when we are out on the other side.  I feel that change is coming, change for the good, and change that can happen at any time.  I do not know if this feeling is my hope or foreshadowing given by God to keep my hopes up through this time.  All I can do is pray and ask the rest of you to do the same.

We continue to hold onto the promises of God and know that all things will work together for our good. 
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Friday, May 18, 2012

Another Rant on Public Schools

I have written many times as to the utter foolishness of sending Christian children to public schools, and today I am going to give yet another reason.  A few months ago, a teacher here in New Jersey posted some comments on her private Facebook page against homosexuality and celebrating LGBT month at her school. She said it on her own account and on her own time and was not speaking on behalf of the school, yet she is being taken through the process of being terminated.  This is not the first case of this exact same thing happening to other teachers across this nation.  It is getting to the point where teachers are not allowed to be Christian.  I guess they can, but they can only be those particularly useless Christians who would rather be loved by the world than stand for righteousness.  I will not count those.  Many of those are not even Christan and those who are useless anyway.   By sending your child to public school. you are sending your children outside your influence and into an environment where their friends will be sinners, indoctrinated in worldly ways, and teachers (even if they want to though most are part of the system) are not allowed to say anything different.
Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."  1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV
Do you think this passage does not apply to your child?  Do you think that your child is somehow immune from precepts spelled out in the Word of God?  If you truly believe in the Word of God, then I do not understand how you can possibly think that public school is good for your child.  Well, I do know, and ultimately it is about priorities.  Many parents are concerned with the level of education they can provide their children or that they can not afford private Christian school.  I can understand that, but to be completely honest, this is where your intellectual faith becomes your reality.  It is easy to talk about how much faith in God you have, but it is entirely different to put that faith into practice.  So is it really that you want your child to have a better education or is it about not having enough faith in God to provide that education through your or provide the means to do so through private Christian school.  You may argue that you have faith that God will protect your child in public school.  Honestly, that is a cop-out.  I refer you again to 1 Corinthians 15:33.  If you have faith in God, then have faith in His word and heed His warnings.  God warned you that the bad company you are sending your child into for 8 hours a day is going to corrupt his or her good habits.  You can not expect God to honor promises He never made above His warnings to not do what you decided to do.  If God does protect your child, it is not because of your decision, but in spite of it. 

Of course, most of the people who have taken the time to argue back are either teachers who aren't even Christian who really have no business even being part of the decision.  They are slaves to sin, unredeemed, and on a current path to eternal judgement.  What counsel can they possibly provide in how to raise your child let alone actually play a part in it?  Then there are the worldly Christians who want worldly children.  They only add more evidence to what I am saying.  They are right, school is a great place to raise worldly children.  If only God told us to raise worldly children.  Perhaps they want others to be just as irresponsible as they are under God in purposely rebelling against God's command to raise godly children.  Either way, they are merely disobedient to God and arguing for others to be just as disobedient.  There are others who either know or who have children who have Christian teachers.  That is a wonderful thing, but 1 teacher for 1 class for 1 year in school does nothing to counteract the literally thousands of hours with less-than-Christian teachers and peer influence.  Then again, even if teachers are Christian, they had better be quiet about it or end up being fired.  Ironically, they are not tolerated by those who preach tolerance and they are bullied by those who are against bullying. 

It is an undeniable fact that the public school system is a very dangerous place for an impressionable and developing Christian child.  Listening to the comments from other teachers and parents in this case in New Jersey proves the point that this is a world going straight to Hell and all they want to do is drag your children along for the ride all in the name of tolerance.  This is not to say that all Christian children who go to public school will turn out bad and all homeschooled Christian children will turn out good, but then again there is also a chance that not wearing your seat belt will save your child's life in a car accident.  Of course, any parent will buckle their child in because should something go wrong, the greatest chance of survival is if your child is buckled in.  We do not play games with the lives of our children.  So if we are so careful with the physical well-being of our child, why do we put them in grave danger of spiritual harm?   I know you would never take chances on your child's life, so why in the world do you take chances on your child's soul? 
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6 NKJV