A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth


Showing posts with label Entertainment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Entertainment. Show all posts

July 18, 2018

The Reckless Love Of God


     Do you ever have those days where it seems God brings things together and you get that fleeting glimpse of the reality of Heaven on earth? For me, it was the convergence of several things that touched my heart and with which I was familiar, but they all came together in a flood of spirit consciousness of God's Goodness. I know that probably doesn't make much sense, but I honestly don't have the words to give this awareness its due. So let me just tell you how my day went....
     It began with a Sabbath morning of worship. I am able to stream worship music from Bethel and Hillsong on my TV, so I spent the morning cleaning my house (and my soul) to the sounds of worship changing the atmosphere in my home and my heart. And I'm sure most of you are familiar with the award winning song, "The Reckless Love of God" by Cory Asbury. I heard it that morning, and the lyrics washed over me .... Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine...
     For some reason, the tears that always come with that song were even more heart-rending than usual. Why, I wondered? As the day unfolded, it would become apparent. Mark and I were to spend the day with his parents, sister, and our niece -- always something we look forward to. And Mark had it on his heart to share the 2014 Darren Wilson film "Holy Ghost" with our niece, Kaylee, who has such a heart for Jesus (and is even writing her own blog about what faith looks like for a Millennial).
     As we suspected, she was unfamiliar with this innovative -- and let's face it -- risky film. It's not exactly the kind of message that mainstream Christian churches embrace or even seek. Directed by film-maker Darren Wilson, the purpose of the film is unashamedly provocative: to prove the presence of God is real. And we hear Darren proclaim at the beginning of the film, "I wanna take the greatest risk possible as a filmmaker, to make a movie that is completely led by the Holy Spirit… just show up wherever he leads me, find the adventure, and make God famous".
     So, we got our chance to suggest that we sit down, as a family, and watch one segment of the film, hoping to open up a discussion of God's immense ability to love. If you are unfamiliar with the film, there is a portion that focuses on the heavy metal band, Korn, and two of its members, Brian "Head" Welch and Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu. They give their testimonies of years of drugs and anti-God living, and their "lostness". But then they tell of how Jesus chased them down, and changed them forever. The film then goes on to show them accompanying radical evangelist Todd White (a former atheist and 22-year drug abuser, himself) among the crowds of fans to share a simple Gospel message of Jesus loving them and wanting to heal them, both physically and spiritually.
    And here's where we had the opportunity to have a discussion with our family. How did they feel about these band members continuing to sing in the band Korn; singing lyrics that are obviously offensive and vulgar by society's standards? How does it coincide with their faith in Jesus? Can the two exist simultaneously? It was Kaylee's understanding I was most interested in, because she is the next generation to carry the Kingdom message forward. Would she get it?
     She did! She saw that this particular segment of the population needed to hear about Jesus, see the miracles He had done in the lives of the band members, and be presented with a new way to live. Even my seventy-something in-laws recognized that the tattooed, heavy-metal crowd would never be willing to hear about Jesus from us. But, those band members could reach them with the life-giving message of Jesus and they would listen! As I told them, "Do I wish they would change their music, get rid of the f-word and other offensive language, and sing more wholesome songs"? Of course! But then they would lose their influence over the people who come to see them and like that form of music.
     And here's an interesting fact: in 2005, Korn's management announced that after almost 12 years with the band, Brian Welch had left Korn, citing that he had "...chosen the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, and will be dedicating his musical pursuits to that end." In addition, as a single father he did not want to raise his daughter in an environment filled with drugs, sex, and explicit language.  But after nearly eight years apart from the band, Welch says God told him to reunite with the band; he had a mission field he could sow into. He resisted, not wanting to return to the environment that fueled his depraved life. But he knew his victory was in Christ and there was no doubt that this mission field abounded with opportunities to bring lost sheep into the fold. 
     The bottom line is this: Does this style of the Gospel Message of the Kingdom offend mainstream Christianity? You bet it does! But isn't this picture similar to the reaction of the Pharisees, who objected to Jesus's style and message because it didn't align with their image of what religion was supposed to look like? Wasn't Jesus's method of showing the Father to the masses just as radical as using a heavy-metal band to present Him to those who would otherwise never hear of Him? Remember, the Bible tells us we are not to judge a Believer's heart, but we can judge their fruit for the Kingdom. And those band members are producing fruit among those fans that you and I could never reach.
     So, remember how my day started, with the emotion of the song "The Reckless Love of God"? Well, those lyrics haunted me all day, and I found myself singing them over and over in my mind... Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine... Just like the Parable of the Lost Lamb in Luke 15, aren't these heavy metal lovers just like the lost lamb that Jesus would leave the ninety-nine Church-goers to chase down and fight for?
    But let me let Cory Asbury, the writer of "The Reckless Love of God" explain it better than me. In his own words he wrote, "When I used the phrase, 'the reckless love of God,' when we say it, we're not saying that God Himself is reckless, He's not crazy. We are, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. But what I mean is this: He's utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His own actions with regard to His own safety, comfort and well-being. ... He doesn't wonder what He'll gain or lose by putting Himself on the line, He simply puts Himself out there on the off-chance that you and I might look back at Him and give Him that love in return. His love leaves the ninety nine to find the one every time, and to many practical adults that's a foolish concept. Well, what if He loses the ninety nine in finding the one, right? What if, finding that one lost sheep is and always will be supremely important"?
     Now, let's let Jesus express Himself: “There once was a shepherd with a hundred lambs, but one of his lambs wandered away and was lost. So the shepherd left the ninety-nine lambs out in the open field and searched in the wilderness for that one lost lamb. He didn’t stop until he finally found it. With exuberant joy he raised it up and placed it on his shoulders, carrying it back with cheerful delight! Returning home, he called all his friends and neighbors together and said, ‘Let’s have a party! Come and celebrate with me the return of my lost lamb. It wandered away, but I found it and brought it home.’”
     Jesus continued, “In the same way, there will be a glorious celebration in heaven over the rescue of one lost sinner who repents, comes back home, and returns to the fold—more so than for all the righteous people who never strayed away.”
     Can you see Him celebrating each and every heavy metal fan that turns from the dark side of that music genre to run to His arms? Have they wandered away? Yes. Does He want to work with us to find them and bring them home? Absolutely! And He has a willing partner with Brian Welch. Praise Him for not abandoning them and for sending Welch into their midst. Let us rejoice, for there is a glorious celebration in heaven! 
     So, there it is.... God speaking to me in a day that started with a song, which led to a movie, which led me back to Scripture, which ended up back at the song ... Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine... A perfect circle of His love. He never stops pursuing the one who is lost.
     Father, may I never judge the methods and the ways You use to reach the lost lambs of this world. Instead let me lift up those in the Body of Christ who are reaching souls I could never influence, and may we learn to love our differences as we praise You for bringing us to unity in our shared faith. You've created us to walk in different lanes and paths, but all with the shared goal to reach the world for You. You paid it all for each and every one of us. Was that reckless in that You had no concern for what it would cost You, but were only devoted to what we would gain? Yes! And on behalf of all the "one lambs" You came after, I bow before You!

James 5:19-20   Finally, as members of God’s beloved family, we must go after the one who wanders from the truth and bring him back. For the one who restores the sinning believer back to God from the error of his way, gives back to his soul life from the dead, and covers over countless sins by their demonstration of love!



August 17, 2016

How Easily Satan Fascinates and Captivates Us

     I know there will be some who will dismiss the topic of my blog today as unworthy of their time or attention.  But this subject has come up in conversations with fellow Christians and across my news feeds a number of times, so I guess the Holy Spirit wants me to talk about it.  At the very least, I want to give a personal warning in case this deceptive distraction has entered your physical or spiritual territory.
     I am talking about Pokemon, the role-playing card game that has recently gained new popularity among kids and adults.  I know that there will be those who say it is an innocent game; we have nothing to fear from it, and the new version of Pokemon GO is nothing more than a creative mobile app designed as "a location-based and augmented reality game; that it promotes physical activity and helps local businesses grow."  Are you kidding me?  First of all, if you are willing to accept that description without looking into it any further, then I'm more than a little worried about your ability to discern the schemes of the Enemy in this technological world.

Harmless little creatures that inhabit a virtual world? Or something far more ominous in nature?
     I will also say that the intricacies of the game are too far-reaching and complicated to present them in their entirety on this post.  Suffice it to say, that I want you to get an idea of just how satan can work within this game and its alternate universe in order to get us to mimic his strategies and schemes, and to walk outside the path God would have us follow.
     First of all, Pokemon is a shortened version of the Japanese name "Pocket Monster", and Pokemon are supposed to be "monsters" that have special powers and share the world with humans.  Did that get your attention?  If not, here is a very simple explanation [by promoters] of how the game works:  "Pokemon are creatures inspired by plants, animals and various other things. Each one has different attributes, skills and quirks; they also can evolve into newer, stronger Pokemon with some training. In Pokemon GO, the ultimate goal is to capture them — all 151 of them — to add to your personal collection.  Doing so makes you a Pokemon master."  Here's how I interpret that explanation ... Pokemon are inspired by spirits, demons or gods (all false), and among their various "quirks" or "abilities" listed are scorching, stomping, poison, mimicry, stealth, use of claws and biting, reading minds, teleportation, inducing headaches, high intelligence, consumes people's dreams, hypnosis, confusion... oh, yeah, they also evolve into more powerful entities, too.  
     In short, the idea of the game is to have players learn how to collect as many Pokemon as possible, train them, and use them against other people's Pokemon by invoking the various abilities of each Pokemon creature.  Does that sound eerily familiar to the assignments that the devil gives to his demons?  And now that the game has developed a mobile app, it is playing into this world's obsession with technology.  After establishing a game account, the player creates an avatar by selecting a hair, skin, and eye color; style; and outfit.  Isn't that just a little bit creepy?   You are in essence, creating an alter of yourself, and it is outside the realm in which you were created by God.  Actually, you have now become the Creator of yourself, so to speak; your own god.  (Sounds like the temptation in the Garden of Eden, doesn't it?) So now you have millions who are preoccupied with their alternative self (avatars), and who are forever trying to gain more power.  Yes, it is a subtle implication, but does not the Bible say, Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made  (Genesis 3:1).
     And here is another aspect that should concern you:  When a player encounters a Pokemon, they may view it on their phone either in augmented reality (AR) mode or with a live rendered, generic background.  AR mode uses the camera and gyroscope on the player's mobile device to display an image of a Pokemon as though it were in the real world.  Think this might be acclimating people to interact with spirits in this physical world?
     BUT, unlike other installments in the Pokemon series, players in Pokemon GO do not battle wild Pokemon (any Pokemon that are not currently owned by a Pokemon Trainer) to capture them. During an encounter with a wild Pokemon, the player may throw a Poke Ball at it by flicking it from the bottom of the screen up toward the Pokemon. If the Pokemon is successfully caught, it will come under the ownership of the player.  That certainly suggests bondage and domination to me.  I could go and on about the rules and the innuendos of the game, but I hope you're starting to get the picture.
     If not, let me give you one more piece of information before sharing some of the consequences of playing the game.  Pokemon GO was developed by Niantic Inc. and is funded by Nintendo. However, the original Pokemon franchise was developed by Wizards of the Coast, who gave the world the occult games, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and MAGIC THE GATHERING. Pokemon comes from a long line of anti-Christian, occult, and evolutionary development. I know there will still be those (and that includes the Christians who are advertising their Churches as Pokemon locations) who will say that "it is only a game".  But it is a role-playing game and involves fantasy and elements of magic and potions.  That is definitely something the Bible warns us against!
     Besides that, look at the thousands of hours people are spending on their phones playing Pokemon GO; (the app has been downloaded over 15,000,000 times in its first week in the U.S.).  The word "idolatry" comes to mind.  And here we are in the Last Days running around trying to capture mythical and virtual demons, when we should be focusing on our mission to save souls.  Who do you think we're pleasing -- God or satan?
     Finally, there are the stories of men walking off cliffs while playing the game; crashing cars into trees; armed robbers luring victims to isolated locations; and perverts and pedophiles preying upon inattentive targets.  But perhaps the most disturbing story I have heard is of a Russian woman in Moscow who claims that a giant Pokemon raped her after she fell asleep while playing the game.  Police and her husband dismissed her complaint, suggesting she see a psychiatrist.  But the woman insisted that the Pokemon GO app on her phone could still detect the same virtual character's presence on her bed, and that there are too many Pokemon at her place and even the dog can sense them. She says the dog barks whenever she plays Pokemon GO.  (Any of you who have dogs will likely be able to attest to their extra sensory perception).
     So, now you've read the entire spectrum of how Pokemon GO influences one's life --- from a harmless mobile app that helps you get some exercise; to testing your ability to capture and train virtual "creatures" (spirits?) with occult powers; to these monsters allegedly raping a player.  Think it's all too ridiculous to be true, or that I'm stretching the truth?  Yes, it seems like I'm describing something "out of this world".  Guess what?  IT IS!  Throughout mankind's history, satan has found a way to infiltrate our world by tempting our impressionable minds and flesh with his ideas and his supernatural, mystical, or magical beliefs, practices, and phenomena.
     Pokemon GO just a harmless mobile app?  Do you not think that satan can draw us away from God by working through technology and with humans who develop occult-influenced games?  If those game designers are not as focused on the Lord and His truth (as we all should be), satan, through his demon hosts, can somehow raise thoughts and questions in our minds that lead to creating things that honor him instead of the True God of the Universe.  Then from that designer's human mind to ours, the Enemy uses external temptations (a mobile app) by which he seeks to control or influence our minds through what we see, read, hear... and play.  This is simply how he works through this world system over which he rules.  So you can dismiss my assessment of this game if you like, but I am willing to say that it is just one more spiritual weapon that the god of this world is using to deceive us and lead us away from God.  Consider this:  Doesn't the game of Pokemon Go sound a whole like the Bible verse that says, Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour?

Acts 13:10            "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you never stop perverting [making crooked] the straight paths of the Lord?" 




September 7, 2015

Movie Recommendation: "War Room"

     I saw the box office numbers and they were impressive.  And the critics reluctantly applauded its strong ranking among the release of summer's last movies.  But that's not why, over the weekend, I wanted to see the movie, War Room, the latest movie by Alex and Stephen Kendrick, producers of a new genre of movies for people of faith.  Like many Christians, I have lamented the lack of good, wholesome movies that represent my values.  If one happens to prefer violence combined with soft porn; or want to be entertained by futuristic predictions of the collapse of mankind; then today's movies are made for you.  The Kendrick brothers decided to change that dynamic, and have produced a series of movies for the faith-based audience; movies such as Flywheel, Facing The Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous.
    So, if you've been waiting for a movie to feed your spirit and which you know will truthfully and accurately reflect your faith, then go see War Room.  The word of mouth about this movie has been phenomenal and it did not disappoint.  The story is a familiar one:  a marriage in trouble as two people are caught up in lives centered on this world and what it can give us.  Then enters the character of Miss Clara, who mentors the wife in creating a prayer life that transforms her and her family.  It's a simple plot, but with a clear strong message.
     I expect that this movie will touch Christians in different ways; providing them with encouragement in the exact areas in which they find themselves.  The obvious message is that of influencing and convincing the audience in the power of an active prayer life.  For me, the heart of the movie was the subtle, but powerful, message it conveyed on the delivering power of prayer  -- specifically regarding how we have been given the power and authority to deliver ourselves and others from the grip of Satan and his temptations.  Sadly, I doubt that very many Christians recognized the undertone of the character Elizabeth's verbal attack on the devil.  During an emotional and passionate scene, she follows the mandate of Scripture ... resist the devil, and he will flee.
     But it was her tactics that spoke loud and clear to me.  She was practicing Deliverance!  She shouted Scripture; she invoked her authority (from Jesus) to do battle with the Enemy; she demanded that the devil break his hold on her husband; she verbally cast him out of her home and their lives in the name of Jesus (an essential condition in Deliverance); and she declared victory over him by the power of God.  And, if you are schooled in Deliverance, you will recognize the effect of that deliverance on her husband.  What happens to him while at dinner with a temptress is one of the manifestations that the devil and his demons are leaving you.
     How many people in the audience recognized that this scene was more than the result of some creative writing by the movie's producers, but actually portraying the method of deliverance from demons?  Perhaps this important area of our Christian walk, which has been all but ignored and forgotten by the Church, will become a greater theme in the next movie by the Kendrick brothers.
     Concerning another aspect of the movie, I must be honest in telling you that if you are going to see the movie expecting the big cinematography and production qualities that the major studios brought to such Christian-themed movies as Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings, then you will be disappointed.  This movie is quieter in action and dialogue, but delivers a purer message of the power of God than those blockbuster productions.  But that is exactly the intention of the Kendrick brothers.  They are not making movies for the general public.  They are making movies specifically for the Christian audience.  "For people of faith, much of the entertainment that's out there is dishonoring to that faith, but we all want to see engaging, enriching, entertaining stories as well. So we long for that. We just want to tell it from a positive vantage point," Alex Kendrick said.  Priscilla Shirer, (a Christian speaker and author), who plays Elizabeth, expressed the hope of the movie:  "I don't think it's by chance that God's going to use this movie to call people to their knees," said Shirer. "(Nor do) we really believe prayer works, because if we really did, we would actually pray and pray more. Prayer is what invites the power of heaven into the circumstances of earth."
     Miss Clara's powerful monologue at the end of the movie is a call to all Christians to rise and invite that very power from heaven into this fallen world.  Her passionate speech re-emphasizes the message and point of the movie which is directed at Christians and their lukewarm prayer lives.  Although it was not produced with a goal of winning souls in a secular audience, it remains to be seen if this movie's powerful message crosses over to the mainstream culture.  We know that God can use all things for His Glory.
     In my final analysis, War Room will not disappoint its Christian audience.  It is a powerful message to Christians to re-engage in prayer with God; to trust Him to work in our lives; and to use the Authority from Christ and the Power of the Holy Spirit to resist the devil .... because we can make him flee!
     Whether it will draw unbelievers to the theater, remains to be seen.  However, the influence of movies like this -- those designed specifically for Christians -- has been to make Hollywood sit up and take notice.  It is obvious that they recognize the importance of the Christian dollar, and that's why such movies as Noah, Exodus and the 2016 release of Risen, continue to be made.  (Risen is the story of a powerful Roman Centurion, who is charged by Pontius Pilate to investigate the rumors of a risen Jewish messiah and to locate the missing body of Jesus of Nazareth in order to quell an imminent uprising in Jerusalem during the first 40 days following Christ's resurrection.) But until they present an accurate picture of our Lord and Savior, the millions they spend on these blockbusters will not result in profit.  But the Kendrick  brothers have shown the Hollywood establishment, and the culture at large, that Christians are a powerful segment of the theater-going public.  We are making an impact! Give us what we want -- true, accurate Biblical portrayals of our faith -- and we will come!

Philippians 4:8    "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

      
   

September 2, 2015

The Spiritual Battle In Entertainment

   
     When are we going to face it?  When are we going to admit that this culture is under spiritual attack, and we are losing the battle?  All around us is the evidence that Satan has infiltrated this earthly realm, and we seem helpless to stop his demonic influence.  Fame and Fortune are the temptations, and I'm afraid we are complicit in the downward spiral of the entertainment industry, and those who are willing to sell their souls to the devil for a piece of the action.
     All we have to do is look no further than the nearest TV screen, website, or technology device to see the utter invasion of our culture by the servants of Satan. Ultimately, I think that the arena of entertainment shows us the essence of what our culture is, and who it worships.
     Ask yourself this question ... Where do we go to find the rest, relaxation and peace from the daily struggle that our physical bodies endure until we are united with our Savior in eternity?  How many of you answered God's Word?  Or did your mind automatically think of your favorite TV show; some popular song that takes your mind off your troubles; or perhaps you like to "escape" by tuning in to the latest escapades of some Hollywood star.
     I know I sound like I'm old-fashioned, but I lament the "technological age" and its advancements -- the age that allowed us to instantly hear or watch a presentation designed to amuse us and occupy our minds; the age that put a mini-computer in everyone's hand, so that we could be connected to the world every minute of every day.  And so much of what we have focused on the last fifty or more years has been designed to bombard our senses.
     We should know, as Christians, that "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak".  We should know that when we accept Christ as our Savior, our spirit is seated in Heaven with Jesus (Ephesians 2:6), just as it continues to reside inside us.  We belong to Him, and Satan cannot touch our spirit.  But the devil tempts our senses and our flesh to try to lure us away from God and compromise our purpose on this earth: to glorify God and His Kingdom.  Our flesh is easily tempted through how we choose to entertain ourselves.  And sadly, it is the entertainers that rise to the top that showcase the true nature of our culture and how far we are willing to go to be tempted away from God.  Have you ever realized that the reason they are so successful is because we have asked to be entertained in more and more perverse ways?  I mean, it doesn't seem to me that Satan has had to work very hard to convince us to embrace some of this un-Godly entertainment.  It's not as if he forced it on us --- don't we have some ownership in the immorality by the evidence that we have accepted it?
     How many of us instinctively know that the perverted antics of Miley Cyrus are immoral?  Besides the obvious and overt sexual movements and the total lack of modesty, have any of you ever questioned why she feels moved to stick her tongue out in an ever-increasing and inappropriate manner?  (I will spare you the image of her act of perversion).  Would you be surprised if I could show you that this bizarre behavior is alluded to in the Bible?  Just read Isaiah 57:4:  Whom are you mocking? And against whom do you make a wide mouth and stick out your tongue? Are you not children of transgression, the offspring of lies...?  
     Before doing some research on this decidedly wicked gesture, I assumed in my worldly understanding, that she was a spoiled child sticking her tongue out at the establishment of society, and announcing to the world that she was going to play by her own rules.  Oh, she's playing by rules alright, but they're not her own.  Further research revealed that in the occult, of which I believe she is heavily steeped, sticking out your tongue in the exaggerated manner of Miley is not only showing disdain for us righteous people, but is specifically a taunt to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. It is an intentional and calculated affront to God.
      Now, if we were a truly moral and righteous culture, why would we allow this display against our Lord?  Why haven't we investigated this vulgar display (knowing in our spirit that there is a deeper meaning) and demanded that she be removed from influencing our children?  Perhaps the answer is that we have become desensitized to Satan's tactics.  Would it surprise you to know that Miley's form of mocking our Lord is just the latest version of an ancient Satanic taunt -- that we've tolerated it before in our culture?
      Remember this artwork on the cover of a Rolling Stones album?  Or what about the gestures of Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss?  Now, can you see how easily it has been for Satan to lead us down this path?  And what's amazing is that it's been there in front of us the whole time.  If we had been paying attention, we would have noticed how often entertainers boldly declared that they traded their souls to the devil for fame and fortune.  Miley and Katy Perry have certainly made that clear in some of their interviews.  And so have others.  Here are just a few examples:
Bob Dylan:  When questioned if it was his destiny to become such a huge star, he replied, "I made a bargain with it."  When asked who "it" was, he said, "The chief commander on this earth and in the world we can't see".  To anyone who has studied spiritual warfare, it is clear who he is talking about.
BeyoncĂ©:  She has been seen clad in an outfit featuring the classic goat's head that is used in Satan worship, and revealed in an interview:  "I have someone else that takes over when it’s time for me to work and when I’m on stage, this alter ego that I’ve created  kind of protects me and who I really am."  The name of her alter ego is Sasha Fierce.
Robin Williams:  In an US Weekly interview, the genius comic once revealed that "Yeah! Literally, it’s like possession ‑ all of a sudden you’re in, and because it’s in front of a live audience, you just get this energy that just starts going…".  But he further stated that during his stand-up comic routines in clubs, he became possessed almost like Jekyll and Hyde, where he would go into his manic, stream-of-consciousness rants filled with vulgar language, perverse sexuality and the glorification of illicit drugs and drunkenness.  Like his comic idol Jonathan Winters, "the voices were always screaming to get out".
Jim Morrisson:  During an interview, the Doors frontman admitted that he drank to "silence the constant voices of the demons".
Heath Ledger admitted that, in doing research for his role as The Joker in a Batman movie, he opened himself up to evil spirits and meditated on them to capture the essence of his character, which he called "a psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy."  Sounds like he was channeling Satan himself -- and we see the dark road that Ledger took in quelling those demons.
     I could go on and on.  But I am deeply disturbed that we call ourselves Christian and we have not safeguarded our culture.  And now these people, who have allowed themselves to be tempted by Satan in their pursuit of fame and fortune, have easy and open access to our children through various entertainment venues.  We simply cannot know what they are watching or listening to when they are out of our presence.
     But we better know that demonic oppression and enslavement is real, and what  happened with the above-mentioned entertainment stars is proof of that.  We, and our children, are under attack!  The Bible says that Jesus came to set the “captives free”.  This culture has adopted a general belief in a generic god of our own making; but people need to understand that a higher power has never, and will never, save anyone from God's judgment.  But believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, and asking Him to wash you clean in His shed blood can save you for all eternity.  As I look around me, and as I casually glance at the ways we entertain ourselves, I am deeply saddened at where we have allowed Satan to take us.  The question now becomes ... what are we going to do about it?  It is time we get in this war for the salvation of our families, our communities, and our country!  If spiritual warfare has been a vague term in your religious vocabulary, it's time to study up on it and get ready to do battle!

1 John 5:19    "We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one."



   


July 29, 2015

God Can Use Everything For His Glory!

     I know this is going to seem like a worldly and superficial post today, but my mind just keeps returning to it, so I'm going to simply trust that God will use it for His purpose. 

     Have you noticed that there is less and less what I would call "good, wholesome" TV viewing these days?  Everywhere you turn there is sexual content that would have only been available in R or X-rated movies, just 20 years ago.  The pervasive homosexual agenda is on every comedy, drama, and reality show.  And for those who like to contemplate the outer regions of human existence, there are the shows that promote transhumanism, artificial intelligence, and interaction with space aliens.  And let's not forget the growing genre of entertainment that features satanic or occult overtones --- and in prime-time, no less!
     The major networks have become a cesspool of immorality, wickedness, and godless values.  But there is one show that my husband and I have become addicted to, and I have to admit it has been a surprise.  I'm talking about American Ninja Warrior (ANW).  Now, before you quit reading, let me tell you why... when we first began watching the show, I thought it was just another gimmicky visual reality show where the weird and eccentric could showcase their freaky natures.
     It is based on the highly successful Japanese sports entertainment television special in which 100 competitors attempt to complete a four-stage obstacle course, which ends with conquering the formidable Mount Midoriyama.  The American version is a spin-off, where the competitors advance through the stages and one winner is crowned, you guessed it ... the American Ninja Warrior.  A team of Americans then travels to compete against teams from other countries; all hoping to be the one to stand victorious, atop the famous Midoriyama.   
     At first it was hard to take it seriously.  Competitors would appear in outlandish costumes, and it seemed more like a ratings grabber than a serious competition.  But as the seasons progressed, the humanity and the dedication of the contestants has come to the forefront, and it is this reason that has me tuning in each week.  The people are real; and their life stories and commitment to doing their best are genuine.  They are not out-of-work models trying to "catch a break", or aged athletes trying to hang on to their glory days.
     There are more stories than I can count of people who meet the standard of the downtrodden in society; people who have had to overcome tremendous odds just to get their chance to compete in what is becoming a popular and legitimate sport.  There is the story of Abel, who found himself the sole caretaker of his younger brothers at the age of 16.  He fought hard to keep them out of foster homes, and through his commitment to them, they are all in school and pulling together as a family. American Ninja Warrior became a symbol of overcoming the odds, and he was determined to show his brothers that they could succeed if they worked hard.  In his spare time, he trained on home-made equipment, practicing the challenges that have become legendary on the show until he got his shot at making the cut.
     There was the autistic boy, and the girl with Tourette's Syndrome; neither who stood a real chance of finishing the competition.  But because they trained with dedication and pride, they were able to reach a goal they had set for themselves, and with heads held high, they let the glow of the audience applause wash over them.  Their lives are changed forever.
     This season there was Brian, a man who suddenly found himself facing the unthinkable:  his wife had developed a rare terminal illness in which she began losing muscle control and motor skills.  She is now in a wheelchair, and he has to carry her up and down the stairs of their home.  He realized he needed to get in better shape, and one day after watching the show together, his wife said her wish was to see him compete on ANW before she died.  He made the cut, and advanced past the first stage, with his wife in attendance and the crowd roaring their approval.  The tears on his wife's face and her beautiful smile won the hearts of America.  Sadly, he didn't make it to the second stage, but she announced to the whole world that he was still her hero.  That will be an experience that will sustain him when the end finally comes.
Jeremiah Morgan overcomes
     There are more stories like this than not... these are average people, of all ethnicities, body types, and backgrounds.  They are not picked for their beauty or their brains or for who they know.  Many are people who would be looked over and looked past in any other arena of our society.  Sure, there are doctors, and businessmen, and military members, and pro athletes who accept the challenge to compete.  But on the ANW obstacles, everyone has an equal shot, and it is often the underdog who rises to the top... the one who finds that this challenge gives him an opportunity to show the world his or her heart.
     And this competition has become a showcase for the faith of many contestants.  This week, we saw one of the most difficult courses to date.  Competitor after competitor got to the 7th stage out of 10, only to fail on the obstacle, plunging into the pool of water below.  Then up to the starting podium stepped Jeremiah Morgan, who in the lead-in to his run, revealed that he had not competed in college sports because, along with his brother and parents, he was a Messianic Christian.  College sporting events often took place over the weekend, and his family practiced the Sabbath from Friday evening at sundown until Saturday evening at the same time.  They spent that time in fervent study and contemplation of God, choosing to rest in His presence, as the Lord had commanded.
     It was so refreshing to see a young man, in the prime of his life, declare his faith on national TV and not be drawn to following the world!  As his brother, wife, and parents followed him along the track below, his dad could be seen and heard shouting, "Hallelujah!" as Jeremiah completed each of the stages.  He was the first of only two competitors to complete the 10-stage course, and as he stood at the top of the winning tower, he raised his hands towards heaven and thanked His Creator.
     The only other man to finish the grueling course was Sam Sann, a 48-year-old man who had escaped the devastation of Cambodia to begin a new life in Houston, TX, where he owns his own beauty salon by day, and trains other young ANW aspirants at his own gym by night.  He is a legend among Ninja competitors, and as he dropped to his knees in prayer after landing on top of the final tower, it was a triumph for all those with aging bodies, and for those who have come to this land for a better life.
     I know it probably sounds kind of silly to be so moved by this TV show, and you more than likely think that I am exaggerating the sentimentality of the competition.  But I'm always amazed at how God manages to insert His presence each week... sometimes when the contestants aren't even aware of it.  I see Him in the self-sacrifice that is often exhibited by competitors like Abel.  I see Him in the joyful triumph of simply competing, by those who are mentally and physically handicapped.  I have witnessed Him in the making and sharing of a dream between Brian and his wife, who will soon be separated by Death.  And I have felt the tears sting my eyes as men like Jeremiah aren't afraid to declare their allegiance to the Lord, rather than follow the ways of man.
     Week after week, I have watched the competitors cheer each other on, pulling for the success of others, even after their shot at winning has been denied them.  Here, in two hours a week, on the vast wasteland that is American television, I am able to see mankind at his best... age, color of skin, personal appearance ... none of these things matter; they are all seeking to reach their potential in an atmosphere of mutual respect, inspiration, and encouragement.  It's really all about overcoming obstacles ... both on the course, and in life.  And maybe this isn't how you see God being exalted, but He is a Sovereign Lord, and He can use anything in this world to show a picture of His glorious Mercy, Grace and Love.  You just have to be willing to see it.

Colossians 3:23-24   "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."

July 1, 2015

The Hyprocrisy, the Deceit, and the Absurdity

     In light of yesterday's post on "the cultural cleansing of the South", I could not resist commenting on the cowardice and deceit of one of Hollywood's most outspoken political activists, Ben Affleck.
     It seems that Affleck was a scheduled guest on the PBS show, Finding Your Roots, in which celebrities trace their ancestral heritage.  Somehow, the producers of such shows thinks it is fascinating to us "normal folks" to watch these celebrities discover the unknown facts about their six-times great grandfather.  In fact, one of the segments of Affleck's episode shows him astonished at the revelation that a distant relative fought in the Revolutionary War.  Befitting any Hollywood leading man, ol' Ben is thrilled to find that his great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather was a hero.
     But there was something left out of the televised version of Ben's family narrative.  Apparently, it was also revealed that several of Affleck's ancestors were slaveholders ... 14 ancestors, owning 242 slaves, to be exact (as discovered by Breitbart.com).  While none of us in the modern world would agree with our ancestors owning slaves, it was the standard IN THE WORLD at that time in history.  That's not an excuse ... it's simply the truth.  But it is what Ben did with his ancestral history regarding slavery that is so disturbing.
    He lobbied the producers of the PBS show to delete that portion of the program in order to hide this part of his family history.  First of all, I find this to be not only dishonest, but sad.  It just proves that our culture of entertainment is all about appearance, not the truth.  Ben was successful in getting his segment edited so that the footage showed him in a "heroic" light, rather than giving a historically accurate picture.  Really, Ben ... are you that insecure?
     Secondly, I am really getting weary of the tendency in our society to judge all white people in 21st century America by the standards of an institution that can be traced back to the earliest records, such as the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1760 BC)!  The Ancient Greeks practiced slavery of peoples of different color and ethnicities; the Roman Empire enslaved entire populations; and the Byzantine-Ottoman wars in Europe resulted in the taking of large numbers of Christian slaves and using or selling them in the Islamic world.  And let's not forget the Mongols, the Vikings, the Barbary Pirates, and so many more. The fact is that slavery was not suddenly invented by Southern white plantation owners in the American South!
     And isn't it time that the slavery apologists admit and recognize that unfortunately, slavery was a regular part of the African societal experience?  Sadly, while an inherently evil practice among human beings, African tribes were exploited by their own, once Europeans realized that they could export African slaves for profit.  This fact does not excuse anyone -- and we must face the dark stain upon our national history that slavery represents.  But should we be judged today in light of our ancestor's use of a despicable institution that was common to the world?  In fact, I do not know of one person -- whether white, black, brown, yellow, blue, or orange that maintains that slavery was a noble cause.  Not one!
     So, I also take issue with Mr. Affleck's sheepish apology:  "I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth," Affleck wrote in a Facebook post. "I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story. We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery."
     See, Ben, it's what we do in the here and now that matters.  So your vehement defense of all Islam as peaceful, based on the historic definition of the faith, rather than the current actions of its radical followers, should take on a whole new significance for you.  And I disagree with your claim that "as a nation, [we are] still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery".  As I said earlier, no American wishes us to return to the institution of slavery... period!   And what exactly is that "terrible legacy"?  It seems to me, the legacy is that our historic slave past continues to be used as a divisive, and convenient, political weapon against fellow Americans.
     And I had one other silly little thought .... since our President has declared that racism is in our DNA, then does that make Ben Affleck a certifiable racist?  Do you see how absurd this line of reasoning is?
     No white person in America -- at least since their great-great-great grandfather -- has owned another human being.  And neither has any black American suffered the indignity or abuse from that despicable practice.  Is it distasteful to know that your distant relative was involved in slavery, whether white or black?  Of course it is.  But what will it take for us to quit the "blame" and "guilt" games?  What will I ever be able to do to soothe or erase those scars?  The truth is ... nothing.  While I abhor this part of our ancient history, I did not partake in it.  I do not agree with it.  And I think it is time we turn our attention from ancient history to the modern sex slave trade and human trafficking.
     We need to quit looking backwards at something we cannot change, and look towards making a real difference in the lives of real people.  It is time to address the evil practice of modern slavery, in all of its nuances, and let go of the slavery issue from our past.  Southern white slaveowners no longer exist, but there are victims in the here and now that all Americans, of every race, can help rescue.

Philemon 1:16    "No longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord."


December 20, 2013

Free Speech vs Profits ... Which One Will Win?

     I thought I would wait a few days before jumping into the fray over Duck Dynasty's patriarch, but it's hard to ignore the firestorm Phil Robertson's comments have created.  I have a feeling that no matter what I say, I'm not gonna win.  If I say Phil Robertson's remarks were scripturally correct, and I stand behind his right to express his religious beliefs, then I will be labeled a hater by the LGBT defenders.  And if I say, the way he chose to express his personal opinion was ... well, a little crude ... then I might be accused by my Christian brethren for not taking a strong enough stand against biblical sin. Either way, we as a society, do not win.
     Because, you see, I think this whole brouhaha is about much more than a Cajun redneck's diatribe about homosexuality.  What Phil was really saying --- and what A&E can't stand --- is that sin is becoming acceptable in America, and that the country needs to turn back to its Christian values.  So the first thing I see is the power of the media to try and control the culture.
     It has been oft reported that A&E is none too happy about what they call "proselytizing" by the Robertson family.  They would rather not show the Robertson family around the dinner table, praying to Jesus, at the end of each episode.  But Papa Phil stuck to his guns and threatened to pull the plug on the highest rated cable TV show in history, unless they could glorify their God.  Success does have its privileges.
     So I can imagine that A&E Executives have been salivating over the right opportunity to sever the stranglehold that this provincial Christian family has had over the millions of Americans that tune into their staged "reality" show.  And Phil, in all his brutal honesty, served it up on a silver platter.
     Now, you might think, why in the world would Phil Robertson ever subject himself to an interview in a publication like GQ?  After all, they don't exactly have a lot in common, and don't you think they probably "baited" him?  I mean, he's not exactly reticent about expressing his opinion.
     I have heard Mr. Robertson speak in person, and he is passionate about sharing the Gospel at every turn and opportunity he receives.  To say the least, he is bold and unafraid.  And why shouldn't he be?  If, like Phil, you know that you are a citizen of God's kingdom, and this world is transitory, then where should your loyalty lie?  Other celebrities certainly use their platforms to promote their ideologies and agendas.  But somehow, if you are a Christian and your faith is your foundation, then anyone you offend or anyone who disagrees with you can claim you have discriminated against them.  
     Which brings up another question I have.  Of late, Miley Cyrus and Bill Maher have managed to consistently offend me with their actions and their words.  But does the Media take into account the opinions of Christians or Conservatives when it comes to censoring their visibility on TV?  No!  And I would never suggest that they be denied the right to earn a living because I disagreed with them.  And what makes the Elite think they can speak for all of America in deciding what is offensive and what is not?  I think it is obvious that they kowtow to the Hollywood Left and its politically correct mindset.  In fact, there is one report on the internet that says Phil's suspension was announced after a late-night call from GLAAD, the media monitoring organization which promotes the image of LGBT people in the media.  Can you say "pressure to punish"?  (By the way, I would say by the amount of gay characters on TV these days, they must be a pretty powerful lobby).
     I also find it interesting that a spokesman for GLAAD, the newspaper Variety, and the Huffington Post, among many others, chose to label Robertson's remarks as "anti-gay", while failing to disclose other parts of his interview in which he states, “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job.  We just love ‘em, give ‘em the good news about Jesus – whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ‘em out later.”  Once again, I'm left to ponder why the Left cannot understand that one's religious stance on a particular sin can be separated from how we Christian's treat our fellow man.
     So now let's talk about free speech.  Do we have a First Amendment that guarantees free speech for everyone, or not?  And why is it OK to speak all the hateful and vile comments coming from the gay community, but not acceptable for Phil to state what his religion tells him?  Why is the first response always to attack?  And why is one automatically labeled a bigot if you have a different opinion?
     It seems to me, that this is a perfect opportunity to engage each other in meaningful discussion.  Rather than silence and suspend Phil Robertson, A&E could encourage open communication between differing groups and accomplish true understanding and tolerance --- by both sides.  Instead they have stirred up a hornet's nest; as of this writing, over 1.2 million people have taken to a Facebook page to support Phil Robertson.  (Don't you find it ironic that it took a couple of months to get a little over 100,000 people to sign up for Obamacare, but in less than 24 hours this site was overwhelmed with those anxious to sign up to endorse Phil's comments?)
     Conservative Christians are tired of being misrepresented and dictated to by entertainment corporations who greedily accept our hard-earned dollars, while disrespecting our faith and shoving their agendas down our throat.  We are fed up with being marginalized, and that's why Phil Robertson, even with his less-than-genteel speech, is being hailed a hero for standing up to the forces that would silence us.  I sense that A&E's decision is going to affect their wallet, and I have a feeling the Elite just might regret their knee-jerk punishment of the Duck Commander.

2 Timothy 4:1-2    "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching."
   
   
   

November 30, 2013

Recommended Product: Conflicted-The Survival Card Game

     This little product fits right in with my post from yesterday.  My friends over at prepperwebsite.com featured this unique little gift that will be a mind-blower this Christmas.  It is a scenario-based card game called Conflicted.  Created by SurvivalLogics, Conflicted contains 52 scenario cards and 2 rule cards.  Instead of reading preparedness articles to learn “how to react" in a certain scenario, Conflicted gets you to think through how YOU would respond to a myriad of survival situations after a SHTF event.
     But this product is more than a game and an individual mental exercise.  Many who have already purchased the card game are seeing the advantage of “feeling” others out in their families or preparedness group.  When we are all faced with tough situations, we have an idea of how we are going to act. We tend to think this idea is the way most reasonable people would act as well. The problem is that another person in your prepping group may feel the same way .... but about a completely different answer to the same question!
     So depending on how seriously you want to play the game with the other players you can really get into some great discussions and get a feel for what kind of person your friend or family member “really” is before you both are faced with a difficult situation and emotions are running high.  Or you can go completely in a different direction and play the game casually with someone who isn’t into prepping at all and then maybe ... just maybe ... at the end of the gaming session that person will be thinking about becoming a prepper themselves.
     Here's a sample card that will give you an idea of how the game is played:

     Get the idea?  But what really impresses me with this product is how the developers tested their game before releasing it.  The test group revealed the following reasons they would recommend Conflicted:
1.  It opens up in depth discussions regarding what kind of world we’ll live in after the collapse of society.
2.  It shows to you where others in your group draw the line between their will to live vs their own morals.
3.  It helps you create a mutual understanding among the members of your bugout group when it comes to who’s more suitable for what role after the collapse of society.
4.  It helps you discuss with significant others what kind of survival philosophy your camp will have after the collapse and why that philosophy is important.
5.  The game will raise an awareness regarding other areas of prepping that perhaps you didn’t think about.
6.  Practice your barter, negotiating and leadership skills to perfection on the subjects that matter most.
7.  Conflicted: The Survival Card Game is like a mirror that exposes your real survival philosophy to yourself.
8.  Over 50 scenarios that will reveal how unprepared emotionally humanity really is to the collapse of modern civilization.
9.  See what other preppers all over the world think a post apocalyptic society will be like, as they submit scenarios and the Conflicted website publishes more decks periodically. Have a way to bring this knowledge to your bugout group.  (The website is currently featuring videos of groups that have played the game and their results).
10.  It exposes who the true leader of your bugout group really is. Hope you and your group can handle that….
     Sooo, if you're looking for that controversial little stocking stuffer; you know, the one that everybody will be talking about? I think this may be it.  Just go to www.conflictedthegame.com and see where the game takes you!

1 Peter 3:15    "But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." 



August 16, 2013

Will Wonders Never Cease?

     Could we actually be seeing a shift in the consciousness of our culture?  While I do not put my faith in celebrity endorsements or proclamations, they can be a reliable barometer of the culture's mindset.  It is for that reason that I want to bring the following to your attention.  Over the last few days, two personalities who have influence over two different subsets of society have made some rather encouraging remarks ... at least from my perspective.
     The first is Ashton Kutcher, who is a teen and young adult TV and film star, who is idolized by the younger generation.  Although you may be unaware of who he is, believe me, your daughter or grand-daughter knows his name.  Appearing at the Teen Choice Awards, he surprised adults who caught the drift of his speech.  It was not the customary pandering to his devoted audience.  As he ignored the repeated "We love you, Ashton!" from the teeny-boppers, here is what he had to say:
     "In Hollywood, I have been privy to learning some of the "insider secrets" to keeping your career going.  But I want to say that I actually feel like a fraud.  My name is not even Ashton.  That's my middle name.  My real name is Chris, and there are some really amazing things I learned when I was Chris.  There are three important things that I want to share with you, because I believe they are what got me to where I am today.
     First, I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work.  When I was 13, I had my first job with my dad carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job at a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground.
     And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job.  And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”
     His second point was about "being sexy".  He explained to his young audience that "being sexy" has nothing to do with the "crap" they are told by society.  “The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart,” he said to cheers. “And being thoughtful, and being generous. Everything else is crap, I promise you. It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don’t buy it! Be smart, be thoughtful and be generous.”
     His third point and final piece of advice dealt with the fulfillment of refusing to live “inside the world”, and instead creating your own life.  He learned this while making his current movie in which he portrays Apple founder, Steve Jobs.  He said Jobs taught him that everyone is always telling you to play within the boundaries of what the world calls "life".  But he went on to add that Jobs learned something more valuable: “Everything around us that we call life was made up of people that are no smarter than you,” he said. “And you can build your own things, you can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life — don’t live one, build one.”
     Could this possibly be in response to the famous "You didn't build this" speech?  Whatever his reasons, Kutcher stepped outside the lines of Hollywood correctness.  While he stopped short of promoting a spiritual life, I think God would certainly endorse his argument.  It remains to be seen if his young audience will listen to his wise words.  But it was refreshing to hear someone in the "fleshly" culture of Hollywood return to his real roots.
     The second celebrity speaks to the older generation.   As the front man for the world-famous rock band, U2, Bono has wielded some power when it comes to shining the spotlight on third-world poverty, especially in Africa.  Bono has long been a philanthropist, as well as a proponent of big government programs for raising people out of poverty.  In fact, he greatly encouraged the expansion of U.S. foreign aid and other government programs (including debt cancellation) to alleviate the dire plight in the world of HIV/AIDS, malaria, abject poverty, and other issues.
     But according to a speech he recently gave at Georgetown University, he may be having a change of heart.  “Aid is just a stopgap. Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.”  This alteration in his economic and political stance can possibly be attributed to his purported Christian faith and his admiration for the work of C.S. Lewis.   "When you truly accept that those children in some far off place in the global village have the same value as you in God’s eyes, or even in just your eyes, then your life is forever changed, you see something that you can’t un-see.”
     It also helps that he has benefitted from the economics of capitalism.   Besides being world famous for his music and social/political causes, Bono is also one of the world’s most successful venture capitalists. He is co-founder of the venture firm Elevation Partners, which was an early investor in Facebook. When the social media company went public, Elevation Partners’ stake was worth more than $1.5 billion.  I guess he saw first-hand, that no government aid program could build that.
     Whatever his reasons, it's nice to see someone of his stature and respectability point out the benefits of capitalism.  Seems to merge nicely with Ashton Kutcher's thoughts on hard work, opportunity, being smart and generous.  We can use a little positive news from that part of our culture.
     Because, you see, Satan has long used the entertainment industry as his playground and vehicle for enslavement of the masses.  Perhaps God just made the master chess move, and through the free will with which He endowed us, the players are recognizing that Satan's lies are empty and the life he offers yields no real rewards.  We can only pray and let God do His saving work!

2 Corinthians 10:4    "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds."

   

July 25, 2013

Don't Let The Darkness In

     This might seem like a frivolous topic, but it is something that keeps popping back into my mind, so maybe I'm supposed to bring it to light.  If any of you have teenage children or grandchildren, then you are no doubt aware of the popularity of zombies and vampires in our culture of entertainment.  And if you're not informed about this phenomenon, then perhaps you should be.
     From TV shows like The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood, to the wildly popular Twilight series, these dark entities have captured our kids' imaginations.  It's not only TV shows; it's books and movies, too.  As an article on Charismanews.com cited, the undead genre, as it is sometimes called, is wildly popular among adolescents and young adults. Some national bookstore chains have entire sections devoted to "teen paranormal romance," featuring such titles as Boys That Bite and I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It.
     But teenagers aren't the only target audience.  Book series such as Vampirates and Diary of a Zombie Kid are recommended for elementary-aged children!  Candy Tolbert, director of National Girls Ministries for the Assemblies of God, says, "It's a very lucrative market.  Girls as young as 11 are being sucked into this fantasy world where death and spiritual perversion are glamorized."
     And if you think this is no different than the Dracula or Frankenstein movies of our era; think again.  In my childhood, those creatures were seen as monsters; abnormal and to be feared and abhorred.  In today's culture, these beings are being romanticized; they are often depicted with the same appeal as any rock or movie star.  Also, the occult and spiritual darkness are normalized, and our teens are encouraged to accept those that are "different", and even engage in romantic relationships.  This is a very dangerous fantasy world that is being perpetuated!
     Studies have shown that during adolescence, our teenagers brains are still developing.   They tend to  use the part of their brain (the Amygdala) that is reactive and emotional, rather than the Frontal Cortex which determines judgment and reasoning.  So presenting dark spiritual forces in an emotional, romantic, fantasized light will certainly distort the reality of the dark, demonic world.  The entertainment industry has found a way to paint a picture of a counterfeit spirituality that is exciting and appealing to our youth.
     Satan, through entertainment, has found a successful way to remove the stigma of "religion" from this genre.  The line is erased between angels and evil spirits, heaven and hell, good and evil.  It is easy to lure teens and young adults into a false image of the supernatural.  Vampires become heroes and zombies become mainstream.  But it is all a form of darkness that leads our youth away from Spiritual truth and into unhealthy and un-Scriptural ideas of the afterlife.   Try watching one of these shows, or read one of the books.  What might appear "campy" at first, is soon revealed to be dark and enticing.  Make sure you know what the kids in your life are being exposed to.  Shine a light on it and remove the darkness from their midst.

Psalm 52:2    "Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit."

April 29, 2013

Duck Calls and Jesus!

     I know this is going to sound completely off the wall and undeserving of consideration, but please give me a chance to explain.  When the stresses of this crazy world and the unfolding of evil events seems ready to overwhelm me, I take a break, turn on the TV and enter into 30 minutes of pure, simple, godly entertainment.  Judge me if you must, but how am I able to give my mind a break and nourish my soul?  It's simple, really ..... it's called Duck Dynasty!

     Yep!  The redneck millionaire family from the woods of Louisiana have totally charmed me.  They represent the rags-to-riches American story.  The show's promo calls them the "close-knit family who has made a fortune on duck calls by turning a backyard business into a multi-million dollar sporting empire."  But they are so much more!
     The premise of the show is that we tune in each week to watch the antics of a Louisiana bayou family living the American dream as they operate a thriving duck call and decoy business while staying true to their family values.  But here's the real attraction .... For the Robertsons, those values relate to the grace and salvation found in Jesus Christ.  And that has put them right up against the unholy boardrooms of Hollywood.
     It seems that it is the Robertsons vs. the Editing Room.  “They pretty much cut out most of the spiritual things,” says Phil Robertson, the Patriarch and one-time honky-tonk operator who gave up his heathen lifestyle in the 1970s, “We say them, but they just don’t run them on the show.  Hollywood has run upon the kingdom of God, and there’s a rub there,” said the Duck Commander.  Phil is a tenacious personal evangelist who has baptized hundreds of souls to new life in the Ouachita River. “Well, we have to be as harmless as a dove and as shrewd as a snake in the way we deal with them.”
     Despite the spiritual material cut out of the show, the Matriarch, Miss Kay, says “We’re so blessed for what we can get in there. That’s really unknown in today’s TV on a regular, big TV network like that.”
     And this family is serious about their faith.  By taking advantage of an opportunity to be “salt and light” in the entertainment media, the Robertsons gain a voice and a presence in a culture-shaping industry.  And in so doing, they have learned to compromise; the opportunity to influence a segment of culture in very broad ways as TV personalities outweighs the disappointment they may feel when the producers cut out ‘in Jesus’ name’ at the end of every televised prayer.  In a recent comment before his church, Jase Robertson said, "“It’s a slippery slope when you’re holding Hollywood’s hand and you’re trying to accomplish something; when deep down all you want to do is proclaim that Jesus is Lord.”  Yet, somehow they manage to get their message past the program executives, and let us see who they really are.
      Maybe it's their irreverence for the trappings of this world; or their obvious love of family and the affectionate teasing that can't quite disguise their sincere attachment to each other.  Maybe it's that the grandkids are respectful of their elders.  It's refreshing to see "yes, sir" and "no, ma'am" roll effortlessly off their tongues. And it's nice to see a family that prospered through hard work and isn't afraid to take pride in their efforts.  I love the old-fashioned, down home values and the humor is honest, clean and really funny.
     Camo, guns and simple living are the norm for every show.  There is nowhere the men of the Robertson clan would rather be than in full-blown camo, face paint on, and seeing the sun rise from a duck blind. They're proud to be rednecks!
    What's more, they have no desire to become enmeshed in the empty standards of today's culture.  In fact, PLW's favorite aspect of the show is when Grandpa Phil teaches the grandkids the old ways; he's not afraid to take away the cell phones and video games and give them a taste of hard physical labor.  Other times he shows them the joys of a lazy afternoon in his pirogue; fishing out of the small, flat-bottomed boat typically used by Cajuns of the Louisiana marsh shows his grandkids that they don't need the distractions of modern society.  He instructs them that fresh air and the outdoors are still good for what ails ya.  The grandkids always receive a thinly-disguised lesson on how to live a godly life.
     I love the respect and commitment on display; not only between the Patriarch Phil and his devoted wife, Miss Kay, but between the siblings and their wives.  Every show involves an admonition to the third generation; the grandkids see the value of choosing your spouse wisely.  Then there's Miss Kay's famous cooking.  It is the honey that keeps the family buzzing around her kitchen.  And every single show ends with the extended family gathered around a long table and a mound of home-cooked Southern food, while Phil thanks God for their blessings.
     This show makes me feel good; just like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie used to ---- except that I always end up clutching my sides in laughter.  And there is nothing like laughter to erase the frown lines brought on by the day's headlines.  So I know there will be those of you who will only see the long beards, scraggly hair and endless displays of camo.  But please don't dismiss the Robertson family so quickly!  I know I resisted it for far too long, and am busy catching up on the previous seasons.  In fact, PLW and I end each day with a 30-minute episode and they always leave us smiling and praising their faith in family and God.  What better way to cope with all the negativity in the world!

Psalm 126:2      Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

   

April 3, 2013

Hollywood Gets It Wrong Again!

     This is the other side of the coin from yesterday's blog post.  Michelle Malkin has written an excellent article on leftist Hollywood director Robert Redford's latest movie, titled The Company You Keep.  Redford has long been known as a political and environmental activist through movies he has both directed and starred in, such as Three Days of the Condor, Milagro Beanfield War, The Candidate, Lions for Lambs, and The Motorcycle Diaries, which chronicles the radicalization of Marxist guerilla ChĂ© Guevara.  
     Redford has now set his sights on glamorizing the terrorist activities of an arm of the Weather Underground.  He will star in the movie, along with fellow Hollywood leftie, Susan Sarandon, in which they will portray fictionalized versions of May 19th Communist Coalition (M19CO) members Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert.  The M19CO name was derived from the birthdays of Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X; so that should give you a pretty good idea of the origin of their ideology -- violence is acceptable as a means to an end.
     Redford and his executive producers will attempt to romanticize their character's involvement in a murderous spree, going so far as to gush, "This is an edge-of-your-seat thriller about real Americans who stood for their beliefs, thinking they were patriots and defending their country’s ideals against their government".  In reality, the real-life radicals the movie is based on were domestic terrorists and anarchists.
     Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert were part of that pack of spoiled rich kids who, along with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, developed the Weathermen, a radical left organization that formed out of the Students For a Democratic Society (SDS).  Their stated goal was to create a clandestine revolutionary party for the overthrow of the US government.
     I was a young high school student when their names became synonymous with lawlessness and revolution.  Think of them as Occupy Wall Street-ers with bomb-making facilities and murderous intentions.  In Redford's movie his character is forced to go into hiding after a bank heist to fund their revolutionary plans results in the accidental death of a security guard.  The rest of the movie is focused on developing sympathy for the character, both as a "patriot" trying to exonerate his actions, and as a dutiful parent separated from his child.
     The truth behind this fairy tale is that Boudin, Gilbert and M19CO members formed an alliance with the violent Black Liberation Army to achieve three objectives:  1)  Free political prisoners in US prisons;  2)  Appropriate capitalist wealth (through armed robberies) to fund the third stage, and  3)  Initiate a series of bombings and terrorist attacks.  Just a nice group of kids, right?
     The movie centers around the real-life 1981 event where Weather Underground members Kathy Boudin, Judith Alice Clark, and David Gilbert, together with several members of the Black Liberation Army, participated in a robbery of a Brinks armored car at the Nanuet Mall, near Nyack, New York. Upon her arrest Boudin was identified as a member of the May 19 Communist Organization. Three officers were killed.
     But lest you think this one act is the sum of our "heroes" activities, let me tell you a few more of their accomplishments:
•  Jan. 28, 1983, M19CO bombed the federal building on Staten Island, N.Y.
•  April 25, 1983, they were responsible for a bombing at the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.
•  November 7th, 1983 US Senate Bombing
•  April 5, 1984 Bombed the Israeli Aircraft Industries Building
•  On November 3, 1984, two members of the M19CO, Susan Rosenberg and Timothy Blunk, were arrested at a mini-warehouse they had rented in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Police recovered more than 100 blasting caps, nearly 200 sticks of dynamite, more than 100 cartridges of gel explosive, and 24 bags of blasting agent from the warehouse.
•  September 26, 1984 bombed the South African consulate.
     Now, I will admit that I am not as naive about our government as I was as a young idealistic high school student.  But I will sincerely oppose any openly terroristic methods to bring the government down!  Anyone who does any serious research will come away knowing that Redford's film is a thinly disguised attempt to re-write history.  In truth, his sentimental protagonists were ruthless killers who participated in the $1.6 million heist, and took part in two bloody shoot-outs as they fled the scene.
     Predictably, Redford offers no sympathy for the victims or the families they left behind.  Children were left without fathers, while the Boudin character is portrayed as a caring mom who drops her son off at the babysitter before taking up her role as getaway driver.  (Interesting historical fact:  Boudin's son was "adopted" and cared for by Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, while his notorious mother served jail time.  That son, Chesa Boudin, attended Yale, won a prestigious Rhodes scholarship, shilled for Hugo Chavez, wrote books and keeps a busy speaking schedule. He still stands by the Weathermen’s revolutionary agenda: “My parents were all dedicated to fighting U.S. imperialism around the world. I’m dedicated to the same thing.”)  
     And so apparently, is Robert Redford and his Hollywood machine.  I'm sure this movie is dedicated to introducing still another young generation of Americans to the idealism and visions of a Marxist society.  But while Redford may try to whitewash history and show these revolutionaries as innocent of their terroristic labels, there are still some of us who remember them as they really were.  I suggest you Google "Brink's Robbery (1981)" and skip Hollywood's romantic version.

Isaiah 59:12-13     For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us.  Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived.


November 26, 2012

Red Dawn: A Review And Reflection

     I suppose, like many of you, that I have been awaiting the release of the re-make of Red Dawn with both curiosity and dread.  The original has become a cult classic, and how could Hollywood do justice to both the story and iconic actors such as Patrick Swayze, Ben Johnson, Powers Boothe and Harry Dean Stanton?  Yet, in the 28 years since Red Dawn first appeared on the screen, the premise of the movie doesn't seem quite so improbable anymore.
      Don't worry, I won't ruin the movie for you, if you haven't seen it yet.  But if you want my recommendation ... I give it two thumbs up.  Without giving anything away, let me just say that I was impressed with this version.  The producers were smart enough not to try to re-create an exact replica of the movie, but instead chose to revise the storyline just enough to make it seem new and fresh, while giving proper respect to all the things we loved about the original version.   My biggest concern, was that Patrick Swayze was so identified with the lead character, Jed, that anyone else playing that role would diminish the impact of all the character interactions.  Not so.  Chris Hemsworth not only makes the role his, but possesses the same strength and spirit as Swayze.  This new version made me feel just as proud to be an American as the original, and that's all I'm going to say about the plot and movie.
     But, the new Red Dawn left me with more doubts about how we would react than the first one did.  In 1984, I felt we were all like Jed and Mattie.  Foreign troops falling from the sky?  While it was a great movie plot, and sent a shiver down my spine, it wasn't really anything I considered as likely; after all, Ronald Reagan was President and America was feared and respected around the globe.  And if this scenario did play out, we were the sons and daughters of WWII vets, and we knew what America stood for and that she was worth fighting for.  We stood behind our nation.
     I asked PLW if he thought we would really react and fight against foreign attackers if, today, we saw parachutes in the sky.   Unfortunately, neither one of us could answer that question with any kind of confidence.  Another generation has passed since the first Red Dawn, and based on the news coverage of Black Friday alone, we seem to be all about fighting for ourselves and could care less about defending the nation.
     I absolutely think that there is a segment in this country that would die fighting to save this blessed land.  And I'm not talking about the military.  Hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens would rise up and defend the homeland that they love and revere.   But just as many would sell out their neighbors and give up our nation's sovereignty without so much as a second thought.  Promise them a phone and rent-free space in the refugee camp, and they'll deny the Constitution all day long.
     This leads me to the questions that haunted me throughout the movie .... How many people are willing to conceive of a cause greater than themselves?  Would individuals really be willing to sacrifice their own safety and comfort to ensure that our nation remains free?  Do people even know the real meaning of freedom anymore?  By freedom, I'm talking about more than not being subjected to a foreign domination or despotic government, although that is certainly a valid definition, and present in the theme of this movie.  But, to me, freedom is much more individual;  it's not being enslaved by a system, and it is having the ability and the will to self-determine the quality of your life --- both of which the characters in the movie embody.
     But when you take into account that Americans who depend on the government for subsistence has risen from 30% at the time of the original Red Dawn in 1984, to 49.1% in the first quarter of 2011(Wall Street Journal), you have to wonder if Jed and Mattie and their friends would find enough people to rally around their cause.  With those kinds of statistics, does it appear that more of our fellow countrymen have sought to bind themselves to the system?  Do they value self-determination, or are they simply more interested in handouts?   Would this generation of Americans have any "fight" in them, or would they choose to surrender to the enemy in favor of "global unity"?  I submit to you that the answers to these questions define the character of America today.
     I pray to God in heaven that I will never see foreign troops parachuting into our cities and countryside.  And I'm one of those people (you can call me a nutcase) that can't quite dismiss the thought that Hollywood forecasts our future through subtle innuendos in their film projects.  If there's any truth to that, then maybe all is not lost.  I'm happy to report that the Wolverines are still alive and well in 2012!

Psalm 33:10-12     "The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance."