Wednesday, March 27, 2013

God in entertainment~

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things
Philippians 4:8

Let me start right off by saying, I know this is a touchy subject.  That said, I am not throwing down the gauntlet for a theological debate.  I'm just thinking out loud.
There is an incredible amount of "stuff" now quickly and easily accessible.  Those of you raised in church and specifically in the charismatic movement of the 1970s will probably recall prophecies of things we now know referred to cable television and cellphones and the internet.  I believe this quick accessibility creates a dangerously low thresh hold for what we allow into our spirits.  We don't have the time we used to have to pause and consider whether we should expose ourselves to a particular book or movie, it's all at our fingertips.  As Christ Followers, we have to be more vigilant than we used to be.  In the space of seconds we can download a book to our Kindles that we would've never gone into a store and purchased.  With the avalanche of entertainment and technology, our tolerance has increased and, I believe, we are not as shocked as we used to be at what we see and hear.  As our acceptance of these things has changed, we have allowed our children to be exposed to sights, sounds and stories that would've been unacceptable one generation prior.
I know this because it happens in my own home.  No finger pointing intended, unless it is at myself.  If there is an ongoing argument in our house between the Mr. and I, it is what he considers acceptable and what I do.  He's a good guy, a guy who loves and serves the Lord and still; I often disagree with his "liberal" approach to entertainment.  And no, it's not pornography I'm talking about.
This is not shared with judgement and I do hope I can trust you to not leap to labeling Dean a reprobate.  Because even as I disclose this little tidbit, there are books and movies and television shows that I don't have a problem with that some of you would find shocking.
And guess what?  There are books and movies and television shows that you guys have recommended that I find unacceptable.
I read and enjoyed every single Harry Potter book and movie.  In fact, if I'm channel surfing and run across one...I stop and watch it.  Lots and lots of Christians are vehemently opposed to this series.  But not I.
Then again, I have seen The Hunger Games on multiple blogs and FBs as a great option for Christians, no immoral behavior, no sex.  I watched the first 20 minutes of the first movie and not only couldn't continue, I insisted it be removed and sent back to Netflix immediately.  There was no nudity but the violence of children against children literally turned my stomach.
The Twilight Series?  Never read it.  First of all, it's "tween" fiction, books written for adolescent girls.  Not something that holds my attention.  Secondly, for reasons I cannot explain (given my Harry Potter attitude,)  the premise of the books disturbs my spirit.  If I had a young lady in my home who wanted to read the books, I'd first of all read them myself to try to understand my gut reaction.  But unless the Holy Spirit gave me peace, they'd be forbidden. 
So I can't tolerate the violence of the Hunger Games and don't know why I  am bothered by Twilight.  But...I am fascinated by true life violence.  I read endless books about serial killers and murder.  I watch those television shows about the life of Ted Bundy and The Unibomber.  I followed the Jon Benet Ramsey murder and still do when there are new developments.  More often than not, people cannot understand how I can stomach such evil and grief.  This I do understand, it's because the perpetrators of these crimes are the future of many of my patients.  I need to remain engaged in understanding this horrible behavior if I'm to answer the Lord's call on my life which is to reach these disturbed people before they hurt someone.  I cannot be so mortified that I turn away.
What I do turn away from is scary movies.  I can read a book filled with crime scene photographs but Friday the 13th will torment me for days. In fact, I turn away from television commercials about horror films.
If you see inconsistency in this, that's my point exactly.  We no longer live in a world where the only evening entertainment option was Pa reading from the Bible or telling stories of his youth.  Everything is at our fingertips and we must guard our hearts against becoming calloused and therefore tolerant; or prideful and therefore self righteous.
As I attempt to navigate the onslaught of entertainment options, I have learned a few things that help me make choices with wisdom.  And most importantly, when the Holy Spirit says, "No," that's it.  I don't need to understand why. 

1.  When God instructs your heart to turn away from something, consider the matter settled.  Obedience sows the seeds of divinity into our lives.  If the Lord says, "No," seek to cultivate a heart that rejoices in pleasing him.  It doesn't matter if we think a matter is harmless, God's "No" is always correct and for our best.
2.  If you are going to take a stand against something specific, you may have to read the book or watch the movie or TV show in order to speak to the dangers inherent in it.  Anyone who has not read Harry Potter won't get more than a few seconds of my attention.  If you've read it and have an opinion that can be discussed without insulting my relationship with God; I'm interested.
3.  If you have kids or grands, know what they are watching and reading.  Read the Twilight books and then you can approve or disapprove with specific insight.  If the child in your life reads or watches that book or movie that concerns you, you will have a wonderful opportunity to talk about it.  And learn to be comfortable telling your kids that you don't have a specific reason but your heart is troubled.  What a wonderful gift, to teach a child to seek discernment! 
4.  If someone is offended by something that is not offensive to you, don't try to argue with them.  They are following the Holy Spirits leading for their own lives, never attempt to talk someone out of their personal convictions!  You won't find me telling people to research BTK or the Zodiac Killer.  We are each created with sensitivities specific to our own hearts. 
5. Even as we guard against the subtle and destructive influence of satan, we must guard against self-righteousness.  Consider Jesus who accused the religious of his day of being white washed tombs.  I work with someone who is very vocal about the evils of the Twilight movies and is one of the laziest people I know.  I'd rather she watched Twilight and displayed a work ethic worthy of someone who claims the name of Christian!

Living a life that pleases Jesus is a matter of a submitted heart more than of submitted actions.  The heart following after his pleasure will express itself in Godly behavior.  However, behavior that appears Godly can be driven by pride or even ignorance.  We must be careful, in these days of evil.  We must guard our hearts and our homes from the quiet influence of the enemy. 

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
Philippians 2:12

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