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Sunday, November 27, 2016

"I Want to See Something That Represents Who I Am"

The television movie commentator said, “People want to see movies that represent who they are.”

Yep! We do.

We want to see clean, wholesome movies that promote:
  • Morality
  • Family values
  • Respect
  • Individuality
  • Positivity

Instead, the movie industry cranks out just the opposite. What’s the problem? I’m not sure. It hasn’t been all that many years ago that basically any movie that came out was okay for family viewing. Box office favorites during my childhood included: The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and Swiss Family Robinson.

I don’t need to describe to you the non-values that today’s movies promote. Today’s films are Godless, disrespectful, violent, and full of sexual content. Rarely ever is the language clean. A “family unit” can consist of all kinds of couples, triples, and cheating. Some marital arrangements even include passive tolerance of aberrant behaviors. Movies represent many divorces and immorality from singles, as well. When there are children in films, they have nasty attitudes and talk back to their parents and other adults. If there’s a school scene, there’s more of the same disrespect.

I realize we’re no longer in “Ozzie and Harriet” days, and “Leave it to Beaver” was a very long time ago. When I was a child, I never knew any woman who actually wore high heels and starched aprons around the house. It was an unrealistic, idealistic picture of life, but it was a positive one. When Beaver and Wally got into trouble, they learned life lessons. The moral tone was good. Their parents may have disagreed, but they were committed to each other, and the family unit was secure.

Today, even the remakes of classic films are darker. I recently saw a frame-by-frame comparison of the new Beauty and the Beast movie with the older, animated one. I noticed that the scenes’ coloring is darker—more like dark grays and navy than daylight. (I haven’t seen it, and I can’t judge whether the whole tone is truly more pessimistic. I don’t know. This is only an observation about staging and lighting.)

Why the darkness? Why the gore? Why the disrespect and immorality?

The Bible says. In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. . . . men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith (1 Timothy 3:1b-7, 8b). It sounds like a snapshot of today’s entertainment—that supposedly reflects who people are and what they want to see.

Not me!

And, I’m sure not many of my readers.

What can be done to change things? (Before offering some ideas, I’m not sure we can change Hollywood, but I do think maybe we can begin to influence culture—and movies—in a positive, alternative way.)

Here are four ideas:
  1. Make sure your own entertainment choices are clean and pure. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me (Psalm 101:3).
  2. Patronize good, Christian films and watch the old classics. When there’s more of a market, there is more funding and availability of good films. It’s a win-win.
  3. Make your voice heard. For example, you watch a children’s movie with your kids, and you’re horrified to hear potty talk, innuendo, and crudeness. Write a note to the company. If every caring parent did this, there would be a huge difference in kids’ movies.
  4. If you’re talented in writing, acting, etc. make sure you use your talent for the Lord. His reward is greater than any secular acclaim—and it’s eternal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:20a, 33). Choose to only take part in clean, moral productions as well as Christian ones. The Lord will reward you.
Let’s be a voice for positive moral tone in entertainment.

After all, we want it to represent who we are.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

May I Talk Things Over With My Husband--Or Is That Not Submissive?

A young wife read a popular Christian how-to-be-married book. As a result, she decided to become doormat submissive. She never questioned, never discussed, and didn’t express her opinion. She was trying to be the perfect submissive wife.

It didn’t work. Her husband treated her worse than before.

Noticing this result, she decided to change. She made her opinions known. She stood up for herself from time to time. She shared her thoughts with her husband.

He respected her more.

Why are Christian wives uncertain about how they’re supposed to act?

Many Christian women misunderstand the word submit. It’s in several different places the Bible, but the most familiar verse is this: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). The words Be subject (in verse 21) are from the military term that originally meant “to arrange or rank under.“* It doesn’t mean that women are less important. It doesn’t mean that wives cannot express their opinions. It means that the husband has the last say and that the final decision is his responsibility. Just as the general leads troops under him, the husband leads his wife. Just as the sergeant yields to the general, the wife yields to her husband. The wife is one with her husband. She can share her heart with him. Their family is a unit, and there needs to be communication at the top of that unit.

So, how does this concept translate to everyday husband-wife interactions?
  1. Be honest. Tell the truth. Be open. If you have a different opinion, you may express it respectfully.
  2. Share. Do things together. Share life and laughter. A lot of marital problems would disappear if partners did more of life together.
  3. Demonstrate love. Love is looking for the other person’s good. Look for ways to bless your spouse. Love is also a heart disposition to show love. “I love this man, therefore I will do this for him.” Learn his love language.
  4. Strive for oneness. When the Bible says they shall be one flesh (from Genesis 2:24), it means it. A husband and a wife become one when they marry. Each is a vital part of the other. Each contributes to the union. Unity is important in marriage. Division is fatal. That’s why the Bible advocates submission. The wife yields to the head of the family in order for the home to run smoothly.
  5. Enjoy each other. Marriage is the most intimate relationship anyone can have. It’s about knowing each other in every way. Sometimes though, “familiarity breeds contempt.” When we know all about our spouse, he may seem less desirable. But marriage is supposed to be enjoyed. Our husband should be our best friend. He is the best and most fun person we could possibly be with. (Titus 2:4 says to love their husbands. The word used for love means a brotherly, friendship love. You can also read the book of Song of Solomon, which is about enjoying intimacy.)

A happy marriage means selflessness. It also means that both partners work together on their marriage. A happy marriage means honesty, openness, and transparency.
Give your opinion. Discuss and decide together. The ultimate decision is your husband’s but you are part of him, and you may respectfully tell him what you think.

Two people will never agree 100% of the time. That’s impossible! We can agree most of the time, though—and the last five or ten percent is easily yielded to our husband’s judgment.

What if your husband makes the call, and later everything falls apart? Instead of saying, “I told you so” or singing “Na-na-na-boo-boo” and mocking him, you can be sure that he will have marked this up in his mind as a lesson learned. You don’t even need to mention it. He will seriously consider your opinion in the future. Biblical submission is a win-win. You do the right thing, and your husband learns to respect your opinions, just as you respect him as head of the home. It’s perfect!

Most women have the biggest issues with their husbands in these two areas: 1. the discipline of children and 2. spending. Let’s take them one at a time.
  1. Almost always in a marriage, one parent is stricter than the other. You probably won’t see eye-to-eye with your husband on every parenting decision. Discuss your differences privately. It’s important to present a unified front—and be mutually supportive—to your children. You can defer to your husband on certain parenting issues, and he can defer to you. In the end, it will all balance out.
  2. We’re all pretty touchy when it comes to money. Why? It’s a question of values. One spouse spends more freely than the other. One thinks this is important, and the other thinks that is something we can’t do without. It’s not really a matter of who is correct; it’s about deciding together or yielding to your husband’s decision. Usually one’s a saver and one’s a spender. My experience is that these matters usually work themselves out as the years go by. Spouses grasp what’s truly important and what isn’t. It’s okay. The family survives.

Mutual respect begins with transparency and trust building. When a wife never voices her opinion, her husband cannot respect her. When she discusses issues calmly and with love and courtesy and leaves the final decision up to him, she earns his respect.

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her,
so that he shall have no need of spoil.
She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
Strength and honour are her clothing;
and she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom;
and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
Her children arise up, and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praiseth her.
(Proverbs 31:10-12, 25-26, 28)


*The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Ephesians. John MacArthur, Jr.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Thanksgiving Hymn

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I’d like to borrow some words of praise from the Bible’s book of Psalms.

I will praise Thee.

  • I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works (Psalm 9:1).
  • I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people (Psalm 35:18).
  • I will praise thee forever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints (Psalm 52:9).
  • I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations (Psalm 57:9).
  • I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore (Psalm 86:12).
  • I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations (Psalm 108:3).
  • I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation (Psalm 118:21).
  • Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee (Psalm 118:28).
  • I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments (Psalm 119:7).
  • I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee (Psalm 138:1).
  • I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well (Psalm 139:14).

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

"Just Have Faith," They Said

A friend tells me, “I have lots of faith.” I have no reason to doubt her. She probably does.

The televangelist tells the sick people, “If you have enough faith, you will be healed.” They believe they have enough, but they go home, still sick.

“His faith was important to him,” was said about a man who followed another religion.

“I am thankful for my faith in my God,” says a sportswoman member of a sect after she wins a contest.

What exactly is faith?  The dictionary says it is “complete trust or confidence in someone or some thing.” The Bible defines it this way: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

There’s an old illustration that describes faith perfectly. A man shows a chair to another person. Let’s call this person “Steven.”
The man asks Steven, “Do you see this chair?”
Steven replies, “Yes.”
Man: “Do you believe it’s a good chair?”
Steven: “Yes.”
Man: “Do you think it can hold me up?”
Steven: “Yes.”
Man: “Do you believe it can hold you up?”
Steven: “Yes.”
Man: “Then, sit in the chair.”
What Steven does after that proves or disproves his faith in the chair. Does he really believe it will hold him up? He proves his faith in the chair if he sits on it. If he doesn’t actually sit in the chair, he doesn’t really have faith in it. He only believes in his head. He hasn’t put his faith into action.

So, if you only believe, that’s not enough? Yes and no. It all depends what you believe in. We all believe in chairs, and we put our faith in them daily. Of course, chairs don’t make any difference for eternity. 
  • Some people are believers in certain religions, and some are believers in other religions.
  • Some people believe in energy, a force—or in several forces.
  • Some believe in gods, and some believe in God.

Many people think, like Steven before he sat down, that simply believing is enough. They have faith in what they believe in.

To believe in God, isn’t that enough? The Bible says, Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble (James 2:19). Even demons believe in God!

People place their faith in religions, gods, images, good works, and forces. Don’t all roads lead to heaven—as long as your faith is sincere? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6). Jesus thinks otherwise. He says He’s the only way.

So, if the only way to heaven is through Jesus, how does one actually put his faith in Him?

Let’s read what the Bible says about faith. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law (Romans 3:20-27).

Biblical faith is trusting in Jesus substituting His death on the cross to pay for one’s sins. It’s to completely acknowledge His payment of our debt to God. It’s putting all our faith in Jesus. Salvation can’t be by works, since no one is perfect—good enough. It can only be through Jesus. He is the only perfect One, and He paid for each person’s sins by dying a horrible death on the cross.

But, that’s not all. We need to trust that He is alive. The Apostle Paul defined the gospel this way: Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved . . . how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

One of my favorite passages after Jesus’ resurrection is this one: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen (Luke 24:5-6a).

Have you plopped yourself into the chair?

Have you completely trusted Christ for your salvation? Have you been born again?

For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Monday, November 14, 2016

Why Not Get Married in Your Church?

When I was a young lady, I attended a wedding in the most beautiful setting I ever saw. We were all standing in a field of multi-colored wildflowers, surrounded by majestic mountain peaks. The shish kebob wedding feast was held beside a rushing greenish river. Talk about atmosphere . . . . That’s what I wanted for my wedding.

When it was my turn, my family lived in a similar setting (without the river). I thought it would be so beautiful to have a meadow wedding. I wasn’t thinking logistics; I was only dreaming. Thankfully, God gives young brides parents with practical sanity. What if it were to rain? How would you get the guests down to the valley? Have you thought about seating? Of course I hadn’t! I was in love!

My husband and I decided to get married in my church. It was a beautiful, simple wedding. We held the reception at my home on top of the hill. Our wedding day was the best of both worlds. It was attended by nearly everyone in our church and almost all of our close relatives. We were blissfully happy.

Fast-forward quite a few years, and the trend for weddings has changed. Many people are getting married outside nowadays. Many are opting for simple weddings—no ties or jackets, and no frills. Back yards, beaches, poolsides, staircases, lakesides, and hotels are the new venues. 

There’s nothing wrong with these. People can get married wherever they want.

Around fifteen years ago, some brides opted for different venues because their churches had conservative standards for wedding gowns—and the skimpy dresses they wanted to wear didn’t make it. I personally knew several brides who opted for beach weddings because of their dresses. I knew one who got married in a different church, because she’d picked out a revealing gown. Her friends from her home church traveled to another, rented church to witness her wedding!

Obviously, God made the great outdoors. There is no better cathedral. God made the home. It can be a beautiful setting. This post isn’t against any setting, just so you understand. But, I’m wondering if brides and grooms might want to at least rethink their choice of venue. 

Why not the church building? (I realize there’s nothing “magical” about the building. The church is, after all, the people.) Why not get married with your church congregation all around you? Why not get married at the altar? Why not?

The way I see it, there are quite a few pluses to being married at your church:
  1. It has a roof! Whatever the weather on your special day, you’ll be shielded from the elements. You won’t have to put up a tent.
  2. It has seating. You won’t have to pay for and cart in a hundred (or more) chairs.
  3. A church is a building sanctified by God for meetings that honor Him. What better place to stage your sacred wedding service?
  4. Wearing a modest dress in your wedding completes the beautiful symbol of the pure bride in white being joined to her groom in holy matrimony.
  5. God is the authority—besides the state—for marriage. The pastor says, “By the authority vested in me by the State of ____________, and in the presence of God and these witnesses, I hereby pronounce you husband and wife.” Many times he will also quote, What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Mark 19:39).
  6. Your church friends who witness your wedding will be the same people who support you all through your future years as a couple. It’s natural for you to be married with the blessing of your church.
Are you getting married? Is a friend tying the knot? Is your daughter planning her wedding? Maybe you’ll want to at least consider holding the wedding at church.

Ring the bells!


Friday, November 11, 2016

What Does the Bible Say About Children's Education?

Politicians say it’s the state’s obligation. Humanists declare the “village” should bring up children. Some Christians think it’s the church’s job, or the Christian school’s. Others believe it’s up to the parents to educate their children.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

According to the Bible, who is supposed to educate our children?

I believe that if we come to a biblical understanding about this question, we will:
  1. Extend grace towards those who make different choices.
  2. Shoulder our responsibility.
  3. Help others to educate their children.
  4. Have a renewed vision.

First, let’s read some Bible passages about childhood education:
  • For I know him (Abraham), that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him (Genesis 18:19).
  • And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).
  • Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD (Psalm 34:11).
  • We will not hide them (God’s laws) from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children (Psalm 78:4-6).
  • My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother (Proverbs 1:8).
  • Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding (Proverbs 4:1).
  • Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).
  • Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4. Similar passage: Colossians 3:6, 20). 

There are many more passages about child rearing in the Bible, but after reading these, you understand that:
  1. The education of children is the responsibility of their parents.
  2. The most important subjects to be taught are: to love God and know His Word, especially what He expects of us—His commands.
  3. The father, as head of his home, is responsible for the children hearing about God.
  4. Both parents are involved in child rearing.
  5. The children are responsible to respect their parents, listen to them, and learn from them.

Parents, of course, have the responsibility before God to decide how to educate their children. Will they choose a Christian school, a private or charter school, public school, or homeschooling? Fathers and mothers have the obligation to figure out how they can best teach their children.

No one else has that obligation—not the state, not the school system, and not friends, church, or other family members. Parents are responsible for each child.

In turn, children are to listen and learn. The Lord will judge each child for his response to biblical teaching. Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment (Ecclesiastes 11:9). Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right (Proverbs 20:11).

How is your child learning God’s Word? Is the Bible taught at his school? Are your child’s teachers people who know and love the Lord and are godly examples? Are the other subjects (math, science, history, language, and literature) taught from a Christian worldview? When you are with your children, are you sharing God’s Word in a natural way?

Education is much more than books and pencils. Do your child’s TV, movie, books, video game, and other entertainment choices help him know God better? Is he exposed to clean, morally pure content? 

What would you need to change to ensure that your children are brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

After all, it’s your responsibility.