Friday, December 17, 2010

What They See Is What They Become...

by Walt Mueller - Walt Mueller is the founder and President of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding and has been involved in Youth Ministry and its research in favor of families for 31 years. This article is a repost of his latest blog, found at the link above, about Hollywood's early sexualization of girls. Since Jessica and I have three little girls ourselves - this caught my attention and I felt it was worthy of passing on. For the Full Article & Statistics, you can click on the link below or paste the one below:  

"What they see is who they become. That little seven-word sentence just might capture the realities of adolescent identity formation in today's world. Think about it. . . kids are looking for guidance and direction as they experience the powerful push and pull of the wrestling match that's all part of forming their definition of themselves and how they choose to present themselves to the world. And because we all know that example is one of the most powerful educators, it makes sense - sadly - that in today's media-saturated world kids are most likely to be most influenced by what they see and hear in the media. It's not rocket science. Which is why many of us who are older often find ourselves uttering things like "I can't believe that girl's dressed like that!!"

This week, the Parents Television Council (PTC) released a report entitled "Sexualized Teen Girls: Tinseltown's New Target." The study looks at the sexualization of female teenagers in prime-time television. The report's Executive Summary recalls a highly publicized 2007 report from the American Psychological Association that I referenced when it first came out. That report said that the sexualization of girls in the media both reflects and shapes current attitudes. It's both cause and effect.

The PTC has conducted an analysis of all scripted programs within the Neilsen ranking of the top 25 prime-time shows among viewers ages 12 to 17 during the 2009-2010 season. According to the PTC, here are the main findings:

• Underage female characters are shown participating in a higher percentage of sexual depictions compared to adults (47% and 29% respectively). [This is a shocking disparity]
• Out of all the sexualized female characters depicted in the underage and young adult category for the entire database, 86% were presented as only being of high school age.
• Seventy-five percent of shows that included sexualized underage female characters were shows that did not have an “S” descriptor to warn parents about the sexual content.
• The data revealed that 98% of the sexual incidents involving underage female characters occurred outside of any form of a committed relationship.
• The data show that 73% of the underage sexualized incidents were presented in a humorous manner or as a punch line to a joke. [Hollywood followed this same format of using humor to ease our culture into acceptance of homosexuality - laugh at sin and it is easier to feel okay with it]

And so our kids watch. . . learn. . . and become. Now is the time for parents, youth workers, educators, and the church to join together to save our kids from this kind of stuff. . . and even themselves. It's time to talk about finding our identity as one made in the image of God, about finding our identity in Christ, and about living a Biblical sexual ethic that leads to deep and lasting freedom, [within and looking forward to marriage]."

Friday, December 10, 2010


This is a repost of an email subscription that i get each week.

By Dr. Michael A. Halleen

"Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2)

There's a story that has become legend in a small Minnesota town. I can't vouch for its truth, only that people tell it as though it really happened. It seems that the retiring mayor was to be honored at a party as he left office. He had been responsible for a number of significant improvements to the town, so it seemed good to have the community pay tribute.

The party was held at the VFW hall, and all agreed it was a great celebration. The music was loud, the room crowded and noisy. The finger food was unusual in its quality and liquid refreshment flowed without restraint until late into the evening. Over coffee the next morning in the Main Street diner, someone wondered aloud if the mayor had enjoyed it, but no one knew. No one in the diner had talked to him or had even seen him there. Only later did they learn that the mayor had checked into a hospital the previous day and had missed the party in his honor. Apparently no one had noticed.

It sounds a lot like Christmas. People get together, the food is great, the music warms the heart — but has anyone seen the guest of honor? The season has become about us — our menus, our travel plans, our expenses. We've lost perspective. Our celebration will be more authentic if our hopes are not only for good sales figures but also for good will among mankind. Christ will be seen among us if our prayers are not only for peace in travel but also for peace on earth.

Our church set out its nativity scene the other day. Life-sized figures of all the familiar characters are in place, kneeling around the manger — all but one. Seems the baby Jesus is missing. We couldn't find him this year. Mary and Joseph and the Wise Men are gazing reverently at some wisps of straw.

Sign of the times. Hopefully the Christ child will be found by Christmas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What Are You NOT Ashamed Of?

I want to start with this thought, "What are you NOT Ashamed Of?" and these questions: "What comes up in your conversations without being drug out." "What is in your thoughts all the time?" "What don't you mind sharing with the world?"

Two Sundays ago I substituted for a regular teacher in Bible Study and instead of the obscure passage that is fun to pass on to the Sub, I was pleased with parts of Romans Chapters 1, 9 & 10. Specifically, Romans 1:14-16, "
 14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
I noticed that verse 16 is often spoken alone, but it is actually finishing Paul's thought of his obligation to preach to everyone. He was not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the Power of God. Because of the Power of God that met him on the road to Damascus, he was changed. It is the same Power that works in you and me. So, i come back to the original question. Are you ashamed, or unashamed? Do you talk of the Life Changing Power in your life? If not, pray about this; find a way to share more often.

We get caught up in what people are going to think of us and it's not even us we are sharing - it is the Gospel & it's the Power of God who will change them, not me! Verse 14 states the fact that we are all under obligation to Jesus Saving Grace, it was given without a charge, but we are still obligated to Him who died. It is the Atoning Grace of His Death & Resurrection that gains us admission into the presence of God. Without that death - the Holy Righteous, Perfect, Sinless Death - it wouldn't matter what we did on earth, we would still suffer the penalty of hell, which by the way, is a real place, (if you'd like more information on that subject, i recently read a book called 23 Minutes in Hell. The author believes he was taken there by God to experience part of the terror so that he could warn others of hell's reality, something all believers should be doing out of love.) My fear in being unashamed is that we many times promote things other than the Savior and His Life Giving Grace - like Sports, Hobbies, Personal Accomplishments or even Time Wasters - and we pass over opportunities to Share The Gospel.

The other day i pulled up at a stoplight and noticed a largemouth bass wiggling on the trailer hitch of the truck in front of me. When the brake was applied, the fish wiggled its tail like it was hooked or swimming. When the truck was moving - the fish stopped "swimming." There was no doubt that this man loved to fish. I noticed the hitch fish first, but then i saw the numerous stickers, slogans and other logos about fishing.

Anyone who knows me, knows I like to fish - but I don't promote my fishing to that level. But that man's unashamed attitude about his hobby got me thinking. That guy wasn't ashamed of his fishing in the least, he made sure that everyone he was near knew about his love for fishing. In the same way are we unashamed of the Gospel Good News & Christ Jesus to the point that we don't mind what others think in light of Christ Jesus thinks of us?

A few final questions will keep us comfortably uncomfortable in the presence of Holy God.

Will we piously change the places that we shop because they don't use Christmas in their advertising or will we Engage with culture, and go into those shops with the intent of  USING THE TERM CHRISTMAS & being an Aroma of Christ among those that are being saved and those that are perishing? 2 CORINTHIANS 2:15 says, "15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." Smell good to Him this week.

Will we complain about the ways that our Church is not pleasing us or will we be used by the God that seeks the lost and sick, which will benefit the whole Body of Christ. LUKE 5:30-31 shows us that the Pharisees complained to Jesus' disciples of similar displeasures, " 30Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Comfort is not always a good thing.

Will we refuse to change upon meeting the Savior on the Road of Life or will we continue on the path we have chosen for ourselves - many times to our own zealous destruction?  ACTS 26: 14-16, "as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. [a goad is a sharp pointed guide to keep a labor animal in check, or pointed in a direction, brackets mine]
 15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
   “ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me."

** All of us that know Christ are now His servants and witnesses of what He has done. We have a mission and to testify of what we have seen and will see of Christ. Merry Christmas, Engage someone with the SOMEONE you are not ashamed of and then Trust the Power of God to accomplish the task. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why I Missed Church On Sunday...

There are some things that you just can't miss, and one of those was Sunday. I went through all the proper channels to ask off months ago, and prepared a sermon to preach; honored because my dad who has also been my Pastor much of my life asked me to deliver the Word of God concerning Salvation to his congregation

Sunday was a Celebration of Salvation; my father's to be exact. Sunday was the 50th Anniversary of his Salvation & Baptism. 50 years ago this past weekend Bill Whittaker was confronted with his sin, the Holy Spirit drew him to God and did a work in his heart and as my Pastor here in Martin likes to say, "Bill Whittaker was gloriously saved!"

Every person that comes to Christ is gloriously saved, because the very work on Salvation is totally of God. The Creator of the Universe descending to be one of us, walking in our shoes, feeling what we feel, and dying for our sin - taking the Holy Wrath of God upon Himself as the perfect, holy, divinely offered sacrifice for that sin. As believers, we should never get over the Incarnation & Atonement of Jesus. We should do what my father did - CELEBRATE. So really, i didn't miss Church on Sunday, I was just celebrating in worship in a different building.

If you know Jesus, look back to the day of your Salvation - now draw a line through time to today. What have you done for Christ since then? Jesus saves us, but doesn't take us automatically to heaven. He has a job for us to do - Sharing the Gospel. The career you have chosen is a platform to reach others and tell them about the LOVE OF CHRIST that saved you. We need to invest wisely in that role.

1 Thessalonians 2:8 says, "Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well."

What that means is - we are obligated to share Christ no matter what, but as you grow in relationship with other people you share with them out of love too. And not just share Christ, but open up our life and show them how Jesus changed us. Through time with people, we see new things that need to be conformed to godliness. We trust people with our requests and hurts, and we begin to sharpen each other as Proverbs 27:17 says, "17As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." With the love of God as the relational bond, we rub off on each other - and the hope is that we hone each other into tools with an edge that cuts into the world's influence, taking back pieces & people for Kingdom of God.

It was a pleasure to be with the people that God had gathered as a result of my Dad's salvation. He has influenced many, many people with His fire for the Lord. I am one of them. What have you done with the platform you've been given? Your salvation was a gift meant to be shared.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Almost Famous For The Month

Take a look and drop some encouragement to these teens. Ephesians 4:29, "Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth except for building others up, according to the need of the moment."

Friday, October 22, 2010

First Haircut...

Our Daughter got her first haircut this week, she made it through mostly without complaint and she looks like a cute little baby again. We got the first curl to save in a little chrome box to give to her and show her children. We had the video camera, the cell phone video, and lots of pictures - typical parents!

I sensed a bit of irony while video & pictures was taken. Ways to share Christ are everywhere if we just look and take note. Remember the Joy of Salvation that believers in Jesus share. There was a time when it was so important to us that we made notes, took mental pictures and made it a point to talk about it. It is a Milestone in our lives. We wanted people to know and share in that joy. What happens after the Celebration time?

Sometimes, believers don't share Christ with those who need to know about Him most. We don't go where the greatest need is; we get caught in our Christian Bubbles, and before long the influence we had on the world is diminished because all of our time is spent with Christians. We influence other Christians for discipleship purposes...but ask yourself when was the last time you shared Scripture with someone outside of the church walls? When was the last time you went out of your way and out of your comfort zone to invite someone to church - a place that is supposed to excite us and give us strength? I received the greatest gift ever given through God in Christ Jesus and I catch myself many times - passing over opportunities to talk about how He changed my life.

The irony is immense in Christian circles. I will gladly post a video of my child's first haircut, most people get a smile and some good memories, but i hesitate to talk publically about Him and how our lives have been changed? May it never be! 
Galatians 1:6-10
6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

Sometimes, we make too much of things done in Christ's name - for instance: programs, concerts, stores filled with stickers, keychains, applications and even candy ABOUT Christ, and we feel good about using and buying these things, but then do no actual witnessing to people using the tools available. Sometimes our business is dictated by our faith too: like...Our hairdresser & her husband are a wonderful Christian couple, our photographer and her husband are also solid Christians, the people who work on our cars are Christian, the places we shop are many times Christian owners, and I promote them, but I have to ask myself am I promoting the Gospel & Christ during my week among the world?

If we leave out the Savior, then we are using Him for our own gain. To do so is a perversion of the Gospel. Are we serving and loving Him or using and abusing Him? Most of us would say that we do not preach health & wealth. But am I promoting that with "preaching it"? I want to see changed lives and sometimes I don’t, so I have to ask these questions. You should too.

Romans 1:16 says, 16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

The Gospel is not just for those raised in church. It is for EVERYONE who will believe - You have the most influence on the people you know. Not your ministers, not your SS teacher, You.
Make a big deal out of Jesus - He is the reason for any celebrations that we have in this life.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why We Do What We Do

This week for the past 5 years has been a busy one. I am involved in the CONNECT Youth Rally in Union City, TN. In cooperation with at least seven other churches, the Baptist Association, and the Tennessee Baptist Convention, we pool our efforts and yes, even finances to bring together an annual budget of $20,000 dollars, Nationally known talent, and music for CONNECT.

It is fascinating to see it all come together, but one of my favorite parts is being backstage at the Obion County Fairgrounds and praying as we pull the cord and start the engine. People pouring out their hearts to God who makes it all possible. It all comes down to placing it in the Lord's Hands. We did all we could, working hard to set up 9 different regional School Assemblies to invite and cast the seed. We tried to be "all things to all men" for four days so we might reach some. However, on Wednesday night at Go Time, there's nothing left to plan - just turn it all over to God Almighty.

God delivered as He always does. I want to Praise Him for the 18 new souls that now Profess Jesus as Lord! It never gets old seeing the tears of brokenness. I remember my own brokenness, I remember the new life & status He bestowed. As I stood in the Counseling Building, I prayed, "Lord, lead me to someone..." God is good; Like a magnet, He connected me with three people that I could listen to and offer some wisdom to. The West Tn CONNECT Youth Rally is WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO. It is lots of work, but To God Be The Glory for the things He has done!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sesame Street - Mixed Messages

Sesame Street recently got a lot of feedback this week from a test spot they ran on YouTube. The spot featured Katy Perry on a play date with the character, Elmo. Sounds like no problem, right? Sesame Street is known for their invites to famous people and their mixing of humor and entertainment for both adults & children.

The only problem is that Katy Perry is a firestorm of controversy in the adult world. She wore a revealing outfit and the tune she and Elmo sung to, and played to was her own hit tune, Hot & Cold. Here are some of the lyrics: 
You change your mind
Like a girl changes clothes
Yeah you, PMS
Like a b_i_h
I would know

And you over think
Always speak

I should know
That you're no good for me

Cause you're hot then you're cold
You're yes then you're no
You're in then you're out
You're up then you're down
You're wrong when it's right
It's black and it's white
We fight, we break up
We kiss, we make up
(you) You don't really want to stay, no
(but you) But you don't really want to go-o

I have heard the song, and it is a catchy little tune. It really is a toe-tapping TUNE and i can just hear it in all the high school dances. However, the tune does not a song make. Lyrics are what drives a song. And lyrics are the only thing that make a "Christian song" Christian. Just a bit of parental research and you find out there is more to Katy Perry than catchy tunes. and there is a whole lot less material in her clothing.

I think this hits me square in the face since my wife and i have 3 girls - we are trying to train them to be godly, young women. They watch Sesame Street - and I do not want them listening to Katy Perry. I don't want them even interested in her. So, I don't want her on Sesame Street.

Obviously, I wasn't alone. The Street got lots of feedback; negative feedback; from Parents. Carol-Lynn Parente, the executive producer of Sesame Street was quoted on ABC's Good Morning America, "We would never produce anything we thought was inappropriate. We were surprised not only by the amount of feedback, but how fast it came in. It was a lot."

I smiled when I read that. I don't check Sesame Street's YouTube channel. I never have as a matter of fact. But some people do - and the backlash from the parents who do check it tells me that there are still some conservative efforts out there and that people do care about values. If you are one of those - Here, Here. I applaude you for ANY efforts you make to stand your ground and do what God would have you to do.

Katy Perry probably got the gig by claiming once again that she is a "preacher's kid" and having been raised on values. I guess we can look at this in one of two ways: Sesame Street may have taken a step toward being another conservative venue that lost its way - or this may be a good reminder of what can happen when Godly like-minded people come together for a good purpose.

We all have a purpose - you can find it Matthew 28:18-20, 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." 

Love ya, Elmo! But I don't like the company you are keeping.  

Friday, September 24, 2010

Do it Yourself?

Jessica and i took on a project this past week. One of those projects where you have the materials all gathered for weeks before you actually find the time to do it. Our project? Tiling a foyer in our Dining Room. The project started months ago when we found a leak in the back door, which ruined the wood floor. The Door was replaced with something newer and more secure, and then the wood was pulled up - then the glue residue was CHISELED away. And finally, the site was ready to tile; which keep in mind was the original purpose.

As i write, i am still thinking about a conversation with a couple that is getting married soon. They are in the site prep stage. They will be married in a Church, and they profess to be believers. So, they are prayerfully moving things, finding leaks, and asking the Lord to chisel away the residue of unneeded things that don't need to come into their marriage. I am trying to offer tools that they can use the rest of their lives to keep God in the center and the word divorce removed from their vocabulary.

God does the same with us. Our lives are living sacrifices, and our hearts temples of the Holy Spirit. God is into Home Improvement. He lives in us, and wants His home to be fit for the KING.

He uses all sorts of tools. Sometimes marriage is one of the ways He chisels us more to His image. Sometimes He uses the circumstances around us to prepare the site - whatever He uses, He is always working. And once Christ starts working - You will never be the same!

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

When Christ is the homeowner - expect renovation!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New School Year

We are on the brink of another School Year. Classes start in 5 days. This year our system has added uniforms for the Middle & High School and a new time to arrive at school. There will be some resentment and lots of tardies for a while - but we will all adjust and it will be fine. It will get us all out of bed sooner and hopefully in bed sooner too. Schedules are a good thing, sometimes. Free Breakfast when you are late is another good thing.

As i grow, i dislike more and more the last minute - it is disrepectful and poor communication. As I write, i am taking break from planning our last Summer Event.Sometimes I struggle with last minute and sometimes am pushed into the last minute planning myself because of different needs, and circumstances beyond my control - Like 100 Degree Weather when i felt led to go one direction, and safety in the heat dictates another direction.

I am resting in the Plan of God. He is right on schedule and nothing catches Him by surprise. His Plan for us is individual as well inclusive of the whole. Jeremiah 29:11-13, "For I know the plans i have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE."

Rest in Him today. Going to try to write more. I don't have a weekly article anymore...a relief in some ways, but i miss the written expression.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Crossover...

Occasionally, I see a billboard or church sign that has a short, pithy saying "from God" intended to get the attention of....well read a few and tell me who you think it speaks to.

"Let's meet on Sunday before the big game." - God

"Have You Read My #1 Best Seller? There Will Be A Test." - God

"Keep Using My Name in Vain And I'll Make Rush Hour Longer" - God

"Don't Make Me Come Down There" - God

These statements bother me in the Theological  and Implication realms. First, these are all sloppy theology, and Second, I believe most of these types of signs speak to Christians more than lost people. In reaching the lost, we honestly need to stop blogging and billboarding ourselves and speak to the lost.

We all know what a CROSSOVER is now, don't we? After the last decade of advertising from the Car Industry, we know Crossover is a vehicle that has bits and pieces of 2 types of vehicles, styles of a sedan & the ruggedness of an SUV. In terms of our theology, we should all be CROSS-OVERS, in the sense that we should take the Cross, the Gospel over to the other "sides" of our lives. We shouldn't leave it in the pew or in our favorite "daily quiet time place."

Below is a link to a You Tube Video of FOX NEWS anchor Brit Hume talking about what Tiger Woods should do with the personal side of his life. The general opinion is that Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer, but his personal life is going to take the brunt of the wrecking ball.

What a simple testimony. He just stated an opinion, one that I believe to be true, but how many times do we do just what Mr. Hume did, just share the Gospel. Will you be a CROSSOVER this week? I am praying for 
an opportunity to do so.