Sister to Sister: Give Him the Remote

It’s a daily challenge to be in this world and yet remain insulated from its spiritually destructive components. I cannot imagine going through a day without having to constantly remind myself of what conversations, media and relationships are appropriate for somebody who’s following Jesus and what Philippians 4:8 would filter out for me. I want His word to always be the filter in the nitty-gritty decisions of everyday living. I think sometimes it’s easy for me to say the big things like “I would give my life for Christ,” or “My favorite book is the Bible” or “Growing in Christ is my number one goal,” but it’s the all-day-long difficult and specific choices that make or break my big easily stated commitments.I don’t call into question the sincerity of somebody whose little choices don’t reflect the big professions of life. Sometimes I think we really do mean the big commitment statements found on our profiles on facebook. It’s just that the inconsistencies in the little decisions don’t sting because we’ve become environmentally and culturally anesthetized. What should really hurt us as His people doesn’t hurt at all because we’re breathing the fumes of the society in which we live. Once I accidentally made a pretty huge gash in my left hand; lots of blood and nausea, an eventual scar and a pain that was wretched.On another occasion a doctor made a similar gash in my foot to remove a piece of glass; lots of blood, a similar scar, but absolutely no pain. The difference was, of course, the presence of the anesthetic.

So how is it that we can sing “I am mine no more, I’ve been bought with blood,’ or “Purer in heart O God, help me to be,” or ” I surrender all” or “Lord take control,” and yet fail to even feel the sting of the destructive media influences that are in direct opposition to the themes we’ve stated for our lives? I think we just don’t feel the pain that should accompany spiritual wounds because we are anesthetized by the culture in which we live. As the world becomes more and more ungodly, we are lulled into a kind of comfortable moral drowsiness that makes us unaware of the effects of the tools in the hands of the devil. We find ourselves laughing at all kinds of wickedness as it is digitally welcomed into our living rooms, bedrooms and dorm rooms. We can listen to vulgarity and profanity and hardly be aware we’ve heard them even as they work to erode the values that we’ve professed all along. Pretty soon we start thinking through our days about the drama or the hilarity of some episode that really was pretty far removed from the “I want to grow in Christ” thesis through which we intended to filter our choices. We start talking about things that are in the Galatians 5:19-21 list with the same nonchalant tone with which we would talk about the weather.Without even really thinking about it, we spend more time concentrating on the works of the flesh as portrayed by Hollywood than we do in Bible study or prayer. Pretty soon, the gap between what we profess and our practical focus is a chasm.Perhaps we find that in our entertainment choices, we sometimes “rejoice in iniquity.” Perhaps we even encourage others to violate their consciences by encouraging them to love what God would identify as abomination. In short, we’ve just become numb to the sorrow we should feel as his children at the presence of sin in our media choices. The devil wants to devour us and he is much more successful when we start failing to feel the pain of the lion’s tenons and teeth.

It’s been helpful for me to constantly remember and repeat the phrase “Entertainment is optional.” Being “optional” means it’s not a requirement for life. It means it’s not absolutely necessary. In fact retaining entertainment in my life is probably less necessary than retaining my limbs or my eyesight. But Jesus said if your eye or your hand offends you, just get rid of it rather than allowing it to cause the loss of your soul. I can go to heaven without ever turning on the television, but I can’t go to heaven if I’m not “abstaining from the very appearance of evil.” (I Thess.5:22)

Matthew 6: 33 is not too difficult to understand when it comes to this abstinence from the appearance of evil. It’s not hard to understand when I try to conform my thoughts to Philippians 4:8. Where it gets hard is not in my ability to comprehend its meaning. It means when I have choices in optional matters I am going to make sure my allegiance is first to His kingdom and righteousness. Where it gets hard is in my willingness to apply it all day long. It’s difficult while I am watching the episode to stop and ask, “Am I seeking righteousness when I put this stuff into my head?” It’s difficult to just pick up the remote and say “I choose to seek first His righteousness.”

So many times, I can look back and know full well that a particular decision was completely out of alignment with the BIG profession I have made for my life. Those times are my biggest regrets. I want to adjust the practical part of my Christianity, because Christ can’t remain in my heart if He’s not affecting my agenda, dominating my calendar, making my choices, and shaping my plans. The remote should be controlled by Him.

 

Recipe Catch-Up! [Read more…]

Nickelodeon: “Let’s Make History!”

 

 

UnknownWhat television station is available to 94.7 % of households in America with at least one television set?  What station airs programming specifically for preschool children from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm daily? It’s Nickelodeon, of course, and now, Nickelodeon has something else to “boast” about. They’ve introduced for America’s children, their first animated “gay married” couple. 

According to LifeSite news (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/nickelodeon-makes-history-with-first-cartoon-same-sex-married-couple), Lincoln Loud, an 11-year old from “The Loud House” even says, before opening the door for a friend who’s been invited for a sleepover, “Time to make history!” He then opens the door to a little boy and his two daddies, who then go about their business of fussing over the little boy’s health and safety. (Never mind about his or your children’s emotional and moral safety, of course. We’re way past that in cartoon land.)  

The_loud_house

Following the lead of Disney  and Cartoon Network, who have already introduced gay married couples in children’s programming, Viacom owned Nickelodeon had already introduced a lesbian couple in online programming in the finale of “The Legend of Korra,” in 2014.

I can remember when moms used to be concerned about whether or not it was healthy for their children to watch Roadrunner blowing up Wiley Coyote all the time. I remember thinking “Those mothers need a nap.”

Well, I guess maybe so. But if we moms took a nap, then for sure, we needed to wake up a little bit sooner. Moms really do have something to worry about now. As Jeff Johnston, an analyst from Focus on the Family,  put it “…television shows, books, and movies with sexually-confusing messages … introduce children to falsehoods and immorality, and they create confusion and insecurity….Children are not equipped to handle these adult themes” (LifeSite News).

That’s an understatement. The damage is substantial and often permanent. Moms really can’t be too vigilant around children, especially preschoolers, and television. The toddler years are when they are forming their media habits and America’s eight-year-olds are now consuming eight hours per day of what’s mostly pop culture via the tv screen. It’s  no wonder we are suffering in huge ways from missing morals in America today.

I know. I know….”Television just reflects our ethics and morality…it doesn’t create them.”  Well,  that’s partly true, of course. Television both reflects and promotes the moral plunge of the populace. But two-year-olds are not morally depraved.  They are sponges soaking up the examples…through media and culture and, thankfully and primarily, through parents. So step up to the plate, moms. Take charge of the amount of time you let the world’s mentality influence your kids. And, just as importantly, take charge of the content of material your children are viewing through the magic window that’s above your fireplace or in your entertainment center. Time is short. Don’t let television be your babysitter. If you can’t control it, remove it (Matthew 5: 29,30). Let’s love our kids and grandkids enough to protect them, nurture them and point them to heaven.

(You can watch a preview of The Loud House sleepover episode here, but the preview ends just before the “history-making” door opens….http://www.nick.com/videos/clip/the-loud-house-109a-clip.html)

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Gossip Girls" and More…

Two different preachers who are very alert about the battle the devil is waging for our families recommended that I read a Fox News article last Monday about current television and our kids. More specifically this article was about certain types of programming that parents may think is benign enough for teens and younger kids, when, really, it’s far more dangerous than it appears. People like me, who get to speak often to teens about guarding the media’s influence in their worlds are sometimes in a catch 22: We want to warn them about specific shows and their harmful factors, but we really don’t want to go and watch the filth so that we’ll be apprised enough to issue informed judgments.
So I found this article personally helpful. These are shows that I’ve heard advertised and, some of which, I’ve heard young people discussing. I must say, that, when parents are in the loop, as Christian parents should be, these shows are probably not on the viewing agenda. I would add, too, that these shows are certainly not exclusively the harmful ones on current TV. I really hope I’m writing to some moms who, along with their husbands, have already made judgments to severely limit television viewing in their homes. I hope you’re ahead of the game in that you’ve also excluded a whole array of programming that may not be considered as subtly dangerous as the programs mentioned in the article, but which should be offensive to those who have pledged allegiance to Christ; shows which contain cursing, other kinds of offensive language, the acceptance of homosexuality and shows that poke fun at religion and particularly at Christianity. I hope that I’m writing to some moms who are very fearful of even today’s reruns. Shows like “Friends” and “One Tree Hill” and even some episodes of “The Office” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” and lots of others that are now showing in the afternoons and are available in boxed sets at the video store contain immorality and should still be offensive to Christians. 
The devil has largely succeeded in taking away the shock factor that many parents once felt about the entertainment fare presented on network television. He has moved what the world would consider inappropriate TV so far into the bowels of raunch that, somehow, even the children of God have moved their standards of acceptability into programming that thirty years ago would have offended our consciences. It’s a process, but the devil loves it when he can get our standards to follow suit, albeit a few years, behind those of pop culture. The devil is patient and cunning. He doesn’t really care if your facebook page shows that you are into “Gossip Girl” (current filth) or “Sex and the City” (filth in rerun form). He just loves undoing the transformation that renewed our minds in the first place and getting us back to the conformity that keeps us in the world (Romans 12:1-2). 
Here’s the article. I hope it makes you fighting mad at the devil, or seriously sad at the state of American entertainment, or protective in the extreme of your kids, or that it gives you a clearer vision to put eternity in their hearts, or that it spurs you to adopt a more hands-on approach to parenting. Whatever it takes to make us all wake up and say “Enough, already!”  from that screen in the living room–the one that keeps getting bigger and bigger, both in inches and in damning influence to our homes–whatever it takes, may we become convicted enough to fortify the borders around the souls of our kids.

What Are the Most Dangerous Shows Your Kids Are Watching Without You?

Published December 05, 2011 | FoxNews.com 
‘Teen Mom’ Star Amber Portwood and daughter Leah at the MTV reality series finale.

With more devices than ever that stream television content — including iPads, smart phones, computers, and plain old TVs — the ability of parents to police their kids’ viewing habits has eroded significantly. This can be particularly concerning to parents who don’t want their children watching television shows featuring sex, drugs, and violence, with nary a consequence in sight.

Such shows aimed at younger audiences are often broadcast during the afternoon and evening, when children and teenagers can watch shows without parental supervision, and are often available online at any hour.

The Center for Media Literacy, an educational watchdog group that seeks to help parents navigate media with their children, works to bolster media literacy for kids so they can better navigate television content without a parent present.
“When kids have the skills they need to process and understand how media works, they are much better prepared to deal with whatever they come across,” Tessa Jolls, the President of the Center for Media Literacy, told Fox411.com. “We do feel strongly that kids have to develop an internalized filtering system.”

(The five questions parents can coach kids to ask about television shows is available on their website.)

Fox411.com asked parenting experts and television watchdog groups what are the most dangerous shows aimed at young people out there today, and why parents should be wary of them.

Gossip GirlThe CW’s Gossip Girl has been testing the boundaries of television decency since it began airing in 2007, most notably with their controversial three-way sex scene between two of the show’s characters and guest star, former Disney Queen, Hilary Duff. But theses stunts aren’t the main beef experts have with the show. Rather they are concerned ‘Gossip Girl’ creates a false and dangerous expectation of what a teenager’s life should be like.

“These kids are going to strip clubs, they engage in casual drug use and there are no consequences. The parents are essentially missing in action on that program,” Melissa Henson, the Director of Communications for the Parents Television Council, told Fox411. “Television is influential in the life of a teen because it sets a teen’s expectations of what is expected and what is normative, so when they see kids near their age engaging in this behavior, they begin to think it is normal.”

The Secret Life of the American TeenagerThe ABC Family show about the unexpected pregnancy of a teenage character actually trumped ‘Gossip Girl’ in the ratings for its season one finale. Critics say the show has strayed from its early message about teenage pregnancy.

“When it was originally created it was intended to be a cautionary showing a teenage girl who gets pregnant the first time she has sex, but for something that is supposed to be a cautionary tale it plays like a soap opera. The issues simply are not dealt with in responsible ways on that show,” Henson says.

American DadAnimated prime time television shows should always raise red flags for parents. Because they are cartoons, and on during Sunday night prime time, they are often assumed to be family-friendly fare, but shows like “Family Guy” and “American Dad” can be anything but.

“Those adult-themed cartoons often hit the lowest-common denominator of obnoxious and offensive humor and sex and perversion are common themes. Children who stumble across such programs are exposed to topics that are very family unfriendly,” says Dan Gainor, the Vice President of Business and Culture for the Media Research Center.

Two Broke GirlsThe new CBS comedy about two twenty something ladies who find themselves in dire financial straits has some critics concerned over its raunchy story lines. “Some references with a high yuck factor include chatting about vibrators and jokes about sexual functions,” says Ellen Rittberg, the author of “5 Things Your Teen Won’t Tell You So I Will.”

American Horror StoryRecent plot lines on FX’s new sexy thriller “American Horror Story” have included finding jars filled with dead baby parts, vivid depictions of murder, nude scenes and sexual assaults. The show comes with the MA rating for mature audiences only, but because it was created by popular high school musical drama “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy, some teens may tune in.

“Repeated exposure to bloody and dead bodies and specifically showing a criminal in the act of killing someone through time diminishes or eliminates the horror the viewer may have had (and the revulsion) upon the first viewing,” Rittberg says. A rep for FX countered: “American Horror Story and our original programs are made and intended for adults. They are rated TV MA, and they air at 10 pm.”

Teen Mom, 16 and PregnantMTV loops shows like “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant” during the hours when kids get home from school and may not have adult supervision. While the premise of these shows is to show the difficulties of teenage moms, the problem experts have with them is that they more often focus on the drama in the girls’ lives rather than the negative consequences.

“Most of the focus is on a fight the girls have with the baby daddy or whether Amber should get a new tattoo, not so much about how hard it is to take care of a baby. It is very appealing and very dangerous to teenagers for that reason,” Henson tells Fox411.

Dr. Susan Newman, the author of “The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It, and Mean it and Stop Pleasing People Forever,” says parents just need to be authority figures when it comes to what their children are watching and downloading. 

“The titles of these shows alone should be an alert to parents. ‘Gossip Girl,’ ‘Teen Mom,’ ’16 and Pregnant,’ etc. What possible messages can they convey? My point is: a parent’s job is to protect their children,” Newman says. “We have become such a culture of ‘yes parents’ that we can’t say no to them, not even to TV programs that may have limited or very little social value. Parents would be doing their offspring a great service by turning off the TV to questionable shows.”

Question and Answers – The Andy Griffith Show and Current TV

Question:

Hi Cindy, I was listening to your presentation on purity, I have actually read a lot of people talking about it and I’ve got a quick question. In session 1 you mention TV shows that people shouldn’t watch, but how are they (the TV shows) any different from any other TV shows that promote a tolerance of sin… such as the Andy Griffith Show where Andy notably and throughout the entire series tolerates the dangerous and debilitating drinking habit of Otis, or how the production companies that produce one show that may seem good also produce a bad show? To me it would seem reasonable to say, “Well, with Andy Griffith the overall message is good, and one must use their sense of morality and commons sense to realize that Otis’s drinking problems are wrong”– but then could one not use that for other shows as well? I wanted to ask your opinion on this, thank you and have a good day.

Sincerely,
Arynn

Response:

Well, Arynn, I think your two key phrases here are “common sense” and “could not one use”. I think we DO have to apply our common sense to differentiate between a show that is morally harmful and one that is not. While perhaps one could argue that the difference is only one of degrees or quantity, I believe that it is common sense that tells us there is a vast difference between the portrayal of a funny town drunk on TAGS and the wholesale promotion of sin that is found on many primetime shows today. It is a cesspool of profanity, vulgarity, immodesty and lasciviousness that we find normalized on many shows today. This is simply not true of TAGS. Now, I do not make it my business to promote TAGS or any show on this blog. However, I do think that it’s important to examine the phrase “could not one use.” While not judging your specific motives, I know there are some who would “use” the kind of rationale you have given to justify in their minds the watching of filthy shows on current television. We must be careful that if we are using something as “optional” as a television show to justify putting our minds in the cesspool, that we just give up the more innocent show along with the cesspool, rather than using the more innocent show to justify the cesspool. Jesus said, “ If your right eye offends you, pluck it out, for it’s profitable for you that one of your members perish and not that your whole body be cast into hell,” (Mt. 5:29). Love you much, Arynn. Hope you and your little family are doing well!

Not Much Longer Now…

I’m excited to have spent the morning proofing for the bajillionth time the study guide for Pure On Purpose. This series, a DVD series for girls and their moms, is all about making good decisions between 12 and 20—choices that are foundational to happiness and fulfillment during all the ensuing stages of life. I am prayerful that it can go into lots of young hands and play a role in strengthening our future families and in helping our congregations be sanctified. I pray that it will help moms look to the Word for wisdom in parenting their daughters and that it will enable girls to withstand the pressure that Satan applies so doggedly in our day through peers and the media. It includes six DVD lessons and 7 study lessons to go along with the films. It is a collaborative effort of Hannah, who is my daughter, and myself. We know we don’t have all the answers, but we are thankful for this chance to apply teachings from the one Parent who really does know it all. The DVD set is currently at the production company. I look for them on my doorstep any day now. The book is at the printer’s. Just a few more days on that, too. I will be all about letting you know when it’s available. You can find it at www.colleybooks.westhuntsville.org. Here’s a blurb from a study of Philipians 4:8 found in chapter one:

Whatever is honorable:
The word honorable in this verse means grave, and/or
honest. It calls us to focus our minds on things that are
worthy of respect. It asks us to be serious about respect.
Can you think of things in your world right now that
would cause you to laugh about disrespectful things? I
can think of plenty of recent cartoons and television shows
that make light of disrespect to parents, teachers and
authority of all kinds. These programs are the opposites of
honorable. List some television programs that encourage
laughter at disrespect:
____________________________________________
____________________________________________
____________________________________________
____________________________________________
____________________________________________