Category Archives: music and entertainment
In culture, certain things can show you what the values of the collective whole of society are. In the music and entertainment category, you will read how these areas show us where our society really is when it comes to our beliefs.
Let’s just be honest, many men don’t truly value their wives. Let me be more honest, I have not always valued my wife the way God expects me to. For that, I am eternally in debt to my amazing wife.
My guess is that most of you who read this blog have probably heard a song by Bruno Mars called, “Just The Way Your Are.” I’m not necessarily a fan of Bruno Mars personally, but I truly enjoy this song and wish that all men felt this way about their wives.
I want to challenge every man out there who has a spouse, is engaged or who would like to be married some day; when you have a wife, cherish her, love her, sacrifice for her, die on the side of a mountain for her. It doesn’t matter to me if you are on to your second or third marriage (or more), but if you will love your wife the way God intends, you will see your marriage bloom into something amazing.
Ephesians 5 offers some guiding principles. Some people take offense to them. Men believe they can never live up to them. But let me tell you where God stands on your marriage. God says this in Ephesians 5:25-27 (Message)…
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church-a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.
Your love for your wife should reflect the love Jesus has for the church. Jesus died for the church!
Your love for your wife should make her whole and complete. Does your love for her leave her feeling as if she is whole and complete? Or does she feel like something is missing?
Your love for your wife should bring out her best to your family and the world. How do you speak about your wife to your friends, neighbors and co-workers? Is she the “old ball and chain?” Or is she so much more than that to you?
Your love for your wife should bring out the best in her. If something isn’t right, don’t blame her first. Look at yourself and ask if you’re doing everything in your power to bring out the best in her or are you putting her in no-win situations.
Your love for your wife should have her looking holy, blameless and radiant to everyone on the planet. Can you say that you do that for your wife?
This passage is a great challenge. I believe that if men took it on fully, they would find the most satisfying and rewarding relationship with their wives. Everything would change if men would follow through on their role in the family. I wish I could say that I have lived this perfectly. I strive for this standard, but often I fall miserably short.
I mentioned Bruno Mars because I think that men (and women) go into a marriage or relationship thinking the other person will change. We often view the other as a project or someone we can fix. And when that philosophy doesn’t pan out, we give up. The relationship ends. And in many cases, the lives of those involved will never be the same.
So I’m posting the Bruno Mars song (I can’t vouch for comments on YouTube nor can I vouch for the ads). You should listen to it. Bruno isn’t perfect either I’m sure, but the words say a lot about how men should look at their wives (not other women walking by, by the way). And at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, I have even imagined Jesus singing this song to the church. When the church is on its game, smiling like Jesus knows we can, the whole world takes notice.
God has given you a helper, men. And when you treat her the way God expects, you will not experience a better relationship with anyone, ever, on this planet. So get out there and love your wife like you’re supposed to. Sacrifice for her. Bring out the best in her. Never leave her.
Is it me or does Lady Gaga’s song, “Born This Way,” make absolutely no sense?
I like Dunkin’ Donuts. I love Starbucks.
I’m brainstorming, “NOVA’s Largest Easter Event.” What do you think about a skydiving Easter bunny?
Did anyone else notice how freaking awesome the weather was today (at least in NOVA)? Heaven will be like today, only every day.
I wish I could afford to fly to Japan.
My legs still hurt from a leg workout I did on Tuesday. Guess it’s been a while since my legs were forced to lift some weight. I’d like to thank my brother-in-law, Josh, for nothing. Nothing but pain.
Today was a long day. Dropped my sister and her husband off at the airport first thing in the morning. An hour and a half in DC traffic, followed by an hour in DC traffic to get to work. Two meetings (which were both good) followed. Knocked out a couple projects at the office. Headed home. Hung out outside for a while because as I stated earlier, the weather was freaking awesome today. God descended on North Virginia in 70 degrees, a slight breeze and a lot of sun. Grilled some burgers for dinner. Now, off to hang with some guys and watch some March Madness.
Nothing much spiritual here today, only a small glimpse into the wheels turning in my head as I went through the day.
For a long time, I have refrained from putting onto “paper,” my thoughts about LOST. Probably the fear of getting it wrong and looking like a complete dork, has contributed to this. LOST is now beginning the big descent. They are within 10 shows of the finale. I am very torn at this point. I don’t want it to end, but I also want the answer. I want to know the intricacies of what made this show tick and what made it such a national phenomenon. I want the answer to the numbers and what they mean. Will anyone, ever, be able to create a show with such depth and amazing character development? Highly unlikely in my opinion. For those of you who are already confused, I suggest sitting down with Netflix, begin at season 1, and just start watching.
I wish I could say with 100% accuracy that there was a “Christian” undertone to the show. My guess is that ultimately it won’t be as much “Christian,” as much as “spiritual.” Having said that, this past week’s episode, not bothering to mention countless others, really drives home some deeply “Christian” thoughts to me.
Take for instance the scene with Jack and Richard. (Spoiler alert – if you haven’t seen this week’s episode, don’t read any further) So Richard is this immortal character. He never ages and apparently, can’t die. He walks into this giant ship in the middle of the island. He tells Jack he is going in there to die. Jack follows him in, along with Hurley. Richard tells Jack that because of Jacob’s touch, he can not die. Apparently, he has tried to kill himself before because he says that it won’t work. So he is going to have Jack do it. The conversation leads to Jack lighting a stick of dynamite, sitting on a table right next to Richard.
The fuse is lit and begins to make its way toward the stick of dynamite. One character has already met his Maker from this dynamite and Hurley is still picking pieces of him out of his clothes. :) Anyway, Jack sits down and begins to have a conversation with Richard while the fuse is burning. Jack is now convinced that Jacob has brought him here for a reason. Apparently, seeing his childhood home in a “magic” mirror has him convinced he was supposed to be there. Remember, Jack and Locke had debated many times about how they ended up on the island. It was Locke who was originally in the camp of faith and destiny. Jack was in the camp of science and gravity as to why they were there. Through many episodes and a lot of pain, Jack is beginning to realize, he is supposed to be on the island. So he tells Richard that there’s no way the dynamite is going to explode because he can’t die either. The fuse gets right down to the last inch (or less) and goes out. No explosion. Richard goes on living, as does Jack. Richard is now convinced and will most likely become Jack’s new right-hand man.
So why bother telling you all of that? Here’s the spiritual parallel to us. Jack has made many mistakes; so many in fact that he has attempted to run away from his “destiny,” his purpose for being on the island. His running took him clear back home where he experienced nothing but misery. Yet, as Jacob continues to work behind the scenes, Jack finds himself being drawn back to the island, to his purpose.
I see this in many instances, probably the most popular being the story of Jonah. A guy running from everything he knows deep down is right, but has too many other issues to pursue what is right. So he runs, runs as far as he can from his purpose, that being a trip to Nineveh. As he runs, he experiences nothing but misery. A major sea storm, a bunch of sailors who chuck him overboard and from there, nothing but a bunch of large fish mucus and vomit. Not really a thrilling picture.
But this is exactly how God works in our lives. We butcher the plan. We run from God. We call it anything in the book, anything other than a purpose or destiny. We invent reasons to run away from our calling. We do our best to get away from it in pursuit of what we actually think is best for our lives. So we run from God. We leave the island. We throw our purpose away.
It is at this point that many people start getting confused. This is not the part where God’s wrath comes into play and He starts smiting people. This is the part where God’s grace comes into play. This is the part where, even though Jack experiences some rough times and so do we, God begins to draw us back to His purpose for our life. “We have to go back, Kate. We have to go back.”
And while we run, God in His all sufficient grace, uses our experiences in life to redirect us back to His purposes. He brings us back to the island. Through all of our mistakes, God redeems us and uses our lives to accomplish His will.
LOST might just be another TV show to some of you, but to me, it’s one of the most beautifully constructed, images of the battle between Good & Evil and how God will ultimately accomplish His purposes. The LOST producers don’t even have to go that far or even come out and say that. But I am beginning to take something away from the show that is ultimately deepening my faith in the God who loves me, has a purpose for me, has given His all for me and is continually redeeming me and bringing me back into His will. Now that’s exciting!
“You can’t kill Him. You know the rules.”
In 2005 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. They have sold more than 145 million albums worldwide and hold 22 Grammys, more than any other band. Rolling Stone magazine has listed them at #22 out of the 100 greatest artists of all time. If you are on top of your music game you would know that we are talking about the band, U2, the world renowned, Irish rock band.
The lead singer of U2, Bono, has made a couple of appearances at the Summit. He has been a compassionate leader for humantiarian causes through organizations like Amnesty International and the ONE Campaign. A few years ago he challenged the church in a number of ways. His basic premise was that the church was doing nothing to help the cause of humanity. His opinion was that the church had merely gotten in the way of social justice and humanitarian projects. He has had some sharp and challenging words for the church over the last few years because of this.
This year was slightly different. Over the last three years he has been amazed at the work the church has done, specifically in regards to the AIDS crisis in Africa. Substantial ministries have been started and funds raised and he attributes much of it to the awakening of the church to the needs in the world. Now many people in the church don’t want to take advice from someone who isn’t a “Christian” in the strict sense that they define a Christian as. So for those of you who think you have nothing to learn from someone who isn’t as traditional as you, the rest of this blog is not for you.
I was encouraged by the church’s ambition in tackling worldwide humanitarian issues. But there was one quote that Bono gave that stuck with me and I wrote it down in my notes. I want to challenge the church and all followers of Christ with it. When Bill Hybels asked him about his church attendance Bono replied with small talk about the churches he has attended. Different churches all around the world that he has visited or been a part of. When it comes to church there is one turn off that he mentioned. Here is his quote, “What I find hard to take is lifeless ceremony.” Not that any of us have ever seen a church that is simply going through the motions right?
My question is, “What does a church that has ‘lifeless ceremony’ look like? What exactly does that mean?” In my mind it is a church service where the motions are there, but the heart part is not. In a church that is lifeless you will hear many things that are clues to the lifelessness inside. Things like…
Excuse me, this is our pew.
Who moved the communion table?
Well, that just wasn’t my style of worship.
What happened to the candle I donated?
Look at that shirt. Doesn’t she know this is church?
When I think of a lifeless ceremony, I think of people who can sit there for years and still never get it. It is obvious from the second you walk in the door that the people inside are just going through the motions. They aren’t really connected to each other or anything bigger than themselves, but they have been there for 100 years so they just have to keep it going. It is an unfortunate fate that many churches experience.
What do you think of when you hear ‘lifeless ceremony?’
So how do we fix it? How do we change the perception in the world that the church is just lifeless? The perception that says there is no life-changing message in that place. Look how ‘lifeless’ they are. I would challenge every one who considers themselves to be a follower of Christ that the answer is as far away as the bathroom mirror. Go to your bathroom, look in the mirror and what do you see? That’s right. You see, you! You are the answer. You don’t have to be paid clergy or seminary graduates; the Apostles weren’t. Why does the church naturally assume that if it is lifeless then it must be someone else’s fault?
The pastor’s sermon sure was depressing today.
Can you believe what the children’s pastor did?
Look at the way he is dressed.
I can’t believe the elders made that decision.
What were they thinking?
It may just be that the answer to ‘lifeless ceremony’ in the church is for Christians to come back to life. Our Savior said He came to give us life to the full and we live it half empty. He came that we could have freedom and we live in the bondage of sacred cows. He came to restore His relationship with humanity and we keep Him locked away in the church “sanctuary” for Sunday morning. Is it really any wonder that the church is perceived as ‘lifeless?’ But maybe this time it isn’t the pastor’s fault, the elder’s fault, the staff’s fault or anyone else that we can find to point the finger at. Maybe it is us, everyday Christians who have simply missed the call to life by Jesus. Maybe the person staring back at you in the mirror is the reason.
Are you living out a full life with Jesus Christ everyday?
Are you restoring your relationship with Him each morning?
Are you making the most of your freedom in Jesus Christ?
Are you personally doing something as a follower of Christ as opposed to just sitting on a pew, becoming obese on spiritual food?
The answer to ‘lifeless ceremony’ is in the mirror. If followers of Christ are experiecing Christ to the full all week long, they will bring that with them to a Sunday morning service. Church on Sunday morning is just a reflection of your relationship with Jesus Christ on Monday to Saturday. So if your church feels ‘lifeless,’ maybe you need to take a good long look in the mirror.
So, what do you think? What am I missing? Do you have another idea of what ‘lifeless’ looks like to you? What would you do to ‘fix’ it?
If I ever meet the person who made the new Transformers movie I’m going to kick them in their knee. Honestly, the movie, aside from being over 2 full hours long, was pretty good…I would say it was equal parts fantastic and complete crap.
Fantastic in the sense that the special effect were first rate, the action sequences were well constructed and pretty easy to follow and the story line didn’t bog down too much… it kept moving.
Complete crap in several ways.
The overall story line of the two movies has some glaring inconsistencies with it’s self and common sense in general… To avoid looking like a TOTAL nerd I won’t expound.
This movie displays some severely critical messages about our society as a whole both in the way it was made and in the way it’s been received. Immediately into the movie I noticed that the Transformers were speaking a lot more than they did in the first movie, but more concerning was WHAT they were actually saying. 90% of the profanity, crude, immature humor and graphic violence was from the “good” transformers, not the humans or the “bad”transformers… There was a lot more “personality” given to the individual robots in this movie, and sadly, the “personalities” were LOADED with racial stereotypes and attitudes more congruent with a gangster rap video than a sci-fi action movie about cartoon robots. I don’t remember my Transformers ever saying “bitch-ass Decepticon” before shooting someone in the face or “I’m gona bust a cap in your ass” with a gold tooth and chains around their neck, or “Damn I’m good” after cutting another robot in half in slow motion. All lines spoken by the good guys in the movie. The movie even ended with Optimus Prime twisting a pipe around the head of the bad guy and saying “give me your face” as he literally rips his face off, spilling different kinds of oil or whatever all over the movie screen. It saddens me that people think movies have to be this way to be any good. None of this fit with the movie and was all blatantly and purposefully added into the movie.
Equally nauseating was the way the audience reacted to these certain scenes. THIS IS NOT A MOVIE FOR CHILDREN! Movies have ratings for a reason. I’ll say this so nobody misunderstands me, I dont want to be accused of saying something I didnt…
ANYONE WHO TAKES THEIR CHILD TO SEE THIS MOVIE IS A BAD PARENT.
Movies have ratings for a reason people!!!
The audience in the theatre was mostly children, brought by “parents” who undoubtedly thought that special effects robots= childrens movie and perfectly displayed everything that is wrong with our world.
At every crude sexual joke they taught their kids to laugh. At every graphic mutilation they taught their kids to cheer. At every screen shot of a pretty girl the “men” in the room let out an audible “woah!” or “holy crap!” with their wives or girlfriends present…
It makes me sad to think that the people my age who are making these movies now, people who also grew up watching things like the Transformers, have degraded to the point that this is what they feel they need to make it into… pop-culture trash. We cannot even appreciate a science fiction movie without crude humor, graphic violence and overall immaturity in every facet. We have to include testicle jokes and dogs humping each other because it’s all our society can understand. We have to include half-naked women because nothing else will hold american attention. All our children want to be “gangsters” so we have to make our heros into gangsters as well.
My opinion: this movie is a disgrace and the people who made it should be embarrassed and ashamed. Consumers who embrace this sort of “entertainment” (not just this movie in particular, but all such) should also be embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no wonder our culture is going down the toilet when we glorify crap like this. The STORY being told, the depth and message of the movie has taken a backseat to the superficial and immature, the violent and profane. There was a time in entertainment when such content was added for the sake of the uneducated poor who filled the sidelines of the playhouse, because they didn’t understand the depth of the story the way the rest of the audience did. Today such content is the mainstream and those who enjoy taste, class and depth in their entertainment have been left sitting there with disgusted expressions, lazy imagination and insulted intellect.
Movie makers, I’m calling you out. Grow up.
When I was young my parents made a list of TV shows we weren’t allowed to watch; The Simpsons, because Bart was a jerk, He-Man and The Smurfs because they used magic, G.I. Joe because it was too violent… When I got older a youth pastor gave me a poster that has a list of popular bands on one side and the “christian” alternative band on the other; If you like such and such you should listen to so and so… For my 15th birthday I got a t-shirt that had the Abercrombie & Fitch logo that actually said ‘A Breadcrumb & Fish’… Is this what the Bible means when it says to be in the world but not of it?
Stand back and take a look… the Christians and non all look the same, the music, the clothes, the magazines, books… Christians and non all drive the same cars, live in the same houses, eat in the same restaurants, think the same thoughts, download the same porn. As Christians we tell ourselves that we are living the life because we have bible verses on our t shirts and a jesus fish on the mini van. After a while we build our own christian sub-culture, we look at the “sinners” around us and say to ourselves “if they like it, it’s wrong” and we rid ourselves of it in the name of holiness. We only listen to “christian” music, read “christian” romance novels, wear “christian” t shirts, and look down our “christian” noses at our poor lost neighbors and think, “if only they would start wearing t shirts like mine…”
Jesus used the phrase “whitewashed tombs” to describe folks who think their efforts make them holy; clean on the outside, crumbling and decomposing on the inside. The Pharisees of Jesus day had their t shirts as well, they had their list of TV shows and musicians to avoid, the foods they were all to proud to not be eating. When it came right down to it, their “churchy” subculture did nothing more than feed their pride while the naked hooker, crying in the dirt at the feet of Jesus was heart-wide-open before the very throne of God. Nothing hidden. Nothing fake. Beyond the rescue of lies and fig leaves.
When we talk about The Church and The Culture we are talking about this glorious tiny point in space and time where holiness meets profanity, where the bride of Christ stands up and starts brushing off the dirt, where she drops the filthy, tattered rags she wore on the street corner and puts on a dress so white it blinds the world!
It isn’t the job of the church to run from “culture”, or to make our own little bubble within the world where we’re all home schooled, make our own clothes and churn butter; it’s the churches job to accept the harsh reality of what we were, what we are, and share this gospel, the fantastic life-changing truth with those who are still far off, those who have not heard that there is a dress waiting for them, a Grace, ice cold rushing water that can wash them clean and stand them before the almighty God, blameless and full of joy! Culture isn’t to be avoided, embraced or mimicked. Culture is this process of who we are, becoming who we will be. The Church isn’t outside of the culture, she is completely entangled in it. Christians aren’t better than the rest, no matter what their t shirts say. Christians are people. All The Church has to do to change the world is to remember that we are all in this together.
Cultural Awakening has been up and running for a little over a month now. I feel that there has been some great discussion and comments given to the different posts we have had. At this point I have failed to mention the team of contributors that I have pulled together to help me write different blogs from different perspectives. I know, I can’t see every side of any given argument. Heartbreaking, I understand. I want CA (Cultural Awakening) to have a broad perspective on different issues surrounding the church today in our culture and world. For that reason I have added not only different contributors, but also different topics that I believe will help give the readers of CA see and read different perspectives on the church. So without making you wait any longer, I want to introduce the contributors who have agreed to help the CA blog.
Being a Christian is supposed to influence every area of our lives. Not just Sunday morning from 10-11 am (or whatever time your worship services are). One of the areas that I want CA to focus on is the area of family and discipleship. This area is all about the day to day living and being a Christian. My main contributor for this area is Billy Johnson. AKA “The Kid Preacher” also attended the greatest Bible College in the United States, “Thee Central Christian College of the Bible.” :) I have enjoyed reading his blog posts and have admired his positive attitude and respect for his family. I think he is a great candidate to give us some great advice on how to BE a Christian on a daily basis, especially within the context of our closest relationships. Thanks Billy!
An area often overlooked by followers of Christ is our world of entertainment. Everything from movies to music. What’s out there anyway? Does it really make a difference in our Christian lives anyway? My friend Ryan Green will be answering these questions. IMHO, Ryan is one of the best writers that I know personally. I thoroughly enjoy reading his thoughts and listening to his music. He is one of the most talented people I know. I am so excited that he has agreed to put some thoughts on CA for me. I know you will enjoy hearing from him as well. Ryan is also from “Thee Central Christian College of the Bible.” Thanks Ryan!
And last, but certainly not least, is the area of the church in the world. What’s going on in missions? What does the church look like in places that aren’t called the United States? What challenges does the church face on a global scale? My friend Casey Bell will be here to help us understand this more. You can read his blog over at “Tryin’ to think it thru.” Casey has been a friend of mine for a long time now. I would describe him as someone with a genuine, servant’s heart. He is one of the most humble men that I have ever had the privilege of getting to know. I am very much looking forward to what he brings to the table at CA. I think his thoughts will be eye-opening to the followers of Christ here in America who may not have a good idea of what is going on around the world. God’s Kingdom spans nations and people outside of the United States. We should not lose focus of that. And go figure, Casey is also from “Thee Central Christian College of the Bible.” Thanks Casey!
So these are my guys. You can look forward to reading more from them in the future. You can read and hear their hearts as they attempt to work alongside many others in building God’s Kingdom.
I would speculate that there is no one reading this who hasn’t heard about the cultural phenomenon called “American Idol.” A multi-month talent show, designed to find the most talented singer in the United States of America who has not been discovered yet. Thousands line up at each location across the nation to offer their vocal charm to the entire world. This year four judges sat behind a table and would critique the performance of the contestant. More often than not the critique drew harsh words and tears. Every now and then the critique would draw tears of joy and a special, gold piece of paper that would be that contestant’s ticket to the next round in Hollywood. Personally, my favorite part of the entire show is the first two weeks when the contestants who are terrible singers arrive and display their non-talent. The judges (Simon Cowell) quickly remind them that they are talentless swine and they should be selling hot dogs on the street corner, not singing. It’s always funny to hear someone say what you are thinking.
While there are many culturally significant pieces to this show that the church could probably learn from, I want to share the one that I think about more often than not. In most churches I am what they call a Senior Pastor or Preaching Pastor. In essence, I am the person who does the main teaching at our church on a Sunday morning and I also lead in the vision casting for the church. How is it that one can go from a position like this to feeling like they are a contestant on a game show?
One week the comments are really bringing some high praise; “That was a great sermon preacher. You really nailed that one. You mailed it in. We really needed to hear that. Just keep those coming. Wow, are you listening in on our conversations at home?” This week’s performance was good. You passed with the judges and have lived to see another week behind the pulpit. Yet other weeks are different. There are little to no comments. But the more vocal judges, the Simon Cowell’s of the church say things like, “What did we do wrong to get a sermon like that? He sure is all about hellfire and brimstone this week? He sure didn’t hit on any of my spiritual needs this week. Where in the world did that come from? Did he even study this week?” This week’s performance is bad. The judges are upset. Your future rounds behind the pulpit are suddenly in jeopardy.
When did the church begin judging the usefulness on their pastors on their performance? Maybe it has always been that way to some extent. I would say that the church’s focus is extremely skewed by this perspective. Church is about transformed lives and people growing to become more like Christ, impacting their communities with the hope and grace of Jesus Christ. So why isn’t the evaluation of a church based on the amount of transformed lives? Why is it so much about the performance of a pastor? The church needs to get out of the American Idol mindset and back into the changed lives mindset. If our focus isn’t on changed lives then we simply fail to be what Christ died for us to become.