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Offers "big sister" advice, Christ-centered encouragement, and information for living confidently in today's world.
Offers "big sister" advice, Christ-centered encouragement, and information for living confidently in today's world.
Check It Out!
One of the mottoes that I live by is this: Be in the world, but not of the world. That doesn't mean I never listen to secular music or go to movies, concerts, and sporting events. I think it's acceptable to engage in some of the world's pleasures, as long as they're not sinful (chocolate excepted). Only now I'm more conscious about how I spend my time. I find myself frequently asking the WWJD question: "What would Jesus do?"
You may have seen the letters WWJD on rings, bracelets, and necklaces. They're not as trendy as they were a couple years ago, but the concept they convey is important. WWJD is a good question to ask as we make our daily decisions.
Recently, a girlfriend told me that her husband had been invited to a Korn rock concert. He had decided to go, and my girlfriend was unhappy about it. She didn't feel that this type of atmosphere was appropriate for a Christian. I had to agree. The reason is that Korn's music has anti-God/anti-Christian lyrics. Jesus wouldn't go to this type of concert, so why should we?
Some people argue that the reason for going into a worldly environment is to "witness" for Christ.What kind of witness is it to be seen where God's name is being dishonored and immorality promoted? Can you imagine Jesus going to a place like an anti-Christian rock concert except to condemn it? I don't think so! The apostle Paul told us to "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22, KJV).
Before deciding to go somewhere controversial, think it over! Ask yourself these questions:
* What is my purpose in going?
* Would Jesus feel comfortable in this environment?
* Have I prayed about this decision?
* How can I have an impact on people for Christ?
* Will I face peer pressure and temptations that could make me feel uncomfortable?
* Will the environment harm me spiritually?
I understand how difficult it can be to turn down an invitation when you really want to go. Thoughts run through your mind like "All my friends will be there!" and "I'll feel left out if I stay home."
Why is it unwise to hang out with unbelievers and people who compromise? As long as you're avoiding sin, does it really matter if you get as close to the world as possible? The Bible speaks directly about this subject in 1 Corinthians 15:33, which says, "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'" Just like gravity, you have a greater chance of being pulled down than of being lifted up. By "hanging out" with unbelievers and people who are not strong Christians, we expose ourselves to temptations that might weaken our resistance. Human beings are, after all, social creatures. We are inclined to follow the herd. As the prophet Isaiah put it, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way" (53:6). That's why it's important to prayerfully consider the WWJD question (along with the others listed above).
Asking "What would Jesus do?" is not only helpful in the context of choosing friends and activities but also in many other situations. Here are some examples:
* If someone hurts your feelings, WWJD?
* When you're tempted to compromise your beliefs, WWJD?
* If you're angry and want to take it out on someone, WWJD?
* When you see a person in need, WWJD?
We find the answers to these questions in the New Testament. It is here that we understand who Jesus is and how we can model our life after Him. As Paul wrote in Philippians 2:1-2, "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being likeminded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose."
Our goal should be to imitate Christ! That's why the WWJD question is important-it holds us accountable. Of course, we're going to stumble now and then, but we should strive to be perfect, as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
Have you considered what a privilege it is to have a personal relationship with Jesus? To know He has forgiven all your sins and to be able to communicate with Him at any time? When we really know Him-really love Him-we want to be found blameless in His sight. There's no greater joy or satisfaction! Everything hangs on that one question: WWJD?
(1) Describe a time when you made a moral decision based on your relationship with the Lord (for example, whether or not to attend a drinking party).
(2) What can happen to a Christian who socializes with unbelievers?
(3) What are some ways you can imitate Christ in your life?
CUT Check It Out!
It began as just another night at the movies. Some college girlfriends and I drove to the local theater to check out a popular comedy. When we got there, I recognized three guys from school. They happened to be sitting in the row behind us, so we chatted with them awhile before the show started.
Thirty minutes into the film, I was feeling pretty uncomfortable. We had already heard foul language and sexual jokes and witnessed a couple of tasteless scenes. It was about this time that I turned around to say something to one of the guys. I was surprised to see that all three of them were gone! They had walked out of the theater, obviously as a result of the disturbing content.
Their response had a profound impact on me. I really admired the guys (football players, no less!) for adhering to their convictions. It also provoked some interesting thoughts: 1) Was there a standard that all Christians should follow? 2) Shouldn't my girlfriends and I have walked out, too? 3) Why were we still watching the film? Since that experience, I've become much more selective when it comes to movies.
Now don't get me wrong-I love a good movie! The right one can make you laugh, cry, or even transport you to another place in time. It can inform, instruct, change your way of thinking (for the better), and leave a lasting impression. Over the years, there have been a number of films that have affected me this way.
On the other hand, let's admit that there's also some pretty terrible stuff out there. Here's where discretion comes in. We need to make a conscious decision about what types of films are off our must-see list.
Whenever I go to the video-rental store, I'm amazed by some of the junk that's on display. Words like nudity, strong language, and violence are frequently used to describe subject matter. The other day I pulled a popular video off the shelf and read the back. This was the basic premise: A teenage boy and girl make a bet about whether or not the boy can get the school principal's virgin daughter to sleep with him. If he succeeds, he also wins the right to have sex with the girl he made the bet with. How's that for a raunchy plot?
Another disturbing aspect of today's movies is how often Christianity is made fun of. Jesus is our Savior and Friend-it's upsetting to see Him mocked or to hear His name raked through the gutter. This sort of thing seems to be occurring more frequently these days. A number of films I saw this year included one jab or another against Christ.
So what do you think is required of us in regard to entertainment? One thing is certain-Psalm 101:3 makes it very clear when it says, "I will set before my eyes no vile thing." That means we must decide ahead of time not to watch anything evil or obscene. We can't always know the content before we see a movie, but in most cases we have a pretty good idea.
Not long ago I became interested in foreign films. I began renting various titles, selecting those that had been applauded by the critics. Not surprisingly, I found some of the videos pretty trashy. The Lord brought one word to my mind: discretion. I was not exercising good judgment when renting these foreign films; I needed to be more discerning.
You might be asking, "What's the big deal, anyway? It's only entertainment-why does it matter what we expose ourselves to?" Let me try to explain with a story.
A father of three teenagers set a rule that the family could not watch R-rated movies. This created a problem when a certain popular movie opened in local theaters. All the teens were bent on seeing the film, despite its "R" rating.
The teens interviewed friends and even members of their church to compile a list of pros and cons about the movie. They hoped that the list would convince their dad that they should be allowed to attend.
The cons were that it contained only a few swear words that misused God's name, only one act of violence ("which you can see on TV all the time," they said), and only one sex scene (and it was mostly implied sex, off camera).
The pros were that it was a popular movie-a blockbuster. If the teens saw the movie, then they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it. The movie contained a good plot and two hours of nonstop action and suspense. There were fantastic special effects! The movie also featured some of the most talented actors in Hollywood. The teens were certain that the film would be nominated for several awards. And Christian friends at their church who had seen the movie said it wasn't "that bad." Therefore, since there were more pros than cons, the teens asked their father to reconsider his position just this once.
The father looked at the list and asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled. Now we've got him! they thought. Our argument is too good! Dad can't turn us down! So they agreed to give him a day to think about their request.
The next day the father called his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. They were puzzled to see a plate of brownies on the coffee table. The father said he had decided that if they would eat a brownie, then he would let them go to the movie. But just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons.
The pros were that they had been made with fresh walnuts and the finest chocolate. These moist frosted brownies had been created with an award-winning recipe. Best of all, they had been made with care by the hands of the teens' own father.
The brownies had only one con. They had a little bit of dog poop in them. But the dough had been mixed well-the teens probably would not even be able to taste it. And their father had baked the brownies at 350 degrees, so any bacteria or germs had probably been destroyed. Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat a brownie that included "just a little bit of poop," then they also would be permitted to see the movie with "just a little bit of smut." By now the teens had lost their smug expressions. They turned down the tainted brownies, and only Dad was smiling smugly as they left the room.
Now when his teenagers ask permission to do something he is opposed to, the father just asks, "Would you like me to whip up a batch of my special brownies?"
Philippians 4:8 says, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."
It's hard to concentrate on things that are noble and lovely while watching a smutty film. In fact, let me ask you this question: Have you ever felt kind of "dirty" when you walked out of a theater? You know, the feeling that comes after hearing one cussword after another and seeing ten characters murdered in cold blood? If you've felt that way, it was because your mind was filled with impurities-you were being consumed by wicked images.
This same principle applies to reading material, music, the Internet, and television shows, too. Recently, Entertainment Tonight pointed out that TV sitcoms are now "pushing the envelope" with indecent programming to compete with cable stations. Funny, I can't think of a time when they didn't cross boundary lines, can you? Most sitcoms do not cause us to think about what is true, right, and pure.
The bottom line is that those who love the Lord and want to please Him should "keep [themselves] from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27). If we're exposing our minds to violence, sex outside marriage, greed, foul language, and other worldly sins, is there any room left to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Can we truly experience satisfaction in our communion with God? Think about it.
(1) Why is it important to use discretion when it comes to music, books, TV programs, the Internet, and movies?
(2) If your friends asked you to see a raunchy movie with them, what would you say, and why?
(3) How high are your standards regarding entertainment? What do you think God's standard is for you?
PARDON MY "FRENCH"
Check It Out!
What do you say when you stub your toe or slam a door on your finger? In moments like these, you gotta say something! It just isn't natural to remain silent. I'm sure there are some folks who express their discomfort with a simple "Ouch!" but I'm not one of them. You probably aren't either. "Ouch!" is too mild when you're doubled over in pain.
Maybe that's why some people shout obscenities. Something about screaming the nastiest word that comes to mind just seems to get the point across. Swearing is inappropriate for a Christian, of course, so some of us spout off a string of ridiculous words that don't make any sense.
The other night, I ran barefoot into the cat's scratching post. Are you aware that those carpeted pillars have a hard piece of wood underneath? My poor toes! I think I muttered every noncussword I could think of as I collapsed in agony. For the rest of the night I had to hobble on one foot because it hurt to walk. If there was ever a time to rattle off a string of obscenities, that was it! The next day my toes were a vibrant shade of purple-a tribute to my clumsiness.
One doesn't have to be in anguish to feel tempted to cuss, though. I hear bad language in all kinds of settings-everything from relaying humor to telling a story.
Excerpted from Let's Talk! by Danae Dobson Copyright © 2003 by James Dobson, Inc.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted November 19, 2004
This is a great book that really helps pre-teens and young people learn about how to prepare for tough issues we all face in highschool, and how to ask God for His help.I highly recommend it! try it out! it's awesome.
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