Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

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Ten Healthy Ideas – Day 1: Get Rid of Body Lies

December 20, 2013

rs_634x797-131216100228-5ht7pRecently, “E” Magazine reported on an animated Gif file circulating among Jennifer Lawrence fans. It is an older picture of Lawrence from the cover of Flare Magazine. The animated Gif file reveals that they took Ms. Lawrence’s picture–an actress considered by many to be very beautiful–and then proceeded to photoshop it. Here is the website showing the original photo and then how they doctored it.

They made her skinny in places, more pronounced in others and changed her shape completely. Fans around the world are outraged, mainly because she has been on a crusade against this kind of body image tinkering. Here is an interview she did with BBC Television where she expresses her view that every women needs to have a strong image of who they are. This includes viewing their own bodies realistically.

In counseling, I see hundreds of women obsessed with poor body image. They want to blame others for their personal beliefs–and certainly other people are contributing factors in what they believe–but blaming others does not solve the problem. Each person needs to recognize they chose to believe every thing they hold onto. Until a person owns those false beliefs and discards them, they will not be free.

The media, parents, friends, and enemies–including the enemy of our souls–may all feed us false beliefs about our bodies. Let me identify the three main false beliefs:

1. Shame: This is a belief which says ‘There is something essentially wrong with me’. The idea of “wrongness” is completely subjective and has no real basis in fact. What is “wrong” in one setting is “perfect” in another. This includes body size, body shape, and body parts. One culture prizes Aquiline noses (long and curved) where another culture champions small noses. Which one is right? Neither of course. But the belief that says “there is something wrong with me” goes deeper. This belief destroys the idea that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Since there is no objective standard of the right or wrong body type, then anything we believe about ourselves which ends in us concluding “there is something wrong with me” is completely false. 

2. Fear: This belief focuses on how we are perceived. “I will not be accepted for how I look” gives other people the right to speak into how we should look. No longer do we decide if we our bodies are acceptable–we give that right to others. This fear also centers on the idea that we can accurately predict how others see us. This belief is false because even if we are mostly accurate in our assessments, we cannot be completely accurate. Humans are completely different in their preferences. What 100 people dislike, another 100 people may like. But the fear that “all” people will react the same way to us causes us to change who we are–or wish we could change who we are.

3. Helplessness: This is the idea that our bodies are in charge and we cannot do anything about it. For the most part, helpless beliefs are formed when we tried to change something while not doing so with our entire will. For instance, take a young child who comfort eats. This child eats when they are emotionally stressed. They do this because the food makes them feel better. They may do this enough so they become heavier than their friends. At some point–probably during adolescence–they decide it is time to lose weight. The problem is, even though they want to take charge of their body and lose weight, they don’t want to let go of comfort-eating. Therefore, they hinder their own weight-loss efforts. When they fail at this, they believe they are helpless to change the way their body functions. This can result in them choosing to depress themselves and keep their body behaving differently than their ideal vision of themselves. This helplessness gets seeded into their beliefs and they soon react as if they can never change anything their body is doing.

These three false body beliefs–shame, fear and helplessness–torture so many people. But they don’t need to. The solution is to admit these beliefs are choices you made at some point in your life. They don’t feel like lies because you have fed and cared for them for so long.

The secret to overcoming them is to ask God about them. God made you and knows who you are. He knows how you are perceived. He is the one who says “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”.

I counseled a woman years ago who struggled with being “overweight”. (I put that word in parentheses because I do not accept the concept of “overweight”. I think it is a false concept designed by the enemy to have a false measuring stick of our value). She believed she would never be acceptable to others unless she reached a particular weight value. In our counseling, I asked her to listen to what God had to say about it.

After several weeks of doing this, she stopped dieting and started to find out more about how God saw her. God showed her the problem had nothing to do with her weight. Her life was being ruled by one resentment she had after another. She decided to let go of all her resentments over a 6-month period. Because she no longer held onto her griefs and pain, she started eating differently. She got out of the house more. She dressed differently. Inexplicably, her body began to take on a different shape.

She had no idea if she lost or gained weight because she threw out her bathroom scale. God showed her that the weight was a measurement of gravity, not worth.

When we get to what God has to say about our bodies, we will inevitably change how we see them. And if we change how we see them, we won’t give in to the terror of false beliefs.

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Repost: Movies that Teach the Value of Hard Work

March 27, 2013

Continuing in our series on the ten most read posts on this blog, we come to #3. I love good movies and because I also love lists, I often put the two together. This list hit a nerve somewhere. It has been reprinted about a dozen times on other websites.

It is helpful at times to watch movies according to a theme or a value. In doing so, the mind can be directed subtly to consider and evaluate how a particular value can look when played out in life. Movies are visual parables, and as such direct the mind and value system much more strongly than almost any other media.

I believe that a culture based upon the value of work for its own sake is a strong and vibrant culture. Therefore, I look for movies that contain that value at least as an underpinning to its plot and characterizations. Here are some that I love to watch when I consider how hard work can be put into practice. As with all my lists, these are not in any particular order.

Stand and Deliver

Door to DoorStand-and-deliver

A Beautiful Mind

Gattaca

My Left Foot

The Pursuit of Happyness

Rudy

Secretariat

Finding Forrester

Homeless to Harvard

It’s a Wonderful Life

Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037

Chariots of Fire

Rocky

If I had to pick three that are the best of the bunch to watch today, here is what I would choose: 1) Door to Door: The true story of a man who became one of the most successful door-to-door salesmen while having Cerebral Palsy. 2) Gattaca: No matter what they tell you, there is a way to fulfill your dreams. Sometimes the obstacles are high, but hard work will find a way. 3) Homeless to Harvard: Few have overcome the obstacles this girl did…it will inspire you.

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Christian House Bands and Smoke Machines

March 13, 2013

We’re counting down the ten top posts on this blog over the past ten years. This was from three years ago. It is my favorite rant.

smoke machineI was in a church recently and asked my wife why we couldn’t see the worship leader at the front. We both realized simultaneously that the “house band” was using a smoke machine! I half expected David Lee Roth or Jon Bon Jovi to come flying out through the haze to the center spot. And yes, there were several spotlights.

A few weeks later, a friend of mine was showing me through their newly renovated “worship facility” and he humbly told me they just spent $50,000 on stage lighting for the band. I choked on my bile…I did.

Then, I attended a local “worship” event two weeks ago where they had strobe lights, changing colors, sound effects and 12 speakers in the small church auditorium. The bass booster rivaled all the gang-banger cars in my neighborhood.

The final straw was an article in the local  newspaper quoting someone leaving an Easter Worship service at the local mega-church who said, “It was awesome. The band was really kickin”. I am trying to imagine God leaning back, listening to their songs and saying “Angel-dudes, come here…that band is really kickin’”

I am frustrated and feeling alone in this. My thoughts are all over the place these days with annoyance about church and music. I have wondered when the worship service got hijacked by CCM (Christian Contemporary Music). That was the actual thought that went through my mind. That is the same day I heard Michael Spencer (the Internet Monk) had passed away. In honor of this great writer and Christian, I went through some of his blog archives. I found this from 2002:

CCM is a commercial enterprise, owned largely by secular corporate interests, and certainly driven by the values of the entertainment industry more than those of the church. It is part of the entertainment culture, and only partially related to the culture of classic, orthodox Christian tradition. CCM has virtually no accountability to the larger Christian tradition, or even the Christian musical tradition. (A list of the “One Hundred Greatest Songs in Christian Music” shows no awareness of traditional gospel, country, Black gospel, Southern gospel or classical music. Odd, ignorant and sad.) As an industry, it has no accountability to the larger church and only rarely any accountability to the local church (with some refreshing exceptions.) It has no standards of doctrinal orthodox, and resists any notion that its lyrics may at times promote error and even heresy.

He is saying that what most churches call “worship” now is simply the decisive invasion of the Christian Music Industry into our church services. It is to the point now where so many new Christians have been taught this is the only way worship is done, to change it would cause a riot. When this is the only way “worship” is practiced in church, can you blame people for equating worship with CCM?

Worship is not about us. It is not about music.  It is not about feeling better when it’s over. It is telling God how much we think he is worth. (That’s what the word “worship” means….worth-ship) Now we don’t bother…instead, we tell the band how much they’re worth. Apparently, several hundred thousand dollars in equipment and technology. I often wonder who many people are clapping for at the end of “worship songs”.

This is what makes me mad. Worship is not a concert! Hear those words again: Worship is not a concert.

It is not even music. You can use music. You can do it at a concert. But you can do it on an airplane, in a tunnel, when all your children and possessions have been taken from you (remember Job) and you don’t have to have ANY MUSIC AT ALL!

You are going to hate me for saying this, but many, many churches don’t have worship services, they have well-constructed, highly entertaining concerts. That’s why they’re spending $18,000 on a projection system, $12,000 on a drum enclosure, $80,000 for a floor that looks and sounds like Starbucks, and Mackie mixers that make P Diddy drool (or whatever his name currently is). The churches that can’t afford this, or who would rather have a children’s pastor, are left behind as the crowds go to hear the next great concert church  that appeared overnight in a School gymnatorium.

They don’t have worship leaders, they have cheerleaders who lead us to believe it is a sin not to clap, to have a bad day, to not know the words to the 200th new song we’ve learned this year and who can make the last syllable of every ballad contain 18 modulated  notes. I am one of those who test pastors for their theological knowledge and so many “worship pastors” haven’t much of a clue about theology.

It is time to eliminate the professional musicians and American Idol audition cast from the front of our churches and let a few people who have mad and deep love for God be up there. People who appreciate that silence is worship too. That bringing an offering or submitting attitudes of greed to our Father is worship. It is time for a few songs we sang 20 years ago to be sung again: Perhaps for two Sundays in a row. Perhaps have a time where people talk to God and listen for his voice…oh, it would have to be quiet enough for that.

I yearn for the day when no one says “that was an awesome time of worship” after the ringing in the ears stops – and people say nothing because they are speechless and repentant in the presence of a Holy God.

And those who do have a love for technology: Get over it. Technology is certainly a valid tool, but when it becomes an end in itself, it is a curse and a distraction. I have ADD…I can’t watch the screen where new lyrics are flashing and concentrate when the stage has already changed colors five times while I’m doing it. Just as preachers and teachers need to learn not to use PowerPoint/EasyWorship so strangely (really? Do we need a Dancing Jesus in the corner of the screen?), so we need to say “less is more” when technology meets worship.

I think it is time to return to the simplicity of the Psalms, where there were both songs of praise and songs of lament. There are songs of triumph and songs of repentance. There are songs of adoration and songs where we deal with the reality of enemies.

And please, please, please, can we not sing a song 11 times through. In fact, can we stop singing occasionally and just be in awe in his presence.

I wrote all of the above and here is my pedigree: I love rock music. I listen to CCM. I go to concerts. I was one of the first pastors anywhere to bring drums into church. But leave the concert in the concert hall. And you can have all your new songs. Give me Jesus…and one or two new songs. And silence.

And anyone who says this is a discussion about hymns vs. choruses is going to be shut in the drum enclosure down the street.

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Writer’s Guidelines for the T.V. Show “Parenthood”

February 16, 2013

parenthoodMy wife and I do not watch television as a rule. But occasionally we will go on Netflix and slowly watch a series from start to finish. Recently, we have been watching the NBC show “Parenthood” from its beginning.

As a writer, I have had the chance to learn how a show is developed by its team of writers. For the most part, they follow the show’s “book”, which is a collation of the plot basics plus principles they want to maintain consistently.

Having watched Parenthood (and only Parenthood) for several months now, I think I have a pretty good idea of what principles guide the show. See if you resonate with these.

1. All main characters in the show will have conflict occasionally with all the other characters. These conflicts will always follow the same four steps:

  • Lots and lots of yelling
  • A cooling off period
  • Someone has a personal epiphany (see principle #3)
  • Apologies and forgiveness is exchanged.

2. If things are going too smoothly for a character, they will start an inappropriate sexual relationship with a non-Braverman. (E.g. Camille with her art instructor, Amber with Haddies boyfriend, Sarah and her boss, Crosby and Max’s Aide, Sarah and her daughter’s teacher, Amber with her boss etc.).

3.  All personal epiphanies will have tears and acoustic guitar music in the background. Then they go on to fulfill principle #1.

4. All financial crises will be temporarily solved by “dipping into savings”. Financial crises will be permanently solved by the writing staff, who will never mention the crisis again in future seasons.  (E.g. Zeke’s Real Estate fiasco, paying for Seth’s expensive rehab, Haddies’ Ivy League school, Amber’s rent, Crosby’s outrageous house renovation, startup costs for the Luncheonette, Max’s ultra-expensive doctor).

5. All children must go to the most expensive private/charter schools and must have private doctors – even though only one of the families has any money.

6. All family gatherings will feature the following:

  • Someone will claim they are not coming, but will show up late
  • Women will drink wine, men will drink beer…unless the women are sitting beside the men, and then they will sip their man’s beer.
  • Someone will let slip a deep secret followed by some kind of conflict (see principle #1)
  • Seth seems to be the only one everyone is concerned about regarding a drinking problem.

7. Zeke’s whims are law. But every character at some point must challenge one of Zeke’s whims and refuse to go along with it. When they do, Zeke will eventually back down.

8. Camille and Joel have perfect advice for everyone.

9. Any new person introduced on the show will either be:

  1. Someone a main character is about to make out with
  2. A complete mental case
  3. Someone about to offer a main character a job
  4. All of the above

parenthood

 

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Christian Child Star Has a Tough Decision

November 27, 2012

Angus T. Jones, the child star who is the “half” in the CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men” now says he can’t stand the show and counsels viewers not to watch it. Here’s part of what he says in this article:

“Please stop watching it,” said Jones. “Please stop filling your head with filth.”

Jones has been on the show, which used to feature bad-boy actor Charlie Sheen, since he was 10, but now says he doesn’t want to be on it anymore.

In a video posted by the Forerunner Christian Church in Fremont, Calif., Jones describes a search for a spiritual home. He says the type of entertainment he’s involved in adversely affects the brain and “there’s no playing around when it comes to eternity.”

Jones has become a professing follower of Jesus and can no longer stomach the degradation that the show champions. At the same time, in the article he both says he wants out and says he is going to stay.

He is facing the dilemma that most people have when they become followers of Christ. There are things from our old life that we don’t feel like we can reasonably let go of. I can think of hundreds of things we cling to, but they usually fall into these categories:

  • Friends
  • Commitments
  • Habits
  • Money
  • Power
  • Lifestyle

In the article Jones says he has no choice but to continue on with the series due to his contract. But is that really true? I mean, on one level you could argue that he needs to fulfill legal obligations and that it would not honor God to just walk out.

But there are a number of ways he could approach this. First, he could be willing to forgo his salary, even if they force him to do the show. Second, he could meet with them and ask to be let out of his contract, perhaps with a fine. Third, he could negotiate changes to the script. Fourth, (and perhaps most importantly) he could ask God to help him get out.

His statement of resignation that there is no way for him to leave the series is not accurate from a moral standpoint. Many people around the world have faced jail terms for their moral and ethical stands. People in countries like Syria and Burma have given their lives to throw down oppressive regimes. He has made 8 million dollars a year on this show. I think perhaps, as a young follower of Christ, he is still fighting several of the common problems all young followers face: a desire to be liked, to keep life relatively the same and to act like an innocent party.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I would have done any better as a young believer. I have never made 8 million dollars and I don’t know how hard it would be to give it up. But Jesus did call the rich, young ruler to sell everything and come follow him. And as far as i can tell, that guy was new to his relationship with Jesus.

Here’s the takeaway: I am not trying to aim darts at this actor. Rather, I want each person reading this to ask this question: What do I need to let go of in order to follow Christ with more integrity?

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Sexually Active…but not Promiscuous?

March 6, 2012

Rachel Held Evans holds court on opinions that are sometimes evangelical; and sometimes not. Which is why I like to visit her site. I like to stretch some of my more rigid beliefs.

That’s why when she responded this week to Rush Limbaugh’s rant against Sandra Fluke and her testimony before a Congressional Committee, I really wanted to see her opinion.

You can read Ms. Evan’s article here:

I don’t have any desire to get into a debate on what Limbaugh said. That’s too much work for me and I couldn’t care less about his opinion. However, Rachel Evans made a statement I could not pass by without comment. In addressing why Evangelicals have such an affinity for people like Rush Limbaugh, she feels he hits on three nerves with us. The third of these is Sex. In that part of the article, she states:

This attitude represents one of the most damaging and least-talked-about blind spots within evangelicalism—the one that refuses to acknowledge the fact that being sexually active does not make a woman a slut. 

Currently, evangelicals tend to force young adults, especially young women, into simplistic sexual categories. They are either “pure” or “impure,” “whole” or “damaged,” “virgins” or “sluts.” There does not seem to exist a vocabulary within evangelicalism with which to talk about men and women who are sexually active, but not promiscuous.

I am intrigued by this statement for several reasons. First, is she saying that it is acceptable to be sexually active as an unmarried Christian? Actually, she goes on to say she is just acknowledging that a significant percentage of young Evangelicals are sexually active. Or, is she saying there is need of a word that describes a person who is

  • unmarried
  • Evangelical Christian
  • sexually active
  • not a “slut”

I can assume by this she means a person who is only moderately sexually active, committed to one person at a time sexually and keeps below an acceptable number of partners.

I am curious what you think of this. For the record, I don’t believe we can ‘fudge’ on the biblical standard of “no sex before marriage”. But is there a difference between someone who can be referred to as a “slut” and someone who occasionally has sex before marriage?

The key problem I see is we are trying to define something by current societal standards instead of Truth that is overarching and universal. I don’t think coming up with words to define “demi-sluts”, “sometimes-studs”, or any other such category really addresses the most pertinent question.

Do you?

UPDATE: Ms Evans closed the comments section on this post. Let me just show you what she wrote:

 I’m going to go ahead and close the comment thread on this post because a few folks seem rather eager to prove my point there, and I’m tired of reading and deleting this stuff. (In just one day, through comments and email, I’ve personally been called a “slut”, a “whore,” a “feminazi,” a “whiny feminist and a “dirty tramp.” I expect a call from the president shortly.)  Of course, most of you have been wonderful, as always. Thanks so much for your insightful contributions to the conversation and for your support. I expect the trolls will clear out soon.

This just goes to show that people like to lay down labels and the more emotional they get, the harsher the labels.

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Easy Tether Comes Through

January 4, 2012

I often have to work on the run somewhere. Many times, that requires Internet access. But I have several limitations to that requirement:

  1. I don’t like to use my phone when doing a lot of typing.
  2. I can’t always find a Wifi hot spot
  3. I am too cheap to buy a WiMax subscription
  4. I don’t want to pay for my phone to create a hot spot for my computer (up to $40/month)
  5. I don’t want to break the law by rooting or jailbreaking my phone.

I found the legal and affordable solution. The program “Easy Tether” does not root the phone and allows your phone to give Internet access to your computer. In fact, I did this entire article while in a cafe that does not have Internet access. Right now, it costs only $4.99 through Amazon’s App store.

I did have some problems with setup. My LG phone needed a software update to get it all to work. But after it did, I have had no problems at all. For many people, this article is gobbldygook. But for Technogeeks who want to use their phone to get internet for their computers, this is a reasonable solution.

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