TV, Seduction, Balaam, and Boiling Frogs

“…Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. (Rev. 2:14)

Lately, my wife and I have been praying more than ever about what we watch on TV. We’ve asked God for the willingness to let him change our viewing habits and for the grace to act once he speaks to our hearts. His response was immediate and there have been casualties! There were series that we had invested a lot of time in  (too much time) that have not made the cut. There has been no real discussion between us about which shows have to go, its been more like we’ll be right in the middle of an episode, and we’ll both just KNOW. The Holy Spirit is cool like that!

As I’ve thought about my relationship with TV, why it even matters, and the possible effects and consequences of our interaction; it was the story of Balaam and Balak that came to mind. For those of you who may not know the story: Balaam was a “prophet for hire” waaaaay back in the day. Balak, the king of Moab, had become afraid that the people of Israel were going to destroy him as they had several other kings. So, Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel and assure his victory. Long story short, Balaam was unable to utter any kind of curse over the Israelites, but what he did do was concoct a brilliant trap by which Balak could undermine Israel by causing them to defeat themselves. Seduction.

There is no doubt in my mind that Television and entertainment as a whole for that matter can be a tool by which the Enemy of our souls seeks to seduce and entrap us. And like never before, we as followers of Jesus need to seriously consider whether or not the TV shows (including the NEWS) we watch are causing and/or contributing to us introducing spiritual stumbling blocks into our own lives. Are the things I am willfully allowing into my heart, mind, and home hindering my walk with God? Is it hurting my family?

I can’t give you a list of shows that “you can’t be Christian and watch at the same time.” That’s something you’re going to have to work out between you and God. But seriously, how much of what’s passing as entertainment today can we embrace before we begin to suffer spiritually?  How desensitized have I already become to the things that grieve the Spirit of God? To what degree am I at ease with the seduction? Remember the anecdote of the boiling frog.

I’ve got a long way to go, but I want to go all the way. And I’ve learned that sometimes, the first step is saying, “Lord, help me to at least be willing to be willing to let you rule over every part of my world.” It’s frightening, but sometimes I wonder if the truth is that I doubt whether or not God can truly be enough to satisfy my soul should he  remove the things by which I am seduced and to which I have become addicted. God forgive me for making you so small!!

 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.  Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him…Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

 

 

 

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Onward Christian Soldier?

“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before…”

I’m thinking this morning of the “war” American Christians are fighting today. And I’m thinking that perhaps we are a bit misguided as to how this “war” should be fought, and for that matter, with whom we should be fighting in the first place. Do we really believe that legislation is the cure for what ails the land? Do we really think that the kingdom of God is furthered by amendments and laws? Can we genuinely extend God’s love, grace, and mercy to people that for all intents and purposes we are at war with?

joels armyWe love to throw out scriptural lists of the kinds of people that will not inherit the kingdom of God. We are quick to take up arms, march out of classes, gather for public demonstrations and get riled up when a TV show gets cancelled because the stars were Christians. Could it be that it’s so much easier to do those things than it is to get on our faces before God and repent of our ‘own’ sins? Maybe the answer to what ails the land is congruent with what ails the church. Perhaps we in the church should repent of murdering our babies, cheating on our wives, spending hours looking at porn on the internet, getting high, etc… Maybe then, after ‘we’ return to the Lord with all our hearts allowing him to cleanse us and continuously fill us with his Spirit, our lives will be a living gospel, transforming those around us. Could it be that what the world needs to see is a church arrayed in the beauty of holiness, a church consumed with love for her Lord, a church meting out agape instead of amendments?

Why are we surprised that the world is behaving immorally? Have we forgotten that we once lived our lives the same way? That’s what sinners do-sin. Let me ask you, did some law get passed that forbade your besetting sin, and then you miraculously turned to Jesus? Of course not. Then why do we think that we can ‘legislate’ a new heart for the world now? Or is that really our goal? Could it be that we are so in love with this world’s system, having confused the American Dream with the blessings of God, that we fear that the nation’s sin will bring God’s judgment on the land, and we might lose all of our stuff? Spirit of God, search our hearts.

Let’s come together in prayer and repentance, asking God to give us a hatred for the sin resident in our own lives. It is time for us to repent of our sin, turn away from our dead religion, quit running to “Egypt” for help and wash our garments. Let us who are called by his name run to the cross, weep and pray between the porch and the altar, turn from our own wickedness, and return to the Lord in truth. For if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the wicked. Do I hate sin because I am in love with a holy God, or because I am in love with a self-righteous me? Yes friend, there ‘is’ a war, and judgment ‘is’ coming. But it begins with God’s house. So, onward Christian soldier, just make sure you’re fighting the right battle.