Hollywood & Harassment

Image result for hollywood sign

Allegations of sexual harassment, rape, and molestation are being highlighted in Hollywood these past few weeks.  It seems like every day someone is coming out with an allegation against some director, actor, or writer.  Power and prestige have provided opportunities for some to take advantage of, manipulate, and force their wills upon others whom have trusted, admired or sought help.  Some actors and actresses are finally speaking up against such behaviors and it seems that previous tolerance to these behaviors has reached it’s limit (or has at least lowered).  It would seem that the best way many use to address such behaviors is to publicly out and shame the person for their alleged actions.  Perhaps they had once filed a complaint with supervisors or the police and it wasn’t taken seriously.  Yet once it reached the media, it becomes more serious and actions are finally made by the companies in order to save face.  Of course, this is not only is occurring in Hollywood, but we see it in the political world (Moore, Franken, etc.) and even in the church when church leaders  are caught taking advantage of parishioners or leading secret lives of sexual sin (Tchividjian, Haggard).  So what can we glean from such acts or accusations?  How do we process these biblically?  Let me give a few thoughts:

Consider the Heart

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matt 15:19 NIV).  These shameful acts from sexual harassment to rape show us the dangers of when we allow idols of power or sexual pleasure to reign in the hearts.  Our self-centerdness (sin-nature) and focus on our own personal pleasure lead to actions that de-value other human beings as being our servants or slaves to do our bidding.  This may start off as fantasy, but eventually it becomes reality as it marinates in our hearts, permeates in our thought lives, and penetrates into our actions.  This is the danger for all of us!  No one is exempt from this!  Considering how Hollywood films are filled with sexual scenes, innuendos, and themes, these accusations can’t really surprise us as many films and TV shows reflect the realities of people’s hearts. Since we live out of our hearts, we ought to reflect on our own hearts and what idols we are allowing to reign, so that we can seek His forgiveness and follow His reign.  When we do so, we do not look at others as our servants, but instead serve them.  Failure to do so may indeed result in a public embarrassment, and even worse, hurts the heart of God.  This is why God sent His Son for us, to free us from our ruling heart’s desires that lead to sin.

Darkness is Exposed by the Light

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible”  (Eph 5:13 NIV).  When living in darkness, darkness becomes normal.  Yet darkness is deceiving because it doesn’t show what really is.  We are, in a sense, blind.  Spiritually speaking, we are even blind to our own blindness.  We can’t see that we can’t see.  We can’t see how we are ruled by our sin nature.  We fail to see how we our enslaved to our sin, but instead believe our enslavement is actually freedom.  Freedom to do as we wish. Freedom to experience pleasure.  Freedom to use others for our gratification.  Freedom to ____________ (fill in the blank).  Many believe that the Christian is enslaved to a dull and boring life, but it is they who may be enslaved to idols they must obey.  The darkness is deceiving, but when light is shed on it, we see things more for how they are.  And if we are humble, we may even see ourselves as slaves in need of real freedom through the light of Christ.  When darkness is exposed by light and truth, we need not be shocked at what the light and truth reveals, but only praise God for exposing the darkness.

Withhold Judgement

“The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him” (Prov 18:17 NASB).  When accusations are made, we assume the accuser is right and just, and the accused is wrong and evil.  The accusations may indeed be true, but they may not be.  Obviously, the more who accuse the person of wrongful acts, the more we question the accused (Think Bill Cosby & Judge Moore).  Prov 18:17 tells us to be wary and withhold our judgment until we hear cross-examination.  Those who cross-examine are trained to find holes in stories and can bring doubt upon the accusations. Typically, this is done when there has been more research and question the motives of the accuser as well.    In today’s social media climate, public perception is the weapon used against people.  A simple accusation becoming public will likely have a significant effect on the person, because reputation is important.  Withholding judgment until there has been evidence, eye witness accounts, and additional investigation would be wise in all situations.

It’s important that Believers not believe everything that is put in front of us, especially if it includes unfounded accusations and negative press.  We are told in Scriptures to be wise in discerning, and also not to be involved in gossip, which is spreading such false information (even if that includes sharing it on facebook!).  Certainly we can be saddened about such accusations, whether they are true or not, and we can sympathize with those who have been harassed or abused, but we need to fall shy of declaring judgment upon them quickly.  Additionally, it is wise to consider our own hearts and our own need for a Savior.  Only when we live in light, will the light of Christ shine brightest in us.

What other Biblical advice would be appropriate in regards to accusations and Hollywood & Harassments?

Waiting for God

Ever been in a waiting room for more than 15 minutes….waiting…. with kids?  As a parent, I try not to be in such situations (even though I have great kids) because I know that when they get impatient, I get impatient with them.  So, we try to occupy their time waiting with handheld video games or a book or something to get their minds off of, well….waiting.  Why?  Because waiting is boring, right?  There’s no excitement in it (though if you’re waiting for the dentist, there probably is anxiety!).   “When are we going to go in?”  “How much longer?”  These questions are almost as annoying as “Are we there yet?“, but as much as I try to tell my kids to be patient, I’m often thinking the same things.

In Exodus 32, The Israelites were tired of waiting for Moses.  He was up on the mountain and they had to wait for him to come down.  They were waiting so long they weren’t sure he was ever going to come down.  The Israelites lost all contact with Moses and therefore lost all contact with God.  They became spiritually bored.  So,while they waited,  they decided to get busy doing things that were familiar to them.  They had Aaron make a golden calf and began to worship it and celebrate, dancing the night away.  That didn’t work out too well.

Have you ever become spiritually bored?  Have you ever asked God questions which have never been answered?  Have you waited on him without answer for a time and then decided to just go about your life as if you were no longer waiting with purpose on God?  Have you ever wondered why you aren’t getting that excited feeling you once felt when you first came to know Christ…that mountaintop experience?  I know I’ve felt that way.

Spiritual boredom often comes when we lose contact with God.  Perhaps we are waiting for unanswered questions or we are disconnected because we have become distracted by…well, life.  Perhaps there is a sin issue that you are asking God to take away, but He has decided to allow you to work through it rather than deliver you from it.  Often times we are waiting for God to act or answer, but He does not seem to do either.

Scriptures repeatedly point out that our faith is not necessarily a faith of waiting, but of action.  “Seek first the Kingdom of God” (action), “Follow me” (action), “faith without deeds is dead”, etc, etc.  At the same time, Scripture also states that we are to wait upon the Lord.  We are to wait in expectation (Ps 5:3), wait in hope (Ps 33:20), and wait patiently (Ps 37:7) for the Lord to do His will.  In these passages (and many others), our waiting for the Lord is based on a trust that He will do as promised.  This waiting has a focus on Him, His character, and His love.  When we wait for the Lord to answer our prayers, our eagerness and focus may lead to the action of preparing for an answer.  For example, take the two farmers who prayed for rain.  One prayed and waited (and became bored), the other prayed and prepared the fields as he waited.

What about you?  Are you waiting for an answer to prayer or for the Lord to act?  Are you simply waiting or are you waiting with anticipation, preparing your own fields (heart) for His answer?  I have one prayer that I have been asking God for for many, many years.  He has not answered this prayer…yet.  At times, it has been easy to give up hope, believing that God will not answer my prayer.  But this is not faith.  This is not waiting with hope.  This is not me preparing my heart for His answer.  Friends, do not give up hope.  Do not wait without anticipation, growth, or preparedness for how He will answer.

I’ve recently read that our faith has to be so strong to pray for something and believe we’ll get it, while having a faith so strong that even when the answer is not given or is a “no”, that our faith will still remain unwavering.  That type of faith can only come as we wait upon the Lord, and at the same time actively seek Him  (through reading, prayer, and applying our lives to His Word)….This is how we can prevent spiritual boredom and not become distracted by the familiar idols of our past.

The Foundations of a Godly Parent: The Heart of Parenting

Ah, parenting.  The opportunity God gives us to stretch our faith, learn selflessness, and how to 1) control anger, 2) pray, 3) let go, 4) trust, 5) love unconditionally, 6) teach, 7) act,  and 8) be a kid (my favorite part).   When I first got married, I realized that I was actually pretty self-centered.  When my wife and I had kids (2 in 1 shot! how efficient my wife is), then my eyes were opened all the more about my self-centeredness.  I once thought that I could get out of changing diapers, but when God gave us twins, I knew that was impossible.

Being a parent and a counselor, I’ve had an opportunity to read a lot of Christian parenting books.  After each one, I’ve felt convicted in some areas, challenged in some areas, and in other areas, felt actually good about myself…until I read the next parenting book.  My favorites are The Age of Opportunity by Paul Tripp and Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.  These two books focused on one critical factor in parenting:  The heart.  What we say when we parent, what we do as parents, when we do it, and how we say or do it – all flow from the overflow of our hearts.   Often times, what I want from my children is conveyed to my children simply by how I respond to them….If I am in my own little world thinking of work or other things, I convey this to my children when I do not listen to them, or look at them when they are speaking to me, or ask them follow up questions.  I do not mean to convey that they are unimportant or not to bother me, but that is what occurs when my mind is not on them at the moment.

Frequently we have our own desires that are our main focus (sometimes spoken, sometimes not).  We often forget to focus on other important matters like raising godly children.  When we do remember, we often look to change our children’s behaviors to be more acceptable (behavior modification), and often do not focus on what drives their behaviors: the heart.  What is it that they are seeking?  What is it that they fear?  What is the driving force behind their actions?  Though we can work hard at changing our children’s behaviors, we must understand and focus closer on the heart.  After all, isn’t this what God looks at most?

Scriptures are not silent when addressing the hearts.  We could simply say that “God said don’t do that,” but that does not change the behaviors or the heart.  How does the heart change?  First, we must identify what is in the heart (ours and our kid’s hearts).  Then we must compare the heart motive with what the Scriptures teach about God in His Word (we will fall short).  Third, we must acknowledge our sin and need for a Savior and finally, acknowledge God’s forgiveness.   Only then can we move forward with repentant hearts towards change.

Keeping the cross central in our children’s lives (and ours!)  is essential in parenting.  There is nothing that is more important than Christ.  Not sports, music, ballet, scouts, video games, work, or any other thing. Let us keep our focus on our hearts, our children’s hearts, and on Christ.  He is the only one who can change our hearts (and our children’s hearts) to grow and to be like His.

This blog has been adapted from the Parenting Seminar: The Foundations of a Godly Parent.  For more information about this seminar, please contact us at 570-402-5088.

Prayer of Humility

Lord, give me strength to kneel; to turn away my pride

To help me be a man humble in Your eyes

To battle sins’ desires and surrender to Your will

and walk in faith unbending and peace, my soul, be still

 

Lord, help me not to rob You of the glory due Your name

By taking credit for things done and accepting all the fame

It’s not how great I am but how wonderful You are

For Your ever faithful mercy and Your love reaching so far

 

Lord, who am I compared to You; You are more than words can say

I am but a mere breath here and gone the next day

Though my heart and mind they wander for things of this world

I know my Spirit is only filled through Jesus and His Word.

 

So when I live each new day and do as I desire

May I consider Your ways first lest I grow weak and tire

Forgive me Lord for thinking that I am crowned a king

when I am but a servant to You, my God my King