Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Bachelorette...Anything but Reality

OK, so I've never jumped on The Bachelor/Bachelorette bandwagon before. To me, the whole concept has always just sounded stupid. However, the new "Bachelorette" seems to be on everyone's minds these days. Because I kept hearing about the show, I decided to try watching the new season. After all, Lee has class on Monday nights, so I'm pretty bored at home! After watching a couple of episodes, I realized I was completely right in my first general assessment of the TV hit...it's ridiculous. But why write a blog-post on it? There are certainly a lot of ridiculous shows out there...why harp on this one? What disturbs me about this particular show is that it is marketed as a reality show, but it is so far from reality, it's not even funny. I realize that there are probably a TON of young girls watching this show, envying Ali, and wishing with all of their might that they could be in her shoes. Let me tear down the facade for you...

I know that this show can be a huge blow to girls' self esteem, as they see this beautiful girl with 2o cute and successful young men all drooling over her. While this girl on TV has a whole roomful of men falling all over her and competing just to talk to her, you're sitting at home wondering why you've never even had one guy fight for you. Why can't you get this kind of attention from guys? You think that if only you looked like Ali, things would be so much better for you (remember that she has top stylists, hair-dressers, and make-up artists at her disposal!).

Do you see the danger here? Girls already suffer from low self-worth, and this show offers an extremely unrealistic picture of love that makes them feel like losers in comparison. In reality, no girl is going to have 20 men meet her and immediately fall for her and start fighting over her. I 100% guarantee to you that no girl would get this kind of immediate attention from this many guys at the same time. In reality, these guys don't know her at all. They have no idea if they would be interested in her in any other setting. Because they're on "The Bachelorette," which is a competition for one girl, they automatically want to win her over.

Another problem with this show, is that it celebrates impurity. Ali makes out with almost all of these guys on her first date with them. Keep in mind that she is dating them all at the same time. Like, she's making out with one guy one night, and another guy the next, etc. She even kisses guys while the other contestants are watching! I'm guessing things get more intimate and racy as the show progresses. All the while, she is never portrayed as inappropriate, easy, or a player. The other guys look on jealously, but have no problem with the fact that they are just one of her many boyfriends. This is completely unrealistic. In absolutely no other context would this kind of behavior be socially acceptable. Someone who is dating and making out with this many guys at the same time would be looked down upon in any other setting. This show makes her behavior acceptable, when it is in reality extremely inappropriate and gross. Furthermore, no guy would just passively watch his girlfriend get it on with other guys, and then continue to pursue her as if nothing happened.

A third problem with this show, is that it paints an unrealistic picture of finding your husband and falling in love. You will never be given a room full of 20 eligible bachelors who are all crazy about you, and be able to simply choose which one you want to marry. I know so many amazing and beautiful girls who are dying to get married but are still single. In reality, finding your husband takes a lot of patience, waiting, and praying. We have to wait for years for God to lead us to the right man...we will never just get to pick him from a crowd of suitors.

The dates that Ali goes on with these men are elaborate, expensive, flashy, and romantic. It's impossible not to feel romance and "love" when you're traveling the world, going on helicopter rides over scenic views, slow dancing at your own private concerts, etc. You will never go on dates like this in real life (unless you're dating a millionaire). It's just not reality. These elaborate dates are designed to stir up romantic feelings...making falling in love look simple.

The fact that these seasons usually end with a marriage proposal seems absurd to me. Before that proposal happens, you need to make sure you know that person extremely well. You can only get to know someone that well by spending time with them. If you are a Christian and don't believe in divorce, you know that getting engaged is not something you should take lightly. To have your whole dating relationship on camera, is completely ridiculous. There is no way in the world you can really get to know someone on the level you need to before engagement, when your relationship has been filmed constantly. Whether they mean to or not, people act differently on camera. Engagement appears so easy on this show, but in reality, it should be a long and careful journey of building a solid relationship while seeking God's guidance the whole time.

So this is my take on the ever popular show, "The Bachelorette." I think this show is disturbing for young girls, because it gives them a false picture of love and dating. It is portrayed as a reality show, but it is completely unrealistic. Because of this, I think it can be dangerous for girls to watch. Sorry to all of you "Bachelorette" fans, but I had to say it...

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."

Read Zechariah 8:23, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'"

I've been reading through the minor prophets over the last week or so and have been thoroughly enjoying it! There is so much rich truth in these little books, but they are unfortunately rarely taught in church. I encourage you to read from Hosea to Malachi, slowly, and with a commentary and pen in hand! I know you will be blessed because of it!

This verse in Zechariah really stuck out to me today. Chapter 8 of this book is a prophecy of the future restoration of Israel in the Millennial kingdom (the 1,000 year period of Christ's reign on earth). Basically, the history of Israel reads like a broken record. They sin, God punishes/judges them, they repent, and God restores them. If you think about it, this is a picture of our lives as well! How many times have we messed up, asked for forgiveness, and seen God faithfully forgive and restore? Too many to count! In this passage, we see a beautiful picture of Israel's future reconciliation and restoration. Though parts of this prophecy have been partially fulfilled, the complete fulfillment will happen in the future Millennium, when Christ comes back for the 2nd time.

The verse that really stuck out to me in this passage is the final verse, verse 23, which describes the people from other nations grabbing the clothes of the Jews and saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." Isn't this amazing? The people see the favor of the Jews, they can tell that God is with them, and they want to be a part of it!

I can't help but think about how wonderful it would be if we saw this happening on earth right now. What if you were so in love with God, so firmly rooted in your faith, so pure and holy and set apart for God, that people just knew God was with you? What if you were so full of the Holy Spirit, that people could just sense God's presence whenever you were around? We're called to be salt and light in this dark world (Matt 5:13-16). This means that we are commanded to stand out, for the purpose of bringing glory to Him. I'm sure you're familiar with Matthew 5:16, which reads, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." I know that you probably know that verse by heart, but do you live it? We need to be so close to God, that people will see Him in us and want what we have.

This is just as much a challenge to me as it is to all of you. I get so caught up in the meaningless busyness of each day, that I forget my purpose for being on this earth. I challenge you to repeat Matthew 5:16 to yourself every morning, and purposefully pray that God would give you the grace to live that verse out each day. I am challenging myself with this as well. Let's see what God can do through us!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

1 Peter 3:15: Are You Ready?

Read 1 Peter 3:15, "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."

If someone asked you why you went to church, what would you say? If somebody asked you how you know for certain that Jesus is the only way, would you know how to respond? What if someone asked you why God lets bad things happen in the world? If you live your faith openly (which is really the only way Christians are to live it), then you will come across some questions and raised eyebrows. How will you respond to this?

Peter is instructing us in this verse to be proactive. When someone asks us about our faith, we need to be prepared. Have you ever been speechless when someone asked you a question, and then thought of the perfect response minutes later as you were walking away? I know I have! The reason we can't think of a good response right away, is because we're caught off guard. If we follow Peter's instructions in 1 Peter 3:15, we won't be surprised and consequently miss opportunities to share our faith.

We're told in this verse to be ready to make a defense of our faith. But how do we get ready? The number one way to get ready is to be an avid reader of God's Word. We can't defend our faith if we don't know the Bible, because all of the answers to people's questions about Christ are found in it! Read it over and over again, not letting a day go by without looking over at least a few verses. The more you read it, the more you will remember it. Memorize key verses (Romans 3:23, 6:23; John 3:16; John 14:6; Eph. 2:8-9, etc), and underline many others in your Bible, so you can reference them quickly. Having a Bible with you either in your car or backpack, will keep you ready to reference Scripture at any time. In addition to the Bible, read and study other non-fiction Christian books by trusted authors. Being well-read is a great way to be ready!

Another way to be ready to give a defense of your faith is to pray. Pray for opportunities to share your faith, for the courage to seize those opportunities, and for wisdom to know the right words to say. We must be totally dependent on prayer to share our faith; it is vital for us to rely on the Holy Spirit fully. I can't stress this enough! If you try to witness on your own strength, without prayer, then you won't be effective. A praying person is a ready person!

Finally, don't forget the very important clause at the end of this verse, because it will make all the difference. As you give a defense for the hope that is in you, do so "with gentleness and reverence." The purpose in giving a defense of your faith is not to prove that you're right and they're wrong, to argue someone into taking your side, or to make others look stupid or ignorant with all of your fancy arguments. You should give a defense out of love and compassion for the lost, not out of a desire to be right. Rather than arrogant or condescending, your attitude should be gracious and loving. Be gentle and reverent, not a harsh know-it-all. There's a big difference there!

Are you ready at any moment to give others a reason for the hope that you hold so dear? Being taken by surprise and missing an opportunity to share your faith is a horrible feeling. I know, because it's happened to me. By studying the Word and immersing yourself in prayer, you will be armed and ready for anything~

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why, Miley, Why??

So I recently wrote a post about Miley Cyrus and her response when asked if she was a Christian. I commended her for speaking the name of Jesus Christ, but now I've got to say that I kind of wish she hadn't. Her recent single "I Can't be Tamed" goes directly against our Christian ideology. To claim that you're a follower of Christ and then come out with a song like this is disturbing. So what's so bad about this song? There certainly are worse songs out there, of course, but let's take a look at these lyrics...

Apparently, this song is her debut as a more "mature" bad-girl. She's shedding off her more innocent and cutesy persona that she formerly had and has turned into the new Britney Spears (who also started out as the cute and innocent "girl-next door" and then went off the deep end). The beginning of the song is extremely arrogant, as she brags about how many guys want her, how hot she is, and how she "goes through guys like money flyin' out their hands." This is totally different than her more shy and humble lyrics in "Party in the USA," when she talks about getting nervous with her stomach in knots at seeing so many famous people. The tables are turned now, as she vainly brags about how awesome she is. I liked the first girl a LOT better...

The beginning of this song is directly opposed to the way the Bible says we should act. In Proverbs 6:16-17, "haughty eyes" are listed as one of the things detestable to the Lord. And that's not the only place where we see that God hates arrogance and boasting...it's all over the Bible. Another great passage speaking on this same topic is, " Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." (1 Peter 5:5-6). What's even worse than bragging, however, is bragging about your sin. In the song's intro, she's bragging about her vanity, sex appeal, and overall immorality with guys. Before you envy her for all of her boyfriends, remember that we are all going to be held accountable for how we lived on earth. Girls who claim to follow Christ should be pure, plain and simple.

But let's move on to the chorus of the song..."I can't be tamed, I can't be saved, I can't be blamed, I can't, can't, I can't be tamed, I can't be changed, I can't be saved, I can't be, I can't be tamed." OK we get it Miley, you want to do things your own way. This chorus is all about living however the heck you want and not conforming. The ironic thing is, however, that living an "untamed" (ie worldly and rebellious) lifestyle is not being original or unique. She says shes not going to change or conform, but that's exactly what she's doing. What is truly unique and non-conformist is rejecting the world and choosing to die to yourself and live for Christ.

This chorus goes against many biblical principles. It advocates open rebellion and following your own rules, but the Bible advocates submission and obedience. For example, Titus 3:1 states, "Remind them to be subject to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed." Miley sings "Don't change me," but in reality we all need God to change us! We need Him to sanctify us, mature us, shape us, and conform us to His image! Rather than arrogantly going our own way, and telling everyone that we can't be tamed/saved/changed, we're to follow God's way, and be transformed, renewed, and redeemed! We're to follow His law in obedience and live in submission to His will. This is true freedom!

The purpose of me writing this post on Miley's latest single is to point out to you the messages our culture is sending us. We shouldn't blindly sing along with songs that are just wicked, plain and simple. When we fill our minds with messages that go against a Christian lifestyle and biblical worldview, we're going to be led astray. I'm disappointed that Miley has gone down this path, when she could have used her influence for good. I'm even more disgusted that she repeatedly claims to believe in Jesus but is now living a lifestyle contradictory to the Bible. And don't even get me started on the music video...