Friday, March 17, 2017

What Are We Boycotting Today?



When Harry Potter first came out, evangelicals raged against it. I was a young pastor, and I had someone leave my church because they found out that I let my kids read it. I read it before allowing my children to so that I could judge it for myself instead of just jumping in the evangelical 'gotta be against something' bandwagon.

I asked the person who was leaving my church if they had actually read the book. No. They did not need to because they had heard from someone who had heard from someone who agreed with someone who said something about something to someone and therefore everyone with discernment knew that this was of Satan. 

That was almost two decades ago and we Christians are still looking for something to hate on. 

For example, all of the hostility, the call for boycotts, and the disgust with Disney because of the Beauty and the Beast gay scene. 

I know you haven't seen it. 

However someone posted that someone posted that someone tweeted that someone heard that someone said….

Great example happened this morning. We have a friend on Facebook that has been bashing Disney for weeks. They have declared a boycott. They have called for all Christians to stand against the film and write letters against it. We posted last night that we had seen it. This morning this person, the same one that has been on the anti-movie forefront, sent us a private message asking us about it. They said, “I want to make an informed opinion.”

So, what were you preaching for the past six weeks? An uninformed opinion? Why have you been screaming for a boycott and saying, “As for me and my house, we will not be seeing any more Disney films.”? I can tell you what has been happening.

Someone said that someone posted that someone heard that….so now all that love Jesus must hate this.

Before I tell you about the movie, let me ask you some questions.

Do you feel the same anger and hostility when you see characters in movies that have heterosexual relationships outside of marriage?

Do you react this way when a main character is getting a divorce? If he/she is separated and living in a different house than their spouse?

What do you do if there are characters in the story that are greedy and covetous? 

How do you respond to someone in the movie that does not submit to their authority?

What if someone in the movie is jealous?

Do you watch movies where characters steal things?

Do you boycott movies because children are disrespectful or if the main character is a 'man of anger'?

Do you call for all Christians to use social media and be against movies that have people being killed in them?

How much of your morality must the movie disagree with before you call for a boycott and a picket line?

If you are going to demand that an industry, whether a food chain store, a restaurant, or the entertainment world agree with your morality, then stop picking and choosing. Biblical ethics is not a cafeteria line where you can take this but leave that. Go all in or stay home. 

This is one of the things that I really do not understand. How do we decide which sin we will allow to be portrayed in a movie, and which ones all good people avoid? Lets just be honest. Have you ever seen a movie where no one sinned?

Another thing. Everyone seems to be upset that Disney has a character with same sex attraction and maybe even a ‘gay’ scene. 

Question: Why would Disney NOT put homosexuality in a movie? American culture has totally accepted it. The supreme court has ruled that gay couples are legitimate couples and can be married. Sex change operations are not even rare any more. Probably everyone reading this blog knows someone who is gay. So, why would Disney not have someone in the movie that is gay? Do you think Disney Entertainment is trying to follow the Bible and made a boo-boo?

Here is what I think that problem is. We want to stand against culture where it departs Biblical morality. We want to change culture.

We cannot see the forest because of the trees. Culture is group-think. We are trying to change the way a group thinks without trying to change the way an individual thinks. A group is a bunch of individuals. If you change enough individuals, then the group will change.

God has called us to evangelize and disciple. We are to share our faith in love with the INDIVIDUALS in our relationship arenas and with INDIVIDUALS that we come into contact with and have the opportunity to love. We are to disciple and mentor INDIVIDUALS into spiritual growth and help them become like Jesus. 

This is hard.
This takes time. 
This takes energy.
This makes me uncomfortable.

However, I can scream about how bad CULTURE is and post negative things about CULTURAL morality. Not only is that easy, it actually makes me feel superior to those rotten sinners who do not know Jesus. 

So, we constantly look for things in CULTURE that we can be against, boycott and picket. We look for things that we can put on social media so that our networks can see that we stand for Jesus. We are not know for our love, we are known for who/what/where we hate. 

Meanwhile, we won’t even share the gospel with someone we have worked with for 10 years or our own parents. We will not love our neighbors. We do not even know the names of their children. 

We ignore INDIVIDUALS and let them go to a Christ-less eternity while we scream against culture. 

I have an idea. Instead of running around trying to be 'against' something, why not be for Jesus? 

Instead of trying to force people who have not placed their faith in Christ to live like Christians, and/or develop systems of moral checkpoints for lost culture to follow, what if we started seeking to evangelize and disciple our neighbors?

How about we make it our purpose to share the love and the gospel of grace to others? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were as excited about helping people know Jesus as we are enthusiastically against pop and modern culture?

Okay, sermon over.

Now, about the 'scene' in Beauty and the Beast.

Background: 
The movie is all about sacrificial love. 
Belle takes the place of her father in what she thinks is an eternal jail. The Beast became who he is because of superficial judgment and he learns to love and then that love allows him to free Belle, knowing that it means he will be a beast forever. 

The movie is about standing for what you believe. Belle refuses to compromise in order to be the most popular person in the village by marrying Gaston. Belle’s father stands against the village. Belle stands up to the Beast. 
The movie is about true love of character and person, not superficial attraction. That is the whole plot.

Yet, all of this is not enough to make up for….here you go….


We were watching for it. Six of the seven of us that went knew that it was in the movie and which character it involved. My 8 year old had no idea, but everyone else was on guard.

After the movie, no one knew what the hype was about. From my wife down to my 12 year old daughter, no one knew what scene people were talking about. Denise and I had to look it up  on line when we got home to see what we had missed. If no one had told me that this was a 'gay' scene, I would have never known. People are wanting to boycott Disney because of a scene that we did not even catch while watching for it. 

Here it is. At the end of the movie, everyone is formal dancing and partners are being switched. Suddenly, a girl leaves the hands of a man and another person, a man, ends up in his hands. They look at each other. Scene ends. 

That was it. Two guys danced together (think waltz) for almost a second before the camera moved on to another scene.

If that scene is enough to make you boycott something, go for it. However, go back to my first questions.



Just a thought.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Followership


I am not saying that I am old.

However, I remember a time, long ago (but not in a galaxy far, far away). I believe that I was in the 8th grade. A relative came over to our house for dinner and was talking to my parents. He worked for a government contractor. He told us about global positioning satellites. A program that the government had been developing for a while that was finally fully functional. It could pinpoint your location, determine your speed, and plot the best course for you to follow.

We found it hard to believe.

In the early 80's the GPS was made available to the public. I had a friend that was one of the first to purchase one. He paid almost $2,000 for it. The first one that I ever purchased cost over $300.

Now, every smart phone has one. You can even use it in Bolivia! Seriously! When we moved here 10 years ago, you could not even get a street map. Now, just today, a friend needed to come by the house for the first time so I sent them a screenshot of google maps with our house circled on it.

Yesterday I needed to go meet the short term team that was here at a campground that they were working at. I had never been there before. It was wwaaayyy out in the country. My Bolivian foreman with the team opened his MapsMe app and put a pin on the spot. He then messaged me the coordinates. I opened my app and said go there. Boom, a short while later I was there after being led out of the city and even up a dirt road.

GPS's are awesome. When was the last time that you actually had to write down directions with landmarks and other helpful hints on how to go somewhere? I remember telling people to turn where the tree was in the middle of the road or to go right at the gas station. Now, we just send them the address and wait for them to arrive.

A GPS will tell me what to do. I follow it without any real reservations. The voice says to turn in 1 mile, so I turn in 1 mile. I follow. I trust. I obey.

When it comes to our GPS, it is all about following.

However, when it comes to church and Christianity, we no longer talk about following.
The buzzword is leading.
We want leaders.
We develop leaders.
Pastors need to be leaders.
The church needs more leadership.

I agree/disagree. I think that in place of leadership, the church needs more followership.

Jesus did not say, "Lead me". He said, "Follow me." The disciples were not focused on the top ten leadership principles. They were watching Jesus and following Him. Even the great leader, the Apostle Paul, said, "Follow me as I follow Christ."

I am not denying that we need leaders. However, I think that we need to understand what a leader is and focus on the right thing.

My definition of leadership, which I teach in my 'Leadership Conferences" is this:

A leader is a follower being followed.

I believe that what we have made a mistake on is this. We have focused on being followed, not on following. We concentrate on our leadership, and ignore our followership.

Christ has called us to FOLLOW Him. As we FOLLOW Him, then our lives will intersect, impact and influence others.....TO FOLLOW Him. The goal is not to get ahead of people, it is to get behind people and help them know God better and love Him more.

Let me say it this way.

If you are not leading people to become more like Christ, then you are leading them astray.

If someone were to truly follow you, if they were to mimic your attitudes and copy your character, if they were to repeat your words and do your works, if they were to become like you...would that mean that they were more like Jesus?

If your children truly follow you...will they end up being like Jesus or just being a nice, middle to upper class conservative person? (This is not mutually exclusive, nor is it the same thing).

If your life truly does lead people...what are you leading them to become and where are you leading them?

I believe that we should focus on following.
We should follow the heart of Jesus.
We should follow the passion of Jesus.
We should follow the leading of Jesus.
We should follow the words of Jesus.
We should follow the actions of Jesus.
We should follow the example of Jesus.
We should follow the works of Jesus.

We should follow.

I say this to pastors and to parents. I honestly seek to live this out in my life.

We should BE who we want others to BECOME.

Pastors, can you honestly, from your pulpit, encourage your church to BE like you? If not, then why? What is it about your life that prevents you from saying that? Repent!

Parents, can you, before God, say to your children that if they BECOME who you ARE, then you will be proud of them and God will be glorified? If not, they why? What is it about your life, your attitudes, your words, your heart, your actions that prevents you from telling your children to be like you? Repent!

I believe that we should stop trying to develop six levels of leadership and instead seek to become deeper, more passionate followers of Christ.

If you are following Christ with all your heart, He will lead you to impact the lives of others, to help the poor, to reach the lost, to disciple the young, to influence your community...in other words, following Him will make you a leader. A true leader who helps those following Him to become like the ONE he is following.

Just a thought.

Joe

Leia Mais…

Monday, March 6, 2017

Fake News



I love being vindicated. Actually, it does feel good. I was reminded by Facebook and Timehop about some posts that I made back in 2011 and 2012. I was constantly challenging people to stop just believing what their favorite news opinionator said, because opinions are not news. People were just spreading hatred.

I remember this first bothering me way back in the late 80's or early 90's. I used to listen, please do not judge me, to Rush Limbaugh while driving to work. One day I realized something. By the time that I got to work, I was angry. Everyday I became angry at "Them". "They" were so stupid, so criminal, so incompetent, so 'everything that 'We' were not.

The more that I listened to conservative talk radio, the less I loved my neighbor.

Fast forward to the last two decades. More and more opinion channels call themselves the news and simply state what their target market wants to hear. Not the news....but, and I cannot believe that this was actually said, "alternative facts". It isn't just President Trump that does this, it is both sides.

Here is the danger of fake news. People read it, hear it, and repeat it so much that we no longer think it is fake. We believe it so much that we will argue vehemently about something that we have never even bothered to validate. Fake news becomes the driving passion of our day and the foundation of our opinions.

Supposedly it was Adolf Hitler's propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels that said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

We are living proof that it is not the factual support that something has that determines whether we believe it or not, but our predisposition and point of view. We love to believe stories that reinforce our disdain and hatred of the other side. That is sad but true.

May I give you another phrase to use in place of fake news? How about this: A lie. Fake news is a lie.

The sad thing is that fake news is not a new thing. Way back in the garden of Eden, there was a fake news report given to Eve. You will not really die. It was told to her by the Father of Fake News. She believed his report. She acted on what she believed. She died.

He is still broadcasting and we are still listening.

We still believe fake news. Things like:

Fake News: You can determine your own morality. Society decides what is right or wrong.

Fake News: It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.

Fake News: Science has proven that God does not exist, therefore religion is simply a psychiatric balm.

Fake News: God loves you more than them.

Fake News: We can believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and have lives that look no different from our unbelieving neighbor...with the exception of church attendance.

Fake News: It is okay to share fake news.

Here is the bottom line.

Satan is the father of lies.
God is the God of truth.

Which of these two do your social media postings represent more often?

Just a thought.

Leia Mais…