Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Truth and Opposition...and a Timely Warning

One of my best friends wrote a comment yesterday that I wanted you guys to see. I met Amy several years ago, and I've been constantly amazed by how much she desires to please God and to know Him more. It was really painful to leave her when Ryan and I moved.

Amy works with Middle School-aged kids at a large church. She is such a wonderful teacher and influence over those preteen kids; they may never encounter another person in their lives who loves them and the Lord as much. Recently, Amy and her fiance decided to get rid of all TV programming, largely because of the discussion at this blog.

"My fiance and I decided to get rid of our TV yesterday after reading many of the comments on the TV-bashing post. I was reading what many of the married couples said about how great it has been for their relationship and woke him up so I could make him read them too. (For clarification: He fell asleep on the couch while I was reading...he DOES NOT spend the least not for 8 more months!)

I am so blessed becuase I have the opportunity to call Kristen one of my bestest friends and she has done more to help me grow spiritually than anyone else...ever. She is amazing and I learn so much from her. I just LOVE to sit and listen to her wisdom. She is such a good (and witty) writer it is easy to keep up with her blog. Anyways, I gave up cable a while ago (wow, it has been like 2 years) after several conversations with Kristen on the subject. I just couldn't justify what I found myself watching. I am a lot like Kristen when it comes to this struggle.

At work today (I work at a church) I asked the staff to be praying for us about our decision. Almost everyone was very supportive, but my pastor/boss made it very clear that he thinks it is not only a bad decision, but a stupid one. I was shocked and mad at some of the ridiculous (in my opinion) things he said about the idea. I literally sat there praying that God would help me not be angry. He boldly stated that people who give up TV are out of touch with reality and went on to say people who have made this decision have obviously not given it much thought. In his opinion anyone who has really thought it through would realize it was a foolish thing to do. Whatever. So, I couldn't wait to get back on here and read the thoughts of people who were more like-minded.

The bottom line is I couldn't agree more that it is open for debate and a decision each person/family needs to make on their own. For us, it is too much of a temptation. I am glad to know there are people that are supportive of the decision.

I appreciate you, Kristen, for all that you've done for me, and for all your friends who I don't know but are an encouragement as well!"

Get the setting here, people: a large (5000-member) church. A pastor with plenty o' power (and, at the time, an audience). A youth worker trying to learn and do the will of God.

He told her that what the Spirit had been convicting her about for years was stupid.

He told her that people who give up TV are out of touch with reality and have not thought through their decision.

He even told her of one couple he knew who "got a divorce after getting rid of their TV...they found out they had nothing in common!"

So, of course, upon hearing this I immediately recanted everything I said about TV and told Amy she'd better keep hers, or she and David could break up! Boy howdy, I am glad I found this all out now, while there is still time for TV to save my marriage!

Seriously, I believe that those who choose to listen to and obey the Spirit will face just this kind of opposition. Before the pastor spewed his vitriol over Amy, he told her he was playing "Devil's Advocate." Interesting choice of words, eh?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Purpose of the Church Meeting

I've been busy lately--Ryan and I are house-hunting. More news on that to come.

For now, I wanted to bring up a subject close to my heart: the church gathering pattern established in the New Testament. Dave Black pointed out an article by Brent Davis about the idea of cultural relevance and the church. It's a hot topic, and depending on what we're talking about. I think Brent may be oversimplifying some of the problems when it comes to "worship styles", but his thoughts are well worth considering. My favorite excerpt, with which I heartily agree:

[T]he early church did not gather together in an effort to "appeal" to anyone outside the family of God. They gathered to benefit one another. They still accomplished their evangelistic mandate within their communities, but they did so primarily through personal, discipling relationships. They did not depend on culturally relevant institutional structures, music styles, programs or money. They didn't need to! After all, what could be more culturally relevant than a genuine relationship? When Christians authentically live out the implications of their priesthood in Christ they do not need artifical, insitutional structures to prop-up a passive faith.

The authenticity of their transformed lives validated their message. As their little families of believers grew, they started new ones all over their towns and cities. They did not just get bigger and bigger in one location.

Squabbles about music styles and "what constitutes worship" aside, this is a point that, for me, points up what may be the number one difference between the first-century church mindset and that of modern Churchianity.

Something's broke, and it needs fixin'. Is there room in Scripture for Church as Business? Really?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Continuing the Conversation

Thanks for all the great comments about TV. I find it really interesting that many of you have cut TV totally or partially out of your lives--and that some of you are not tempted by the same things I am when it comes to TV. I think that is indicative of an area where we should encourage one another in holiness, but not play judge and jury over another family's decisions ("THEY have TV. What SINNERS."). In other words, it's an area we have some freedom to decide what's right for our family, keeping a clear conscience before God.

Muley commented,

I'm curious, Kristen, and not from a negative point of view. Does your no-TV lifestyle allow for the viewing of DVDs, or is that considered TV as well?

I mean, when you need a Pride and Prejudice fix with Colin Firth, what do you do?

Ryan and I do watch some movies and documentaries, and we rented the first season of Lost and watched that. It's not that all film/TV is the spawn of the's about what we CHOOSE to put before our eyes, and how we use our time. Sure, we pop in Napoleon Dynamite now and then. But with television programming, you don't know what you're getting (e.g., Todd's point about commercials), you're tempted to watch things you shouldn't, and you're tempted to waste a LOT of time, in general.

The time-wasting thing is true for me; it may not be for someone else. Some people are apparently not as tempted to watch E! as I am. But I am, and I have to know that about myself and take measures to make sure that I keep myself from sin in that area. Basically, I know myself well enough to be fairly certain that I don't have the discipline to watch Rachael Ray for a half hour and then turn off the tube. Ain't gonna happen.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Let's Have a TV-Bashing Party

Okay, so the title is a little facetious. But a TV-bashing party sounds kinda fun to me!

I really should have brought this series to your attention before. Blest with Sons, a new find for me, has just concluded an amazing and introspective series that is positively brimming with Scripture and fun convicting thoughts. (Don't you love conviction? Hurts so good, if that's not too glib.)

Her subject? What she terms the great "American Idol": television.

The last post in the series is here. (BLEST, sistah, you need to link all of the posts on your sidebar for easy access, please! Not telling you what to do or anything, but methinks lots of people will want to read and re-read those over time. I know I will.)

Maybe I am getting senile at 31, but I can't remember how much I've posted specifically about TV. Ryan and I ditched all TV programming in the first few months of our marriage, five years ago now. It's one of the best decisions we've ever made. I told Blest that people stare at us incredulously and ask (totally seriously), "Well, if you don't have TV, what do you DO? Stare at the walls?"

Um, yep. That's what I do. I just can't think of anything else to do, since we don't have TV. Can someone help me out?

Really (and this is what I reply to the poor souls who can't fathom what we do without a brain drain TV), we read books, we write, we pray, we hike, we work out, we play music, we play games...need I go on?

My question is, how does anyone WITH TV get anything done? We did have TV for a brief (and recent) period, and I will go on record: it wreaked havoc in our lives, and I don't think I am exaggerating. Against our better judgment, against our own prior decisions, we let it in our house, and suddenly we were tolerant of things we KNOW the Lord doesn't approve of, we allowed our time to be frittered and sucked away, and we allowed evil to be put before our eyes in the name of entertainment.

Is it an understatement to say it was a mistake?

But there's good stuff on there! people say.

I like food and home and garden shows, too. I know everything on TV isn't the spawn of the devil. But you know what? I didn't stick to just those "good" shows. (Confession ahead!) I inevitably started flipping channels and watching Punk'd or E! for far too long. And even the innocent shows can have commercials that aren't.

I know that for some families Tivo-esque technologies have helped TV become an option. I do see how that could help you be disciplined and accountable about what you watch, and maybe about how long you spend watching. But I just don't think that discipline, TV, and me can co-exist peacefully.

Like Blest, I am not out to tell everyone they MUST get rid of their TVs and all programming. But boy, she makes a air-tight case for thinking really hard about what we watch and why. And I am all about that.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

My Dad Will Be So Proud!

Get your position here

If You Weren't Looking for Me... still might find me.

My buddy Ed has a hilarious series that he calls "How to Get Here." As I am a fan of shamelessly stealing other people's ideas smart memes (I know, right?), and as I get a lot of bizarre search strings when I check my stats, I thought it might be a fun tradition to start here.

Beware: before you look at Ed's blog--particularly this series, latest edition 8 Feb--just know that his wit is razor sharp. You might be left gasping for air and desperately clutching your sides. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I'll preface this by telling you the articles that get the most hits from this blog. Here's the short list:

1. Created to Be His Help Meet series. The whole series is linked at right.
2. Is All Sin Equal?. Obviously, this is an issue about which many people are confused and curious. Maybe it's because you hear the pithy saying so often, but it defies logic. Everyone knows Hitler's sin and the local teen klepto's sin are not quite the same, but Bibically speaking, I think people have a hard time articulating why.
3. Heads and Hair. For the first two, people are actually looking for something related to the content of my post. Unfortunately, many people who get Heads and Hair are looking for, like, wigs. (A recent string that tugged at my heart: "Is wearing hats to church ok". If you're a woman, YES IT IS.)

And now we come to the other list. In the spirit of Ed, here are a few ways to get here, however haphazardly:

1. Jessica Simpson these boots are made for walking video. Soooo sorry to disappoint! I get these quite a lot, actually. Those strings usually wind up here. Heh heh.
2. Blouses from the 1980s. Because this is the place to find those. Clearly.
3. Mohamed big picture. I have no explanation. And I have never spelled his name that way.
4. What koran thinks about abortion. Haven't a clue!
5. Michael Pearl satanist. What? You know, even the people who vehemently disagreed with my reviews didn't go that far...
6. Wives who henpeck husbands. I've seen a bunch of these over the months. I'm moved every time. Behind every "string" is a person. Is it a hurting or indignant husband? A repentant wife?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Seven Sevens Meme

Donna tagged me a long time ago, and since my day has been CRAZY (C-R-A-Z-Y), I think I need a leetle game.

Seven Things to Do Before I Die:

1. Learn to sew. Hey, I've only had my machine for three years now.
2. Learn to Knit, or Embroider, or something. Kinda like number one. Can you tell I have a longing for the feminine domestic arts? I just...stink at them. Except for cooking. I can do that.
3. Read the Bible as many times as possible.
4. Learn not to freak out, worry, be anxious, or fret.
5. Learn when to shuddup.
6. Travel. I'd put a specific place, but there are so many I want to see.
7. ADDED ESPECIALLY FOR MULEY: Learn to complete a simple task. Like making a list of seven things.

Seven Things I Cannot Do:

Besides sew, embroider, and knit?

1. Speak Spanish. I took French. Maybe it'll come in handy if the Lord does allow us to travel to Cameroon, but man, Spanish looks pretty useful here in America, with our rising Hispanic population. French just seemed much more romantic at the time.
2. Tell time. Well, actually I CAN, but it might take a second. Let's just say I prefer digital watches.
3. Keep a poker face. I stink at any game or situation that requires you not to show your emotions. Oops. Balderdash, anyone?
4. Figure out technical things. I can't fix anything or figure out how anything works. Remember those tests in 8th grade that required you to fold up the box in your head? WORST TEST EVER for me.
5. Stand licorice. That stuff is jus' nasty.
6. Deal with commercials. I have always hated, hated, hated them. Good thing we don't have TV anymore. But I hate them on the radio, too. And don't get me started on the music they play at the gym...
7. Curl 50 lbs. But I will. Right now my high weight is 40.

Seven Things that I Admire in My Husband:

1. His gentle nature.
2. His generous heart.
3. His willingness to stand for truth, no matter how unpopular it is.
4. His faithfulness and loyalty.
5. His smarts.
6. His discernment.
7. His choice of me. HA! HA! I crack me up!

Seven Things I Say Most Often:

I can already tell I am going to be embarrassed. Really, a lot of the things I say are inside jokes with Ryan. And these aren't in any particular order of how often they're uttered.

1. Dude!
2. Why, the windows are FULL WEST.
3. Clearly. (Said with mock-sarcasm, often at the end of a sentence)
4. I know, right? (This is a Californiaism I picked up last year. Look, I did practically live in the Valley, okay? Sometimes it's abbreviated to "Right?" pronounced "Raeyyyyt?")
5. Yesssss.
6. "Sweetie, could you...?"
7. "Army ROTC, this is Kristen..."

Seven Books I Love:


1. The Bible
2. Pride and Prejudice By Jane Austen
3. The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith
4. The Way Home by Mary Pride
5. A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit
6. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
7. Body for Life by Bill Phillips

Seven Movies I Would (or Do!) Watch Over and Over Again

1. Pride and Prejudice. (1995, A&E/BBC) Duh.
2. Napoleon Dynamite. "Tina, come get some HAM!"
3. Megiddo: March to Armageddon.
4. Megiddo II: The New Age.
5. Body of Work.
6. Rock N Roll Sorcerers of the New Age Revolution.
7. Winged Migration.

Yeah, like anyone will READ all of this!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Psalm 4

I'm going to piecemeal this psalm. It's so wonderful--a great psalm on which to meditate (not that any of them are too shabby!).

I love how so many of the psalms are encouraging, comforting, convicting and instructive, all at the same time. God is like that.

Psalm 4
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.

1 Answer me when I call to you,
O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

Right off the bat, I identify with David's desire for God to hear and answer. Look how he characterizes God: righteous. Merciful. Has the power to calm and comfort.

2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?

I have to think this isn't David. Literally, 'sons of men' are addressed here. I take it as the Lord asking these questions. How long will we allow deception to penetrate our hearts? How long before we will cast aside lies and delusion, and follow the Lord's commands to love, obey, and serve?

That challenges my heart.

3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD will hear when I call to him.

David again. I love his confidence that God WILL HEAR and, by implication, protect and deliver.

4 In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.


5 Offer right sacrifices
and trust in the LORD.

Verse four is an important verse in my eyes, because it's one of the places in Scripture where we can begin to understand how God views anger. Many people think that anger in itself is wrong--it's not. Jesus was quite angry as he drove the moneychangers from the Temple (unless you think he 'mildly' mentioned to them that they'd made His Father's house a den of robbers [Matt 21]!).

Without going into a word study on anger right now (because the Bible does have a good bit to say about it), we can know that the bottom line for those who love God is this: "In your anger, do not sin." Anger is like a fire. It can be extremely dangerous, or it can be harnessed and controlled.

6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.
7 You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.

I see here a contrast between the godly and the wicked. Those who do not have the Lord may become despondent and jaded, but the lover of God looks to Him for sustenance and joy. In Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).

It also calls to mind Jesus' assertion that He is the bread of life (John 6:35). Others' god may be their stomachs, but ours ensures we will never hunger and thirst again.

Phil 3:18-20
For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. Their future is eternal destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and all they think about is this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.

And finally,

8 I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.

I love to think about how much David trusted God. I think about the nights David faced, watching as dusk fell, knowing that Saul was pursuing him to take his life. David chose to remember that God is sovereign. He trusted the God he knew.