The average American views about 8,000 advertisements per day. That’s an extreme amount of stimulation saying that you need more than you are and more than you have.
The most repeated message heard from birth to the grave is designed to convince you that will never have friends, be sexy, or find success without purchasing something. This consumerism is breeding new forms of depression affecting the young and the old alike.
My pastor is training his children to fight the onslaught. After each commercial they say in unison, “Who are you kidding?” That’s one method.
I chose to mute commercials when my kids were living at home. It just became a habit and we never noticed until one day a friend said, “You guys watch a lot of muted TV.” Yes, the TV was on mute more than sound because commercials rule the airways.
Now, I simply don’t watch network TV. After living without a TV for eight years, I found I can’t stomach the commercials. So we only watch movies or reruns on Netflix.
You see, I need the discipline. I didn’t watch much TV as a child but my father believed his duty was to highlight my every flaw. It’s taken a lifetime to realize they weren’t real flaws after all.
I assume that’s why I cried the other night watching a rerun from season one of Cheers. Coach’s daughter introduces everyone to her fiancé. Roy is the ultimate jerk so Sam convinces Coach to tell Lisa the truth.
A few minutes later in Sam’s office, Lisa agrees with her dad, “Look Daddy, I’m not dumb. I know Roy’s abrasive. I know he’s insensitive. And I know he’s probably only marrying me so he can get the Pennsylvania territory.”
Her bewildered father can only ask, “Why would you want to marry a man like this?” He is further confused when she says that Roy’s the only man who has proposed and she’s afraid he will be the last. This daddy just can’t understand because he knows his daughter. “But you’re so beautiful.”
Here’s where the tears start to roll off my face.
Lisa responds, “Beautiful? Daddy, you’ve been saying I’m beautiful ever since I was a very little girl. But look at me! Not as my father, but like you’re looking at me for the first time. But please, try to see me as I really am.”
Coach moves closer and stares intently. “Oh, my God. I didn’t realize how much you look like your mother.”
“I know. I look exactly like her. And Mom was not….” Lisa struggles to say the words and my heart is pounding. Coach waits anxiously, then Lisa smiles, “comfortable about her beauty.”
I choked. I can’t imagine being comfortable about me. What is it to be content? But read on, there’s more.
“She was really beautiful?” Lisa’s still not convinced.
“Yes and so are you. You’re the most beautiful kid in the whole world.”
Now, right there are the words every child needs to hear from their parents and in their home. With those words a kid can face the world and all its painful lies. A more confident Lisa ended the engagement and went for ice cream with her daddy. No matter the age, she needs constant reassurance of her worth. Her daddy’s job is never finished.
I can do my part to avoid the lies but I still need to hear the truth on a daily basis. There’s a truth in God’s Word that propels me forward. This story tells it best.
An artist was asked how he sculpts an eagle from a slab of stone. While the hammer and chisel delicately works, he replies, “When I look at this marble I see only eagle. I simply chip away at everything that is not eagle.”
I need to remember, when God the Father looks at his children (that’s me) He sees only His beloved Jesus.
My theme verse for 2013 was Acts 1:5 Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
I’ve endured a difficult spiritual year. When I received the word WAIT, I shuddered, knowing it would be a long journey. I’m an achiever. Passivity is not in my vocabulary. But those two arguments held no resistance to the Spirit’s goal. He is persistent.
As I look back over this year, I marvel at what I’ve learned. I’m so full of new truths I’m about to burst at the seams wanting to teach somebody, anybody. Sadly, I wait some more. He’s not finished yet.
But in order to offer my thanksgivings during this season, I will share a bit of this journey. I’ve studied, with my dearest friends, this promised gift spoken by Jesus to His disciples. John Piper describes it as an “extraordinary anointing for ministry.” No doubt, Pentecost brought such an anointing upon the apostles while at the same time bringing salvation upon 3,000 who were instantly filled with the Spirit.
But I wanted to know how that extraordinary anointing manifests itself in a believer’s heart. This quote nailed it for me. “The Spirit fills me with His own vision of God and His own passion for God and His own prophetic words of praise.” John Piper
Let me put it in my own words. If I’m living in this extraordinary anointing, operating in the unlimited fullness of His power, then the God in me will reveal the majesty, power, and plan of God the Father to me; the God in me will love God the Father with unhindered intimacy and passion; and the God in me will never cease to worship God the Father. Now that’s the fullness power of Christ in me the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27.
One of the books we studied was They Found the Secret. It’s a collection of powerful testimonies of twenty believers who simply believed. I summarize one illustration like this, “Some say we are a pencil in the hand of God. But a pencil can be dropped or lost, I cannot. No, I am more like a finger of God. Jesus prayed that we might be one and He always gets a Yes! answer to His prayers.”
So to solidify this truth and as a constant reminder of our Oneness, I painted one fingernail red. Every day I can say, “By the grace of God and the blood of Jesus and the fullness of His Spirit, He lives in me to do His will. So be it!”
The following words relate my year, my life. Blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Every time I quieted my heart,
Every time I heard and obeyed a truth.
Every time I worshipped in awe,
Every time I spoke the Gospel.
Every time I read His Word,
Every time I prayed.
Every time I gave a tithe,
Every time I sacrificed a treasure.
Every time I cried in joy,
Every time I loved another.
Every time I repented of sin,
Every time I conquered a stronghold.
Every time I admired creation,
Every time I sang His praises.
Every time I taught a truth,
Every time I wrote of Jesus.
Every time I trusted through a trial,
Every time I wept in sorrow.
Every time I cuddled a baby,
Every time I spoke a blessing.
Every time I fasted in power,
Every time I rebuked the devil.
Every time I stood in faith,
Every time I crawled from a pit.
Every time I felt loved,
Every time I knew security.
Every time I trusted His forgiveness.
It was never, ever me. It was always
Every time He…
I don’t stand in the checkout line and say, “I can count money because my third grade teacher Mrs. Bell taught me to do it this way.”
My brain stores millions of skills in neural pathways then reproduces those skills as naturally as breathing. Each function happens without giving credit to my parents, dozens of teachers, and hundreds of books. Good thing it’s subconscious because I’d fail miserably if I had to acknowledge each source. Only my life changing moments are remembered in vivid detail.
I have one memory of one fact learned in high school. I was sitting in the second floor classroom of the back wing at Collins High. My desk was to the right of the teacher, the side with the windows. I sat on the front row of three semicircles, third seat from the end. On this day, my teacher sat behind his desk in the middle of the room in front of an unused blackboard. A single textbook, Intro to Psychology, rested unopened on the desk.
I don’t remember Mr. Morris ever giving a test. He assigned reading and then he chatted about whatever popped into his head. Everyone loved him.
“Women can make men do anything they want!”
In that hour, he gave the girls the tools to make life fun. He warned the boys that they didn’t stand a chance. I left class motivated to put the lesson to daily practice.
There’s a scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Maria taught her daughter Toula the same truth. Frustrated Toula cried, “Ma, Dad is so stubborn. What he says goes. ‘Ah, the man is the head of the house!’”
The wise mother responded, “Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.”
Then the movie went on to teach a wise method to use this power. Maria instructed, “We must let Kosta think this was his idea.”
The scene that follows was brilliant. In a few short lines, Kosta exclaimed his brilliant plan, in the exact words Maria had guided him to discover. The bewildered Toula stared at the satisfied Maria while Kosta patted himself on the back for such genius. Everyone was happy. No one got hurt in the process only because this was a scripted movie. Life is not so easy.
Since the Garden of Eden this truth is undeniable. I offer two reasons. One, men are visually stimulated. Adam looked at his deliciously naked Eve with the juices of that forbidden fruit still on her lips and he chose to rebel with her. For this reason, the porn industry is a growing multi-billion dollar evil in our society.
But there’s another reason, we are by nature a stiff-necked people and will always rebel against a law from outside us. We don’t like being told what to do. Yet, like Maria proved, we joyfully embrace the same law springing up from within us.
Here’s how it works, take a stiff-necked woman who is selfishly wanting to rule over the man to get something to satisfy her lust and then have that same motivation controlling an equally selfish man who doesn’t want to be dominated and only wants to satisfy his lust of her body and well, you soon have domestic violence and divorce. Everyone gets hurt.
But suppose this stiff-necked couple learn a higher truth. What would happen if they let the Almighty, loving, unselfish God take possession of their necks, their heads, and their wills?
Movies entertain me. The dictionary defines entertainment as the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment. I choose feel-good movies when my brain tells my body it’s had enough. Violence and intrigue stress me out. But laughter, even if it’s internal, relaxes my soul.
Few movie scenes cause me to activate the rewind option. There’s a scene in Ghost Town between Ricky Gervais, Kristin Wiig, and the imposing Michael-Leon Wooley as the hospital lawyer that’s classic humor. Gervais plays the dentist Bertrand Pincus who had a routine colonoscopy by surgeon Wiig. Strange things begin to happen and he returns to the hospital to investigate.
“I died! For seven minutes!”
“We brought you right back. People die all the time.”
“Yeah, but it’s usually just once…at the end.”
The dialogue before is a stumbling mumbling exchange between Gervais and Wiig. The lawyer is called in and he remains quiet until a lawsuit is mentioned and well, he perks up. No words on paper can do justice to the humor of this scene. Here is where characters, setting, and dialogue merge to perfection.
But the movie is more than just a comedy to entertain. It’s the story of a man who can now see ghosts, they want his help, he hates people dead or alive, and then he meets a woman. So yes, it’s a romantic comedy with an interesting theme: ghosts don’t have unfinished business, people do.
There are three little words in this movie that hit my soul. In life, there are combinations of three words that are always powerful no matter who speaks them. Hearing “I love you” sends currents of pulsating pleasures through our veins. The words “I hate you” can crush a spirit to the depths of despair or ignite a fury of revenge.
“I forgive you” frees two bitter or broken hearts while “Please forgive me” humbles the proud.
We love to hear the challenge “Go for it.” But at times we need to hear “Wait for it.”
In this movie when Dr. Pincus recognizes a patient he found irritating was in his life to serve a purpose, he could only say, “I didn’t realize.” Yes, we only die once and then these words may emanate from every mouth, “I didn’t realize.”
I didn’t realize everyone around me was a part of that purpose.
I didn’t realize the purpose was for my good.
I didn’t realize good can be wrapped in pain.
I didn’t realize God was real.
I didn’t realize death was final.
This list is endless but it doesn’t need be.
Realize now, God is good.
“The fool and his money are soon parted.” Thomas Tusser said it; lotto winners prove it. A fool is anyone who believes that easy money produces happiness. They foolishly spend their earnings in pursuit of instant wealth. Fools fail to understand that wealth never births wisdom. If they weren’t smart enough to earn it, they won’t be smart enough to keep it.
In the 1998 movie, Waking Ned Devine, Jackie O’Shea conceives a plan; “We’ll find the lotto winner and make sure we are their best friend when they cash the cheque.” With the help of his wife Anne and his best friend Michael O’Sullivan they wine and dine the small burg of Tullymore. The hilarious antics of elderly men skinny-dipping, motorcycling in the buff, slipping on intestines, and primping a dead man’s face reveal how the lure of wealth can overtake and deceive the noblest of men.
His friends asked Jackie what he would do with a million dollars. He declared, “I wouldn’t waste it on a car when me bike’s outside…I wouldn’t be floating around the Caribbean when I can float in the cove for free…I’d take what I needed and treat me friends to the rest.” He may have said these words in jest but they spoke from the overflow of his heart. For beneath his conniving plan was a man who played fair and cared for his friends. He just needed a test of conscience.
So I test myself, “What would I do with a million dollars?” I try to convince myself that the stress free life of financial security would make me content and young again as I did noble things with the wealth while at the same time indulging in some much needed plastic surgeries. It’s when my list turns toward selfish gain I’m glad I never play the lottery and reveal my foolishness.
The most endearing scene of the movie is at a funeral. To cover their lotto fraud, Jackie eulogized Michael instead of Ned Devine. “Michael and I grew old together. But at times when we laughed, we grew young.” Now that’s a good line.
I suggest you first watch A Knight’s Tale for the love story and humor while you cheer the underdog to victory. Then watch it a second time with the volume maxed out and head bob to classic 1970’s rock. Finally, read this blog and watch it a third time and ask yourself, “What am I believing?”
Two flashbacks in this film reveal the heart of the movie. My favorite character, William’s father, can’t even be found in Google images. While everyone else is focused on William, Adamire, Jocelyn, or Chaucer, I’m asking, “Why didn’t I have a father like John Thatcher?”
I dreamed of greatness as a young girl. So did William. “Someday I’ll be a knight.” The cynic in pillory, played by my father, said, “A Thatcher’s son? A knight? You might as well try to change the stars, ha”
But even these words left alone are worthless and empty. Words are only powerful tools when engaged with action. John Thatcher knew to make his son believe enough, he had to make the ultimate sacrifice of proof. He gave William to a knight and left these final words to guide him, “It’s all I can do for you son. Now go, change your stars and live a better life than I have.”
Behind this scene I see a father who reached into his chest and ripped out his heart, slammed it on the altar then sliced it in half. But William started believing that moment and he never ran away from the challenge. He changed his stars, became the greatest knight of his time and won the heart of royalty.
I’ve heard my Heavenly Father say, “Believe me! I chose you and made you my warrior princess. You are my beloved child, pure and blameless in my sight. Now believe me. Live it.” He proved His words by coming into this wickedness and enduring a brutal death on a rugged cross. His sinless blood washed me clean and validated His claims.
If I believe, my enemies will ask like William’s archenemy Adamire, “How would you beat her?” The answer would knock them flat on their backs, “That woman is unbeatable.”
Take that! voices in my head, skeptics, and demons for “you have been measured, you have been weighed, and you have been found wanting.” Welcome to my new world.
Jesus declared Himself the ‘Son of Man’ over and over and over again. I have no problems understanding the title Son God which others gave Him. But no one else called Him the Son of Man in the Gospels. He alone gave that title to Himself. Why?
To find the answer, we have to go outside the Gospels. It won’t take us long to read these references, there are only a few. I promise they are worth the read.
Daniel 7:9-14 is the key passage. It is safe to say that the people of Jesus’ time would have been more familiar with this book of prophecy than any other. This small book was written during the exile just a few generations before.
Daniel’s visions of the empires had been fulfilled with the greatest of accuracy in rapid succession of time. The Babylonian empire fell to the Medes and Persians. The Greek empire shattered them just as Daniel had said. Now in Jesus’ time, the Romans were ruling and everyone knew that all four empires, which had blended into each other, would be shattered quickly and completely by the great Rock. (Daniel 2:45) These events would be considered recent history to this first century people. So no doubt, the masses knew the book of Daniel and were awaiting the end to the empires of men.
Daniel 7 show a glimpse into heaven as the ‘beasts with horns’ rulers were destroyed. In this vision the Ancient of Days on the throne of fire representing judgment. Here we also see the coronation of Jesus. He is the one like a ‘son of man’ coming with the clouds, meaning He is deity. Here you have God but His form is like a man.
Jesus is the part of the Triune God who took human form. He is given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worship Him. (Only God is to be worshiped.) His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Daniel saw the Rock, which will crush the kingdoms of the earth and rule forever and ever. He saw Jesus, the Son of man, God in human form.
Now fast forward a few hundred years and hear Jesus say over and over, “I am the Son of man.” He was saying to the people, “I AM God in human form. I have been given all authority and my kingdom will never end.” Oh, this truly is huge. No wonder the Pharisees and Sadducees screamed blasphemy.
Interesting note here, when Ezekiel saw this One, ‘a figure like that of a man’, he fell facedown and had to be picked up by the Spirit. (Ezekiel 1:25-2:2) John in Revelation 1:12-17 saw this same One ‘like a son of man’ and he too fell at His feet as though dead.
Here is the difference of those who see with spiritual eyes into the Kingdom of God and those with hardened hearts who only see the flesh. Lord, give me eyes to see as You see.
Most of the time Jesus used this name, He was referring to Himself as the Exalted One that will come in the clouds with great power and victory. He was telling the people that He was indeed the One Daniel had seen and the prophecy would be fulfilled.
Next He used this term to say that the Son of man was also the Suffering One who had come to be crucified and rise again. He was teaching them that this same One in Daniel 7 was the One who had to fulfill Isaiah 53 prophecy.
But finally He used the term to describe Himself as the Lowly One. He tied the first two together to say that He had left all the splendor of Glory to live among lowly men to fulfill His Father’s plan. As Augustine said it, “The Son of God became the Son of man that you who were sons of men might be made sons of God.”
Only Jesus is the Son of man and Son of God united in one person. He is the One seated on the cloud with a crown of gold on His head and sharp sickle in His hand. (Revelation 14:14) He will judge the earth and is to be feared. But never forget, He is also the One who will stand and welcome us home as He did Stephen. (Acts 7:54-56)
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Now that is a vision I want to see.