We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


Resting

I was reading a children’s book from the 1800’s, one I will be publishing, that reminded me about an important principle of rest and replenishing. In our busy lives it is so easy to forget to rest and be still. During this Thanksgiving holiday it seemed there was plenty of time to rest as I visited with family, friends, and the TV. From football, to parades, to Hallmark holiday movies, to Chris Cringle, to Facing the Giants, to the food channel, to Rambo, there was something for everyone for as much time as one wanted to be entertained. When I am tired, I find that if a TV is available, I succumb easily. It is one of the reasons I do not have a TV in my home. I know that in my flesh I would do what I do not want to do (Romans 7). Moreover, we have been called by God to rest and replenish our strength, our creativity, our relationships, our goals, and our entire being…one day a week. When we take seriously this one day a week to rest and enjoy God, we will find the new week take on an entirely new dimension. Just as our physical strength is renewed after rest, if we would begin practicing resting with God, we will experience what Isaiah was conveying when he said we would run and not be weary, walk and not faint teach us Lord, to wait.

Published in: on November 30, 2009 at 9:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dr. Stanley – Being Light in a Godless Age

According to Scripture, our world is headed for terrible times. Politicians can solve the problems. Neither can philosophers or philanthropists. Only God has the remedy salvation and transformation, one life at a time. As ungodliness increases, believers will be greatly impacted. Paul warned us to take precautions so we don’t start following the dysfunctional choices of the godless. One way to do this is by being sensitive to God’s work in the lives of His people. Timothy paid attention to the way Paul handled adversity and made decisions. He could see that God delivered the apostle from many tough situations, so the young man chose to emulate him. Like Timothy, were wise to observe those who are choosing God way. Another precaution is to notice the spiritual foolishness of those living apart from Christ and avoid their influence. They may be high achievers, financial successes, or generous givers, but without Jesus, they remain outside God’s family. Their choices reflect man’s priorities, not the Lord. Finally, we must be committed to the Bible as our guide for life. God’s Word was written by ordinary men under His inspiration. He designed the Scriptures to be profitable for teaching, correction, and godly living. We are commanded to be ready on all occasions to speak the name of Jesus, share what He has done for us, and relate His gospel message to others. When we do, we will be like lights reflecting the truth of our Savior to a world desperately in need of illumination.

Published in: on November 23, 2009 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Obscenity Revisited

I just received a note from a friend that I think is worth sharing. The first paragraph is my response to him Great stuff!!! I think I met this guy at a conference last March in CA and he is not a Christian, but was talking about the same stuff you need to read the Culture Wise Family and two others: Amusing Ourselves to Death and The Disappearance of Childhood wait! You must read The Death of the Grown Up!!! None of these are written by Christians except Culture, and to our shame; please read these!!! By the way, at that conference these elite guys, producers from Disney, Paramount, and Fox were asked what can prepare our youth the most for a film making career and they said, “Study philosophy and theology!” Also, I will send you something that will quite blow you away concerning Harry Potter. Wait till you read this! Maybe we can get together next week while I in NY if our schedules connect.

Published in: on November 21, 2009 at 9:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Violence–Off Stage Behavior; or Is It?

One reader of the blog below “http://www.lamplighterpublishing.com/blog/2009/11/”
Obscenity–New Hope raised an excellent point concerning the standard of violence on stage. How much is too much? Who sets the standard? First, from my research there is no doubt that graphic violence is harmful both to children and adults. In the “UCLA Television Violence Monitoring Report,” children imitate modeled behavior as the observational learning theory suggests. Researchers found that young children who view violent episodes, store that behavior in their brain. When they are confronted with a similar situation in real life, there is a propensity to mimic the behavior that was once stored, but now activated in the forefront of their memory. Jeffrey G. Johnson of Columbia University found that teenagers and young adults who watch more than one hour of TV daily are more likely to commit acts of violent crime or react aggressively. His study found a link between violence and viewing television, not just violent programming! A report on four decades of entertainment TV found that there were about 50 crimes, including a dozen murders, during every hour of prime time television. This indicates that our children may see from 800,000 to 1.5 million acts of violence and witness 192,000 to 360,000 murders on television by the time they are 17 years old. Lastly, the Bible is a good standard for how much violence is too much, and how ironic I use the Bible as a standard! Here we have someone cutting off someone else’s head. We have a woman driving a stake through a man’s head while he sleeps in her lap. We have a man cutting up his lover in twelve pieces and then mailing the parts to various places in the country! We have a man with a spear who stabs to death a husband and pregnant wife it doesn’t get any gorier than this! Now before the Bible loses all credibility for the standard of violence, it is important to note that in each of these cases the writer does not elaborate on the violent act. It is usually one sentence and the act is over. Furthermore, these scenes are not visual. They are left to the reader’s imagination; and if the reader’s imagination is not already defiled with graphic and immoral violence, the reader or hearer will find the violent scene objectionable, reprehensible, and repugnant. Their conscience will not allow them to enjoy the scene. Think about the man who cut up the woman into twelve pieces. When I think of this act, it makes me sick to visualize it. But today with the Chainsaw Massacre (I’ve never seen this) I can imagine that there are many who have been desensitized to graphic violence. Most important is for us to understand that unnecessary and graphic violence breaks the aesthetic mood of the story. And this at times may be necessary and the purpose for inserting a graphic scene such as the dismemberment of a woman. But note that the insertion is quick without any elaboration on the particulars. In case such as this, the violence is to cause the reader to stop and think, not about the violent act, but why the writer has inserted it. An OT mind would not have been enjoying the gore as entertainment but pondering the theological reason for its insertion. Ooops, I see I have been going on and on and on and on; I hope this helps. I never knew the root of the word “–an excellent approach to the age old (and frankly worn out),” sex and violence in movies blah blah blah stuff. I grew up hearing. I would question your inclusion of violence, or at least putting it on the same level with graphic sexual depictions on screen. Often, violence is central to the story–be it a war story, or one of tough street life, or anything in between. Of course, many movies have proven that if a sexual situation is central to the story, that can *always* be handled without graphic portrayal. Maybe I have answered my own question regarding violence–is the key *graphic* violence? But then, what is the standard for that? Suddenly we have entered into a “How long should the dress be” type of standard. One that constantly moves (at least generational) and is almost always arbitrary, but not necessarily grounded in truth–only sensibilities. Thoughts?

Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

During one of the recording sessions at the Soundhouse, a studio in London, England, filmmaker David Hamby captured some great footage of http://www.lamplighterpublishing.com/prodinfo.asp?number=AADABOF The Basket of Flowers being filmed and infused it with an interview with Lamplighter Ministries president Mark Hamby as he discusses the scope and mission of Lamplighter Theatre.

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 8:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Obscenity–New Hope

Our culture has sunk into an immoral abyss without even realizing that they are close the point of self destruction. It will not be from Muslim militants that destroy our culture, it will happen from our living rooms through the media propaganda and immoral content of programs that have so easily enticed us. The next two blogs I would like to devote some teaching on the concepts of Obscenity and Profanity. I was reminded of how serious this is in our culture when I attended a play this weekend at the Bucks County Theatre in New Hope, PA. It is ironic that the town is called New Hope. I was able to enjoy about five minutes of the play before my wife and I had to walk out. Everyone else was in hysterics and applauding after hearing the ultimate in profanity and the acting out of sexual intercourse on stage. Here is my first installment of how we can restore the years that the locusts have eaten. Obscenity The Greeks restricted violence and intimacy on stage, not because of their high moral standards, but because of their understanding of aesthetics and obscenity. The word obscene means “off stage.” Violence and intimacy were considered “off stage” behaviors. Intimacy is ordained of God for marriage, not for public eyes. Public intimacy is obscene, not because it is evil but because it is sacred. Moreover, when an audience is captivated by the dramatic involvement of the characters, violence and sexual content break the aesthetic mood. The memorable vicarious experience is now overshadowed and disrupted by shocking violence or sensual provocation. Capturing the interest of an audience aesthetically requires the pen of a skilled word-crafter; shocking the audience with a violent scene or stimulating them sexually requires no talent. We are losing our taste for aesthetic beauty, becoming immune to inhumane and violent treatment of others, and dulling our sense of compassion, imagination, and conscience. The warning here is not that these things are hurting our children, they are ruining the lives of adults and our ability to enjoy things that are pure and holy; the things that bring true enjoyment. So, may the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart be acceptable in His sight.

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wanted to share this morning, but work got in the way

Every night before falling asleep, I write down my goals for the following. Upon waking, I read through the list in order to focus my energy on what is most important. If this were not part of my routine, the limited hours available would not be utilized effectively. The Bible clearly teaches us to use our days wisely. Time is a gift. Almighty God has given each person a span of days to live on earth. But our life is fleeting and uncertain. James compares it to a vapor that “for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Time is also irrevocable; we cannot hit rewind and undo anything. Considering this, it is foolish to waste such a precious resource. But so often, we do. Be alert to avoid these hindrances to living each moment fully and purposefully: Misplaced priorities result in wasted opportunities. Our values will determine the emphasis we place on each activity and the amount of time we allot to it. Procrastination and perfectionism soak up valuable time that could have been used to benefit the kingdom. Lack of concentration drains time of its potential. For example, we have to train ourselves to focus on reading God’s Word and not to get sidetracked. What values drive the way you utilize your time? Is there something that keeps you from living each moment in a way that pleases the Lord? You will never have a chance to live today again. Therefore, ask God for guidance and direction so that you can live each day with intention. By Dr. Charles Stanley

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 8:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Profanity: Part 2

Recently I had the opportunity to review a play at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope PA. The play started with a creative stage set and excellent opening singing. But it wasn’t long before the aesthetic moment was broken with a loud use of profanity and a follow up of an obscene sexual moment between two characters. That was the end of the review for me… I had seen and heard enough to know that even though this was an award winning play, it did not become award winning based on true aesthetic values of art and decency. Our culture has been so lulled into accepting the obscene and profane that when it occurs on the screen or stage, there is no longer any reaction of disgust for what is clearly objectively objectionable. It is like the father who baked chocolate chip cookies for his kids and told them just before they bit into the still warm tantalizing cookies, that he had added just a tablespoon of their dog’s poop into the recipe. Not a one was eaten and the lesson of what happens when we watch something though really good, but mixed with a few profane and obscene moments, is not only distasteful but harmful to our soul. Peter informs us of this trap as he writes that Lot’s righteous soul was vexed from day to day by the things that he saw and heard. He didn’t partake in evil activity, but by hearing and seeing his soul was grievously vexed. Maybe hearing and seeing is in fact…doing. Let’s restore the values that made this country great and bring dignity back into our homes. All it takes is some backbone to stand up and walk out or to get up out of the chair and turn it off. Below is the second installment of what our culture needs to know if we are going to return to the principles that can once again restore God’s grace upon us. The word profane is Latin for “outside the temple.” All that was unclean or impure was considered profane, or “outside the temple.” Today we have brought the profane into our homes and our hearts which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. According to G.E. Veith, “profanity uses religious language in a way that desecrates or trivializes its sacred meaning.” Though this will be surprising to many, profane language includes some of the most widely used phrases in our Christian cultures: Oh my God, oh my goodness, for goodness’ sake, good heavens, oh heavens, oh my word, etc. Some of our early dictionaries give a list of profane language. The most powerful statement against profane language is found in Exodus 20:7, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” In Shakespeare’s day the word “God” was not used in the scripts of drama plays for fear that it might be used in vain. Today you cannot watch a G-rated movie or read a book without hearing or reading expression of “My God,” “O My God,” “My gosh…” etc! Words are what brought the universe into existence. God places a high value upon words. So, “may the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart be acceptable in His sight.” I love what David wrote in Psalm 141 “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 8:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Hitch-Hiker

Walter, this is excellent! Nicely written! For those who are reading this blog, I am sharing a letter one of my staff wrote to the rest of our staff after I called him on the phone to tell him that I had just picked up a hitchhiker and told him that he could call the office and order five books for free. Walter’s letter below is a good summary of what took place. If this sounds self serving and lifts me up on a pedestal, please know that I am truly a selfish person at heart and only picked up this hitchhiker in case he was wealthy and could give a large donation to the ministry! (Ok, not really, but please excuse the high praise that Walter gives me.
Wednesday November 11, 2009…The Hitchhiker -You are driving down the road at 65 mph (if your Mark it might be a little faster!) thinking about all the things that need to do; bills to pay, meetings and appointments to make, emails to send and leaves to rake. Just then the Lord places a hitch-hiker in your path–with a suitcase, of a different race, and he’s big! You sense God telling you to stop and pick him up…you have 2 seconds to make up your mind. WHAT DO YOU DO? If you’re Mark you stop and pick him up. As he gets in the car he thanks you but instead of hearing “You’re welcome,” he hears, “Thank the Lord not me, because He told me to pick you up!” Now that the focus of discussion has been set, within a few minutes you find out he is a backslidden believer who is desperately walking down the seemingly endless highway of life going nowhere fast. As he tells you about his life and misfortunes you start to realize how blessed you are, and your first thought is that you want to help this man…but how? If you’re Mark you immediately think about how your life has been changed by the reading of the Word of God and great Christian books. So you offer some encouragement and a few life-changing books to the fellow…but with one exception! He has to be willing to turn off the TV for one month and if he’s willing, he can call Lamplighter and receive a book a week for free. Starting with Jessica’s First Prayer, then The Rescue of Jessica’s Mother, then Christies Old Organ, then The Hedge of Thorns, and lastly Teddy’s Button, Mark is helping this man get back on the path of righteousness with some clear direction and practical steps. So, if you take his call when he calls in to order the books for free, please ask him if he’s keeping his part of the bargain and has shut off the TV for thirty days. Will reading great books and not watching TV change this man’s life? I guess we’ll have to wait and see where the Lord takes this. What a great experiment! Great question to ask yourself today. What chapter of life are you in? Has God laid it on my heart to help someone today? What have I read lately that has drawn me closer to the Lord? When is the last time I shared the love of Christ with someone? When was the last time you took a second to pray for that person in your life who needs His love more than anything else? Sometimes this person will be walking with a suitcase down the expressway; other times, it may be our neighbor, a waiter, or the Starbucks coffee maker.

Published in: on November 12, 2009 at 8:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cold Winter

How you can tell if the winter will be Intolerably Cold? Its late fall and the Indians on a remote reservation in South Dakota asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was a chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky, he couldn’t tell what the winter was going to be like. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared. But, being a practical leader, after several days, he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, “Is the coming winter going to be cold?” “It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold,” the meteorologist at the weather service responded. So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared. A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. “Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?” “Yes,’ the man at National Weather Service again replied, “It’s going to be a very cold winter.” The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find. Two weeks later, the chief called the National Weather Service again. “Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?” “Absolutely,” the man replied. “It’s looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we’ve ever seen.” “How can you be so sure?” the chief asked. The weatherman replied, “The Indians are collecting firewood like crazy.

Published in: on November 10, 2009 at 8:42 pm  Leave a Comment