Talking To Your Kids About Sex And Dating

It is not an exaggeration to say that we live in a highly sexualized culture here in America. Here is the scary part, this sexualized culture is discipling our kids. Friends, schools, movies, and social media are having a huge impact on our children and much of it is not good. It makes no sense that the culture is talking about sex all the time but all too often the church (and parents) have nothing to say about it. As parents we must be willing to have uncomfortable conversations with our kids about all the issues they are facing on a daily basis.

This past week I went away for an overnight trip with my youngest son. I used a resource called “Passport to Purity” by Dennis and Barb Rainey. With the help of this resource (cds and workbook) we probably spent about 6 hours talking about peer pressure, dating, sex, pornography, etc.  We also did some fun things like going out to dinner and watching the new Spider-Man movie. I consider it my responsibility, and honor, to talk to my children about such important topics. A number of years ago I did the same thing with my oldest son and Marcie (my wife) has done so with our daughter.

One of the things that I am proud of as a father is that both of my sons learned about the birds and the bees from me. Not from some friends on the school bus. Not from a dirty movie. I love the fact that I was able to step into their life and tell them about sex, dating, and what the bible has to say about it.

passport-to-purity-by-family-life

I would strongly encourage you as a parent to take the time to talk openly, and honestly, to your kids about dating, sex and peer pressure. Passport to Purity is geared for kids who are between the ages of 10-14. If they are much older than 14 they will think Passport to Purity is a bit too childish.

So Passport to Purity is a great tool for younger kids, but what do you do if your kids are older? I would like to share with you a few parenting ideas and then give you some questions that you could use to generate a good discussion between you and your son or daughter.

A Few Ideas To Ponder

  • Get to know the young man or young woman that your child is dating. This is not weird! The only reason we think it is weird is because our culture has completely lost its way when it comes to the role parents should play in the lives of their children. What is weird is allowing your child to date someone that you don’t know. 
  • You need to talk to your kids about dealing with peer pressure. There is a HUGE amount of pressure at school to conform to a worldly lifestyle. You need to help your kids think about some biblical ways to resist negative peer pressure.
  • You need to give your kids a biblical reason to save sex for marriage (1 Corinthians 6:18-20, 1 Corinthians 7:2, Hebrews 13:4, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).
  • You need to give your kids a biblical reason to pursue purity in general (Leviticus 11:44-45,  1 Corinthians 6:18-20, Titus 2:11-12, Ephesians 5:3-4).
  • You need to make sure that your kids know that God’s boundaries are meant to lead them to deeper joy and contentment. God gives boundaries because he loves us and wants what is best for us.
  • Talk to your kids about the importance of dating someone who knows and loves Jesus. Missionary dating is a really bad idea. Look up and discuss 2 Corinthians 6:14 (unequally yoked).

A Few Questions To Ask Your Kids

  • What are some of the ways that you feel the impact of peer pressure? Especially in regards to dating and sex?
    • Our kids are under constant peer pressure in a variety of ways. We need to guide them and help them to understand how to resist negative peer pressure. The story of Daniel is a great place to go. A teen-age boy who glorified God by standing up under tremendous pressure.
  • Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. Ask your child how these verses relate to dating, sex and peer pressure.
  • What kind of boundaries should you set when it comes to dating?
    • It’s best to set these boundaries before they begin dating.
  • Are there any other challenges you are having right now at school or life in general?
  • Are you struggling with lust or pornography?
    • “Finally Free” by Heath Lambert is a good resource for purity, pornography, and sex.
  • How should you respond to someone who is pressuring you to have sex (or is pushing past your boundaries)?
    • As parents we need to give our kids the tools to say no!
  • As a parent write down some of your own questions.
  • Ask your son or daughter if they have any questions.
  • If your child is dealing with some guilt and shame give them heavy doses of God’s grace (Psalm 86:15. 2 Corinthian 5:21, Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 14:6). HERE are a few books that talk about guilt, shame and the gospel.

If you have any thoughts or questions I would love to hear from you!

God, Greed, And The Prosperity Gospel

Have you heard about the prosperity gospel but don’t really understand what it is all about? Are you, or someone you know, being influenced by gospel prosperity preachers? Do televangelists who make millions of dollars make you question if they love God or money? Do you want to learn more about the Word of Faith Movement? Have you wondered if the healers you see on TV are legit?

Costi Hinn is the author of “God, Greed, And The Prosperity Gospel” and he is also the nephew of the world famous Benny Hinn. Costi worked with Benny Hinn for a number of years so he understands all the secrets and lies that are a part of the prosperity gospel movement. I am about 3/4 of the way through this book and I would strongly encourage you to buy it, read it, and share it with a friend. The prosperity gospel is a false teaching and it is causing havoc all over the world.

“Today, the prosperity gospel has exploded to become one of the most popular teachings in the world. It has overtaken continents like Africa and South America as it continues to breed pastors and people who are looking to land a serious payday.” p. 159

The book is very readable, biblical, and I pray that it will cause many people to see the terrible spiritual dangers associated with the prosperity gospel.

This Might Be Making You Miserable

I am currently preaching through the book of Romans. It is the second time that I have preached through it and I can say that it is definitely one of my favorite books in the bible. The gospel is on full display in every passage. This week I will be covering one of the most well known verses in all of Scripture:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28

As I previously stated, it is one of the most well known verses in the Bible, but I must add, it is also one of the least understood verses as well. The reason why I believe this verse is so misunderstood is because we fail to look at it in context. In verse 29 we read this:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. -Romans 8:29

In verse 29 I believe that Paul is describing what “good” means in verse 28. When Paul writes that “all things work together for the good” he is talking about the fact that God is at work in our lives for the specific purpose of conforming us into the image of Jesus Christ.

So, how is it possible that a promise like this can actually end up making us miserable? Let me explain. Many times we will associate God being good to us when he makes our circumstances in life better. For example:

I got the promotion, God is good.

I ‘m no longer sick, God is good.

I got into the college of my dreams, God is good.

I’m getting married, God is good.

My kids are doing well in school, God is good.

My depression and anxiety have eased up, God is good.

Paul’s point in Romans 8:28-29 is that God’s primary way of revealing his goodness to us is not by making life more pleasant but by using the good and bad stuff of everyday life to make us more like Jesus. When we fail to understand this important biblical truth we become angry, cynical, depressed, impatient and distant towards God because he is not doing what we want him to do. We need to be reminded that God is not aiming for our comfort, he is aiming for our heart. God wants to change us more than he wants to change our circumstances.

One final thought. Having our circumstances improve can only, at best, make us temporarily happy. As Augustine pointed out a long time ago, the stuff of this world can not fill up the gaping hole in our heart. God is working to make us more like Christ and he knows that this is also the pathway to our deepest satisfaction, contentment and joy.

The Americanized Version of the Great Commission

“When the church becomes an end in itself, it ends. When Sunday school, as great as it is, becomes an end in itself, it ends. When small groups ministry becomes an end in itself, it ends. When the worship service becomes an end in itself, it ends. What we need is for discipleship to become the goal, and then the process never ends. The process is fluid. It is moving. It is active. It is a living thing. It must continue to go on. Every disciple must make disciples.”― Robby Gallaty

There is the Great Commission that we see clearly in Matthew 28:16-20 and demonstrated in the life of Jesus and his followers. Unfortunately, the American church has tried to modify the Great Commission so that it fits more comfortably into our every day life. Here are a few of the differences I see in the Great Commission in Jesus’s day and the way we try to live out the Great Commission today.

The Great Commission in Jesus’ Day

  • You know that the Great Commission is to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”
  • You know that deep relationships are critical to fulfilling the Great Commission.
  • You know that you must re-prioritize your life.
  • You are experiencing a sense of adventure because you are living on God’s mission.
  • You become deeply known and loved by others.
  • You are primarily thinking about meeting the needs of others.
  • You know that a disciple is someone who is making disciples.

“We reduce discipleship to a canned program, and so many in the church end up sidelined in a spectator mentality that delegates disciple making to pastors and professionals, ministers and missionaries.”― Francis Chan

The Great Commission Today

  • You believe that the Great Commission is to attend worship services.
  • You tend to limit spiritual growth to something that happens to you personally. You fail to realize that genuine spiritual growth will be demonstrated by getting out of your comfort zone and investing in the life of others.
  • You tend to have to have too much dependence on programs (over personal relationships).
  • You don’t experience deep relationships, which means you are not deeply known by others.
  • You do not know the joy that comes from living on God’s mission because other priorities have become too important.
  • You are primarily thinking about getting your needs met.

Simply feeling bad or guilty about not making disciples is not very helpful! HERE is an excellent article that will give you some ideas about how you can begin making disciples. HERE you will find some books that talk about the Great Commission. Another way to move into a life of meaningful discipleship is to talk with someone you know personally who is living it out. Maybe it is your pastor, maybe it is a friend in the church. Ask them if they will come alongside you to help you grow as a disciple who makes disciples.

Main Takeaways From EFCA One 2019

  • We voted as a denomination to amend article 9 of our Statement of Faith. You can see below that we removed the word ‘premillennial’ from our Statement of faith and replaced it with the word ‘glorious’. The primary reason for removing the word is so that we, as a denomination, stay focused on the essentials of our Christian faith. We don’t want to exclude people from our denomination, and our churches, because they do not hold to a premillennial perspective regarding the end times.

We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial glorious return of our Lord
Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant
expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living,
sacrificial service and energetic mission.

  • I am excited about the future of the EFCA because there is a laser focus on the gospel, community and making disciples.
  • Paul’s relationship with Timothy is a powerful example of how important it is that every Christian is making disciples (1 Timothy 2:1-12).
  • Being a preacher is not enough. We must be making disciples who make disciples.
  • “Death? That’s so B.C.” Quote from Pastor Eric Rivera
  • “If the disciples we are making aren’t making disciples are we making disciples of Jesus?” Quote from Disciplemaking Lab
  • “People can be sitting in our churches for 10 years and still not be making disciples. Why?” Quote from Disciplemaking Lab
  • “If our programs are creating consumers and not disciple-makers, what do we do?” Quote from Disciplemaking Lab
  • “When it comes to discipleship there will come a time for our people where they will have to decide if they really want to embrace the ways of Jesus or go back to attending church, listening to sermons and enjoying worship music.” Quote from Discipleship Lab
    • This made me think of the Matrix when Morpheus asked Neo if he really wanted to see reality or just go back to living in a false reality. As Christians we are faced with a red pill, blue pill choice. What will we choose? Consumerism or discipleship?
  • “79% of people in our culture want to talk about spiritual things. Only 35% of the people in our churches are engaging in these kinds of conversations.” Quote from Lab on Missional Impact.
  • Do the people on the other side of the political side know that you love them and care about them? Or is your angry rhetoric causing a barrier to the gospel? This was a thought I took from the Lab on Missional Impact.
  • Ed Stetzer shared the inspirational story of Jane the Uber Driver. It shows how we can make disciples in everyday life! It is not as complicated as we make it out to be!
  • Also made a good connection with an EFCA pastor in Salem, ND that I believe will lead to us doing a better job of developing leaders in our church here in Watertown, SD.

Spiritual Awakening

I wrote this article and it can be found in Wednesday’s edition of the The Watertown Public Opinion. 06.12.19

“SPIRITUAL AWAKENING”

I love the city of Watertown. I have been in Watertown for a little over four years and my family and I have found the people here to be friendly, kind and welcoming. Because of my love for this city I have a growing desire to see God work in a new way in our community. My greatest prayer for my family, my church and this city is that we come to know and love Jesus Christ more than anything else on earth. In the book of Philippians 3:8 the apostle Paul clearly communicates what life is all about when he writes this, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

I would briefly like to mention a few barriers that keep individuals, churches and communities from experiencing a spiritual awakening. One obstacle is lifeless, dead religion. Due to the fact that I am a preacher’s kid I know what it is like to be very religious and yet at the same time to be far from God. Going to church, being baptized, and church membership simply do not mean that a person knows or loves Jesus Christ. So the first barrier we must overcome is simply going through the religious motions that give one the semblance of Christianity but fails to have the heart of Christ. Second, we must be aware of how short sighted it is to make pursuing pleasure and comfort our primary goals in life. We live in a great country and we have been blessed with so many material possessions. The problem is that we end up making our hobbies, jobs, sports, education, retirement, bank account what life is all about. Third, many people simply misunderstand what Christianity is about in the first place, so we end up disregarding it or thinking that it is irrelevant. Christianity is not first and foremost about rule keeping. Christianity is not keeping you from the good life. In fact, Christianity is the doorway to where the deepest joy and satisfaction that your heart could ever experience is found.

So, the question we should ask at this time is how do we experience a spiritual awakening in our life, churches, and in our city? I believe with all of my heart that the place it begins is when we seek after God in prayer. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we read this, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Seeking after God in prayer will mean turning off the TV, putting down our iPhones, refusing to be distracted by a million trivialities, and asking God to do in a new work in our day and time.

A group of local Watertown pastors have begun what we are calling a “Community Evening of Worship and Prayer.” We have already met twice over the past few months and we have experienced a great time of singing, prayer and fellowship. This is a gathering that goes beyond denominational lines. We are, and should be, focusing on more than our own religious turf and thinking about the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). The next Community of Worship and Prayer will be at Midwest Bible Camp on Sunday, August 18th, 6-7 PM. If you want more details you can go to www.prayforwatertownsd.com. Whether you have been in the church for years, or you have never been to church, you are invited to join us as we seek after God and ask him to be at work in our community in a powerful new way. We hope you will join us!

Pastor Michael Wallenmeyer
New Life Church

Parents Must Lead The Way

Moms and dads, I know you have a lot on your hands. Life is crazy busy and at times it feels almost overwhelming to keep all the different plates spinning. I know this is true because I have three kids at home with one graduating from high school this year. So without question I understand all the hard work that you do on a day to day basis.

With that said, I want to encourage you to think about something that I believe will have a revolutionary impact on you and your family. Here it is, moving into deeper relationships in your local church. Of course I could remind you of all the places that God’s Word talks about the importance of developing meaningful relationships in the church (Proverbs 27:17, Romans 12:5, Acts 2:42-47, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 1 Corinthians 12:25-27, Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 10:24-25). An understanding of God’s Word clearly reveals that one of God’s primary instruments for growing us spiritually is through relationships within the church.

But this is a post specifically for parents. So, I want to lovingly, graciously, encourage you to lead your children when it comes to helping them see the value of getting involved in the life of the church. I recently had a conversation with a man here at New Life Church. His kids are out of the house and have families of their own now. But he was thinking back to all the relationships that his kids had in the church while growing up. He was speaking fondly of older men and women who took the time to get to know his children. He spoke of how his children benefited spiritually from others who invested in them. There is so much for our children to gain, even if they don’t see it now, from rubbing shoulders with people of all ages who know and love Christ.

Can I challenge you just a bit? One of the things I hear is that “we want to give our kids the choice of whether or not they go to children’s ministry, youth group, church, etc.” I want to push back on this way of thinking. What if your 6 year old tells you that they have decided that their only source of nourishment is going to be Skittles and Mountain Dew? What if your 8 year old tells you that they have decided to stop brushing their teeth? What if your 13 year old tells you that they have decided that they no longer desire to go to school? Would you simply tell them that they need to follow their heart and make their own decisions? I certainly hope not. Here is my point. There are many instances in life where we need to lovingly guide our children because they don’t always (massive understatement) make the wisest decisions. Helping our kids make wise and godly decisions is a huge part of what it means to be a spiritual leader in the home.

Again, I know life is hard. I know life is busy. It’s hard to keep it all together. But let me wrap up this post by helping you to see what a life long blessing it will be for you and your children to make it a priority to be an active part of the church family. Involvement in the church is not just something you have to do. God has designed the church to strengthen, encourage and build you and your family up in Jesus Christ. Do we always agree with everything that happens in the church? No. Are we, and our kids, going to have to build relationships with other sinners (like us)? Yes. You won’t find the perfect church because the perfect church does not exist. Moms and dads, let’s lead the way when it comes to showing our kids the importance of deep, messy relationships in the local church.

What Christians Need To Know

One of the most destructive things to both Christians, and to churches, is the belief that the church exists to help Christians grow spiritually. I imagine that you are going to want to go back and read that first sentence a couple more times to make sure you got it right. Then, you are going to want to respond with a strong rebuttal to what seems like really poor logic. Or maybe you simply respond with a question like, “Isn’t it obviously a good thing to expect a church to help us grow in our faith?”

Let me explain. Yes, it is good for Christians to come to church and hope that their church helps them grow spiritually. Here is the problem. Far too often that is where things stop for many people. Too many Christians fail to understand that to be a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we are actively helping others to grow in their faith too.

DISCIPLES OF JESUS MAKE DISCIPLES OF JESUS

Jesus said this in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus, in very plain language, is telling his disciples (which includes you and me) that it has always been his design that his disciples are not only thinking about their own spiritual growth. Jesus was helping his disciples to grow spiritually with THE EXPRESS PURPOSE that they would help others to grow spiritually. One of the primary objectives of a disciple of Jesus Christ is to make other disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:16-20).

So here is a really critical question that we all need to ask and answer, “What are some ways that we can actively work to help others inside the church, and outside the church, grow in their faith?” HERE is a link that does a great job helping us answer that question. I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and questions!

The Holy Love of God

Here are a few examples of what we frequently hear in our culture, and increasingly in our churches today…

“If God is love then there should be tolerance for my lifestyle.”

“If God is love then there can be no such thing as an eternal hell.”

“If God is love then certainly he would want me to do what makes me happy.”

The problem with these, and many other statements like them, is that they are attempts at defining the love of God from a secular perspective. Whether we are aware of it or not we are importing our subjective opinions when it comes to defining what it means when we say ‘God is love.’

The result is that we create a god in our own image. Our wants and desires begin to shape who we believe God to be. It is really no different than when the Israelites got tired of waiting for Moses to return so they made a golden calf and began worshipping it. We do the same thing every time we change God from the way he is described in Scripture.

The consequences for doing this are massive. Desires and lifestyles that were once thought to be sinful are now applauded and celebrated. Christians are thought to be intolerant and unloving.

I began to understand a bit more clearly why all this was happening when I started to read David Wells book, “God in the Whirlwind.” I would say that one of the main points in this excellent book is that what many people are attempting to do is separate the love of God from the holiness of God. Wells writes:

“We want God’s love without his holiness. We want this because we live in our own private, therapeutic worlds that have no absolute moral norms. God’s holiness, therefore, becomes a jarring and unwanted intrusion. His love without his holiness, however, is one of those things in life that we simply cannot have. And, indeed, it will become one of our greatest joys to be able to understand how God is both holy and loving.”

The biblical truth that God is holy is perhaps best seen when we look at the vision of God in Isaiah 6:1-7. In this fascinating passage Isaiah is brought into the majestic presence of God. God is on a throne, his robe fills the house. Above him are the angels who cover their eyes in the presence of their Creator. The angels sing to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

The entire house was filled with smoke and then we discover Isaiah’s response:

“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

The very first thing that Isaiah realizes when he is in God’s presence is that he is a sinner.  Coming into God’s presence was not a boost for Isaiah’s delicate self-esteem. Isaiah saw God for who he truly is and he was filled with shame regarding his sinful condition. Isaiah was experiencing the holiness of God. Holiness means to be set apart, to be transcendent, to be completely different and above everything else. The holiness of God means that he is absolutely pure in all of his ways. So, when we begin describing the love of God we need to keep his holiness in mind the whole time.

It is easy to see how people in the world might misunderstand the nature of God’s love and holiness. But what about the church today? Has the church been impacted by a faulty view of God’s love and holiness? Again, David wells:

“In the liberalism that has so devastated the mainline denominations in recent decades, for example, God’s love has been universalized and then unhitched from his holiness. The result is a Christianity that is benign, culturally at home, racy, politically correct, and endlessly tolerant. It wants to be on the cutting edge of culture, but it is there only because it has a yearning to catch each new breeze that blows. It loses depth as it loses its hold on biblical truth. It prizes love-but it is love of a cultural kind-and it prizes holiness-but it is holiness only of a political kind. And it ends up with neither in a biblical sense.”

So when we define the love of God we have to keep it balanced with the idea that God is simultaneously holy.  When we hear people talk about the idea that God is love let’s graciously point them towards the biblical truth that God is also holy. Which means that the standards for how we are to live are outside of ourselves. These standards do not originate in our heart or mind. The standards for how we are to live come from a correct understanding of who God is, and God is holy.

There are so many implications that come from remembering the holy love of God. Here are just a few:

  • A spiritual awakening in our churches is dependent on us focusing on the holiness of God and confessing our sins.
  • We will begin to understand that God is not primarily working to make our circumstances more pleasant, instead he is working in such a way that we are being sanctified (becoming holy). If we don’t get this we are going to be incredibly frustrated wondering what God is up to.
  • We, as believers, need to be comfortable with the idea that we will be perceived as flat out weird when it comes to how we live and behave. If we understand the holiness of God, and if we too are pursuing this same holiness, our lives will look much different than most people in our culture. We need to embrace this truth and be at peace with it.

I’ll be preaching on this topic this coming Sunday (Mother’s Day)!

holy love of God

Review of “Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in a Media Age” by Tony Reinke

As a father, and as a pastor, I have a tremendous interest in how iPhones, TVs, screens, movies, video games and social media are impacting us. So when I learned that Tony Reinke was coming out with a new book, “Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age” I knew this was a book that I needed to read. I want to say upfront that I strongly recommend this book.

Spectacles Defined And Described

So the name of this book may cause you to wonder, “what in the world is a spectacle?” Here is the answer:

For this project, spectacles is confined to its second meaning: a moment of time, of varying length, in which collective gaze is fixed on some specific image, event, or moment. A spectacle is something that captures human attention, an instant when our eyes and brains focus and fixate on something projected at us.”

Spectacles can be accidental or intentional-anything that vies for our eyes: a historic presidential inauguration, a celebrity blooper, an epic fail, a prank, a trick shot, a hot take, a drone race, an eSports competition, the live streams of video games fought with fictional cannons. Spectacles are the latest video from a self-made YouTube millionaire sensation, or flash mob meant to appear as a spontaneous gathering in public.

Spectacles are part of our everyday life. The question we must ask and answer is this, how are these spectacles affecting us? What is the result of devoting more and more time to the spectacles all around us in our culture today? The good thing is that Reinke answers this question. The problem is that we may not like the answer!

Why Do We Seek Spectacles?

Why do we seek spectacles? Because we’re human, hard-wired with an unquenchable appetite to see glory. Our hearts seek splendor as our eyes scan for greatness. We cannot help it. “The world aches to be awed. That ache was made for God. The world seeks it mainly through movies.” (Reinke quoting John Piper) -and in entertainment and politics and true crime and celebrity gossip and warfare and live sports. Unfortunately, we are all easily conned into wasting our time on what adds no value to our lives. Aldous Huxley called it “man’s almost infinite appetite for distraction.”

Reinke goes on to add that we are being shaped and formed by the spectacles that we watch on a daily basis. “We become like what we watch.”

What Are Some Of The Negative Consequences Of These Spectacles?

Second, we lose the ability to disconnect from culture in order to flourish in communion with God. Prayer requires our divine-centered attention. In prayer, we take a moment (or longer) to consciously pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the Holy Spirit-not just in our morning entreaties or mealtime thanksgivings but in brief petitions sprinkling divine life in our days…Prayerlessness may be the fault of my media. It is certainly the fault of my heart. In the little cracks of time in my day, with my limited attention, I am more apt to check or feed social media than I am to pray. Because of my negligence, God grows increasingly distant from my life.

As Christians this should greatly alarm us. I think in the back of our mind we know that we are way too distracted by all of these spectacles. One of the consequences of being so distracted is that we don’t take the time to evaluate what it is doing to us. As parents we fail to consider what it is doing to our children. We just hope the damage is not too severe, but it turns out that it is.

Turning Our Eyes To The World’s Greatest Spectacle

To those familiar with Reinke’s writings it will not be much of a surprise that he describes the greatest spectacle as the good news of Jesus Christ. But how do we gaze upon the gospel? We do that through reading, teaching and preaching of God’s Word. He specifically uses Colossians 3:1-4 to explain how we do this:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

As we read God’s Word, as we focus on the gospel, we find the power we need to overcome sin and live a life that is pleasing to God. The great challenge we are facing is overcoming all of the distractions and putting our heart and mind on the truths of the gospel.

It Is Not Just The Obviously Immoral Stuff That Is Killing Us

We might wrongly conclude that we are OK if we avoid porn and other spectacles that are obviously sinful.

Feeding on sinful media will annul your holy affections. Yes. But pampering yourself with a glut of morally neutral media also pillages your affectional zeal. Each of us must learn to preserve higher pleasures by revolting against lesser indulgences. Our shows and movies and games lure us to give ourselves away to the screen, a video addiction Wallace called “a distorted religious impulse,” a giving of the self that must be reserved for God alone, an idolatrous giving away of the soul to the media that will never love us back…Even when our bodies are anesthetized and we “veg out” in a dream-like coma before a screen, we are being depleted. Something is being taken from us. Wallace made a profound discovery when he suggested that our entertainment sucks away our spiritual energy. Overconsuming on amusement drains our soul’s vigor. Just as my time is a zero-sum game, so is my “spiritual energy”-my affections and my bandwidth for awe.

Great And Helpful Quote By David Platt

You don’t become like Christ by beholding TV all week. And you don’t become like Christ by beholding the internet all week. You don’t become like Christ when you fill your life with things of the world. You become like Christ when you behold the glory of Christ, and you expose your life, moment by moment, to his glory,” all through God’s revelation in Scripture.

One Of The Biggest Issues We Are Facing

I don’t find this book to be legalistic at all. Reinke is not saying that it is bad to watch movies, sports or to have an iPhone. His point is that we are over doing it when it comes to all the various spectacles that we are watching in day-to-day life.

I found the chapter “My Supreme Concern” to be very eye opening. Here is what he writes:

Soul boredom is a great threat, and when our souls become bored, we make peace with sin. New distractions, which promise to temporarily alleviate our boredom, hover in our ethical blindspots. Media discernment forces us to directly face our soul’s monotony. Calling out to our boredom, this media carnival, this surplus of digital stimuli, makes us indiscriminate with our hearts. Each of us must give ourselves away to someone or something. But in this media age, our loves and affections are frozen by the ice of vain amusements. Our hearts harden as we become nothing but consumers to be manipulated by the spectacle makers.

This topic so greatly concerns me as a father and as a pastor that we are going to take one Sunday here at New Life Church and talk about it on a Sunday morning. We will talk about the dangers of media consumption and remind everyone (myself included!) that we desperately need to immerse our hearts and minds in the glories of the gospel.

treasuring Christ