12 May 2014

Moving....


Just wanted to let you all know that I do feel called to do a bit more writing and posting on my blogs. However, without paying for the ability to to do, I have found that WordPress simply is a better format for blogging with a great deal more options available to the writer as far as layout and format go.

For that reason, this blog is moving to WordPress. The blog has copied over every article and post that I have shared thus far - in other words, no content is lost. you can go back through all my previous posts there as well. This blog address will still exists, acting as a archival holdings place as well.

See the blog over at http://thesoundword.wordpress.com/

See you there, and be sure to change your bookmarks.

07 March 2014

Matthew McConaughry, the Oscars and God

As Christians, we know what those relationships with other Christians feel like. They are just - better. You know what I mean. You get to know someone, might just be for a few moments, or even a few months, and the opportunity comes up to talk about church or faith, and you find out your friend or associate is a believer too. Suddenly, what was already a good relationship becomes a great one. It becomes better! Not because of you, or them. But because of Christ, and your fellowship in Him.
As most Christians would confess, Hollywood has done far more to degrade our society and to mock God and His ways then it ever has done to make society better. 100 years ago when moving pictures were just getting started with films like "A Trip to the Moon", the subject matter was a bit more tame. With the first open-mouth kiss coming to film in 1926, it did not take long for things to progress. Subject matter transformed from Charlie Chaplin's innocent, confused, compassionate and loving character of 'the Tramp', to women having sex with the devil in Rosemarie's Baby in a relatively short period of time.

Recent statistics show that faith-based, family friendly and patriotic films gross more money for Hollywood studios then all other film types. The ratio of worldly films vs. faith-based/family friendly films I am unable to ascertain, but it has to be high (100 to 1??). AND YET, despite the numbers, despite the greater profits in faith based films, Hollywood insists on producing hundreds of worldly films each year, with films rated R and above making up 55% or more of the total. When you run a corporation and your profit margin is greater making faith-based, family friendly films, and yet you choose to continue to make a preponderance of R rated non-family friendly films that earn a lower profit margin, there has to be ulterior motives. Even Disney has produced R rated films and is now infamous for the subliminal adult messages in their children's films. Clearly, there are ulterior motives.

Hollywood has an agenda, and the agenda is a liberal, non-Christian one. Films and TV shows promoting same sex marriages, gay parents raising children, constant and promoted pre-marital and extra-marital sexual promiscuity, sexual activity being promoted at younger and younger ages, drug usage and so much more pelt our screens both big and small. Worse yet, with today's technology, we (and our kids) now carry Hollywood in our pockets with our smart phones and other devices. It is an all out assault set to destroy Christian values and assimilate Christians into a worldly society. All in the name of "tolerance".

So, when we see or hear of some Hollywood 'superstar' use the word Jesus, God or faith in any context, what is our first reaction? Generally speaking, and as a whole, Christians will JUMP on board, both feet first to support that actor or actress; we tweet, re-tweet, post and share at light speed those words spoken by Mr. or Ms. Hollywood with all the accolades worthy of some sort of royalty.  We are so excited to find someone, anyone in Hollywood that has anything kind to say about faith or God - that we all too often put our common sense as Christians aside and join the crowd in praising this person like pigs running off a cliff. We desire to be loved, we desire to be taken seriously, understood, or just plain recognized as Christians so badly, that reasoned thought often goes right out the window when we see someone from Hollywood giving thanks to 'God'. Why? Because we want to be like the world, we want to be accepted, we want to think that these people are really just like us. We want that fantasy relationship we have in our minds with this Hollywood actor or actress to become 'real' and 'better' - just because they are Christian. Sadly, we often get it wrong because we jump top conclusions without checking things out.

The most recent occurrence happened this past Sunday at the Oscars. There, Matthew McConaughey when accepting an Oscar for Best Actor thanked 'God', because that's "who he looks up to". He continued on to add the statement that God has shown him that is "is a scientific fact, that gratitude reciprocates".

Based on that, the social media-types began the onslaught of social media support. Tweets, re-tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts and shares by the thousands began to spread like wildfire. Christians everywhere were jumping on the Matthew McConaughey bandwagon and driving it into the setting sun! One famous female blogger turned author of a very popular Christian Best Seller titled, "a Thousand Gifts" Ann Voskamp had this to say on her Facebook page and other social media links:
"So apparently the man who walked away with the Oscar for the Best Actor? Matthew McConaughey said, "God has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates." And while we may or may not humbly disagree with the merit of what else was said, we can smile & quietly nod: God does *command* us to give thanks in everything --- because He knows *this is the only way to live through anything.* Because it keeps us remembering that God is good & enough... and that He's lovingly working all things together for good. That there is nothing that He can't redeem it. And yep, there are some scientific facts about gratitude #1000gifts [p.s. want to live the good of gratitude? maybe start with this journal & a pen & thanking God for just 3 gifts/day? http://amzn.to/1h50wHn]

Ann has some wonderful things to say, but what is she really saying? There is something curious about her remarks. She did not see the event happen and therefore isn't responding from a contextual foundation when making her remarks. She won't say whether she agrees or disagrees with anything else that he said and instead focuses on the one point that she can use for self-promotion. Ann then goes on to promote sales of her book, journal and pens, going so far as to and add links to make the purchases all the more easier for you the happy consumer. Maybe this is 'gratitude reciprocating'?
Let me be clear, this is not a rant against or about Ann Voskamp. It is a response to thew willingness of the average Christian, even 'high-profile' Christians to leap before the look. Ann's ministry and book have done wonderful things for a great many people, and the Christian community, is better off because of her ministry. I also know that all the profits from her book sales are going towards ministry purposes, which is in fact, very noble indeed.  Ann built her ministry on solid biblical ground; that we ARE to be grateful. We ARE to be thankful. We are to put God before us in all things and show our gratitude for Him in all that happens in our lives, trusting Him that even in the bad times, to know what is best for us. But what about the statement Matthew McConaughey made, that she clearly supports, that "it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates." Here, Ann takes a little liberty, and uses as an opportunity it to push sales of books, pens and journals. Was this wise?
Gratitude reciprocating cannot be a 'scientific' fact, because there is no empirical science behind emotion. Emotion is not a science. Secondly, if God were to work in such a way, it would be a supernatural fact, not a scientific one. So is this a supernatural fact? Does 'gratitude reciprocate' because God says it does? Is this even a biblical principal? THESE are the questions we SHOULD be asking - LONG BEFORE we jump on the Hollywood Bandwagon of Matthew McConaughey or anyone else for that matter, and certainly before we use it to extract money from other Christians for our books and wears - even if it does support a ministry.

There are some scriptures and biblical principals that we can use to weigh in on this issue. Isaiah 55:11 tells us that God's Word will not return void. In short, if we are preaching biblical principals and biblical truth, that it will produce results according to HIS will, and HIS plans - whatever they might be. In taking this into consideration, we must also consider the very verses that precede this, verses 8-9, where it states that God's ways are not our ways, and that His thoughts are not our thoughts. In essence, what we have planned for the return of His words, may not be what HE has planned, and we may not even like them. Conclusion; gratitude may not always reciprocate.
We can also look at the book of Psalms and for that matter, all the books of wisdom and see all sorts of references to being grateful, thankful, offering thanksgiving to God. Yes, this IS a biblical principal, and one that Ann Voskamp used as a foundation for her very successful and very powerful book "One Thousand Gifts". More attention should be paid to this function we have as Christians, but I can find no biblical principal purporting a mandatory response from God reciprocating our thankfulness.

I'll take this one step further. It is not a 'scientific fact' that gratitude reciprocates. It is not even a biblical principal. As matter of fact, if we are showing gratitude, thankfulness and honor to God with the expectation or principal of gratitude in return, it ceases to be gratitude and thankfulness!
Why jump on board supporting this guy as a Christian? Ann's remarks spawned hundreds of responses, a large majority of which are in support of Ann and all her followers who also are so very proud of Mr. McConauhey's 's speech. But why are we so proud? Should we be so proud? We know as Christians, good things can be done by good people, and mean nothing in the sight of God. Again, for some reason, we all seem to want to defend famous people and Hollywood types as soon as we have the least little inkling that they might be Christian. Sadly, we do this all to often without looking into things as we should.

It sure seemed wonderful to have Mr. McConaughey thank God. But who is his god? Based on the balance of his speech alone, one could say that he thinks that we are all little gods. But let's not judge MM just on this one speech. Let's act like we are called to act, and judge the fruit we see in his life. I was reminded in a delightfully succinct and simple manner just this week in a sermon by Greg Harris, father of authors Alex and Joshua Harris who's books Do Hard Things, and I Kissed Dating Goodbye respectively, have been life changing for many thousands of Christians. In his sermon Greg reminded us that we are to check our own fruit, and the fruit of others. It is the FRUIT that allows us to determine in any reasonable way, the spirit behind the man. In paraphrasing, Greg said, "A bad man can do good things, but he will not bear good fruit. On the other hand, a good man can do bad things, but he will still bear good fruit. What determines whether we have good or bad fruit is our nature." So, let us take a deep breath, take our time and REASON through this. Rather than jump on the Matthew McConaughey is a Christian Worth Defending Bandwagon, let us look at the fruit of his chosen career.
His first role as an actor was that of a drug addict making light of and showing support of recreational drug use in Dazed and Confused. The next year he was part of the family of mass murderers in "Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Next Generation". Before this year's Oscar win, Matthew was best known for his role of 'Dallas' in Magic Mike as a male strip club owner who takes under his wing two lost and confused young men to make them the best male strippers the world has ever seen. To "study" for this role he went to a real male strip club with some of his fellow cast mates to take it all in. Apparently (during filming) he was dancing around the stage in a thong, when it was nearly ripped off his body by extras. He thought that this incident that occurred while filming that scene was funny, not only to him, but to his wife as well who watched all this happen and said it was "a riot". But there's more. A sequel to Magic Mike is rumored to be in the works. When asked if he would revive his role as Dallas in this new film, he said "Yeah, if there’s a good one. There’s a great sequel out there."  To top that off, by my count (and I'll admit my numbers could be off by one or two), 20 of 32 made for theater releases he has participated in are Rated R, with another 10 being PG13 and at least one NC-17 (the new "X"). I did see 3 PG movies, but not a single G rated film to his credit.
Fruit people. Judge people by their fruit, not by the words they offer up on a stage when they are being praised by one of the worldliest groups of greedy, self-righteous, self-important liberal heathens this nation has to offer: Hollywood.

Is Matthew McConaughey a Christian? I do not know. I do not know the man, I have never talked to the man, I do not know where or IF he attends church, and I've never heard a profession of faith from him. Chances are, neither have any of the hundreds and thousands of people that are singing his praises all over social media for his remarks taken out of context. Is he a Christian? I do not know. What I can do however, is what God has told me to do and judge from his fruit - and that as you can see, is questionable at best.

Let me put it to you this way; If I'm a born-again Christian, my new nature should be such that I desire to do what is righteous before the Lord. We should be wanting to please God in everything that we do. Sure, we'll make mistakes. We may even go through a period where we are back-slidden, but our Christian nature should always be to please God. If I'm a Christian, a real born-again believer, would I want to make R rated movies full of nudity, simulated sex and really bad language? If I'm a Christian, a real born-again believer, would I want to make a film that bordered an NC-17 rating about being the protege for male strippers and dance in a G-string on stage in front of screaming female extras while my wife looked on? Would I later on say that I'd love to do a sequel?

And here's a good question for you: If God has seen this film, do you think His desire would have been to be in that crowd beside the wife screaming at the top of his lungs so that they could hear Him over the throngs of all the women reaching out for this near naked man's G-string and say, "WELL DONE THEY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!!"? If you don't think God would do such a thing, and you call yourself a Christian - why in the world would you want to praise a man who did such a thing for giving thanks to God because he "looks up to him"? NOT because he worships Him, but because he "looks up to him"... Think about that for a second. Lost fallen people do not become believers by "looking up" to God.

Should we be naturally skeptical, or naturally trusting? Well, scripture tells us that we need to test each spirit, and to be like the Bereans to study the word, applying it to our lives. My advice, simply be WISE. That doesn't mean don't trust people, just make sure that you trust GOD  more, and are always seeking Him, and leaning on Him for leadership and guidance. Let God lead you through His Holy Spirit on how to proceed with relationships and offering accolades of people. Don't believe everything you see on the surface. Do your due diligence, check into ministries, check into the people leading them, check into people, especially people coming from such an unholy mess as Hollywood, and see who they really are. Remember Mel Gibson?
Be wise, and do this before you hit SEND.