Monthly Archives: August 2013

My Thoughts on the VMAs

My thoughts on the VMA’s

Personally, I believe the world is acting just like the world. Gone are the days when even those who did not attend church still lived what could be called moral lives. The days have arrived as described in Romans 1:24 and 28:

“Therefore, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them…And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”

How does that fit with this blog for today? Keep reading and I pray our eyes would be opened.

A couple days ago, MTV put on the VMA’s, Video Music Awards to honor the best music videos of the year. It has been going on for 20+ years. Since that day, there has been a huge amount of dialogue concerning what happened during the performance of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke. If you have not seen it, you did not miss anything. Words you could use to describe the performance could be, but are not limited to: offensive, vulgar, disgusting, sad, shameful, etc. As a culture, we should be ashamed that such acts are performed, and in some cases even celebrated. However, nothing seems shameful to our culture anymore, even acts such as this one.

Miley Cyrus used to be known as Hannah Montana but ever since that show ended, she has done everything possible to separate herself from that persona. Her music, her actions and her lifestyle has done nothing but show that she is creating a new name for herself allowing her to do whatever she wants at any time. She is basically living what America has been teaching young people for years now of do what you want. You are your own person. You don’t have to answer for your actions. Live out your youth. There are no ethics or truth to live by so go and live. Now it may not come in those exact words but that is basically what is being conveyed to young people. So, she is living out what she has been fed and all of a sudden, we are going to draw a line? Something seems hypocritical about that, don’t you think? It does not add up. In this blog though, I do not want to pick on Miley or speak any ill words to her because in all honesty, each of us has within us the same thing she is dealing with, a sin nature. Unfortunately for her, her choices are broadcast all over the world. All of us would be ashamed if our sins were broadcast all over the world as well. Praise the Lord for grace and how He has lavished it on us. We deserve nothing better than Miley which is why our hearts should break for her and the life she is living because it will only lead to emptiness. If you want to read another piece on Miley, check here.

With that said, I want to actually mention a couple other players in the VMA’s who have not faced the same scrutiny but in some ways, can be partially blamed for a young lady such as Miley behaving as she has. The first player would be Miley’s “partner in crime” at the VMA’s, Robin Thicke. Mr. Thicke is 36 years old, married with a 3 year old son. Why is he not being scrutinized for having taken part in this performance? Robin Thicke actually tweeted “That was dope” and gave a shout out to Miley after their performance to over 770 thousand followers. Along with that, Robin’s most popular song, Blurred Lines, has over 151 million views. The unrated version has over 14.5 million views. If you watch the music video, it appears as though Miley was doing nothing more than playing the part of one of the women in the music video. The fact there is an unrated version of the music video can tell you a little bit about Mr. Thicke himself. The lyrics of his song are far from wholesome in that the song implies sex and objectifies women. If you watch the performance, you can tell that he had just as much a part in the act as Miley. The old saying of “it takes two to tango” can apply here as well. So why is this 36 year old husband and father off the hook? He is not exactly living a life that makes him a great role model for our young people either, but instead of mentioning him, we want to blame the 20 year old girl following the path of those who have gone before her.

Moving on, I want to mention one more person who has basically flown under the radar but who I feel could be scrutinized as well for what he has been teaching young people for years. This individual has been celebrated by basically everyone for his performance, and that is Justin Timberlake. He brought the house down and everyone to their feet by putting on a show that had everyone up and dancing, including Taylor Swift, who for some reason seemed to be shown every 10 seconds during his performance. However, you might be wondering how I can compare someone like JT with the train wreck that Miley appears to be. I mean, Justin was properly dressed, did not make any lewd or offensive gestures and was not dancing and grinding with someone 16 years younger than him. But that does not let him off the hook. The problem here is that while Justin does not parade around stage in the same manner as Miley, he has a powerful influence on others with the words he chooses to put in his music. I do not want to just speculate, I want to actually list some of his lyrics for you to read.

“Senorita” from “Justified” – 2002:

The men sing “It feels like something’s heating up, can I leave with you?” And then the ladies sing “I don’t know but I’m thinking about, really leaving with you.”

The song basically speaks of hooking up at a club and going home with someone.

“Right For Me” from “Justified” – 2002

“I got plans tonight, and you, you know what I like and you’re approaching it right but I gotta make sure it’s right for me…
…turn around and then you flip your hair, I could think of a couple positions for you…a million nasty things went through my mind…”

It does not take a genius to figure out what this song is talking about. Again, he objectifies women.

“FutureSex/LoveSound” from FutureSex/Lovesounds – 2006

“So slide a little bit closer to me, little girl, daddy’s on a mission to please…Just tell me which way you like that all you gotta do is tell me which way you like that. Do you like it like this? Do you like it like that? Tell me which way you like that…”

“Chop Me Up” from FutureSex/Lovesounds – 2006

“I know you see me looking, girl go on and act right, a little closer, let me see you in the spotlight now turn around and let me see just what ya curved like…Now I know you got a buzz off that alcohol, I got a house that can entertain all of y’all…”

“Suit and Tie” from The 20/20 Experience – 2013

“All pressed up in black and white, and your dressed in that dress I like, love is swinging in the air tonight, let me show you a few things, let me show you a few things, show you a few things about love, now we’re in the swing of love, let me show you a few things, show you a few things about love…”

Now, I might be going out on a limb here but is Justin really singing here about love? Or once again is he talking about a girl because of how she looks?

The songs listed above are a small sampling but from that sample, it is easy to gather Mr. Timberlake might not be the best example for our young people to follow either. This is hard because he has a great voice and the music in his songs are some of the catchiest tunes. But, if you read more of his lyrics, you can see sex, alcohol, and infidelity implied and even talked about without shame. By examining his life, one can see he does not hold the highest moral standard either. However, do we see anyone talking about his performance in a negative way? No, because his messages are more subtle, causing them to be even more dangerous. I am not saying JT is purposefully misdirecting young people today, but when you are in a position where people look up to you, people will follow what you say, and in his case, what you sing. Therefore, even though JT is not out dancing around and acting like Ms. Cyrus, he can have the same impact with the words he chooses and the life he lives. People are watching him and people will follow him but since he is not acting out in such a bold and defiant way as Miley, not many people say anything about him or his message.

Song of Solomon says it is the little foxes that ruin the vines. Fences were put around vineyards to keep predators from getting in and ruin the vines, but it was the smaller foxes that still managed to find a way inside and ruin the vineyards. The bigger foxes were stopped by the fence. When we see people living as Miley Cyrus is choosing to, it is easy to ridicule her and object to her actions. On the other hand, when someone such as JT or Robin Thicke come along and are not as openly defiant, it is harder to see the danger, and therein lies the even greater danger.

Do not get me wrong, I am not trying to blast any of the aforementioned artists. I believe each of them is extremely talented in what they do. This is obvious by their huge following and fan bases. What I am trying to say is we need to be careful about only pointing out one individual choosing to live in the manner she has seen and heard and been taught by those who have gone before her. She is only taking it to a new level. This is not anything new; this is how history and life works and repeats itself. I read a quote once that said what one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace. All you need to do is take a clear, unbiased look at the world around us and we can see how evident this is.

If all we do is blame the outcome or result but not take a look at the systems that got us to where we are, we are blaming the wrong thing and we will never see any change. If we do not take the gospel to the world, we will not see any change. Yesterday on Twitter, I read a tweet that I feel bears repeating:

“Watching the VMAs last night affirms the option is either to run and hide from our culture or to rush in and help. Because it’s dying.” – Josh Rutledge

Again, read the passage from Romans 1:24 and 28 says “therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves…and since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” When we see people who are not followers of Christ living as they do, it should not surprise us. If anything, this should serve as a reminder there is a lost world that needs the Gospel. The world does not need us to be silent. The world needs us to remember our mission in this world. We have been distracted for too long. We have allowed ourselves to be entertained by the world far too long. We have been waiting for the world to come to us and visit our churches instead of going out and being the difference in the world, the salt of the earth. What happened at the VMAs should once again not surprise us; it should open our eyes and remind us of what the world becomes when Christians remain silent and uninvolved. This should serve as a wake-up call in that it should wake us up to the knowledge this world needs followers of Christ to live as followers of Christ and be the hands and feet of Jesus. This world needs us to go out to it and not wait any longer. I am praying it wakes me up. Will you join me in praying this for yourself and for the church?


My heart is heavy

 

Through the last month, I have been reading Christine Cain’s book Undaunted. It has been a book I wish I could have read when I was in my early 20’s because of how powerful it has been to me. Christine is an Australian who has traveled the world speaking to various groups and her heart is to reach those who have been victims of human trafficking, or sex trafficking. Her and her husband started the organization A21 Campaign to help expose the problem of human trafficking and eventually and hopefully bring it to an end. The fact that it is even a problem in this world today tells an even bigger story of the depravity of humanity.

When you think of human trafficking, what first comes to mind is slavery and dealing with older people. However, the problem does not just involve older people, it involves people of all ages. The even more unfortunate part of human trafficking is the fact the biggest targets for those in human trafficking are little children through teenagers. When I say children, just being open and honest here of the severity of the problem, it can mean kids as young as infants. Let that sink in for a second. Romans 1:30 speaks of how humans can be “inventors of evil.” Little kids are taken from their homes and beaten and abused by others for their own pleasure and profit. How has the human race become so depraved as to actually do something so hideous and horrible? This breaks my heart even more now that I have an almost 3 year old daughter at home. Unfortunately, it does not break my heart like it should and as it no doubt breaks the heart of God.

Christine shares personal stories of how God brought her to the place of giving all she has to this cause and how He helped her overcome fears and feelings of inadequacy to actually begin doing something. She shared a powerful story of how her, her husband and a couple friends were lost in the Australian wilderness overnight and most of a day. Nick, Christine’s husband, left the other 3 to go try to find help and was gone for a number of hours before finally finding civilization and a helicopter to go back in and rescue the others. When she heard the helicopter, she say that God clearly spoke to her in a way that she has never forgotten. She remembers that when she first saw it, her thoughts were “We’re saved. We’re saved.” She shares what God spoke to her heart that day:

“Yes, Christine, you are saved. Remember what it is to be saved. Remember what it is to be lost. Remember the darkness and the difference between feeling carefree one morning and by evening sad and scared and sorry for being careless. Remember that I am here. Remember that I want to save every soul. And remember what it is to be unable on your own ability to get out of the dark. “

Too often, once we are saved, it is easy to forget what it is like to be lost, or caught in darkness. We forget what it is like to be scared and without hope. We do not like to think that there are people out there who have no hope unless we as Christ’s followers stand up and do something. We believe that since we are able to “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” then these people should be able to also. But that just reveals how uninformed we are.

One of the most powerful stories she shares is when her and Nick took one of their daughters to get a flashlight at Wal-Mart. After picking one out, they gave it to her and she turned it on and because of how bright the store was, she could not truly see the flashlight working. So she asked them “Can we please go find some darkness.” This little girl spoke mountains of truth into their lives through that statement and even as I sit here thinking about it, is that my mindset? Do I realize that Christ in me is a light and through me, God wants to shine a light into the darkness all around me? Do I really want to seek out darkness so Christ can truly shine? Or am I content with being in so much light that I forget about the darkness all around me? Or, am I fearful of what it might mean to my life?

I have to admit, I have many fears in my life and many times, I find myself being more driven by them than by my faith in God. It’s amazing that even those of us who claim to have faith in the almighty, powerful God who saved us from death and darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son can still be driven by fear. Christine’s book truly challenges you to live undaunted in the world around us. We need to stop living so blindly and allow our eyes to be opened to the world around us, the hurt, the pain, the darkness; and then we need to run towards it because we have the light. We have the answer; we have God’s Spirit inside of us and His mission to make disciples as we are living this life. We are to be carriers of justice and hope and peace in this world. But we cannot do that while waiting for them to come to us. We need to go to them.

One final story for this post comes when Christine was able to meet face to face with some girls who had been trafficked. After talking with them for a while one of the girls asked why she was there. She was able to share with them the gospel and why she had come. The girl’s response was this:

“If what you are telling me is true,” she yelled, “if what you say about your God is true – then where were you? Where have you been? Why didn’t you come sooner?”

I cannot imagine the feeling in that room at that moment. But I can understand her question. God tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. If something were to happen to someone in your family or in mine, wouldn’t you stop everything and help them or search for them if they were lost? If something were to happen to my family, I would give up everything to search for them and would not stop until they were found. If that is the case, if we say we love God, how can we sit by and do nothing when those around us, those God calls our neighbors, are hurting and lost? This just makes me think even more about the part where they were lost in the wilderness and God told her to remember what it was like to be lost.

If we as Christians have this light to shine in the darkness, how can we just sit back and be ok with what is happening in the world around us? If you were sitting face to face with someone who had been trafficked, what would you say to them if they asked you why you didn’t come sooner? How would you respond? At that time, I really believe your life would be put in perspective and what you spent your time doing would be shown their true importance. Unfortunately, we are so easily distracted. I can honestly say this book has truly helped open my eyes and challenged me to not let fear drive me. I have God’s Spirit in my life and a mission from Him that He wants me to accomplish. And because of that, I can live undaunted. Because of the Gospel at work in my life, I can live without fear because the Gospel changes everything.

Before I close, I want to share a couple quotes that stood out to me:

“He does not ask, Are you capable? He asks are you willing?”

“The oppressed do not see too much difference between those who would keep them down and those who do nothing to help. There is no in-between.”

“Saving costs something. Rescuing risks everything.”

“When you’re not lost – when you’re safe – it’s hard to understand the urgency of needing to be found, needing to be rescued.”

If you are not sure where to begin, you can start by checking out organizations such as International Justice Mission, A21 Campaign, Freedom 4/24, End It Movement, Do Something Now, Liveyourdream.org and Polaris project. These are a few to start with but there are so many more out there working to the same end.

2 Timothy 1:7 says “for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and sound judgment.” Let’s live that way and run towards the darkness with the light that we have. Thank you for taking the time to read this review. If you want a challenge, please go out and pick up the book, it will definitely challenge and change you.

In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of by Zondervan in exchange for this review.