Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spinning My Wheels

Our church (and by "our", I mean the church that we go to...not that we own the church or anything) has been doing a sermon series titled "Things My Mother Told Me". Each week they've been taking a typical mom like thing to say and applying it to our Christian life. One week was "Brush Your Teeth". The pastor then tied the importance of having a clean mouth with the importance of having a clean heart...see? Ties together nicely...and they handed out toothbrushes at the door. Even better!

Recently, the sermon was titled "Clean Your Ears!" My dear friend and Pastor of Caring Ministries gave this sermon and I think she'd be pretty pleased to know that I have been going around and around in my head over this one! The application was that as Christians we need to be very careful about what we hear/watch/read/etc. lest it draw our minds and hearts away from God and the things He wants us to focus on.

My first concern with the sermon was outward focused in that I felt like if someone was visiting the church for the first time and maybe was not a Christ follower, they could have walked away thinking that the message was "If you're a Christian, do not read, watch TV, go to the movies or participate in anything culturally relevant." But then I figured that I was just being nit-picky and got over it.

I started to think about how this applied to me personally, and this is where the wheels started to fall off this culturally saturated truck. I read A LOT. I watch TV A LOT. I do not listen to the radio a lot at all, only in the van and then it's an endless rotation (thanks, Toyota, for the 6 CD changer) of Silly Songs, Philadelphia Chickens, Laurie Berkner, the CD the kids got from VBS, and a Worship NOW! CD. The last movie I saw in the theater was High School Musical 3 with my niece and I do feel that the ridiculousness of the film put my salvation in question.

That being said...Should I not be reading my mystery/whodunit type books? Hmmmm...After reading them, I have never attempted to commit or solve a crime. The sometimes gory content has never seeped into my dreams. But yet, I do draw the line at what I will read. No science fiction here, please. Wizards and vampires can camp out on someone else's nightstand. Why? Why do I accept murder and thievery as passable literature but fantasy and magic are somehow ungodly?

Should I not be watching the (too long, I know) list of shows that I enjoy? I'm so torn! Again, I have my staunchly ambiguous standards down to a T. Shows like Dancing With The Stars make me angry because I think it's touted as "family friendly", but is more like she-who-wears-the-least-gets-the-most-votes or creepiest-camera-love-wins. But, So You Think You Can Dance is awesome in my eyes because they're professionals and that's what professional dancers wear (or barely wear).

If I closed myself off to everything "of this world", would I be able to effectively reach people in the name of the Lord? Do I need to be culturally relevant to earn the right to be heard? Or is being culturally relevant an excuse to be able to speak intelligently about last nights CSI or Office? If I know who got voted off Survivor, will that give me more credibility?

Jay was seriously getting frustrated with me as we discussed this because I kept going around and around and around. To everything he said, I had an equal and opposite reaction. I'm looking for black and white answers where there are none to be found. And that frustrates me. I want someone older and wiser and closer to the Lord to give me a run down on every thing I read, watch or hear and tell me if it's okay in the eyes of Lord or not. That way, I could have a tangible check list and maybe a cool clip board that I could show off to people and look super holy in the eyes of man...wait a second, that's not right! Jay's more level headed, practical advice is to ask the Lord directly...cut out all wiser middle men and clip boards. If I'm not sure if something may be causing me to sin or worse yet, causing someone else to stumble, ask God.

It sounds so simple! So why am I struggling with it? Is it because I'm afraid of the answer? The pastor challenged us to apply this test: If Jesus were sitting with you, would you be watching/reading, etc. the same thing as you are now? Jay had a two fold answer 1) If Jesus were with me, I wouldn't be watching or reading anything. I'd be all about the Savior. And 2) Jesus wants to spend time with me. If that means camping out on the couch for an evening, that's fine with Him. He'd meet me wherever I was. He'd probably enjoy our Tuesday night chicken wings. Now, in all honesty...I'd probably make less fun of the contestants on America's Got Talent and Wipeout!

It's a slippery slope between being "in this world" and being "of this world" and I'm looking for something to hold onto.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." -Philippians 4:8


Hannah said...

There's gotta be a way to incorporate checking in directly with the Lord and a clipboard. Don't just throw out that clipboard willy-nilly.

Happy said...

Now does your church put their sermons on cds? Because I would love to hear this...I have struggled with the two extremes of this very subject for a long time now.

I have altered the things I read and watch drastically since becoming a mommy and really reconnecting with my faith, but there are still times when I struggle with my own desire to hear the "apple bottom jean song" and the opposing reaction in my head that if Jesus were riding shotgun I would probably pick something else...something by Casting Crowns or Chris Tomlin or Michael W. Smith and not Lil Wayne.


It's hard when reading any book sometimes because a lot of books even when they aren't "bad" per say but they have bad language. Should I be reading bad language? Does it make me use bad language more?

If Jesus resides in my heart (and he does) then should my heart be saying those words even while reading silently? (I know Crafty P has issues with this as well..)

I like all the points you make.

I also like mystery books...

And when you say afraid of the answer do you mean you are afraid God will actually say, no, you shouldn't read/watch/listen to what it is you are desiring to? Cause that would be my obviously selfish as it is.

And yes, how do we "relate" to non-believers if our life looks so different from theirs in that we don't even know who got voted off Survivor? It conjures up the image that all we do is pray, read our Bible, and sing Kumbaya. Which would admirable, but certainly not realistic for me and would not make me relatable to the outside world. Then again, how relatable are we supposed to be?'s ten am and I don't even have a full cup of coffee in me yet and now my wheels are spinning too.

Such a good thought provoking post, though.

Courtney said...

I understand your struggle. I've gone through this myself, and tried to help high schoolers with similar questions. It seems to be one of theos situations that is easy to get sucked into, and lose sight of what is truly important. I recently read a quote from St. Augustine- Love God first, then do as you please.
I love the simplicity of that. If we are loving God first, it will make the other decisions easy- because we have his desires for us in mind. And then everything after that just doesn't matter that much. I don't say that to belittle your struggle- I say it because I too often get caught up in teh little things, and realize I'm missing the big picture.

I don't think watching TV is being "of the world". But valuing that above spending time with God, or allowing it to corrupt your thoughts and refusing to turn away....That's where the problem comes in.

Thanks for the thought provoking post. See you on Tuesday for some TV and wings...and fellowship! :)