A Love Game?

I just want to clarify from the get-go that no, my blog is not part of any April Fools’ Day jokes.  So no worries. =)

I know that I can be a little snobby when it comes to music.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I’ve been trying to work on that- who I am to judge whether a band is good or bad based on the quality of their music or how well they can write songs?  All that really does is make me more unnecessarily prideful.

There are certain songs, however, that I cannot stand, and that I don’t hesitate to say something about.  It’s the songs that treat love as a game.

One new popular artist seems to be really into failing to take love and sex seriously.  She and her guests on the track basically sing about having flings with strangers, no strings attached, with the goal of the get-together being good for the self.  “I don’t care who you are in this bar, it only matters who I is,” one line says.  This line just makes me sad.

I don’t care who you are?  I’m the only one that matters?

That seems like such a sad, empty way to love someone, or to be loved.

Still, this is the message conveyed through a variety of artists’ lyrics, and hundreds of people download and replay these songs over and over.  I’m guessing they top the charts because they have a catchy beat.  I pray it isn’t because our entire society has reduced love to this game… to something inconsequential and fleeting.

I believe that love is incredibly powerful, and that the emotional, spiritual, and physical things that go along with it should be considered equally powerful and equally special and valuable, certainly not something to be toyed with or mocked.

It’s at times like this that I really wish there were more Christian artists with really upbeat songs that would draw people in to hear the more positive lyrics within an equally catchy song.  I know we’ve got Family Force 5 and Owl City out there, but if you know of any other Christian artists with a mainstream sound and God-glorifying lyrics, or other artists with a good idea of what love should be, let me know!  I’d love to check them out.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects

always trusts

always hopes

always perseveres.

Love never fails.

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You Are Loved Day

My planner includes all sorts of random holidays with its basic daily listings.  There’s “National One-Hit Wonder Day,” on September 25, “Coats and Toys for Kids Day,” on December 6, “Laugh and Get Rich Day” on February 8… there’s quite a few, and I’m somewhat convinced that they made some of them up.

Well, whoever is coming up with these interesting holidays decided to let everyone else in on the fun with “Make Your Own Holiday Day,” which I discovered last year.  It didn’t take me too long to think of what I wanted to do.  The pains and complaints of Valentine’s Day weren’t all that far gone, and I decided that something needed to be done.

Thus, You are Loved Day was born on March 26, 2009.

The premise of You are Loved Day, which is always on March 26 (a Friday this year) is that you call someone, or meet up with someone, or message someone to let them know that they are loved.

I like to let the person know both that I love them, and that Jesus loves them.  I’m afraid that so much of the “love” advertised and shared on Valentine’s Day makes some people feel unloved instead.  Some sit sadly and watch as every other girl in the class gets a flower, or as all the other guys give something to their girlfriends, or sit alone as a group of giggling best girl friends hangs out in a different part of the room.

This is not all the love that God planned for us.  You are Loved Day includes everyone, just as God’s love does.

And you never know just how God might use it.

Facebook was recently caught up in a whirlwind called “Tell Her She’s Beautiful.”  Facebook users were encouraged to tell girls that they are beautiful.  I hadn’t really been expecting anything.  I have wonderful, wonderful friends and family who tell me I’m beautiful, but not everyone is on Facebook or heard about this event, so I was prepared to not be insulted if no one said anything.

In fact, I had almost forgotten that it was the first day of Tell Her She’s Beautiful when I woke up to a text.  It was a good friend thanking me for listening and being there and telling me that I’m beautiful.  It truly just brightened my entire day.

Let’s brighten someone else’s day and let them know that they are loved.  The greatest gift that Christ has given to us is His everlasting love, mercy and grace.  And the greatest gift that we can give is to pass on that love.

You are loved. The One who made the universe, who made every star in the sky, who knows the number of grains of sand by the seashore, who breathed the sun and the earth and the galaxies into existence… made YOU, fearfully and wonderfully.  And He loves you.  “You are precious and honored in my sight,” He says in Isaiah 43.  “And I love you.”

No matter what you’re going through, what you’ve done, whatever irrevocable sin you fear you may have committed- He is willing and able to forgive.  And He loves you.  He loves you.

As 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “and now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

A Call to Higher Standards

Hey Everyone! Marissa has kindly allowed me to do this week’s post in her absence and I am honored and feel privileged to be writing to you all.

Coming up on march 26th is Marissa’s favorite holiday that she has proclaimed to all the world, “You are Loved Day”, so I will be writing a prequel to that with a letter to guys and a letter to girls about encouraging one another towards Christ and all about relationships

Now Guys, when it comes to girls and dating, man can it be painful and stressful. Why is it so hard and so difficult? I think it is because we live in a world that is run by Satan’s standards, while we are called to live another way, to take a higher road! First and foremost, as men we are the leaders in the church and that means we must encourage all, girls who are “just friends” and girls you are interested in, it is our duty out of love to push these girls toward Jesus. Second, I have found it easy to write out what we want in a girl….now that doesn’t mean “big boobs and a nice butt”…..NO!!! We are called to higher standards! A higher beauty, the beauty of the heart!

We should look for girls who are “women after God’s own heart”. Who has a strong relationship with the Lord and pushes you, encourages you to grow in your love to the Lord, a girl filled with beauty and wonder from the heart, filled with the spirit and the fruits of the spirit just overflow from her. I encourage you guys to do just the same, to be men after God owns heart, to encourage any and everyone to run to Jesus and to submit to Jesus and surrender to Him and his ways as they are the ways of the righteous and of truth! Men….its time to take a stand against the world, to be of higher dignity, to push these women to Jesus and to hold purity, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually and make it a top priority! Let’s change the world men, for how we live for God and treat women!

“Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.”

My dear ladies, don’t think I forgot about you! As ladies and sisters to these men, you should be encouraging them as well, holding them and challenging them to be better men and better Christians! And as women you should be running after God, falling so in love with Jesus that he is your true love, your everything! I encourage women to seek him and push the men towards Him, give your life and love to Him and obey Him. Lets all be respectful women, remaining pure and strong in our lives through Christ Jesus!

“A women’s heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek him first to find her”—Max Lucado

After reading this, please check out “When God writes your love story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy, it is such an amazing book! http://www.amazon.com/When-Writes-Your-Story-Expanded/dp/1601421656/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268407076&sr=8-2

Thank you all for listening and reading, tune in next time =)

The Culture and The Christian: Cause and Effect

Last week, I wrote about Christians in the media, or specifically, in movies and TV.  So this week, I’m going to briefly write about the media in Christians.

And no, I’m not referencing anyone’s inner drama queen. =)

Instead, I’m thinking about how the things we watch, read, and enjoy affect us.  I used to watch one show where the characters breathe in really awkward places.  One of the main characters who was on the show most likely started this trend, and my hypothesis is that the newer character picked up this different style of speaking from this character.

I even started saying some things a little oddly after watching the show for a while.  Obviously, this is a rather insignificant example, but it does go to show how subliminally we can be affected by the things we watch.

I once watched a video called “The Fire” by Nate Pfeil, which I’ve posted below.  The video is certainly challenging.  It forces you to reevaluate things that you might be settled into, and the speaker is quite blunt about what he has to say.

It makes you think… mainly in that it calls to your attention that “true love of God is true hatred of sin.”  God is more repulsed by sin than I think we could ever really handle, and as Christians, we should also be turning away from such sin.  Instead, a lot of times, we enjoy watching it.  We condone it, and we think it’s okay.

Quite honestly, I haven’t figured out where I sit on this yet in terms of media intake, mainly because it’s such a challenge.  If I stopped watching any show with sinfulness, I may as well throw out my television.  If a show features graphically inappropriate scenes, then yes, I think I shouldn’t be watching it.  But there are seemingly good shows out, and we’re certainly not perfect people.  Still, perhaps we don’t need our sinful behavior reinforced.

It’s something I’ll have to pray about.  As the Lord’s prayer says, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Just a disclaimer, I was in no way associated with the making of this video, and I wanted to share it with you to encourage you to truly think about something that we often disregard, just as this video got me thinking.

I hope you take some time to think about all of this, and let me know what your opinion is!  I also hope that you’ve enjoyed this exploration of the Christian the culture.  Next week, I’ll have a guest blogger kicking off a string of semi-related posts about girls, boys, and love, though perhaps not in the way that you’d think.

Have a great week!

The Culture and the Christian: On the Big Screen

Before I start today’s post on The Culture and the Christian, I would like to make two announcements.

1.) Please continue to pray for all of the devastation and pain, not only in Haiti and Chile, but for all people living around the world in poverty, fear, and so many more trials than many of us can even imagine.

2.) I am so grateful to my readers!  I have now been blogging for 6 months, and it’s incredibly exciting that people are still reading the words I write.  I hope you all have been as blessed, encouraged, and strengthened by reading this blog as I have been by writing it.  As always, if you have any feedback or questions, don’t hesitate to email me at sumparakaleo@gmail.com.  Thank you, thank you for reading!

And now, The Culture and the Christian series continues. =)

~

When a new show comes out, I first judge it by its preview.  If I can’t even handle a preview of a show, I’m not going to watch an entire episode.  If I make it to the episode, I judge by the half-hour or hour of content.  I remember I stopped watching one show just because I was incredibly annoyed with how self-centered the main character was.  But more often, I just don’t share the show’s sense of humor or appreciate the use of violence or profanity.

But if the show turns out to not be upsettingly profane or inappropriate, there’s still at least one thing that I have to keep an eye out for- the Christian character.

Several of the shows or movies that I started watching within the past year or so have a character who is, or claims to be, a Christian.  I’ve noticed that many of these characters are condescending, hopelessly confused, excessively strange, or generally unpleasant.

Why are we being portrayed this way?

This isn’t a call to write any major television or film companies and demand a more “proper” representation of Christians and Christianity.  It is a call to look at ourselves and consider why non-Christians view us in such a negative light.

I honestly can’t say I have the answer for this.  My guess would be that they’ve had some sort of interaction with Christianity that left a negative impression on them.

The screenwriter of a popular but controversial film about a Christian high school once explained that he attended a religious high school where everyone had to be at least six inches away from the opposite sex, they had record burnings, and the entertainment at the senior prom was a puppet show.  Others who worked on the film suggested that they felt that Christianity had to be more modernized and simplified, at least on the big screen, to appeal to a teenage audience.

It’s so sad that these sorts of opinions and experiences are the ones getting the most attention and making the most money, overshadowing the message that Christians should really be trying to get out.

I’m no giant movie producer or actor, but I believe that you and I can still do something about this on a smaller level- we can be the Christians that God has called us to be.  We can radiate Christ to the people around us.

“A new command I give you: Love one another,” Jesus said in John 13.  “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

As I was looking up this reference, I came across a troubling comment on a question/answer message board about this verse.  “I imagine you’re thinking of the verse in John 13,” the comment said.  “Problem is, I generally know someone is a Christian by his hypocrisy.”

No, no!  This is not how the world should recognize us.  It should be by our love, by our ever-increasing similarity to the loving, forgiving, holy God to whom we owe our lives.

There’s one fairly new show that I truly enjoy.  It has a Christian character, played by an actress who is a Christian in real life.  This character isn’t your stereotypical “TV Christian.”  She stands up for what she believes in.  She says no to certain temptations.  When people ask her how she endures certain things, she speaks clearly, confidently, and intelligently about her faith.  Other characters sometimes mock her, but that’s the sort of thing that does happen in real life.  The show, however, portrays her as a confident, beautiful, intelligent woman.  She definitely makes mistakes, but she apologizes and repents, and is generally a very positive portrayal of a Christian.

“I want to do things that either will have a message at the end of the day, a good moral message, or things that will encourage people or families in a positive direction,” the actress said in an interview.  Then, speaking about her character in the same interview, she said, “I think [she] is trying to represent what unconditional love is. I know that has a lot to do with her faith and God’s unconditional love for every one of us. I think [she]’s trying to live that out.”

You never know who’s going to become what.  That person frowned at with annoyance this morning while driving out of church might be the next James Cameron.  The girl you gossiped about could be offered an acting role as an ill-portrayed Christian in 15 years.  The guy who overheard your questionable weekend plans might walk away with a complete misunderstanding of what Christianity is and who Christians are.

While all of this is true, and we should definitely try to radiate Christ, I don’t want you to feel that if you mess up, you’ve completely ruined everything- that you were a little mean towards that person, and you’ve ruined their view of Christians forever.

Don’t forget that if God wants to bring someone to Him, nothing can stop Him.  If that girl or that guy is meant to be a Christian, they’ll become one regardless of what you do.  But how incredible would it be to allow God to use you, even if you might not know it?!

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. Let’s represent our Lord as we have been called to do.