"More Christians have been killed for their faith in the 20th century than in all the others."

Family Discussion:

  • What did persecution do to the cause of Christ in that day?
  • Why does difficulty make the gospel message go out even more effectively?
  • What do you have inside of you that would enable you to face persecution with boldness?

Transcription:

00:06 One of the most challenging books I've ever read in my life is Fox's Book of Martyrs and to hear the stories of those who suffered for the sake of Christ before us. But, as you probably know, suffering didn't stop in the first century. Today we're going to talk about that in First Thessalonians 3:1-4. It says this: "Therefore, when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we've been destined for this, for indeed, when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction so that it came to pass just as you know."

01:07 More Christians have been killed for their faith, believe it or not, in the 20th century, the one we just finished 10 years ago, than in all the others. Every day, somewhere in the world, Christians are martyred for their faith. In fact, the 20th century had far more Christians die for their faith in Jesus than in any other previous century. The grizzly way they died, if you read the stories in some of the Muslim countries and some of the communist-influenced countries, it makes your flesh crawl with horror. Christian persecution has always seemed so far from us - not so today. Our nation is literally turning against Christians. Here are some very recent legal actions that were taken against Christians. In the famous case of Brandon vs the Board of Education, in a district, a federal court saw that nothing can be more dangerous than an adolescent seeing the football captain, the student body president, or the leading actress in a dramatic production participating in a communal prayer meeting in the captive audience of the setting of a school. Unbelievable. A child in Kentucky was told that she could not submit her chosen drawing for an independent school project because she had drawn a cross. An Arizona teacher disciplined a second grader in class for typing the word Jesus on her school computer during a computer lab. You believe that? In Virginia, the Department of motor vehicles refused a pastors request to have "For God So" on his license plate. Six students in Illinois were detained in squad cars and threatened with mace because they prayed around the school's flagpole. I believe we're only seeing tip of the iceberg. If Jesus doesn't return first, you and I will see increased hostility towards Christians and towards our belief. If you believe in pro-life now, if you believe that abortion is sin, a crime, murder, you're labeled a narrow-minded anti-abortionist. If you believe in only man in woman marriages, you're scorned as a homophobic bigot. If you believe devoutly in Jesus, you're called an uneducated freak. The media mogul Ted Turner said publicly that Christianity was for losers. Being martyred for faith in Christ is getting closer and closer to home every day. But I see kids across this country who disagree. I see students across this country, I see business leaders across this country who carry their bibles and wear their crosses and they live it with passion and they live it in faith, and they're not ashamed of the Gospel.

03:51 So here's your questions. Today as you read the pages of scripture: What did persecution do to the cause of Christ in that day? Why does difficulty make the gospel message go out even more effectively? And with this question we'll close: What do you have inside of you that would enable you to face persecution with boldness? And I want to just tell you, go for it. Here's the lifeline today. Hot fire tempers a band of steel. It makes it strong enough to carry a sharp edge. The hot fires of persecution put the edge for the Christian's lifestyle.

One time Helen Keller, I remembered saying, if there's one thing worse than being blind - that's to have sight but have no vision.

Family Discussion:

  • What's your vision statement? If you could describe it today, what would it say?
  • How does Paul's statement impact your life goal?
  • What are some of the people you want to see standing before Jesus when you meet him for your eternal reward?

Transcription:

00:06 One time Helen Keller, I remembered saying, if there's one thing worse than being blind - that's to have sight but have no vision. Today we want to talk about the gift of vision in First Thessalonians 2:19-20, Paul says this: "for who is our hope, our joy, our crown of exultation? Is it not even you at the coming of our Lord Jesus for you are our glory and joy." What a vision Paul had. Every great company has a vision statement. I get to work with urban kids. We developed this fabulous camp over the years called Kids Across America. And our vision is to revolutionize the inner-city of America one child at a time. A Vision statement is a lofty, barely attainable goal that is the ultimate dream of the success of a company that would like to someday accomplish.

01:10 Everything, and I mean everything that company sets out to do is driven by the Vision Statement of that company. If a great idea that comes along that doesn't fit the company's vision statement, it's thrown out; only ideas that fit the vision are accepted. Many of the world's great inventors, ministers, writers, executives, leaders, all have clearly described vision statements. They described them with care, with passion and with purpose. These are the men and women who by far get more accomplished in this life than others who make very little impact on this earth. Paul's vision statement is clearly identified in First Thessalonians 2:19, this amazingly selfless passion. This Gospel spreading man was motivated daily to excel at his work by a dream that someday would meet Christ just like you and I will face to face. For Paul, even that wasn't enough. His dream of dreams was that when he met Christ, he looked to his right and he looked to his left and he would see the men and women from all over the world that he had led to Christ and nurtured and discipled in their faith, standing by his side in the presence of the Lord, receiving their eternal reward of eternal life in the unmatched Kingdom of Heaven. You know what? I see high school students doing it. I see college students doing it. I see business men and women doing, I see kids and parents doing it in the home. It's not just for Paul, man. It's for you and I.

02:48 So here's the questions for today. What's your vision statement? If you could describe it today, what would it say? And then secondly: How does Paul's statement impact your life goal? And then thirdly: What are some of the people you want to see standing before Jesus when you meet him for your eternal reward? I keep some of mine written in my wallet on a little prayer card that I can pray for them, that I can lead them to Christ and someday discipled them. It's a great goal. Here's the lifeline for today. If perishable things are your glory and joy, you'll be disappointed. But if people's souls and their future in eternity are your glory and your joy, you'll be motivated every single day.

"Advice can be confusing, but examples are always clear."

Family Discussion:

  • Why is a lifestyle dedicated to Christ the most powerful witnessing tool that we have?
  • How consistently do your friends see you living out your faith in Jesus?
  • Does your lifestyle lead your unsaved friends to Christ? And then, how can you change it So it can be just like Brett's and what happened to him and Josh?

Transcription:

00:04 We're going to be in a great book. And not like they're all not great books, they are. But this is, this is one of my favorites. And it's first Thessalonians 1:5-6. And Paul writes this: "for our Gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit. And with full conviction, just as you know what kind of men we prove to be among you for your sake, you also became imitators of us and of the Lord. Have we received the word of the Lord in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit."

00:51 I call this one walking your talk. And let me just tell you this story. Josh had been in trouble since elementary school. He'd been kicked out of school for carrying a concealed weapon in fifth grade and using drugs extensively and fighting in high school. It left his heart cold and hard. Although Josh had a religious background, he had ceased to believe in God because he accepted his biology teachers' fraudulent Darwinian ideas that we had somehow evolve by chance over a long period of time from slime. That all started with nothing, that nothing exploded. The cosmos erupted. And out of some lifeless pool of prebiotic soup, life somehow emerged out of nothing and that he literally was an ancestor, and his ancestor was slime. But Josh had a friend named Brett who had been a drug user and a dealer alongside of him for the better part of three years. Brett stopped by my house one day a few years ago after one of his friends that almost died in a heroin overdose. And Brett gave his heart to Christ. And I mean sincerely, I challenged Brett to give up drugs for 21 days, knowing that after 21 days saying no would be a habit, he accepted the challenge and said no. In those 21 days, he told me more times than he could count. Josh saw a complete change in Brett's heart. Brett was a new man. He even broke up with this drop dead gorgeous girlfriend because their relationship had become sexual and he knew it was wrong. So Josh asked Brett to bring him to my house for a life challenging talk. After I cleared up his misconception about evolution and that he indeed was created intelligently, scientifically by an intelligent designer, a creator, he gave his heart to Christ. I asked him why he wanted to make such a life changing decision. He had one word for his answer and his answer was because of Brett.

02:56 Here's the questions today. Why is a lifestyle dedicated to Christ the most powerful witnessing tool that we have? And then secondly: How consistently do your friends see you living out your faith in Jesus? And then the third question is this: Does your lifestyle lead your unsaved friends to Christ? And then: how can you change it So it can be just like Brett's and what happened to him and Josh. And here's the lifeline today: You know your eye is a better pupil and we're willing than the ear is, the poem said. Advice can be confusing, but examples always clear. And that point says, I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day.

"Seasoned with salt, speak always with grace."

Family Discussion:

  • Why do so many Christians dread witnessing? Do you think it's possible that you go about it in the wrong way?
  • What are some ways that we can salt a conversation spiritually?
  • How can you entertain thoughts that are "salty" with that person?

Transcription:

00:04 Man, I love to cook. I really love cooking when I'm out there on the grill. But the most important part and the most fun part is marinating and preparing, especially when I'm cooking wild game on the grill and salting it up and peppering it up. Paul's got a lot to say about salt, and I'll tell you why in a minute. In Colossians 4:5-6, if there's somebody in your life that you've got a problem with or if there's somebody you'd love to see change, check this out. He says: "conduct yourself with wisdom toward outsiders, always making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace as though seasoned with salt so that you'll know how to respond to each person." And you've probably heard this before, but in that little verse in Matthew Chapter 5, it says: "You're the salt. You're the salt of the world, you're the light of the world." And I think the reason scripture uses salt a lot because salt makes it tasty and also salt makes you thirsty. Let your speech be with salt. What's he talking about? Seasoned with salt, speech always with grace.

01:24 It was just a week ago, I got a phone call from a neighbor and that neighbor was so mad, just mad about my dog and was just threatening to take the dog off so that I'd never see the dog again. I kind of got a little bit hurt, especially when you know how cool my dog is. So what we did was we just cooked a Turkey and got a pumpkin pie and a couple of dozen cookies and took them over there and just left them on his front porch and we didn't even sign it. Well, I called him a couple of days later. My dog had gotten away again and we had one of the greatest, most friendly conversations in the world. He knew who brought him that turkey. He knew, he brought him that pie without even saying anything, and salted our friendship. We're going to be friends for life. And he was, he was cool about my dog. It's amazing when you season your speech with salt.

02:18 I like to play golf and there's this golf pro, and he had nothing in his background about Christ. But I started praying for the guy. For three years, I started just seasoning it with salt and just loving on the guy and just finding ways behind his back just to kind of serve him and to befriend him. And then one day I went to him and here's the greatest salts you can use on somebody who needs to know Christ. I just went to him and said, "how can I begin to pray for you?" And you know what, he gave me some things to pray for. Later, he wanted to get married and so he wanted me to do the wedding. And I actually, in the counseling before the wedding, I got to lead not only him to Christ, but I got to lead his wife back into a relationship with Christ.

03:02 My daddy would literally almost every morning would write little love notes to my mom on a little yellow sticky pad and he would place them on the kitchen counter where when she would go out to work and she'd have her first cup of coffee, that little love note from my dad who had already left, would be on the counter for her. I mean, no wonder they stayed married 66 years. No wonder I'm getting to disciple, this golf pro now. No wonder this neighbor over here and I are going to become friends. Let your speech be with salt. Who in your life are you having problems with? You know, what kind of conflicts are you having or is there somebody in your life that you'd love to see change? Is there somebody in your life that you would love it if they could come to know Christ? And they may even be an agnostic. They may be even picking on you because of your faith. Well, you think of ways to put the salts shaker on them, and watch God change that relationship.

04:04 Here's some questions for today. Why do so many Christians dread witnessing? Do you think it's possible that you go about it in the wrong way? What are some ways that we can salt a conversation spiritually, and even in entertainment stuff, what a great opportunity to witness. Oh, you know, what are some kind of conversational opportunities you can have in witnessing entertainment, sports talk, politics, economics, hobbies instead of seasoning with crashing our opinions. How can you entertain and entertain thoughts that are salty with that person? And here's the thought for the day. If a friend asks you to go to some R-rated slash-em-up nudity movie, write a little paragraph that you would share with that friend and, and how you might, witness to him your faith in Christ, even over something as difficult as that, and then discuss it with someone in your home and watch what happens with you in that frame in that relationship.

"Besides guarding our heart in regards to falling TV messages, we need to impact the entire media culture."

Family Discussion:

  • How often do you wrestle with prayer for individual media personalities?
  • Why do you think many Christians never pray for these individuals?
  • What scriptural promises assure us that God not only hears us when we pray, but that God will answer our prayers? What are the keys to seeing that our prayers affect change in our culture, and most importantly, affect change in our mind?

Transcription:

00:06 Sometimes the simplest things are the greatest things of all. This little verse today is super simple, but it is super helpful. It's in Colossians 2:4, and Paul says this: "devote yourself to prayer (isn't that simple?), keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving." Talk about trivia, did you know that falling TV sets kill about four children every year? This was actually cited in the September 1998 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics. As I read about that study, it sort of made me wonder how many other people are dead because of television, not because they fell on their head, but because they fell on their mind. Consider the statement that somebody said once, this very famous person who said, "I personally worry more about television than any other form of media because it's so pervasive and it's a primary babysitter and a value transmitter for many children."

01:16 The constant barrage this person said of violence and explicit sexuality reinforces the loosening of human bonds, undermining the evolution of a mature person. For many people, it's affecting not just what they think about, but also how they think. Well, that was expressed by Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was the wife of the president of the United States. It's not just evangelicals who worry about television, even television mogul, Ted Turner who began CNN and other Turner broadcasting networks, this is what he said, believe it or not: "as a parent with five children, I don't need experts to tell me that the amount of violence on television today can be harmful to children" and not just children. He didn't say that, but not just children, but adults. But he said "television violence is the single most significant factor contributing to violence in America." Ted Turner said that. In addition to these concerns, I'm concerned that television can have a devastating spiritual consequence. I wonder how many people today are no longer serving Christ because of something they saw on television or saw in a theater or heard at a concert. The Christian bashing is unbelievable. The sexually explicit material that leads to perversion and ultimately rebellion against God. No one knows for sure how many have literally washed out spiritually. But man, we know it happens all the time. Besides guarding our heart in regards to falling TV messages, we need to impact the entire media culture. How we do that? I think there's a number of ways, but none are more important than prayer. And that's why the apostle Paul says, "devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and being thankful." Later in the chapter, he compliments a fellow believer by saying he's always wrestling in prayer for you. Are you wrestling in prayer for our nation? Are you wrestling in prayer for Hollywood? Are you wrestling in prayer for individual actors and actresses and musicians and the insiders in the industry? We can make a difference. God has promised us that, but not until we hit our knees first. And most importantly, wrestle for prayer in your mind.

03:45 Here's the question today. How often do you wrestle with prayer for individual media personalities? And why do you think many Christians never pray for these individuals? And then the third question: What scriptural promises assure us that God not only hears us when we pray, but that God will answer our prayers? And I can think of five references right now. And then: What are the keys to seeing that our prayers affect change in our culture, and most importantly, affect change in our mind? And here's the lifeline for today. Make a list of six or 12 or a couple of dozen media personalities and begin to pray for one person every day. Be specific one time I was watching the Oscar awards and I begin to pray for this certain guy who was singing this song that had just won the Oscar. And I began to pray for him. And later on a few years later that man actually became a Christian. That's a true story. And I met him and I told him I'd be praying for him for years; ask the Lord to bring them to his son and give them a burden for purity and for wisdom and for wholesomeness. God can change anything through prayer.

"Do you find yourself singing spiritual songs in times of trouble?"

Family Discussion:

  • Try to recall as many Bible verses as you can in the next 10 minutes that you learned because it was a scriptural song. And then write them down.
  • Do you think you would know these scriptures today if it weren't for learning them through song?
  • Do you find yourself singing spiritual songs in times of trouble? Do you sing spiritual songs at time of happiness? For you, when's the best time to sing them?

Transcription:

00:06 A few years ago you remember the "two all-beef patty special, sauce lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun," remember that? What was that from? Was that McDonald's, I think? Burger King? It's amazing how stuff gets on your mind. It was probably been 20 years ago. Good grief, 50 years ago there was a little slogan, LSMFT. Anybody old enough to remember that? Lucky strike means fine tobacco, I think it was the fifties or sixties when they had that. Well, here's how to get something else on your mind. Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you. Teaching with all wisdom and admonishing one another with Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God, spiritual songs in your heart." Boy, there's something about singing in music that helps us remember things. I remember when my son was maybe a second grader and he memorized all 50 states in the United States as a second grader because his teacher put it to music. I remember when my daughter was just tiny; she performed this rap song she had learned that contained all these phonics rules because her teacher again was doing her a favor by setting all these phonics rules to music, rather than just listening to them and putting them down on paper. Long before my children's teachers discovered how music helps us retain information, God (who invented memory and made it work in the first place) asked us to consider getting God's word in our hearts just like that. "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you," Paul says. Singing the psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, isn't that great?

02:11 While the verse also mentions how teaching others can help you in the memory process, let's just consider the musical aspect for a minute. Although most of us would never consider singing publicly, some of you can but I can't, all of us can sing in the manner Paul suggests with gratitude in our hearts to God. It's a song we could sing in our hearts literally anywhere at any time. You know, walking down the hall of school, you know, just going from business office to business office, on a crowded bus or on an airplane. We can sing thankfulness in our hearts to God wherever we are. We can sing in our hearts. So what kind of songs qualify? Here Paul has advice as well. He's saying that we should Sing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. There's probably no doubt, you already know it, but probably a number of choruses that feature verses from the Psalms. If you're in church and you sing praise and worship, you've got a bunch of them. But have you tried writing some of your own? Think about that. No one has to hear them. You're singing them in your heart. When it comes to spiritual song, there's thousands to choose from, no matter what style of music you enjoy the most, in every kind of country style, R&B, rap, country, whatever, you can put the psalms to any kind of a beat you want to. And as I listened to this song, and if I re-sing it over and over again in my heart, you got to ask yourself, does it edify my spirit? Keep in mind, not every song released under Christian label qualifies. And by the same token, if they're not in a Christian label, there's some good music out there. But as you sing Christ-centered songs in your heart, the Bible says the word of God will dwell in you more deeply. What a benefit, especially from something that's as enjoyable as music is anyway.

04:07 Here's the questions for the day. Try to recall as many Bible verses as you can in the next 10 minutes that you learned because it was a scriptural song. And then write them down. And then: Do you think you would know these scriptures today if it weren't for learning them through song? Do you find yourself singing spiritual songs in times of trouble? Do you sing spiritual songs at time of happiness? For you, when's the best time to sing them? If you were sad right now, what would be a good spiritual song to sing? What if you were excited? What if you were lonely? What if you were hurt? What if you were confused? What a great mission - writing spiritual songs on your heart. Here's the lifeline today: identify a Bible verse that you've always wanted to commit to memory and then put it to a tune that you already know or maybe make up. And just replace the lyrics with the the scripture. And then if this goes well for you, do it every day for 30 days and watch what happens to your mind and your disposition.

"When society's role models laugh and practice evil, they don't just reflect society, they affect the values and morals of its people."

Family Discussion:

  • Using the "what would Jesus do" slogan, name two or three shows that you believe he and his disciples might watch if they were walking this planet today instead of 2000 years ago
  • What are some of the shows they certainly wouldn't watch? And besides those, what other examples of destructive and fine-sounding arguments are being promoted on television? And what about those that are being promoted in other forms of media?
  • What are the best ways to guard your heart and to guard your mind, and as Paul says, to have a stable faith in Christ?

Transcription:

00:14 The other day in my house, we were talking about these little animals that the advertisers will spend millions of dollars to get into your mind so that you never forget the product. Remember the pink bunny, the energizer? What about the big bull, the big elk? What's that? The Hartford, the big whale, the big, you know, whale that dives in and out of the ocean. Insurance company, Pacific life and the little lizard, who's the little lizard, the little cute green lizard that sits on the desk? That's right, Geico. And then probably the most famous of all is the little white duck. Who's that? Aflac, that's right. How do they get that stuff in your mind and why do they spend so much money on that? Well, this verse today has a great counter for that and some strong advice about what gets into your mind.

01:11 In Colossians 2:5 Paul says: "for even though I'm absent in body, nevertheless, I'm with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ, the stability of your faith in Christ." The apostle Paul realized that people, even Christians, could be easily swayed to believe all manner of strange ideas if they failed to aggressively keep their minds from being polluted. That's why he said in verse five that he didn't want anyone to deceive you with fine sounding arguments. The entertainment industry is notorious for offering a number of fine-sounding arguments that are deceptive, dishonest, and destructive. I mean, here's just a few a that we've reviewed recently. They'll tell you that sex outside of marriage is no big deal. It's acceptable. The television will tell you over and over again, and in the movies, that Christians are wimps, they're hypocrites. They're dangerous. The movies nowadays will tell you that Jesus is weak and uncaring. On-screen violence and nudity have no negative effect, I'll tell you, on anyone, even the youngest children, they'll try to say, and they'll say that that sex outside of marriage, whether it's with the same sex or with opposite sex, is a perfectly legitimate lifestyle.

03:07 But you know what, when society's role models laugh and practice evil, when they literally scoff God's word, they don't just reflect society, they affect the values and morals of its people. Isn't it bizarre that the same television executives who will charge $1.3 million, I mean they'll pay it, in fact, sometimes even close to $2 million for a super bowl spot to influence purchasing can adamantly state their programming can't sway another behavior, doesn't make sense. Logic demands, they can't have it both ways. The psalmist says this in Psalms 101:3 and this is a favorite in our teenage sports camp. He says: "I will set nothing unclean before my eyes." David didn't have MTV and the slew of offensive programs on cable and network television. But he knew how important it was to guard his heart and to guard his eyes. He had fallen once, he wasn't going to fall again. Deceptive messages packaged in fine-sounding arguments are the best rejected when when you or I refuses to allow our mind to be bombarded in the first place. The best approach when considering a certain entertainment thing is to ask the question, "hey, what would Jesus do? If he had that remote control in his hand what would he do? If he was in the line at the theater and there were eight different movies to watch, what would he do?

04:47 So here's the question: Using the "what would Jesus do" slogan, name two or three shows that you believe he and his disciples might watch if they were walking this planet today instead of 2000 years ago. And then what are some of the shows they certainly wouldn't watch? And besides those, what other examples of destructive and fine-sounding arguments are being promoted on television? And what about those that are being promoted in other forms of media? And then lastly: What are the best ways to guard your heart and to guard your mind, and as Paul says, to have a stable faith in Christ? And here's the thought for the day. At K-2, at the teenage camp, we put a red rubber band around our wrist and we write with a pen Psalms 101:3, so that it's always there sitting on our wrist as reminder. Do that. If not, put it on a little sticky piece of paper and put it on the television set, or put it on your computer and see what begins to change in your mind and in your home.

"It's time to empty the trashcan. Don't you think?"

Family Discussion:

  • What all have you been thinking about lately? What's your mind been dwelling on and are any of these thoughts that you're having disturbing, if so, are any related or reinforced by your media diet?
  • What practical steps can you take to renew your mind and to set your mind on things above, not on earthly things? What arguments are you likely to hear from your peers in school, in the locker room, in business, or even in your home as they watch and listen to what they watch and they see you watching and not watching what you watch.
  • What are you going to do to turn the off switch on the media stuff that you're involved in?

Transcription:

00:06 I'll never forget as a little kid growing up the family chores; we'd clean the bathroom and make our beds and clean the room and with much coercion we'd empty the trash can out. I tell you trash cans are good if they're empty, but if they're full they can sure stink up the house. That I think the great thing about this book we're studying in Colossians; sometimes it's tough to hear, but boy, it is good, and it helps us clean out the trash in our mind. Well, chapter three starts off with a couple of verses that I think about a lot when my trash can gets full. And sometimes its just bad thoughts and sometimes it's just worry and despair. But Colossians 3:1-2, here's what it says: "Therefore, if you've been raised up with Christ, keeps seeking the things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on the earth, setting your heart on things above."

01:11 Have you ever found yourself thinking about something that's just kind of twisted or off-color and you wished you could turn your brain off? It feels almost impossible sometimes, doesn't it? Even when we're sleeping, the wheels of our mind are turning. And although there's no "off" button inside our head, we can redirect our thought life. Paul was so convicted of this. Then in the first two verses of Colossians 3, he tells us what things should take center stage in the theater of our mind. And note how Paul words it. He said, "since then you've been raised up with Christ. Set your heart on things above. Set your mind on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things."

01:57 Unfortunately, it is so easy to, to get our mind off track and to get the trash can of our mind full with worldly junk and sinful stuff. This is especially true when it comes to our ears and our eyes; and then stuff that's contrary to scripture. Probably, something that's way too common is just the media trash. Garbage in does equal garbage out. Some coaches call it "gigo"- garbage in, garbage out. Not always in behavior, but often in our thinking. And the key to setting our minds on things above is two-fold. First, we've got to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Romans 12:2, if you've never memorized it, here's what it says: "be transformed in the renewing of your mind." This occurs when we diligently meditate on God's word. Get those verses, memorize them, meditate on them, it'll change your mind. And then equally important, you got to avoid those things that war against your faith. Reading the Bible and watching trashy movies like Desperate Housewives and South Park and about half the sitcoms, they just don't mix. It's like oil and water. They can't mix. Christians often fail miserably at avoiding harmful entertainment. For example, the statistician George Barna found in his research regarding television viewing that believe it or not, more Christian kids on a percentage basis, that's 42% versus 33% more Christians watch MTV than Non-Christians. No wonder why so many of my teenage friends struggle like crazy with thoughts of lust and rebellion and anger and self-destruction.

03:51 But Philippians 4:6 goes even further in offering guidelines for our thought life. In fact, I believe it's Philippians 4:8 actually, Paul explains that our mind should focus on things that are pure and right and true and lovely, things of good repute, things that are excellent and things that are worthy of praise. Today's media sometimes qualifies, but more often than not it doesn't and when it falls short, we should get what our minds don't have. And that's a click to the "off" position. Turn it off.

04:24 Here's the questions for today. What all have you been thinking about lately? What's your mind been dwelling on and are any of these thoughts that you're having disturbing, if so, are any related or reinforced by your media diet? And then secondly: What practical steps can you take to renew your mind and to set your mind on things above, not on earthly things? What arguments are you likely to hear from your peers in school, in the locker room, in business, or even in your home as they watch and listen to what they watch and they see you watching and not watching what you watch. What are you going to do to turn the off switch on the media stuff that you're involved in? It's a tough question isn't it? Here's the lifeline, here's the thought for the day. Discuss with a trusted Christian mentor or friend or somebody in your family the struggles that you faced regarding your thought life, and identify a plan that will succeed against this battle and help you more consistently think of things above. It's time to empty the trashcan. Don't you think?

"Just because that stuff's out there, even a little bit, can literally be stored in your mind forever. So don't be captive."

Family Discussion:

  • What are the types of hollow and deceptive philosophies that are being promoted through today's pop culture?
  • While it's one thing to read the biblical admonition, to see to it that no one takes you captive, it's another thing to live it out. How do you, in a practical way, not allow these entertainment messages that are contrary to Christ teachings into your spirit and into your mind?
  • What are the possible consequences of hiding entertainment and indulging entertainment, hiding thoughts, that applauds behavior, that applauds language and attitudes that you know are not Christ honoring?

Transcription:

00:06 Every day when we get into this Bible, I'm just reminded again about just how incomparable, just how awesome, how amazing it is, the words of this book, huge what we're doing together everyday. We're in Colossians today, chapter 2, verse 4-8. This is awesome. Paul says: "I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument for even though I'm absent in body, nevertheless, I'm with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus our Lord, so walk in him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up and established in your faith and overflowing with gratitude." And then he comes back again in verse eight, he says, "see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy or empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world rather than according to Christ."

01:24 The deal today is, do you want to be captive or do you want to be free? Do you know that this little 2.5 pound mass of gray matter inside of your skull, your brain has about 10 billion cells, something like that. Scientists have taught us through study with the brain through the years that every cell in the brain is a little trap. Every cell that's connected by millions and billions and literally probably a trillion neurons, little highways connect the cells in your brain so that everything you see and everything you hear and everything you touch and everything you taste, every thing you smell is stored in your brain. I think that's why pornography is such an incredibly evil drug because there's a little hormone released in your brain called Epinephrin that every time you see a picture of a girl or a boy that's unclothing or unclothed in a pornographic way, that that picture is stored and it's printed like a print in a photography dark room. It's printed on that piece of paper, that thought, that pictures printed in your mind. And it can literally stay there forever. The magazines that are coming after us, the iPhones, the iPods, the iTunes, the movies the television, the magazines, etc. I'm telling you, because I know I've counseled the kids, and I've counseled the adults through the years that became captive, literally became slaves, of some of this stuff that was coming into their minds. You can put bitterness into your mind through music. You can put hatred in your mind. You can put rebellion and anger in your mind. You can put pornography in your mind. It'll ruin your marriage with your boy or a girl; or you can put God in your mind.

03:26 I remember I used to do a teen talk radio show for years with Focus on the Family. And we would be in hundreds of stations all over the country and kids would call in from all over America. And I remember one boy called me one time and he liked to smoke marijuana and he thought that a little marijuana wasn't bad. And he said, well, "God made marijuana. So it's got to be good." And I don't know why I said this, but I said, "God made poison ivy too. And God made rattlesnakes too. So you going go out and smoke them or you going to go play with them?" Just because that stuff's out there, even a little bit, can literally be stored in your mind forever. So don't be captive.

04:08 The greatest adoption story in the antithesis of that is my buddy Chris, he adopted three kids - three kids from the inner city, three kids that their lives were going south. They were going nowhere. Those three kids were literally becoming a product of the world's system, but he adopted those kids, and he filled those kids with love. He filled their minds with Christ. And I'm telling you, those kids graduated from high school. They were of the most outstanding kids in their high school and are now in college because they filled their minds with love and they filled their minds with God.

04:43 Here's the question today. What are the types of hollow and deceptive philosophies that are being promoted through today's pop culture? And then secondly: While it's one thing to read the biblical admonition, to see to it that no one takes you captive, it's another thing to live it out. How do you, in a practical way, not allow these entertainment messages that are contrary to Christ teachings into your spirit and into your mind? And then talk about this with your family. What are the possible consequences of hiding entertainment and indulging entertainment, hiding thoughts, that applauds behavior, that applauds language and attitudes that you know are not Christ honoring and know are going to abuse your temple, as God says of the Holy Spirit that lives in you? Here's the lifeline today: Write down two or three of your favorite music groups or television shows or movies. Go ahead and write them down and then ask yourself the question, Do you believe that any of these fall into the hollow and deceptive philosophy category that Paul warns you about? And if so, what do you need to do about those?

"For Paul, his desire was to be as sinless as possible, and it didn't stop at the prison door."

Family Discussion:

  • What entertainment choices have you made recently that are especially God-honoring?
  • If you're struggling in the area of making wise entertainment choices, describe why. Talk about it. If you don't, why not? What's going on inside there?
  • What practical things will you do in the future, to labor and struggle and strive with his energy to help present everyone complete in Christ?

Transcription:

00:06 Well, you can check out the latest beauty magazine; "17" in this case, a teen magazine, and you can get your little heart really confused. 525 fashion and beauty tricks. 525... you try all those, no wonder everybody is so confused about what to do with our mind and our body and our heart. That's the message of the world today. Paul's got a different message today that I think might be a little bit better. It's in Colossians 1 verse 28 and 29 and Paul says this in that verse: "And we proclaim him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom so that we might present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose, also, I labor striving according to his power, which mightily works within me."

01:03 In Colossians 4:10, Paul the apostle informs us as he writes that he is serving prison time in Rome. Can you picture yourself in his shoes when he writes these great letters? No electric lights, no flush toilets, no fashion and beauty tricks and no gas furnace, no queen sized mattress. Instead a dingy cell, drury, smelly, bug infested, cold; and to pass the time, there's no telephone, there's no radio, no personal little bookshelf, no prison library. And no television! Could have been the biggest blessing of all. And worst of all, absent are the voices, the smiles, and the touch of most of his closest friends. Sounds pretty miserable, doesn't it? You might expect that someone who could find themselves in a similar situation would maybe drop their guard regarding your personal holiness, the condition of your heart. Aa little sin now and then after all, who's going to notice? Who's going to care? But for Paul, his desire was to be as sinless as possible, and it didn't stop at the prison door. It wasn't motivated by what situation he found himself in, or who might or might not notice. He knew that God's eyes were on his heart. His result, Paul went to great effort to honor the Lord with his decisions and his life choices. In addition, he declared a desire to present everyone complete in Christ. I love that goal. What a fantastic goal. He added this, he said: "to this end, I labor," struggling, striving with all his energy, which so powerfully worked in the life of any believer. Notice that it wasn't a casual pursuit. It was a struggle. It was work.

02:59 Let's apply this to our entertainment and our selections of what we listened to and what we watch. Do you realize that God cares deeply about what you watch and listen to, your choices in movies, your choices in television programs, the iPod, the iPhone, etc. Did they honor him? Are you careful to labor, to struggle with all your energy, to keep your mind free from the media messages that Satan has a foothold in your thought life? Special concern for you and I are those things that are done in secret. The computer screen when you're all alone, do you let your guard down when you're alone? You know, is there a website out there that's that you are addicted to, or sliding a compact disc in your CD player that champions, despair, perversity or rebellion? When Paul was alone in secret, not only was he concerned with his own walk of faith, but he considered how you might present everyone, everyone, complete in Christ. How bout you? Are you equally concerned? When you are, everything changes inside here because you've got to goal that trumps every decision that you make.

04:21 And here's the question today. What entertainment choices have you made recently that are especially God-honoring? And then secondly: If you're struggling in the area of making wise entertainment choices, describe why. Talk about it. If you don't, why not? What's going on inside there? And then: What practical things will you do in the future, to labor and struggle and strive with his energy to help present everyone complete in Christ? And that starts with you and me. And here's the lifeline for today. The win is identify a particular Christian friend or somebody who does not honor Christ with his entertainment choices and begin to pray how you might influence that person to make positive changes, especially if it's in your home.

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