"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, January 25, 2013

* G, PG, PG-13, R, WHAT'S YOUR STANDARD? - Part 3

Philippians 4:7-9  (NIV 1984)  "And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  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.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you."

Several years ago while ministering to college girls I thought I would 'enter their world' and watch what they view to get more familiar with them.  Not a bad idea.  

Until, one episode of The Bachelor turned into the next and another.  I thought I could handle it, but the handle broke off.  My ministry effort turned into an unhealthy craving that hooked me into the entire season!  The love story drew me in.  Never mind that it was completely unrealistic, immoral and hardly revealed an ounce of virtue or nobility.  As the season progressed, my love story suddenly didn't seem too exciting and I even began to place unfair expectations on my husband.  

Now I know, women typically like a good old fashioned love story.  However, the unreality of this 'reality' television show, bombarded me spiritually.  What entered my mind, infiltrated my heart, which messed with my worldview about biblical love. 

Our mind is stimulated visually, which also produces a response in our heart.  What we see, watch and read, via television, magazines, movies, music, internet etc. impacts us in ways we may not even consider.  Thoughts are fed by recurrence and by association of related thoughts of like nature.  When these thoughts are put into isolation they have less control over us.  We can isolate these thoughts by avoiding the very things that fuel them.  For me, this means no more Bachelor.

We are attacked daily with visual rubbish we can't control.  Half dressed girls flaunt magazine covers at grocery checkout.  Revealing internet ads pursue us.  Commercial ads between Jeopardy, for goodness sake, wreak of illicit fantasy.  In the midst of our scandalous world we do possess the authority for what we should manage.

The third way to protect our mind is to control input.  This means we shield what we invite into our mind.  Even though our culture has a rating system for movies, we must guard what we allow to govern our viewing standards.  While Christians may have different standards for decency and propriety, regulating input is necessary to maintain an honorable thought life.

Philippians 4:8 exhorts us to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. These are the qualities we are to dwell on and promote.  When our mind gets entangled with worldliness through media, it becomes increasingly difficult to store up these characteristics in our heart.  

Sadly, many become numb to the influences of worldly media when, in actuality, we're likely held captive to the world's standards.  Much does not shock us anymore.  Many are desensitized while laughing at immorality or feeding a thirst for violence.  Others may joke about shows that tear down men and some fall prey to the worlds' view of love, marriage and morality, like I did.  

Well Hester, this just sounds a little legalistic.  I get that this is an area of Christian freedom.  I also know that what is an area of weakness for me, may not be for others.  There are simply some types of shows/movies and music I cannot watch or listen to because they cause my flesh to flare up.  I've also learned through failure that my heart is vulnerable.  

Regardless of where we stand, when we justify our choices to convince ourselves we're okay, we're likely to fall.  As I humbly confessed at the beginning, we are unwise to assume we are stronger than we are.  For us to think it's okay to allow some junk into our mind is like drinking an Italian soda with a drop of strychnine mixed in.  It's just a little.  It won't hurt this one time.  C'mon, we're adults.  All my friends watch this.  Who are we fooling?

Be on your guard.  Protect your mind.  Renew your mind.  Evaluate your thoughts.  Don't let the culture's standard govern yours.  Dwell on Truth.  Control input!

Heart Exam:
Take inventory of the last two weeks of media influence in your life.  Based on what you've allowed, what thoughts have governed your mind?  Do you find yourself replaying unhealthy scenes in your head?  What song lyrics do you hum?

Ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to control the input you allow into your mind.

Heart Work:
Who/What governs your media standards?

Let's be honest, are there any television shows you are addicted to?  Do you understand the connection to your heart and mind and how your spiritual life can be impeded?

What input are you allowing in your mind and heart that needs to be uninvited?

Heart Transforming Word:
Proverbs 23:7 "For as a man thinks within himself, so he is . . ."

John 8:32 "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Romans 16:19b  "But I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil."

1 Corinthians 14:20  "Brothers, stop thinking like children.  In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults."

2 Corinthians 11:3 "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ."

Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

Ephesians 6:13 "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

Copyright 2010 by Hester Christensen.  Edited 2013.  All rights reserved.