Tag Archive | courage

VAMPIRES DON’T SPARKLE

Twilight is for teenage girls what porn is to teenage boys: sick, twisted, evil, dangerous, deceptive, and popular.

This past weekend, millions flocked to movie theaters for the final installment of the teen vampire saga. Tragically, many were driven by their parents, including some cougar moms encouraging and joining their daughters’ obsession with handsome young males.

Our family car won’t be driving to the theater for Twilight—or over a cliff for that matter.

I want to give a special thanks to Mark Driscoll for this tough love approach article to raising kids in a Christ-less culture. Pastor Mark ranted on this garbage-tastic phenomenon before, and finds the whole genre profoundly troubling.

The popularity of supernatural soap operas has inspired some real-life demonic trends. Overreaction? Tell that to the kids biting, cutting, drinking blood—sometimes while having sex—and sinking deeper into the occult:

  • NBC News: “Teenagers obsessed with the Twilight vampire saga, or those simply fascinated with fangs, reportedly have been biting each other—hard—and then licking or sucking the blood. ‘These are kids who think they are real vampires,’ said Dr. Orly Avitzur. [. . .] ‘Having that thick, warm copper-tasting blood in my mouth is the best thing I can think of!’ wrote a teenager identified as ‘GothicGirl10’ this year. ‘Sometimes my boyfriend lets me feed off him. I let him feed off me as well.’”
  • ABC News: “Paola Hernandez, 15, said a boyfriend tried to pressure her to allow herself to be bitten. ‘He said, “I love you and that’s the way I want to show you,”’ she said. ‘I didn’t give in because it was kind of idiotic.’ She said some of her classmates, mimicking on-screen vampires, even cut their skin so they can taste one another’s blood. ‘That means you’re stuck with them, they have your blood inside of them and you have their blood and so you’re closer to each other,’ she said.”
  • Sanguinarius is a popular website for “Real Vampires” that includes a special section for teens with “advice on the problems and issues teen vamps face: school, parents, coping with awakening, how to enter the vampiric community without looking like a fool, and more.” Other resources on the site include techniques for “safe bloodletting and feeding, dealing with bloodthirst, flavoring your donor’s blood, and cooking with blood.”
  • Another support page for Real Vampires appeals to outsiders with “a few words for anyone who has ever been bullied, picked on, teased or harassed because you’re different. What you have suffered is wrong. It is wrong for anyone to hit you or harass you, or to make you hate yourself for being different, whether or not you consider yourself a vampire.”
  • The Week: “Lyle Monroe Bensley, 19, was arrested in his boxer shorts after he allegedly broke into the Galveston, Texas, home of a randomly chosen single woman, growled and hissed at her, dragged her down the hall, and tried to bite her on her neck. . . . When the police arrested Bensley a short time later, he told them he was a 500-year-old vampire. ‘He was begging us to restrain him because he didn’t want to kill us,’ says Galveston officer Daniel Erickson. ‘He said he needed to feed.’”
  • The UK’s Channel 4 produced a documentary about the growing vampire subculture. The chance to play vampire provides an opportunity to “be nasty and evil and let my darker side out for the evening,” says one subject. The film profiles a group of teenagers in Texas who consider themselves to be real vampires (and werewolves). One explains, “When I drink someone’s blood, I feel like I own them in a sense. Like they’re mine.”

Please pray for these kids. If you know them, speak with them lovingly, honestly, biblically, and quickly. Satan is real, clever, and a deceiver who “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). He’s not going to come at us with a pitchfork and horns. More likely, he’ll attempt to lure people towards darkness with methods like “harmless” entertainment, possibly in the form of bad acting and melodrama.

As a father to a teenage girl, I find it devastating to simply read the most popular web pages that come up when searching for “teen vampire.” There, girls the same age of my 15-year-old daughter are talking about “awakening,” which is their word for converting to paganism (like the Christian word “born again”). In a perverted twist on Communion, their sacraments include the giving of your own blood by becoming a “donor.” This is entirely pagan. These storylines offer eternality without God and salvation; in the place of Jesus’ shed blood, girls and boys shed their own blood to be awakened to their own salvation of a new spiritual way of life filled with sex and occult behavior.

I do not shelter my children from these sorts of things. Pop culture is too pervasive to hide from (on a recent trip to a Barnes & Noble with my daughter we noticed an entire section of books dedicated to “Teenage Vampire Romance”). My wife and I talk to my daughter about these things so that she can be discerning, informed, and safe.

However, we do not treat things like movies, books, and TV shows as harmless entertainment, but rather a potential threat to her well-being to be aware of so she can walk in wisdom by God’s grace. I rejoice that our oldest daughter (and all of our five children) loves Jesus, see right through this demonic deception, and speak freely with us about these sorts of things. I want that for all children and families.

As a pastor and a father, I am particularly concerned for Christian parents who are naively allowing this filth into their children’s lives, buying these books and driving kids to see these movies. To such parents, “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9–11, emphasis added).

I want to give a special thanks to Mark Driscoll for this tough love approach article to raising kids in a Christ-less culture. 

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THE POWER OF VISION

How to Have a Vision for Your Life From Start To Finish

How did Steven Spielberg direct and produce so many movies as successful as Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Jaws or even his latest War Horse? How does Adele write world-class music in an era when very few elite performers pen their own lyrics? How does Pixar keep churning out their animated blockbusters?

The answers all involve vision. The best leaders are able to see a vision and then activate it by stepping forward. In addition, they’re willing to sacrifice to see the vision come to fruition. Finally, they realize the importance of surrounding themselves and their vision with an incredible team.

1. See the Vision
Many people don’t jumpstart their lives because they don’t see anything to jump to! They plod along through life with little more than survival in mind. Visionaries dare to dream. They peer into the future and generate possibilities in their mind’s eye.

“The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes” ~Marcel Proust

The legendary sculptor, Michelangelo claimed that as he looked into the stone, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” His imagination had already created his masterpieces before his hands did the work.

2. Step Toward the Vision
Some people see the vision, but they never step toward it. They cannot seem to summon the courage to overcome their fear, or they cannot find the passion to get past their apathy. As a consequence, their vision sits on the shelf until it spoils, or until someone else takes initiative to claim it.

Let me put it this way. “Vision is not enough. It must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs.”

More than two months before Alexander Graham Bell submitted his patent for the telegraph, Elisha Gray had already arrived at the conclusion that voice could be transmitted over a telegraph wire. Why, then, is Elisha Gray anonymous and Alexander Bell a celebrated inventor? Because Gray procrastinated two months before putting his vision on paper. Then, when he finally finished his sketch, Gray delayed another four days before taking it to the patent office. When he finally made up his mind to go, he arrived two hours too late. Bell had already secured the patent, and Gray’s idea was worthless.

3. Sacrifice for the Vision
Visionaries give up to go up. They bypass good enough to gain at shot at better or even best. If they fail, at least they go out swinging. Visionaries don’t fear failure; they only fear losing out on opportunity.

In an effort to break into the U.S. market, Cirque Du Soleil founder, Guy Laliberte, took his entire troupe from Montreal to Los Angeles. At the time, Cirque was a budding act that was barely breaking even. As legend has it, the circus did not even have gas money to return home if the show flopped. Laliberte had leveraged every resource at his disposal for the opportunity to achieve his vision of striking it rich in the United States. Thankfully for everyone involved, the show was a smash hit. Cirque Du Soleil’s success catapulted it forward in terms of recognition on the entertainment scene.

4. Seek Help for the Vision
Teamwork makes the dream work. If you can achieve your vision by flying solo, then chances are you’re not doing anything worthwhile. A big dream requires a talented team in order to take root in reality.

Wilt Chamberlain was one of the most gifted athletes to ever set foot on a basketball court. He holds the NBA record for most points in a game (100), most rebounds in a game (55), and the highest scoring average for a season (50.4 points per game). However, Wilt was so talented that he had trouble meshing with his teammates. At one point, coaches even advised him to shoot less so that other players could be involved.

Despite his exceptional abilities, Wilt never won a championship whiles the star player of his team. However, he did eventually learn to become an unselfish player. As his point totals declined, he became better and better at setting up teammates to score. Well past the prime of his career, Wilt finally won in achieving his vision of winning a title. As a role player for the Los Angeles Lakers, he captured two NBA championships. His growth as a teammate made him an invaluable asset even though his athleticism had diminished from its peak.

“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.”

GOD WILL PROTECT YOU

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5 (NIV)

Historian Stephen Ambrose says that during World War II, “The Allied bombers bristled with machine guns, in the nose, under the belly, on top, in the rear.”

He reports the workhorse of the air war was the B-17 bomber, known as the “Flying Fortress” because it carried thirteen .50 caliber machine guns.

Surprisingly, scientific testing suggested the B-17 would be safer without the guns. Without the weight of the guns and the crew members required to shoot them, the planes could fly faster and higher, increasing the chance of survival during daylight missions.

But the pilots said there was no way they were going on a mission without guns mounted on the plane. They wanted to be able to shoot back.

We make the same choice when it comes to our own battles. God tells us we don’t need the guns; we can soar higher and faster with him. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does” (2 Corinthians 10:3 NIV).

God says the weapons he will give us “have divine power to demolish strongholds,” and we no longer need to use the “weapons of the world” (2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV).

But we say, “No thanks. We have to shoot back!” and defend ourselves with an arsenal of angry words, demanding attitudes, manipulative maneuvers, excessive excuses, and bombs of blame.

It takes faith to stop using these weapons of the flesh and instead take up the shield of faith” and arm ourselves with the weapons of God, starting with the bomb of love (Ephesians 6:16 NIV).

It’s the kind of faith David showed when he approached Goliath, saying, You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45 NIV).

Could God’s spiritual arsenal defend you as well? “He is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (Proverbs 30:5 NIV).

Proverbs 18:10 (NASB) “The name of the LORD is a strong tower;The righteous runs into it and is safe.”

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UNSTOPPABLE COURAGE

The Acts of the Apostles

Act 5 – Scene 2

We think we have it tough with what some call political correctness, or as some have commented on, an anti-Christian agenda within the media or politics. We have seen a number of reports in recent months of Christians being put on trial whether it was for praying for a patient, wearing a cross or hoteliers who would not allow homosexual couples stay in there B&B. Now it is not my intention to comment on any of the above cases in this post but safe to say when these things happen some Christians are quick to call it persecution, is it really? Maybe, but when you read stories like these listed here it kind of puts what some in the our country endure into perspective a little. While not wanting to belittle what the people involved in these cases have gone through, there are varying degrees of scale.

Persecution is nothing new to Christians; Jesus faced it, the apostles faced it, and those in the early church faced it, so we should not be surprised by it, but ask God for grace to endure it and learn from it when we face it. Easy to say, but by the grace of God there are those, many of them, who have survived and sometimes not by his grace in persecution.

Before looking at the events in the chapter 5, let me just say that persecution is not because we do something stupid, it is suffering for our faith in Christ and for his name sake.

In Acts 5:12-42 we see that the apostles were put in prison, by the religious leaders for preaching Christ and healing people in his name.

“17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.”

That very night, an angel appeared and set them free so that the next day they could continue their mission as set by Jesus. I think this is brilliant; I would have loved to have been there to see the faces of the religious leaders, wouldn’t you? I wonder what was going through the apostle minds as they were sat in prison. Scripture doesn’t give the impression that they were worried or scared, does it? In fact as we read in their second trial before religious leader (v22-32) Peter seems to talk with great boldness and courage. He basically tells them they would obey God’s command and call on their lives, before they would listen to them and their request to stop preaching.

In today’s world not much has changed, we are still told to shut up (so to speak) and stop talking about Jesus, so much so that nurses amongst other professions, run the risk of disciplinary procedures if they talk to people about the hope found in Jesus. Does this mean we should stop and not share out faith? No, we just need to be smarter, but be confident in the message and discern the opportunities that the Holy Spirit opens for us.

WHAT IF YOU HAD ONLY 21 DAYS TO LIVE?

What would you do if you had 3 weeks to live? Would you change anything, do anything differently?

So I’ve been asking people the question, And some themes emerged in people’s answers. Most people have said that they would live passionately-they would try to make every day count. We talked about that last week…Live courageously. Make the most of every day. Take some risks.

But there’s something even more important than sky diving & mountain climbing. Like the Tim McGraw song says: “And I loved deeper, I spoke sweeter, I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying. Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiOcW_YR1G8

Love deeper, love completely. Paying attention to your closest relationships.

When people look back on their lives with regret, it almost always involves relationships. I don’t think anyone on his deathbed has ever said, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office,” or “I wish I’d made more money.” But lots of people say, “I wish I’d spent more time with my kids. I wish I’d been a better husband or wife, or mom or dad. I wish I’d made amends with that friend.”

When Jesus reached the end of His life, He zeroed in on His closest relationships. He was very intentional about loving completely.

John 13:1 “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”

He knew that his time had come to leave this world, so what did He do? He showed them the full extent of His love. Some translations say “He loved them completely” or “He loved them to the end.” He loved them all the way to the finish line-He finished well. And isn’t that what you would want to do if you had 21 days to live?

LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT WHAT YOU WOULD DO TO ‘LOVE COMPLETELY’

I ONCE BROKE A GUYS NOSE… ON PURPOSE

I once broke a guy’s nose… on purpose. Many, many years ago, a friend of our family called me, crying. Her boyfriend had been hitting her for the past few days, and it was getting worse.

I didn’t think to talk her through this, or call a social worker or a helpline. Instead, I made a brash decision to drive to her place, pick her up, grab all her stuff out of the apartment she shared with her boyfriend, and bring her back to her family home. Along the way, I also — stupidly — decided to punch her boyfriend in the face. Very hard. Twice.

He didn’t press charges. Good.

She went back to him. Not so good.

They eventually separated ways (thank God) but I always thought that if I had handled the situation differently, maybe she wouldn’t have had the urge to go back into the abusive relationship. Maybe if I hadn’t responded to his violence and quick temper with violence and a quick temper of my own, she would have understood that she had better options than to return to a man that hit her.

I wondered about that incident many times and wondered why I reacted that way. Was it confidence? NO! In all honesty I was more afraid than anything else. In fact it took me a while to stop looking over my shoulder in fear to see if he was going to get even with me.

According to the Bible, fear was not a part of God’s original creation. It came on the scene only after human beings rebelled against God’s plans and tried to rule his world without him. Thankfully, the Bible declares that God had a solution for the fear problem. He sent his son to die so that by overcoming death itself, he would conquer the object of our greatest fear, and release the power of eternal life into our weary hearts. Once a person comes to faith in Jesus he or she begins to experience a new kind of confidence, based on an uninhibited relationship with God. When people truly commit themselves to Christ, they begin to feel that despite their weaknesses, frailties, flaws and fears they can face life full on. Those who accept Christ are made righteous by him, and they feel a boldness and courage they’ve never experienced before. Those who do not acknowledge God in their lives, flee even when there’s no-one pursuing them. They’re constantly looking over their shoulder, conscious that something is missing in them and that someday they will be found out.

I never had an older brother, but I know if I had, it would have made me very bold when I was facing someone who tried to intimidate me. I would simply have called on my brother, and he would have sorted the other guy out! Now I know that’s what Jesus does for a believer whenever fear comes a calling.

Prayer: ‘Lord, help me to develop a strong confidence in who you are in me. I know I can face life’s problems full on. Thank you that I can let Jesus deal with my fears and the things that cause them.’

IS FEAR CONTROLLING YOUR LIFE?

fear

Fear takes a hike when love comes to town! Faith, which the Bible says is based on love, always supplants fear. Now, that doesn’t mean that people of faith never face problems without fear showing up. Coming to spiritual faith is just the first step in overcoming our deepest fears – but it’s also the biggest and the most liberating. Through a growing understanding of God’s plan for their lives, a new intimacy with God through prayer, and a spirit of joy and courage even in life’s toughest moments, people of faith are able to gradually face up to the issues that have caused them anxiety. What begins as a spiritual experience, grows out into every other aspect of their being – soul, mind, and body. That’s what the Bible means when it says that we can be totally transformed by the renewal of our minds. To put it another way, as you daily learn to line up our emotions and thoughts with what God is doing deep in your spirit, you will begin to experience freedom and release from anxiety. Of course, if you have suffered from serious or debilitating phobias, therapy may be necessary and helpful, particularly if it helps you to identify the hidden causes of some specific fear. Counseling, combined with personal support, can be very helpful in the process of healing. But, in the end, it’s the new life of Christ within you, the nature, character and power of Jesus working out through you, that really sets you free. So, don’t give in to your fears – they’re not part of God’s plan for your life. Claim the promise of his word, that your life can be totally transformed. Learn to line up your thinking with what the word of God says about you and watch fear take a walk…

Prayer: ‘Father, please help me to be filled with your special brand of love, so that faith is mobilized in my heart, and fear is evicted. I want your strong love to fill every part of my existence today.’

DISCIPLINE DETERMINES DESTINY

The choices we make not the chances we take determine our destiny.

success

Whether in the home, in the school, or in society at large applying healthy discipline is about developing accountability. Somebody has said there are three stages in growing up: dependence (when I a need others for everything), independence (when I think I need others for nothing), and interdependence (when I know I need others for the important things in life). The aim of parental discipline is to teach children to make decisions responsibly, with an awareness of their accountability to others. Maturity says: I am free to make my own choices, but I am not free to escape the consequences of bad choices, and others will also benefit or suffer through my choices. In the end, we discipline our children so that they will learn how to discipline themselves.

In Proverbs 13:18 it says, ‘He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honoured.’

That’s God’s goal when he disciplines our lives. He is teaching us to discipline ourselves. He wants us to be able to measure for ourselves the long-term effects of our choices. We shouldn’t run from God’s discipline, we should embrace it. Why does God cut back a fruitful tree? So that it bears more fruit in the long-term.

Prayer: ‘Lord, thank you for taking time to discipline my life and guide my steps. Help me to learn that self-discipline brings success, and that I am never held back from my true destiny by my own weakness.’