Nearly all Americans (93%) celebrate Christmas. Only an extremely tiny minority would object to the greeting, “Merry Christmas,” a cherry greeting roughly equivalent to, “I love you,” Yet, political correctness, championed by the liberal/progressive movement, has effectively eliminated the Merry Christmas greeting from public life as well as nativity scenes and other symbols of Christmas. In contrast, consider what three nationally-known Jewish leaders have to say about Christmas celebrations:
Burt Prelutsky, a Jewish columnist for a number of national publications, declares:
I never thought I’d live to see the day that Christmas would become a dirty word. . . . How is it, one well might ask, that in a Christian nation this is happening? . . . Speaking as a member of a minority group – and one of the smaller ones at that – I say it behooves those of us who don’t accept Jesus Christ as our savior to show some gratitude to those who do, and to start respecting the values and traditions of the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens, just as we keep insisting that they respect ours. Merry Christmas, my friends!
Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Daniel Lapin agrees:
Secular fundamentalism has successfully injected into American culture the notion that the word “Christmas” is deeply offensive. . . . Anti-Christianism is unhealthy for all Americans; but I warn my brethren that it will prove particularly destructive for Jews. . . . Let us all go out of our way to wish our many wonderful Christian friends – a very merry Christmas. Just remember, America’s Bible belt is our safety belt.
Orthodox Jewish radio host and creator of PragerUniversity.com Dennis Prager writes:
As a Jew, and a religious one at that, I want to wish my fellow Americans a Merry Christmas. Not “Happy Holidays.” Merry Christmas…
It doesn’t matter with which religion or ethnic group you identify; Christmas in America is as American as the proverbial apple pie. That is why some of the most famous and beloved Christmas songs were written by guess who? Jews.
- White Christmas—Irving Berlin
- Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer—Johnny Marks
- Let It Snow! Let It snow! Let It Snow!—July Styne/Sammy Cahn
- Silver Bells—Jay Livingston/Ray Evans
- The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an Open Fire—Mel Torme/Robert Wells
- Sleigh ride-–Mitchell Parish
and many others.
The notion that non-Christians are excluded is absurd.
It never occurred to my Orthodox Jewish family not to enjoy this season. It was a tradition in our home to watch the Christmas Mass from the Vatican every Christmas Eve…Had you visited our home, you would have seen my mother—and my father, my brother and I all wearing our kippot (Jewish skull-caps)—watching Catholics celebrate Christmas…
So when and why did this pernicious nonsense of non-Christians being “excluded” by public celebration of Christmas develop?
It is nothing more than another destructive product of the 1960s and 1970s, when the left came to dominate much of the culture.
There you have it! Say “Merry Christmas” everywhere; say it again and again and again. Say Merry Christmas with love every time. Saying it mechanically, without love betrays the greeting and the Lord.
So—Spread the Deliberate Joy; spread the merriment. After all, love is contagious. And—don’t forget the reason for the season!
Blogging YOU the warmest and merriest Christmas ever!
The first two quotes were abstracted from http://www.wallbuilders.com. The third quote is from wnd.com magazine, Whistleblower, “Of Messiahs False and True,” December 2014.
The Christmas season reminds us of some curious lyrics about love and light, in the most enduring Christmas carols. A closer look reveals that the curious lyrics are rooted in Scripture. Consider two examples:
- Silent Night, Holy Night-3rd verse
Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing-3rd verse
“Light and life to all He brings…”
There is a linkage between love and light and something very special about the linkage. Light has fascinated mankind since Creation; artists and scientists have had a complementary interest in studying light. But the highest source of information is Scripture. A look at what Scripture reveals about love and light may save artists and scientists considerable time and effort. We can do that right now:
- “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” [1 John 1:5 NIV]—All electromagnetic energy that we perceive as light comes from the Sun. Since the light that illuminates the eyes was created by God, He is the physical light. God is also the spiritual light that illumines the soul.
- “…God is love…” [1 John 4:16 KJV] and “…love comes from God.” [1 John 4:7 KJV]—Love is spiritual energy that comes from God, illuminates the soul, and fuels all interpersonal relationships. All love comes from God, whether the one loving gives God credit or not. Our greatest responsibility is to pass it on.
The visible earthly expression of God’s love is in and through the Son (Jesus, Y’shua). He provided “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” [Luke 2:32 NIV] “In him was life, and that life was the light of men…The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” [John 1:4 & 9 NIV]
After forgiving the adulteress, Jesus (Y’shua) confirmed “…’I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness. But will have the light of life.” [John 8:12 NIV]
Albert Einstein was famous for thought experiments. As a young man, he imagined riding a beam of light. Of course, Jesus could not ride a beam of light; he is the light. Instead, he chose to arrive in a stable through the humble darkness of a virgin’s womb. He was laid in an animal’s feeding trough called a manger. For 33 years, the “King of the Jews” lived a humble life serving others, ultimately exiting this life in the humblest way possible, dying virtually naked on the excruciatingly painful Roman cross.
King Jesus (Y’shua) came as a humble servant to model the life God intended for us to live and to pay the penalty for Adam’s first sin and all the sins in your life and mine. One day, the King will return as the conquering Messiah.
Don’t be afraid of any form of darkness; God is the light! Don’t fear any form of threat; God is love!
As for me, “The Lord is my light and my salvation…” [Psalm 27:1 NIV]
Won’t you join me?
Why does God allow evil?
This short 6-minute video answers the question through the life of Joni Eareckson Tada.
You may already be familiar with her. Nevertheless, this may be the most important six minutes of your life!
Check out “CAN GOD BRING GOOD FROM SUFFERING?” from The John 10:10 Project on Vimeo at:
If you like this video, make sure you share it, too!
Vimeo is filled with lots of amazing videos. See more at https://vimeo.com.
The films that comprise THE JOHN 10:10 PROJECT were produced to help nurture a deeper understanding of God. Each 4-10 minute video explores a facet of the Lord’s character, promises and power. Think of them as small stepping stones on your pathway to a more abundant Christian life. Each film in this collection is structured for use in personal devotions, Bible studies, outreach and corporate worship. We hope you will find them helpful on your journey. Find them at: https://vimeo.com.
While The Ten Commandments in the first table (refer to Part 1 of this blog) exposes the differences between American and Asian entertainment, the second table reveals the effects of the glaring differences. Take a look! Once again, the flashing neon-like table needs no further amplification.
To the seasoned Western viewer, the tables may be intellectually satisfying and spiritually appealing, but may seem emotionally a bit wimpy, begging the question, “Exactly, what is the source of dramatic power in the Asian productions?” For there to be a struggle between good and evil, there has to be some form of evil.
In Asian TV dramas, the villain is not necessarily a murderous, unlawful villain; more often the “villain” is an unscrupulous emotional or spiritual villain resorting to various forms of skullduggery to break up love triangles. The most popular Asian TV dramas contain several overlapping love stories, because, “love covers a multitude of sins.” [1 Peter 4:8 NASB] For the sources of dramatic power in Asian TV dramas, here is the list:
- The storylines are amazingly creative unlike anything American have been able to produce. American cultural decay has produced one-dimensional movie/TV characters with a keen intellect and a severely limited range of emotions. Asian TV still produces three-dimensional characters using the full range of God-given intellectual, emotional, and spiritual faculties.
- Characters are fascinating, played by outstanding actors with endearing personal characteristics
- Selected characters have a vibrant sense of humor, backed by a soundtrack that demonstrates musical humor
- Drama aroused by conflicts and misunderstandings regarding ordinary and major life obstacles (romance, competition, illness, injury, separation, death)
- Rich interpersonal relationships among the characters fully engage the viewer
- Dramatic satisfaction is rooted in compelling illustrations of applying Biblical principles, producing the best possible results
- In a love triangle, the leading man invariable ends up with the girl who routinely meets the needs of others.
- Many scenes varying from heart-warming or heart-wrenching to heart-breaking, but nearly always reflecting positive character goals
- Dialogue exhibits amazing wisdom in ordinary and challenging situations—characters seem to say precisely the right thing at exactly the right time. The expressions of rightness paint spectacularly beautiful word pictures
- Most characters, other than villains, are positive role models. Even the villains repent by the end of the series.
American movies/TV routinely and aggressively break all ten of the commandments and then celebrates the outcomes. Asian TV celebrates godly virtues and character building.
So why not follow the Apostle Paul’s admonition, “…whatsoever things are true…honest…just…pure, whatsoever things are lovely…good report…think on these things.” Why not entertain ourselves with the good and the beautiful, rather than the sleazy, ugly, and evil. We cannot continue injecting ourselves with a dose of evil every time we turn on the TV or go to a movie.
If you have never seen any of the Asian dramas, you must try at least one. If you are curious, try “Autumn’s Concerto” (Taiwanese), “Descendants of the Sun” (South Korean), or “Tomorrow’s Cantabile” (South Korean). They are available on Netflix and other common outlets.
What does it take to wake up the body of believers?
What does it take to wake up the clergy?
“…whatsoever things are true…honest…just…pure, whatsoever things are lovely…good report…think on these things.” [Philippians 4:8 KJV]
Entertainment is powerful—so powerful that it can be profoundly life influencing, if not completely life changing. Modern technology provides endless entertainment options and unlimited personal content choices. With such awesome power at our fingertips it makes compelling and inescapably good sense to entertain ourselves with the good and the beautiful, rather than sleaze and evil. Yes, there is an easy way!
Tragically, the American motion picture and television entertainment industries have declined to sewer levels. Although the decline is recently accelerating, decades of incremental decline have dragged many Judeo-Christian believers down along with the rest of the American culture. As Lot did long ago, we have in past decades pitched our tents towards Sodom and have long since moved in.
Many, especially younger believers, remain unaware of anything more than a modest cultural and entertainment decline. They persistently perceive themselves unaffected by it. Pride on steroids? You bet! Believers continue watching dramatizations of nudity, gratuitous violence, saturation profanity, rampant uncivil sarcasm, and people of low character portrayed as heroes. Once planted, the evil seeds grow in the intellect, emotions, and spirit. There is little or no understanding of the relentless and severe weakening effect on the viewers and virtually guaranteed future pain and suffering produced by weak character.
Although specifically Christian entertainment has improved greatly in recent years, much of it remains dramatically weak and—long term—there is not nearly enough of it.
However, there is a fascinating alternative, Asian television dramas made primarily in South Korea and Taiwan (available on Netflix and numerous other venues). The Asian dramas are wildly entertaining, sans the pervasive sleaze in American entertainment, and typically feature one or more strong moral themes.
The Asian dramas typically project a vibrant sense of humor and have captivating musical sound tracks using every imaginable musical genre. Most appealing are the endless dramatizations of beautifully applied Biblical principles. Examples are routine dramatizations of absolutely unconditional love surviving all manner of heavy duty obstacles and long periods of separation, forgiveness in particularly painful circumstances, and “love your enemies”—clearly one of the believer’s most difficult challenges. The overall message of the Asian TV dramas is that there is no conflict or misunderstanding that cannot be overcome in a loving, godly, manner.
Yes, you will likely have to read the English subtitles, but doing so does not weaken the drama at all. The viewer still enjoys and experiences all the emotions, laughter, and tears produced by the characters in the program. The actors speak just enough English for a Westerner to feel comfortable.
God’s very best floodlight for exposing the differences between American motion pictures/television and Asian television is The Ten Commandments. Consider the first table, comparing the attributes of American and Asian entertainment side-by-side with the Commandments. The contrast is so stark, it will seem like flashing neon to the reader. Since no mere mortal can one-up The Ten Commandments, no further commentary on the table is necessary.
While The Ten Commandments in the first table exposes the differences between American and Asian entertainment, the second table reveals the effects of the glaring differences. Take a look! Once again, the flashing neon-like table needs no further amplification.
To the seasoned Western viewer, the tables may be intellectually satisfying and spiritually appealing, but may seem emotionally a bit wimpy, begging the question, “Exactly, what is the source of dramatic power in the Asian productions?” For there to be a struggle between good and evil, there has to be some form of evil. Find out more in Part 2
What does it take to wake up the body of believers?
What does it take to wake up the clergy?
This blog was first posted about a year ago. The astonishing, shocking, short 14-minute Christian blockbuster movie can be viewed here: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=robo&p=Sing+a+Little+Louder+movie+trailer#id=4&vid=32a843fdd85f277309e5e1b2aebf5849&action=view or
at Kingdom Works here” https://kingdomworks.com/sing-a-little-louder/
Kingdom Works allows the movie to be shown in your church or synagogue for free.
For convenience, the original blog is provided as follows:
An old man tells a profound story about a childhood experience. As a young boy during World War II, he lived in Nazi-controlled Germany. His family regularly attended a church located along side railroad tracks. Trains regularly passed the church during the church services.
They were long strings of cattle cars painfully overloaded with terrified Jews destined for work camps, concentration camps, and usually death. There was no food, no provisions for personal hygiene, and no considerations for people with special needs. In the heat of summer, the extremely cramped cattle cars became ovens. The stench from accumulating body waste was suffocating.
On at least one occasion, a train stopped outside the church. In the absence of air conditioning, the windows were frequently open. The congregation could hear anguished cries of pain and desperate pleas for help.
The pastor raised his voice so he could be heard above the din. When it was time for the choir to sing, the pastor instructed them to, “Sing a little louder,” to cover the disturbing sounds from outside. The compelling experience seared into the boys mind and changed his life forever. The story has become a book and recently a movie.
What about today? Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
- 55,000,000 unborn babies have been murdered using increasingly gruesome processes euphemistically called “abortion.” When we hear their cries, are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
- America’s Judeo-Christian culture is being destroyed by massive government-encouraged immigration that includes the immigration of large numbers of criminals, terrorists, and people adhering to religious beliefs that are hostile to Jews and Christians as well as millions of immigrants too poor and uneducated to support themselves. (Refer to Ann Coulter’s new book, “Adios America.”) Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
- Our culture, including a large portion of the body of Judeo-Christian believers is rapidly sinking into a moral abyss. Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
- The witness of believers is being crushed by the relentless pressures of political correctness. Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
- The public school system has become intellectually inept as well as emotionally and spiritually toxic. (Refer to “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children,” by Samuel Blumenfeld and Alex Newman.) Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
- The politicians of both political parties are spending America into irretrievable bankruptcy. Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
- The United States Supreme Court appears poised to declare the sin of oxymoronic “same-sex marriage” to be a Constitutional right. Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
- The military valiantly protects our freedom from without. But our individual freedom is being lost from within by the feeding frenzy of a rabid, out-of-control government. Freedom is a gift from God, not a grant from government. Are we moving to protect that divine gift or are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
- Large numbers of believers around the world, especially in the Middle East are being tortured, shot, hanged, burned alive, or beheaded, because they refuse to renounce their Messiah. Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
Who among the clergy or laity has the courage to stand up and demand that we sing a new song? No—not the one we will sing in glory, but the new song for today that actively confronts the exponentially increasing evils of 21st Century America.
What would the Apostles Paul, Peter, and John say if they were with us today?
The movie, Sing a Little Louder, is now available for viewing in places of worship. Find it at http://singloudermovie.com/
What will YOU do?
The PAIN When God’s Family Turns Away from HIM
History has treated the family as a state within a state attaching to the family a certain “sovereignty.”6 G.K. Chesterton. Two people must agree to marriage; only one is necessary to guarantee a government facilitated divorce. Divorce cedes authority to the state, assuring increasing dependence on the state and perpetual domination of the wealthy over the poor and middle class. Consider that most people go to church to be married, but go to the government to be divorced. Marriage costs the state very little, but a huge tax payer-funded bureaucracy is required to support divorce. We pay billions in taxes to support the sinful choices of others. Marriage preserves freedom from government control. Divorce cedes freedom and control to the government.
Limiting sexual intimacy to the confines of marriage contributes to the permanence of the marriage. True sexual intimacy reflects the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual intimacy (bonding of two souls), which become the mortar that holds together the structure of the marriage. Physical intimacy before marriage allows two people the shallow transient pleasure of a rub and a tickle, rather than unfettered soulful bonding. But that transient experience is so powerful, so all-consuming that it becomes virtually impossible to clearly discern whether or not that partner is the best one to become an irrevocable, lifetime, “til-death-do-us-part” marriage partner.
Multiple intimate partners before marriage weaken or damage the soul and seriously inhibit the ability to make and sustain a lifetime commitment to a marriage partner. Following a series of temporary “bonds,” it becomes increasingly difficult to form the pervasive holistic bond that God intended with the one special marriage partner.
Similarly, extra-marital intimacy following the marriage creates the potential for destroying the marriage and family. The devastation painfully damages the spouse, children, siblings of the couple, and many friends. In addition, there is an immediate ripple effect among many people and an extended ripple effect through at least three or four subsequent generations. Is it worth it? Of course not! There is no way that the momentary pleasure even when repeated numerous times can justify the extended sphere of subsequent pain and suffering.
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” [Hebrews 13:4 NAS] “Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not covet.” [Exodus 20:14 & 17 KJV] Hosea repeatedly forgave Gomer even though she was adulterous and a prostitute. [Hosea 3:3 KJV] As always, God’s moral law is an expression of His love established for our benefit.
Tasting the original forbidden fruit carried a high price. (1) “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” [Genesis 3:6 KJV]. Sin entered the world. Similarly, (2) “The path of the adulteress leads to death.” [Proverbs 2:16-22 KJV] “What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder.” [Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:9 KJV] The command is non-optional and non-negotiable.
“Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love.” St. Francis of Assisi “…in everything worth having, even in every pleasure, there is a point of pain or tedium that must be survived, so that the pleasure may be revived and endure.” G.K. Chesterton.
For troubled Christian marriages, counseling is not likely to be productive unless and until both parties genuinely agree that the Bible is the inspired inerrant word of God and that divorce is NOT an acceptable option under any circumstances. The agreed upon mutual view solidifies the common goal to save the marriage. In addition, the husband and wife both have an incentive to resolve troublesome issues because they both desire to enjoy the fullness and richness of the human experience. Since they have both agreed that divorce is unacceptable, the only remaining alternative is to resolve the issues. Often the resolution is facilitated if the effort is framed by the memory of why they originally chose to marry.
What does it take to wake up the body of believers?
What does it take to wake up the clergy?
God Assigned to the Parents Primary Responsibility for Children’s Education
Scripture assigns to parents the primary responsibility of educating their children. That assignment directly from God has never changed. In time, the parents were aided by religious institutions assuring a seamless character building process from birth to adulthood and beyond. Eventually, government schools assumed the responsibility for educating the children.
Initially, the government sponsored public schools supported the religious mission so well that the parents and religious institutions began to abandon much of their God-assigned responsibilities for educating the children. But, beginning in the 1960s, the government kicked God out of the schools eventually banning most forms of religious expression in schools and virtually all other public places.
Consequently, today’s public educational system is experiencing a major crisis. It has been hijacked by the liberal progressive movement and deprived of emotional and spiritual influences in order to emphasize the “academics,” in preparation for the assumed priority of career over family in the life of every rising young man and young woman. Evolution-driven materialism recognizes no other educational goals.
In contrast, Martin Luther proclaimed, “I would advise no one to send his child where the Holy Scriptures are not supreme. Every institution that does not unceasingly pursue the study of God’s Word becomes corrupt…I greatly fear that the [schools], unless they teach the Holy Scriptures diligently and impress them on the young students, are wide gates to Hell.” Take control of education as God commanded:
Therefore shall you lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them upon the door posts of your house, and upon your gates: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children… [Deuteronomy 11:18-21 KJV 2000] Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. [Proverbs 22:6 KJV]
The Scripture passage requires parents to recognize that education is a high priority, full time, around-the-clock responsibility. The “order from headquarters” come with a promise of a long life for you and for your children. Consider all of home life to be an educational opportunity for both the children and parents. Aggressively pursue home schooling or a Biblically based Christian school.
The churches and synagogues must reclaim the responsibility for parental and organized faith-based education. A few hours in a church or synagogue cannot compete with the powerful and compelling influences of continuous immersion in a culture and public government-run schools systems saturated with an aggressively advocated no-god or mini-god evolution-rooted humanistic worldview. There must be an education alternative.
Home schooling is a great alternative. It is absolutely scriptural and provides parents with the greatest degree of influence and control over the raising of their own children. Home schooled children learn more in 1-2 hours a day than a public school child does in the entire school day. National spelling bees are routinely won or dominated by home schooled children.
The home school resources available today are far superior to the resources available just a few years ago. Active home schooling organizations establish groups for activities such as participation in athletic teams and field trips. Parents and others with special skills draw together small groups of home school children to teach higher level subjects like chemistry, physics, or advanced mathematics. However, many families may not be in a position to engage in home schooling.
Too many churches or synagogues have Monday through Friday pre-school programs allegedly to respond to the needs of changing times. Despite the very best of intentions, preschool programs alone effectively facilitate and even fuel the breakdown of the family. There are many families who are dissatisfied with the public schools and perhaps not equipped for home schooling.
Faith-based schools are no longer just a nice option. They have become vital and essential to the restoration of a passion for freedom and survival of our families and our American culture. Religious and moral teaching feeds the thirst for education and desire to mature in character. Faith-based schools must become a high priority for parents.
What does it take to wake up the body of believers?
What does it take to wake up the clergy?
Evolution, also known as scientific naturalism, is a faith system that underlies secular humanism. According to The Humanist Manifesto 2000, “The unique message of humanism on the current world scene is its commitment to scientific naturalism.” In 1961, the Unites States Supreme Court declared, “Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are…Secular Humanism, and others.” MacArthur observes that,
Religion is exactly the right word to describe naturalism. The entire philosophy is built on a faith-based premise. Its basic presupposition—a rejection of everything supernatural—requires a giant leap of faith…The notion that natural evolutionary processes can account for the origin of all living species has never been and never will be established as fact. Nor is it “scientific” in any true sense of the word. Science deals with what can be observed and reproduced by experimentation. The origin of life can neither be observed nor reproduced in any laboratory. By definition, then, true science can give us no knowledge whatsoever about where we came from or how we got here. Belief in evolutionary theory is a matter of sheer faith. And dogmatic belief in any naturalistic theory is not more “scientific” than any other kind of religious faith.
Even Charles Darwin remarked, “I was a young man with unformed ideas…to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion of them.” A century later, Whittaker Chambers added, “Humanism is not new. It is, in fact, man’s second oldest faith. It’s promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: “Ye shall be as gods.”
Consider the practical implications of the two opposing worldviews expressed in Figure. The dichotomy of the two worldviews is clear. The evolution dominated worldview isolates the individual as a temporary, purposeless, and insignificant fragment of the universe dedicated to self-centered survival, a self-indulgent life and promotion of self-interests. It is a view that evokes all the characteristics on the left side of the Figure. Civilization eventually dissolves into chaos, which is soon overtaken by totalitarianism, personal freedom is lost and the individual is controlled by others. Ultimately he/she dies—that is the end—there is nothing more.
In contrast, the Judeo-Christian worldview recognizes the uniqueness of a person made in the image of God and assigned the dual purpose of loving Him and loving others. “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[Matthew 22:37; Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV] This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ [Matthew 22:39; Leviticus 19:18 NIV] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:40 NIV] The Judeo-Christian worldview considers life as sacred to be honored and protected. The focus is on self-sacrifice, giving, and meeting the needs of others. Culture (civilization) is strengthened and personal freedom is maximized and guaranteed by a limited representational government. Ultimately, his/her eternal life is the supreme joy of being forever in the presence of the Creator.
Which do you prefer? Is it the frantic and frenzied high-stress short-term hedonistic pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain ending in annihilation (death)? Or is it the orderly, joyful satisfaction of meeting the needs of others, sharing life in a network of many others holding similar views, relishing the ultimate joy of sharing eternity with God and others in a place called Heaven? The choice should be an easy one, don’t you agree?
There is no evolutionist that perfectly fits the left side of the Figure. Similarly, there is no Christian that perfectly fits the right side. Nevertheless, a person’s wholly or partially adopted worldview will tend to drive him/her either toward the left or the right. Life is not static; the absence of movement is not possible. There will be “growth” in one direction or the other. In recent decades, growing cultural pressure has resulted in a general drift to the left of both the background American culture and also the Judeo-Christian culture, although the believers’ culture tends to be a few steps “behind” the background culture.
Jews and Christians have collectively displayed a growing character weakness primarily because they must live within a culture saturated with the fruit of evolutionary thinking. However, they are only available to a gathering of other believers in the churches and synagogues a few hours each week for what tends to be primarily a one-dimensional, spoon-fed intellectual education, i.e. listening to the teacher/preacher/rabbi in an atmosphere devoid of real personal experience. Believers often lack the soul-deep tools for resisting the nearly overwhelming cultural pressure. Consequently, a series of very slight compromises causes a sort of devolution (evolution in reverse) of moral sensitivities. The aggregate result of thousands of very slight compromises, by many people, is the leftward drift of the Judeo-Christian culture. The remedies will be in upcoming blogs. Meanwhile, what do YOU think?
This time of year “Happy New Year” is everywhere. The greeting is repeated so often, it almost seems as if it is on autopilot. The New Year is celebrated with parties, prayers, parades, and football games. But how can we assure happiness in the New Year?
Happiness is often equated with momentary or short-term excitement. “My favorite team won the Super Bowl!” “I got an ‘A’ in chemistry!” “She said ‘YES!’” There is no doubt about it; everyone enjoys that type of feel-good excitement. But it is based on emotion; it does not last. No one can live on a perpetually emotional high.
In contrast, a lifetime of long-term happiness has deeper spiritual roots that provide the support to withstand life’s challenges and hardships as well as celebrate the victories. That dimension of happiness reflects an inner joy anchored in a robust faith in God. Ever since Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden for disobeying God, every life has experienced occasional or sometimes long-term suffering. But a robust faith provides a clear vision of the light at the end of the tunnel and an appreciation of the character building opportunities associated with the hardships. The inner joy may be severely challenged but remains secure despite the pain.
Although my late wife never suffered any real physical pain, she did endure the progressive loss of physical mobility and mental capacity. Did her suffering have a purpose? Absolutely! Her experience dramatically and permanently changed my life and has had a rapidly expanding rippling effect on everyone with whom I come in contact. I explained to a rather large crowd at her memorial service that she and God gave me one of the greatest gifts I have ever received—the wonderful and glorious gift of tears. As a man, an engineer trained in logic, and the product of a rather stoic family, where there was not much room for a manly expression of tears. But the wonderful and glorious gift of tears stirred by seven years of accommodating her progressive loss opened up to me whole new realms of life experience both emotionally and spiritually that were not previously available. I became much more sensitive to the needs of disabled people and virtually everyone else as well. Her experience also contributed greatly to the motivation to write a book.
Here’s the deal: Ultimately, happiness is the result of living a virtuous life. How boring is that? Actually, a virtuous life is not boring at all; it is very rich, satisfying, and happy. During George Washington’s First Inaugural Address, he emphasized, “…there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists…an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness…” To President Washington, the link between “goodness and happiness” was plain and inescapable.” Further, Noah Webster found that, “If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad man to make and administer the laws.” A life based on virtues anchored deeply in the soul produces goodness of choices and actions that ignite a happy and joyful spirit within an individual and ultimately across cultures.
Happy New Year to YOU!
After being banned from Egypt, Moses barely survives a devastating trek across the desert wilderness. He is rescued by a group of shepherd girls, daughters of Jethro, a Midianite priest. Just before their marriage, one of the girls, Sephora [Yvonne De Carlo] profoundly compares traditional and secular values for Moses [Charlton Heston]. Moses has just described an Egyptian woman looking “as beautiful as a jewel.”
Sephora: “A jewel has brilliance, but gives no warmth.
- Our hands are not so soft but they can serve.
- Our bodies are not so white, but they are strong.
- Our lips are not perfumed, but they speak the truth.
- Love is not an art to us; it is life to us.
- We are not dressed in gold and fine linen; strength and honor are our clothing.
- Our tents are not the columned halls of Egypt, but our children play happily before them.
- We can offer you little, but we offer all we have.”
Moses: “I have not little, Sephora; I have nothing.”
Sephora: “Nothing from some is more than gold from others.”
The conversation between Sephora (Greek form of Zipporah) and Moses just prior to their wedding is a clear contrast between:
- traditional Biblical values, focusing on strong character and serving others (overcoming pride), and
- secular values that recognize little significance in character and seeks to serve self (feeding pride and magnifying materialism).
Which would you marry? …the wealthy and materialistic, but shallow and self-centered Egyptian girl or the shepherd girl who understands the importance of virtue and strong character and is committed to a life of loving (serving) others.
- Traditional Biblical values emerge from the wholeness of one’s soul as a conduit for God’s enduring love.
- Evolution-rooted secular values, failing to recognize the reality of a spirit and limiting emotional considerations to Hedonistic highs/lows, emerge from primarily intellectual utilitarian considerations. The latter is a humanistic deification of man, based on the assumption that evolution has reached its highest current level in the human reasoning.
Which would you choose? “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
The short answer? No! Throughout the 1950s, there were a number of highly successful Biblical epics made by Hollywood. The most spectacular was Cecil B. DeMille’s, The Ten Commandments. After a very long hiatus, the spectacular success of The Passion of the Christ renewed Hollywood’s interest in Bible-based movies. Recently, a movie called Noah was released and another, Exodus: Gods and Kings is nearing release. Both were made by directors who claim to be atheist or agnostic. Let’s Compare.
At the beginning of the movie, The Ten Commandments, director Cecil B. DeMille did something remarkable. He walked out on a stage to preface the movie with a few heartfelt comments:
Ladies and Gentlemen; young and old; this may seem an unusual procedure, speaking to you before the picture begins, but we have an unusual subject: the story of the birth of freedom; the story of Moses. As many of you know the Holy Bible omits some thirty years of Moses’ life, from the time that he was a three- month old baby and was found in the bull rushes by Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh and adopted into the court of Egypt until he learned that he was Hebrew and killed the Egyptian. To fill in those missing years, we turn to ancient historians such as Philo and Josephus. Philo wrote at the time that Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth; Josephus wrote some fifty years later and watched the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. These historians had access to documents long since destroyed or perhaps lost like the Dead Sea Scrolls. The theme of this picture is whether men ought to be ruled by God’s laws or whether they are to be ruled by the whims of a dictator like Rameses. Are men the property of the State or are they free souls under God? This same battle continues throughout the world today. Our intention was not to create a story, but to be worthy of the divinely inspired story created 3,000 years ago in the five books of Moses.
DeMille’s understanding of the importance of God’s laws was further clarified in the souvenir book distributed along with the movie:
The Ten Commandments are not rules to obey as a personal favor to God. They are fundamental principles without which mankind cannot live together—THE TEN COMMANDMENTS are not laws. They are THE LAW. Man has made 32,000,000 laws since they were handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai more than three thousand years ago, but he has never improved on God’s law.
The movie was clearly DeMille’s labor of love.
In contrast, a movie entitled Noah, about the Biblical worldwide flood was recently released. The director, Darren Aronofsky, is a self-proclaimed atheist. He departed widely from the Biblical account portraying Noah as the first great environmentalist and not mentioning God at all despite over ten references to God in the original. Another movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings is nearing release. The director Ridley Scott, is a self-acknowledged agnostic. Christian Bale the leading man has on separate occasions referred to Moses as schizophrenic and a terrorist. Scott’s rendering has God speaking to Moses through an angry child, rather than the burning bush and at least a few supernatural events, such as the Nile River turning to blood, are explained in natural terms. In the case of the Nile, a non-Biblical plague of crocodiles feeds on people whose blood turns the river red.
Can an evolution-driven humanistic director possibly make a God-honoring movie when he disavows the existence of God? The Ten Commandments was made to glorify God; the modern depictions of Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings were made to glorify Hollywood and the creativity of man. Cecil B. DeMille felt morally and spiritual bound to present Biblical history as accurately and respectfully as possible. Aronofsky and Scott claim no such allegiance. To them, the Biblical “stories” are merely a starting point. They feel free to depart from Scripture as often and as widely as they choose to achieve their goal of an agenda-filled entertaining movie. The state-of-the-art is such that the modern movies can be wildly entertaining but at what price?
Flashback! For decades preceding World War II, Hollywood elites were fascinated supporters of Joseph Stalin and communism in general. The pre-war communist influence in Hollywood has been well documented. At that time, American Communist Party leader Earl Browder discouraged the making of propaganda films. Instead, he encouraged movie makers to slip in “a drop of progressive thought” in regular movies, about five minutes in each movie. In the decades since WWII, Hollywood continued and still does have a love affair with socialism, which is communism-lite. The agendas in Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings are clear. Despite the entertaining nature of the movies, the makers want to discredit Judo-Christian tradition by displacing it with humanist values and goals.
In 1956, Cecil B. DeMille billed his movie, The Ten Commandments, as the story of “the birth of freedom.” It was the story of the Moses-led exodus of the ancient Israelites, following 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Many centuries after the Hebrews were freed from Egyptian bondage, that God-given freedom was codified successively in the Magna Carta (1215), the Mayflower Compact (1620), the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639) and the Constitution of the United States (1787).
It is difficult to avoid billboards. But YOU get to choose movie, television, and Internet experiences. All are powerful art forms, powerful because they reach the depths of the soul branding an imprint in a powerful and lasting way. No art form is neutral; it will either lift the soul toward God or drag the soul down. There is no movie, television show, or Internet experience that is just entertainment and nothing else. Even if the art form does not have an explicit agenda, it absolutely does reflect the worldview of its creator. As they say in the radio editorials, “That’s our view; we welcome yours.”