What TV shows are far better than American ones? (Part 2)

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.

American Asian TV Ten Commandments 2

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?

 

What TV shows are far better than American ones? (Part 1)

American Asian TV Ten Commandments 1“…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?

Motherhood!

“That special power of loving that belongs to a woman is seen most clearly when she becomes a mother. Motherhood is the gift of God to women. How grateful we must be to God for this wonderful gift that brings such joy to the whole world, women and men alike! Yet we can destroy this gift of motherhood, especially by the evil of abortion, but also by thinking that other things like jobs or positions are more important than loving, than giving oneself to others. No job, no plans, no possessions, no idea of “freedom” can take the place of love. So anything that destroys God’s gift of motherhood destroys His most precious gift to women—the ability to love as a woman.” Mother Teresa

I Must Decrease So That You Can Increase!

man looking at his big boss

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3:30 KJV] John the Baptist’s humble statement about his relationship with his cousin Jesus the Christ resounds loudly down through the ages. It applies to each of us today, regarding our relationship with the Lord and also our relationship with others.

Each of us must decrease so the love of God and the light of God can shine through each of our lives, becoming abundantly and conspicuously visible to others. Each of us must decrease so that others might increase. I (Lloyd Stebbins) must decrease so that YOU might increase. Humility demands it! God commands it!

Today, our schedules are voluntarily overcrowded with self; we have deliberately allowed little or no time to serve the needs of others. But wait! Serving others is an overarching Biblical imperative. Jesus, our perfect role model said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” [Mark 10:45 NIV]

We cannot draw attention to self and others at the same time. We cannot serve self and others at the same time.

Some say we must sacrifice self for the benefit of others. But scripture guarantees that the benefits returned outweigh perceived sacrifice. He said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you…” [Luke 6:38 KJV] The Apostle Paul, quoted Jesus saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive. [Acts 20:35 KJV] What do we have to give? Time, talent, and treasure!

It is a blessing to serve others. God blesses both the giver and the receiver, the benefactor and the one who benefits. If doubts linger, note that serving is not optional.  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:37040 NIV] Service is an expression of love; service is love in action; serving others is love made visible.

The world says, “Have it your way” (old Burger King commercial and Frank Sinatra’s popular song, “I did it my way.”). It is YOUR choice, your way or God’s way.

As for me and my house, we will acknowledge that Jesus is THE WAY–“I am the way, the truth and the life…” [John 14:6 KJV]—and whole heartedly strive to live accordingly.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

God’s Genius—Magnificent Difference Between a Man and a Woman!

running down beach.

A recent blog entitled, “Diversity Madness and Matrimony,” observed that the diversity craze has infected nearly every area of life except one. For several decades, the monumentally absurd—but politically correct—notion that there is no difference between a man and a woman, except for a few anatomical externals that can be surgically rearranged upon request, has been loudly proclaimed by liberal/progressive politicians, the media, academia, and eagerly portrayed by the entertainment industry. The alleged sameness of men and women conspicuously contrasted with the diversity epidemic.

However, the relentless proclamation of sameness betrayed the obvious. Plan B, for the liberal/progressive movement was to smear the differences between a man and a woman into a messy, unintelligible spectrum of nothingness, using the LGBTQ movement as the cause célèbre to promote Plan B.

The ultimate low is the toxic morality soup known as gender-fluid, which allows gender to be anything along the messy spectrum, subject to change at any moment. A person merely “identifies” with any of an infinite number of genders. As the consummate form of “tolerance,” gender-fluid is the obliteration of all remnants of morality and may be the final nail in the coffin of the traditional family.

It is difficult to imagine a harsher way for America to shake its collective fist in the face of God!

The magnificent difference between a man and a woman is among the greatest examples of the infinite genius of God. A married man and woman represent a breathtaking integration of mutual submission within a framework of interdependence (not codependence). “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” [Ephesians 5:21 KJV] They are the nascent nucleus of a new family that grows with each gift from God, the miracle of conception and the later birth of a child.

The family as created and structured by God is sovereign unto itself and is the only means of transmitting the biblical worldview and God’s biblical character values to future generations. Collectively, godly families are the bulwark of civilization and the only sustainable path to an enduring culture.

“God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” [Genesis 1:28 NAS] The many differences between a man and a woman represent a complex and thrilling distinction that cannot be explained by evolution.

Differences! Differences! Differences!

God Created Men and Women to Be Complementary

Perhaps the most tangible and visible manifestation of God’s creative genius is that He designed men and women to complement each other in virtually endless ways. Men and women exhibit complementary differences physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

Married Couples Fit Together Like Pieces of a Complex Jigsaw Puzzle

Married couples complement and merge each other’s inherent strengths and weaknesses. In addition to their complementary strengths and weaknesses, each may have to occasionally become uncharacteristically strong, in a normally weak area to overcome the other’s temporary lapse or uncharacteristic weakness in another area. Habits also complement and change with time.

Scripturally, the order of the universe is that the Lord is the bridegroom and the body of believers is the bride. Of course, in any earthly marriage the man is the bridegroom and the bride is the beautiful woman spectacularly dressed in a white wedding gown walking down the aisle to meet her man.

But in a larger sense, the bride is not just the woman at the ceremony, the bride is the woman and by extension the children she later produces, often referred to as the fruit of her womb. The husband is required to love the wholeness of his bride, i.e. the wholeness of his family, even as the Messiah also loved the church, to the point of the husband’s own death if necessary.

Fallows magnificently explains, “The husband is the ‘house band,’ the earthly giver of life, uniting the divine with the human in the supreme function of fatherhood.” The wife is ‘the weaver,’ shaping and coloring in the prenatal and postnatal influences of sacred motherhood the destinies of her offspring.” “As the “earthly giver of life, uniting the divine with the human,” the husband/father becomes the role model for “the first and greatest commandment” to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

As the “weaver,” the wife/mother is the connection between the past and future generations of her family, but also the past and future generations of the culture. She is the role model for the second summary commandment to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Shannon clarifies,

“Mothers constitute the only universal agent of civilization. Nature has placed in her hands both infancy and youth. The vital interests of America hang largely upon the influence of mothers.” The queen that sits upon the throne of home, crowned and sceptered as none other ever can be, is—mother. Her enthronement is complete, her reign unrivaled, and the moral issues of her empire are eternal. “Her children rise up, and call her blessed.” Rebellious at times, as the subjects of her government may be, she rules them with marvelous patience, winning tenderness and undying love. She so presents and exemplifies divine truth, that it reproduces itself, in the happiest development of childhood—character and life…An ounce of mother is worth more than a pound of clergy.”

Together, fueled by God’s infinite supply of love, Dad and Mom become virtual superheroes, an incredibly awesome team stabilizing God’s brilliantly designed family and the national culture as a whole. A child forms a vertical relationship with God, primarily, though not exclusively, through the role model of the father; a child forms horizontal relationships with others within and beyond the family primarily, though not exclusively, through the role model of the mother.

The complementary combination produces godly character in the child. The actions of role modeling build character in the parents. The character of every family member extends outward to the community and the nation.

That is God’s grand design for Dad and Mom. What incredible superheroes!

Judeo-Christian Worldview

Here is how: Consider a month-long series of marriage/family oriented sermon messages along with similarly themed Bible classes—Encourage people to look as masculine or feminine as possible during that month. “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” [Deuteronomy 22:5 NASB]  Different clothes reflect the inward heart.

A married man and woman fit together like a pair of hands. Left and right hands can clap to honor God or others. One hand cannot clap.

Homemaker

Today, “homemaker” has become one of the most misunderstood and abused concepts in the American culture. For thousands of years, people in most cultures understood the near miraculous role of the homemaker. Homemaker makes the home the greatest place in the universe for her family. She meets the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs of the family. There is no higher calling than pursuing the cohesiveness of the family and raising children to become adults of strong character.

Sure the homemaker can go out and get a job. But she already has the most important job in the universe. Why accept a demotion?

“You drive the women of my people from their pleasant homes. You take away my blessing from their children forever. Get up, go away! For this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, beyond all remedy. [Micah 2:9-10 NIV]

Careers

All jobs and careers have interesting/exciting components and also disagreeable components. Mother/homemaker is one of the few God-created careers and by far the most important of all careers.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

 

Devotions—Rich, Disciplined, Half-hearted, Flat or Non-existent?

Woman reading inside a huge book

Is your time with God—often called “devotions”—rich, forced self-discipline, half-hearted, flat, or non-existent? As a believer for decades, my own devotions have at varying times fallen into each category. However, for the last couple of years, my devotional time with God has become spectacularly rich. Each morning, I am virtually launched from the bed eagerly anticipating time with the Lord. Why? What changed? In part, it is because C.S. Lewis observed that:

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read and old one in between. God in the Dock (1970)

Lewis’ likely concern was that a believer may pick up an armload of new books at the local Christian bookstore, all of which are well-written, by nationally known mature Christian authors. The books are great recommended reading.

However, despite the authors’ very best efforts, they are all influenced—to some extent—by their contemporary culture. American authors are subject to the influences of the seriously deteriorating American culture. Similarly, historical authors are subject to the cultural influences of their day. Reading books spanning the panorama of time helps to offset the cultural influences of any one particular time period.

Considering C.S. Lewis’ observation, if your devotional time lacks urgency and excitement, consider these suggestions, following a Bible reading with several other daily readings:

  1. Bible—Any reliable translation (Avoid paraphrases except perhaps for clarifying difficult passages in a translation.)
  2. Federer, William J. (2012). American Minute: Notable Events of American Significance Remembered on the Date They Occurred, Amerisearch, Inc. (St. Louis, MO). The pages, dated for each day of the year, include powerful quotations from famous figures. The daily reinforcement drives the inescapable conclusion that America was born in faith, grew to become the most desirable place on earth by faith, and only faced the most serious culture crumbling issues in recent decades.
  3. Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2012). The Puritans Daily Readings, Christian Heritage Imprint by Christian Focus Publications (Geanies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire). The daily readings were written by Puritan Leaders. Unknown to most people, the Puritans became a very large movement, spanning Western Europe and early America. The movement was prominent for over two centuries. The writings of some of the best British Puritans are in this volume. The depth of each daily page is truly impressive.
  4. Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2010). George Whitefield Daily Readings, Christian Heritage Imprint by Christian Focus Publications (Geanies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire). The Great Awakening was a powerful spiritual awakening that swept America during the years leading up to the War of Independence, later known as the Revolutionary War. The Great Awakening inspired the yearning for freedom and the zeal to embark on a very high risk war. George Whitefield was one of the best known preachers of the era. His messages published as daily readings are both compelling and powerful.
  5. â Kempis, Thomas. (2004). The Imitation of Christ, Hendrickson Christian Classics (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA). Originally written circa. 1300 A.D. Thomas â Kempis was part of the Reformation. His book is written as a series of short undated meditations that are excellent for daily reading. It shines a very bright light on the gap between the way many believers live today and the life Christ intended them to live.
  6. Bennett, Arthur, ed. (2013). The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, The Banner of Truth Trust, (Versa Press, Inc. East Peoria, IL) The daily readings are prayers written by Puritans. Some are so rich they will bring tears to your eyes. Surprisingly, the American Puritans were nothing like the stereotype. They were actually colorful dressers, enjoyed a vibrant sense of humor, and knew how to throw a good party (Source: Their own diaries). Their defining feature was that they made no distinction between the sacred and the secular. To the Puritans, all of life was sacred.

Personally, I choose to read a chapter a day from the Bible, and a page a day from each of the other books. The collection inspires devotional times that are awesome, exciting, compelling, and growth producing.

Many popular modern devotionals potentially do more harm than good. They typically sandwich a feel good story between a couple of lines of Scripture at the top and a two-line prayer at the bottom. They lack substance, challenge, and fall woefully short of provoking a soul-deep relationship with God.

The late Dr. Howard Hendrix, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and Dallas Cowboys Chaplain, was fond of saying. “One of Satan’s most powerful weapons is to vaccinate people with a small dose of Christianity.”

Many believers read a chapter in the Bible, a page in a modern devotional, and mentally pat themselves on the back, convinced that they have satisfied their “obligation” for a daily devotional time. They are anxious to get on with “real life.” If we are truly devoted to the Lord, our devotion is continuous—all day every day, around-the-clock. The planned morning devotions are merely the kick start for the rest of the day.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?