What words are adequate to describe this? Humbling. Inspiring. Worshipping!
What words are adequate to describe this? Humbling. Inspiring. Worshipping!
No parent wants to give his or her child unfettered access to the Internet. But neither is it realistic or wise to forbid any access whatsoever. How then do we plot a course that avoids these two extremes and yet maximizes their moral and spiritual safety? In my recent article for Christianity.com, I outlined 7 Steps to Using Technology for God’s Glory.
Click here for the full article.
Lay Elders – A User’s Guide
So much good advice here.
Being Black and Reformed
Tabletalk interview with pastor and author Anthony Carter.
Who goes there?
What should we be looking for when we read the Old Testament? Peter Mead has three answers.
Dave Ramsey’s Free Guide to Budgeting
I wish I’d met Dave Ramsey 30 years ago.
17 Billion Earth-Size Planets in our Galaxy
This should help you understand Psalm 8 even more.
A food pyramid is a graphic way of displaying the recommended daily intake of different kinds of healthy food. The Apostle Paul drew a media food pyramid for us in Philippians 4:8, breaking down our media intake into six healthy categories:
Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever thingsare pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
1. True not false: “Whatever things are true”
Media lies are found on both the left and the right. Christians will often rightly protest at the bias of the mainstream media, and yet be completely blind to the bias that comes from the more conservative media outlets. But lies are lies regardless of whether they come from the left or the right.
We also have to be careful that we don’t over-expose ourselves to journalists who spend most of their time exposing the lies of “the other team.” Again this over-emphasis on falsehood only breeds cynicism, suspicion, and mistrust.
2. Noble not base: “Whatever things are noble”
The media tend to publicize the vile and sordid side of life. Some of the most popular books over the past years have been childhood memoirs that describe the most horrific abuse and cruelty. 50 Shades of Grey, a trilogy of books that celebrate sadistic sex, has occupied the bestsellers list for months and months, drawing massive media attention and debasing old and young minds alike.
“Don’t do this to yourself!” appealed Paul. Bin the base and nourish the noble in your life. “Noble” means “majestic, awe-inspiring, worthy, and elevating.” It’s the word used to describe deacons in 1 Tim 3:8 and old men in Titus 2:2. It can be translated “gravity” and is the opposite of what is cheap, tawdry, and frivolous.
3. Right not wrong: “Whatever things are just”
“Just” means what conforms to God’s law and standards, and describes right conduct in the whole of life. Does that sound like most sit-coms, soap-operas, and news features? Do the media celebrate right acts? Quite the reverse; they usually focus on sinful acts. Moral people don’t make the news and if they do ever appear in TV or on film, they are caricatured as out-of-touch or irrelevant.
4. Purity not filth: “Whatever things are pure”
When was the last time you saw a film that celebrated chastity and modesty, or showed the beauty of Christian marriage, or that portrayed a normal functioning family. Immorality, abuse, fighting, murder, and weirdness rules the day. Filth floats to the surface while purity sinks without trace.
5. Beautiful not ugly: “Whatever things are lovely”
“Lovely” things call and compel admiration and affection. It’s literally “towards love” and means whatever produces love, whatever moves towards love. Perhaps the best modern word would be “beautiful” or “winsome.” That’s hardly a word that comes to mind when surveying most TV listings or movie premieres. The ugly side of life seems to win the day as so many are fatally drawn to the darkness (John 3:19). Notice how many millions of views that “Fail” videos have on Youtube! See if you can find many viral videos that showcase the beautiful and the lovely.
6. Praise not complaint: “Whatever things are of good report”
Focus on what is constructive rather than destructive, on whatever makes people exclaim, “Well done!” rather than what makes you and others say, “That’s terrible.”
As you sit at your dinner table, do you suggest topics that will show people up in a good light or in a bad light? Do you tell stories that will make your family praise God and others or in a way that will make them doubt God and criticize others.
Whatever x 6
There is much good in everyday life that should be acknowledged and appreciated, regardless of whether it is done or said by a Christian or not. Whether it’s a good product, a helpful service, a wise insight, a superb article, or a beautiful photograph, praise and celebrate it. Don’t look first for what you can critique, look for what you can admire. As Paul summed up: “If there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
And his emphasis is not on the “not.” He’s not saying so much, “Don’t watch that, don’t listen to this, don’t think about that, don’t, don’t, don’t…” Rather it’s positive, “Do think, do focus, do fill your minds with the true, the good, the lovely, etc.” And let’s help our children to do the same. That’s a daily duty and a daily battle for which we need daily grace.
What old and new media sources and resources have you found that help you eat healthy?
See also: A New Diet for a New Year.
5 Books to fill a gap in church history and doctrine
While reading Lifted by Angels recently, I’ve been amazed at how much I’ve benefited from Joel Miller’s use of the early church fathers. So when he recommends five books from 1000 years of ignored church history, I’m inclined to sit up and take note. And while we’re on the subject, Kent Shafer lists the top 14 books for church leaders from the early church period.
The Beauty in the Busy
This would have been a good Monday morning post for pastors. But Tuesday will do just as well.
Out of the Cave
As someone who’s just spent six months in the cave (in fact I’m still in it), I so appreciated Peter Leithart’s colorful description of the writing experience.
5 Things Bad Radio Guests Do (and 7 ways to rock on radio)
Essential reading for anyone who ever gives interviews on radio, TV, or Connected Kingdom podcasts!
You’ll want to visit an re0visit Brain Croft’s blog for a constant supply of practical ministry posts.
Pleasing Grief and Mournful Joy
This post just gets better and better.
“There’s only bad news or public relations.”
That was the cynical summary of a well-known TV journalist who gave me and my fellow Seminary students a day of media training at the BBC’s Edinburgh HQ many years ago.
There’s only bad news or public relations.
When he challenged us to argue against his assertion, we came up with multiple examples of “good news.”
“What about a factory winning a large order that will increase employment by 300?”
“Just PR for the business. Not for TV news.”
“What about a policeman rescuing a child that fell in a river?”
“Police PR. No media interest there.”
“House sales doubled last month. Surely that’s good news worth reporting?”
“Nope. Just free advertising for realtors and mortgage brokers.”
No matter what “good news” we suggested, he derided all our ideas as cheap promotional gimmicks, not fit for publication or broadcast.
With such a dismissive approach to anything upbeat and positive, is it any wonder that our media serve us up such an unremitting diet of negativity? It’s just so depressing isn’t it?
But in an age of multiplying and diversifying media sources and resources, we don’t need to accept being force-fed such junk food. Instead we can, and should, feed our minds a diet of words, sounds, and images that’s tilted towards what is good and beautiful rather than bad and ugly. As the Apostle Paul put it:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things (Phil. 4:8).
Paul was not arguing for unrealistic isolation from the bad news that inevitably fills a fallen world. No, this is not a warrant for monasteries and convents; but it is a warrant, even a demand, that we choose a deliberate imbalance in favor of what is inspirational and wholesome, instead of the media’s general weighting on the side of what is depressing and gross.
Garbage in, garbage out
As Paul explained, our media diet will not only change the way we think, but the way we feel, speak, and act. Hardly surprising, is it? Just as the quality of the food that we put in our mouths affects our thinking, feeling, and doing, so the kinds of words, sounds, and images we put in our ears and eyes will have the same effect. “Garbage in, garbage out, “as they say.
Like the Philippians many of us are habitual worriers (4:6), our minds always racing from one unresolved anxiety to the next. It doesn’t need to be like this. Paul holds out the prospect of an unimaginable and unsurpassable divine peace (4:7) to garrison our hearts and minds, a peace that will patrol the entrances to our emotions and thoughts. But the way to enjoy that peace-patrol is to change our media diet (4:8).
In other words, if we let what is false, offensive, dishonest, filthy, ugly, and loathsome into our minds, we might as well sign up for a course on how to be hyper-anxious. These interlopers drive peace from the garrison, lower the drawbridge, and invite the armies of worry and instability into our citadel.
Good in, good out
On the other hand, if we starve ourselves of that junk, and replace it with what is true, admirable, right, pure, beautiful, and attractive, peace will stand as a sentinel all around our feelings and thoughts, creating an impregnable castle of calm and tranquility. The peace of God and the God of peace will be with you (4:7,9).
Why not start a new diet for a new year and trim the weight of worry and anxiety from your burdened heart and mind?