Finding God in Pop Culture-Teen Choice Awards

 

FINDING GOD IN POP CULTURE?

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In 1st Corinthians 9:22, Paul said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” I believe that it’s important for us as Jesus followers to adapt to our surroundings by using current events, movies, music and other pop references to make connections with those around us. These connections can then be used to reveal Godly principles to our friends and loved ones who wouldn’t otherwise listen.  Finding God in Pop Culture allows us to take a look at things around us in order to help us see and better understand the grace and message of God in this day and age.

 

Teen Choice Awards

Recently, my wife showed me a video of Ashton Kutcher accepting the Ultimate Choice Award– or “the old guy” award at this year’s Teen Choice Awards.  During this speech, the 35 year old actor avoided the usual acceptance speech cliché’s and used the opportunity to speak some profound truths into a generation.  While most people might not realize this, we as leaders should recognize the Biblical principles that were delivered on a sub-level during that speech.

 

His message had three points to it: First, he spoke of opportunity and immediately equated it with hard work. He spoke of all the small time jobs he had00290065-0000-0000-0000-000000000000_913e6ef8-b8d5-4f20-9d47-e99c063550a6_20130812141757_h_AP Images_864377702244 and how he never considered a job as beneath him.  This is a generation that lines up to become the next american idol but has no interest in lesser jobs that require service to others.  However, Jesus told us that “Whoever would be chief amongst us, let him be your servant.”Mt. 20:27  Jesus also told us that the “first shall be last and the last shall be first.”Mt 20:16 This can be seen in the what Ashton was saying that nothing in this world is owed to you.. If you want to succeed, you have to work hard, and for us Christians we should realize that God’s design for leadership doesn’t come through pure ambition, rather it comes through servanthood.

 

Ashton’s second point, lightly pointed out the importance of “being sexy.” However, he followed that by stating that the sexiest thing in the world in being smart and kind to others.  He finished that point by stating that everything else that is fed to this generation about looks, social status, etc. is all “crap.”  Proverbs 4:7 tells us ,”Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding. Seeking Godly wisdom is such a crucial thing in the life of the believer.

2905921539_7d0a4d50a5 However Paul tells us that we can understand every mystery and have all knowledge, but if we don’t have love, we are nothing.1 Cor.13:2 While we reach to better ourselves and grow stronger in the Lord, let us remember to use our strengths and knowledge to reach out and show kindness and compassion the world around us.  Through Christ, we are the light of the world. Shine brightly and let other’s see God’s love through you.

 

Finally, Ashton quoted the apple computer founder Steve Jobs in stating, “When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way that it is..   But life can be a lot broader when you realize one simple thing: that everything that we call life was made up by people that are no smarter than you. You can build your own things. You can build your own life. Build a life. Don’t live one. Build one.”

 

God is calling out a generation of leaders that are not moved by the world around them.  He is calling out a generation that will reach out and affect the world around them with the love, mercy and passion of Jesus Christ. Regardless of age, you are a part of that generation. Don’t just find yourself along for the ride in this life. Stand up and be a leader.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Tim 4:12 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2. 

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These are three simple truths that were presented from the unlikely source of the former”That 70′s Show” star Ashton Kutcher.  Now this writer is not stating that Ashton is, all around, a great role model or shining example of Christ. However, this situation serves as a perfect example of how one can look into the world around them to find elements of the culture that point back to the Bible.. Paul did this in Act 17:22-31 when he was speaking to the Grecians and used their popular religious elements as a gateway to speak of Christ. As we go throughout our lives and daily conversations, let us look to find elements in life to make a connection with our friends that can lead them to Christ.

 -Colt Straub

 

The Desperate Servant.

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Psalms 63: 1-6

You, God, are my God,earnestly I seek you;I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
4. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.

 

 

I often look at verses like 63:1 where is says that “My whole spirit longs for you as in a parched land where there is no water.”  I sometimes find it hard to relate to that the nature of true desperation wherein the psalmist is declaring complete dependence on the presence and influence of God.. In the American culture we live in, the fact remains that even at your worst, you are still probably in better shape than 75% of the world.   So it may be hard to put yourself in that mindset to say, “I long for God in the same manner as I would long for water in a parched land.”  Yet I continue to learn a lot about God through watching my children. My youngest daughter is 5 months old and is getting close to sitting up on her own. We work with her everyday but eventually she gets tired and just lays back.. She is at a stage in her life where she is completely dependent upon my wife and I for everything.  Rather she wants something to eat, something to drink, to move from here to there or whatever; she requires someone with a greater power than that of her own, to give her what she needs.

This is the place that the psalmist found himself in stating, “God I earnestly seek you, I’m as desperate for you as I would be for water in a desert. If I don’t have more of you, I won’t go on. God I have seen your glory, I have seen your presence and I want more and more of you.. So I will seek you in the morning.. I will seek you in the night.. Because I want more of you in my life.”

We live in a day and age, where we are completely desperate for a move of the Spirit of God..  I heard a statistic last week that only 4% of the young generation are Bible believing Christians.  It has become harder and harder to remain strong in your faith.. It is becoming more difficult to live out the life and the love of Christ in this world.  Compromise has infiltrated the people of God, making it hard to distinguished saved from unsaved; rendering us highly ineffective.  Yet, the message has never changed.  God’s love is real. God’s love is matchless and can find you at the point of your deepest need. Christ can meet you there, pick you up and restore you before God and man. The world’s need for God has not diminished just because their attitude against Him has increased.  The world’s need for God has not diminished just because we, as God’s children, have continually justified our lack of devotion to God in our pursuit to build our own kingdoms.  Your friends and loved ones who don’t know Jesus, are unknowingly desperate for His salvation, and yes, Christ could break through the clouds and declare salvation to the world, starting up a world-wide revival. But that is not the way he works..  He works through you and me.. He works through His servants who, having experienced his restorative love and power, devote their lives to spreading the good news of Jesus.

So the time for Games is over.  People of God, now is the time to seek the presence of God. Now is the time to dive into His life-giving word and be transformed. Not just so that you can be a better person, but so that you can be equipped with the word, presence and Power of God to touch the world around you.

Romans 12:1-2 states “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The phrase “I beseech you therefore” points to the importance of the context of Romans chapter 11, which is speaking of Christ’s work on the cross. Paul is saying “Because of all that Christ has done for you, I am pleading with you to give your entire life in the service to God, which is simply a reasonable request, a reasonable act of worship.” God has done everything for us. And in return he asks us for our entire lives in service to Him.   It’s not an absurd request. The God of heaven who gave us the lives that we messed up, died on a cross in order to restored us on earth and give us eternal life in heaven; demands complete devotion.  It’s a small request. It’s like God handing you a million dollars and saying, “I’ll take a coke, keep the change.”

We need to be desperate, passionate and hungry for more of God than ever before. We need to be ingesting the word of God and allowing His light to shine out to the world around us.  That doesn’t mean you won’t mess up..  The Bible speaks of 3,237 people and only one of them got it right. But when we stumble and fall, we can just rely on his mercy and grace to lift us back up.. And continue pressing in to God’s presence and power..

So I will end this devotional by re-iterating the words of the apostle Paul in stating, “Choose you this day, who you will serve.” Determine this day, that you are going to go after God with a passionate desperation. If we do this everyday, we will grow in the word, will and plan of God. We will grow, precept upon precept, being equipped to go out reach this world with the Love of God.

 

Three Keys to Raising Godly Kids: Intro

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You watch them grow up so stinking fast and are amazed at where the time has gone. One day you’re watching your little one learn to walk and then next thing you know they’re asking you for the keys to your car to go look for a job. I remember, when my first child was born, being told so many times to “enjoy it, it goes by so quickly.” “I know, I know.” I often said, oblivious to the truth that they were sharing. My oldest is only five years old but I can already attest to the validity of all of those well meaning people. Time does fly by. And at an overwhelmingly ever increasing pace. It seems that every year gets shorter and with each child, every stage comes quicker.

I wonder if the rate at which our kids are growing is what causes so many of us to set the wrong priorities in raising our children. We see them getting bigger every day and learning more and more each day so we respond by trying as hard as we can to enjoy each moment. We want our kids to be happy, to enjoy every moment so that our time is well spent. It’s not so important what we do to make them happy as long as they’re not upset. Our intentions are so doggone good. We want our kids to enjoy their lives and have the things we never had the opportunity to have so we give. We give them what they ask for, we give in to get them to stop whining, we give up on teaching them certain things because it’s such a struggle. I truly feel myself giving in or giving up so much more than I think is healthy. Do you?

I know that telling people how to raise their kids is a no no. I’m confident that many things I’ll discuss on this site will bring me email after email asking “How dare you?” That’s fine; I don’t mind because I’m so confident that God has something to say to the families of His church and that this something is crucial to the future of the Church, the future of our faith, and the future of our families. It can’t be stressed enough. I can’t overemphasize the importance of the sentence God is laying on my heart concerning the parents of our culture:

“We are not called to raise happy children and teenagers but to raise them to be adults who are WHOLE IN CHRIST.”

It’s a powerful statement. We know its true and that it’s good but for some reason our motto remains: “I just want my kids to be happy, to have what I didn’t have.” We live in a world that tells us everyday to get what you want to get so you can be happy. We believe it for ourselves so we have the TV and the car and the motorcycle and the boat and the list goes on and on. Our children are no different. “What sweetie? You want a cellphone? But you’re only eight years old…well, if all your friends have one I guess we’ll see what we can do.” Seriously!? This attitude of “keeping up with the Jones’” has developed a culture of selfishness and greed and a society full of young adults who want everything handed to them on a silver platter.

We’re Christians, we want different results than the world. We want our kid’s to be Godly, to make a difference in the world and set an example for their friends. But if we long for different results why do we raise our children using the exact same methods the world uses?

Over the next few posts I will be sharing what scriptures tell us are the three main keys to raising Godly kids. I’m not a formula person or a “Have new kids by next week.” kind of guy but I truly believe there are three things that God’s word tells us need to change in order to see our children become adults who are whole in Christ. We are called to be different, we try to be different in every aspect of our lives, why should how we handle our children be any different? I submit that it shouldn’t.

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The Cool Parents

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There is an emerging parenting style that’s ruining our kids and teens. The “Cool Parent.” It’s easy to accidentally fit into the “cool parent” category. There are also differing degrees or levels of inclusion into this group. I am going to discuss three symptoms, like most symptoms, the more you see the worse the disease. Hopefully you don’t see all three in your parenting methods.

So many parents just want to be liked by their kids. They want to be on the top five of their buddy list. It’s kind of a new concept, the cool parent. The symptoms of the “cool parent” are obvious:

 1. They look and act like a teenager.

These parents like to dress like their teen and listen to the same music. Worst of all they like to always say yes to any idea that may sound like fun. Anything that everyone else is doing is a must. You may hear this parent using improper English even though they know the real usage. You may also see them wearing toms, skinny jeans, and a graphic tea. They look pretty “legit.” They’re bumpin’ the latest music and watching MTV reality shows. AWESOME!

 2. They are popular.

The “cool parent” wants their kid’s friends to want to hang out at their house. Not so they can keep an eye on things, but so they’ll be considered a cool parent. Maybe the liquor cabinet is unlocked every now and then on purpose. “They’re going to do it anyway. Better it be in our house where we can keep an eye on them, right?” That’s at least what they say, but the reality is they’re breaking the law to look cool to their kids. It’s illegal, it’s irresponsible, it’s straight up bad parenting.

 3. With popularity comes reputation.

 The “cool parent” has a reputation with the teens as well as with the other parents. Maybe they’re the envy of the other parents. “If only my daughter and my relationship could be that good.” Or perhaps they are despised “Why can’t you be more like Kevin’s mom. She’s cool!” That’ll cause some dissension between parents and their kid’s right?

If you fit any of these descriptions, you may be a “cool parent.” If you are, I have bad news for you. You may not be a parent at all! Oops, did I actually say that? Oh snap, it’s on like Donkey Kong up in here. (See, I told you I knew teen culture.)

You’re not cool!

My own mom still laughs about the times I would ask her not to embarrass me when friends were coming over. She wasn’t intentionally embarrassing me, but she would always do something that mortified me. It wasn’t her fault though; it was my perception of her that was to blame. She was my mom, not a friend. All of my friends loved her, and that bothered me. Not because I didn’t love her but because SHE’S MY MOM. My mom is not cool! She’s the lady that gives me a curfew and gets mad when my laundry isn’t done. She’s the person who makes me drive my little brother to everything I do so he doesn’t feel left out. No matter what my mom did, she wasn’t ever going to be cool. Looking back on that, I think it’s how it should be.

We have to be ok with telling our kids “no.” I remember walking out of a store once with our middle daughter screaming her head off because she didn’t get some toy she wanted. When we got in the car I muttered, “How embarrassing,” to which my wife replied “I’m not embarrassed. We won! She didn’t get what she wanted. We carried out a screaming girl because we didn’t just give in.” She was right, we did the right thing, not the “cool” thing. Cool says “Sure honey, anything you want.” Right says, “NO, we can’t afford that right now.” Cool puts it on the credit card so my kid won’t cry anymore. I chose to do the right thing. not the cool thing. How about you?

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The Switchup.. by Kasey Straub

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Recently in my life there has been a switch up to the order I was used to. A switch up to something that I look forward to and enjoy very much, to something that I felt gave me purpose.  First thing that I did was get angry, second thing I did was question God why and now I am working on the third thing and asking God to forgive me of the first two things I did.

Did you know that God will sometimes strip you of things to get your attention, to guide you to a new place spiritually, to take you to a new place in your life or teach you something new or to even give you a new respect, desire or perspective to the very things he stripped you of? Well… He does. I have been through it once before when I was a teenager and now… I am going through it again.

Being a human and one that likes to know all the answers (like me), this is one of the things I have a hard time with.  Switch ups (well at least for me) usually come at a time of repetition (to get me out of my comfort zone) or when God wants to get my attention (so I rely on Him and my focus is solely on Him).  The First time that I went through one, was when God moved my family to Arkansas. I was stripped of all my longtime friends and activities. Everything that I had ever known or that I was working towards (like a scholarship to the college I wanted to go to) was taken away… God had told my parents this was the direction we needed to go in. My parents also had to drop everything as well. It was very hard as I moved my junior year.  I had no idea at the time why this was happening. I tried to be excited for a new beginning but I was scared deep down. To make a long story short God used this “switch up” to answer my long time prayer of finding my future husband! Ha ha… I would have never guessed. Well I am now married with three kids and now my parents live back where we moved from! (Funny huh?). The switch up that I am experiencing today really has hit me even harder… So hard in fact, I find myself wondering what am I doing?  What is going on? What is my true purpose/calling in life? Did I make a mistake?  Why would God do this? Questions have been filling my head and I almost fell into a depressed mode.

After seeking God this week, I have come to realize… God is allowing this “switch up” for a reason…  not only to get closer to Him… but to focus on my kids… and yes, this means I have to sacrifice some of the things that I enjoy doing very much… things that I believe to be my calling in life.  Now I understand, being a Mother is the ultimate calling in my life and the other calling comes second. I will not lie, getting stripped of things in your life can be very hard to endure and it is not fun to deal with. But see, you have to learn and get through each step of the way whatever they may be, whether they are expected or catch you off guard, they all lead to the ultimate call or place God wants you. Some are harder than others, some make less sense than others and some hurt more than others… but one thing is for sure… God will never strip you of Him, He will always be there for you.

If you are experiencing a “switch up” in your life, I encourage you to first seek God. Don’t get angry or question Him. Just seek first, save yourself the trouble of emotions. Go directly to Him and in His time, He will begin to show you the things He wants to teach you and in His time things will all start coming together and everything will begin to make sense.  I like the scripture 2 Corinthian 2:17 “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever”. Be encouraged! And Trust God!

-Kasey Straub

The tragedy of Lethargy

 

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The Tragedy of Lethargy

 I’m one of those Christians that have always been “in the club.” I grew up in the church; attended every service and special event that was made available to me (which in the heart of the bible belt was abundant); and even accepted the call of ministry at a very early age. For me, that is all that I ever wanted to do.  God continually proved Himself to be so good to my family, throughout the darkest times of our lives, that it thrust me headfirst into a passionate relationship with my heavenly Father that would carry me unquestionably well into my adult life.  From a public perspective, I was on the fast track into the “Big time” of music ministry. I went into full-time ministry at the age of 20 and stayed busy writing music, growing my craft and studying the word.   Yet beneath the outgoing exterior, a seed was planted and was taking root. It is the same seed that is planted in the hearts and minds of  every believer at one point or another. It was the seed of COMPROMISE.  For me it was never a compromise of moral implication or interpersonal disconnect. Rather it was the compromise that, I feel, is the rotting disease that is infecting the church of Christ: LETHARGY.  
 
Now this word is simply defined as a deficiency in mental or physical alertness. Lethargy is a state of sluggishness, drowsy dullness or apathy. The old saying goes, “Don’t shoot the messenger.”  However, the tactic of our enemy has not been to shoot the messengers of the church. Matthew 16:18 says that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church of God, built upon the foundation of Christ,  However, his tactic has been to initially divide us into ineffectiveness; and secondly to slowly dull our senses by such low levels of individual compromise that we are no longer functional as disciples of this radical revolutionary named Jesus. The Christian band, Casting Crowns, came out with the single “Slow Fade” many years ago that demonstrates my point beautifully.
The chorus to that song goes like this:
 
“It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away, 
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid,
when you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day, It’s a slow fade.” 
 
 
The time has come for us to wake up and see that there is a world out there in desperate need of God.  
 
What happens when good people sit back and do nothing? What happens when those who are supposed to be alive in Christ, live out their daily lives in the same fashion as their worldly counterparts?  The history of America over the last 60 years has shown that when the church is divided, we lose ground.  When the church is quiet, other voices will rise.  The time is now to come together. The time has come to be in the world, but not of the world. The time is now to stand up and declare that we are the Body of Christ, and we will spread the message of God’s grace.  With the fuel of God’s anointing and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the church will come aLive.  
 
-Colt Straub
 
Above photo downloaded from freedigitalphotos.net.