Christian Media

An Interesting Question from Joyce Meyer

I was interviewed by Joyce Meyer on two of her TV programs recently because she wanted to discuss the media and how it bombards our daily lives.  She was particularly interested in how we can protect our hearts and minds (and our families) from the onslaught of violence, sexuality, and generally coarse behavior we often find on TV and in the movies.  I always enjoy being with Joyce, and although our view of acceptable movies doesn’t always match, I find her really sincere and concerned about what Christians are consuming on a regular basis.

One of the issues we discussed is how in an age where the volume of information is enormous, why our lives reflect so little change?  She started thinking about it after hearing different people talk about reading all her books or listening to her teaching tapes, but they still have so many problems.  I also find it true in other areas. People who are the most educated sometimes have the most problems.  We’re drowning in information, and yet the culture as a whole seems to be more coarse, violent, and sexual than ever.

More than that – I look at audiences for Christian media programs, and I think we’ve raised a generation of junkies. The truth is, we’ve created a generation of Christians looking for a magic bullet. That’s why people travel thousands of miles from conference to conference just to “get a word,” find “fresh oil,” “get the glory,” or “catch their blessing.”  They’re looking for the easy way out.

Christians today have become addicted to the feeling.  We’ve forgotten how difficult living the Christian life can be, and in our pursuit of prosperity and a nice Mercedes, we’ve lost touch with the years Paul rotted in prison, Peter’s horrific upside-down crucifixion, and William Tyndale being strangled and burned at the stake for giving us the remarkable gift of the English Bible.

Living the Christian life is hard.  We’ve got to do more than simply listen to the latest teaching tape by our favorite evangelist.  We have to live it out on a daily basis.  It’s about choices – making the kinds of choices (sometimes hard ones) that create a life worth living.

Joyce’s frustration was right on target and we had a great conversation about it, and I’m going to continue writing on the issue.  Want to get out of debt?  Stop sending your money to a Christian TV telethon and start controlling your spending.   Want to be healed?  Lay off the French fries.  Want to be closer to God?  Pray, read the Bible, study to show yourself approved…

Yes – God can work miracles, but I don’t think he exists to make up for our lazy living.

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15 Comments

  1. Excellent Phil.

    Knowledge accumulated doesn't necessarily equate to knowledge applied. 

    I think in the information age we live in, we've come to believe that information is the solution for most every problem we face.  Information certainly helps to act better, but it doesn't make us act or ensure that how we act will bring about the results we desire if we don't act soon enough.

    The Christian Life and the American Dream are not the same things.  Telling people what we all want to hear is an effective means of success in our culture and society.  Telling what we need to hear sometimes is painful and the road of Christ is often the narrow, more difficult one to traverse.  Well said.

  2. My grandma, raised dirt poor in the Mississippi cotten fields, used to refer to some people as "being educated beyond their  intelligence". 

     

    Perhaps we have the same thing at play in the church relm here. (smile)

  3. Wow! Great post. I think nothing in Christendom annoys me more than people who are rubbing lamps hopping Jesus will pop out and grant them three wishes.

  4. Phil, you said: “We’ve forgotten how difficult living the Christian life can be.” The idea is right, but I think the vast majority of Americans didn’t forget, they never had a clue it might be a bit tough (especially when lived rightly).

    I was in Romania right after the fall of the dictatorial communist regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu and had the opportunity to interview many of the Christian leaders and pastors. I heard something that changed my life. The pastor of one of the largest churches told me: “I kind of miss the old days. When I was followed constantly by the secret police, it was far easier to live a holy life. Now I have freedom. Much more freedom to sin without being found out.”

    We want the fine gold, but think we can get it without the heat of the refinery. It doesn’t work that way.

    We buy books (like Joyce referred to) Seven Steps to Success! But would never buy “How to Excel at Self Sacrifice”.

    Good post Phil.
    Now I have to go sell some Jesus Junk!

  5. 'She started thinking about it after hearing different people talk about reading all her books or listening to her teaching tapes, but they still have so many problems.'

    Huh? Amazing! Do I really even need to discuss the weight of this one sentence?

  6. in a much more toned down environment, this is exactly how I felt when I decided to attend a small Christian liberal arts university. It was in a small Bible belt town and I knew I was walking into a Christian bubble. All my high school life I had dreamed of going to a large public university, now I was in this bubble and my Christian life suffered.

    I'm getting ready to move overseas to a harsh environment where every day my faith will be put to the test. I know I will be forced to grow there, far away from the comforts of 'home' as I am stretched and tested every single day from every part of life. Dependence on God will become necessary for life on earth.

    No self-help televangelist book can help me there (just like it can't help me here). 

  7. Oswald Chambers wrote about the drudgery and the difficulty that life naturally brings about, and how weathering both brings change and character. It’s a great point that we try to look for the easy solution, especially from an author like Joyce who’s published a wealth of self help “ten steps to weight loss” material.

    I don’t think that we are all junkies, though, and it might be minimizing suffering to say “want to be healed?– lay off the french fries” when someone is struggling with a serious illness and looking for healing.

    You are also correct lots of people go to conferences to seek a quick fix, sure. But others are wanting to deepen their relationship with God, and move in greater acts of faith for the kingdom. It’s not all that black and white.

  8. “Yes – God can work miracles, but I don’t think He exists to make up for our lazy living”. Finally!:-) I can’t say anymore. WOW! I am stomped by this post for the first time in a long time!

  9. “… but the worries of this age, the pleasure of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful.” As correctly stated by Jesus Christ. And they way to solve that problem is surgery of the heart and unweeding of the soul as said by the Master Himself “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”…”Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” After we die to ourselves then we can live for God and others. The world is too busy trying to live while its dying, we are to be, too busy dying while we are living. (Therefore we do not give up; even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.)

  10. Mrs. Meyers is in the advice business, so its endearing to know she recognizes that listening to her tapes doesn't solve everything.

    My old Sergeant Major used to say, "If froggies had wings they wouldn't bump their pointy green woopsydaisies on the ground each time they tried to fly, now would they?"  He'd usually say this in the middle of a tender-profane rant when I had fouled up really bad and the situation required major effort to make right.

    He's long dead, and I don't have him around to forcefully yank me up by the collar and kick me in the right direction any more.  That's a greater loss than you might realize.   He was unfailingly detailed in his descriptions of my shortcomings, but he never implied I wasn't worth the effort inherent in correcting me. 

    As long as I was willing to accept correction, he was willing to alternately encourage, teach and discipline.  He wasn't that way with everyone.   Several times a week he and the commanding officer would have a heart to heart chat.   As often as not, these chats would cover the question as to whether a particular Marine was worth the trouble to discipline and keep in the unit.  Sometimes the answer was no.  It wasn't my place to speak of these discussions or question either leader, so it took me many months to understand which Marines stayed and which ones went.  It certainly had nothing to do with the nature of their infractions.  Sometimes the really bad actors stayed, but those who committed minor infractions left.   Furthermore, the nastiest punishments were reserved for those the SgtMaj considered worth keeping.  The guys who left seemed to get of with relatively light punishment.

    The difference lay in the Marine's desire to do the right thing and willingness to change his behavior.  Those who were not willing to change sometimes sniveled over "the injustice of it all" when corrected.  Others simply simmered with anger and looked for a chance to get even.  A few simply showed by the nature of their crimes that they had no fellow feeling for their comrades.  They stole from us, lied to place blame on others, slyly managed to avoid shouldering their share of the load and generally weighed  us down with their self-centered agendas.  It didn't matter how the intransigence manifested itself, if the Marine was not willing to change, and a humane degree of punishment wouldn't change his mind, that Marine would not remain with us long. 

    It was a good outfit, and I was just experienced enough to know it.  I wanted to stay, unless the SgtMaj left.  Then I wanted to be two steps behind him.  Once I cracked the code on who stayed and who left, I resolved this:  I will get with the program!   A short year after I resolved to learn as much as I could from the Sgt Maj, he left.  He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery after a brief illness.  When I told him I thought that was a dirty trick on his part, he just laughed.  That's what a remember best, that rusty chuckle of his.

    (A wet puppy and a 9 year old boy just chased through the room, with chaos on their wake.  I plan to keep both of them.  They both foul up on a regular basis, but they have good hearts, and they try very hard to get it right.  Although I love them dearly, I will be obliged to discipline them over and over again in order to see them become the type of adults we all want to have around us.)

    No one kick starts me in the right direction any more. Many Marines felt smug satisfaction when they realized they were escaping the Sgt Maj's eagle eye and sharp correction.  I remember the day we parted company as one of terror and grief.  Now I have to listen very carefully for instructions as to which way to go.    These days I comb through the Bible for direction.  I pay attention to what's going on around me, and I pray and read in order to try to make sense of it all.  More than anything else, I pray for understanding.  God's will can seem so inscrutable at times. 

    So let us not forget the difference between those who are kept and those who are allowed to go their own way.  it's got nothing to do with the magnitute of our sins, and everything to do with following Christ.   He's the leader.  Follow!  Accept correction!   Repent is a word that has gone out of fashion.  So many "nice" people bristle at the suggestion that they have erred, and must turn away from their bad behavior and go in a new direction.  Tough beans!  I don't care what the sin is, the sin that mires people down and keeps them from God is pride.  Ditch that one, and you will be worth the trouble of keeping.

    It's just that easy, and it's just that hard.   Expect to keep bumping your pointy green woopsydaisy on the ground each time you try to fly!  I sure do.

  11. PS:

    I think Joyce Meyer does good work.  Several Christians I respect claim to find her TV ministry uplifting.  I have read through most of her books in the process of vetting them for our ministry library.  There's nothing toxic in them, and many people find them helpful. 

    Mr. Cooke, thank you for removing the post full of scathing criticisms of Mrs. Meyer and her ministry,  Those remarks were uncalled for.  I've been busy all day, but I returned tonight to make sure I countered that post. 

    Mrs. Meyers has had it rough recently,  having to face the debacle at ORU and Senator Grassley's investigation.   From my perspective, she's weathered the intense scrutiny well because she's on the level.  We don't have to be a fan of her books or her TV show to appreciate that. 

    Geek that I am, there's little risk that any book or TV show I enjoy is going to become popular.  If Joyce Meyer catered to people like me, she'd have to get a "day job".  There's nothing wrong with being popular.  We should all be happy for Mrs. Meyer and the people who benefit from her ministry.

  12. "how we can protect our hearts and minds (and our families) from the onslaught of violence, sexuality, and generally coarse behavior we often find on TV and in the movies.  "

    Read your Bible and think about what you see and hear.  Think for yourself whenever practical.  Here's an example of two Christian "experts" reflecting on "The Polar Express"

    Pro:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/reviews/polarexpress.html

    Con:

    http://www.capalert.com/capreports/polarexpress-the.htm

    Here's a secular view on the possibility "The Polar Express" was executed as a "Christian Film":

    http://www.slate.com/id/2111391/

    It's a matter of perspective.  I fell in love with the movie from the first breathtaking moment.  To me, it was absolutely packed with allegory and wholesome lessons directly applicable to Christian life.  I was floored when I read a host of scathingly negative Christian reviews in the year it was released.  "Did nobody get it?", I wondered?  "If not, why?"

    Sometimes the people in popular Christian culture who see themselves as shepherds or watchdogs for the rest of us are myopic as all get out!  There's a high degree of paranoia and hysteria in Christian culture.  Too many of us fear attack from every radio and TV broadcast.  These points of view have been encouraged  by Christian high-control groups in order to isolate their flocks from sensible people and make them easier to manipulate and fleece. 

    The cure is discernment on a personal level.  Each Christian needs to pray, study and think for him/herself! 

  13. I love this thread. I so agree that being a Christian is an everyday event. Not just once a week or when you go to a conference. It doesn't matter if you have every Joyce Meyer book ever written. If you're not a "practicing" Christian, you're missing the mark!

  14. It's all about the events vs. the process. feeling good, getting the tingle, doing the prayer and awaiting angels riverdancing at the bottom of your bed… It's not about that, Jesus did stuff and prayed on the move. he lived in the naturally supernatural. We shouldn't be awaiting a daily miracle or vision, God gave us a brain, a good one, and instructions on life, so let's get on with things and wake up. Miracles happen and they are great, the icing, not the cake! Agreed, put the burger down, stop sending everyone else money when the best way you can love someone properly is to love yourself, make sure your house is in order, that you are a blessing and are able to give 100% not 45 – 60% because yer so burnt out from the week-long prayer meetings!

    Roll up sleeves, start moving the mountain with a shovel. each day counts no matter how boring, exciting, relevent or irrelevent it may seem.

    "building the ark, built Noah" 

    Good call, phil 

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