Saturday, April 24, 2010

Learned Behavior

They were so cute, little baby wolf cubs waddling around their pen.  Their mother had died and so they were being cared for in a sanctuary set up to both study and raise them to eventually be released back into the wild.  The scientist in the interview had become their surrogate mom, and explained that though they had all the instincts of a wolf, they still needed their mother to teach them how to hunt, to be aware of danger, to work together as a pack, and of course to howl.  So every day a few times a day the scientist would come close to the pen and howl as best she could, and the little cubs would answer back in their tiny high pitched voices with their noses pointed upwards, enjoying themselves completely.  I just wanted to take them out of the TV screen and hug them, they were so lovable!

But isn't it interesting that though God made all creatures with instincts and innate abilities and behavior, we still have to be taught how to use them?  Had the wolves been raised as mere house pets, they would never be able to survive among wolves, and yet because they were meant to be wild, they would never be able to live in a home either.  They had to be taught to be who God created them to be.

I have come to know a good number of young women and men who have grown up in homes that are nothing like a home.  They know something is wrong in their family, yet they have no idea what a happy home is like or if they ever could have one for themselves.  Something inside of them tells them that they were created to live in a loving, supportive environment.  It's instinctive knowledge in all of us that we were created for this.  But generations have passed in these families where addictions, abuse, unfaithfulness and rejection are the norm.  So what do these kids do when they reach adulthood?  What kind of life skills do they have to draw on?

They want a happy home, but it's so easy to look for love from a guy who will sweet talk them for a while, get them pregnant and leave them for another girl.  Now she is doing the same thing that her mother did to her.  She resents this baby that's stealing away her youth, and leaves it with relatives so she can go out partying at night.  He hates his father for abusing his mother and abandoning the family, and then turns into his father's spitting image.  With each generation the image of a faithful marriage becomes more of a fairy-tale.  The concept of being a parent who upholds standards of honesty and integrity, who understands the balance of discipline and selfless love - a vague dream.  The conviction that they should fight to become the person God created them to be - such a foreign idea, it doesn't occur to them that they could be anyone else but what they have learned.

So who will teach them to find themselves?  Where are the sanctuaries to nurture and develop these young, lost minds?  Can it even be done, or have too many generations passed?  Like I mentioned in a past post, when the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?

Monday, April 12, 2010

500 Days of Stupidity - Moms, please be aware

Movies like "Fiddler on the Roof", one of my all time favorite musicals, gives us a peek at life in the old country when daughters came with dowries and matchmakers arranged the best marriage deals to satisfy all parties involved.  I used to think it was quaint and a sad sort of thing.  But now that I have children, I'm beginning to think that hand-picking their spouse myself would be the perfect solution. (Don't worry guys, a  mom can dream, can't she?)

I just say that because as I look around, I see Jesus' words coming true today more than ever,  "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" Christian moms, be aware, the world is encroaching on the values that we think we are instilling in our young ones, sinking their roots into them like crabgrass.  It makes you want to put them in a sealed space-pod and shoot them into the stratosphere until you find the perfect mate for them so they can avoid any more contamination.  But of course, no one wants to be "set up" by their elders any more, no one wants to have anyone meddling in their romantic affairs because it's just not done and it is so very, very, very uncool.

It's so uncool that a movie last summer became a sleeper hit of the season, "(500) Days of Summer".  A guy likes a girl, a lot.  He thinks she's "the one."  Girl likes guy but hates commitment.  Girl flirts, makes sexual overtures, eventually sleeps with and practically moves in with the guy but insists that they are not a "couple."  Girl gets offended when he tries to defend her honor as if he has the right to think she's his girlfriend.  Guy is in love, girl treats him like trash, but says she really likes him. Stupid guy keeps obsessing about stupid girl.  The end.

Hate to spoil it, but that's the movie in a nutshell.  There have been other movies with this sort of message, but few have tried to pretend to be so profound as if they were revealing deep truths about life and love. and millions of people eager to swallow these "truths" paid $60,000,000 at the box office to make it a huge hit.

But there are certain boundaries that were set in place by God, certain age-old truths about relationships that can't be undone just by the fashion of the day.  Girls who flirt and make sensual comments boost a guy's ego, while they degrade themselves in the process.  Wanting to have a boyfriend while having close "guy friends" at the same time undermines trust and proves that they have no idea what a blessing true commitment is.

But you as a mom say, "But that's just kids these days.  This is a different culture."  Yeah, but God doesn't change, and the evil nature of humanity doesn't either.  Don't let the pleas of your daughter to wear revealing clothes, to speak too suggestively to the men she knows, to constantly text and call and throw herself at guys with the excuse that they're "just friends," fool you.  Be the mean one for the moment and say no.  You need to realize that it's time to make some big changes before it's too late.

Christian girls are encouraged to think that they can mix the secular values they find in school and on the screen with their faith.  Maybe they'll won't loose their virginity before marriage, but they sure do enjoy being a tease.  And when they see other young women trying to live a life of purity and integrity, they'll say, "Good for you!" and then laugh at them behind their back because they're such bores.  Wake up and see that the sweet darlings that you thought were such nice church-going girls, have their hearts set on indulging their emotions.  Don't think for a moment that she would never be so false; the influence of this world is too much for anyone who doesn't have an uncompromising faith.  How do you change the desires of her heart?  Only God can do that, but there are steps you can take to lead her in the right direction.  Stay tuned for more.

Meanwhile I'll be in my workshop constructing those space-pods...

Friday, April 2, 2010


One of my Sunday school teacher's used to say, "Yeah, he was so open minded his brains fell out."  Which meant that there are times that the very positive sounding phrase of having an open mind, can actually become an unhealthy extreme.

A class-mate of mind told me once, "I'm a Christian, but I believe that whatever you believe is going to happen after you die, happens.  If you're an atheist, you just stop existing.  If you're a Hindu or Buddhist, you'll be reincarnated in another life.  God is love.  He's open minded..."

Interviewing a student at USC for our church TV program in Los Angeles, I asked one young, very hip philosophical fellow, what he believes God feels about suffering.  He answered, "Who says there's anything wrong with suffering?  I mean it's all in how we perceive reality.  Who's to say that children dying of starvation need to be rescued?  Maybe starvation is a good thing but our society has decided to call it bad."

I know, this guys brains didn't just fall out, they got run over by a truck!  Meanwhile our cameraman starts laughing and says, "Right! Tape up his mouth for two weeks and then he can tell us if starvation is a good thing!"

Isn't it odd that people who boast about being open minded are often those who consider themselves to be so highly intelligent, but can't define what truth is?  Everything is a shade of grey, nothing is black and white, true or false.  Just vague foggy guesses at what feels right at the moment.  

Being open minded isn't enough if it isn't founded firmly on truth.  Some things are black and white, unchangeable, indisputable.  Even when it isn't cool or trendy to believe them, they still stand.  I consider myself open minded, but everything I believe has to be weighed and brought in line to what the Word of God says.  Evil and hell exist.  God and His Kingdom exist.  There is only one way to know God, and there is only one way to overcome evil.  These are truths that can't be ignored.

But some well meaning Christians want to believe that it's okay to put up with a life of misery even though they also believe the verse, "By His stripes we are healed."  Maybe God wants them to suffer. Maybe God sees the good in suffering to purify their faith.  Maybe they've been chosen for a higher calling to suffer more than others because they are so special.  Maybe we should get them to share a room with the guy from USC so they can all philosophize about the wonders of suffering and tell starving children in Ethiopia to just be happy.  Really, is there any difference?

If Jesus died and rose from the dead, the captives in hell we released, the sun couldn't bear to shine, the earth trembled, all nature reacted to the death and resurrection of it's Creator, isn't it logical that if God Himself sacrificed His own life just for us, we would be able to live a new life too?  It's what He promised, but unfortunately few, very few know how to fight to find that new life.  It starts with being angry with the fact that evil has a foothold in our lives - not accepting the evil, or fearing the evil or being in awe of evil - but fighting it with all our faith and strength.   There's no better way to celebrate Jesus' victory and resurrection than making sure that everything He sacrificed for becomes real in our lives.  That takes determination and a laser-like focus. Call me narrow minded, but there's no way else to live.