THE FUTURE OF THE FAMILY SERIES
UNDER THE INFLUENCE – HOW TO SET YOUR FAMILY’S STANDARDS
APRIL 14, 1996
Every time we gather together for one of our weekend services we draw a kaleidoscopic range of people in terms of where they are on their spiritual journeys. Some are investigating Christianity. Others have just stepped over the line and are brand new believers. Still others here have been walking with the Lord for a long, long time. I think if I ask you to recite with me the Lord’s Prayer, most in here could do so. When Jesus was praying to God the Father and showing us how to pray, what did He mean when He said this phrase, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?. He was saying He wanted a little bit more heaven to be operative here on earth. Heaven on earth.
I have been thinking about that phrase this entire week. Heaven on earth. So I decided to ask our staff to see what they had to say about heaven on earth. I asked them what would be the perfect environment for you. And here is what they said. And please do not ask me to give names with these statements. “In an ideal world, you would set the taxes and the politicians would have to pay them.” “You would birdie every hole.” “You could eat all the chocolate you wanted and never suffer the consequences.” “Food that is good for you would taste good and food that is bad for you would taste bad. In other words, bagels would taste like Twinkies and oat bran cereal would taste like Fruit Loops.” “Exercise would be pain free.” “There would be no receding hairlines.” “There would be no computer freezes.” “Credit cards would pay you interest.” “Your cell phone batteries would last forever.” “You would never have a bad hair day.” “Sun exposure would be good for your skin.” Finally, “every fish would be a ten pound bass.”
Since we are in a series on the family, I have to ask you, what would heaven on earth look like in the family unit? We have a typical breakfast table here on stage representing the heaven on earth family unit. The perfect family. You would have a mom and a dad who love each other. They treasure each other and would be committed to each other to the grave. They would have two children, a boy and a girl, that they would love and honor and cherish. They would teach and model and reinforce the transcendent values given to us by God from his Word, so I must place my Bible right here on this table to represent the center piece. We are talking about a great family. And if you hear what the politicians say these days, from behind lecterns and the back of tractors, they note that “we have to get back to family values.” We need to get back to family values because, they say, the family that really teaches values can stand up against anything. It is strong. It is resilient. It is like the Timex watch ad, they can take a licking but keep on ticking.” Do you believe that? Do you believe that the family can take anything? True or false? I hope you said false because the family cannot. God never intended for the family to be the only entity to teach and model and inspire and live out the transcendent values. He wanted it to be a team approach. Yes, the Bible says categorically, unequivocally that the family is to be the launching pad of transcendent values but other elements have to hold up their end of the deal for it to really work.
So, since we are talking about heaven on earth, I want you to join me on a quick stroll through spiritual utopia, heaven on earth, and see what it would be like. We have the perfect family here. When the perfect family break after breakfast, the kids rush off to school. And the school system is phenomenal because it is run by men and women who reinforce the transcendent values taught and modeled and inspired in the family. Mom and Dad are giving each other high fives because the school is right behind them. They are doing their job in this spiritual utopia.
Next Mom and Dad go to work. And, believe it or not, the people who own the companies, who wield the power on the boards, base their decisions on how it will effect the family. They compensate generously. They give fair job descriptions. We are talking spiritual utopia. Isn’t this great?
Now we move over to the government. A society has to have leadership and the government officials make decisions that highlight and reinforce and undergird the transcendent values taught in the family with the support of the schools and the workplace. Now the government helps. This leadership is something to behold.
Next we move to the media. The media, whoa, they are really doing it. The television producers, the movie moguls, they are cranking out creative documentaries, made for television movies and shows and sitcoms that again lift up those transcendent values.
Then we move on to arts and music. We were just inspired during the beginning of this service by a humorous drama. The arts can be something to behold. You can see paintings and sculpture and plays that lift up God’s transcendent values. Music can touch the depths of our soul. Country-western music, alternative music, rock and roll, classical music. We are talking about heaven on earth, aren’t we? But remember, we live on the rugged plains of reality. We don’t live in a spiritual utopia, do we? So join me as we swim up stream to see in our world today if all of these entities are doing their part to reinforce the transcendent values taught, modeled and lived out in the family.
Let’s begin with the arts. Michael Meved in his book, HOLLYWOOD VERSUS AMERICA, exposes where some of our tax dollars are going. A while back your money and mine paid for a piece of art, and I use that term very liberally, called Alchemy Cabinet. It was the fetus from a recent abortion of a female artist and the fetus was put in a jar on a table in a museum. It was called art! You paid for it. So did I. Now call me crazy, call me insane but does this lift and inspire those transcendent values taught in the family? You be the judge.
The NEA also supported a play written and directed and acted in by a man named John Fleck. In the middle of the performance, he urinates on a picture of Jesus Christ. We paid for this. And it is called performing art. It is sad to say but most of the art these days, and I was an art major, does not inspire and enlighten the way that it used to. A lot of the modern and post-modern art enrages the spirit. I heard someone say, one time, that modern art is a conspiracy between rich people and artists to make the rest of us feel stupid. I thought that was funny.
Next, let’s move on to the realm of music. Surely, music will hold up its end of the deal. After all, it touches the depths of the human soul. Some people here are musical buffs and I want to see if you can name me one song from three decades ago that encourages rape, robbery, perverted sex that ultimately leads to killing another person, or settling disputes with handguns. If you can do that, please speak up now. Well, there is no use to give you any time for an answer, because there was no such thing. Today, though, song after song after song encourages behavior like I just mentioned. I am not talking about the Beatles, the Beach Boys or Bachman Turner Overdrive or the Rolling Stones. But I am talking about a lot, not all, but a lot of the music that we are exposed to now, and that the young people are exposed to all the time.
In 1981, MTV was created. It started as a curiosity. Fifteen years later it is a cultural force. Over 240 million homes, worldwide, are hooked into music television. One of the founders, Bob Pitman, said it best. He said that kids just don’t watch MTV, they live it. It is staggering to realize but students from the seventh to the twelfth grade listen to an estimated 10,500 hours of rock and roll music. They listen to such groups as TLC who sings to her lover about oral sex. I will read an excerpt. Fasten your seat belts, please, for this. “Take a good look at it, look at it now. It might be the last time you’ll have a go round. I’ll let you touch it if you would like to go down….” I won’t even read the rest.
Grammy award winning Alanis Morris sings to a former lover about his new girlfriend. She says, “Is she perverted like me? Would she go down on you in a theater? It was a slap in the face how quickly I was replaced. Are you thinking of me when you are f…ing her?” Nine Inch Nails encourages suicide as a solution for life’s problems. Let me stop right here. When Kurt Covane took his life, he had multiple copycats, worldwide, as far away as Great Britain and Turkey, take their own lives. Nine Inch Nails encourages suicide by saying, “He couldn’t believe how easy it was. He put the gun into his face, bang. Problems have solutions. A lifetime of f…ing things up, fixed in one determined flash.” Nine Inch Nails also promotes sexual violence. “I want to f… you like an animal because you get me closer to God.”
Metallica’s CD, “Kill Them All”, encourages violence. “Our brains are on fire with the feeling to kill. And it will not go away until our dreams are fulfilled.” Green Day applauds cocaine and amphetamine use in their song “Geek Stink Breath” which also promotes self-destruction. A recent song says, “I’m on a mission, I made my decision to lead a path of self-destruction.” Iced Tea plugs violence against policemen. “I’ve got my 12-gauge sawed off, I’ve got my headlights turned off, I’m about to bust some shots off, I’m about to dust some cops off. I got my brain on high, tonight will be your night, I’ve got this long black knife and your neck looks just right. My adrenalin is pumping, I’ve got my stereo thumping, I’m about to kill me something. The pig stopped me for nothing. Now, die, die pig, die f… the police.” It goes on.
There is a direct correlation between the amount listened to and watched and the currant behavior. If you want some more data and more research, just secular research, please call the church office, we will load you down with research. The correlation between the intake of music and the arts and behavior is kind of like the correlation between eating a candy bar and gaining fifty pounds. If I ate a Baby Ruth, one Baby Ruth, would I gain fifty pounds? No. But if I decided to eat 200 Baby Ruths a day for about thirty days, yes, I would gain fifty pounds. We can’t walk around with blinders and earmuffs on. But a constant, steady diet of this stuff can change the trajectory of your family.
One researcher said it best. He said that parents who allow their children to watch MTV are playing Russian Roulette. Every song on MTV is not demonic, not perverted. Some are benign. A few things are inspiring. But the majority are. Parents, I can’t make the call for you. You have got to make the choice. I hate to do this, but I have got to take this area to the mat because as I swim upstream, the arts and music are not really holding up their end of the bargain.
Well, surely, the media will do it. There is so much power in the media. Did you see U.S. News and World Report this week. An article was entitled, “TV’s Frisky Family Values”. They had a research team that looked at a week of prime time television in mid-March and they found that there is more sex and sex talk on television than ever before. They didn’t even poll cable, Showtime and Cinemax and HBO. They just polled ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. Here is what they came up with. Seinfeld, the number one rated show devoted episodes to themes like oral sex, masturbation, homosexuality and orgasm. We are talking prime time. On Friends, the second most popular comedy in America, Phoebe has a problem. Her new boyfriend won’t sleep with her. Her friend Joey says, “The guy still won’t put out, huh?” Later in the show Phoebe is very excited because she finally “made it” with her boyfriend. The trick she explains was to make it clear to him that she wasn’t expecting a commitment just because they had had sex. Joey says, “You mean he got you to agree to regular sex without a commitment? Wow. This guy is my god.”
On Grace Under Fire, Grace promises to pay off her boyfriend with “mother nature’s credit card” if he will watch her kids. On Melrose Place, an inebriated Jake takes a stranger to his hotel room and says, “No strings attached, right?” “None but these,” she says, “dropping the spaghetti straps of her slip from her shoulders.” There is a sexual act or sexual reference every four minutes on prime time television. The average child watches 22.3 hours of television a week. The average teenager watches 22 hours of television a week. The National Institute For Mental Health has called entertainment TV an important sex educator. If so, the main lesson appears to be, go for it. Doesn’t it?
Portrayals of premarital sex, U. S. News says, outnumbered sex within marriage eight to one. Over a sixty minute time frame, in primetime television, there was an average of fifty crimes committed and twelve murders.
How about the movies? The number one rated comedy, Birdcage, starring Robin Williams, is about a homosexual couple meeting their future in-laws who represent closed-minded, traditional values. The movie attempts to glamorize and normalize the homosexual lifestyle. Three of the top movies, Faithful, Fargo and Diabolique are all about conspiracies to kill or maim or harm a spouse. I didn’t even touch on the internet which boasts of a million new subscribers a month. There you can tap into Penthouse, Playboy, Hustler, into different terrorist groups. I didn’t talk about the violent video games that many of our young people are playing in our homes and in the arcades at the malls. They use their thumbs and index fingers to impale, decapitate and torture, sometimes sexually, their victims.
I have got to steal a quote about the media from TV’s Bart Simpson. Bart told his father, “You know, it is just hard not listening to the movies and television. They have spent more time raising me than you have.” You see, we cannot let the electronic media, the electronic babysitters, teach the values because they aren’t there. I cannot say this categorically but for the most part, I have got to take the media to the mat. Once again, we see that more pressure is place upstream and ultimately, more pressure on the little family that we talked about.
Let’s move to the government. There are some great men and women who are in leadership positions. However, if you will read the Old Testament you will find a recurring theme. King so and so did what was right in the eyes of God and the land prospered and the people turned their faces toward God. You will also see another recurring phrase in the Old Testament. King so and so did what was right in his eyes, he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and the land was not prosperous and the people turned their faces away from God. There is so much potential here in our country. People wield so much power, yet it is not happening. We need to take this area to the mat.
Now we move upstream with more and more pressure again on the family unit. Let’s talk about the marketplace. If you do some research, read some business journals, you know that the layoffs these days are unprecedented. I talked to someone right before this service. He told me that he had been without a job for two months. One day his job was just gone. Now money has taken precedence over the value of people which means job responsibilities have increased, compensation is not as generous. It is pretty tough. Rarely do people who own or operate or run these big companies or corporations think about the transcendent values taught in the family. God wants commerce to do it’s part. He wants the marketplace people to really do it, but that area must be taken to the mat, too.
How about education. The public schools. Come on. They have got to do their job. It is becoming a kind of solo act here, isn’t it? William Kirkpatrick writes, and I hate to say this, in an elementary school classroom in St. Louis, Mo., the little boys and girls are encouraged to use four letter words for sexual intercourse, oral sex and genital organs. In another elementary classroom, he notes, little boys and girls are encouraged to draw pictures of their parents having sex and then express how they feel about it. In a southern high school classroom, he goes on to say, students are shown a steamy film of a couple having sex. Then they are encouraged to break up, a boy with a girl, and discuss the sex act. Then girls are instructed to roll condoms over the fingers of their male partners. We are talking public schools. And the public school systems say they are into “value free educating”. It sounds so sophisticated, so erudite. Hello. Value free. I don’t call rolling condoms over the fingers of students, value free. I don’t call using the four letter word for oral sex and sexual intercourse and genital organs, value free. Now there are some great schools. And there are some great classrooms and some phenomenal teachers, but for the most part, the public schools are not doing it. Since prayer and Bible reading have been removed from the classroom, read the data, we have taken a swan dive into the cesspool of immorality. We really have.
The school system hits the mat.
Take a look, a long look. All we are left with is a little, autonomous family against the world. Parents, single parents, you are wondering why you are feeling so discouraged. You are wondering why you feel depressed. You are wondering why you feel so frightened. Look at what you are up against. God didn’t intend it to be this way, but we have blown it. What do we do, because the future from this end looks pretty bleak. The graphs are going south. However, look at what is in the middle of this family. We have got the Bible. And when the Bible is operative, there is hope. There is a positive future. There are some great things in store for families who get serious about this dynamic, life-changing book and this can truly change the trajectory of your life and mine, of your family and mine.
Take the outlines out that are included in your bulletin. I want to tell you three things that you can do from God’s word, I don’t care if you are married or single, that can have a phenomenal and indelible impact on our society.
- Ask yourself two questions:
- Do the entertainment choices of my family fit the guidelines of Philippians 4:8? Every time you buy a video, every time you purchase a CD, every time you walk into tinsel town, every time you turn on the TV and channel surf, ask yourself this question. You see, parents, we can’t say one thing and do another. Here is what Philippians 4:8 says. “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Now, some parents here need to make some tough decisions in your lives and the lives of your children. You are going to have to remove, in a loving way, a lot of trash that you are exposing your family to. When you do it, there will be a giant chasm there. What do you do? What do you do? Suddenly a lot of the movies you have been seeing, a lot of the songs that you listen to, a lot of videos that you watch are removed. What do you do? What do you do? Let me say this. There is some good stuff out there. Hollywood is producing some good stuff. On the musical front there is some phenomenal Christian music. If you like rap, if you like funk, if you like jazz, if you like alternative, if you like rock and roll, there is excellent Christian music out there. You see, there is no such thing as Christian music. I will say it one more time. There is no such thing as Christian music. There are Christian lyrics, but there is not Christian music.
I have been thinking about this for awhile now. We have been doing research on this topic for the last two months. I was driving to church today and I had EJ and LeeBeth with me. I am kind of freaked out because I always get a little nervous when I speak. I open the sun roof, see the beautiful sky and pop something in the CD player. All of a sudden, one of my favorite songs comes on from one of my favorite groups, Jars of Clay. They have a song out called “Flood”. The guy starts out, “Rain, rain on my face. It’s been raining for days. My world is aflood. Slowly I become one with the mud….” It is talking about your life and how you feel low and how God can change your life. I heard another similar song and then popped in my man, Michael W. Smith. The great thing was that I could rock, for lack of a better word, in my car with my kids and not worry about it. The lyrics are lifting up and supporting and reinforcing and reinspiring God’s transcendent values taught, modeled and lived out in the family. Now let me say this. For a lot of years I listened to some trash music. I really did. And the first time I was ever confronted about that stuff, here is what I did, I defended it as not so bad. “I know the words might be bad but I listen to the beat.” Come on. Hey, who are you trying to fool? Our minds pick up so much. When I went off that stuff, I had to have something to replace it with and I thank God for the creativity and freedom of great musicians like Michael W. Smith and Jars of Clay. They are awesome people. They are great Christian men and women who produce those albums. So parents, replace the lie with the truth.
- What core values are transmitted through my family’s entertainment choices? Sit down with your student, with your child, with your spouse and discuss the lyrics of the top 40, discuss the content of the video. Tape “Friends” and say, “Honey, what values are going on here? Are they reinforcing the values we are teaching?” Sit down and watch MTV, parents, or BH1. About 85% of the stuff will glorify, drug use, sex, violence or rebellion. There is no doubt about it. Psalm 101:3 says, “I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate: they will not cling to me.”
- Take advantage of the assistance of the church. I just thank God for the creativity that we have in our children’s and youth ministry. We have men and women who are committed to teaching the truth in an age appropriate way, in a creative way, in a compelling way, but more importantly, in a Biblical way.
Psalm 122:1 says, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.'”
If you are not excited about going to church, find a church that excites you. Find someone. And if you ever hear a boring message, do not blame the message, blame the messenger. The church should be the most exciting place you attend. It is not always the happiest, because sometimes we talk about difficult topics like today. But Lisa and I, unashamedly, have relied on this church to help rear our children. So we have loaded up on the front end. We take a quick look around society and the dominos have fallen. So we load up on this church. And we make sure our children are here. It just thrills my heart to hear LeeBeth and EJ talk about what they have learned here. I know when I give them to the nursery workers, give them to the preschool workers, give them to Children’s Church and very soon to the Youth area, I can stand back and say, “Oh, man, thank you, Lord, this church is reinforcing the transcendent values that we try to teach, model, inspire and live out in our home. What are you doing?
III. Make a difference in your corner of the world. Parents, I want to take my hats off to you who have sacrificed financially to put your children in a Christian school. Parents, I want to take my hats off to you who sacrificed in home schooling your children. Parents, I want to take two hats off to you who have gotten involved elbow deep in the public school system to try to help and change and make sure the values taught at home are being reinforced in the school. I want to thank you for that. It takes guts and courage to do it.
You know what? We have a lot of powerbrokers in the Fellowship of Las Colinas. Wow. We have people watching today on overflow. We had them in overflow in the last service. We have people here who are important, who are principals, college professors, who own large corporations, who are presidents. Ask yourself how you can make a difference in your corner of the world. Do you know how change is going to take place? Do you know how Christ’s prayer will come true? If normal, average, everyday people like you and me stand up and make a difference. If we say in school, if we say at work, if we say in government, if we say in the media, if we say in arts and music, “I will stand up and reinforce those transcendent values taught and modeled and lived out from the Bible in the family.”, we can make a dent in this thing. We have over 3,000 regular attenders here. What could happen if we got serious about it?
I love Joshua. Joshua is a direct man. The Old Testament ells us that one day Joshua stood before the people and said. “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) I want you to claim one last verse, Galatians 6:9. “Let us not get tired of doing what is right for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up.” Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up.
So, choose this day, to steal a line from the J man, choose this day who you are going to serve. As for me and my house, the Young household, we are going to serve the Lord. We are going to teach and model and reinforce and inspire those transcendent values from scripture. Choose this day.