Monday, December 29, 2008

Christians...Actors?!

Question: “I was wondering, is drama okay for a Christian? That is, can a Christian be an actor?”

Answer: Thank you so much for your question! You were wondering if it was all right for a Christian to participate in drama, or work as an actor. The answer is yes! Definitely! BUT (and I guess there always has to be one of those!), there are some certain standards we, as Christians, must uphold.

First of all, we are commanded to be IN the world, but not OF the world (John 15:19, John 17:14-16). 1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

As Christians, there are certain lines we can never cross. God’s Spirit cannot coexist alongside sin, so if we are introducing sin into our hearts and lives, and the Spirit of Christ is living in us, we are going to feel that inner tension of our consciences kicking in and rebuking us. We will feel guilt like no tomorrow if we are truly listening to the Spirit’s prompting about these issues. And on that note, when we accept Christ into our hearts, He gives us His Spirit to live in us and work through us as we grow in Him. He also gives us a conscience. This gift of conscience is a very important, very wonderful gift! But we need to maintain it carefully. If we begin to lower our standards of what is or is not acceptable to watch or participate in, our conscience begins to get numbed. And ultimately, if we ignore our consciences, eventually they will really numb down and we will grow more comfortable with sin and evil every day.

Did you know that if you place a frog in a saucepan of water and leave it to boil, the water will grow hotter and hotter, but the frog won’t try to jump out? The water temperature rises so gradually that the frog doesn’t notice a thing until it is too late. This ‘frog in hot water’ analogy can be applied to our consciences. The more we ‘steep’ ourselves in the things our conscience rebukes us about, the more tolerant we eventually become of evil. So, when the moral danger level is high, we don’t even notice because we’ve become so accepting of sinfulness!

However, if you listen to the prompting of the Spirit from the beginning, your conscience is strengthened. Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Do not quench the Spirit,” or (in other translations), “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” When you repeatedly ignore your conscience, you are putting out the Spirit’s fire.

This does not necessarily keep us from participating in drama or working as an actor, however. With movies (or the occupation of acting) there are some questions you must ask yourself... are these scenes you’re participating in honoring to God? Or are they violent or full of foul language and sensual images? What attitude or worldview does it portray? It’s not so much that the ‘act’ of acting that is objectionable, but rather the fact that so many movies and shows premiering these days are full of things that would probably fall under this admonition from Romans 16:19b: “Be innocent about what is evil.”

The more we give in, the more it all becomes a slippery slope – one that is best avoided at all costs. We want to cringe when evil things are before our eyes, not become slowly insensitive to all of it. We are called to live a life separate of all these things that lead to hate, rebellion, lasciviousness, vulgarity, and other sinful patterns.

There is a verse in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” That can give aspiring actors something to think about. Our bodies are wonderful gifts from God. But that’s the bottom line. They belong to Him. They’re just given to us on a loan. So, by all means we must honor God with our bodies like 1 Corinthians says! Not just because it’s commanded for us as Christians, but because we love the Lord and want to please Him with our lives. In every area.

Above all, just remember that we are called to represent Christ. We obey His commands as an overflow of our love for Him. Bottom line.

Thanks again for your question -- may God bless you as you seek to follow Him!!

“Finally, brothers, 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.” (Philippians 4:8)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hurry Up and Slow Down!

Christmas Eve - 2008

Happy Christmas Eve to everyone! I was thinking how ironic it is that we spend so much time looking forward to Christmas, and then it goes by so fast! The ‘Countdown to Christmas’ begins unseasonably early every year, too. (Decorations in October? Even before Halloween?!)

And then...the big day arrives, and after the buzz and excitement of opening gifts is past, we’re thinking of our travel back home or the wrapping paper that needs to be discarded of somehow, or about New Year’s and our resolutions and whether or not we’ll be able to keep them. We’re always living with our minds set on the future! (Sometimes even trying to live IN the future!) Isn’t that kind of ironic? No matter what we’ve looked forward to, when we’re there, we’re thinking about the next thing!

In October, we got the chance to see Sarah Palin speak at a campaign rally. It was something we’d really anticipated, and we stood pressed up again the platform for close to three hours (or was it more?), waiting for her to come out. Then, when she finally did, I found myself wondering how long her speech would last, how long it would take us to find our way out of the crowded arena, if we could find our vehicle once we did, how long it would take to get out of traffic, if we could find a place to get something to eat on the trip home, and what time we would end up getting to bed that night. (And not because I have ADHD either! I don’t!)

It just truly amazes me how we are rarely ‘in’ the present. So many things I’ve not enjoyed, simply because I was already dreaming about what came next. On my daily schedule, I printed out Matthew 6:34 that says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself!” I’ve learned that even if we’re not wringing our hands and worrying about tomorrow, per se...it still is lessening our enthusiasm and effectiveness for TODAY because we’re dwelling on the next thing TOO much. We don’t need to worry about it! Any of these things! ...“About what you will eat or drink, or what you will put on for clothes”... When we refuse to be in the present, we end up being pretty ineffective in the future too.

Why can’t we slow down enough to enjoy the present...to its fullest? I wonder what our lives would be like if we did. Maybe there’s a way I can find out! Maybe I’ll try it this Christmas. Oh wait...that’s not until tomorrow, is it! :-)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Exceptional in the Ordinary

Someone recently sent me this quote by Oswald Chambers. And I think it is something we all need to reflect on more than we do! Every day, every minute, we rely on the 'supernatural grace of God' to accept the 'drudgery' of being a disciple (yes, drudgery!). Think about it. Not every Christian is called to outwardly exceptional things...but we are called to be exceptional in the ordinary things. But how often do we really see it that way?

“Impulse is a trait in natural life, but Our Lord always ignores it, because it hinders the development of the life of a disciple. Watch how the Spirit of God checks impulse, His checks bring a rush of self-conscious foolishness which makes us instantly want to vindicate ourselves. Impulse is all right in a child, but it is disastrous in a man or woman; an impulsive man is always a petted man. Impulse has to be trained into intuition by discipline.

“Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God. Walking on the water is easy to impulsive pluck, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is a different thing. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, but he followed Him afar off on the land. We do not need the grace of God to stand crises: human nature and pride are sufficient, we can face the strain magnificently; but it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.”