My plan to stand against negative influences

Today was the second full day of going without television, video games, or secular music. I am honestly shocked at how this has forced a change in thought patterns for me. If someone would’ve told me the mental change that would take place so quickly, I don’t think I would’ve believed them, but yet here I am thinking, “Wow.” It’s amazing how much more my mind will think and process when I actually give it a chance to do so without drowning out the quiet times with entertainment.

I don’t think we realize just how much media and culture really affects us. In just these two days I see that Ron Luce is right — media really does control us in subliminal ways. Of course our natural response is, “Nah, I’m fine. I do a good job with filtering out the negative stuff.” I said the same thing, but now that I’ve removed those influences for only two days I’m seeing just how faulty that excuse is for clinging to what makes us comfortable.

Earlier today CBS News reported this:

Teens who see and hear a lot about sex in the media may be more than twice as likely to have early sexual intercourse as those who are rarely exposed to sexual content.

A new study shows that 12- to 14-year-olds exposed to the most sexual content in movies, music, magazines, and on television were 2.2 times more likely to have had sexual intercourse when re-interviewed two years later then their peers who had a lighter sexual media diet.

What we expose ourselves to really makes a difference in our thinking and actions! I don’t see how this point could be debated any other way.

What if I refused to expose myself to negative aspects of pop culture and media and instead exposed myself more to God’s Word and prayer? What if a million teenagers around the country took a stand to do the same and said “no” to the garbage we’re feeding on? This is the vision that was communicated at the Battle Cry student conference last weekend that I hope teenagers are taking seriously. So far I know myself and several of my high school guys are acting on this vision and I trust others are, as well. (As a side thought, has anyone else noticed the constant string of sexually immoral references just in the TV show, Friends? And then we’re trained to laugh at it.)

One of the things I said I wanted to do with all my free time this week was make a list of things I can start doing to take back culture. Here’s that list.

1. When I see inappropriate images, magazines, and posters in stores, I will politely tell a manager that these things offend me and ask to have them removed. Many of those on the far-left do this all the time when they see religious material that offends them. It seems to be pretty effective for them, so why not for me? If our religious materials are removed due to complaints and people being offended, then we should do the same for what offends us.

2. I will be selective in what I expose to my eyes, ears and mind. Philippians 4:8 must come into affect. Hollywood probably doesn’t care if I refuse to see one of their movies due to some foul language (something I never liked, but would tolerate for the sake of a good movie), but what if I’m just one of a million teenagers who say the same thing? Now THAT would grab Hollywood’s attention. But even if I’m the only one, knowing that I’m guarding my soul and standing against sin, that’s still enough reason for me to stand alone.

3. At least once a week I will ask myself, “What has God asked me to change lately?” My life is so full of holes and sin it’s ridiculous. The more I understand God’s holiness, the more and more this becomes a striking reality. If a week goes by and I can’t think of anything God’s asked me to change, then I’m definitely not listening and am probably focused on something else that’s obviously less important.

4. “Set” my mind and heart on God.

Colossians 3:1-5
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above…. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things…. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

Some strong terms here. First, it says to “set” our hearts and minds on things above. Apparently this isn’t something that will just accidentally happen. It’s an intentional effort that goes against our very nature of sin. And second, “put to death” carries a lot of obvious implications. It implies that this requires some action on our part and that these earthly sins should never return, buried and gone forever.

Somehow I don’t really think all of this counter-culture living should be that unusual or radical. It’s something scripture commanded a long time ago anyway. Maybe it’s just taking me longer than most to take it as seriously as God does.

1 Peter 1:13-17
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

Posted on April 3, 2006

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