It is no secret that with access to the internet and a world of information at our fingertips and available 24/7, young children, teens and even mature adults get sucked into cultural agendas, movements, and cults easily today. It’s also made us much more emotionally sensitive to cultural issues, and it often stirs curiosity.
Curiosity is a good thing, but it can lead us innocently to wrong thinking and down bad paths.
It begins innocently – “just for fun,” and without us even realizing it. Suddenly we find ourselves in unknown internet cultures and worlds and unable to turn off our curiosity. It all looks so fascinating. Even though we don’t always trust a real person, we often trust an unknown source or site online that somehow seems OK. After all, no one is looking – right? One simple, innocent, curious look can’t hurt. Or can it? One clever story can lead to opening many misleading and dangerous doors. It’s the classic story of Alice in Wonderland. We find ourselves falling into an internet rabbit hole.
The liar of this world is out to confuse and deceive, and he is using the tools of media to do so as never before.
Should I stay or should I go? It was a 1982 punk rock song by the Clash. It originally never made it to the top of the charts until it was re-released as a Levi commercial in the 1990s and subsequently was re-released in 1991 making the Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest song list in 2004. As we continue to move through the fallout of a global pandemic many are asking this question. Some people have moved to other cities and jobs and even relationships, and others are still pondering their next move. However, as 2021 comes to an end, the pressure is on to make decisions and set goals.
Should I stay or should I go?
Have you been pondering this question? When the angel came to Mary to tell her she had been chosen to bring the Son of God into the world Mary never doubted. She never pondered should I stay or should I go. She didn’t say, “No, I can’t do it I’m not qualified, I am only human and don’t have the skills to raise a divine son of God.” Nor did she ask, “Why me?” She only asked how. How would it happen? She was only curious.
God gave us a curious mind.
Curiosity drives us to explore who Jesus is and His truths and when curiosity is paired with a courageous heart it can create profound acts. Curiosity takes risks, steps into the deep and can transform lives. Mary was curious. She just wanted to know how this unknown, unusual, miraculous event was going to happen. She didn’t respond with “Thanks for asking but let me pray about it,” or “I am not old enough, wise enough, or worthy.” She didn’t push back with, “I will be shunned since I’m not married, and Joseph and my village will toss me to the gutter and then what will I do?” She was all in from the very beginning. Unlike Moses who had to be asked three times at the burning bush to lead God’s people to freedom, or Jonah who ran and had to be swallowed by a whale before he would act, Mary never wavered. In fact, she never had to say, “yes” because God already knew her heart. It was why He chose her.
Does God know your heart? How quickly will you go when God speaks?
Mary of Bethany in John 11:29 heard that Jesus was asking for her and “she quickly” went. She was grieving deeply with her friends over the death of her brother Lazarus. Jesus hadn’t come to heal him. One might think she’d be a bit discouraged and shattered. But when Martha told Mary that Jesus was asking her to come, she didn’t hesitate. As women, I think God must admire our grit. We are known to be emotional, but it is our willingness to follow our heart when it’s in the right place and go without questioning that He desires. We don’t stop to ask how much it will cost or the sacrifices and pain that might take place; we step into the unknown. We place our lives on the line because of love. Women do it daily in childbirth. Mary loved God fully. There was no hesitation.
God has empowered us to be passionate wholehearted people who are willing to go forward when the way is difficult and uncertain. Through the infilling of God’s Holy Spirit, we are given His supernatural power to move quickly and set aside natural, practical, and earthly minds and act. When He calls us to task, He provides the wisdom and ability.
Rabbinical literature equates salt with wisdom.
In Matthew 5:13-15, Jesus speaks of salt and then refers to lighting a lamp to increase its brightness. Jesus told us that He was The Light of the World and the source of all wisdom and knowledge. We are to be His salted wick. In ancient times salt was put on the wick of a lamp to increase its brightness. When you are engaged with God and immersed in consistent disciplined Bible reading and prayer, you are putting salt on your wick. God’s wisdom embedded in you allows your actions to shine bright with the aura of His love to others. That wisdom radiates into the lives of everyone you meet through the acts of your heart.
In a recent conversation with me, a businessman shared that he had come to know who Jesus was late in life, after the age of 50. He said, “Somehow, I always found a reason to reject Jesus throughout my life, yet interestingly, I found myself being drawn to Christian businesspeople. They were different. I couldn’t help being curious as to why. What made them radiate peace, love, and a steadfast confidence? What was it that Christian businesspeople possessed that allowed them to live with life’s constant struggles, suffering, and uncertainties and still be confident and content?” He desperately wanted what they had but couldn’t reconcile that it was as simple as knowing Jesus. He was drawn to the Light of their salted wick. It was the Light of Peace and the Lamp of Love that kept drawing him in and that led to his eventual commitment to follow Jesus. The Light couldn’t be denied.
It is from the heart that we act.
As Christmas approaches and as we bathe in the joy of the celebration of the Festival of Lights and The Light of the World coming to earth to redeem us, can we start responding wholeheartedly without hesitation? God is whispering His voice into our minds to come and go with Him. Will we let it immediately soak into our hearts and be obedient to what He is calling us to accomplish in the upcoming new year? You may want to ask Him how: how can I help – how can I go? But don’t say “won’t,” “can’t” or “I’m not enough.” Begin now to step into next year with courage and fearlessness and be ready to run with Him and experience crazy joy.
Will you salt your wick with the wisdom of God and go in 2022?
“Salt is good for seasoning. But if salt were to lose its flavor, how could it ever be restored? It will never be useful again not even fit for the soil or the manure pile!” Luke 14:34
A few years ago when I was in the Philippines, I marveled that they had Christmas ornaments and trees already in the stores in August. Have you started thinking about what to buy for your loved ones this Christmas? Trust me; the retailers have given it lots of thought. Getting you pumped to buy has become more important than encouraging thoughtfulness about what to give.
But I’ve discovered that the pandemic has heightened our realization of the love and richness of a connected family and the importance of relationships with friends and colleagues. After being separated from many of them, we have become more keenly aware of the fragility of life and the value of passing on a gift of knowledge or wisdom and not just “stuff.”
Christmas 2021 will be special.
I have always been told that you should give what you’d like to receive. If you’re like me, you want to give something meaningful, lasting and ultimately cherished. You want to give something special. One of the fun things I have been able to do because of my travels to different countries has been to search for unique and original Christmas gifts. I look for handmade or artesian gifts – those one-of-a-kind conversation pieces from far-away lands. Often, I find antique and vintage items that have a history or story to them and have been able to come home with some pretty fun finds. I have purchased Tahitian pearls straight off the ocean pier from the pearl farmer, hand-painted Russian ornaments and boxes directly from the artist, reindeer rugs, antler mugs, and many other beautifully carved items along with some historic old books and paintings.
Several months ago, I attended and spoke at a national conference at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. While I was attending my event, the annual and hugely popular Disney Convention, D23, was also happening simultaneously. It was apparent. Disney fans are cultivated, and, even more importantly, they are committed. They came ready to go, dressed head-to-toe and were clearly Disney “worshipers.”
At The Influence Lab, our focus is to help Christians use media more effectively to tell their stories so that others will know the most important story ever told – the story of Jesus. Our passion is to mentor media professionals and leaders to create excellent media projects, develop leadership skills, and alert them to insider tips and sometimes the pitfalls of media manipulation. As the Bible commands, we want Christians to “defend their faith” (I Peter 3:15). Having worked in Hollywood for many years, I know how media and entertainment affect our emotional connections and in turn affect our actions and why we must be vigilant to use media and entertainment to tell powerful stories and share the wisdom of God.
Big Tech are the creators of our present-day media platforms and tools and have set themselves up to be media gods and idols in our present-day culture. They, along with Hollywood, are experts in using their fashioned communication tools, skills and crafts to tell the stories they want to be told and followed. These stories are changing what we identify with and even affect our own identities.
What are those stories Big Tech is telling? (more…)
In 1843, John C. Fremont, an explorer (and the namesake for the junior high school I attended), set off to explore the unknown once again. He had just returned from an expedition to Wyoming but was driven to see what was then called Oregon Country. He ended up exploring what is now known as Portland, Oregon, but his journey took him through the Sierra Nevada mountains then south and east to the desolate deserts and the Great Salt Lake in what is now known as Utah. However, this passion for exploring almost cost him his life in the Sierra’s where he and his mate, Kit Carson (who would gain fame in Nevada and whose capital city is named after him), were forced to eat their horses to survive. With Kit’s instincts and keen sense of direction, he would be Fremont’s saving guide. Without him, things would have turned out much different. (more…)