Cultivating: Key Choices that Matter

Cultivating: Key Choices that Matter

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.”

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Identity Disruption: How Media is Contributing To Our Confusion

Identity Disruption: How Media is Contributing To Our Confusion

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…)

The Creative Explorer

The Creative Explorer

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…)

Want a little Whine with that? Are you Lamenting or Complaining?

Want a little Whine with that? Are you Lamenting or Complaining?

The culture today is full of complainers — Christians and non-Christians both. It’s hard not to whine about the constant disruptions affecting our lives. We are creatures of continuous unhappiness and traumatic events. A recent Barna research reveals that 82% of teens (13 to 18 years of age) admit to having a traumatic experience in their life, an experience which can continue to haunt them throughout the rest of their lives. Even in the best of situations, complaining seems to be the only way to vent our emotions after a life-changing event. Overcoming it, however, involves more. It means confronting the painful experience, changing our thinking, and waiting on God’s final return to repair our broken world that caused it in the first place. After a year of pandemic disruptions, can we prepare our thoughts for Good Friday and Easter 2021 with a posture of lamenting and not complaining?

Can we think differently? What if we purposefully practice lamenting instead of complaining?

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The Determination of Creative Women

The Determination of Creative Women

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, What Women Artists Knew About Work,  Mason Currey cites Harriet Beecher Stowe’s (“Uncle Tom’s Cabin”) letter to her sister-in-law with these words…

“Since I began this note, I have been called off at least a dozen times – once for the fish-man to buy a codfish – once to see a man who had brought me some baskets of apples – once to see a bookman… then to nurse the baby – then into the kitchen to make a chowder for dinner and now I am at it again, for nothing but deadly determination enables me to ever write – it is rowing against wind and tide.”

As I sit at my desk and computer hashing it out with a multitude of to-do’s nipping at my feet, I feel very close to Harriet.  It requires determination and sheer work to find the time to read, think, research and write but I am compelled to do so by the pounding drum within me.

Finding time to create was difficult for many women throughout history. In many ways we have it easier today but media distractions can be one of our fiercest opponents. Technological advancements have disrupted and loaded our lives with interruptions and the one highest on the list is the smartphone in our hands. Its unrelenting grasp hooks us. We often get blindly swept away following social media, watching YouTube or are mesmerized by video games. (more…)

Mind Bending: The Subtle Tactics of Living in a Media Culture

Mind Bending: The Subtle Tactics of Living in a Media Culture

At a recent University of California San Diego lecture, students were told by their professor that a human fetus is comparable to cancer. That it is like a parasite invading the body and reshaping blood vessels in much the same way cancer does. (See the picture above taken at the seminar.)

Our culture today is fraught with manipulating words and bending thoughts. Comparisons are subtly used to change meanings and push social and political agendas. Young student minds and busy media-bombarded consumers are being manipulated without noticing. This nonchalant example in an educational setting allows young minds to be introduced to thinking that an unborn fetus is like a cancer cell. That it is an unwanted enemy of the body and allows women to justify walking into an abortion clinic and disposing of the growth inside them with a clear conscience.

They were taught in a university lecture that the unborn was just an unwanted mass of cells – a parasite.

When former U.S. President Bill Clinton said in 1998 that he “didn’t have sexual relations with that woman” it disrupted cultural and moral thought. Our present-day millennial generation were kids and were watching, as we all were, that apparently, oral sex wasn’t part of having a “sexual relationship.” Young minds saw a high-ranking influential man twist and change the meaning of words to justify his actions. Those young minds at the time are now young adults and his words have infected the thinking of our present-day culture.

It’s why we need to be paying attention to what is being communicated more than ever.

And it’s essential that we take the time to inoculate our kids and grandkids with wisdom. We need to teach them how to use discernment and help them build strong moral foundations that pay off. Our choices matter because words can’t be trusted today. If we believe in marriage we better be committed. If we believe that truth matters then we better stop lying on our taxes, and if an unborn child matters then we better be willing to support women who birth them.

Our media driven culture distracts and overwhelms us from what is significant in our lives.

One can’t go to the grocery store, put gas in a car, or even stand in an elevator without a video screen or advertisement telling us what to do and think. We check our cell phone over a hundred times daily, check them within minutes of getting out of bed and panic when we lose them. Being disconnected is the number one fear teens worry about today. In New York this past spring, a nine-year-old-girl hung herself when her mom told her to go back to bed and then took her cell phone away. And futurists are predicting it’s only going to get worse.

Today we still have the ability to shut off our screens, but our upcoming generations won’t be able to.

Even today factories are testing chips being implanted into employees’ wrists. They can open security doors, buy their lunch in vending machines and clock in and out with the swipe of their wrist. The technology has been used on dogs and cats for years and our Fitbits and iWatches are presently getting us all ready to accept this new technology quickly, without thinking about it.

How shall we then live? How do we keep from mind-bending thought? 

We stay savvy and control the noise and engage with God and scripture. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” We learn to be mindful of how and when these subtle word changes can manipulate our thoughts and affect our choices. We put on protective gear or as the Bible calls it, “the whole armor of God,” so that culture and word pollution doesn’t destroy our choices in life.

What’s interesting is that Jesus also taught us that we are to be responsible for what we say and how we use words to manipulate.

Jesus said: “Listen and understand, It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” (Matthew 15:10-11) Or, another interesting interpretation from the Message Bible says, “Listen and take heart, It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.” In other words, it’s what you allow yourself to take in and believe and then spew out that corrupts and taints yourself and others. It’s why so many today are resisting the Church. We need to purge ourselves first and take the “plank out of our eye” so that the truth of Jesus can be heard clearly.

Neurologists today are showing that media usage is changing the growth and actual shape of children’s physical brains. Words coupled with the use of visuals are powerful. When a slide pops up in a college lecture of a fetus side by side with a cancerous growth the comparison is damaging and manipulating.

Teach your children well, modern-day parental units. Teach them as Jesus did with words that still are true today: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)