Even kids’ movies can be harmful
As a young girl who grew up in the home of believers, our television time was always limited, and what we watched was always previewed by our parents. Unlike today, in those days, we didn’t have cable television, and so the variety of the films and DVD’s available to us were from the video library which we had managed to collect. Of course, when there is a pre-determined choice of videos, it is much easier to control viewing habits, but nowadays kids, most of whom own cell phones and iPads, can freely download whatever they want from the Internet.
Today as a young mother, I am exposed to many of the new children’s videos that are out in the marketplace today. From a cursory viewpoint, they look very innocent and harmless, but if you really take a deeper and more comprehensive look into the content of these films, you might, as I did, find that there is much spiritual danger in so many of the symbols, storylines and characters – not to mention the well-crafted plots.
More than ever, I am grateful for the spiritual discernment which God has given to us as believers, to really be able to differentiate between good and evil. It is, therefore, my firm belief that we, as believing parents, have been given the responsibility by the Lord to raise our children in the ways which He has set down in His Word.
For as long as I can remember, it’s always been difficult for me, personally, to view films which contain elements of witchcraft, sorcery, magic and violence, because I believe that the Lord has placed in me a sensitivity to avoid these dangerous subjects which are completely against the Word of God and spoken of as the fruit of rebellion.
Just a few months ago, I was searching for a good and suitable film for my daughter who loves fantasy and especially anything revolving around a princess. It was during this particular search that I discovered that each and every one of the films in this genre contained one of these forbidden subjects. I actually I came across the film, “Rapunzel,” the well-known story of a girl who was kidnapped as a baby, imprisoned in a tower and grew extremely long hair. As I watched the film, I felt that it met my standards, with the exception of a few objectionable scenes both in the beginning and the end.
Consequently, I decided to let my 4 year-old daughter watch the film, together with me, while I fast-forwarded those particular scenes. My daughter was very excited and enthusiastic about the film and decided to watch it three more times that week. What was really strange to me was that once the film ended, she would begin to cry uncontrollably and misbehave, which was quite unusual for her. It then began to occur to me that there was something spiritual in all of this, and so I decided to dispose of the film and not allow it to be shown any further.
What became clear was that even though I was fast-forwarding the objectionable scenes, there apparently was a bad spirit which accompanied the movie and somehow influenced my daughter’s behavior in a way which I had never before witnessed.
After speaking with a few believing mothers about my own experience and perceptions, I quickly discovered that their children had similarly acted in the same way as my daughter had. What was the common denominator? All of these films were new releases from Disney Pictures. One mother told me that her own daughter began to take on the personality of Elsa in the film, “Frozen” to the extent that she began to have serious nightmares that were terribly disturbing to her. It wasn’t until the family and others who knew them began to pray for this situation to change that their life went back to normal.
Another incident occurred when we saw a new film entitled, “Moana.” The story is based on a little girl who was born with special powers to save her entire tribe from an evil goddess with a Satanic look. Throughout the film, there are so many demonic images, faces and alphabetical symbols which greatly enhance a very mystical background. My husband and I personally found the content very disturbing and decided against allowing our children to see the film.
Believe it or not, we felt the same way about the film, “Beauty and the Beast,” even though in the end, the beast turns into a handsome prince. For us, we objected to our daughter being exposed to a prototype of a beautiful young girl being attracted to a beast. The film also had a fair amount of spells, magic and other such elements throughout the storyline.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that these things happen to each family, and I am also not promoting a boycott of Disney films, but I am feeling the need to warn other parents that we must all be very diligent and extra careful in terms of protecting and guarding the souls of our impressionable children.
The best way to do that, I believe, is to guard their ears and eyes from the wrong images and sounds. This requires a bit of work, and, for us, it means that any film with which we are not acquainted must first be previewed by us and determined whether or not it is appropriate for our children.
My husband and I have also made a decision to watch more adult appropriate television shows, only after the children are asleep. Although we enjoy watching television, we also have made a concerted effort to curb the amount of television we watch and not allow it to control our lives.
I believe and recommend that every believing parent should carefully monitor what is being viewed by their children, even older ones, and that may actually necessitate moving the television set to a more centrally located place so that you are able to hear and see what is being viewed. I truly believe that if you ask the Lord to give you discernment, that the Spirit of God will, all the more, guide you and help you to recognize even subtle things which may be so hidden and cunningly weaved into the plot but which are, nonetheless, cleverly designed to grab the hearts and minds of your children.
Sadly, in today’s world, there are little hints and innuendos even in many children’s films where homosexuality and being effeminate is presented in a way which is natural, accepted and even totally normal. The idea is to already indoctrinate young minds that the world has changed and that they need to change along with the times. Yet, as believers who stand on the principles and values of the Word of God, there is no way that we can be neutral about these things. We must choose whether to accept God’s standards or allow the enemy to introduce a new standard into the next generation.
It is my prayer that we who have been charged with the task of raising up this next generation of believing children will seriously do all we can to point our kids in the right direction, help them to make the right choices and seek the Lord in all they do, say and even view.
Written by a Makor HaTikvah Parent
This article originally appeared on Makor HaTikvah and reposted with permission.
Makor HaTikvah, presently under the auspices and supervision of the Anglican International School of Jerusalem, has a mission to provide an alternative source of education for the children of Israeli Messianic Jewish families as well as temporary or long-term believing families who desire that their children become an integral part of Israel’s society during their stay in the Land; to provide them with an excellent Hebrew education that is both academic and spiritual, with an emphasis on the shared culture, history and values of our people; to promote a love for God and His Word, to encourage a personal walk with Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, respect for others and accountability for one’s actions; and finally to equip our students for higher education, giving them the foundational skills and values necessary to live their lives as Jewish believers in the land of their forefathers.
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Disarming your enemy
How often you think of life in terms of “warfare” or “conflict”? As we enter into a spiritual understanding of life with God, we understand that there is a very real war that is going on in and around us. We are imperfect people living among the imperfect, and yet the calling of God involves our transformation into His likeness so that we can be a blessing to others. God’s work of transforming us into something that we are not is the basis of this conflict.
In order to be effective in our battles, we must understand the way our enemy operates. As God works in our lives, His process is to bring us into our inheritance in Him. In this place we settle and become fruitful. The enemy will do his best to keep us from reaching our inheritance, but if he can’t keep us out of your inheritance, he will work to make sure he still has the upper hand over us. Let’s take a look at how the enemies of Israel kept Israel under oppression in the land of their inheritance:
“Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears.” But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man’s plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads. So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son.” (1 Sam 13:19-22, NKJV)
In order to make sure that Israel couldn’t have dominion over their inheritance, their enemies made sure they didn’t have any blacksmiths who could make weapons. The Israelites became dependent on their enemies to maintain their agricultural equipment, but they could never be free because they would never mobilize for war without weapons.
In your life, the enemy will allow you to work and produce what is necessary to sustain life, but to be victorious you have to be equipped with the weapons to make war. That is how the enemy operates to keep you away from him. The “day of battle” will always come, so prepare and become equipped by knowing how your enemy operates and ask God to equip you with the weapons of His righteousness.
“Behold, I have created the blacksmith who blows the coals in the fire, who brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the spoiler to destroy.
No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.” (Isa 54:16-17, NKJV)
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, October 18, 2017, and reposted with permission.
Since its establishment in March 2012 CBN Israel has helped thousands of people through its various operations. As the foundation of Project Light Shine, CBN Israel gives help to the community through three avenues; Humanitarian aid, education and economic development. CBN Israel serves with a spirit of humility and love. Their mission is to prepare the Land and the people of Israel for the coming of Messiah Yeshua and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The vision of their work is to see the hungry fed, the needs of the needy met, businesses established and to improve the spiritual, physical and financial situation of the local body.
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Religious vs sinners (Parable of the prodigal son)
There are so many religions in the world and each one of them claims that it is the true religion, while all others rest are mistaken. This fact causes many to doubt the very existence of God. A multiplicity of religions undoubtedly indicates the internal realization within our hearts that there is something greater than ourselves out there. We actually think that since, in addition to God, evil spiritual powers exist as well, their goal is to purposely confuse us, using the existence of as many different religions as possible.
But – wait a minute – are religions, generally speaking, even capable of leading us to God at all?
Religion is a system of rules, such as: what we should wear, what we should or shouldn’t eat and when, where and how to perform odd external customs. But do religions, whichever they may be, have the capacity to change our hearts and eventually lead us to God?
One of the most famous parables in history is called “the Parable of the Prodigal Son”. It is a 2000 year old parable, which was told right here in Israel by the most famous Jew in the world: Yeshua. A parable which is documented in the New Testament. Gathered around Yeshua were two types of people: Religious men and sinners. The religious men were arrogant, conceited and condescending people, who believed that, on their own, thanks to rules and customs which they themselves invent and abide by, They can reach God.
The sinners were the people who had no interest in God whatsoever. All they cared about was enjoying life as much as they could and earning as much as possible, even if their profit came at the expense of others.
“A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ ” [Luke 15:11-12]
An inheritance is something you get after someone dies. Asking the father for the inheritance whilst he still lives is insulting. It is just as if he would have said to his father: “as far as I’m concerned – you can go ahead and die” “I don’t want you; but only your possessions.”
“So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.” [Luke 15:12-15]
A Jew who lives with pigs and would gladly eat their food. You can’t reach a lower, more humiliating point.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” And he arose and came to his father.” [Luke 15:17-20]
The younger son acknowledges the fact that he has been sinful and rebellious. That he is unworthy of being with his father, and plans to beg his wealthy father to let him be a simple servant, if he should even let him anywhere near his estate. By the way, the hired help don’t live in the house, but rather outside the estate, and come to work every day. The younger son hoped that he could earn and repay his debt to his father bit by bit.
“But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” [Luke 15:20]
In the ancient Middle East, it was beneath a wealthy father to run like a child. Children run and play, landowners do not. Let alone those whose children have humiliated and sinned against. But this father was special. And, against all odds, he ran, kissed and hugged his young son.
“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. [Luke 15:21-22]
The people who heard this parable probably expected the father to say something like: “You haven’t showered in two weeks. You smell of pigs. Go clean yourself up, and then come and talk to me. Or, as would probably be said today: “You wish to repent? Go, put on Tefillin, wear a yarmulke, keep the commandments, go to synagogue for a few weeks, prove your commitment and later we’ll talk and see what can be done.” However, that wasn’t the case with this father. Not only did the father refuse to let his young son become a servant he wouldn’t even let him finish his sentence.
Instead, he demanded that his servants fetch him the best robe.
Who does the best robe belong to?
The father himself, of course.
And that robe was to be put on the filth, stench and sludge of his young son. Landowners wore robes. Kings wore robes. Robes represent the honor, majesty and splendour of the people who wear them.
In other words, the father chose to cloak the sins of the past, using his own power and authority.
His son’s rebellion and filth were covered with the cleanest, most luxurious robe he owned.
“And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again;he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.” [Luke 15:22]
The father threw a party in order to celebrate his son’s repentance.
What does repentance really mean?
The word “repentance” today has been given a different connotation than its original meaning. Nowadays, it refers to external actions, such as wrapping leather straps around one’s arm, or wearing a round piece of fabric on one’s head. But the word’s original meaning is “regret”. A true, honest and deep regret which comes from the heart for the choices and wrongdoings we have undertaken.
Through the way he treats his young son, we can perceive the father’s grace, mercy and love. A father who is willing to forgive and atone for past trespasses himself.
If the young son thought that he would be working outside and slowly earning his way back in the house, by throwing the celebration, the father was essentially saying: “No way. You cannot buy me. You have no chance of earning your way back to me.I will be doing it for you. I will be bringing you back to the family.”
In the same way, we, imperfect people, have no chance of “earning” our way back to God. Only God himself, in his grace, can grant us that gift. It makes no difference how many difficult or complex rules we invent for ourselves.
Religion is NOT the answer
“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ But he was angry and would not go in.” [Luke 15:25-28]
The older son may have been in physical proximity to the father, but he had an entirely different way of thinking. He was proud and conceited, just like those pharisaic rabbis gathered around Yeshua who heard the parable. The older son had the audacity to be angry.
At the fact that the fatted, expensive calf was killed in honor of his brother. What truly upset him was that now he would have one less calf as his inheritance.
“Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.” [Luke 15:28]
The older son is standing outside, whining and making a scene in front of everyone, and refusing to join the celebration. The father puts his pride aside and steps outside to try and convince his older son to join the celebration.
“So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad,for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’” [Luke 15:29-31]
The only thing that was important to the father was the acknowledgement of sin and the repentance for it. But that couldn’t convince the older son, who was pious and proud. He thought that he was perfect. He claimed that he was righteous. “I never transgressed your commandment at any time”.
The irony in the parable is that the younger son, who had sinned, DID return home and to his father’s heart, as he had acknowledged his sins. Whereas the older son was left on the outskirts of the celebration, on the outskirts of the Kingdom of God. Far from his father’s heart. It wasn’t the older son’s wrongdoings which distanced him from his father, but rather his good deeds. His pride. His self righteousness. The elder son didn’t truly love his family. He was there for their possessions. He kept the laws and rules so that he might one day have the power and control. He was actually using his father.
‘You waste a calf and throw a celebration for the young son? You haven’t even slaughtered a goat in my honour!’ ‘and I have obeyed you my whole life! I was righteous!’ ‘I behaved myself and followed your every rule to the letter. It isn’t fair!’
The older son cannot grasp his father’s love for someone who has sinned against him.
All the elder son had to offer was religious fanaticism and condescending sanctimoniousness. He was certain of his perfect righteousness.
Yeshua divided mankind in two:
The younger son represents those of us who rebel against God, enjoy his creation, but have no interest in Him. He probably looked at his older brother his whole life and thought to himself: ‘You and your friends are pious, fanatic, judgmental, and think only of yourselves. You have narrow, primitive minds. You are all that is wrong with the world.’
Whereas the older son represents those of us who are far away from God’s heart. Because we think that they are good enough on their own. That we are righteous. That we have “won over” God, thanks to various customs and rules invented and religiously kept by us. Perhaps, on the outside, he seemed perfect. However, on the inside, his heart was evil and spoiled.
Without a doubt, Yeshua had bitter accusations towards our nation’s religious leaders.
He taught that the kingdom of God could only be entered by those who recognised their own weaknesses and sins. Yeshua claimed that, if you think that your piety, the rules you invent for yourself, can grant you entrance into the kingdom of God – you are mistaken.
Yeshua labels all religions in the same way: Religions generate pride and arrogance, since they make us believe that we are earning something of God. That, through customs and rules we create for ourselves, we impress Him and win points with Him.
According to Yeshua, religions cannot open the door to the perfect kingdom of heaven for us. And that is precisely the message that Yeshua and the New Testament teach us. A message which was demonstrated by Him when He gave up his life for us sinners and criminals. A message which meant bad news for the religious leaders, as the power and control were no longer theirs, because now there was no more separation between Jews and Gentiles, sinners and “righteous” men, between men and women, slaves and freemen, or between the rich and the poor.
Through Yeshua, everyone has access to the kingdom of God. The bottom line is that we are all far away from our father’s heart in heaven.
We are all what is wrong with the world.
That is why Yeshua taught us that we are to be reborn. Meaning, we are to acknowledge that we are all either the younger son, running away from God, or the older son, thinking we are righteous and perfect. But none of us are perfect. We are all sinners, and our imperfections prevents us from making perfect decisions. Therefore, we cannot be our own solution. We need the perfect Messiah to atone for our sins. Only He himself can let us into the kingdom of God. We can’t do it on our own.
And it makes no difference which race we belong to, what we wear, or how many daily hours we spend studying thousands of complex rules, which don’t really change our hearts for the better anyway.
To summarize, God has already put in the work for us. He has revealed himself to us as the Messiah, clothed us with his most luxurious robe, and was left on the cross naked to die for us and atone for our sins.
Thus, he provided us with the key to the perfect kingdom of God.
When we acknowledge the fact that we didn’t earn this by our own merits, but rather that God did it for us, we will see that we have no right to patronize or look down on anyone else because we are all in the same boat. And rather than building walls between ourselves and others, we will strive to love others. Not out of fear or coercion, or out of trying to gain anything, but because HE LOVED US FIRST and gave His life for our sins.
For more information: iGod.co.il/014
This article originally appeared on One for Israel and reposted with permission.
Eitan is ONE FOR ISRAEL’s Media & Evangelism Director.
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LISTEN: Matthew 25 – The Day of the Lord
The world is spiralling into sin and where is God in all of this?
We await the day of the Lord when God comes with his action of pouring out his holiness. The wrath of the world is not to be equated with the holy wrath of God.
Rev. Howenstine touches on “The Collect”, noting that we are to rejoice in His coming and put his passion cross and death between our souls and death. The gospel is one of recruitment, now is the time to thank the Lord for His being slow in his coming, He wants us to be about that labour in His Kingdom. In Zephaniah we hear the prediction of the day of the Lord coming; the response is seek the Lord and repent that you may be hidden! The day is going to come but he sets the cross between us and his wrath; he can hide us! In Matthew the passage comes after the has revealed his identity; His heart reveals desire is saying “How often I have longed to gather you; Judgement is coming but I can hide anyone who comes to my mercy.”
Readings: Zephaniah 1:7 & 12-18, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Matthew 25:14-30
Christ Church is the oldest Protestant Church in the Middle East. It was completed in Jerusalem in 1849 and soon after became known as the "Jewish Protestant Church." Today Christ Church is an evangelical Anglican congregation that worships in our historic church in the Old City of Jerusalem. The congregation, comprised of expatriates who have come to serve in Israel or the West Bank along with local believers (both Jews and Arabs), welcomes visitors and tourists to its worship services. We are an English speaking congregation that appreciates our Jewish roots in a liturgical and historical context.
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He who receives you
Yeshua sent out pairs of his disciples on a mission to proclaim the good news of the kingdom. On entering a village, the two disciples were to seek out a worthy man who would offer them lodging and hospitality.
And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. (Matthew 10:11-13)
Yeshua told them, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house’” (Luke 10:5), a Jewish salutation and blessing of peace upon the family. The Master said, “If a [son] of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you” (Luke 10:6). The idiom “son of peace” refers to friendly, affable person who gets along well with other people. If the disciples found a son of peace, they were to stay in his home as long as they remained in the area. If the household proved inhospitable, the disciples were to leave and let their peace return to them; their blessing of “shalom” upon the household would not take effect.
The Master did not want the disciples moving from house to house within the same community. The sages shared similar concerns: “A boarder who moves from house to house brings disrepute on himself and his hosts … a man should not change his lodging place” (b.Arachin 16b). The Master illustrated this principle by making His regular lodging in the house of Peter in Capernaum. Elisha did the same, always staying in the house of the Shunemite woman (2 Kings 4:8).
Yeshua said, “He who receives you receives Me” (Matthew 10:40). He regarded a person who hosted His disciples and heeded their words as if they had hosted Him and listened directly to His teaching. The Talmud explains that an apostle (shaliach) officially represents the one who sent him. “A man’s shaliach is like the man himself,” the rabbis said. Yeshua’s apostles officially represented Him, and receiving an apostle was the same as receiving the one who sent him. In a similar way, the Father sent Yeshua as His “sent one.” This explains why the Master said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (John 13:20).
Today the apostles are not with us, but we can still receive and host disciples of the Master who labor and minister for the kingdom. In addition, we receive the words of the apostles when we study their writings, and when we receive their teachings, we receive the teachings of the Master: “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).
This article originally appeared on First Fruits of Zion and reposted with permission.
First Fruits of Zion specializes in the study and teaching of Scripture from its historical, linguistic, and cultural context. Using the latest scholarship, ancient Jewish sources, and extra-biblical literature, we present a Messianic Jewish reading of the Bible and early Jewish-Christianity. We do this by publishing books, ebooks, magazines, journals, study programs, audio and audio-visual resources, and presenting new material through seminars, conferences, and guided Israel tours.