‘Royals’-Living The Fantasy

royals

 

Why in the world do we watch reality TV? Really though, why?

It’s because we long to escape our boring reality into someone else’s story, a story far bigger and seemingly greater than our own. Somehow the Kardashians seem to be a little bit more intriguing than changing diapers, going to the office, making dinner, and trying to find all of those missing socks (seriously though, where do they go?)

Our desire to be around greatness has created a culture of celebrity worship. Against my better judgment, I always end up on E! Entertainment. Be honest, we know you look through People and Us Weekly magazine columns out of the corner of your eyes in the Kroger checkout line. I totally get it; I do it too! We need to know which celebrity has a saggy bottom and who is getting fatter by the second. Although I hate to admit it, I’m somehow interested to see if the Bachelor has found true love (ha – ha). I mean seriously…. It’s important for me to study the downward spiral of former Disney Stars.

Entertainment pulls us in and out of our boring life’s. By switching back and forth between reality shows, are we really just seeking to escape our own seemingly dull realities?

Although we may have a dream for greatness and a drive to rule (even if it is living vicariously through someone else), not everyone can be “royals,” as Grammy winner Lorde proclaims.

And we’ll never be royals.
It don’t run in our blood,
That kind of lux just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz.
Let me be your ruler, you can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I rule, Let me live that fantasy.”
Why has this song resonated with our culture?

Lorde is not only an incredible artist with fabulous locks and my new favorite up and comer…. she is right! Not all of us will be “royals,” but in many ways we still possess a fantasy to rule. If you are like me, you have probably come to terms with the fact that you are never going to be a real life princess. In all likelihood, we will never hold an OSCAR in our hand, and will probably never even be nominated as “mom of the year” in our hometown. We realize we may not have what it takes to rule the red carpet, but it’s okay. There are still plenty of little kingdoms that we can rule. We become Daydream believers amidst our ordinary lives.

Our kingdoms can be found in the midst of laundry piles multiplying on our couches, dining room chairs plastered in weird looking remnants from dinners long ago, surrounded by our court jesters covered in peanut butter, in a cubical with one of those swivel chairs and posted notes everywhere, pews, play groups, classrooms, seminary, and even the blogosphere.

We mock celebrities for their absurdities and lavish lifestyles; as Lorde says, “Gold Teeth, Grey Goose, Trippin in the bathroom, Bloodstains, Ball gowns, Trashing the hotel room.”

We may say, “We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair,” when in truth every one of us have been in a love affair with ourselves.
Although we may have never “seen a diamond in the flesh,” oh how long to capture greatness. (Even if its just flipping through the television.)

Even if it is simply, “driving Cadillacs in our dreams.”

We were not made to be “Royals” receiving applause; we were made to give the applause to Jesus Christ – the only One worthy of praise.

Our little kingdoms will one day be destroyed.

 

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Beyonce, The Grammys and When I Almost Kissed Another Man

Beyonce grammys
“You need to grow a pair!”
These are the words I yelled to my husband the night he told me I couldn’t kiss another man. Other profound statements that immediately followed were, “You are just insecure;” “you’re just not man enough.” Marital bliss was surely on the verge of destruction all because I wanted to kiss another man and my pastor-husband was not okay with it. Really?!? Are you kidding me? I am about to land the lead role of Maria in West Side Story and you are going to let your insecurities keep me from my dream! So what if I would have to have a pretend love scene with another man – it is acting. It’s called art. Plus, an opportunity like this does not come around every day.

My husband was jealous for me. He did not want to share me with anyone – even if it was just for entertainment. The thought of me pretending to love another man made him nauseous and angry. Mistakenly I accused him of being insecure when what was really happening was my husband was seeking to protect and cover me in his love. Like Boaz on the threshing floor with Ruth, he had placed his blanket over me and vowed to love and protect me, even if that was protecting me from myself.

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Drunk On Love

There is no doubt Beyoncé gave an intoxicating performance at the Grammys singing “Drunk On Love” with her husband Jay-Z. It would be more appropriate to title the song “Drunk On Beyoncé.” Leather. Wet hair. Bumping and Grinding. Racy. Sexual. Sultry. It was everything the producers could have hoped for and more –it was scandalous to say the least. They forgot to include chains and whips but these bondage devices were unnecessary because everyone’s eyes were chained to the pop star- like wax before an open flame.

Still, many of us saw Beyoncé’s performance and thought to ourselves, “Well, she must think she is something – sitting up on that chair like a goddess!” I get it! Most of us would not want to do a chair dance for the world to see, but so often we still have a desire for power. Lorde was right to sing that although most of us realize, “We will never be royals,” we still have a fantasy to rule. So we sit on top of our thrones and attempt to rule our own kingdoms. “This is my party; I can do what I want! I can marry whomever I want, touch whatever I want, eat what I want,” etc. Though outwardly we appear to be a dominatrix taking control of our lives, whipping everyone into shape, we end up paralyzed and tangled in our own chains of bondage. We become a slave to the “wave,” literally stuck out in an ocean of sin (on our little surf board) just waiting for the next big wave, only to be disappointed the fun did not last. Yet this so-called power is only an illusion.

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Shocked? No, I am not shocked by a pop star twerking half dressed on stage or grinding on a surf board. I was more shocked when 17 year old Lorde kept her clothes on during a performance!! Sad is the word I would use to describe how I felt after watching this married couple grab each other on stage. Don’t get me wrong; I am all about married couples enjoying sexual intimacy, and I am also all for women feeling good about themselves after having babies – but do we need the entire world to see?

It crossed my mind that somewhere in time the married couple had to have the following conversation: She said, “Honey, I think I am going to do a chair dance on stage for millions to watch.” He said, “Sounds GREAT!”

After watching Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “Drunk On Love” performance at the Grammys, I was reminded of how thankful I am that my husband 8 years ago took a stand to keep me for himself and didn’t share me with the world. My husband was jealous for me.

Jay-Z was ok with his wife spreading her legs for the entire world to see. Jay-Z apparently saw no problem with millions of men taking his wife to bed that night – a leather thong playing through the Rolodex of their minds.

Even Jamie Foxx admitted openly and casually to America the fact that he could not stop thinking about Beyoncé’s smoking hot performance. If a man walked up to my husband and said the same thing, I shiver at what would happen to that man.

Men – young and old – are being trained to exploit women.

Performances like what we see at the Grammys is a training-ground for young eyes. We are shocked and horrified that human sex trafficking is taking place in America (and rightfully so). But we should also be angered at artists who encourage men to view women simply as objects instead of individuals created in the image of God.

The culture is teaching my sons the following:

They need to be looking for the next exciting, sexy image. So they flip through the channels until they find a stimulating image – always flipping back and forth – never satisfied long enough.

Women are not to be respected. They are objects for a man’s viewing and using pleasure, and when you get bored, you simply move onto the next hot thing.

Women are for sex. Her face is replaced with genitals in a way that is depersonalizing. The pornography industry is the epitome such.

Our boys are learning it’s all about conquering women instead of treasuring one woman.

They are learning to be an abuser instead of a protector.

They are being taught that women want a guy who will come and get it.

Not only is the culture communicating something very harmful to our boys, but our girls are hearing mixed-messages that their entire self-worth is based upon how well they perform.

My little Ellie, for example, will be faced with the questions: Is she pretty and sexy enough to get a man’s attention? Can she entertain him? Can she keep his attention with her performance? Dress? Talk? Texting?

Where a man is looking for a vivid image, our daughters are learning they need to be that image (and that they need to be as skinny as the girl on the cover of the Victoria’s Secret magazine).

She is learning to be exploited, used, and rejected – over and over again. Is this what we want for our children? To be exploited?

Oh how we need a love that will not exploit, leave us, take advantage of us, and merely use us?
Yes, women need love from a Man, and that Man is Jesus.

Christ was exploited. He was punished for sins that He did not commit. His love is unfathomable. Jesus’ love is a love that longs to cover us. It is a love that does not ask us to do anything to merit its affections. We don’t have to perform. We don’t have to entertain. We don’t have to be the prettiest or the best. We’re accepted not because of how beautiful we are, but in spite of how spiritually ugly our sin can make us. Jesus’ love is a love that covers all of our ugly sin and clothes us in his righteousness.

Miley Cyrus: Twerkin and TRUTH

Last night at the VMA’s, Miley Cyrus wanted her audience to know one thing: she’s a “big girl” now. The innocent little “Hannah Montana” that we all once knew is now nothing more than a memory. The risqué “grabbing”-twerkin-jerkin-random-teddy bears-tongue and “sweaty bodies everywhere” seemed to shock even the most seasoned of celebrities (check out the faces on Drake and Taylor Swift).

However, the thing that shocked me the most wasn’t so much the promiscuous escapade this young 20-year old girl put on in front of millions of people; what surprised me the most was the fact that Miley Cyrus was speaking the truth – well, kind of.
Here are some of her lyrics:
It’s our party we can do what we want
It’s our party we can say what we want
It’s our party we can love who we want
We can kiss who we want
We can see who we want (2x)
Red cups and sweaty bodies everywhere
Hands in the air like we don’t care
Cause we came to have so much fun now
Bet somebody here might get some now
If you’re not ready to go home
Can I get a hell no
Cause we gonna go all night
Till we see the sunlight alright
So la da di da di, we like to party
Dancing with Miley
Doing whatever we want
This is our house
This is our rules
And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
Can’t you see it’s we who own the night
Can’t you see it we who bout’ that life
And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
Believe it or not, Miley is exactly right. “She can’t stop and she won’t stop.” Like each of us, left to ourselves outside of Christ, the Bible teaches that we are “dead in our sin” and that we are “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). In other words, when it comes to living out the lustful desires of this world and our flesh, “We can’t stop,” and “We won’t stop.” Have you ever seen a corpse get up out of a coffin? No, they are dead. In the same way, as spiritually dead sinners outside of Christ, we cannot and will not stop living the life of an “all night” party consumed with the things that are displeasing to God.
Miley is not the first to have her “Disney star gone bad” moment.
Britney Spears (although retro now) had “Hit me baby one more time.” Christina was a “Genie in a Bottle.” Selena has an open invitation for, “When you are ready, come and get it.”

They each choose different wording, but the fundamental message is the same: “We are all grown up now and free to behave however we choose.” This so called “freedom” is a lie. For example, Britney Spears was right when she sang, “I’m a slave.” In John 8:34, Jesus says, “Truly, truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” The Bible teaches that this so-called freedom to live as we please is actually indicative of the fact that we are in shackles to our own pleasure – a pleasure that is fleeting and that ultimately leads to brokenness and destruction.
At the end of the day, being a slave to mere self-gratification leads to “self hangovers.” Yes, the party is fun; that’s why we do it. The problem is, too much is never enough. Once we begin to seek to satisfy the desires of our flesh, the appetite only increases and is never ultimately appeased. We can have all the sex, drugs, money, and fun right that this world has to offer. And sure, for a while, it will satisfy. However, over the course of a person’s life (typically sooner than later), we begin to realize there is still something missing.
Have you noticed we are never satisfied? We lose 10 pounds, but we want to lose ten more. We get a promotion, but within a few months we can’t get our eyes off the next step up the ladder. Whatever we’re receiving now, we often live under the false assumption that just a bit more would finally satisfy.
Scripture is clear that each of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23). In essence, sin our declaration, “Yeah God, I know you made me, but ‘it’s my party and I can say what I want, do what I want, and kiss who I want.” The problem is, it’s not really our party. It’s Gods party and He can and will do what He wants. He is the King, and He created us not for our own glory and recognition, but for His own. The greatest commandment He has given us is to love Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Anytime we say we are simply going to do what we want, we are grabbing the apple off of the tree and loving ourselves more than the Creator.
Miley is exactly right, “only God can Judge ya.” The fact is, for those of us outside of Christ, He is judging us right now, and in some sense, has judged us already (John 3:18). The call of the Gospel is to turn from self and turn to Christ. We can’t do what we want and please God at the same time. We can only go to His party if we are in with his Son, Jesus.
All of the things we are enjoying in this life – people, places, food, etc., are made to point us to the Creator. All of our cravings, desires, dreams, and pursuits are to lead you to the One who made you. Instead of worshipping the Creator, we so easily “throw our hands in the air like we don’t care” and worship the creation. All of the sex, money, fame, and success, are utterly incapable of finally satisfying us. We can live with the “It’s my party” attitude, but it will only lead to depression and frustration. It is a futile effort to ask and expect broken people, places and things to satisfy a longing in our hearts that only our Maker can fulfill.
My heart literally hurt for Miley last night. What I saw was a young lady that is filled with an inner restlessness – a young lady that is looking for attention and affirmation in all of the wrong places.
Several years ago Miley gave an interview for Good Morning America where she told the reporter she spent time reading her bible every day. I remember praying for her faith that day. Still today, my prayer for Miley is that she would come to see that there is a heavenly Father who longs to love and affirm her, not because of how she dances on stage, but because He made her in His image, for His glory – a heavenly Father who has numbered the hairs on her head, and desires to call her His daughter.
St. Augustine said, “My heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” May Miley find her rest not in the spotlight and via the applauds of men, but may Miley find her rest in the One who seeks to rescue her with his own blood.
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Babbling Beauty Queens: What Miss Utah’s “Epic Failure” Teaches Us About the Gospel of Christ

And the 2013 Miss USA is . . . Yep, that’s right. As an ex-pageant girl, I thought it was only appropriate that I briefly address last Sunday night’s Miss USA pageant on ABC. Miss USA and Miss America are the “Superbowls” of pageants, so don’t judge me, I had to watch (It’s like my husband feeling the need to watch every single NCAA basketball game during March Madness – even when UK is not playing).

With that being said, I have to say congrats to Erin Brady (Miss Connecticut) who won this year’s crown in Las Vegas. However, being a pageant expert (giggles), I was thoroughly convinced that Miss Utah – Marissa Powell – had it in the bag. She was breathtakingly beautiful (at least on the outside, of course I don’t know her heart). Like I tell my little 3 year old girl on a regular basis, it doesn’t matter if you are beautiful on the outside if you have an ugly heart on the inside.

Nevertheless, the stunning Miss Utah seemed to have the complete package, and as the pageant drew to an end, she was the clear favorite to win. Then it happened – one of every pageant girl’s worst nightmares (right up there with tripping in her high-heel shoes as she struts across stage in her 2-piece). It was the ever-important “final question” – the chance to either seal the deal, or crash and burn. Unfortunately, for Miss Utah, it became what one blogger is calling the “epic fail,” and what The New York Post is calling a “painfully awful pageant answer.” Perhaps these are both grossly-gracious understatements.

The question: “A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?”

The Answer: “I think we can relate this back to education, and how we are continuing to try to strive to (l…o…n…g…e…s…t “pause” . . . . ever) figure out how to create jobs right now. This is the biggest problem. And I think, especially the men are…umm…seen as the leader of this, and so we need to try to figure out how to create educate better so we can solve this problem. Thank you.”

This is where I buried my head in a pillow in utter defeat. First and foremost, I hated it for her (and hurt for her), but additionally, this meant that once more I failed to pick the winner, and my husband (once more) did pick the winner (no, I don’t let him watch the swimsuit portion of the competition).

Anyway; wow! The answer to the final question was definitely an “epic fail.” However, to be fair, in order to have made it into the top five she had to have had a good interview in the preliminaries. So, although she sounded like a babbling idiot on stage, she had to have been great in the preliminary interview. Regardless, the poor girl is being ridiculed for having a brain fart on stage (sorry mom, I know you have taught me better). The fact is, we all have brain farts, and in my case, I have them on a fairly consistent basis (if you saw my grammar before I hit “spell check” on this, you would agree). It actually reminds me of a time when I was competing for Miss Illinois. A judge asked me why I was going to go to college in Kentucky. My answer: “I am just sick of Illinois and I can’t wait to get out. I need something different.” Now that was an epic fail (and no, little to your surprise, I did not win that pageant). So, we all have these moments, but the difference is most of us won’t ever be put in the position of having such an embarrassing moment in front of millions of people on national television.

Thus, my heart goes out to Miss Utah and all the other girls that were “rejected” last night. You may not know this, but it is hard work being a pageant girl. Getting yourself prepared to prance around on stage with the goal of having a panel of judges come to the conclusion that you are the most beautiful girl in the room . . . hard work (and yes, as I’ve confessed in previous blogs, such a desire and ambition CAN BE prideful – a pride for which I’m thankful the blood and grace of Jesus is sufficient to forgive).

But yes, it’s hard work. There are LOTS of hours in the gym. LOTS of volunteering and appearances (gotta build that resume). LOTS of dietary restrictions (my poor husband struggles with our current eating habits; he wouldn’t have lasted a week with me back in the pageant days). For example, I always gave up eating pasta and bread – getting hungry just thinking about such inhumane restrictions. Then, there was the interview training (learning how not to stumble over your words in front of millions of people). LOTS of money on dresses (and in some cases, various types of “physical enhancements”). It was work! This all ultimately culminates into “the big show.” There are fifty-one beautiful women that have sculpted bodies, perfect hair, and teeth as white as Chiclets. There is glitz and certainly glamour, but everything comes down to the final question. For Miss Utah, the final question sent her soaring (or flailing) into 3rd place – depending on how you look at it:)

How devastating to spend hours upon hours of your life on a dream, only to go home without a crown.

Similarly, some of us are working very hard at being “good.”

“If I am just good enough, God will love me.” However, the Scripture teaches, “no one is good” (Romans 3:11), and that certainly no one can be “good enough.” There is only one person that ever has or ever will be good enough, and that person is Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the “good” news is, He died for your sin. This is a mysterious beauty – the beauty of Christ. God came to earth and took upon flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. He is Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” Jesus, although He had no sin, laid his body against a rugged cross. There, his flesh was torn, his side was pierced, and his body was beaten. Why? For our sin, and surprisingly, for our alleged “good deeds” – the “good deeds” of which we learn in Isaiah 64:6 that even the most “righteous” of those deeds are merely as “filthy rags” in comparison to the righteousness and holiness of God).

Nevertheless, this is Beauty – that the spotless One dies for the spotted ones; that the Righteous One died for the rebellious; that the Holy One dies for the heinous; that God would die for man. Ultimately, we see in the Gospel that Jesus did not die for us because we were lovely, but Jesus died for us to make us lovely – the kind of lovely that doesn’t come from make-up, ab crunches, and plastic surgery – but the kind of lovely that comes from the crimson red blood that flowed from the side of the Son of God.

Pageants will always have judges. Likewise, there is going to be a final day when we will stand before our Judge, a perfect Judge – a Judge against whom each of us have sinned deeply. A judge not impressed by “the show;” a Judge that looks not at the outside, but at the heart. When this Judge looks at us, He’s not looking for a list of rules kept, laws obeyed, and good deeds performed. Rather, He is looking for pure righteousness – a righteousness that must come from outside of us, a righteousness that comes only from Christ. Do not be like the Pharisees, whom Jesus said are, “like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to brothers, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Speaking of Judgment Day, Jesus says in Matthew 7:22f, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ and then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you worker of lawlessness.’” On the great and dreadful Day of Judgment, will you say, “I have been so good! Where is my crown? Aren’t I worthy?”

This is futile, hopeless, and preposterous. If we say such words, we will sound like a babbling idiot. However, the good news is that Jesus came for such idiots (idiots such as me, myself, and I). Jesus came for the babbling, the weak, the downtrodden, the hurting, and the outcast. He came for the people that don’t have it together. Jesus “had it together” perfectly for 33 years, because He knew that we couldn’t. Then, He shed his blood for us. Now, the invitation is open for any of us: that we can turn from our “good deeds,” self-reliance, and self-righteousness; that we can turn from ourselves, and trust in Him. Pageants and crowns are inseparable. Likewise, Christians are inseparable from the matchless love and grace of God. God redeems our life from the pit, and crowns us with steadfast love. Won’t you rest in His love and stop trying so hard?

How many of us are striving so hard to “stay on God’s good side,” and working so strenuously so that someday He’ll judge that we’ve done enough? We put on our spiritual makeup and talk the spiritual lingo. We do are devotionals and pray and try being the best mom, daughter, friend, etc. But it’s just so stinking exhausting! If we are honest sometimes we wonder, “Why am I doing this? I should be perfect by now!” Recently, I overheard my son tell his father, “but mommy doesn’t know how to play (speaking of basketball).” Have we forgotten how to “play” and enjoy the small things? Playing doesn’t seem as spiritual as working. I want to live a life that is characterized by a restful enjoyment (on occasion rightly likened unto “playing”) in the presence of my Father, all the while enjoying all that He has given me. We must remind ourselves daily that He doesn’t love us because we’re good girls; rather, He loves us because we’re His girls.

Rest in Christ. We are able rest in Christ, because all of the work has already been done; in fact, Jesus told us that it was “finished” at the cross. We can and will fail. However, in the words of Brennan Manning in Ragamuffin Gospel, “The mature Christians I have met along the way are those who have failed and have learned to live gracefully with their failure. Faithfulness requires the courage to risk everything on Jesus, the willingness to keep growing, and the readiness to risk failure throughout our lives . . . .we can’t lose, because we have nothing to lose.”

In conclusion, stop trying to build your spiritual portfolio; you are probably annoying yourself and others. Take off your makeup. God already knows what you look like and He adores you – babbling Idiots and all! If you’ve trusted in Jesus, when He looks at you He no longer sees your sin; instead, He sees the Beauty of Christ. God has your entire life story in His hands – the ugly and the beautiful. He’s got this. Now go play, and rest well tonight.