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American Idols 1

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American Idols (1)

Text: Daniel 3:13-18

Thesis: To see values in the United States which might qualify as idols, and how Christians should respond to these threats.

Introduction:

  1. (Dan. 3:13-18) - The idol that King Nebuchadnezzar set up was huge - about 90 feet tall -

        and it was impressive, being made of gold.  But the three Jewish young men did the right

        thing.  They defied popular practice and remained true to the true God.  God rewarded their

        faith by delivering them from the fiery furnace into which they were thrown.

  2. In the U.S. today, we are not being commanded to bow to any idolatrous statues.  But there

        are plenty of other things in our land that certainly qualify as idolatrous.  All around us

        our friends and neighbors are bowing to these idols, and God has been moved into the

        closet.  Will we follow the example of our friends?

  3. The first step toward being true to God is to identify the idols that are around us.  Then we

        will turn to God's word for His counsel on how we should respond to these pervasive

        trends.

Discussion:

I.       Entertainment, An American Idol

A.    Of course, the title of our lesson today is prompted by the wildly popular series on Fox TV.  According to Nielsen Media Research, two of the top four programs for May 2-8 were "American Idol", a series in which contestants try to win fame and contracts in the entertainment industry.  About 25 million Americans watched those two episodes of the series, says Nielsen.

B.     Do Americans really idolize entertainment?

1.      Consider an article in Vista magazine for March/April 2005.  It reported on "home entertainment networks", a growing trend in upscale American homes.  Networks that combine plasma screen TVs, home theaters, satellite radio and Internet, these systems are custom-built into new homes.  Ray Lepper, president of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association was quoted: "People ask how much they should spend (on a home entertainment system), and I tell them, 50 to 100 percent of your nicest car's cost."  A rough guideline to follow is to spend 3 to 12 percent of the value of the home on the entertainment network.  Lepper's company installed one system in a Richmond, VA home (10,000 square feet) for $140,000.

2.      While most of us never expect to spend that kind of money on entertainment, we are paying more for entertainment nonetheless:

a.       Items such as cable and satellite TV-related services are growing in popularity; pay-per-view programs, movie and video rentals, Internet service, computer systems, video games, home theater and stereo equipment, DVD players and recorders and TV sets.  And that's just the entertainment we seek at home!

b.      According to statistics published by the U.S. Department of Labor, average annual spending by consumers in the U.S. in 2002 showed the largest increase in spending for health care.  The second largest increase was for entertainment, more than for insurance and pensions, housing, transportation, food and clothing.

3.      Whether it's watching the big game with friends, or listening to our favorite radio station, Americans clearly put a high value on being entertained.

C.     Does God give us guidance on this appetite for entertainment?

1.      Mk. 6:22 - Herod was so overwhelmed by the ungodly entertainment he enjoyed that he stated, "Ask me whatever you want."  Do we make the same contract with the media who provide the shows that please us?

2.      Mat. 6:22,23 - Jesus warned about the "light" which our eyes admit to our souls.  If we're not careful about what comes through this gateway, we put ourselves in danger.

3.      Psa. 1:1,2 - The man is blessed who is careful about the company he keeps, and who delights in spending time in the law of the Lord.  Does this describe us?

4.      Psa. 101:3 - David's vow is one we might do well to make, too.  Let us set no unclean thing before our eyes.

5.      1 Tim. 6:17-19 - Spending on entertainment has increased because we have become wealthier.  But what advice does God give those who are rich?  To be rich in good works, to give and to be willing to share.  The emphasis should be more on what we can give than on what others give us to make us happy or pleased.

D.    Not all entertainment is immoral.  But when we devote large blocks of time to be entertained, are we making the best use of our time and energy?  "What would Jesus do?" is a good question to ask on this issue.

II.    Youth And Beauty, An American Idol

A.    The first European on record to set foot on American soil was Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer who was driven by his quest for riches and the fabled fountain of youth.  He never found that fountain, but his quest has not been abandoned!

B.     Evidence that Americans idolize youth and beauty:

1.      A story in the San Francisco Business Times, October 19, 2001 spoke about the growing popularity in cosmetic surgery.  Dr. Gary Friedman of San Francisco was mentioned as an example: He performs about 200 cosmetic surgical procedures each year at prices that may run upward of $5,000 - almost never covered by insurance.  The most popular procedures are botox injections, chemical peels and collagen injections.  Implants are also popular, including facial implants to hide the wrinkles that are brought about by aging.

2.      Reuters News Service reported on February 23, 2001 that in 1990 72,000 Americans underwent plastic surgery.  In 2000 that number had risen to 670,000.  In addition, more than 2.5 million in 2000 underwent "lunch-time procedures" such as the Botox injections and chemical peels.

3.      A search on Google for "anti-aging" reveals hundreds of products and services which claim to reverse the effects of aging.  Apparently many people believe they can resist the aging process and remain young and beautiful forever.

C.     What does God say about this tendency?

1.      Prov. 11:22 - Those who emphasize physical beauty alone are being deceived.  Without discretion, a person's beauty is not really all that appealing.

2.      Prov. 31:30 - The wise and virtuous woman knows that charm is deceitful and beauty is vain.  The emphasis should be placed on the inner person and its beauty.

3.      1 Pet. 3:3,4 - Rather than being obsessed with how we look outwardly, we should value what God values - that inward beauty, precious in the sight of God.

4.      1 Sam. 16:6,7 - Even a godly man like Samuel was prone to this mistake.  He judged Eliab to be the next king, solely on the basis of his appearance.  But God warned the prophet not to judge by a person's appearance, but by their heart.

5.      Jas. 2:1-5 - Christians are also liable to make the mistake.  When the finely dressed and prosperous come into our midst, do we show them honor while dishonoring those who are poor and not so attractive?  It is a grievous mistake to put the emphasis on the outward appearance, a mistake that Christians should be careful not to make.

D.    Isa. 53:2 - If Jesus was in our midst, would we be drawn to Him?  Not if we think as the world does!  But if we look at the heart, we see the true attractiveness of a person.

Conclusion:

  1. Saul Bellow, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature: "A man is only as good as what he                       loves."

  2. What do we love?  Isn't that one definition of idolatry?  To love anything more than we love

        God is to commit this sin.

  3. There are many idols around us.  Among them are entertainment and youth and beauty.

        Christians must recognize them as potential idols, and heed the counsel God has given us.

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