False Advertising

Article by Paul Stiver

I graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with a degree in Strategic Communication, aka Advertising. Since I graduated in 2009, I’ve never worked a job in advertising or any related field. I do not use my degree. However, I do use the things I learned while acquiring my degree, especially on the communication side. And I still remember some of my education. I’ve been reminiscing on a particular idea from the world of advertising. When you are advertising a product, you are selling someone on the idea of a future version of their life.

Advertising sells you a future you, a future life. The product advertised is the means by which you can become this “better” future you. Car and cologne ads are notorious for selling a better “future life.” But so many products do this.

Let’s look at “The Most Interesting Man in The World” by Dos Equis beer as an example of this concept. We all know these ads, the cool old guy tells us, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” Typically, the cool old man tells us his preference for Dos Equis while surrounded by beautiful young women who are hanging on his every word. Earlier in the commercial we have seen the man have some cool and desirable experiences throughout his lifetime.

Below the surface the advertisement is communicating these messages:

“Drink Dos Equis beer and you too will be a more interesting and desirable man. Your life will be fulfilling because it will have fascinating experiences and a slew of conquests. You will be the kind of mature, rugged man that women can’t resist, all because you drink Dos Equis.”

We know this isn’t true. If we drink Dos Equis beer, our life won’t change in these ways (nor should we want it to). But the message is telling us that this could be our “future self.” In latent ways, Dos Equis is not selling us a beer, but a new future life. We know that this is silly. Dos Equis beer won’t give us some new, cooler life but we bite on the advertising anyway.

This is how sin works. Sin sells us a new future life. Sin sells us a life with greater happiness, less stress, and more control. Sin lies to us and deceives us from the truth.

Sin tells us that the future life we will have as a result of committing the sin will be better than life God wants for us.

We see this pattern in Scripture in Genesis 3 when we look at the Fall of Man. 

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” -Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)


The serpent advertises the fruit of the tree to Eve. He deceptively compels her, “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

Eve starts to believe that she is lacking something – that God is “holding out” on her. Before this point, she was unconcerned about the fruit of the tree, for all her needs were met. 

“The tree was to be desired to make one wise.” How does Eve even come to the opinion that the tree was ‘to be desired?’ The lie of the serpent is creating an imagined need. Eve now desires to be this new “Future Eve,” where she has eaten the fruit and has acquired the desired wisdom. The serpent’s lie is now penetrating her mind more than the truth of God’s word, and as a result, she sins. Eve believes that the future life she will have by committing the sin will be better than what God has in store for her. 

This is an all too familiar pattern of sin. We start to believe that the future life we can have by committing the sin is going to be better than the life God has for us. For me this comes out in my struggle with the sin of overeating and poor bodily stewardship. I start to believe that a “future life” where I can eat a whole pizza and bag of chips will be better life than my current life with a salad and modest meal. I end up sinning and am left ashamed of my decision and asking for God’s forgiveness.

For others this might be the pattern they experience with pornography and masturbation, believing the lie that “men have needs,” more than the truth that God’s grace is sufficient. (2 Cor. 9:8) Maybe it’s the future life promised by financial security that causes someone to walk out of line with God’s will. Whatever it may be, sin promises us a future life which it can’t deliver on, and we end up separated from God and feeling ashamed, just like Adam and Eve. 

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” -Genesis 3:8-10 (ESV)

 

How do we resist the deception of sin that promises us a better future life?

  1. We remember the good news of the gospel that Jesus Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24 ESV)

 

  1. We remember that we have received the Holy Spirit and His immeasurable power. (Ephesians 1:13, 19, 3:20)

 

  1. We remind ourselves that God’s grace is sufficient. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)

 

  1. We give thanks to God. Thankfulness to God will always combat the lie of a better future without God. 

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV)

 

  1. We live in community and bear one another’s burdens.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16 ESV)

 

  1. We rely on our faith and hope in God.  

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; (Ephesians 6:16 ESV)

 

  1. We protect our hearts with God’s word and we pray. 

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:17-18 ESV)

 

  1. We live in the hope of glory knowing that we have peace with God. 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1 ESV)

 

  1. We remember that God is good and He is for us. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)

 

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32 ESV)

 

  1. We remember that God’s future is better than we can even imagine. 

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:3-5 ESV)

 

Let’s rely on the truth of God’s word to help us fight the false advertising of sin. Let’s be as N.T. Wright says, “future people,” focused on living out God’s will in every aspect of our lives for the sake of His glory and the coming of His kingdom!

 

Rest More, Kill More Sin: Your Summer Guide to Doing Less

Article by: Aaron Shaw, 6/21/2016

I’ll be the first to say that summer is one is my favorite seasons. When we turn the corner from rainy 40 degree spring to that first 60 degree day with nothing but sunshine, I’m the first one to throw on a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and grab my shades and drive into work with the windows down, sunroof open, and music cranked up a bit louder than normal.

I grew up wedged between the ocean and 11,000 foot snow-capped mountains in Oregon. Traditionally people ask me two questions about Oregon: “Is Portland as weird as everyone says it is?” (The answer is a resounding yes) and “Does is rain a lot?”  Yes. It rained it a ton. Almost 300 days of rain a year. We lived about a half hour from the ocean and we would frequent the beach a lot. However because it’s Oregon, half of the times we were there it was cloudy, 50, and misty. It made it less appealing to surf, skim board, or take a jaunt through the water. Instead, you’d throw on a North face fleece, grab your Starbucks coffee, an REI beanie, take a short walk, grab a shell or two, and turn around and head back.

Now that I live in Minnesota I experience more sunshine than I ever have. I did give up my oceans and my mountain adventures, but in turn I got more sunshine, great friends, and was introduced to the delightful season of road construction. Maybe the last one isn’t something I’m super thrilled about, but nonetheless, I enjoy having more sunshine available in Minnesota than in Oregon. Summer is a great time to hang out, be with friends, and even spend a weekend at the cabin. Yet, for me summer can also mean that I’m preoccupied more with the sunny weather than I am with my Bible. In years past, summer becomes my playground for hammocking, beach volleyball, late night DQ runs, and bike rides as far as my legs can go. Even though I’m not married and have the time to do whatever I want whenever I want, there’s still an obligation and responsibility that I believe we as men (and women too) must hold up and exalt above our preferences of a leisurely summer with loosened responsibility. Except, I’m not advocating for anyone to do more stuff. In fact, my plea is that we do less.

With the departure of winter and the summer months now in full swing (or 4 months of bad sledding if you choose to look at it like that) we have more sunlight, more outside freedom, and traditionally (for some) more free time. The refreshing nature of summer comes at a time where we need time to recuperate from the crazy fall, winter, and spring. But some of us use that extra daylight or extra free time to do more stuff. I was convicted many times this past month by multiple people, and then God, for not resting well this past year. I hardly took a day to myself or structured in more than a few minutes to myself in a given day. From 6am to 11pm, I was always doing something. Sabbath became somewhat of a foreign concept. It can sound really productive or give a vibe that showcases my “importance”, but overall it is not good.

It’s actually sin.

Not truly resting in God and taking time to become refreshed (like God was AFTER the 7th day in Genesis 2) is pride. It’s saying that we don’t need to take the time to slow down, make time, and commune with the Father. I know we are all busy people with schedules, agendas, people to provide for, and children to take care of. But I still think it’s fascinating that the first thing God makes Holy throughout the creation in Genesis is not people, is not the Earth, however, is time. God ordains time to be Holy.

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” -Genesis 2:3, NIV

If God makes time Holy, it must be important. I think that if we lack in understanding the importance of time and the depth to which God desires us to come to Him for rest, we miss a large part of who God is. If God rested after creating the universe, how much more do you believe we need to rest? Personally, I’ve taken this to heart and found myself much more joyful, satisfied, and refreshed. Yet I didn’t achieve this by simply adding in spiritual disciplines like in prayer or Bible reading on top of my current life. Instead I started to cut my social time, spend less time on my phone/computer, wake up earlier, work less than 50 hours a week, start to say ‘no’ to certain opportunities, and start to value my time with God. I made it a priority to actually do less stuff. In turn, I forged for myself 2 hours a day in my schedule where I don’t do anything with anyone and make that time I would spend with God. Whether I’m painting, reading, praying, listening to worship songs, or going for a solo walk to Stone Arch Bridge, the 2 hours of “God time” I’ve made has been nearly revolutionary. In the New Interpreters Bible Commentary about the Sabbath in Exodus, Walter Brueggemann explained the necessity of rest:

“How is it that a covenantal work stoppage (Sabbath) bears witness to this self disclosing God? The answer is given in the motivational clause: Israel rests because God rests.  This God [YHWH] is not a workaholic. Yahweh has no need to be more secure, more sufficient, more in control, or more noticed. It is ordained in the very fabric of creation that the world is not a place of endless productivity, ambition, or anxiety.”

God wove rest into the very fabric of our creation. Trying to be productive all the time deters the ability to seek God, feel God, know God, and ultimately abandons our ability to truly be image bearers of God. If God rested, so shall we. To deny this is to deny the essence and nature of God and thus undermines Him by our attempts to exalt our time, desires for production and consumption above God’s ordained requirement to be still and know who He is. Walter Brueggemann continued,

“The work stoppage on the Sabbath- the breaking of the vicious cycle of production and consumption is a sign for all the world to see.”

This is the true meaning of rest in Christ Jesus our Lord and King- that we may not seek His will in hopes to perform and please Him, but that we rest and be filled. That we all quietly retreat to commune with the Father in simply just being. If we are stressed out, busy, finding our time slipping away from us, or losing grips with our spiritual compass, taking some time to rest could be the greatest gift God has offered us. Through rest I know we find our ultimate joy, ultimate satisfaction, and supreme direction for our lives: to know God, to be known by God, and to love God! To take time to be away from working, people, and school can free our minds to be with God. To put a stop to our work or play, sit before God, listen, pray, and worship gives God glory. God fills us when we come to Him. We are not human doings, we are human beings. Thus, we should embrace our existence of “being” and be.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!” -Psalm 46:10, ESV

Jesus’ Answer to Anxiety

25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

-Matthew 6:25-32

I am a father. On August 21, 2015, my wife gave birth to our first child, our daughter Anna. Seeing my daughter born was one of the most – if not the most – exciting moments of my life. It may also have been the most terrifying.  Being responsible for an utterly helpless, completely dependent child has changed the way that I see the world. My wife and I are no longer solely concerned with providing for our own needs. We now have both the responsibility and honor of taking care of a child – in a world that is different from the world I grew up in.

How can I protect her without being overprotective? In what ways will my character affect her – both positively and negatively? What will this world be like in twenty years, or even forty years? Will she come to know and love Christ? These new questions are without answers, and they have lead to new worries that I’ve struggled to learn to deal with.

This led me to the passage above, and particularly the beginning verse 25 and the ending verse 33. In verse 25, Jesus gives us the seemingly unreasonable command not to worry.  Really? Don’t worry? It’s helpful to read on to understand where He’s going with this.

You will notice that the things Jesus mentions not to worry about are needs not wants. In fact, He mentions nothing about our wants. In this, Jesus is telling us that God will provide for our needs but He may not provide for our wants. So Jesus asks us to trust Him, calling us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”.

What does that look like for me and my worries about my family? My natural response is spend my energies creating a safe environment to protect Anna – to keep her safe, to protect her from “bad” things (however we may define that), and to make sure her financial needs are provided for. But ultimately I know that won’t give her what she needs most deeply. True security comes from God, from trusting God and seeking Him. I need to learn to be faithful to Him, and to become a God-honoring husband and father. In doing so, I hope that I will learn to trust that God will take care of the needs of my family.

Blog post written by Ryan Satrom, 2016

Fishes And Loaves Part 3

basket

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus immediately follows the feeding of the five thousand by asking his disciples a question. “Who do you say that I am?” This did a coincidence. To use a sport’s analogy, this is an uncontested layup. “All right guys, I just miraculously fed a multitude in the desert. Who am I?” To his credit, Simon Peter gets the answer right. “You are the Christ of God.” Continue reading “Fishes And Loaves Part 3”

Fishes And Loaves Part 2

MosaicLoavesFish

When the disciples encountered a hungry assembly in Luke 9, it was not the people who were grumbling but the disciples themselves. Crowds had followed Jesus to Bethsaida (literally, “the house of fish”), a town along the Upper Jordan River, near the Sea of Galilee. Luke says that Jesus welcomed the crowd, speaking of the Kingdom of God and healing everyone who needed healing – that is, He addressed both the spiritual and physical needs of those who came to Him. But in the late afternoon, His twelve apostles apparently needed a break, so they asked Jesus to disperse the crowd. “We are in a desert place. Send them away so they can get food and lodging.”

“You give them something to eat,” Jesus replied. Continue reading “Fishes And Loaves Part 2”

Fishes And Loaves Part 1

desrt

When the Hebrew nation found themselves wandering the desert in Exodus 16, they were only about one month removed from their escape from Egypt, an adventure replete with a miraculous crossing of the Red Sea and pillars of cloud and fire acting as their personal vanguards. They went without water as they crossed through the desert Shur. They quickly found themselves running out of food, and so they grumbled. Continue reading “Fishes And Loaves Part 1”

VELT IT!

velt

One of the most dangerous things you can believe in our modern world is that technology is neutral. Yes, technology is the means by which we transform the world as it is into the world that we desire. However, what we often fail to notice is that it is not only the world that gets transformed by technology. We, too, are transformed.

So how would one go about practically evaluating how technology is transforming us? You can use the acrostic VELT, defined below. Put another way, you can VELT it! Continue reading “VELT IT!”

How Neil deGrasse Tyson Helped Me Worship Our Lord

Cosmos-1

I recently watched Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos series, which is a deep scientific dive into the vastness of our universe and the Earth’s place inside it. Tyson is a professed agnostic, and the show clearly presents science as the most venerated of human pursuits, even positioning scientific discovery as a kind of god that can answer all our questions about life and existence. Even so, the show has done a fantastic job of pointing me to worship God with a new-found reverence. Continue reading “How Neil deGrasse Tyson Helped Me Worship Our Lord”