To Celebrate Mothers

Photo via Lili Baehr on Facebook

Calls You: By Name

** To Celebrate Mothers **

By Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher

*Editor’s Note: This was prepared for Mother’s Day, 2019.  

Jesus is your shepherd. It’s personal. He calls you by name.

Let’s consider the Scripture, how it applies to you and especially to mothers, and then what we’re doing in Hollywood, why it’s important and how you can teach your children to be media wise and culture wise.

I used to have a Border Collie.  Border Collies are bred to herd sheep.  Ours always ran too far, and the neighbors would always complain.

I would watch shepherding contests on the internet. Have you ever seen a shepherding contest on television or the internet?

As you know, they get maybe five shepherds with their dogs and some sheep, perhaps one hundred, maybe a thousand. They hold these contests in Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, the Pyrenees, and around the world. The shepherd calls their sheep, and the sheep come to them. The other sheep go to the shepherd to whom they belong, which is absolutely incredible because my daughter raised sheep for 4H. She thought they were extremely dumb, so then she raised goats whom she thought were very smart.

Jesus has a different attitude about it. He thinks goats are obstinate and sheep are wonderful. So, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you will know His voice and respond.

Acts 9:36-43 reads:

Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time, she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” So, Peter got up and went with them; and, when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then, she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile, he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.

Joppa is the main seaport near the ancient town of Caesarea, which I have visited often. I’ve set up four movies in Israel, shot four small movies and brought one of the producers of INDIANA JONES over there. I love Israel.

Tabitha or Dorcas was the only woman named a disciple, which is appropriate for Mother’s Day. However, we’re not told much about Tabitha. We’re not told whether she had children or whether she was a widow.

Now, at that moment in history, a woman who was not married was suspect. Tabitha may have been married. She probably was a widow. We know she was wealthy, so somehow she got to be wealthy because she had an upper room, and very few people had upper rooms at that time, including Joseph and Mary, who did not have an upper room in Nazareth a little before that. We know that she was making clothes for the poor and was very charitable, so she had the resources to be very charitable.

When she died, she was washed and placed in the upper room for a wake so people could come and observe her for three days. The people send for Peter to come quickly. When they say, “Peter come quickly,” do they think that he should just perform the funeral, like calling on a pastor to perform the funeral, or are they saying to Peter, “Look, you resurrected this other person. Why don’t you resurrect Tabitha?”

Peter comes and does exactly what Jesus did. He sends everybody, including all the widows who’ve been showing him the clothes that Tabitha made, out of the room. Then, he prays, which is exactly what Jesus did. Then he does the next thing that Jesus always did, he calls Tabitha by name. Jesus called Lazarus by name. They call each person by name. Tabitha’s resurrection brought many to Jesus.

Peter had, of course, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. God wants to give you the gifts of the spirit.

The next reading is well known, Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures:

he leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul:

he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:

for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:

thou anoints my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

And, I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I say Psalm 23 a few times every day. I say it when I’m shaving in the morning; I say it with my wife Lili; and, several other times a day.

It’s really about The Shepherd, Jesus Christ, providing your own personal provision and protection. He’s there to provide for you as mothers, as fathers, as children, and to protect you. So claim Him as your own every time you say, “The Lord is my shepherd.”

At that time in history, shepherds were considered to have the lowliest job. They couldn’t even take the mikvah, the ritual baths. They were living in caves. Yet, kings were called shepherds and several had even been shepherds vocationally. David had been a shepherd, and Ibzan, the judge who came from Bethlehem also, was a shepherd. In Bethlehem, they were raising sacred sheep for the Temple sacrifice.

Jesus, our shepherd, provides for you everything including peace and rest. He leads you in the paths of righteous and revives your soul from depression, bondage, fear, sin, and more. If you’re a mother or a father, you certainly feel a lot of pressures on your life. Jesus is there to lead you and revive you and to guide you into righteousness and security. As he says in John 10:10, He gives you a more abundant life. He leads you through the valley of the shadow of death. You can trust him. You can advance. You can proclaim His good news. He’s going to defeat your enemies. In fact, His rod protects you and His staff guides, giving you comfort.

The table He sets before you in Psalm 23 is the table of thanksgiving. Ultimately, we will enjoy the heavenly banquet with thanksgiving. The interesting thing about the word thanksgiving is that it’s the word Eucharist in Greek. Eucharist is a composite of two words. First is “Charis” which means “gift”. Inside “Charis” is the word “Char”, which means “joy”. So when you give thanks, you get the gift of joy.

Have you ever had a Thanksgiving meal where the mother sets forth the meal? Lili loves to cook, and no matter what problems she’s having, Thanksgiving is a joyous time, so we always go around the table and give thanks for each person there and for whatever else we are very grateful.

In Psalm 23, you are anointed as an honored guest. Only honored guests are anointed. Your cup is your communion cup with Him. His goodness and mercy are yours, not just in the by and by, but goodness and mercy are yours now, and all the days of your life. So you’re going to dwell on the house of the Lord now and throughout your life on earth and beyond for an eternity.

John 10:22-30 tells us:

At that time, the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

This scene is set at the time of the celebration of the rededication of the temple. This is 200 years after the first rededication of the temple or Hanukkah. Jesus is telling these Pharisees who are being very difficult with him, that his works testify to him, and if you don’t believe, then you’re not his. If you believe, then you’re blessed. He is your shepherd. He has called you by name. You’re going to come to him. You’re going to know that he’s your shepherd. He says, “I and the Father are one,” so he’s calling you. It’s the father calling you as he says in his great prayer for unity for the church. He calls you; He shepherds you; He protects you; and, He provides for you.

Now, the key thing I think for Mother’s Day is how do we deal with our children and grandchildren? I have 14 grandchildren. Eleven of them are little girls.

How do we help raise them up in the faith? Because we see a society that’s losing children and grandchildren.

One of the biggest competitions for hearing His call is the siren call of the mass media of entertainment.

For instance, there’s a program out called “13 Reasons Why.” It’s a very popular program, but it’s about a girl, who is depressed. She committed suicide, and she sends 13 tapes to 13 friends to blame them for her suicide. It is absurd, but the number of teenage suicides have increased by 29% so that program has been a siren call.

Another example is the movie “50 Shades of Gray” and its sequel, which is cruel sadomasochism. As soon as it came out, it convinced some people to try sadomasochism. There was one male student in Chicago. He tried sadomasochism with a girl. The girl died.

On top of these examples, the Oscars are awarding movies about bestiality and abuse.

So the media is another shepherd out there calling. Politics is another shepherd. Schools and teachers and people who don’t know Jesus are other shepherds out there. Of course, behind those false shepherds is the biggest false shepherd of all time, the accuser of each person, the father of lies, the adversary, whom Jesus defeated on the cross.

So how do we teach our children? One, we help them know that Jesus is their shepherd. Believe that Jesus Christ is giving them a more abundant life. Two, live in the Holy Spirit.

Now, the good news is when we started our MOVIEGUIDE® ministry in 1985, there was only one movie with positive Christian content, “Trip To Bountiful.” In 2019, it was over 60% of the movies.

In fact, last year (2020) at this time, there were three movies out of the only five movies that came out that week. Three that were just overtly strong Christian evangelistic movies. One of them was “Unplanned”, a wonderful movie, which is freeing a lot of people from the clutches of the siren call of Planned Parenthood. Another one was Pilgrim’s Progress, a movie adaptation of John Bunyan’s great book. This one was the best I’ve ever seen. The last is probably the best Mother’s Day movie one could possibly imagine “Breakthrough”. It was set several years ago, about a boy who fell through the ice on Lake St. Louis. He was pulled out after around 20 minutes by the fire department. By the time he got to the hospital, the doctor said he’s gone because it’s been around 40 minutes. The mother says, “He’s not gone.” She calls him by name. She prays for him. She calls down the Holy Spirit, and he’s resurrected. It’s an incredible story.

Those are all friends of mine making these movies. A lot of them sent me their scripts. A lot of them asked me to look at the material, look at the movies and help them.

To see it go from one movie with positive Christian content to over 60% is a miracle.

So that’s one of the things we do in the Entertainment Industry. The other thing we do is our Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala & Report to the Entertainment Industry. This year, Entertainment Industry leaders and filmmakers were coming up on stage with more enthusiasm than ever. In the past, these leaders and filmmakers would thank God, but this year all but one thank Jesus Christ and even gave their testimony, while the one just thanked God. One to them was crying and said, “You made the difference. When I started in the ’90s, nobody wanted to hear about Christian film and now everybody wants to hear about Christian films because of the Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala & Report to the Entertainment Industry.”

Even if we clean up movies, there is still the internet, television, radio, etc. There’s still the news media. there’s still a lot of false shepherds out there, who are leading our children astray. We need to protect the children from them.

The good news is that you can learn how to do so by reading THE CULTURE WISE FAMILY and THE MEDIA WISE FAMILY. I worked with 60 professors in the 1970s when I was the Director of the TV Department at City University of New York to develop the first sound and effective media wisdom course. Anyway, the course we developed at CUNY on media literacy is taught in every school, but I gave it a biblical base. I’m going to abbreviate some of the media wise teaching techniques.

You can teach your children to be culture and media wise. You’ve seen Robby and Evy who are delightful. I’ve taught all over the world. When I went to teach in the Philippines, they put me in a stadium to speak to hundreds or thousands or concerned parents. When I teach in the United States, far fewer parents show up, because too many people don’t think we have a problem, or as I joke: they think they are in a hot tub having fun when they are really being boiled to death by the culture.

  1. You need to understand the influence of the media on your children. Now, I can give you all the thousands of studies that show that the media has a tremendous influence. When I was head of the movie and television departments at GTU at UC Berkeley, in the early 2000s, there were about 500,000 studies. According to one of my friends, Dr. Brad Bushman at Ohio State University, over 90% of those studies show that the media has a negative influence on children.
  2. Understand your children’s stages of development. I’m going to summarize that below.
  3. Understand the grammar of the media. I love the grammar of the written word, and so I’ve written and contributed to 37 books. But, the grammar of the entertainment media, the visual media, works differently. So, I can give you case after case where the visual is what sells a product. For instance, I have a minor heart problem. Years ago, I saw a commercial for Lipitor where the actor was lying in bed looking lie he is dying. He takes Lipitor and bounces up. Then, he is transported with his wife to Hawaii to dance with his wife on the beach with the palm trees. I took Lipitor and had to rush me to urgent care. I didn’t think I’d survive.
  4. Understand your moral spiritual values. You get those at Church. There are fewer and fewer places where you can get strong moral and spiritual values and understand the answers. You find the answers in THE CULTURE WISE FAMILY and THE MEDIA WISE FAMILY. Also, you find out how to ask the right 150 questions to get your children to think discerningly. Also, use MOVIEGUIDE® and support us. We need your support.

How do children perceive the media at each stage of cognitive development? What is their susceptibility during each stage? How can they use and not abuse the mass media of entertainment?

The first of the five stages that have been identified by Dr. Robert Morris is the sensation stage where they learn through their senses up to two years old. They should be crawling. They should be moving. They should be playing with toys. The University of Texas found that they may get ADHD or some other learning disability if they do not crawl, move, play outside, etc. That’s not the only cause, but often it is the cause.

The second stage is the imagination stage from about 2 years old to 7 years old. In this stage, children see movies and entertainment in terms of amusement and excitement and are very vulnerable. They usually think that everyone thinks like they do. When one of my four children was little in the imagination stage, there was a thunderstorm. He was scared. My oldest child said, “Shut up,” because he wanted to do his homework. When my youngest boy wouldn’t shut up, the older child told him that the reason this is happening is because God’s angry at him. So, I had to clear that up or have my youngest boy believe that God was the author of meanness.

The third stage is the concrete stage. Now, they know that everybody does not think like they do. So, they feel alienated. Therefore, they want to join groups and gangs. They think of the world legalistically, and if the villain does not get punished right away within the first few minutes after committing a crime, then they think they can copy what the villain does, according to the research. The villain becomes a role model for them. So you have to have immediate consequences.

The fourth stage is the a formal reflection stage. In this stage, they focus on themselves and feel very self-conscious. They view media in terms of the language, the sex and the violence, and they want to copy the language, the sex and the violence because they want to be part of the “in crowd”.

The fifth and final stage is the relationship stage when they can look at media morally and relate to people who are different, including understanding the other, such as God.

So to become Media Wise at each stage, mothers help your children to think through the consequences, get them to ask the right questions. These are just some of the 150 questions.

Who is the hero? Is it a hero who is willing to give up her life to solve the plot problem? Like “I Remember Mama” or “Breakthrough,” where a mother is willing to do anything to have her child survive? Or, is it a hero that’s willing to kill off half the universe, Thanos, in one of the Avengers movies, so that he can have a better view out his window? By the way, he even killed his daughter.

What is the premise? Is it good triumphs over evil? Too many movies, special horror movies, evil triumphs over good.

How is love portrayed? Is it lust, like “50 Shades of Grey”, where you’re just taking and taking and taking until you destroy the other person? Where you’re never satisfied? Or, is it love, which is always giving, always sharing, and you’re always satisfied?

How is reality portrayed?

How is God portrayed?

How is family portrayed?

Interestingly enough, for many years until the latest few years, and I believe we’ve made a difference here, the Disney movies portrayed mothers as bad, such as the stepmom in “Cinderella.” You can think back to the stepmoms in these movies. In fact, we did a study years ago that you couldn’t find a good mom in many of those movies. They were the bad characters. That doesn’t help families at all. It is true that there are bad moms, but motherhood is good, and it is wonderful to see good role models such as “Little Women (2019)” and even in minor roles such as “Lion King (2019).”

Tell your children, mothers, that God loves them will give them his Holy Spirit to make them more than conquerors. Help them to understand that loving God by keeping his commands brings joy, even if the command is do this in memory of him. Help them to discern the good and the bad by doing all of the exercises in THE MEDIA WISE FAMILY and be wise in his Holy Spirit to choose the good. Wisdom is choosing the good. Choose this day whom they will serve and get the victory over the world that passes, surpasses our understanding.

Then you mothers, and probably the fathers too, will bear fruit, who are heirs to his kingdom so they’ll have a more abundant life, and He will give you what you ask: media wise and culture wise families so you can live and proclaim the Good News.

So He calls you and your children and even your husband by their particular name. He protects you. He provides for you in abundance. So give thanks. When you get thanks at your Mother’s Day luncheons, remember the heart of thanksgiving, that great thanksgiving which often refers to the communion, where you get joy by giving thanks. God bless you and have a wonderful day.

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