Article VII, part 1

Truth or Dare (Article 7)

Childhood, for many, is full of wonderful tales of extraordinary adventures. Some are a bit odd, like Where the Wild Things Are, while others are more serious, like The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Kids Books 1 Most of the stories that were read to me as a child, or that I can recall reading myself, were chock-full of morals. Lessons about right-and-wrong that the author wanted his or her readers to learn about, and hopefully apply to their own lives.

The Poky Little Puppy, taught us to obey our Mothers, while the more complex — and thanks to political correctness, now controversial — stories of “Uncle Remus” taught us about the many character flaws of Br’er (Brother) Rabbit. Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown, taught us that crime doesn’t pay at any age, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory showed us all what can happen to children who are spoiled by their parents, are left undisciplined, and are allowed to misbehave.

In 1971 this book was rewritten as a screen play and released, by Paramount Pictures, under the title Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The movie was directed by Mel Stuart, and stared Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket, Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe, and Gene Wilder as the infamous “candy man,” Willy Wonka.

The plot is set up early on, by the revealing of a special contest that is being hosted by Mr. Wonka. The contest involved five golden tickets that were hidden inside five chocolate Wonka Bars. This chocolate candy five-some was randomly packed, along side the normal chocolate bars, and shipped to the many candy retailers around the globe. The lucky children who find the five golden tickets, along with the escort of their choice, would win a private tour of Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory. A factory so exclusive that no one is ever seen going in, nor is any one ever seen coming out.

Willy Wonka 3 While the media feverishly tracks down each winner, we find that the five golden tickets made their way all over the western hemisphere. In Germany, Augustus Gloop (played by Michael Bollner), a preteen boy with an insatiable appetite, becomes the first to find a golden ticket. Veruca Salt (played by Julie Dawn Cole), an overindulged English girl, became the second to find one. Then the third child to find a golden ticket was a gum-chewing American girl, named Violet Beauregarde (played by Denise Nickerson), and the fourth child to find a valuable voucher was Mike Teevee (played by Paris Themmen. This little guy was a television junky from the U.S., and the final child to find a golden ticket was economically deprived Charlie Bucket, who lived in the small, unnamed, European town where Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory existed.

As the names of the five children became known to the public, a man claiming to be Arthur Slugworth (Willy Wonka’s arch rival in the candy business; played by Günter Meisner) begins approaching each child to offer them a large sum of money. This cash prize would go to the child that manages to get a hold of Mr. Wonka’s latest candy creation, known as the Everlasting Gobstopper, and pass it on to him.

On the day of the grand tour, the winning quintet stood anxiously outside the huge metal gates of the mysterious chocolate factory, awaiting the arrival of their secretive host. As Willy Wonka makes his appearance, the children leap with excitement as they are now about to journey into the ever elusive candy factory of the world’s greatest candy maker. But before their trek would begin, they each had to sign a contract dictating to them that they could not touch, taste, eat, or take anything from the factory without permission from Mr. Wonka. If this contract is obeyed to the letter, then each obedient child would receive a lifetime supply of candy. It’s not long into the tour, though, that we see each child — one-by-one — fall into temptations grasp. Breaking their contract with the “candy man,” and finding themselves in one dangerous predicament after another.

The first to go, was the first to find a golden ticket — Augustus Gloop. While in the “Chocolate Room,” which was basically an indoor eatable park, the children were enjoying some wonderfully sweet treats — with Mr. Wonka’s permission, of course — when Augustus’ gluttony got the better of him. He was sampling the one thing they were told not to touch — the chocolate river. He had leaned in too far, while enjoying the sweet stream, and fell in. He was quickly pulled under by the current that constantly churned the chocolate river and ended up being pumped right into the “fudge room,” and out of the factory.

The second to go was little miss Violet Beauregarde, who fell victim to her obsession with chewing gum, while in the “Inventing Room.” She grabbed a piece of experimental gum, that was to have held all the flavors of a three-course meal, and quickly popped it into her mouth. As she described each flavor with intensity and enjoyment, she began to transform into a ripe, round blueberry. Mr. Wonka signals to his dwarf-like workers, known as Oompa-Loompas, to come and roll her down to be squeezed in a juicer and removed from the factory.

Willy Wonka 2 As the three remaining children work their way through the factory tour, they find themselves in a room of giant geese. The geese, as they soon find out, are the infamous geese that lay golden eggs. Veruca Salt, being the spoiled little girl that she was, quickly begins to demand that she be allowed to have one of the geese. Willy Wonka refuses her request which sends Miss Salt into a tirade of pre-pubes-ant furor. Her father begins offering Mr. Wonka large sums of money for one of the geese, so that his daughter’s tantrum can be quieted, but this was to no avail. Veruca becomes all the more enraged and ends up falling into an unlit furnace, meant to consume all the bad eggs laid by the geese, and thus becomes the third child to be escorted from the factory.

The fourth child to fall victim to his own voracious appetite for self-pleasure is our petite, American television addict — Mike Teevee. As Mr. Wonka begins to explain his invention for shrinking Wonka Bars, known as Wonkavision, Mike begins to exclaim that it works just like a TV transmission. He quickly pushes his way toward the machine and, upon starting it, places himself onto the platform that is meant to hold the giant Wonka Bars. To his Mother’s shock, her son is shrunk to the size of her thumb. Mr. Wonka summons the Oompa-Loompas to take the extra small Mr. Teevee to the “Stretching Room,” and then escort him off of the premises. Five children began the journey, but now only Charlie Bucket remained.

As Charlie and his grandfather follow Willy Wonka towards the end of the tour, they are surprised by the cold benediction and quick exit of Mr. Wonka into his office. Puzzled why they were not led out properly, nor given the life time supply of candy, both Grandpa Joe and Charlie quietly enter into the office of the “candy man.”

Inside the office, Grandpa Joe confronts Mr. Wonka about the grand prize. Willy Wonka is quite perturbed at their intrusion, and quickly responds by reminding them of the rules. You see, while on the tour, both Grandpa Joe and Charlie had snuck a taste of a strange gaseous concoction called Fizzy-Lifting Drinks. This breach of contract voided Charlie’s right to the award. Grandpa Joe, now infuriated, storms toward the exit and demands that Charlie follow along. Charlie, who had been watching the altercation between Mr. Wonka and his Grandfather, bows his head in shame. He knew he had done wrong, and he knew Willy Wonka had every right to be upset.

An Everlasting Gobstopper had been given to each of the children that had visited the “Inventing Room,” and Charlie’s Grandpa had every intention of selling it to Mr. Arthur Slugworth just as soon as he could contact him. But Charlie had other intentions, as he quietly places his sample of the newest of the Wonka candies on Mr. Wonka’s desk. With deep repentance in his voice, Charlie apologizes and walks towards the exit.

Willy Wonka 4 Slowly Willy Wonka reaches over to touch the hard candy laid upon his desk. “Show signs of good deed in a weary world,” we hear Mr. Wonka whisper. And with a quick turn in his chair, shouts:

“Charlie, you won! You did it; you did it!”

You see, the “candy man” wasn’t looking for perfection in his visitors. He was simply looking for honesty, and selflessness in their character. The other four children were selfish brats looking to be gratified to their hearts content, but Charlie — who understood the importance of doing for others — sacrificed his wants for the good of Mr. Wonka and his chocolate factory. So, not only did Charlie win the lifetime supply of candy, he also won the entire Wonka candy factory. This is what God is waiting for us to realize. God desires to give us so much more than just “candy.”

In the final minutes of the film, as Willy Wonka reveals to Charlie that he is giving him the entire chocolate factory, Mr. Wonka makes this statement, “Who can I trust to run the factory when I leave, and take care of the Oompa-Loompas for me? Not a grown-up. A grown-up would want to do everything his own way — not mine. That’s why I decided a long time ago that I had to find a child. A very honest, loving child. To whom I can tell all my most precious candy making secrets.” God longs to reveal His secrets of joy, life, and love to us, but we must cast off our “grown-up” ideologies, and self-centered desires. Jesus said, in Matthew, chapter eighteen, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

God truly desires to bless us abundantly, but humanity has become so preoccupied with selfish wants and desires (especially those of us living in the western hemisphere) that we end up treating God like some great, big, cosmic “candy man.” We all desire His sweet “chocolaty” blessings, but how many of us are willing to join in on the selfless, bitter sufferings that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, calls us to endure. If we will choose to suffer for Christ now, in this life, God will open up the treasures of Heaven to us.

I’ll leave you with these words that Jesus spoke in the ninth chapter of the Gospel according to Luke:

“Then He [Christ] said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.’” (Luke 9:23-24)

In part two, of this article on selfishness, we will look more deeply into what it means to be self-centered versus Christ-centered. We will attempt to cover all of the various ways in which selfishness can make an appearance in our lives, and reveal the way Christ would have us be.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory Copyright © 1971 Paramount Pictures. Renewed Copyright © 1999 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved. TM ® & Copyright © 2001 by Warner Home Video, an AOL Time Warner Company 4000 Warner Blvd. Burbank, CA 91522. All rights reserved.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article III, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 3)

In part one, of Article III, we began looking at what can happen to us when we allow wanton, hedonistic pleasure to rule our lives. We learned, just as the fabled character Pinocchio did, that there are consequences to satisfying our ungodly pleasures. God, however, has provided a way for us to be free from such wrongful desires. All we need do is believe in the LORD, Jesus Christ, and live according to His plan. Pleasure 5 In this article, we will look into the various types of pleasure.

There are pleasures of the mind, which consist of:

Solving the unknown (appeasing ones curiosity)
Using a unique skill to its full potential
Nurturing someone or something, or being nurtured by someone or something
Being apart of a community (a.k.a.: sociality; finding companionship, etc.)

There are pleasures of the body, which include any stimulation of the five senses:

Sight
Smell
Sound
Taste
Touch

And, there are the pleasures of the soul, which incorporate the nine “fruit of the spirit,” found in Galatians chapter five, verses twenty-two and twenty-three:

Faithfulness
Gentleness
Goodness
Joy
Kindness
Love
Patience
Peace
Self-control

Our pleasures can be to our advantage, and promote a healthy lifestyle. It can also bring about disastrous consequences, when acted upon without discretion or outside of God’s boundaries.

One example of a healthy pleasure is proper sleep. A lack of sleep has been found to cause anxiety, depression, and weight gain. You see, our bodies use sleep to perform important routine maintenance at a cellular, and metabolic, level. Proper sleep boosts our body’s immune system, and our brain’s means to store, and recall, details from our memories. Approximately seven to nine hours of sleep, each night, is necessary. Too little or too much sleep and our health begins to decline.

A second example of a healthy pleasure is consuming foods that you enjoy, and that also have healthy benefits to them. Something like chocolate. Yes, chocolate. Did you know that chocolate contains powerful antioxidants? It seems that cacao, which is taken from the cocoa bean during the manufacturing process, has been shown to improve the flexibility of blood vessels. This flexing of the blood vessels help us reduce our risk of heart disease, and heart attack, but note: not all chocolate is going to be beneficial. You must choose only dark chocolate, and make certain that it contains a minimum of seventy-five percent cacao, and you must limit yourself to one or two squares a day.

A third example of a healthy pleasure, and one in which I will focus the remainder of this article on, is sex. Healthy, monogamous sex is probably the most incredible experience that humanity will encounter in a life time. When men and women, by way of the marriage relationship, participate in regular, monogamous sexual relations, they experience an amazing form of pleasure that appeals to their entire beings. Rarely can a pleasure, other than sexual pleasure, appeal to a person’s body, mind, and soul. Though human sexual relations primarily function as a means of procreation, God also carefully and concisely designed it to be a deeply satisfying form of pleasure.

Healthy, monogamous sex, between a married man and woman, is also a special kind of physical work out; a beautiful act of tandem exercise that can burn as much as eighty-five calories per coupling. Pleasure 4 This physical exercise is unlike any other, as it results in the intermingling (or combining) of two bodies into one, and it results in the release of “feel-good” endorphins through out the human brain. When these endorphins release, the couple becomes less likely to experience depression, individually, and they are less likely to experience dissatisfaction with their marriage relationship, due to their deeply intimate connection with their spouse. A healthy, monogamous sexual relationship, within the confines of marriage, will not solve all the problems that a couple will face in their lifelong alliance, but it does bind them in such a way as to help strengthen their resolve to work through these issues.

Another benefit for married couples who participate in healthy, monogamous sexual relations, at a minimum of once or twice a week, is that their immune responses are improved. According to the Oxford Journals, and other medical magazines, our sex hormones positively affect our immune response toward such illnesses as the common cold, flu, and other more serious infections. It’s a pretty interesting arrangement, isn’t it?

Our bodies actually produce higher levels of an antibody (a.k.a.: immunoglobulin, or IGA) that can thwart colds, and flus, where those very germs most often enter the body. Ironically, our bodies can use the very act that can transmit germs and disease (sexual intercourse) to help prevent such illnesses from manifesting. This ultimately allows men and women, who are married, the freedom to enjoy more intimacy. God wants us to enjoy our spouses, passionately. He designed us that way; it’s only when we abandon God’s design for human sexuality that sexual intercourse becomes painful, and dangerous.

Did you know that the number one way to get a sexually transmitted disease (a.k.a: STD) is by having sex with multiple partners? Sounds odd to have to say, but societies all around the globe live as though this were some type of myth, or fairy tale. In fact, ninety-five percent of U.S. citizens under the age of thirty are sexually active. Thirty-three percent of the men polled, and nine percent of the women, stated that they had more than ten sexual partners in their lifetime. It is also believed that one out of every four non-married, sexually active Americans, by the age of twenty-four, will have contracted an STD. Furthermore, about sixty-five million people in the U.S. are now living with an incurable STD — sixty-five million! Bottom line, STDs such as Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Gonorrhea, Human Papillomavirus, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, as well as other life-threatening conditions (ex.: prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and oral cancer), are more common among people who have sexual intercourse with more than one person in a lifetime.

Sexual relationships affect more that just our physical bodies, though. As stated earlier, they also affect our minds and souls. Many psychologists, and religious counselors, have found that having multiple sexual encounters with a variety of partners places men and women at a higher threat of making risky choices on a regular basis. This cycle of making dangerous choices can lead to a life filled with unhealthy and risky sexual experiences (a.k.a.: homosexuality, pornography, prostitution, and other perverse sex acts), multiple unsuccessful relationships, which can nurture a lower self-esteem, and even lead to manic depression. Again, when we abandon God’s design for human sexuality, sexual intercourse becomes painful, and dangerous.

King Solomon, known as the wisest ruler in the history of the world, wrote this concerning uncontrolled, physical pleasure:

I [King Solomon] thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly — my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well — the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2: 1-11)

To gain worldly pleasures, of any kind, will never bring about real contentment, or gratification. No amount of excessive laughter, drinking of alcohol, or reckless abandon will ever fully appease us. Completing some great project, for yourself, won’t satisfy; owning a successful business, or some huge ranch, or farm, won’t fulfill. Access to the world’s richest treasures can’t gratify, nor can the world’s greatest library of music. Not even multiple sexual encounters with the world’s most beautiful people can quench what you long for — No. True fulfillment only comes through experiencing pleasures, not as the world defines them, but as God has defined them.

Worldly pleasures look similar to many of the pleasures God provides us. They appeal to our minds and bodies, but what the world can’t gratify is our souls. Only God can supply that kind of gratification. Note Proverbs chapter ten, verse twenty-three:

A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.

You see, when we seek to please ourselves, and ignore God’s plan for us to be rightly satisfied, we become nothing more than ignorant jerks. Dumb as a wooden stump with no true happiness to be found. This is what King Solomon was trying to say. Though he sought after foolishness, God allowed Solomon to remain wise enough to know it was indeed foolishness. Though he looked to gratify his own selfish desires, God allowed Solomon to remain wise enough to know that self-gratification always comes with a consequence and those consequences can never be avoided. Sexual pleasure, that is intended to please one’s self, will never really satisfy. Sexual intimacy requires two people, one male and one female, for a reason. That reason is for the man to gratify the woman, under the blessing of marriage, and for the woman to please the man. This is as our Creator intended.

I’m reminded of an interview from 1975. In this interview, Phyllis George, from the old CBS NFL Today show, asked Roger Staubach — then the starting quarterback for the American football team Dallas Cowboys — to reveal what he felt about his image as an “All American, straight guy” (he was very well known as a “clean-cut,” family man). Roger’s image was in stark contrast to another very popular American football quarterback, named Joe Namath. Joe, who also had been recently interviewed by Phyllis George, had become just as famous for his playboy lifestyle as he had become for his ability to quarterback the New York Jets. Roger Staubach responded by saying:

Roger Staubach You interviewed Joe Namath — everyone in the world compares me to Joe Namath. You know, as — you know, the idea that off the field he’s single, bachelor, “swinging.” I’m married, and family, and — you know, he’s having all the fun, [a smile crosses Roger’s face] and — I enjoy sex as much as Joe Namath [Phyllis begins to laugh], only I do it with one girl. You know, I mean it’s still fun.

A monogamous relationship is not a life sentenced to lamentation and sorrow; not at all. Sexual intimacy, as God intended, is free of disease, despair, danger, and worry; it’s both exciting and healthy.

True pleasure — the kind that really brings joy to a person’s whole being — can only exists when we experience it God’s way. And if we will, then we can also bring pleasure to our Creator, and others. You see, genuine pleasure is not about self-gratification at all, but about gratifying God and the other people in our lives. Let’s all strive to drink from the cup of Christ, and let’s all live merrier lives.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.