Philippians 4:6-9, 12-13

John 3:14-21

We often hear about celebrities having “issues” in their lives.  They go to treatment for this or that.  Or they suffered some tragedy in childhood or some other something that has given them a reason for their current situation.

I’m not trying to put down these folks.  In fact, I think we need to celebrate their honesty and openness.  I think we could all do with a little more honesty and openness!  I’m just trying to make the point that some positive advice from Hollywood is a rare thing!

And what is anything from Hollywood doing in a Sunday morning sermon you may be thinking.  I wouldn’t blame you!

A couple months ago on Facebook, I came across a video of actor Chris Pratt’s speech at the MTV Movie and TV Awards.  The Facebook post claimed it to be ‘inspirational” and “Moving”.  I thought, “yeah, right.”  But we liked the latest Jurassic Park movie he starred in, so I clicked on the link.   I don’t normally click on links on Facebook because my I.T. Husband is always warning me about viruses and other awful things that can happen to your computer.  But something told me to click on it and I’m so glad I did!

Chris Pratt, star of the reboot of the Jurassic Park movies, Guardians of the Galaxy movies and Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation tv show, had some great tips to offer kids when he was honored with the MTV Generation Award.  This award signifies that he is a great representative and spokesperson for the current generation of young people in the US.  Rather than saying thank you to a bunch of executives, Pratt decided to offer some funny but thoughtful advice.

He outlined nine bits of advice that he thinks all young people should know.  I think the advice works for people of all ages, and especially for Christians.

His first piece of advice was, “Breathe, if you don’t you’’lol suffocate.”  On a deeper level, practicing deep breathing can help calm stress and ease anxiety.  Remembering to take a step back and concentrate3 on taking slow, steady breaths during times of stress is great advice.

I would add Breath Prayers to breathing deeply to calm stress and relieving anxiety.  Job 27:3 says “as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not say anything wicked and my tongue will not utter lies.

Isaiah 42:5 says “This is what God the Lord says-he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it.”  Breathing is essential to everyday life and adding a prayer til that deep breath adds to the calming effect of deep breathing.

A breath prayer has a rhythm that allows us to become increasingly aware of our breathing.  Inhaling as we pray a short phrase then exhaling as we pray a short phrase.

This can also be a way of entering silence and solitude.  Used as a centering prayer, the breath prayer can refocus our full attention back to God when it wanders.

In time, the breath prayer can become as natural as breathing.

A breath prayer has several positive purposes.  It slows us down.  It creates awareness of our b reaching that in turn reminds us of our physical and spiritual dependence on God.  It keeps us focused on God. It leads us into deeper prayer.  It is, itself, a genuine prayer.  And it is easily adapted to daily life.

Here are two examples of Breath Prayer.  The Jesus Prayer:

As you inhale, and exhale say silently

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me as a sinner

The next breath shortens it to

Lord Jesus, have mercy

Then shorten it again to

Jesus. Mercy

Repeat that cycle as often as you like

My favorite Breath Prayer is Be Still

Be still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know

Be still

Be

Breath Prayers can be used any time, any place.  Even when you’re getting your blood pressure checked at the doctor’s office or hospital.  I say a breath prayer when they put that cuff around my arm and I’m here to tell you it helps!  The day my retina detached my blood pressure shot up and wasn’t coming back down in the ER.  Finally, I had the piece of mind (or gentle reminder from God) to say a breath prayer and down came my blood pressure to the point the ER doc wasn’t freaked out and let me go home.  Ever since then, I say a breath prayer when my BP is checked!

Ok, back to Chris Pratt’s advice.  #2 is “You have a soul.  Be careful with it.”  Excellent advice from someone who has been in Hollywood for many years and still maintains his strength of character and trueness to himself.

Mark 8:36-38 says “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their souls?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

It is the enemy’s plan to fill you with discouragement, doubt and fear.  He wants you to make wrong choices and believe the wrong thing.  He would love to get you so bound up with negative emotions you can’t see straight!  He knows if he succeeds, you will never experience the wonderful life God has planned for you.  You will never be an effective instrument for God’s kingdom.  However, you were meant to walk in victory and that involves protecting your mind, will and emotions.

Victory involves making right choices, thinking right thoughts and ruling over negative emotions.  The fruit of the spirit can help us with that. Galatians 5:22-23 says the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The Bible says walking in love fulfills the whole of God’s law!  (1 Corinthians 13).  Love overlooks a wrong, no matter how bad, as if it never happened!  Think of Jesus and all he suffered.  He was Love in Action!

The power of love will guard our souls as we choose to pray for those who wronged us instead of retaliating.  We can resist feelings of bitterness and resentment by asking for God’s highest and. Best for them.  We can do just as Jesus did, trust that all will be made right by the One is is just when He judges.  Protecting our soul is indeed an important life lesson!

Pratt’s third piece of advice is, If you’re strong be a protector. If you’re smart, be a humble influencer.  Strength and intelligence can be weapons, and do not wield them against the weak.  That makes you a bully.  Be bigger than that.

I think Chris Pratt is telling us to be humble.  As Christians we must not be self-seeking, but we must look out for the interests of others.  We must humble ourselves before others and love one another.  Watch what you say!

When you’re about to day something mean or arrogant, consider the feelings of others.  It is sinful to be mean, proud and selfish.

In all you do take others into consideration.  When you want to hold a grudge with someone, forgive them just like God forgives us.  When someone is going through grief, comfort them like God comforts us.  When someone needs help, help them just as God continually helps us.  Do all things for God’s glory.

1 Philippians 4:5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.  Remember, the Lord is coming soon!

Pratt’s fourth piece of advice is how to give your dog medicine.  He says to roll it up in hamburger and the dog will never know.  I don’t know about giving dogs medicine, but I do know that cats will manage to eat the hamburger and spit out the pill! I’m pretty sure there’s no Biblical advice on giving dogs medicine. So, we’ll move on to #5:

It doesn’t matter what it is, Pratt says, earn it.  A good deed.  Reach out to someone in pain.  Be of service.  It feels good and it’s good for your soul.

Colossians 3:23-24 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  The message doesn’t get any clearer than that folks!

The sixth piece of advice from Chris Pratt is wonderful.  He says, “God is real, God loves you and God wants the best you.  Believe that, I do!”

God loves me?  No matter what?  That’s a hard fact to grasp, even for Christians.  Sometimes we can’t help but wonder: Does God really love me?  Even when I feel unloved and unlovable?  Even when I really mess up?

1 Timothy 1:15-16 says, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinner-of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”

There’s no such thing as a person God no longer wants.  There are only people who haven’t accepted his love.

But what about you?  Think of someone who’s always getting in trouble.  Imagine God looking right into that person’s face and saying, “I forgive you”.  Imagine doing the same thing yourself.  Then thank God for forgiving you and pray for him to help you forgive others.

Isaiah 43:1 is a great verse to share with friends.  It shows how much we matter to God.  God’s not just some might rulers who looks down at earth and sees a bunch of nameless people running around.  He knows each of us by name.  Isaiah 43:1 says “But now, this is what the Lord says-he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine.”

God knows our troubles and our happiness.  He made each of us special and wants to have a personal relationship with each of us.  When I think of God that way, I realize that he loves us and will never leave us.  And best of all, I have God’s promise that he called us to come to him, so we can have eternal life.

Then for life tip number 7 Pratt offers some toileting advice when you’re at a party.  I won’t go any farther on that point.  If you’re curious, check out Chris Pratt’s MTV speech on YouTube!

These had to be stream of consciousness for Pratt.  I don’t know how else to explain him putting party advice between knowing that God loves you and number 8-Learn to pray.  Pratt says It’s easy and it’s so good for your soul.

The Bible gives us loads of examples of praying people, and we can learn much from their example.  It’s good to know we don’t pray alone.  Jesus always prays with us and for us.  We pray to the Father with Jesus and the Holy Spirit helps us too.

Romans 8:26 tells us the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words.

Feel desperate?  David, the slayer of the giant Goliath, understood where his strength came from.  In Psalm 121:1-2 he says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

Jesus told his confused and anxious disciples how to pray when they feel desperate.  In John 14:1 Jesus told them “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.”

Despite our heartfelt prayers, things don’t always go the way we want.  What do you pray then?  God wants us to be honest with him. Give him your anger and disappointment.

Jesus promised in his Sermon on the Mount that God hears the prayers of the broken-hearted.  Matthew 5:3-4. WE pray best when we offer God our pain in humble sincerity, and Scripture tells us how our loving father responds: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3

God wants us to come to him with our physical and emotional illnesses.  The Gospels are filled with accounts of people coming boldly up to Jesus for healing.  Not only did he encourage such faith, he delighted in it!

Have faith in God.  Be bold.  Be persistent.  If, for his own mysterious reasons, God does not heal your illness, you can be sure he will answer your prayer for supernatural strength to endure it.

Life has miraculous moments too.  The Bible records dozens of situations where people express their gratitude to God.  Many forms of thanks please him.  God desires our praise.  You can shout, sing, dance, laugh and cry with tears of joy.  Sometimes our finest prayers have no words at all, but God, in his infinite goodness and love will understand perfectly.

Chris Pratt’s ninth and final tip is probably the most moving and important one of all.  He says, “Nobody’s perfect.  You are imperfect.  You always will be, but there’s a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you’re willing to accept that, you will have grace, and grace is a gift.  And like the freedom we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for by someone else’s blood.  Do not forget it, don’t take it for granted.!  God bless you.

Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.…”

Wikipedia says grace has been defined, not as a created substance of any kind, but as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it”, “Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to people “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved” – that takes the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.

The Bible passage that sums it all up for me is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believe that in him should not parish, but have everlasting life.”

Chris Pratt, Hollywood’s “every man” just got deep.  This speech is so meaningful for several reasons not the least of which is the positive message it sends to our youth.

It takes courage to stand up in front of millions and proclaim your faith in a world that might not want to hear it!  Pratt managed to maintain his sense of humor while imparting a sense of humility and faith to a generation that looks up to him.

May we all have Chris Pratt’s sense of humility and faith as we go forward into a very uncertain time.  I believe if we keep some of these tips in mind, we’ll be better Christians, better people and better Methodists.