Jun
29
2009

Popular Love

Michael Jackson, one of 7 children

Michael Jackson

I can’t say we were ever big fans of Michael Jackson, even in his glory years growing up. We enjoyed Weird Al Yankavich’s renditions of “Bad” and “Beat It” more than the actual songs Jackson put out. Having him pass brings to mind what a following he had, and what a fanatical presence he had in our generation. The generation of most parents today.

We spoke at the Christian Home Educators of Colorado a week ago on two topics. The first was our regular “Cheaper by the Dozen” talk on how to be frugal and fruitful. That talk was rehearsed, interesting, fun. It was a safe talk.

The second talk was “Love in the House.” Sure, we wrote the book two years ago, but we had yet to speak in a formal public setting on the most important (in our opinion) issue facing families today: LOVE. Or the lack of it. We spoke for 60 minutes on two settings of love and how parents (especially those in the home school community) are failing to place love in the center of them: marriages and raising children.

There were some people sobbing through the talk. Like, uncontrollably sobbing. We emphasized the need (that’s NEED, not option) for married couples’ mutual submission to one another. We both spoke to parents and those children (everyone could relate) that “got under their skin.” Our talk reminded people that they had dreadful relational challenges in their lives. These are opportunities to let love in. In several situations, love is the only hope parents have.

But back to Michael Jackson, one of seven children. I haven’t been really into the media frenzy, but my daughter, Cynthia, suggested I read Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s take (see his article here). I have enjoyed Shmuley’s writings (particularly his book Face Your Fear). Apparently he had a friendship with Michael Jackson and counseled him for several years. Shmuley quotes Michael Jackson:

“I think all my success and fame, and I have wanted it, I have wanted it because I wanted to be loved. That’s all. That’s the real truth. I wanted people to love me, truly love me, because I never really felt loved. I said I know I have an ability. Maybe if I sharpened my craft, maybe people will love me more. I just wanted to be loved…”

Michael Jackson now joins John Lennon as a deceased rock star who died singing about love yet never really knowing it. The number of critics crying foul over Jackson’s hypocrisy are stacked to the ceiling. They point at his molestation charges (not conviction), his obsession with his face, his addiction to prescription drugs. All of these things are ugly consequences of a life overwhelmed with worldly fame and fortune, but so empty of God’s love.

It would be too easy to condemn Michael Jackson for missing the mark on love, so don’t add me onto the list of stone-throwers. For a moment, hold your judgment and ask this question: “Are we singing about love?” Don’t blow this one off. LOVE IS IT, and if we’re not singing love—in all who we are and in all we do, especially in our marriages and in our families—the music we make in our lives are loud noises, just gongs and clanging cymbals (1 Corinthians 13:1).

This is heavy stuff, apparently the heavy stuff Shmuley claimed was the real problem with Michael Jackson. He had not love. Couples at CHEC shared with us their stuggles in their marriages and with their children. There were genuine tears of sorrow from several people who were met with the reality that their lives were absent of love.

We home-schoolers are real good at building up the image of our homes and flaunt about how great we are. Our kids excel far above the national average and are getting such better education than the common folk. Our talk on love was nicely placed (PTL) in one of the most popular home school conferences in the nation.

One of the more convicting parts of the talk was off-script:

“We entertain ourselves when we visit churches or their Web sites or their book stores. If love is truly the most excellent way as Scripture says, I wonder how many sermons are preached on love, or how many books on love they are selling. Most of the time there is not one. Our churches are speaking on a whole host of other things, but not on love.”

Perhaps…because of the church’s empty message of love, we are faced with a popular culture who cry out the for real thing.

The rock stars and Hollywood–twisted as their message may be–are attempting to articulate love. Churches treat love like window dressing, like feel-good fluff, expendable discussion points much less important than more meaty topics like theology, or truth, or you-fill-in-the-blank. Who is coming closer to hitting the mark?

Michael Jackson asked Shmuley the right question. He at least aimed at the right target. He did (at least at that point of his life) understand that love was “the most excellent way” (1 Corninthians 12:31), the Greatest Commandment, one where “all the laws of the prophets hang on these.”

So Wendy and I will keep preaching this message of love. It is overwhelming at times, feeling like we are mere students of love and of each other. But there are few message bearers out there that are singing of the most excellent way.

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Marcy

    WOW! and Amen!

  • Beka

    Thank you for this message…it is one that God has been intentionally teaching me the last few months and one that I want to respond to with earnest! God Bless!

  • http://www.losingtheworld.com Evan Brammer | Losing the World

    I appreciate your reminder to love. I remember watching The Jacksons, a miniseries, back when I was younger. I was so impressed with the whole family’s entertaining abilities – yet so depressed with the state of their actual family.

    I think I will show extra love to my boys today.

  • Sarah M. in MI

    Yes, please do keep telling the truth! We need it desparately!

  • Tim

    What a wonderful, wonderful reminder of the whole point to God’s relationship with us and our relationship with one another. I think your family is a metaphor for the world’s take on the Church: they look on her and are confused. Either they think the Church is “weird” (they may think you have too many kids) or they question their motives, etc. But once the world gets to know your family, see inside it…they can only walk away with a sense of love. The response? Either as the rich young ruler, or perhaps a doubting Thomas who needs more convincing, or as a Peter who jumps in with both feet. And for the record, I am not praising you for your family, rather He who gives all of you the gift of the Spirit to love one another. I do, however, heap honor on you as you have received that gift and allowed God to work through you in so many peoples’ lives.

  • Wanda

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    “they will know we are Christians by our love” not our homeschool methods, doctrines, the clothes we wear (although modesty is good) etc…. but by our LOVE.

  • Sandra

    awesome message,and although I wasn’t homeschooled,I like what I’ve seen in the media of families who homeschool;in particular,the larger families.They appear to take 100% responsibility for their children’s education,which is in itself a monumental task,but one they happily undertake.
    In comparison,I went to public school and whenever I didn’t do well,I was berated,put down, and told I was just being lazy,didn’t want to do the work,etc.And I never received nor was offered any help with the subjects in which I didn’t do well.My family left the responsibility of my education 100% up to the school.That’s NOT the correct way to do things,IMO.Where is the love,or caring,in that?
    I do admire the way homeschooling parents don’t blow their children’s education off onto someone else.That’s such a wonderful thing :)

  • http://www.stayathomemyheart.wordpress.com Deborah

    On a not so serious note, after MJ died I was trying to explain his life and musical legacy to the kids. I found “Beat it” on YouTube for them to watch…and my kids exclaimed, “Oh we know this video! But it’s Weird Al’s Eat it, right?” I had to explain Weird Al was parody-ing MJ, not the other around :)

  • Amy

    Hey Jeubs!
    This post reminded me of one of my favorite spots in the bus (yours, mine and ours)–in the back, on the wall, near the bunks, is a bit of graffiti. It reads, “Jeub kids are [heart]” I love that. God bless you all.

  • Christine

    Dear Chris and Wendy,
    While my husband and I were reading your post, he was reminded of a song Michael wrote. I think we all could sing that to someone we love, realizing that we didn’t love them enough while we had the chance.

    http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/michaeljackson/shesoutofmylife.html

  • http://heartyworks.blogspot.com Paula

    This reminds me of something I heard the other day. We bought the audio book Teddy’s Button from Lamplighter. In it, Teddy is taught about Jesus’ banner over us is love. And we are to carry that banner. So Teddy, now being in God’s army and having to carry the banner of love, is trying to show love even to those whom he would rather not. I was also listening to Corrie ten Boom (I know change of subject, I am a woman and do that frequently without warning) talk about how when she first saw the nurse who was so cruel to her sister in the death camp. She felt hate and unforgiveness and felt she could never forgive her. But then she claimed Romans 5:5 and was able to love her through the grace and love of Jesus Christ. She was able to lead that nurse to a saving knowledge of Jesus. She also claimed Romans 5:5 for the man who betrayed her family and caused her family members to die. He was sentenced to death and she wrote him a letter forgiving him and sharing about the love of Jesus with him. He wrote her a letter back about how her forgiveness and the forgiveness of God was too great for him and now he had asked Jesus to be His Lord and Savior. He was put to death a week later.

  • http://www.seekingfaithfulnessblog.com Holly

    So, so good. Thank you. I think this is a message that the homeschool world, especially, needs to hear.

  • http://www.chaarmpress.blogspot.com Charli

    Hello Jeubs! It has been a while since I visited your site. But last night, before I drifted off to sleep, something told me I needed to check in. I’m glad I did.

    Much of what has been shown about Michael Jackson is terrible misinformation and there is no surprise to that. Our nation’s media will set aside truth and kindness for sensationalism and innuendo. These things bring great ratings. I must tell you that Michael Jackson knew love. And he gave Agape Love which was the foundation for his great humanitarian work. This is the side of Michael the press has failed thus far to show but it is a side to him that friends, family, and fans always knew.

    Michael Jackson was the eighth of Joseph and Katherine Jackson’s ten children. His brother Marlon had a twin who only lived for a day. Katherine became a devout Jehovah’s Witness shortly before Michael was born so he had been raised in the faith and never truly left it.

    It was through his mother’s example that Michael first learned about Agape Love and selfless giving. He shared a story in his 1988 autobiography Moonwalk of a time when–in the middle of winter–a man went door to door in their Gary, Indiana neighborhood looking for help. He was bleeding badly. No one would let him into their homes. When he found his way to the Jackson home, Katherine Jackson let him in and gave him the help he needed. That is only a small example of the kind of mother that raised Michael Jackson.

    As an adult, Michael frequently read the Bible, was constantly praying–even over the teeniest things–and did his very best at understanding and living the teachings of Jesus Christ. Michael took to heart what Jesus said about humbling oneself to that of a child. He would say that he wasn’t perfect at it. Sometimes his efforts could go terribly wrong, but the standard of living Jesus laid before us was always his goal.

    Michael Jackson always gave God the glory in everything he did. He always said he was not the creator of his art but that God was the creator and he was merely a vessel. Michael was never shy about his faith in God. Michael’s friend and vocal coach Seth Riggs recently shared this:

    “You know, there was one moment. I was playing a piano, and he (Michael) was standing next to me. All of a sudden, he stretched his hands, looking upwards. It seemed to me that it was very important to him. That’s why I left the room and switched the light off. After half an hour I came back to the room. He was whispering: “Thank you for my talent. Thank you for everything I’ve got. Thank you for all the people who love me. Tell me what I should do, and I’ll do it.” It seemed to me that it was the moment of his communication with God.”

    Michael had a strong spiritual foundation bestowed upon him by his mother. It is this foundation that has brought him through all 50 sometimes rough and sometimes wonderful years.

    Shmuley Boteach was never Michael’s spiritual advisor. If that title can be bestowed upon any human, it would be Michael’s mother. There are many things Shmuley has said recently that don’t quite coincide with his view of Jackson when they spent time together. Of course this depends on which article you read or which of his interviews you watch. But I do remember this. He said watching how Michael treated his children; and even watching how Michael treated Shmuley’s children, made Shmuley strive to be a better father. That, I must say, is probably the sweetest gift anyone can give you–even if it was inadvertent. Michael–in turn–opened his heart to gifts Shmuley gave.

    At the time they knew one another and spent time in each other’s company–which was many years ago–Jackson was coming to terms with something major and he was quite open about it even before he met Shmuley. For years, Jackson had been feeling great animosity towards his father whom he felt did not really love him outside of his gift as an entertainer.

    Joseph Jackson was not an outwardly emotional or affectionate man. He wasn’t one to hug or kiss his children or bestow large amounts of praise for even their smallest achievements. Michael was desperate for his approval and never felt he really got it.

    Then Michael became a father. And because of this, he began to slowly re-build a relationship with his own father. At Shmuley’s urging, Michael wrote a heartfelt speech he gave at Oxford University and an article for belief.net called My Childhood, My Sabbath, My Freedom. (It’s still there, check it out!) This was Michael Jackson in his own words about his relationship with God and (in the Oxford speech) with his father and his way towards understanding the man behind that tough exterior.

    His father was a Black man, raised in the South, during the depression. No need to even explain what that must have been like. Joseph Jackson’s father had been a schoolteacher and was rather strict and inwardly emotional–in his way, this was to make his son tough in a world that was not going to be kind to him. Joseph Jackson passed this onto his children. And good that he did given all the Jacksons’ have had to endure and in front of the whole world.

    Michael Jackson talked about finding a soft spot for his father amist all the anger he had been feeling towards him. (One memory he held dear was of his father picking him up and putting him on a pony.) He found ways in which his father showed love and found a way to rebuild their relationship in time for his greatest test of his will and his faith. His 2005 trial.

    The people speaking so carelessly now about Michael Jackson and how they tried to save him and this, that, and the other, were not in the courtroom every day with Michael Jackson, praying with him and for him. His family and his friends and God were there. Many of his fans were there out of genuine support not just for a musician, but for a man whose selfless humanitarianism, messages of peace and love, and steadfast spirituality touched their lives. Whatever Michael felt was missing back in 1999, he got back ten-fold in 2005. Michael Jackson knew love.

    Shmuley never hinted in the past that Michael Jackson had a problem with prescription drugs although it would not have been much of a surprise. Michael admitted years before meeting Shmuley to struggling with prescription medication addiction. Jackson did not suffer from “phantom illnesses” but well documented, medical conditions for most of his life: Vitiligo, Lupus, conditions related to pluerisy, and chronic pain from injuries he suffered in the 80s (hair catching fire) and the 90s. (back injury) It was for this reason he was taking medicine prescribed to him. Stress and emotional turmoil stemming from stones thrown at a sensitive soul caused flare ups of said conditions which undoubtedly leads to taking more medicine.

    Throughout the years, Michael worked at freeing himself from science medicine–even trying natural, alternative solutions to his ailments. God’s medicine as he once called it. As anyone with an addiction to prescriptions know the journey to freedom can be a long one with highs and lows along the way. Michael never really wanted anyone to see him in pain.

    I grow increasingly skeptical of those like the Rabbi who have taken it upon themselves to paint Jackson as a hopeless drug abuser using pain meds to function. Again, that picture brings more attention and ratings and keeps the focus on Jackson where instead we should be taking to task a culture of doctors that are over-medicating us all. But what is more troubling is that autopsy results (there were two) have yet to be released. They simply do not know how he died and even refuse to accept that maybe–just maybe–God called him and Michael–despite an upcoming concert; despite three beautiful children–obediently answered. No matter what the results of the autopsies show, that is the one fact we can be sure of.

    Rev. Al Sharpton said the only tragedy about Michael’s death is that those that loved him are all here feeling the loss. For Michael, his life and his death is not a tragedy. When one has God in his life–and can praise him when times are good and when they are bad–it is not a tragedy. When at death, one has been loved and has given love, it is not a tragedy. Michael’s life was triumphant in that despite everything, he never ceased his love for humanity.

    And more importantly, his love for God.

  • J

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANfpPb4g2Gc

    In this video he talks about trying to imitate Jesus. I think we can all learn something from him. He seemed like a kind and giving soul. Let’s not forget he had a lot of money hungry people around him his whole life.

    He has also given more money to charity than any pop star or most stars ever forthat matter. Most of his songs have good positive lyrics i.e. Heal the World , We are the world. man in te mirror, black and white, etc..

  • Berta

    I’m writting you from Spain, sorry if my english is not good enough.

    I admire you, really. 13 Children!!! How do you doy for give them all?

    I’m young, I’m only 29 years old, and I’m going to get married on june next year. I wan to be a mother, but at the same time I’m afraid.
    I know that I’m going to stop to live my life, for live the life of my children.

    Thanks to you and your family I saw that is all posible.

    Milions of kisses from Spain to 15 beautiful persons!

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