Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Mark Sayers' new book, The Trouble with Paris: Following Jesus in a World of Plastic Promises, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2008).

The couple you see on TV is so much sexier than you and your spouse. The car advertised in the magazine is so much slicker than the one you drive. The resort you find out about on the Internet looks like heaven on earth, and you can’t wait to escape your ordinary house to spend a week a there.

Every day, the media bombards you with the message that you can have something even better than the real thing. The hyper-real world portrayed in the media is so attractive and alluring that the everyday reality of your own life can seem bland and boring in comparison. Without even realizing it, you may be so influenced by the media that your lifestyle detaches from reality – moving you farther and farther away from God in the process.

Here’s how you can embrace reality to find real faith:

Recognize the agenda behind the media’s messages. Most of the content you see and hear in the media is produced with the goal of getting you to buy something (a product, experience, opinion, or service). The point is to make you feel as if you have to buy something in order to be happy – but when you do, happiness still eludes you. Over time, giving into the pressure simply makes you more and more dissatisfied with your life.

Understand how a hyper-real lifestyle affects your faith. If you’re not experiencing the peace and joy Jesus wants for you, your lifestyle may be to blame. Living according to the media’s messages will lead to constant dissatisfaction, and it will become a struggle for you to reconcile the life you expect to live with the life you’re actually living. You’ll base your daily decisions on what the media values instead of allowing your faith to guide your choices. As a result, your faith won’t seem relevant to your daily life.

Seek more than just a makeover. While the media tells you that the ultimate solution to every problem you face is seeking a way to feel good about yourself despite it, realize that you need to go much deeper than that to find real fulfillment. For example, if your heart is broken and your life’s a mess because you’ve just been divorced, you won’t become truly happy no matter how many makeovers you indulge in – losing weight, buying new clothes and getting a trendy haircut, taking an exotic cruise, etc. The only way you’ll find lasting satisfaction is to be spiritually reborn and invite Jesus to transform your soul.

Look where you’re placing your hope. Consider what you’re placing your hope in: Even if you claim to hope in Jesus, are you really trusting Him to give you a meaningful and fulfilling life, or are you looking to the world’s pleasures to give you the good life you hope to enjoy? The only source you can truly count on to deliver hope is Jesus.

Consider how you make your choices. Do you make decisions the way God guides you, or do you decide to do something because you hope doing so will make you feel just as good, or better, than others? Do you make each choice because it’s the right thing to do, or do you compare yourself with others and figure out how to keep up with them? Do you frequently feel pressure when you make decisions, and do you often regret the choices you make? Trying to maintain a certain lifestyle or a certain feeling won’t likely lead you to the best choices. Trusting God to guide you is the only way to consistently make wise decisions.