The Sheltered Christian

My reflection on chapter 6 of UnChristian:

The perception that Christians are boring, unintelligent, old-fashion, and out of touch with reality.

The Christian culture or sub-culture, seems to be well behind the secular culture. It is not as exciting to outsiders.

The perception continues to build since many outsiders see the “moral behavior” of Christians as boring, dull, predictable, lifeless, disconnected, and a rigorous standard of rules that keeps Christians away from pleasures.

Some outsiders go so far to say that Christians do not even have room to think and act for themselves. Their religion keeps them in an insulated box.

And there are good points here that outsiders are making. Think about how much time we Christians spend together doing things together for our own enjoyment. IN OUR OWN BUBBLE!

Instead of engaging a social club, we need to be out in the world as Jesus was.
Outsiders are not aware of their main problems. The true Christian worldview is not prevalently known by all people. We are failing at explaining the problem of sin to our common men. We are failing at sharing God’s love and Gospel!
we are not in the culture creating, contributing, and fighting for good art, music, history, literature, government, science, medicine, education, and social justice. Christians have had a history of creating and contributing to culture in the past and through this they have transformed the world and demonstrated God’s love and the Gospel to others. But today we are failing at this also!

Today’s younger generations are more flexible in viewpoints, more diverse in opinion, more comfortable with just about anything…they enjoy searching for new sources of input. They/We are more protected and more safe. We like safety. Everyone is entitled to safety and their own way of life and opinion and viewpoint.

Of course, every life is messy. Sin is messy. Fortunately our God is a god who can work in the mess, in fact he works better when people’s lives are messy and out of whack.

What do we do?

As is, Christians are not sharing the Gospel enough. They do not even have time to.
We need Balance. We need to spend less time doing in church things and more time reaching out in the world.

We have a responsibility to engage culture and engage lives. We have relationships with outsiders, but are we really sharing the Gospel with them? Are we salt? Are we light? Are we being the city on a hill?
These things take time and energy, are we devoting time and energy to the lost and our outreach to them?

Love dispels fear. Do not be afraid. But let the Holy spirit work and speak words through you.

Have compassion. Expect trouble, persecution, and to be offended. But do not let it bring yo down.

Be ready at any time. God wants to use us if we are willing and ready. Listen to the Holy Spirit!
Also be ready and willing to help the desperate: the sick, the needy, in gritty, real and raw places.

We come back to the idea of balance:
We are to be in but not of the world.
Pure and proximity.
Both are important.

One of the most important things to do is to forget about having this “Christian culture or subculture”
and to simply live in (but not of) this real world.
Secondly inside of this world we all a have a sphere of influence -people we see, live with, go to class with, sit by, in real life at school, at work, and everywhere we go normally.
These people are the people God has placed in your life to talk to, interact with, and share God’s love with.

Hellenistic culture

In my Intro to Old Testament and especially more so in my Intro to New Testament classes, we talked about the “Intertestamental period.” This it the chronological history and time between the date that the last book in the Old Testament was written and when the events in the first book of the New Testament were taking place. This is the time where we do not have internal Biblical text to portray history. But we do have external text, outside of the Bible that clue us in on history.
This period of time is sometimes overlooked. It is an important time in history, and important time especially for Jewish and Christian history.
This is where it gets fun, because there are several theories when it comes to dating the books of the Bible:
Typically it is thought that the last book of the OT was Malachi and it is dated around 450-441 BC. Then the first book of the NT is not completed till about 37-50 AD (this is a very conservative estimation). Some scholars think Matthew could have been the first Gospel completed as early as 37AD, while many more scholars believe that Mark was the first Gospel completed around 50 AD. There are other theories as well with more liberal and later dates.
But nonetheless the events addressed in the Gospels occurred from around 1AD-34AD.
This means that we have about 400 maybe even 500 years without anything written down. A silent period from the mouth of god, if it were.
This period is known as the intertestamental period, because the time (historically) is in-between the two Testaments.
One of the main features of this time period for Israel, (and is a big reason why there are not any writings from this time period) is Diaspora. Another big issue for Israel at this time is Hellenism.

The Jewish Diaspora during the Hellenistic period, should not be confused with either the Babylonian or the later Roman Diasporas. This diaspora was not pure brute force. It was in part, a voluntary movement of Jews into the Hellenistic kingdoms that created the Jewish presence outside Judea, especially in Ptolemaic Egypt .

This Diaspora was wedged between two worlds, on the one side were the Hellenistic values of the Greeks and on the other was the Mosaic law. The various ways the Jews of the Diaspora, especially the Jews in Alexandria, balanced these two extremes, through the emphasis of common values and loyalty to the monarch, dictated its existence in the Hellenistic World.

Hellenistic culture was brought on by the conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BC spread Greek culture and colonization over non-Greek lands.

The Greek culture and influence left Hebrew Jews only a handful of options: They could embrace Greek culture, abstain from Greek culture, or mix with Greek Culture.

Some Jews continue to live in Israel and lived snobby. They hated Greek culture, they thought they were better than the Greek influence and lived a traditional lifestyle away from the world.

Some Jews fully embraced the new Greek cultures and fads. They went so far, as to abandon their Jewish and Hebrew traditions and religion.

Some Jews lived a life of balance. They lived in but not of the world. They embraced the culture but they continued their faith. For example the 72 scribes who translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek.

In a later post I will describe how the Hellenistic culture looked a lot like America in recent years .

Blogs I check almost everyday

MoreThanDodgeball.com– Josh Griffin, Saddleback High School Pastor


Parchment and Pen
-Michael Patton ounder and president of Reclaiming the Mind Ministries along with others.

Youth Culture Watch – Jim Liebelt’s blog as a part of Jim Burn’s HomeWord Ministry.

Boundless – A part of Focus on the Family: made by and for college and young-adult / career-aged people

College Ministry Thoughts – Journal of Student Ministries, along with Simply Youth (for College Aged Ministry), along with others with college-ministry experience.

Blogs I check, every once in a while or whenever they FINALLY post:

Off The Record – Paul Matson, a good friend blogs about good stuff relating to PR, HR, Marketing, social media and trends.

Greg Stier
– President of Dare 2 Share Ministries.

Learning my Lines… – Walt Mueller, President of CPYU.org. Youth Culture expert.

evangelism coach – Practical Personal and Church Evangelism Training

Baptist/Calvinistic/Evangelistic?

one of my friends had this label on Facebook for his “religious beliefs”:

Baptist/ Calvinistic /Evangelistic.

At first I just laughed and smiled. It is interesting that he choose three categories to classify his beliefs. But then the more I thought about it the more I admired his classification and his beliefs. In fact, I think that Baptist/Calvinistic/Evangelistic fits me quite well.
Go to fullsize image Go to fullsize image Go to fullsize image
I recently read another Michael Patton article called “Evangelical for a Reason.”In this article Michael tells us why he is Evangelical. He discusses the flaws with Evangelicalism but then he also suggests that Evangelicalism is probably the best answer,

“I am an evangelical. I am not an ignorant evangelical. I am a learning evangelical. But over the last ten years, as I have studied Scripture, history, the enlightenment, and the early church, as I have traveled to other countries, engaged in gracious reflective dialogue with Evolutionists, Arminians, Egalitarians, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Emergers, mystics, new-agers, the New Atheists, and those who know no labels, I have become more of a Reformed Evangelical than ever. True, I would not die for every aspect of my theology like I once would. True, I don’t think “the other side” is as ignorant as I once did. But I am more convinced based upon my studies than I ever was.”

I suggest reading some of his posts and watching some of the free theology classes on his website, there is a lot of great stuff there!

Personally I am still learning so much about these things and can’t make such a confident claim as Michael does. I am not quick to jump on the latest and newest theology bus or trend. I like to do research before putting belief in anything.

As far as the emergent church, I also agree with Michael: I honestly think the heart of the majority of the emergent is right. They are after souls for Christ. They want to engage culture and display Christ to people in this culture. They want to be relevant. And in some ways this is great. But we have to be careful and draw a line somewhere. I personally am agianst “flexible theology and doctrines” the you hear about in Velvet Elvis.

And also we need to be careful when engaging the culture. We cannot let ourselves be so engaged that we are invisible, of the world, and no different than the useless Hellenistic Jews. (No offense to any Jews who are still celebrating Alexander the Great out there…)

In general, I still have lots to learn…I am also trying not to classify all of my beliefs. The most important things I am learning right now is deciding what is essential to my faith and what is not. I still have a lot to learn. I agree whole-heatedly that we need to have critical minds when studying these things.

entitlement generation

Image Preview

“You think you’re entitled to everything.”

Employers are getting very frustrated at my generation…

It is not because we are slackers like some of our Generation X older relatives, but because they think that we think that we want it all. (And there is some truth to that.)

To attract younger workers companies offer work-life balance, flexible schedule that includes meaningful work, with a structured feedback loop and opportunities to be creative.

My generation, the “entitlement generation” they say, has shockingly high expectations for salary, job flexibility and duties but little willingness to take on grunt work or remain loyal to a company.

Go to fullsize image

I have seen this to be true looking at some of my friends. Today’s younger culture in general, does not want to evolve their life around work. They want to have time for family, especially if their own parents did not make time for them. They do not want to be like that.

But, I will say that NOT ALL of us feel this entitlement. i have worked a steady “grunt job’ for many consecutive years. I had to quit only because I moved away from college and have started my “real life.” I’ve worked other grunt jobs since then. Ones that required me to show up, work my 40+ hours, no flexibility at all. I was okay with that.

Go to fullsize image

But this leaves me with another reflection that is huge for my generation…we want and love the idea of a “dream job.” We imagine working at a place we love. Doing things that we want to do everyday. A job where we can work our own hours and for reasonable pay. My Generation has taken this idea to the extreme. We have rejected the idea of “paying our time”… We have exaggerated the “dream job” concept. Some of my generation actually thinks that it is a realistic picture.

I am not one of these people, I understand that it is a competitive world and I need to work my way to a better job and I can’t expect employers to evolve work around me.

Some people are taking the concept of entitlement for my generation and applying it to all aspects of our lifestyle…they are saying that my generation grew up as the center of attention. We got everything we wanted, we were rewarded for things we did not do, we were over-protected, and over-spoiled by our parents. We are given all kinds of toys, cars, even an education. ..is there some truth to this too? Maybe in some cases.

But there is still a lot of reflection and study that needs to be done. I do think that my generation needs to wake up a little bit and take on more responsibility as young christian leaders in the church and not depend on older parents or pastors to spoon feed us everything….but that is just me .

Narnia review

I saw Narnia a couple of weeks ago. I thought the movie itself was pretty good. Nice effects, cool digital features, good background music and just a fun movie in general.

The movie was of course a little-watered down and condensed, which you almost expect from Hollywood today. I was glad that Narnia made it to the big screen though.

Awkward situation: Aslan says to Lucy in a dream…”I grow as you grow…” After Lucy says “You are bigger than I remember…”

This is not how C.S. Lewis dialogues this conversation in the book. It was frustrating that they did not take the extra minuet or two it would have taken to get that particular conversation correct.

I can relate to Peter…it would be tough to go from being a respected aged high king in Narnia
and then have to go back to real life and deal with real people.

I am in awe of CS Lewis and his imagination whenever I pick up a Narnian book. And in this movie that sense of creativity was displayed.

Faith of Lucy

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set a example for the believers in speech, in life, in faith, and in purity. 1 Tim. 4:12 (NIV)

Lucy is the youngest of the Pevensie children, and as such, she possess the heart of a child, seeing the good within those around her. She is the first to enter the Wardrobe, but because of her age, no one believes her about Narnia. Yet, she does not let this destroy the faith she has in herself.

We see Lucy’s child-like faith again in Prince Caspian. Lucy sees Aslan off in the distance and tell her siblings to follow her. None of them believe her again.

But this time, Lucy does not step out ahead of her siblings in faith as she did in the Wardrobe. Despite that fact, Aslan is good and forgives Lucy.

We can learn a lot about faith from Lucy today.