Tag: Culture

Pop Song Pics – A Christian Mind Processing Culture

While driving, I often listen to the radio and slide from station to station until I hear a song that is good and catchy.  Often the pop stations have lots of songs about dating and the like, but being a Christian who thinks about theology a lot, I often see the lyrics a bit differently.  Here is a list of some of the examples.

Can you figure out which songs these are and Biblical moment I saw when I heard it?

IMG_0149

Pentecost

The Book of Acts Chapter 2:1-13

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Peter Preaching to the Crowds and Multitudes Trust in Christ

The Book of Acts 2:14-40


IMG_5361Jesus Heals the Man in the Cemetery “Demoniac”

Mark 5:1-20

Notes from Dr. Kenda Dean’s sessions at Symposium on Youth, Religion and Culture (Spartanburg Methodist College)

Kenda Dean

Symposium on Youth Ministry with Dr. Kenda Dean

Spartanburg Methodist College

Thursday April 11th, 2013

Speakers: “Kenda Creasy Dean, professor of youth, church and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. Dean is the author of several books on youth culture, including “Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church.” This latest book is based on the National Study of Youth and Religion conducted from 2002 to 2005 and provides an analysis of teen religious practice.

The symposium will also include an address by Darwin Glassford, director of the M.A. program at Calvin Theological Seminary, book review editor for the Journal of Youth Ministry and a well-known speaker on youth ministry and culture.” (I do not have notes for his sessions because it was a lunch session – we were eating).  For more on the symposium click here.

(Session 1)

Biff, Christ’s best friend – wishes he could do what Jesus does (lizard story)

When we see what it is like to bring life like Jesus, we begin to say, “I want to do that too.”  (Finger around the clock exercise – perspective/hermeneutics) What you see depends on where you sit.  We are helping young people begin to see their lives through God’s clock.

Research – Christian formation isn’t helping children/youth see life from God’s way

*Flea video – behavior set by the lid put on the jar

Jane Magonicle – “Institute for the future” – Playing video games will save the world; in gaming the player is looking for the “EPIC WIN” (research on WOW); Gamers feel better about themselves in the game than they do in real life – how do they transfer their skills to real life (10,000 hours in video game – parallel education system) You need 10,000 hours of practice to make yourself a virtuoso at anything.

Video gamers are Virtuosos at:

(1) Urgent Optimism

(2) Tight Social Fabric (we like people better after playing a game with them)

(3) Blissful Productivity (we feel better about something if we work hard at it)

(4) Epic Meaning (gamers are immersed in epic stories – saving the world)

God in Jesus Christ gave us an epic win.

(National Study of Youth and Religion 2005) – Christian Smith

(1) Teens are not hostile toward religion (apathy)

(2) Teens faith mirrors their parent’s faith

(3) Teens are “incredibly inarticulate” about religion (kids shut down)

  1. Mainline protestant kids are least articulate
  2. Catholics were slightly better (symbols and iconography)
  3. Teens are articulate about many things, but in talking about their faith they just did not know how to speak
  4. Mormons were tops (they get top of charts)
  5. Conservative protestants next

(4) A significant minority (40%) say religion is important to them and makes a different in their lives (8 % were in the highly devoted category; pray, go to church, read bible)  The church is good with the small group that attends, not with those who don’t

(5) Religion is most significant for

  1. Mormon Youth
  2. Conservative Protestant Youth
  3. Black Protestant Youth
  4. Mainline Protestant Youth
  5. Catholic Youth
  6. Jewish Youth
  7. Non-Religious Youth

Conclusion: Most teens adhere to Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as their unacknowledged religious creed.

(1) God exists that created world and watches over us

(2) God wants us to be good and fair to each other

(3) Central goal of life is to be happy

(4) God doesn’t need to be involved unless I need him to solve a problem

(5) Good people go to heaven when they die

The Apostles Creed is about God!  MTD is about us (self-centered)

Teens faith mirrors their parents.  Because the teens mirror their parents religious lives, the adults are as well – this is our country’s dominant religion.

Churches that teach MTD rather than Christ are not differentiated from the world.  Young Adults think it is honest to claim “No Religion” and become “Nones”

(1)                   Fastest growing Religious group in the US – 19.6%; 1/3 of Young Adults 18-26)

(2)                   More “nones” than Mainline Protestant Christians (most people are as religious in college as they are about to get, 23 is least religious year).  When people come back, they usually come back because of marriage (marriage age is going up), and as you age you tend to get less religious.

(3)                   Most “Nones” are raised in Religious homes

(4)                   Most of the “Nones” are not atheist or agnostic (no religion, practice religiousness secularly – have rituals, secret communities, culture, and prophetic witness)

What would it take to get the attention of Young Adults?  Where can they be honest about the toxicity of the world they live in?  The Church

Destroying Two Myths

(1) Young people will save the church

  1. If our church is going to survive, we need young people (only Jesus will save the church!)  Youth will not save dying congregations.  We should not use Young people for our own congregational needs

i.     VAMPIRE THEOLOGY – Young people are young blood that we need, and we proceed to suck the life out of them (this is an Anxiety Reaction)  This is survival, threatened thinking.

ii.     Entitlement goes into overdrive – we aren’t greedy, we are scared.  We can’t grow because we can’t take risks

iii.     Institutions cannot grow when you’re trying to survive, circling the wagons!

iv.     When anxious, we can’t access our whole brains (using reptile part of the brain) – classic reactions are fight or flight (freeze/protect) – we can’t think rationally, have no humor HOW MANY ANXIETY REACTIONS ARE IN YOUR CHURCH

We tend to think that Young Adults need the church, but it tends to be the opposite way around.  When you are a young adult, all the institutions that have tended to support you tend to be done with you when you hit a certain age.

(2) Making the church appeal to youth means we need to act like one

  1. Contemporary worship service is first way people try to solve the problem (critique of worship)  There is a lot of bad worship of all styles out there
  2. Marketers have learned that you don’t win teens by treating them like teens, you treat them like PEOPLE
  3. Pentecostals and Eastern Orthodoxy are attracting Young People
  4. Eastern Orthodox Saints are drawing for some
  5. Both of these groups (P and E.O. are High Expectation, Participative)  When we compromise ourselves to reach young people we say our church is “cheap”
  6. Mark Yaconelli (tells story of 4 year old who understands being a Christian has a high cost – might get killed like Jesus)
  7. When Resurrection happens – when young people are reached affectively they want to see

i.      Meaning – you have a part to play in this quest, people notice when you’re gone, living for the future because the church knows how the story ends

ii.      Belonging – being part of something everyone is playing a part in; Jon Stewart called the UMC the Univ. of Phoenix of Religions – we don’t want to inconvenience people by following Jesus into the dark places of the world .  When we invite young people to participate.

iii.      Radical Hospitality (Drew Dyson 2011) – people are appreciated for whatever they bring

  1. Story: A young admissions counselor dismisses UMC affiliation because they really accept anyone Kenda D: What!  Its because of your affiliation that you accept everyone!
  2. When was the last time you saw a community of Christians reflecting Christ so brightly that you said: “I want to do that too”?
  3. Example: A group of young adults face Neo-Nazi demonstrators dressed as “Coup Clutz Clowns” – Each time the demonstrators put their hands up, they would find something that rhyms with their slogans and turn it into something silly (ex. White Power/White Flour/White Flowers/Wife Power/Tight Showers) – tried to diffuse any potential violence (clowns defeat the clan)  People saw life, hope and thought: I’d like to do that too.

Young people are open to possibility, are not anxious about death, and are full of Hope.  Being young is not an age thing.  Conviction that the future is full of unlimited possibility.  Everyone whose future is bound to Jesus Christ is young (we have a different definity of youth).  We are participants of the Kingdom of God.  “Its not that the future belongs to the young, its that those who have a future are young.”  Ex. Pope John Paul II dancing with youth as they say “you are young”  Isaiah 40:30-31  – What if the church became known for its life, productivity, and live into their “EPIC WIN” in Jesus Christ.  How long before young people start saying “I want to do that too.”

(Session 2)

The “nones” have been around for a long time, but there is no social pressure or points to/for faking being a Christian anymore.

Sociological conclusions of how good a society is doing according to how we treat our Children.  USA is last of countries only after U.K.

Lois C.K. Clip – Nun is irritated with him and his friends who won’t pay attention in class and so they bring in an over the top Crucifixion storyteller (education debacle); Child feels responsible for Jesus’ nails and pulls them out to “make Jesus better” or make amends.  Mother doesn’t believe in Jesus and tells her son that she wanted her son to have “religion” but he doesn’t have to get it if he doesn’t want to.   (ex. I need to take you to church so they can give you religion)

The shift to the “Nones’ has been an incredibly fast sociological shift.  Break down: Atheists and Agnostics has been growing slowly, but Nones has grown rapidly.

OT Scholar – Walter BrueggemanHelp young people become bi-lingual in faith. When conquered, the conquered people had to negotiate the treaty in the language of the dominant culture.  When the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom, they had to write a treaty in Assyrian, but they knew their covenant with God was written in Hebrew.  Behind the wall of Jerusalem, they knew that their identity was locked up in God.  On the wall conversation and behind the wall conversation.

(1) In our culture, we have to learn the language of the culture (don’t do Christianese) – On the Wall.

(2) Our inner-language – seeing an internal way to see the world – Behind the wall

(3) Kenda – There is a third part of our language (symbols, arts, rituals and practices) that express faith beyond words, and is a primary language for young adults.

Adults who want to care for these children/young people have to learn their language.

How do we translate?

*The best way to translate is to use people, not programs.  If we leave translating the Gospel to Youth Programs, there will be a wooden translation of the gospel.  Icrebreakers are not real life.  (We have a whole generation of parents who are not trained to be translators)  Video: Mom confronting Confirmand who reveals he’s an atheist.  The parent doesn’t have a way to respond (no conversation); her son Michael is outing her own doubts (the parents faith formation is pretty sketchy)

Parents want to be authentic with their kids, they want to do right.  Parents losing it are just trying to be honest.

Youth workers have thought that throwing information at people is the way to bring about faith growth – but it is really about transformation.  The easiest thing to share is what you love; it gets hard when we need to share what we know.  Kenda: her dad shared his love for White Castle hamburgers, and she remembers his love for her everytime she passes a White Castle.  She wants that love to be felt everytime someone passes the church. (example of sharing; History re-enactors, volunteers who want to share their love for history with someone else)

You Learn Best What you love the most.

When a person falls in love with a band, they hear the music first, and then the find out everything about the band, and then we share it with others.

Do we love Christ sufficiently to share Christ with our children (word and deed)

Get rid of things that get in the way of our relationship with Christ (embrace sacrifice) and dislodge us from our comfort zones ( A Big Adventure )

6 Tangible Ways (concrete Steps) for parents (Congregations can step in)

(1) Invest in your own Faith (you must live out faith in your own life)

  1. Profound Religious Experience (aside from parents faith)

i.     Answer to prayer

ii.     A moving worship experience

iii.     Witnessed a miracle

iv.     Sensed God’s presence in suffering

(2) Share what you love (its easy for you to learn what you love)

(3) Share your faith story with your kids (why do you follow Jesus?)

(4) Emphasize Good News over Good Behavior (counter the Jesus Jacket – compartmentalization of morality, just take it off)

  1. Kids that associate being a Christian with how you behave are the quickest way out of Christianity and Faith once in College (disposable kind of Christian identity)
  2. Who you are flows out of Christ, not what you do

(5) Speak Christian at home

  1. Do we talk about what happened at work like “the boss really showed you some grace.”
  2. Do you speak about and talk about Jesus OUT LOUD
  3. Congregations that talk about God as subject of sentences rather than an object (God as active and alive) have children of faith

(6) Do one radical thing for your faith in front of your children, and explain that you’re doing it because you love Jesus (because this is what it means to love Jesus)  (TAKING RESURRECTION SERIOUSLY)

  1. Acts of Radical Hospitality
  2. Acts of Radical Mercy
  3. Acts of Radical Grace
  4. Acts of Radical piety and practice of faith

How much are we willing to risk in our relationship with Christ?

Everyday Radicality.  The church needs to live out Resurrection and Transformation.  If we won’t be used, then God will find something other than us.

Les Miserables: Grace and Law in Juxtaposition

les-miserables

Set a place at the table for both law and grace

By DANIEL GRISWOLD
danielgriswold@gmail.com
Published Wednesday, January 2, 2013

 

Presents were opened, candy flowed from our stockings, gift cards were exchanged and a lot of tasty foods covered the table. After our food comas, my family sat together and talked about life. Then, we began talking about what movies were out, and everyone wanted to see “Les Miserables.” We saw the film, and it had me in tears. 

This film/musical is the strong juxtaposition of two men. One, Jean Valjean, is a man who stole bread and served 19 years of hard labor for his crime. Hardly a just punishment, and yet he has been branded a thief with papers that remind him and others that he is not to be trusted. Another, his polar opposite, Inspector Javert, vows to make sure that Jean remembers his crime and remains in his place — at the bottom — and in the horrible state that the title accents. Forever his place is to remain wretched and poor.

In the middle of these two is an intervention, by a kindly bishop named Myriel, who extends the grace of God to Jean in a moment of his weakness (in which he steals valuables from the bishop’s home and the bishop, rather than press charges, gives Jean all that he stole and more — the candlesticks as well). He claims the man for God — and thrusts Jean on a personal quest for redemption and renewal. Jean makes himself into a vessel of grace, while Javert remains a dark shadow.

The musical aside, in my own mind and heart, I struggle between the seeming coldness of law (as I read the law of Moses) and the grace that the gospels hold. I read about Abraham and God’s extended hand, doling out blessings often to the undeserving, yet faithful man. I know that the order of law is necessary, and yet without the softness of grace, the burden on all becomes like unbreakable chains.

Consider the parable of the beaten and broken man, robbed and left for dead on the side of a road (from gospel of Luke chapter 10). A priest and a Levite, people of the law, passed the man by, both not willing to soil themselves with the messiness of mercy. His life of order held his humanity at bay. It was a Samaritan who bent his knee and cared for the man, took him to an inn and paid for his mending. The Samaritan is like Bishop Myriel, extending grace and allowing the blood and soil of reality to stain his clothes, mess up his carpets and drain his bank account.

Is there a struggle between order and grace in reality? I think so. Those who lean toward order (like Javert) like to understand the universe in terms of hierarchy and by the ability to hold structures together. Like engineers, their plans are intricate and can build great civilizations. The weakness of order is that it can be judgmental and cold. Those who lean toward grace (Jean) see the world as messy and moldable. Their strength is empathy, and their arms are wide open, seeking to catch anyone who needs care or a helping hand. The weakness of grace is to be run over by those who would take advantage of kindness and can be seen as foolishness.

I once heard a speaker say, “The ‘grace people’ and the ‘law people’ need to get together.”

This would be a good thing. The two intertwined create the goodness of justice and emphasizes the dignity of all people, everyone created to do great things. Imagine a world where the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan all stop to save the beaten man. They have a conversation, nurse the man to health and then feast together. They talk about their differences and learn from each other, all confident in who they are.

I’d like to be at that table.

Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill. Read his blog at http://www.danielgriswold.wordpress.com.

Culture Stuff: My Thoughts on The Avengers Movie

To begin, I will say that if you are excited about The Avengers movie, have seen all the previous Marvel Superhero movies, and are wondering if it lives up to all the hype and whether you should see it or not – It does, go see it.  But why does it have appeal?  And why does it seem to have something that everyone can enjoy?

First, there is a collection of such a diverse amount of strong characters, that it would be hard not to relate to one of the heroes/heroines.  From the Black Widow to The Incredible Hulk, from Nick Fury to Captain America, there is a plethora of different types of characters each with different strengths and flaws all interacting on screen, teaming or not teaming up, in ways that sometimes produce awe inducing moments, and sometimes, you have to laugh and say “Oh, Hulk…you’re so…you.”

Second, the enemy epitomizes what we do not like about ourselves, and so there is a universal appeal towards defeating him.  The enemy, Loki, sees himself as “entitled” as a God.  He lords himself, and merely wants to be seen as the Great Ruler who “frees” people from their own “freedom”.  It is a terribly flawed statement, which shows how little he has thought it through.  What he really means is: I think I am better than everyone else, so kneel to me.  There is a great moment when an old man (possibly a Holocaust survivor), stands up while everyone else kneels to Loki, rejecting his “godhood”.  The Avengers movie is a case study in tearing down the wanton destruction a callous dictator can create in civil society.  I think that we don’t like the entitled part of ourselves, so we gain a bit of spiritual discipline when we set our hearts against the antagonist in this film.

Third, the last 30 minutes are explosive, but the setup is brilliantly maneuvered.  The film spends a good amount of time setting up the final battle royale.  There is something for everyone in this film (relationships, anger, self reflection, cool gadgets and toys, philosophy, etc.), and the characters spend a good amount of time realizing how they will not get played by the enemy, who has a plan, and how to defeat a seemingly invincible opponent at his own game.  I can’t give out too much away without this being a spoiler, but I will say that Captain America’s character impressed me even more, as he did a bit of theology (whether you agree with him or not), when he said, “There is only one God, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that,” concerning the enemy.  I love it.  There is another even more humorous moment that I’ll let you experience on your own.  In the midst of the explosive energy, the conversations keep the film grounded and help us think through how we would act under stress.  It is a good study in what we feel we need, especially as all people across the globe face bigger challenges because the future continues to come.

All in all – this film had me engaged throughout.  It was the first film that I feel that 3D actually worked well (possibly because it blended so well, I only noticed it a few times, and when I did I realized how much it added to the High Def, rather than being a gimmick).  Kudos to the Costume Designers, who did not make the film feel like a cartoon, and to those who did endless calculations and renderings to make the computer graphics seem like reality.  The seamlessness of the film, with only a few slow moments, make this movie one of my all time favorites, at least in the genre of Semi-Philosophical Action Movie.  Well played.  Well played.

Is Sex Addiction Real?

With recent scandals (Arnold S in California and Weiner’s sexting) the term “Sex Addict” is coming to the fore.  According to this ABC news article, 1 in 17 adults claim to have a sex addiction.  This is not defined as merely as someone who wants sex a lot, but rather, is someone who has a compulsion towards sexual activity taking risks to fulfill the compulsion that may harm themselves or others.  The harm can be relational, physical, or emotional.  In the case of politicians, it appears that they continue in their risk taking simply because “they can.”  When they get caught, they seek treatment while trying to hold onto the brambles of their career.

A quote from that same ABC article struck me:

The internet and social networking provides an easy way for sex addicts to act on their temptation, experts said.

“It allows for early access, affordable access and anonymous access,” Samenow said. “The internet has caused a huge boom in our business. Unfortunately…it’s the crack cocaine of sex addiction.”

A healthy sex life has many elements for any human being.  The first is having an understanding of what context Sex belongs.  When there is no fence for our mind, we wander.  The beginning of discipline starts in childhood as we grow into puberty and have guidance from parents and role models who interact with us as we experience the often scary changes that sexual maturity bring.

The issue of sex addiction is two fold based on the deterioration in social structures at the early ages in the swirling chaos of American cultural drift.

(1) Adults now idolize Adolescence.  Many perceive their youth (thanks to the romanticization of film and music) as the best times in life.  Nothing to do, restless and the “unlimited” resources of our parents.  Unearned wealth simply given. Now that the youth have gone into adulthood, they yearn to be “free” again.  Free of a job, free from children and free from their own personality.  They throw down the fences and sexuality is released from the discipline it once had.  We reclaim the awkwardness of “innocence” and live as a teen perpetually throwing off the responsibilities of adulthood.  Unfortunately, without fences, anything from food to sex to relationships have the potential to become compulsions.  More, rather than Appreciate, becomes the rally cry.  Everyone is BORED, and enough is never enough.

(2) The fences come down and lack of discipline becomes a cycle.  If adults don’t model good discipline in sexuality (or anything else for that matter) the children play out the drama of the older generation as if it is dogma. Without fences the generations drift.  Ethics go out the window (because the basis of ethics is the discipline of the good person, without which society demolishes itself), and horrors become more normal.  We just shake our heads unable to comprehend how things got so bad.  It started when we decided that the fence didn’t matter.  Drop ethics even for one generation and we open ourselves to more compulsion.  The eyes you see when a child simply has no comprehension of right or wrong, the eyes of a child filled with anger and confusion, the eyes of an adult who has grown up with no direction except towards production of goods for the consumption of goods in a never ending cycle – these eyes become more common.  Without ethical grounding the homeless are beaten, sexual slavery returns to our cities, children are murdered because they are unwanted and we convince ourselves that there is nothing we can do.  We aren’t the murderers or the pimps, right?

The solution starts in the infancy of a new generation and it continues through the maturation to adulthood.  The abandonment of each new generation needs to stop.  Parenting needs to return as a form of art and excellency centered around the nurture and discipline of the young.  Discipline, meaning that there are fences. A safe space to grow and make mistakes, but always brought back to the center for a lesson.

In the case of sexuality, to stave off sex addiction, parents should continue to struggle to communicate values that are important.  Basic respect for other humans is at the center of this.  If we loved all people and tried to make sure we treat every person with dignity we would not even see the paths of compulsion.  Pornography would not be used because it uses the form of another person impersonally for a sexual high much like a drug.  It devalues everyone who is on the opposite end.  The proper place for sexuality would be after the intimacy of a mutual relationship and I posit that the real commitment of marriage (not the charade of marriage that some people put on as entertainment or as a rite of passage rather than a holy connection) is a pre-requisite before the bed.

Only in true intimacy, based on a strong devotion to God in faith in God’s ability to weather our storms, can a relationship model of positive love, and in that context – positive sex – be given to a generation that is dying in confusion because nothing seems trustworthy.  And we cant preach this without living it ourselves.  People don’t trust marriage because it has been thrown away by the people who should have been fighting to keep it right with all their strength.

Even if you fight a million wars across the globe and make the world safe, if we lose our souls in the process, everything will be destroyed anyway.  Like any addiction, sex addiction stops when one person decides to make some good fences and live inside the boundaries, recognizing that we are not God and are not capable of handling infinity without help.

For those who are already in the throes of addiction, there is hope and treatment is much like any other addiction.  A simple Google search on the issue will bring up many resources.  Here is one that looks notable: http://www.sexhelp.com/

Being Human: Foolishness and Rahoboam, Solomon’s Son

This morning I was invited by the Associate Pastor of our church to speak to a men’s small group out in Bluffton, SC.  He asked me to talk about the youth ministry and provide some sort of devotion for the men and that the format would be an hour long breakfast.  Thinking that an hour would be a long time, I did my usual over-preparation for speaking and had several points of conversation.

What I actually got to:

(A)  Where our Youth Ministry has come from. 

(B) Where our youth ministry is now. 

(C) The scriptural foundation for Incarnational (Jesus Centered) ministry among youth.

(D) How others can help out – get to know one of our families and show them that you care about their wellbeing.

We had some great question and answers and I am so thankful for the support of so many from our church.  It was so affirming to have so many concerned men from our conversation surround me.

But there was one thing I didn’t get to that was really going to be a Meat and Potatoes kind of message.  It is something that I’ve ruminated over ever since the first time I read through the entirety of scripture because I hardly ever hear anyone talk about it.  I noticed it simply because I have studied the sociological histories of the different American Generations since we developed as a nation, and I saw a similar pattern of generations in the forming of, maintenance, and then later deterioration of the nation of Israel.

The point I didn’t have time for was the story of Rahoboam, the son of Solomon. 

In 2 Chronicles 10 in the Old Testament of scripture, Solomon – Israel’s wisest and most powerful King is now out of the picture.  It is time for a son of Solomon to become King and there is a tricky political situation that occurs as the young leadership tries to take hold.  The elders of the nation gather from the different tribes and there is a conversation between the one to be annointed, Rahoboam, who is Solomon’s son, and the people.  It is obvious that the nation has had some momentum for quite some time.  As their identity has unfolded as a people, they have gone from wandering Semitic people in the desert to slaves, to wanderers, to a military caravan of tribes, to land owners and Justice dealers, to Magistrates of towns and cities and ultimately to being a people over a land with Kings and a history.  God brought them to this point because he promised it to Abraham way back in the generations.  God said, “I will bless the nations through you.”  Kings Saul, then David, and then the greatest – Solomon, had gone through terrible times and great wars to provide security for the people.  It wasn’t until the reign of Solomon that they had such respect and security that they could build God’s temple to God’s specifications and the people could see the results of generations of hardship and determination.

But there was an issue in Rahoboam’s generation that would play itself out with massive consequences.  The children of Solomon’s generation had never wandered, they hadn’t fought the terrible wars, they didn’t build the buildings or the towns they inhabited, and the systems of food distribution, diplomacy and general well being were not of their experience.  They were inheriting a blessed nation with no realization or appreciation for how they had gotten there.  They expected greatness. They expected power.  They were entitled to everything they had always had.

Does this sound familiar?  In America there was a time of pioneering and wandering across the land.  We fought revolution, civil war, and world wars – all which set our place in this world as determined people respected and revered for what we can do.  We fixed problems, built cities, dreamed big and got results.  We produced more and consumed more and more all within the boundaries of the safety we built on our North American continent.  The blessings have flowed from generation to generation.  But something has happened as our hand became dominant.  Since World War II, something has changed.

In the book “Me, Myspace, and I” by Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D, the generations are spread out and their main characteristics laid bare.  The Greatest Generation of World War II are a largely silent generation who worked hard and did what they had to to make our nation safe and to make it work.  Then the Baby Boomer Generation, characterized by their ability to work hard and almost worship their ability to provide for their families, made our nation prosper and brought wealth and new ideas that changed the whole world.  Next came Generation X, which was a generation that worked to have fun.  They love recreation and the ability to experience life and all it has to offer by doing more and pushing harder.  And now, we have developed the Internet Generation – a generation that wants to play and work at the same time.  The world is a playground where we can create and mold our visions to our will.

This video that was just released by celebrity Will Smith’s daughter Willow demonstrates the Ethos of Generation Y/Internet Generation:

If you watched the whole film you will see that the exuberance of the youth today is like an electric ball of energy.  “21st Century Girl. I do what I want.” They will create new orders and penetrate institutions like no institutions because they want to be in control.  When they grow older, everything is set to change even faster than it has.

But there is a problem with this.  They don’t have the experience that has anchored previous generations.  We live in an America with no surviving World War I veterans still living.  The last died recently at age 110.  The youth culture has so quickly progressed that many adults who have been charged with raising this generation have been more like buddies than parents molding the character and formation of children.  In a world where kids have access to anything they want and have no understanding of ultimate sacrifice other than a few words on a paper – it is hard for this generation to understand true pain and what it feels like to live in material, relational, or situational poverty.   Even when out on missions trips in youth groups or on service projects, the experiences take some time to take hold.  It is hard for them to realize that the problems of the world are big.  That there is still more to work on and that we as Americans have not arrived.

Okay, so editorial aside, what does this have to do with Rahoboam, the son of Solomon?  His generation had everything at his finger tips like this upcoming generation today does.  He had the wisdom of the remaining elders, he had the vigor of youth, and the wealth and security of a military and a trained populace.  His situation looks a lot like ours does today or very soon from today.  What happened when he was to become King over the land?

He consulted the elders and they asked for a period of rest for the people after the great projects of Solomon.  He consulted his youthful advisors and they told him to tell the people that they will feel his whip and they will do greater things than in the days of his father.  He chose the youthful mode of power, and announced he would be a scourge to them.  He chose the mantle of power and misunderstood where his power came from.  Even an Israelite king governed by the consent of the people under the anointing of God.  When the northern tribes heard there would be no rest they replied, the House of Judah can do its own work (Judah was the tribe of King David, Solomon, and now Rahoboam).  Their nation split into two, and the decline of Israel followed.  The north would later be conquered by the Assyrians, and the south would later be conquered by Nebuchadnezzar and the people of Babylon.  Dire consequences for youthful pride.

Since I am part of this generation I feel like I have a voice to speak about these things.  God loves to bless his people, but when a generation assumes that they are inherently powerful and dominant, they also begin to rely less on God.  They become Imperialistic and Lord their power over others in the name of God, but the only God they recognize is themselves.

Why was I going to speak about this to the men’s breakfast in Bluffton?  It is a heavy message after all.  I believe that the older generation needs to hear that the young people who are slowly coming up into the ranks are in dire need of the Wisdom of previous generations.  I believe that our idealists need the temperment of your experience and the stories that you hold within your hearts and mind.  I believe that your faith and your courage and your ideas are still necessary as a temporary rudder for my own Generation as we begin to take over the course.  We need to respect and revere the people who have done so much, but even if our generation comes off as arrogant and does not provide that respect – we still need all of you.

I know I didn’t get to that part of the message, but it will be a theme that runs through everything I do in our ministry.  All Generations need to come together to show the Body of Christ as full an whole.  We cannot afford to take our gifts and talents and retire to our corners of culture.  Youth culture may seem interesting and dominant but it lacks vision beyond its raw energy.  I know God is in control, but I sometimes worry about the times to come.  We have a few different paths we can take – but all good paths include a strong foundation and staying in relationship with America’s and the World’s youth.

I Wrote This, It is .99 cents, Help A Man Out

I wrote a section of a book. It is a part one.  It is science fiction and I really enjoyed writing it.  It may be terrible, but if you own a Nook or have the Nook App on Facebook, I could use a review or two.  Download the preview section and give me some stars, or better yet.  Download it (Only .99 cents) and read it.  I would love to see some reviews pop up.  Be brutally honest good or bad.