Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Observations, Ambassadors, and Today's Generation

I know nothing about parenting. I don't presume to know anything about parenting.

I know that children need food and to not give them matches and that holding a baby by its head is frowned upon in public establishments.

Everything I know about parenting I know from a one-sided perspective. I was parented to. I have been a recipient of parenting. Thumpin' good parenting if you ask me, but I guess I don't have another set of parents to compare.

I've never changed a diaper, drool and and snot still deeply disturb me on an emotional level. I've never had to spank an eight year old or ground a teenage girl.

 I've never spent all night rocking a colicky infant who just won't stop crying and won't sleep after hours and hours of asking the baby and God, why? What is wrong? Is it me? 

I've never felt the dread and panic of a child's first broken bone.

I've never felt the nagging guilt of other parents' criticism of my parenting.

I have no clue what it feels like to be a parent, and I never want it to be thought that I am speaking as someone who knows.

I speculate and observe.
Much like the wheels on the bus, that's how I roll.

From my years working around kids and students, I've observed a whole bunch.

I know that when a nine year old starts panicking about a lost sock, he's associating mom's love and approval with her statement, "don't lose any of your things."

I know that twelve fifth grade boys will follow you off of a cliff if they know that you love and accept them for their flaws and goofiness.

I know that a sixteen year old boy may not remember any of the Navigators Topical Memory System verses or any of the catechisms, but he will remember when you showed up to court to support him when he got caught with drugs at school.

I know that if what a student says at youth group is different than what they said on twitter, then twitter heard right.

I know that a a seventeen year old student smoking cigarettes in your backyard is not a sign of rebellion; it's a sign of feeling out of control in a conflicted home.

I know that the tiniest taste of the true love and joy of Christ will stay in your brain, haunting you and calling you back to Him until you surrender yourself fully in to His waiting arms.

I've learned a lot in my years serving this younger generation. Sure, compared to my other millennial compatriots running multi-billion dollar corporations and changing the face of Africa, I seem small and mediocre, but I am convinced that I have witnessed God transform more lives than Mark Zuckerberg.
By the way, for my non-millennial readers, Mark Zuckerberg is the creator of Facebook who just recently turned 30 this last year.

Do I wish that my life was easier? Do I wish that I was full fledged youth pastor at a massive church with a 200+ sized youth group?

Nope. Not even a little bit.

God is so active and powerful here in Las Vegas! Many people criticize Las Vegas for its sinful entertainment and broken culture. 

I guess the way I see it, that sounds like every city. Anywhere. Las Vegas just invested more money in to it and is less concerned about keeping it covered up.

In my reading, I see Jesus going to where the sinners were and choosing to show the love of God there. He was even seen eating.... with sinners. Gross.

A fun question I get pretty often is, "What is wrong with this younger generation?"

That's a dang good question. What is wrong with them?
and by extension, what is wrong with me? I'm part of that awkward generation that was born in the early 1990s, so I'm trapped in the middle between the kids from the 2000s and the parents born in the 1980s and before.

What is wrong with this generation? What is it about these kids that make them the way they are? People say that this generation is one of the worst; moral relativity, technological consumption, vanity, laziness, greed, violence, entitlement, and complacency.

Does that about sum it up?

Do you want to know what's wrong with kids these days? The same thing that was wrong with every single generation before them.


I think we're just given more and more resources to be able to be comfortable in our sin.

We live in a culture that tells you that you need to rely on yourself. Independence and superiority is the paramount of human existence, and if you're not on top, you're on the bottom.

We spend trillions of dollars trying to elevate ourselves and glorify our accomplishments and make ourselves out to be "special". Since when did losing teams get ribbons and trophies?

We, as a culture, have compromised excellence for acceptance. Hard work is viewed as "old school" or primitive. Our reliance on our technology to do our thinking and heavy lifting has made us lazy and has cost us our intimacy with each other.

Yet here I am.


I am a hypocrite. A few weeks ago, I was talking to PJ about my inability to sit still and be alone in the quiet without distractions or music or tv.

Technology and my lack of discipline has robbed me of my attention span and ability to carry on a good conversation.

And with the increase of technology, there is a decrease of personal accountability and responsibility. Instead of baby sitters, we have xbox, instead of encyclopedias, we have iPhones. There are students in our high schools who don't know how to read because they have never been forced to.

It blows my mind to see how the social dynamic has changed just in my lifetime. I grew up in Tucson, my best friend and I outside in the streets, beating each other with sticks and throwing frisbees and balls. That was everyday. Not planned events or long weekends of good weather. We sat on the brick wall and made fun of each other and explored the overgrown ditch next to our house.

Technology is our biggest blessing and biggest curse. But technology is not the antagonist.

In Star Wars, the Death Star was not the bad guy: it was the Emperor.

The antagonist is us. We are the problem. The heart is an idol factory. We find things that give us what we believe God cannot provide for us.

That is idolatry.

That is not new.

The very first original sin was caused by Eve's desire to be God. The snake (Satan) convinces her that God is holding out on her and lying to her about the fruit. He tells her that not only is God holding out on you by not letting you have the fruit, He doesn't want you to have it because it will make you like God, knowing good from evil.
And with that, Eve was seduced.

The human soul was created to crave God. The bible teaches us that God wants us to live full, abundant lives. We learn that real, full, perfect satisfaction in life and eternity comes from an intimate relationship with Christ. Humans were designed to be in community with our creator.

But if we aren't in community with God, the craving remains, and instead of God satisfying our desires, we search for things to fill our emptiness; money, relationships, things, entertainment, drugs...

But nothing on Earth can fill that God-shaped hole.

Our reliance on anything besides Christ leaves us empty. If you want life long satisfaction, you can't rely on something that has an expiration date.

There is a solution to the brokenness in our world. I've seen it. Witnessed it. Christians.

A lot of people bash on Christians or the term "Christian" because they don't see what the heart of Christianity in its Christians. In the first century church, Antioch nicknamed the followers of the Way "Χριστιανός" meaning followers of Christ.

Mohandas K. Gandhi once said "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.

This is not a guilt trip. This is not meant to be a judgement. This is our opportunity for the world to see who Christ is. That's why we are still here right now. That is the reason that we were not immediately jettisoned to heaven the moment of our conversion.

"Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."

Did you catch that? We are ambassadors for Christ. God is making His appeal through us. We are the image of the invisible God. We are the Church, given the unlimited and awesome power of the Holy Spirit, designed to represent Jesus Christ while He is not here.

We can't lean back and look at the television and say, "It's no use trying to change the world. We'll just have to wait til Jesus gets back." God is on this planet right now in the form of the Holy Spirit choosing you to make a difference in this world. The mission of God is to reconcile the relationship that we had with Him in the Garden of Eden. We are His poster children, His pamphlets, His representatives.

Jesus did not come to Earth and establish Himself as emperor over Israel. He came and lived a holy life in His community with His neighbors. He blessed the people around Him with the love and grace and mercy of God. He made a difference in His local community that spread like a purifying fire and changed the course of world history forever. Any secular historian will agree with you on that.

We as the older generation have the ability to set the example and influence the younger generation.

We as the younger generation have the ability to disrupt the downhill trend of cultural norm and live an intentional life that is Christ shaped.

Do not underestimate the abilities of God. God used one man to form a nation committed to the Lord, He used a couple fish and pieces of bread to feed over 5000 people, he used one man to minister to communist Russia.

Christ is the cure to the world's sickness. We are the nurses in the waiting room: "The doctor will see you now."

Nate TB