Noah: The Watchers

I finally went and saw the movie Noah. There has been controversy surrounding this movie since it first came out by the general Christian population in regards to its content and message. I’m sure I will post an official review to follow this article, once I get over the fact the Russell Crowe didn’t go gladiator on as many people as I wanted. However, I want to touch on one of the major elements first: The Watchers. When I first heard of their inclusion in the movie I was quite confused. Who are they? Why would they be included in this story? Why are they some strange combination of rock monster and angelic being? Here is some research on what I have found. I hope this tapers some of the overreaction of the unbiblical nature of Noah in this specific area.

Two places I want to encourage you to read. The book of Daniel and the book of Enoch. You may not recognize the latter because it is not found in our Christian or Hebrew bibles. However, it is included in the pseudepigrapha. Within these two books you will come to several references of the Watchers and the role they played in early society. Listed below are some links to check out to help make up your own mind on the Watchers.

http://www.openbible.info/topics/watcher

http://www.redletterchristians.org/noah-watchers-panic/

Click to access 9781598564891-ch01.pdf

The Afterlife in Apocalyptic Literature

http://www.infowars.com/in-noah-the-fallen-angels-are-the-good-guys/

http://jsp.sagepub.com/content/19/4/277.short

My hope is that you do some research before speaking out about the nature of the Watchers, whether you agree or disagree on their presence in a pre-historical world. While personally I find their nature awkward, I would still want you to be informed on the subject. I have done my best to compile some scholarly articles with some reasonable readable ones. Good luck!

Why is Youth Ministry Important? (3/3)

…Because intentional community is vital in the life of a Christian.

The question today is:    Are you surrounded by intentional community?

So what is intentional community and what does it look like in the life of a Christian?

Intentional community can simply be defined as placing or purposefully surrounding yourself with people who build you up, give you biblical guidance, grow in Christ together, and hold you accountable. At the same time, intentional community is surrounding yourself with people who do not know Christ and his ways or spiritually immature, but who you are intentional modeling Christ for.

Community is living in relationship with others. Without community we rely on ourselves. When we rely on ourselves, we are relying on broken machines who are missing an important part. Even those who wouldn’t say they are outgoing still need community because our being exists in community. God is One, but God exists in relationship (Father, Jesus Christ, & Holy Spirit), therefore if we are made in his image, we exist to live in community.

Many times we exist in community, but have no purpose. Our families or homes are a community. We are part of a work community. We are part of a community because of our kids. We are part of a community because we go to school there. We are part of a community because we all play video games together, or sports together, or even show up on Sundays for church together.

Intentional community is having a purpose for being in community. Jesus surrounded himself with 12 disciples, so that he could intentional minister, build up, and mold them. We forget that God has purposefully placed us in every community, so that we can disciple people around us. Being intentional is not always easy because of the trouble it may bring, but Jesus didn’t promise it easy. We exist to show people Jesus’s love, so that they may see the Father’s love, so that they will show others the love of the Father in the communities that they exist in. In essence, we make disciples who make disciples.

Instead of living out intentional lives, we focus on our kids, our jobs, our family, and even our personal interests. Why? We like to exist. We like to be comfortable. It’s too easy to focus on our agenda for the day, rather than God’s plan for our day. Our connection with God doesn’t impact our lives outside of Sunday mornings. It’s too easy to fall into this lifestyle pattern and it’s too hard to change it by ourself.

We need God’s guidance and His Spirit to direct our day.

Why is youth ministry important?

Because if done right, it provides intentional community for students to be built up and sent out with a mindset of discipleship and kingdom work, breaking the pattern of simply existing.

Count the Cost

Lately, one word has been bombarding my mind. I have seen it everywhere. I have heard about it or spoken to people about it.

GRACE.

Funny little word. Some people define grace as the prayer before they say before meal times. It can also be used as a name. Many of us think of the song Amazing Grace. It is also one of the main elements of Christianity, well actually it describes an action.

Grace is twofold. You cannot earn it, but it costs you. To accept the grace of Jesus Christ costs you your life. To believe you have been saved by grace through faith means you are somewhere along the discipleship continuum.When you are somewhere along the discipleship continuum you are being changed. You are being changed not by your work or action, but by the Holy Spirit. Continual surrender and self denial manifests itself out of love. Love that Jesus demonstrated on a cross for you. Instead of death and eternal separation from God, which we deserve, we have access to eternal life through Jesus (Romans 3:21-26; 6:22-23). In essence, defining grace as an act of love through receiving a reward when punishment is due. This idea, this action, completely reworks the idea of justice.

In my brokenness, this is a hard thing to swallow. I want to be able to work for it. I want to be able to justify some reason that I deserve such a gift. But I can’t its free. Grace is the ultimate act of love.

Yet, at the same time it costs. See when you accept Jesus’ free gift of grace you are accepting His commands, His lifestyle, His attitude, His Spirit (1 John 2:4-6). That lifestyle, that way of thinking is much more difficult than the ways of this world. Acceptance of His grace is accepting death to yourself. The call to accept grace is the same call that He extended to His disciples when he started His ministry. It was a simple two word call, “Follow Me.” When the first disciples left their homes it cost them something. It was going to cost the rich man something (Matt. 19:21). The reward they got in return was more than they could have ever imagined and soo worth it! Grace was part of the discipleship process! it wasn’t always first and it doesn’t always come later, rather it permeates the whole process being at attribute of love.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and surely I will be with you always to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:18-20)

As we call people to follow Jesus, we must show teach them about the free gift of eternal life through Jesus–grace–while telling them the cost of surrender and obedience to the narrow road (Matt. 7:13-14). All this must be done with love!

My deepest fear is that in today’s world we will show someone Jesus with all benefits and no cost. That we will only present the acceptance of grace, without the surrender of life. My prayer is that this does not happen.

Basics

God has been teaching me a lot lately. it has been shaking up much of the way I think and view much of the present reality in which I live. Making disciples has been at the top of that list. What does it look like to make disciples in a culture that is largely not Christian? How do I go about making disciples when most people think they already are one? What is a disciple?

Because of these questions, I have been diving into Scripture and trying to look at what it means. Even when I do this I get more questions about calling, wold view, Christian Nation, and free will. Now, I am not going to try an answer all of these questions, but God has been showing me where to start.

In Youth Group, we have been doing a Francis Chan series called BASIC. In this series he challenges us to re-evaluate our stance with God. This desire for us to re-evaluate roots out of the problem that the church in America doesn’t look like the church in the New Testament. He wants us to go look at the BASICs of the faith and evaluate what we do against what is going on in the New Testament and the Bible. This series changed the way I look at my own spiritual journey, when I was introduced to it just over a year ago. This theme of BASIC has really caught my attention. When you think of BASIC you most likely think of BASIC training like they do in the Army. WHat they do here from what I understand is prepare you for battle. You learn, grow, workout, are challenged, there are new rules, new customs, new stories and the way you think and behave is transform, so that you are fit to operate in the Army.

God has been kind of doing that with me. He has been reshaping and reorienting me to how I make disciples. He has taken something, like BASIC, and used it to teach me some basics of disciple making. I have never been a very disciplined person. That it not naturally who I am. For as long as I can remember, I have always tried to establish a routine. Most people like routines. I cannot keep a routine to save my life. In other words, I have poor self discipline. This was evident when I got to college. I struggled to roll out of bed and make it to an 8 o’clock class or any class before 10. As a result, two of my best friends would wake me up for class countless mornings, earning me a wonderful nickname. In high school, I couldn’t stick with any weight gain program for football; and now, without an organized sport in my life, I struggle to workout on a consistent basis. This lack of desire rolled over into my spiritual life as well. I never could consistently pray each night or before meals, forgetting here or there. I never established a daily reading plan to stay in God’s Word and anytime I would try and start, three weeks later I had stopped. I had/have poor self discipline. So what?

You cannot make disciples without discipline.

The call to make disciples has been something that we are rediscovering and redefining in our American Church. We are all called to be disciples and then go make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20). The basic truth is that disciples emulate what you do. You train them to follow Christ and in many cases, follow you as you follow Christ. If we don’t have the self-disicpline to follow Jesus, then why do we think our disciples will? Parents, if you don’t have the discipline to read and pray every day, then why do you think your kids will? Peers, if we don’t have the discipline to study God’s Word or attend class, then why do we think our friends will? This aspect of self-discipline overflows into all areas of out life and all the people we are surrounded by. Most importantly, if we want to reach people for Jesus, then we have to be self-discipline in our own following of Him.

Well, now I get to tell you what a miracle God did. Now facing practical ministry and real life fast approaching God really began impressing upon my heart that I need to become more self-disciplined. I need to return to a basic truth of following Jesus. In letting the Word really change me, along with my wife Ruth, have began to read our Bible daily and journal. I don’t know how to journal. I didn’t even know where to start, but God is teaching me. Something even stranger has happened; I am getting up on my own to attend a class that I am not paying for, but am willfully going to learn. Did I mention it’s at 8am. Other disciplines have taken hold such as, no TV during dinner and no technology for 1 hour after waking up to spend time with God.

If we want to begin making disciples and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, it starts with our own self-discipline to desire God and foster our relationship with Him. Our focus and our desires must turn from us to God and get back to the basic truth of personally spending time with Him.