If You Want to Influence a Culture, Encourage a Young Colleague

While I was in Tempe last week for a Campus Crusade event as ASU, I carved some time from a very busy schedule to hang out with Matthew Mittelberg, the young son of Christian Case Maker, Mark Mittelberg. Matthew is leading an apologetics club on the campus of Grand Canyon University and is already a very gifted communicator. I’ll confess there are times when I feel like an old man in the company of young men and women like Matthew, but I love the passion and energy of young like-minded Christians, and I appreciate the opportunity to influence the culture through them.

Like my own sons, Matthew has a dramatic head start as a Christian thinker and communicator. I came to faith at the age of 35. I didn’t have a deep relationship with any Christians at the time, and I had no strong Christian influences in my life. Without a mentor or role model, I felt like I had to work through the evidence and claims of Christianity on my own. Many years later however, as I was preparing to write my own book and start a modest journey as a public Case Maker, members of the apologetics community surrounded me with support and encouragement. While I wasn’t much younger than any of them (and was, in fact, older than some), they recognized I was the “new kid” on the block and surprised me with their generosity, wisdom and assistance. I was humbled by the response, and began to look at my own sphere of influence, searching for young men and women I could encourage in a similar way.

Those of us who hope to influence the culture for Christ typically think of our own efforts to communicate and reach the world. What can I write today? What can I say? How can I effectively use the internet to promote and defend the Christian worldview? Like others, I’m guilty of viewing my influence through the narrow lens of my own efforts. As a guy who started this season in my 50’s however, I’ve come to realize the limits of my own impact and the role I can play as an encourager. My questions are starting to change: Who can I inspire as a young Christian Case Maker? What small piece of wisdom can I provide to someone who is a few steps behind me in this journey? How can I impact the younger generation of Christian Case Makers? I know I won’t be writing and speaking 30 years from now, but there are men and women out there who will be. What can I do to make them even more effective?

The young people in my life are far more likely to have a deep impact on the culture than I will. Think about the role young people play in shaping our society. Young people influence the culture through pop music, art, movies, video, and professional sports. In addition, young people are the demographic target of movie makers, media moguls, technology producers and culture shapers. Imagine if our young Christian men and women had the wisdom and experience of their older Christian brothers and sisters. I can’t help but wonder what God could have done with me if “I’d have known then what I know now”. I want to make sure guys like Matthew Mittelberg start off with more than I did.

If you’re interested in influencing the culture, start rethinking your approach to include young people. Train them. Encourage them. Mentor them. Young Christians are tested more than any other age group in the Church, but they have the potential to do more than anyone else to meet the challenges and direct the course of the culture. It’s up to us to give them the tools and encouragement they need to survive the trials and change the world.

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Why Unforgiving People Are So Unforgiving

I was in the studio yesterday with Frank Sontag for his KKLA radio program in Los Angeles. We were talking about Cold Case Christianity and the transformation I experienced when I first became a Christian. As an atheist, I embraced a moral code very similar to the Christians I knew. I didn’t have to be a Christian to recognize what was morally virtuous and what was not (Romans 2:14-15); I spent nearly a decade as a police officer before I began to investigate the Gospels. During most of this time, I was quite judgmental of the people I arrested. I drew clear distinctions between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”, and I was happy to put bad guys in jail for as long as possible. An attitude of un-forgiveness dominated my professional life, and this attitude seeped over into my personal life on occasion.

When I became a Christian, my perspective on forgiveness began to change. In fact, this might have been the most dramatic change I experienced as a Christian. My heart softened. I became more forgiving. It didn’t happen as a matter of conscious effort (I didn’t try harder because I knew I ought to). Instead, I slowly became aware of my own fallen condition, and this heightened awareness led to my transformation. The people I worked with started to notice this change in my character even before I said anything about my interest in Christianity. In fact, I hid my investigation of Christianity from my partners for months. They knew me as a vocal atheist, and I knew I would take a beating once they found out I had changed my position. As a result, they saw the changes in my character long before they discovered I was a Christian.

I remember reading the Gospel of Luke repeatedly as a new believer. It was one of my favorite Gospels because I understood how it connected Luke’s Book of Acts to the case for early dating. One of Jesus’ parables was striking to me because it explained my growing attitude of forgiveness. In Luke Chapter 7, Jesus entered the home of a Pharisee named Simon:

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“Tent-Making” Christian Case Makers on Facebook

The growing interest in Christian Case Making has resulted in an explosion of “tent-making” apologists across the Internet. If you’re beginning to recognize your calling as a Christian Case Maker, there are a number of ways you can begin to make an impact on the culture. You can teach a class at your church, begin a blog or website, write a newsletter, start recording videos on YouTube, or inaugurate a new podcast. If this feels a bit intimidating, there may be an even easier way to get in the game. Most of us are familiar enough with Facebook to navigate and interact with our friends and family. This is also an excellent platform for initiating conversations bout the case for Christianity. Today I want to feature several Christian Case Making groups on Facebook. These groups are interactive, and once members join they have the ability to post and comment on all the content being discussed within the group. All of them were started by “tent-makers”. These faithful Christians come from a variety of occupations and lifestyles (I’ve listed the administrators for each group):                                        

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An Urgent Opportunity for “Tent-Making” Christian Case Makers

The renaissance in Christian apologetics has resulted in the rapid growth of the Christian Case Making community. As Christians begin to recognize their identity as Case Makers, they have taken to the internet to make the case for Christianity. Many have even pursued advanced degrees in Christian apologetics. But not everyone is destined to become a tenured Philosophy professor or internationally recognized Christian apologist. “One Dollar Apologists” recognize their special role as “tent-making” Christin Case Makers. If you’re beginning to hear God’s call on your life to become the case maker He wants you to be, you may be wondering where all this will lead. Today, I’d like to encourage you to consider an incredible opportunity. My friend Rick Schenker leads Ratio Christi, an international Christian Case Making movement growing on university campuses around the world. They can use some help from “One Dollar Apologists” Like you and me. From the Ratio Christi website:

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The Impressive Community of “Tent-Making” Christian Case Makers

The Christian community is experiencing an apologetics “renaissance”, and this resurgence of interest in Christian Case Making is being driven by an unexpected group of “tent-making” Christian Case Makers. Like the Apostle Paul, these avocational apologists draw their income from “conventional” careers (Paul was described as a tent-maker in Acts 18:1-3) as they evangelize, preach, make a case or serve. I’m proud to be a member of this growing group of “One Dollar Apologists”. In this post, I’d like to bring your attention to many of the tent-making Case Makers having an impact in our world today. If you are interested in apologetics, you’ve undoubtedly visited many of the websites I’ve collected here. In fact, you may not have realized these resources were being provided by people who are working in vocations similar to your own. As you scan this list of tent-making apologetics websites, take note of the variety of occupations held by the men and women behind the scenes:

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Ten Steps to Becoming an Effective “Tent-Making” Christian Case Maker

Many observers have noted a renaissance in Christian apologetics (aka: Christian Case Making) over the past several years. Much of this resurgence is taking place in the ranks of “tent-making” Christian Case Makers. “Tent-makers”, like the Apostle Paul, draw their income from conventional careers (Paul was described as a tent-maker in Acts 18:1-3), so they can evangelize, preach, make a case or serve as they have been called by God. I consider myself to be a member of this “Army of Tent Makers”; my income continues to come from my law enforcement employment, and it always will. It’s been difficult at times to juggle my vocational employment as a detective with my avocational calling as an apologist, but along the way, I discovered a number of helpful “tent-making” principles. These simple concepts may help you become a better “One Dollar Apologist” as well:

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Ten Reasons “Tent Makers” Make Great Christian “Case Makers”

People often ask me, “How can I make a living as a full-time Christian apologist (aka: Christian Case Maker) like you?” Even though I’m semi-retired from my career as a Cold-Case Detective (I still have one case pending this year), I’ll never be a vocational Christian Case Maker. My income continues to come from my law enforcement employment, and it always will. For many years, I juggled my vocational employment as a detective with my avocational calling as an apologist. It wasn’t always easy. There were years when I worked full-time, drove 12-15 hours a week, served 25 hours a week (or more) as a volunteer Youth Pastor, and attended seminary while dodging homicide callouts! My wife, Susie, was incredibly patient and supportive.  We eventually church-planted (after I graduated from seminary), and things got even crazier. I bet many of the “One Dollar Apologists” who read this blog have similarly hectic lives.

We are “tent-makers”. Like the Apostle Paul, we draw our income from conventional careers (Paul was described as a tent-maker in Acts 18:1-3), so we can evangelize, preach, make a case or serve as we have been called by God. There may have been times when you wished there was a way to make a living doing what God has called you to do as an apologist, but be careful what you wish for. God has you exactly where He wants you, because tent-makers make great Christian Case Makers:

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Home for Christmas

Few words better capture the emotion and the attraction of Christmas than home. The simply lyrics form the song, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”—originally written from the perspective of World War II soldiers—instantly inspire longing for that place in our memories (or in our dreams) where the warmth of family and the joys of the year’s most wonderful time of year come together.

The reason home has such universal appeal is simple. Home is the primary place where we are known and loved. There are no sweeter words than those you utter at the end of a long journey, especially at Christmastime: “I’m finally home.”

Yet for all its warmth and familiarity, there can be something disconcerting about home, and it’s not just the heated discussions that sometimes erupt, or the cruel words that occasionally slip out not long after we arrive. For all the charms and joys of home, something isn’t quite right. There’s a flaw that none of us have ever been able to fix. No matter how beautiful it is to go home, it’s never a place where we feel completely settled or at rest.

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Tests, Unemployment, Babies and Faithfulness

There are students who test really well regardless of the subject being tested on. I have never been one of those students. I struggled throughout school because of tests. I often joke that if I were given a multiple choice test on my own family, I’d likely fail that too. School tests are quite a bit different than the tests we may face throughout our lives. You may have faced a test of illness such as cancer. Maybe you’re still facing the test of loss of investments post the recession of ’07 and ’08.

With any test, it’s vital to be well prepared if there’s any hope of passing. But how can we prepare for some of life’s big tests placed before us?

I recently stumbled upon the story of Job found in the Old Testament. I was struck by a particular part of the story that happens pretty early on.

When We Fast

I got sick a week or so ago, and it was awesome.  The reason is that when I get sick, I don’t go to work, don’t do errands, and I don’t do chores – I rest and recover.  My method of recovery when sick often justifies hours of catching up on TV shows, or enjoying my XBOX – guilt free.  I mean, what else can I do when my choices are sit on the couch or lay in the bed…lest I infect everyone around me and wear my body down further?

This particular round of sick had me bingeing on a certain crime drama TV show that was taught, tense, and filled with great cliffhangers every step of the way.  The kind of stuff I can’t look away from.  And, it all served its purpose – I didn’t have to focus on my sore throat, my rising and lowering temperature, and the loss of hearing that comes from my body’s production of mucus that seems trapped between my ears.  I was able to distract myself from those pesky symptoms.  As long as the TV was on, everything else was off.

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