ARTIST: Create Culture

ARTIST: Create Culture

– All right dudes, Pastor Mark here welcoming you to join me for Real Men Wednesday nights live here at Trinity Church in Scottsdale or online at We’ll try and post it elsewhere, but they’re gonna ban me because I’m in the middle of a special sermon series called Act Like a Man. If you are offended by that, you need to watch it twice because you need a lot of work. In each sermon, I’ll go through the reasons why God made men, why it’s good to be a man, and how to be a man that is a blessing to women and children like Jesus Christ, the Godman, who is our perfect example. This is gonna be a fun time. It’s gonna be super theological, super practical, and as always, you’ll get a bit of comedy. So dudes, grab a Bible, grab a notebook, put your belt on, show up, get it together. See you on Wednesday. All right, best night of the week with the best guys in the world. Amen. Honored to have you. If you’re new, you did the right thing, you came to the right place, you’re with the best guys. And for those who are joining us online, thanks for doing so. This is Real Men. My name’s Pastor Mark. What we like to say is we build men up to bless women and children. And so this is a short series of talks and we’re talking about act like a man and it is a scripture in the New Testament, God says, act like a man. So the question is, okay, what is a man and how should he act? And this week we’re gonna deal with being an artist and creating culture. So let me just jump right in for the sake of time. The first thing we learn about God is that he’s creator and he’s creative. In the beginning, God created. This is the first line in the Bible. God created the heavens and the earth. That’s something called amerism. Heavens means everything up there. Earth means everything down here. What that means is God created everyone and everything and all of the materials that we use to create, they were created by God for us to be creative. And God is creator. And what this means is that God is also beautiful. One of the most overlooked attributes of God is that God is beautiful. How many of you, you just love the sunsets in Arizona, amen. It’s unbelievable. I mean, God could have just turned the lights on and off. Instead, he gave us sunrises and sunsets. I love hiking up in the mountains. I really like it up around Prescott, trees at about 6,000 feet elevation. And God could have put large condensers in, industrial filtration systems to keep the air clean instead he made trees. How many of you have looked at your baby and thought that’s beautiful? How many have looked at your baby mama? Said that’s really beautiful. God makes things beautiful. And so what this tells us is that God is not only creator and creative, he has a particular devotion to beauty. And he made us in his image and likeness, we’ll talk about this to create and to be creators, to be creatives and to pursue that which is beautiful. And so beauty is really an attribute of God. It’s a reflection of God. In the same way that a painting tells us about the painter, a song tells us about the songwriter. Creation tells us about the creator that he wants us to live in an environment that is beautiful, that is functional and is enjoyable. And human beings were made to live in that kind of context, created by God. Well then God makes us and here’s what we hear, that God created us to be creators and creative. Genesis 1:26-28, God said, “Let us make man,” that’s literally Adam or mankind, “In our image after our likeness.” So God’s a father we’re his sons and we carry forth some of his attributes, “And let them have dominion.” So the goal I really wanna stress is this, if you are a man, you have a sphere of dominion, God has given you a sphere of dominion with your family, with your business, with your work. You as head of that dominion have a responsibility to create a culture for life and flourishing, beauty and glory for God and others.

“Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, birds of the heaven, over the livestock, over all the earth at every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, male and female,” nice binary gender categories, “Male and female he created them and God blessed them.” Our God loves to bless his sons. “And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, have a lot of kids. Fill the whole planet, subdue it and have dominion.'” And so what God did, God made the world. He created the world, he created us. And he put us originally in a finished beautiful garden called Eden. And what he told the first son, Adam, our father, was

have kids expand and exercise dominion over all of planet Earth. Subdue it. Meaning use your God-given authority, your strength, your ingenuity, your intellect, your capacity to take the materials that I have provided and to utilize them to create culture and to make beauty so that there are environments for human life and flourishing. That’s our job as men. So as men, we like to build, we like to create, we like to fix, we like to innovate. And what this is called by theologians is something called the cultural mandate. And that is that God says, okay son, enjoy the garden. See what a finished product looks like. Now go harness every opportunity on planet earth. And so from the cultural mandate, God intends for us to explore the planet. He intends for us to take all of the resources and utilize them to build cities and civilizations and schools, to build governments, to build families, to build churches, to build ministries. And God wants this world to be filled with creativity by men who are created by him to create. And the result of that is what we call culture. And culture doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it’s created by men. If it’s created by good men, it allows life and flourishing. If it’s created by bad men, it brings death and destruction. And so just to give you an idea of what we’re talking about when it comes to culture, a man who’s had a great influence on my thinking over the years, he’s now a deceased missionary. His name was Lesslie Newbigin. He says, “By the word culture, we have to understand the sum total ways of living by a group of human beings handed down from generation to generation. Central to culture is language.” He goes on to say, “The language of a people provides the means by which they express their way of perceiving things and coping with them. Around the center one would have to group their visual and musical arts, technologies, law, social and political organizations. One must also include in culture a set of beliefs, experiences and practices that seek to grasp and express the ultimate nature of things that which gives shape and meaning to life. That which claims final loyalty.” And he concludes by saying, “I am speaking obviously about religion, religion including the Christian religion, is thus part of culture.” When we’re talking about culture, we’re talking about the environment that human beings live in. So fish live in water, people live in culture. If the water is dirty, the fish gets sick. If it’s clean, they’re healthy. If the culture gets polluted, then people are infected and affected. And if it is clean, then they can have life and flourishing and joy. Right now the problem is the culture that you are living in, it’s not great. The culture that you’re trying to raise your children in is even worse. And the future culture that those who are the culture makers are forming is honestly not going to bring human life and flourishing, it’s gonna bring death. And so what that means is as men, wherever we have dominion, we’re responsible for that culture. I can’t decide what happens at the White House, but I can decide what happens at my house and as men, rather than just being angry at all of the people who are making culture that is death, destruction and devastation. We’ll get into that in a moment. We need to use our energies to discern, okay, where I have dominion, how can I create a life giving godly culture so that the

people that I am responsible for, they have life and flourishing, that my wife is blessed, that my kids are blessed, that my grandkids are blessed, that my employees are blessed, that those who do ministry or life with me and part of the church family, that they are blessed in this human life and flourishing. ‘Cause I can’t control what happens out there, but you and I have a lot of control of what happens at our house and in God’s house. And so when we’re talking about culture, we’re talking about the mental, physical, spiritual, emotional environment in which people live. And as men, you can’t just allow people under your dominion to choose culture. The worst thing you can do is just hand your kid a screen and hope he figures it out. The last thing you should ever do is just look at your wife and tell her that she gets to independently of you decide what kind of culture he’ll have in your home. The two of you, husband and wife as vice regents ruling and reigning in your home. I want you to go home with your wife if you’re married and have this culture conversation that that is. What’s the environment? What’s the culture in our home and family? Is it life giving? Is it encouraging? Is it hopeful, is it joyful? Do we feel the fruit of the spirit in the lives of our family members or there are some things in the culture of our home that need to change. That information is not good. Those conversations are not helpful, that technology is not an asset. Those entertainment forms are no longer acceptable. Those people who want to come into our environment, they either need to honor our culture or they can no longer be in our environment. And it’s taking dominion and subduing just as God intended. So let me talk about culture. There are two ways to view culture. One is predominantly political, the other is primarily biblical. The way that most people view culture, it’s traditional versus progressive. Traditional is, let’s get back to the good old days. Progressive is that evolutionary thinking, new is improved, the future will be better. The Bible discourages both Ecclesiastes 7:10, “Don’t long for the quote unquote good old days. This is not wise.” The old days had some good things and some bad things. All of culture is infected and affected by sin. From Genesis 3, there was never an idyllic season where everything was good. And those who are more traditional, those who are more conservative, those who are more on the political right are the traditionalists. The progressives are those who think you know what, the future is better, new is improved. The past had a lot of oppression and suppression and repression and we need to be unleashed into our future. Well the Bible calls that the thinking of the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world speaking to God’s sons. But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” And it concludes with this, “Learn to know God’s will for your life.” So lemme say that these are the primary ways that most people who don’t understand the Bible or think in categories that are biblical view culture, the traditionalists are like, let’s go back to the old days. And the progressives are like, no, let’s change everything so we can have a better future. And this is the tension. Do we go back or do we go forward? Democrats wanna go forward, Republicans wanna go back. Conservatives wanna be more traditional and tied to the past. Those who are progressives and liberal, they think that the past was a lot of oppression and we need to get onto the future. And there’s this massive cultural tension that is particularly heightened in seasons like this politically, when we’re in the middle of the midterms, it’s like well do you wanna go back to the way we used to do life or do you want to go forward to a new way of life? Let me give you another way of looking at culture, a different way that only God’s sons can have. And it’s not about traditional versus progressive, it’s about kingdom down versus hell up. This is the language we use a lot at Trinity

Church. You’ll actually see the kingdom down T-shirt in the lobby. Let me read the verses and explain it. Jesus says, “Your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus’ most famous prayer is that the culture of heaven would come down and live with us. Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” It’s not backward forward, it’s up and down. And then Jesus’ brother James says, “This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but it is unearthly unspiritual demonic.” And he contrasts that by saying, “The wisdom from above is pure.” So when it comes to culture, let me make this as simple as I can. Most people it’s like, well do you want to go forward as a progressive or go back as a traditionalist? As a Christian, it’s different that we believe that the culture we live in is between two cultures, heaven and hell. When all the cultures, all the nations, all the languages of the earth come to an end, only two cultures will remain and endure forever, heaven and hell, everybody’s living in one of those two environments. And so now we live in the middle, we’re on the earth, we’re not in heaven yet. We’re not on hell, we’re not in hell yet. But every day the decisions we make, they either invite heaven down into our life or pull hell up into our life. These are the culture making decisions. Am I gonna lie? I’m pulling hell up and am I gonna tell the truth? Then I’m inviting heaven down. Am I gonna forgive them? That’s inviting heaven down. Am I gonna be bitter against them? That’s pulling hell up. Am I gonna do what God says? That’s inviting heaven down. Am I gonna disobey what God says? That’s gonna pull hell up. And here’s the big idea. Even if you’re a Christian, you’re not going to hell but you can pull hell up into your life. And it’s not just about living in heaven when you die. It’s about heaven visiting you before you die. And that is the culture that God created for you to live in eternally can come and reside with you. You can have the peace of the kingdom of God in your marriage because the spirit of God brings the presence of God and the peace of God and the culture of God. You’re not gonna have perfect kids and there’s no such thing as a perfect father. But the culture that you have with your relationship with your child, how you deal with one another, how you interact with one another, how you communicate to one another. Is it heaven or hell? Is it making it better or worse? Is it bringing life or death? And so as Christians, we’ve gotta ask when we’re looking at our lives, am I inviting heaven down? Am I pulling hell up? In our marriages, am I inviting heaven down or pulling hell up? With our children, am I inviting heaven down, am I pulling hell up? With our business, am I inviting heaven down, am I pulling hell up? And let me say this too, culture is two things. It’s what you teach and it’s what you tolerate. And as a man, this is where you need to exercise your dominion and your authority. ‘Cause you may say in this house, we do kingdom down, we don’t do hell up. But there’s always gonna be some people that want to come into your environment and they wanna bring hell with them. These are the people who literally are there to give you hell. We all know these guys, that guy, he’ll give you hell. Literally what it means is he’s gonna come to you and he’s gonna pull hell up and then put it in your life. And your job as a man who has dominion is to protect the environment, to protect the culture where you have authority and dominion given to you by God. And you can teach one thing, but

if you tolerate another, that’s what you get. You could say, you know what? In our culture, like here at Trinity Church for example, do we honor our wives, yes or no? Yes. But if we let guys come in and start just screaming out and mistreating and abusing their wives, those men will set the culture. And that’s not what we teach, but that’s what we’ll get if that’s what we tolerate. In this church are the men actively involved dads with their kids? Absolutely. I mean, good luck

finding anywhere probably on the earth where the men are this devoted to their kids. I mean it’s just beards and dudes playing with kids. I mean it’s wonderful. That’s the end zone, right? Masculine dads loving their kids, making memories, blessing, protecting, investing in their kids. That’s our end zone. And that’s the culture of heaven. That’s the kind of father that we have. That’s how he treats us as his sons. But if we let guys who are just yelling at their kids, cursing their kids, abusing their kids, if we allow that, if we tolerate that, then what we’re doing, we’re letting the worst people set the culture. It’s not just what you teach, it’s also what you tolerate in your sphere of dominion and authority that sets the culture. So you could say, you know what? In our family, my wife and I, we respect each other. We honor one another, we treat one another well. And then maybe there’s some relative that comes in and just brings hell into the marriage and just starts giving hell to you or your wife. As head of household as man with authority and dominion. You gotta say, that’s not our culture. Now if you wanna be part of our environment, you need to understand how we do life, relationship, controversy and conflict. How many of you we’re coming into the holiday season? This isn’t in my notes, but I’m just thinking about it. We’re coming into the holiday season and you see a little hell on the horizon. You’re just like, I don’t wanna do the holidays with those people ’cause I don’t like the cultural environment that they bring. I don’t like the way they talk, I don’t like the way they act, I don’t like the way they treat us. I don’t like the way they treat the kids. Just literally, it just feels like a little trip through hell. And that’s not the environment that I want to be in. Then as a man, you’ve gotta decide how do we get them to abide by our environment or how do we get them out of our environment? If you wanna be with me, you wanna be with my family, you wanna be with my wife, you wanna be with my kids, you wanna be in my house, I have dominion. I get to decide the culture. And if you wanna be a part of it, you need to agree to how we do life together. And if you don’t, I love you, but you’re not welcome in our environment and you don’t get to determine and change it. And what a lot of you men will do two things. Number one, you’re gonna get to the point where you just erupt. You’re just gonna get sick of it. You’re gonna be like, you know what? They’ve given me enough help. And then you blow up and then you’re gonna lose your authority because now you’ve been angry and ungodly. Some of you men will just silently endure this. But you’re gonna be miserable and you’re gonna painfully see what it does to all the people that are under your authority. You’re gonna see it eroding at the joy of your wife. You’re gonna see it diminishing the health of your children. And then God forbid, once your grandchildren are born, you’re gonna start to see it as a generational curse now infecting and affecting generations of your family. So don’t just silently suffer and don’t angrily respond wisely figure out what does it look like for us to live heaven down, not hell up? And who or what are we tolerating that is contradicting what we are teaching. Now that being said, the reason I say this is everything God creates, Satan counterfeits, everything God builds, Satan breaks. That everything that is cultural is profoundly and deeply spiritual. This is why you see certain cultural leaders in the Bible are literally used of Satan. Pharaoh in the Old Testament, Herod in the New Testament. You see this with Judas Iscariot in the days of Jesus. And so when you’re dealing with culture, you’re not dealing with things that are neutral, they’re deeply profoundly spiritual. They’re good or evil, they’re darkness or light. They’re the spirit of Christ or anti-Christ. Now that being said, taking it beyond your personal culture and your personal dominion, maybe at work or at home or in a ministry, I wanna talk a little more broadly and culturally and culture is created upstream and it’s consumed

downstream. How many of you would say just looking at the current culture that our western world is in, you’re very frustrated, maybe a little anxious and not encouraged. Amen. And you look at it, it’s like it’s not looking good. So then the question becomes how does culture get changed? And it used to be thought that the way you would change culture is you would get the majority of people to agree to something and then the culture would change. And what we find now is it’s not the number of people but the placement of people that infects and affects culture for good or evil. In the same way some of you men have more financial capital and some of you men have more cultural capital. The guys with more financial capital, they have a bigger impact. And those with more cultural capital, they too have a larger impact. So there’s a sociologist, just a little nerd rabbit trail, his name is James Davidson Hunter. And he has done some great work looking at how culture is made and changed. And he came to this conclusion that sometimes very small percentages of the population have very big consequences on the culture. I’ll give you two examples today, Jewish people are not a large percentage, but historically have had a large impact on culture as have homosexuals in the gay community, a small percentage has a big, I mean, you get a month, you get a month, left-handed people don’t get a month, there’s more left-handed people, I mean I get St Patrick’s Day, that’s all I get. I don’t get St. Patrick’s month. And and what you’ll find is that certain groups that aren’t large in number are large in cultural impact. And for those of us who feel like that hell up culture that is counterfeit just continually gets shoved down our throats and forced into our kids’ curriculum and just exacerbated on social media platforms, it feels like an avalanche. Well it’s because it’s an avalanche. And so some years ago I was in East India and I’ll never forget there was this sort of this polluting plant, this business that was dumping all of this sewage into the river and then the river was flowing downstream. And as we drove along the river, it just, it smelled like Satan farted. It was the worst thing I’ve ever smelled in my whole life. And then downstream I saw women going to the river, taking the water out, trying to filter it and then boil it so that they could use it for their family. And the point is this, you couldn’t do anything downstream to fix this problem. The problem was upstream. Until you changed the point of pollution that was invading the water source, everybody was gonna have dirty water downstream ’cause a few people upstream decided that that’s how the water would be. So you’ve got literally probably hundreds of thousands of people living downstream from the river and a few business owners at the head of the river decide what the water’s going to be. Culture is like that. It’s consumed downstream, but it’s created upstream. This means that right now one of the most powerful people in our state is whoever is teaching the lawyers at Arizona State University, they now are shaping the legal minds of an entire generation that will set law and policy. That’s a big power. The people who control the social media platforms, they decide what gets throttled and what gets unleashed. And just a handful of people that are upstream, they decide what flows downstream in culture. And we now know this more than ever because we understand cancel culture and we understand the high jinx of social media. I mean, a couple weeks ago I read a bible verse from Timothy, it’s about a man going to work and 400,000 kids on TikTok watched it because apparently going to work is like shocking and controversial. So I got banned and kicked off for hate speech. It’s like, so it’s like, yeah, so, hey, go to work. And the guy’s like triggered ban. Oh good. But somebody’s making a decision somewhere to set an algorithm and to force feed you and your kids a steady diet of literally just poison water. This is where politicians are upstream,

those that make certain media decisions and platforms, they make these decisions. So here’s the big idea, that’s the culture that they’re sending downstream. But you gotta decide what culture comes to your family and your sphere of dominion. You’ve gotta decide that like it’s a whole, but don’t let your kids swim in that river. Don’t keep giving your kids a cup and telling them to go drink from that river. Ultimately at the end of the day it’s like, this is hell up, It’s not heaven down. This isn’t gonna make us healthy and joyful and godly and benefit and bless. So that being said, we’ll talk a little bit more. Four cultural observations. Number one, all culture is marred by human sin. There’s no perfect culture. Every culture has got false flaws and failures because we’re sinners, there are constantly going to be problems in culture. Number two, the worst culture is youth culture. I’ll read a verse from Isaiah 3 says, “Youth suppress my people, women rule over them. My people, your guides lead you astray. They turn you from the path.” Isaiah speaks against prophetically the culture that was getting formulated in that day. First thing he says is, you got all the kids in charge. Why are the kids in charge? Today culture is dominated by youth culture. The youngest people who know the least influence the most. Music, social media platforms, entertainment industry, youth culture. So then people are trying to wear the same clothes as kids, grandmas are wearing midriffs. And you’re like at least pray about it. I mean it’s just, it’s weird, you know it’s just a weird day when everybody’s trying to look young and act young and be cool and be hip. And as soon as you hit a certain age in that celebrity subculture, you’re no longer palatable and you’re canceled because it’s all about youth culture. He says, “Youth suppress my people, women rule over them and the leaders are cowards and they don’t say anything.” So all culture is marred by sin. Youth culture is the worst culture. And here’s our problem today. Culture making is dominated by the left, the far left. They have gotten themselves way upstream. This started with something called existentialism. It was a philosophy in largely France. And they realized if we could control the stories and the plays and the music and the culture making, we could shape and inform a whole generation. And so what happens is this has been part of the progressive left’s playbook from the beginning. And what we see today, there are two forces at work regarding culture, a culture that creates and culture that cancels. There’s something called traditional theory and it’s about how to build a culture, how to build a family, how to build a church, how to build a government, how to build an economy, how to build a marriage, how to build a legacy. It’s about traditional theories about building. Conversely, critical theory is about breaking. How do we break government? How do we break marriage? How do we break gender? How do we break family? How do we break wealth? How do we break legacy? And so today I write about this in Christian theology versus critical theory. Today what you have is you have a lot of people who are trying to build things culturally, and then you have a whole number of other people that are seeking to attack and destroy what is being built. And so this is where we get the culture war. Now the problem with critical theory, it points out everything that is wrong, but it doesn’t know how to make it right. It criticizes the work of other people, but it doesn’t get any work done. It tells everybody that they’ve done it wrong, but it doesn’t show us how to do it right. We saw that as a great cultural experiment recently, defund the police. So traditional culture, let’s build law and order. Critical theory, et’s dismantle law and order and see what happens. Okay, now we’re all living in “The Purge” meets a “Scooby Doo” episode on Halloween, that’s where we’re all living. Like, oh, it didn’t work. Yeah, of course it didn’t work because you can tear something down. But unless you can replace it with something

better, it’s like Jesus’ principle of the seven demons. You can cast a demon outta somebody, but if you don’t replace it with the Holy Spirit, you get seven more demons, which is different but not better. And what we keep doing at culture, we say, well I don’t like the way that’s done, let’s destroy that. Okay, but what are you gonna replace it with? You wanna break what was built, but do you have an opportunity to build anything better? And we don’t. And many of you are feeling this. Things that are built are being attacked and destroyed. Christian beliefs, love of family, gender, marriage, sexuality, the things that we care about. So as God’s men, we can either be angry about those who are attacking and destroying and deconstructing culture, or we can decide, you know what I’m gonna get to build, I’m gonna build culture. I’m gonna build culture for my life, my marriage, my kids, my family, my church, my business. Wherever I have dominion, I’m gonna start building something. And there’s a great guy in the Bible who’s an example of a cultural creative and a crater. His name is Bezalel. If you wanna read this and you’re creative guys, he’s in Exodus 31-40. Let me just read this quick. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘See I have called by name Bezalel and have filled him with the spirit of God.'” He’s the first man in the Bible that is called spirit filled. And God fills him with the spirit to be a creator and a creative to start building something. And for you young men, you need the spirit of God before you go build something. If you’re a young aggressive man, you hear this, you’re like, yeah, I’m sick of sitting on the couch, it’s time to get active. I want to go do something, I wanna create something. I wanna build something. First thing you need is the spirit of God. Otherwise you’re not gonna be living heaven down. You’re gonna be living hell up. “With ability and intelligence, knowledge and all craftsmanship to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, bronze, cutting stones for setting, carving wood to work in every craft.” This guy, he’s a creative, “I’ve appointed with him Oholiab, I’ve given to all able men a ability.” So the men all have these abilities to build something, “That they may make or that I have commanded you.” And then he says, “The tent of meeting, the ark of the testimony, the mercy seat that is in it, and all the furnishings of the tent, the table in its utensils, the pure lamp stand with its utensils, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin, its stand and the finely worked garments, the holy garments for Aaron the priests and the garments of his sons for their service as priests and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the holy place, according to all that I have commanded you, they shall do.” So God grabs this guy and he’s like, I’m gonna fill you with the spirit. I’m gonna fill those guys with this spirit. And I want you guys to go start building, building things together. And men, you need to know that ultimately this is why we’re here. We’re here not to just encourage you, but for the spirit to fill you and you to get a vision of what God has for you to build. Some of you, God has a company for you to build. Some of you, it’s a marriage, it’s a legacy, it’s a family, it’s a ministry. And for many of us, we’re gonna work together. And that’s exactly why we’re here. We wanna be filled with the spirit of God and we want to have our gifts and abilities and we wanna build some things together. Some of you guys are starting companies together. You’re starting to generate revenue and profit. Some of you guys who own companies are starting to develop and pull up and employ the younger guys who need to get their sea legs under ’em and get to work. And that’s what he’s talking about here saying, you know what, everybody’s gonna build their culture and they’re gonna try and attack and deconstruct our culture, but as God’s men, we need to be filled with the spirit of God and we need to build the things that God has called us to build. And so what you see here, you see that

all of this is building a worship house for God. But you see the guys who are involved, wood workers, metal smiths, guys that are good with garments, guys that are architects, guys that are designers and builders, and they’re using all of their different skills and abilities. And what you see here is that culture making and creating does not need to be dominated by the progressive left. It can also be dominated by men of God who are filled with the spirit of God. And one of the things that I believe is that most men don’t think of themselves as artists and creatives and creators because that sounds effeminate and lefty. But how many of you guys, how, how many of you guys like me, you like going to Bear Jackson and see what they do at the cars? True or false, that’s an artist, that’s amazing. I go to the Good Guys car show and I’m like, that’s incredible. How many of you guys do woodworking? How many of you guys do metal work? How many of you guys build guns or bows? How many of you guys are tattoo artists? How many of you guys do architecture? How many of you are design build guys in large companies? How many of you like interior design? You like lighting, you know how the world works and you like to take resources and pull them together and create something that is an environment that’s beautiful and people can live safely. God has always had his men doing creative, artistic things and our culture tends not to see those as the arts. But here’s what I’m telling you. A guy who remodels an old car, a guy who does woodworking, a guy who does metalsmithing, a guy who turns wrenches on a motorcycle is more of a creative than a drag queen. And you just need to see yourself ’cause that’s not very creative. You just need to see yourself as a creative made by your creator. And it’s very important for healthy, heterosexual, godly men to be creating things and to creating culture because otherwise the world will not have an option and the people that you care about will not have a culture that they can live in. Last few things I just wanna share. This leads to attention historically in the church. And that is as God’s people, should we be a monastery or a missionary? And what I’m talking about is our collective life is a church family. I’m not gonna stand before God and give an account for Western culture of the United States of America, but I will for me, my wife, my kids, and our church family, I’m gonna stand before God and give an account for that. And so it’s worth thinking about how we do life, there is this tension historically, should the church be a monastery where God’s people get together, it’s safe, they’re protected, they can educate their kids, they can fall in love, they can pay their bills, they can worship God, they can get a break from the craziness. Or should the church be missionaries, outreaching lost people who need Jesus? I can’t get into it, but Jesus has this high priestly prayer in John 17. He says, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” And what he’s praying is that we would be both. So here’s what I need you to know. The way we function as a church family is a bit like a monastery. We’re gonna teach the Bible, we’re gonna worship God. All right, if you’re a heterosexual guy and you’re single, we hope and pray you find somebody to marry and that it’s a girl, that’s what we’re praying for. We’re shooting for. And if your dad brought you, now you know why. So, and whatever God has for you to do, we want to help you to do it because you matter. Your marriage matters, your kids matter, your grandkids matter, your business matters. Your legacy matters. You matter. And if the church isn’t for God’s people, then they’ve got nowhere to go. ‘Cause there’s nowhere else that’s for God’s people. So we wanna live as a monastery where we care for, we love, we serve one another. But then you gotta go to work and you gotta go out in the world and you’ve gotta have relationships. And the goal there is to be a missionary and to say,

hey, why don’t you come hang out with us at Real Men? Why don’t you come to church with me? Why don’t you come over for dinner? Why don’t you leave that environment, that culture, that atmosphere that you’re familiar with, and come into a place you’ve never been. Come into a home where there’s peace and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Come into a church where the spirit of God is present. Come into a room filled with men who are under the control of the Holy Spirit. And just see if being in that environment, being in that atmosphere, being in that culture doesn’t awaken in you the possibility that Jesus’ life is the best life and that life with Jesus is the life you really need. And so we want to have this healthy, loving church family that then we can invite people to come in and to taste and see that the Lord is good. And much of that my friends, is simply cultural. That being said, last thing I wanna share, and I wanna thank you for doing that. There are dozens of men in this room. All they knew was the culture of this world. And they got invited here by a buddy or a coworker or a friend or a father. And they got to taste a little bit of the culture of heaven. It’s peaceful, it’s not anxious, it’s faith filled. It’s not angry, it’s hopeful, it’s not hopeless, it’s joyful, it’s not jaded. It’s strong, but it’s not aggressive. This is very different. Yeah that’s life with Jesus. That’s life by the spirit of God. If you’re a man who is led by the presence of God. The last thing is, when it comes to culture, I really want you to think about how to train your children. And so when it comes to culture, how many of you have arguments with your wife? Don’t answer just yet. There’s a qualifier over culture. Like the kids should watch that movie. No, they can’t watch that movie. Let’s, okay, we got Halloween coming up. How many of you right now, that’s the thing between you and your girl. My girl hates Halloween. Me, I’m like, I don’t know, kids can get dressed up, eat candy. She’s like, it’s demonic, it’s satanic, it’s witchcraft. We’re scaring kids. My wife is named Grace, but she doesn’t really act like it when we talk about Halloween, if I’m really honest with you. And I’m like, okay babe, whatever. We don’t have to hand out candy, I’ll just eat it. I’m fine with that too. So there are these things in culture where you’re like, well, do we do that or not do that? So I wanna give you three categories to discuss with your wife and also with your kids. And that is receive, reject, redeem. There are certain things in the culture that you can just receive. There are certain things in the culture you’ve got to reject. There are other things that you can redeem. You’re like, well that could be used bad, but we could use it good. So receive, I’ll give you an example. How many of you celebrate birthdays? Birthdays, right? There are only two guys in the Bible who celebrate their birthday. Pharaoh and Herod. And if you’re new, they’re bad guys. Amen, they’re really bad guys. Is it a sin to celebrate birthdays?

– [Audience Member] Yes.

– Okay, we found the one chief grandpa. So what happens is we can receive it. You know what it’s not, the Bible doesn’t say it’s a sin to celebrate a birthday. And it doesn’t say thou shall celebrate birthdays in first and second birthdays. It doesn’t say anything about birthdays. So we can receive that. So if you got a kid, have a good birthday party, you got a grandkid, have a good birthday party. Reject, what would it be some of the things in the culture that as men of God, you’re like, I just have to reject that? That can’t be in my life, that can’t be in my marriage, that can’t be in my family, that can’t be in my house. We reject that? Drag queen story hour. What’s that?

– [Audience Member 2] Tiktok.

– Tiktok, I mean, there you go. I just got me kicked off again, brother. Okay, there are certain things in the culture you’re like, you know what, we’re not gonna watch that movie. You know what, our kids are not going to take that class. They’re not gonna go to that school. They’re not gonna take that curriculum. You know what, that social media platform, we’re just gonna exit that. You know what, yeah, we don’t, we’re not going to be able to accept that. We just have to reject that. And it’s not because we hate you but it’s because we love him. And I wanna live heaven down, not hell up. And if you pulled hell up into your life, I love you and I want the best for you, but I can’t join you. And then the third is to redeem. Meaning it could be used good, it could be used bad. We gotta figure out where our conscience lies. Historically one example is Christmas. And Christmas was originally a pagan holiday. It was Saturnalia. Many of our customs come from Pagan holiday of Saturnalia. But because they had the day off work and it was a kind of a holiday in the nations, God’s people decided we’ll use that to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. So that’s what we did. And so we redeemed it, but there was a group of Christians that didn’t, they were called the Puritans. They actually worked on Christmas in protest. And so for us, there are things that maybe we can receive in the culture. Printing press is good. Not everything on the Internet’s bad. There are some things that are maybe good platforms for us or for our family or for our kids. We do need to watch our screen time. We need to make sure we have control over it. But there are some things that we can receive. There are some things we have to reject. Have to reject. It’s not that I reject you, but I reject that behavior ’cause again, culture is two things. It’s what I teach and what I tolerate. So I have to reject that ’cause I can’t tolerate that. I can’t let that into my marriage. I can’t let that into my family. I can’t let that into my kids. We’re Jesus people, we don’t do it that way. And then there are things that you can redeem. These are the conversations. Number one you have with your wife if you’re married. Number two, you have with your kids. And when it comes to raising your kids, they at some point need to learn how to discern what’s going on in the culture. And you’ve gotta help them think in these categories, well is that something we receive, reject or redeem? Let them talk. Make them think. Give the Holy Spirit an opportunity to awaken them. And class is always in session. And dad, you are the primary teacher. One of the things I used to do a lot with our kids, they would wanna watch a show and if I wasn’t a big fan of the show, here’s what I did, I’d watch it with them and we hit pause a lot and we talk about it. Hey, what just happened? What do you guys think about that? So we watch shows very slowly at my house. I don’t want them to just be a consumer of culture. I want them to be a critic of culture. I want them to think biblically and categorically. And I want to teach them how to do that before they leave my house. A lot of parents are like, don’t let ’em watch that. Here’s what I would say. Don’t let ’em watch that alone, but sit down and teach them why that is not the best way of life and why that is not our culture and the culture of heaven. And let them be discerning and critical and not just undiscerning consumers. That being said, I love you, it’s an honor to teach. We’ve got a special testimony for you tonight. Usually we do those live in the room. We’ll add it to the livestream tonight. It’s from a friend of mine, one of our guys Jen. He’s a cultural creative and they sat down and had a conversation on this and I think it’ll be a really good segue to end our time together.

– Hey guys, I’m Mark, director of Real Men here at Trinity Church and I’m honored to be joined by Jen, talented, gifted creative leader here. And thanks for being here today, Jen. I really appreciate it.

– Yeah, it’s great to be here.
– Can you tell the guys what you do outside of Trinity when you’re not leading worship here?

– Yeah, so my day job is, I work for, well I lead worship here on the weekends, mostly on Saturdays and help out with some of the creative planning. But my day job is, I work for an agency downtown. It’s a branding agency. So I run the film and media department. So we do like commercial ads, we do music videos, we do a whole bunch of things in the film and photography world. And so that’s what I’ve been doing for a couple years now. Before that was a worship pastor before that did weddings for seven years so wedding videography for seven years.

– So you’re the perfect guy to have this conversation with about culture. – Yeah, I don’t know about that but sure.

– You’re, talking to you about it, you’re really passionate about the subject and you live it every day.

– Yeah.

– So talk to the guys. How would you define culture and how do you go about creating it?

– Oh yeah, culture. Well, culture I mean it’s funny ’cause culture’s been, it’s changed so much I think in the last just five years, like it was the same for so long, for like 2000 years. Culture was mostly like agriculture. It was just plants. it was just taking the unfinished, unprocessed, raw goods that God provided and then taming them to be a place that’s habitable, that’s beautiful and it’s livable. It’s kind of what Adam and Eve did. They were like gardeners. They were the first ones to really acculturate the world that God gave them. And then somewhere later on, I think the last few hundred years, it really became like acculturating people like taking people and trying to shape them and mold them to fit a certain way to think and a certain way to process things and certain principles and to make them kind of think about life in a certain way. And so culture really has shifted to be about people. And so culture really to me is like, it’s a set of beliefs. It’s a set of principles that maybe a subgroup of people have about like what’s good, what’s livable, what’s beautiful. And so a subgroup of people believe that’s good, that’s beautiful, that’s where I want to be. That’s kind of what culture is. Now in the last few years it seems like culture is now like what I believe individually is good. So it’s not even a subgroup, it’s really just what the individual believes is good and beautiful, And so everybody’s kind of got their own

subcultures and their own lives. And you can see it in art, you can see it in film, you can see it in music. It’s become very individualistic. Not all cultures are like that. Some cultures are all about society, like the individual sacrifices, anything that they want to do and themselves, it’s all about the greater good of society. So I don’t care about my life, it’s all about the government or it’s all about the community. But our culture here in America, I’d say it’s very individualistic. It’s very kind of like what I believe is the greater good of society. And so that’s kind of a little bit about what culture is, but I think it’s just definitely shifted quite a bit in the last few years, probably more so than ever. And so it’ll be very interesting to see where it goes forward.

– So you mentioned the cultural mandate, what theologians call a cultural mandate. Going back God creates Adam and Eve and then Genesis 1:28, he says go and be fruitful and multiply. And work the land. And take that to mean make it beautiful, right? Is that accurate?

– Yeah, take it, raw, unfinished, unprocessed. Taking it and making it something different, something inhabitable, something beautiful. And it’s kind of what we do. I mean when we enter a home we just bought right? We go and we think about how we’re gonna make this place inhabitable something good for our family to enjoy. It’s similar to what happened with God for them in the garden of Eden. And so we take it and we try to acculturate our house, but it’s done in so many different ways. It’s not just in art, it’s done, like music is really simple. What I get to do is you take 12 notes, those are the raw resources and you put those notes in a certain way. You bring in instruments, you bring in music and lyrics and you’re trying to create something that’s gonna bring about a raw emotion out of somebody. Or it’s gonna tell a message, it’s gonna get them to think something that I would want them to think or tell them something about me that they don’t know. And so what I’m doing is I’m instilling culture into people through music. But you can do that through like a dissertation paper for school that you can take evidence, you can take variables, you put it on a piece of paper, you put it all together and then you’re trying to get people to understand a certain topic or lawyers do this with arguments, so culture really is just taking raw, unfinished, unprocessed resources, molding it together in a creative way with problem solving, critical thinking and then pushing it towards others to get them to see or think or believe something is good or something is beautiful. And so it’s really interesting.

– So it’s important to have a Christian worldview when it comes to culture? – Absolutely.

– Because if you don’t start from who God is and why he made us, then you end up going sideways.

– Yeah, absolutely.
– With respect to culture.
– Yeah, if you are not approaching it from a godly perspective, you get caught up in what we’re in

right now. Social media has a big part of it right now, which is subculture of everybody’s just on there. Every single ad or every single thing you would see on, let’s say TikTok, Instagram is someone acculturating you into something they believe is good. And so every single person individual is saying, this is good, this is good, this is how we should live. And you’ve got millions of people doing this all at once. If you don’t have an understanding of godly culture, how God intended those resources to be used, What does God say about art? What does God say about music, sex, all these different things. You start to believe or see all these different cultures and then they start to kind of mold into your life. And so if you’re not really critical, you’re not like thoughtful in thinking about how this, you would call it art, you’d call it creative resources kind of speaking into your life. You just start to change in your culture towards the world and away from what God had intended. And so you’ve gotta be thoughtful and you’ve gotta really be focused on what that piece is doing to you in that moment.

– Yeah. And so talking to the guys as we talked about this, we kind of hovered over three types of guys that exist. In culture you have a consumer, which I would define myself as that ’cause I’m not out, I don’t feel like I’m out creating culture. You have the critic, which Pastor Mark is certainly a critic of culture where he will explain, with a biblical worldview to us cultural issues. And then you have creatives like yourself. Talk to each one of those guys about sort of their involvement with, and the consumer consumes, but just sort of how they interact and involve with culture and what they should be thinking and doing in that respect.

– We’re gonna move you from consumer to critic right now. So a consumer is, it’s really you are just sitting there and you’re just absorbing the material that’s being sent towards you and you’re just absorbing it. You’re not thinking about it in terms of what is it doing to me? What is the message? What is it trying to say, what is it trying to get me to do? How is it shaping and forming me? The consumer is the guy at halftime of the Superbowl who’s just sitting there and just watching, and he’s not thinking about what he’s doing, he’s just kind of watching ’cause he’s just listening and he’s watching over all these ads. He’s watching the halftime show. He is wondering how many times do I have to see Rihanna act for me to probably change my ways? But like that is the consumer. The consumer is just letting it absorb into their life and not doing much about it or thinking thoughtfully about it. And most people are there. That’s why companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a Superbowl commercial. It’s ’cause they know they’re gonna get the most amount of consumers all at the same time. All just wanting to relax and just watch something. And so that’s why they do that. And there’s people behind those ads, hundreds and hundreds of people trying to get those little levers in you to push them to get you to do something. Could be as simple as like, go buy a Coca-Cola. It could be as deviant as change the way you think about morality. But they’re all trying to do that through those enculturation. The one I think that we all should strive to as men to be is the critic and the creative. So the critic, I think you’re right, Pastor Mark is great with this, is being able to see something and maybe they’re not able to do it themselves. Like they can’t write that song. Maybe they can’t film that, they don’t know have the actual equipment or the ability to film that commercial. But they can look at it and absorb and understand the messaging, understand what’s behind the messaging, understand why it was done in a certain way, and be critical and

thoughtful of it enough to know how, what they’re trying to do to change you and to acculturate you. I don’t say indoctrinated, I say acculturate ’cause acculturate could be good things, but they’re trying to get you to think about things in a different way. And so all creative is trying to do that. Some for the good and I would say most for the bad right now. But that’s where a critical thinker’s really, it’s really important. How are you absorbing this commercial? How are you absorbing this song? As men, I think you don’t have to be the guy with the glass of wine who’s swirling it around. He’s getting the oaky notes. You’re not that guy, but you can be the guy who’s watching a movie with your kids that hears something and is thoughtful about it and is then talking to your kids about what they just heard. And is this godly culture? Is this worldly culture? How is it trying to change the way your kids think? How is it trying to change the way your family thinks? So being that kind of a man to go and think critically, think thoughtfully of all art, all music. And music’s a big one too. ‘Cause music changes moods, it changes. I mean all of society is built on music. Being thinking critically of that, thinking thoughtfully, it is really important. And so I would say that that’s like a really good place to aim for most men to be there. But being creative is good. I think too much I think emphasis has been put on artistic creatives. Like oh, he writes songs so he’s a creative, he wears Converse and he drinks or whatever. He’s a creative right? But like everybody is a creative in their own way. Everybody’s doing something where they’re changing the culture around them. And so we should all strive to do that. We should all strive to whatever workplace we’re at with our families. How are you creating a culture that is godly and that can engage in the culture outside and show them a more beautiful and more loving and gracious way to live? And how do we do that through art? How do we do that through just changing in our workplace the way that we talk? One thing I love that Pastor Mark talks about is even in the Rebuilding Home campaign, we talk about this building and yeah, we want to make a great place for a park out front. We want the kids to play. All those things are amazing. But what I really appreciate is he talks about the building to have it be something that’s beautiful so that when people drive by here, they see something that is like attractive for the community. It’s not a eyesore for the community. And I think that that’s so important because we care about art and we understand what art does. And if we are created in God’s image, who is the greatest creator, we should try to strive to be creative in what we do and what we produce. And so all men should strive to be creative in whatever kind of resources that they’re given. So whatever resources you’re given Mark, be creative in those resources and to take those things and shape it and create a culture around you that is godly and attractive for people outside.

– Yeah, I hear you saying about the consumption part of it, that if, what I hear you saying is if we ignore the message that’s embedded in what we consume, then we’re just assuming that the person who’s creating it doesn’t have a message, that, obviously they have a worldview and they have a message and they’re preaching it through whatever medium you’re consuming it through. Is that what you’re saying there?

– Yeah, absolutely.
– So you can’t simply be a consumer.

– Yeah, I mean you can, but you don’t be surprised when you wake up 10 years later and you’re a completely different person because the culture has completely changed you. You will be molded or changed by culture in some way or another. There’s a reason they call it pop culture. It’s ’cause it’s popular culture, everybody believes this, everybody sees it, everybody’s doing this. And then you little by little kinda make more and more sacrifices unless you’re thoughtfully thinking about what these things are doing. Especially the more that we go into this digital world where all ads are really through social media, all ads are carried out by content creators and it’s not so much like a famous person on TV anymore. It’s just random people who get millions of views. Those things start to change you and mold you. And then it’s not just you, but imagine for your kids in 20 years, what that will look like for them. If you can model to them right now what a critical creative thinker is and what that looks like for every single piece of art form you come across. So you don’t have to be that guy who does it for everything, but you can spend some time with your family or spend some time with your friends talking about what that movie meant to you and what themes you were seeing from it or what this so song did or what was saying and just even the things that you like about it, it doesn’t have to be a Christian or biblical principle, but what was beautiful about that painting or that piece of art or what was beautiful about that song that you really enjoyed. And so all men can do that.

– And to do that you have to be intentional about building a Christian worldview in your own mind.

– Absolutely.

– That you can lead your children in. Right. So to wrap up how, we got 300 plus men here. How can we redeem our time, our energy, our resources as critics and creatives according to that cultural mandate that we talked about at the beginning?

– Yeah. I think the cultural mandate is the most important thing. God has given you a mandate to shape culture. And for Adam and Eve it was the garden of Eden, it was naming animals, which you gotta be really creative to do that with names like art work and stuff. But for us as men, we all have a cultural mandate to shape culture around us no matter what the world is doing. And no matter how oppressive the world culture might seem, and it is oppressive, it’s large, it’s a big machine. It’s all a counterfeit of what God has created. I mean, Pastor Mark talks about everything that God creates, Satan counterfeits. Most of culture is just counterfeit of what God is. And every, all the movies we love most it’s essentially the story of Jesus. It’s just a savior who was innocent, who gave his life for somebody who probably didn’t deserve it. And eventually they come back. You think of “Gladiator” or “Matrix”, lots of movies like that. So all of the world’s culture is counterfeit of what we are called to do. What that means is that the world is longing for the culture that we have to bring, they’re not just like, oh, we don’t want that. The things that stirs the emotions in people is like the thinking about eternity. The fact that someone would die for them and that they would even though like they didn’t deserve it and they died for them anyways. These are the kinds of cultural principles and different theological responsibilities that

we have is to tell people about the gospel and to put that through our cultural abilities around us. So work is really important. Your family, building a great culture in your family that’s based on biblical principles and then also just being really, really critical about what you’re absorbing about the different advertisements, social media, movies, music doesn’t mean like you can’t go out and enjoy beautiful things. I’m not a huge fan of Christian movies. I’m not a huge fan of Christian radio only because I think that there’s not enough emphasis on the artistic, but I think that there’s things that you can do to shape and form that and there’s things that you can do to make that more beautiful. And so I would just tell all the men here to just really focus on thinking critically about what you’re absorbing. Maybe make that a kind of a principle for you this year, think about that when you’re watching the Superbowl this year. Like as you’re absorbing these things, what is it trying to tell you to do and what is it trying to get you to do and your family to do? Think critically about it and then change that culture and change it towards a godly and biblical culture as well. And I think that if you can just do going forward in the digital age, it’s gonna be a good muscle to continue to work out.

– That’s great. Well thanks for joining me tonight. You’re a huge blessing to me personally ’cause you enrich my life every time you’re on this stage and you’re playing and singing, it’s amazing. So I appreciate you giving Trinity your time and talent and energy. You got a great family and I just really appreciate you. Thanks for being here.

– Thanks Mark, appreciate it. – Right bud.
– Thank you guys.

Mark Driscoll
[email protected]

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