Stones Hill Community Church
Living in the Lion's Den: The People of God in Exile
What is happening to our world? You and I are witnessing at warp speed the devolution of a nation. If things move toward a “post-Christian nation” and some are now arguing that this is the case, then how should the people of God operate when relegated to the cultural margins? What is the way forward in a hostile world? Welcome to the Old Testament book of Daniel!
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  • Ligonier, IN
    151 W Stones Hill Rd, Ligonier, IN 46767, USA
    Saturday 4:00 PM
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* music (so feel free to sing out);

* some announcements (things that are upcoming that you can be a part of);

* a message out of the Bible (God speaks to us through his Word);

* and an opportunity for you to respond to the message (either immediately in the case of a decision that needs to be made OR in the future as you live out the message in your daily life.)

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Living in the Lion's Den: The People of God in Exile

PowerPoint Message Slides
Living in the Lion's Den: The People of God in Exile
Post-Christian Culture
It has been said that our world is becoming a “post-Christian” world. Post means after. Christian means an era of time when Christ and His teachings were a dominant influence in society. Culture means the way we think and value things. This means that, over the course of recent generations, there has been an observed decline in the Church’s influence in society. In a post-Christian culture, the dominant worldview is no longer founded on Christian principles — or at least we can no longer assume that they will be.

As the church enters this time of exile from the center to the margins, we must have a vision through the unique challenges that are presented. As a Christian, in a hostile environment where the dominant values run counter to one’s own, you now experience exile while you REMAIN in your homeland. Just demonstrate that you are unwilling to conform to the tyranny of majority opinion, and you’ll know exile while still at home – forced removals, cancellations, disenfranchisement, job losses.

The Way Forward
What is the way forward in a hostile world? Discerning the meaning of the present moment requires sobriety for no one knows how hostile it may become. Eventually, a post-Christian society moves from assuming Christian values to ignoring them, to resenting them, to repressing them, and eventually to persecuting them. What was once Christian and is now post-Christian will eventually become anti-Christian, led by those who actively destroy it.

Strangers, Aliens, Exiles
God’s people do their best work when in exile. We always have. Exile infuses communities with new creative energy that rises to meet the challenges of new cultural circumstances. The way forward is to look around and understand our context, to look back and gather the resources the Word affords to us, and then to look forward with a clear vision of how we can function as the Lord’s people in a time of contemporary exile.

That’s why we have transitioned to “A Biblical Worldview Church.” It’s a vision for how to do life in cultural exile and it empowers you to come together with a game plan that will prepare your family to live in this world rather than just integrate with dominant culture. It’s the local church that can form a vibrant counterculture.

Exiles on Assignment
How do we build biblical worldview communities within our condition of internal exile, and under increasingly hostile conditions? Can we live with joy and confidence though marginalized? If you’re caught between a host empire you cannot embrace and a church that has no worldview mission, where do you go?

For much of recent history individuals and Biblical Worldview institutions could plan, execute, and flourish with their visions of a better world. That may no longer be the case in a few years. But don’t despair. For in the midst of the chaos of a crisis comes opportunity. The history of the church tells us that crisis always precedes renewal, and the framework of renewal offers us new ways forward. A Non-Anxious Presence shows how that renewal happens and offers churches and leaders strategic ways to awaken the Church and see our culture changed for Christ.

The question is: How? How can we engage a post-Christian society? How can we influence a culture which is desperate to press you into it’s mold? This is not to say that God isn’t at work in dominant culture. He has his “Daniel’s” strategically placed to do His bidding in the “Babylon’s” of the world. There are others who are being prepared to become “Esthers” (in Persia) and “Jonahs” (in Ninevah) and “Josephs” (in Egypt) – those who bring a biblical worldview to the culture, but within the culture itself.

So our primary job is not to make everything “Christian” in culture. Our job is to live out a Biblical Worldview wherever we find ourselves and bear witness to the truth. But, there’s no room for neutrality. The corrosive soil and polluted air of a secular worldview will have to be breathed by your children. You will face marginalization for living out a Biblical Worldview.

Daniel 1:8-21
The question Daniel had to answer for himself… and it’s the question you have to answer as well: Who do I belong to? Am I now the property of Babylon or am I the Lords?

Contend or Consume
Babylon is all about names – making a name for yourself, changing people’s names. And if we belong to Babylon, then we'll no doubt become a consumer of its pleasures. Daniel must have thought: "If I still belong to the Lord, and my name is still Danny-El, then this means I must be a contender for His truth and glory.

The issue was not what city Daniel lived in, but what city was Daniel going to live for; not what deity was embedded in his name, but what deity he was going to glorify with his life.

Daniel had a decision to make: to contend or to consume. In Daniel 1:8-20, his resolve was to glorify and honor God with this life. And the only way that was going to happen was to keep his appetites in check.

The Big Question
Daniel…Ripped out of his family; Marched off to Babylon; Enrolled in Babylonian State University; Mandated change of name. No resistance. But then, there was the food thing. Fellowship with the Babylonian gods through food – big red light for Daniel and presented an issue.

“Wait a minute. Who do I belong to? Am I Babylon’s or am I the Lord’s?” Maybe the language of compromise was tempting to him. After all, Daniel was far from home and no one back in Jerusalem would know about what he ate. Almost every one of the other Jewish captives were eating the food with no complaint. “We’re already in captivity,” he might have said. “What difference does it make?” “God understands it’s only food. We can eat it with our fingers crossed.” “I need to do this to get ahead. People will think I’m a narrow-minded legalist if I make a fuss about this.” “I’m only 15 and I get really hungry too.” “Besides, where are all the other Jewish boys on this? There’s only four of us who really care.”
I’m sure Daniel endured substantial peer pressure. Other Jewish captives giving him a hard time. “Stop making waves. Get on board. Make things better for everyone. You can relax and slide on a few things here.” In a time in life when he wanted to be accepted so badly, Daniel contended. “Be your own man Daniel. Forget what your parents taught you. Come on. It’ll be fun. Everyone’s doing it. It’s no big deal. Are you chicken? We won’t get caught. Trust me. Don’t be a wimp. Grow up!”
How was Daniel going to answer that question: Am I Babylon’s or am I the Lord’s?” Daniel 1:8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
What does that mean, "defile yourself"? Defile means to make what is pure contaminated through an illegitimate mixture. It means to mix something illegitimate with something legitimate.

Daniel knew if he had no boundaries in Babylon, that Babylon would render him useless to a God who wanted to use his life. The reality is: There are things in life that can defile you, that can taint you. Things in life that can corrupt or pollute you. See, for Daniel, he's thinking, "I'm okay learning this stuff. I'm okay learning the language. I'm okay learning the history. I'm okay serving the king. But I will draw the line when it comes to what I'll eat or what I put into my body and what that aligns me with."
Life Application
So two personal questions:

What's defiling you?
Who or what is claiming ownership over your life? What is renaming you? Certain books that you read? Or websites that you look at? Or all the movies? Is it company you allow yourself to hang with, or relationships that you're toying with that are defiling you? Because the secret to living a distinct life, it's simply this: Living a life with the awareness that nobody else may be looking, but God is always looking.

Who do you belong to?
If you belong to God (and you do because He made you), would you like to turn your life fully over to the Lord? You can do so - today.

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