Blogger Meetup

I was going to write something long, and did write something long, but it didn’t fit. I wanted to share with you some fun that I had last Friday. I got the privilege of meeting two good friends, and bloggers, whose names some of you may recognize: Alex and Brett Harris.

We had a great dinner, and a great discussion about our goals, our blogs, why our blogs are succeeding, and the future. We discussed networking, blogs that we read, podcasting, our families, our writing opportunities, the Harris’ future plans, and business cards. It was great to meet these two great guys who really encouraged me.

Now, the night would not be complete without a photo shoot–so here we are (I’m the guy in the undercover street clothes and the halo):

So, there you have it. If you have any more questions, fire away in the comment section.

Your Checklist: Vote or Buy

UPDATE: Please vote only one time. If you want to get more votes in for me, then tell your friends, your mom, and your dog. But don’t vote twice. I reviewed the rules, and unlike other blog awards, in this one you cannot vote every day.

With the extremely interesting interesting discussion going on in the Christmas post, I’ve been busy keeping up with that and working on some not so top-secret projects. I wanted to let you know of a couple of things that you needed to do today.

First of all, you need to go and VOTE for your favorite homeschool(ed) bloggers. Now, if I don’t get the best teen blog of the year, then you really need to vote for the best designed blog. I personally would vote for the Rebelution or Spunky Jr. or Smart Homeschool as the best teen bloggers of this year. Spunky is, of course, the finest homeschool mom blogger out there, but I didn’t see her on the ballot. The best group blog in my opinion would be Beauty From the Heart. I saw some other great current events blogs as well.

And guys, whoever nominated the Rebelution for the best Photo Blog…

Anyway, take time to vote!

But, if you don’t vote, what will make me happy is if you stop by the Agent Tim Online store, and show your support for the site. It really helps to keep it going!

Who Cares About Christmas?

I wanted to address a very interesting comment I received from two readers. Now, we really do need to look at what they’re saying. It’s very interesting, and I commend her for bringing it up, and also adding that she did not want to start an argument. That is not what this post is about. It is to bring about some good discussion about Christmas.

At first I was going to address this personally and in my own words, but I found the words of Elliot Miller . I believe that his article addresses these concerns, expressed in these comments:

I think it is so good to hear that there are people in this ungodly world who care so deeply for God and his son. I’m glad that people are upset that some churches won’t be having services on Christmas. It says a lot about you when you care.

Have you ever done a search on Christmas? The origins? It’s very informative. And I am not trying to make anyone mad or to argue but, although it’s true that Jesus birth is important because without it he woudn’t have come here and died for us, and also that, like you said, his death is much more important, we need to think about what the bible says. Is there any evidence that Jesus celebrated his birthday? Is there any evidence that he celebrated his death? Did he ever tell his followers to celebrate his birthday? Did he tell them to memorialize his death?

What was the weather like in Bethlehem during December? Was it cold? Would the shepherds be outside with their sheep in the cold if it was cold in December in Bethlehem?

Howdy! I just happened upon your blog, the window was left open on the computer screen. Someone in my family must have found you.

I’m not sure if y’all are coming from a Christian perspective but as a Christian I find Christmas unappealing. The roots of celebrating on the 25th of December is a pagan tradition and has to do with the winter solstice. The Bible does not state the time of Christ’s birth but we can almost be sure it wasn’t that exact day. Even if it was, the Bible has no mandate for celebrating the birth of Christ, it only commands us to remember His death until he comes. I really don’t have a problem people de-Christing (is that a word?) Christmas. It’s roots are pagan, why pretend differently?

I hope I haven’t ruffled too many feathers! Please feel free not to respond, this is just my two cents, but it might be worth looking into.

I can assure you, Carol, that you haven’t ruffled my feathers, but you may ruffle some others. And yes, I am a Christian, saved by grace not by works but through faith. But I digress.

Mainly, I have never said that Christmas was the exact date of Christ’s birth. I don’t think anyone has. Annalise also stated something similar when she said “What was the weather like in Bethlehem during December? Was it cold? Would the shepherds be outside with their sheep in the cold if it was cold in December in Bethlehem?”

The fact is, Christmas is celebrated around the world, and really, if you think about it, Florida usually isn’t that cold during the Christmas season. Or Brazil. Or the Sahara Desert. But that is beside the point.

We need to take a look at some of the harder questions they asked.

Here’s what Elliot Miller says:

As a young Roman Catholic, Christmas was my favorite time of year — filled with magic and meaning. The birth of Christ played a role in this festal feeling, but so did Santa Claus and all the more temporal pleasures of the season. As I grew older, I not only lost faith in Santa Claus but in Christ as well. The residual sentiment I retained for Christmas was hard to justify.

After I became a born-again Christian, I welcomed the opportunity not only to recapture the spirit of the season, but also truly to appreciate, for the first time, its spiritual significance. I did enjoy a couple of meaningful Christmases. Then I started witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses [Please note, I am not calling Annalise a Jehovah’s Witness].

Time and again the Witnesses would cite the Trinity and Christmas as clear proof that “Christendom” had lapsed into paganism. The Trinity I could answer for biblically, but Christmas was harder to defend. It was certainly not a holy day instituted in the Bible. And pre-Christian, pagan Rome had indeed observed the Day of the Invincible Sun on December 25. In fact, in many ancient cultures, customs and festivities later associated with Christmas (e.g., Yule logs, mistletoe, and even the giving of gifts) were observed in honor of the sun god’s resurgence at the winter solstice.

I never totally abandoned Christmas — it’s not easy for a Christian to reject a holiday that celebrates the birth of his Lord. But the pagan connections troubled me, and my observance of the day became halfhearted.

Eventually, however, I came to the conclusion that just as pagans and pagan temples can be converted and sanctified to Christian service, so too can pagan holidays and even some of the traditions associated with them (those that are not inherently immoral or idolatrous). The critical issue is: What significance do we currently attach to previously pagan practices? (See 1 Cor. 8:4–7; 10:25–31.)

Since Christmas is not legislated in the Bible, it should not be considered essential to Christian practice. Christians do not need to defend it to Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cultists with the same zeal with which they would defend the doctrines of the Trinity or eternal punishment. In fact, it would even be acceptable if a sincere Christian told a Jehovah’s Witness, “If you don’t want to observe Christmas, that’s fine. I myself do not observe it.” But that same Christian would have no business judging those Christians who do partake in the holiday.

Christmas is a good example of what Paul had in mind when he wrote: “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord….You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Rom. 14:5-6, 10; NIV).

I am not saying Annalise or Carol is judging anyone in any way, but want to point out an interesting fact: it is not neccesary to observe Christmas. But, as Elliot Miller stated, “I came to the conclusion that just as pagans and pagan temples can be converted and sanctified to Christian service, so too can pagan holidays and even some of the traditions associated with them.” It is not wrong to celebrate Christmas either.

I look at the present, and not at the past. I don’t usually live in the past. What bothers me is when today we see people attempting to make Christmas what it was in ancient times: pagan.

Now, of course, this is to be expected of our society, which is plagued with obvious inherent sin.

If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I really don’t care one way or the other.

Church Is: Closed

Today, we’re going to look at a story that, I’m sure, will be widespread across the blogosphere, but one that everyone needs to see and consider.

Fox News Reports:

This Christmas, no prayers will be said in several megachurches around the country. Even though the holiday falls this year on a Sunday, when churches normally host thousands for worship, pastors are canceling services, anticipating low attendance on what they call a family day.

Critics within the evangelical community, more accustomed to doing battle with department stores and public schools over keeping religion in Christmas, are stunned by the shutdown.

It is almost unheard of for a Christian church to cancel services on a Sunday, and opponents of the closures are accusing these congregations of bowing to secular culture.

“This is a consumer mentality at work: ‘Let’s not impose the church on people. Let’s not make church in any way inconvenient,'” said David Wells, professor of history and systematic theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical school in Hamilton, Mass. “I think what this does is feed into the individualism that is found throughout American culture, where everyone does their own thing.”

Professor Wells said it well (no pun intended). It is catering to the unsaved, and putting aside the needs of those who are saved. What better day to have church but on Christmas Sunday?

Willow Creek Church spokeswoman, Cally Parkinson, defended the move to not have services on Christmas Sunday by stating:

“If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don’t go to church, how likely is it that they’ll be going to church on Christmas morning?” she said.

Pardon me?

Other megachurches are doing something much better:

First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., led by the Rev. Bobby Welch, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will hold one service instead of the usual two. New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., led by the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, will hold one Sunday service instead of the typical three.

Now, quickly, we must ask ourselves “What’s wrong with not having church on Christmas Sunday?”

That’s where the difference comes in on this site. I really want you to consider that. We need to ask ourselves tough questions like that and answer them biblically.

First of all, in the beginning, God set aside a day of rest to worship him. This day is made to please God. Our churches are there so that those who are saved can come into a building together and worship God. Please note, much of the evangelism takes place outside of that building, not always on Sunday mornings.

Christmas is a day set aside by man to celebrate the day Christ was born on this earth. It was probably one of the most important days ever, apart from Christ’s death and his ressurection from the dead. If Christ had not been born of a virgin as the Scriptures foretold, he would have never died and he would have never been raised to life again, giving us the opportunity to receive forgivness from our sins and to receive the gift of eternal life in heaven forever.

What better day to go to the house of the Lord and worship him for the greatest gift on earth? Why back down to the commercialized Christmas? Why cater to the unsaved and put aside the spiritual needs of those who are already saved? You cannot feed Christians on milk forever. Why do you disdain their needs? Why do you put them aside?

Who cares what the world thinks? Why are these workers for the Lord tired? Why are they tired of doing good? Why “take a day off” from doing the Lord’s work? That makes no sense at all!

These congregations are ” bowing to secular culture” and they know it. People who don’t want to attend church on Christmas Sunday are showing who it’s all about: and it’s not Christ. It is obvious that those who want to “be at home” do not want to be in the presence of the Savior.

Now, I’ll give you this: they are having services beforehand. But why not Sunday? Because, they say, “our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched.” Is that their only mission? What kind of church is that?

I leave that up to you.

Coolness Redifined

Over and over again I am amazed at the amount of time I waste, as well as many others that I know. We’ve all wasted time–precious time. I’ve wondered so many times what the source of this wastefulness is, and have come to some conclusions. These conclusions, will challenge both of us in our sinful bodies as we fight the war against the devil (which has already been won.) Our lives do not need to be wasted! We need to take hold of each and every moment we’re given, and fight the good fight in “peace” times and in war.

First of all, it seems Christians get “stuck in a rut” when they do not feel the enemy closing in. They put down their defenses, and the enemy takes advantage of the open gates in front of them. This happens all to often and all too easily.

I know a large part of my readership is made up of teens and parents of teens (and even ex-teens! What do you know?). We all know, right now, it is easy to take your eyes off of Christ, especially when things are going well. If we are not being persecuted or in trouble we are “slacking off” in the fighting department. We need to seek God and ask him to help us to continue fighting the good fight. It’s tough, I know. But we need to strive to be a great witness for Christ in all places at all times to all people.

Another thing that pierces my heart and makes me hang my head is when I contemplate on the present definition of “cool.” Everyone wants to be cool. And to be cool, you must dress like your friends. So much for being different.

Quick example: today, we went Christmas tree hunting, and two doors down there’s a semi-large field. It had just started to snow, and some of the neighborhood guys we’re playing football. What struck me were their admirable efforts to stay “cool” (figuratively and literally) in such harsh conditions. Shorts, two shirts, tennis shoes, and lots of mud and slime from football. It’s amazing what people will do to fit in.

That thought that we need to be “cool” is so prevalent in our society today. Be different, yet like everyone else.

But what is really “cool?” Or perhaps, a better question would be “what is truly great?”

Let’s travel together to the shores of Iwo Jima for a moment, and put aside that cheap word “cool” and watch for a moment the bravery and the carnage.

First, let’s take a look at the life of Jacklyn Lucas:

He’d fast-talked his way into the Marines at fourteen, fooling recruits with his muscled physique…Assigned to drive a truck in Hawaii, he had grown frustrated; he wanted to fight. He stowed away on a transport out of Honolulu, surviving on food passed along to him by sypathetic leathernecks on board.

He landed on D-Day [at Iwo Jima] without a rifle. He grabbed one lying on the beach and fought his way inland.

Now, on D+1, Jack and three comrades were crawling through a trench when eight Japanese sprang in front of them. Jack shot one of them throught the head. Then his rifle jammed. As he struggled with it a grenade landed at his feet. He yelled a warning to the others and rammed the grenade into the soft ash. Immediately another rolled in. Jack Lucas, seventeen, fell on both grenades. “Luke, you’re gonna die,” he remembered thinking…

Aboard the hospital ship Samaritan the doctors could scarcely believe it. “Maybe he was too young to die and too tough to die,” one said. He endured twenty-one reconstructive operations and became the nation’s youngest Medal of Honor award winner—the only high school freshman to recieve it.

Ray Dollins, fighter pilot at Iwo Jima:

The first wave of amtracs headed for shore. The Marine fighter planes were finishing up their low strafing runs. And as the last pilot began to pull his Corsair aloft, Japanese sprang to their guns and riddled the plane with flak. The pilot, Major Ray Dollins, tried to gain altitude as he headed out over the ocean so as to avoid a deadly crash into the Marines headed for the beach, but his plane was too badly damaged.

Lieutenant Keith Wells watched it from the amtrac…”We could see him in the cockpit,” Wells said, “and he was trying everything. He was heading straight down for a group of approaching ‘tracs filled with Marines. At the last second he flipped the plane over on its back and aimed it into the water between two waves of tanks. We watched the water exploding into the air.”

Military personel listening to the flight radio network from ships could not only see Dollins go down; they could hear his last words into his microphone. They were a defiant parody.

Oh what a beautiful morning
Oh, what a beautiful day,
I’ve got a terrible feeling,
Everything’s coming my way.

William Hoopes of Chattanooga:

As a rainy morning wore into afternoon and the fighting bogged down, the Marines continued to take casualties. Often it was the corpsmen [medics] themselves who died as they tried to preserve life. William Hoopes of Chattanooga was crouching beside a medic named Kelly, who had put his head above a protective ridge and placed binoculars to his eyes—just for an instant—to spot a sniper who was peppering his area. In that instant the sniper shot him through the Adam’s apple. Hoopes, a pharmacists’s mate himself, struggled frantically to save his friend.

“I took my forceps and reached into his neck to grasp the artery and pinch it off,” Hoopes recalled. “His blood was spurting. He had no speech but his eyes were on me. He knew I was trying to save his life. I tried everything in the world. I couldn’t do it. I tried. The blood was so slippery. I couldn’t get the artery. I was trying so hard. And all the while he just looked at me. He looked directly into my face. The last thing he did as the blood spurts became less and less was to pay me on the arm as if to say, ‘That’s all right.’ Then he died.

Every teen needs to understand what being “cool” is. It is a totally different definition from that cheap word we use.

Why aren’t we being like these boys at Iwo Jima? Why aren’t we fighting like that in a battle that is so much greater than all the wars ever fought on this globe?

Our thoughts of “cool” are so misconstrued. Are you willing to change your definition? Are you willing to not only change your definition, but also spread the word to others, whether in spoken or written word?

This all reminds me of that statement that you may have heard: “Do Hard Things.” These young guys knew what was “cool,” they did hard things, and they did their best for their country. We must do so much more for our God.

John Piper puts it well:

“Oh, that young and old would turn off the television, take a long walk, and dream about feats of courage for a cause ten thousand times more important than American democracy–as precious as that is. If we would dream and if we would pray, would not God answer?”

If only God’s people would call my His name, and humble themselves and pray.

When Christians are not feeling pressed by the devil, the slackening in their defenses, resulting in sin and a lack of fervor for spreading the gospel. Another thing that has happened in our society is the emphasis on “cool.” True “coolness” or rather “greatness” is shown on the shores of Iwo Jima. Why aren’t Christians doing so much more for a cause that is so much greater than American democracy?

Are you willing to be an Agent for God?

(Second image from here, and that last link is for you to listen to the Agent)

Houston, We HaveHad A Problem

For some very odd reason, my latest post, as well as a number of comments were deleted from the site for no apparent reason. I’m looking into it, and apologize for the inconvenience. Things will be back up and running (and better than ever!) soon.

Update: Two things. First of all, my technician said this “Our server has been experiencing some problems over the past month and apparently a hard drive crashed this afternoon. They upgraded to a new server, but all the information is from last night at about 11pm, I believe.”

In other words, my latest post, which I brialliantly decided to delete on my computer because it was already on the web, it somewhere waiting to be found. And many of your comments that were made asking me about homeschooling and Calvinism are gone.

Second of all, this blog is going to be taking a…well…”new” path. You’re going to see some slight changes for the good. So stay tuned, and tell your friends. And buy a T-Shirt for Christmas. There are a few buttons and a black shirt that is really cool and worth your time in checking out.

Just Like College

Today, due to some other projects outside of this blog, I’m going to let you all have somewhat of a fun day. First of all, I’ll post some of this really interesting article that I read this morning, then I’ll open up the thread for you to ask me any question about politics, theology, homeschooling, current events, etc. ,etc. I will then answer your questions this evening in the comment section or in the post!

Hope you have a lot of fun…

Some awesome material:

Carolyn Sandonato, entrepeneurship junior, had never seen the inside of a classroom until her first day of college.

“It definitely took some getting used to,” Sandonato said.

Like a small but growing number of college students, Sandonato was homeschooled from kindergarten through 12th grade.

In the 2005 freshman class at OU, 22 students were homeschooled, according to OU Institutional Research and Reporting.

Far from being unprepared for college, Sandonato and other students say homeschooling has given them better study skills and time management skills.

“I think I might have better study skills than my friends,” Sandonato said. “I’m used to working on my own.”

Her parents’ retail business kept Sandonato’s family constantly on the move, she said.

“My parents wanted me not to have to re-adjust to a new school every time we moved, so they taught me at home” she said.

Sandonato’s mother was her teacher until the 7th grade, she said, then she had a weekly schedule and taught herself, doing research on a variety of subjects on her own.

Experts say homeschoolers are thriving in college because the homeschool environment mimics college, with more emphasis on independent study and time management.

“If a parent were to ask me 15 years ago if their homeschooler could go to college, I would say maybe, but it’s going to be a long, hard road,” said Tamra Orr, author and homeschooling expert. “Today, colleges are accepting and even seeking out homeschooled students.”

That’s your weekly dose of good news (finally!). I’m somewhat tired of blogging on depressing, annoying, and just plain sad stories. But today is your day to run the blog…what’s on your mind?

Minions of the Devil

D3 takes on a college professor and biologist from a Christian College. Amazing.

Now, for me, it’s astounding to hear that college professors are really compromising their faith. As David said “The professor avowed his support of the ‘framework theory’, which apparently ignores Genesis 1 and loosely interprets Genesis 2.” But these men want to make a compromise, which is entirely impossible. It’s either the Bible or it’s evolution. The fact of the matter is that the Bible does not change to fit science. Science must change to fit the Bible.

Make sure you check out In Rejection of Mediocrity.