A Wish To Write

If only I could write, yet my time this week will be spent learning to speak at the Communicators for Christ conference here in Maryland. I will also be using my time to work on some very exciting projects that you will probably hear about in the near future, and some that you won’t hear about for a long time. But hopefully I will be able to get back to my series on marriage without any sudden interruptions.

I’m looking forward to meeting fellow blogger and writer Karen Kovaka in the next two days, and perhaps I’ll recap on the CFC conference. But between school, church, and frantically finishing my CFC homework and recording some audio, I’m not sure. But I want to point you to Regenerate Our Culture, especially it’s network, which hopefully will get a facelift (including a clean-up of the featured blogs) and it will be even better than it is now – which will be amazing, since it’s already fantastic right now. So, head on over today.

Persecution: Where Is It?

Last night was scary – I mean, I was really, really scared. I was with some of my youth group, and we were out at a football field, all wearing cool matching shirts that said “Servant Life” on them doing what we have all been called to do – share the gospel. We decided to do what we had done the week before – walk around a pass out tracts, play with the kids, and pass out hot chocolate and water bottles. And I was there passing the tracts out to a group of kids who seemed to be standing in a group on the track around the football field – and I began to ask them questions. But as I was nearing the end, about to give them the good news, two moms walked up – and suddenly I felt scared. Before, I had felt right at home sharing with the kids, but when the moms walked up, I felt something come over me. I guess you could call it fear. Before I knew it, they had the kids back to practicing whatever they had been practicing (cheer leading or something like that). It was amazing how fast things turned around. I can hardly explain the feeling – a feeling of shame, perhaps, of what I was saying.

The encounter last night got me thinking today, especially when I ran across an article from the Persecution Blog asking why is there no persecution in the United States. And the article hit me hard.

With all this anti-Christian sentiment, why isn’t the United States rife with persecution similar to what is seen coming out of Asia and Africa? One of the reasons is that our constitution is rooted in the Bible, but another key reason is greatly overlooked. Christians in the U.S. seem to be more intimidated by a politically correct socialist agenda than believers abroad are fearful of persecution under the flags of Islam, communism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. There are few places in this country where you can find Christians talking about their faith outside of church. Because most workplaces, schools, and government-run institutions discourage or disallow proselytizing, this is good enough for most Bible-believing Americans to leave their faith at their front doors. Putting our jobs, tolerant reputations, and unblemished records on the line are apparently prices that most of us consider too high to pay for sharing our faith (emphasis mine).

I quickly realized that when those ladies walked up, I was scared. And why should I be? Why should I have a fear? What were they going to do to me? Then I realized that I was doing just as the Persecution Blog had said – I and others are hiding. We’re hiding behind blogs, behind church pews, behind offices, behind our doorsteps. We are afraid of sharing the gospel with everyone we meet. We’re afraid of being called “annoying” Christians. Jesus-Freaks, weirdos, or the worst of them all: a proselytizer. No one wants to jeopardize what they have. Be honest. You do not want to lose what you have here in America. You don’t want to lose your reputation as the “nice guy.” You don’t want to lose your dignity. You don’t want to lose your pride.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Oh, I fear the day that American Evangelicalism stands before the throne of God. Are you ready?

*Note: For those who read this post before seeing this note, there was an original error that I didn’t catch. An entire paragraph was missing from the beginning, giving the impression that I was asking the little girls about why there was no persecution in the United States, when in fact I was asking them how they did when they took the “good person” test. I apologize for the mistake.

Different By Design Part 2

Since the beginning of time we have seen and observed that Satan particularly hates everything that has been established by God. He is out to destroy all boundaries, rules, and regulations by lying to each and every one of us. His lie is one where boundaries are bad, the rules are too restrictive, and the regulations just too much. Yet these guidelines that have been established by God are for your good. His plan is a perfect plan.

At the beginning of creation, we see Adam and Eve, the perfect couple, living out their proper roles correctly and showing us God’s perfect plan for men and women. Adam was the leader, accountable to God. Eve was Adam’s perfect companion, and spiritual equal. But she was his physical helper, not his physical equal. This is clearly seen in Genesis and will be discussed in more detail later on in the series.

Satan did not want this perfect plan put into place by God
(try saying that five times fast), and attacked one of his favorite targets – the family. We see very early on that he approaches Eve first, disregarding God’s design – Adam was the leader, not Eve.

“She persuaded…Adam to commit the same sin, thereby making Satan’s attack on Adam’s hardship a success.” (MacArthur, pg. 21)

John MacArthur points out that not only did Eve break the command to not eat the forbidden fruit, but she also disobeyed by failing to consult Adam, the leader, about this temptation. Adam in turn sinned in the same way by “succumbing to Eve’s usurpation of his leadership.”

Since this twisting of God’s plan, marriage has never been the same. The result of their sin came in four ways: death, pain in childbearing, strenuous work, and strife in marriage.

“I believe [the strife] aspect of the curse predicts marital strife brought on by a husband’s oppressive rule over he wife,” says MacArthur, “and a wife’s desire to dominate and lead their relationship.”

Interestingly enough, MacArthur points out that the word “desire”
mentioned in Genesis 3:16 (“Your desire shall be for your husband”) is the same word used later on when God tells Cain that “Sin desires to control you.” Genesis 3:16 could be translated “Your desire will be to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”

Henceforth, feminism and male chauvinism were born
– two unredeemed and unregenerate beings “self-preoccupied and self-serving” being placed together. Without Christ and the Holy Spirit – without an admittance of sin and repentance of that sin, along with faith in Christ, no relationship will be restored to it’s original order and harmony.

Different By Design Part 1 // Part 2 // A Biblical Marriage // Philosophy Break

Different By Design Part 1

“Almost without notice, our homes and churches have become the newest laboratory for sex-role experimentation. Lured by the world’s acceptance and a national obsession with fairness, we’ve replaced the once-clear biblical boundaries between men and women with a confusing, frighteningly secular hybrid. The harmony and effectiveness we were promised never came – only a treacherous rift that is ruining marriages, dividing families, and splitting churches top to bottom.”

–John Macarthur in Different By Design

In the beginning, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it…” He commanded them.

Men and women have been created in God’s image, and therefore have an intellect, emotions, and a will, “by which they are able to think, feel and choose.” (DBD, pg. 18) However, in his book Macarthur notes that man and woman were “created in His image essentially.” (emphasis added) They never possessed any supernatural attributes because they are human, not all divine.

J.P David Pawson, in his book Leadership is Male, notes that the equality mentioned in Genisis “does not mean interchangeability. A cylinder head and crankcase may be of the same material, size, weight, and cost – but they cannot be exchanged.”

This perfect relationship was one where the man and woman were “co-regents.”
They were to rule together, and to subdue the earth. But the essential question still remains: are they equal?

Raymond C. Ortlund explains this seeming paradox found in Genesis:

“Was Eve Adam’s equal? Yes and No. She was his spiritual equal and…”suitable for him” But she was not his equal in that she was his “helper.” God did not create man and woman in an undifferentiated way, and their mere maleness and femaleness identify their respective roles. A man, just by virtue of his manhood, is called to lead for God. A woman, just by virtue of her womanhood, is called to help for God.” (Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood).

So begins our journey through John Macarthur’s book
, Different By Design. In this series, we will be looking at the fall of man and how feminism has been attacking since the beginning, the case for authority and submission, God’s design for marriage, and the God’s design for the church.

Different By Design Part 1 // Part 2 // A Biblical Marriage // Philosophy Break

Agent Tim In WORLD

The Rebelution, Jonathan McCarthy (is he related to Chris?), Tim Sweetman, Kiersten Paulino, and our favorite commenter Robert Wood (Palm Boy) were all featured in the latest issue of WORLD magazine. Jessica McCaleb did a fantastic job of highlighting some of these teen blogs, and all of us appreciate the “publicity.”

For those visiting from the WORLD article, I would highly recommend that you start by checking out the sidebar and look at the best posts that are highlighted there. Also, scroll down this page to get a good feel for how I write. Another great thing to do would be to visit Regenerate Our Culture, a fantastic organization that has a magazine filled with articles from writers that WORLD has highlighted. It’s a great central place to visit.

Another thing that my regular readers may be interested in is an article done by Lindsay Diokno of Maryland Newsline on Agent Tim Online. She did a wonderful job, and it gives an in-depth look at my website from a technical side (not so much a spiritual side, but at the time I hadn’t really pounded out my spiritual goals for this site.)

Praying For David Ludwig?

Last night I had the wildest thought and feeling
– I felt sorry for a killer. I felt a need to pray for him, his family, those he affected, and most importantly for his soul. This killer was David Ludwig, my ever-popular example for teens gone bad. His actions, killing his 14-year-old girlfriend’s parents in cold blood, should have been punished by death, yet I believe he probably received a sentence far worse – a life sentence thinking about his crime and surviving prison life.

His evil words of “It was an intentional murder, I intended to shoot them, and I did” still makes my blood boil, and saddens me, hurts me. How can anyone be so evil, so disgusting, so depraved. Then I remembered what I wrote back in November.

It’s a story of two teens who were called normal, homeschooled, and Christians. It’s a story that shows us that we cannot at any time say we aren’t that bad. We are all capable of grabbing a gun and shooting anyone. It’s just another example of the sinful nature of man. We cannot avoid the fact that we all are sinners. Man is not naturally good. These stories show us that fact over and over again. They reveal the sinfulness of man, and the holiness of God.

I then realized that I needed to pray for this fellow sinner
. I saw him in his cell, teary-eyed, cold, broken, and alone. And I saw his need for the true gospel which it sounds like he never really heard. I understood that it’s only by God’s grace that I am not there sitting beside David -a killer, a murderer.

Once again it struck me – we’re not only all sinners like David, but we’re all murderers at heart. We’ve all hated – and in God’s courtroom we’re in huge trouble. Yet there is the beautiful, shining gospel.

I hope that you will pray for David Ludwig today.

Listen to my prayer, O God,

do not ignore my plea;

hear me and answer me.

My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught

at the voice of the enemy,

at the stares of the wicked;

for they bring down suffering upon me

and revile me in their anger.

My heart is in anguish within me;

the terrors of death assail me.

Fear and trembling have beset me;

horror has overwhelmed me.

I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!

I would fly away and be at rest-

I would flee far away

and stay in the desert;

Time To Be Holy

Our Christianity in America suffers from a severe case of mediocrity – it is an inactive, lethargic and pathetic Christianity. Today, Christians have decided to sit on the fence, to become acceptable to the culture surrounding them. Instead of being in the world, Christians have become “one” with the world.

Christians have been called to be “dead to sin” and be “alive in Christ,” yet so many today are “accepting Christ as their Savior” and continuing to live in immorality, sin and hypocrisy. Many of these believers are either false converts or they believe that there is a divide in our spiritual life and our physical life. That is just no so.

Everything done physically affects the spiritual life of a believer. The mind (or the brain) influences everythings that a person does, both spiritually and physically. It is, in fact, the very essence of a person and is who they are.

When Christians allow themselsves to buy into the lie that what they allow themselves to see and hear will not affect them, the Devil immedietly wins the battle over them with no resistance. Christians must always be away that “garbage in” always equals “garbage out.” We cannot allow ourselves to believe that our physical decisions will no make us who we really are and our spiritual decisions will no make us who we are.

Christians are to be cultivating a hatred of sin and living in fear of a holy and just God
. So many times the thought of an all-knowing God is put out of mind, dismissed, or demeaned to the point where it does not bring out a sense of fear in the sinner. Christians should be, no, must be, striving for a healthy fear of God. They must also be daily on their knees in repentance, something that will be lifelong in their journey of sanctification.

The Christian must answer to a higher calling, a call to holiness and not happiness, a call to repentance and not sin, and a call to see and hear good, not evil. When the church finally understands that they must be holy through and through, not just spiritually, then will they finally understand sanctification and holiness. It may sound fundamental, and it may sound legalistic, but that’s just too bad if it sounds that way. Reading the Word of God will reveal to you that their is no divide between the spiritual and the phyisical – we are to be completely holy.

You Tube, You Witness

As many of you know, I am not a big fan of MySpace. I find it to be a site not really worth wasting time on – and that’s saying the least. I don’t believe it’s a place for friends, and it’s not really a place where Christian teens should be spending their time. I think it should be as it was meant to be –a place for bands to connect with their fan club. No more than that.

The Christian Post had a recent interview with the Internet Evangelism Coalition on MySpace, Xanga, and other blog sites and their implications for Christians involved in reaching millions of lost people surfing the internet.

CP: The goal for the Internet Evangelism Coalition has been to encourage churches to use the Web for evangelism and outreach. Have you seen an increase in the utilization of the Internet especially the phenomenon of MySpace.com among churches?

Rev. Robby Richardson: First of all, [the goal has] always been to stimulate Internet evangelism with individuals, churches and parachurches, not just churches. And yes, I think we are seeing an increase in how individuals and churches and other organizations are using the Internet for evangelism. One of the things about the Internet is that it is a constantly changing medium. If you were to go back even in a short history and trace how it was used, it went from informational to interactive. And now the big phenomenon is the whole community aspect which MySpace and Xanga and Facebook and so forth are a great example of. So one of the things we’re trying to do with this conference is to stimulate some thinking about how does that fit into the role of evangelism. It’s not anymore just reprinting a tract and putting it online, but how does this whole phenomenon of the Internet as community building … what opportunities does that give us to communicate the Gospel effectively?

That is an extremely interesting question – how are we to use the amazing new tools that have been placed before us effectively? How are we as Christians to take hold of the internet and use it for good? Can we do it without stumbling? The Christian Post wondered something very similar in it’s interview.

CP: There are many concerns over the dangers of an online tool like MySpace.com as it draws sexual predators and features inappropriate language or images. Would you say there’s more concern than the opportunity?

Richardson: I wouldn’t say more concern than the opportunity, but there sure is a very legitimate concern and a need to understand how these things work and what our involvement should be. Part of the discussion is going to be the question ‘Do we provide social networking opportunities for church youth groups or those things that don’t have those aspects of inappropriate language or inappropriate advertising’ versus ‘If we remove ourselves from the marketplace, if we take the Christian voice out of the national conversation, who’s left to represent the Gospel?’ And I think that’s the balance that’s there. So part of it becomes: ‘What are we trying to accomplish?’ If we’re trying to accomplish edification of Christians, if we’re trying to accomplish giving an opportunity for Christians to communicate with similar like-minded Christians, then yes, having an opportunity where people of like-mind can be together is great. But if in doing that we’re pulling ourselves out of the marketplace and we’re saying ‘Hey, we’re afraid of what’s there so therefore we’re going to pull the authentic voice out,’ we’re removing any opportunity for people to see the reality of a relationship with the living Christ. So it’s not an ‘either/or,’ it’s a ‘both/and.’ It’s a spectrum of understanding the nature of what the phenomenon is, understanding some of the dangers and being wise in how we do those things. But I think what the world needs to see, whether it’s a group that I hang out with, a softball team that I play on, or a community group online, is an authentic relationship with the living savior. And the only way to do that is to flesh it out in front of a watching world. If we step away from that world where they can’t see it, then we’re not going to flesh it out in front of them; they’re not going to see that authentic relationship.

I think that it is important that we are careful, and don’t fall into either ditch of “we can’t ever use it because it has such and such related to it” but we must not barge on ahead unaware of the issues and problems involved – and we need to address those problems as Christians and we must not ignore them. But we must be involved in evangelism.

I do not believe the best way is to surf MySpace, posting gospel messages, though that is certainly a legitimate means of sharing the gospel (if you are doing it correctly. ) I truly believe that the most effective means of sharing the gospel on the internet in the future will be with sites such as YouTube – a highly interactive site with videos of anything you will ever want to see (and things you probably won’t want to see.) I believe it will be the future in internet evangelism.

Can you imagine a place where you can not only hear the message, but you can also see the person delivering the message – it’s just like Television, without the televangelists telling you that you’ll have a better life. It will be videos of Christians truly concerned with the lost, begging them to come to the Savior – telling them of their sin and their need to repent.

I strongly encourage you to make some evangelistic videos
– especially if you have some good equipment and can produce something that will catch non-Christians and lead them to listen to a clear gospel message. If we could make videos like Rhett and Link with sin, turn and repent messages strongly emphasized in them, we could save so many. It’s time to put into action what we preach.

I have high and lofty goals for this website, some which have been discarded or just haven’t even come close to being met. But I have one large goal that I believe everyone will benefit from. In fact, it will make your life easier, and it will make me happy.

Here is what you need to do. First, look on the sidebar and see where it says “Contact?” Good. Now, look at the bottom of that section of the sidebar and look where it says “Subscribe By Email.” That’s what I need you to do – type in your email address and get each article on this website by email. It’s really nice for when you don’t have time to surf the net. All you have to do is check your email and you have Tim Sweetman’s articles in your inbox.

No spam will be sent to you
– it is strictly article from the site in a nice format.

I want to get 15 new subsribers by the end of the week
– it’s simple, it’s fast, and it’s very helpful to you as a reader. So, what are you waiting for? Start getting Agent Tim Online!

UPDATE You guys are amazing. Just five more people and we’re reached the goal in less than half a week.

Photo Courtesy of Sam LeVan.