Is The Tide Turning?

Albert Mohler alerted his readers yesterday of an interesting story in Time Magazine about the turning tide of youth ministry. In the current issue of Time, writer Sonja Steptoe was suggesting that evangelical youth ministry is “trending toward substance and away from what it calls a ‘sugarcoated’ approach.”

Youth ministers have been on a long and frustrating quest of their own over the past two decades or so. Believing that a message wrapped in pop-culture packaging was the way to attract teens to their flocks, pastors watered down the religious content and boosted the entertainment. But in recent years churches have begun offering their young people a style of religious instruction grounded in Bible study and teachings about the doctrines of their denomination. Their conversion has been sparked by the recognition that sugarcoated Christianity, popular in the 1980s and early ’90s, has caused growing numbers of kids to turn away not just from attending youth-fellowship activities but also from practicing their faith at all.

Whose ministries were specifically being looked at? None other than Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Although this is exciting, we need to remember that it may not necessarily be true — but I am leaning towards the understanding that Christian teenagers in this age are moving towards substance, towards a deeper faith in Christ. They are searching for something that has meaning and “meat” instead of entertainment or “baby’s milk.” Many churches and youth groups are not doing a good job of growing young believers to become leaders in the church. Instead, they entertained so much that they lose focus on the main things, the important things, and when it is time to leave they desire to stay in their comfort zones within the youth group. Youth pastors and leaders need to get their young people out of their comfort zones and begin to help them grow spiritually mature — otherwise, they will not stay.

In keeping with the thought of young men and women searching for substance and great teaching, I stumbled across an article by Rebecca Hagelin, writing about Salvo Magazine.

“Salvo is a quarterly publication, and you can subscribe or secure a copy of the autumn 2006 premiere issue, which covers everything from euthanasia to evolution,” she wrote. “The Salvo team presents the moral side of these issues so skillfully that young adults who might normally tune out a stodgy lecture will find themselves absorbed — and beginning to realize there’s another side to these issues — namely, a moral perspective that works. A quick trip to is certain to whet your appetite for more.”

And even more evidences of a changing generation can be seen through Regenerate Our Culture, the Rebelution movement, Teen Pact, Communicators for Christ, NCFCA, and many other organizations. The tide very well may be turning.

Facing The Giants

From the award-winning producers of FLYWHEEL comes a new, action-packed, family-friendly drama about a high school football coach who draws up a new game plan for his team … and himself.

In his six years of coaching, Grant Taylor has never had a winning season. Even the hope of a new season is squelched when the best player on his Shiloh Eagles decides to transfer schools. After losing their first three games of the season, the coach discovers a group of fathers are plotting to have him fired. Combined with pressures at home, Coach Taylor has lost hope in his battle against fear and failure.

However, an unexpected challenge helps him find a purpose bigger than just victories. Daring to trust God to do the impossible, Coach Taylor and the Eagles discover how faith plays out on the field … and off.

With God, all things are possible …

Facing the Giants was an incredible film, a wonderful story of overcoming apathy and putting our faith in God, whether He decides to bless us or not. If you have not taken the time to see it, you need to take the time and support this film — don’t wait. As you sit in the theatre, you will laugh and cry — even if you know nothing about football! I really can’t say how much I enjoyed this film when I viewed it this past weekend. It completely blew me away, and I might daresay changed my life in many ways.

If this film is not in your area, call your local theatre and request it. Here are a few other resources for you to get the word out on this amazing movie.

Plugged In Online Review // Promote The Film // The Rebelution Review // Visit The Website

The Sin of Blogging

In the recent edition of Ambassador Youth, a publication of the Restored Church of God, writer Kevin Denee took on the blogosphere, coming to the conclusion that “NO ONE–including adults–should have a blog or personal website (unless it is for legitimate business purposes).” Denee took on cyberstalking and inappropriate content on social networking sites such as MySpace, making a strong argument against its use. He also look at the emotional immaturity shown on many blogs.

“Most blogs, especially by teenagers,” said Denee, “serve as nothing more than public diaries…Certainly, professional weblogs can make a positive difference within some elements of society. However, teen blogging does not.”

Denee also looked at the “openness” of blogs and lack of privacy. “People will now do and say things that should only be done in private—or, frankly, should not be said or done at all.” A quick surf through MySpace or even Xanga quickly reveals a shocking level of “dirt” that would never be exposed in daylight.

“Propriety, decorum and decency are not elements considered on blogs. People simply blurt things out, without considering the contents or consequences.”

Kevin Denee continues his evaluation of blogs by taking on a tough pill to swallow for bloggers around the world, whether they are social network addicts or even professionals: vanity.

“If you post mundane details of your life, you are in effect saying that your life is important and that people should read about it,” he exhorts. “Also, whether or not you admit it, having a blog with your name, your picture and your opinions strokes the human ego—it lifts you up. It essentially advertises the self! Many teenagers say, “Listen to me, world, and what I have to say,” when they should be focused on changing and cleaning up their lives.”

In a close correlation, he took on the sin of idle words found on many blogs. He lists issues such as “blathering on blogs—mindless words and idle communication,” foul language, as well as the filthy quizzes found on most sites, namely MySpace. “The contents of blogs can often best be described as “trashy” and express shallowness,” concludes Renee. “What is deemed as a higher level of communication is simply a mindless form of entertainment.

Another aspect that Kevin Denee attacks, or rather points out, is the issue of boredom. “Teens spend hours on these blogs searching, reading about other people and writing their own thoughts…Boredom in action.”

A large part of this evaluation was spent on the “appearance of evil.”

“…Sometimes questionable photos are posted. People can easily draw conclusions about a person by his photos—whether they are right conclusions or wrong ones. For example, what would you conclude if you saw multiple pictures of a person holding up a beer bottle? You might assume he is someone who spends a lot of time partying. It doesn’t matter whether the person is of drinking age and that they had only one drink—there is no way to know the context when only looking at a series of pictures.

Another element is that inappropriate advertisements can show up on one’s webpage. An example would be “Are YOU a good flirt?”, with hearts dancing around the ad. While most Internet users would know that you can’t control the showing of certain ads, others would not know this and would assume you are responsible.

Blogs can easily link to each other. This social network allows people to become “friends” fairly easily with another blogger. As soon as this happens, the person is viewed as a friend by anyone who visits the blog. Whether or not the person is a friend, the appearance of evil is glaring in such situations. Young people in the world are far different then those in the Church of God. The things most will say and do—even on someone else’s blog—will make one blush.
This “friends” problem goes further than just appearances. Just as in person, such people will pull you toward the world and its temptations. This is just another reason blogs are unnecessary for God’s youth.”

In a sudden change of events,
and probably because of a large backlash, the writer wisely changed his statement that ““NO ONE–including adults–should have a blog or personal website (unless it is for legitimate business purposes)” to “RCG youth, and even adults, should not personally blog or maintain the type of personal websites described above.” Most readers by this point understand that the writer is speaking of a normal teen blog found on MySpace, Xanga, and even Blogger. Originally, the mistake was made when social networking sites and “blogs” were lumped together into one whole without considering the major differences found between the two.

Kevin Denee did a wonderful job in exposing the dangers found within these social networking sites,
and comes to the right conclusion – it is a bad idea to have one for all the reasons he describes in great detail. And it is obvious that many have taken this article in the wrong light, especially in its original form. So, in conclusion, we as bloggers and readers must take this in its proper light, expressing gratitude to this writer for his wise words of exhortation and taking to heart the issue of social networking sites which cannot be ignored and must be addressed head on.

Edit: Notice I said “social networking sites” when I mention he came to the right conclusion. Not blogs. Just making that ultra-clear.

A Good Many Things

I want to share so much with everyone, but I only have a short time to highlight just a few things pertaining to myself, this site, and a good many things.

First and foremost some may wonder at my absence, and I really hate writing about it. I hate reading other blogs that have frequent posts from their authors who are constantly saying “Well, it’s been a month since I’ve written!” I don’t have that habit. But I do believe this is the longest period of time where I have not written a single word on this site. And that is quite sad. But my writing has been poured into other sources, some of which I will enumerate at a much later date. But one happens to be Regnerate Our Culture.

Regenerate Our Culture is looking for individuals who have a passion for the written word, desire to help change the culture, and can commit time to proofreading a few articles each issue. You’ll get to read articles ahead of everyone else, gain experience in editing, and be part of the magazine team! If your interested, just email, tell us a little about yourself, and mention the typo you found in this post (or section of this post).

The spots tend to fill up quickly, so be sure to get your application in soon!

Make sure you email them — it’s an organization that is growing by leaps and bounds.

I also wanted to alert you to a few things — first, a wonderful new tool from Google. It’s the Google Reader, a central and easy way to keep up on blogs. Make sure you get a hold of this free tool and use it!

Another thing that I found interesting was an article on “Why Blog Post Frequency Does Not Matter Anymore.” I thought it pertains highly to the content of this post. Interesting thoughts from that article. Well worth your time to take a look.

Lastly, Tim Challies has issued a “challenge.” I think we should all take him up on it.

That Is Dying To Self

When you are forgotten or neglected or purposely set at naught, and you sting and hurt with the insult of the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ — that is dying to self.

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient loving silence — that is dying to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, or any annoyance, when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility, and endure it as Jesus endured it — that is dying to self.

When you are content with any food, any offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any attitude, any interruption by the will of God — that is dying to self. When you never care to refuse yourself in conversation, or record your own good works, or itch after any commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown — that is dying to self.

When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances — that is dying to self.

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart — that is dying to self.” — Author Unknown (Taken from Different By Design by John MacArthur).

Oh, that each of us could be one who dies to themselves
— oh, that I could be one that is dying to self!

Download The PDF Version!

Happy Birthday, Agent Tim

Agent Tim has been elusive the last few days, but it has all been for a good cause. Some things are even greater than blogging, and in this case good grades and good speeches are better than blogging. But today, we stop to remember two years ago, on this very day, when Agent Tim Online entered to join the blogosphere as one of the youngest bloggers in Christendom – only age 14.

His very first post was entitled “Welcome” and was so short, it isn’t even worth posting here. But his second and third posts were on something near and dear to his heart — evangelism. In this case, evangelism to Muslims. The blog continued for many days, covering mosty soccer highlights, including the infamous “Red Card” post. Finally, he began to truly blog — about a month or two after. His posts began to take on a much more mature feel, covering topics such as the doctrine of Christ, and Halloween. The most comments recieved during this time was a whopping “2.” He was overwhelmed with excitement.

Suddenly, in Febuary of 2004, he made the big time by being linked on Hugh Hewitt’s weblog. He recieved 5 comments during that time – causing a joyous celebration in Agent Tim’s office. But soon after that he recieved 6 comments after being interview by Catez Steven’s, whom he owes a good deal of the blogging “fame” he now has.

Before he knew it, he was blogging about Terri Shiavo, being interviewed by Albert Mohler, and suddenly being interviewed by many magazines. Regenerate Our Culture began. It was amazing – absolutely astounding.

And here I am today, looking back amazed at what God has done over such a short time. It’s incredible, and I want to thank, of course, his grace to me over this time. I want to thank my mom and dad for all of their help in making it to this place — I am eternally grateful. The rest of my family. My Grandma Trott — she sends me such great material for this blog! I want to thank Jake Smith for getting me interested in blogging, as well as Alex King for design and technical help — you are one amazing guy. Travis Henry, I want to thank you for all of your spiritual insight and for exposing me to what a blog really is. I want to thank Catez Stevens for being so gracious during the early years of this blog. Thanks to Tim Challies — we’ve had our disagreements, but you inspire me every day. I want to thank Dr. Albert Mohler for his encouragement, as well as C.J. Mahaney and Joshua Harris. Thank you to La Shawn Barber. I want to thank Alex and Brett Harris for their continued support and amazing writing. I want to thank all of the bloggers who have helped me along the way — Kristin Braun, Jason Braun, Hannah Farver, David Boskovic, David Macmillan, Kierstyn Paulino, David Ketter (I can’t say enough about how great this guy has been!), Karen Kovaka, Palm Boy (Robert W.), Isaac MacMillen, Brian Whalen, and all the rest of you…every commenter on this site (even One Salient Oversight!). All of the great “uber-bloggers” out there who have inspired me each and every day with there posts.

Thank you for all of your influence.
I wouldn’t be here without you.

A Deeper Reason

The recent rash of school shootings has caused many a soul to hurt quite deeply, and has personally left me reflecting deeply on the issues surrounding such horrible situations of young men and women killing others, and then themselves. I have oft wondered why such things could happen, beyond a simple explanation that “sin is in our world.” I understand the basics of the issue, but it is so much more complex. What kind of sin, what causes this horrible sin, and how can these killings be avoided? We’re going to look at three reasons for situations such as these: the destruction of the family, the destruction of purpose, and the destruction of passion.

Ever since Columbine we have seen many school massacres and killing sprees, all quite similar – an armed criminal enters the school, shoots students before finally taking his own life. These horrendous acts leave us chilled in our souls, and left to wonder how such a thing could happen, and how one human being could become so hard and so cold as to take the life of others as well as his own. What, in a broad sense, are the reasons behind acts such as these?

Family Destroyed

Some may contend that the crux of the issue is that we as Americans have no value of human life. Abortion is rampant, murder is not punished by death, euthanasia is becoming more acceptable. The family system, which has its place in human value, has been destroyed. As Americans, we see that since the family has been destroyed, we have no support structure, and men and women have nothing to live for. Homosexuality and other sexual sin pervades our society. No one is a person, he is just an animal made for pleasure for himself and for others to enjoy. Not only that, but evolution has convoluted our understanding of who man is, due to the fact that we no longer believe in God, therefore the statement that “what we believe in God is the most important thing about us” is proven true. When we believe nothing, nothing is wrong.

Who is God?

There is no God, no purpose, no meaning, no reason to live. Therefore, there is no reason to live to please another being. There is no reason to live to glorify a creator. There is no reason for respect of creation. There is a denial of the fact that we are all innately sinful, therefore everyone is disappointed at what they see in the world. The interesting thing about the belief that we are all innately good is that, when we are disappointed, others look at that and say that we just have a wrong definition of “good.” There are different definitions of good, and all are equally valid. Once tolerance seeps in, morality is destroyed, and the destruction of passion creeps into our lives.

Who Cares

The opposite of passion is apathy, which is a “lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.” Apathy is what so many people in our nation have today – in contrast to many others in our world who are dying for what they believe in. They search for something to die for, but they cannot find it. They attempt to find their purpose in everything but in God and in the glorious gospel, and in doing so, they destroy morality – they believe that perhaps they can just “be good,” yet without the gospel they only see themselves falling short with no hope. At this point, tolerance jumps to the forefront of our thoughts, leading not to promotion of people’s reason to live, but rather demoting their belief’s. There is no reason to believe wholeheartedly something that could be false. There is no reason to live with a passion in something that you only halfway believe.

And that is America today. A land with a destroyed family system, a destruction of purpose, of God, and of morality, and lack of passion. We are an apathetic land.

The Solution

The question for us is “how are we to fix this problem?” How can we change a nation? We can’t. Only God can. But we can come before God, asking him to bring us out of apathy, asking him to change and regenerate our lives. Perhaps it is “becoming rebelutionary” and finally “living a regenerate life.” Perhaps it is finally getting back to daily devotions, time with God, each and every day. Maybe it is simply speaking up for what you believe, knowing that it may not be well accepted. Simple things like these can turn a generation of apathetic men and women who look in all the wrong places for passion, into a nation of people who believe in what they are fighting for.

Answers To Questions and Other Such Things

I received a few emails over the time I was attending the Communicators for Christ conference, one of which I felt unqualified to answer. So, I decided to find someone, or rather “someones” to answer the issue that was brought up in the email. So, the ladies from Beauty from the Heart graciously answered the email with great skill. Here’s a clip:

We recently received an e-mail with questions regarding dating/courtship. We don’t profess to have all the answers (there are many people from whom it would be better to ask advice), but we do think that this e-mail contains questions which many of us have. We’ve done our best to answer them Biblically, and we’re interested in your input as well.

Here’s the note:


I recently started “courting/dating” a guy. I am 99.999% positive he in “the one”….I don’t want to compromise on my standards as far as a physical relationship goes (ex: I want our first kiss to be on our wedding day- or at least when we get engaged) but my parents don’t want us to even touch each other at all till out wedding day… I think holding hands would be ok, and so does my boyfriend… any suggestions on what to do without disrespecting my parents [sic] rules?Continue Reading!

The funny thing is, this whole issue ties in closely with the latest edition of Regenerate Our Culture:
purity. And along with this new issue of ROC comes a brand new feature: the Podcast Network, featuring not only the popular Square Talk Radio (which has a wonderful new podcast out minus my less than desirable audio), but also a new podcast with the popular apologetics king David MacMillan called “Without Excuse,” and another podcast called “Midrash” hosted by theologian and blogger David Ketter of the Account. And of course it comes with a beautful new design with a slew of new features. It’s certainly not something you will want to miss.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.