reb•e•lu•tion (reb’el lu shen) n. a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture.

3/31/2006

Merchants of Cool: Teens, Culture, and MTV

In January of 2004, David Kupelian, vice president and managing editor of WorldNetDaily.com and Whistleblower Magazine, published a shocking, but excellent, exposé of modern youth culture (Link: Part 1 - Part 2), based in part upon a 2001 PBS Frontline documentary (Link: The Merchants of Cool).
CAUTION: Due to the nature of the topic, Mr. Kupelian's article and the Frontline documentary (linked to above in order to give proper credit) contain graphic language, as well as disturbing themes, images, and descriptions. This post includes choice excerpts, in hopes that you won't have to dig through any grime to find them yourself.

Both article and documentary were targeted at an adult audience, however, much of the information is of arguably greater importance to young people themselves. In this post I will be letting Mr. Kupelian and others speak for themselves, with brief additional commentary. Please consider carefully what they have to say:
"They want to be cool. They are impressionable, and they have the cash. They are corporate America's $150 billion dream."

That's the opening statement in PBS's stunning 2001 Frontline documentary, "Merchants of Cool," narrated by Douglas Rushkoff. What emerges in the following 60 minutes is a scandalous portrait of how major corporations – Viacom, Disney, AOL/Time Warner and others – study America's children like laboratory rats, in order to sell them billions of dollars in merchandise by tempting, degrading and corrupting them.

Think that's a bit of an overstatement?

It's an understatement.
Both Mr. Kupelian's commentary and the Frontline documentary confirm many of the messages we've written about here on The Rebelution. They do so by going in depth and undercover into modern, media-defined youth culture:
"Today," [Frontline correspondent Douglas Rushkoff] discloses, "five enormous companies are responsible for selling nearly all of youth culture. These are the true merchants of cool: Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp, Disney, Viacom, Universal Vivendi, and AOL/Time Warner."

"The entertainment companies, which are a handful of massive conglomerates that own four of the five music companies that sell 90 percent of the music in the United States – those same companies also own all the film studios, all the major TV networks, all the TV stations pretty much in the 10 largest markets," University of Illinois Communications Professor Robert McChesney reveals in the documentary. "They own all or part of every single commercial cable channel."
Professor McChesney echoes the theme of The Rebelution's post My iPod Is My Best Friend, explaining how the entertainment companies use all forms of media to shape and mold the character, and consequently, the desires of young people:
"They look at the teen market as part of this massive empire that they're colonizing... [A]nd their weaponry are films, music, books, CDs, Internet access, clothing, amusement parks, sports teams. That's all this weaponry they have to make money off of this market."
And as The Rebelution wrote in The Myth of Adolescence:
[M]edia-saturated youth culture, not only follows trends and fads, but it creates them. Classrooms, TV shows, magazines, and websites, are not only addressing us at the level of social expectations, but they are in fact dictating those expectations.
Mr. Kupelian agrees, describing the same concept with even greater candidness:
[C]ompanies are creating new and lower and more shocking... marketing campaigns, disguised as genuine, authentic expressions of youthful searching for identity and belonging, for the sole purpose of profiting financially from America's children...

This would be bad enough – if corporate America were just following and marketing the basest instincts of confused, unsupervised teenagers. But they are not following, they are leading – downward.
According to Rushkoff, it's a vicious cycle:
"It's one enclosed feedback loop," Rushkoff says. "Kids' culture and media culture are now one and the same, and it becomes impossible to tell which came first--the anger or the marketing of the anger."
And as Frontline reports:
[O]bservers say [that] as everyone from record promoters to TV executives to movie producers besieges today's teens with pseudo-authentic marketing pitches, teenagers increasingly look to the media to provide them with a ready-made identity predicated on today's version of what's cool.
Both Mr. Kupelian and the documentary spend a considerable time addressing two such "cool" creations of corporate youth-marketing: the "mook" and the "midriff."

The mook, Mr. Kupelian states, is a caricature of the wild, uninhibited, outrageous and amoral male. Take for instance, professional wrestling, the most-watched shows among teen males today.

The midriff, on the other hand, is a mini Britney Spears, obsessed with appearances — a sexual object, but proud of it. While the mook is arrested in adolescence, the midriff is prematurely adult. As was written in The Myth of Adolescence:
In what could be considered the most maddening aspect of this crisis, not all areas of maturity are being stunted... It is heartbreaking that so many young girls, while constantly pressed to become more and more sexually alluring, are not expected to attain any notable level of character beneath the surface.
And of course, the media is very careful to undermine the young person's ability to receive and benefit from the wisdom and experience of their parents and other God-established figures of authority:
[S]ays Miller, "it's part of the official rock video world view, it's part of the official advertising world view, that your parents are creeps, teachers are nerds and idiots, authority figures are laughable, nobody can really understand kids except the corporate sponsor."
The purpose of Mr. Kupelian's article (and the purpose of this post) is not to create a feeling of hopelessness, but to call us to action — to wake up and recognize the lies of our culture for exactly what they are: lies. As Mr. Kupelian concludes, our only hope in combating the culture is to "create (or plug into) another culture entirely - a subculture."

Mr. Kupelian, sir, thank you for stating the truth with such boldness. Allow me to introduce you to The Rebelution.

For those of you who have been around since the beginning, you may remember the post "Rebelize" Your Youth Group, where the following was written:
The only way to truly combat cultural expectations is to create a [counter] culture that results in an entire community of mature and responsible young people.
Brett and I believe that it was for that very purpose that this blog, and now the conferences, came into existence. Our sidebar of links to fellow rebelutionary's blogs and websites (like Regenerate Our Culture) is just the beginning of an online counter-culture that is quickly becoming a very real Christian youth movement — a movement of young adults rebelling against the rebellion and corruption that is being constantly thrown at them.

Thoughts, ideas, or questions? The comments section is open.

3/30/2006

The World Is Flat (Part 1): Competition On Our Plateau

On August 9, 2005, Brett posted the first installment of The Rebelution's first-ever series: "The World Is Flat." He had just finished Thomas Friedman's book by that title, and was asking himself, "How does a level global playing field affect teenagers?" The following post was his attempt at answering those questions.
The convergence of technology and events over the past several decades has allowed India and China, as well as many other countries, to become major players in the global supply chain for services and manufacturing; so argues Thomas L. Friedman in his book, "The World Is Flat." As the title indicates, Friedman believes that the playing field is being leveled.

This isn’t news to us. The “Made In China” label can be found on winter jackets from Timberland, on the cheap toys accompanying McDonald’s Happy Meals, and on the yellow Livestrong bracelets that champion cancer research. Many of us have recognized the thinly veiled Indian accent of the young man walking us through our computer glitch, though not all of us know that this Microsoft employee is actually working from a cubicle in Bangalore, India.

Technology has multiplied the possibilities for collaboration. Call center operators and assembly line workers can be hired, paid, and put to work wherever it is cheapest and most efficient to do so. This is recognized by Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, Wal-Mart, Texas Instruments, etc, etc, etc. The newest methods of collaboration have been adopted in the medical field, where doctors can scan handwritten medical reports, diagnoses, and prescriptions at night before heading home and receive them back the next morning as transferable digital files (carefully transcribed by workers in India) and peer reviewed (most likely from doctors in India or Australia who operate in the opposite day/night time zone).

This means that China, India, Australia, etc. are gaining the ability to do work that they wouldn’t have been able to do 10 years ago. More importantly, they've taken work that was done by Americans 5 years ago and are doing it for a fraction of the cost. Why the change? Technology. Fiber optic cables that run to all corners of the globe carry anything that can be digitized, and countries far behind us are picking themselves back up by feeding on the scraps from our table. They do our manufacturing, they man our call centers, and they wait their turn. For now many of them seem to understand that the United States paves the way, but others seem ill content to remain inferior. As one Chinese businessman put it, “First we were scared of the wolf, then we wanted to dance with the wolf, and now we want to be the wolf.”

These countries have been pushing themselves to compete with the U.S. and have now been granted the technology to stand on our plateau. The question is, “Are we ready for them?

3/28/2006

Registration Open For Orlando Conference

The Rebelution is still looking for hosts for the 2007 tour [Click here for target regions and cities]. If you have already contacted us about hosting please make sure that we have contact information for you. You can email us at: rebelution [dot] blogspot [at] gmail [dot] com

3/26/2006

Do Hard Things in the Midst of Pain

Faith Felicity was born to Joel and Kimberly Harris on August 8th, 2005, about 10 months after their wedding. However, as ultrasounds had revealed prior to birth, Faith had a severe congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a complicated medical condition and the most severe of congenital heart defects. It can be most simply understood that Faith had only half a heart.

The plan was to undergo a sequence of three open heart surgeries known as the Norwood Procedure. But because of further abnormalities of Faith's heart, an infant heart transplant was the only option. Joel, Kimi, and Faith immediately relocated to Loma Linda, CA, to await an available heart. It never came.

On October 6th, 2005, Faith Felicity went to be with the Lord — having touched the lives of untold thousands in her two months on earth. Her legacy lives on in the lives of her parents, Joel and Kimberly, who suffered greatly, but did so with patience, hope, and an abiding faith.

Kimberly Noelle Harris (or Kimi), who has just recently started the blog, Kimi Harris, Nonconformist, is much more than a sister-in-law to us. She is lover of Christ who inspires us to greater devotion. She is a seeker of God who moves us to press in harder after holiness. And she is particularly qualified to write on the subject of pain and suffering. In the following guest post, she does so eloquently and beautifully.
Christ promised many things for us, and some of my favorite promises are found in John 14. We find in this chapter the promise of an eternal home with Him, the promise of the Holy Spirit for our help, a promise to answer prayers and, one of my favorite promises, a promise for His peace:

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
(John 14:27)

The reason this verse means so much to me is because I know of His other promises. He has also told us that we will be persecuted:

"Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you..."
(John 15:20)

But not only will most of us deal with persecution, but we we will also deal with "various trials." This could include personal sickness or disease, birth defects, paralysis, death of close friends and family and the list goes on. This is why in both 1 Peter 1 and James 1, we find references to rejoicing in the midst of trials.

I don't bring this up to be a doomsayer, or to bring fear or discouragement, but rather to encourage you in your walk of doing hard things. I would like to encourage you to do hard things in the midst of persecution and hard trials.

It is easy to get excited about the idea of being a rebelutionary but have inaccurate ideas of what that will be like. We could have visions of going out and changing the world with our wise rhetoric, outstanding logic, and courageous stand. The crowds cheer and the confetti falls. This, of course, is possible.

However, if we follow hard enough after God we are most likely going to meet bitter opposition and ridicule from the world. This, on top of personal pain found in this sinful fallen world, could potentially squash a young rebelutionary's ambition.

In an attempt to prepare hearts and minds for the likely hardships of being a disciple of Christ, I would like to bring to the table a discussion of suffering. One of the great themes of this blog is doing hard things. One of the hardest things we will do in this life, is to go through suffering or persecution in a God-exalting way.

I do not intend this post to be a comprehensive theology of suffering, but rather I would like to propose a few challenges to you in how you deal with pain and persecution.
Challenge #1: Do what's right, even when it costs you.
When I was on a secular campus, saying the politically incorrect but biblical viewpoint could cost you your social standing, your teacher's approval and your grade. Will you be silent, or will you take a stand? In this day and age, you could even lose your job for sharing Christ with your co-workers. Do you consider soul winning important enough to lose your job over?

College campuses aside, standing up for unpopular biblical ideas will often cost you discomfort, ridicule and scorn -- even from more secularized Christians. Will you be passive in the face of opposition? Or will you be courageous despite the opposition?

It is possible that persecution in the United States will become much worse very soon. Dr. Albert Mohler estimates that in ten years it will be illegal to preach the gospel in our "free" nation. If that day comes, what and who will you stand for? Would you be willing to stand up for your beliefs even if it meant imprisonment?

Christ was ridiculed and persecuted. And if we are truly following Him we should expect the same. Do hard things. Stand by His strength.
Challenge #2: Worship God when pain enters your life.
The Book of Job offers a striking example of this when Job's entire world falls apart. His wealth is taken away, his children are killed; and all for no apparent reason. How does he respond? He grieves, he tears his robe, he falls down and worships God.

Wow. Are you up for that?

Our society -- including much of the Christian world -- says it's okay to be angry and bitter when calamity strikes. That's the easy, natural thing to do. The trial does hurt, it does bring searing pain. Our automatic response is anger. But the hard thing, and even more importantly, the right thing to do while grieving, is to worship God.

Why would you, and more importantly, how could you do this? That brings me to...
Challenge #3: View God as more valuable than all else.
What could possibly make us willing to give up our freedom, our standing in the world, and our comforts, all for the sake Christ? The answer is to catch a glimpse of the infinite value of Christ -- His immense worth and complete beauty.

When your health fails, a family member dies, you face infertility, loss of wealth, or if Mr. or Mrs. Right never comes, why would you -- and how could you -- still choose to worship God? If you know the all-surpassing value of God; and if His absolute sufficiency satisfies you; then you won't be able to do anything else.

This is the foundational truth that prepares and helps us deal with pain. It is not attempting to downplay the ache of loss or the pain of disease, but it is recognizing the superior worth of Christ.

Remember the parables that Christ spoke about the kingdom of heaven being like a treasure and a pearl?
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field which a man found and hid again, and from joy over it he goes and sells all the he has and buys that field. Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it." Matthew 13:44-45
Notice that both of these men gave up ALL, yet they did it with great joy! Why the joy? Once again, it is because they recognized the superior worth of what they were obtaining for their sacrifice. If we can wrap our minds around this incredible truth, then we can more fully understand the meaning of James 1:2, where we are instructed to "consider it all joy" when we face various trials -- and we will be better prepared for every trial this world holds for us.

In closing, I would like to make one final point. If you have gained the impression that facing trials correctly is done in our own strength, then you have misunderstood. It is only through God's opening our eyes to His worth, and through our relying on Him, that we can do right.

It is not about pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, it is about kneeling before Him in humble submission, crying for help, confident in His eternal mercy.

May we all rely on Him more, and ourselves less. May we consider ourselves lowly, and Him highly. May we consider ourselves weak, but Him strong. And when the storms of life break, take comfort in His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
For a more thorough understanding of suffering, listen to or read John Piper's series entitled, Job: Five Sermons on Suffering, read Joni Eareckson Tada's book, When God Weeps, or Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges.
Make sure you visit Kimi's blog, read her post on what it means to be a 'nonconformist', leave her a comment, and bookmark her blog.

3/25/2006

The Rebelution: A Challenge For My Generation

On the evening of August 8, 2005, two days after Alex started his blog "Conscientious Contemplation," his twin brother Brett decided to start a blog called "Rebelution" and posted a short paper he had written a few months earlier.
Should I ignorantly assume that the blessings I have received in way of gifting & talent, position & family, country & freedom, have been given blindly and without purpose? Should I, heedless of their potential, throw these things away for the sake of convenience? Will I take the road so often traveled and go with the flow rather than against the current? Will I choose the fate of the common man or that of the uncommon man?

Needless to say, a life of sin and sorrow is readily available to all, whereas a life of purity, honor, and virtue is only granted to a precious few. The gifts necessary to change the world are as rare as the man who tries it, while the ability to conform to the world is evident in all its abundance.

The path of the righteous man is overgrown and seldom used. It is a lonely road, often uphill and through deep valleys. The common way offers many amenities, it is a well-worn path, easily traveled and with plenty of company.

Righteousness is work comprised of fleeing from temptation, running to Christ, fighting the good fight, running the race, and wrestling with myself. Complacency, however, offers a road devoid of care. I give myself to the very things I should flee from and fight with. So much easier to choose, so much simpler, and just what we want—yet not what I want.

To change the world God has changed my heart. To fight the fight God has won the war. To run the race Christ has set me free. All this is mine through Christ Jesus my Lord, yet this is the road often missed, often forgotten, often ignored.

The harder road lies before those who choose life and godliness, yet the greater destination, a glorious paradise and a wonderful feast.

This is the path I have chosen, to follow God and to do His will—to change the world, to be a leader—to shine as a light in the darkness that I’ve been placed in, not by chance, but by sovereign purposeful design. Should a candle set in a dark room assume that darkness is his fate? Would it be acceptable for the candle to make peace with the darkness? Not when he holds the potential for glorious light!

Therefore I must take all precautions to guard myself in all holiness, righteousness, and purity. Sin cannot be endured. The war is on, the fight is God's—therefore I will be victorious. No truces will be made; no terms will be accepted. Victory is my end and that through Jesus Christ.

Reminding myself that one slip will destroy all possibilities of great service I will take and pursue all measures of accountability and protection. For if sin reigns I am ruined, and if it gains I have lost.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love I am not consumed, for His compassion’s never fail. They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”

In what confidence, you ask, do I make such resolve? Not in my strength for it has failed. Not in my previous accomplishments for they are pale. Not in hope of willpower for it is weak and corrupt. Not in conscience for it is dull. Not in my head, or arms, or legs, or hands, or feet, or anything in me that could supply strength physically, mentally, or spiritually, for they have all failed. They have all fallen short. They have all broken promises they vowed to keep. They have never brought me true or lasting success. They never will. I have no hope in myself.

In what confidence, you ask, do I make such resolve? I make resolve in the strength of God, in the grace, mercy, and power of Jesus Christ. In the salvation I know I have through Him. From the righteousness I have received from Him, from the robes of white that cover my sin, from His blood that was spilt for me, for the love that I feel in His embrace, for everything that is not me and is Him—in this I trust and in this I rest my hope.

You may wonder on reading this whether I will follow through with this resolution. Will it be only sad irony ten years hence that such a thing was ever written by these hands? Will this be a scrap of broken dreams and aspirations? Will I forget in an hour what was so clear and true now?

The answer to those questions will be decided by where I put my trust. Know this to be true: if my trust, despite my words, is in myself, then laugh at my humiliation. What a fool I was. Yet if my trust, as my words testify, is in God, then know with unwavering clarity that there is nowhere I will not go, no mountain I will not climb, no success that will not be realized, as long as all is done for God's glory and in His strength. If my trust is in Him, then honor Him for my success. It will be beyond my dreams and yours if He can only pull my trust to Himself for its eternal resting place.

Who am I? I’m a Christian.

3/24/2006

Playing Catch Up: Atheism, Predestination, Books, Music, Mice and Governmental Spheres

On Saturday, August 6, 2005, some guy named Alex Harris started a blog called Conscientious Contemplation, with this as his first post.
I probably should have started this some time ago... As it stands now, I have a lot to catch you up on. Because of this, I will not be discussing each topic at the depth that I would like. As a further note, please forgive me for being URL happy on my first post. I should calm down, somewhat, within a few months.

To begin, I would really like to get my two latest writing projects (the first a practical and philosophical critique of atheism and the second a nearly 10,000 word argument for the Calvinist doctrine of predestination) on here, but I haven't figured out a way to host them where they can be downloaded. I'll let you know when I do.

More recently my primary focus has been a semi-intense reading plan my father put together for Brett and I, the details of which are outlined below:

Current Reading:

'Future Grace' by John Piper
'The Lexus and the Olive Tree' by Thomas L. Friedman
'America and Vietnam' by Albert Marrin
'Winning the Future' by Newt Gingrich

Completed Reading:

'The Tipping Point' by Malcolm Gladwell
'Joshua Generation' by Michael Farris
'The Radical Reformission' by Mark Driscoll
'The Fabric of the Cosmos' by Brian Greene
'The Enemy Within' by Kris Lungaard
'The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination' by Loraine Boettner
'God's Lesser Glory' by Bruce A. Ware

Coming Up:

'The Underground History of American Education' by John Taylor Gatto
'The Harsh Truth About Public Schools' by Bruce Shortt
'The World is Flat' both by Thomas L. Friedman
'The Most Real Being' by J.A. Crabtree

Suffice to say that the great wealth of knowledge that my mind is being forced to digest is having a profoundly positive effect on my overall understanding and awareness of the world around me. Philosophy class (coupled with my own theological study and my current reading) has really served to connect a myriad of things in my mind.

Moving on: In the world of music we are currently enamored with the British band Keane. The trios unusual makeup of only piano, drums, and vocals makes them unique by itself, but their musical talent and maturity is what sets them apart, in my opinion. Their album 'Hopes and Fears' is one of the few where you come to love every track.

As a random fact, I wish I could get one of these, even though I have a laptop.

To conclude, I recently read Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker's dissenting opinion in a child custody case that has been making headlines recently among the legal and judicial community. The attention is due to several unique aspects of the decision. First, 7 of the 9 justices wrote opinions on the case (unheard of numbers). And second, several justices made multiple references to Scripture to support their decisions. However, it was Justice Parker's lone dissent that I found most compelling and true to both the Founder's intent and biblical teaching on governmental spheres of authority. The AP article on the decision can be found here. Fellow blogger Chad Degenhart links to the full text of Justice Parker's opinion and includes a few (though not all) of the more relevant excerpts here.

There you have it: a highly condensed summary of my recent contemplations. Soli Deo Gloria
Two days later (August 8, 2005) Alex was pleased to announce the availability of his most recent writing projects (mentioned above):

1.) A Practical and Philosophical Dissertation on Atheism

2.) A Treatise Regarding the Supposed Incompatibility of the Divine Sovereignty and the Human Will

3/23/2006

(Heart) Breaking News

Temporary Suspension
The Rebelution Blog is sorry to announce the temporary suspension of our new series "Busy Signal(s)," which will cover the dangers of our generation's media saturation, as well as the innovative and creative ways technology can be used. The reason for this suspension is simple: we don't have time to write it.

The Rebelutionary Cause
Alex and I are currently "stationed" in beautiful Alabama, doing some of the hardest, biggest things we've ever done. We believe we're going to break the twine and twig of cultural expectations in a way few teens have done in recent history. And we'll need your help.

One of the ongoing ways you can help is by being patient as we allow our current obligations in Alabama to steal time away from writing here on the blog. We promise that our work In Alabama is for you guys. We're trying to practice what we preach in a big way -- and in a way that will open doors for all of you. However, in order for us to really aim for excellence, the focus that has made this blog successful must be transferred to our current efforts.

The "Sweet" Suspension Plan

The current plan is to post Rebelution Re-Runs, by going through the archives and educating many of our new readers with some of the essential (and fun) history of The Rebelution. These re-runs will be posted throughout each week, with new posts (currently our "Busy Signal(s)" series) coming out once a week, most likely on Sundays.

We are also in the process of recruiting several excellent guest posters to address a wide range of subjects that will interest rebelutionaries. The duration of this format is indefinite, but who cares? It will be a blast!

The Mysterious Preview

As you may have noticed, we haven't actually told you what we're doing in Alabama -- that's because we can't, yet. But we are very excited about how it will change the landscape for teenagers across the country, by turning culture's expectations upside down. You'll be hearing from us soon about what's going on, and especially, how you can get involved. Stay tuned.

3/21/2006

Busy Signal(s): Our Wired Generation

"Last night, I was watching "Sex in the City" on TiVo with my friend and my dad. I heard this song. I really wanted to download it, but I didn't know what it was called. So, first I went online and I tried to download. I couldn't, but then I was online. One of my friends who had been out of town was back, and I saw him online and we started talking. Then I went back to watch "Sex in the City." I just kept going back and forth. I was eating ice cream too. Then I checked my email. It was late at night. It was getting later. So I was just talking to people. No one really went out because it was Father's Day."

~ Heather, 11th grade, Chicago, June 2003 ~
Welcome to the Generation of the Millenials (born 1980+) -- we are plugged-in, switched on, charged up, and constantly connected to a network of digital devices and multimedia, bringing the "world" to our fingertips in a way no previous generation has experienced.

According to a June 2003 study conducted by Harris Interactive and Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU), the average 13-24 year old spends a cumulative 50 hours per week talking on the phone, listening to the radio, surfing the Internet, and watching television. That's more time than they spend in school -- and it doesn't even include watching movies, listening to music, or emailing.

We live in an age where computers, video game consoles, cell phones, satellite & cable television, PSP's, digital cameras, IMing, PDA's, iPods and TiVo rule the teenage playground -- with more and more teens owning them and using them.

On a typical day, a teenager selects from 200+ cable television networks, 5,500 consumer magazine titles, 10,500 radio stations, 30 million blogs, and over 2 billion websites. There are currently 240 million television sets in the U.S. -- 2 million of which are in bathrooms. [1]

Studies continue to show that not only is media and technology pervasive -- we can't get away from it -- but more and more teenagers believe they couldn't live without it. Vicky, a 17-year-old from Chicago, describes life without Internet as, "Tormented: I would just be sitting, trying to think of something to do. That would be my life."

Clearly, this cultural phenomenon deserves our generation's critique, as well our involvement. We cannot afford to act as passive spectators in a digital revolution which is reshaping us, our peers, and our world.

The consequences of media saturation, such as multitasking and our dependence on instant gratification, must be addressed. The effects of media saturation on brain function, school and work performance, family relationships, and our walk with God must be carefully examined.

Technology is not bad. We must look for the positive and innovative ways in which we can use and adapt to new technology. But we must never forget what it can't do -- and more importantly -- what we can't do while we're using it.
To Be Continued.
[1] "Born To Be Wired: The Role of New Media for Digital Generation" Executive Summary from Harris Interactive and Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) - Commissioned by Yahoo! and Carat Interactive.
[2] Images courtesy of
Harris Interactive and Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU)

3/20/2006

Reflections On A Teenage Edwards

In God's wisdom reflection is best done in retrospect, rather than at outset. As we bring our series, "A Teenager's Resolutions," to a close, we would like to reflect on five prominant characteristics of young Jonathan Edwards, in hope that we might all be challenged to live our lives with greater passion for holiness and for the glory of God.

Driving Passion For God's Glory
We first observe that at 19 years old, Jonathan Edwards desired to be all he could be for the glory of God. In Resolution #1 Edwards establishes the purpose of every resolution that follows, when he writes, "Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory." In Resolution #5, "Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can."

At 19, Edwards constantly challenged himself for greater victory over sin (#56), greater knowledge of doctrine (#11 - #28), greater discretion in company (see below), and greater "exercise of grace" (#30) -- all for the purpose of glorifying God through the subsequent character and competence his efforts produced. [#2, #4, #6, #41, #47, #50, and #63]

Constant Self-Examination

Secondly, we observe that at 19-years-old Jonathan Edwards thoroughly and consistently practiced self-examination. This inclination is displayed in Resolution #37 where Edwards writes, "Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year," and in Resolution #48, "Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of."

Edwards' devotedness to searching his own heart, discerning his motives and desires, and then subjecting them to the light of God's truth, is highly admirable. When Edwards focused inwards, he did so in order to bring his heart and mind -- his emotions and his thoughts -- into greater alignment with God's perfect holiness. Too often we focus inwards in order to discern "how we feel" and then we allow our feelings to dictate our actions. At 19, Edwards would have none of that. [See also: #3, #24, #25, #27, #28, #40, #41, #60, #67, and #68]

Tender-Heartedness
We secondly observe that at 19 years old, Jonathan Edwards genuinely cared about people and sought to be agreeable in every social context. In Resolution #70 Edwards wrote, "Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak." And in #31, "Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind."

More than any other subject, Edwards' Resolutions addressed his interaction with his fellow human beings -- including his family. In Resolution #46 he wrote, "Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family." In case the 18th century English confuses you, Edwards is making an incredible commitment not to argue or whine with his parents. Not only that, but he pledges not even to allow his temper to reveal itself in his voice, or by rolling his eyes. His love for others was the result of his experiencing the love of Christ. [See also: #13, #16, #31, #32, #33, #36, #47, #58, and #66]

Eternal-Mindedness

Fourthly, we observe that at 19 years old, Jonathan Edwards often thought of death and eternity. In Resolution #7 he writes, "Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life." And in Resolution #17 "Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die." In Resolution #22 young Edwards spoke of obtaining "as much happiness in the other world" as he possibly could. And in Resolution #55 he seeks to act as if he had already seen the "happiness of heaven" and the "hell torments."

Young Edwards' concern was for his reception into eternity -- not the reception of men. He embraced the truth of James 4:14 "You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." At 19, Edwards would not adopt the "I'm Invincible" attitude of modern teenagers. He both understood and thought about death and eternity. This was not morbid introspection, but served to focus his heart and mind on what really mattered. This long-term perspective prevented him from getting caught up with how he could best attain immediate pleasure and motivated him to strive after eternal pleasure by denying himself. [See also: #9, #10, #19, and #50]

Dependence On Grace

Finally, we observe that at 19 years old, Jonathan Edwards placed his trust, not in his own strength of will, but on the grace and mercy of Almighty God. The only introduction Edwards makes to his 70 Resolutions is this powerful statement: "Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake."

In Resolution #53 young Edwards determined to "cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer." To those who believe Edwards' resolutions and introspection reveal a man-centered view of salvation and assurance -- as opposed to a Christ-centered and grace-dependent view -- believe so no longer. It was love for Christ that prompted Jonathan to strive after holiness, and it was trust in God's grace that made him hope for victory over vice and sin.

Questions for Discussion:
  • Of the five characteristics outlined above, which two are most lacking your life?
  • Do you endeavor to develop character and competence for your glory or for God's glory?
  • When was the last time you spent time inquiring into the state of your soul, your motives, or your current level of love for Christ?
  • Are you loving others as Christ loved you? Do you, as Edwards' did, place special emphasis on how you treat your family members?
  • Do you make decisions based on short-term or long-term consequences? When was the last time you thought of the "happiness of Heaven" or the "torments of Hell?"
  • Do you hope in Christ alone for salvation, and in God's grace alone for progress in your Christian walk? If not, who and/or what are you trusting in instead of God?
Read Part One - Resolutions #1-10
Read Part Two - Resolutions #11-20
Read Part Three - Resolutions #21-30
Read Part Four - Resolutions #31-40
Read Part Five - Resolutions #41-50
Read Part Six - Resolutions #51-60
Read Part Seven - Resolutions #61-70
Read Closing Statements

A Teenager's Resolutions (Part 7)

THE RESOLUTIONS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS

61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.

62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; "knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord." June 25 and July 13, 1723.

63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan.14' and July '3' 1723.

64. Resolved, when I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those "breakings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be weary, of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton's 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and Aug.10 1723.

66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.

67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. Aug. 17, 1723
Questions For Discussion:
  • In #61 Edwards speaks of "listlessness." How often do you feel "listless" and what do you do to deal with it? In what ways have you endeavored to re-fix your mind on Christ?
  • In #63 Edwards writes of "a complete Christian." What would such a person be like? Have you ever known someone who would fit Edwards' description?
  • In #65 Edwards speaks of laying his soul open to God: "all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance." When was the last time you quiet time with the Lord (no iPod, no anything) and opened your soul to Him?
Read Part One - Resolutions #1-10
Read Part Two - Resolutions #11-20
Read Part Three - Resolutions #21-30
Read Part Four - Resolutions #31-40
Read Part Five - Resolutions #41-50
Read Part Six - Resolutions #51-60
Read Part Seven - Resolutions #61-70
Read Closing Statements

3/19/2006

Terri Schiavo: Teen Blog Roundup (Part 2)

Karen of Rhetorical Response reminds us of why she is one of our favorite teen bloggers:

In The Abolition of Man, CS Lewis correctly predicted the moral state of the western world. With the decline of firm belief in absolutes, the modern world has been left with a moral code that is little more than a frail shell. This code cannot stand against serious onslaughts and shatters when the need for strength and resolve is greatest.

Perhaps the most tragic example of the consequences of weakened principles is the life and death of Terri Schiavo, the woman who, one year ago, was starved to death by the will of her own husband. At a time when protecting those too weak to protect themselves ought to have been the primary concern, America's moral code betrayed some of its greatest principles: the sanctity of life and the defense of the weak and helpless... [read the rest]
Catch Word puts forth an excellent critique of a culture that has deified the Enlightenment concept of reason:
In a world defined by reason and feelings, there is no room for humanity. Reasonable people should think it only sensible to let Terri go. She was in a vegetative state that any reasonable person would abhor. Think of all that she had been. And now to be confined to this broken, twisted body… How could we let her go on like that? What reason was there? With Terri’s right to die we have carried, “I think therefore I am,” to “We can see that you think, therefore you are.”

What reason? That is where the paradigm of Reason breaks down. It is an unanswerable question. Why are we here and what makes us human? For what reason? Humanity is more than reason, and we know it. That’s why we go away from a book of logical plots and cardboard characters unsatisfied. In a world devoid of spiritual realities though, “I” is the only logical answer to the meaning of life. But as nice as that sounds, it is not at all fulfilling.

Humanity is more than rational thought. Life is more than happiness. “I think therefore I am” is not enough to explain the love of a mother for her difficult child or helpless laughter at your best friend’s stupid joke or the sacrifice of patriots for generations they will never meet. These belong to the realm of something bigger than reason… [read the rest]

3/18/2006

Terri Schiavo: Teen Blog Roundup

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the court-sanctioned removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. Over the next thirteen days bloggers across the blogosphere will be remembering Terri's fight for life.

Good friend and rebelutionary, Agent Tim, has taken the iniative to head up a blog roundup for teen bloggers and will be posting links on his blog later this evening. For now, here are a few posts by teens Brett and I have managed to find. Be sure to check out Agent Tim Online over the next two weeks for further posts and links on the issue.

Agent Tim Online has posted a summary of the events surrounding and leading up to Terri Schiavo's starvation and death:

It was only one year ago today that it happened. Really, it’s hard to believe that’s true, but it is. Terri Schiavo’s life is a reminder to us how precious each of days are, and how quickly it can be taken–or stolen–from us. The day Terri’s tube was taken away from her and she was starved to death is a hard and sorrowful thing to remember. It makes you shut your eyes and bury your head into your hands wondering why something like this could happen, and how many times it has happened without us knowing it.

Today, we’re going to take a trip back in time. It starts on March 18th, 2004... [read the rest]
Spunky Junior serves us all an excellent reminder regarding the ongoing battle for life in our world today:
Let's take a moment to remember what happened one year ago today. We prayed, cried, blogged, and continuely paid attention to the news, hoping that she would live, hoping that this innocent woman would be pardoned from her death sentence. When she died, we were saddened by the state of our country. And then we moved on.

Yet the fight for human life is not yet over. 234,851,023 children have been killed since January 2001. More will die today. More will die tomorrow. Each, like Terri, had a life that was cut short. The fight for life should not be forgotten for their sakes.

Are you willing to take a stand to preserve human life?
Jennifer's Musings makes the observation:
The Schiavo case was a sad reminder of America’s carelessness and disregard for human life. To us Christians, human life on earth is precious, belonging to God… to those who deny any supernatural presence, a beating heart is simply another mass of tissue… just another unfortunate occurrence. [read the rest]
Mission Amare encourages her fellow bloggers:
I urge all of you bloggers out there today to write a post about Terri. About life... We can't bring Terri back. But hopefully we can prevent this from happening to other people.

3/17/2006

Rebelution Tour: Conference Recaps

Several conference attendees/bloggers have posted recaps of the first Rebelution Tour conference (with a few pictures!).

Lydia Takeoka: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

Brian Whalen: The Rebelution: A Report

Lindsey Wagstaffe: Rebelution Recap

Brett and I are at the Portland airport, getting ready to board our flight to Orlando, FL. We'll be in Orlando until Sunday, to meet our host team and build support for the July 22nd conference, and we'll be flying to Alabama on Monday morning. Prayers are most appreciated.

3/15/2006

A Fresh Look At Jonathan Edwards (Part 6)

With five installments behind us in our series, "A Teenager's Resolutions," and two more to come, it can become easy to stop -- to stop reading, to stop striving to understand, and to stop seeking to apply to our own lives the wisdom and passion of young Jonathan Edwards.

I will admit that even as I post Edwards' resolutions and diary entries I find myself merely skimming over them -- not delving into them for their full affect on my heart, soul, and mind. Admittedly, I don't think they're as "fun" as some of the other articles we normally post -- the English is definitely much harder to read (though much more beautiful) -- but I cannot deny that they are hundreds of times richer and more substantial.

Reading this series is a "hard thing" that we must push ourselves to do. And we must not only read the series, we must strive to understand what we read. And we must not only understand what we read, but we must seek to apply to our own lives the insights of young Jonathan Edwards -- who, if he was alive today, at 19-years-old, would be one of our peers.

Allow us to again recommend to you, "The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards" -- many of which were written while he was still a teenager. May they quicken your heart after God and light in you a passion for holiness.

THE RESOLUTIONS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS

51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.

54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13 1723. [View Edwards' diary for corresponding entry: July 13, 1723]

58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May27, and July 13, 1723.

59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July ii, and July 13. [View Edwards' diary for corresponding entry: July 13, 1723]

60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4, and 13, 1723. [View Edwards' diary for corresponding entry: July 13, 1723]
Read Part One - Resolutions #1-10
Read Part Two - Resolutions #11-20
Read Part Three - Resolutions #21-30
Read Part Four - Resolutions #31-40
Read Part Five - Resolutions #41-50
Read Part Six - Resolutions #51-60
Read Part Seven - Resolutions #61-70
Read Closing Statements
Questions for discussion:
  • In #52 Jonathan resolves to live now as he will wish he had lived when he is older. If you applied that resolution to your own life, what would you have to change?
  • In #55 Jonathan uses the "happiness of heaven" and the "torments of hell" to motivate him to live for God, right now. Does your current vision of Heaven and Hell cause you to pursue righteousness and fight sin? If not, what must you do to increase your vision of eternity?
  • In #56 Jonathan makes an incredible resolution to never give in or slack off in his fight against indwelling sin. How are doing in your fight against the enemy within? Are you giving in? Are you slacking off? Have you made truce with sin?

Regenerate Our Culture: Launched

Regenerate Our Culture

The countdown has ended. Regenerate Our Culture is here.
The Magazine: The first issue of Regenerate Our Culture Magazine (Online Edition) features articles on literature, forensics competition, theology, and culture, written by some of The Rebelution's favorite young writers, including Karen Kovaka, Alex King, Tim Sweetman, and David Ketter.

The Blog Network: The ROC Blog Network is here. It's really cool. Syndicating some of the best teen bloggers online, the network is designed to make keeping your finger on the pulse of the Christian teen blogosphere a whole lot easier.

3/13/2006

A Teenager's Resolutions (Part 5)

We continue our series on "The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards" -- which were written when he was only 19. As mentioned in Part 2, each installment will include ten of Edward's Resolutions along with a short, supplementary excerpt by or about Edwards.

Today's supplement comes directly from Jonathan Edwards' personal diary in which describe his stuggles in keeping his 75 Resolutions. Edward's diary is a wonderful glimpse into the heart and mind of young man passionate for the Lord.

The format of this, and future posts, will be to alternate between Edward's Resolutions and his diary entries about those Resolutions. We pray that this insight will aid you in understanding and applying young Edward's Resolutions to your own life.

THE RESOLUTIONS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS

41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.
From His Diary: Thursday, Jan. 10, about noon. Recovering. It is a great dishonor to Christ, in whom I hope I have an interest, to be uneasy at my worldly state and condition; or, when I see the prosperity of others, and that all things go easy with them, the world is smooth to them, and they are very happy in many respects, and very prosperous, or are advanced to much honor; to grudge them their prosperity, or envy them on account of it, or to be in the least uneasy at it, to wish and long for the same prosperity, and to desire that it should ever be so with me. Wherefore, concluded always to rejoice in every one’s prosperity, and not to pretend to expect or desire it for myself, and to expect no happiness of that nature, as long as I live; but to depend on afflictions, and to betake myself entirely to another happiness. — I think I find myself much more sprightly and healthy, both in body and mind, for my self-denial in eating, drinking and sleeping. I think it would be advantageous, every morning to consider my business and temptations, and the sins to which I shall be exposed on that day, and to make a resolution how to improve the day, and avoid those sins, and so at the beginning of every week, month and year. I never knew before what was meant, by not setting our hearts on those things. It is not to care about them, nor to depend upon them, nor to afflict ourselves with the fear of losing them, nor to please ourselves with the expectation of obtaining them, or with the hopes of their continuance. — At night; made the 41st Resolution.
42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12. Jan.12, 1723.

44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.
From His Diary: Saturday, Jan. 12. In the morning. I have this day, solemnly renewed my baptismal covenant and self-dedication, which I renewed, when I was taken into the communion of the church. I have been before God, and have given myself, all that I am and have, to God; so that I am not, in any respect, my own. I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, these affections, which are in me. Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members — no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell, or this taste. I have given myself clear away, and have not retained any thing, as my own. I gave myself to God, in my baptism, and I have been this morning to him, and told him, that I gave myself wholly to him. I have given every power to him; so that for the future, I’ll challenge no right in myself, in no respect whatever. I have expressly promised him, and I do now promise Almighty God, that by his grace, I will not. I have this morning told him, that I did take him for my whole portion and felicity, looking on nothing else, as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and his Law, for the constant rule of my obedience; and would fight, with all my might, against the world, the flesh and the devil, to the end of my life; and that I did believe in Jesus Christ, and did receive him as a Prince and Savior; and that I would adhere to the faith and obedience of the Gospel, however hazardous and difficult, the confession and practice of it may be; and that I did receive the blessed Spirit, as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish all his motions to enlighten, purify, confirm, comfort and assist me. This, I have done; and I pray God, for the sake of Christ, to look upon it as a self-dedication, and to receive me now, as entirely his own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether he afflicts me, or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his. Now, henceforth, I am not to act, in any respect, as my own. — I shall act as my own, if I ever make use of any of my powers to any thing that is not to the glory of God, and do not make the glorifying of him, my whole and entire business: — if I murmur in the least at affliction; if I grieve at the prosperity of others; if I am in any way uncharitable; if I am angry because of injuries; if I revenge them; if I do any thing purely to please myself, or if I avoid any thing for the sake of my own ease; if I omit any thing, because it is great self-denial; if I trust to myself; if I take any of the praise of any good that I do, or that God doth by me; or if I am in any way proud. This day, made the 42d and 43d Resolutions: — Whether or no, any other end ought to have any influence at all, on any of my actions; or whether any action ought to be any otherwise, in any respect, than it would be, if nothing else but religion had the least influence on my mind. Wherefore, I make the 44th Resolution.
45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan.12 and 13.1723.
From His Diary: Query: Whether any delight, or satisfaction, ought to be allowed, because any other end is obtained beside a religious one. In the afternoon, I answer, Yes; because if we should never suffer ourselves to rejoice, but because we have obtained a religious end, we should never rejoice at the sight of friends, we should not allow ourselves any pleasure in our food, whereby the animal spirits would be withdrawn, and good digestion hindered. But the query is to be answered thus: — We never ought to allow any joy or sorrow, but what helps religion. Wherefore, I make the 45th Resolution.

The reason why I so soon grow lifeless, and unfit for the business I am about, I have found out, is only because I have been used to suffer myself to leave off, for the sake of ease, and so, I have acquired a habit of expecting case; and therefore, when I think I have exercised myself a great while, I cannot keep myself to it any longer, because I expect to be released, as my due and right. And then, I am deceived, as if I were really tired and weary. Whereas, if I did not expect ease, and was resolved to occupy myself by business, as much as I could; I should continue with the same vigor at my business, without vacation time to rest. Thus, I have found it in reading the Scriptures; and thus, I have found it in prayer; and thus, I believe it to be in getting sermons by heart, and in other things.


At night. This week, the weekly account rose higher than ordinary. It is suggested to me, that too constant a mortification, and too vigorous application to religion, may be prejudicial to health; but nevertheless, I will plainly feel it and experience it, before I cease, on this account. It is no matter how much tired and weary I am, if my health is not impaired.

Sabbath day, Jan. 13. I plainly feel, that if I should continue to go on, as from the beginning of the last week hitherto, I should continually grow and increase in grace. After the afternoon meeting, made an addition to the 45th Resolution. At noon; I remember I thought that I loved to be a member of Christ, and not any thing distinct, but only a part, so as to have no separate interest, or pleasure of my own. At night, resolved to endeavor fully to understand 1 Cor. 7:29-32, and to act according to it.
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.

47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5,1723.

48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.
From His Diary: Saturday morning, May 25. As I was this morning reading the 17th Resolution, it was suggested to me, that if I were now to die, I should wish that I had prayed more, that God would make me know my state, whether it be good or bad, and that I had taken more pains and care, to see and narrowly search into that matter. Wherefore, Mem. for the future, most nicely and diligently to look into the opinions of our old divines, concerning conversion. This morning made the 48th Resolution.
49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it. [Note: I believe this resolution refers to Resolution 48.]

50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.
From His Diary: Friday morning, July 5. Last night, when thinking what I should wish I had done, that I had not done, if I was then to die; I thought I should wish, that I had been more importunate with God, to fit me for death, and lead me into all truth, and that I might not be deceived about the state of my soul. — In the forenoon, made the 50th Resolution.
Read Part One - Resolutions #1-10
Read Part Two - Resolutions #11-20
Read Part Three - Resolutions #21-30
Read Part Four - Resolutions #31-40
Read Part Five - Resolutions #41-50
Read Part Six - Resolutions #51-60
Read Part Seven - Resolutions #61-70
Read Closing Statements

3/12/2006

Praise Report: Snow Update

The Night Before the Conference: On Friday evening, Brian Whalen and Jason Battaglia from Georgia were having dinner with our family and the Stewards (our host family and local coordinators). It had been snowing off and on all Friday, but in the evening it began to build up. There were about three inches of snow when Brian, Jason, Brett, Joel, Kimmy, and I prayed that God would not allow the snow to cancel the conference, while acknowledging His complete control over whether the conference happened the next day.

The Morning of the Conference: When we woke up early Saturday morning, we found that it had not snowed at all during the night. There was still about three inches of snow, but not enough to keep us from leaving. When we arrived at Foothill Christian Fellowship (the conference facility), we were amazed that it had no snow. It had fallen just below the snow line. Very few people cancelled because of the snow, the weather was perfect (if slightly cold), and the facility was crowded.

The Night After the Conference: Yesterday evening, the snow was gone. We went to bed.

The Morning After the Conference: When we woke up this morning there was over six inches of snow. There was also six inches of snow at Foothill Christian Fellowship, forcing them to cancel their service. We were amazed at God's display of His goodness and sovereignty. It could just have easily snowed six inches on Friday night and forced us to cancel the conference. We are so blessed to be able to see the hand of God in everything that happened yesterday. Soli deo gloria!

3/11/2006

One Picture: Rebelutionaries

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One of the highlights of the conference for Brett and I was meeting many of our "blogging friends" in person. Here is one picture we managed to get together.

From left to right: Brian Whalen of Zealous Endeavor, Lindsey Wagstaffe of Daughter of the King, Brett Harris of The Rebelution, Sarah Harris of Fearlessly Feminine, Alex Harris of The Rebelution, Lydia Takeoka of tapiocapuddin, and Jamie Kiley of Jamie Kiley.

Update: Soli Deo Gloria

Thank you all so much for your prayers. God was incredibly good and the conference was amazing. Soli deo gloria! More details to come...

3/10/2006

Update: We Have Arrived

Thank you all for your prayers! Our trip was quite eventful, but God was gracious and we arrived safely around midnight.

Part One: Snow — It was snowing yesterday morning when we left our house, which was quite unexpected. We knew snow was forecasted for the Sacramento area, but not for our area in Oregon. As we made our way south on I-5, the snow steadily increased and visibility went down. Thankfully, the pass over the mountains was unobstructed.

Part Two: Broken Alternator — As we entered California our car's battery suddenly died, the lights went out, and the speedometer started jumping. Although the car was still running, we knew that if we stopped or slowed down, we might not be able to start up again. For some reason, the battery wasn't being recharged. There was something wrong with the alternator. Thankfully, we were able to contact a repair shop in Redding that had a replacement alternator. We barely made it to the shop, after being forced to bring the car to a stop twice at traffic lights. The last time, we were afraid it wouldn't make it across the intersection.

Part Three: "Bowling" — While our car was being worked on, we had two hours to kill. We went to a nearby restaurant and noticed a bowling alley up the road. We finished eating quickly and made our way there, only to find that all the lanes were full. Instead, we spent our time enjoying some classic arcade games (i.e. The Simpsons).

Part Four: Fever — With the alternator replaced, we were on our way again. However, our little brother's temperature had gone up to 104.6º, requiring a quick stop for some children's Tylenol. By God's grace his temperature dropped.

Part Five: Hairpin Curves and More Snow — We finally reached Sacramento and began to make our way to the home of our local hosts. After navigating through incredibly curving roads in the dark, it began to snow again. But finally, at 11:30 PM, we arrived at our destination... About 5 hours later than we planned.

3/08/2006

Sacramento, Alabama... Here we come!

Everything is crazy here at the Harris household as the family prepares for tomorrow's 10-hour drive south to California for The Rebelution Tour's first stop: Sacramento, CA. In just three days (Saturday, March 11th) 475+ people will join together at Foothill Christian Fellowship for an exciting day of worship, teaching, and fellowship.

Last night we finished printing and stuffing 475 nametags. This morning we folded and stapled 500 conference workbooks. This afternoon we picked up 150 conference t-shirts, which joined the nametags, workbooks, and stack of Regenerate Our Culture flyers on the table of "conference stuff."

Current Sacramento Weather Forecast (for Saturday):
High Temp: 43º F - Low Temp: 29º F - Rain and Snow Showers
Prayer RequestsUPDATE: Play particularly for our five-year-old (almost six) brother, James. He currently has a 102.4º F temperature.

Please pray for safe travel for our family and the rest of The Rebelution Tour team members. Pray for health for everyone involved. Pray that the weather will not disrupt the conference in any way. Most importantly, pray that God will prepare the hearts of everyone attending (the audience, the speakers, and the conference team) and that He will accomplish His will through (and beyond) our efforts.

What's With Alabama? — Next weekend (three days after we arrive home from Sacramento) Brett and I will be flying to Orlando, Florida, with our father to meet the local host team for the July 22nd conference. Brett and I will then fly to Montgomery, Alabama, to assume our positions as grassroots campaign managers for several candidates in the upcoming statewide elections, remaining for three months until the primary election on June 6th. Please be praying for us as we quickly change our focus after the conference.
We plan to post pictures and a recap of the conference next week. Thank you all for your prayers!

3/06/2006

A Teenager's Resolutions (Part 4)

Editor's Note: If you can't read this entry in one sitting, please read it in two, or three. Since the writing is not ours Alex and I are unabashed in saying: "This is incredible stuff! READ IT! Treasure every word of it! Especially now as these last 4-5 installments will include Edwards Resolutions along with accompanying entries from his diary. This is an extraordinary opportunity to witness the spiritual battles of young man passionate for holiness.
We continue our series on "The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards" -- which were written when he was only 19. As mentioned in Part 2, each installment will include ten of Edward's Resolutions along with a short, supplementary excerpt by or about Edwards.

Today's supplement comes directly from Jonathan Edwards' personal diary. The editors of JonathanEdwards.com comment: "Edwards started his "Diary" on December 18, 1722 the same day he wrote Resolution number 35 (the half way point). Rather than a recalling of the events of his life Edwards "Diary" is a deep self examination and a barometer of how well he was meeting his "Resolutions". Samples from his "Diary" show a young minister bent on self-improvement not only before men, but more importantly to Edwards, before the God he intensely loved and wanted to please. We do not get a glimpse of life in Pre-Revolutionary America in Edwards diary, instead we get insight of a Christian struggling with sin perfectly applicable today."

The format of this, and future posts, will be to alternate between Edward's Resolutions and his diary entries about those Resolutions. We pray that this insight will aid you in understanding and applying young Edward's Resolutions to your own life.
THE RESOLUTIONS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS

31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.

33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.
From His Diary: Wednesday, Dec. 26. Early in the morning yesterday, was hindered by the headache all day; though I hope I did not lose much. Made an addition to the 37th Resolution, concerning weeks, months and years. At night; made the 33rd Resolution. [Note: This Resolution made after 35-38]
34. Resolved, in narration's never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.

35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.
From His Diary: Dec. 18. This day made the 35th Resolution. The reason why I, in the least, question my interest in God’s love and favor, is, — 1. Because I cannot speak so fully to my experience of that preparatory work, of which divines speak: — 2. I do not remember that I experienced regeneration, exactly in those steps, in which divines say it is generally wrought: — 3. I do not feel the Christian graces sensibly enough, particularly faith. I fear they are only such hypocritical outside affections, which wicked men may feel, as well as others. They do not seem to be sufficiently inward, full, sincere, entire and hearty. They do not seem so substantial, and so wrought into my very nature, as I could wish. — 4. Because I am sometimes guilty of sins of omission and commission. Lately I have doubted, whether I do not transgress in evil speaking. This day, resolved, No.
36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.
From His Diary: Dec. 19. This day made the 36th Resolution. Lately, I have been very much perplexed, by seeing the doctrine of different degrees in glory questioned; but now have almost got over the difficulty.
37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec.22 and 26, 1722.
From His Diary: Dec. 20. This day somewhat questioned, whether I had not been guilty of negligence yesterday, and this morning; but resolved, No.

Dec. 21, Friday. This day, and yesterday, I was exceedingly dull, dry and dead.

Dec. 22, Saturday. This day, revived by God’s Holy Spirit; affected with the sense of the excellency of holiness; felt more exercise of love to Christ, than usual. Have also felt sensible repentance for sin, because it was committed against so merciful and good a God. This night made the 37th Resolution.
38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.
From His Diary: Sabbath-night, Dec. 23. Made the 38th Resolution.

Monday, Dec. 24. Higher thoughts than usual of the excellency of Christ and his kingdom. — Concluded to observe, at the end of every month, the number of breaches of Resolutions, to see whether they increase or diminish, to begin from this day, and to compute from that the weekly account, my monthly increase, and, out of the whole, my yearly increase, beginning from new year days.
39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.

[Note: This gist of this Resolution seems to be that Edwards would not do anything which his conscience questioned. If, before committing an action, his conscience bothered him to the extent that he felt inclined to examine whether the action was right or wrong after committing it, then he shouldn't do it. The last sentence "except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission" implies that Edwards would commit the action if not committing the action bothered his conscience more. In all acounts, this Resolution deals with Edward's responsiveness to his God-given conscience.]
From His Diary: Saturday, Dec. 29. About sunset this day, dull and lifeless.

1722-23. Tuesday, Jan. 1. Have been dull for several days. Examined whether I have not been guilty of negligence today; and resolved, No.

Wednesday, Jan. 2. Dull. I find, by experience, that, let me make Resolutions, and do what I will, with never so many inventions, it is all nothing, and to no purpose at all, without the motions of the Spirit of God; for if the Spirit of God should be as much withdrawn from me always, as for the week past, notwithstanding all I do, I should not grow, but should languish, and miserably fade away. I perceive, if God should withdraw his Spirit a little more, I should not hesitate to break my Resolutions, and should soon arrive at my old state. There is no dependence on myself. Our resolutions may be at the highest one day, and yet, the next day, we may be in a miserable dead condition, not at all like the same person who resolved. So that it is to no purpose to resolve, except we depend on the grace of God. For if it were not for his mere grace, one might be a very good man one day, and a very wicked one the next. I find also by experience, that there is no guessing on the ends of Providence, in particular dispensations towards me — any otherwise than as afflictions come as corrections for sin, and God intends when we meet with them, to desire us to look back on our ways, and see wherein we have done amiss, and lament that particular sin, and all our sins, before him: — knowing this, also, that all things shall work together for our good; not knowing in what way, indeed, but trusting in God.

Saturday evening, Jan. 5. A little redeemed from a long dreadful dullness, about reading the Scriptures. This week, have been unhappily low in the weekly account: — and what are the reasons of it? — abundance of listlessness and sloth; and if this should continue much longer, I perceive that other sins will begin to discover themselves. It used to appear to me, that I had not much sin remaining; but now I perceive that there are great remainders of sin. Where may it not bring me to, if God should leave me? Sin is not enough mortified. Without the influences of the Spirit of God, the old serpent would begin to rouse up himself from his frozen state, and would come to life again. Resolved, That I have been negligent in two things: — in not striving enough in duty; and in not forcing myself upon religious thoughts.

Sabbath, Jan. 6. At night; Much concerned about the improvement of precious time. Intend to live in continual mortification, without ceasing, and even to weary myself thereby, as long as I am in this world, and never to expect or desire any worldly ease or pleasure.
40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.
Monday, Jan. 7. At night, made the 40th Resolution.

Tuesday, Jan. 8. In the morning, had higher thoughts than usual of the excellency of Christ, and felt an unusual repentance of sin therefrom.

Wednesday, Jan. 9. At night: Decayed. I am sometimes apt to think, that I have a great deal more of holiness than I really have. I find now and then that abominable corruption, which is directly contrary to what I read of eminent Christians. I do not seem to be half so careful to improve time, to do every thing quick, and in as short a time as I possibly can, nor to be perpetually engaged to think about religion, as I was yesterday and the day before, nor indeed as I have been at certain times, perhaps a twelve month ago. If my resolutions of that nature, from that time, had always been kept alive and awake, how much better might I have been, than I now am. How deceitful is my heart! I take up a strong resolution, but how soon doth it weaken.
Read Part One - Resolutions #1-10
Read Part Two - Resolutions #11-20
Read Part Three - Resolutions #21-30
Read Part Four - Resolutions #31-40
Read Part Five - Resolutions #41-50
Read Part Six - Resolutions #51-60
Read Part Seven - Resolutions #61-70
Read Closing Statements