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

8/31/2006

An All-New Rebelution Website

For all of our readers who keep up with The Rebelution via RSS, we are excited to announce an all-new and improved website and redesigned blog. Please change your RSS feed to continue to keep up on the latest posts: http://feeds.feedburner.com/rebelution

8/25/2006

The Modern Day Gentleman

The following article was originally delivered as a speech back in 2004 during my time competing in high school speech and debate.
Noblesse Oblige – with nobility comes obligation – a French term intended to convey that those who posses strength, intelligence or wealth are responsible to use such privileges to serve the common good.

It was out of this term that the concept of a gentleman sprang forth. A gentleman was a man who took care to serve and protect those weaker than him – either physically, mentally, or financially – a man who showed respect and consideration for others both by courteous manners and good grooming. It is for this man, or should I say, his modern day equivalent, that I am an advocate today. The gentleman has all but disappeared in our day, and it is high time we brought him back.

In my studies I have found the most neglected aspect of gentlemanly behavior is that of male interaction with the fair gender – in modern English: what it means to be a gentleman toward a lady. Narrowing my subject to this aspect I will also focus, though to a lesser extent, on the responsibility of the ladies to respond to and encourage the proper behavior of the gentleman in their lives, and finally, on both the gentleman and the lady in their responsibility towards God in this area.

Is Chivalry Dead?
For decades gentlemanly behavior has experienced decline. Not only are men becoming less apt to offer service, but ladies are much more likely to refuse it. A man gives up when his assistance is consistently shunned and so does the poor lady left sitting in the car waiting for a gentleman to open the door.

In an attempt to remedy this sad situation I could, as many do, lay out the rules of basic etiquette, encompassing the obvious doors, chairs, boxes, bags, and other such practices. Yet while all of these now uncommon courtesies are admirable they are merely signs that one is a gentleman or lady, not the means of becoming one. And as such a mere review of the appropriate actions is unlikely to cause lasting change.

You see, gentlemanly behavior is an attitude of heart, not a set of rules. Once the proper mindset is attained opening doors, offering chairs, carrying baggage, and the like become merely the predictable consequences of the changed attitude, and become voluntary rather than compulsory.

The New Attitude
To begin, the change in attitude is this – and I am speaking now to the gentlemen – the change in attitude is simply a decision to put the ladies first; their needs and their comfort comes before yours. That is all there is to it.

Now the reason that this change in attitude causes such a huge revolution in someone’s actions is because this mindset is the motivation behind every gentlemanly action. When you offer your chair to a standing lady you are putting her comfort before your own. It is exactly the same with carrying baggage. Opening doors is putting them first by letting them go first.

Name any gentlemanly behavior and I guarantee you will find this mindset there in some shape or form. When a man puts the needs and comfort of women ahead of his own he is well on his way to becoming a gentleman. In fact, he has already arrived and has only to allow consistency to establish his reputation.

Our Greatest Enemy
So, you might be asking, if it’s all so simple why don’t we all experience this wonderful transformation? If this is all it takes why don’t we see gentleman popping up like daisies all around us?

The answer, unfortunately, is that we all contain within ourselves a deeply entrenched root of self-centeredness. Self-centeredness is the antithesis of what makes a man a gentleman. And until it is overcome, consistency in gentlemanly behavior is impossible.

While self-centeredness might not cause you to consciously choose not to open a door, it will instead keep you from even noticing that the door needs to be opened! Self-centeredness blinds you to the standing female and the woman burdened with her heavy boxes because if your mind is absorbed with how to make yourself more comfortable, how to satisfy your own needs, it cannot at the same time be focused on serving others.

So, while self-centeredness looks to serve yourself, a gentleman looks for opportunities to be helpful to others. While self-centeredness attempts to avoid inconvenience, a gentleman is quick to deny himself and accept interruption of his own plans and interests. He is willing to be “put out” and inconvenienced in order to serve others.

Our Primary Battleground
For many of us young men this attitude will mainly be seen in our interaction with our sisters and mothers. They are not guinea pigs or practice dummies! They are the real deal, the main event. Instead of viewing your mother and sisters as some vague exception to the status of ladies, consider them the primary battleground on which you conquer your self-centeredness and lay hold of the calling of a gentleman. Nowhere else do your true colors wave so brightly, and nowhere else is your gentlemanly behavior more deserved or more commendable.

Brothers, serve your sisters. Sons, serve your mothers. Be quick to come to their aid, to offer them your chair, to open the door for them. Ask how you can help them and do it. Think sisters and mothers, then others.

My father once told me that the way I treat my sister and my mother now is the way I’ll treat my wife some day when I’m married. Once the honeymoon is over and the glamour has worn off, the relationships my marriage will most closely resemble will be the ones I have now towards my sister and my mother.

If I really think that I can treat my mother and sister terribly now and then suddenly turn self-centeredness off and turn kindness on — and keep it on — once I get married, then I’m only fooling myself. And if you think that you can do the same your hope is equally false.

An Appeal To The Ladies
Now, I appeal to the ladies, and especially to my sisters in Christ. If you don’t embrace your role as the recipient of our consideration we cannot act effectively as the gentlemen. You can show your care and serve your brothers by making it possible for us to become the kind of men God wants us to be.

Give us opportunities to do the right thing. We may need subtle hints such as, “Will you open the door for me please?” You know we need to be reminded sometimes. And when you can see us trying, please encourage us and allow us to serve you. If our actions are made from a servants-heart don’t take it as implying that we don’t think you can open the door or carry the box. You may not need our help, but we need to help. Please don’t take your side of this process lightly, your response is just as important, as our initiative.

Unique and Critical Roles
Men and women have unique responsibilities. Both are necessary and both are sorely lacking in our society today. We live in a society where chivalry has all but died, where the common man has become the common person, and any differences in gender roles are downplayed. Yet among God’s people I will say that gentlemanly behavior should not be dead, that differences in roles are not discriminatory but complementary; conveying value and purpose for both man and woman.

Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Eastern Seminary, in a message presented at the New Attitude Conference 2004, said:
“Among God’s people we understand that a man is to protect a women; to protect a women’s honor; to protect a woman’s heart; to protect a woman’s reputation; sometimes even to protect a woman’s health, her safety. Guys, that’s our job, God gave it to us. Woe unto the man who fails in that responsibility.”
Among God’s people we must understand that the woman is called to be supportive of godly manhood and her role is integral to the process by which men fulfill their responsibilities as men. Gentlemanly behavior is a training ground of Christian character for both men and women.

Depending on each other’s actions we will either going to succeed or fail in fulfilling our responsibilities. We must refuse to treat this issue just like another lifestyle option! In reality it is a requirement made for us by God – and by God’s grace we can succeed.

Closing Thoughts
Just as with anything else worthwhile the fulfillment of our responsibility to be gentlemen comes at a price. Girls, you may be inconvenienced at first as you allow the guys to get on their feet. Guys, the price that you will have to pay will be your self-centeredness, your convenience, your comfort – in a thousand little ways – in order to put the ladies first, to ensure their convenience, their comfort, and God’s favor.

We are either part of the problem or part of the solution. By holding faithfully God’s plan for men and women, let us make this transformation.

8/22/2006

Tuesday Compendium: Odds & Ends

Update: Elena Belle Harris
Thank you all for your continued prayers for Joel, Kimmy and Elena Belle. This morning Kimmy was taken off of the magnesium medication that had stopped her labor. The good news is that she made it to this point. That means that the steroids have had time to stimulate the development of Elena's lungs.

The prayer is now that Kimmy would not to back into labor anytime soon. The magnesium medication will take a maximum of 12 hours to be completely out of Elena's system. So we don't want her to be born until that happens, because it can slow down her heart rate and her breathing. But more than that, the hope is for Kimmy to stay in bed and wait for several weeks before Elena arrives.

Thank you all so much for your comments and prayers. You can also visit Kimmy's blog and leave her a note directly.

The Blackberry Addiction
A new study out of Rutger's University has warned that mobile email devices can be so addictive that they require treatment similar to those given to drug users and are seriously damaging to mental health. The Daily Mail (UK) reports:

The study... claims the Blackberry is fuelling a rise in email and internet addiction, with sufferers able to survive only a few minutes without checking for new mail.

One key sign of a user being addicted is if they focus on their Blackberry ignoring those around them.

Sounds like this study could apply equally well to teens and text messaging. The symptoms sound identical.

The Booklist: New Books, More Descriptions
Our booklist has been periodically updated since it was first published, but last weekend it was thoroughly revamped. Every book has a description, including many new titles from our summer reading.
Go browse the booklist.
Prayer Need: Kristin and Heidi
Two of our sisters in Christ are also in need of your prayers. Kristin Braun, formerly of Spunky Jr. and now at Beauty from the Heart, has been experiencing a variety of health problems for several weeks, including joint pain, fatigue, and headaches. So far doctors have been unable to pinpoint the problem. Please pray for that the correct diagnosis would be made quickly and that God would bring healing.

Please also pray for Heidi of A Blessed Servant. This dear sister is also battling serious illness, even while persevering to read through the entire Bible in 30 days. She documents her progress and thoughts (and provides health updates) on her blog. We encourage all of you to read through her posts. God's grace is profoundly evident.

Heidi's blog remains the first and only Xanga blog on The Rebelution sidebar. In fact, she has inspired us to read through the entire Bible ourselves (we decided on 50 days). Be sure to visit her blog and leave a comment to let her know that you are praying.
UPDATE: If you don't have a Xanga account (required to comment), please leave a note for Heidi in the comments section of this post or by email: thelordismystrength [at] gmail [dot] com
Works of the Heart: A New Look
Erin's blog, Works of the Heart, has a brand new design. Be sure to check it out and keep visiting. Erin has done a great job getting her blog up and running and has posted some great thoughts and articles on the issues of biblical womanhood. Her theme verse is 1 Samuel 16:7, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
Anything we missed? Let us know. Click here.

8/20/2006

Prayer Request: Elena Bell Harris

Some of you may know about Brett's and my niece, Faith Felicity, who passed away last October while awaiting a heart transplant in Southern California. She was two months old.

Her parents, our older brother Joel and his wife Kimberly are now expecting their second child, Elena (pronounced eh-LAIN-uh) Belle.

Her due date is October 3rd, but last night Kimmy began to go into labor. Six weeks early.

If Elena Belle were born right now, she would be in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at the hospital for quite a while. A particular concern for babies at this stage is their underdeveloped lungs.

Doctors have temporarily stopped labor through medication and are giving Kimmy steroids to speed up the development of Elena's lungs, but our prayer is that she would stay where she is for several more weeks.

The next week will be a challenging one for our family. Please keep all of us, especially Joel, Kimmy and Elena, in your prayers. May God be glorified and His will be done. Thank you, friends!

8/19/2006

Sexual Purity: What You Need To Know

Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries and author of best-selling novels such as Deadline, Dominion, Edge of Eternity, Lord Foulgrin's Letters, The Ishbane Conspiracy and Safely Home. His non-fiction books include Heaven, The Purity Principle, Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments, and Money, Possessions and Eternity. He and his wife, Nanci, are old friends of our parents and reside in our hometown of Gresham, Oregon.
By Randy Alcorn
Eternal Perspective Ministries
When it comes to sexual purity, we don't have to wonder what God's will is. Scripture tells us straight out. His expectations of his children are much higher than for those who don't know him . . . [Continue Reading]

8/18/2006

The Rebelution in the Philippines

Alyssa Chua (left), a 17-year-old rebelutionary from the Philippines, co-authors the blog Godly Ladies in Training with her good friend Christin Alvarez. She has given us permission to post the following essay she wrote entitled 'Finding the Rebelution'.
"Changes ain't totally pleasant but they're excellent things," says Mr. James Harrison in the book Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery.

Less than a year ago, I would have disagreed with Mr. Harrison. I didn't like change. In fact, I didn't like anything that would make my life - or even me - different. I wanted things to remain just the way they were. But God had other plans.

This past February, I came across something that changed my life.

A Turning Point
I was browsing through one of the forums where I am a member, when I came across a strange name in a topic title that immediately caught my attention. I opened the topic thread and read its contents. There was a link to another webpage. Out of curiosity, I decided to click on it and found myself at The Rebelution.

Simply clicking on that link changed my life. I learned to look within myself, and I saw the person I really was. I had never done that before. I had never looked at my life and my actions or ever wondered about myself before.

I saw the things that needed to change. I saw the selfish desires that had kept me from serving God fully. I saw the faults that had hindered me from serving others. I saw the pride that had kept me from admitting that I was wrong and the impatience that had kept me from trusting God about my future. Within myself, I saw the "weight" that was keeping me from running my race freely. I saw that I had to change.

The change was not immediate. It took long hours - days of thinking, and meditating on God's word. I had to go through the fire of purging and refining where my past thoughts, actions, and judgments were rebuked. There, I confessed to God of my wrong ways and asked Him to change my heart and my life. Like Mr. Harrison said, the change wasn't totally pleasant, but it was an excellent thing.

A Personal Challenge
Until I came across The Rebelution, I had never ventured out of my "comfort zone" where I had grown used to serving God. I had never accepted the challenges that looked too difficult. I enjoyed things just the way they were. Until then, I had never fully surrendered my life to God.

My comfort zone was a place where everything was just the way I wanted it to be; a condition where I never had to make extra effort or do something difficult; a state where I would sit back, relax, and enjoy myself.

Before, I did not want to step out because I was afraid of failing the challenge and failing in my service to God. It was some time before I realized that no matter how many times I fail the people around me, God will never consider me a failure, and I can always trust Him to give me the strength and courage to get up and go on.

Coming across The Rebelution brought about a challenge to look deep within myself and see the person I really am in Christ. It also brought about the challenge of stepping outside of my comfort zone. It wasn't easy, but looking to God for help, I stepped forward, away from the easy, relaxed life that I was used to living.

Outside my comfort zone, I found that I could serve God more fully and use all my talents unreservedly for Him. Outside my comfort zone, I learned to lean on God for strength, instead of leaning on the small pleasures of this world for comfort. Outside of my comfort zone, I learned to "do hard things."

"Why bother to do hard things?" people always ask. "Why can't you just do the things that you enjoy the most?"

For me, doing hard things meant doing the things I had never done before, the things I considered too difficult, such as serving with a glad heart, looking for a way to learn from my mistakes, obeying whole-heartedly the voice of God. For me, it meant taking action and living more like Jesus.

Without doing hard things, there would be nothing to challenge us to become better people. Without doing hard things, there would be nothing on which to exert ourselves and to mold our character for the better.

A Life-Changing Call
After visiting The Rebelution, I thought, "Now what?" I felt that I couldn't just sit still after that. I felt as if God was calling me to do something.

My friend, Christin, and I created the blog Godly Ladies in Training as an answer to that call. Ablaze with the fire of the Rebelution, we decided to create a joint blog where we could write all about our spiritual journey and the lessons God taught us as we went through life, such as modesty concerning dress.

Why do I want to be a rebelutionary? It is because I want to take a stand in what I believe is right in the sight of God.

A Defining Purpose
I had wandered unintentionally into The Rebelution, and the next thing I knew it had changed my life. It was an experience that I never regretted because it made me a better person. It was a stepping stone that helped me see the things I never saw before. It was a journey that taught me an important lesson that I shall never forget.

I've learned a lot, and I'm still learning, through God's grace.

I don't believe that it was "by chance" that I came upon the thread and decided to click on the link out of boredom. No, I believe that God led me there for a purpose.

I've made a commitment to spread the Rebelution in the East, starting with my country, the Philippines. It's not that easy - teenagers these days would rather "go with the flow" than go against it. That way, they would blend with the crowd and not be labeled as "odd" or "weird." Teenagers aren't that open to changes that would make them different.

Progress is slow. Culture is demanding. Many teenagers don't seem to care. But I won't give up. I'll stand firm. With God's help, we'll start a Rebelution.
Be sure to visit Alyssa and Christin's blog and thank Alyssa for this guest post.

Girls, we greatly appreciate your share committment to spread the Rebelution among our generation around the world. May God bless you and your efforts.

8/17/2006

Theory of Quarks is Vlogging

Emily Ask of Theory of Quarks has started videoblogging (or vlogging) and has uploaded a video of several moviegoers reactions to the recent World Trade Center film. Vlogging is an exciting new development in the Christian teen blogosphere and Emily is leading the way. Bravo, Emily!

Go watch the video. Click here.

8/16/2006

Translate The Rebelution

If our bilingual readers could please alert us to the accuracy/inaccuracy of the translations we would greatly appreciate it. We're sorry we couldn't include other languages, but these are all the service provides.

Abraham Cherrix: Victory

Abraham Cherrix embraces family friend, Sharon Smith, this morning as his mother, Rose, looks on. (Photo Source: Steve Helber/AP)
The Cherrix family and county social workers have reached an agreement that will allow Abraham to forego chemotherapy treatment. The Associated Press reports:
"It's all over. It's everything we fought for, everything we wanted to ever have, we've won. We got our freedom back," Abraham said outside the courthouse after the hearing.

Under the decree, the Chincoteague 16-year-old will be treated by an oncologist of his choice who is board-certified in radiation therapy and interested in alternative treatments. The family must provide the court updates on Abraham's treatment and condition every three months until he's cured, or turns 18, whichever comes first.

Tyler emphasized that the decree states that the parents weren't medically neglectful.

After the short hearing, the judge looked at Abraham and said, "God bless you, Mr. Cherrix."
The article also contains the news that Abraham's recent visit with a doctor resulted in a optimistic assessment of his cancer's curability.
Abraham said that he saw the doctor last week, and the doctor assured him that his cancer is curable.

The teen said he'll continue following an alternative herbal treatment called the Hoxsey method as well as his doctor's treatment plan. The regimen won't include chemotherapy, but radiation is a possibility, he said.
Praise God for His continued hand on Abraham's life. Let us not forget him and his family as he continues on the path to recovery. Keep this young man in your prayers.
For full coverage of the Abraham Cherrix story, click here.

Technical Difficulties: Missing Paragraphs

UPDATE #2: A big 'thank you' to David MacMillan III for identifying the problem. Everything (as far as we know) is back to normal. God bless you, my friend.

UPDATE #1: Do any of our tech-savvy readers have ideas for how to fix this recent glitch? Brett and I have never had to manually enter "br" tags before. Now Blogger won't display paragraphs unless we do. This seems to be a problem unique to our blog since earlier this morning.

Readers may have noticed some major formatting bugs on the blog today. This is slowly being fixed. For now, please bear with massive paragraph blocks once you leave the main page.

8/14/2006

Introducing: CounterCulture

One of our readers, Cristina Irizarry, has launched a new online magazine called CounterCulture, which exists to activate and challenge this generation to be true followers of Christ. Cristina is adding her voice to the growing network of online magazines and blogs dedicated to making an impact on our generation. As she so aptly puts it, "in this chain of support and accountability, each magazine or blog keeps its integrity to Biblical truth."

The Rebelution welcomes Cristina and CounterCulture as allies in the teenage rebellion against low expectations, and are pleased to reprint the first installment of CounterCulture's initial series, The Essence of Being Young:
Age (Does Not) Matter
By Cristina Irizarry of CounterCulture

It is no surprise that age plays a key role on people’s judgment of who you are. Our culture has defined the teen years as years of doing foolish things. Some associate adolescence with making wrong decisions and being unwise in thought. It is this very mind set that sets the bar for low expectations. Not much is expected or asked from teens.

But when we look at the Bible there is a total different picture of who teens are. It is people, especially in their teen years, that God has called to do great things. These teens held a godly character, had strong convictions, were bold in their walk and obeyed God.

1.) Godly Character
So how do we break this chain of low expectations? The answer lies in our character and hearts. True godly character comes from wisdom. It is not the kind of wisdom that the world gives, but the kind of wisdom that comes from God.

The Bible says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

And in 2 Corinthians 4:6 it says: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

The Bible says we should ask for wisdom, because God will give it to us if we ask. The Bible also states that God Himself has given us “the light of knowledge.” That means that He has made that wisdom available to us. As followers of Christ, God has also given us the knowledge of who He is through Christ.

A godly character develops when we seek God (and His wisdom) and obey Him.

2.) Strong Convictions
I believe that godly convictions are a bi-product of a godly character. Without a godly character you cannot have solid godly convictions.

One can hold strong convictions about politics, relationships (or purity), science, ect. Just to name a few important categories.

The key here is to base your convictions on Gods truth; the Bible. As Christians we don't follow other people, we follow God. Therefore, our convictions need to be in accordance with the Word of God.

3.) Bold In Our Walk
Being bold in our walk is one of the toughest parts of being a Christian. But only because it is tough it does not mean that we shouldn't do it. It’s through doing hard things that we grow. It is essential to be bold in our walk if we are ever to make a difference. No one that has ever made an impact in history or the world, did it by hiding or just blending in. They stood up for the truth and had to be different from the majority of people. They had to be a counter-cultural.
It's through doing hard things that we grow.
The Bible records a time when Jesus disciples were asking for wisdom and boldness. Jesus had been lifted up on a cloud and gone to be with the Father, and the disciples had gone all over the region spreading the Gospel. Jesus had commanded them, before He left, to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. He also assured them that He would always be with them (Matthew 28:10).

This is how the disciples asked God for boldness: “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31)

So we can not only ask God for wisdom, but we can also ask God for boldness. And the Bible also says that “...If we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14b)

4.) Obey God
Obeying God is mainly a combination of the last three points. But the bigger issue here is the heart. Where our heart is, affects our entire walk with God, which in turn affects our witness and our ability to impact the world in a positive way.

Jesus said: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house in the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24, 25)

Obeying God will not be easy sometimes. But Jesus never said that following Him would. He did say that He would be with us, that He would give us the words to speak when obeying Him, and that in the end (by His grace, not by our works) eternal life was ours.
Please visit CounterCulture and thank Cristina for her post.

8/10/2006

The Marks of Manhood

An article by Dr. Albert Mohler courtesy of Boundless Webzine
For Guys Only: The Marks of Manhood
By Dr. Albert Mohler

When does a boy become a man? The answer to this must go far beyond biology and chronological age. As defined in the Bible, manhood is a functional reality, demonstrated in a man's fulfillment of responsibility and leadership. With this in mind, let me suggest thirteen marks of biblical manhood. The achievement of these vital qualities marks the emergence of a man who will demonstrate true biblical masculinity . . .
Click here to read the entire article.

8/09/2006

John Piper: Do Hard Things

No, our modern-day hero John Piper doesn't read The Rebelution. But his latest edition of Fresh Words is an unmistakable exhortation for Christians to "do hard things" in the area of gossip. We encourage all of you to read it and take it to heart.

Talking to People Rather Than about Them
by John Piper
You recall that in Luke 18:9, Luke introduces the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector like this: “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” [N]otice that it says that Jesus told this parable TO some [who] trusted in themselves that they were righteous. It does not say he spoke this parable ABOUT them. Jesus was looking the Pharisees in the eye and telling them a parable that implied that they were self-righteous. He was not talking about them but to them.
It is easy—and far too tasty on the tongue of our sinful souls—to talk about people. But it is hard—and often tastes bitter—to talk to them.
Though it may seem minor, it contains a lesson that is huge for the health of our church. Let’s be like this. Let’s not talk to others about people’s faults. Let’s talk to them about their faults. It is easy—and far too tasty on the tongue of our sinful souls—to talk about people. But it is hard—and often tastes bitter—to talk to them. When you are talking about them, they can’t correct you or turn the tables and make you the problem. But if you talk to them about a problem, it can be very painful. So it feels safer to talk about people rather than talking to them.
Jesus does not call us to make safe choices. He calls us to make loving choices.
But Jesus does not call us to make safe choices. He calls us to make loving choices. In the short run, love is often more painful than self-protecting conflict-avoidance. But in the long run, our consciences condemn us for this easy path and we do little good for others.

So let’s be more like Jesus in this case and not talk about people, but talk to them, both with words of encouragement, because of the evidences of grace we see in their lives, and with words of caution or warning or correction or even rebuke.
Read the full article by clicking here.

Technologically Dependent

A snapshot of our generation.
'Talking and texting' generation
Cell phones, computers, iPods rule lives of teens addicted to gadgets

By DANA BOONE
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
June 6, 2006

Technology rules the "talking and texting" generation - also known as Generation M for multi-tasking . . . Teens live for their computers and electronic gadgets. But all the cell phones, text messages, e-mails and time spent on MySpace.com come with a price: total dependency.

8/08/2006

Multitasking: Bringing It All Together

At the risk of sounding sentimental, I cautiously venture to say that I'm going to miss our series on multitasking. In fact, some of you may have noticed that while this was originally booked as a four-part series, you are now reading the fifth installment.

The purpose of this post is to bring to your attention three points that encapsulate what I believe is an appropriate response to all that we have learned over the past several weeks.

Each of the last three installments have included examples from my own life of practical application. Today, I hope to define more clearly an appropriate mindset with which to approach the issue of multitasking. Here are three principles we need to remember:

1.) Christians Can't Multitask
Of course I don't mean that Christians should never multitask. Multitasking can often be useful and is truly a unique ability that God has given to man. But what I do mean is that Christians don't have the option to do anything besides the one thing we have been called to do. Yes, we may do many different activities, but everything we do -- what we watch, listen to, think about, etc. -- falls under one all-encompassing activity: Representing Jesus Christ.

This means that the standard is not "Am I multitasking or not multitasking?" but rather, "How well am I representing Christ in His commitment to glorifying God?"

Christ lived His life with one purpose: to glorify His Father. And in 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul issues us the same challenge when he says, "...whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). That means that whether we're multitasking or not multitasking, the purpose of everything we do is to bring God glory.

The purpose of this series was to give all of us a framework with which to evaluate this prevalent aspect of modern culture in light of the question: "Does it glorify God?" By recognizing the pitfalls of multitasking we are more prepared to answer that question.

The truth is that multitasking almost always hampers productivity, stifles thought, and harms relationships. For these reasons we can answer that, "no," multitasking hardly ever helps us glorify God.

However, the danger is that the lazy part of us wants jump on that to say, "No multitasking, ever." It's much easier to make a legalistic declaration than to continue asking the right questions.

But many, including myself, would be quick to point out that certain forms of multitasking have the potential in some situations to improve efficiency, raise levels of thought, and even increase interaction. Because of that we must take the harder road of not rejecting multitasking entirely, but of carefully evaluating each situation on its own merits.

2.) Consider What You're Not Doing
"The problem [with the electronic movement]," says Edward Hallowell, author of the book CrazyBusy, "is what you are not doing if [it] grows too large. You are not having family dinner, you are not having conversations . . . you are not going on a family ski trip or taking time just to veg. It's not so much that the video game is going to rot your brain, it's what you are not doing that's going to rot your life."

Whether it is focusing on our work, thinking hard thoughts, or loving others with our attention, it's what we're not doing that suffers most from our generation's obsession with media and multitasking. And the reason that we often fail to glorify God is not because what we're doing is necessarily sinful (it may be completely harmless), but because we're not doing something else that we could/should be doing.

Because of that our first consideration should not be, "Am I giving all of my IM conversations adequate attention?" but rather, "Is there something better I could be doing with my time?"

While all the perfect people who are reading this might only need to keep all of the important things they do from fragmenting their focus, the rest of us will probably find that many of the activities that hamper our productivity, stifle our thought life, and hurt our relationships are purely extraneous. When that comes to our attention we must have the maturity and humility to limit or eliminate those distractions.

3.) Take Technology Back
A common theme throughout our series on multitasking -- specifically, media multitasking -- is that our work, our thoughts, and our relationships are being degraded, not by technology itself, but by our unbalanced use of it.

Technology is not our problem. Our problems are a lack of self-control and a lack of vision. We are severely overusing the distractions of media and technology, yet woefully underusing the countless opportunities they provide.

Though nearly all of us have abused one of technology's latest offerings -- namely, online video -- few of us have even begun to explore our new ability to produce and distribute quality video and/or audio presentations on the web, using nothing more than a computer's built-in camera and microphone and a high-speed Internet connection.

Because the ability to mindlessly consume and aggressively produce exist within the same object -- a computer -- we shouldn't say that technology is bad and then live without it. Every gadget has the potential to be used as a tool or wasted as a toy. Technology has and will cause the greatest crises of our generation. But it also has and will provide the greatest opportunities that any generation has ever faced for communicating truth to the entire world.

If there ever was an area where Christian young people should lead, technology is it. As rebelutionaries we have an exciting task -- to show the world what new technology can really do when fused with character, competence, and truth. But it's also up to us to show the rest of our generation what it can't do, and that there's life beyond the screen.

We won't be able to do that if we're just as distracted as everyone else. For that reason we must stand with the Apostle Paul -- following him as he followed Christ -- and throw off the weight and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with endurance the race marked out for us.

It won't be easy, but it will be good.

Read: Intro / Productivity / Thought Life / Relationships / Closing

8/07/2006

Brittany McComb: An Interview

Richard Abowitz from the latimes.com blog has posted an interview he conducted with Brittany McComb. For readers unfamiliar with Brittany's story, click here for our coverage. For the rest of you, excerpts from Brittany's interview are below.
Question: [One of my readers asks]: "Why didn't you take legal action when the school edited your written speech? Couldn't this be handled without showboating at the commencement?" Leaving out the value judgment of 'showboating,' did you think of doing something before the incident?

Brittany: Oh, yes. My mom called the school board lawyer and his secretary promised to call right back and didn't. We tried numerous times to get in touch with the [school] district lawyer. From the moment they gave us the revised speech we began calling. It was like he was avoiding us and not returning our calls. We tried so many times and graduation was nearing, school was already out, we didn't know what to do. I think people get the impression that this was set and done and all premeditated, but things just came into place the way they did. It was never like beforehand I was like, "Oh, they are going to cut off my mike and I am going to have a lawsuit." No. I never thought about media. I just thought about expressing what was in me and that was Christ. It was the knowledge I gained from His words. There was a set of guidelines they gave us for writing the speech and I followed them step by step. Everything about their editing violated my logic and my principles. I was kind of shocked by it. I was like, "Why are they doing this?" I've been a good kid. I've done everything they asked of me in every aspect of school life.

Question: I think the one question readers feel most focused on is why you at first agreed to give the edited speech and then did not do so? There is a sense running through many of the comments left on my blog that you were deceptive in doing that. When you said you would give the edited speech did you mean it or were you fibbing?

Brittany: You mean when I said I'd give the edited speech?

Question: Yes. Did you at first agree to give the edited speech?

Brittany: Yes. The actual situation was that the my assistant principal confronted me in the hallway and demanded to know what I was going to do. My parents were out of town, we still had not contacted the lawyer, everything was chaotic, and I was like "What am I going to do?" I had no idea. So I had to say something and I was at my wits end. I was very intimidated. So I kind of said, "yes" and I regret it. I wish I had stood up right then for myself.

Question: So you did agree to give the edited version at first?

Brittany: I didn't know what I was going to do. I did say I would give the revised speech. I regret it. But it wasn't malicious. I wasn't thinking, "I'm going to stick it to you to get my free speech." Christ has abundant forgiveness. I really just wanted to tell my classmates about this light and love in my life and it tore me apart that they (school officials) did not want me to be who I am. It was like they wanted me to lie over who I am. In hindsight I regret not standing up for myself right away.

Read the rest of the interview by clicking here.
For full coverage of Brittany's story, click here.

All This Media Is Making Me . . . Bored?

Thank you to reader, Brittany, for alerting us to this news story.
Underwhelmed by It All
For the 12-to-24 set, boredom is a recreational hazard.

By Robin Abcarian and John Horn
Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2006

With their vast arsenals of electronic gear, they are the most entertained generation ever. Yet the YouTubing, MySpacing, multi-tasking teens and young adults widely seen as Hollywood's most wanted audience are feeling — can it be? — a bit bored with it all.

A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, the first in a series of annual entertainment surveys, finds that a large majority of the 12- to 24-year-olds surveyed are bored with their entertainment choices some or most of the time, and a substantial minority think that even in a kajillion-channel universe, they don't have nearly enough options. "I feel bored like all the time, 'cause there is like nothing to do," said Shannon Carlson, 13, of Warren, Ohio, a respondent who has an array of gadgets, equipment and entertainment options at her disposal but can't ward off ennui.
Click here to read the entire article.

8/05/2006

TOS Magazine: An Interview with Alex & Brett

The summer issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine features an interview with Brett and me. See the cover and excerpt below.
TOS: I agree. And really, being “above average” doesn’t mean much when the average is so low!

Alex: No, it doesn’t. It reminds me of a study that was done about expectations in public schools, and it concluded by saying that the current ceiling for young people is really much closer to where the floor ought to be! In other words, the highest we’re allowing ourselves to go -- in competence and godly character – is really much closer to the lowest we should be allowing ourselves to go. Unfortunately, many home school students tend to compare themselves to that low standard. They say, “Look at me! I’m articulate, I’m respectful, I’m mature for my age!” And if they don’t, other people will say it for them! The problem is that we live in a society where even mediocrity is considered exceptional. We don’t even have to exert ourselves, and we’re still showered with praise. Again, we’ve lost sight of the biblical standard.

TOS: So how do you see young people returning to that biblical standard? How do teens bust the myth of adolescence once and for all?

Brett: The battle cry of the Rebelution is just three words, but it’s an explosive concept: Do Hard Things. That’s it. And “do hard things” is a mentality. It’s a mentality that flies right in the face of our culture’s low expectations. The world says, “You’re young, have fun!” It tells us to “obey your thirst” and “just do it.” Or it tells us, “You’re great! You don’t need to exert yourself.” But those kinds of mindsets sabotage biblical character and competence. “Do hard things” is just the opposite. It’s how we build character and competence. It won’t drop to meet the low expectations, it won’t just do what comes easily, and it won’t become complacent. It applies no matter who you are or what level you’re on, because there’s always something harder to do, something that will take you outside your comfort zone and cause you to grow.

TOS: First, wow! That sounds great! Makes me want to be a rebelutionary, too. Second, could you explain how the “do hard things” mentality fits into the bigger picture of the Rebelution?

Alex: The Rebelution is made up of three fundamental parts. We’ve talked about two of them: character and competence. The third one is collaboration. It’s not enough for us to be individual exceptions. It’s not enough for us to try to ignore the culture. We have to create a counter-culture. The way we do that is by networking, exhorting, and encouraging one another in the fight. By God’s grace, that’s what the Rebelution has become. And when you have a community of young people mutually committed to doing hard things in their teen years for the glory of God, that’s an incredibly powerful thing.
Be sure to check out the summer issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for the entire interview and a sidebar on the Rebelution by Tim "Agent Tim" Sweetman.

8/03/2006

True Love Meets Multitasking

Imagine a movie where the noncommittal boyfriend finally gets down on his knees, looks up into the eyes of his sweetheart, and solemnly intones, "Darling, to signify how important our relationship has become to me, I am now removing the second earpiece of my iPod."

Soaring orchestral music rises in triumph as he reaches to his ear, never taking his eyes off of her, and in a radical display of commitment removes the glistening piece of white plastic and places it carefully in his pocket for later use.

After several moments of silence, while his sweetheart allows the last strains of Coldplay to fade from her own remaining earpiece, she returns the display of devotion. Then, they kiss. This is Hollywood at its best.

Laughing At Them? Or At Ourselves?
Of course, we can laugh at the characters' seemingly shallow idea of love and commitment, but at the same time, we need to be careful that we're not laughing at ourselves. An ongoing, four-year study of modern family life led by Elinor Ochs, director of UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives of Families, shows that technology is having a profound impact on what happens -- and what doesn't happen -- at the end of the workday when families reunite.

"We saw that when the [father] comes through the door, the other spouse and the kids are so absorbed by what they're doing that they don't give [him] the time of day," says Ochs. "About half the time the kids ignored him or didn't stop what they were doing, multitasking and monitoring their various electronic gadgets."

TIME Magazine's interviews with teens participating in Ochs' study reveal statements like these: "When I talk to my best friend he'll have one earpiece [of his iPod] in and one out." Or "If a friend thinks she's not getting my full attention, I just make it very clear that she is, even though I'm also listening to music."

This Is Not Just A "Them" Problem
Even in my own life I often find myself working in the kitchen with my siblings -- with both earpieces of my iPod in! Or perhaps I'm sitting in our living room for a family meeting and I'm absorbed in my laptop computer. Just a quick review of the past week convinces me that I could learn something from our "Hollywood Couple" and their not-so-shallow expression of love. I might not listen to my iPod if I was with a girl I liked, but when was the last time I removed an earpiece for my sister or brother? When was the last time closed my laptop for my mother or father?

We laughed at our fictional "Hollywood Couple" because their expression of love was so obvious! "The most basic sign of affection is attention," we think, "everyone knows that!" Yet, we're really laughing at ourselves because our generation is setting records for how long and how completely we can withhold this basic expression of love.

Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Do we stand out from the rest of world because of the way we show love for others? Or, are we just like the rest of our generation -- so connected that we're disconnected -- distracted from the people God has placed in our lives?

These are hard questions. But we must challenge ourselves to answer them honestly and with humility. And then we must make ourselves respond appropriately to what we see in ourselves.

Making Things Practical, And Eternal
For me this has meant setting limits on when I can get on the computer, not listening to my iPod when I'm working with my family, and not taking calls in the evenings. For me it's a question of selfishness vs. selflessness. A question of whether I'm going to love my family by being with them 100%, or love myself by partially ignoring them.

I'm not perfect at this, my family can tell you that. And it's not always glamorous either -- there's no soaring orchestral music when I turn off my iPod. Oftentimes I don't even feel like loving my family and I have to cry out to God to help me love them from the heart. He doesn't usually answer that prayer immediately; He seems to prefer that -- by still obeying His command to love my family, even when I don't feel that love -- I act myself into a better way of feeling, rather than "feel" myself into a better way of acting.

I think that is part of what the Bible calls the obedience of faith -- trusting God's wisdom and goodness enough to obey Him, even when I don't feel like it. And as I look to Christ my King -- who commanded this love -- I know with unwavering clarity that His approval, not my entertainment, is all that matters and ever will.

Read: Intro / Productivity / Thought Life / Relationships / Closing

8/01/2006

Finding Truth On A Coffee Cup

Brett. Me. And Coffee.
Brett and I don't drink coffee. This is not because we dislike it or because we don't think other people should drink it. Not at all. Other people have more self-control. As for us, we're wary of the money we'd spend if we made coffee a daily (or even weekly) habit.

TRIVIA: Alex and Brett went through three months of campaign work in Alabama without drinking any caffeine.
But despite our lack of coffee-drinking, Brett and I still like to frequent cafés for important meetings, brainstorming sessions, and coffeehouse evangelism. And every so often, when we feel the need for a change up in our ordinary work routine, we'll pack up our satchels (complete with Bible, laptop, current book and yellow highlighter, pen and notebook) and drive to a nearby Starbucks, find a table, order an Odwalla, and settle in for an hour or two of reading, writing and conversation.

With Coffee Comes Truth (Sometimes)
Our readers who frequent Starbucks for the coffee should be familiar with its "The Way I See It" coffee cup series. Each cup comes complete with an often philosophically-flawed quotation from a particular writer, actor, musician, businessman or other "notable person."

Once and a while, however, you will find relevant truth on a coffee cup. This quote by Brian Scudamore is one such example:
The Way I See It #70

"It's difficult for people to get rid of junk.
They get attached to things and let them define who they are.
If there's one thing I've learned in this business,
it's that you are what you can't let go of."

- Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
Of course, Mr. Scudamore is talking about physical junk, "stuff" that people accumulate in their closets, attics, and garages that they just can't get themselves to throw away. But his observation applies to more than broken karoake machines and Star Trek memorabilia. It also applies to the many little "things" we allow to take up space in our own lives that demand our time and attention, our energy, our money, or all three. They may seem small and inconsequential at first, but if we're not careful, they begin to build up and crowd out more important things. They begin to define us.

What Can't You Let Go Of?
What things are you allowing to define the way you live your life? Is it seeing all the hottest movies? Owning all the latest clothes and accessories? Watching television? Playing video games? A look at our generation shows that for many young people, it's things just like that. For others it could be things like doing your hair, aimlessly surfing the web, listening to music, or daydreaming about a certain someone.

Maybe those examples don't fit you. That's a good thing. But let's ask the question another way: How easily do you let go of things that should define you? You know, asking that question of myself brings deep conviction. How many times have I let an opportunity to share the gospel slip away? How often do I skip prayer and devotions and then spend my time on trivial things?

I Am A Christian

I am reminded of Hebrews 12:1 where it says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Notice that not everything that hinders us is sinful. As rebelutionaries we have to be willing to throw off even the non-sinful "stuff" that slows us down. We don't do it in order to be saved, we do it because we are saved. That's what obedience means for Christians.

That is how we're truly defined.