It’s a number I have been contemplating over recently. It’s huge. It’s 3,000,000,000 and more. That’s nine zeros plus digits. We can’t even think about that many people in one location. Two-thousand people in a church is huge. Three billion is more than enormous. It’s Massive.Continue Reading...
Archives For March 2007
Recently, I’ve been thinking about you, the readers. I want to assure you I am here. I am writing. I am growing in Christ. For those who’ve emailed me over the past few weeks about my semi-absence from the blogosphere with no explanation, I want to offer my deep gratitude. I also want to thank those who have noticed some change in the content of my posts during the winter. Hopefully my posts are coming back to what they were before and I will no longer have to force you to believe I am a real secret agent due to my sudden absences.
Today, I want to ask all of my readers some questions that can either be answered by email (click the comment button on the top of the page) or in the comment section below. The first is about the website.
In your opinion, what is Agent Tim Online’s mission?
Since I began this blog it was about one thing: looking at our culture and current events and evaluating them from a Christian teenager’s perspective. Is that what you are seeing? How can I do that better for you as a reader? All in all, the question is about why you read Agent Tim Online.
The second and third question is completely different, but I need to ask it of you because of a writing project I am involved in. First:
Is the blogosphere fading in popularity?
Is it going to die? Is it going to level off? Is it worth using any longer?
What books do you know of that specifically help young men and women grow in holiness? If you know of none, what would that type of book look like and what would it include?
Those may be somewhat “random” questions, yet in the next few weeks I believe they will all come together and you will finally be able to understand.
What is freedom’s challenge? How can we overcome it? Only one way to find out: listen to Tim Sweetman’s entry in the Voice of Democracy Contest to hear the answer to that impending question. Take a listen.
(To download, right click and select “save as.”)
Note: Somehow my entry was either not recieved, or just didn’t win. I never heard any results, except an automatic win at the lodge level. Either way, I hope you are blessed and that this possibly unheard audio will inspire you to defeat apathy in our nation today.
Like so many others, I have something within me that screams against the rules. For example, when I was much younger I owned a wonderful pair of Washington Redskins shoes, and instead of using the normal shoelaces, I decided to dress up the shoes with some bright orange shoelaces that I owned – and I don’t have to tell you that orange with burgundy and gold don’t match. Yet at the time, I didnâ€™t realize that those colors didnâ€™t match, and to be honest, it didnâ€™t bother me in the least. I thought they were cool. But as I grew older and matured, I realized (after â€œpair number twoâ€ with orange shoelaces) that orange didnâ€™t match. Other things began to change as well – my clothes matched, my shirt was no longer on backwards, and I came to understand that you donâ€™t wear pants with huge holes in the knees to special events. Times were changing.
In many ways, our Christian lives tend to be very similar to this. As we become teenagers, some of us have the urge to live our lives with our orange shoelaces still on. We remain children, fighting the so-called â€œrulesâ€ that our parents and authorities place over us and the apathy that is seeping into our spiritual and physical lives. The problem is that we have learned what is right, yet have never put it into action. Weâ€™ve heard a thousand times that orange shoelaces donâ€™t go with Redskin shoes, and we might even know it to be true, but weâ€™ve told ourselves a thousand times that this side is so much sweeter. Ignorance is bliss, right? If we are ignorant of our need to mature as Christians, we will continue to live in that so called â€œbliss.â€ Sadly, many of us have remained infants in our Christian walk – but itâ€™s time to grow up. Times are changing.
More than 20,000 teenagers attended Battle Cry, a worship rally that included sermons, testimonies and Christian artists. At the event, Teen Mania Ministries founder Ron Luce notes, Christian teenagers were encouraged to embrace the message of Christ over the message of pop culture.
“We’re encouraging them to sound off their voice when they go home,” Luce says, “whether that’s through writing in their school papers, or writing songs, or writing poetry, or television programs, stuff on the Internet, YouTube.”
Teen Mania tells Christian young people to “use your creative juices, all the passion you have,” the youth ministry leader says — to “use all of that to get out the message of the gospel [and] let’s bombard every community in America with this.”
Sounds so familiar, does it not? And it gets even better.
Luce is also urging parents to be more involved in the lives of their teenagers because, too often, parents disengage from their kids as they enter the teenage years. “And I just want to encourage the moms and the dads all over the country. This is a time for us, as adults, to rally around this generation,” he notes.
If that isn’t one of the main causes of apathy within youth today, I don’t know what is. Are you going to join the Battle Cry?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
Do not neglect Godâ€™s Word. Those were the words that I understood clearly â€“ especially as I attempt to wake up with one less hour of sleep. I cannot allow anything to separate me from the Bread of Life â€“ no matter how tired, how hungry, or how hard it is to peel my eyes open â€“ I should be in Godâ€™s Word daily, and I want to force myself to read the most important book in all of history before I do anything or read anything.
I think all of us tend to diminish the importance of spending time with God, and reading Godâ€™s Word. We talk and write as if it is very important to us, yet many times our actions prove otherwise. At some times, they prove what is truly important to us. We use Godâ€™s gift of sleep, something good, and abuse it by not going to bed early enough so that we are able to wake up and read Godâ€™s Word. Other times we are too hungry, or sleep in, and decide that we need to just â€œskipâ€ our daily â€œquiet timeâ€ with the Lord. I cannot understand how easily I allow my sinful nature to overcome me during my time of weakness in those early hours. How much more will it overcome me when times prove harder than waking up in the morning? If my priorities are not set straight now, how will I act when times are different?
We must first go to the Lord in prayer and repentance, asking Him to forgive us for putting other things before Him and His Word, then asking Him to allow His Holy Spirit to empower us with strength each morning. It goes without saying that we must do our part in getting enough sleep, and then resolve to get up the next day ready to meet with God first and foremost. Then we must act â€“ these remain words on a page until we put them into action.
I pray that we no longer neglect Godâ€™s Word, nor diminish our sin of selfishness and idolatry. May we all go to the Lord in prayer over this matter, and resolve with the Holy Spiritâ€™s guiding hand to be faithful to spend time with God daily. We will never be the same.
Worship is an amazing thing. I read a quote this morning from Michael Coleman, president of Integrity where he said that â€œthere is one thing we do on earth that we will continue to do in Heaven. That is to praise and worship God. That is why we view life on earth, for those who love Jesus, as choir practice for Heaven.â€ He goes on to say that if we believe worship music is the most important category in music today, itâ€™s quite an understatement. â€œThere is no more important activity of the human heart than to praise and worship God. This is the reason we exist. This is our purpose.â€ That rang so true for me personally. In the past few weeks, Iâ€™ve just picked up my guitar and begun to sing in my room â€“ not for practice anymore, but for a private time of worship to God. Itâ€™s so incredible.
Recently, I received Chris Tomlinâ€™s book on worship on CD, and had the opportunity to listen to it. His stories sounded so similar to my story, and Iâ€™m sure they are close to the stories many other young worship leaders. Many of us donâ€™t really know what weâ€™re doing up on that stage, except singing worship songs, and making sure we sing them right, and making sure the guitar is in tune and sounding goodâ€¦and hoping everyone is singing along. Thatâ€™s not right. It starts with my heart, my passion for worship, and my preparation for that night of worship. I need to know what Iâ€™m doing up on that stage, both from a theological standpoint and from a technical standpoint. Many times we just choose songs that are good, havenâ€™t been over sung, then jump up on stage, practice them, then lead worship that night.
I tend to forget prayer, sharing stories, reading Godâ€™s Word, understanding the songs, and just simply being a leader. Many of us do that when weâ€™re not a worship leader â€“ we donâ€™t think about what weâ€™re saying, why weâ€™re saying it, or what it means when we leave. I want to be the leader who understands that worship may start on that church stage, but doesnâ€™t ever stop. It leaves with us as we walk out the door.
A few other things that struck me from both Chrisâ€™ book and my own thoughts on the topic of worship was silence. I never thought about the discipline of silence. Yet when I had my own private time of worship, I realized that we need to just stop, be still, and just think about what weâ€™re singing and really understand what weâ€™re doing. The silence brings it home â€“ weâ€™re worshipping the creator of the universe. Thatâ€™s not something we do without thinking, without prior thought, or without a sense of awe. It should leave us speechless as we think about how glorious this opportunity is. It will leave us awestruck as we understand have incredible this time can and should be. If only we could all remember that, we might be different worshippers.
Yet it is still choir practice, and practice is not always perfect. We must continue to run the race with perseverance until we reach that place where we will worship Him forever.
I do not claim to be an expert in postmodernism or the emergent church. I am continually learning, and in the past few weeks have been doing some intense study on the topic of truth, something I hit on very early in my writing career. I came across a statement that was so utterly false, I had to talk about it. Rob Bell teaches that we should â€œembrace mystery and doubt.â€ How utterly foolish, I said.
Now before we go any further, we have to understand the differences within the â€œconversationâ€ or movement and realize that a good many of the emergents, like Brian McLaren, are preaching heresy. On the other hand, we have many emergent men and women who are saying that we need to reject the belief that we can know all things with our own power and insight. Some believe that we should embrace postmodernism, holding to the truth that we are fallible humans, so therefore we cannot know infallible truth because the culture around us will mar our interpretation of Scripture. This teaching is extremely dangerous due to the fact that if we cannot know infallible truth, as Christians we must question and doubt Christâ€™s deity, the creation, and even the gospel.
That is what many are preaching within the emergent conversation. Others want to â€œembrace mystery and faithâ€ instead of mystery and doubt. In other words, we need to embrace the many things we do not know in the Bible and teach more about faith instead of relying on our own selves. We need to be embracing the fact that God is bigger than anything we can know or imagine: He is indescribable. We need to have a huge sense of awe at our finite state and inability to understand any infallible truth without the Holy Spirit. By doing this, we as The Church come closer together. This is all well and good, and much of it true, but I donâ€™t believe it is the route we should be taking.
We must embrace what we know by embracing truth and orthodoxy. Or as Josh Harris and New Attitude has put it, â€œEmbrace Humble Orthodoxy.â€ We need to embrace the truth of the gospel, the things we do know all the while understanding that we are indeed fallen human beings who only by Godâ€™s grace know these things. We still understand that the non essentials must be decided with fear and trembling, but we cling not to the things we do not know, but to the things we do know. The mystery has been revealed to us, and it is no longer hidden. This does not diminish the importance of faith and humility, but rather affirms it. We understand that we have no power within us to know the mystery, and only by the Holy Spirit leading us to repentance and faith do we understand. This is so important as we understand how truth affects our lives and how it affects the world around us.
We must not embrace mystery and doubt, but rather the mystery that has been revealed, the truth of the gospel. The Bible leaves no doubt about what that gospel is, about who we are, and about who God is. Letâ€™s embrace this truth.
Join us in wishing Agent Tim a fantastic 17th birthday!!!
Tim isn’t sure that 17 is such an exciting age. What do you think? If you’re 17 (or remember being 17!), how about some encouragement about how to make this a year that counts in the Kingdom of God.
We are so excited about what God is doing, Tim!
We love you,
Dad, Mom, Nick, Nathan, Abbey, and Jonathan