The Right to be ResponsibleMarch 17, 2006
There's a battle being waged for the soul of your teen. Are you ready to fight? Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Teen Mania founder, Ron Luce, about a teen's bill of rights.
There's a battle being waged for the soul of your teen. Are you ready to fight? Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Teen Mania founder, Ron Luce, about a teen's bill of rights.
The Right to be Responsible
Ron: MTV comes off as, "Oh, no, we know you, we relate to you, we speak your language" and all this kind of stuff. In fact, at one of the school shootings recently, they actually had a live reporter up there reporting from this on MTV, you know, and with a "if you need counseling, here is a number." So I thought, "Now, isn't that interesting? They show a video "Bust a Cap in Your Mama," talking about how to shoot your mother. They tell you how to do it, but then there's a counseling service after you do some kind of violence. It's not just "Oh, media just reflects what's going on." It's just horrible.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, March 17th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Who is shaping the thinking of your teenager? Is it you or MTV?
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.
Dennis: Do you smell the smoke of battle?
Bob: Well …
Dennis: We're near the front lines with what we're talking about today.
Bob: This week we have been reminded that there is a battle that's going on, and we often lose sight of that, but, of course, the Scripture is clear we live in the midst of battle. There is an unseen war that's going on that we can either be oblivious to or we can engage in, and Ephesians 6 says God has not called us to be oblivious. He has called us to engage and to put on the armor and to join the battle.
Dennis: And we have General Ron Luce with us.
Bob: Commander, welcome.
Ron: Thank you very much.
Dennis: General Luce heads up a battalion called Teen Mania Ministries in Tyler, Texas, and the battle isn't going on just in Tyler, though. It's going on all across the nation, and what Ron and his team are doing is they are engaging this battle for youth today, and my friend Josh McDowell endorses Ron and his ministry, and Ron has just finished a book called "Battle Cry for a Generation, the Fight to Save America's Youth," and it's a compelling book because it challenges parents, senior pastors and youth pastors to all lock arms and say "You know what? What can we do to engage the battle for the next generation?" Because they're in our junior highs and high schools right now, and they're going to be forging their own marriages and families very soon.
Bob: Well, and, Ron, you're not just calling on the adults to engage, but obviously you're speaking primarily to teenagers – not necessarily in this book – but through Teen Mania, and you're calling on them to engage in the battle. One of the things that you've done in the book at your Acquire the Fire conferences is you have laid out for students a bill of rights. And I have to be honest, when I heard about the Teen Bill of Rights, I thought the last things teenagers need is to be asserting a whole new group of …
Dennis: … they don't need any more rights. We need a Teenager Bill of Responsibilities.
Bob: This is really the right to be responsible for their lives and for the world around them, right?
Ron: For their generation, that's right, and we start with going, "Okay, we've got a systemic problem here," and what I mean is that we've been working to get kids on fire for a long time and trying to educate and train youth pastors for a long time. But the systemic problem is that a youth pastor says, "Okay, I want to reach all the kids in my town," but if they don't have a senior pastor that really is embracing youth ministry and funding it and encouraging it, if they don't have an army of adults that will be volunteers and bring their kids to events, so we're trying to step back and go, "Okay, with this battle cry for a generation, this whole campaign, has turned into a coalition of ministries, really, as diverse as, say, Jerry Falwell all the way to Pat Robertson to Chuck Colson and Kay Arthur, rallying around, using their voice, saying, "Now is the time we, as adults, need to focus on kids as leaders, as the laypeople, and rally their hearts."
I'm reminded of a quote I heard from a young lady just a couple of weeks ago. She was in a juvenile detention home being witnessed to by an officer there who happened to be a Christian, and she stopped her, and she said, "Why should I care about God when the people who talk about God don't care about me?"
And that's just like a knife in my heart. Isn't that what most teenagers in America think? The people who talk all the time the Jesus stuff don't really care about them. And so this whole battle cry is about, okay, let's rally people around kids to really have a heart, to care for them, to love them, to engage – there is something that every one of us can do even if you're not a preacher to kids. Just get them to a place where they can hear the Gospel, whether that is your own youth group, whether that's an event where the Gospel is being preached. We need to capture the hearts of a generation.
You know, the marketers are going after them for the sake of the money; the pornographers are going after them, you know, 12- to 17-year-olds are the largest viewers of pornography online, and they're going after our babies, they're giving it to them free, they're wrecking them. And so we need to go after them. If they're going to go after them for the sake of a buck, can we not go after them for the sake of their soul and for the sake of preserving our Christian heritage?
Dennis: That's really what you've done in the Teenager Bill of Rights. You've gone after their souls, their character, their moral purity, and you're really challenging them with some tough stuff. Would you mind just reading the first half of the Teenager Bill of Rights? Now, I want our listeners to picture about 65,000, 70,000 Teen Maniacs in a major stadium with Ron challenging them to sign this. Now, we're going to read the other half in just a moment, but read this first half, and I want you to picture your team not only agreeing with this but signing a document.
Ron: Here we go. "We, a new generation of young Americans, in order to protect the heritage of our forefathers and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and generations to come, do affirm and pledge this declaration – when character and morality are uncommon qualities; when corporations and marketers seek to profit from our destruction; when pop culture icons do not represent our values; when Judeo-Christian beliefs are labeled as intolerant; when activists seek to remove God from our schools; when truth is deemed relative and unknowable, it is necessary for us, the emerging generation of young Americans, to stand for what is right and reclaim the values that have made our nation great. We call our nation to a higher standard and a lifestyle based not on convenience but on character; not on what is easy but on what is excellent; not on what feels good but what is good; not on popularity but on principle; not on what is tempting but what is true. We, as young Americans, assert our right to determine our future and the future of our great nation. We hold these truths as our God-given rights, and we embrace them with our hearts and our lives."
And so that's the first half of this document, and the first time we introduced this, like, 70,000 young people signed this, and then we actually published this in USA Today with all their signatures, and we put the headline, "73,000 Reasons for Hope." Because, really, young people are willing to step up to the plate and stand for something when it comes to their walk with God if we'll just tell them what it is. If we watered it down and say, "Please come to church, we'll give you pizza," well, then, that's the kind of Christianity they'll have. But when we say, "You know what? You need to stand up and take your generation back and say you know what? We're not going to be manipulated by MTV and everybody else who wants to destroy us. We, as Christian young people, we're going to set the pace for our generation, and we're going to spread it like wildfire to our peers."
Bob: That's one of the things in this document that I think is so refreshing, because you are trying to help kids understand that, frankly, grownups and corporate America and in the media, they don't care about you, they don't love you. They care about your money and about what you can do for them, and they don't have your best interest at heart so why are you buying it?
Ron: Exactly, and I think what happens, though, is parents don't realize what their kids are buying into when they buy a shirt that shows their navel or other kinds of seductive things because they saw it on a video somewhere. They don't realize, "Oh, it's just MTV, how could that be bad?" I mentioned that a couple of times, but a study just came out – up to 3,000 times a week there's a soft-core pornographic image that comes across MTV. So if you're a parent, and you're letting your kid watch that, do you realize what's going into their heart, what's going into their mind?
Dennis: Three thousand times a week?
Ron: A week, and now there's data that shows that the more kids watch this, whether it's sexual humor or whatever, the more they participate in sex while they're young. It's not just "Oh, media just reflects what's going on." They are actually – they pick a control group, and they don't participate in sex near as much as those that are bombarding their minds and their hearts with this. And so MTV comes off as, "Oh, no, we know you, we relate to you, we speak your language" and all this kind of stuff. In fact, I'm amused, at one of the school shootings recently, they actually had a live reporter up there reporting from this on MTV, you know, and with a "if you need counseling, here is a number." So I thought, "Now, isn't that interesting? They show a video "Bust a Cap in Your Mama," talking about how to shoot your mother – but then they tell you how to do it, and there's a counseling service after you do it or after you do some kind of violence. It's just horrible. Parents don't realize what's going on, and kids don't realize what's happening to them.
Maybe they're just watching a sitcom – one I'm talking even cable TV, but there's horrible sexual humor that comes across that actually shapes their behavior, and they don't realize what's happening to them, it becomes so commonplace, it's almost like secondhand smoke. You know, it was everywhere, and they realized it was causing people cancer, so they made laws against it. Well, now we have something I call the "sexualization of America," it's like secondhand sex. It's so much everywhere, we didn't even realize it. It was like going to the dark – you know, how your eyes adjust. I wonder if we've gotten used to the dark, and we walk into the mall and see Victoria showing us all of her secrets, and we just think, "Well, that's just advertising," instead of realizing it's painting a picture in the mind of our 11- or 12-year-old girls of what a girl ought to be.
We need to help kids understand what's happening to them so they don't take it into themselves, and they kind of stand against it.
Bob: I was reading recently a piece that Pastor John Piper had written – actually, a letter he had written to a newspaper when they had put an ad for women's undergarments on page 2 of the newspaper. You know, here are women in their underwear, and John Piper wrote, and he said, "Why is it that we put on page 2 of the newspaper something that if women walked out in public we would either arrest them, or we would think these women are insane? And yet we put them on page 2 of the newspaper as if it's normative behavior for them to dress in their underwear and go get their picture taken for the paper."
And, you're right, it has become secondhand sex – I like that definition, because it has become so much a part of the culture that you can't avoid the toxicity of all that is around us.
Dennis: And yet, many Christians, Bob, and I want to be careful how I say this, but in order to preserve our own children, we can attempt to run away from the culture and closet them. And I don't think it's wrong to protect our children. Barbara and I sought to protect our children, but you have to train your children to engage and to be warriors. We were not called to a holy huddle. We were called into the kingdom conflict, and, Ron, you're really raising the bar, calling parents not to retreat from the battle line but figure out where and how they are going to engage the battle and then equipping them to do that.
Bob: I want to mention, though, we've got the Teenage Bill of Rights on our website at FamilyLife.com because, as you were reading it, I was thinking, "I want to read through that again. I want to think on this." Our kids are getting this, they're understanding it, and they're going, "We're not going to live this way anymore," aren't they?
Ron: Amen, they are. And, you know, this whole toxicity, it is everywhere, and parents don't realize the messages that are being sent. As you're talking about, you know, we don't want to make a huddle but, at the same time, we want to understand that, you know, the Bible talks about the innocent in the ways of evil and things and so, for example, there are teenage magazines, secular teenage magazines. An uninformed parent would just go, "Oh, just let them get the magazine." But they talk about how to tell whether you're a Lesbian or not, how to have Lesbian sex safely, how to tell your parents you're a Le – this is horrible – the power of suggestion in kids.
Dennis: Ron, one such magazine arrived in our mailbox after my daughter went to a National Cheerleading Association meeting. This was given as a free subscription, and it was called "A Day in the Life of a Boy's Boxer Shorts."
Bob: That was one of the articles in the magazine?
Dennis: A four-page article about what happens anatomically to a young man who is 16, 17 years old, throughout the day. So this Teenage Bill of Rights is calling this generation away from that junk to a higher standard.
Ron: Where they see what's true, they see what's right, and they say, "We're going to stand for what's right." Do you want me to continue reading the rest of this?
Dennis: Read the second half of this and, you know, Bob, as you mentioned, it is available at FamilyLife.com, and what I challenge parents to do is print out a copy of this, and if you've got teenagers, make copies, pass it out at the dinner table tonight, have a little discussion, see if your kids would respond by signing it. And then get some of their friends together and have a signing party because, frankly, this is how we have to retake culture. It has to be done one son, one daughter, one home at a time.
Ron: And so the second half of this, the young people assert, "We recognize that God, our Creator, is the source of all truth. We will live with honor, always striving to do the right thing even when it's unpopular. We will be honest and truthful in matters large and small regardless of the consequences. We will take responsibility for our actions and not point to government, school, celebrities, parents, or friends to justify our wrong decisions. We recognize we are responsible for our mistakes.
We will pursue purity throughout our lives. We will not be seduced by a fabricated idea of sex and love. We will save our bodies and our hearts for our future spouse and, once married, we commit to pursue faithful and enduring relationships. We see through the lies of drugs and alcohol and refuse to let any chemical influence our thinking and destroy our lives. We will respect the authorities placed in our lives even though some may not live as honorably as they should. We will honor our parents, teachers, and other leaders.
We will reach out with compassion to the hurting and less fortunate both in our society and around the world. We refuse to be absorbed with our own comforts and desires. We recognize the value of each life, whether born or unborn, and we seek to protect those who are unable to protect themselves. We will do our best to represent and communicate our Creator to our peers, leaders, and society as a whole. We will work to see that every person has the opportunity to see and hear about the true nature of our God.
In signing, we commit to pursue a life that exemplifies these standards. We refuse to sit by idly and witness the destruction of our generation. With God's help, we envision a bright and prosperous future for the nation we love."
And we have tens of thousands of young people that have already signed this, and …
Dennis: What are you going to do with them?
Ron: We are using, as a catalyst, to show the nation through our websites and so forth that there is a contingent of young people that want to stand for what is true and what is right. In fact, we have pastors and youth pastors joining the Battle Cry Coalition, as it were, and, in doing so, they're saying, "I'm a pastor that's committing to reach this generation." What that means is I'm going to commit financially, I'm going to commit to parade it in front of my laypeople on a regular basis so we can pray for kids, so we can challenge the laypeople to engage.
And, as a young pastor, this is the plan. I am committing to grow, to double my youth group every year for the next five years – to double and disciple. He can't do it by himself. He needs the pastor, he needs the lay people, and we've got all kinds of other materials coming out to teach them how to do that. We've got to reach them, and we've got to go – not just reach them, but we've got to disciple them.
And if we double every year for the next five years, if we only get 100,000 churches doing that, we'll be discipling 32 million kids in the next five years. But it's really going to take everybody listening to engage every pastor, every layperson. Take the book, go to your pastor, go to your board of elders, your youth pastor. It's going to take all of us engaging to do this and instead of letting kids getting mowed down and become the casualties of our culture and all these people trying to make money off them and perverting them at the same time, we jump in and say you know what? We're not going to let the world love them more than we love them, because the fact is whoever loves them the most or wants them the most will get them.
Bob: You mentioned earlier that the World War II mentality was an "all hands on deck" mentality, and I was thinking as Ron was talking about the illustration you've used of Dunkirk and how the men and women of Britain came out in their boats when the Navy was at peril, the moms and dads got in their own boats and went to rescue their sons.
Dennis: Well, there were nearly 300,000 young men stranded on the coast of France, and the Parliament couldn't rescue them. As you just said, the English Navy didn't have enough boats to pull it off, and so what happened, Ron? The strangest fleet appeared on the horizon of the English Channel that had ever been assembled in naval history, and what took place over a 24-hour period, where those English fathers had sailed to rescue England's bleeding sons, and they rescued all of them. Hitler was poised in the hills off the coast only 10 miles away, and historians say, even today, if he'd understood how close he was to victory – all he had to do was sweep down with his divisions, and they could have turned the English Channel red with blood. But those fathers, laymen, they made a difference, and the lie, I believe, from the pit of hell, is that you can't make a difference.
Ron: That's right.
Dennis: You're not Ron Luce, you don't have a big ministry, you're just a youth pastor, you're just a daddy, you're just a mommy, you're just a small church. You can make a difference if you use your influence where you are to the glory of God.
Ron: What a moving story, and I think the point is somebody has to get in the boat and go across the channel to rescue. It's inconvenient. You're going out of your normal way of life, and I'm reminded of a true story. My younger brother was on his way from church one day, and there was a car with two teenage girls in front of him. They stopped at a stop sign and proceeded through, and a truck came the other way, did not stop, the car exploded with flames, the driver was killed, but 14-year-old Amy, her sister, was trapped inside.
Well, my brother puts his car in park, vive of his small children in the back of his car, and he runs up to try to save her life. The car is flaming. Well, somehow he managed to wrestle the door open, pulled her out, she's unconscious, pulls her out by her belt loop. He saves her life. He's on the front page of the paper, gets a picture with the firemen, you know, he saved her life, he's the town hero. And I'm calling him a couple of days later, and I congratulate him and everything, and then I said, "What were you thinking? I mean, really, what was going through your mind?" Because I'm thinking, flaming car, my children are there, it's going to explode – what was going through your mind? And he said these words I'll never forget – he says, "Ron, I didn't do something that probably anybody in my situation wouldn't have done." Then he said this – "When the car is on fire, you do whatever you have to do to get the girl out." When the car is on fire, you do whatever you have to do.
And so the message today is the car is on fire, the generation is on fire, and we have to do – we, the body of Christ – have to do whatever it takes, whether that means picking up kids and bringing them to church, bringing them to one of the large events that we do or another ministry does to capture their heart – whatever that means – volunteering your time with your local youth ministry, giving more money than you've ever given, taking some of your IRA – what a challenge. What a horrible thing to think you saved up all this money for a great retirement, and you've taken care of your family and your children and their children, and realizing that if you would have invested now, while we have this moment, maybe you could help prevent the train from going off the tracks; that you could have prevented this horrible tragedy that America is headed into unless a miracle happens.
And so the car is on fire. We need to jump out of our car, inconvenience yourself, get in the boat, go across the channel to rescue these bleeding kids.
Bob: And what you've done in your book, "Battle Cry for a Generation," is map out for us, as parents, a strategy for how to accomplish that kind of a rescue.
We've got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center. We want to make it available to our listeners. You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com, to request a copy, if you'd like. When you get to the website, FamilyLife.com, in the middle of the screen you'll see "Today's Broadcast," and a big red "Go" button. You just click on that "Go" button. It will take you right to the page where you can get more information about Ron's book and other resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife to help you with your own children and with a generation of teenagers who are growing up in a very different world than the world that you and I grew up in, Dennis.
Again, the title of the book is "Battle Cry for a Generation." You can request a copy online at FamilyLife.com or call 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can let you know how you can have the book sent to you.
When you do get in touch with us, someone may ask you if you'd like to make a donation to the ministry of FamilyLife Today. That's because it's donations that keep FamilyLife Today on the air in this city and in cities all across the country, and so we want to give listeners who contact us an opportunity to participate in helping to pay the bills around here.
This month, when you make a donation of any amount to this ministry, we want to send you a special thank you gift. It's a set of Resurrection Eggs. This is a dozen plastic eggs in a carton, and each egg contains a different symbol or a representation of something that happened during the final week of Jesus' life on earth. It tells the Easter story, and it's a great way for children to learn the basics. In fact, it's been so encouraging over the years to hear about people who have gone through the Resurrection Eggs with their children, and after one time through they can go back through and the children can retell them the story of Jesus' death, His burial, and His Resurrection. So the children, at that point, have heard the historical Gospel.
We'd love to send you a set of these Resurrection Eggs either for yourself or to pass on to a family member, a friend, someone in the neighborhood, a co-worker. It's our way of saying thank you when you do support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this month with a donation of any amount. You can donate by calling 1-800-FLTODAY and just make sure you mention that you'd like to have the set of Resurrection Eggs sent to you when you contact us, or if you're donating online, and you come to that keycode box, type in the word "eggs," and we'll know that you'd like to have a set of these eggs sent out to you as well.
Again, thanks for your financial support. We appreciate those of you who listen and who pray for us, and especially those of you who are able to help with the financial support for this ministry. Thanks for your partnership with us. Dennis?
Dennis: It's been our privilege today to talk to Ron Luce, president and founder of Teen Mania Ministries. He's written a great book, "Battle Cry for a Generation," and, Ron, I couldn't help but think as you were just challenging all of us to engage in the battle – this is an adult generation that has its own problems. We sit back, and we look at the youth of today and MTV and the way they dress and tattoos and body piercings and just to go back to your illustration about your brother rescuing that young lady who was in a car that had been in an accident that was on fire – I think we sit back, and we throw stones at the car that's on fire and forget that in the midst of the fire there are kids that are trapped.
They may be trapped by broken homes, they may be trapped by their own poor choices, but they're human beings, and they don't even realize they're being swallowed up by the flames. But if we don't do it, it isn't going to happen. And, personally, I want to thank you. I'm behind you 100%, and I'm thrilled with this initiative, and I pray for God's favor.
I want to encourage our listeners to pray for Ron and his ministry and other ministries as they join together. Pray for your youth pastor that his ministry; that he'll get the vision, and he'll double his youth ministry each year for the next five years, and maybe we will see 30 million kids reach for the Gospel.
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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