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A heated struggle rages around our children, one so fierce and ubiquitous that I call it the Cosmic Battle. The spoil of this warfare is their hearts, or what they really believe. It is the battle of competing truth claims.

I recently spent eight days floating down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon—a very secluded place. Once we launched, we were completely out of contact with the world. At one point, I experienced the overwhelming sense of silence that comes with complete isolation. I think my body even perceived the lack of electronic emanations that always pierce us. Radio and television waves. Cell towers. Satellite signals. Power lines. Nothing. Not even the subtle hum of air conditioning and refrigerators that contributes to the background noise vibrating the world around us.

But that electronic barrage is nothing compared to the onslaught leveled at us from a different realm—the realm of ideas and truth claims. We get hit from everywhere: magazines, books, newspapers, the Internet, iPods, music, videos, movies, billboards. Each conveys truth claims that try to make us believe a particular version of reality. It's critical that adolescents understand this battle, because once a teen believes that a truth claim is real, he or she will act upon it … regardless of whether or not it is true. For example, there's one floating around our culture today that primarily targets girls. It goes something like this: "If you were just a few pounds thinner, you would be loved and accepted. But until you lose more weight, you won't be."

You won't find this truth claim written anywhere in black and white. Rather, it lurks behind the photos on magazine covers at the checkout counter. It seeps out of a CosmoGIRL! ad or between the lines of an article in Seventeen. It claims to be true, but it's a lie. And it's a lie that leads to destruction. However, as devastating as this single truth claim has been, it's merely one of a gazillion lies that invades our minds and seeks to gain access to our hearts, where we truly believe something is real. The sum total of all of the truth claims you or I believe defines our personal worldview—the basis upon which we think and act. It's even the source of emotions such as worry, which Jesus declared comes from buying into claims contrary to the one that God really is Jehovah-jireh, the Lord Who Will Provide. But your personal worldview is only one of three different types. Let's look at them briefly, because it is important to get them straight.

The first type of worldview is one you find in books. I call this a formal worldview. Marxism. Naturalism. Christianity. You can read about them, but simply knowing these claims doesn't mean you believe them.

The second type of worldview is, as I just mentioned, one's personal worldview, the complex set of truth claims that an individual, somewhere deep down inside, has come to believe is really real or true about life. These internal beliefs come out of the barrage of truth claims that bombard us, from formal worldviews, parents, friends, teachers, media and even our own self-discovery. Regardless of their source, something has caused us to embrace them as true.

The third type of worldview sits in between the first two. It is one's professing worldview, or the stuff we say we believe. Ideally, our professing worldview should match our personal worldview. But it often doesn't. This is what Jesus was getting at with the issue of worry. We may profess that God is Jehovah-jireh, but if we are constantly worried, it may reveal that we really believe something else. And, just to be honest, Jesus called this hypocrisy—saying we believe something but acting totally contrary to what we say. Jesus wasn't too happy with hypocrites. Unfortunately, there is a certain amount of hypocrisy in all of us.

The Lord lamented in Isaiah 29:13, "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men."

How sad. Young people are in a fierce battle. The enemy seeks to invade and capture their hearts with lies. Let's help them to better align their personal worldview with their professing worldview, and may both grow more in line with the true biblical worldview. May it be so!

Dr. Del Tackett served as president of the Focus on the Family Institute and hosted The Truth Project, Focus on the Family's series of DVD-based worldview lessons.

Published July 2008