Youth Culture Today with Walt Mueller

Walt Mueller


Youth Culture Today is a 60-second daily radio spot from CPYU and Walt Mueller, now available as a podcast. It provides a quick glance into the world of teenagers and today's youth culture for parents, youth workers and others who care about kids and want to help them navigate adolescence in ways that bring glory to God.

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902 episodes

Belief in God

How many Americans say they believe in God? The Gallup organization recently released the results of their Values and Beliefs poll and found that the vast majority of adults in the U.S. believe in God. Currently, the number stands at eighty-one percent. That’s down six points from the eighty seven percent who said they believed in God just five years earlier, in 2017. Gallup first asked this question in 1944, when ninety-eight percent of Americans said they believed in God. On the one hand, we should be concerned about this drop. But lest we think that this majority can allow us to become lazy in terms of nurturing our kids in the Christian faith, think again. We have to ask who or what this God Americans believe in really is. Many believe in a self-defined God rather than the God who has revealed himself in the Bible. Parents, take the time to regularly talk about and nurture your kids in the faith. Prepare them for an adulthood filled with vibrant faith and trust in God for their salvation.

Aug 11
Social Media and Gender Incongruence

In the past you’ve heard me mention what is called Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria. Simply stated, Rapid onset gender dysphoria is spreading as an identity option among the population of teens and young teens as a result of the influence of peers and social media. Of course, when we teach the traditional biblical view on gender we teach that God created human beings on the gender binary, as either male of female. Sadly, our culture sees God’s order and design as outdated and constricting. A group of French medical professionals has released this statement: Parents addressing their children’s questions about transgender identity or associated distress should remain vigilant regarding the addictive role of excessive engagement with social media, which is both harmful to the psychological development of young people and is responsible for a very significant part of the growing sense of gender incongruence. Parents, teach your kids to embrace and live into God’s good design for their bodies.

Aug 10
The Need to Slow Down

Are you feeling burdened, tired, and just plain worn out from the rat race that your life has become? I’m hearing more and more parents say that life has become crazy with running around here, there, and everywhere. During one recent conversation with a Christian parent, these words from musician Phil Keaggy’s four-decade old song “A Time and a Place” came to mind. Listen to Keaggy’s take on the words of Jesus in Matthew six: “Said the robin to the sparrow, I would really like to know why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so. Said the sparrow to the robin, friend, I think that it must be that they have no heavenly father such as cares for you and me.” If you’re like most parents, you feel the need to slow down. Perhaps you and I can start the process by re-thinking our purpose in life as stated by the Puritan preacher, Richard Baxter: What have we our time and strength for, but to lay both out for God? What is a candle made for, but to be burnt?” 

Aug 09
Nutrition Habits and Teens

The human body is absolutely amazing. The more I read the unfolding body of research on the complexity of how the body grows and develops, the more I am driven to give glory to God as the Creator. By God’s design, everything in our bodies is integrated. That’s why it’s important for parents to guide their children and teens into healthy eating and nutrition habits. Registered dietician Jillian Kubala reminds us that from puberty through early adulthood, the body is in a stage of rapid growth. Proper growth and development happens when teens receive a steady supply of calories and nutrients on a consistent daily basis. She says that if teens don’t take in adequate calories and nutrients, they can experience health complications like stunted growth, delayed puberty, menstrual irregularities, and other conditions. Mood and energy levels are affected, along with athletic and academic performance. Parents, study up on healthy nutrition, and steward your teens bodies to the glory of God.

Aug 08
Declaring Things Right or Wrong

In Proverbs 14:12 we read these words of wisdom and truth: There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Whenever I read this verse I am reminded of my need to ground myself in the truths of God’s Word, and then think and act rightly in accordance with God’s will. New Testament scholar Michael Kruger tells us that in today’s world many in the church believe and teach that the work of reconciliation should be valued over making judgements. Our current cultural moment affirms this belief, making it very attractive to our Christian kids. And while God does have much to say about how we human beings relate to other humans, this notion leads us to believe that we should never point out that someone else’s behavior is wrong. Parents, teach your kids that we do need to operate with grace, patience, and a spirit of love. But we cannot abandon God’s clear teaching that some things need to be declared right and other things need to be declared wrong.

Aug 05
Move Forward Cautiously with Technology

Move forward cautiously. That’s good advice as we blaze new trails on what’s been called “The Digital Frontier.” I can’t help but think about the wise words of Marshall McLuhan, spoken decades before the smartphone, about technology and its effects on us as human beings: Yet even though these words prove more and more prophetically accurate with each passing day, we simply keep walking forward without making any adjustments that might result in more healthy use of the technological tools with which we’ve been gifted. When will we listen? I know from my work that an endless parade of parents are scratching their heads in dismay, wondering what it is that’s happened to their kids and their family relationships because they chose not to engage in reflective thinking before putting those smartphones and other screens into the hands of their kids. It’s not too late to change course!

Aug 04
Work Matters to God

Where will your kids land in terms of the vocations they choose when they enter adulthood? These days I’m looking at my young grandchildren and wondering the same about them. How has God uniquely gifted them? What are their interests and abilities? No matter what vocation they choose, one essential lesson we must instill in them while they are still young is this: all work matters to God. I love these words from theologian Abraham Kuyper: "Wherever man may stand, whatever he may do, to whatever he may apply his hand, in agriculture, in commerce, and in industry, or his mind, in the world of art, and science, he is, in whatsoever it may be, constantly standing before the face of his God, he is employed in the service of his God, he has strictly to obey his God, and above all, he has to aim at the glory of his God." Parents, teach your kids that we image God when we engage in our work. Teach them that all work is a form of worship, and that we are to bring glory to God.

Aug 03
3 Things to Teach Kids about Pornography

What should we tell our kids about pornography? In a recent article on the Defend Young Minds website, Gabe Deem listed the three things he wants to teach his kids about porn. Gabe was first exposed to porn at age eight. By age twenty-three he reached a point where he was addicted to and dependent on pornography in ways that I will not mention here. He is committed to teaching his son these three things about what pornography does to us. First, pornography can harm you physically. He goes on to offer evidence regarding pornography’s negative effects on both the brain structure and the body. Second, pornography can harm you mentally. When he finally broke free from his addiction, Deem says he experienced a variety of benefits, including improved concentration and memory. And third, pornography can harm you emotionally, including leading to depression. Parents, God is the creator of his good gift of sexuality. But God’s enemy wants to undo it all, and porn is one way he does it.

Aug 02
Sinners in Need of Salvation

In Matthew chapter 24, Jesus tells his disciples, “see that no one leads you astray.” He tells them that many false prophets will arise to lead many astray. In today’s world, we must heed this warning as many in the church are promoting false teachings that both we and our kids might easily come to believe. New Testament scholar Michael Kruger tells us that one of the most insidious and destructive lies we are being taught is that as Christians, it is more important for us to affirm people’s potential rather than reminding them of their brokenness. Of course, parents need to encourage their kids to live up to their potential by developing their gifts and abilities. But we cannot fail to teach them that they are sinners in need of salvation. If we don’t, we discount the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross to rescue us from our sin. We need to regularly remind our kids that, as the Apostle Paul says, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. This includes you, me, and our kids. 

Aug 01
Jesus as Lord

In Ephesians 4:14, the Apostle Paul tells us that we are no longer to be like children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning. In essence, Paul is warning us to deepen our understanding of the truths of God’s Word so that we might not be led astray by false teaching. New Testament scholar Michael Kruger warns us that in today’s world, many in the church are believing the false teaching which says that Jesus is a model for how we should live, rather than an object for our worship. This way of thinking is leading many of our kids into believing that Jesus is only one of many moral teachers we can follow, rather than truly God and truly man. We need to teach our kids that yes, Jesus a moral example and he has called us to come and follow. But Jesus also has divine authority and He is both our Lord and our Savior. Teach your kids that Jesus’ moral teaching only works when we worship him as Lord.

Jul 29
Binge Drinking and Adolescent Brains

Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks in two-hour period for men, or four or more drinks in a two-hour period for women. Adults who binge drink are at greater risk for increased violence, accidental injuries and death, impaired memory, increased risk for heart disease, and other chronic conditions. Less is known about the effects of binge-drinking on the brains of adolescents. Researchers at the University of Buffalo have published a study that’s found that even low and moderate levels of alcohol consumption can significantly impact the brain function of adolescents. The study found that all levels of alcohol consumption — low, moderate and high — decreased blood glucose metabolism in the primary somatosensory cortex and visual cortex, which are key to processing sensory and visual information, as well as executing motor functions. We need to watch over our kids and warn them about the physical, legal, and spiritual issues related to alcohol consumption.

Jul 28
Negative Sideline Behavior

Earlier this summer, a television station in Des Moines, Iowa ran a report about how unruly parents were causing issues for umpires at youth baseball games. It seems that over the course of one weekend in June, umpires had to eject seventeen parents from baseball games for heckling and other bad behavior. In order to combat this, Central Iowa Sports, the organization that runs the league, instituted a strict no-tolerance policy. The following weekend, Central Iowa Sports reported that the new policy worked, as only two parents had to be ejected from the games. This story is not unusual, nor is the deplorable behavior of parents limited to Central Iowa. Increasingly we hear these reports from just about everywhere. Parents, sports are meant to be played. Play is meant to be fun. Negative sideline behavior ruins it for everyone, including our kids, who not only feel greater pressure, but learn these bad behaviors. We are to glorify God in all things, including our spectating.

Jul 27
Constructive Offline Conversations

Last May, the day after the horrific school shooting took place in Uvalde, Texas, social media lit up with a back and forth that shows just how divided we are as a nation. I got to thinking about the best place to respond, as we must, to the tragedies that take place in our world. I truly believe that the evil in our world which rattles us to the core must be discussed and acted upon. The Gospel demands it. But it’s wise to choose we discuss we should act and respond. The great temptation is always to jump online to social media and to engage in what’s called virtue signaling and performative allyship. All too often, conversations that should be had one-on-one and face-to-face are taking place through sound bytes thrown around online. Alan Jacobs once wrote, The internet is a mugger that demands an immediate response. We need to show personal restraint while teaching our kids that the most constructive conversations in difficult times will take place off line.

Jul 26
Dads on Duty

I want to tell you about some fathers and what they did last fall after twenty-three students at a local Shreveport, Louisiana high school were arrested over a three-day span for fighting on campus. A group of parents met after the incidents to form a strategy for combatting violence at the school. After meeting for four hours, the group came up with a plan. Some fathers decided to go to the school to walk around and patrol the hallways, showing a strong and caring male presence at the school. One of the organizers of this Dads on Duty group says this: ‘I don’t care how old you are or what size you are, it’s something about seeing a man, a positive male figure, a father, your daddy whatever you want to call them, at the school. It will make you straighten up and fly right.” These dads have become like cool uncles to the students, and there haven’t been any fights on campus since they started. Adults, God gives us great opportunities to meet the needs in our communities. Why not get involved?

Jul 25
How God Uses Problems to Perfect Our Kids

All this week we’ve been looking at five lessons from the persecuted church regarding how God uses problems and persecutions for our good and His glory. These are lessons that we must teach our kids as they grow up in a youth culture that’s increasingly set against the Gospel and God’s people. Today’s lesson is this: God uses problems and persecution to perfect you. Paul writes these words in Romans five: “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Paul Estabrooks from the Open Doors USA ministry reminds us that problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. Our kids need to learn that God is more concerned with our character than our comfort. Christianity can cost us our earthly lives. But at the end, the outcome is eternal life.

Jul 22
How God Uses Problems To Protect Our Kids

All this week we’re looking at five lessons from the persecuted church regarding how God uses problems and persecutions for our good and His glory. These are lessons that we must teach our kids as they grow up in a youth culture that’s increasingly set against the Gospel and God’s people. Today’s lesson is this: God uses problems and persecutions to protect you. While this might sound completely ridiculous and counter-intuitive, it is true. One great example comes from the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis fifty. Joseph recognizes that being sold into slavery was a blessing. He tells his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Paul Estabrooks from the Open Doors USA ministry to the persecuted church reminds us of this truth we must teach ours kids when he writes, “A problem can be a blessing in disguise when it keeps us from being harmed by something more serious.” 

Jul 21
How Problems Can Protect Our Kids

All this week we’re looking at five lessons from the persecuted church regarding how God uses problems and persecutions for our good and His glory. These are lessons that we must teach our kids as they grow up in a youth culture that’s increasingly set against the Gospel and God’s people. Today’s lesson is this: God uses problems and persecutions to correct us. If you are like me, you know that there are some lessons that are learned only through pain and failure. The Psalmist makes this clear in the words of Psalm one-hundred-nineteen, verse seventy one: “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Paul Estabrooks from the Open Doors USA ministry to the persecuted church writes this: “John seventeen clearly teaches that God does not desire to have His church in the comforts of a problem-free society. He desires for His church to be faithful in the midst of trials and testing.” Teach your kids to welcome life’s difficulties as God’s pathway into a deeper faith. 

Jul 20
How Suffering Impacts Kids

All this week we’re looking at five lessons from the persecuted church regarding how God uses problems and persecutions for our good and His glory. These are lessons that we must teach our kids as they grow up in a youth culture that’s increasingly set against the Gospel and God’s people. Today’s lesson is this: God uses problems and persecution as a means to inspect us. In the first chapter of the book of James, we read this: “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Paul Estrabrooks from the Open Doors USA ministry to the persecuted church tells us that people are like tea bags. If you want to know what’s inside them, just drop them into hot water! We need to teach our kids to pay attention to themselves when their faith is being tested with a problem. Our problems pull back the curtain on who we really are. Teach your kids to welcome trials as a way to grow in their faith in Jesus Christ.

Jul 19
How Suffering Directs Kids

One of the most important lessons we can teach our children and teens as they grow up in today’s post-Christian culture is a theology of what it means to suffer well. I’ve been reading insights on suffering from the Open Doors ministry to the global persecuted church. This week, I want to share Open Doors’ five ways that God uses problems and persecution in our lives. These are lessons we must share with our kids. First, we must teach them that God uses problems and persecution to direct us. Proverbs 20:30 says, “Blows that wound cleanse away evil. Strokes make clean the innermost parts.” Members of the global persecuted church have learned that sometimes God must light a fire under us to get us moving in His direction. We must teach our kids that problems and pressures often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Our kids need to learn that the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ is a difficult life. We need to teach and prepare our kids to suffer well.

Jul 18
Kids and Communication

I was recently at a social gathering where I sat across the table from a teenager and an adult who were having a conversation. I paid special attention to the non-verbal ways in which the older man and the young man were communicating. I was focusing on this aspect of their conversation because of some research I had recently read which reported that adolescents spend twelve percent less time looking at the face of the person they are speaking to, than do adults ages twenty to forty. The researchers said these findings are important because interpreting facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures are all important communication cues. Now before you conclude that this research proves that our kids don’t, in fact, listen to us, you need to remember that our teenagers are in process. There are insecurities and still-developing communication skills that combine to contribute to some nervousness. Remember, your kids listening and its important to never think otherwise. 

Jul 15
Good as Evil, Evil as Good

How do we help our kids discern good from evil in a world where increasingly we see what used to be called vices embraced as virtues, and things that used to be virtues seen as vices? We are living in a world once described by cultural critic Gene Veith as a world where the only sin, is to believe in sin. As parents, we must begin by teaching our kids the truths of God’s Word. We must help them look carefully at God’s borders and boundaries for our lives so that they might live into worshiping and glorifying him by following his way and will for their lives. Second, we must teach them how culture twists our understanding of sin. In his book Knowing Sin, Mark Jones says this: "In our temptations, Satan wants us to call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). He clothes sin with the appearance of virtue. Greed is 'saving,' lust is 'love,' abortion is 'self-care,' drunkenness is 'medication,' and laziness is 'rest.'" Let’s help our kids see all of life through the truth of God’s Word.

Jul 14
The Danger of Specializing in Sports

As Christian parents, we are called to responsibly steward God’s good gift of our children. We are to tend to their spiritual nurture, their physical health, and their mental health. Our parenting is to bring glory to God as we raise our children to glorify God over and above pursuing the idols of our times. One of those idols is the idol of organized sport. While organized sports are a good thing, they can become an ultimate thing, or idol. One way that organized sports become unhealthy is when we push our kids into focusing and specializing in just one sport, rather than allowing them to play more widely. Researchers tell us that allowing our kids to specialize in sports early carries the risks of higher injury rates, increased psychological stress and anxiety, and a tendency to burn-out at a young age. In addition, heavy sports specialization requires a large amount of time, including Sunday mornings. Parents, prioritize your child’s spiritual growth and development.

Jul 13
Online Predators

The Bible teaches us that we live in a fallen and broken world. Sin manifests itself everywhere and in every way. One of the most disturbing types of sin facilitated by today’s technology is online predatory behavior. While there’s conflicting evidence on who is most at risk, the research indicates that kids ages twelve to fifteen are most at risk, with girls being more frequently victimized than our boys. If your child withdraws and becomes secretive around a device by hiding the screen or clicking suddenly out of windows when you walk into a room, it might be time to ask questions about their online activities, and to begin to monitor what they are doing online with a greater amount of care and frequency. Predators know how to make vulnerable children and teens feel special, important, attractive, and worthwhile. Be aware of the dangers that exist online, and love your kids by carefully monitoring their online time.You are protecting them from harm and providing for their wellbeing.

Jul 12
How Should We Love?

Our kids are growing up in a world where it is believed that to love someone is to affirm them in whatever they desire or pursue. But this is not love at all. As Christians, Jesus tells us that we are to love one another as he has loved us. Parents, consider these words about this kind of love from Elisabeth Elliot: “The love of Jesus was unsentimental. As a man, he fully entered into the disciples’ experience of being men, with all the feelings that entails, yet His love for them was not a feeling. It was decisive, both as attitude and act. He honored their dignity as men by treating them with trust, speaking honestly and straightforwardly, never tiptoeing to spare their weaker feelings, never concealing his own thoughts. At times, he hurt them to serve them. There was no care for himself in that kind of love. He had the courage to face their anger and misunderstanding.” Parents, love your kids enough to tell them the truth!

Jul 11
Dinner Conversation Sparkers 5

If you’ve ever been at a loss for how to spark dinner table conversation with your kids, I want to offer a little help. All this week I’ve been sharing provocative quotes that can trigger conversations about the Christian faith and things that really matter. Here’s a quote worth discussing from theologian Albert Wolters: “We are to be billboards of the Gospel in the extraordinary ordinariness of our lives.” Wolters reminds us that the Christian faith is not just a Sunday morning venture. Rather, our faith is to inform every nook and cranny and every square inch of life. The Gospel should inform and shape the way they play, the way they study, and the way they engage with others. Are they learning what it means to glorify God by being a good and faithful employee? If they are musicians, are you instructing them how to sing or play to the glory of God. How we live will either bring glory to God, or to the kingdom of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Point your kids in the right direction.

Jul 08
Dinner Conversation Sparkers 4

If you’ve ever been at a loss for how to spark dinner table conversation with your kids, I want to offer a little help. All this week I’m sharing provocative quotes that can spark conversations about the Christian faith and things that really matter. Here’s a quote worth discussing from Tim Keller: “Anything that is functionally more important to you than God is an idol. Anything you love more than God – even a good thing like a spouse or a child or social cause – is a false God. Until you can identify your idols you cannot understand yourself. Until you turn from them you can’t know and walk with God.” Parents, our culture throws all kinds of idols at our kids. Idols demand time, attention, and allegiance. But they never can fill the hole in the soul that can only be filled by the one true God. Talk with your kids about the idols that compete for their hearts. Expose their lies and share stories of how you’ve been manipulated and hurt by idols. Teach them to worship only the almighty God!

Jul 07
Dinner Conversation Sparkers 3

If you’ve ever been at a loss for how to spark dinner table conversation with your kids, I want to offer a little help. All this week I’m sharing provocative quotes that can spark conversations about the Christian faith and things that really matter. Here’s a quote worth discussing from Walter Trobisch: “God accepts us as we are, but when he accepts us, we must not remain as we are.” Sadly, there are many who believe that being a Christian is something that starts with a prayer to accept Christ, and then involves little or nothing else after. The reality is that when Jesus calls us to come and follow we are launching into a lifetime of transformation, where we allow the Gospel to change and transform us in every nook and cranny of life. Parents, we must take the time to show and tell our kids about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus as an outpouring of thanksgiving for the gift of salvation. Take time to search the Scriptures with your kids, learning what it means to live for Christ.

Jul 06
Dinner Conversation Sparkers 2

If you’ve ever been at a loss for how to spark dinner table conversation with your kids, I want to offer a little help. All this week I’m sharing provocative quotes that can spark conversations about the Christian faith and things that really matter. Here’s a quote worth discussing from the great theologian, John Stott: “Whenever a work of God is prospering, we can expect opposition to arise.” Because we live in a world where the forces of darkness are battling the forces of light, those of us who are endeavoring to follow Jesus will inevitably run into opposition that’s intended to weaken us, make us doubt, trip us up, and ultimately convince us to forsake our faith. Brainstorm with your kids on what shape this spiritual opposition might take. Share your own experiences with doubt and difficulty. Then, offer advice on how to prepare for spiritual difficulties. Finally, read God’s word together regularly. Immersing our kids in the truth prepares them to follow Jesus.

Jul 05
Dinner Conversation Sparkers 1

If you’ve ever been at a loss for how to spark dinner table conversation with your kids, I want to offer a little help. All this week I’m sharing provocative quotes that can spark conversations about the Christian faith and things that really matter. Here’s a quote worth discussing from Rico Tice: “We are the choices that we make.” That’s a reality that all of us should ponder, embrace, and act upon. Share the quote, and then ask family members to think of two examples of how a choice has influenced the direction of their lives. First, think of a good choice that has led into positive spiritual growth. Then, think of a choice that wound up having negative or disastrous consequences. Then, take the time to consider how to make good choices. What are some steps that the Bible tells us will lead to making good choice? Are there traps that we must avoid? With so many voices calling for our allegiance, help your kids hear the life-giving voice of Jesus as guides us into making good choices.

Jul 04
Kids and God's Word

One of our great spiritual forefathers, the reformer Martin Luther, stood up for truth and did so without regard to the cost it might bring. Luther knew that ultimate truth was found in God’s Word. Throughout history, followers of Jesus Christ have studied and followed God’s Word knowing that it is the only reliable guide for all matters of faith and life. In today’s world where our kids are led to believe that truth is up for grabs and even personally determined, parents need to teach their kids to study, trust, and follow God’s unchanging Word. Luther’s words regarding God’s word are good words for us to heed as parents. Luther writes, “No greater mischief can happen to a Christian people, than to have God’s word taken from them, or falsified, so that they no longer have it pure and clear.” Parents, since you are primarily responsible for the spiritual growth and nurture of you kids, don’t engage in the mischief of keeping your kids from hearing God’s life-giving Word.

Jul 01