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Miranda Writes: Changeless

by Omar Miranda

The other day I was watching a TV show with my daughter, and I saw something that made me laugh out loud so hard I had tears in my eyes. What was it? A teenager wearing a light, long-sleeve jacket with the sleeves rolled up, his collar fastened, and around his neck there was . . . a thin tie! You’re probably wondering, So what? Well, the amazing thing is that in 1986, when I was his age, I wore the exact same thing! That was the “in” thing to wear.
Now, I don’t tell you this story to brag—far from it. I tell you this to show you how the more things change, the more they stay the same. There are things that will always remain constant—no matter how much other things change. One of those constants is the importance of giving you a solid foundation with the tools you need to build an effective, joyful, productive Christian life.
As an old year ends and a new year starts, I want to tell you the story of Insight. It’s an amazing story that begins with an amazing cast of characters and ends with you. It all started 163 years ago when God gave publisher, preacher, evangelist, and SDA founder James White the vision to begin the ministry that would evolve into Insight magazine and today, Insight Ministries. (I’ll tell you more about how that happened later. I promise, your patience will be rewarded.)

James White was extremely concerned about the increasing wickedness of Christian parents in his day. He felt that such parents, lacking the proper relationship with Jesus—and in turn, lacking the perspective of making it a priority to save their teenagers from this sinful world by appropriate “instruction to the youth”—would damn them to an eternity without God.

As a result, shortly after starting the Review and Herald, he began publishing The Youth’s Instructor as a monthly publication for providing Sabbath school lessons to benefit the youth. (By the way, Insight still publishes the Sabbath school lesson each week.) James referred to Paul’s clear instruction in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 as a scriptural mandate and bedrock principle upon which to build his vision of instructing youth. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (NIV).1

He said to the adults, “There are a portion of the children [you guys] who have believing parents, or guardians, who are neglected, and do not have right instruction, consequently, they do not manifest much interest for their own salvation. We trust that such a paper as we design publishing would interest such children, and also be the means of waking up their parents, or guardians to a sense of their important duty. On them rests the awful responsibility of training souls for the kingdom of God. But it is a lamentable fact that many of their children are left without suitable instruction. . . . May God wake up his people to a sense of their duty to those young minds, entrusted to their care, to guide in the channel of virtue and holiness.”2

On the first page of the first issue, as the first editor and founder, James White penned a description of the youth of the times—words I could easily write today. “The young are receiving impressions, and forming characters for eternal life or for death, in an unfortunate age of the world, when spiritual darkness, like the pall of death, is spread over the earth. Pride is fostered; self-will, anger, and malice are not timely and faithfully rebuked. Many parents who profess religion have become so worldly and careless, that they do not instruct their children in the way to heaven. In fact, not living devoted and holy lives themselves, they do not set good examples before their children, therefore they are unprepared to instruct them.” He pleaded with parents and guardians, “We must have your help . . . you must take hold of this work in love and faith in your own families, and in your closets before God in prayer.”3

What started out in 1852 as a monthly publication became a weekly publication in 1879. Over the years the magazine has morphed to continue meeting the ever-changing needs of its readers. In 1970 the mission statement proclaimed, “The Youth’s Instructor is a nonfiction weekly. It is published for young adults who are capable of asking sincere questions, and who seek to know the counsels of Scripture. Its contents are chosen to serve readers who want to reach maturity—spiritually, socially, intellectually, and physically. Its staff holds that God is man’s heavenly Father; that Jesus is man’s Savior; that genuine Christians will strive to love God supremely and their neighbors as themselves.Its pages reflect an expanding objective from 1852 to 1970. First it was essentially a vehicle for providing youth Sabbath school lessons. Now it also provides many added services for a generation that should witness the literal return of Jesus and the restoration of a sinless world to the universe of God.”4

Ellen White, the wife of James White and a founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, also felt that this was a crucial ministry to the extent that she contributed an article to the very first issue of the Youth’s Instructor and continued to be a regular contributor. During her lifetime she wrote nearly 500 articles for the publication. The vast majority still have great advice for youth today. They can make a significant contribution to your preparation for Christ’s soon return.

The Youth’s Instructor
sailed along, published continuously, for 118 years, and on May 5, 1970, the Seventh-day Adventist Church changed the name, replacing it with something fresh—Insight.

Today, with God’s coming even closer, it is the continuing mandate and honor of this ministry to evolve, change, and continue Insight’s legacy and tradition of teaching and instructing to meet your ever-growing needs, as well as the needs of those who are called to work with you. To meet these goals Insight needs to be more than just a magazine—it has to be a full-fledged ministry. That’s why a short time ago Insight magazine officially expanded into Insight Ministries (IM).
Now that you know how Insight magazine came into being, I want to tell you a little about some of the biggest changes we’re making to the ministry as a whole:

• An entire digital version of Insight magazine will be developed. This will be in addition to the printed magazine already in existence. We will also have an increased online presence, including social networking with regular devotionals, interviews, etc.

• A total redesign of Insight’s corresponding Web site that will include a more proactive focus with features to train and orient youth workers to more effectively understand you, your culture, and meet your needs through features that highlight a rapid-response aspect any time you have an emergency or life-threatening situation. For example, if someone is feeling suicidal, they will have access to instant help and support through our Web site.

• The magazine redesign will feature a stronger focus on the importance and relevance of the role of Ellen White in the early church movement and regular excerpts of relevant stuff she’s written to and about youth.

• Training events: I’ve chosen the name InsightFULL (get it?) for these. They’ll happen both live and online and will help you be the best that you can be for Jesus and for the people in your life.

• Video projects, including featurettes and feature-length movies, will help you to live a more effective Christian life.

• Research, formulation, and design of an increased number of resources for you and the people working with you: aka youth workers. These will also be under the name InsightFULL (if you think the name is cheesy, feel free to write me and let me know—I’m always open to suggestions).

Well, those are some of the larger changes we’re making. Of course, we won’t be able to make them all at once. If everything’s important, then nothing is. These changes will be spread throughout the entire year of 2014, but my goal is to have them all up and running by the end of next year. Here at IM we are really serious about helping you to know Jesus, love Jesus, and live Jesus for the world to see. If you have any ideas, concerns, or frustrations, please don’t hesitate to call or write us. We’d absolutely love to hear from you.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, but one thing that will never change is God’s love for you and our commitment to help you know Him better. Enjoy the rest of 2013, and I’ll see you in 2014.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, editor, Insight Magazine

1 Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
2 Downloaded on June 14, 2013, from
3 You can read James White’s entire address here:
4 Youth’s Instructor, April 28, 1970. Downloaded on June 14, 2013, from

Omar Miranda is the editor/director of Insight Ministries and a Christian counselor and with more than 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.

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