Imagine being 17 and making $17,000 a month. Incredible story with so many twists.
Archives For September 2007
This story of rebelution ties very closely to the previous story of family, church, and work. In many ways, this story of the past weaves in and out of that story of the present. Within this story though — hopefully not a boring, but rather an encouraging piece — you will see from the very beginning how God has allowed me to participate in the Rebelution that is sweeping the nation. It is really the story preceding the prior story. It is the history.
I was born in 1990, and have been brought up in a home that believed in the Bible. My parents taught me Godâ€™s Word from a very young age, teaching me how to act and behave, disciplining me when I sinned, and instructing me in righteousness. That, I beleive, layed the foundation for the rebelution in my life. Through participation in Bible study, church, school at home, discipline, prayer, sermons, Sunday School lessons, and the teaching and example of my parents, I grew closer and closer to God.
Through his sovereign call and by grace through faith I was saved at a young age, repenting of my sin, and turning to Christ as my Savior and atonement for my sin. Everything hinged on that moment.
I was eight years old and heading off to a Bible study — studying what I considered at the time the worst portion of Scripture ever written: the Minor Prophets. So many lists of names that I was forced to read! I cried over that Bible, not because I was emotional about the text, but because I hated it with a passion. Words on a page mean nothing. Yet once again, godly men and women guiding me in my life pushed me once again in the right direction. My teacher for this Bible study finally brought things together. All of the material my pastor and my parents had been telling me over and over came together that Monday night as I heard how I was just like Israel was in the Old Testament. I was not good. I was full of lies, of murder, of covetousness, of lust, of disobedience. I knew it all too well — I could name so many times when I directly went against my parents for whatever reason.
So, there I was, just like Israel. Yet praise be to God, Israel was given mercy. And just like Israel, Christ came to give me mercy, to justify me, to become an atonement for my sin, to take my place on that cross. This truth overwhelmed me, and that night I prayed with my mother asking for God’s forgiveness and asking Him to be the Lord of my life. It was that night I was saved.
Yet like any â€œconversion storyâ€ it does not end there. After my repentance of my sin, things began to change in the spiritual realm, as all that had been taught to me through my younger years finally made sense and took on whole new meanings. The Holy Spirit truly was working in my heart through my elementary years, and was using my parents, my pastor, and my Sunday School teachers to help develop me spiritually. I learned the whole purpose in life was to glorify God, and a life lived to glorify God is one that is not wasted. I did not want to waste my life — and my parents have played a huge role in helping me understand what a life not wasted looks like.
In my middle school and early High School years, I began a blog. It was just a place where I could sit down and record my daily thoughts on life and my faith. Yet the more I wrote, the more people came and read my material and enjoyed it — and I was only thirteen at the time. I met many like minded young men and women, something I was missing in my life, and began to converse with them about my belief’s. It was through this blog that I also met many enemies of the faith — atheists, agnostics, Christians who believed things contrary to what I’d been taught, and just simply people who disagreed. I learned how to talk to these people, and many times had to learn the hard way how hard it is to put your feelings into words and not offend someone.
The next two or three years were highlighted by my blogs â€œsuccess,â€ invitations to write for magazines, a one time appearance on the Albert Mohler show, a meeting with Alex and Brett Harris, fellow young men who were on this mission to rebel against the low expectations of our culture, a trip to the Southern Baptist Convention, and a tug in my heart from the Lord pulling me towards ministry. I decided I would ignore that tug as much as I possibly could — and paid the price for it as I entered into what I would consider the desert and valley during my sixteenth year.
I started a job and was fully immersed in â€œthe real world.â€ I still stood strong in my faith, yet the Devil was hard against me, pushing me, tempting me, wreaking havoc in my mind and my heart. I allowed him to lead me down a path of complacency, weakness, and sin. I found myself falling short more often, lacking in Bible study, in prayer, and in worship. I pretended on the outside that things were fine, but in my heart I knew that I was slipping. One night, as I was lying in bed, I just couldn’t fall asleep. My heart was torn apart over my sin, and I went upstairs to my mom to confess to her and to God my failure. It was that night I finally told the Lord â€œHere I am.â€ I got on my knees and prayed for forgiveness and for strength and for wisdom.
During that time period God was still strong at work — I was contacted by C.J. Mahaney, who sent me a letter that now sits in my room as a encouragement each day. Along with that note came three of his books, and some of the Sovereign Grace worship CDâ€™s. I was now exposed to the great teaching of Sovereign Grace, as well as to the gospel-centered music from Sovereign Grace and Covenant Life.
For the story of the present, you can see the past story. For right now, I continue onward in my rebelution — struggling and wrestling with what the Rebelution and â€˜Do Hard Thingsâ€™ really means in this story of mine. Perhaps it means nothing — I highly doubt it. Instead, I truly believe it means a great deal more than even I can imagine.
This story is still going on â€“ and I want to thank you for joining me as we traverse just one story of Rebelution in just one life. There are many, many more stories out there (for which I cannot wait to read in the up-and-coming Do Hard Things book that is coming out next year.) For now, I pray that this one story will encourage you to continue to do hard things in your own life, and to see that there are other teens out there who are struggling, wrestling, and fighting to do hard things. It is so important to network, to talk to others, to interact with others who believe as you do and are fighting the same battle. Together we stand, divided we fall.
For Godâ€™s Glory.
Still To Come // Do Hard Things In My Life // My Story of Rebelution // The Struggle of Rebelution // Holiness and the Rebelution
Do Hard Things. Iâ€™ve been completely taken by that statement, completely changed by that statement, completely revolutionized — no, Iâ€™ve been rebelutionized — by that statement. It has spurred on conferences, a book, hundreds of blogs, thousands of teens, hundreds of parents, and just one 17-year-old young man from the D.C. area. The question is, how can a simple statement like â€œdo hard thingsâ€ make such an impact? How can two teenage twin boys go out and start a movement that is heralded as â€œwhat our generation has been waiting forâ€? How do thousands of teenagers start a rebellion against rebellion? How can that change some 17-year-old kid?
This is a story of just one young man applying Do Hard Things. It is not always exciting, itâ€™s not always thrilling, and itâ€™s not always spectacular. In fact, in many respects, it is very ordinary, very plain, and very dull. Yet when you look at it from a slightly different angle — that angle of truly doing hard things — you see something rebelutionarily different. Something just isnâ€™t the same. This story is not to brag, or to boost one personâ€™s pride, or to promote one individual. Instead, it is dedicated to showing how the gospel has changed one human being and how the application of do hard things truly is making an impact on this generation.
I make no claim that my family is perfect. In fact, its imperfections may come primarily from me more than anyone else. If I could claim I was the worst of sinners with Paul — well, I would certainly do it with him, and indeed, I feel that I do rank up there. The wickedness of my heart is evident each and every day, and more and more I see that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart is far from holy. Some days it is certainly â€œgoodâ€ in the worldâ€™s blurry and gray eyes, yet I know in the eyes of God I am far from a drop in the bucket of dust on the scales. There is no scale that can weight me — my insignificance is beyond measure. Yet praise be to God, the very creator, I do matter because of the gospel. God so loved this world — His mercy so vast — that he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as the perfect, atoning, propitiation for my sin. He took my place — I deserved the wrath of God for my sin, yet Jesus was there on that cross. Oh, the glorious cross!
May we forever sing with Paul,
â€œOh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has know the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.â€
I began to apply Do Hard Things a few years ago in my family — and I found very quickly that when I truly do apply it, things radically changed. Imagine me speaking words that built others up instead of tearing them to the ground â€“ that was hard! I could encourage my brother, I could restrain my anger, I could pray for my family members. I found myself â€œdoing hard thingsâ€ specifically in denying myself. It was hard for me to put others first, to make myself the lowest. I found that I found great joy in allowing others their way. When my siblings chose a certain movie to watch that I despised, I watched it. It certainly wouldnâ€™t kill me! When my brother needed someone to make him a sandwich, I did the â€œhard thingâ€ and made it instead of making my own and leaving him to fend for himself. When he needed a drink, I didnâ€™t avoid him or tune him out. I have applied James command that â€œeveryone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for manâ€™s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.â€ Simple things, yet so hard.
I still wrestle with many of these things — well, actually, all of them — but I find improvement all the time. I find myself doing the hard thing by being in Godâ€™s Word daily — studying it, not only reading it — and then taking what I have studied and applying it to my life. This has radically changed the way I interact with my family.
I could certainly continue and tell you story after story about how I have done â€œhard thingsâ€ in the area of family, but I feel that I need to move on towards the next category: my church. Now, once again, I will remind you that I wish not to brag about my achievements — a danger perhaps when doing hard things — but rather to present to you a feeble instrument that has been used by God.
In the Church
At my church, I have been involved for many years in the youth worship team. This year, I have become much more involved in that, taking the lead, wrestling with the doctrine of worship, wrestling with the issues of â€œfun songsâ€ and gospel-centered songs with my friends and family. Itâ€™s been a long, hard road.
It all began when I decided to do a hard thing — learn guitar. Most people who set out to learn guitar in High School pick up just enough to be lousy. In contrast, I worked hard to teach myself guitar, and today I am leading with my guitar on the worship team — actually, Iâ€™m the only one in the youth group who can play well enough to do the job. In fact, our worship team has just recently been invited to lead worship at another church in the area for youth groups gathering together for worship and fellowship. But back to the guitar — I taught myself, and now I feel semi-confident that I call myself better than beginner. That was a hard thing to do — it was not easy learning the guitar. Your fingers hurt â€“ it was physically and mentally challenging. But I did it by the grace of God.
Now, Iâ€™m leading worship, and itâ€™s amazing. Yet it continues to be a hard thing, a constant struggle between different views of how to do things on the team to struggling within myself about worship. It is by the grace of God that I continue and He continues to bless me in so many ways as I grow more and more gospel-centered.
Also, I have been given the opportunity to be at the church each Wednesday afternoon just to help with whatever needs to be done. At a college I visited, they stated that if you want to be involved in any type of ministry, or want to speak and teach, you need to start with the preschoolers. You need to start not by going to your church and saying â€œI want to speak and teachâ€ but â€œI want to be a servantâ€ and â€œwhere can I serve?â€ That is what I am hopefully doing as I transcribe videos, make copies, write power point, and act as messenger, assistant, and jolly-rancher eater at my church.
At My Work
I consider the story at work a progressing one (as all the others) — yet still â€œamazingâ€ in many regards, considering that I am 17 and managing the entire training process at a restaurant. Not only that, but I take care of over 50 employeeâ€™s uniforms. That is not what I call an easy task — in fact, I consider one of the â€œhardestâ€ things that I have done. I began work there as a team member, working hard to learn and grow, and within a year I was a unit trainer. Shortly thereafter I took over the position of coordinator of all â€œunit trainingâ€ within the store. It hasnâ€™t been easy, and Iâ€™m still learning the job, and still working to do this hard thing that has been placed in my life to help me grow.
I consider myself very much unworthy of the job in many respects, especially considering my age. Yet my supervisors believed in me, and have given me this awesome opportunity, to which I am forever thankful. I would never be doing what I do or making what I make if it had not been for the great encouragement and belief I have had from those over me. It is true that I worked very hard; I showed up early, I stayed late, I was fast, I did quality work, and I was reliable. But those things still prove little until you are in the position I now hold (and have held for less than a month).
Itâ€™s the rubber meeting the road — doing hard things for me includes handling a budget for money, pressure from employees desiring new uniforms, tracking uniforms and making phone calls to businesses. It includes creating training procedures, carrying out those procedures, managing a training team, recertifying employees, and doing paperwork. Itâ€™s the â€œreal deal.â€ And here I am, doing hard things — and giving all the glory to God for this wonderful opportunity!
Who knows what the future leads for my job or career, but I do know that what I am doing now — these hard things — are growing me for the future. I see all three of these areas where I am now learning and training by doing hard things preparing me for true hard things that are to come. This week, I overheard a Christian producer at our store comment to another man with him that â€œhard times are coming, and they are coming fast.â€ Iâ€™m not certain what he meant by that statement, but I think I agree. Hard times for our generation, our world, and especially the church are coming soon. The family is in turmoil and â€œhard times.â€ Yet we are ready for these â€œhard things.â€ We are training. We are ready to do hard things. Start bringing them on.
Still To Come // Do Hard Things In My Life // My Story of Rebelution // The Struggle of Rebelution // Holiness and the Rebelution
This past week I have been contemplating a great deal on the many things that I do in my life. I have schoolwork each day. I have a blog that has garnered a good amount of attention and popularity. I work almost 40 hours a week serving food, training employees, and ordering uniforms for over 50 people. I attend church each Sunday, help lead the youth worship team at my church, and attend a class on Knowing God each Wednesday. I volunteer at the church each Wednesday. I play soccer for a team. And to top it off, I write for a magazine.
I do a lot. And a lot has been left lacking in many areas in the past year.
For each Christian, I believe a time of self-examination in the light of Godâ€™s Word is a very healthy practice to periodically exercise. So, that is what I have been doing for the past week are so, and have thought much about blogging and its place in my life in the past, present, and the future. During this time, just a few shortcomings have come to my attention as I examined my life as I studied Godâ€™s Word. I have seen a lack of follow-through on promises given in writing and speech on podcasts. I have seen disorganization at many levels. And finally, I have seen unfaithfulness to that which God has laid on my heart (which includes selfishness to some degree. Iâ€™ll explain later.)
Unfaithful promises. I certainly am not God, and therefore do not keep all of my promises. Yet I was convicted that I have many times said I would do a certain thing here on the blog, and it never came about. That very well could be considered a lie. To be honest, this tends to happen constantly on the internet where I can say something and not follow-through and the consequences of that action are minimal if not nonexistent. Itâ€™s easy for me to say â€œthere will be a three-part series coming upâ€ but never actually have it happen. What do I lose? Nothing really, except trust — which really is a lot more than nothing. You as a reader of this website do not get what you deserve. Therefore, I come before you humbled by Godâ€™s conviction and ask for your forgiveness for this sin. In addition, I would like to retract any previous promise that I have made on this website, any other website, or podcast in order to be completely truthful in what I say and do.
By Godâ€™s grace for henceforth I can be faithful to the promises that I make.
Disorganized presentation. When God calls us to do something for Him, He asks for more than just a â€œgoodâ€ action on that command. He desires and commands our â€œbest.â€ In that, I have been less than â€œrebelutionaryâ€ on this website, and have attempted to take the easy road out by posting short posts that require minimal effort, little thought, miniscule theology, and abysmal attention to application. James 4:17 tells us that â€œanyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesnâ€™t do it sins.â€ I know that I am called to be the very best I can be, not mediocre. Now, perhaps this sounds somewhat like a person making a â€œmountain out of a molehill.â€ I disagree — God cares about every area of our life, even blogging, This is not a separate area — we cannot make it that. God has not called me to apathy and mediocrity. In Revelation chapter 3, Jesus speaks to the church of Loadicea, condemning them for their mediocrity found with their church. â€œI know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.â€ Friends, we must at all costs strive for a passion for the best. This â€œbestâ€ is described by Paul in Romans 12. We are to â€œoffer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God,â€ we are not to â€œconform to the patter of this worldâ€ but rather we must â€œbe transformed by the renewing of your mind.â€ Paul urges us to â€œnot think of yourselves more highly than you oughtâ€ but rather with â€œsober judgment, in accordance to the measure of faith God has givenâ€ us.
I could go on and on about how we are to live our lives with a passion for the cross each and every day — not just Sundayâ€™s and Wednesdays.
In addition, I realize that God has called us to order, not disorganization (1 Corinthians 11,, 14:26-40). â€œEverything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.â€
Here I wish to apologize for those times where I have been far less than good, far less than mediocre, and far less than organized.
Selfishness in writing. This is something that you would certainly not be aware of, but I am more and more aware of this sin in my life each and every day. When God lays a truth on your heart to share, or a burden for the lost, or a command to obey, we must obey. Yet I have decided on multiple occasions — perhaps hundreds of occasions, to specifically not write here because the truth I had learned I wanted to keep to myself. Or I did not feel like sitting down and putting in the energy needed to write something of substance that God had laid on my heart to write In this time, I have also wrestled with this whole idea of â€œGod laying something on my heart.â€ Does that truly happen? If so, how does it work? How can I know itâ€™s true?
I used excuses over and over again to avoid taking on something that might prove to be a harder task than normal. One day it was writerâ€™s block. One day I â€œdidnâ€™t have time.â€ Another, I just didnâ€™t feel like it. The next I was tired. On and on they came, until it came to my attention that I have been selfish when it came to writing. It does seem rather odd to be â€œselfishâ€ when it comes to writing — sometimes there is a time to not speak, to remain humble and obedient. Yet many times that is not the case. When you have a forum to speak, we must speak. The message of the gospel and how it affects our lives is not something to keep to ourselves. Humble orthodoxy is not silent orthodoxy. It is proclaiming the truth with humility. When I do not share or speak, I am once again not doing the good that I ought to be doing.
It is in all these things that I ask for your forgiveness as I ask for Godâ€™s forgiveness. There are many other things other than simply these â€œblog sins,â€ and the time may come when I share about those things (not promising anything), and am dealing with those issues. For now, I rest solidly in the faithfulness of the gospel.
â€œLet us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.â€ — Hebrews 11:19-23
While I’m neglecting the blog, I decided that I should at least allow you the benefit of receiving some free material. Although this giveaway isn’t from me, it’s from a fellow Tim, so it’s going to be close enough. So, when you travel to Tim Challies wonderful website, make sure you use this referral code: 10125. Hopefully you can win some of the great prizes Tim is giving away — they’re big, so don’t miss out!
(A small update: my latest article is out, and I encourage you to read it.)