John Wesley was a great man. However, he didn’t consider himself that way, and in a letter he wrote to his mother, Susanna, he asked for a list of sins he should avoid. Her response astounds me as it probably astounded him:
Whatever weakens your reason, whatever impairs the tenderness of your conscience, whatever obscures your sense of God, whatever increases the authority of your body over your mind, whatever takes away from your relish for spiritual things, that to you is sin, no matter how innocent it is in itself.
Think about that for a second. That is phenomenal. Can I challenge you guys?
Here’s my challenge to you: memorize that. It’s not much, and it’s not hard to memorize for those of you that do speeches, or even debaters that memorize their 1AC. But I wonder how our conduct would change if we had that memorized…
I’ll do it too…Who’ll take me up on that?
No, you didn’t come to the wrong place. May we introduce you to the all-new and improved online headquarters for the Rebelution.
Hours and hours of work have been put into this project over the past few months. We have been looking forward to the day when we could finally show it to all of you. We decided to launch the new site today, almost exactly a year since The Rebelution blog officially began, in celebration of our one-year anniversary.
It’s been an incredible ride.
God’s Sovereign Plan
The Rebelution began as two young men’s attempt to discipline themselves to think and to write. We wanted to have a blog that went beyond the normal journaling and chatter of typical teen blogs, and hopefully, to network with some like-minded young men and women while we were at it.
Little did we know that God would take and turn it into something so much bigger than we are. We’re so blessed to be part of what God is doing in our generation.
As you may have noticed, things are looking quite different around here. Not only has the blog gone through a redesign, but it’s switched from Blogger to WordPress. Plus, the blog has three new friends. In this first post on the newly-designed blog, we’d like to introduce you to each of them:
The blog may have a new suit of clothes and a new address, but it’s still the same old blog. This is where everything started and where it continues to happen. You’ll find our same old sidebar on your right, full of original articles, cultural commentary, and special news coverage, with new posts added several times a week.
Be sure to update your links, feeds, and subscriptions. The RSS feed is on the sidebar in The Rebelution Rundown. The new address is: www.therebelution.com/blog
The Conference Section of the site is devoted to the upcoming Rebelution Tour 2007. We’re looking forward to meeting many of you and to share our hearts with many hundreds of like-minded teens and parents around the country.
The Conference Section includes the tour schedule, conference message and session topics, speaker bios, and frequently asked questions. As the Tour draws closer we’ll be adding more features, like movies, video, and audio, as well as downloadable publicity materials and secure online registration.
We’re really excited about the all-new discussion forums. They have been specifically designed as a place for young people who share the vision of the Rebelution to network and interact.
This is not your typical message board with celebrity gossip, heated (and unproductive) arguments, and spam all mixed together. Instead this is meeting place for mature Christian teens to engage in intelligent and meaningful conversation. All that to say, what are you waiting for? Go join the discussion!
The brand-new Resources Section is a compilation of a great articles from the some of the best Christian authors of our day. It’s all out there, but now it’s all together in a single place.
Even better, it’s going to constantly grow as readers submit suggestions and as it expands to include audio and video resources as well. We know you’ll be blessed.
Some Closing Thoughts
So go and explore. There’s a lot to see. Browse the Resource section. Join the discussion in the Forums. Invite your friends to join you. And give us feedback, we’d love to hear what you think.
Most importantly, continue to fight beside us in the daily battle against the low expectations of this world and to return to God’s standard for the teen years. The blog, the conference, the forums, and the resource section were all created to equip us in this fight. By God’s grace and for His glory, let the Rebelution continue.
I’m so excited for you guys Alex and Brett! Keep up the good work, keep advancing his kingdom, and keep doing hard things.
His Kingdom Come!
Thanks to Hannah from Beauty of the Heart, for her help and inspiration in this post!
Imagine: Two people in a room, the first person, Bob, is bent on creating a famous quote. His friend, Frank, is trying to help.
Bob: “Ooh! What about this? You have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”
Frank: “But Bob! What about spiders? Because, you know, I really don’t like spiders, and I’m really afraid of them.”
Bob: “Alright. Then you have nothing to fear, but spiders…and fear itself.”
Frank: “But Bob! What about snakes? You know, there are some really poisonous snakes, and I really don’t like them, in fact, I’m downright scared of them.”
Bob: “Ok. Then you have nothing to fear but, spiders, snakes…and fear itself.”
*Five hours later*
Bob: “So what you’re telling me, is that there is nothing to fear but, spiders, snakes, the dark, clowns, hippopotamus’, peanut butter, books, string, trees, lighthouses, fish?…and fear itself!”
Frank: “But Bob! What about things like, rejection, failure, pain, disappointment?”
HT to Adam Hardy for the intro idea. This was part of his Original Oratory for compeition this past year.
Someone asked me recently, “What would you attempt to do if you did not fear failure?” I felt as though I had been hit over the head with a baseball bat. The question made me stop and think. Think hard. If I were to compile a list of every opportunity to expand my knowledge and experience, which I have rejected due to my fear of failure, the size of my list would rival Webster’s Dictionary. The times in which I have turned down the chance to offer an encouraging word to a hurting person– when I shirked from giving a gentle rebuke to a friend when one was needed, when I did not share the Gospel for fear of ridicule, or when I ignored the opportunity to serve because it would remove me from my comfort zone–are staggeringly abundant.
Conquering fear is a subject mentioned a lot in the Bible. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” The phrase, “Be not afraid,” occurs in the Bible fifty-four times. If the Bible warns us so many times not to be afraid, we do we fear? Selfishness? Comfort? Lack of trust? Fear will drag you down, and has in many cases, made people physically sick. When you fear, trust is placed in the familiar, rather than God. We would rather believe in what we know than step out into the un-known, leaning on God to fulfill His promise of faithfulness to us.
But is all fear bad? Psalms 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10 tell us, “”The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” So not all fear is bad. What those passages tell us, is that the fear of man ensnares, whereas the fear of the Lord liberates.
First, when we look at the fear of man, we can see that many times it stems from selfishness. For instance, I have known people who have become reclusive and unsociable because of shyness. They cannot look you in the eye or carry on a full conversation. As a person with shy tendencies, I can sympathize with them, but the damaging effects of their fear are apparent. They are unwilling to look beyond their own comfort towards the needs of others, because they are literally handicapped by fear. I have known people who were unwilling to talk to do something with a non-believer because they feared. They feared that they unbeliever would cause them to sin, they feared that they would do the wrong thing, etc. As a result, that non-believer didn’t hear the Gospel that day. So fear will handicap you, and prevent you from doing something that you should be doing…it ensnares you.
On the other hand, you have the fear of the Lord. What is the fear of the Lord? It is a reverence that causes us to want to do the right thing. Not because we’re scared of the punishment, but because we fear the shame, we fear failing the Savior. So let’s define our terms here. Fear: In the Hebrew, the word is “YIR’AH” and is used in the Old Testament to describe:
a. fear, terror
b. awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear)
c. fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety
The Greek word is “PHOBOS”, and it is used to describe:
a. fear, dread, terror
b. that which strikes terror
That fear of the Lord, prevents us from sinning. Proverbs 16:6 states that, “…through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.” What does sin do? Well, in Hebrews 12:1 Paul encourages us to, “…throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Emphasis mine) What is another word for entangles? Sin ensnares you. But since the fear of the Lord causes us to avoid evil, the fear of the Lord liberates. There is a famous song that captures this eloquently:
“Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed.
(once again, emphasis mine)
When we fear the Lord, we liberate ourselves. Today, I encourage you to exchange your ensnaring fear of man, for the liberating, freeing fear of the Lord. In the end then, we have nothing to fear, but God Himself.
- What you are afraid of?
- How extensively does that fear impact your life?
- Who governs you? God or fear?
- What would you attempt to do if you didn’t fear failure?
- What would you attempt to do if you didn’t fear?
In Matthew 10:16 Jesus tells us,
“I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
What a strange comparison! I mean, you’d think that Jesus would pick an example or an analogy that is a little deeper and a little bit more profound. You’d think Jesus, of all people, would pick something that would grab the people’s, or even the reader’s attention! But no, not Jesus. Why? Because there was a meaning; a social significance, if you will, behind the doves, and the snakes.
But why snakes? Since the beginning, and going all the way back to the beginning of Genesis, snakes have been known for their cunning. Maybe it was because that was the random animal Satan chose to embody himself in to deceive the woman, or maybe it was something else. But regardless of the reasons, the serpent has always been a symbol of shrewdness.
And doves? Same thing. The dove all throughout scripture has symbolized peace, innocence, and purity. In some instances the dove represents the Holy Spirit. For example, when Jesus is being baptized; the Bible records that the Holy Spirit descended upon like a dove. The dove would also symbolize peace. When the dove brought the olive branch back to Noah on the ark, it was a symbol that God’s wrath had ended and that the Flood was over. So why did Jesus put those two symbols together in one sentence, and then tell us that we are supposed to be both?
God calls us to be innocent, not ignorant of the ways of this world. He wants us to shine our light everywhere we go. And to specifically address this, there are some groups of people that don’t believe that Christians should vote in elections. Because politics and government can get so messy, and downright dishonest/sinful sometimes, they don’t believe that they should follow, support, or participate in it. I disagree with these people. I don’t think you should support politicians that engage in corrupt or immoral practices, but I don’t think you should leave it alone. If all the Christians in the United States “left the government alone” where would this country be? “As the leader goes, so goes the country.” We can’t leave all of the decisions up to the non-Christians. The same goes for current events and controversial issues. Issues like gay marriage, civil unions, abortion, etc. Too many Christians today are afraid of learning about those things, for fear of…well, for fear. Most Christians won’t have a problem disagreeing with abortion, and saying gay marriage is bad. But we don’t want to talk about them, or do anything about them.
Now, most of my readers probably agree with Christians being involved in politics, and that we need to do something about controversial issues. But we need to understand that God never calls us to ignorance. We as Christians do not need to be afraid of sin, we need to be afraid to sin. There is a huge difference between those two letter words. Jesus ate dinner with the tax collectors, and the prostitutes, some of His disciples were criminals. He was not always around the Pharisees. He did not shy away from the sinners. In fact, He rebuked the Pharisees for doing that very thing. In Matthew 9:9-13 we find Jesus calling Matthew the Tax Collector to be a disciple. Especially potent in that passage is verses 12-13.
“…Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
We should not, and cannot, be afraid of sinners or even of sin. That does NOT mean that we shouldn’t have a fear of the Lord, that causes us not to sin. That does NOT mean that we shouldn’t be afraid to sin. In all the time that Jesus spent with the sinners, not once did He sin. The first logical argument that Christians propose in response to this, is the scripture in 1 Corinthians 15:33,
“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
And to this my only response is, absolutely. But, what you have to look at, is the motive. Why are you hanging out with them? Jesus didn’t go to the bars to party. He went to minister. I am not suggesting that you make all your best friends sinners. But what I am suggesting is a paradigm shift. God wants to heal the sick. But someone has to go. Will it be us?
In order to encourage thought, and maybe even discussion, ask yourself these questions.
• Are you afraid to get involved in politics?
• How many “sinners” (unsaved) people do you know?
• When was the last time you witnessed the gospel to someone? (I’m not talking solely about street evangelism; I am talking about hospitality, having them over to dinner, doing something with them, inviting them to church, etc.)
• Where do you draw the line between associating with someone, and becoming best friends?
• Where do you draw the line between your Jesus rubbing off on them, and their bad company rubbing off on you?
I hadn't realized how long it has been since I posted. I apologize sincerely. Things have been incredibly hectic around here. Right after the post, I started a traveling "tour" if you will of speech and debate tournaments I went to. Tennesee, Colorado, Houston, etc. And then I've had preparation for Nationals, which by the way, went smashingly well.
Congratulations to Karen Kovaka of Rhetorical Response, who is the 2006 Nation Apologetics Champion.
Cody Herche and Rachel Heflin of Legal Redux, who are the 2006 Team Policy Debate National Champions.
And I came away from Patrick Henry College as the 2006 Humorous Interpretation National Champion.
Speech and debate is definately one the best things that I have had the priviledge to be apart of. To train young people to communicate effectively for Christ is one of the highest callings I can think of. It's not about the trophies, although those are cool, (Really, really, cool! =D) it's about the skills we are learning and refining, so that someday we may reach someone who otherwise would never be reached.
Hopefully I'll have another post up soon!
All Glory to the Lamb!
Christians across the world could be doing so much more for Christ, so why aren’t they?
Many times, they don’t feel that they’re qualified, or equipped. They don’t think that they are as good at something as another person. And you know what? They might be right. They may not be as talented as another person. But that doesn’t change God’s call. God still wants you to do what He wants you to do.
So in church, we cry out to God, “God! Equip me! Give me what I need to evangelize for the glory of your name!” And there is nothing wrong with that. That is, to an extent. We do it every Sunday, and we never get any closer. We never feel ready, equipped, and bold. You can’t get any closer to being ready, than when you’re ready! Now, that’s a pretty bold statement to make. And it’s But it’s backed by scripture and other people. I’ve heard it said, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” Philippians 4:13, says “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” If you have Christ, you have everything you need to be successful, and advance his kingdom! The only thing that God requires you to have to be His servant, is a personal relationship with His Son. That’s it. You don’t need to be a great speaker. You don’t need to be good looking. You don’t need to be the smartest kid in your class, home, or city. You just need Jesus.
Does that mean you’re perfect? No. Does that mean you won’t stumble? No. Does that mean you won’t have weaknesses, trials, or tribulations? No. But that doesn’t matter. God willing, I’ll look at this in a future post or series, but for now, just know that suffering and the will of God are not at odds. Many times Biblical characters were in the center of God’s will and they were suffering. However, for now, just know that you will stumble. And know that your weaknesses don’t hinder God. In fact, 2 Corinthians 12:9a says, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Praise God! And this was Paul’s reaction, “…Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9b
Now, this is not to take away from talent. Not at all. Talent is great! And we should do all that we do, with excellence, as if doing unto the Lord. And of course, we can’t forget about maturity and experience.But I simply wanted to point out, that we don’t need talent or ability to accomplish for God. It’s not a pre-requisite. So let’s go on! Let’s accomplish for Him! If we have Him, we need nothing else.
The ROC Webzine and Blog network is finally here! It’s here and it’s ready. After a few technical difficulties, it was launched.
The first online issue includes amazing articles on literature, forensics competition, theology, and culture, by some of the best teen bloggers on the web. Writers like Karen Kovaka, Alex and Brett Harris, Tim Sweetman, and David Ketter. Be sure to check it out to get the full scoop.
This really was a stroke of genius. This makes checking up on your favorite Christian blogs, and checking in on the climate of the Christian teen blogosphere, so much simpler.
Be sure to check it out!
Welcome to the new site! This is the new “house”, if you will, of Advancing His Kingdom. Check around and leave a comment or two, I’d appreciate it! 😉
REGENERATE OUR CULTURE! Four teen bloggers are out to change the mindset that our culture has. The mission?
Regenerate Our Culture is an organization with the goal of regenerating our nation’s worldview away from the post-modernism holding it and back to the Christian worldview it was first built on. We believe that America is the most Godly nation on the face of the earth, but it can’t be denied that many in our nation have turned away from God in politics, religion, and their everyday lives. Our vision is to help bring about a positive change in these three important areas, and equip others to do the same.
Regenerate Our Culture is going to be an incredible way to impact teens views on issues and other people. I pray that God would bless those that are involved. I strongly recommend that you check it out. It launches tomorrow. I’ll be posting here again to remind you!
I apologize for being gone for so long. Blogging has kind of taken a back seat recently in light of some other things that God has been asking me to do. There will be fewer posts in the future, as I get into the thick of the speech and debate season. I spent the past month getting ready and going to two consecutive tournaments in a row. First the Texas State Championship, and then the Tennesee Nation Open Qualifier at Carson-Newman College. But I’m back now, and trying to get back into the swing of things. I will be heading to Colorado on April 20th for another National Qualifier (God willing), and then the weekend after that I will be going to Regionals. However, I just wanted to let all of you know that I did not fall off the face of the planet. God bless!