Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Song- You Won't Relent

(Post 5 in a series on songs)

You Won't Relent by Misty Edwards

Those who enjoy current worship music have likely heard of Misty Edwards. She is gaining popularity in Nashville. I know a guy who sings exactly like the male vocalist in this song, and he teams up with my youth pastor's wife to lead worship in youth. It's so cool!

I love how beautifully this song describes the qualities of God. "You won't relent until you have it all. My heart is Yours." I find great security in this song. It says that God won't stop pursuing us. It says God won't give up on me. It speaks of God's great love. "For there is love that is a strong as death, jealousy demanding as the grave. Many waters cannot quench this love." God's love is unquenchable! Nothing can put it out, end it, curb it, or lessen it! God's love is stronger than the power of death. He is such a jealous God that if we don't love Him back, He cannot let us into heaven. How powerful is that!

Peace in God

There's nothing as exciting as peace. As weird as that sounds, it's true! When I have peace in God, life becomes so much more. I feel confident, powerful, happy, and you feel on fire for God.

When I was working at Life Action this summer, I had a very tough schedule. I was assigned to dish pit for two weeks. It was two weeks of cleaning dishes; that's all. I had to work three meals per day, maybe four if I had to work the snack late at night. I worked an average of 8-9 hours in the hot, humid kitchen of Life Action. I only got one day off per week, but usually spent that day working as well because I would get bored. I fell asleep usually around 11:30 pm and woke up at 7:15-7:30 am. How did I work under such hard circumstances at the young age of 15?

My quiet times motivated me. In dish pit, you get three hours off between meals, and you had this time period three-four times per day. I usually spent two of these time periods simply reading my Bible, listening to my iPod, praying, and reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. In these time where I talked to God, I would get so fired up for Jesus and so motivated to be a very hard worker. It was as if I couldn't stop working! I would work, read my Bible, hang with friends, eat, then repeat the process. Often, I would get my food, then retreat to a corner to continue reading. I read the Corinthians to the Proverbs to the Psalms to Matthew to the small letters from Paul. I listened to music from Addison Road to Me in Motion to Group 1 Crew to Hillsong to MercyMe to Family Force 5 to FM Static to Switchfoot to Thousand Foot Krutch.

It was as if God's strength was pumping into my body and spirit! When close to God, I can face anything. I can work like never before and set the tone for my co-workers, who were ages 14-17 and from across the country. The year before, I was immature, crude, perverted, disrespectful, and mean. I learned that many teens were apprehensive about me returning. During the Friday night service, many people stood to share testimonies or what God had taught them. I stood and faced 150 people and admitted I was a jerk last year and had chosen to strive for integrity, dedication, and love for God this past year and this summer. Afterwards, I had several teens come up and confess they were scared I was coming, but got to know me and really liked me! It was so cool! I had chosen to take the road less traveled by, and God rewarded me for it. I tried to be funny, sarcastic, mean, and disrespectful because I thought it would earn my popularity and respect. It turns out that living for God and obeying His commands and working very hard and reading your Bible will earn you eons more respect and popularity than being a little rebel will! How cool is that? Thanks God for the remodel you did on me this past year!

So it all comes back to peace in God. If you have peace in God, you are free from the entanglements of life to focus solely on God. Your focus becomes only Him. Find peace in God.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Everything Is For God

It was not until the first of this year when I became a strong Christian. That is when all the seeds planted early in my life finally sprouted and my spiritual growth rocketed. Since then, I have found that it is so much easier when you do things for God. When I am doing some random, mundane house chore, I think of it like this: This person, who is in charge of me, asked me to do this, and I'm a godly Christian, so I should obey this person's commands just as if Jesus suddenly appeared and commanded me to do the very same thing.

In the end, we have to do everything for God. Paul taught that we should see every little thing we do as an opportunity to glorify God or proclaim His name. For example, I enjoy prayer. Sometimes I pray when I take out the trash. As I roll the giant blue trash can to the street late at night, I'll look up at the stars and say, "Wow. I wonder what it would have been like to watch you breathe those stars into existance God. The Psalmist said you breathe stars. How cool is that, God! Man, you're so great, God. Thanks for everything." I pray those short prayers all the time. Somehow, in some way, these little prayers elate you in the slightest of ways. Essentially, prayers like this make me feel good and momentarily return my focus to God. I'm not sure why something so insignificant can make such a difference. Perhaps it is because using our time to praise God makes life wonderful.

Live for God in all you do, and life becomes easier to enjoy. It becomes fuller. It becomes, if possible, a little bit more like heaven.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trust and Small Things

In my life, I want to be known by two things: trust and responsibility. I want to be trustworthy and responsible. I want others to be able to depend on me and trust that I won't let them down. I wish this of my parents, friends, teachers, youth pastor, and other leaders. I want to be mature enough to be counted on and trusted in. When a person assigns a job to me, I want that person's confidence that I will succeed. And I want God to trust in me too. But how can God, or anyone else, trust me with big things if I'm untrustworthy in small things?

So what does it take to be a trustworthy person? It takes four key elements: time, concentration, honesty, and driven purpose. The first element is time. Trust builds over time. For example, my youth pastor will trust me more in one year than he does now. The second element is concentration. While building someone's trust in you, you must concentrate on earning that trust. A lapse in concentration will probably result in a foolish mistake that will destroy your credibility. Honesty, obviously, is a key element because lies do not help someone trust you. In fact, they have the opposite effect and ruin not only your credibility as a trustworthy person, but destroy your reputation. Also, driven purpose is required because if you don't believe in yourself, no one will. You must have self-confidence and strive to be trustworthy. You must dedicate yourself to be responsible, mature, and trustworthy. In the end, the word trustworthy means one thing: worthy of trust. Strive to be worthy of trust.

Maybe you believe you don't have to be trustworthy in the small to be trusted in the great. But do you think you'll be trusted with a multi-million dollar account when you waste your own finances on poor investments? Or do you think God will trust you with one of His beautiful daughters for a wife if you can't be trustworthy with what you look at online or do behind closed doors? Or can God let you be a pastor or youth minister if you lack the dedication to read your Bible every day? Can you be a professional quarterback if you never practice throwing the ball? Can you deliver an effective speech in public if you never practice or prepare for it?

[Jesus said] Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  Luke 16:10

Monday, August 23, 2010

Evaluate Your Main Goal In Life

What is it? What's your holy ambition? If you didn't understand what John Piper was saying, I'll give you two examples. First, my friend David. His holy ambition, as I have come to understand, is evangelism. In many conversations, he has stated, "I love evangelism because the other people I help lead to Christ are the only things I can take with me to heaven." Championships, scholarships, money, fame, fortune, girlfriends, houses, jobs, and accomplishments will all stay on earth when we die. Nothing goes with us except our souls, and the souls of which we were partially responsible for their acceptance of Jesus' gift of salvation.

Second, myself. My "big burn", or holy ambition, are martyrs. Stories of martyrdom changed my life. Through the example martyrs have set and are setting, I came to realize Christianity is more than "accepting Jesus into our hearts" or "the ABC's of becoming a Christian." Christianity is more than living a good life for Jesus. It's more than being a great guy or a morally founded woman. It's more than being a pastor or exceptional speaker or music leader or whatever. It's about what you're willing to give up for Jesus. It's about why you want (or need) Jesus. It's about how you're living. It's about whether or not you would die for Him. Bottom line: if you won't die for Jesus, you aren't living for Him.

So what is your ambition? Is it your church? Is it mentorship? Is it writing Christian fiction? Is it about being an  American politician for Jesus? Is it about being an apologist or evangelist by profession? As teenagers, we are really young adults. Thus we are adults. So we have to put childish things behind us. We have to put childish mindsets, attitudes, behaviors, actions, belief systems behind us. We must leave our dolls and toys behind. They're childish. No more tea-time with Molly; no more cops-and-robbers with the neighborhood kids. Take action. Spend your time for Jesus. Answer the calling for a higher life, a better life. Do hard things and live for God.

Prayer Walking

In April and early May, my church committed to prayer walking the streets and neighborhoods behind the church. I attend an inner-city church in a community that has seen its prime. The church prayer walked on Wednesday nights. On May 2-3, the flood hit. The record books were completely rewritten as water levels in downtown Nashville reached 49.5 feet. Houses, restaurants, hotels, the Titans stadium, the Grand Ole Opry, Opry Mills, and the entire town of Brentwood were all flooded. The houses behind my church were hit as well, as water reached the second-story windows. 

As we prayer walked the following Monday, the devastation was horrible. Every previously occupied house had all of the possessions sitting in the front yard, soaked and ruined. I noticed many people sitting on their front steps, staring into space. Depression, hopelessness, and anxiety was written all over their faces. So as a church, we asked, "What is the point of this? God let this happen for a reason." The answer was in two parts, A) the prayer walking, and B) in an opportunity to connect with the community.

We had prayer walked for a reason, though we didn't see exactly what that was at the start. I thought we were prayer walking because that was something Christians did. It turns out that He was preparing us for an opportunity to reach out to the ministry. While FEMA was frozen for a few weeks, our church, along with other churches in the community, were working to repair houses, hand out water, and assist with renovation. 

So two months later, while I was at Life Action, I said to myself, "Just because the church stopped prayer walking doesn't mean I should." While walking around camp, I would pray. And things started happening. Some friends and I began to meet and pray for each other, and the things we prayed came true. For example,  we prayed that one guy wouldn't misuse his mouth and that he wouldn't get away with bad jokes or sarcasm. Guess what? He didn't! Each time, he was reprimanded, scolded, or slapped in the back of the head. And when we prayed that I would be patient and have self-control when I wanted to explode in anger, it happened! The same guy who we prayed for control of his mouth was told by a co-worker of mine that I showed patience that day when she thought I wanted to explode on her because she dropped a dozen clean dishes.

So all that to say, prayer works. Whether you prayer with a group of friends or while walking to your next class at school, God would just love for us to pray and talk to Him. Instead of using that time to divulge in random thoughts, concentrate instead on God.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

DHT Study

My friend David and I will be leading a study on the book Do Hard Things. We are going to try to inspire eight guy friends to exceed the low expectations given to teenagers by society. We're going to inspire our peers to break the shackles of low expectations and defy the idea that the teenage years are to be spent like a giant vacation. We are compiling notes, questions, and discussion topics. We're already going to use some resources about martyrs, X Games, Eric Liddel, George Washington, and Ecclesiastes 11:8-11. Our peers will be younger- to middle-aged teenage guys. Does anyone have any advice for us?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Evangelist Arrested in Zanzibar, Tanzania

This is part of an article from www.persecutionblog.com, a blog hosted by VOM. Go to their website to read the full article. 

     Our friends at Compass Direct are reporting on another arrest in Tanzania.  In this case it's an evangelist by the name of Peter Masanja, who was arrested sometime early in August because he invited other Christians to his house.  As a result, area Muslims interpreted this as him establishing a church.

Martyrdom is one of my big burns. What I mean by that is I have a heart for martyrs. I read two books on martyrs, and they changed my life and I fell in love with Jesus because of them, so I have a heart for martyrs. Please prayer for Peter. If you know nothing about what Christian prisoners go through, just go to www.persecution.com and read some of the stories, or get Jesus Freaks 1 or 2 by dc Talk. I highly suggest Following the persecution blog. 

Reading Plan

As I've mentioned before in a recent post, the Do Hard Things conference was in Nashville last Saturday, and I went. I had already read the book, so I knew about the brothers' reading plan when they were sixteen. But they talked about it more on Saturday. I had been reading several books already this summer, but was inspired to read more. So I've selected eighteen books to read. I have no timeline yet. Here's the list:

Reasoning from the Scriptures with Muslims by Ron Rhodes
Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics by Ron Rhodes
Reasoning from the Scriptures with Jehovah's Witnesses by Ron Rhodes
What Is God Like? by Craig Groeschel
finish reading Start Here by Alex and Brett Harris
The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy
Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
Chazown by Craig Groeschel
It by Craig Groeschel
re-read Do Hard Things by Ted Dekker
re-read Crazy Love by Francis Chan
Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker
From Playpen to Podium by Jeffrey Myers
The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
I Know Why Angels Dance by Bryan Davis
Venom and Song by Wayne Thomas Batson
Havah by Tosca Lee

I have chosen to focus on six books for the time being: Reasoning from the Scriptures with Muslims, What is God Like?, Safely Home, Do Hard Things, The Abolition of Man, and The Mentor Leader. I hope to complete most, if not all of these, sometime in October.

Here is where it gets cool. With six books, plus my Bibles, I realized I would need bookmarks, because I cannot remember so many places where I paused from reading. As I reached to grab some two-year wallet-sized pictures of myself, I had an interesting idea. I thought, "What can I do with bookmarks that will be pleasing to God?" A somewhat silly question, yes, but the answer is awesome. I quickly went to my desk and pulled out some sticky-notes. I folded them the sticky part on itself to eliminate the sticky effects. On one side of the post-it, I wrote a person's name that I had been praying for. Then I listed five or six things that person specifically needed prayer for. On the flip side, I jotted down the name of a place I had been praying for, such as my school or church. I then listed five or six things that place needed prayer for. So now, when reading my books, I'll remember to pray for the person and place on my sticky-note. Cool idea, huh?

Thursday, August 19, 2010


When I wake up, I instantly feel that pressure to complete my schoolwork. I get to work on school, but neglect my Bible because I feel pressured to do school. But Trent Griffith, a speaker residing in Michigan, talked about his college days and how he handled his homework. He admitted to not reading his Bible out of desire to get school over with and out of the way. But then Trent read Psalm 1: 1-3. It says, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

Trent and his college roommate adopted a system where they would studying school text books for fifty minutes, then together would study the Bible for ten minutes, then would study school books for fifty minutes, and so on. Trent's started to average an A, instead of averaging the average grade. 

I didn't give this much thought when I heard it. But I have not studied my Bible in the morning during the past week, and my days have suffered. So this morning, I implemented this system into my schedule. Fifty minutes of math, ten minutes of Bible. Fifty more minutes of math, ten more minutes of Bible. And so on. Today is considerably better than yesterday or the day before! I truly believe it is because I snubbed my cell phone and computer, and focused instead on my Bible and academics. If you struggle with your Bible in the morning, I encourage you to try this system. Or if you are public or private schooled and do homework in the evening, try it still! It makes school more enjoyable (yes, that's possible!). You'll notice an improvement in your attitude and time management, and you'll have more free time afterwards.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Idolatry is a popular theme throughout the Bible. Scripture refers to idols as anything we view as more important than God. The first instruction of the Ten Commandments is "You shall have no other gods before Me.” God told us early on that He is the only thing that should be our number one priority. In various places in Scripture, God says that He is the only thing we should worship and devote our lives to. The book of Ecclesiastes made it clear that everything (money, friends, wisdom, success, benefits from hard work, and pleasures are listed) in this life will pass away. To echo the words of Ecclesiastes' author, "It is all meaningless, a chasing after wind." 

Ephesians 5:5 says, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” We now must ask the question, What is an immoral, impure, or greedy person? In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul describes this type of person. He writes, "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like." This is a basic and general list of sinful actions, thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes. Though not exclusive, this list covers the vast majority of all sinful attributes. These are the fruits, the results of a sinful life. These actions, thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes are results of a lack of connection with God. Since when are children of God disconnected from God? It isn't possible. While there are bad days and apathetic days, as long as we are true children of God, we'll never be disconnected from God's Spirit. 

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says, “Don't you know that evil people won't have a share in the blessings of God's kingdom? Don't fool yourselves! No one who is immoral or worships idols or is unfaithful in marriage or is a pervert or behaves like a homosexual will share in God's kingdom. Neither will any thief or greedy person or drunkard or anyone who curses and cheats others.” 

These verses are collectively saying that anyone who values something higher than God will not enter heaven. They are saying that if you value anything higher than God, you aren’t a real Christian. In other words, if you love an action or object or person to the extent that you try to hide it from God or ignore His commands, you are worshipping that thing. And idolaters have no inheritance in heaven.

Royal Generation

1 Peter 2:9-10, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

My high school's name is the Royals. We take our name from these verses, saying we are a royal generation. We are a Christian home school organization, thus many students claim to be Christians. But of course, as it is everywhere, there are fakers in my school. There are those who say they are Christian but live another way. I have recently given this fact a lot of thought. I wonder, "How can I reach those who don't want to be reached?" This question has plagued me, and I have no good answer for it. I don't know why some people just want fire insurance. I guess some people would rather pray a prayer and then live their own way than submit everything to God. It's easier, right? Maybe. But another question entered my mind: How do I really know who is real and fake? How can I tell without judging? 

I found this answer (where else?) in Scripture. Bear with me as this passage is somewhat lengthy.

Galatians 5:17-25, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

Scripture says that if you have God’s Spirit, you will look like what is described in verses 22-23 (the second emboldened section). If you don’t have the Spirit, you’ll instead look like what is described in verses 19-21 (the first emboldened section). It's pretty simple: God' children will have the fruit of the Spirit. Enemies of God will have fruits of the sinful nature. Using these verses, it is easy to use discernment and forgo judgement to decide who is for real and who is acting.


My birthday is September 21st. Flyleaf happens to be performing at Rocketown on the 20th, a Monday night. So what did my parents do? Buy four tickets and take my brother and our best friends David and Derek to the concert! Insane! Rocketown is a concert hall that holds about 1200 people. We saw Relient k at Rocketown last October, and were close enough to lean on the guardrail which divided the stage from the crowd.  I can't wait for Flyleaf! For those who don't know, Flyleaf is a rock band with a girl lead singer. Lacey, the lead singer, has the most amazing screams and dances, and their basest is arguable the best in the Christian business. Most would know Lacey better as the female vocalist that sand with Third Day in the hit song Born Again on Third Day's latest album. I've heard from friends and strangers that they put on a very exciting, somewhat scary, and loud live concert. They should be epic at the small building of Rocketown!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Do Hard Things Conference

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go to the Do Hard Things conference here in Nashville. Speakers Alex and Brett Harris did an amazing job. The conference was orchestrated strictly by teenagers and some families, and was very well done. One of the coolest things was that attendees were handed these electronic keypads in which we would respond to questions they would ask. For example, one of the first questions they asked was: Are you... A-Male or B-Female? I pressed A, naturally. Anyway, during the third of four sessions, Alex led the message which was an explanation of how doing hard things apply to being a Christian, which eventually led to a simple explanation of what it means to truly be a Christian. He asked 6 questions to end the session. The first three asked about why you prayed, read the Bible, and how you made decisions. The results to the questions were displayed on the screens. The fourth was a question asking how strongly people believed they were Christians. Again, results flashed upon the screens. The next question was directed to everyone who didn't know 100% that they were Christian; it asked if people would like to know Jesus. The results, this time displayed differently from previous questions, said that just shy of 500 believed they were Christian and that 79 knew they weren't. The sixth question asked those 79 if they wanted to know Jesus. The results said that all but five wanted to. So Alex, inspired by the idea of doing hard things, asked those 74 people to stand where they were and shout "Jesus is Lord!" He said he wanted the new Christians to do this, which was opposite of what was normal, in which the speaker asks everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes so no one was watching. Alex wanted everyone to watch the new Christians proclaim God! He said, "The Bible says if we acknowledge God before men, God will acknowledge us. But if we deny Him, He will deny us. If you can't acknowledge God in a room full of Christians, then you certainly will fail in the real world filled with evil!" It was so cool! People all over the room were standing and shouting! Then after a few minutes, Alex said, "I know there's a few of you out there itching to shout for God, too. So go ahead and stand up!" Then the whole room stood and we all shouted as one, "Jesus is Lord!" It was great, but weird at the same time. But it was the good weird feeling, and I felt God's presence in that room. I hadn't truly felt God's presence in a few days and had been dried out, so this experience was so refreshing.

Right after, the new Christians and their friends went down to the front of the stage to talk to the Harris brothers during an altar call. It was time to worship! I knew one specific person who stood up and went down to pray for him. It was so crowded that I couldn't get to him, but I managed to get close. However, Brett was weaving through the people, talking to them and handing these books to new Christians. He came up to me and asked if I had a book, but I told him that I was up to pray for a friend. He stood right in front of me for the rest of the songs. After the altar call, my friends Matt and David and I waited ten minutes to talk to Brett. Since David and I are leading a study on the book Do Hard Things, we wanted to ask him for tips and pointers on what to do. He talked for about five minutes to us, and I kept trying to bow out and let the 50 other people talk to him, but he kept coming up with great ideas for us!  It was so cool! Brett actually wanted to talk to us! He didn't spin us some political line, but gave us some very good suggestions on how to prepare and where to look for more ideas. While I'm never one to be bold in a "superstar's" presence, not wanting to bother them, this guy was really cool. He turned out to be just a regular kid, who just happened to start a rebelutionary movement with his twin brother. It wasn't like when I happened to see Taylor Swift at Barnes & Noble, and she smiled and took pictures and signed autographs and gave people the same lines she gave to everyone. Brett seemed interested in us and our project! That was  such a huge encouragement to me personally. I really hope the conference comes close to Nashville again so I can go and be a part of it next year!


I have watched the meteor shower some this past week. I enjoy sitting on the patio roof outside my window and watching the dark skies and twinkling stars. Occasionally, I'll glimpse a shooting star and make a wish. I have seen the four Passion Talk Series videos, two of which speaker Louie Giglio talks about the stars and universe in relation to God. For those haven't seen these video recorded sermons, I highly recommend them.

One night last week, as I was laying under the stars and thinking about how small they seem, the thought struck me that I was looking at the beginning of infinity. The universe is boundless, and we have our own viewing portal to see into it: the sky. Think about it, without the sky, we would be living underground with no hope of ever seeing anything but earth and dirt. Anyway, I marveled at the size and significance the universe. It says in Scripture that God measures the span of the universe in his hand. How insane and indescribable is that! My God  doesn't hold the whole world in his hand. This isn't a nursery rhyme. God holds the whole universe in his hands! This makes me feel silly anytime I question whether or not God can really help me or that he cares about me. If he has named each and every star (Psalms 147:4-5), it makes sense that he cares intimately about each and every one of us.

Hendersonville Deaths

This past Monday, three male students attending Beech High School were leaving school. They were a few miles down the road when they crossed lanes on the two-lane road and crashed into an oncoming vehicle. The only person in the oncoming car was the driver, a woman. She was wearing her seat belt, and was treated and released the next day. One of the three boys, a boy by the name of Damon, age 17, died at the scene of the accident. Damon wasn't wearing a seat belt. The other two boys, two brothers of ages 17 and 15, also neglected to wear seat belts. Thursday, I had heard that they were still in the hospital, and one boy was still in a coma. My mom informed me after church this morning that the 15 year old passed away Friday night. The other one, the older brother and the driver, has now made a decision that impacted dozens, even hundreds, of lives. He will live the rest of his life with the deaths of his friend and younger brother on his head. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and turmoil that the families and friends of these boys must be feeling.

Beech High is one mile from my house, and many friends attend Beech, so this accident hits close to home for me. I have also driven through five accidents these past two weeks. It is highly unusual to drive slowly by the scene of several smashed cars, or to see the results of a rear end accident, or to drive by a jeep smashed into a tree just off the road and see an older teenager standing beside it talking into his cell phone. In the last few months, a dozen or so people have died in Old Hickory Lake and in the surrounding lakes. There is a sign positioned beside the boat ramp/dock that we put our boat in. It reads:
      Number of people drowned not wearing life jackets in this lake: 203
      Number of people that drowned while wearing life jackets: 0

Do the math and add about a dozen deaths to the top count. Do you see the importance of vehicular safety? All of these accidents in Hendersonville have made me realize even more the great importance of vehicle safety. Imagine with me, for a moment, the different results of the accident if all three boys had been wearing seat belts. Imagine with me, for a moment, the different results if these 215 people would have simply worn a life jacket. Hundreds and hundreds of lives are impacted because of these mistakes. Marriages, children, siblings, future children and marriages, job opportunities, evangelism opportunities, church opportunities, and mentor opportunities will never happen for these people. The recent accidents in Hendersonville have caused me to think of death, and how fragile this life is. Last Wednesday, a 14 year old boy was shot to death around 2:00 AM. He left the house without his mother's permission or knowledge, got into an argument with others about something, and evidently the argument rose to the level of one person dying. The boy was to start his first day of high school the following day. To quote the writer of Ecclesiastes, "Life is meaningless, a chasing after wind."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ten Martyrs

For those who haven't heard yet, ten Christians were murdered by the Taliban in Afghanistan a few days ago. The story has been on the major news networks, and has been a popular internet buzz. It was a medical team of six Americans, two Afghanis, one British, and one German; seven men, three women. To read the full story, from a Christian's perspective, click the title of this post

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


If you have a heart for persecution and martyrs, you probably know about Voice of the Martyrs. If you don't know anything about martyrs, go to www.persecution.com and see. The Jesus Freaks books, written a decade ago by dc Talk, are two of the best books ever written. They're compilations about martyrs from Jesus' days all the way to 2001, when the second book was printed. The stories from these books and the real-time stories on www.persecution.com are life-altering stories about real people who died for Jesus. Most stories are hardcore, or extreme compared to our Christianity culture in America. Go check the URL out, and if you are interested in knowing more, you can find the books at your local Lifeway store.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Songs- Forgiven

(Post 4 in a series on songs)

Forgiven by Sanctus Real

If you've listened to Christian radio in the past 8 months, you've probably heard this song. It's called Forgiven by Sanctus Real. While the song is great and has a very positive message, the music video better examines true forgiveness and dealing with the past. I love that the two characters learn to drop or leave their pasts and walk towards a new hope. There are times when I am hard on myself, when I belittle myself out of guilt from my sins. I'll attack myself and call myself a hypocrite and condemn all the wrong things I've done. In the right manner, doing this can be very productive; it would then be called repentance. But I would mentally belittle myself and my love for Jesus, which is called listening to a bad influence. I've committed many sins, and while none are "heinous" or "bad enough" in man's eyes, they're still wrong and I feel like a hypocrite afterwards. But I saw this music video, and, I think, for the first time, I really got what forgiveness means. It means telling God you're sorry and then striving to never repeat the same mistakes, and if you're extreme, you set out to help others who have the same struggle you once did. Through this music video, I found out the simple truth of it all. I learned that everyone is human, and humans are sinful, hence we will all sin. God didn't ask for us to be perfect before we get into heaven; He asked that we repent of our sins and follow His Son Jesus to whatever ends we are lead. We can't beat ourselves over the head because we aren't perfect. Only Jesus is perfect! We have to be willing to forget our mistakes and not dwell on them. We must move on so that we can grow closer to Jesus and help others along the way. We can't do that when we're burdened because of our pasts.

Songs- See The Morning

(Post 3 in a series on songs)

See The Morning by Josh Wilson

Many of my Christian friends are currently going through a lot in their lives. I would say that all of their problems are based in relationship issues. When I talk to them, they always say, "I'm just going through a lot right now." I have been very close to a few of these friends in the past. However, now that they're "going through a lot", they seem to close off from people and ignore good relationships or abuse them in some way. For instance, one friend hasn't really even spoken to me in over a year now. Another friend has been ignoring me since February, and another since before Christmas. For one friend, I pulled that person aside several times and said, "Hey, remember our friendship? What's going on with you?!" I always got the same two responses, "People change" or "I'm going through a lot." To me, it seems like they have their eyes set on their current pain and problems. All the joy they had is now gone. It saddens me to think about how things used to be!

When I first listened to this song, I immediately thought of these friends. The chorus says that the pain we experience now is nothing compared to the joy we'll have with Jesus! Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." If what Paul wrote here is true, then why be distracted with our troubles now? We should be fixing our eyes, not on our pain and problems and trouble here, but rather on the eternal and sovereign God who is sitting on the throne in total control of EVERYTHING! Don't get caught up on anything here because everything here on earth will be eternally destroyed, except for our souls. So don't waste time fretting and thinking about how terrible your relationships, families, houses, paychecks, or friends are! Just focus on your relationship with Jesus. If you fix your eyes on what is unseen and on eternal things, He's all that's worth it. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ode To A Friend

July 13th was my friend David's 16th birthday. We were at Life Action family camp, and celebrated there with this extreme chocolate cake that blew my taste buds away. Last night, some friends gathered at his house and I had a blast playing Sardines in the saturated heat, eating his grandmother's wonderful cake, and talking with friends I haven't seen since graduation in May. Anyway, the man of the hour turned 16, and I just want to say thanks to him for being my friend. Together, we're sort of like amazing best friends, and we've been inseparable for the past 18 months. Before our friendship, neither of us had a good friend and were lonely. But upon meeting each other, we've both been able to have a lot of fun in life and share a special friendship. We go to the same church and school, and our families are very close. Through our friendship, I've been able to be held accountable, grow in my maturity, and learn many things from his wisdom, but above all, I can face challenges in life with a friend beside me. So thanks buddy!

PS, revive your blog already and start reading mine, buddy :)

New Bible

Yesterday at LifeWay, my mom bought me a new Bible. It's the HSCB Apologetics Study Bible for Youth. It's the HSCB, but with a bunch of awesome study notes, stories, and observations. Every side note is directed at teaching students in defending their faith. There are sections where they discuss Scriptures that have been twisted by other religions, footnotes that disarm contradictions, and articles explaining things from why porn is sinful, to what Buddhism is, to explaining why fossils are important, to whether or not Jesus' disciples accurately wrote Jesus' words down. It's extremely amazing! It's now another Bible that I use to study with, along with my NKJV,  GWT, GNT, The Message, CEV, and my favorite, the NIV. Now, I just need to acquire the NLT and ESV, and I'll have an excellent collection of the best translations. By the way, the HSCB Apologetics Study Bible for Youth is very inexpensive at LifeWay right now, pricing at $20. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Songs- Already Over

(Post 2 in a series on songs)

Already Over by RED

A few years ago, I stumbled across this song. At first, I did not fully understand what the lyrics meant. I wasn't sure what was "already over" nor what he was reaching for. After listening to it a couple times, an idea popped into my head. Perhaps the song meant that life in itself was already over; Jesus had already died, thus  Lucifer's hope to be better than God was firmly destroyed and the gap between humanity and God was bridged. The end of the times we live in has been predicted and everything is set. We're just waiting out the clock for time to end. For those who don't know, when time ends, the followers of Jesus will live with Him in eternal bliss forever, and everyone else will suffer incomprehensibly forever. So, in my mind, the time we have can be used to literally do anything for God. We truly don't have to worry about anything since it's already over and God's sealed the deal.

In the music video, I love the portrayal between light and dark. The vines in the video, which represent sin, remind me of comic book character Venom. I'm reminded of of Spider-Man 3 when Peter Parker becomes possessed by the black, tar-ish alien substance that mutates his attitude and suffocates his good qualities. The same thing happens here, except that lead singer Mike Barnes is trying to reach the woman in the adjacent room, but is stopped by the black vines. However, the light prevails and destroys all the evil in the room. At the end, the two are surrounded by stark whiteness. To some degree, I think the end of the world will be like this. In addition, Red shows the fact that no matter how strong sin or temptation or evil feels, it is always weaker than the love of Jesus, the Light of the world. No matter what, as long as we hang on to Jesus, we make not make it though our problems in one piece, or even alive, but we'll still have Jesus.

Monday, August 2, 2010

How I Found God

I have been writing posts for some time now, but have yet to share my own testimony. It may be beneficial to my few readers to understand where I'm coming from and who I really am. This is my story.

I was raised in church. I got "saved" at age 7; saved as in I prayed the prayer with my pastor and accepted Jesus into my heart. Unfortunately, no one ever cared to explain that knowing Jesus was more than accepting Him into my heart, attending church, not committing any horrible sins, and living a "good life." Anyway, For the next several years, my family continued to attend Baptist churches. When we moved to Nashville in 2007, we didn't know where to go to church. We discovered that almost every Baptist church was either very small or very large. We couldn't find a church around the size of 300-400 people, which was our preference. So we started going to the church where I played Upward basketball at, which was a megachurch. At this church, the youth group was very large. It was hard to fit in with so many people, and I didn't know which kids were godly and which weren't. I ended up getting mixed up with some very bad kids, and they rubbed off on me. My reason for going to church became the social life. Everything about it was wrong. I really didn't care about God, I only cared about all the Sunday School knowledge I could show off, and how many people I could impress with it. This continued for a year and a half. But in late April, my life was shaken. A close friend who meant a lot to me decided to not be my friend anymore, and I still don't know why that person told me to go away. That hurt very much and I was confused about a lot of things. Somehow though, God put a certain book in my life called Jesus Freaks 2: Revolutionaries written by dc Talk. Essentially, it was a book with dozens and dozens of stories about people in modern times who died because of their faith in Jesus. It shook me to the core like nothing ever has. I began to see Christianity as more than church and friends. I saw it as something real and tangible that could change a person so powerfully that that person would die for Him. It made no sense. I was thinking, "Do people actually do that?" I was shocked! Things started changing for me. First, I chose to go on a mission trip to Florida with my friend David Powell's youth group rather than go with my youth group. The theme of camp in Florida was to walk up to random people on the beach and tell them about Jesus. I began to grow as a leader and saw that it was more fun and satisfying to tell people about Jesus and help others grow closer to Him than it was to flirt with girls or act holy  just for show. That camp ended, and I immediately started going to that church. I joined the church a few weeks later and am still going to that church, now a influential spiritual leader who runs powerpoint for second service and has a lot of respect.

Over the last year, my spiritual maturity has grown in leaps and bounds. It seems as if God chooses an area I need to grow in, and then uses a month to work on it. I've had months where I grow in the area of prayer, and months when I grow as a speaker in front of crowds, and months when I grow in the area of talking about Jesus to others. I've learned so much about so many things. Honestly, it seems as though every month, I'm totally different than I was the previous month. I feel closer to God, more influential, and more enflamed with God's Spirit each month, each day. I've made thousands, millions of mistakes in the past year, but I've learned how to love unloveable people, how to speak in front of crowds, pray, worship, change my youth group, start a blog, kick bad habits out of my life, run powerpoint for church, operate the dish pit of a kitchen and eventually become the leader of that kitchen, and build a reputation that earns respect from a lot of people. And that's just the things off the top of my head! Right now, I'm going through something where a friend has it rough, and I just feel for that person and am trying to help and be a godly friend. I'm also going through a rough period in youth group where attendance is very low and spiritual morale seems to be lower. But I'm learning new things every day. It seems as though one of my spiritual gifts is to learn like crazy and never stop chasing after God.

Even though I became a "Christian" at age 7, I never truly "got it" till I was 14, and didn't show any real spiritual fruit until then either. That's when I actually got close with God, and when I truly became a Christian.

Maybe over the next few weeks, I'll share situations where my maturity and knowledge were challenged and where I grew, even if I did wrong or failed. Who knows? Just keep checking back into my blog every week to see what I've written!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Through a recorded sermon last night and a sermon from my pastor this morning, I've realized that I've allowed roots of bitterness to fester in my heart. I've been subconsciously bitter towards a few specific people that ignorantly hurt or insulted me. In last night's message, preached by Steve Canfield, he talks about how bitterness blackens a pure heart and keeps hearts from becoming pure. Steve said that bitterness was like a prison cell without doors. I was angry and upset at certain people, and wanted nothing more than to teach them a lesson. I was so angry at what I thought was stupidity and lack of thinking and rudeness, that I found myself wishing them harm. I wanted their plans and hopes to fail so I could look and feel better. Through my thoughts, I trapped myself in a prison. Steve said it like this, "Bitterness is the poison you drink thinking it will kill somebody else." I was angry at some people because they ruined the friendship with us, and I was angry at others because I felt like they weren't thinking and had a holier-than-thou attitude at the same time. I doubt these people even have a clue as to how I feel. So in an anonymous way, I just want to apologize to the four people I'm thinking of. It wasn't right for me to be bitter, and I forgive you for how you wronged me.  This isn't one of those big deals, because I'm not wracked with guilt or tearing my clothes or sitting in ashes, but I am frustrated with myself now that I see my own blindness. I see that while they had faults, I too had my own to deal with. And even though one situation is on-going and it just feels like this person isn't thinking things through very well, I'm going to forgive that person and release myself from my own prison.

Steve also told me the truth about bitterness: if you continue to be angry and don't forgive, the situation will get worse; if you wait for the other person to confess their sins to forgive them, you may never get the chance and will keep yourself in the prison cell; if you forgive the person regardless, you're released from the cell and don't have to worry about or wait on the other person. I choose to walk away.