rebelling against low expectations

An Interview with Talitha Piper


Desiring God Interview

Brett and I are in Minneapolis for the Desiring God’s Fathers and Sons Pastors’ Conference with our father, older brothers Josh and Joel, and younger brother Isaac. Last night we had a special Tour Preview at Bethlehem Baptist Church, and were interviewed by 12-year-old Talitha Piper for the Blog.

Talitha’s Interview with the Harrises

Alex and Brett, the name of your ministry and your website is The Rebelution. Tell me how you got that name.

Rebelution is a combination of the words rebellion and revolution. It kind of gives the idea of rebelling against rebellion. As we wrote articles and developed the ideas, it came to mean a teenage rebellion against low expectations.

Tell us the kinds of things you’re responsible for in a normal week.

Right now, we’re out of high school and are taking a year off before college, because we feel like God has opened a lot of doors for us with our ministry. We have breakfast with our family and then go to our computers. We get tons of emails that we look through and respond to. Then there’s lots of coordinating of the conferences—creating brochures, keeping the website updated, arranging meeting places, recruiting volunteers, and many more time-consuming details.

Up until recently our book was the major thing we were working on. It took up just about every waking moment. We like to say God has a sense of humor, so if you write a book called Do Hard Things, he’s not going to make it easy. We just finished the last minor changes—we think. We finished the book about 27 times.

Besides that, we write for our blog and for some Focus on the Family publications.

Next week, we go home and record Do Hard Things as an audio book so it can be released at the same time as the book.

We try to keep our evenings free for time with our family. We always have family worship in the evening.

Read the rest of the interview…

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • I had already read the interview on the DesiringGod blog, and I really enjoyed it!! I’m looking for ward to meeting you at the Dallas conference. 😀

  • Thanks so much for coming and doing the interview with me .
    I had a lot of fun listening to you guys.
    I cannot wait till you guys come in june for the conferance

  • loved how you guys were interviewed by another young person!! just to clarify, Talitha, you are John Piper’s daughter? 😀

  • This doesn’t really have to do with the interview, but I wanted to let you know how encouraging it is to find so many people my own age committed to following God. Awhile before I turned 13, when people asked me how old I was, they would turn to my parents and say something like, “Ooohh, almost a teenager!” or “Good luck in the teen years!” It was as if during the teen years one was automatically infected with a contagious life-threatening disease. I decided, then, that my teen years were not going to be years that my parents or I would later regret. I told myself (and God) that my only “teen rebellion” was going to be against the whole idea of teen rebellion! Now, 5 years later, I can’t say that I’ve followed God perfectly or that I’ve completely upheld every resolution I made. But I can say (and my parents agree) that these years haven’t been filled with rebellion against authority, either in the form of rebellion against my parents or against God. I share all this because it is so encouraging to find others who have done the same. The fight for integrity, modesty, and discipleship can be lonely, even in Christian groups. Thanks for not conforming “to the patterns of this world” and for letting others know about it!

  • Erin: I beleive that they would have to go back a few sentences and record over the mistake. My friend and I really enjoy recording amature books on tape, so I do have a little experience. :laugh:

  • Awesome! I’d already read it on the Desiring God blog, too, and I was wondering if you were going to post it here.

    Quoting Erika: “loved how you guys were interviewed by another young person!! just to clarify, Talitha, you are John Piper’s daughter? :D” Yes, she is 🙂

    Praying for you guys!

    ~Nella Camille

  • Great interview! I must admit, I love how clse you both appear to be with your family! I am looking forward to “Do Hard Things” coming out!

  • Hey, New Attitude early registration is only open till next week so I didn’t know if you guys maybe wanted to do a post about it………?

  • Oh my gosh. When I read what you guys have spoken, I almost want to cry because I can just sense God pouring through you guys so powerfully. You guys are definatly blessed with an extrordinary gift………keep using it for the best!

  • I love when people get interviewed. It’s really is cool to see how many stories people have and how God has worked in ther lives.
    i am really looking forward to seeing the book i hope to get to see it soon.

  • Hi, Alex and Brett! I wanted to ask about something on here, if you don’t mind. 🙂

    What does it mean when I hit ‘publish’ and it says that my comment is awaiting moderation? Usually what happens is the comment just stays that way for a few days, then gets published with nothing changed….? It’s rather confusing. 😀 Thanks!

  • Emma, they look over the post before making them public so that the comments on the site are clean and to the point. Which is very much appreciated, Alex and Brett!

  • I take it that vests are ‘pretty cool’ right now? hehehe… all three of you are wearing one!

    I’m going to enjoy the book a lot more than the audio because my family doesn’t have any working CD or tape players. My eyes still work, though! If I could listen to it, I’d get the audio, though ’cause I can do other things when I’m listening to something. Clean, for instance. That would make my mom happy!

    My sister thought it was funny that there’s bars on the window & she said, “Wow! Is that a recorder-thing? It looks like they’ve been pulled in by the police!” I got a kick out of that, so I thought I’d share it, just in case anyone else noticed and had a similar thought. 😀

  • Emily: Yeah, I thought similar to what your sister said. I was like, wow — looks like they’re being interrogated. It’s not just those bar-like-things on the windows, either — look at the walls and the table. I was like, hey Mom, looks like the Harrises are in prison in Minneapolis and they got visited by Piper’s daughter — they called it a pastors conference, but it looks more like typical prison ministry to me. Doesn’t the picture remind you of a scene from a movie where an “innocent” person is visited by a fan? Like in Hurricane?
    What kind of conference was this again? Be honest now, boys! Everything you say is being recorded.

  • Or maybe the three of them got pulled over by the Fashion Police for wearing vests?
    (Vests aren’t uncool. I’m just joking around and trying to figure out why you’re all in prison even though you’re such “good kids,” you know. Remember, we all expected more of you two than this.)

  • Well, whatever they’re in prison for, they must be innocent. Look how happy the all are! 😉

    And I was wondering why the audio book is abriged?? Now I have to buy both!! Well, I guess it’s worth it. 😀

  • Emma and Nicole, Stop making fun of the boys, they obviously had a lot in”vested” in this interview! Too punny!
    Just kidding guys, now you know how the celebs feel.

  • I think they’ve just had too much pressure to deal with recently. I think they couldn’t handle it and they snapped. They looked around at the world and went, “Who cares what mom and dad say? I’m wearin’ my vest and no one can stop me! I don’t care who it hurts — it’s my life and I’ll choose my own wardrobe!”

    Alex and Brett: As someone who has worn a vest in the past, I want to tell you that the first step to a healthy recovery is ADMITTING that you have a problem. Repeat after me: “My name is [insert correct name] and I am a vestoholic.” Good! Next step, ACCOUNTABLITY — next time you walk out of the house, check with your parents to be sure your attire is appropriate and will not influence people who are younger than you to make the same (not necessarily bad) choices you’ve had problems with in the past (such as an innocent 12-year-old who shall not be named for legal reasons).
    And remember, we’re all behind you every step of the way! We’ve all been there before — we’ve worn vests in groups — and we’ll all be there again. The important thing is that you never stop pushing towards FULL recovery. You might not get there, but then again, we might not either. We’re all in this together and that’s what counts. Best of luck!

  • You girls are just too funny!!!!!!

    Alex and Brett, how was the conference? My dad went and said it was pretty good. What did you think?

  • Hey, at least Brett’s vest matches his suit. I can’t say as much for the other two- at least they don’t clash too terribly. 😛 JK. Keep up the good work, guys! I can’t wait to read the book! Maybe I can get the audiobook, too, for our roadtrip to California this May!

    God Bless!

  • Alex and Brett-
    You said that you always have family worship together.
    Do you sing together? Does someone play the accompanying piano? What songs or hymns do you sing?
    It sounds like something my family would like, that’s why I have so many ?’s. 🙂

  • Megan: You have a weird sense of humor, but thank you very much anyway.

    Alex: Thanks!

    Amanda: It’s wrong to make fun of what other people are wearing. Didn’t your mother ever tell you that? Or at least to be tasteful in your criticism if you do? Black and white go great together and it’s awesome for a twelve-year-old to mix and match colors like Talitha did — heck, when I was twelve I wore gray or white and blue or khaki because I had no nerve to dress any different than a million other people. I wish I had been more like Talitha. The world would be a more beautiful place if we all wore a little more color and didn’t all copy each other.

    Which reminds me of something (besides vests): When I was little my grandma adopted this cat from her neighbors who also owned a dachshund. I’m not sure why they didn’t want the cat anymore, but anyway, because the cat had been around a dachshund much of its life it walked funny. If you have a cat, you might know that cats copy what they see and hear — they try to mimic it. I guess that’s where we get the saying “copy-cat”. So, as you might guess, this cat tried to copy the dachshund. It walked with its legs scrunched short so that its belly was about 2-3 inches off the ground. Even after my grandma had had the cat for quite some time it still never learned to walk right so that we didn’t all laugh at it. It looked hilarious.
    Moral of the story: Be yourself! And don’t make fun of others for NOT going with the crowd. Torture them for going WITH the crowd.

  • Don’t you guys have any fashion sense? Alex’s vest is alright. It’s Brett’s that is highly questionable. I can’t believe you guys don’t read fashion magazines!!! 😛 😆

  • Alex and Brett: You know you are famous when a Piper interviews you!

    So vests are fashionable? Cause I’ve got one here at home that sort of like a puffy coat without sleeves, dark faded blue, and older than I am. Is that “cool?” (If it is, I’ll stop wearing it.)

  • Hey Alex and Brett,I really need some advice.I have this friend who been praying for a good husband.Ok never mind about the friend thing,truth is the friend is me.I know some one who is very nice.he is a christian and an abolishlitionist.We have the same pashions.I like him a lot.That is the problem.I like him so much Im having trouble getting my mind off him.He lives in Atlanta and I am moving to Indiana.He is 15,i am 13.
    you guys know him.well advice needed.your sister in Christ, Hannah

  • Great interview! Thanks for posting it…it also sounds like a wonderful time with your father and brothers! You guys are great examples! Keep up the wonderful ministry you have going. It has blessed our family greatly!


  • Hannah Williams,

    I know your post was directed toward Alex and Brett, but please allow me to share some advice that I learned 3 years ago when I was your age. It has and is serving me well, and if you take it to heart, it will help you too.

    Praying for your future husband is good, and wanting to marry a Christian with a heart and calling like yours is very important. But you cannot let your emotions and feelings get ahead of you. Songs of Solomon repeatedly exhorts us: “do not awaken love until it’s time.” You are only 13 years old. Thirteen (and even sixteen!) is not an appropriate age to spend a lot of time dwelling on an event (ie, courtship and marriage) for which you are not NEARLY prepared to pursue.

    The same God who spoke the universe into existence, parted the Red Sea, and turned a shepherd boy into a king is the same God who will make sure that you meet your future husband when the time is right. Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

    The teen years (and early 20’s) are the PRIME time we have to cultivate a wonderful love relationship with the best guy ever: our Jesus. To do anything otherwise is a disservice to our Lord and to ourselves. He is robbed of our attention and affection, and we are robbed of an intimacy with Jesus. It’s a lose-lose situation.

    As your sister in the Lord, I want to encourage you keep your focus straight ahead; keep looking at Jesus. Scripture tells us to “Take captive every thought…” “Lay aside weights that easily beset us”, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.”
    Give your teen years to seeking the Lord and preparing yourself, both for the calling He has on your life, and the person He wants you to be. Don’t try to find the “right one”, focus on letting Him make you the “right one” to be found.

    Feel free to email me if you ever need to talk, by clicking on my name. I’ll be praying for you.

    Elisabeth Gruber (16)

  • Hey guys!
    I’ve been reading through your blogs and responses for awhile and not commenting, but tonight, I feel a need to tell you to go for the Prize. You have so many distractions – political, spiritual (that doesn’t help you to grow), fashion?, but the truth is that you two must rise up above the clutter of all that you encounter and place your eyes directly and wholeheartedly on Jesus Christ, Himself. He wants to build an army of us kids and we can follow other Christians that have come before us by reading their books, etc., but really how far did they go? Are they our goal? Don’t we want to go farther – to be closer – to bring to this world a whole new encounter with Jesus, Himself. Get alone with God and ask Him to invade you in such a way that you know day and night all that He has for you to do and that you do it through His Power alone. We have enough “fancy” Christians who write books and speak at conferences and from the pulpit, but you claim to be rebelutionaries and only Jesus can do that through you. Ask God to remove from you all that hinders your pursuit of HIm and obedience to Him. It’s only going to get harder for you two with your book coming out and all the political agendas. Where is your heart? It needs to be fully in HIs and only doing what the Father ordains. Come up to the level that can raise an army in this generation. Break away from the old and the former and become ALIVE with His Passion for Truth, for LIfe, for His Word being given out and spoken to all people. BE HIM to this world. The only way to do this is to spend time with HIm until you are fully captured by Him in every way. I’ll be praying for you. When you start writing again some really heavy God stuff, I’m sure there won’t be time for the others to comment on your fashion choices. Give us some real food that you have received in your time alone with God. Come on, feed us!

  • Alex and Brett: I do have a serious (not funny) question about something said in this interview. You said that you got your motto of “Do Hard Things” from what the Vikings did — by how they built up their muscles. But you also mentioned that they were bad guys.

    I guess my question is: What about the people in Acts? They didn’t work mentally or physically to obtain what they had or what they spoke or what they gave to people, rather it was all from the Holy Spirit and by God’s Strength and Power that they did it. If they went out focused to Do Hard Things would they have endured as much persecution with as much joy as they did? Or would they have done good things that were, in effect, beneficial, but that they wouldn’t have been persecuted and killed on account of because they weren’t as extremely good, if you know what I mean?

    If we do hard things isn’t that like doing good works? Isn’t that seeking knowledge and power in our own strength — to focus on doing hard things? Shouldn’t we instead seek to have faith in God and to rely wholly on Him and trust that all that we are supposed to do will stem out of our Relationship with Him rather than anything we can achieve on an earthly level? Isn’t the most important thing to have faith in God and to Love Him and then we will do good works and hard things rather than the other way around — as in we do good works and hard things and think our faith will grow out of that? Wouldn’t that only develop faith in ourselves? How do we become fully reliant on God and remain fully reliant on Him no matter what we can do or can’t do? How do we remember that all that we do that is good and hard — or just good, once we are strong — comes from Him, rather than thinking we worked for it and developed the ability to accomplish our tasks ourselves?

    I guess I was thinking that maybe it’s like if you told a man to do kind things for his wife. He would do them a while. But would he do them with the right heart? Would he do them out of love or dutifully and to gain attention from her? Would he develop love for his wife out of serving her in this way, or not?

    Or would it be better to instead tell him to ask God to fill him with love for his wife?

    If we Do Hard Things are we dutiful in how we handle the tasks God has set before us or do we do them with a right heart as Jesus would do them — with a heart of love?
    If we instead focus on spending time with Him and asking Him to fill us with His Love and to develop our faith in Him do we still do hard things, but for a different reason? Is it better that way? I mean, how can we not do anything — hard or not — for someone we love? Does it make a difference, do you think?

    I’m not trying to come against your motto or anything. I’ve just had this question about your motto and what you said about Vikings and thought I’d ask it now. I hope that’s okay. It just feels pretty important to me right now — with what God is teaching me. Thought it’d be good to find out the answer. It’s kind of a crossroads question, if you know what I mean. It’s answer defines where you go next. The right answer keeps you on the right road and keeps you from getting off on the wrong road and wasting time or getting stuck. I want the right answer.

  • Hannah, I wanted to echo what Elisabeth Gruber said. I am turning 18 today, and I am doing my utmost best NOT to dwell on the years ahead. Marriage is an absolutely wonderful thing, and one that I look forward to one day. However, Elisabeth is right….we can use these single years to do mighty things for the Lord. Noticing qualitites you most want in a spouse is a good way to go, but right now, putting a face with them isn’t the smartest way to go. My guess is that one day, someone even more wonderful will become attractive for you.

    This is something that I also need to be ever mindful of. Even lightly giving our heart away in our present stage of life is something we will most likely regret later on. All I can encourage you to do is pray, pray, pray! The Lord knows our hearts even better than we do!

    Oh, and I want to say something else….can people lay off on the fasion advice. Let Alex and Brett dress how they want (provided it is God honoring, which vests are :-)) I know you all don’t mean to sound flirty or anything, but I think that is an area better left to their mom or Sarah until such time as they get married. We are to be like sisters to our Christian brothers, that is true, but try not to sound flirty.

  • You are flirting with them yourself, Ella, trying to win their good opinion by your “wisdom” on giving fashion advice. Please take the plank out of your own eye. The girls were kidding around and probably didn’t even expect the absent Harris twins to read it.

  • To My Concerned Sister: I was not trying to win their opinion. I was only saying what I would hope someone would say to me if they thought things were getting out of hand. Alex and Brett were the furthest thing from my mind when I wrote that.

    I know I have my own issues that I need to work in my life. I was just trying to be honest. I mean, the first thought I had as I read comments was, “This is a topic that isn’t overly important. The post was on Talitha’s interview. We should be commenting on it.” Anyway, I appreciate your trying to point out areas in me.

    Nicole: fashion crititism isn’t flirting. The way you write it can come across that way.

  • Kensington: Thanks for the exhortation, brother. Our parents and we are being very careful about where we’re focusing our time and energy — and fashion is definitely not one of them. You are absolutely right about where are primary focus must be. That’s something we should all take to heart.

    Nicole: The Vikings example was physical/mental — but the principle of doing hard things applies to every area, including our faith. There’s a reason why people call prayer, fasting, Bible reading, memorization, and meditation, spiritual disciplines. They are hard, at least at first, but we do them anyway, because God has instructed us to do them.

    In terms of “do hard things” being like “good works,” the key is making sure that we are not doing good works to try and earn our salvation or win favor with God — but there is nothing wrong with good works. James tells us that faith without works is dead. And the verse that tells us that we are saved by faith alone, and not by works, goes on to say that we are created in Christ to do good works that God has prepared for us. “Do hard things” isn’t works-based righteousness, it’s obedience, regardless of the cost. 🙂

  • Ella: Thank-you for being open-minded. I just thought the girls were trying to have fun and your comment bugged me, but I now understand that it was out of trying to keep our focus on the right thing. Blessings!

  • [Elizabeth]Thank you for your advice.I geuss I never thought about it in that sort of way.I will use that advice.Do you think it is all right to like a guy? your sister in Christ, Hannah

  • I just found the commentary funny, and took a jab at fashion. But, I have to agree with Ella that the discussion is getting off track (not that I was any great help in keeping it orderly.)

    Since we are making an effort towards serious discussion, I will suggest:
    In Acts, the disciples were doing Hard Things. If they were like a lot of Christians, they would have just stayed home, and maybe sent some money to support missionaries. Do Hard Things is a call to do what the Lord wants, not stay with what you are comfortable in. God is calling us to excellence. There is a possibility that you could do things just on your own, without God’s call or guidance, but it seems to me that even that would be better than nothing.

  • My daughter was one who made a comment about Brett and Alex’s vests. I can tell you that it was in NO way meant to be flirtatious. It was actually a relief to see that a few of you have a nicely developed sense of humour! I realize that some of you are trying to sound very spiritual (way beyond your years) but pride in ones “spiritual intellect” is wrong in God’s eyes.

    A suggestion for some of you wanting to do hard things…take your message to the ghettos (actually go there) try to reach a child without a computer or possibly even a home. Get out of your comfort zone and figure out how to reach out to a ten year old with no hope, no father, no food, no money to buy books written by the Brett and Alex or anyone else.

    Mom to ten adopted children

  • Alex, thanks for the reply. One more thought your way —Isaiah 41:10
    When all your plans are altered; when the day is cut short; when the answers no longer come
    but the people beg for an outpouring; Go beyond what you have learned – all that you have been taught and take hold of the Hand of God and ask that He, alone, breathe His schedule, His plan, His Passion, His promises, His Purpose into each day. You’ve been put on a schedule. You have books to promote and people to speak in front of, but there is so much more and it will only be learned when all that has been planned is let go of. You’ll understand later, but it doesn’t mean that you have erred, only that God has a new level for you, a new platform, a new presentation that will gather in 100,000 times what you would do with the present plan. No more details – you’ll have to get those from God. Happy Trails, good fellows. Hope to see you someday.

  • mom to ten: I agree that it is good to have a sense of humor and was glad that you appreciated that in all of us, but I also agree with some of the other commentators on here that the joking around got a little out of hand because it did dominate our discussion of the Harrises interview moreso than anything spiritual (and more important) did.

    But as someone who has written in here with serious questions and serious exhortations about what God has taught me or is in the process of teaching me, I very, very strongly disagree with the later part of your comment.

    Some of us may get off track from time to time or seek the wrong things from time to time, but the majority of us who write in are not in any way intent on “sounding” very spiritual or beyond our years on anything. Quite the opposite, in fact, I have read many honest and valid acknowledgments of failures and struggles in the spiritual pursuits discussed by the commentators and the Harrises. We are trying and praying with the best effort we can give to honor God in these pursuits and with our words for His Glory. I have no pride in my spiritual intellect — wait! — I have no spiritual intellect (that I know of). What I have is a heart that knows that I am unworthy to be saved, that I deserve to die, but that God Loves me so much that He gave His Son on the Cross to not only Save me, but to set me FREE and to call me to do great things out of love for Him — as a bride would — as His Bride. Most of the commentators I know will agree wholeheartedly with this, I think.

    And spiritual intellect sounds like knowledge to me and knowledge is what man went after went Adam ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden and fell — died — was separated from God by sin. And sin is what Jesus suffered to cleanse us of and set us free from when He died on the Cross. No… I seek wisdom — pure, Godly Wisdom from the Mind of Christ!

    And I have been to the “ghetto” that I think you speak of. I was 9 years old and God led my mom to do ministry with “street kids”. Both of us played hockey with them, she gave out free pop in exchange for a prayer, and we had them over to our house and often fed them. My mom gave away about 3 pairs of skates and 2 or more bicycles to them (most of them were her own, so she had to buy new ones). Their parents didn’t feed them much. They were already getting drunk, smoking, who knows what else. They would run away from home sometimes or were in and out of juvenile homes. Their parents were on drugs and would gamble all their money and their kids stuff (some of the stuff we gave or lent to the kids) away to nothing. It was not comfortable work. But my mom did it because she loved God, she loved the kids, and it was the right thing to do — and because the church wouldn’t help the kids or even let them skate in their parking lot because they were afraid the kids would scuff up their newly painted curbs. And guess what? Because my mom bought some hockey sticks on sale and did this work her husband took away all the money and put it in his account so that we couldn’t even buy groceries and I had to eat at a friends house (my mom stopped working when my brother was young to better focus on homeschooling us and raising us). All we had was a tupperware bowl of pennies under the seat in our van. My mom gave away her last dollar once when God led her to. And we often had to leave home because my mom’s husband was abusive (although church-going, on the worship team at our former church, and heavily involved in prison ministries). So I didn’t just know kids who didn’t have money or a father or food or hope or Christian books or a church that welcomed me — I also became one of those kids as part of knowing and reaching kids like that.

    I’m glad I did, but most of it was out of my comfort zone. And it helps when doing stuff like that to come on here and talk with people who are doing similar stuff or have similar passions and who really love God, because we can learn from each other and can pray for each other and we can ask questions that help us all grow in our desires to know God and in our daily walk with God.

    What you said makes me think that you expect very, very little of my generation (which is exactly what The Rebelution is fighting against — low expections). Yeah, you seem to expect a good sense of humor, but you criticize spiritual insight and spiritual discussion and spiritual longings. Why? Isn’t the latter more important, regardless of age or anything else? Are we too young? Is that all? I don’t think so. I think we are always at the perfect age to find God and to seek Him. And didn’t Jesus TEACH in the temple when He was 12? Was that also pride in “spiritual intellect”? What about Timothy who was about 17 when he was doing God’s Work? Was that too young? Please provide biblical proof for your objections to what we are doing on here when we are serious and discussing things of God.

  • Alex (and Jacob!):
    Hey Alex, thanks so much for your reply and for taking the time to reply. I have a lot of respect for you and Brett for even allowing my question about the motto through. I didn’t mean for it to be disrespectful in any way, but I was afraid that it would be taken as an attack. It is cool to talk with people (quite a few) on here who will listen to other people’s opinions/perspectives openly and then will respond in a respectful manner. It’s really cool. So before I respond, thanks also for putting together a site and writing on topics so that we all can grow and discuss (respectfully) issues that are really important to us.

    First off, I want to say that “obedience, regardless of the cost” (like you said) is what I’m after in my walk with God. And I agree that that is doing hard things. I’ve also been thinking about what it says in James, that you mentioned, about that faith without works is dead. But when I read the book of Acts this part really stuck out to me:

    “… They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and in their homes, they continued to teach and preach this message: “The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus.” ”
    (Acts 5:40-42 NLT)

    Earlier in chapter 5 (vs. 29) it says that Peter and the apostles told the council, “We must obey God rather than human authority.” That’s definitely obedience, regardless of the cost. But how do we obey God at any cost — Do Hard Things — and then walk away rejoicing? Especially after being arrested, then flogged? I didn’t know what “flogged” meant, so I looked it up — it means to beat severely with a whip or rod. I’ve been through a lot less and have struggled like crazy — I complained, I was bitter, I was angry, I was hurt that God allowed what happened, and I felt like a coward because I felt all that. But these people in Acts, they went through being arrested and a flogging and they rejoiced that God counted them worthy to go through what they had just experienced. That’s where I want to be. And I’m not there yet. But I think I should be — not “should be” like I’m down on myself, but “should be” like I believe that’s how God wants all of us to be… like that’s the best place to be.

    But how do we get there?

    Do we get there by doing hard things? Or do we get there by seeking God a different way than through discipline. I mean, discipline has its place, but was it how the disciples in Acts got that way? Or did God just make them that way when they recieved the Holy Spirit? I know it must have been a discipline to wait, as Jesus told them to, for the Holy Spirit to come. But I’m talking about the kind of discipline that is like the studying/exercising kind of discipline, you know.

    Lots of people discipline themselves to read the Bible, spend quiet time, and to study religious books about people who’ve gone before, but do they end up really knowing God and delighting in His Law — having it written on their hearts — or just memorizing His Laws and doing them because they know they are supposed to? All those things have their place. But all of those things can actually be used for good or for bad. People can read the Bible and can take it out of context, they can spend quiet time not seeking God, but rather meditating on their knowledge or theology that is false, and people can read books about famous people who went before and they can take things that they shouldn’t copy and they can copy them thinking that they are right because a “great” person thought that they were right. (I’m just giving examples of the dangers that I think are there that people I’ve known in the past or have read about have appeared to have fallen into).

    I guess I’m thinking that many Hard Things are part of other religions and other religions have got us beat. But they haven’t got the people in Acts beat. Something is different about the people in the Bible. Why? Did they lay hold of a secret that we haven’t yet found out about bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth? Or did they have something we don’t yet have? We follow the same God. Did they just know Him closer than we do so far? But I think it’s more. I’m not saying we should be doing miracles — that’s all up to God and we will in His timing if it’s His Will. I’ve noticed that something is different about the people in Acts when you compare what they did and what they said and how they said it and their hearts to MOST modern-day Christians. And I want what they had in Acts. I want to rejoice when God has made me worthy to suffer dishonor — anything — for Him. I want to trust Him to speak His Words — the Truth — to people no matter the cost. I want to know, always know the words He wants me to speak when He wants me to speak. I want to fear God, not the people who hate me. I want to walk as Jesus would, speak as Jesus would, act as Jesus would, so that people will only really see Jesus and only want Jesus when they encounter me or my work. I want to be counted worthy to bear flogging and to love Him in a way that I rejoice at that honor. I want this. I want to know Him and follow Him in this way. I know it’s possible, because I read about not just one person, but several people who were that way — in the Bible.

    But how?

    I agree that we will do hard things. They definitely did. But WHY do we do hard things and WHY did they? Do we do them for the same reason as them or are we no different than people from other religions in our reasons? Gamaliel, who was part of the council (mentioned in chap. 5 of Acts earlier) said about the disciples: “… If they are teaching and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God.”

    If people tried to stop us would they find themselves fighting against God? Would they be unable to stop us? In a nation (America) that murders its children (through abortion) and that produces movies and books and TV and radio shows full of obscenities and violence and evil, why do we not face more persecution for what we believe? Why don’t they try to stop us? Are we not enough of a threat? Shouldn’t we be more of a threat?

    How to we become people who DELIGHT in God’s Laws and who bear them written on our hearts? How does it become an act of love to Do Hard Things instead of something that we are supposed to do?

    If we became the way that I am talking about, would we be persecuted for God’s Name — for God’s Truth and Law — like the people in Acts and would we rejoice that God saw us as worthy to bear that honor?

    I don’t mean to sound preachy. I just see something I want and I read about something that I want to bring forth on earth right now — God’s Kingdom — and I want to do everything needed, everything possible and impossible, to get it and to bring it forth wherever I am as God desires for me to — and created man to do.

    You don’t have to rush to respond. I know you and Brett are both really busy. I don’t mind waiting to talk about this. And I’ll be praying in the meantime and will share if God teaches me anything on this. Thanks for your response already. And for your time spent reading this.

  • Nicole:

    Thank you so much for sharing your testimony about what you and your mom did (the comment 3 comments up). It was very wonderful to read (very uplifting, too) about what God did with even that small portion of your life. The many kids who were able to be taught about the Lord and His great love through you and your mom’s loving and caring actions. Thank you for writing about it, Nicole.

    In His Service,
    ~Kirsten A. Gruber

  • Kirsten: Thanks! I’ve been reading what you wrote on the blog you share with your sister — it’s good! You and your sister are a little younger than me, so when I first read what Elisabeth wrote on here about relationships and a relationship with God, I was like, man, I was NOT that mature when I was 13! God taught her that when she was 13? And she LEARNED it? But then I realized… when I was younger people were always treating me like I was too young to do anything for God or to say anything about God and because of their attitudes I was rather inspired to pray that God would raise up kids — like children and teens a little younger than me — who are 10 times more passionate about God and closer to God than I am. I prayed this partly because I was annoyed at how adults were treating me and partly because I want to look around and go, “Hey! I need to catch up!” and then to pray that I will be 10 times moreso how I should be than they are or to ask for what they have 10 fold so that they can go, “Hey girl, we want what you have — only double (or 10 fold).” And so we can constantly challenge each other to never, ever stop. We need to be a generation of Elishas who don’t just ask for what they see that is a close walk with God or a gift from Him, but who ask for it double fold or more. So it’s cool reading what people like you and your sister write because I go, “Wow, I just overlooked that and they have a real heart about that and I never would have responded that well” and then I know I need to ask God to change me and grow me in that area. It’s fun to see that God is beginning to answer my prayers like this. And I do think it’s only the beginning…. I need to watch out.

  • Elizabeth,as soon as I get my e-mail fixed i will e-mail you.Thank you for your advice and encouragement. your sisiter in Christ, Hannah

  • Ok let me tell you something. A lot of young people i know are wearing vests. There is nothing wrong with vests. You guys are hurting my feelings(sob sob sob aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa) just kidding. You guys don’t hurt my feelings because i set my own (christian) trend.

  • Talitha: I was actually worried about your feelings getting hurt by the various vest jokes and vest humor that I didn’t at all help with (I won’t admit to it now, but I may under torture). I felt so bad that I tore all the sleeves off my jackets to make them into vests. I’ve been walking around with cold arms for days! It’s seemed like months, though. Now that I know you took the jokes as we meant them and that your feelings weren’t hurt I’ll get out the old sewing machine and start repairing my jackets. Thanks to you and your post I should have warm arms again within a couple of days! I’m celebrating already by taking the leg-warmers off my arms.

    Rock on, sister!!

  • Has anyone heard from Zach Hunter? I really need to get back in touch with him.Oh , Elizabeth. I love your blog! your sister in Christ, Hannah

  • Howdy.aAlex and Brett, we have family bible reading and prayer every night.Then in the morning the first thing we do is a what we call,a quiet time with God.We do this alone.I use the Bible, A Faith to Grow On (by:John Macathur),and Don’t Waist Your Life (by John Piper).Talitha,is John Piper your dad?If he is tell him I said hi! Your Sister in Christ,Hannah

  • Boy, I haven’t been around for awhile, and I was surprised to see the direction that my vest comment took! Sorry that it became such a distraction… but, in truth, I’m glad that people have gotten some fun out of it. 😛

    I just wanted to thank you guys for having the blogroll updated. I know that this is the wrong post for this comment, but I’m leaving it here anyhow. I’m in a stubborn mood, I guess. Anyhow… I’ve really been blessed just by visiting different blogs that are listed. So thanks!

    Emily Rose

  • Hannah Williams,

    I read your post about liking a boy above. I have a 13 year old sister and if she was in such a situation as you are, I would advise her to tell our parents about it. I can’t help but want to pass on the same advice to you.
    I agree with what Elisabeth Gruber told you, but I would add that you tell/talk to your parent(s) about it. That’s what our parents are there for, to encourage, help, and guide us through such things. If you haven’t yet, I highly suggest you do so now. I believe that you will feel better about the whole situation if you do. God Bless.

    An older Sister in Christ,

  • Amanda: I agree that that’s what parents are there for — advice, encouragement, help and guidance — but being someone, myself, who has a mother who was very close to God and had a father who was against God, I want to add to your advise about taking any problems you have to your parents.

    I know that that’s not always possible or the best thing to do in some families or situations, so if it’s not the best thing then do take it before God as you would a loving parent and know that He will parent you fully in the ways that others can’t or haven’t. Ask Him to fill the empty places in your life and to teach you how He can Guide you and Encourage you and Comfort you and Help you and Love you — He will better than anyone and better than you want or know you need. I know — He’s done it all for me.

  • Nicole, I have read and reread your entry concerning the people of Acts and I, too, have the same desire to become all that these people were. I believe that it begins with abandonment unto God. So many people talk of surrender, but it is not the type of surrender that the people in Acts brought before God. There is so much of us that fails to follow, fails to trust, fails to have passion for the One who passionately abandoned all for us. I believe that the Holy Spirit can and will fill us with the desire, as we both have written of, but also, the “enabling” to abandon all to God and once we do that, He, then, will fill us full of Himself and we will know Him and act according to His Will. I have had many experiences in this area, but there is also, a necessary breaking away from the norm and from those who choose to only follow God with their minds, without real sacrifice. As I read your entry, God led me to read page 21 from “Come Away My Beloved.” This is part of it, called, “A Yielded, Believing Vessel.” It is God speaking to us and saying: “Mine is the wisdom and the honor and the power and the glory and shall be so forever and ever. I make the nations to rise and I make the kingdoms to fall, but My throne shall be established in Zion and My righteousness throughout all the earth. I am never in defeat, but I am held in abeyance at this present time by the selfishness and wilfulness of man. Yea, the going forth of My justice and of My mercy is obstructed by the ignorance of men and the by the lack of faith in even My children. Be not dismayed and ill of heart and spirit. Hast thou not read how I could not do mighty works in their midst because of unbelief? It is no less true today — and it is not in one place but in many places — yea, even throughout the length and breadth of the land. Be aware of Me. I can accomplish great things through even one yielded, believing vessel. Remember David, and how I wrought a great victory for the armies of Israel through his courage, when all others were paralyzed by fear. Move on, nor ever entertain the thought of retreat. Others may actually be going forward on the very path that would be for thee a retreat. They are not responsible to give Me the kind of service I ask of thee. Keep your eyes on Me, as I have counseled thee so many times before…..” I believe that there is great hope that we will also be filled with the Holy Spirit in all His fullness, as the people of Acts were. May it be so.

  • I’m sorry, but I just read another entry and I agree with Nicole that our first “counselor” should be God. My parents are the opposite of all that I want to be and especially my walk with God and whatever I would confide in them or ask them, the answer would definitely not come from the mind of Christ, nor His Will for my life, nor God’s desire for me to grow closer and more dependent on Him. Some kids are blessed with awesome parents, but sometimes, that can handicap your relationship with God. We need to press in and find God to be our friend, counselor, and parent.

  • Kensington:I have two “awesome” very godly parents and I have never found them to “handicap” my relationship with God. If parents are truly godly they would never handicap your relationship, they would only help. That’s what God created parents for and when they’re walking in God’s will that’s what they will do.

  • I hope that I didn’t give the impression that I think God’s role is less than… because I certainly do not. But I know that at a younger age, it helps to have someone that you can look in the eyes and talk to. I was and still am blessed to have Christian parents that I can talk to about anything.
    I am aware that some children/youth don’t have parents that they can recieve godly advice from. I would then next suggest to seek out a church leader, such as the pastor and his wife, youth director, etc. Or possibly even grandparents and sometimes even though parents/grandparents may not be Christians they can still give wise counsel.
    I do not forget the importance of seeking God’s counsel, because it is of great importance, especially to me. However, we are to learn from our elders and they are to pass down their learning/knowledge to the younger generations.

    God Bless

  • Amanda: Some people who read this site may not know a good, Godly counselor or mentor who they can talk to. Others may not know what it’s like to not always have someone on a earthly level to go to for good advice.

    In my experience, even what our parents tell us should be taken before God in prayer — even when we are at a very young age. The only earthly father I knew tried to lead me away from God when I was 8. My mom was gone at the time and I couldn’t reach her through her cell phone. My brother was siding with his dad. I decided to stand my ground. Guess what happened? He was religious so he shoved his Bible at me and quoted the commandment to honor your parents. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew that he was wrong and that I needed to obey God whatever anybody said. I wished I could call my mom, but I kept trying and couldn’t reach her. I kept refusing to go along though. He even told me, “I’ll take the blame if you end up in Hell because of me.” Well, isn’t that a comforting thought? If I end up in Hell then I won’t be to blame! Woohoo. But I’d still be stuck in Hell so so what, I thought to myself.

    He was really abusive, but a phony at church. Pastors like him. They listen to what he says and then they tell my brother and I to see him again and work things out with him. I never listened to people trying to hook me back up with him, but my brother did listen. He got really screwed up from seeing his dad again. He had problems with girls and problems with abusing my mom and I and problems with the law after spending time with him because of taking the pastors or leaders advice.

    I’m not telling people on here to not honor their parents. I’m just saying, we honor God and when that contradicts the lesser commandments we honor Him still. But I know you believe that too.

    How do I explain what I feel about this mentors issue . . . I guess I read a lot of Christian books as a kid and most of them taught me to go to a mentor. Trouble was, I couldn’t find a mentor most of the time when I needed one — I almost always got into bad situations when I couldn’t reach anybody and I was alone unto God alone. Personally, I think He planned it that way. It grew me a lot and taught me to depend on Him as my Father. But also, I think maybe He did that so I wouldn’t grow up and write books that advise people, or just advise people, to go to parents or mentors.

    And I guess I have just as much problem about going to church leaders as I do about going to parents. No friend I ever knew had Godly mentors. For example, one friend I had was raised by his grandma because his mom left him and he never knew his dad (who lived in a foreign country). The only male influence in his life was his grandfather who was on drugs (he ended up dying from a drug overdose). Would these kinds of guardians offer “good” advice? I very, very much doubted it. His mom had gotten pregnant with him when she was 17 and then had gone on to live a very poor (character-wise) and selfish lifestyle. Why would his grandparents raise him any better than they had raised his mom? So I invited him to church. They judged him like crazy. I tried to introduce him to a friend of mine — a guy who was a couple years older than me — who ended up becoming a youth leader in the youth group. I thought he would be a good influence on this boy I knew. But later when I talked to the older guy from the youth group he made fun of me for bringing a friend with me calling my friend my “security blanket” and saying basically that it seemed I wouldn’t go to church without him. Truth was I was too busy to go to church every week and hoped to bring my friend every time I could.

    See, the great majority of the time I had no mentor available when I needed one. And I couldn’t any more find a mentor for my friends who I was the only Christian friend of. If I had told them to go to their parents it’d be a lot worse for them growing up than it was.

    I guess I’m saying, what about kids who become Christians whose parents disown them because of it? What about girls who get pregnant whose parents advise them to get an abortion? What if we told them to go to their parents about their problems? It would be very dangerous advice of us to give them. We need to be careful how we advise people if we don’t know their situation fully — or even if we think we do.

    And you didn’t give me the impression that God’s Role in our lives is less than that of our parents. And it DOES help if you can have someone who will literally guide you to God’s Guidance — I think those are the best kind of mentors — the ones who guide you to know God’s Guidance so when they aren’t around you know just what to do. It is a blessing that you have parents that you can talk to and that your experience with church leaders hasn’t made you bitter like me (just kidding). You and I have just had very different experiences so I am hoping to share with you my own so that in case you work with kids who are in the same situation me or my friends (and it sounds like Ken and his friends) were in you will be as careful as you should be about advising someone these days, in this world, to talk to a parent or mentor, pastor or leader, teacher or counselor.

  • Kensington: That was really encouraging to me what you wrote. I also read your post over on the new post, “Starting Small, Aiming Big”. I am beginning to believe that, in time and if I am willing and I surrender, with the desire will come the capacity to abandon all else and with the capacity will come the empowerment and with the empowerment will come the JOY that is spoken of even in the midst of flogging, immprisonment, and hatred. I will pray for you and I to experience Freedom, full Freedom in this way, and to become people who see all things, big and small, as important in God’s Eyes and will do all so that He can use it as He Desires.

    I kept thinking about Rachel Scott, who was killed at 17 in the Columbine Highschool shootings in 1998. She did a lot of things that probably seemed small before her family and friends while she was alive and she often hoped to do big things like becoming an actress or a missionary when she grew up, but she never grew up and the things she did were all she got to do. But now that I look at her life through reading the book her parents put together, “Rachel’s Tears”, I see, “Wow — she did things every day like passing a note, writing in a journal, giving a little money to a friend, loving an outcast in school by eating lunch with them; and God took each thing we might consider small if someone we knew did it and He took a life of a 17-year-old that seemed very small to this world and He put it on a platform through an act of loving, willing sacrifice to her Savior and He showed us how big it all really was — and how much bigger those little things are in light of eternity than the things we, the world and church, see as big and important things to do or accomplish. Or rather, that it’s all the same in God’s Eyes and can all be used in the same magnitude for His Kingdom if our heart is right and we glorify Him out of Love in EVERYTHING.”

    King David wouldn’t have had any idea the platform God would put his Psalms on — the bestselling book in the world throughout generations. The Bible wasn’t even published in its entirty while he was alive. But looking back with an eternal perspective, I bet he would be just as amazed and thankful that God gave him one Psalms-worth of intimacy with God as that God made him great on this earth.

    Often, when God blesses us and raises us up to be responsible over more people — to reach more people — through the worlds eyes it would look in every physical way and way of worldly success that we are being put below more and more people and required to serve more and more rather than be honored. Jesus is the King of kings and look how God allowed Him to look to the religious people while He walked this earth! He didn’t look like a Ruler in their eyes; they thought he was crazy and treated Him lower than low and were “able” to kill Him. He didn’t Rule with worldly greatness; He Ruled on a higher plane. But it didn’t look like Ruling at all. It looked like serving and teaching “children” through stories. I love how everything in God’s Kingdom works. We expect one thing — greatness in this world — and He turns our perspectives upside down and gives us something greater than our earthly measure of greatness.

    Thanks, Ken! Keep me in your prayers, too.

  • E.A.H., Yes, it is preferable to have godly, Christian parents, but I was thinking more of myself and what has caused me to grow. If my parents had been as yours, I know that I would have depended on them too much and actually would have known God, in many ways, through them. To have the comfort, the wisdom, the sound advice, the love right there, all the time, makes a person who tends to be lazy, like myself to simply “rest in the nest.” I had to be placed in a hard home so that I would pursue God’s Face to know Him because I was desperate for Him in every area of my life. The kids in my church whose parents have a solid walk with God are very happy, very content, very loved, very protected, but they’re not real deep in knowing God. They don’t need to be, because their parents are “God” to them. Sometimes its hard for godly parents to push their kids to know God apart from them. It’s easier to simply love and protect them as God’s covering over them. So, my challenge to
    you. LEAVE HOME! No, I’m just kidding – that always comes in time, but I would ask God to make you ready to know Him and love Him apart from your parents so that when you do leave home, you carry with you a “mantle” of a safe nest for others. You are raised in a safe and godly home for a reason. Ask that God would fulfill His special purpose for the benefit of not only you, but His Kingdom.

  • Alex and Kensington: I was rereading the verses God led me to put in the comment I made on newest post, “Understanding Small Hard Things,” and I learned something that answers what I was writing on here. The last verse was, “I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.” It is not just in the surrender, but by abiding in God that we obtain the Joy and delight in God’s honor over us (to grant us to suffer for His Name) as spoken of in Acts. I’m going to pray for the three of us (and Brett and Jacob — assuming it’s alright) asking that God will do whatever it takes in our lives so that we always abide in God — in His Love — and asking Him to teach us how to fully.

    Still, write — any of you — if God teaches you something more on this.

    Thanks for allowing me to ask questions on here, and for responding, so that I can be helped and encouraged in growing spiritually — sometimes daily.

  • Kensington: I totally get what you mean, and to tell the truth up until a little more than a year ago my faith was very connected to my parents. Now, I’m growing in Christ as an individual, seeking after Him because I love Him and want to serve Him, not because my parents do. I also see a lot of teens who just rest in their parents faith and it disturbs me. It’s actually one of the burdens placed upon my heart to see kids not just doing hard things and professing Christianity but serving and loving our Saviour whole-heartedly willing to give their life to His service. God bless you!

  • Hannah: Yes, John Piper is my dad.
    Nicole: Thanks for the encouraging note and really I mean it that my feelings are not hurt.
    But you rock on sister!
    Nicole, how old are you?

  • Hannah: I am God’s child — we all are.

    Talitha: Thank you for encouraging me, as well. I am encouraged when I see someone younger than me (I can’t believe your 10 years younger than me! I feel old!) who questions to find out more about people who honor God (I know it was an interview . . . but still!)

    I am so glad I didn’t hurt your feelings. And I’m a little sad at how my repaired jackets-that-were-vests-for-a-time turned out. And I’m sorry for my sense of humor (sort of . . . but to be honest, not really.) I hope — if you have the time — that you will comment more on the new stuff the boys are writing, too. You have good questions and are good at asking questions. And it’d be fun to hear your perspective.

  • TalithaI am 12, I will be 13 in a couple of months though. And is there anyway I can get in touch with u? like email or something?

  • Ok, I know this is months later and I should probably go get a life instead of reading months-old posts, but Nicole, and anyone else that had anything to do with vests, just wanted to let you all know that your sense of humor is *amazing*! Totally reminded me of something I would do, and since my sense of humor is kind of bizarre I don’t see it in a whole lot of other people. Anyway, yeah. =D

  • There was a little old lady rat
    Who thought that she had it down pat,
    “I’ll live in his loft,
    His sheets are so soft.”
    And Amitabh Bachchan said: “Drat!”

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →