rebelling against low expectations

How to Be Cool (Or Not), Part 1


This is the first part of a three-part series on coolness and godliness. In this post, John looks at how the world and contemporary culture idolize coolness. Next week he’ll examine why that’s so bad.

Cool may be the single hardest word to define.

That’s not because we don’t know what it is, but because it’s all around us. We practically breathe it, and what makes it more complicated is that there are multiple definitions of the word.

We says things like, “That’s cool with me!” to mean, “That’s fine.”

Or, “That was so cool!” when we really mean, “That was amazing.”

We also use cool to mean mildly cold, “It’s cool outside,” or as a substitute for coldhearted – “Mr. McCreager was very cool and aloof.”

In this article, cool means none of the above definitions.

Instead, I’m using it to mean something like a mix between ‘pomp,’ ‘cultural expertise,’ ‘cockiness,’ ‘popularity’ and ‘fashion’ – all the things I wanted when I was a tween but didn’t have.

When I was 12, I knew being cool meant I would have friends and feel loved rather than always being left out.

The problem was, I had no idea how to be cool.

There was cool. And there was me.

We didn’t mix, but I would do just about anything to change that. I would listen to the right music, have the right hair, and maybe even read Ted Dekker if my parents let me.

Now everything is different.

Maybe I don’t want some thing out there called ‘cool.’ But that’s only because I am cool.

(Anyone who actually knows me gasps and then whispers to themselves, “Poor kid. He thinks he’s cool.”)

Okay, let me rephrase that. I’m not your typical cool kid.

I’ve only seen one Marvel movie. I’m not allowed to read the rest of the Hunger Games even though I read the first book. And I don’t really have any secular music on my iPod (except like U2, the Beatles, and a couple of single tracks. But we always skip the Beatles when it comes on the iPod shuffle.).

Even though each of these facts may seem to make me less cool, the world would say I can actually use them to my advantage to create my own signature branding.

Stick on the first label: Sheltered (that puts it on the parents and makes people sorry for me. Great!)

So, I’m not your typical cool teenager, but I don’t have to be. In fact, I don’t want to be.

The world says that to be cool, everyone should have the same fundamentals down – but after that there’s plenty of room for flexibility and branding. (It’s always good to put yourself in a box, so someone else doesn’t have to do it for you.)

Here are the fundamentals of being cool (according to culture).

1. Look fresh, hot, cute. Basically, look cool.

There are a few ways of doing this. You can. . .

Wear cool clothes. (There are many different options, but you should limit yourself to things you see your coolest peers wearing.)

Have a cool hair style. (Hey guys, a cowlick or long hair in the front covering one eye looks great on you. Oh and ladies, short hairstyles look cool on you too and remember there are a thousand different ways to dye your hair.)

Most importantly, care about how you look and think about how you look (a lot). Bring it up in almost every conversation you have with your friends. Complain about how you wish you looked better. Just find a way to bring it up.

2. Be cocky.


Compliment yourself every chance you get. (Other people choke it down better if you say these things humorously.)

Don’t like your siblings unless they have reached the same level of coolness as you.

Act how you see your friends acting.

Never compliment others if they don’t deserve it.

Be ready to jokingly make fun of your friends at a moment’s notice.

3. Do your own brand.

Have your own specific style of cool.

Even if everyone is the same, it shouldn’t seem that way. You want to be “the cool girl who’s super cynical and hilarious.” Or “the cool guy who’s into depressing books” or “the cool kid who’s super athletic” – not just another cool teenager.

Bonus Fundamental: Talk about dating and flirting as much as possible.

So you know how I said that when I was a tween I wanted to reach some strange ideal of “cool” but now I don’t want to because I am cool?

Well, here’s what I mean. Before, I didn’t necessarily want to look cool, be cocky, or talk about dating. I just wanted to be cool, and if that’s what it took, that’s what it took.

Now, I don’t care about being cool, but I do want to look cool, be cocky, and not only talk about dating but actually start as soon as possible … and that’s scarier.

It’s scarier because it means I’ve bought into the world’s idea of cool instead of thinking about what God would want. And He seems pretty clear:

“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

More on that in Part 2!

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Photo courtesy of Amy Rachel and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Jason Zimmerman

is a 16-year-old passionate about serving God through writing and drama and loves embarking in strong God-honoring relationships with other believers. He is currently working on a full-length middle-grade novel, The Cruel Cat and The Hero’s Tail. He is also part of a Christian dance studio and has been taking piano lessons for ten years.


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  • Wow. Awesome article, John. I heard someone say once that cool was defined as “going with the flow (or doing what everyone else does)”. Personally I believe we should be abnormal and do what God wants us to do.

    • Definitely. But I think we have to be careful when being abnormal to not do it in order to show off which is just as bad as going with the flow in order to show off.

      • Yes, but I said it in the context of being abnormal by doing what God wants us to do. Whereas the normal (at least in the U.S’s culture) is to do what we want and to have everyone else impressed with us and making us feel better about ourselves.

  • This is a really great article, John. It makes me stop and evaluate my own life in the way that I try too hard to impress people by being ‘cool’. I can’t wait for part 2! 😉

  • Hey John, I may be getting the wrong impression here, but it sounded like you were condemning things like certain hairstyles and clothing, “secular” music, “depressing books” (not sure what you’d define as “depressing”), and dating as wrongly trying to fit the world’s standards of cool. I 100% agree that the cocky attitude you’re describing is totally wrong and destructive. I just disagree that any of the things I listed above are necessarily wrong in and of themselves. And while we are definitely separated from the world by our love and faith in God (which changes our purpose, priorities, etc. in life), no question about that, I don’t take that to mean avoiding anything that doesn’t have a “Christian” label on it.

    Yes, everyone has their own convictions, and what’s most important is the heart behind the choices you make. Maybe you feel that God has told you to steer clear of some things, in order to pursue him further. That’s great! And if I choose to cut short and dye my hair while reading the Hunger Games and listening to old Taylor Swift songs, with a pure heart and intentions before God, I truly believe I am not choosing the world’s values over God’s. 🙂

    I’m not saying you’re definitely saying any of that, I just wanted to clarify on your thoughts, haha 🙂

      • Those were kinda my thoughts too… I mean, I dye my hair, but didn’t take John’s article to be necessarily condemning of the specific things he mentioned. Just me. 🙂

      • Okay! Yeah, I see how he could just be advising against a wrong attitude behind our choices, which is very important! I’m also rather hesitant of creating “Christian culture” out of pride or fear, which can lead to distracting us from the very people God’s calling us to love, and wrong attitudes 🙂 Anyway, I guess we shall see in the part 2 article, haha.

        • Ruthie. I wrote in an above comment that I do not prescribe to everything Christos is saying, but as much as I hate to say it, I feel like a lot of times when people use verses like be, “in the world and not of the world” or “Be all things to all people to save some.” (I’m not directly quoting here.) they can use these verses as a justification for what they want. I want to read certain books. I want to have a cool hairstyle, and then they use these verses to justify it.

          Being cool is not the same as loving people who are not Christians. Actually, it can be very unloving. Comparing and trying to impress Non-Christians is certainly not the same as loving them.

          And anyway, it’s not just (or mainly) our Non-Christian friends who are pushing us to be cool. It’s actually the Christians.

          • Oh, I agree with you! I’m sorry if it sounded like that’s what I was saying… what I was trying to say there was, when we create our little Christian subculture, that can often intimidate new believers away from the church. Not that we should at all create our standards with other peoples’ opinions first in mind! But that last I checked, when people feel like they must follow others’ (specific, not explicitly stated in Scripture) convictions in order to follow Christ, without feeling personally convicted towards those choices, that may be a sign of legalism.

            Anyway, sorry for the confusion. 🙂 Petty competition with each other, and twisting God’s holy word for our selfish wants, is never loving, nor does it give the correct representation of Jesus to the world around us. Which I guess is your point, lol.

          • I think that in a way is a different kind of cool. The Christian cool. If we’re in the boat, in a Christian subculture (which I kind of am by default), we have to be just as careful about if we’re doing the things we do (even good things like reading the Bible) to impress others or for God.

          • Honestly, this reminds me a lot of a recent discussion on makeup and fashion on this site. I think the conclusion on the whole hair-dyeing thing is that it is a matter of the heart. If you are coloring your hair because it is a form of art and you find it fun, go for it! One of my best friends has dyed her hair over 20 times. But if you are doing it to fit in and be cool, then you should be concerned about your intentions.

            As far as the secular music issue, I do have a few songs that I enjoy that aren’t praise and worship songs, but they also aren’t lustful and they do not use bad language. Personally, those songs make me uncomfortable as a Christian. But again, if you only do it to be cool and accepted, that is questionable.

            In conclusion, your intentions are what matter. Figure out your personal convictions and stick to them. Everyone has great points! I take it you all have read the Godly conversations article, ’cause you all did a great job! 👍

    • Hmm. It’s tough, but with everything, we need to assess whether it brings us closer or further away from God. There are many actions/behaviors that we simply cannot do with a pure heart because the mere acts are not compatible with scripture. Plenty of people may call this strict — and I’d welcome a reasonable counterargument — but, for example, dying your hear is a form of rebellion and articulation to God that the color of hair He gave you just wasn’t good enough. Our body is a temple and we must treat it as such. While doing that doesn’t condemn us, I think it is one such act that certainly doesn’t bring us closer to God — and the author of this article is suggesting too.

      In a similar vein, listening to secular music exists on a spectrum. There are legitimately good songs, but the vast majority of secular music is based on sinful thoughts and aspirations. In fact, I use to even listen to Taylor Swift, but I realized that the lyrics are about such silly things. Is it useful or good for our relationship with God to obsess about romantics? Hardly. It diverts our attention and displaces God’s role as our Good Shepherd. We must trust Him unconditionally, but the theme of these songs is generally in complete opposition.

      Bottom line: we shouldn’t make an exhaustive list of dos/donts, otherwise we become like the pharisees, but with everything we must think carefully about how it enriches our relationship with God — and, if it doesn’t, jettison it. I know it’s tough to imagine at first, but having gotten into the habit of it now, I can hardly imagine doing anything else!

      • Hmmm, I wouldn’t necessarily agree that dying your hair is inherently bad. If that’s true, is gelling/styling your hair bad as it shows rebellion against the way God made your hair? Is combing your hair bad because it shows a rebellion against the way God intended your hair to go? How ’bout cutting? Is cutting your hair bad as it shows that you’re not content with the length of hair God has given you? Get my point, lol? =D Just seems to me like a slippery slope position you can’t really logically maintain…

        • Yeah, sometimes drawing a bright line can be tricky. However, there are a lot of analogies we might be able to think of that are equally tough, but important to draw. For example, what about piercings? The language we use? I don’t want to make it purely about dying our hair versus not, but there’s a distinction between hygiene (cutting your hair) versus appealing to a secular and unprofessional style.

          The common theme through all of this is that we have to think how every act advances or hinders God’s Kingdom. Any time I see someone with dyed hair, it just looks really unprofessional and an appeal to outside culture. I also can’t help thinking: seriously, we’re concerned about appearances and dying our hair when people are literally dying en mass in many parts of the world?

          These remarks (much like the author) here are not to condemn, but to give a strong call for us all to question everything we do with regards to our relationship with God.

          • Hey Christos, I do agree with some of your points, but I would like to make it clear that not all that your prescribing too is stuff that I agree with.

            You can dye your hair for fun I believe. It’s true most of the people I know with dyed hair are not super close to God. But I also know at least one gal who just dyes her hair for fun, and as far as I know she’s close to God.

            Also, are you saying piercings are wrong?

          • Hmm. I guess I’m seeing a lot of opinions here, but not a lot of reasons explaining why. Our reasons need to be logical and rooted in scripture. I don’t mind being the most conservative person on the block, but at least I hope I’ve laid out some rationale for things to think about RE the discussion with Ruthie!

          • Thx Christos! I really respect you for trying to root yourself in Scripture. As for hair dying, I believe the Bible gives us room for creativity. The Bible looks at the heart and hair dying is not directly talked about in the Bible. God does say He created us in his image. He is a Creator. So we are creators. God did give us our hair with its color, but I think He also gives us liberty to have fun with our hair and ‘create’ with it.

            There are two ways of doing this wrong:

            1. I want to have a certain color hair because that’s what my friends have and people will like me.
            2. I’m ugly. My hair is awful. Maybe if I dye it it’ll look better. (I think, for example, that a lot of older people dye their hair for similar reasons.)

            You can also dye your hair just for fun. I think it would be fun to have red hilights (Well, I don’t cause I already have red hair but you know) It’s for fun.

            i think it’s really important to look at our hearts when deciding weather to dye are hair, or when we do dye are hair and be willing to face the truth if it is because we think God made a mistake. It’s a person by person thing I think.

            Even a moment by moment thing. When your 11 you could dye your hair to make yourself look ‘better’. When your 15 you can dye your hair the same way and your heart can be in a totally different place.

          • Over time, we definitely mature. I would just encourage everyone to think more broadly about every behavior and less about fun or our appearance.

            The following might sound a little strict, sort of like a parent, but I mean it with truth and love. I know it can be tough in element school, or even high school, but the reality is that it’s silly for us to dwell on such small matters when there’s a world of hurt out there and innovation to be had. There are millions of refugees who are trying to figure out how to stay alive — where to sleep, how to eat, and they can’t even wash themselves — so I just think trying things out for fun shouldn’t even register on our map of potential pursuits.

            PS, never say you’re ugly. I know it’s easy for someone to say that we all have inner beauty — and I don’t subscribe to all the “feel good” non-sense that’s out in the popular press — but the reality is that God allows certain challenges for us for a reason. Abe Lincoln was “arguably” not the most handsome guy, but look what he accomplished and the Christian life that he lived! If he had been more “handsome”, who knows the temptations he would have faced — we could still have a world of slavery had he not changed the course of history.

            Bottom line: Luke 9:23 that we deny our right to ourselves and take up our cross!

          • Christos, first off, I agree that we need to be more focused on injustice and things, but if your saying that it’s wrong to ever have fun or think about fashion I think that’s wrong.

            God speaks to us through the things we love, maybe through dying our hair. He made the world good, and He wants us to enjoy it. He wants us to have fun. Focusing on everything that’s wrong with the world isn’t going to heal it. Focusing on the good is. We need to bring the light into the darkness, instead of squash are light with the darkness.

            For example, art is one of the things that brings the most emotional healing to the world, but guess what? Most art is entertainment. When you read a book, it’s entertainment. When you watch a movie-entertainment. But books change people. Fiction changes people. Movies change people. Because the core of our problem is sin-is our hearts. It’s not enough to stop behaviors. it’s not enough to kill terrorists. We are not fighting against flesh and blood. We are fighting against the enemy. That means we need to win hearts through entertainment-through fun. By being ourselves, and if that means dying our hair that means dying our hair.

            And btw. I was not saying that I personally think I’m ugly (though sometimes I may feel that way). I was saying that would be a bad intention for dying ones hair.

            I think Luke 9:23 is talking about idolatry. Like I said to Ruthie, “If we can’t live without it, we probably have to because that means its taking hold of us.”

            I really believe that is talking both about idolatry and things we are holding onto. We have to live with open hands. We have to be willing to stop dying our hair if God shows us our hearts aren’t in the right place.

          • Yeah, agreed. The belief that you can’t have any fun/it’s sinful to do fun stuff leads to monk-ism where you live in a cave eating stale bread and waking up extremely early in order to not have any fun in your life at all. XD

          • Hey, I’ve been mostly following the dyed-hair discussion for the last few comments, but I just wanted to pop in and add a question… Christos, you keep saying (in my interpretation, do clarify if I’m wrong) that it’s petty for us to be focusing on things such as hair dye and clothing when we could be focusing our energies on helping those in desperate need. Can’t we do both, though? Isn’t it possible to both deny our rights and, within the convictions God has then set for us, express creativity, art, and otherwise arguably good things that can be used for God’s glory? Yes, there is great evil in the world, but should we let that prevent us from enjoying the blessings God HAS given us, along with (unneccessary, I suppose) little blessings like creativity? Can’t we fully serve God, and as part of that use the littler gifts he’s given us? (It could be argued that having a way with fashion or other such external things are still talents from God, and can be used for His glory…)

            (That was way more than 1 question, haha)

          • I am not following the thread any more, but let me return to the topic one final time and pose it in an alternative, rhetorical way.

            If I was running for president of the United States, I’d be too embarrassed to get out of bed with dyed hair. The reality is that it’s unprofessional. Dress for success and as if you were meeting Jesus — the creator of the universe. I’d want to put my best foot forward.

            My claim here is that fun shouldn’t be anywhere in our optimization problem — it’s irrelevant. We should be joyous, filled with zeal, and enthusiastic, but the notion of fun arises from a worldly and fleeting concept that always falls short of true happiness. Fun is used to characterize an emotion that’s tied to a particular event — joy is tied to a worldview, namely our decision to follow Jesus. The concept is radical to the world, but hardly to true Christianity. FYI, there are many, many spots in scripture that speak about denying oneself — Paul talks about it too.

          • So your a guitar with not just arms but hair? Wow! Yeah, no such luck for pianos. At least I have legs though right. . .and eyes that are worlds.

          • Lol!!! Good choice! I cannot stand Justin Bieber. My friends are trying to convert me but they will not succeed!!! 😝

          • Yep, I agree. See, as I said elsewhere I actually do dye my hair. I am not discontent with my natural color, (I actually like it a lot!) But it’s fun to play around with different shades. I don’t think it’s harmed my relationship with God, or my testimony for Christ, but I can respect those who disagree 🙂

      • Just wanted to add to my comment real quick. I do not have my hair dyed nor do I plan on it in the near future. Nor do I particularly like it on gals, so I’m relatively unbiased on this topic. =)

      • Yeah, I agree with Josh (Guitar with Arms) here about dying hair. I personally think of it as a healthy, fun expression of each person’s taste, just like fashion or hair styling choices. It can definitely be done out of discontentment, but not necessarily so. Our body is a temple for the Holy Spirit in us, absolutely. We’re also given the freedom to show God-given creativity! I’ll agree to disagree with you though. 🙂

        And also, you said “Is it useful or good for our relationship with God to obsess about romantics? Hardly. It diverts our attention and displaces God’s role as our Good Shepherd. We must trust Him unconditionally, but the theme of these songs is generally in complete opposition.” I seriously doubt either of us is going to change our differing opinions today, lol. So I’m just asking further about your opinion, out of curiosity…. why do you believe songs about romance are in direct opposition to God? My stance is that romance/marriage is a gift from God, and as long as the song doesn’t glorify sin, I don’t see a problem with it. I personally enjoy songs like Taylor Swift’s because they express the human range of emotion very well, and the experiences she talks about, like loss, are natural and normal to life on this earth. God gave us emotions, and it’s a good thing to learn to deal with them healthily. Anyway, I’m not interested in a long debate because I don’t really see the point, I’m just interested in what you think.

        But on your conclusion, I agree! Nothing of this world is worth enough to sacrifice our relationship with God, and it’s super important to focus on him first. 🙂

        • Hey Ruthie!
          Thanks for your honesty in feeling free to disagree. All I can say is that we should just be critically examining our lives on a daily basis and auditing how they align with the life God calls us to live. I too had some overlap with your remarks back in high school, but I realized how they were causally linked with outcomes and thoughts that didn’t enrich my relationship with God.

          In addition to the points I laid out in the prior post, there are several themes that underpin my thoughts on the broader question:

          1) When I study the lives of very Godly people, none of them allow any compromise with things of the world. While we’re part of the world, we’re not called to be one with it. Whether it’s a saint or a person in my own life who I think lives our scripture really well, they don’t give any room for satan to break new ground.
          2) Conversely, when I observe the lives of non-Godly people, including self-professed Christians, I see them living in a way that’s actually quite secular. It’s easy for us to say that we believe Jesus, but part of belief involves an act of doing — and an act of separating ourselves from the things of the world that are harmful to our relationship with God. Non-Christian music artists are pretty sinful people — enormous waste, their minds are in completely the wrong place, and they draw attention to all the wrong things.
          3) Time is extremely finite and we’re called to be stewards of it (e.g., Ephesians 5:15-16). For example, while once upon a time I was a fan of Taylor, now I can’t imagine listening to any music in any seriousness that’s not Christian-based because of my gratefulness for what Jesus has done for us/me. Simply put, there’s a mountain of productive things we should be working on and any time not allocated towards genuinely growing Godly relationships, ministering to others, producing, or worshiping God is really a misuse of our time.

          So — it’s much broader than secular music or dying one’s hair; the question is, do we love God more than the world? If so, then we better be willing to enthusiastically give up our rights to ourselves (Luke 9:23) — which, no doubt, liberals would object to immediately — on a daily basis!

          • Hi Christos! (Cool name, btw!)

            Thanks so much for writing out your views and disagreeing respectfully. 🙂 I think I can see more of where you’re coming from now, and I respect your clearly thought-out convictions. Though we have a few differing conclusions, I wholeheartedly agree with you and other commenters here that a love for God should be behind every choice we make, big or small. There’s no one who could be more worthy of our worship and surrender!

        • Ruthie, it’s me again. So, I agree that romance/marriage are good things and things that should be held in honor, but. . .most of the people on here aren’t married. I think when we’re filling our minds with love songs (even if they’re not lustful or wrong in and of themselves) it just isn’t healthy if we’re not in a romantic relationship ourselves. Also, a lot of songs are lustful and very shallow.

          Here are some lines from Hey, Soul Sister:

          “The way you move ain’t fair you know.”-If this isn’t lustful, it’s at least sensual.

          “I’ve decided you’re one of my kind.”-I mean seriously, dude, this isn’t even truly romantic. In one way or another, everyone’s probably one of your kind whatever that means.

          Maybe when you’re in a relationship, some songs become less problematic, but lustful songs are never okay.

          And sometimes it’s not even lust. It’s just plain idolatry-making the other person a God.

          “Baby I can see your hallo. I know your my saying grace.”

          No. Excuse me. Jesus is your saving grace. It makes complete sense for someone to sing this if they don’t have God, but the more Christians hear lies, the more they’ll agree with them and the truth will lose it’s power.

          • Where did it sound like I was saying that lustful and shallow songs are okay? I’m just wondering, because I do agree that glorifying sin is never okay! If I failed to make it clear in my other comment, I’m careful to keep the messages of the music I listen to meaningful and honoring to God. And I agree that that song definitely has less-than-praiseworthy lyrics…

          • Good! I wasn’t sure. Sometimes, we can listen to music for the music and ignore the words, but if you’re actually thinking about the words that’s great. And as for what I said about non-sinful love songs, I think this applies with not just secular songs but all romantic songs just to clarify.

          • Ah, okay. I agree! Songs are something we play over and over again, and it’s important to check what lyrics are within them. Even if they’re not a “secular” song. 🙂

          • I’m gonna jump in. 🙂

            I personally love some breakup songs. And no, I’ve never been through a breakup. =P I’ve lost some dear friends and expect to lose more in the near future, and the feeling of loss and aching for someone just really fits! Vanilla Twilight by Owl City has some lines about holding hands, which obviously don’t fit, 😉 but it expresses emotions that fit my circumstances perfectly. I’ve also come to enjoy some breakup songs that express betrayal, because I’ve felt that too. And some “happy” romance songs seem to fit my mood, depending on the day… All that to say, romantic songs don’t have to be about romance. And even if it’s a song that’s purely romance, there’s nothing wrong with listening to it. It’s mostly in how a person listens to them. =) Now, lustful songs aren’t gonna really be anything but wrong, but I’d say romantic songs aren’t wrong or even unwise.

            There will be stupidity in every genre, including Christian. Just because some songs are stupid and can be harmful, doesn’t mean the entire genre is useless. 🙂

          • So not as an argument, but just because I thought my fellow Calvinist at heart might be interested @GuitarwithArms:disqus, the Owl City guy is actually a Christian and at least used to go to John Piper’s church #Myhero.

            Anyway, on to more serious matters. Guys and girls may be different in these areas. Or I just might be different. All I think is that we need to be careful with our song selection-no matter the genre (but I hate Country. Well, I guess that’s beside the point.) i think we need to care about the words we’re singing and not just “Oh, that’s a catchy song. I like it.”

            You know what I mean? Also, maybe I’m totally not understanding, but I think just maybe singing a love song as if it was to your friend or ex-friend could um, in the long run cause you to think about the other person romantically and not really be healthy. (Not sure.)

            Also, just wanted to say that I really do believe friendship might be the most neglected relationship in our culture, and that needs to change. So, if anyone wants to write songs about friendship, please do. We can change the world together!

          • Yeah, I heard that Adam Young was a Christian. Personally I don’t enjoy Owl City’s music, but that’s ‘cuz I’m a nut. =P

            Speaking of friendship in music, try looking up the Avicii song Hey Brother. It’s about sibling love and loyalty and I can find absolutely nothing wrong with it =P

          • Don’t worry. I don’t like Owl City much either 😉 Well techno in general.

          • Yeah I find techno generally annoying too… I like one song by Owl City, that’s it, lol

          • You’ve submitted to the truth. 😉 I went to private school for 1st and 2nd grade. Country music on the way their and back. That ruined it for me.

          • Hahaha. Tbh I don’t like 95% percent of country lyrics, I just like the style. #NativeGeorgian =P that’s why I mainly listen to covers of hymns by country artists if I wanna listen to country. =)

          • Same! The only secular songs I like are country lol! Homegrown by Zac Brown Band 💗

          • If I can just jump in here, I listen to quite a bit of secular music, I don’t see a problem with it if, just like anything else, it doesn’t become an idol and doesn’t harm your relationship with God or your relationships with other christians (1 Corinthians 8:9, 13 – 9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak… 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.) obviously we’re not talking about meat, but the same principle applies.

            And just curious @disqus_4wX7L2koQF:disqus, what are some of your other country music favs?

          • So glad you asked @Josh!! 😄 I like Radio by Darius Tucker, Front Porch Lookin’ In, High Class, I really like W You Go With Me by Josh Turner but my all time fav right now is For You by Kieth Urban 💗💗💗. For real, its the best. How bout you???

          • Oh, and Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker. And I Loved Her First. That one makes me cry ’cause it was my sister’s daddy/daughter dance song at her wedding 😢 😊

          • Haha yeah sorry, I was super busy this weekend and only had about 30 mins on the computer earlier. Anyways those are all great songs (though I only knew “i loved her first” “wagon weel” and “front porch lookin’ in” so I looked up the others, and I agree, For You is an amazing song)
            How long do you have? 😛
            OK: Blue Ridge Mountain Song by Alan Jackson; Find Yourself by Brad Paisley; Voices by Chris Young; The Man I want to be by Chris Young; That’s What I Love About Sunday by Craig Morgan; One More Day by Diamond Rio; The Chair/Baby Blue/The Cowboy Rides Away/Troubadour/Take Me To Texas/Cowboys Like Us/Check Yes or No/You’ll Be There all by George Strait (if you haven’t noticed I’m a huge fan). I don’t dance/I drive your truck both by Lee Brice; If You’re Going Through Hell/He’s Mine/Watching You/Cleaning This Gun all by Rodney Adkins; Small Town USA by Justin Moore; We Rode In Trucks by Luke Bryan; Made in America by Toby Keith; Drink, Swear, Steal and Lie by Michael Peterson (it’s not what you think). Real Men Love Jesus by Michael Ray; Meanwhile Back at Mama’s/Where The Green Grass Grows/The Cowboy in Me all by Tim McGraw; You’re Gonna Miss This by Trace Adkins; If I don’t make it back by tracy lawrence; it won’t be like this for long by darius rucker; and You Just Can’t See Him From the Road/God Must Be a Cowboy both by chris ledoux
            Those were just my most favorites 😛 (I have over 4,000 songs combined from all genres, so… yeah)

            I noticed you like Disney movies as well, what are some of your favorites of those?

          • OK George Strait is awesome!!!!!!! Love Check Yes or No and it won’t be like this for long. You’re gonna miss this is amazing as well I forgot about that one!!! Disney is the best! I like Hercules, Tarzan (the soundtrack is bae) Mulan (got this one on DVD for Christmas and have watched it 11 times since) Pocahontas is amazing, and Aladdin is bomb. My very favorite is probably Pocahontas followed closely by Mulan, Aladdin, Tarzan, and Hercules. My friend almost killed me for sing I Won’t Say I’m in Love over and over again 🙊

          • Yes. No, kind of forgot about doing that; so maybe in a couple days, why?
            So don’t kill me but I’ve never seen Mulan. :/ My favs would be: Beauty and the Beast; The Lion King; Aladdin; Little Mermaid (the music is amazing!). Inside Out; Monsters Inc. Hercules; Hunchback of Notre Dame; Tarzan; Toy Story; The Incredibles; and Cars.

          • Yes I forgot to mention the little mermaid! Idk, I just signed up today and wondered if you were on there ^_^ I know almost every song from the little mermaid by heart 😀 Mulan is awesome and you need to watch it as soon as possible 😝

          • Ha. Haha. Well, tbh I didn’t see it til I was 12 or something so, I guess that means I was awesome in Jr. high and now i’m… not? lol

          • Hey, LONG time no talk… but I finally watched Mulan this weekend… it was amazing!! add that to my list of favorite disney movies. How have you been lately? haven’t seen you comment in a while.

          • Hey, sorry Josh! I have been suuuuuuuper busy, I just finished a drama production and I am getting ready to go to Puerto Rico next Sunday!!!!! Yasss, Mulan is awesome!!! 😄

          • Yeah, I’ve been pretty busy myself. That’s so cool that you get to go to Puerto Rico!! Are you going for a vacation, or a mission trip, or what if you don’t mind me asking?

          • A mission trip! We are staying at a church camp there called Camp Caribe. We are running a VBS there (I have a kid-loving problem so a freaked out when I found out we were doing it:) as well as doing street ministry and some construction, etc. Its my first 😀Have you ever been on a missions trip? And you should totally get on Revive. Its awesome 😜

          • That’s really cool. No I haven’t been on a normal mission trip. But when I lived in Oklahoma, when the big tornado came through we did weeks and weeks of disaster relief there; and then about a year and a half ago we moved to Tennessee to start a church, so I guess we are kind of missionaries, I think that anyone who is truly following Christ is on mission for Him so we’re all kind of all missionaries. But no I haven’t been on a mission trip, I’m hoping to go to Hungary for about 6 weeks next summer though (fingers crossed).

          • Wow awesome! There is a lot to tell and I don’t wanna blow up everyone’s notifs, but it was really awesome 😃Had time to check out Revive? Aaaaand I just replied to the wrong comment. Crud. 😂

          • Hey!!! I haven’t been super active on theReb lately, but I figured I would see what was up! (Yes, super old post, I do that a lot 😝)

          • Hey!! haha me neither (as you can tell haha). Yeah, I’m just chugging along, starting my sophmore year of highschool today 😀 Not much new actually :/ What about you?!!??

          • Nothing awesome with me either, starting my junior year and trying to survive anatomy and physiology and a great books class 😑

          • Well, in the past few months I’ve: lost my grandpa, seen most of my friends (whom I hadn’t seen in over a year), took a road trip across the country with my family and a friend to drop my brother off at college and have a short vacation, been to a family reunion to see some relatives that I haven’t seen in about 10 years, been to a pastors and leaders conference, and been pretty sick. I’ve had physical and spiritual ups and downs, but overall it’s been a great few months.

          • My word, you’ve been busy! I’m sorry to hear about your grandpa, and being sick is no fun. I’m glad that you can still say it’s been good, even with it’s ups and downs. Praying you have a lot of ‘ups’ coming 🙂

          • Awe its a bummer that you were sick! And its also a bummer you lost your grandpa 😢 I never met either of my biological grandpa’s. My moms dad died when she was 5 and my dads died before I was born. Sounds like you did some fun stuff as well though!

          • Wait, is Disney music considered secular? Because in that case I listen to secular music all of the time lol! XD I am such a Disney freak.

          • True 🙂 I’m such a kid when it comes to Disney. If you name a Disney movie, I could probably tell you every song in the movie AND sing them for you lol!!!

          • Haha right now I’m listening to music so I don’t have anything stuck in my head per se, but I feel like later on I’m either gonna have Fleet Foxes, Coldplay, or Steven Curtis Chapman in my head XD

          • Hahaha! I had ABC, Good Good Father and A Whole New World stuck in my head at the same time. #TheStruggleIsReal

          • Lol! Once someone posted the lyrics to Good Good Father on Revive and I had never heard the song before. So I connected the lyrics to a melody that was familiar to me. Well, that melody was the 80’s hit “She Drives Me Crazy.” So instead of “She drives me crazy! (Whooh! Whooh!)” I hear “‘Cuz He’s a Good Good Father! (Whooh! Whooh!)” hehe =P

          • OK! I’m having issues with TheReb site right now for some reason. I am posting this from disqus cuz I just get an error message every time I get on 😕

          • Yeah, I like how the Owl City guy combines being a Christian and making music that isn’t stereotypical “Christian”.

            I agree that we need to pay attention to which songs we listen to. I listen to a very small selection of secular songs, mainly songs by Christian artists who just sing mainstream music. (e.g. Owl City) I also like some specific songs from more sketchy artists, but they’re certain ones that are clean and I can listen to/sing with a clear conscience. 🙂 (And I’m with ya on modern country, ftr.)

            Ha, ha, well… this is what I mean by listening to breakup songs and relating because of my friends. Take “Wait” by NF, for instance. As someone who’s lost friends repeatedly, I understand that song better than almost any. Right now, I have friends who I fear I’ll lose soon and one very close long-term friend who hurt me badly… I don’t feel romantically toward any of them, but I feel that this song expresses many of my feelings toward these friends.

            Yes! We need to stop neglecting friendship in our literature and songs. 😀

          • Btw. everyone should listen to the stereotypical Christian/non-Christian band Switchfoot.

      • This brings something else to mind. I think there’s two different kinds of convictions. There are personal convictions-that you know you need to hold to (such as an ex-alcoholic not being able to go to a bar) and then there’s convictions that you personally have but would apply to everyone.

        @christos_makridis:disqus, I believe you’ve addressed these two different types of convictions in this comment. Although you said that I was proposing the idea that dying your hair was ungodly, I don’t know that I agree with this. I just personally feel like I shouldn’t be dying my hair.

        On the other hand, I don’t think anyone (especially someone who’s not married) should listen to many secular songs that glorify lust and are so catchy that you can’t get the words out of your head.

        Thanks for your comment! Christianity isn’t easy, but it’s totally worth it.

    • Hey thx, Ruthie! This article was definitely more about the attitude than specific actions. It’s just that we can often find our identity in those hair styles, in that clothes, in those depressing books.

      Also, most of those were personal. I was the “cool guy who’s into depressing books”-books with sad endings, beautiful death scenes, etc. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but when I told people I loved death or I like depressing stories, I was using it to make people think I was unique and to get their attention (I was building up a profile for myself in a way.)

      Brett and Alex say it well in Do Hard Things, “We would all like to pick just the strongest areas of our lives and say, ‘This is me. Ignore everything else. This is who I am.’ But if we want to live as rebelutionaries, we can’t afford that luxury.”

      I also agree that we don’t have to avoid everything without a “Christian” label. That’s not only unbiblical. It’s impossible. I just don’t know how many people can really have a pure heart while choosing “to cut short and dye [their] hair while reading the Hunger Games and listening to old Taylor Swift songs.” And while some of the specifics I talked about were my own convictions, I think we all need to be on our guard and willing to give up things we love. If we can’t live without it, we probably have to because that means its taking hold of us.

      • Okay! Thanks so much for the reply, that cleared a lot up. 🙂 I think we disagree on a few specific convictions, like you mentioned. But yes, nothing should or could ever be more important than God in our lives, and that should reflect on everything we do as Christians!

  • Great article! I think we do many of those things without even realizing that we are doing it to be accepted and “cool”, and I am just as guilty of that as anyone. Can’t wait for part 2! 😀

  • Excellent post! God bless your parents!

    Who doesn’t want to be accepted? Since the time we are cognizant of others around us, we either feel their acceptance or not. This is when parents should really hone in on our individuality in Christ. And it would be great if young people had great parents and perfect role models, but they don’t. But I believe the foundation that parents lay is the foundation that young people will try and stand on. And if that is shaky and shifting, in our human weakness, we will emulate what we know.

    This leaves a great responsibility on teens from less that stable homes to find their acceptance in others rather than God. Why cool is the term applied to acceptable behavior has only been devised by the world. And why are Christian young people striving for it instead of against it? Being cool is counter to how Christians are called. We are called to be “a peculiar people.”

    1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

    We are a unique people possessed by God. Our lives should be marked by the countenance of Christ. We should compare ourselves to scripture instead of to others. Christians shouldn’t be competing with the world as it is a wide way that leads to destruction.

    2 Corinthians 10:12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

    Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

    All people should rejoice in their uniqueness in Christ. What a neverending gift of God. Embracing the culture is a strong temptation. The generation/s that are living now are obsessed with self. If we spent half the time we spend thinking about ourselves as we do thinking about honoring Christ, we would be a much healthier church. God calls us to “die” in order to live. Many of us are more concerned with living like their peers rather than dying and being a slave for Christ.

    Gaining knowledge and wisdom is lifelong. I am so heartened that young people like you have the wisdom to see God and to share it.

    And if I was Rebelution, I would hire you. Stay on the right track. You are uniquely designed for the work of God in this generation. Looking forward to Part 2.

    In His Service,
    Mrs. Jean

    • Thx Mrs. Jean!

      It’s definitely true that my parents played (and are playing) a huge role in my life and walk in God.

      Also, it’s so true that we should stop thinking about ourselves. And this is a two sided coin-#1 We shouldn’t try to be cool, but #2 at the same time, we shouldn’t be so concerned with not being cool or trying to be perfect either. When we are focused on ourselves (even on our sin and imperfection) we are losing sight of God.

      Thx for the encouragement!

  • This is dead-on accurate and I do these things all too often, sadly. I heard a song recently… I can’t remember what it’s called, but I think it’s by Echosmith and it goes, “I wish that I could be like the cool kids / cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in.” Unfortunately it’s very catchy and it’s stuck in my head now, but anyway, it was a perfect representation of today’s generation that just wants to be “cool” more than anything. I pray every day that I will worry more about pleasing God than looking good in the eyes of my peers. So hard though!
    I’m looking forward to reading part 2 and learning more about what’s “cool” to God 🙂

    • Actually, “Cool Kids” by Echosmith is making kinda the same point you are! I know when I first just heard the chorus it sounded shady, but here are some of the full lyrics:
      “He sees them talking with a big smile, but they haven’t got a clue.
      Yeah, they’re living the good life, can’t see what he is going through.
      They’re driving fast cars, but they don’t know where they’re going.
      In the fast lane, living life without knowing.
      And he says, ‘I wish that I could be like the cool kids,
      ‘Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in…'”
      Anyway, you’re absolutely right that our value of Jesus’ blood is way more than looking to each other for our value, and hopefully now you won’t feel guilty for having that song stuck in your head XD

          • I never thought ’bout that before. Awesome dog pic., John!:) What do you call him (or her)???

          • Cool!:) We, at the moment, have a Yorkie named Ginger. If I had a recent, good picture of her, then I’d show you. She is…well…cute (pardon me for using that word, but I couldn’t think of a better one.:). Your dog’s also cute (I can’t think of a better word!;).

  • John wrote an article! John wrote an article!
    This is good, John! Can’t wait to see the rest. 🙂 And, like Josh, I’m feeling the burn a little bit…

  • Fantastic article John! I know being cool is something most teens consider normal, and important. But it really isn’t normal. It’s an abnormal concept that blocks our view of The Father and is minuscule compared to his importance.

  • Heyeyeyeyeyyyy, John!!!!:) Yeah, being cool totally is NOT the answer…being a God-loving, Christ-obeying Christian IS the answer!;) Thanks a bunch for the article! Being cool is definitely not like me…but I want to actually be like Christ. Even though the world may put me down ‘cuz of it, that (according to God’s Word) would be the best thing in the future! Those who ARE Christ-like will totally receive rewards in heaven.:) I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR THAT!!!!!

    Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!!!!!

    • Hey Stephen! Thx for the encouragement! Miss you, bro 🙂 I like your new profile pic. btw. I didn’t realize it was a piano till just now.

      • Ur welcome! I miss you too.;) Yeah, it’s a piano pic.:) I guess I shoulda told you first, but yes, I do play piano.:P lol

          • Yeah! That’s fine. I’m not really in books anymore (like lesson books) but I’d probably be advanced intermediate.

          • Yeah…I’m in the range of, like, intermediate and advanced intermediate.:) So on a scale from 1-10, with ten being the most and one being the least, what number would u say that ya like piano? Mine’s probably an eight to nine-ish….;)

          • Hmmm. It depends. I don’t really like listening to solo piano music. I like playing. And I really, really like improvising.

          • Same here. Except that improvising isn’t my top thing.:) I do like lisening to solo piano, though…so long that the player is, um, well,….experienced.

            Btw, have you noticed that you can upvote your own comments???:P lol

          • People generally don’t do that because it looks, well, proud maybe? You should me ZeePt3. He’s my friend from real life and his comments right underneath mine.

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 →