The world tells us that our early years are to be irresponsibly enjoyed rather than devoted to meaningful pursuits. We’re told that responsibility and commitment are burdens to be put off as long as possible. And so, most of us spend our youth in a sad state of slumber—sleeping in on life until we’re forced to get up. The problem is that life has already begun. It’s happening right now. And God has called you to live it.
In this powerful book, Trip Lee argues it’s time to wake up and RISE, to live the way we were created to live. Young or old, we’ve been called to live for Him. Right now. Young believers face the same problems as older Christians, but they feel them in unique ways. RISE addresses those core problems in an engaging, profound, and life-changing way.
Don't just sit there: RISE!
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Get Up and Live in God's Great Story
By Trip Lee
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 William Lee Barefield, III
All rights reserved.
7:00 A.M. LOGIC
I was fifteen years old and my life was being turned inside out. My name and appearance hadn't changed, but everything else about me had. I was a completely different person than I had been a year or two before. I don't mean like when people go to college and re-create themselves with new nicknames and personalities; I mean something significant had gone on inside of me. I had become a Christian. I felt new. I felt alive.
I felt so good that I had to announce it to anyone who would listen, especially my closest friends and family. Everyone responded differently to the change in me—some with joy, others with resistance—but one conversation has always stood out to me.
I was talking with an older man whom I greatly respected, thrilled to explain my game plan for honoring God with my lifestyle, specifically my sexual purity. I tried to be calm about it, but it was always hard to hold my excitement in. As the words leapt from my tongue at an unnatural pace, I got the sense that he wasn't as excited as I was. He was trying to listen quietly, but his facial expression responded before his mouth had a chance. He seemed halfway amused and halfway concerned.
He gave me a confused look and calmly asked, "Why are you taking life so seriously, young man? Why are you trying so hard to do everything right? Youth is the time when you mess up a lot, and that's okay. Just enjoy yourself, learn from those mistakes, and get serious when you get older."
I was stunned. Some might have taken that advice as liberating and honest, but that's not how it felt to me. It felt constraining and misleading. I knew what he said was wrong, but I was a new Christian and I couldn't quite put it into words.
I reflected on that experience for a long time, but instead of dampening my fire, I think it turned up the heat. I didn't know much at the time, but I knew I couldn't just sit around and wait. I had to get up and live.
OUR FAULT Y LOGIC
Waking up is my least favorite part of every day. It's not that I don't appreciate a new day with new opportunities, but getting out of bed just never seems appealing. Ever. When it's eleven at night, getting in bed is just an ordinary part of my day. But when it's seven in the morning, staying in bed is like winning the lottery.
If you look at my iPhone, you'll see that, sadly, I have about sixteen alarms set in fifteen-minute increments starting just before 7:00 a.m. Why? Because there's pretty much no chance I'll get up after the thirteenth alarm. Those next three—numbers fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen—are my only chance to actually have a day.
Sometimes I think I could convince myself of anything in those first drowsy minutes of each morning. This was at its worst during my college years, when climbing out of bed in the morning felt like climbing Mount Everest without any legs. I could tell myself all kinds of lies, like, "Yeah, you should go to class, but will it really matter?" or "I know you've been late every day for the last three weeks, but what's another day?" or "Maybe my friend will take the test for me. It's worth the risk." Sad, I know. That's what I call 7:00 a.m. logic.
The lie I told myself was that staying in bed would be good for me. Somehow an extra five minutes or an extra hour would improve my life. When I'm wide awake it seems foolish, but in those first moments of each day it seems perfectly logical.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if nobody got up until they felt like it? Businesses would fold, schools would suffer, the government would be even more chaotic than it already is. Nobody would have enough time to do his job well; by the time everyone woke up, half the day would be gone. The truth is, no matter what time you decide to rise from your slumber, you only have twenty-four hours to work with. Hitting the snooze button doesn't actually buy you any extra time. Your work just won't get done.
Unfortunately, many of us have adopted 7:00 a.m. logic as a way of life. We sometimes call it procrastination. We don't feel like doing something in the moment, so we decide to put it off until later. Sometimes we do it with small things, like taking out the trash, studying for a test, answering work e-mails, or returning Mom's phone call.
But procrastination doesn't actually solve anything, so it's a bad idea to delay daily tasks until the last minute. It's an even worse idea to delay life itself.
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?
Let's be honest. Our culture doesn't usually expect much from people until they're old. (I'll avoid offending anybody and let you define old.) According to many, youth isn't the time for great responsibility or expectation. They say, "You'll bear the burdens of responsibility for the rest of your life, so enjoy your youth while you can!" People seem to expect us to take all of life lightly until we reach that magical, arbitrary age of responsibility. Is it eighteen? Is it twenty-one? Is it thirty? Your guess is as good as mine.
I had a conversation with a waiter in Phoenix one night not too long ago. He wasn't much younger than me, probably in his early twenties. He was really friendly from the moment I sat down, and we ended up having a good conversation. I asked him all the usual small-talk questions: Where are you from? How long have you worked here? Will you spit in my food?
As he responded to my questions, it was clear that he'd bought into the 7:00 a.m. logic. He told me that he had only lived in Phoenix for a few months. Before that he was in Nevada, before that California, and before that he lived on the East Coast. At this point I began asking myself how I'd describe him to a police sketch artist, just in case he was a fugitive of some sort.
But when I asked him why he moved around so much, here's what he told me: "Just because. I don't want to stay in one place and take on a bunch of responsibility. I'm young, man. It's my time to just explore, not be bogged down with a bunch of commitments. Who knows, maybe I'll find myself."
I was sad but not surprised by his response. Of course there's nothing wrong with moving a lot or self-discovery, but is there a season in our early twenties—or even our teens—when life doesn't really matter? Should we hold off on all convictions, commitments, and seriousness until later?
CAN YOU TRUST IT?
I heard a song the other day that captured this perspective perfectly. The lyric went, "We're happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time."
I know taking on Taylor Swift hasn't gone well for people in the past (do I need to remind you about Kanye?). But I'm willing to take the risk and examine what she says in her song "22." I know it's just a fun song, so I don't want to overanalyze it. I think she has successfully captured the feelings of her listeners and the spirit of the age. But the perspective is all wrong.
What does it mean, as she says in the song, to "feel twenty-two"? The song celebrates the kind of carefree, light, and easy young adulthood that many of us dreamed about. Unfortunately, it suggests that this happiness and freedom is found in confused, sometimes miserable wanderings. There's no direction, no responsibility—just chaotic fun. It's that 7:00 a.m. logic again. Who has time for life when you feel twenty-two? Swift didn't make this perspective up; we've been sold this logic over and over again. But can it be trusted?
Whether or not this 7:00 a.m. logic is trustworthy depends on who you are and what you were created for. If you were only created for self-satisfaction and enjoyment, then putting off real life until later may be the best choice. If you're nothing more than another person looking out for yourself, then that young waiter's logic may seem pretty sound. You can wait until later to wake up if you want to. But what if you were created for something more?
WHO ARE YOU?
All of us are born with a beautiful, naive joy. As babies, the world seems like a good place. Our needs are usually met, and each day brings new discoveries. I see this so clearly in my two-year-old son. It seems like he's happy for no reason. Eye contact makes him grin, and sudden movements provoke explosive laughter. As far as he knows, all of life is beautiful. Yes, he's traumatized at the thought of waiting five seconds for food, and he's already had a few scares in the hospital, but it hasn't fazed him. He seems to have a momentary memory that can go from intense tears to intense joy in seconds. But it won't always be so.
Reality hits all of us eventually. Naive joy and perceived innocence can only survive for so long in our world. It happens for some of us earlier than others, but all of us snap out of it and realize the truth—our world is a mess. Life is full of hardship. Something's not right.
We watch the news and feel that pit in our stomachs when we hear of tsunamis killing hundreds or thousands in other countries. We shudder when we hear deafening gunshots echo in our neighborhoods. We grieve when aggressive cancer invades the bodies of our relatives. We instinctively know that this is not how life was meant to be. And when we come to that discovery—whether at age two or twenty-two—we respond in different ways. We're forced to ask ourselves where we fit in all of this mess.
Some of us think too highly of ourselves. In our pride we think this wrongness, this evil chaos, is only outside of us. We assume that we've escaped the destruction, as if we were in a house on fire and didn't get burned.
Others of us think too lowly of ourselves. We know we're not perfect. As a matter of fact, we think everyone around us is aware of our shortcomings too. Our lives don't matter that much, so it's pointless to think deeply about how we should live. Maybe God cares about us, but if so, it's hard to tell.
Both these perspectives miss the mark, and both can lead to delaying true life instead of embracing it.
The truth is, we're not perfect and we're not worthless. The Bible tells us that we're beautifully made, but broken. Our flawless Creator made us in His image (Gen. 1:27). He thought us up, carefully crafted our frames, and breathed life into us. And after God created the world, including mankind, He took a step back, admired His handiwork, and called it "very good" (Gen. 1:31).
But it didn't stay that way. Sin entered the world, and since then everything has been a mess. Our world is sick, and none of us are immune to the infection. At our cores we're sinners. We purposely rebel against our Creator. We were made to be mirrors perfectly reflecting God's goodness, but with sin that mirror was fractured and the reflection is distorted. Instead of following God, we assume we're wiser and follow our own misguided intuition. We're choosing what we think will make us happy, but in the process we've made God angry. He despises sin and He will judge us for it. We're beautifully made, but tragically broken.
The good news is that we can be put back together. God sent Jesus to repair our relationship with Him and to restore His image in us. The only way we could escape God's judgment was if Jesus took it for us. We owe more than we can pay. On the cross, He paid the death debt for sinners, and He rose three days later to give us new life. If we let go of our sin and trust in Him, our old self can die with Him and a brand-new version of us can rise.
If you haven't rejected your sin and embraced the Savior, I plead with you to do so. The only way you can rise is if you rise with Him. Otherwise, we're doomed to a dead life that really can't be called life at all. If you're not convinced yet, that's okay. I'd love for you to keep reading and consider what it would look like to get up and live for the first time.
If you've submitted yourself to Jesus, your new life has already begun. There's no in-between phase where we just exist in a youth, college, or young singles ministry. You're a real human being, a real follower of Christ, a real world-changer right now. If you've been given new life, why would you wait to start walking in it? It's a new day, the sun is shining in the window, and we should rise early instead of sleeping in.
BEFORE IT GET S UGLY
Sometimes saying it gently doesn't work and we need a dose of realness to wake us up. It doesn't get any more real than Ecclesiastes. In this short book, the author (probably Solomon) talked about the realities of life in our messed-up world. He had lived it all, seen it all, and done it all. Reading Ecclesiastes is kind of like talking to a wise but grumpy old man sitting in a rocking chair on the porch, telling you everything he's learned. He wants you to live a full life and not make the same mistakes he did.
The experienced preacher closed out his appeal with some blunt counsel for how to view our youth: "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, 'I have no pleasure in them'" (Eccl. 12:1).
He didn't say we should ignore God for now and get serious later. He said the opposite. He urged us to fear God and live for Him while we're still young. And he said we should do it "before the evil days come." I think he meant before we get old and life gets harder. A day will come when our lives won't be nearly as carefree, so we should give it all we have right now.
After verse 1, the preacher in Ecclesiastes begins to tell us what those evil days will look like. Honestly, it's kind of depressing. It seems like he is poetically describing the breakdown of our bodies. Reading it is like watching a plane plummet from the sky, knowing that it will inevitably crash into the ground.
One day our bodies will start to shut down. Our eyes won't work the same and our minds won't be as sharp. If we make it to old age, most of us will be a lot more limited in our capabilities. What good does it do to put off all the hard work until we can't actually do it? And what makes us think we'll actually want to do it then? The myth of procrastination is that it will somehow be easier later. The truth is, it's never easy, and putting it off only makes it harder.
There are great benefits to living for Jesus in the present. Now is the time when we have the most strength. Now is the time when we have the most energy. Now is the time when we can give it everything we have. Now is the time to get up and live.
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS
Over the years I've reflected on the conversation I told you about at the beginning of the chapter. At the time I didn't know how to put my objection into words. How do you think I should have responded? If somehow I got the chance to go back to that moment, here's what I would say to my friend:
"Thank you so much for speaking into my life and trying to help me find my way. I know you're older, more responsible, and more mature than me in many ways. I respect you more than I can say, but I strongly disagree with your counsel. I know you meant well, but I'm actually a little offended by it.
"Your assertion that I shouldn't take my life seriously yet was unintentionally belittling. It assumes that nothing is required of me now. It assumes that my life and decision making aren't that important at the moment. Basically, it assumes that I'm not a real person quite yet.
"I reject that. I'll never be perfect, but I will not embrace my sins as mere growing pains. God created me to show Him off, and He's called me to give my life to Him. I know I could try to wait until later, but I intend to do it now. I have the choice between sleeping in or getting up. I choose to rise."CHAPTER 2
THE LEBRON JAMES EFFECT
I had a monthly subscription to ESPN The Magazine when I was younger. Basketball had grown to be my favorite sport, so I was always excited when the cover story was something hoops related. One month I retrieved the oversized issue from the mailbox and turned it over to see a fresh young face on the cover. The player was reaching out to the camera with a cocky "I just dunked on you" look on his face.
The text under his chin read, "The Chosen One: High school junior LeBron James would be an NBA lottery pick right now." I scanned the caption and rolled my eyes. I had bought into the hype of a "chosen one" bypassing college for the pros before, but it was usually a letdown. Some young players, like Kobe Bryant, had successfully gone from high school graduate to NBA star, but even his greatness took a couple of seasons to blossom. I brushed it off, assuming I'd never think about LeBron again. The hype didn't die down, though.
Excerpted from Rise by Trip Lee. Copyright © 2015 William Lee Barefield, III. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Letter to the Reader xv
Part 1 Getting Up
1 7:00 a.m. Logic 3
2 The LeBron James Effect 15
3 Don't Envy the Bench 25
4 There Are No Super-Christians 37
Part 2 Growing Up
5 Time Is Money 51
6 Home Improvement 65
7 Not Guilty by Association 79
8 R&B 91
9 Don't Drink the Kool-Aid 105
10 Why I Got Married Young 115
11 Age Is More than Just a Number 123
12 The Grey Rule 133
13 Rude Awakening 145
Part 3 Pointing Up
14 Are You One of Those Christians? 159
15 Everything Is Sacred 169
16 A Disease Worth Spreading 175
17 Turn On the Lights 187
18 Be a Real Member 201
Conclusion: Spoiler Alert 209
About the Author 215
What People are Saying About This
“Trip’s written a book that I think every young person needs to read. His passion for Jesus and this generation comes through loud and clear on every page. I can’t wait to see the impact this message has on a generation that’s hungry for purpose.”
- Lecrae, Grammy awarding winning artist @lecrae Lecrae
“So often we talk about wanting to make a difference, but we don’t actually get up and do anything. My buddy, Trip Lee, has written a book that will light a fire under a generation that’s taught to take the easy way out. He’s challenged us to ‘rise’ and live in the story that God’s created for us. I know I’ll be recommending this book to everyone I know.”
- Stephen Curry, NBA player @stephencurry30 Stephen Curry
“Rise is a phenomenal book that captures the heart of our culture. As soon as I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. Trip challenges you to be REAL, and shows you how to live your life as a young adult in the world today. Great read.”
- Sam Acho, NFL linebacker, humanitarian @thesamacho Sam Acho
“Trip has written a book I wish I would’ve read when I was younger. His passion, wisdom, and desire to challenge the younger generation is a testament to the work God’s doing through Trip and the work he can do through us all.”
- Kirk Franklin, Grammy award winning and multi-platinum recording artist @kirkfranklin Kirk Franklin
“I loved reading Rise. Many times in this book I found myself meditating over pages after I read them. I was encouraged, inspired, and challenged all the way through. The culture expects us to waste time but God wants us to use our time for impact no matter our age. This is an amazing read for those who want to use their time wisely and make a difference for the Kingdom.”
- Justin Forsett, NFL running back @Jforsett Justin Forsett