Birthday: September 1
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Favorite Bible Passage: Luke 15:11-32
Influential Music: EDM, CCM, Film scores
Favorite Movie: How To Train Your Dragon 2
Favorite Book: Rangers Apprentice Series
Hobbies: Games (board, card, video, party, etc.), reading, watching TV/Films/Japanese Anime, sports
Jeremy is right-handed, unless he’s kicking something. His favorite subject in school was science. He also enjoyed choir and was good at math, but ended up deciding to major in Screenwriting. He must have chosen the right path, because he also admits that he once spent 24 hours straight watching TV.
Jeremy’s Blog Posts
I play a lot of video games.
I play games for a wide range of reasons. Sometimes it’s the sense of accomplishment, sometimes it’s a feeling of growth or learning. Sometimes it’s enjoying time with friends or being able to mercilessly defeat them. Sometimes I play for the rich story or the fun looking characters. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have all of the above.
Video games are an example of God’s world-building creativity in us. Each game provides a new world to experience and explore, as well as being reflections of their creator. And just as these little worlds are created for our enjoyment, everything on Earth was given to us by God for our enjoyment.
In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve everything. All things on Earth were given to them freely, except for the one tree in the middle of the garden. Adam and Eve were given everything they could ever want, but they decided that they wanted something else. So they disobeyed God. Because of that, Man became broken and separated from God for eternity. All because we wanted something other than God.
In case you are not up to date on 14:21’s adventures, we have been on our third stateside tour this year for over two weeks now. At this moment we are visiting Seattle in order to do some recruiting in the state of Washington.
If I can rewind a bit to the beginning of tour, flying back to Minnesota, I was having mixed feelings. I was excited about going back on tour, but I was beginning to really miss some of the luxuries I had back home. Mainly, having more free time to play games. Winter break was a nice break, but I still felt like I was missing out on a lot of that free time. Before I knew it, I was back in Minnesota, prepping for tour. Where had all that time gone?
Feeling a little cheated out of a break, I started to spend more and more time on the road playing games to try and “make up for lost time.” Eventually I realized that I was sacrificing precious times of ministry to go off on my own and play games.
I was reading Galatians one morning which talks a lot about the freedom we have in Christ, and came across this verse.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. -Galatians 5:13 NIV
At that time, I had been in conversation with multiple people about choosing between indulgence and ministry and this helped solidify my resolve to choose ministry over indulgence in all cases. From that time to today I have had a multitude of great experiences with host families especially where I chose to chat and share time with them rather than retreat into the room I was given.
This is all to say that choosing God and His vision for us will always satisfy us more than our own devices ever would (no pun intended). We have a song in our rep called Shadows by Tenth Avenue North that talks about how we chase these unsatisfying things which takes us further and further away from the beautiful and fulfilling life that God has for us. I encourage you, as we encourage our audiences in our programs, to choose God in everything that you do over what we may selfishly desire to do.
Endings are always difficult.
The ending of a story is always the hardest part to write. In my screenwriting classes, I was always told, “the ending must always be inevitable, but not predictable.” The ending should always leave the reader or viewer satisfied, but they should never know how it ends, before it happens.
We all want to know what happens at the end. Whether it is a book, or movie, or TV show, we always want to know how it ends. That desire to see how the tension that is built up from the beginning resolves itself; that is the appeal of a great story.
Many of us have different methods of reaching the end. Some people like to slowly enjoy the story and take it in little by little and savor the tension. Some people (me) can’t stand the tension and rush through the story without stopping so that the tension is resolved in a satisfying way. Some people are heathens who read the Sparknotes version of a story or watch shows in fast forward ignoring all the carefully scripted dialogue and intense musical backgrounds that give a scene depth, complexity and emotion.
I’m not going to call anyone out, but 10% of our team is like this. It hurts me.
But in the end, we all find out the end of the story. Sometimes the endings are happy and joyful. Other times, the endings are tragic and heart-wrenching. But for almost all good stories, the ending is bittersweet. On the one hand, the ending is satisfying and leaves us feeling good inside, but on the other hand, the ending signifies the end of a story that we have invested ourselves in.
When this fall tour started, coming out of Hong Kong, I was really excited to see how our relationships with one another grew as we continued to strive together in our mission of sharing the Gospel in the states after the trial by fire of Hong Kong tour.
Week one passed by, and I was on fire for these guys. I couldn’t imagine anywhere else I would rather be than with them. I was so happy to be touring with such awesome people.
But soon, I lost that fire. I no longer wanted to be a part of the team. I was experiencing pain because of the failures and shortcomings of my teammates and I didn’t want to feel victim of that anymore. The more hurt that I felt because of them, the more I shut myself away, refusing to let them get to me. But no matter what I did, they would be able to get past my defenses and I’d be left feeling hurt and angry.
After some time, I stopped treating my teammates like friends. I became friendly enough not to arouse suspicion, but I did not open myself up anymore to be disappointed. I thought to myself, if I remain friendly, then I can continue this ministry effectively and remain a solid team with them without getting hurt. I will make sure we can still effectively share the Gospel, but these people are no longer my friends and I refuse to stick out my neck for them again. In effect, I had given up on them.
ICOM (International Conference On Missions) was a breath of fresh air to me. I got to interact at length with people who were not on my team and members of CTI staff came down to Peoria, IL to help us with recruiting. I had a good conversation with one of them where I spilled all of my feelings of anger and frustration towards my team and how I planned to deal with it. They left me with a story and piece of scripture that effectively said, giving up on broken people is effectively becoming responsible for their damnation.
Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. – Ezekiel 3:20
Truth be told, even after that conversation, I found myself tired of the team dynamic that I had witnessed. I counted the days until our tour was over so that I could go home and remove myself from this team and be refreshed again with new yet familiar faces.
Even so, I could not ignore the fact that I still loved these guys. As much as I am excited to leave for home, I know that I will miss these people who I poured myself into and who has poured themselves into me over the past few months. These people who have been my brothers and sisters whom I have lived with, sang with, prayed with, agonized with, fought with, for each day of these tours.
So in the end, the end of this tour is a bittersweet moment for me as we all split apart and go home to our corners of the continent.
Except, after our two week break from each other, we will be coming back together again for a 10 week tour. So it isn’t really the end. Oops. I’ve never really been good with endings. So I guess a better way of ending this would really be…
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Day 1 (Training): My excitement for new music training is not helping this headache.
Day 3: Uh-oh. Am I losing my voice too? (Spoiler: I did not)
Day 5: I learned this music so much faster than Hong Kong rep, I’ve got this.
Day 1 (Fall Tour): I so do not got this.
Day 4: These youth were such an encouraging sight for me. So why am I so worried?
Day 5: Come on. Your set could have been better. Work harder. Your routes aren’t accurate enough. Do better.
Day 6: HOUR AND A HALF LATE? ARE YOU KIDDING? HE TOLD YOU MORE TIME. WHY DIDN’T YOU LISTEN?!
Day 7: Lol, late again. Why don’t you just give up?
I like to think of myself as an open person. I like to share my thoughts with people because I believe that the best way to have peace of mind with my own self or to resolve conflict with a loved one is to let them know what bothers me. Because how can someone begin to understand you, if they do not know your feelings?
The problem is, even though I believe in this for myself, I would be lying if I said I really practiced what I preached. I open up to people about my problems, but really I only do so when I’m safe. By safe, I mean when I have already resolved my feelings for myself, and therefore I don’t risk being hurt. I have all my defenses ready if something were to go wrong. That is how I have always defended myself.
This strategy may work against people, but it doesn’t work with God. I can make the whole world believe that I am fine, but God will not be deceived and he never is.
I have gone so far as to sacrifice my own beliefs to protect myself from betrayal or pain. I will tell myself lies that I know aren’t true and pretend that I don’t believe the truth. I will deny my own belief in Jesus’ commandments in order to justify my own actions, even when I know it is sin. I will tell myself that the consequences of my actions don’t matter because no matter what I do, I deserve them anyway. I will force myself not to love, so that I may never get hurt.
I will force myself to believe in these lies so that I can deaden myself to the pain. Make myself believe that I cannot be hurt. Put up walls so that I am alone. Alone and protected.
And every time…
“Do you really believe that?”
It’s never harsh. Never angry. Never condescending. Only pained. Only sad. Only loving.
It’s a simple phrase, but my defenses are shattered in a moment. God can see straight into my heart and remind me of myself. He knows me better than I know myself.
This may sound scary, but remember this. The path of Christ is filled with suffering. Jesus’ led a life of great suffering, and so it is necessary that we go through suffering as well. As followers of Christ, we cannot throw away our identities as “saved by Christ” for fear of feeling pain. Our lives are worth much more than that. If we weren’t worth anything, God would not have sent down his Son to save us.
Four months ago in May, my buddy auditioned to be a drummer and was accepted onto a CTI summer team. Shortly after that I found myself on the same team heading to Honduras for a month. When I decided to join CTI, I admittedly had no clue what I was signing up for. I don’t think I even realized what they meant by “music ministry” until my first day of training. My reasoning for joining CTI was largely in support of my friend more than what the team was for in the first place. But over the month in Honduras, the more and more I shared the Gospel, the more I loved sharing it and the more true it felt to me.
As I was traveling with my summer team, the Great Commission’s role in my life became more clear to me and I began to consider whether ministry was for me. The conversation that really got me thinking about full-time was one I had in Honduras with my team leader. I was struggling with calling, God’s plan for my life, and my own desires and passions. She told me about her own journey and the ways God lead her in ways she could have never expected.
Something she told me stuck out to me. She said the desires and passions we have are given to us by God. Sometimes, what it means to follow God’s plan for us is to pursue the things we are passionate about or that which we desire to do.
After many other encouraging conversations with peers, family, and mentors, I decided to apply for the full-time team as a sound tech right after my summer tour. I was really given confirmation about my decision by the fact that I was able to make the team only a few weeks before training started. I was a little more worried about the fact that I was on the team as one of the vocalists.
I had sent in an audition video as a vocalist** with the intention of filling in the role if needed, but really hoping I wasn’t needed. In the end, I started training as a vocalist and even before I arrived I had begun to have doubts.
Before we left for our first tour, our team went over 1 Corinthians 12, which is the part about spiritual gifts. One of the verses that resonated strongly with the whole team was 1 Cor. 12:15-16 which reads:
“Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.” – 1 Cor. 12:15-16
I had never really been a lead singer for a band before and the fact that I was going to lead a band of incredibly talented musicians seemed beyond my capabilities.
During one of my conversations with my teammates, one of them told me that God had put all of us exactly where we are and that there was absolutely no one who could do the job that we had been given better than we could because God put us where we are intentionally. Even if there might be people who are more talented than we are, no one is anywhere they shouldn’t be because God has us exactly where we need to be and he has equipped us to follow that path.
I am so blessed to have grown so much in my understanding in such an incredibly short amount of time. From Day 1 on my summer team to Day 1 of our first tour, I have seen God work in amazing ways and speak to me in truly awesome ways. Already in this short time I have learned to trust God to lead me down the right path that will reveal to me more of his glory and his power and love.
Please continue to pray for our team as we learn to trust God more and more and see the wonderful ways God can work in and through us. We all greatly appreciate your prayers and know that your support is at work among us as we share the Gospel to those who desperately need it like we all do. We will continue to lift up His name in praise.
Lift him up let the whole world see, we will never stop singing!
Lift him up let the whole world hear, we will never stop shouting!
Lift him up, every voice in praise, everyone lift him up! Lift him up!
“Strong in Us” – Brian Johnson & Bethel Music
**I wrote back-up female vocalist on my audition video, which I soon realized was a mistake. The office took that a little more seriously than I had intended.