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The Red Pill of Commitment

The ministry I work for changes lives. And for many, it all starts with Training Camp. Training Camp is a chance to swallow the red pill. Participants (we call them Racers) have been raised in a society that doesn’t look much like Jesus. How will they ever get out of the Matrix-like life they’r…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

The ministry I work for changes lives. And for many, it all starts with Training Camp. Training Camp is a chance to swallow the red pill. Participants (we call them Racers) have been raised in a society that doesn’t look much like Jesus. How will they ever get out of the Matrix-like life they’re living?

You remember in the Matrix when Laurence Fishburne gives Keanu Reeves a choice: “You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” 

Training Camp

Training Camp is an opportunity to see that American society looks like the Matrix. We’re oppressed by fear. Fear of failure. Fear of terrorists. We don’t see our addiction to comfort and entertainment for the idols they are. 

Racers arrive here and we introduce them to a community where speaking the truth in love is an everyday reality. They begin to come to grips with dysfunction. They get glimpses of the Kingdom and think, “I was made for that!”

Working at the office during Training Camp, you can’t help but get distracted by the periodic cheers outside as Racers complete an activity. The atmosphere feels electric. Worship is nightly awesomeness.

The night Deon Vanstaden taught about the Holy Spirit, Bill Swan texted me to say that this was the best night he’s ever seen at Training Camp in seven years. Coaches who have been taught to fear Charismatics later came to me and said they loved it. 

They learned the magic of confronting one another in love that we call feedback. “We don’t even do this with our family!,” they said. And my sense is that they’re ready to start.

What is you at your best?

If we could do everything as well as we do Training Camp, I think the dream of a movement that reaches the world for Christ would happen within a generation.

Training Camp makes me ask, “What is it that I do best and how can I do it better?” All of us pull together and do our best work.

I have that red pill experience from time to time as I go through my day. My old friend Jack Larson and I were at lunch yesterday. Jack and I went through a very painful time in our relationship 27 years ago that still stings at times. Choosing to work through that pain was some of my best stuff.

Don Rock walked up to us. I introduced him to Jack, and it turns out, Don got into missions in part when he was a teenager because of Jack’s ministry in my life. Who knew? It was all of us doing our best stuff.

Commitment and Bleeding

I have watched Maureen Gray give two long years of her life to our World Race Documentary Project. It has cost her almost everything, and because she has been so committed, many of us have seen the Kingdom along the way. Sunday night I will travel to L.A. and the next morning Tim, Maureen and I will meet our production company.

Nothing great happens without commitment. One of the enemy’s most insidious weapons in the lives of Millennials is the fear of commitment. They need to see what the red pill looks like.

Maureen is showing us what it looks like to take the red pill. We don’t just pray “may your Kingdom come,” we bring it with our commitment to make it come. We dream and we fight tooth and nail for our dream.

Maureen and Tim have faced a host of critics and uncommitted people as they have fought for this dream. It has been discouraging to see the body of Christ not support the dream. But in October, we’ll see the pilot episode. If Netflix picks it up, I’m betting we’ll have a few people on the bandwagon.

Teddy Roosevelt showed us what a life of commitment in the face of fear looked like. Once he was shot in the chest by a would-be assassin while giving a speech. He didn’t let the bleeding or the pain stop him from giving the speech. 

Roosevelt gave us a brilliant summary of his philosophy:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. 

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again.

Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Do you have that kind of commitment? Have you been set free from fear? Do you dream of helping others become free? If you’re a dreamer who is struggling to swallow the red pill, let me challenge you to read what Roosevelt said about the man in the arena every day for a month until it begins to trickle into your soul.  

Living in America is toxic. We need to stop bowing down to the god of comfort and get a little dust, sweat and blood on us. It’s then that we step out of the Matrix and into the Kingdom.

Comments (14)

  • Loved this! So true! People want the fame, the stage, the limelight and in turn the glory, the praise and the adoration but don’t want to pay the price that comes with it….the loneliness, the work, the effort, the perseverance, the training, the patience and the process and even the failures sometimes. They want things quick, easy and now. Humble???? Do they even know what that word means? Abide??? What about that word? Discipleship is taught and learned. I agree with you! It cost Jesus and it will cost us. After all we are not our own when we are the Lord’s. The truth is that what we let go of instead of holding on tight to (like comfort, ease, life as we want it etc.) we gain EVERYTHING when we take up our cross, die to self, come and follow Christ! Satan works hard to keep people deceived about this truth! FIRST we humble ourselves UNDER Him and then HE exalts.

  • daddy you are doing great work and we will be praying for these young people when they are going in different nation God bless them and use them for His glory for the nations and safe them from all devil attacks.
    Today we are in pray and fasting and we will be praying for you and all these groups.

  • Thank you for these words. I have recently been challenged by the comforts that I enjoy. Paul commended the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1) because they turned from their idols and served the living God. That has been the prayer for myself, my church, and the students I minister to. That we would turn from our idols of comfort and self-fulfillment and serve the living God. I am going to take on this challenge to read the words of Roosevelt each day. I am going to encourage others to do the same.

  • Great words emanating from your passionate heart Seth. Thank you. I think I swallowed a bottle of red pills as a ten year old. I distinctly remember praying “God, do whatever you must in my life to make me more like you.” These are the prayers that the Father takes very, very seriously. You are what I call a “tenured friend” and I’m so thankful to know the Barnes. Much love amigo.

  • Hi Seth, The Vision and Mission of Training camp is inspiring! As a young entrepreneur building up platforms to help the next generation release their potential and discover their true purpose through the lens of God, I am encouraged by all that you have done with Adventures in Missions. I speak life and favor into your organisation as you move forward. We will continue to visit your blog and look to learn as much as we can at http://www.ZeroPotentialUniverse.com on how we can implement these great ideas to push the mandate of our Generation. Blessing! Richard

  • Blue Pills in the Matrix


    Okay so, I’ve been looking at this blog and contemplating for 10 days now. I’ve gone back and forth and the enemy has challenged me – a battle waged in the darkness of fear and doubt – not doubt in God but doubt in myself. The battles have already been fought and already won by Christ. That doesn’t mean there wont be more battles. I get that completely.

    So again, 10 days ago, my war continued. There were times in this particular batter when the darkness and pain pierced through my heart and soul. Sometimes the darkness was much too deep to share with others really.

    It began something like this:

    I took a peek at this blog and felt a panic grow as I started reading through the words. Why panic? It’s a blog for goodness sakes. I went back and re-read; the panic didn’t lessen at all – the more times I glimpsed back through the words, the less comfort I felt, the more I wanted to run. Maybe because I believe God is giving me a lesson – sending me a message. If there is something here for me in these words, that scares me.

    I love to write so you’d think it would be easy to express all the feelings but they really make no sense right now – my mind is spinning. One second, the thought is that I must be a blue pill kinda gal.

    “You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.”

    But I know what I believe; God is the Magnificent Creator, the Loving Father, Alpha and Omega, The One True King, Master of All, who sent His Son to pay the price for my sins through rejection, torture, and death. Then, God raised Him, Jesus Christ; my Defender, my Redeemer, my Savior, back to life on the 3rd day… that the Holy Spirit is real… Three in One. And I believe I will be judged. My prayer, the hope to which I cling with a desperation, is that my Savior will intercede for me. He will stand between me and Almighty God, a screen through which God might look upon me, not with rejection, or to send me away in a burst of fire, but with acceptance and love.

    The price has been paid. The war has already been won.
    I just have to wait…

    Can I be a blue pill kinda gal and still be passionate for Christ?

    ” take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

    Fear … Really? Is that where the thoughts are supposed to take me? Fear of failure. Fear of commitment. Fear of addictions. Fear of not being good enough. I can tell myself those words do not come from God – those are the enemy’s words. But still… they linger.

    My mind continues to race and I’m pulled back again to launch and the declarations that there is a journey here for me as a parent – not just for my “child”, my “racer”. Again, I skim through the words in the blog.

    “…Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement…”

    The only high achievement I’m interested in is kneeling at the foot of my Savior and King – which is a good thing because things such as triumph or being daring…. Those things are not me. I’m more a blue pill kinda gal. I’m scared. I want to be safe. I trust absolutely no one but am supposed to trust THE ONE and trust Him fully, completely, with everything.

    Does being scared mean I don’t trust Him?

    After days of contemplation and during a brief break in the battle, I don’t believe it does. I believe it’s indication of work in progress.

    Once, not long ago during communion, I was praying for guidance, for love and forgiveness and one of the most beautiful images I have ever seen whispered through my mind’s eye. I saw myself with all my flaws; darkness and shadows, ugly, full of sin, unworthy, shamed. While I watched, I witnessed the shimmering sparkle of the deepest, brightest red of liquid rubies gently spill onto my head and trickle slowly down my face, down my body. As the liquid trickled down, the image left in its wake revealed – in slow motion – a brilliant, white, glowing and radiating form. The red simply vanished, melting or being absorbed within the dazzling glow of a flawless white diamond – me. I felt in that moment I knew what it was to be Washed in the Blood of Christ. I understood what that phrase meant.

    The enemy taunts me even through the precious memory of what I absolutely believe to have been a vision, a message from God. I try to hold firmly to that vision and focus only on that but the buzz of doubt eats at the image.

    “You continue to sin!”
    “Nobody, especially not you, is Worthy of God’s love or His forgiveness!”
    “70 times seven? You used that up a long long time ago”.

    Commitment? (Hah, little men with white jackets).
    Have I “been set free from fear?”
    The answer is a definite and very obvious *NO*.

    Dream of helping others? I’m a social worker in the child welfare system. That’s what I do, who I am, what God called me to be…

    “So what”, the enemy taunts.

    A dreamer? Choking on fear and panic but unable to stop skimming back through the words of a simple blog written by a stranger. Why?

    A challenge. Two words and my breath stuck in my throat. It was hard to breathe and tears streamed down my face. A challenge.

    What do you want from me!

    A single word gently whispers through my mind, “Everything”.

    Can I be a blue pill kinda gal and still be passionate for Christ?

    What am I supposed to do? The question echoes through my mind and is answered with silence.

    I have survived unspeakable trials and overwhelming tribulations and the battle rages still. But I continue and one day, the enemy will have absolutely no power to reach me or taunt me with his lies.


    I Am strong, blessed, talented, forgiven, cherished, accepted, beautiful, approved, valuable.
    I am Fearfully and Wonderfully made!
    I am HIS Masterpiece!
    The Apple of His eye!
    His MOST prized possession!
    I am a child of God, Crowned with God’s Favor!
    My Worth and my Value comes from GOD alone!
    God. Chose. Me.

    I don’t know how to take the red pill and survive. I’m scared. I’m a blue pill kinda gal.

    The blue pill of life can be a nightmare, a horror movie that plays incessantly to devour sincere hope, crumble complete trust and restrain full commitment to The Only One Who Matters.

    Some people say I’m strong, a survivor. I’m Scared and Tired and Lonely and Alone.

    I’m a blue pill kinda gal, frozen in the poverty of this life with debilitating hopelessness
    and incapacitating exhaustion.

    BUT!! My conclusion? IT IS OKAY TO BE SCARED! Fear does not mean there is lack of trust of faith in God. There are people who are called to a “red pill” life of adventure – and that is wonderful! The red pill, in my mind, isn’t the only sort of committment because there are people who are called to a “blue pill” life as well.

    There are a LOT of people in the blue pill world – a lot of people who are scared like I am at times. There are battles raging within the matrix. That doesnt mean those warriors aren’t committed to God – I believe it means the expression of that committment, that calling, comes in ways other than traveling and ministering to the lost and broken in other lands. Warriors are needed for both.

    Living in America is most certainly toxic. Maybe purple is my favorite color! (It actually is!). I am afraid but I do not bow to comfort – quite the opposite. Working in the child welfare system with children and families involved in foster care definately involves dust, sweat and blood… and tears.

    I am so very thankful for Adventures in Missions and World Race and for the people God calls to that “red pill” committment. I am also very grateful to the people who remain near and swallow their blue pill of committment every day. The Kingdom also lies within the matrix.

    Thank you, Seth, for your inspirational words and your active pusuit and encouragement! Thank you for allowing God to reach out through you; without you even suspecting, to push me out of my comfort zone. Thank you for taking the red pill!

    I know what I believe. God’s got this.

    • It takes courage to look in the mirror. The most damaging lies are the ones we tell ourselves. Thanks for sharing this. You are further away from the matrix than you may realize.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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