The end will justify the pain it took to get us there

This past week the song “Let it all Out” by Relient K has been stuck in my head. A mixture of emotions as another school year begins has been flooding through me all week. While I am excited to get started with another semester several realities have begun hitting home. The next year will see several changes for my life. I’ve been coming to terms with this fact in the past three weeks.

People who I think (or thought) were my friends will barely be acquaintances next year. I have begun to assess the friendships where I have invested. I have come to recognize more than one friendship that is fading or has faded out completely just in the time I have been here. While this saddens me, it as just as much the other parties choice to stop maintaining contact as it has been anything else.

I’m now beginning to make choices that will shape the future of my life. I will be applying to Ph.D. programs over the next few months. Where I end up going will truly shape who I am for the rest of my life. That means where I go is a major decision. It is a lot to digest at once honestly, between departmental concerns and geographical offerings there is a lot to be considered.

I have also begun working as the Assistant Debate Coach. This is the closest I have worked with students on the collegiate level. My excitement for the upcoming season can hardly be contained. We have the opportunity to make a big splash in collegiate debate and I have high hopes for our team. It’s going to be a truly great experience getting to work with the brilliant students on our debate team.

This semester also will host two conferences I am presenting at. I feel completely inadequate to present at either. It is truly an honor to have been selected to present at both. One is a major conference for my educational endeavors and the other is a local conference for my professional endeavors. The experience will be unmatched by anything else I do this semester I believe. The opportunity to build connections in both settings will be unparalleled.

November will mark our second year for the Arkansas State Disc Golf Team to qualify for the National Collegiate Disc Golf Tournament. We have high hopes for this year and I believe we can accomplish them. We will be working hard to ensure that we are ready for November to be able to take on the task of qualifying for the National tournament.

As I have been considering all of these things one seminal thought has come to my mind and it comes from Philippians 4. Paul says: “11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

In all of the anxiety, expectation and excitement of this upcoming year I have and will be content regardless of the circumstances. Whether friendships continue, I am accepted to the Ph.D. program of my preference or our team is successful I will be content regardless. I want to see friendships grow, I want to see each of these things comes to pass but if they do not, I will be content. I have learned that if something isn’t meant to be it’s for a greater purpose and I am excited to see what that may be.

A Place Only You Can Go by NEEDTOBREATHE

I’ve wanted to write something for the past few days but I haven’t been able to put to words anything coherent. What I did realize tonight was that there was a song that has really spoken to me in the past two weeks and honestly it sums up everything I would write about now if I could put it into words. Below are the lyrics and a video of NEEDTOBREATHE singing this song.
Pain is alive in a broken heart
The past never does go away
We were born to love 
And we’re born to pay
The price for our mistakes

Grace, she comes with a heavy load
Memories, they can’t be erased
Like a pill I swallow, he makes me well
But leaves an awful taste

Oh, I know this song won’t do
Enough to prove my love to you
In my heart you’ll always know
There is a place only love can go
There is a place only you can go

Take my notions and words to heart
This is the cry of a man
I can’t bring you fortune or noble life
But I’ll love you all I can

Oh, I know this song won’t do
Enough to prove my love to you
In my heart you’ll always know
There is a place only you can go

Oh, I know this song won’t do
Enough to prove my love to you
In my heart you’ll always know
There is a place only love can go
There is a place only you can go



4 Things Ladies Should Avoid Saying to Guys

This morning I came across an article by Matt Walsh that was pretty spot on (and had a great joke about a pilot not accepting responsibility for his flight).  I have recently had the same thought about relationships and the need for males to take a more active role in defining their intentions with the opposite sex.

Though it is a constant struggle of being lonely, feeling inadequate and other miscellaneous feelings; I try to maintain a mindset that the next person I date I am going to marry. I would really like for that to be the case. Aside from the fact that guys do need to step up and pursue ladies there are a few things that I have encountered that honestly, give guys reason to behave in the way that they currently behave.

1. “I need more time to get to know you”

You can’t just tell this to a guy. Especially if you know he is interested in you and you have no interest in him. Let us clear the air here over something, if a guy is talking to you, he is interested in you. If you tell a guy this then he will hang around, talking with you, and doing things to help you get to know him more. Yes, guys need to be more intentional about defining a relationship, however, if a lady is quick to tell us this then we are sure to think that you are interested in us and we are more than willing to give you time. The issue is “more time” is an ambiguous statement. If you really do need more time, give us a timeline (especially if we haven’t suggested a timeline). This will avoid any confusion down the road.

2. “I don’t think I need to date right now”

This is fine, sometimes even as guys, we feel the same way. However, don’t tell us you don’t want to date people and then go posting about how you’re on Tinder or any other dating site flirting it up with other guys. Guys need clear direction. If you are not going to ever be interested in him then tell him. Say something like “Thank you, but I’m not interested in dating you.” Do not, for the life of you say “right now” at the end of a statement to a male, unless you mean it. Otherwise, we will try and fix whatever it is that is in the way and work our tails off to get you to date us. This happens either because we are that interested in you or just because we want to prove that we can make it happen. Either way it ends up being a waste of time and emotional tax on both parties involved. If you are not interested in dating the guy just tell him. He may not take it well, but when do any of us take rejection well?

3. “I think we are great friends”

Matt Walsh made a great statement about if a woman really wanted to be viewed as one of the guys. Would you not rather be viewed as the woman that the man you are dating adores and will do anything for? Telling a guy that you are great friends gets problematic in a few different ways. First, a guy spends most of the time with his friends, so even if you are down with hanging out with a guy most of the time, he will view it as you’re interested in him, even if you tell him you’re great friends. Second, should you decide to be great friends with other guys, he will probably be jealous. He will at least feel left out (after all you told him you guys were great friends) if not upset that you are hanging out with other guys. Third (and most important), if you plan on being married someday, that man will become your best friend. It will be hard to reconcile having a best (or great) male friend with your husband and it can leave you emotionally dry to not have someone to confide in who is the same sex.

4. “I’m waiting for my prince/fairytale/romance novel guy”

This is well and good, however The Avett Brothers have a great song that explains why this isn’t feasible. Take the time to listen to “Love Like the Movies” and come back to this. Let’s be honest, guys do not do a great job at romancing women these days. Very few ladies are going to meet a guy in a super romantic way and things just be dreamy from then on out. Even if the first few months are smooth sailing at some point you will wake up and realize that “OMG, He IS human” and you will begin to question if true love exists and believe that every Disney movie you ever believed was a lie (except for Frozen because he was a horrible, lying guy, who deserved what he got). Women, you deserve a knight in shining armor. A guy should treat you with the upmost respect, please realize though that we aren’t perfect. We won’t say all the right words and honestly, if you have told us any of numbers 1-3 we are probably confused. If we are confused then we definitely are not fulfilling this expectation.

So please, ladies, realize we are interested in you. We want to step up and be men in relationships. However, some of your expectations and statements that you make to us are confusing. You tell us one thing and then do something else. We realize that you are something that we should chase after but please don’t put us through a labyrinth. If you do, you just might lose us…

4 ways men can show (and women can know) that chivalry is not dead

As you progress in life you begin to realize that those who have come before you (typically your parents and grandparents) were right about many things in life. Many of us have received dating advice from family members and others who are more experienced than us. Some of it good and some of it straight up ridiculous. However there are four things that will never die and should be encouraged for years to come. They all stem from the idea of chivalry which is “the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.”

Dressing Up Nicely (Courtesy)

We live in a culture today where it’s very easy to dress in athletic shorts or sweats with a tshirt and call it good. I’ll be honest and say I was shocked when I showed up to college and people actually wore pajamas to class. I barely feel comfortable wearing shorts to class in the summer time. How can we be comfortable wearing the same when we take a lady out on a date? We shouldn’t be. We should strive to look our best. To quote remember the Titans

You will wear a jacket, shirt, and tie. If you don’t have one, buy one. Can’t afford one, borrow one from your old man. If you don’t have an old man, then find a drunk, trade him for his. ‘Cause I guarantee you there isn’t a bum on the street that looks as raggedy and ridiculous as what I’m looking at right now.


Dress nice it will do wonders to not only your confidence but to the admiration the women in your life have for you. You won’t regret it.

Buying Her Flowers/Chocolate (Generosity)

This should be a given. However for some reason our society thinks this is overdone. However, regardless of how much society or even the girls around us want to deny it getting them flowers or chocolate is really something they will appreciate. Some might say that it’s not very “thoughtful” but just the action of getting her something that is sweet and romantic is worth more than any of the other thoughts that as Ben Rector says “are too cliche’ to impress a girl like her”. Buy her flowers, unless she’s allergic maybe then you get a free pass…even then buy her chocolate. If for some reason she’s allergic to both take the time to see what would be a romantic gesture to her and do it. It’s worth putting the smile on her face.


Holding The Door (Dexterity in Arms)

So maybe this doesn’t mean you’re a master jedi. It is however, another simple gesture but one that goes a long way. This one really is beyond just for the ladies in your life. Take the time to hold open the door for anyone that is around you. A lady will respect that you are being courteous to her and others may even be shocked that a random stranger is being courteous to them. Go beyond holding open the door, open up the car door for her, put your coat down so she won’t have to step in puddles. This shows her that you are there to take care of her.  Don’t be suffocating but make sure that she doesn’t have to exert energy to do things that you should be doing as a man.

Being Respectful (Valor)

I could spend on all day on this one. Don’t be a hater, don’t be a player, don’t be a jerk in general. If you want to really show a lady that chivalry is not dead then by all means be respectful. Don’t try to pressure her to do things she isn’t comfortable with. Don’t talk bad about her friends, family, fashion or anything else for that matter. This goes hand in hand with holding open the door but it’s more of the verbal manner than the physical one. Never talk down to ladies. Be positive to them, be uplifting, compliment them on things. One of the greatest things a guy can do is to be observant and compliment a woman on something that she thinks he doesn’t notice. Another thing is being respectful not just to her but to everyone else you encounter as well. She is observing how you act around others. If you can’t treat everyone with the same amount of respect then she probably isn’t going to be that into you.

The World Network

I had the pleasure of eating dinner with my grandparents tonight. While at dinner my grandmother made the following statement “I don’t know how you and your cousin keep up with all of the people you’ve met”. I had never thought of this before. Some people like to argue and say that in our social networking generation that we are actually more disconnected than we have ever been. I would like to argue that it’s really dependent upon the person.

Today I had the pleasure of eating lunch with a couple that I had never met in person before. A couple that I have known for over three years now and am working on my second project for Jason. Before today all of our conversations have been through online avenues. We were able to sit down to lunch today and not touch our phones or get on the internet the entire time we were together. Not just that but we had meaningful conversation the entire time just like we ate lunch together on a weekly basis. If it were not for the internet I would have never even met Jason and Carol.

Tomorrow I leave for Dallas, TX. A friend and I will be visiting with one of our friends that we made while in China over 2 years ago. While it could have been goodbye when we left China instead we were able to stay connected through email and social media. The moment that we found out our friend was in Dallas we began to make plans to visit. When we get there tomorrow night it will be like we never left each other. We will pick up right where we left off, sure there may be some catching up to do but it’s going to be a great weekend with great friends.

Last week I returned from Paris, France. While there I met someone who attends a university in Missouri. Even though our paths may cross at future debate tournaments we have taken the time to connect through Facebook and other means to get to know each other and stay in touch.

As I left tonight my grandmother said “I don’t know where we would be without Facebook” and I realized that without Facebook my week would have been very boring. For as much as we gripe about how social media has changed how we connect with others the reality is that the three best things about my week would have not existed without this simple tool.

But more than being connected it’s about taking the time to connect with others. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone to get to know them better. You’d be surprised on where it can take you!

Living the Dream

You hear this phrase a lot around the south in some variation “well I’ve been blessed” and the reality is that I have. The greater reality though, the one I’m still coming to terms with, is that for the first time in my life I am truly living the dream, at least in the sense of what’s going on in my life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still work two jobs and honestly between my two jobs and grad school most weeks I’m spending nearly 60 hours on all three of those. Somewhere in the middle (and amongst at times) of all of that I am living my dream.

For some reason our generation likes to think that it’s as simple “doing what you love.” It isn’t though. To live our dreams we have to be committed to many things. When I was a part of the “Quitter 100″ I read the manuscript for Jon Acuffs Quitter and the one thing that resonated more than anything else was “Don’t leave your day job to chase your dream job.” We have to be willing to put in the hard work in order to see our dreams come to fruition.

Yes, I went to Paris, France but only because I was able to work and save money to be able to go. Someone didn’t just come up to me and say “Hey, I want to pay for you to go to France for a week” though it would have been nice. One benefit from the trip though is that I’m going to be able to be the assistant debate coach at ASU next year all things considered. I’m going to Dallas this weekend. Only because I work and I have friends who are willing to let me crash at their place. I’m going to North Augusta, SC to compete in the National Collegiate Tournament next month. I have been playing disc golf for 8 years in August and it’s only because I have put in that time and had great team mates that I’m able to qualify and compete in Nationals. Finally, I’m going to Denver in May. Why? Because I work for an awesome company full of awesome people that I can hang out with and go see 3 awesome shows (plus a cool choir concert) in a weeks time.

I’m living the dream right now, getting to see the world and do what I love only because I have taken the time to dedicate to each of these areas and to follow through with them while still maintaining a balanced life outside of them. Yes I have been incredibly blessed but it’s more than that. I have put myself in a position to live the dream and you should too.


The youth worker we need the most

Charismatic, Engaging, Fun, Energizing, Enthusiastic, Approachable, Friendly, Encouraging, Caring, Gifted.

All of these things at one time or another are used to describe who we want to see as a youth worker in our youth groups. A few descriptors that are not so often heard are: Theologically and Doctrinally Sound. Sometimes this isn’t even expected of a youth pastor. Afterall, they just work with kids.

How is it that we have forgotten that our youth are some of the most important parts of our congregation and yet we leave them in the hands of capable (and not so capable) youth workers. I say this from experience.

When I got my start in student ministry not one question was asked of me about where I stood theologically or doctrinally. However, I had spent from February (Super Bowl Sunday) until October before I was asked to be an intern. The church had plenty of time to see my faith in action. But that still doesn’t excuse the fact that I was not asked any questions about where my faith stood, in a formal setting.

What’s worse is I went to be on staff at a church and honestly the toughest question I remember them asking me was if I believed the Bible was 100% true. I know they asked me questions about where I lined up with the Baptist faith and message but when it all boils down to it my two toughest theological hurdles in my interview was explaining why I believed the Bible was the inspired word of God and were I stood on the creation of the earth.

I had always heard different stories about youth ministers and youth workers doing things that were completely contradictory to what we should do as leaders but it hasn’t been until I have been on the other side of it that it has truly begun to ring true in my life. In the past few years I have met people that have said “yeah I was a youth leader, sometimes I’d let them out of service early so I could go smoke weed” and tonight I heard “yeah I was a junior high youth leader, I made them read “XXX book” and really I only did it so I could have money to buy beer”.

We wonder why our student ministries are struggling. We wonder why after our students leave the youth group they never come back. It’s because of things like this. It’s because of people like me even. I am not saying that I’m above reproach but what I am saying is that something should be done.

1 Peter 2:12 says: Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

So in this manner we should be looking for youth workers who are living their lives in this way. We shouldn’t just be looking for the external though that we see when they are inside the church. But really what do their “pagan” friends say about them? We live in a world today where everyone has friends who are non believers. We should be asking them if their friends are fit to be youth leaders.

We also have James 2: 14-20 which says:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]?

So we get into this whole faith and deeds thing. Obviously we need more than just deeds though. We need this faith that is backed by sound doctrine. This sound doctrine is both seen in our deeds but followed through with our words.

As is seen in Titus 2: 6-8

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

So we see that we are to show integrity, seriousness and soundness. These are all three things which seem to be absent in many of our youth leaders today.

I’m not saying that we should always be second guessing ourselves with who we select to place in leadership. What I am saying is that we should consider the weight we are placing on these people. They are going to be the examples that our students see even more so than the student pastor. So we should make sure that their teachings and subsequent lifestyle is going to line up with our doctrine. If it doesn’t they shouldn’t be  leading. The reality is that once that youth leader has moved on from your congregation they should still be able to speak into your students lives in a positive manner. If you are unsure whether this is going to happen you need to begin to consider other possible youth workers.

I’ve had many opportunities to impact students in my time in ministry. Though it’s a fun story to tell people that I brake checked a student from the back row of a 15 passenger van all the way to the front row, it’s an even more fun story to tell that I was able to counsel that student through some really tough life issues and now see them being a youth leader not just in the church but in the community as well.

When we choose our youth workers our questions shouldn’t be “How many students will they attract or How fun can they be?” They should be “How will they help our students grow doctrinally and in what ways can they disciple our students to live a legacy of the gospel?”

MIssion Arlington