What the World Won’t Tell You

Whether you realize it or not, you are constantly bombarded with messages from the World around you. Media, movies, advertisements, entertainment, etc.

Our culture is noisy and the messages are relentless. Some of the classic messages address our views on money, power, and love.

Money = Security (have you seen how many ads there are for financial advice?)

Power = Control (have you seen the ferocity of our political environment?)

Love = Emotion (have you seen a single episode of the Bachelor? Strangers falling in love all over the place)


I grew up with these messages and honestly they have been around long before I showed up on the scene. However, there are some new messages being shared to my generation and the next.

Activity = Achievement

“If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” has been replaced with “If you do something but don’t share it on social media, did you actually do it?”

Our culture is teaching us to derive a lot of short term satisfaction from the approval of the masses at the expense of our presence in the present.

Political Disagreement = Disdain

I am politically Conservative. I have friends that are not. Do we hate each other? No.

If you turn on the media for a nanosecond or hop on Twitter for a minute then you would think that we should. I understand the media needs to generate interest, but the polarization as a result of generating interest is infecting our society.

Digital = Social

A couple of quick questions:

  1. How many friends do you have?
  2. How many of those people would help you in an emergency?

The answer to question #2 is probably a more accurate representation of the answer to question #1.

We ARE more connected now, but I am not sure our digital connections translate to real relationship. BUT I think the world is telling us that they do. Hence our struggles on the social media front. We surrender the “here and now” for the “there and then”. I don’t think that is a wise tradeoff.


I have spent all this time identifying the messages the world tells us but the title of this is What the World Won’t Tell You. Here are a few truths correcting the messages above –

Money = Tradeoffs

You CAN make a lot of money if you pursue it. You just have to be willing to give up other facets of your life in order to do so. What are you willing to lose in your pursuit of money? Is it time, your health, your integrity? Life is all about tradeoffs and this is never more true than when it comes to money.

Power = Temporary

Nobody stays at the top forever and the illusion of control through power fades away when you realize this. Political winds change direction often, businesses rise and fall, leaders are replaced in short order. Pursuing power is like chasing the wind.

Love = Hard Work

Emotions are great, but they can never form the basis of Love. Don’t believe me? Think back to your first relational/emotional experience growing up. Okay, now fast forward to today. Do you think that feeling could sustain a marriage, family, and career ALL at the same time? Of course not. (Sadly the often quoted divorce statistics of our nation prove this as well)

Love is only sustained through hard work and the decision to commit regardless of the presence or absence of emotion.

Activity = Habits

What you do repeatedly WILL determine who you become and where you go with your life. This fact is inescapable because we cannot escape our habits. This quote (often repeated in different formats) comes to mind –

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;

watch your words, they become actions;

watch your actions, they become habits;

watch your habits, they become character;

watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Political Disagreement = American

To disagree politically is to be American. Enjoy it. There are some nations where dissenting opinion can lead to death and we are over here blasting our government on social media with no consequences whatsoever. How awesome is that?

And while we are on this topic: we are not as divided as the media says we are. Don’t fall for that and don’t allow a disagreement to destroy meaningful relationships in your life.

Digital = Distraction

This is an easy one and I will end on it. The next time you are in public, I want you to take a moment to see how many people are looking down at their phones.

We are a distracted people, and our social framework is diminished because of it.

Thanks for reading.

– Brian

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Becoming One: Thoughts After 100 Days of Marriage

 

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

Marriage is the act of Becoming One.  Two distinct individuals fuse their lives together in every conceivable way to become one.

I married  Sarah on November 18th, 2017. The fusion of our lives began then and has continued over the last 100 days. It has been quite a time. New, exciting, challenging, fruitful, educational.

I have learned a lot. Living is truly the best education you can receive and the last 100 days have been a revelation. Here are a few lessons I have extracted from my short time in marriage:

1)       More Selfish Than I Know

Wow. I went into marriage thinking I was a selfless person. I love to serve and I understand the purpose and value of sacrifice… On my terms. But inject another person into my world whom I am responsible for and accountable to then just see how quickly my selfishness is revealed to me. This has been, simultaneously, the best and most difficult lesson I have learned in these first 100 days. Marriage is a mirror revealing these things to us that we would never see without it. Marriage can also be a refining fire if we let it, removing these impurities within our character. Making us better, more Christ-like.

2)      Challenging But Rewarding

Marriage can be challenging at times. See lesson #1. We are selfish. But there is silver lining with this challenge: progress. Progress is rewarding. When I see Sarah overcoming a challenge, when she helps me overcome a challenge… When we engage marriage together and grow. It is unbelievably rewarding. Sharing these ups and downs with her is much more rewarding than anything I have experienced individually.

3)      Comparison Kills Closeness

I have always known that comparison kills. It is the enemy of joy, gratitude, contentment. In marriage, comparison is the enemy of closeness. We are constantly bombarded with standards to make comparisons with. “Perfect” marriages, perfect families, perfect husbands and wives. Most of these come from the outside world, media/movies, social media etc. However, an unexpected source of comparison was revealed to me recently – My Expectations.

We all have expectations. You can probably list quite a few of them off the top of your head. However, I have discovered that we all have expectations we are not even aware of UNTIL they are not met. Friction in marriage comes when our expectations collide with reality and we do not handle it gracefully.

I imagine this will be an ongoing process, however an increase in an awareness of my expectations has helped a ton. It helps me to love and appreciate Sarah for ALL that she is, as opposed to comparing her to some unknown expectation that I have.

4)      Humble or Hurt

Marriage is such a unique environment because of two competing factors: 1) Vulnerability and 2) Flawed humans.

We open ourselves up to someone knowing there are going to be times when we fail them, hurt them, disappoint them and they are going to return the favor. I cant think of another environment where we make this decision (however I imagine parenting shares some of the same characteristics).

In these times of pain and disappointment, we are faced with a choice: do I respond in kind (hurt) or do I respond with humility (humble)? We can choose to be humble or choose to be hurt. This choice makes ALL the difference. Just imagine the havoc wrought on a marriage where each spouse continuously chooses to BE hurt and to carry this hurt forward indefinitely. The compounding effect of that must be one of the contributing factors to lackluster marriages and/or divorce.

5)      Believe the Best

Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. They deserve your trust. They deserve the belief that they are FOR you, not against you. It is easy to do this when things are good (as they have been for the vast majority of the last 100 days), but what about when they are not? What about when you fight or disagree? Are you believing the best about your spouse?

This is a choice, and sometimes it is not going to feel good but this is an extension of grace towards your spouse that we simply must make.

 

In closing, the last 100 days have revealed a lot to me. Truthfully, I feel less prepared today than I did on my wedding day. I am okay with that. We tend to overestimate ourselves, so this serving of humble pie has rested nicely on my heart. This process of Becoming One is an ongoing discovery. An adventure. It is my prayer and hope that Sarah and I will always remember that as we press forward, together. My prayer for anyone reading this is that you would have an honest view of marriage. If you are single, find someone committed to Becoming One with you. If you are married, hopefully you are still allowing the Lord to work this process out in your marriage. Without Him you have no hope of Becoming One on your own.

Thanks for reading,

Brian

Journal Entry: October 9th 2016

October 9th, 2016

In some ways, I have allowed politics to become an idol. Maybe THE idol in my life right now. I follow it incessantly, yet hardly pray for my country, or open my Bible. I KNOW the truth, and the truth is that my country is not what I want it to be. Our values are not what I want them to be.

But doesn’t that miss the point? Is God not sovereign?
The answer of course is yes, but my idolatry and obsession over this election means that I am living more like it is a “no”.
Humbling indeed.

Both of our primary candidates are so deeply and fundamentally flawed. I recognize we are all deeply and fundamentally flawed, but can you recall a time where both candidates are such a far cry from anything resembling submission to the authority of God? This troubles me, but probably not for the right reasons as I think about it.

It troubles me because it means that the America that I have in my mind, that I believed would be present in my future, is fading rapidly. This America had strong Judeo-Christian values, was proud of what it meant to be an American and all that came with that.

This identity is dying and it breaks my heart. But it also means that (selfishly) my life will be harder. Prosperity will be threatened, my values will be of the minority and maybe even censored before too long.

So what are the right reasons for being troubled by this? Obviously the moral decline of our leadership is indicative of the moral decline of our nation. Wayward morality always has consequences. History has proved this time and time again. Heck, you don’t even need the Bible to see it but I believe Scripture provides the most coherent explanation.

Say what you want about the Founding Fathers, because many say they weren’t Christians. I don’t argue that here, I will say that they did view the world with a moral framework. There was a starting point, a foundation of morality that they looked to for inspiration and guidance.

We are losing this framework. We have no foundation or starting point to look to. And like a house without a strong frame or a body without bones, we fall in on ourselves.

There will be suffering and more suffering. Physical, psychological, social, economic. This is probably the saddest part of this, but also the greatest opportunity because suffering forces us to ask some pretty big questions.

What is the purpose of this?
Why do I suffer?
Is there any hope?

It is here that I return, because the answers to these questions, and the example of our lives is where the Church is indeed Salt and Light.

Salt prevents decay. Light shines brightest in the darkness.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16

Random Thoughts: #TourDeDC2016

Last week I visited our nations capitol, Washington DC. I toured the Capitol, the White House, the Library of Congress, various museums, monuments, and the sacred grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.

Visiting these various locations prompted so many thoughts (some random, some deliberate) that it has taken me some time to process through them all. Here are some of the main takeaways.

America: Scarred but still Great

I knew there was a reason that I rejected the notion that America was never great. This statement has been a common refrain by many who reject the mantra of Donald Trump when he says “Make America Great Again”. They simply state that “America was never great.”

A simple tour of DC proves this to be false.

Washington

The Washington monument. Created to honor our very first President. A man who, when given the opportunity to expand power, chose to relinquish power back to the people. This principle, the idea that the government belongs to the people, is great.

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Abraham Lincoln. A man who fought for the idea that all men are created equal and managed to keep our nation intact as it sought to dissolve. This is great.

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This photo is front the entrance to the Holocaust Museum. A museum dedicated to remembering the millions of lives that were exterminated by the evil Nazi regime.

When confronted with evil in the world, the United States fought to destroy it.

And succeeded. This is great.

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Finally. Arlington National Cemetery. Countless rows of head stones with the names of honorable Americans. Many of whom died in combat securing the very freedom we have to proclaim that our country was never great.

The free air that we breathe is because of their sacrifice.

This is great.

Our Nation has its scars. A past full of things that caused deep pain and sorrow for many. But don’t you? What do you expect from a nation full of people that have pasts full of things that have caused deep pain and sorrow? We are scarred, but this does not fully eliminate the collective greatness of our Nation. Our scars do not define us. Just like your scars do not define you.

The Rest of DC:

  • DC was surprisingly quiet despite it being election season. I anticipated more but was actually pleasantly surprised.
  • Uber is the way to go when traveling around town
  • Clean city! As someone who understands custodial operations, I appreciated this aspect
  • Knocked off another MLB park while visiting. Enjoyed watching the Nationals play the Braves.

Thanks for stopping by!

– Brian

My Word for 2016

NewThe practice of choosing a word for the year is something I have done for the last three years under the encouragement of the leadership of a local church. The word has served as a point of focus in my walk with Christ.

My word for 2016 is New.

new |n(y)o͞o|

adjective

1 not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time

2 just beginning or beginning anew and regarded as better than what went before

We celebrate things that are new.

  • New Years are exciting.
  • New Cars smell amazing.
  • New Shoes look great.

As I thought about my word for this year, I was reminded that the Lord celebrates making things new as well.

We are given a new heart and a new spirit

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

We are a new creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

We follow a new command

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

John 13:34

We will see a new heaven and new earth

1Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea… 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:1,5

I just listened to a sermon today that said God views each day with the same excitement that we view each year. His mercies are new each and every day.

I am made new. You can be too.

Why We Need Community

I love golf. I have been playing for about 22 years now and the game has taught me a lot. Golf is unique because it is an individual sport. I have been on golf “teams” but even then we are just the sum of our individual contributions. This tendency to try and “go it alone” leaks into my walk with Jesus and the consequences are unsettling.

Here’s the thing: Following Jesus is not an individual endeavor. The Church does not function well when we fly solo. I do not function well as a member of the Church when I choose to fly solo.

I need community. We all need community.

But first, what is community?

One definition of community is “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

A second definition is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common

For our purposes, our definition of community is a combination and simplification that is best understood as “a committed group of Christ followers navigating life together.”

Seems simple enough, right? Yet I still struggle in isolation. We still struggle without community.

Why is that though? Why is it that I struggle when I am isolation? Why do I need community?

In Scripture we discover some answers to these questions –

  • Built for Relationship

So God created mankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27

Being created in the image of God truly means something. We carry His imprint whether we like it or not. The thing about God is that He is relational. His relationship with the Son and Holy Spirit was always there.

Just think, the idea of relationship always was.

As carriers of His likeness, we are wired for relationship. Relationship with Him and with others around us. The context for this relationship is found in a community setting.

  • Better Together

Two are better than one,

because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down,

one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

and has no one to help them up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 10

Allow me to share an illustration most of us can relate to – Have you ever gone to a theme park alone? Ever been to a movie alone?  I have done both and I can honestly say that my experience was not nearly as fulfilling as any time I went with someone else. Life is a lot like that as well. When I go to theme parks, my motto is the more the merrier because it is so much fun to experience theme parks with a host of friends! We are better together!

A life lived in community is fun, but it also has some other very real benefits.

Consider this illustration – Have you ever witnessed a friend making a bad decision that you knew would result in pain/suffering?

You know what I am talking about. This person is convinced they are making a good decision and are blind to any alternatives. Or maybe you have been that person. I know I have. I know I have had the blinders on and when I crashed I inevitably said “well I didn’t see that coming”.

But you know who did? The people that knew me best. My close friends and family in many cases.

We all have blind spots. A community can protect us from those blind spots and help us to make wise decisions.

  • Community Needs You

Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

When I was in Basic Training, I learned very early on that I was no longer an individual. The Army has a way of beating that out of you. Any action that can be perceived as an individual action was met with swift punishment. We always did things as a team. The smallest unit was a group of two and your partner was called your “Battle Buddy”. My battle buddy was a guy named PVT Addison. We both learned early on that we had to rely on each other. I needed him, and he needed me.

The Church is like that.

I need community, and community needs me. There are blind spots that I can clear. There are bits of wisdom and insight that I can share to save someone pain and suffering. And then there are wonderful experiences that we can celebrate together!

You are the same. People need you. You are valuable. Jesus can and will use you.

Random Thoughts: April 2015

April has been a great month!

We are 1/3 of the way through 2015 and that is staggering to consider. It seems that this part of the year is really when life starts to pick up the pace heading into summer. (Although, summer in Florida is loosely defined as April-October).

I am really excited about some of the content I read/heard this month. Here is the latest in Titles and Tunes.

Titles

Chasing Daylight

I highlighted this book last month as a Title that I had just started. I finished it this month and my sentiment remains the same: GO and READ IT!

I am passionate about time and living a fully engaged life. Chasing Daylight focuses on this topic and offers a good mix of the philosophical and practical perspective on focused living. Living with intensity and purpose, particularly in pursuit of the mission of Jesus Christ.

It is a must read for anyone that does not want to waste their lives.

Good to Great (Audio Book)

Have you ever wondered what separates the best organizations from the rest of the marketplace? Good to Great drills down and finds the answer.

I own the hard copy of this book and will likely read it at some point, but the audio book was good for my time on the road this month. If you don’t have time to devote to reading, then I would recommend audio books. They are a good option if you are on the road a lot or you can combine them with a daily workout routine.

I recommend Good to Great for anyone that is a Leadership/Business nerd like me. My favorite concept from the book was the Hedgehog Concept. I don’t want to bore you with the details, so check out this video of Jim Collins explaining the Hedgehog Concept.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUrdbmNBpyY

Podcasts

North Point Community Church

Time of Your Life by Andy Stanley

This was a video series that I watched with Rightnow Media, but I am counting it as a podcast. Regardless, you can find the resource here: http://northpoint.org/messages/time-of-your-life/

Once again, this message is on Time. You should watch/listen to this, my words cannot do it justice.

Tunes

My Top 5 Tunes as of Today

  1. Don’t It – Billy Currington (I was raised on Country music so it never really leaves me!)
  2. Because He Lives – Matt Maher
  3. Riptide – Vance Joy (Catchy tune!)
  4. Come as You Are – Crowder
  5. No Turning Back – Brandon Heath

Travels

#TourDeBama

#TourDeFLA

#TourDeGA

I went on vacation this month for about a week, and it was much needed. I traveled through Florida and Alabama visiting family and friends. I even made a short trip into Georgia. I visited some new places but also places I would consider home. Small towns where I lived, and small towns where my family came from and has lived for over a century. At the end of the day, it was the people that made the difference for me.

This is not so much a Random Thought as it is a life principle:

People Matter Most.

I hope you feel the same way.

Here are some truly Random Thoughts before I head into May!

  • I was glad that UK did not go undefeated
  • However, the evil empire won a National Title = bummer
  • The Masters remains one of the best events in all of Sports
  • Gator Football is going to be rebuilding for the next 2 years
  • Apple is the greatest Company of our generation, take some time to appreciate that

Thanks for stopping by!