BEHIND THE INITIATIVE REBRAND

In the months of May and June, I led a rebrand of the non-profit I work for, INITIATIVE. Our original “brand” was all graphics we had thrown together on our phones or a website we built before we even knew who we were. It all worked, but it just wasn’t us. It didn’t communicate who we are or what we do. Six months in, it was time to create a brand that truly represented us well and that’s exactly what we did. 

LOGO

Starting with the logo, we wanted something both modern and evergreen. Something that looks good now and will look good in 50 years. We wanted something that communicated youth, unity and action while also paying respects to our heritage in Dallas. Also, it had to be both a symbol and the name, not just one or the other. The symbol had to be recognizable no matter where you saw it.

 

We commissioned a designer friend of ours from San Francisco, Leanne Kawahigashi, to design the logo for us. What she sent back was fantastic. A complicated pair of concentric circles representing the messiness of unity enclosed in a full circle representing the one thing that holds us all together, Jesus. The line and circle in the center representing Reunion Tower in Dallas as a reminder of our heritage, all while resembling the classic Power On design to represent youth and action. It was perfect. 

WEBSITE

After the logo was designed, we turned our attention to the new website. The old one was built on Wordpress, but we decided to build the new one using Squarespace. This decision was made because of the clean design and easy user interface of Squarespace. We needed the website to be able to be managed by anyone, not just a web specialist. Squarespace’s platform makes that possible. 

We wanted to follow Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle in regards to our website, heavily incorporating our “Why”, “How”, and “What” in the front page of the website. The site had to tell our story and say exactly who we are. We didn’t want to leave one shadow of a doubt about our purpose or function once someone had come to our site. That’s why on the very first panel of the site, we describe why we’re a network, not a movement and we list our three primary functions: Connect, Expose, Empower. After that, you see our four values, the things we will always fight for. Followed by our four events that practically make our values happen.

We made the website extremely photo heavy. Our old website had pretty sub-par photos. Not because our photographers were bad, but because we had only had two events at most when we made it. The photos did not tell the story of who we are at all. On the new website, we went through and selected our finest photos from the past seven months and also contacted some of our photographer friends in Dallas and asked for their best photos of the city and incorporated them into every aspect of the website. This gave us a beautiful, visual representation of who INITIATIVE is and what we do.

We also wanted to make it incredibly easy to join the INITIATIVE Network. Before, there was a button you clicked that took you to an intimidating looking form that asked for some additional information to name and email like “What is your passion?” and other stuff like that. We need people to fill out that form so our Mobilization team can do their job, but we were finding that many people weren’t because of how intimidating it was. Now, we’ve replaced it with a simplistic form that just asks for name and email. We set up an autoresponder through Mailchimp to send them an email with a link to the other form for them to fill out if they want to. This creates for a less intimidating, more friendly user experience. 

DOMAIN

For those of you that followed INITIATIVE from the start, you would know that our original URL and social media handles were INITIATIVE Dallas. Now, they are all INITIATIVE Network. We didn’t make the switch because we don’t love Dallas anymore or because we don’t want to reach Dallas anymore, but because we wanted to open our hands to other possibilities in the future. God is already opening up doors for us to possibly duplicate ourselves in other cities. We wanted our brand to be ready for such an expansion before it was necessary, so we’re not scrambling and doing another rebrand once there was another city in the picture. That’s why we decided to push the Network more than the city-specific side of things. 

In another post, I will lay out the why behind branding as a whole. I think it’s incredibly important for any organization to have a clear, beautiful and engaging brand. However, that’s a post of it’s own. In the mean time, I hope this post on the in’s and out’s of the INITIATIVE rebrand was helpful.


Posted on July 17, 2014 .

The Greener Grass Syndrome

You know the saying, "the grass is always greener on the other side"? I tend to believe that just about every single day.

It's common for us to fall into the trap of thinking that somewhere else is always better than where we are. That maybe life is better on the other side of marriage, graduation, a job, a promotion. I even heard a 70 year old man say the other day that he was counting down the days to retirement when he was 65. 


God has placed some incredible opportunities into my life and just this week I heard about what someone else has been up to and I immediately felt worthless. I don't even know this person but they work in the same field I do and have been doing some pretty remarkable things. I was instantly jealous and felt like I'm doing nothing with my life. I had to take a step back and remind myself to be faithful to what God has called me to. 

We always think that there's gotta be something better. 

And in a sense, we're right. 

It's like the famous C.S. Lewis quote. “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11 said that God placed eternity into man's heart. These desires for something more aren't bad. They're just misguided. 

Instead of wanting more of someone else's calling, we should be wanting more of God's calling on our own life. 

God is the one who establishes our life's pace and timing. Not us. That's always so difficult for me to remember. I push and hustle like I can make this wheel spin on my own but in reality God is the engine who's moving me forward. I simply have to enjoy ride.

It's not a bad thing to be excited for what's next. But at the same time, if we're not content in the season we are in, it's going to wreck our lives with feelings of doubt, insecurity, and failure. I don't think God is about any of that. 

In the end, God has placed a calling on your life. It's up to you to continuously be faithful to whatever that it.

Maybe that means saying no.
Maybe that means being patient.
Maybe that means being okay with the unknown.

Whatever that means, your main job is to have a continuous, long-suffering faithfulness to God's mission and calling on your life.

Only then will you be able to appreciate the grass you're standing in.



Posted on April 10, 2014 .

The Part You Play in Creating Peace

When it comes to people, you basically have two options: You can think the best of people, or You can think the worst of people.

I would argue that people generally think the worst of people. Why? Look around.

It seems like everyone thinks the politicians on the other side of the aisle are out to ruin their lives and the country. You can say one, well meaning statement and people somehow take it as a personal attack. If someone disagrees with you, it's natural to begin to not just disagree on an issue but to see them as a terrible person.

This isn't how society should work. How miserable is it to live life knowing that people will take your words out of context, or misconstrue them, or judge your character on one belief without getting to know you, or excuse hate because the media and their disagreements justify it.

On the other end of the spectrum is seeing the best in people.

This is the harder path to take. Why?

It requires getting over yourself. It requires not putting yourself over others but putting others over yourself. It requires being driven by trust instead of emotion. It requires letting yourself be a little vulnerable.

But in the end, we are all better off because of it. We're not constantly looking over our shoulders. We're not afraid of people being out to get us. We're not scared to say what we believe in fear of people looking at us differently. We're not worried about our words being misconstrued.

We are able to to "live peaceably with one another as long as it depends on you," as Paul would say.

And it does depend on you. It all starts with you.

It starts with you trusting people. It starts with you putting those initial negative thoughts aside and saying, "Maybe they meant well", "Maybe they just used the wrong word", "Maybe I don't understand where they're coming from."

Because if we can all start there, we create an opportunity to understand each other better.

A world full of understanding creates space for love. And love creates a space for peace.

And all of us could use a little more peace in our lives.

  

Posted on February 25, 2014 .

The Difference Between Heroes and Victims

There is a big difference in what you spend your free time thinking about. You know, that time when your mind doesn’t have anything else to think about so it defaults?

Whether you would put these words to it or not, I bet your mind defaults to thinking about one of two things:

  1. All the ways that people and society are trying to hurt you
  2. All the ways you can help people and society

The difference between those two is crucial.

One is a victim mentality and one is a hero mentality.

If you think you’re the victim, then you think everyone is out to get you. People. Groups. Government. Anything.

Of course, some of you are actually victims of some sort of sin against you in one way or another. I’m not talking about being a victim in that sense.

I mean being a victim in your thinking. These people live in a constant state of paranoia. They don’t contribute much to society because they’re too scared of society to participate in it.

The next is the hero mentality. I don’t mean hero in the sense that you’re saving everyone. That’s a little egotistical. Jesus already did that.

When I say hero mentality, I mean that you spend your thoughts and time trying to make this world a better place. You’re not worried about what other people are doing. You trust that God has you taken care of and that frees you up to live to take care of others.

Here’s the key: Instead of worrying about your own needs, you worry about others’ needs.

Victims only care about how they are being treated. Heroes care about how they are treating others.

Jesus was a hero. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be heroes. The Bible commands us to be heroes.

Do you look out for your own needs or the needs of others? Are you a victim or a hero?

The choice is yours.


Hello, World!


Posted on February 18, 2014 .

PHOTOSHOOT || Miranda Moore

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Miranda asking me to do a photoshoot for her. She needed some good pictures for her own photography business and to use for some music that she enjoys doing on the side. It was great walking around Downtown Dallas with her and taking this photos! As a fellow photographer, she was pretty stoked about the skyline location too. If you ever go to her for photos, maybe she'll take you up there too!

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Posted on February 17, 2014 .

10 Easy Ways to Ruin Your Relationship (If You're Into That Kind of Thing)

Dating someone? Really want to ruin your relationship? Excited by the idea of being a horrible boyfriend or girlfriend? Well then this blog post is for you!

Here are 10 easy ways to ruin your relationship:

  1. Never ask the other person questions about their day, life, or other common and important things.
  2. Never make time to go on a date. Only text them when it's convenient for you.
  3. Always wait for the other person to make the first move. After all, it's all about them chasing you because you're so awesome.
  4. Never address problems you have with each other because you're afraid of conflict.
  5. Never forgive them for something they did wrong and always bring it up so you can have leverage over them.
  6. Make sure they know that you are the most important person in the relationship and all of your needs need to be met first.
  7. Make sure you never compliment them on their personality, skills, passion, looks, or anything really for that matter. Especially in front of others! That's the worst.
  8. Completely ignore your own relationship with Jesus. He just gets in the way of things.
  9. Make sure you always talk bad about them to others when they're not there.
  10. Show no interest in their life at all.

If this is really the life you're after, I hope this was helpful.

The rest of us will be making the most of our relationships.


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Posted on February 14, 2014 .

The Criteria for Life and Writing

One of my favorite quotes is by Henry David Thoreau. It says,

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

I love it for two reasons:

1. It creates a criteria for writing

Based off of this quote, I can't just write about anything. I can only write about things I've lived through, experienced, had personal encounters with, learned for myself, etc. Just because I'm entitled to an opinion doesn't mean I can simply sit down and write about it if I haven't had some sort of encounter with it personally. That's why you won't be seeing much writing from me on creation and evolution, legalization of pot, the raising of the debt ceiling, or anything like that. Why? I'm not a scientist, economist, or pot-head. I have opinions on all three, but I'm no expert. I haven't had personal experiences with any of those. 

2. It creates a criteria for living

This is my favorite part of the quote. In order to sit down to write, you have to stand up and live. It's a challenge to live a life worth writing about. It's a challenge to experience life to it's fullest so you can share it with the world. In my short 20 years here, God has, for better or worse, given me plenty of experiences that most kids my age don't get to experience. But every time, I've come out the other side stronger, wiser, more experienced, able to relate to more people, more thankful for the life I have, and closer to God because of it. I wouldn't trade even the bad experiences because of all of the good I've seen from them. Now, I just want to live life on purpose. I don't want to wait for life to happen to me but I want to make life happen. Then and only then am I qualified to sit down and write.

It may sound morbid, but could they write a biography about you after you died? Would it say that you lived as safe a life as possible or an extraordinary life for the history books?

Even if you're not a writer, let this be a challenge to you.

Live a life worth writing about.



Posted on February 10, 2014 .

Ben's Coffee Class

I've been friends with Ben since 3rd grade. He's working on becoming one of the best coffee baristas around right now and he recently taught a coffee class at the shop he works at which just so happens to be my favorite coffee shop, Roots. 

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Posted on February 9, 2014 .

Steve Jobs on Death and What's Important

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
— Steve Jobs, Stanford University Commencement Address

Posted on February 8, 2014 .

What Grace Is Not

Sometimes, I think we just don't take Jesus seriously.

If we did, we would be far more graceful in how we deal with people and situations. A lot of us are prone to equating gracefulness with weakness. There's no easy way around this: that's a lie.

If gracefulness was weakness, then Jesus was weak.

If gracefulness was weakness, then John was weak.

If gracefulness was weakness, then Peter was weak.

If gracefulness was weakness, then Paul was weak.

None of us would contend that these men were not weak men. Jesus was, of course, Jesus, and the other three are the biggest names in the Christian faith besides Jesus himself.

All of these men preached over and over again to love your enemies, to pray for those who persecute you, to repay evil with good. Yet we continue to criticize those who criticize us, slander those who disagree with us, and repay them with the exact same evil they dealt us.

Grace and Love are the most powerful forces in the world.

How do I know this?

Jesus saved us with them.

He showed us grace when we were, not simply deep, but dead in sin. He raised dead people to life with grace and yet we deny it's power by refusing to show it to others. How can we disregard what God has done to us by withholding it from people who wrong us?

Someone in your life has wronged you. Show them grace.

Show grace today.

and tomorrow. and the next day. and the next day.

Show grace everyday.

*Because Jesus shows you grace everyday. *


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Posted on February 7, 2014 .

The Danger of Being Saved By Grace

People saved by grace are the most dangerous people around.

Why?

They're not afraid of failure.
They know they can take risks and fail.
They don't find their worth in success, power, money, status, or sex.
They're not seeking the approval of people. They don't really care what other people think.
They're just trying to please God.

But we're saved by grace.

Thanks to Jesus, God is already pleased with us.
So we're free to fail.
We're free to put our lives on the line and mess up.
We're free to get things not quite right.
Because we don't care about failure.

Thanks to Jesus, we've already overcome. 
We're more than conquerors.
We're victorious in His resurrection.

So bring on the risk.
Bring on the failure.
Bring on this mistakes.

We'll get right back up and keep going.

Why?

We're saved by grace.


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Posted on February 4, 2014 .

Denton Instameet

Have you ever heard of Instameets? I've been hearing a lot about them lately and I've have some friends that have started going to them. As a photographer, I was always interested but never really went for some reason.

Well, this week there was an Instameet in my hometown of Denton so I no longer had any excuses not to go.

Taking pictures with people around my favorite place on Earth? I'm in.

So Katie and I decided to head on down to the Denton Square on Saturday afternoon and see what this whole Instameet thing was all about. And man, I loved it.

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I met some awesome people like Tom McDaniel, Alexa Mihalla, and Kasey Finley, and I got to reconnect with some friends like Matt Baugus and Andrew Brewer. 

It was so crazy for me to see a community built around taking pictures on Instagram. But it was awesome. It's a great way to get plugged into a local community and make some new friends.

As a Christian, this is especially nice. Most of my community is always other Christians. Which is great, but it starts to become a problem when all of my friends are Christians. Some of the people at this meet were Christians, but some also weren't. I like that. I'm looking forward to going to more of these and making some non-Christian friends.

Another observation I made was that my photography got way better when I was around people who were also really good photographers. Not to say the stuff I took was the best, but it was better than normal for me and the people I was around people who were better than me. I'm excited to see where just being around these people takes my skills as a photographer.

Bottom line: I take Instagram seriously now. For the longest time it was just a fun way to take pictures or promote my "real photography." Now, I'm gonna be treating it was a real art-form and a real community to be apart of. 

So if there's an Instameet happening in DFW, you better believe that you'll see me there.

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Posted on February 1, 2014 .

Believing in God vs. Believing God

There is a big difference between believing in God and believing God.

Lots of people believe in God. According to a study by Cambridge University poll in 2005, 88% of the world's population said that they believed in God. James 2:19 says "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!" Even the demons believe in God. Simply put, you're not unique if you believe in God.

Contrary to popular belief, believing in God is easy. Everyone believes in something. It's natural for people to believe in something bigger than themselves. Now some people may call it God, some people may call it a higher power, some people may even call it The Force. But almost everyone believes in something bigger. That's no surprise considering Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that "He has put eternity into man's heart."

On the flip side, far fewer people actually believe God.

What do I mean by believing God? 

I mean believing God's promises. Believing that God is who He says He is and believe He will do what He said He will do. 

  • God has promised to supply every need we have. (Phillippians 4:19)
  • God has promised that His grace is sufficient for us. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • God has promised that His children will not be overtaken with temptation. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  • God has promised us victory over death. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
  • God has promised that all things work together for good to those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
  • God has promised that those who believe in Jesus will be saved. (John 3:16)
  • God has promised His people eternal life. (John 10:27-28)

I think the true litmus test for a Christian is not whether they believe in God, but if they believe God.

God has promised us so much. He will take care of every need. His grace is sufficient through every trial. We will not be overtaken by temptation that we cannot handle. We have victory over death. No matter the situation, it will always work together for our good. Through Jesus we are saved from our sins and guilt and shame and have eternal life in Him.

Do you believe these promises? Do you live like these promises are true for you?

Or is your life still filled with worry, anxiety, control, fear, guilt, shame, and sin?

If the answer to the latter is yes, let it all go. The promise under all of the other promises is ultimately freedom. Freedom from everything holding you back living the abundant life God promised you when you were saved. I don't mean abundant financially, I mean spiritual abundance. A life that is rid of everything that is not the fruit of the Spirit.

God's promises are true for you today and for the rest of your life. Embrace them. Believe them.

Don't focus so much on your belief in God that you never take the time to actually believe God. 


Posted on January 16, 2014 .

Title vs. Identity

There are really only 2 ways you can think of Christainity.

It can either be a title or an identity.

Title

I’d argue that most Christians see Christianity as a title. They think that because they call themselves “Christian” that they are one. They wear the label like they’d wear any other label.

“Christian” gets thrown into the same catagory as:

  • Musician
  • Hipster
  • Nerd
  • Jock
  • Skater
  • Gamer
  • Artsy

And whatever other labels you can think of.

It’s just another label in a long list of them. Nothing about it stands out. It’s just simply another part of who you are.

Identity

Christianity as an identity is completely different.

Identity isn’t just another label. It’s the very core of who you are. It’s the basis of every decision you ever make. You don’t grow into it and you’ll never grow out of it. It’s more than a phase. It’s more than a thing you do. It’s your very essence.

You live differently when Christianity is your identity.

Not because you have to, but because you can’t help but live any other way.

The Fruit of the Spirit becomes more than just the fun song you sang in junior high youth group. They become real. You start to, become aware of them, live them and feel them in every moment of your life.

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

Your reaction to events becomes drastically different than the rest of the worlds.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” || 2 Corinthians 2:8–10

When Christianity is your identity, you are used to dying to yourself daily for the sake of living in Christ. Giving up your desires, time, passions, talents, and resources for the sake of seeing people won to Jesus.

When Christianity is your identity, you know that hard times aren’t the end. They’re simply there to make you even stronger. They are there to teach you a lesson. Rather than blaming God for suffering, you have learned to find Him in the midst of it.

So, what about you?

Is Christianity simply another title you carry with you?

Or is it your identity?

Be honest with yourself.

How you answer than question will effect your entire life.


Posted on January 8, 2014 .

How To Determine Success

Want to know how to determine success?

It has nothing to do with numbers.
It has nothing to do with statistics.
It has nothing to do with results.

It’s faithfulness.

It’s so easy to think that just because we had so many people show up to our event or we sold so many units of a product or that we got this many listens on Spotify that we are successful. None of that has anything to do with success.

Too many leaders have had big numbers behind them but have abandoned the calling once they got there.

They quit the church.
They compromised morally.
They sold the company.
They changed their sound.

They forgot why they got into it all in the first place.

So, what about you? How do you measure success?

Are you glued to your stats page or are you hard at work on the next thing you know you were made to do?

Your numbers are cool and all, but what are you doing now?


Posted on January 6, 2014 .

The Two Ways You Can Spend 2014

It’s finally 2014.

New years bring new resolutions. This is usually the time people decide to turn their life around. And when we look at the 356 days ahead of us, we are faced with two options on how we can spend them.

1. For yourself.
2. For the Kingdom of God.

Every choice you make this year will fall into one of those categories.

This year, you will be building a kingdom. That’s not a question. Every bit of work you do will be for a kingdom. But the real question is:

Whose kingdom are you building?

This year, make wise choices. Slow down and check your motives. Are you working for yourself or for God? Are you trying to please man or the Lord? Are you building your own kingdom or God’s Kingdom?

The answer to this question affects everything.

Happy New Year!


Posted on January 1, 2014 .

Respect: The Lost Virtue That Is Worth Caring About

First, some obvious stuff.

We live in quite a diverse world. Lots of different people have lots of different opinions on things and issues and ideas. Now, I’m not one who is running into the grocery store with my gun screaming about socialism, but I do think that there are lots of different agendas being pushed out there. Some are good, some aren’t. Some I agree with and some I don’t (and I won’t get into which is which in this post. That misses the point). But the truth is, everyone has their own idea of how they think things should go. Everyone has their own idea of how people should act. Everyone has their own idea of what people should believe. In one sense, that’s the beauty of freedom. In another sense, it causes a ridiculous amount of division between people.

Think of all of the conversations you have been in where you have disagreed with someone. Maybe it’s big topics like politics or religion. Maybe it’s as simple as where you and your friends should eat for lunch or Apple vs. Android. We are constantly divided.

Watch the news stations and you will see the right doing everything they can to oppose our president and the left. Watch the left and you will see them doing everything they can to oppose Speaker Boehner and the right. They are constantly blaming each other for the problems of this nation and never once considering taking responsibility for their own missteps.

Look at theology. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in or overheard a Calvinism vs. Arminianism or Creation vs. Evolution debate. I’ve heard people question the character and even salvation of others, including mine, because of their stance on the topic as if your opinion on election and how old you think the earth is somehow determines your love for Jesus.

I’ve seen people, and myself have, argued for the sake or arguing with our parents. Likewise, I’ve seen parents control their children simply to show their authority.

Virtues

Virtue is something our society doesn’t talk about that much anymore, but all of us still think about it. The thing is, now that we live in a post-modern society, everyone has their own idea of what is virtuous and what isn’t. And I’m okay with that. I’m not necessarily arguing against that. It just gets confusing.

Some people find tolerance to be a virtue and some find confidence to be. Some find being pro-life a virtue and some find being vegan to be one. However, whatever some people consider a virtue, someone else considers a vice. And this is where the problem lies. In our post-modern society, there is no one, standard virtue that people can agree on.

I’m not proposing the end of post-modernism, but I am proposing a universal virtue that was long forgotten and is in need of a recovery.  It’s not tolerance. It’s not conservativism. It’s not veganism. It’s not even faith.

It’s respect.

Respect

I’m pretty sure the last person to talk about respect was Aretha Franklin and all she did was spell it for us. But apparently it meant a lot to her. Even though that song is a bit of a joke now, I would argue that the good ole’ R-E-S-P-E-C-T should mean quite a bit to us as well.

“To be one, to be united is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is maybe even greater.” – Bono

Here’s what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that we should tolerate each other. I’m also not saying that we should like each other. Respect surpasses tolerance and transcends liking each other. Respect is seeing value in each person, even in differing worldviews.

Unity is not possible without Respect. I believe that as a nation and as a church, unity is essential. Our country is called the United States of America and Jesus prayed that His Church would be one as He and the Father are one. Unity is essential to how we are supposed to live as both Americans and Christians. However, unity without respect is impossible.

Just because your opinion makes sense to you doesn’t mean that you get to go around being disrespectful to whoever you want to. Your words matter and it’s important that we chose them carefully.

Christians are supposed to be the most respectful people in the whole world. We are, after all, representing the God of the universe and if we aren’t respectful to the people who don’t know him, how will that make them see God Himself?

Really what my generation craves isn’t authenticity or power. It’s respect. We want to live in a world that isn’t dominated by immaturity. Respect isn’t a revolutionary idea. It’s a basic one that’s lost amidst critics and cynics.

Respect deserves to be a primary virtue. Is respectfully disagreeing without demonizing the opposition to much to ask? Jesus told us to love our enemy and I think even saying someone you disagree with is your enemy is a stretch. How much more should we love and respect those people?

It’s okay to not see eye to eye on every issue. Your opponent isn’t dumb. They just see the world through slightly different lenses and experiences. And that, ironically enough, is what makes humanity beautiful.

In a world dominated by tweets, blogs, YouTube comments, Facebook statuses, and a 24 hour newsreel, we could all use a little Respect.

Be known as the most respectful person around.

Be respectful to liberals and conservatives.

Be respectful to Christians and Muslims (and atheists).

Be respectful to the young and the elderly.

Be respectful to white people and black people.

Be respectful to everyone.

Once we can respect each other again, then we can begin to have a real, civilized conversation again. But it all starts with respect.


Posted on October 11, 2013 .

Twenty-Somethings, "The One," and the Over-Complication of Christian Dating

I’ve read a lot about Christian dating recently. Not because I went out looking for articles on how us twenty-something Christians should be dating each other, but because I’ve seen countless different articles shared by hundreds of different people on my Facebook news feed. Some are great, some are horrible, some are better than others. But all of them have one thing in common: they’re shared by people who are single. I really didn’t want to get involved in the conversation but it’s gotten too ridiculous for me to just not do anything and as someone who has been dating the same girl for over 4 years, it became somewhat of an obligation to add my two cents.

I get that people my age are all about dating. They’re trying to find “the One.” Even though they say they “trust God with it,” they still want to find him or her right now. I’ll admit that if I wasn’t in a 4+ year relationship right now that I would probably be doing the same thing. And as someone who has been dating the same girl for over 4 years, I understand wanting to speed up the whole process. However, I will say that, as someone who has quite some experience in dating, it kills me to see some of my single friends idolizing it the way they do.

Like with anything else in life we have to strike a balance. Dating is a big deal, but it’s not that big of a deal. I was talking to one of my friends about it the other day and he said that because Christian’s think they can only date to find their spouse, they feel pressure to take it way too seriously. He thought that if we could just stop seeing it as marriage-prep then we could take the pressure off of ourselves and lighten up about it all. I partially agree with him and partially disagree with him. Here’s why:

Dating for Marriage

It’s hard to say that dating for marriage is completely biblical because the Bible says absolutely nothing about dating. However, I do believe it is the closest thing we can get to the kind of pre-marriage practice of the Bible. We have to remember that dating didn’t exist in the Bible. It was either arranged marriages or the man basically bought or worked for the woman from her father; but both of them did happen with marriage in mind.

When we date someone we should have the possibility of marriage in mind. After all, that is the whole point in dating. However, you don’t have to put so much pressure on yourself to get it right. Don’t over-think a date so much that it’s not fun for you or the person you’re on a date with. You’re there to get to know them, not to propose. Take it seriously enough that you get a feel for whether or not this could be someone you could see yourself with for the long run but not so serious that it saps any joy out of the dating process. There’s a give and take on both sides.

MEN:

The ladies have a point. You must communicate with them so they’re not left in the dark. Sure, it may not have to be as quick or as thorough as some articles have been suggesting lately, but that’s no excuse for not communicating. If it’s a date, let them know. If it’s not, let them know. If you don’t want to hang out or go on any more dates, don’t just leave them hanging. Tell them and tell them why.

LADIES:

We want to treat you well. We really do. You don’t have to tell us every 10 minutes how you deserve to be treated. You go on and on about how you deserve to have the door opened for you, how if your husband doesn’t cry when he’s walking down the isle then you’re going to walk away, and how your man better have the abs of Ryan Gosling. That’s a lot of pressure. Instead of looking for a Disney prince to kiss you in your sleep, how about you look for a man who will love you like Christ loved the Church?

Finding “The One”

Here’s what I’m not going to say. I’m not going to tell you that if you just “become content in the Lord, he will bring you your prince.” I’m not going to say that a guy should just “pursue God and He will give you a girl to pursue.” Both are stupid. God didn’t save you to wait on Him. God saved you to get busy for Him.

There’s some faulty logic at work here in the young Christian dating scene. Both guys and girls are being told to wait and let God bring them “the One.” According to that logic, both parties are doing absolutely nothing which means that you will never see the person God puts in your life when He does.

Also, I don’t believe in “the One.” Not because I don’t like the idea but because it’s not biblical. The only biblical case you could make for “the One” would be Adam and Eve but they were also the only “ones” on the planet at the time. So that doesn’t count. There’s another reason I don’t believe in “the One.”

The idea of “the One” implies that there is one perfect person out there for you. The truth is: no one is perfect. Not you, not your significant other, not your parents. No one. The idea of “the One” makes it seem as though the moment you meet that person that your relationship is going to be perfect, you’re never going to fight, you’re never going to have any problems, and everyone will be telling you how perfect you and you’re significant other is. And it’s not true.

I have tons of flaws and baggage and problems and if you spend enough time with me then you’re going to have to deal with them. That’s true of anybody. When two people commit to each other then they bring all of those flaws, baggage, and problems with them and you both will have to deal with them.

There is no perfect relationship. Every successful relationship you’ve ever seen is the product of hard work, determination, sacrifice, and selflessness. Let me be very clear here:

“The One” is the one you decided was worth fighting for.

“The One” is the one you decided was worth going through the best and the worst with.

“The One” is the one you decided was worth loving no matter what.

“The One” is the one you decided to put yourself aside for and pursue with everything you have.

So…

All that to say: no pressure.

For real.

Think about it.

You’re not out to find the perfect guy or girl. You’re out to find the one worth fighting for. That may not come on the first few dates and that’s fine. If you aren’t playing around and you are truly looking for the person you can spend the rest of your life with then the pressure to walk away is off because a decision like that can’t be made lightly. But you have to be real about it. You have to be transparent. You have to be willing to go through a lot. When you find that person, you have to be willing to not give up the moment it gets difficult – and it will get difficult.

Stop over-complicating things. There is no magic formula to this thing. There is no right equation. If you are in it for the right reasons then you will do the right things.

Check your heart.

Men: Are you lazy? Are you scared?

Women: Are you selfish? Are you unrealistic?

When you can answer “no” to those questions, then maybe, just maybe, you’re ready to date someone.


Posted on September 9, 2013 .

Chains Are Broken

I bet I'm not the only one who feels like a slave to a lot of different things. For me, it's other people's opinions of me, it's my past with a broken family, it's worrying about future things and if I'll make it in life. These are worries that constantly haunt me even though I probably don't show it. I feel chained down to them, like no matter what I do, they'll always be there in the back of my mind. Honestly, I will probably always think of those things. I'm sure they will never completely go away. But I used to let them be my identity. I used to think that I was the sum total of what other people thought of me and that I was the product of the family I grew up in. I used to think that is all I was and all I would ever be.

Thankfully, I've come to learn that all of my chains were broken by Jesus. Because he rose, my identity is found in him. No longer is my identity chained down to all of my worries and self-doubts. But I am found in him.

I've found that there is freedom in Christ. Freedom from your past, present, and future.

I bet I'm not the only one who let my identity be chained down to things other than Christ. But I bet Jesus could break your chains too, just like he broke mine, if you let him.

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What are some things that you feel chained down to? Have you found freedom in Jesus yet or are you still bound by whatever it is holding you down? I'd love to hear your answers in the comments! Your story will be encouraging to me and to other people who read this.


Posted on January 13, 2013 and filed under Jesus.

What Are You Waiting For?

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We all have dreams we want to pursue but we always make excuses as to why we shouldn't. Not enough time.

Not enough money.

Not enough resources.

Not enough talent.

Not enough research.

But if we keep making excuses, we'll never fulfill our dreams. We have to make time for what we are passionate about.

At some point we have to ask ourselves, "What am I waiting for?"

At some point we just have to put ourselves out there and do it.

We'll never know what could have been if we don't try.

Pursuing a dream isn't about waiting and making excuses.

It's about pursuing.

What are you waiting for?

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What are your dreams and the excuses that you're making to not pursue them? What are you waiting for? Leave an answer in the comments below!

Posted on January 6, 2013 and filed under Creativity.