I Got Engaged In A Stairwell

Yeah, you heard me.

This weekend (Friday, Janurary 25th at 5:34pm to be exact), I asked the most beautiful and fascinating lady in the world to marry me, and for some reason beyond my comprehension, she said yes. It was one of the most exciting and glorious moments in my entire life.

From my own observations, people want two things after an engagement: to see the ring and hear the story. In those two things lies a huge social expectation: to have a good ring and to have a good story. If you want to see the ring, you are gonna have to talk to my fiancé; however, I can tell you the story right now.

We went to downtown Jackson, MS in hopes to catch the sunset while on the roof of a tall building. We tried several different buildings, but it was no go. Finally, after much sneaking, weaving, winding, and adventuring, we made it to the very very top of the Marriott Hotel which happens to be one of the taller buildings downtown. We got all the way to the top, and what do you know, there was a door to the roof! I was so excited that I could make this happen for us, but when we tried to open it..locked. My heart sank. I knew I couldn’t ask her now. We went back downstairs to find another way up, but there was nothing else we could do. So there we were, in a stairwell looking at a beautiful sun setting over a fantastic view of the city through the window of a locked door. I was confused and nervous. My heart was beating so hard and fast, I could feel it in my forehead.

“What do I do?”

“Should I still ask her?”

These questions were zooming through my mind. Heart throbbing and sweat pouring, I turned and looked at her. It was completely quiet. We were completely alone. And I was absolutely ready to make her mine. So before I knew it, I was on one knee asking the most important question of my life.

And she said “yes.”

In that moment of perfect happiness and absolute bliss, it didn’t matter where we were. It didn’t matter that the door was locked. It didn’t matter that I had actually spent hours that morning calling every building in Jackson begging them to let us on their roof with no luck. It didn’t matter that for months I had been thinking and prepping and preparing for a different evening consisting of coastal suprises, covered piers over still waters, christmas lights, candles, hanging pictures, and sunsets on the bayou. It didn’t matter that everything just kinda fell through. It didn’t matter that after everything was said and done, we wound up in a stairwell.

And It didn’t matter that the picture wasn’t perfect. Quite frankly, it never really is.

What mattered is that I got to tell a girl that I loved her more that anything else in the entire world, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I got to tell her that she was my absolute favorite, and I am willing to give of myself to see her loved and valued. She is going to be mine, and I am going to be hers. And the very best part is, we get to serve God together, better than we could apart, and we get to be an everyday picture of the very same Gospel that makes known the vast and incredible righteousness of God which saves us.

How it happened probably wasn’t exactly how she would have pictured it, and it wasn’t even close to how I would have pictured it. But its our story, our memory, and our starting point for the rest of our lives. And just like in life, unexpected things happen. Plans fall through. Things don’t turn out as glamorous as you hoped. But you make the best of it, and it turns out more beautiful than you could have ever thought or imagined.

So, here’s to all of you guys out there trying real hard to have a good story. Don’t get down if plans have to go differently, and don’t lose focus on what is most important. I have a future wife now, and I am so flippin pumped. Thanks be to God.

P.S.- My future wife’s name is Ruth Ann. She’s real pretty and has a blog. If you want to be encouraged big time, check it out.

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Like A Child

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it..

-Jesus

I am not sad that it has taken me this long to continue my postings. God has been working in my life in incredible ways, and for this post I had intended to give you a great piece of scholarship on the “Kingdom of God in the Teachings of Jesus.” However, I originally wanted this blog (and my life for that matter) to be a little simpler. So instead of getting three well organized, uber-pastoral posts like I said, you only get one. Here ya go. Sorry not sorry.

Simplicity. Beautiful sweet simplicity. I desire this so bad. Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful that God has allowed me to gain all kinds of incredible knowledge about Him, but Sin has often taken that knowledge and turned it in to pride.

To receive the Kingdom of God like a child..I want this for myself and for you too.

So, just what is the Kingdom of God? I’m not going to pretend to know alot. However, I do know that the world is a dark place, and God quite literally kicked the door in through his son, Jesus. And the best part is he did for us even when we didn’t deserve it..like..not even a little bit. He is at work. To Him belongs all Glory.

Just What is the Kingdom of God?

 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.     -Matthew 4:22

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.     -Mark 1:14-15

These words are among the first recorded out of Jesus’ own mouth, and these words are the Gospel that he preached. I find it interesting that not only is the Kingdom of God largely absent in Gospel that I preach, but up until this year, I could not have told you a thing about it if asked.  So there lies the question: just what is the Kingdom of God?

Unfortunately, Jesus never really gives us a black and white definition of the Kingdom in his teachings, and as a result, there has been unending scholarship/study/debate on this topic stretching back for years. Just for kicks, I “googled” books with “The Kingdom of God” in the title, and one link alone produced about 600 results (go see for yourself).  Despite this, there is hope (a great hope at that)  for us to learn and know and experience this profound truth. Although Jesus doesn’t explicitly define what the Kingdom is in one or two definitive statements, he does give us a wonderful repertoire of sayings, parables, and teachings that guide us to a deeper understanding. Here are a just a few thoughts to consider:

  1. The Kingdom of God is both here and still coming.
  2. The Kingdom of God is of upmost value.
  3. The Kingdom of God brings with it fantastic transformation.

I am planning on addressing this topic in 3 more installments to keep the word count to a minimum. I’ll talk about the points above, and although I don’t have all the answers(or barely even a few), hopefully this will encourage you towards a deeper understanding of what God has done for us.

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Oh The Places We’ll Go.

Chugach Mountains, Alaska

Part of the Chugach Mountain Range, AK

Southern Beach, Dominican Republic

I like to travel. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to travel to some pretty cool places, but my two favorite places are depicted above. This past summer I lived in Alaska and worked for Holland America as a tour director. As a tour director, I was able to meet a lot of really interesting people with really neat stories and take them all over the Great Land to see some of the most beautiful mountain scenery the world has to offer. Under much different circumstances, I was able to travel to the Dominican Republic for a week to work with local children in some of the exceptionally poor native villages. While working with the kids, we were able to travel and experience the fantastic beaches in the DR, but I couldn’t help but be amazed by the stark contrast of an area that was so bright and beautiful yet filled with so much darkness.

But even as I look upon the most beautiful vistas the world has to offer, no matter how profoundly bombarded by the full glory of God in creation, I still cannot help but long for a day where all things will be brought to completion. I look upon the world and see something that just isn’t quite complete- like a precious stone with internal blemish. It’s like a sunset that doesn’t quite give off its proper color or a splendidly crafted grandfather clock that is just a few minutes slow. I see a peaceful, still pond with a subtle yet bothersome ripple disturbing the glassy water. And I see a creation, magnificently beautiful but so utterly imperfect longing for a new Day. A day in which all things will be realized, all things will be reconciled, all thing things will be repaired. And above all these things…We will see His face. And there will be no more groaning. There will be no more pain. There will be no more questions, no more suffering, no more hate, malice, envy, death, nor mourning.

On that day, the world that we see- the beautiful puzzle with one piece missing- will be more splendidly complete then we could have ever dreamed or imagined. Christ came bringing with Him a new Age and a new Kingdom, and when he returns, that age will be brought to full realization and that kingdom to full completion.  Christian, we will see that place, and we will go there. And Christian, it will be glorious.

Courageous..or something like it.

Around this time last year, the Kendricks (Facing the Giants, Fireproof, ect.) released the film Courageous. Since I attend a Christian college, there was a great deal of buzz surrounding this film all across campus. So, here I am behind on the times and offering my two cents. First and foremost  I would like to say that I actually enjoyed the film, and I found the content be not only Biblical but practical and encouraging. However, I do have a few concerns with the attitudes that surround the film.

On The “Courageous” Man

In my observations of both the male and female demographic, I have noticed the development of unrealistic expectations pertaining to what a man/husband/father should be due to portrayals of husband and father figures within Christian media- exemplified in the film, Courageous. I have witnessed the “Courageous” man become a solidified, almost authoritative standard given the same reverence and clout as other, more Biblical, concepts such as the “Proverbs 31” woman. For all you guys out there, I want to offer some freeing news. The “Courageous” man does not exist. A world in which you are a perfect father does not exist. A world in which you able to relate to your children on absolutely every level does not exist. And, there is no world that exists anywhere in which life altering events- like a child being killed- are understood and resolved in an hour and thirty minutes of cinema.

Now men, if you  watched this film and were convicted by God to pursue Gospel-centered, biblical fatherhood and manhood, then allow your conviction to lead to repentance, and be encouraged by the practical examples the Kendricks have given us by the men portrayed in Courageous. However, if these movie script men have become your standard for success, then I implore you to change your view.

Jesus is our standard. It is the profound, transforming grace of God that allows the Christian man to excel in manhood, not cinema. It is the Gospel that provides the means, motivation, and method needed to properly father children, not film characters. Look to the men of old such as Abel, Abram, Sampson, David, David’s Mighty Men, Solomon, Isaiah, the Prophets, the Disciples, and Paul just to name a few. Learn from their triumphs and mistakes in your journey to be a more Godly man, husband, and father. Look to Jesus who is the “author and perfecter of our faith!”

Now ladies, if this film has encouraged you to help bolster or  bring out Biblical traits in your husband/boyfriend/friend then by all means, please do that. However, if you find yourself comparing every guy you see to a Hollywood character, then I am sorry to say, you will find yourself sadly disappointed. Instead of passively expecting your husband/boyfriend/friend to be a picture-perfect man, try coming alongside him in prayer, encouragement, and support while he strives to look more like the  man God has intended him to be. This should be done in the same way that you would want/need to be supported and loved throughout your journey to Godly womanhood.

Hear this friend. There is no “Courageous” man. There is no “Proverbs 31” woman. There is only Falleness and Grace. A grace that took our falleness and turned it into righteousness. Because of this, we can strive toward the Godly standards that have been set before us.  As men, we can be “Courageous” because of what Jesus has done, or we can at least get pretty close.

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I Think. A Lot.

There are few things in existence more joyous or, at times, more perilous than our ability to think.  I really enjoy thinking. Now I’m not speaking of the everyday, shallow, and  instinctive thought processes like “where can I find my next meal.” I’m talking about deep, profound meditation. The kind of thinking that takes you into magnificent realms of knowledge and truth that you’ve never explored before.  Seriously, imagine a world without the mind. No processing information. No learning. No seeing. No experiencing. No faith.

My mind can be a daunting thing to manage, but amongst the chaos, there are some pretty cool thoughts that somehow pop in there. I’ve recently found  importance in treasuring those moments and writing the good thoughts down (hence the blog). Here’s one I jotted down the other day:

  •  God is worthy of All glory, All honor and, All praise. There is no faculty, no sub-atomic reality, nor any power on this earth that is not completely subject to Him. If He were to stop, so would the entirety of existence as we know it. Reality would be wiped out, reduced to nothing. Not in a slow, deconstructing process of course, but in an instant. There would be, then there simply would not be. This notion alone brings with it a full demonstration of God’s ultimate, overarching glory both in this world and beyond. So then, it can be said that the very fact we exist is enough to drive one to reverent worship and thanksgiving. It is not only as if each “breath” is a gift, but it is as if every little piece of phenomenon necessary to compose the “next moment” in our finite realities are a gift – one that we do not deserve.

And to think the Gospel hasn’t even been mentioned yet.

All things considered, I suppose I should be thankful for the ol’ noggin that God has given me, no matter how difficult it is to control. Even though it can be my own worst enemy, the mind is a fantastic tool given to us by God, to worship God, for the glory of God.

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Welp, here it goes..

It is now 1:24 in the morning and im pretty sure there is some paper to write or final to study for. But here I am, writing a blog. A guy..writing a blog. I’m not sure there are many fellas out there writing a blog about much of anything, and the few of them that are may be getting a few raised eyebrows from their dude friends with more manly hobbies. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love pipes, beardshiking, and crossfit. But I also love thinking, reading, and writing. And I really love thinking, reading, and writing about God. With that being said, a blog seemed like a perfect idea, despite the not so manly associations blogging may have.

This got me thinking though. What determines the level of “manliness” for certain things. Modern Society? Pop Culture? Our own presuppositions? Why is being content with your body less manly than being ripped? What makes the athlete more manly than the poet? When did cars and clothes overshadow faithfulness and responsibility? When did rage and superiority replace gentleness and humility. When did Love become something less than what it really is: grizzly, brutal, challenging, and ferociously Manly?

Fellas, let us rise up to the exhortation of Paul when he said, “Act like men, Be strong. And let everything you do be done in love.” Let our ideas of manhood be intently focused on God and intentionally built upon Gospel foundations.

And ladies, we sure could use the help.

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