23 Words of Wisdom from my 23 Years of Life

As of today I have been alive and breathing, though sometimes asthmatically, on this earth for 23 years.

Nothing feels different. I don’t feel any older or anything like that. I actually felt older when I was 22, still in college and trying to describe Aladdin and dial-up Internet to the kids I hung out with on Wednesday nights at BASSYCS at Upland Community Church. Now, at work, in “real life” I feel younger than ever, primarily because the co-worker closest to my age that I work with on a regular basis is 10 years older than me. I feel young every day I come into the office.

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So if you read the title of this blog you’re likely thinking, “Wow, what does this arrogant 23-year-old punk kid have to say about wisdom? He wasn’t even alive when the Berlin Wall fell. Heck, all he knows about Chernobyl is that it makes a rad Call of Duty map!

Sure, I’m a millenial. From the time I knew how to play hide-and-go-seek I was playing it with Sesame Street characters on a floppy disk on my Dad’s IBM computer before I ever played it in my neighborhood. But the fact that I was born four years after the Challenger exploded does not mean I haven’t learned valuable things in my relatively short time here on this rock.

Here are 23 words of wisdom, both serious and not, from a kid who doesn’t know any better:

  1. “Why?” is the most important questions you could ever ask. — Whether you’re asking why God lets you suffer the effects of cancer or you’re asking why you have to go to your room, having the “Why” question answered in at least a semi-competent way has always helped me learn and grow in my knowledge of purpose and direction.
  2. Persistence is a virtue that is rarely labeled as such but is almost always necessary and appreciated in some capacity. — I am married to a girl I chased like a sick puppy for like six years, I know the difficulty and fruit of persistence.
  3. Humility is the key to relationships. — Everyone always talks about personality types, and love, and sociability, all of which are well and good, but humility really is the cornerstone to any relationship with God or others. Personality types, extro-/introversion, and all of the like can be overcome with someone who is humble in they way in which they relate. I have learned this the hard way.
  4. If you can control the temperature of your environment, always go for cold. — It’s a heck of a lot easier to get warm in a cold environment than it is to get cool in a hot environment, I think.
  5. On a related note, summer is unequivocally the worst season of the year. — Summer is fun, but the weather is terrible. Give me spring/fall.
  6. You’ll enjoy music a lot more if you make it seasonal. — You know why Christmas music is special? Not because of the actual music—a lot of it is atrocious. Christmas music is special because you only listen to it a month out of the year (or at least it should be only that much), and this makes it feel special. I do the same with almost all of my music! I will publish a breakdown of my seasonal music tastes sometime. Right now: Michael Bublé and Radiohead. Chill, mellow tunes for cold, dreary days. Trust me, this enhances your music-listening experience.
  7. Working yourself to the bone is overrated. — I wish the United States had a more Latino view of work. More laid-back, less cut-throat. That promotion you’re working for? It’s gone when you die. Enjoy people and enjoy your work before you work so hard you hate it all and wonder what life means…but maybe that would be good for you…?
  8. The world isn’t going to end if your kid doesn’t sell any candy bars for the school fundraiser. — Trust me, you’ll all be fine. Life goes on.
  9. When it comes to most things, especially technology, you get what you pay for. — Don’t buy a bunch of cheap stuff and then complain when it doesn’t work right. It was cheap—you’re not tricking the system by buying that $10 iPhone charging cord, there’s a reason it’s that cheap. It’s fine if you don’t care, but don’t complain when it’s terrible. This is why I have always advocated Apple products despite their price—it will last long enough to be a value in the long run. I could write lots about this.
  10. Youth sports are horribly overdone— I grew up playing tons of baseball and basketball and a little football. None of that hockey or soccer stuff because I’m a good American. I love sports and I loved playing them as a kid, but I think it’s silly how much time and money and emotions are spent on such petty things. So much money is spent on this stuff, and unless your kid is Peyton Manning, it’s a horrible investment.  Just my personal opinion. Do these things, just don’t spend the family inheritance on them like lots of folks.
  11. If you go to Starbucks on even a semi-regular basis, sign up for their card program — Starbucks is paying me nothing to advise you toward this. Signing up for the Starbucks reward program has saved me so much money over the years, especially in college, and I highly recommend anyone do it. It’s fantastic.bucks
  12. Learn to speed read. — You’ll comprehend more and spend less time doing it. I’ve not mastered it, but I’m working on it. Changed my life.
  13. Journal a ton. — I love journaling for a number of reasons. I love journaling because, like many, it helps me think better and process my thoughts more effectively. I also love journaling because I would love to leave my children with a ton of my writing someday, and because they are my children, they will find this cool.
  14. Show grace to others regularly. — This might sound cheesy and over-spiritualized to some of you, but I don’t care, so get over it. Really, if you remember regularly that you have been shown the greatest grace in the world through Christ, you’ll have a much easier time forgiving others and showing grace to them. While this makes the one you’ve shown grace to feel loved, and while this shows the goodness of God in your life, it also will make you feel good yourself, I promise.
  15. Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed for taking creamer in your coffee. — There is this snootiness going around that it’s somehow more cool or legit or hardcore or whatever these dweebs would say, to take coffee black. Take your dang coffee however you want and don’t feel bad about it. It’s a drink for goodness sake.
  16. Read people you don’t agree with in order to learn more/grow in humility. — One of the things that plagues our American culture today is blind loyalty in a number of realms (theology, politics, etc.), and often we are unwilling to even HEAR the other side of the issue, let alone love those who disagree with us. Do yourself a favor and read/listen/watch the work of those with whom you’d disagree in an effort to better understand and dialogue with them.
  17. Never use the popcorn button on a microwave. — It never works. Just put it on like five minutes and wait until there’s a couple seconds between pops.
  18. Write regularly. — A lot of people don’t like writing. Writing is sort of like running. I hate running, but if I run for 10 days straight I sorta get addicted to it—writing is similar. Don’t keep from writing if you aren’t good at it. Write, and you’ll probably get good at it. I used to be a horrible writer. Now? Well now I’m just a less horrible writer.
  19. Don’t idolize marriage. — Marriage is sweet. But if you’re newly married and reading this or unmarried and reading this: don’t idolize it. It’s not worth it. It’s cool, but it’s not worth worshiping. Neither you nor your spouse can bear that weight.
  20. Don’t bash guys who play video games. — A popular thing to do today, particularly in the Church, is to bash the guy who lives with his parents two years out of college and likes to play video games. So your wife cooks, does the dishes, and you like to watch two hours of television every night after work. How are you better than the video game kid again? Don’t burn these bridges by bashing guys. Learn to minster to them through this phenomenon, because it’s not going away any time soon.
  21. “Share the gospel and when necessary, use words” is a sham. — This wasn’t spoken by St. Francis and is basically used by social gospel people who don’t like to talk about Jesus because he’s unpopular. Don’t ever use this please.
  22. Stand your ground humbly. — I mentioned before the importance of humility, but it must be understood, especially if you’re a millenial reading this: stand your ground. Discuss and debate with a humble heart, but do not lose hold of your convictions. The world we live in will pressure you to do so. Don’t. (If they’re biblical, I mean.)
  23. The Chicago Cubs will win a World Series in 2017. — You heard it here first. Don’t question me.

What would you add?

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Why I Like Michael Bublé

Tonight Susie and I are going to see Michael Bublé at Bridgestone Arena down here in Nashville for my birthday (tomorrow). I am super excited despite getting made fun of repeatedly around the office because, for some reason, Michael Bublé’s music is effeminate in some way. Whatever.

Bublé is significant to me beyond the fact that I enjoy his music, which I do very much.

Phill Knuth, my youth pastor throughout my middle and high school days introduced me to Michael Bublé when I was in something like the eighth grade when Phill was carting me from place to place in that beautiful Ford Probe. I loved the big-band, Frank Sinatra sort of feel of Bublé, so I bought a couple of albums on iTunes, which was in its early days, I believe.

Michael Bublé’s music was some of the first music I downloaded from the Internet.

Then, shortly after I was introduced to him, I started writing on my first blog. I loved listening to Bublé late at night when I was writing my emo-kid, pointless, attention-seeking blog posts back when I was barely a teen. Bublé was the fuel of my earliest writing.

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Before I started doing any significant writing in high school, Bublé was the fuel of my earliest significant writing endeavor: my blog.

I remember listening to the Bublé albums I downloaded and chatting with Susie on AIM for hours in late middle school and early high school. I often sang many of his songs in my head (and out loud) imagining I was singing them to Susie.

Michael Bublé will forever make me think of Susie because I was introduced to Bublé and Susie about the same time.

When I created my first “sleep playlist” as I like to call it, Bublé was the primary artist on it. From about eighth grade until this day I listen to about the same 12 songs on my “ZzZzZ” playlist, which I have blogged about before.

Michael Bublé has sang me to sleep for something like eight years.

I love listening to Michael Bublé, and however feminine it is, I don’t care. I can’t wait to see him in concert tonight. It’s going to be great.

John Stott on Christlikeness

I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like the last couple of weeks, but what I have been reading is great. Over the course of the last week or so, I wrote a blog series called “The Disciplines of a Multiplying Youth Pastor,” which was adapted from the disciples of a multiplier that Liz Wiseman lays out in her book, Multipliers. It is a great book, and I would recommend it to anyone who is or hopes to be involved in a leadership role.

In addition to reading Multipliers, I recently started reading a little book by John Stott called The Radical Disciple, and no, this book doesn’t have anything to do with David Platt‘s best-selling book, RadicalI have never read anything by Stott before, but so far I have been blessed by what he has taught me through his thoughts in this volume.

The Radical Disciple is a great little book on, as its subtitle details, “Some neglected aspects of our calling.”

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I am only about halfway through the book, but one of my favorite parts so far is in the chapter on “Christlikeness,” which, I think, is easily one of the most neglected aspects of the Christian faith in American Christianity today.

Too often, Christians compromise their consciences on behalf on cultural relevance without taking into consideration the crux of the Christian life: Christlikeness.

Within the realm of evangelicalism, I am by no means a prude, but I do find the extent to which believers are willing to forsake sanctification for the sake of “fitting in” or otherwise.  Christlikeness is important. The pursuit of holiness is not inherently legalistic and in a culture today where any claim of absolution is synonymous with hate, many Christians are hesitant to be holy for fear that it may burn bridges with unbelievers.

Our biblical call to Christlikeness (Phil 1:27; 1 Pet 1:13) cannot be hindered by our desire to reach the unbelieving in our communities. The pursuit of holiness and the making of disciples are not mutually exclusive endeavors.

In addition to not letting cultural relevancy hinder our desire for Christlikeness, we must not let our own sin prevent us from trying to become more like Christ. We cannot grow into the righteousness that was bought for us on the cross on our own—we need the Holy Spirit, the Helper, that is within us.

This is where Stott comes in. I think he illustrates this point beautifully in The Radical Disciple.

It is no good giving me a play like Hamlet or King Lear, and telling me to write a play like that. Shakespeare could do it; I can;t.

And it is no good showing me a life like the life of Jesus and telling me to live a life like that. Jesus could do it; I can’t.

But if the genius of Shakespeare could come and live in me, then I could write plays like his.

And if the Spirit of Jesus could come and live in me, then I could live a life like his.

God’s purpose is to make us like Christ, and God’s way is to fill us with the Holy Spirit.

We cannot rely on ourselves for our sanctification. The Holy Spirit that God has given us gives us the ability to reflect Christ to the world increasingly so throughout our lives as ambassadors on this earth.

Stop sacrificing Christlikeness on the altar of cultural relevance—find a way to bring the two closer together.