My Advice to Ryan Lochte and Myself

Olympics

Author: Christian Pinkston, Texas BYX Alumnus

AUGUST 19, 2016 — As a communications strategist with experience in crisis communications, I’m used to getting unexpected calls from public figures who find themselves under harsh public scrutiny. Even so, I was a little surprised Thursday to receive a call from an unfamiliar Florida phone number.

It was a representative for Ryan Lochte, the American Olympic swimmer caught up in the midst of a crisis of his own making.

For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past week, Lochte and three of his fellow swimmers made waves when they reported having been robbed at gunpoint on the streets of Rio de Janeiro by men posing as Brazilian police officers.

The story quickly unraveled, with Rio police offering a different account — seemingly backed up by security-camera footage — that accused the Americans of trashing a gas-station bathroom and being confronted by an armed security guard when they tried to leave the scene.

With the story spiraling out of control, Lochte’s rep asked a simple question: “How do we make this go away?”

My advice was equally simple, and the same kind of advice I’d give to any other person in similar circumstances. Get the truth — the whole truth — out immediately. Apologize and take responsibility instead of offering excuses. Then, change the subject.

(Lochte’s team didn’t take my advice, issuing an “apology” Friday morning that attempted to justify his lack of integrity rather than apologize for it. As I write, the story is once again churning as observers pick apart the language. That’s the price for issuing an excuse instead of an apology.)

Even though they didn’t take my advice, it’s good that Lochte’s people called me, because I’m exactly like him.

It’s easy to criticize Lochte for making up a big, ridiculous lie in an attempt to cover up his own bad behavior. And it’s fun to pile on because he got caught in a lie of such grand scope on such a global stage. But at most points in my life it wouldn’t have been beyond me at all to craft a similarly outlandish story to get myself out of a bind.

The lies I told to make myself look better (or to prevent looking as bad as I deserved) are at their core no different than Lochte’s big, ridiculous lie to get out of a fairly minor jam. The only real difference is that Lochte got caught, while I usually got away with it.

I hope what Lochte really got here is a catastrophic a-ha moment which requires a sober look inward. I got mine several years ago, when I almost died on a business trip to Egypt.

It’s a cliché to have a near-death experience that makes you reevaluate your life, your priorities and your principles. But that’s what happened for me.

The injury and the long months of recovery required me to realize that so much of my life was a big lie. My priority had been to do what it took to make sure people had a positive view of me, even if that meant stretching the truth to make a good impression. More significantly, the efforts and lies to cover up my sin which belied the image I coveted were damaging to me and my family. Worst of all, they caused the Lord to grieve.

Why did Lochte do what he did? Why did I do it for decades? Why it is still my daily struggle?

When your image is paramount, every decision, all your language, everything you do is passed through the filter of perception. It gets to the point where you don’t even notice it. Worse, you lose sight of who you really are. All you know is who you project yourself to be.

Before we casually cast off Ryan Lochte for sport, perhaps each of us should search our own lives for the kind of systemic deceit that betrays who we are and who we were made to be. And more importantly, we should work to determine our true identity (and worth), which has nothing to do with status, wealth, power, appearance, or whatever your identity of choice may be. We aren’t, in the end, Olympians. Nor are we business people. Nor stay-at-home moms. Fill in your own blank here …

As believers we are, rather, sons and daughters of the one true God. We’re the ransomed sinner, redeemed at the highest cost imaginable. We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We’re forgiven, we’re loved completely, we’re worshipers. That’s who we are.

Lochte’s most recent statement alluded to “some valuable lessons” he’s learned. I hope one is that lying to protect your image will, in the long run, have the opposite effect. It’s not an easy lesson to learn. I still occasionally lie to make myself look good. I’ve done it today, in this very piece. Lochte’s team never actually called me for advice.

I’m sorry for lying. I just wanted to make myself look good.

 

Fear The Right Things

forest-1031022_1920

Author: Kyle Yarborough

I struggle with anxiety. At times, it can be severe. It can be debilitating and I can feel trapped or chained to a chair, unable to move. It can bring on nausea and headaches and it can cloud my judgement and thinking. It is also relatively common. About 40 million people are directly affected by anxiety each year in the US. That’s roughly 18% of the population. Less than a third seek out or receive treatment. Anxiety is yet another effect of sin in our world. For me, this struggle is a constant exercise in obedience and faith that my Father has my best interests at heart and that He is using my difficulties and trials to sanctify me.

Matthew 6:26-27 says “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” This is a daily reminder that worrying about moving halfway across the country, pursuing a new job, pouring into a new relationship, and all the other upcoming life changes cannot alter the path that He has determined for me. It is not mine to control. Believing that is difficult, but it brings a peace that only He can provide. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the patterns of this world and to start believing that success is determined by a number in your bank account, by the clothes you wear, or the car you drive.

David wrote in Psalm 27:1 that “the Lord is my light and my salvation — whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?” More like, what then shall I fear; of what shall I be afraid? If I am not in control, then it does me no good to spend time fretting. This does not mean, “Don’t act.” It’s actually the opposite. Act in faith knowing that the Lord will guide you in his purposes, not allowing your heart and mind to be consumed by the temptations constantly before you. He is faithful to provide for those who live according to his word.

In 1932, just before the height of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said in his first inaugural address that the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He sought to embolden his people for what lay ahead and give them the confidence to face difficulty. It would be a trying time but eventually industrial production rose to levels higher than before. The jobs returned but the people’s fears turned from employment to the conflict at hand, World War II.

A lot of our daily worries tend to be about things with very little long-term significance. That’s not to say there aren’t significant things to worry about in life, but each of these is an opportunity to lay our concerns at Jesus’ feet. In Mark 4:35-41 we see the disciples afraid for their lives as their ship struggles to navigate a heavy storm. Jesus, however, was asleep in the stern. Frantically, they woke him and asked, “Teacher, do you not care if we drown?” He rose from where he slept and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” and the storm dispersed. He then asked his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”, and they were terrified, asking each other “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!” Our prayer should then be “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Too often, we carry irrational fears of things out of our control. We will always be able to find something to be fearful about. The Lord freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt but we struggle to trust him to provide for some of our most basic needs. There is little doubt that the onset of World War II struck fear and uncertainty in the hearts of the American People. So is fear truly something to fear? It is, but only when we fear the wrong things. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” My takeaway? Fear the right things. Fear of my circumstances gets me nowhere. To fear God is to desire to live in harmony with His righteous standards and to honor him through my actions. There is peace and sanctification in that.

Like the disciples, when we see Christ display His power over our circumstances, we fear them less, and we learn to fear Him more.

It Is Right To Think About Death

candles-209157_1920

Author: Jared Lyda

The past month, for whatever reason, has brought death into the forefront of my Facebook and Twitter feeds and therefore my mind. The airport bombings in Brussels were about a month ago. There was an earthquake in Ecuador that killed over 500 people. 8 people died recently in the floods in Houston, TX. Aggie Muster, a ceremony that happens every year at Texas A&M to honor the lives of fallen Aggies, was Thursday night, April 21. One of the Aggies honored this year was Major Shawn Campbell, Texas A&M BYX Alumnus 2001. A junior on the drumline of my high school alma mater died a few days ago. An Oklahoma State BYX founder was killed in a Tulsa apartment fire within the last few weeks. Merle Haggard died about two weeks ago. Prince died last Thursday. And the list goes on.

We tend to behave in one of two ways when it comes to death — obsession or denial. Neither is helpful. Death is coming for everyone. So how does the Christian think about death? Why does the Christian think about death?

Death is not something people in their twenties like to think about. No one that young thinks they’re going to die soon. Death is something that we push out of our minds. Every now and then a celebrity dies and we start to think about death only to quickly push it out of our minds again. But let’s take a moment and not run to Netflix or Xbox or social media or friends and consider death.

Why should we think about death? Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” The Bible says your life is a mist. You are here for a little time and then you vanish (James 4:14). Carrie Underwood sings about how this is our temporary home. This is just a stop on the way to where we’re going. Death is coming. It is universal. And it’s coming for everyone. No one is exempt.

Let’s not try to pretend that death isn’t sad or scary — it certainly is. It is right to be sad, it is right to mourn and to weep. But just like everything else in life the Christian has unshakable hope in life’s scariest and strangest times. For the Christian, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). When we die we get to be in the presence of our God for eternity. My mind doesn’t really have categories to understand the idea of eternity. Don’t read that sentence quickly and move on. We get to be in the presence of our God for eternity. Our hope is in Christ and being with him forever.

“We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

—2 Corinthians 4:18-5:1

We know how the story ends. In the end we win. We look forward to the day when He will wipe away every tear, when death will be no more, when mourning, crying, and pain cease, when the former things have passed away, and when God makes all things new (Revelation 21:4-5). The Christian understands what caused Paul to write, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

You’ve probably been asked, “How would you live your life today if you knew you were going to die tomorrow?” It sparks some interesting thoughts and a lot of fleeting motivation to change your behavior that typically fades within a few hours, but that’s not very helpful. And most likely you won’t die tomorrow.

I’m not interested in asking myself questions that will get me super motivated for an hour or two and then let me go back to what I was doing before. I’m interested in life-changing questions. I’m interested in life-changing sentences and paragraphs. I’m interested in thinking deeply about things that will change my perspective forever, things that will shape my worldview, and things that will alter how I live. I’m not interested in obsessing over death. But I am interested in allowing the fact that it’s coming to shape the way that I interact with those around me.

I want to remember how small I am compared to a big God.

I want to remember how fragile I am compared to a God who is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46).

I want to remember how limited my scope is compared to a God whose judgments are unsearchable and whose ways are inscrutable (Romans 11:33).

I want to remember how weak I am compared to an omnipotent God who does what he pleases (Psalm 115:3).

I want to remember how short my life and legacy is compared to a God whose name will be remembered throughout all generations (Psalm 102:12).

I want to remember these things and have them stir up worship in my soul. It is right to think on death because its reminder to us that we are small and fragile fuels our worship of a God who is eternal and all-powerful.

For now death does sting, death is sad, losing loved ones is painful. We cry. We mourn. We hurt. But we are not hopeless. We have a hope that is unfading and a joy that never ends. We serve an almighty God. Through him death is defeated.

 


Jared Lyda is the National Advisor for the Texas State, Kansas, Ole Miss, and Tulsa BYX chapters. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 2015 with a degree in Leadership and Development. He currently lives in Fort Worth, TX.


 

God Causes Growth: The 133 Award

grow-781769_1920

Author: Jason Hoyt     Topic: BYX, Awards

God Causes Growth

“What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-9

In 2004, I began this journey of leading the fraternity of Beta Upsilon Chi with a vision for strengthening our existing chapters and growing BYX to new campuses. We have largely succeeded in that vision because of the favor the Lord has graciously shown us. Texas Tech BYX came into existence as our seventh BYX chapter in the spring of 1998. By 2004, the chapter had just begun elementary school. They were a little known chapter of about 30 guys who were just beginning to understand the vision of BYX and struggling to execute much of that vision. Leadership was struggling to keep their commitments at times, recruiting and pledgeship was a struggle, and campus and social presence was very limited.

They were learning the routine of having to get themselves out of bed, make their own lunch, brush their own teeth, put their own shoes on, and get to first grade on time. The chapter continued in this routine for about the next 5 years of existence as their numbers fluctuated between 30 and 45 brothers in any given semester. From the outside looking in, I struggled to understand how a major university in a giant conference with conservative roots in one of the most conservative states in the country was struggling to make an impact for the Kingdom through BYX. I considered Texas Tech BYX to be one of the largest kept secrets on campus and in the world of BYX.

But God caused it to grow! After a trip to campus in 2009, I began to sense the Lord moving in the chapter greatly. The leadership began to talk about how BYX can make a bigger impact on campus. They began to build better relationships with sororities and campus organizations. The men made a conscious effort to get involved in other campus leadership opportunities. One of the catalysts for that is the student orientation camp called “Foundations.” Several of our brothers began to invest in Foundations and it became an incredible opportunity to network with other young men who share a common bond under Christ. BYX began to grow and grow and grow from that point forward in all areas.

The 133 Award

The 133 Award is a special award. It’s given to the chapter that exemplifies success in all five of our Key Success Factors. As a result of the success, the chapter’s impact on the individual brothers lives and the campus at large are clicking on all cylinders. The success factors are leadership, chapter meetings, cell groups, pledgeship, and campus and social presence.

Leadership in the Texas Tech chapter has been stable year after year. Each officer unit is operating at a high level while keeping the vision of brotherhood and unity in Christ at the forefront of their minds. Chapter meetings are well-run with chapter members looking forward to them each week. There’s not another place any of the brothers would rather be on a Monday night than investing into one another through chapter meetings. Cell groups are focused on Christ-centered community where brothers are breaking down the walls of small talk and pressing into each other’s daily challenges. Recruiting and pledgeship have improved dramatically over the last five years, with the chapter growing in vision and growing in numbers. The chapter currently has 158 members this spring semester which is the largest in their history. The chapter’s campus and social presence continues to grow with many brothers serving as leaders in other campus ministries and organizations. Their annual Barn Dance open party is one of the largest events thrown by a fraternity on campus.

Overall, the chapter is hitting on all cylinders right now and that’s the primary reason why the chapter is set to receive the 133 Award in an official ceremony on Monday, April 25. It’s been a privilege to see the Texas Tech BYX Chapter grow to maturity where they are executing the vision of BYX at a high level and making a Kingdom impact on their campus.

“But God who causes the growth,” says 1 Corinthians 3. The Lord has graciously grown our BYX chapter at Texas Tech University through the young men who have committed their college experience to the fraternity. It truly has been an honor to play a small role in what God is doing in the life of BYX at Texas Tech, taking it from one of the chapters with the most potential to now being rewarded for best accomplishing the purpose of BYX in establishing brotherhood and unity among college men based on the common bond of Jesus Christ. Well done, brothers!


Jason Hoyt is the National President and COO of BYX. He graduated from Texas A&M in 2000 and because the National President in 2004. He and his wife Ashley live in Keller, TX with their four children.


 

BYX Is Not The Church

Author: Jayson Fisher     Topic: Christian Living

church-581061_1280

Being a Part of a Local Church Matters Now

Here is another BYX buzz phrase. No, not “intentional” or “accountability” or “heart-level,” but rather “BYX is not the Church.” BYX believes that we do not replace the calling given by Christ to the Church (Matt. 28:19-20), but if we are honest with ourselves as college students, we often live our lives like BYX has done exactly that.

Too many men in BYX think the local church is something attended on a Sunday morning, not something you are a part of throughout your time in college. This can be extremely detrimental to your walk with the Lord after college when BYX, or any other parachurch / campus ministry, is no longer a part of your life. You will spend time filling a seat on a Sunday, and then Monday through Saturday you will feel the aches and pains that come with a relationship with Jesus that does not involve his bride. Before long, you will realize that being a part of the local church is critical to your spiritual health. Trip Lee, in a blog at Desiringgod.org, says this:

“And so we [as Christians] can’t say: ‘God has adopted me. He is my Father. I am glad he is, but I am just going to ignore his people altogether.’ That doesn’t make any sense, because if you are adopted in his family, you now have brothers and sisters.

This is a very similar thing to when we get saved. We can’t just think about things individually anymore, just like when I get married and now I am one with another sinner. We have to wrestle with things together. When we trust Jesus, not only do we become one with Jesus, we become one with his people. There is a unity that Jesus has already won for us, and we are now beginning to fight for it. It is just like how I can’t get married and then decide to ignore my wife. In the same way, you can’t just be adopted into a new family and ignore your brothers and sisters. It makes no sense. It is illogical.

So not only are you robbing them of the ways that you can edify them; you are robbing yourself of the ways they can edify you — and it is core to what it means to follow Jesus. So I encourage young men strongly: Do whatever you can to find a church that preaches God’s word, that is centered around the gospel, and where people want to fight to love him more.”

Paul writes in Ephesians 2:18-22:

18 For through [Jesus] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

The Church is something that all who have put their faith in the death and resurrection of Christ are a member of, and that does not start after college.

By not being a part of the local church, you are missing out on the single greatest plan God has to spread the gospel to those who do not know Christ. And by replacing the Church with BYX, you miss out on community with any other person who is not a college-aged male. Seek out a local body of the Church and serve on Sunday mornings, and you will be surprised at how quickly you feel a part of that local church. The writer of the book of Hebrews exhorts all of us to get involved with the purpose and mission of the local church in Hebrews 10:23-25:

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Community is difficult, and some have found it easy to punt on the responsibility to meet together as the local church. Do not take that bait. Get involved, and not only will you reap the joys, but you will also be able to impact the lives of other believers. We all know that BYX is important, but if BYX is the only “spiritual feeding” you are taking in, you are doing the equivalent of eating a single Clif Bar and saying you eat healthy. BYX is a supplement to the local church, not a replacement for it. Continue to find ways to get involved with what the local church is doing in your community.


FisherHead-3
Jayson Fisher is the National Advisor for the Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, and Tennessee-Chattanooga BYX chapters. Jayson is studying at Dallas Theological Seminary for his ThM. He and his wife Kylan live in Dallas, TX.

Alumni Spotlight: Acres of Diamonds

Acres of Diamonds_pic

By Allan Thompson
Missouri Chapter Founding Father

I was on a bus riding through the rough, Zambian countryside when it happened. The clouds cleared and I felt a calling from God like I had never felt before, or even since. You see, it was 2007 and I was a sophomore at the University of Missouri. My dream at that point was to be on ESPN someday as a famous sports broadcaster. But working with orphaned children in Zambia changed everything. I knew I wanted to tell stories and now it was clear that God was calling me to leave the ESPN dream behind to tell stories of his people doing Kingdom work around the world.

In this same season, eight friends and I had a crazy dream of bringing BYX to Mizzou. We had worked tirelessly the year before to found the Sigma Chapter and it was beginning to grow slowly but surely.

For me, BYX and this new calling to tell Kingdom stories have always been intimately connected. God used my opportunity to lead in BYX to form lasting friendships with men who deeply care for and believe in me, and to build the entrepreneurial spirit I would need when finally, in 2011, my wife and I founded One:Eight Productions.

Our goal is simple: to tell the stories of God’s people around the world making important strides for the Kingdom. We want to connect inspiring people with people in need of inspiration. This journey has taken us around the country and around the world, and we’ve been humbled by the things we’ve seen at each step.

This past January, we began work on a film with Dr. Faiz Rahman of Good News India. The purpose of the film is to shed light on the issue of bonded slavery, a toxic system that impacts millions of the poorest children in India. What happens is tragic: an already underprivileged family finds themselves in debt, or a child loses a parent and he or she cannot afford the meager expenses necessary just to live. These children are then conscripted into hard labor jobs to pay their debts. They miss out on the opportunity to get an education and are unable to provide a better life for themselves and their children.

Good News India works to intercept the most susceptible kids before they wind up in slavery. Under GNI’s care, kids are provided with stable housing, healthcare, education, and an understanding of their intrinsic worth and capabilities as God’s beloved children. Acres of Diamonds is a film we want to finish so the voiceless children of India are heard.

Acres of Diamonds_pic

This is not a story of desperation but one of hope. The first time I heard Dr. Rahman use the term ‘acres of diamonds’ about these children I asked him what he meant. His answer was simple but profound enough to work its way into my heart.

“Diamonds are made under pressure; so are the kids of GNI. Diamonds are hidden away deep and need someone willing to dig deep to set them free. Diamonds needs work before they are presented. Diamonds sparkle in the sunlight; so do the GNI kids. Diamonds are multi-faceted. So are the GNI kids. And diamonds are treasures. So are these kids. At GNI we have the opportunity to collect acres of diamonds and set them free.”

We have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to complete this film and we need the help of the BYX community. Your generosity will allow us to share the story of millions of children trapped in a life of slavery and give them the opportunity to be set free. All gifts to this project are 100% tax deductible. Thank you for your support.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/529516826/acres-of-diamonds

 

On Commitment and Being Present

clock-1274699_1920

Author: Dean Tzobanakis

As you’ve probably heard from someone associated with BYX in the past few weeks, commitment is cool. We expect our brothers to be committed to our fraternity. That’s why there’s a semester-long barrier to entry called pledgeship that tests commitment. Many BYX brothers are also involved in campus ministries, student government, and other areas on campus. That’s awesome because the more outlets you have to exercise what you’re learning and growing in the better.

But that’s where we need to pause and offer the caveat that over-commitment is a thing. And we should also pause to add another caveat: that a lack of time management is also a thing. And these are two very different things.

I’ll give a few examples: often I hear that brothers don’t show up to things because they’re busy with something else. One of the most common is, “I can’t come to chapter meeting because I’m studying.”

In the first case, there might be a time conflict for events hosted by multiple organizations a person may be committed to. And, being human, said person cannot be in two places at once. If conflicts like this cause an individual to be ineffective everywhere because they’re not truly committed anywhere (in essence, their focus and effort are too divided), that’s what you might call over-ambitious or over-commitment.

However, as in the latter example, if a brother isn’t coming to chapter because he has spent the rest of his week doing things other than study so that he is now only left with one night to take care of his scholarly duties instead of fulfilling a commitment he made to be present at chapter meeting, time management is the issue. Don’t hear me wrong, academics is more important than chapter meeting, but an hour-and-a-half meeting one night per week is not the only time someone has to focus on school.

As I said earlier, inept time management and over-commitment are two different things, but I often see them mixed up. Over-commitment is one thing, but I see some use the fact that they’re “committed to too many things” as an excuse for poor time management, producing a distant individual who has one foot one place and the other foot somewhere else. I’m not saying that BYX has to be paramount in a brother’s life, but can I propose that wherever we are, and in whatever capacity we are committed somewhere, that we have both feet in?

My point is this: we need to learn our limits, yes, but once we do we need to prioritize. We make time for what’s important to us, so it might be that the wrong things are occupying the “important” space in our brains while we neglect our commitments. (Seeking the Lord, taking care of business in the classroom, caring for your family, being present in BYX, and countless others.)

The habits we form now impact who we will become down the road, so why not work on these things now?

I’ll use marriage as an example. Selflessness, sacrifice and service are the language of the covenant of marriage. If you go into it with any other intention, you’re gonna have a bad time. Furthermore, an attitude of selflessness, sacrifice and service doesn’t seem to be magically deposited on any of us. A perfect willingness to put another before yourself doesn’t come naturally, but requires discipline, exercise and, of course, falling short a time or ten. You have an opportunity to love and serve others and focus less on yourself in your relationships (with everyone, not just significant others) right now; don’t sit on your hands and wait for your wedding day to start.

Likewise, obtaining a fancy piece of paper from your school of choice won’t likely produce a sense of commitment, promptness, organization, responsibility and time management when you haven’t worked that out. You have an opportunity to grow right now where you are; don’t sit on your hands until you graduate.


TzobanakisHead-2

Dean Tzobanakis is the national advisor for the Baylor, Oklahoma State, LSU, Tennessee, and Central Oklahoma BYX chapters. He and his wife Kelsey live in Benbrook, TX.

 


 

Real Men Cry

marriage-918864_1280

 

Author: Zach van Meter

Last Friday I found myself at the rehearsal dinner of my beloved sister who was getting hitched the next day. The rehearsal had to be practiced inside because of rain, yet food and merry celebration followed with the wedding party and additional family. The cuisine and conversing went quite fluidly as one would assume, but now it was the time that everyone was either dreadfully or eagerly waiting for: toasting time.

Normally toasts can be in ranges from awkward to academic and/or stolid to a blubbering mess, which makes the expectations for the toasts a little more erratic. So, as I sat in my chair preparing for the potential onslaught of individual presentations, I was curious where in the range these toasts would fall.

Indeed, the first toast sets the tone, while others would be the catalyst to my own speech construction and help me outmatch any previous orators. The father of the groom stands up and is the spearhead of speeches. He begins slowly with the normal acknowledgement and appreciation to all attendees and then sets his eyes on his son and the bride and instantly starts crying. While struggling to dictate his words, I sit quietly in my chair internally battling the fact that I’m glad he loves his son and my sister, but now every speaker is probably going to release the floodgates; moreover, I haven’t a rain jacket (that was a bad attempt at a joke).

Like clockwork, all of the toasts afterwards included some waterworks, which obviously I enjoyed the impactful and loving words that were shared, but I had decided that I would diverge and take a different approach, hopefully one more comedic (those normally go over well in toasting settings).

Finally it was my turn to speak, and I began my stand-up performance with a story of my sister when she was a little girl. It was both nostalgic and hilarious in nature, so I got a lot of smiles and laughs – I was off to a good start. As I confidently continued to speak with dry eyes, I began shifting my speech to affirmation and appreciation of my sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law.

Then, as I began to say how much I loved each of them, a wave of emotion hit me out of nowhere and I began to cry instantly. It was almost unfair how quickly those waves of emotions had hit me, but it probably was because I had tried to bury them before I stood up; emotions can be quite vindictive. In the moment I reacted awkwardly and said, “men don’t cry” to try and make light of my embarrassing emotions. After I finished my speech and hugged the bride and groom-to-be, I sat down and analyzed my reaction to my emotions. Why did I say, “men don’t cry”? After all, my now father-in-law had cried and even my dad had as well – so why would I react that way? Honestly, it’s because I’m still trying to figure out how to be a man.

The world we live in is really confusing. There are so many indications and persuasions of how to be a man. Do this, look like this, think like this, act and respond like this – then you will be seen as manly. I feel like I have to be bigger, stronger, more confident, better looking, smarter, and more daring than others to prove my manliness. Hopefully someone can agree with me that showing any kind of personal struggle (sins) or “feminine” emotions (pain and suffering) will extinguish my right to have a “man card.”

It even ties into success and leadership – if you aren’t at the top of the food chain, there’s something wrong. All of these perceptions and personas of how manliness should be executed are completely ridiculous and reverse to how the Bible defines manliness.

When Jesus came on the scene, He completely blew everyone’s mind on how they should live their lives. Instead of responding in anger and “bowing up” when someone does you wrong, you turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-39). But he didn’t stop there, he said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44).

Jesus perfectly demonstrated and communicated humility instead of pride many times as well. When the disciples were trying to figure out who was the greatest in the group (a manly thing to do right?), Jesus responded, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. BUT not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-26, emphasis added).

Jesus also said, “But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45).

These words should definitely humble us and define our pursuit of manliness. Humility is not the only thing we have to strive for though. One of the other areas we lack as men is being vulnerable and dealing with our emotions (no matter how “girly” they feel). The modern-day church has turned into a masquerade, and it’s sad. Many believers put up a façade of perfection around other Christians. The truth is we all are imperfect sinners and should resolve to see our own sin and weaknesses and others’ not as something that needs to be hidden but as a reminder of our complete depravity and need for a savior, our Savior, Jesus. “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14).

Living in this freedom, we are called to release our sins and struggles to the Lord, allowing light to be shed on the darkness in our hearts – but what is the best way to do this besides pursuing the Lord’s presence? It’s using the body of believers that are around us! Men (and women too) really struggle to use the opportunity of community to be vulnerable. This should be a safe place to reveal areas of sin so that there may be restoration and true sharpening. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

And as we strive to be vulnerable as followers of Christ, we should strive to love as Christ loves. If Jesus wept, you better believe it’s reasonable for men to weep. Jesus wept because he felt compassion for others; in the same way, I cried because I truly love my sister and brother-in-law (I just wasn’t prepared for how much in that moment). We as men should pray every day to have a heart that is in tune with the heart of God so that we may be patient, gentle, compassionate, and loving just as Christ is. Let’s sacrifice our pride and the image we project and humbly present our struggles and emotions to the Lord and fellow believers. Let’s rest in the fact that real men cry.


Zach van Meter is the national advisor to the Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, and Yale BYX chapters. Zach graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2014. He and his wife Mary live in Dallas, TX.

Excellence in Awards: Influence through Social & Campus Presence

15 Byline Kyle

Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” The body of Christ is called to excellence in everything we do because it brings glory to the Father who gifts us with the abilities to serve Him. As a member of BYX, you have surely heard that a number of times. How often it is repeated cannot diminish its validity and as a staff, we have made an effort over the last two years to publicly recognize excellence within our chapters.

There are five awards that are presented each year: the National Unity award, for the chapter that best understands, appreciates and respects the national body of BYX brothers; the Party of the Year award for the chapter that puts on the best planned, organized and executed event; the Momentum Award, given to the chapter that has shown the greatest progress; the 133 Award, given to the chapter that overall best accomplishes the purpose of BYX in establishing brotherhood and unity among college men based on the common bond of Christ; and the Social & Campus Presence Award, presented to the chapter that is maximizing their campus influence and is making the greatest positive social impact.

MSU officers S16

Today we are highlighting the Social & Campus Presence Award. There are many reasons why I love BYX. I love the ability for college men to gain experience in leading, organizing, planning and executing some of the best events that a given college campus will see that year. I love the relationships our BYX guys create in their circles outside of the fraternity and how those influence the campus through Student Senate or other elected positions. These are only two examples of campus presence, but they are weighty.

This award recognizes the chapter that excels in mobilizing their chapter towards leadership outside of BYX, involvement with other Greek organizations and pursuing opportunities to change their school for the better, all while understanding that without far-reaching arms within BYX, the impact a chapter is capable of making is severely limited.

This award is also greater than just the events themselves in that while a chapter may be doing the right things, if the heart behind them and intentions are wrong, it undermines the purpose of what you are doing. “Not for men”, Colossians 3 says. If our goal becomes furthering our reputation for ourselves and merely to make ourselves look better, we’ve missed the mark.

MSU chapter S16

At National Officer Training 2015, the National Staff recognized the Omicron Chapter at Mississippi State University for their excellence in Social & Campus Presence. Their tireless efforts towards furthering their social position within the Greek community as well as their presence in campus leadership, SGA and other ministries set the chapter apart in a way that deserved recognition. From winning Mr. MSU in back-to-back years, formally joining the local Greek community, hosting open social events that are not only numerous but planned with excellence, Mississippi State BYX displayed excellence in attention to detail and organization. Beyond that, the Omicron Chapter demonstrated an understanding of the purpose of and need for a strong social and campus presence and how that strength pervades other areas of BYX and lifts recruiting and furthers internal brotherhood. Good work, men!

The Morning-After Gospel

Author: Blake Hankins     Topic: Devotionals

sadness-513527_1280

What do you do at 9 a.m. with what happened at 2 a.m.? How do you handle your failures? Better yet, how does God handle your failures? As believers, it is crucial we understand how God views us and what that means. Understanding the Gospel and how to live under it can be a catalyst for living God’s will most fully. What I’m going to try to do over the next few paragraphs is show you and myself how God views us based on a variety of texts from Scripture.

Disclaimer: If your response to what you are about to read produces a sense that you now have a license to sin, please understand that is not what I am advocating or what God wants for us.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:1-4 ESV

Tim Keller once said, “The Gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” I think it is necessary that we understand this concept. We have nothing to offer God. We are sinful. We do things which are not right. Even when we do things that are seemingly good, we don’t always have pure motivation in doing them.

“What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’ ‘Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.’ ‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’ ‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’” Romans 3:9-18 ESV.

So now that I have laid that out for us, what does that mean? Well, yes, we are sinful. Yes, we have broken God’s command. Yes, we are not righteous. But no, that is not the end.

Remember the second half of this statement, “…we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” So what is love? If your view of love is in any way predicated on what you can do for someone or likewise, what they can do for you, then you need to reevaluate. If love is at all performance driven, then your view of love is shallow and weak. Real, true love is looking at someone and seeing the mess and chaos and saying “I’m not going anywhere.”

Our natural default when we sin is to believe that God is only tolerating us and regretting saving us. God is not watching you mess up and wishing He didn’t save you. There is no sin that has more power than the cross of Jesus Christ. None. Christ did not die for some future version of you, rather He died and was resurrected for the worst version of you and me. What kind of love is that? That God would see all that we are and still love us. He loves us even to the point of an undeserved death. “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 ESV.

God is not just putting up with us, but patiently shows us grace and mercy (1 Timothy 1:15-16). As mentioned earlier in Romans, we are sinful but as much as we are sinful Christ’s righteousness is even more abundant. The response to the earlier part of Romans 3 is just a few verses down.

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26 ESV

I believe many of us live under the lie that when we sin we must go and put ourselves in a penalty box and work our way back into favor with God. We somehow believe that God cannot tolerate us until we fix that part of us or look cleaner. Maybe if we take a couple of days to show we are more serious about not sinning we can then go to Him for forgiveness. Wrong! Your weakness should not drive you away from God, but straight to Him. We tend to condemn ourselves or be condemned by others and it brings us to a place where we think God cannot forgive (to a certain point or at a certain time).

Your sonship had nothing to do with you but everything to do with Him. God isn’t conquering past sins and then expecting us to figure out the rest. Isn’t it hypocritical to sin and go immediately to the Lord? No way. We either believe God and His promises or we don’t. We must choose to believe God is who He says He is and does what He says He does.

In Hebrews 4:14-16 it says, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Notice the part, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace…” God calls us to draw near with confidence, not by our own doing but because of our great high priest (Jesus). Because of Jesus, we can go to God directly and immediately. For we do not have a high priest who cannot understand where we are. He was tempted in every way yet did not sin. So when you go to God, He sits at the right hand of the Father and says, “He’s mine”. Who can even bring a charge against you? You’re his. When Jesus comes before the Father with pierced hands and feet, He opens the door for God to look at you and pronounces you as accepted, justified, forgiven, blameless and free. Jesus is continually interceding for us. (Romans 8:31-39)  For the Christian, when God looks at you He sees Christ. Jesus imposed on us His perfect life which we do not deserve and took on the death which we deserve. Because of this the Lord no longer sees you but His perfect Son.

Run to the Lord with your brokenness. Go to Him when you sin. Why would we go anywhere else? He’s the only one that can do anything about it. He has already handled it. God doesn’t want your morality but simply you.

I want to close with a very special passage to me, Micah 7:8-9. My hope is that you would be able to say this to the Accuser when you fall. Also, that you would understand God’s deep love for you in your weakness. God is angry about your sin. His anger towards your sin is now with a fatherly love since we are heirs with Christ (Galatians 4:4-7, Romans 8:12-17). But there is no more wrath. He executes judgment for you! So go to God with disgust about what you’ve done and may the Lord shower you with grace, mercy and love because of Christ.

“Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.” Micah 7:8-9 ESV


Hankins Head

 

Blake Hankins is the National Advisor for the Houston Baptist, North Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, and Louisiana Tech BYX chapters. He graduated from The University of Tennessee in 2014 and now lives in Fort Worth, Texas

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 87 other followers