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.
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.
My role as a national advisor comes with a variety of responsibilities. One substantial portion of those involves planning and organizational work with the National Staff to help run BYX overall. The top priority is leading and guiding my eight different chapters around the nation. Each relationship with my chapters is different because each has a different set of men, different circumstances and things that they are doing well and need to grow in.
The most important part to my role is effective communication. I have to share clear vision, purpose, ideas, answers and help overall; indeed, my goal is to serve, love, and encourage my men in the best way possible.
But one thing is also clear: I have to be challenging. I have to ask the hard questions, press into areas that aren’t as malleable and have conversations that might be uncomfortable for my listeners or me.
Whether it is just me figuring out how to handle my communication for BYX, or if it is how we, as Christians, like to handle challenging situations generally, one thing is clear: we don’t like being uncomfortable. Walking on eggshells feels like we are walking on glass.
Normal human beings, for the most part, like to keep situations and relationships somewhat peaceful, but as Christians, I feel like we take this to a whole other level. We think because we are Christians that there should be a bigger level of amity amongst each other. Everyone should be “above reproach” and everyone should be handling his or her own sin, so why call it out when everyone’s mask looks really good? Besides, judging behind the back is so much easier.
Well, church shouldn’t be a masquerade people. In reality, we all know that those around us are dealing with something sinful and dark. Yet, too often we are too afraid to call it out, not only because we are sporting our own mask to hide sin, but also because we don’t like to feel “awkward” in addressing fellow believers.
But here’s the kicker: We are called to call each other out!
As believers, the Word encourages us time and time again to sharpen one another, take on the burdens of one another, fight and intercede for one another! How else will we overcome sin if no one in the body of Christ actually comes together and shed’s light on the darkness inside all of us?
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassions, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you…Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
– Colossians 3:12-13,16
Admonish means to “warn or reprimand someone firmly” or “advise or urge (someone) earnestly.” It doesn’t say, “to warn someone if you feel like it” or “advise or urge someone timidly.” Bearing with one another is a grind and admonishing one another takes a lot of effort! It honestly takes the strength and humility of the Holy Spirit.
But what is the outcome of that? Admonish also means to “warn someone of something to be avoided.” So we aren’t just calling each other out to make each other feel bad about their sin or their walk; indeed, condemning communication is not our goal. We are addressing and admonishing each other because we want to push each other towards Christ, away from our sin and towards our Savior.
One thing we have to realize when we are striving to call each other out: Because of sin, we all fall short and consequently are an open target.
“Our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of suffering.” -1 Peter 5:8-9
Isolating ourselves gives the enemy more foot ground. We aren’t supposed to be in the fight alone. We are mandated to come together, no matter how uncomfortable it feels, to sharpen, push and encourage each other in Christ.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Although this verse is used a little too freely in my opinion, it speaks solid truth on what admonishing and challenging each other really looks like: rough. The actual sharpening of iron is violently abrasive. And just like this verse says, our admonishing interactions may cause some sparks to fly.
If we can actually wear away our surface-level, comfortable Christianity and get to the realness and truth of our personal walks, then and only then will we see growth in holiness. Coasting through Christianity keeps us from setting foot on the solid foundation of kingdom purpose and the soil of life-change and eternal influence.
So I encourage you, take that challenging step. Get on your knees and address your own personal walk with the Lord. Then put on a heart of compassions, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, and sit down with your roommate, spouse, small group leader, brother, girlfriend, pastor or father to address what you know needs to be addressed and should have been addressed a long time ago.
It won’t look pretty, but it definitely will produce redeeming, empowering, and healing transformation. Jesus is with you every step of the way.
I have been a Christian for about 7 years now. As I entrenched myself in Christian community, I began to acquire the vernacular of the Christian. We have our own secret Christianese language that people on the outside don’t really understand and many on the inside cringe over.
The words “servant” and “steward” are two of those words I added to my vocabulary once I became a Christian. In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul says these are words that people should commonly be able to attach to Christians.
“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-2
Paul throws us a little bit of a curve ball in this passage by using a different word for servant than he uses elsewhere. Typically, Paul uses the word “doulos.” You probably know somebody who knows somebody who tattooed that on his body. It is the word used for a common slave.
Paul uses the word “hyperetas” in verse one, which literally means “under rower.” This word originally described the rowers in the lower tier of Roman ships, but came to describe anyone in a servant’s position, including free men who took on roles of servitude.
The word was not so much about the lowly nature of the individual but about the elevation of the master. They followed the captain’s orders and drove the ship forward by exerting great effort. The under rowers asked no questions.
In my opinion, this is a really cool word in this context. We are not just common slaves under the rule of Christ. We have the privilege of driving the ship forward under the wise leadership of Jesus Christ, the head of the church and captain of the ship. He shows us where to go, and we grind away, driving the ship in whatever direction he deems appropriate.
Stewards were a different type of servant. They helped to manage the house and its finances. Nothing they tended to was their own, and they faithfully protected what they had been entrusted.
I served as best man for a pledge brother shortly after our graduation. At that point, they opted not to purchase a wedding band for the bride, so when they swapped rings, my brother simply put the engagement ring back on her.
Sounds easy enough, except for the fact that I was responsible for holding that rock leading up to the exchange of the rings. I put it on my pinky finger and clinched as hard as I could from the moment he gave it to me. It was more than a little uncomfortable and stressful.
I don’t think I have ever held anything that tightly. I had been trusted with this precious ring, and I wasn’t about to add “lost diamond ring” to the long list of face palm worthy moments in my life. My brother trusted me with that, and I took it seriously.
What have we been stewarded? In this case, it’s the mysteries of God. The mysteries of God are those truths that are not understood unless God, by his grace, makes them clear to us.
Now that these mysteries have been made known to us, we have been stewarded them to make them known to others. These are delicate, powerful truths that must be treated with the same care as that diamond ring that inflicted permanent damage upon my pinky. We must grow in our understanding so that we may share them appropriately.
This is how we are to be viewed: as individuals driving the kingdom of God ever onward under the direction of Christ, sharing His truth with diligence and care.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” -Matthew 5:6
Hunger affects each of us every day. We can’t escape it. In response to our hunger, we eat and we find that eating is wonderful. For some of us, like National Advisor Dean Tzobanakis, life tends to more or less revolve around food (just read one of his blogs.)
And while eating satisfies our hunger for the moment, the effects of even the choicest meal will eventually wear off in a matter of hours, and we will find ourselves hungry again. Whether we like it or not, this is the reality of physical hunger and, in this world, it will always be that way.
I have four kids, and it is funny to consider how hunger effects each of them. Our four-month old boy will wake up screaming from a dead sleep when it’s time for him to eat. Why? Because he’s painfully hungry. The first words my three-year-old boy says to me each morning when I get him up are, “Daddy, eat?”
One would think that as they grow up a bit their response to hunger might be less dramatic, but it’s not true. My four-year-old and 7-year-old both tend to say when they’re hungry, “Daddy, I’m starving.” Truth be told, I don’t even know where they heard that phrase. I try to give them the old, “You girls have never been close to starving. Children in a lot of places throughout the world don’t have food to eat and you girls ate a couple of hours ago” line, but the revelation of how good they have it hasn’t resolved their feelings of hunger just yet. Maybe one day they’ll get it.
Then again, when I’m hungry I can get a bit crazy myself so I’m not quite sure I get it. All that to say, there isn’t a season in life in which we are exempt from hunger, and while we may not know hunger like most of the world does, it is something that all of us will experience to one degree or another from the cradle to the grave.
While all of us experience physical hunger, the real question is, “How is your spiritual hunger?” Do you, like the psalmist David in Psalm 63:1, cry out.
“O God, you are my God; early will I seek you: my soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water?” -Psalm 63:1
Do you, like Jesus, live in the reality that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God?” (Matthew 4:4). Do you hunger for God?
In his most famous sermon, Jesus lays out a number of Kingdom principles that fly in the face of the systems of this world. One of those principles deals with spiritual hunger. It is simply this: those who hunger for God, and for the things of God most, will be the most satisfied. That logic doesn’t add up in the natural, but regarding the things of the spirit, it is a promise that you can take to the bank.
So I ask you again, how is your spiritual hunger? Are you hungry for God? Do you yearn for Him? Are you pursuing Jesus, and going after the things of His Kingdom more than anything else in your life?
More than your girlfriend?
More than movies?
More than the gym?
More than video games?
More than school?
More than your earthly family?
The list goes on and on and on. But the reality is, if you are pursuing any of these things more than you are pursuing Christ, then you are simply living a less fulfilling life than you could be.
The promise of Jesus himself, later on in that same sermon, is that if we seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, all these other things will be added to you. If we seek Him first and foremost, he alone can and will properly give us all other things in their rightful place in our lives.
So my challenge to each of you is to do embrace hunger. Ask God to increase your longing for Him. Ask Him to stir up your appetite for the things of His Kingdom. Ask Him to increase the spiritual appetite of your chapter so that you, alongside your other brothers, would seek first His Kingdom in your chapter meetings, your cell groups, your social events, your intramural competitions and in everything else you guys do.
As you place the King in His rightful place in your lives and in the life of your chapter, He will surely bless you guys and use you to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world and a city on a hill on each of your campuses.
The more you guys hunger for God, the more you will be satisfied by Him and therefore more satisfied in every other area of your life. So in the most loving why I know how, I bless you with going hungry so that you might experience His filling.
By David Pearson
BYX Board Member
I’m sitting in bed writing this blog posting at 10:02 p.m., Tuesday evening, September 16, next to my wife. She’s feeding our third child, Sam, who is just 69 days old today. We’re both exhausted. I work 55-hour weeks, coach soccer, lead Indian princess, our small group and our Sunday school class at church. She spends 65 hours a week feeding the children, cleaning the house, preparing the meals and organizing our lives.
To be honest we are more than exhausted. We’re frustrated, we’re empty, we don’t have anything left to give to one another and right now we are just plain mad at each other. She wants and desperately needs some time alone while I desire appreciation and acknowledgment for hours spent serving others. We both want to take and neither of us has anything left to give.
Sin like this is hard to recognize. Sin like this is hard to repent for.
I don’t want to be apologetic or sorry. I don’t want to admit that deep down inside of me I desire to be appreciated, elevated and lauded. I don’t like admitting I’m prideful and I particularly don’t like putting someone else’s emotions and needs before my own. I am, after all, human. Consequently I am fallen, separated and disconnected from the natural design of God’s creation.
However, I am also saved by the grace of God and through his grace I am a new creation, restored and in right relationship with the Lord. Through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, I possess the ability and power to overcome my selfish, fleshly desires to continue looking inward. I am sitting here as I write faced with a choice. Remain selfish, remain prideful and remain isolated or humble myself, apologize for my actions and repent.
These opportunities exist for each of us regularly. Some small, some large. Some private and hidden, while others occur on grand stages in full public view. The circumstances vary, but each of us recognizes our sin. Whether we choose to admit it, apologize for it and repent of it is another matter altogether.
For some, pride will keep us from admitting we’re sinning. “I’m not the only one” or “This really isn’t that big of an issue” are both common excuses. For others, they choose to see greyness in Scripture, saying “I’m not entirely sure what the Bible says on that issue” or “How can we be sure this still applies today?” Whatever the sin and whatever the excuse, conviction from the Holy Spirit serves as a terrifically accurate compass for navigating these situations. Sit and listen.
Whatever the sin and whatever the excuse, conviction from the Holy Spirit serves as a terrifically accurate compass for navigating these situations. Sit and listen.
Then, when humbled, repent. Find remorse in your sin. Dig deep enough to unearth the heart issue behind the sin and let the Holy Spirit start to work. Is parental disappointment or poor self-image the root behind pornography and sexual lust? Is the power to control and fear of acceptance the motivation behind the quick-witted, sharp-tongued humor? Repentance is the beginning of change. True change, life change and heart change must start here. For if God’s spirit is to truly repair heart level issues, the root causes of our sin, we must learn to admit, regret, apologize and repent.
Now please excuse me, I need to turn over, wake up my wife and repent!
When I was traveling to a different campus just about every week as a national advisor, I would toss my duffel bag and backpack into the middle of my room until the next trip, usually just days later. In those few days, the bags would usually puke clothes, shoes and what not all over my room as I geared up to hit the road again. I didn’t really see the point in unpacking just to have to pack again. This is how things went from September through November.
I don’t like messes. I like to have my ducks in a row, as well as my clothes, books, furniture and so on. In those days when I was always on the road, it was hard to keep things in order. There wasn’t much of a point given every time I returned home I was on the verge of leaving again.
So rather than spazzing about stashing my bags and clothes to keep up appearances, I learned to just deal with the clutter. I got to a point where I was ok with sitting in my mess. I was a big boy. I could have cleaned up my room if I really wanted to, but the mess was just going to come back if I haphazardly tossed my junk into the closet and under my bed. It wouldn’t have really solved anything. The mess was still there.
I’m pretty good at making a mess of more than just my room. That’s what sin does. It sullies everything it touches. And 27 years of life has taught me that I am really good at sinning. Sometimes surprisingly good at it. I find new and creative ways to fall flat on my face on a near daily basis. Some would call me an innovator.
As a (slowly) recovering perfectionist, my default setting is to hurry up and clean up my messes before anyone sees that I am not perfect. I am generally quick to repent when I mess up, which is the appropriate response. Then I move on and act like that was a mishap uncharacteristic of who I am. Toss the bags in the closet. Kick the dirty clothes under the bed. No one will see them there.
The fact of the matter is that sin is completely consistent with who I am. I am a sinner saved by grace. I am so much more sinful than I like to give myself credit. Yet I am so much more loved than I will ever grasp.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
When I stop acting surprised about my sin and start enjoying the freedom I have in Christ, there is a ton of opportunity for growth. I recently listened to a lecture from John Coe on Romans 8:1 that expanded my perspective on a verse I had heard a number of times. Because there is no condemnation in Christ, I no longer have to beat myself up, cover up sin or hurry to clean myself up. This God-breathed, blood-bought promise says that Christ won’t condemn me and neither my peers nor myself can condemn me. I am sinning when I burden myself by piling on condemnation that Christ himself has already paid for.
In light of the fact that I am exempt from even my own condemnation, I am able to sit in the mess I have made in order to try to understand it. Why did I fail? What caused me to fall into sin? What lie did I believe? What deeper source idols and heart issues are at work here?
Scrambling to clean up my messes and keep up appearances does not get rid of the mess; That just hides it. Then I miss out on a learning experience that the Lord is leading me through. He wants me to use my freedom to learn about myself, namely how messed up I am and how desperately I need him. This is a messy route to holiness, but it is a productive one.
So take some time to sit in your own mess, and praise Jesus for walking with you through it. Praise him for revealing blind spots and pressing into them with the intent of fully delivering you from them. Quit hiding your mess. Leverage your freedom in Christ to learn from your mess and grow from your poor decisions.
Our second annual COR Leadership Retreat is now officially in the books. As we look back, there is so much to reflect upon. To say that our second year was a success doesn’t begin to describe what took place among 20 brothers from 16 different universities throughout their 12-day journey.
A few years ago, the Board of Directors made the decision to devote time and resources towards investing in some of our top leaders from across country. And after being a part of leading this retreat for the past two years, it is clear that the men who made the decision to launch an annual leadership retreat made a wise decision. And now, after two years of playing a key role in the retreat, one of those faithful board members believes COR is one of the best things we do as a fraternity.
Our COR Leadership Retreat is worth every penny that is raised to support the development of our fraternity’s leaders. It is worth every minute the staff takes in planning and preparation (and I won’t even begin to guess how many minutes that is.) It is worth the costs because God radically changes lives through COR.
For two years now I have watched guys as they arrive in Houston, TX, excited but not knowing quite what to expect. Each of these young guys is a leader in their own right. Most of them have served or are serving as officers in their respective chapter. These are solid young men who have gifts and callings as leaders. And for two years now, I’ve also seen the difference in these guys as they prepare to get on their flights back home from Denver, CO. There is no question in my mind that God has used COR to change the lives of many of our fraternity’s leaders.
We expect guys to walk away from COR changed. That’s what happens when the standards by which we view life in God’s Kingdom are raised. That happens at COR as these young men sit at the feet of older men that have gone before them simply to receive wisdom, vision and perspective.
The first half of our trip is chock full of meetings with some of our most prominent alumni. In so many ways these notable alumni have blazed a trail and have laid a foundation from which our current members have the opportunity to build. Throughout the nation, our members are the benefactors of the alum that have gone before them, the difference is that our COR participants get a first row, 50 yard line view into the lives of these men that have gone before them. They get to look through a window of what life looks like in 10, 15 and 20 years. And for the second year in a row, these young men have walked away inspired.
As we transition from the city to the backcountry of Colorado, guys continue to be changed, but in a much different way than they experienced in the city. Something happens when we get immersed in God’s creation. Especially when we are forced to take it in because we can no longer be reached by the outside world. There is no cell service or internet at our base camp. It’s amazing what comes to the surface when we get a chance to quiet our soul before the God of all the heavens and the earth who desperately wants to communicate with us.
In Colorado guys get a chance to really know each other, and perhaps more importantly, they get the opportunity to know themselves better. I laughed with guys throughout my time in Colorado… a lot. I also was able to cry with guys as they opened up and shared things they had not been able to share with others. As guys began to deal with their hearts, I watched them get freed up in a new way. I believe they will carry that freedom back with them to their chapters and fight for that same freedom in the hearts of their brothers.
As each guy walked away, I believe they left with something deposited deep within them that will help them to become better leaders. Not simply better leaders in their BYX chapters but, more importantly, better leaders for their future wives and children, better leaders in their future workplace or ministry, and better leaders in the churches they each will serve one day.
Is COR an investment? Yes, it certainly is an investment of both time and money. What do we get in return? Well, we hope that some of our COR participants will consider joining our staff upon graduation and spend the first year or two after college in one of the best jobs in the world! We hope that some of our COR participants will one day serve on our board. We also hope our COR participants will one day use their own time, talent and resources to faithfully support BYX in the years ahead.
But having said all that, the return that we get by simply getting the opportunity to pour into the lives of these young leaders is worth it. I believe the men that come to COR will change the world, each in his own way. And to have an opportunity to come alongside them and bless them on their journey is worth everything it costs us!
Day 7: Sunday, August 10
To say that we’d made it to Sunday already would be a little disingenuous. We had boarded our cruise ship of a charter bus at the hotel by 9:30 p.m. and were off to the races; a 15-hour race that would take us through three states to be exact.
Most of us attempted to get to sleep immediately. While, the floor didn’t seem like the best place to sleep, with the engines below keeping it warm and plenty of room to stretch out our legs, it became a king-sized bed in Cabo compared to the seats. So, after all the calls home had been doled out, we slept.
To my surprise, the 15-hour trek was far less miserable than anticipated. Sure, it’s not the most comfortable, and yeah, the lavatory smells, but our 15 hours flew by. After suffering through a 6 a.m. breakfast at McDonald’s, we were about 5 hours away and getting restless, so naturally we played Mafia.
With little difficulty, and thanks to some fearless maneuvering from our bus driver, we arrived at AEI Base Camp in Almont, Colorado. Going from an elevation of 700 feet to 10,000 feet didn’t seem bad until we unloaded. Carrying around luggage that we had dragged across Texas for the past week became tiresome, and I was out of breath already. That was a red flag. Thankfully, the rest of the afternoon was set aside to explore the valley, nap and adjust to the elevation.
That night, we took a short walk to another part of the grounds where we had the best camp burgers and baked beans I’ve ever put in my mouth. After we had finished eating, board member David Pearson shared some of his testimony and set a tone of openness and vulnerability for the rest of the week. He explained how much more important BYX becomes after college and the impact that his cell group, which he still meets with weekly after 15 years, has had on his life as well as his marriage. God was moving. It was only the first night and it was already awesome.
Day 8: Monday, August 11
Morning came early and we were going by 7:15 a.m., beginning with a group devotion time. After a short time for personal time with the Lord, we met back up at the mess hall for breakfast. The group learned a name quickly: Cindy. She was our cook, and she was dang good at it. For the week that we spent in a remote valley with no service, we ate like kings. After breakfast, we set out to find ourselves a rock, particularly a rock we could climb. We did, and with some battle scars gained along the way, a good time was had by all.
After lunch and a short break back at camp, we split into two groups and set out on an Adventure Race around the camp that led to a number of wet and muddy shoes as a result of a brave and/or stupid decision to run through a swamp. Looking back, the time saved wasn’t worth the trek but the experience itself absolutely was.
After dinner and fitting gear for our hike into the back country, we debriefed the day and heard again from David Pearson as he spoke on dying to the things of this world and seeking opportunities to elevate the people around you. The impromptu worship session that followed was incredible. In popcorn style, guys would start songs and the group would join in. It was truly amazing seeing 24 other guys genuinely giving everything they had to worship the King.
Day 9: Tuesday, August 12
I will never, ever be a morning person. Again we woke up at 6:45 and after devotion and breakfast, we put on our still muddy shoes and left for the high ropes course. I think balance is something we tend to take for granted. Walking on aircraft cable 20 feet in the air gets a lot more intense when all you’ve got to hold onto is a person’s arm knowing they’re held only upright by a rope they aren’t attached to. All in all, we got our fill of trapeze jumps, zip lines and the occasional fall. By this point, our shoes were dry so we decided we better eat lunch. Cindy again did her best, and we loved her for it.
Two of guides, Cameron and Josh, handed out our group gear and food we would take on our overnight hike and promptly filled our packs, and by 2:30 p.m. we were off to climb a mountain. Unfortunately our group was too large to take on one trail so we again divided evenly, and set out to conquer two peaks: Mt. Silver and Mt. Ann.
I hiked Mt. Silver, and because it was a bit further from the camp than Mt. Ann, we had to take a van to a drop point. Remember how I said our shoes were dry? It didn’t matter much because it started raining while on the way. Several miles and a semi-wet hike later, we made it to our base camp at about 11,000 feet, set up our tents, ate a quick dinner and got to sleep as soon as possible, anticipating the feat we would soon accomplish.
Day 4: Thursday, August 7
After driving a 15-passenger van around Traffic, TX (some people call it Houston) for three days more than I would have liked to, I was ready to welcome just about any destination, even Dallas. As we say in Fort Worth, “Life’s too short to live in Dallas,” but as I say, “Dallas traffic sucks, but Houston is on a whole different level of suck.”
We were all men on COR, so we made just one gas station stop between Houston and Dallas. But not just any gas station. Buc-ee’s is a goddess among gas stations. They make their own trail mix, fudge and beef jerky. And they’re all delicious. So delicious that when Tennessee brother Preston Morris walked out with a bag of Jack Link’s, I shamed him for choosing vomit over filet mignon. Their toilets are cleaner than a teenager’s car on a first date. Like sanitary enough to eat out of, maybe.
Speaking of food, we arrived in Dallas right around lunch time. On the slate was Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, a spot well known in the community of my taste buds for putting Thanksgiving dinner on a hoagie roll. Despite the influx of tryptophan, the day was nowhere near over, so we loaded back into the vans and started toward RightNow Media HQ to see former National Advisor Nick England.
RightNow Media is in a sea of its own, and they do what they do well. No other ministry or industry supplies users with a Netflix-esque library of Bible studies, leadership conference materials and other video resources. I’ve personally benefitted greatly from both the resources on RightNow Media and from the tutelage of Nick, so I was excited to hear what he had for us.
After giving us a tour of the facilities, Nick sat us down and opened his wisdom spigot. His session was on diligence. He spoke on how RightNow Media has been able to take advantage of the “blue ocean” they are in, meaning that the ocean is not “red” due to a feeding frenzy of companies trying to compete for their place in the market, thanks to them having foresight and diligence. The Q&A portion of Nick’s session covered everything from business to marriage, and I think it was a great value added to each man in attendance.
Things finally got real as we approached dinner time. We took our crew up to Coppell for some good ole Hard Eight BBQ. Those not from Texas were stunned by the culinary magic they were experiencing and us home folk were still blown away (for the nth time) at what this establishment can do with dead animals.
Day 5: Friday, August 8
Friday had three more sessions in store for us. We started things off on the campus of Texas Christian University to hear from board member and TCU alumnus Rick Waters on the importance of creativity in leadership. Leaders need to be creative in their problem solving and innovative in their thinking to excel. Rick gave a strong charge that every BYX brother would benefit from hearing: BYX men need to be the highest caliber men on each campus we call home. Our men should shine in integrity, excellence and love above all others because of Whom we are working for.
Once Rick’s session wrapped up, we had a short walk to Los Vaqueros Restaurant for lunch. At lunch, we would hear from another pair of Horned Frogs, this time a few of the founders of the chapter, Jon Sherman and Kyle Kight. TCU is the Beta Chapter, so these fellas were the first ever to bring BYX to a new campus.
They shared what it looked like to start a new BYX chapter back when the rapid communication we enjoy today was not even imaginable and dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. A whole different set of challenges, to be sure. Although this group of frogs had little vision for what BYX was to become, God used them in a mighty way to impact TCU’s campus and set the precedent that would later create a job for National Director Brian Lee.
After our ancient history lesson, the curtain was pulled back and we got to see how raw and lasting the brotherhood found in BYX really is. Despite being out of college for nearly 25 years, these men and their compatriots still enjoy the support, transparency and love of their brothers as if they still lived together. Through catastrophe in the realm of health, family, job and otherwise, these men’s love for each other grew more as circumstances got harder.
Men, to enjoy this kind of deep, lifelong brotherhood, you’ve got to want it. You’ve got to fight to stay intentional with your brothers post-college. Life happens and people move, but if you make your relationships with your brothers a priority, life can’t hit you as hard because you’re going to have an army of men who will share your burden.
Then it was time to bolt across the metroplex to our hotel to change clothes and head over to Northwestern Mutual to see board member and Texas A&M alumnus Loren Hsiao. Most sessions up to this point stressed the importance of building and maintaining relationships, but Loren’s session took it a step farther. His session was entirely focused on investment and looked at how to effectively invest time and resources to best add value to your life and the lives of others. After the session, he welcomed us to his home where we ate Chick-fil-a and played sports. America.
Day 6: Saturday, August 9
The following morning was a talk from Texas A&M BYX founding father Drew Christman of Christman Kelley and Clarke, PC. He spoke passionately on ambition, but more importantly, that your ambition means nothing if you are trying to operate outside God’s will. You will never be more or less than what he intends to make you. Drew also stressed the importance of building relationships in telling us that simply having lunch with people (client, friend or otherwise) goes a long way in forming relationships that last.
After indulging in buckets of sweet tea at McAlister’s Deli, we made the short drive to The Village Church in Flower Mound for a session with board member and Oklahoma alumnus Jared Musgrove. Jared, the groups pastor at The Village, opened up Scripture and taught an extensive session on the relationship between David and Jonathan.
We had a group debriefing session at The Village before enjoying the 5 p.m. service. It was the last time the group that started the trip would be together since Hoyt, Bember and I would not be making the overnight drive to Colorado. The men took time to recap the Saturday sessions and put a bow on the cities portion before heading to the mountains.