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.
Texas BYX founder Wendel Weaver, who works as a business professor at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, took the stage late Friday night at the opening night of National Officer Training to deliver his most important teaching session of the year.
“Something was missing,” Weaver said dramatically.
There was a tangible weight to Weaver’s words as he began to describe the need that he and the other founders identified on the campus of the University of Texas and challenge the 2016 officers to take the torch on their campus. This is the weekend that would prepare 215 men to lead BYX into 2016.
On November 20-22, the fraternity’s newly elected officers came together for a weekend intended to develop a greater understanding of the fraternity’s purpose, equip officers for their specific roles and generate excitement for the next year. Here is how the National Staff and Board of Directors set out to achieve those goals this year.
Understanding the Purpose
Many of the main stage sessions from National Officer Training provided a deep look into the purpose of BYX. Each teacher looked at our goal of establishing brotherhood and unity under the common bond of Jesus Christ from a unique perspective.
Weaver’s Friday night session set the table for the weekend by helping the men to see the need for BYX on their campus and by painting a picture for how important their roles are.
One of the most emotional moments of the weekend came when TCU Founders Jon Sherman and Kyle Kight took the stage to describe what lifelong brotherhood has looked like over the 25 years they have known each other. During the course of the talk, Sherman described how Kight stood by him through emergency open-heart surgery. He was able to return the favor when Kight’s 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was declared cancer free recently.
Sherman and Kight are living and breathing embodiments of what brotherhood and unity should look like in the lives of our men. Their real life examples pushed the men to lead in a way that cultivates these types of relationships in their chapters.
National Director Brian Lee finished Saturday’s main stage sessions by speaking on the cost of leadership. In order to develop brotherhood and unity, Lee challenged the officer to be together in unity, sacrifice, commitment and love. The officers left the session with a greater understanding of the high calling placed on their lives as officers in BYX.
Equipping for specific roles
Officers went through a number of breakout sessions intended to leave them with a strong grasp on their roles. Board members led sessions on the fraternity’s key success factors, and the officers attended the session most pertinent to their roles.
Each officer attended a series of sessions for their specific roles. They were broken down into four different sessions focused on why their position matters, how to do their job and what other chapters are doing.
A new addition to the officer position breakouts was the size-specific session. For two hours, the officers were broken into smaller groups based on the number of members in their chapter. The groups, ranging in size from 10 to 15 officers, allowed the men to dialogue about the specific issues that chapters of their size are facing. These new sessions allowed the National Staff and Board of Directors to better tailor the information for these officers.
On top of leaving National Officer Training with vast amounts of new information, the new officers should leave with a renewed fervor for BYX. Some of that comes from opportunities to enjoy the brotherhood.
Throughout the weekend, brother chapter pairs competed in a series of competitions known as battle of the brethren. The pinnacle of battle of the brethren each year is the dodgeball tournament. This year, dodgeball was held under the lights of the outdoor courts on Saturday night. The team of Auburn and Clemson won dodgeball, and the same pair ultimately ended up winning battle of the brethren.
One of the annual highlights of National Officer Training is the chance to worship in song with a room full of brothers from across the country. This year, the Jeff Johnson Band led worship over the course of the weekend.
Following Brian Lee’s Friday night talk, the men spent time praying and reflecting on his challenge, as well as worshipping in song. Board members spread around the room for brothers who wanted to talk and pray with an older brother.
The weekend proved to be a huge success. The National Staff and Board of Directors are excited to see where these officers take BYX in 2016!
Author: Dean Tzobanakis
As many of you know, I am recently married to a stunning young lady. Before Kelsey and I got married, there was much abrew in her head about what it would be like to live with a boy. And who could blame her? She knew that the standard, in general, was abysmally low for the male living space. Despite my efforts to prove to her that my space was neat and organized whether I knew she was coming over or not, still she worried. Conversely, I was celebrating the prospect of having a roommate of the opposite sex. Ladies tend to be tidier and smell much better than dudes. After six months of marriage, I think I may have finally convinced her that I’m at least in the same conference of cleanliness as she is.
I work with college men. More often than not, they fall more into Division III territory (that means they aren’t exactly earning a scholarship for their cleanliness, for you non-sporty types.) And let’s go ahead and lump in young men in general, because graduating from college doesn’t always seem to remedy the problem. Now, my favorite thing about college ministry is that I can treat my audience like adults. Because they are, whether they act like it or not.
You see, the word “boy” in the opening paragraph is key. One would expect a boy’s room to have toys, clothes and dirty dishes strewn about. It’s simply the manifestation of a lack of maturity (and the law of entropy.) Therefore, it would be fair for Kelsey to worry about the state of her home if she were required to share space with a boy. That’s logical. The problem comes when these “boys” are age 16 and beyond.
The state of your dwelling, believe it or not, is a reflection of your character. In 1 Timothy 3, the Bible says that if a man cannot lead his family well, there’s no way he can be an effective leader in the Church. Likewise, an unkept house or apartment speaks volumes about the overall discipline (or laziness) of the resident. A few things that require discipline: relationship with God and spiritual growth, budget, eating and exercise habits, upkeep of residence, time management and productivity, intentionality in interpersonal relationships, etc.
Discipline in one area flows into others. It’s likewise almost impossible to restrict apathy and sloth to only certain areas of life. The destructiveness of laziness cannot be overstated, and it is proportionately beneficial to be disciplined in everything. Colossians 3:23-4 states:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Put another way, “diligence is excellence over time.” Pursue excellence in all things, and do it consistently.
Finally, as not to neglect the specific impact on BYX men, consider this: The burden that this lack of diligence and consideration places on the brothers around you can breed bitterness and dissension. If trying to maintain a clean home becomes a source of strife among roommates, then that in itself compromises our purpose of brotherhood and unity. Anything that does this, especially something so childish, should be handled swiftly with respectful dialogue and plenty of humility. I encounter this issue at nearly every campus I visit. That indicates that it’s far too common among men who should be striving to sacrificially love one another and pursue excellence for the glory of Jesus Christ.
In the grand scheme of things, domestic tidiness is only a microcosm of a culture that prolongs adolescence and, in so doing, perpetuates a cancerous, childish mentality in men that’s detrimental to ministry and society. But maybe that’s a topic for another devo.
Author: Jason Hoyt
A good friend of mine was recently diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. A-fib, as it is commonly known, is an irregular and often rapidly increasing heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow throughout the body. During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two upper chambers beat chaotically, irregularly and out of coordination with the lower two chambers. If left untreated, the risk for a blood clot increases, which could cause serious issues that could lead to death.
The treatment plans for a-fib are several. They include electrical cardioversion, cardioversion with drugs, catheter ablation, surgical maze procedure, atrioventricular node ablation. I will spare you the details of each of these procedures, but the heart is very clearly an important part of our body. When someone you know has a heart condition, you become keenly aware of just how important this muscle is to life. If there is a heart problem, it affects every area of your life.
From a spiritual standpoint, every one of us has a heart problem. In Genesis 3, when Eve chose her own heart’s pleasure over the command of God’s and then did the same for her husband Adam, sin was birthed into this world and dramatically altered the rhythm of life. A heart issue was born into them and into every person born since that time. Our hearts are out of rhythm with the natural God-designed flow and function of life.
One of my favorite Bible stories is found in John 3 with the story of Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee who came to Jesus in the night to ask some heart questions. He acknowledged that no one not from God could perform the miracles that Jesus has performed. Jesus responds in verse 3 by saying, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus proceeds to ask more questions about how one can be born again if he is fully grown? Can one enter his mother’s womb and be born once again? Jesus responds, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Ezekiel 36:26-27 shows us what happens when the Lord transforms the heart.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you: and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”
What Nicodemus didn’t understand is that this wasn’t a physical rebirth. It was a spiritual birth of the heart. Believing in Christ is the rebirth. God would spiritually transform the heart of Nicodemus so that he would be sensitive to the things of God. His heart’s desires would be transformed and that would lead to his physical actions being transformed as well.
In many ways, all of our hearts suffer from atrial fibrillation. All of our hearts beat irregularly and are out of sync with how God designed the rhythm of our lives to be. Our hearts desires lead us to make decisions in life that can and do affect the direction of our life. Those decisions are either going to be out of rhythm with what God desires for our life or they will be in rhythm for how God designed our life. Our hearts are clearly prone to be out of rhythm. The only remedy for the spiritual setting of our hearts is Christ and Christ alone. Let us pursue him with all of our heart and pray and seek opportunities to share Christ as the remedy for man’s atrial fibrillation of the heart.
Jason Hoyt is the BYX National President. He is super cool.
Author: Robert Bember
Consider your source. There is a lot of bad information out there. This is why professors would rather you say, “My dog ate my homework” than, “I cited Wikipedia” when you turn in your papers. This is why you should just keep scrolling past click bait articles with headlines that end in “You won’t believe what happened next.” This is why you should click ‘unsubscribe’ on any pastor’s podcasts whose church “pews” previously witnessed Hakeem Olajuwon raise a championship trophy.
One source that we have given far more credibility than it deserves is the 12-ounce, fist-sized organ on the left side of our chest: our heart. Culture and entertainment have encouraged us from the moment we watched our first Disney movie that our heart is our best compass. Despite the warning that it is deceitful above all things, we still want to follow our hearts.
1 John 3 reveals a danger that comes with following our heart.
“By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”
-1 John 3:19-22
Sometimes our heart convicts. That is a good thing. We can trust the Holy Spirit to reveal to us darkness. This is cause for praise. It shows us how to do what pleases God by keeping his commandments. We know we are in Christ when we see this work in us.
However, it’s not uncommon to convert conviction into condemnation. I often find myself in this position. I fail and I heap condemnation on myself. The evil one loves to swoop in and make us feel unworthy of the grace and love we have received. We feel dirty and beat ourselves up when we fall short of God’s perfect standard.
Maybe you can sympathize with this, but sometimes it’s not even God’s standard but a standard of my own that I will condemn myself for not living up to, as if I deserve punishment that The Lord isn’t going to give. I break my own rules and fail to be who I want to be, almost as if I know Jesus saved me from my sins against him but not from the sins I commit against my own standards.
I play judge to myself, heaping on condemnation and self-hate that Jesus paid a heavy price to keep me from. It’s not what he wants for me, it’s not what I’m called to, but it is often where I find myself as a result of giving my heart more credibility than it deserves. Condemnation is antithetical to what we are supposed to experience under the yoke of Jesus. While our heart lies to us, a good source promises a lighter yoke.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
This is exactly what John is compelling us to do. Much of 1 John is devoted to assuring us of our salvation. Because we are of the truth, we can reassure our hearts with truth, such as that of Romans 8:1 that tells us our heart can’t condemn us. John reminds us of here is that God is greater than our heart and he knows everything. He is more knowledgeable and authoritative than our hearts.
As an omniscient God, he knows all. There is nothing hidden from him, including the deepest and darkest corners of our hearts. This could be a terrifying reality if not for the accompanying truth that He loves us despite the depths of our darkness. Our heart lies and says we are dirty and unlovable. God says he has made us clean and he loves us dearly.
For those in Christ, God has already determined and displayed how he feels about us. He has decided that he loves us and accepts us regardless of what we have done and regardless of what our heart says. His opinion is higher and of immeasurably greater importance than that of our sin-scarred heart. That will not change.
As the highest authority over all creation, God has the final say. When he says we are perfect and spotless, it is not a metaphor or hyperbole. It is not an opinion. It is reality. It is who we are. Nothing our heart contributes to the conversation has any bearing on what is true. When the all-powerful king of the universe declares one thing and the blood-pumping organ in my chest says another, we trust our creator rather than his creation.
The gavel has fallen. The verdict has been determined. We are adopted sons and heirs, justified and forgiven, sinless and free. We can trust what God has to say about us because he is greater than our hearts. He is a good source. He is the ultimate source.
“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.”
-1 Corinthians 4:3-4
Robert Bember was on BYX staff from 2010 to 2016 in a variety of different roles. He now works in real estate for the Todd Tramonte Home Selling Team. Robert graduated from TCU with a degree in Journalism.
This year my local church has been reading the entire Bible together, and over the past few weeks we have been going through the Gospel of Matthew. As I have been reading, my mind continues to dwell on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and particularly how Jesus cuts to the heart of the Pharisees and raises the standard that is required to enter the Kingdom of God.
“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20 (NASB) [Emphasis Added]
To me, this verse is the ultimate reminder that my righteousness is not dependent on myself. These Pharisees tithed everything, even down to their spices (Luke 11:42), and yet they cannot enter the Kingdom. How can a guy who cannot even control the lusts of his eyes enter the Kingdom?
As a seminary student, I can pick apart the Scriptures with the Greek and Hebrew, and I consider my knowledge of the Scriptures to be righteous enough. I scan the pews and weigh my knowledge to the knowledge of others, thinking that my knowledge of the Scriptures satisfies God. Oh the pride that is cloaked in “Godliness.” Paul in his letter to the Philippians answers the question: “If the Pharisees can’t make it, who can?”
“Although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” -Philippians 3:1-11 (NASB) [Emphasis Added]
How can we surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees in order to enter the Kingdom? We need the righteousness that comes from the blood of Christ. He is our ultimate righteousness. He lived the perfect life and surpassed the Pharisees. He died for us in order to satisfy the standard of holiness the Father requires. He is the reason we can enter into the Father’s presence boldly even though we are broken sinners.
Our works cannot satisfy the judgment of our sin. Our eternal righteousness comes from Jesus. This is the greatest news in human history. God, knowing full well the rebelliousness of his children, sent his Son so that we may be called holy and blameless. Now we worship him, giving glory to him who reconciled us back to himself. No longer can we call pharisaic works righteousness, but we look to the cross and the empty tomb and behold the righteous one.
And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.” –Colossians 1:21-22 (NASB) [Emphasis Added]
“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” -Hebrews 10:19-22 (NASB)
You may have noticed it already but we are putting a lot of effort into defining and explaining our five key success factors through blog posts, chapter visits or changes in programming both nationally and locally. We identified those areas that are critical for success and are committed to the implementation of such things. As a reminder, the key success factors are pledgeship and recruitment, chapter meetings, cell groups, social and campus presence and leadership.
With all this said, I believe it is imperative that we do not omit the most foundational piece of our fraternity; the area which should infiltrate all that we do and all that we are. That is brotherhood and unity in Christ.
It is crucial that we do not lose sight of this starting point. The success factors are great and important, but those things which are important lose their effectiveness if they are not grounded in Christ. Without Christ at our foundation and centerpiece those areas of success are in vain and will not stand.
As an example, in Matthew 7 Jesus talks about building your house on a rock.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” -Matthew 7:24-27
In the same way, we must build our brotherhood on a solid foundation. The moment we focus on ourselves or the house itself (the fraternity) is the moment we compromise the very purpose and identity of who we are. There are zero doubts in my mind that you can have quality in pledgeship and recruitment, chapter meetings, cell groups, social/ and campus presence and leadership with Christ being centric. I would actually argue that it is essential to be more effective and successful.
Every part of our success factors are good but if we are building those upon another foundation then we are simply wasting our time. Be mindful to get back to the basics, to simplify our mission and to remember the truth. It is of utmost importance that we as an organization stay true to who we are. And not just recognize that foundation but allow it to permeate and consume all of which we are. Nothing we do is mutually exclusive from Christ. He is preeminent (Colossians 1:15-20). Therefore we should strive to put love, truth, honor and grace at the front and center of what we do.
There is no way I could have expected the short kid with the oversized head on my five-year-old tee-ball team to still be one of my best friends 23 years later. It’s crazy to think about what we have been through over the course of those 23 years.
When I was six, I hit my first home run and cried. Aaron, the walking bobblehead who played pitcher for our tee-ball squad, still remembers that moment more vividly than me and still ridicules me for it.
In fourth grade, Aaron and I had an argument over who was going to return a kickoff while playing football in the vacant lot next to his house. I won the argument, but ultimately lost when I broke my collarbone during the return.
In middle school, we powered through that phase of life when highlighting the tips of your hair was cool. We spent more time making create-a-players and teams on Madden than we did studying. In high school, he basically lived at my house for stretches of time for no other reason than he could. By that point in time, my parents had embraced him as “son number three.”
In high school, our friendship continued to grow as the real world started to come knocking. Aaron was the guy that I would grind away with every day on the baseball field or at the gym. We shared the same dream of playing baseball at the next level, which was a dream that ultimately came true for him. Those hours on the field working toward a shared goal helped to define our friendship.
Aaron was the first person I called after I learned of my brother’s cancer diagnosis before the start of my senior year. It was the first time I had to use the phrase, “George has cancer,” and I choked it out through the phone as I sat on the right edge of my bed. Throughout George’s battle with cancer, Aaron regularly made the 45-minute drive across Houston to the hospital with me to hang out with my brother.
We went our separate ways in college, but there were still memories to be made. The highlight of our relationship in college was immediately after I graduated from TCU. My Frogs opened the NCAA Tournament against Lamar University. Aaron was the starting shortstop for Lamar and their leadoff hitter. He was a thorn in the side of TCU pitchers. I was equally proud and angry at him, but we ultimately won.
I had the privilege of standing behind him as a groomsman on his wedding day, and he will one day, Lord willing, have that honor for me. In December 2014, my life changed more than I could have ever imagined when Aaron and wife, Savannah, had their first child, Bryce. I had no idea how the birth of Bryce would impact me, but I would take a bullet for that kid. All of the sudden, the world was substantially different because that kid with the oversized head was now a dad.We have been through a lot together, and we will likely go through so much more.
When I was reading 1 John 2:13-14 recently, I began to think about the opportunity to build a long friendship with God. The passage says:
I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
Here, John speaks specifically to the needs of spiritual children, young men and fathers. We need to hear different wisdom based on where we are in our relationship with Jesus, and John was aware of this.
For the baby Christians, he reminds them of simple and foundational truths on which the rest of their spiritual lives will be built: their sins have been forgiven and they know the Father. For the young men who are fighting to grow in Christ, he reminds them that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, they are able to resist sin. As they fight to grow, they are not left alone in the battle.
John’s insight to spiritual fathers is what really stood out to me though. Here, John speaks of longevity. I think reminding them that they know “him who is from the beginning” is an encouragement to recall the duration not only of God’s existence (forever) but also the duration of their relationship with Christ.
What the spiritual fathers have in Christ does not happen overnight. Over many years of faithful pursuit of him who is from the beginning, they have developed an old friendship. I have never thought to personify Jesus in this way, which is a travesty given he is a living person.
Old friendships don’t get boring. There are always new memories to create and experiences to have. Likewise with our Heavenly Father, we will spend our entire earthly lives plus all of eternity getting to know Him more, and we will still just scratch the surface on the depths of his love, wisdom and goodness. John is reminding the fathers that our relationship with Christ should never become old and stagnant.
As I do with Aaron, I can look back on my relationship with Jesus, about eight-years strong, and see all that we have been through together. In Christ, I have a reliable, old friend. Not like a corny, three-chord Christian song friend, but one who has fought for my soul and pursued me when I fled, one who has walked with me through the worst of times and celebrated with me in the best of times, one who builds up and rebukes, one who always and exclusively has my best interests in mind.
When I step back and consider what I have experienced in my time as a Christian (not to mention all that I went through prior to acknowledging Christ’s hand in my life) I realize I have made some memories with Jesus. We have been through a lot together, and we will experience so much more together. Over and over, He has proven himself to be a good friend. As I move toward that lifestage of spiritual fatherhood, I hope to have an increasing awareness of the friendship I have with Jesus, looking to him lovingly and recalling memories with Him fondly.
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” -John 15:15