Parables [Book Review]

Storytelling is all the rage these days. Whether in the business world or the church, everyone is being encouraged to tell their story. One of the primary reasons for this trend is that storytelling, when done well, is a highly effective way to package truth in a way that conveys abstract concepts through relatable daily experiences.

In his newest book Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed in the Stories Jesus Told, John MacArthur writes about one of history’s master storytellers: Jesus of Nazareth.

Why did Jesus use stories? Early in His ministry, Jesus actually didn’t use parables that often, but as opposition to His message mounted, He made the shift to storytelling. Since parables communicate propositional truth in a narrative format, Jesus could use them to both conceal and reveal truth about Himself and His kingdom. MacArthur explains: “Jesus’ parables had a clear twofold purpose: They hid the truth from self-righteous or self-satisfied people who fancied themselves too sophisticated to learn from Him, while the same parables revealed truth to eager souls with childlike faith–those who were hungering and thirsting for righteousness.”  Read more of this post

Five Years Later

Five Years

Almost five years ago, it happened: I finally worked up the courage to start a blog. Back then, blogging was just hitting the mainstream with the rise of WordPress and Blogger (and to a lesser extent Tumblr and others). My first blog post, “Sometimes 140 Character Isn’t Enough,” set the foundation for the 147 posts (and counting) that have come since. Looking back at some of those first posts is pretty embarrassing, but it also shows how God has molded and shaped me over the past five years.

Back in 2010, I was beginning my final year at John Brown University, serving as the student ministry intern at Harvard Avenue Baptist Church, working part-time for the Arkansas World Trade Center, and making a lot of big plans for what I wanted to do when I graduated that May. Between that first post and this one, I have launched a business, led a college and career ministry, attended several incredible conferences, gone on adventures all over the country, experienced the joys and sorrows in different interpersonal relationships, and a host of other events that have all served as inspirations for the posts on this site.

If you would’ve asked me back in 2010 what life would be like in 2015, my predictions would be quite different from my reality. And you know what? That’s not a bad thing! Looking back, some of the things that were on my agenda would have deprived me of some incredible opportunities. If I would have traveled to Europe or moved out of Siloam immediately, I wouldn’t have gotten to enjoy the rich fellowship with the believers at Harvard Avenue. If I wouldn’t have started AFS, I wouldn’t have gotten to learn about what it takes to bring an idea to fruition or meet some of the inspirational people in Arkansas and around the world that are passionate about improving the world through building innovative businesses.

The examples are endless, but the lesson is the same: God’s plans truly are higher than any plans I could have for myself. I’m not saying don’t set goals or pursue your “five-year plan”, but do so with the realization that God’s plans and yours may not line up… and that’s just fine. When you look back, you’ll see the grace in the way He has sovereignly directed your steps to increase your joy.

Learn It. Love it. Live It.

[image credit: Michael Ruiz on Flickr

The Beauty of Books

Dickson Street Bookshop in Fayetteville, Arkansas. One of my favorite used bookstores and recently featured on Buzzfeed’s list of “17 Bookstores That Will Literally Change Your Life.”

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” –Charles William Eliot

One of my guilty pleasures is visiting used bookstores. Given the time, I can, and often do, spend hours browsing the shelves, flipping through pages, and enjoying the unique smell of the aging paper. It’s incredible to look at the volume of volumes knowing that each binding quite literally contains its own unique story. From the folio edition of a classic novel to the in-depth theology book to the paperback version of a business bestseller, each text represents hours of thought and work to communicate an idea.

Why do I enjoy books so much? Primarily because books are such a beautiful and powerful way to convey a message. They have the ability to inspire, educate, and entertain their readers. In the quote above, Eliot captures the role of a books well when he refers to them as the reader’s friend, counselor, and teacher. Understanding each of these characterizations helps to comprehend what makes books so beautiful and unique:  Read more of this post

Six Questions to Ask When Choosing a Job

Job search

Let’s be honest…choosing a job can be a nerve-racking experience. Whether you are a high school student getting a summer job, a college student looking for an internship, a recent college graduate searching for your first position, or an experienced professional taking the next step in your career, a lot hangs in the balance when pursuing a new job opportunity. As someone who recently when through this process myself, I can relate to the difficulty of narrowing down your options and ultimately choosing which direction to go. Rather than letting your emotions take control and paralyze you in indecision, it is best to go take a rational approach to help filter offers and make a decision. In their book “The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Job,” Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger offer six questions that can help you find, filter, and select a job. They break the questions down into two categories: the “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” Here are their questions:  Read more of this post

Rise [Book Review]

“Enjoy yourself while you can.”
“Don’t grow up too fast.”
“You’re too young to make a difference.”

If you’re like me, you’ve heard one of these phrases at some point in your life. Not much is expected of young people, especially in today’s culture of extended adolescence. This is reinforced by peers, parents, media, universities, and cultural in general. Just a few generations ago, many of our grandfathers were fighting wars on foreign soils while today it’s a challenge for young people to get to class or work on time, much less stand up for something they believe in.

Because of the convergence of these two factors, low expectations from others and low motivation for young people, there is a general stereotype that Millennials are apathetic. Of course, the reluctance of young people to make a difference isn’t a new problem. Almost two thousand years ago, Paul wrote to his young friend and mentee Timothy: “let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). 

To address this persistent problem, Trip Lee wrote Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story, a companion book to his latest album by the same name. This book is aimed right at young people, challenging them to live a holy life now, instead of waiting until later in life to “get serious about their faith.” Trip writes: “There are great benefits to living for Jesus in the present. Now is the time when we have the most strength. Now is the time when we have the most energy. Now is the time when we can give it everything we have. Now is the time to get up and live.”  Read more of this post

Passing the Torch: Four Ways to Prepare the Next Generation to Lead Well

kindle logo

This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry + College/Career Ministry Kindle Retreat on Saturday, January 23, 2015.

Key Text: 2 Timothy 1:1-14

The call to leadership is a call to discipleship. Christian leaders are given the responsibility to not only lead well, but to invest in the next generation so that they can carry on the gospel task. John Maxwell sums it up well: “The best leaders lead today with tomorrow in mind by making sure they invest in leaders who will carry their legacy forward.” In fact, one of the goals of leadership is to make yourself replaceable. Ideally, a leader should put people and systems in place so that if they have to leave their leadership role for some reason, things will keep running smoothly. As we will see in 2 Timothy, Christian leaders are commanded to “guard the good deposit” of the gospel in themselves and in those who they will pass the torch to.

It is interesting that none of the leaders in the Bible were seeking a leadership position. They were all underdogs and ordinary men and women who God chose and empowered to lead well. There are several positive and negative examples in Scripture of leaders passing the torch to the next generation. In the Old Testament, there are two different “succession plans” that start out well, but end in disaster. The first one begins with Moses. God appoints Moses as the leader of His people, who will lead them out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. Along the way, Moses selected a young man named Joshua to be his special assistant and began to invest in him. Joshua was chosen to be one of the twelve spies to go scout out the Promised Land and he and Caleb were the only two that trusted that God would fulfill His promise to give them victory (Numbers 13). As Moses neared the end of his life, he asked God to appoint a leader to take his place and Joshua was chosen (Numbers 27).

Joshua then led the nation of Israel in the conquest of the Promised Land. In addition to his military prowess, he also kept the people on track spiritually by constantly reminding them of God’s law, covenants, and promises.  Joshua 24:31 tells us that “Israel served the Lord in all the days of Joshua.” However, Joshua didn’t appoint a leader behind him, which leads to the downward spiral of Israel in the book of JudgesRead more of this post

3 Reasons Allstate’s #MayhemSale Stole the Show…Literally



If you tuned into the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, chances are you also quickly opened your laptop to plunder Matt and Shannon’s house as a part of Allstate’s brilliant #MayhemSale campaign.

Just in case you missed it, here’s an overview: in order to raise awareness for the new Project Aware Share, Allstate staged a faux burglary by their Mayhem character of a real couple’s house (who found out the couple wasn’t home from all their posts on social media). Once inside, Mayhem put a sale price on each item and liquidated them one-by-one on the #MayhemSale website for a fraction of what they were worth.

Allstate’s #MayhemSale was one of the most brilliant marketing efforts in years. Here are three reasons it stole the show…literally:  Read more of this post


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