Dear Holly: Nostalgic for the Present

4 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

I feel like I have traveled back in time from the present, to better appreciate “the good ole days” right now with our family.

Especially being able to work from home since this past March, I have been blessed with much more quality time with you.

I appreciate our family’s life together so much now, in a way I never could before, that it’s like I am nostalgic for the present, before it even becomes the past.

Maybe I am seeing life in a new perspective now that I’ve only got 6 months left of my 30s.

I cherish my life with you. I’m not letting it slip by.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Our 1st “No Kids Vacation” in a Decade: Golden, Colorado

Nearly a year ago, my wife and I performed a song I wrote called “We’re Gonna Leave in the Morning”; which was the imagining of my wife and I taking a responsibility-free road trip together.

Last week, we made that fantasy a reality when we spent 4 days out in Golden, Colorado.

We rented a modernized carriage house that was just a couple of blocks from all the coffee shops and restaurants.

It was was only about 10 blocks away from South Table Mountain Park, where we were able to spend a couple hours hiking to the top; which oversaw the Coors plant.

And it turned out that we essentially only spent a total of $9 in entertainment the entire week, as we ended up taking a different 2 hour hike each day we were there. Only one of the parks we visited had an entry fee. It wasn’t the legendary Red Rocks

It was Eldorado Canyon State Park.

That view was totally worth the nine dollars though. Right?

Growing up in northeastern Alabama, where my home was surrounded by DeSoto State Park and Little River Canyon, I always imagined that Colorado would be a good fit for me.

I was right. If only I had my Jeep Wrangler with me while we where there…

We perfectly enjoyed our trip to Golden, Colorado- to the point we have decided we need to make this an annual tradition for the two of us.

The experience reminded me of the verse in Ecclesiastes (9:9), which I based my recent song from:

Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.

Not only was it great quality time for to the two of us at amazing location, but it helped realize why this trip was superior the 6 hour drive to the Florida coast from our home near Nashville.

Because on a beach trip, we’re mainly just sitting around.

But on a Colorado vacation, we’re constantly moving and exploring.

That’s how my brain registers “rest and relaxation”- by being out in nature and burning calories the whole time.

So if that sounds like a vacation to you as well… then maybe you are also of the demographic who is called to the state of Colorado!

Should Christians Forfeit the Right to Be Offended?

If you know me at all, you know that a fundamental life motto of mine is this:

“It is your personal decision, 100% of the time, whether to be offended, insulted, disrespected, to let someone hurt your feelings, or to just simply be ready to instantly forgive.”

That’s an epiphany I had shortly after my 35th birthday. So for the past 3 years, I have been living in that knowledge. That nugget of wisdom has only improved the quality of my life and truly has given my freedom from arbitrary burdens I used to carry.

I have also accepted the reality that anything a person believes, in their own mind, is true.

If someone thinks I’m wrong, immoral, ignorant, immature, lazy, unqualified, too serious, too silly, too conservative, too liberal…

They are always right. To them, it is truth. To them, it is reality.

Therefore, it is a waste of my time, energy, and emotions to attempt to prove them wrong in their perception. It is most likely that they have identity protective cognition, so that my attempts to correct their perspective about me will only reinforce what they already believe about me.

I feel this is the example Jesus gave when he was being questioned by Pilate (in Mark, Chapter 15):

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Granted, I believe that often, when one person makes any kind of judgment call regarding another person’s character, there is a good chance that are simply broadcasting their own insecurities or uncertainties about their own identity.

As a human being, I forfeit my right to be offended. I openly invite the free world to call me every name in the book.

Ultimately, only I get to determine whether I am a victim, a villain, or a victor.

It is my opinion, as a Christian, that it is ideal for Christians to forfeit the right to be offended. Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek.

That implies the importance of not only taking the hit, but giving the “offender” the opportunity to strike again.

I see this is a healthy state of being: to be ready at any time to instantly forgive anyone.

Instead of being offended, I say we should use those opportunities to extend grace to the person; whether they are a believer or not.

Who knows? That surprising response of grace could prove to be the simple act of kindness to help minister to the would-be “offender”.

But hey, maybe I’m wrong. And if that’s what you believe, I won’t try to prove otherwise.

Choosing to Be a Church Pastor as a Career Path, Not as a Calling

I am currently fascinated by this concept in America: In theory, a man who is not actually a believer could choose the profession of being a church pastor; not because he believes in the teachings of Christianity or that he is being called by God to do so, but instead, simply because he sees being a church pastor as a promising career path.

Church pastors have to make a living, too, you know. They have families to support. The tricky part is this, though: The salary that a pastor earns is often directly related to the size of his congregation.

Not only is there a salary to consider, but often, the church members’ tithes cover the pastor’s insurance, as well as a housing stipend.

Here’s what the career path looks like:

This man goes to seminary. This man graduates seminary.

Man starts pastoring a small country church and remains there two years, as he builds a reputation as “an engaging speaker and a strong leader, just what this church needs” (largely due to the fact he simply has the right personality for the job and is a good communicator); while using clever social media posts to build his reputation. The money isn’t amazing, but it pays the bills.

Word gets out, and now this man is offered a position at a larger church in a bigger town just an hour away: This one even has two church buses and even a humble sized “life and recreation center”. The money is definitely better and there is now basic insurance available.

He puts in three years at this one before his reputation (and his congregation’s perception of the Lord’s calling) sends him to the suburbs of a decent sized city; like Atlanta, Indianapolis, or Houston.

His church now has a dozen members in the worship band alone. His sermons get thousands of views on YouTube. The pastor even has a popular Instagram account which regularly features his high dollar sneaker collection; even if most of those shoes were given to him as publicity by the shoe companies to promote their brand.

By this point, it’s hard to speculate exactly how much money this pastor actually makes; but given all the perks with his career, it doesn’t matter as much anymore.

For example, he gets paid thousands of dollars per event, to travel and speak at other churches.

He even has his own book out, which he earns all the royalties from. So even without depending on the church itself, his side hustles help provide an extra cushion for him and his family.

As long as this man is smart enough to invest in his marriage, ultimately by avoiding cheating on his wife or getting divorced; and as long as he never involves himself in official financial scandal, like embezzlement or tax evasion, his career remains strong.

He retires in his mid 50’s and lives happily ever after. He totally gets away with “serving” as a church pastor for his entire career. Then, he peacefully dies in his sleep at age 78; having lived quite comfortably the past 30 years on his financial investments. Not to mention, he still has millions of dollars in the bank to leave for his family.

But then what?

I bet there are more of these “career path pastors” then we realize. In the end, though, we all answer individually to God at the end of our lives for our own actions:

For how we cared for the poor, the widows, and the fatherless.

For how we treated our neighbors as ourselves.

For how we made the decision to forgive, even when it didn’t make sense from a human perspective.

For how we worked out our own secret sins (gossip, judging others, apathy for the hurting), as opposed to focusing more on the ungodly tendencies of other people who have didn’t temptations than we do.

But I suppose that is a risk these career path pastors are willing to take; given that they don’t actually have to believe in order to successfully pastor a church.

Uh oh… I think I just accidentally wrote the concept for a screenplay for a Christian movie starring Kirk Cameron, Sean Astin, or Nicolas Cage.

As One of the Few Known Men on Earth Under Age 40 Who Has Never Seen Porn, I Am Currently Mentoring Younger Men Who Are Addicted to It; From a Psychological Perspective; Not a Religious or a Moral Viewpoint, Nor in a Judgmental Way

Back in 2014, researchers in Canada were attempting to compare the behavior of men who watch pornography regularly, with men who have never seen pornography at all. However, they were unable to find one man who had never watched pornography.

Too bad they didn’t know I existed, because I would have been perfect for their study.

I understood from the very beginning, as a preteen, that viewing such unrealistic images and ideas of women would ultimately psychologically rewire my brain, potentially like the equivalent of a computer virus.

To me, it was always beyond religion and morality. It was always about psychology instead.

It’s true, I’ve never looked at, nor watched, pornographic material. I’ve had multiple opportunities, when no one else was around, but I can’t really say it was ever a true temptation to me.

I have always been fundamentally opposed to the idea.

On my main YouTube channel which officially crossed the 4,000 subscriber mark last month, I serve as a mentor and life coach, helping younger, insecure balding men realize that their identity and how attractive they are to women actually has a lot more to do with confidence, kindness, and skill sets.

Recently, I discovered a subtle trend in which my subscribers were openly talking in the comments section, about looking at and watching pornography. Then I made the connection:

Why is it that some guys go bald young and it doesn’t seem to affect their confidence at all (and therefore they don’t watch my channel), yet others barely show any signs of hair loss but they freak out about the possibility of going bald on a daily basis?

The answer: Most of my subscribers are in their teens and twenties, meaning that they’ve grown up with unlimited access to pornography online, during those crucial years of developing their sense of identity and building confidence in who they are. (The Internet went mainstream in 1997, before most of these guys were even born.)

Compare that to me, a guy who has never looked at or watched pornography.

It makes sense now why my YouTube channel “about hair loss” is so popular: It’s really a YouTube channel that helps young men who may be experiencing hair loss, which is quite common, who are also addicted to or at least regularly exposed to pornography, overcome their insecurity issues; taught from a 37 year-old man who was never psychologically corrupted in the way they have been.

So I began making some videos addressing, and testing, this pattern I was seeing.

Those videos became some of my most popular and received more thumbs up than my other videos.

Some of my viewers confirmed I was correct: That regularly looking at and watching pornography has crushed their ability to be confident in themselves and only reinforces their insecurities about the concept they are experiencing hair loss; or at least, think they are.

To test my theory, I made a video in which I predicted in the title, that 99% of my subscribers were addicted to pornography. I stated in the video that if I were wrong, that out of my 4,000 subscribers, more than 40 would leave a comment proclaiming they do not consume pornography either.

Instead, only 2 people left a comment saying that. So yeah, over 99%.

I then theorized that many of my viewers were drawn to pornography due to some unnamed psychological trauma they experienced as a child (like being abused, their parents divorcing, a close family member dying, etc.), and they never got the proper counsel with a psychiatrist that they needed.

So that childhood trauma was never dealt with or even acknowledged, which psychologically set a pattern in their mindset to be anxious about things they have no control over: like hair loss.

I discovered this connection after reading an article on Huff Post that found the common theme among people who suffer from anxiety or depression is that they live with unresolved psychological trauma from their childhood.

Turns out, men who were overly obsessed with hair loss fit into this category as well.

I consider myself a missionary to the mainstream.

The way I see it, I was put on this Earth to serve others. If I can help thousands of insecure, pornography-addicted young men to acknowledge that pornography is killing their confidence and sense of identity, I can hopefully lead them to a decision to be pornography-free as I am, and eventually, overcome their trigger, which is hair loss.

I say, an attractive man is a confident man- and a confident man doesn’t tolerate the use of pornography in his own life.

So when I’m not being a Family Friendly Daddy Blogger, I’m serving as the host and life coach of a PG-13 rated YouTube channel to help mentor younger men.

It’s like my alter-ego.