The Smartest Thing All Smart People Do To Stay Smart and Become Smarter, Most of the Time

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Life is full of firsts. Your first breath, step, word, ice-cream, day of school, ballgame, kiss, car, diploma, job, house, pet, wife, kid… Even today is a first. The strange thing about today is we’ve never done it before. Really, every day is a first. Every second is the first time that second has ever been a second.

This amazes me about the Creator God. Every day that’s ever been is its own. Every person that’s ever been is their own. What an astounding reality!? This reality makes everyday unique. Every emotion worth savoring. Every experience novel. Every relationship its own struggle and joy. Every moment worth attention. It gives each waking sunrise promise that yesterday perhaps couldn’t offer.

But it creates a dilemma too. You see, every human being is trying to get somewhere in life. We have a preferred destination for everything. We want our career, marriage, finances, relationships, faith to end somewhere. Specific. We have hopes and aspirations for our lives.

We all have a preferred destination for everything about us, but the bad news is, few of us know how to get there. And why? Because we’ve never been there. Because, well, that’s how life works. Life is full of firsts. Time holds the future hostage tomorrow. And having never been there, we have no real-life experience on how to get there.

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A Kentucky Pastor’s Guide to Trash-Talk During March Madness

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PHOTO CREDIT: USA TODAY Sports Images

There’s a reason why they call it March Madness, and it goes beyond things like the Mercer Bears, Dayton’s Cinderella run, overtime, buzzer-beaters, and vacation-days spent binge-watching nineteen year-olds you wish you could be.

The Madness goes beyond that because every year, during March, I actually watch people go mad. The AMA should look into this. In fact, anyone who knows me knows I speak from personal experience: March Madness makes you mad. (Don’t patronize me!!! My depression after John Wall and company lost to West Virginia in 2010 was real… and sad. At least I lost like five pounds.)

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The Most Dangerous Idol of the Next Generation

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I’m a Millennial, born sometime between 1980 and Y2K (the day when all the computers and the universe imploded), and my generation has a lot going for them.

Some call us the “Hopeful Generation” because few generations to ever walk the planet were more mission-minded and cause-oriented. I have friends who use vacation-time to serve in third-world countries, who won’t buy coffee from anywhere but direct-trade vendors, who run fundraiser 5Ks every weekend. I even have friends who’ve shaved their heads and cut their beautiful beards because they saw on Facebook a friend of a friend raising money for another friend with cancer (and that’s a big deal, because nothing gives you instant authority in life like a great beard or stache).

Some call us the “Relational Generation” because there’s never been one more connected. Sure, some people (including me) hate on the false-intimacy that social-media provides. Sure, some people need to be given read-only accounts to Twitter and Facebook based on the sheer number of selfies and “look-at-me” posts they publish hourly. But that doesn’t change the fact I communicate with loved ones across the country daily on my iPhone through e-mail, text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Skype, and Facetime (sometimes I even use my phone to make calls too!).

Some call us the “Educated Generation,” as already our rate of receiving undergraduate degrees has surpassed all other generations. My generation thinks college degrees are sweet and a prerequisite to life-advancement. So even if we spend our college days doing everything but college work, we still think it’s important. That’s why we’re there on the 6-year plan.

Are you swooning yet? Because you had yearbooks. We have Facebook! You had K-Mart. We have Target (boom!). You had hula-hoops. We have X-Box. You had mass-media. We have personal media, a social platform where we can talk about how awesome we are (on our blog). And let’s not let the one word that shuts the whole “best generation” conversation down go unmentioned… Netflix. Need I say more? …Pandora! Oops, that slipped out.

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Question: How can I know if they’re THE ONE?

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I’m a preacher, who’s young, that likes to rant about dating and marriage. So naturally, one of the most popular questions I hear from singles is, “How can I know if he/she is the one?

“Tyler, we’ve been dating for a couple years, and she’s talking about rings and naming our first baby! How do I know she’s it?”

“I have a track-record for choosing duds. I used to say all guys were alike, but then I looked back at my last five relationships and noticed that the common denominator was… ummm, me. So I’ve finally chose a guy who seems like he’s good. How can I be sure he’s the real deal?”

“I’m 27 and already divorced. It was the worst thing ever. How can I know that won’t happen again? How do I know she’s the one?”

This is a tough question, to say the least, but it’s a good one. One I think everyone should ask that respects God’s institution of marriage. And it requires a conversation larger than this blog because each couple and situation is different. But allow me to offer one piece of advice that’ll start the conversation for you.

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Why You Weren’t Ready for Marriage: What no one ever told you…

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Marriage was created by God. True. But that doesn’t mean it’s magic. And that doesn’t stop people from approaching it like magic.

People spend their whole lives building terrible relationship habits that’ll make commitment near impossible for them. But then get married. And take vows. And exchange expensive rings. And make forever promises about the future that simply don’t add up with their past.

People spend years building bad spending habits, bad credit habits, bad debt habits, bad communication habits, bad conflict-resolution habits, bad anger habits, bad drinking habits, bad addiction habits, bad working habits, bad schedule habits, bad sex habits, bad commitment habits, bad faith habits.

But then despite it all, they get married. Because they must think marriage is magic. They must think marriage can just abracadabra all the stupid they’ve spent years building.

Maybe we’re confused because few are honest about the realities of marriage. Everyone wants to live and tell a fairytale. Maybe it’s because we haven’t gotten real with ourselves and clear with the next generation about how difficult lasting love is.

Love is worth it, trust me. But it takes hard work, just like anything else in life worth having. So real quick, let me do you a favor and share some truth. Repeat after me:

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