If Jesus Came to Chapel

The time is 11:00 in Reardon Auditorium and chapel has begun. Announcements have begun rolling and a few stragglers find a way to their seats. The glow of smartphones slowly diminishes as it comes time for worship to start. Most in attendance stand and participate in worship. Imagine for a moment what it would be like for Jesus to physically enter into this scene. Jesus starts walking in from the lobby and instantly sees those on laptops, smartphones, and sleeping. Worship begins to end and Jesus heads up to the balcony to get a better place to view the crowd. The speaker comes out and after appropriate applause begins the message. The Christmas tree like glow of glowing heads and torsos now fills the auditorium.

God is present everywhere and sees all of our actions. There is no difference when we are at chapel. Jesus doesn’t have to be present physically to know and see your actions. We have become desensitized to this idea of accountability. Too often we struggle to hear God’s voice or plan in our actions, yet when the times come to hear His voice we distract ourselves. God’s heart is breaking to get His plan for our lives heard by us and the least we can do is stop and dwell in His presence. Neglecting our spiritual lives isn’t the answer to make up for over committed or overwhelmed schedules.

There have been a variety of speakers and worship styles presented and used this semester. Chapel speakers can see what we are up to from the stage in every section. In Matthew 21:12 it is written how Jesus responds to those making a mockery out of His house. How we act while we are at chapel reflects on the groups and organizations we represent. While each individual person has preferences on how these things should be done, we are missing the point by focusing in on our preferences. There are many different ways of expressing our love and learning about God. Instead of rejoicing in this truth, the enemy twists this into a lie, that it’s not the way we would do things. No matter who worships or speaks at chapel, we have the ability to grow in our relationship with God and in our understanding of Him. The AU community is blessed to have the opportunity to worship and grow together at chapel.

I don’t know where the idea of church needing to always be entertaining and agreeable comes from. Every AU student signs a statement agreeing to live by the lifestyle standards and student code of conduct while attending here, which includes chapel expectations. From day one we have all agreed to live by something that has always been apart of the history here. Creating a new or improved product isn’t the solution for all of these challenges. When did we stop holding our friends around us accountable? We are capable as a community of so much more in how we think and participate in chapel.

Singleness Isn’t a Curse

This is not an attack on people in a dating relationship, engagement, or marriage. The purpose of writing this is to just layout the truth and call out the idea if you aren’t in a relationship that it is a curse. Growing up in a Christian church background, I can always remember the idea of getting married and having kids as being a part of the life plan. The debate as to when this time should be seems to be quite a conflict. There are many success stories of couples getting married at fifteen, much like my own great grandparents. But according to many of the youth I know, the magic age ranges from 22 to 26. Anderson University might say a springtime engagement is best and my parents would like to think it is sometime before I graduate from  college. All of these options and opinions could work for anyone, but it has to be GOD’s plan. This idea gets drowned out in a storm of womancrushwendesdays, mancrushmondays, and people who say any of the following things from Relevant Magazine. 

In case anyone is challenging my use of the word singleness, it is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “the quality orwpid-third-wheel-5 state of being single”. Funny how there is no mention of being a squeaky third wheel. Third wheeling jokes can make for a good laugh and make the most out of an awkward situation. For many of those who are in relationships, inviting an “extra person” can result in that poor third wheeling friend to pull out their smart phone to avoid the awkwardness of pet names like “Sugar Booger” and “Bae”. Speaking for a friend on that. Photobombing couple pictures can also be a fun option for those caught in the third wheel.

I am so happy for all of my friends in healthy, God-filled relationships. It brings me joy to see people together that are meant to be. They fought the good fight through Facebook pokes, Junior high dances, blind dates, and maybe even Christian Mingle. Over the past weekend, I attended a wedding for a good friend.  It was a joyous occasion to see people so ready to take this next step and whom truly belong together. Why do we look at people in their mid twenties as though they did something wrong to still be single? Having standards and a desire to follow God’s timing is not a mistake. God smiles at a married couple just as much as a single person because He loves all of  His children the same.

As for myself, I am not a bitter, angry and alone single person clanking down on the keys as I write this. I am not dating Jesus or kissing dating goodbye. Being single doesn’t make me worth less because I don’t have a relationship, just like a person is not worth more simply because they have one. Dating someone who doesn’t treat you well and help you into the calling for your life isn’t better than not dating at all. I am secure in The One who has me and has a plan for me. I get my worth from The One who made me in His image and brought me into each season of life; a season I don’t plan on wasting complaining about what hasn’t 11112536_10207314911900770_6893524214632922323_ohappened yet. I intend on living it to the fullest and enjoying the journey. I will also be taking photos to remember the different points along the way, like this one from the wedding this weekend.

Live in the joy of where God has you no matter your relationship status.

Beyond the Likes

2 John 1:12 “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”

Before you cancel your phone plans, John 1:12 doesn’t mean you can’t text people to communicate. The author is simply so excited to live in the community that we as Christians are called into that he wanted to share the information in person. Yes, even when the Bible was written there were impersonal ways of communicating.

Confession time- I haven’t been living free of the like count. I h88_facebook_like_button_bigave been putting a conscious effort into what I post or share on social media.  I don’t mean to say everything I have done was in that light, but rather when I posted something I felt a constant pressure to check its progress. I would make sure I kept up with each new like, comment or share like it was my job. At the beginning of the new year, I felt convicted about doing things “for the gram” or whatever would gain the most support. I wanted to fight this distraction from my faith. I was doing okay for a couple months and somewhere in the midst of the semester I even started posting less things or even withholding certain posts from “the pressure”. The great resource of social media that I had used for staying connected had turned into a distraction from my walk. This had interrupted my daily routine and I was guilty of checking Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook before opening my Bible app (even though they are right next to each other on my home screen).

I bring this subject up as a person who is still trying to figure it out myself. I am still learning how to navigate living for God, free of the pressure and distractions of what society says to value online. God calls us to live for Him. Being in the world and not of it is a challenge that every Christian has faced.  It is encouraging to me to know that other people have walked the path I am on right now. Those people also are up in Heaven waiting to greet us at the gates.

Galatians 1:10 “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Why do we battle with ourselves whether to post something or not based on how many likes we would get, rather than the content? How many opportunities have we missed because of this mindset? Your accounts should be evident of a being a Christ follower. The joy of the Lord should be present in our lives and in our posts. For you, it could be a link to something uplifting like a puppy or for someone else a Bible verse. Being salt to the world means reaching those we can in meaningful ways. This doesn’t mean post a verse every hour, but it does mean to use the influence God has blessed you with. Be careful with posting verses anytime and anywhere. The tid bits of verses could be very different when looking at them in context. For instance have you fact checked my use of the verses yet? The Lord also doesn’t take too kindly to our misquoting of verses to make our point.

Proverbs 28:10 “Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit, and the blameless will have a godly inheritance.”

This is just a drop in the bucket of all the things you could talk about for social media and Christianity. I do not pretend to be an expert on anything mentioned. These points and questions are worth discussing and thinking over. If anything struck a cord in you and would like to hear more come over to Dayspring Church of God the next two Wendesday nights as I lead our discussion on “Beyond the Likes”.

My India Experience and Reflections

This post is an attempt to summarize one of the most defining and eye opening experiences of my life. For those of you who may not know at the beginning of this summer I left for Kolkata, India for a two week service project. Even after the time spent living in this city and learning the culture I still have trouble knowing the right way to spell Calcutta.  A little back story I actually signed up for two other trips that were set to be at this same travel time that were ultimately canceled. I had known I had wanted to go on and fund my own trip since the end of my freshmen year, After the second trip was cancelled I was given a choice of India, Africa, or no trip at all. I knew not going was not an option at all. At this point I couldn’t tell you why I knew God was calling me to head to India. It didn’t make any “logical” sense to me I don’t speak Hindi and I didn’t really know what  rubies were. After choosing to step out on faith and commit to going on the trip several friends approached me about their experience on the trip. I will never be able to thank you all enough for the confirmation your words provided that I had made the right choice. This advice given also helped me begin to prepare for what I was going to be doing and seeing while serving.

The group I traveled with  worked with the Sisters of Charity which was created by Mother Teresa. We were able to pick the location we wanted to volunteer at. There were different options provided and I had originally planned on working with the children at one of the orphanages because I love working with kids. When it came down to the time to pick where to volunteer I felt led to pick a different location called Prem Dawn, this translates to the “House of the Dying”. This would be the best decision I made during the trip because the relationships formed with other volunteers and the men living there was the most worthwhile part of my trip. We stayed in basic accommodations, served in the heat, and for the most part ate simply. This helped create a strong sense of purpose in the work we were doing.

There seemed to be a new friend to be made every day.I was able to make friendships with residents of Kolkata, Canada ,Chile, Korea, Italy, China, and the Republic of Texas. These relationships transcended faith and racial barriers. They taught me about their cultures, how to speak their native languages, and that internationally people have more in common then I thought. The only other places I have felt as welcomed as I did when talking with other volunteers is the greeting time at Dayspring Church or walking through The Valley at AU.

I was able to do a couple of typical touristy things while in India. I visited a couple of museums, bought parachute pants, and searched for American Coca Cola. The trip was geared mainly towards service. India is already a lot warmer then I was used to back home.  Throw in a heat wave and my energy was shot. A typical day included us volunteering in the morning coming back and resting in the afternoon. If energy was high there was a short trip to a local restaurant or store. Walking through the city unveiled many challenging sights and observations. Without getting too graphic the typical street corner would have a beggar who was usually a professional, children running around with a lack of resources, and trash piles on the side. This scene was so typical that by the end of the trip it blended in with the background similar to the loud background noise.

Coming back to America several things became abundantly clear. I will never complain about how hot the temperature gets, how close someone rides my bumper, and the amount of things I “need”. Being an American has so many blessings that I just took for granted. Opportunities for education to high school and now college, countless sources of clean water, safety in many different forms, and the access to resources. Being in a largely non Christian area provided some insight into some of the differences in religions. I can say with certainty that the one true King clearly  provides hope to the hopeless and a light in the darkness. There is no other love higher than the name of Jesus Christ. I was pushed and challenged in all the ways I asked for after singing Oceans for the hundredth time. Seeing the physical and spiritual needs in the world is the main lesson I take away from my trip. Thanks for reading all of this for those who stayed with it. If there are any further questions feel free to contact me and I highly recommend going though TRI-S or on your own to visit Hope House and experience for yourself the challenges and rewards of taking on India. Here is some photos to reward your diligent reading.

IMG_6587IMG_6652 IMG_6745 IMG_6587 IMG_6645 IMG_6770 IMG_6754

Christian College Dating Scene

*This will not be applicable or true for everyone who reads it. Also if you are already married congratulations you do not have to worry about any of this anymore. For the 70% of people who have found themselves in the depicted situations you are not alone. 

Culture as defined by dictionary.com is “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic,or age group.” Christian colleges where you grow your faith along side of a getting an education. That is in the about us section of almost every Christian college. Where does dating fit into this you ask? The Christian college culture would currently dictate if you graduate without a spouse you did something wrong. Things like ring by spring, M.R.S degree, and wedding season should all sound to familiar. 

On one end of the Christian college dating spectrum there are those already in happy committed relationships. This means you do not have to worry about the awkward holiday questions about “Are you seeing anyone?” or “Will there ever be a wedding?”. You always have plans made for you. Netflix watching, lunch, and picking up groceries are all  much more glorious events. Mondays and Wednesdays and the ocassional Thursday are a chance to remind everyone celebrate your relationship. When the occasional disagreement or conflict occurs there are not many sources to talk to because that would burst the bubble of all relationships being perfect constantly.

The opposite end of the spectrum is the people who have no interest whatsoever in a relationship while in school. This group can have a wide arrangement of reasonings for choosing so. Some of the ways to be in this category are feeling called to celibacy, setting new Call of Duty high scores is your second major, and wearing pink on Wednesdays is part of your friendship code. You do not feel the need to be dependent on someone else for happiness or life plans. Bae can be limitless options and relationship goals is just another twitter account to follow.

The biggest and most talked about group is what I like to call “Relationship No Man’s Land”. You have an interest in dating while at school, but you do not currently have a relationship. Other ways to refer to this state is being in limbo, just doing me, and waiting for the right person to come in. Trying to meet new people to consider to date is always a challenge. Here is the current order of things to go on a date with someone you have to already be dating, to be dating you have to be talking, to be talking you have to be dating.Approaching someone you would like to take on a date is a serious endeavor and must be done before others parties get involved because it usually will break up anything before it starts. Anything confusing about that? Never mind that our grandparents generation was able to have three different dates in one night and that was considered normal. This then poses the question how do you get to know someone to start this process with?


Date

  :  an appointment to meet at a specified time; especially  :  a social engagement between two persons that often has a romantic character. dictionary.com 

  The solution to this isn’t a one step easy fix. Everyone has to do their part to stop giving in to this cycle. Don’t say your dating after going out on one date. Stop trying to find your sense of fulfillment in a relationship. Stop shaming those that are already in committed and happy relationships that don’t rub it in. Take your time to get to know someone you are interested in group settings. This isn’t the how to get a date blog, but the calling out of what each group does to make it harder for the other two.

New Year, New Faith

Did the catchy title draw you in? That’s good then maybe this blog won’t be so hard to write after all. No, this is not a post about converting to a different religion. The cliché of having New Years resolutions has carried over into so many areas of our lives. Gain X amount of followers, find bae, and others equally as ridiculous. Why then if these goals are so easy to create does faith never seem to come up in them?

Every year there is another app, destination, or task to get caught up in. The flow of the world is not drawn up to stop and encourage one’s faith. Creating a goal for something creates an acknowledgment of a future change. Many times goals fall through one way or another. The beginning of the year we are so bold in what the goals will be for areas of our life. That boldness should begin and focus on goals for our faith as Christians.

Ephesians 3:12 “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him”.

Imagine if every person claiming Christianity at the center of their lives made bold goals for themselves spiritually this year. The abundance of volunteering, outreach, and light being shined would be overwhelming. If the world sees a LED flashlight shining in a completely dark room they will eventually check it out for themselves. Boldness does not just have to be for those seeking a new musical instrument and talent. I encourage those who may be thinking God hasn’t called me to make bold goals or step into boldness to look over these scriptures.

Acts 4:31 “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness”.

I look forward to seeing a year of those stepping into their faith or growing in it. Maybe for you the boldest step is not making a faith goal and waiting to see where you are called to go. In any case thank you for reading what is 365 words about having goals. Good luck with all your goals.