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Cooking with Clay: Chicken Mole Enchiladas

September 12, 2019

Everyone has a meal, maybe a few, that remind them of their upbringing. It doesn’t even have to be anything fancy. There are meals that serve up as much nostalgia as they do flavor. One meal that I always think of as a go-to, no stress dinner is my mom’s enchilada casserole. This, as I have come to learn and appreciate in my current financial situation, is a low cost, high reward meal that packs massive flavor.

While I am a sucker for my mom’s dish, I decided to make a rendition that incorporated my favorite Mexican sauce, Mole. Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce that usually takes hours to make. Although I would still love to give a more traditional recipe a try sometime, the recipe I went with took me about 30 minutes and was still excellent. But before I get too far ahead, let’s start with the chicken.

Place three chicken breasts in a large pot of water, add a few large pinches of salt and cover with a lid. You can also use chicken or vegetable stock if you have it, in which case you wouldn’t need to season it. Bring this to a gentle boil for about 10-15 minutes. Once your chicken is cooked through (165* internal temp for poultry) you can remove it from your liquid and let it cook. While this is boiling, let’s get that rice cooked up. If you have a rice cooker, then you know the drill. If not, put three cups of water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Add your rice and bring it back to a gentle boil, then cover it and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. A gentle simmer is the key, if it’s too hot you’ll get a layer of burnt rice at the bottom of your pot and no one wants that.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan. Add your onions, garlic, and peppers into the oil. Sauté until soft, about five to seven minutes, stirring frequently. Add in your dry seasonings, I know it looks like way too much but I promise you it’s worth it. Stir this around until everything has a nice coat, then remove from the heat. This is going to help bring a lot of the flavor out of the seasonings before adding liquid. Once removed from heat, add in your veggie stock. Stir this around, you can use your spatula to lift up some of the goodies that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Now we have a big pan of tasty soup, but we want a sauce; enter blender. I use a Ninja because it’s all I have available. If you have an immersion blender, that would be the easiest, but any blender should do the trick. Blend until you have a nice smooth consistency. Add this back to the pan and add in your almond butter, tomato paste, and cocoa powder to the liquid and stir well. Salt to taste, remove from heat, and relax… That was the “hard” part of this meal. Before moving on, set aside one-third of the sauce to top your casserole.

Now comes the fun part – getting creative with the vessel. I went simple and cost effective with mine: refried beans, rice, and chicken. Start by shredding the chicken you have cooked up, I use two forks and pull it apart that way. Add all this chicken to the mole and stir to get a good coat on it. Add beans, rice, and chicken to your tortilla. When rolling these bad boys you don’t have to worry about closing the ends, so just roll it up tight and add it to your 9×13 casserole dish. Repeat this till you’re dish is full. You should be able to fit five or six, depending on how much of the goods you put in them. Top this with the reserved sauce and a healthy dose of shredded cheese, as this is an important step in making sure the tortillas are moistened and they won’t burn to a crisp. Now that everything is in order, let’s get to baking.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it, as you don’t want the sauce to bubble over and make a mess. Remove from the oven and let this cool for about five to seven minutes. I know it’s hard to wait, but it’s better than melting your mouth and not tasting anything for a week. I like to garnish with avocado and cilantro – if that’s not your cup of tea then don’t, but please know that I am judging you.

The flavor that this recipe has is so unique and one of my absolute favorites, but the best part of it is how well it holds. You can make a double batch and freeze the second one. It’ll last for a long time and just needs to be thrown in the oven on a rainy day when you don’t have the energy to whip up a nice meal. For this you’ll want to cover it with foil and bake it at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for about 15 more minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the edges look crispy.

And there you have it – Chicken Mole Enchiladas. Until next time!

Ingredients for Mole sauce:

Olive oil – 3 Tbsp

Sweet Onion – 1

Garlic minced – 4 cloves

Jalepeño – 1 Chile powder – 1/4 cup

Flour – 1 Tbsp

Cinnamon – 1Tsp

Cumin – 2 Tsp

Vegetable Stock – 2 1/2 cup

Almond butter (or peanut butter) – 2 Tbsp

Tomato Paste – 1 Tbsp

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – 1 Tbsp

Ingredients for Enchiladas:

3 large chicken breasts

1 pack burrito size tortillas

1 can refried beans

1 1/2 cup rice

8 oz shredded cheese


Written by: Clay Copper

Clay is a grad student that is still trying to figure out what he is doing with his life. Sometimes he writes about relevant topics here, but mostly he writes about what he cares about and hopes you enjoy it.

SA Previews: David Leonard

September 12, 2019

David Leonard, formerly from Christian band All Sons & Daughters, will be performing with Evan Egerer on October 25 in the LaHaye Event Space. Leonard released his first solo project, “The Wait”, on March 15, 2019.

David Leonard and Leslie Jordan (the counterpart of All Sons & Daughters as well as Leonard’s wife) decided to end the musical group in February 2018. Since then, Leonard has delved into making and producing solo projects. “The Wait” was his first solo album, and a live recording of the album was released at the end of this August. In this album, Leonard embraces some of the challenges faced by a believer. He doesn’t shy away from tackling subjects like loneliness, heartache, and other struggles of a person’s heart. Leonard, through all of these songs, explores the struggles of being human, but he always makes it clear that there is a solution through Jesus.

“The Wait” is an incredible album that believers are able to easily relate with. We are so excited to have him perform here at LU!

Sources

https://www.integritymusic.com/artists/david-leonard

https://www.weareworship.com/us/worship-leaders-2/david-leonard/

https://www.thechristianbeat.org/index.php/news/5576-david-leonard-formerly-of-all-sons-daughters-to-release-first-solo-album


Written by: Andrew Reynolds

Andrew is a Senior Project Management Major, and enjoys writing for the blog because of the opportunity it gives him to grow as a writer and to challenge himself to see current topics and discussions from a view point he may not have otherwise thought about.

SA Previews: Binge & Banter

September 11, 2019

Student Activities is so excited to announce our first ever Binge & Banter! If you’re confused by the title, we’ll break it down a bit for you.

The first part of this event doesn’t actually happen at the event, which is the “binge” part. In order to be a part of this event, you’ll probably want to binge the show we’ll be bantering about. This time, we’ll be discussing everyone’s favorite show of the summer – Stranger Things, season 3, specifically. So if you want to join in the fun, make sure you’ve watched that season before you come. We don’t want to spoil it for you!

The second part, which will take place at the event, is “banter”. Led by one of our staff members, we’ll be discussing many aspects of the show. We’ll even share some fan theories, because we know you all like that! We’ll have a panel of SA professionals who are Stranger Things fans just as much as you are, and they’ll weigh in about the topics that are discussed.

We’ll also provide refreshments and beverages, so all you have to provide is yourself and your opinion. What type of event could be better than that?!

We’ll see you in the LaHaye Event Space on September 24 at 7 p.m. for an awesome time!


Written by: Erin Diaz

Erin is an Assistant Director of Student Activities. She has a B.A. in English. Erin plans and oversees the execution of mid-scale events and concerts on the Student Activities calendar. She is the direct report for the event supervisors and event staff. Erin approves all content that is published and promoted from social media to the SA blog.

Learning From Failure

September 9, 2019

As I was thinking about what I would write about for this blog, I spent a lot of time thinking about failure as a whole – how I perceive my failures, how others perceive my failures, and how I work through those failures. When people say “Failure is the key to success” or some other overused buzzwords to make you feel good, I see that as an avenue for avoiding deeper issues while simultaneously simplifying a failure into a one-dimensional object. The truth is that failure is important, but failure is often dealt with on a surface level – and this happens with myself included. To really learn from a failure, we have to look at the failure as a whole. We can’t just see the mistake and say, “OK, I won’t do that anymore.” We have to ask ourselves what the mistake was and spend time dissecting why it happened.

The first part of learning from failure is recognizing that you will fail. This may seem obvious, but I have seen too many people who ignore their mistakes or underplay them. Avoiding failures and all the emotions and experiences within that can actually be quite unhealthy. Hillary Hendel from Time.com talks about the effects of suppressing our emotions. “Neuroscience suggests that the more emotions and conflicts a person experiences, the more anxiety they feel.” Again, this may seem obvious, but how many times have you avoided or denied an emotion you were feeling? Chances are you probably have already done it this week. This is because current culture reinforces this idea of blocking and avoiding emotions. In the hustle and bustle of adulting, people leave very little room (if any at all) to emotionally decompress. So, while what Hendel says may be obvious to us, most of us still emotionally avoid because of the culture we are in.

The second part to learning from failure is buying into failure. ‘What? Buying into failure?’ you may think. Yes, it seems illogical at first, but let me explain. For most of my life failure was a foreign field. I grew up with great opportunities and never had something that truly challenged me to the point of failure. Then, I came to Liberty, and the challenges I faced aren’t simple things that just require a little more effort. When I first got to Liberty I wasn’t the perfect person I thought I was, and I realized that failure is inevitable – at some point in time I would fall short of whatever the goal was. Yet, I avoided dealing with failure and instead decided to avoid dealing with my shortcomings. This only got me so far. About a year ago, I started to see challenges and issues in my life where avoiding and blocking wasn’t possible. I knew it was impossible to avoid failure forever. So, I decided to “buy in” so to speak. Instead of automatically avoiding every time I failed, I attempted to learn something from it – even if it was the smallest thing. I’m not saying I’m a guru in growing from my follies, but I am saying (as someone who’s had the Mr. Invincible mentality) we all have to learn to move past the fears of failure and dealing with it so we can truly grow.

Learning to truly grow from our failures is one of the biggest parts of life – especially when trying to walk with the Lord. We have to seize the moments as more than just a surface level growing area. We have to go deeper and really dig into our experiences to grow from them.

Sources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamarruda/2015/05/14/why-failure-is-essential-to-success/#283df1d7923f

https://www.business.com/articles/learning-from-failure/

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/fear-of-failure.htm

https://time.com/5163576/ignoring-your-emotions-bad-for-your-health/


Written by: Andrew Reynolds

Andrew is a Senior Project Management Major, and enjoys writing for the blog because of the opportunity it gives him to grow as a writer and to challenge himself to see current topics and discussions from a view point he may not have otherwise thought about.

 

SA Previews: Toy Story 4

September 6, 2019

SPOILERS AHEAD

After almost a decade since Toy Story 3 came out, Toy Story 4 made its way to the box offices and has not disappointed. According to Insider, Toy Story 4 has the highest rating on Rotten Tomatoes than the other three Toy Story movies. This movie adds more of a mature theme of self-realization through the events in the toys’ lives. Through the story, we meet new characters like Forky and Gabby Gabby, and we’re reacquainted with the classics, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, as they learn their roles as toys, in leadership positions, and facing their insecurities. Ironically, the toys in Toy Story 4 face many of the same challenges college students face during seasons of change and experiences. In my opinion, Toy Story 4 is comical, nostalgic, beautiful, and educational. The life lessons through the character progression are really strong and the producers did an incredible job of having the struggles be relatable, but also not lose the context of the toys’ storyline.

I really enjoyed the process of the character of Forky because I feel like I can relate to him. Forky is a make-shift toy who was made by kindergartener, Bonnie, at her first day of school using items out of the trash can. To all of the toys’ disbelief, Forky came alive and became Bonnie’s favorite toy. Forky refuses to believe that he could be a toy and attempts to throw himself away because that is where he feels he belongs. I think a lot of people can relate to the way that Forky feels. He is completely blinded by his past and feels invaluable and unworthy. From what I’ve observed personally, almost everyone in their life has felt the way Forky did, defined by our pasts and avoiding positions of worth because we feel unqualified. Biblically, there is truth in this situation that Forky faces throughout the plot of Toy Story 4. Often times we think we are unworthy, but because we are children of God, we are loved and valued. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The way Jesus loves us is the reason that we can walk in our purpose and do incredible things for the kingdom even if our pasts look similar to the trash that Forky retreats to. We are His creations and should live in the confidence that we are His precious possessions.

A consistent character within the Toy Story series is Woody, a toy cowboy sheriff who started off with being Andy’s toy. Since then, he has had to learn to share the spotlight with other toys, be able to lead them in their purpose, and often be a voice of reason.  For the first time, Toy Story 4 shows Woody’s struggle to find his purpose and the insecurity of feeling unneeded. Throughout the movie, we see Andy work hard to maintain the happiness of their kid, Bonnie, even though he may not be the most desired toy anymore. The New York Times asks the question that is a theme throughout Toy Story 4 and particularly in Woody’s case, “What is a toy without the love of a child?”  In the end, Woody realizes that his time as a toy to Bonnie was over. It was beautiful to see how he recognized that there is a season for everything and that this one in particular, was over. He recognized that he did his job well and it was time to rest. As college students, our seasons are constantly changing. It can be difficult sometimes to see a season end, or even in contrast, waiting for another one to come. Roles, scenery, and people change and go with seasons, it is all about being content in the season that you are in and trusting in what the Lord has for you in the next one.

Buzz Lightyear, another classic main character, had to find the leader within himself which was unfamiliar, and he felt unqualified. He was thrown into a position of leadership to help Woody, Buzz was able to rely on his “inner voice” which proved to himself he can be a leader and a hero, which he didn’t even know he was capable of. His confidence grew and it ended up being perfect timing as he began to take over the crew of toys now that Woody is gone. He was under Woody’s leadership for so long and it showed that he observed and learned and was ready to take it on himself. Leadership roles can often be intimidating, especially when you are not prepared to take it on. I thought the correlation of the theme of listening to your “inner voice” was really cool and made me think about the voice of God in our lives. I constantly confuse my own voice with God’s and vice versa. If we’re not careful, we can begin to take credit for the words that God puts in us for our own and take credit for it. Being able to ask God for wisdom and having the ability to hear from Him is incredible.

Another new addition to Toy Story is a baby doll named Gabby Gabby. This doll has been stuck in an antique store practically her whole life because from the time she was placed on the shelves, her voice box was broken so no one wanted to take her home. In response to her pain of being rejected, she was selfish by using Woody to take his voice box. Hurt people hurt people, am I right? Once she finally got what she thought would solve all of her problems, she was rejected once again and her pain for the past couple years slapped her in the face once again with no other solution in sight. She had to come to terms with her rejection. What Gabby Gabby did not know yet was if the little girl had taken her home, she wouldn’t have been able to be there for the lost little girl that she ended up getting to comfort and go home with.  In this stage of life, when things do not play out how we think we will, we feel stuck. Often times it feels like every direction is hopeless and we want to turn around, but little do we know that if we take two more steps, we will reach the best thing yet! Timing is everything and that can either be a good or bad thing depending on the situation. Acts 1:7 states, He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” It is so comforting to be able to rest in the fact that God’s timing is perfect and if we wait, we will be able to experience the plan that God has for our lives.

Toy Story 4 has so many life lessons through new and old characters that are hidden within the entertainment of a fun and intriguing plot. The nostalgia of the toys that we all grew up loving is beautiful and ends in a way that all fans gain a resolution. It is the end to an era that people will never forget. A cool fact about the Toy Story movies that I learned from Insider is that Woody is always the last person to speak before the end credits and remained a common theme throughout the movie. Having Woody say the final words in the end of this movie meant more as it was his final departure of being a kid’s toy.  Personally, the Toy Story series will always have a place in my childhood and will forever serve as a comfort and reminder of the beautiful ways of life and creativity.

Sources

https://www.insider.com/fun-facts-about-toy-story-4-2019-7

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+2%3A10&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+1%3A7&version=NIV

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/20/movies/toy-story-4-review.html


Written by: Kallie Moore

Kallie is a Sophomore Digital Media Video Major and enjoys writing for the blog because of the amazing platform it is to have a voice and discuss topics that might not be commonly addressed.

Money Management

September 5, 2019

If you’re like me, being a college student and having money do not go hand in hand. Money is hard to come by, especially with high tuition prices, car payments, or even having friend groups who like eating out every weekend. Random costs even seem to creep up and we have no idea how to pay for them. It’s even hard to look at your bank account sometimes without stressing about your financial standing. So, where is the silver lining in all of this?

Kathy Caprino of Forbes Magazine writes an article on how college students can be more “financially literate.” Caprino gives seven steps to building better financial stability as a college student. These are extremely simple to understand, and almost every student should be able to achieve these. The most important point I believe Caprino makes is creating a personal budget for yourself. This will lead to a better understanding of financial literacy, which will, in turn, make things easier on the average college student.

Building a personal budget does not take long. I have hands-on experience in not only building my personal budget, but also budgets for friends and family as well. There are three basic categories when it comes to building a budget: figure out your monthly income, decipher all your expenses, and put aside money for future savings. The bottom line is that becoming financially literate is one of the most important objectives as a college student. It doesn’t just affect your current situation; it will continue to be relevant for the rest of your life. This takes patience, discipline, and a desire to plan for a financially stable future.

Whether you have an hourly job or a base salary, your monthly income should be the first step in your financial management. You probably work hard at your job and want to be rewarded with a paycheck at the end of the week. The question is, how do you want to use that paycheck? The next step will allow you to understand the significance of your paycheck and how to disburse it correctly.

Thinking through all your expenses is the next and probably most essential step in becoming financially literate. Personal expenses can include car insurance payments, gas, going out for dinner, etc. This is where you determine what costs are useful to your everyday life, as well as where you figure out costs that can be cut. Important costs to consider are miscellaneous spending, which are costs that are not imperative (unlike car payments or insurance). A great rule to follow is to consider needs over wants. It may be tempting as a college student to go on a shopping spree for the latest styles, go out to eat multiple times a week, or even buy every new iPhone as it’s released. There’s nothing wrong with a splurge occasionally, just if needs are placed above wants. The US News reflects on this very idea. They warn students that they need to budget for travel, food outside of the regular meal plan, and any other extracurricular activities they desire to do in addition to the normal university expenses. College is already expensive, why make it harder by not budgeting for those extra expenses?

Saving can be the most difficult step to follow when it comes to financial management as a college student. We have always been warned to save as much as we can, but it never seems to happen. After seeing your monthly income and figuring out your expenses, take a percentage of the difference and place it into a savings account. Putting away a percentage of your paycheck is a great step in the right direction. Once you get into the habit of saving, your financial management becomes a lot easier and will prepare you for the future. The Balance, an online financial blog, looks at savings differently for college students to regular adults. College students should not look to invest their money into other entities, but rather save for future tuition payments, books, or a financial desire of the student. Saving is extremely important for the success of a college student’s financial management. Without additional funds, you will run out eventually and become stuck in the financial rut that many college students find themselves in today.

I understand that spending money is a part of going to college. You want to have fun and get the whole “college experience.” Budgeting is hard when there are so many areas where money can be spent. However, it is important to budget for this spending, as it can easily get out of hand and will leave you wondering where your money went. Stay disciplined, stay responsible, and stick with your budget as it will allow you to have a more financially stable present and future.

Sources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2014/08/21/7-simple-steps-college-students-should-take-to-build-financial-literacy-and-responsibility/#dfae64325bbe

https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/07/16/those-other-college-expenses-you-arent-thinking-about

https://www.thebalance.com/managing-your-money-while-in-college-2385965


Written by: Mike Tammaro

Mike is a Junior double majoring in Finance and Economics and writes for the blog in order to expand my skills as a student. As a business major, the curriculum does not allow for a lot of creative writing, so being able to publish written work is freeing from my normal educational routine.

SA Previews: Tenth Avenue North

September 2, 2019

Tenth Avenue North, a Christian contemporary band, will be performing at Liberty on September 27 at 7:30 p.m. The band got their start in the early 2000’s in West Palm Beach, Florida. In their beginning days, they played cafes and local student conventions and opened for rising Christian singer, Katy Hudson (now known as pop icon Katy Perry).

After making three independent albums, they released their first record label album in 2008, Over and Underneath. In 2009, they won “New Artist of the Year” at the Christian Music Dove Awards, and in 2010, “By Your Side” was named song of the year. With the release of their next two albums, The Light Meets the Dark and The Struggle, the band gained even more momentum.

Their blend of a rock and pop styles seek to bring light to unpopular and not-often-talked-about issues within the church, such as addiction, abuse, lust, and other many other topics. Lead singer Mike Donehey has been in the band since its conception, with other members joining and leaving through the years. They recently came out with their ninth album, “No Shame,” and will begin their No Shame Tour this October. Purchase your tickets to see them in concert here!

Sources

http://www.tenthavenuenation.com/band/biographies/band/

http://www.klove.com/music/artists/tenth-avenue-north/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenth_Avenue_North


Written by: Jonah Sheridan

Jonah is a Junior Forensic Science Major with a minor in Psychology and enjoys the opportunity to be creative with his writing on the blog.

 

Memes: Potentially Pessimistic Poison

August 30, 2019

There are three things that all people are amongst other things: a sinner, a critic, and a comedian. I came to know the sinner part from my church background, in which one of the first verses I ever adopted into my memory called us all out for being sinners and falling short of the glorious standard set by God (Romans 3:23). The critic part stems from the common saying “opinions are like armpits: everybody has them and some of them stink worse than others”, but the comedian part is said rather tongue-in-cheek as it is something that everyone tries to be in their own particular way. Unfortunately, this does not mean everyone is good at it; just because someone writes a song does not mean it is a good song or that they are a good musician.

When presented with downtime, I tend to entertain myself with either television or movies, and without fail I wish I could do what the people I see on screen are doing. After watching an NBA game, I dream of being Giannis Antetokounmpo. Post-watching a Netflix comedy special, I fanaticize selling out Radio City Music Hall like John Mulaney. I cannot seem to go to a concert without getting caught up in visualizing myself being up there doing what some of my favorite artists do; we desire to do what we see others who we admire are doing, which is only natural.

For many who grew up in the vastly changing 2000s, Jon Stewart, former host of the 22-time Primetime Emmy award winning satirical news show “The Daily Show”, was the ideal combination of critique and comedy. His satirical style pointed out flaws in logic, execution, and philosophy all while bringing a smile to the audience’s face through laughter rooted in a plethora of comedic genres including observational, insult, and absurdist. Disregarding any political disagreements I may have with Stewart, when I see him roasting politicians without even blatantly calling them out for their hypocrisy, when I see him being a social activist through his comedic commentary, I develop a desire to do what he did on the Daily Show. I believe that many people try to do that too; people try to do what Stewart – one of the most iconic, impactful, and influential voices of the century – did so very well and satirically commented on all manners of culture. Yet, people’s sometimes lame attempt at being Jon Stewart is through memes.

Given the fact that on-campus Liberty students are required to go to Convocation Wednesday and Friday mornings, sometimes the routine of it all becomes mundane, so students have to try to find amusement to keep themselves entertained amidst the required gatherings. Memes are a convenient and often comedic way to do so. LU Memes and The Liberty Way meme account both host a tremendous following and cover everything from odd illustrations Nasser uses and videos of Jerry Falwell Jr. pelvic thrusting hundreds of pounds to frustrations with parking – which I have come to understand on a new level since moving off-campus. But with such a wide array of topics being covered, the memes made pointing out the positives in activities or functions are few and far between, looking like a small hill in the shadow of mountains of pessimism. This is little to no fault of the administrators of the pages, as they merely filter what gets posted on the page and work with what they are sent, but this makes it clear that the content they are sent is mostly on the pessimistic side, proving that students tend to find the negative(s) in things which likely do not deserve an analysis and critique.

Memes have grown in popularity just as social media has over the past decade, with some meme accounts on Instagram having over 16 million followers. In 2015, Max Roser conducted a survey called “Share of the population who think the world is getting better” and only 6% of Americans said that the world seemed to be getting better;  this is with the knowledge that technology, medicine, and many people’s circumstances have improved over the past few decades. While there certainly are things that have not improved, and maybe they have even gotten worse (including that many people do live in very unfortunate circumstances), I believe that there is a definitive connection between the world’s growing pessimism and the increased popularity of memes that tend to be hung up on the negative. I fully acknowledge that ignorance is bliss and through the usage of memes many things have been brought to light that we may not have noticed before, but we may have ran into an indulgence of pointing out the negative and not even acknowledging the presence of the positive.

There is humor to be found in the relatable nature of memes, but what I fear is that memes are changing us slowly and unbeknownst to us, corrupting us into people that cannot enjoy things anymore because we just want to make fun of it, critique it, and devour it to get a cheap laugh and maybe some social media clout. The fear is that we cannot consume and enjoy because we are choking on our pessimistic poison. Do we know how to consume food, entertainment, and every day interactions anymore without feeling the need to dilute them down to a cheap joke? Are we too far gone to ever have childlike wonder and amazement about things but still have the maturity of adults?  Can we enjoy things purely anymore?

We attempt to justify our constant pessimism by defending them as being harmless jokes, blaming our boredom as the reason we can’t help but find the negative in things, and sometimes marking it off as an attempt to socially commentate on something in society. Too often we forget that somebody put work into their craft and, in a sense, when we make fun of someone’s hard work we make fun of them. As Will Rogers once said, “Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else”. Granted, a person’s identity should not be solely resting on their work but that does not mean there is an open invite to offer only criticism and never constructive advice. If all you do is point out to the masses that there is a fire but never sound the alarm, grab a hose, or call 9-1-1, you are part of the problem, not the solution.

Social commentary is important as it puts on display parts of something or someone that need improvement, hypocrisy, and injustice that may have otherwise gone unnoticed, which is why comedic commentators like Jon Stewart are important. Yet, there is a time and a place for it and even Jon recognizes that not every subject, not every song, not every pixel on a screen requires a skinning and thrashing; “If we amplify everything we hear nothing.” Continue to make memes, be honest, point out hypocrisy but lovingly and with the hopes that things will improve, laugh at life, find humor in the happenings and idiosyncrasies of the day, but be aware and cautious about the fact that memes may be funny, but they can have the potential to turn you into a pessimist who cannot enjoy things anymore. This is all because you seek to make your own fun out of something that may have already been fun in and of itself. You are given thousands of little choices every day to either look for the small slither of light or point out and exploit the darkness surrounding you; in the words of NEEDTOBREATHE, “Be more heart and less attack”.

Sources

https://www.rd.com/advice/work-career/jon-stewart-quotes/

https://ourworldindata.org/motivation

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/will_rogers_164648?src=t_humor

https://genius.com/Needtobreathe-more-heart-less-attack-lyrics


Written by: Landen Swain

Landen believes the human experience longs to be expressed; through our art, our labor, our songs, our storytelling. As a published playwright, author, and poet, he enjoys expressing his little chapter of the human experience through his writings and is thankful that the SA blog allows him to do that. He is published in numerous magazines, literary journals, and has several plays published by Off the Wall Plays, an online play publishing house.

The Search For A Church: What To Consider and Why You Should Consider It

August 29, 2019

The start of a new semester is upon us and thousands are flooding into Lynchburg for college. Before leaving Lynchburg for the summer, maybe you were questioning whether you should keep going to the church you are going to in Lynchburg or not, maybe you were church hopping in hopes of finding one that made you feel like you were at home, or maybe you have not been going to church at all, relying on podcasts and a Shane & Shane playlist for a church experience. If you are an incoming freshmen, the search for a church to plug into, belong to, and serve with can be a daunting task as your church will hopefully shape, mold, and encourage your walk with the Lord. Regardless of what state of your academic career you are in, the search for a church to go to is important. Through this post, I hope to highlight things to look for in a church and things to seek bringing about within your current church body.

You Need To Be Going To Church

In 2 Timothy 3, Paul gives us qualifications for overseers and deacons and in 2 Timothy 5 he gives us instructions for the church. Hebrews 10:24-25 literally states “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” All of these passages and more point to the fact that churches are within God’s divine design – from the actual gathering of believers to those in positions of leadership over that body of believers – and He emphasizes the importance of being a part of a church, with fellow members of the Church. If you are a believer, neglecting gathering together in a body of believers is bluntly unwise, foolish, and unsafe. With all that being said, your search for a good church should be at the forefront of your priorities if you are not in one, so take this seriously.

What To Look For, What To Avoid

Though hilarious, it is sad that a lot of people approach finding a church with the pettiness John Crist satirically displays in his videos Church Hunters: Episodes 1 and 2.1 We far too often go to church sorely mistaken into thinking that it is about us when in reality, the epicenter of the church is God; it is not about us dressing up nice, sharing social niceties, taking pictures in our outfits to display on social media afterwards, getting a cup of coffee, enjoying a concert, hearing a lecture, and leaving feeling better about ourselves, so if you are going to church wanting comfort in the sense of luxury and ease, entertainment, or to just get your religion in for the week, sadly you are doing it wrong.

It is not that nice clothes, coffee, and quality musicianship are bad things, it is just that we all too often make church about ourselves, our comfortability, entertainment, and interests, and not about God, with the ultimate goal of each Sunday leaving church in awe of God, challenged by His Word, and praying for God to search and know us and to lead us in the way everlasting as Psalm 139 says. Church should be a place where we are bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), helping each other overcome doubt (John 20:26-31), praising together (Psalm 147-150), having hard conversations rooted in scriptural truth (Ephesians 4:25-27), encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:25), holding each other accountable (Galatians 6:1-5), discipling one another (Matthew 28:19-20), and doing life with one another (James 5:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). If your motivations behind church fit within the comfort zone, this may be a wake-up call for you to search that much more for a church that strives to be what a church is supposed to be.

Note that I did not say find a perfect church, because you are not going to; as Hank Hanegraaff once said, “If you find a perfect church, don’t join it; you’ll ruin it.”2 You cannot find a perfect church congregation because we are imperfect people in a sinful world, but what you can do is look to see if they match up with biblical descriptions of a good church. 1 Timothy and other passages thankfully give us a few descriptions:

Do they pray? 1 Timothy 2 starts by Paul urging “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people”. Well, that’s an easy enough instruction. Does the church you are looking at dedicate themselves to prayer, to fasting? Do they take time before God seriously or is it a secondary focus for them? Where there is prayer there is a deepened community and if their prayer is rooted in the right motives, that is also where you will see God all the more in your daily life as you trust all the more in His all-knowing way and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

Do they worship? Oftentimes throughout 1 Timothy, Paul would mention God or Jesus and add an extra nugget in there about them (i.e. “God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (6:17) “he who is blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords (6:15), “… we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (4:10)) and this is a form of worship. John Piper once said, “True worship is a valuing or a treasuring of God above all things,”3 and Paul is treasuring God above all else with these compliments and praises within his speech. This speaks to the importance of worship, to be mindful to put God above all things, including ourselves; a church should worship, but it should be worship of God not ourselves.

Do they live out what they teach? In Paul’s list of qualifications for an overseer and for a deacon in 1 Timothy 3, he notes how they should be the husband of one wife (3:2,12), manage their household and children well (3:4,12), and a variety of other things. The main point of it all being that they should be setting the example, putting into action what they are being taught, being a doer of the word and not a hearer only (James 1:22), and that should be modeled within the church as well, or at the very least an effort should be put towards it. No church member will get it perfect; as Billy Sunday once said,Hypocrites in the Church? Yes, and in the lodge and at the home. Don’t hunt through the Church for a hypocrite. Go home and look in the mirror. Hypocrites? Yes. See that you make the number one less.”4

What’s their theology? You cannot rely on your pastor for all of your theology; they can guide you through things, give wise counsel, but check things out for yourself. You have a Bible, read it yourself to check to see what you truly believe but listen to wise counsel (Proverbs 11:14, 12:15, 19:20-21). Examine whether a church is holding “…to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God…” (1 Timothy 1:10-11) and determine whether they are preaching the true Gospel and not a false-hope giving, gross distortion of the Gospel like the Word of Faith Movement’s Prosperity Gospel (which you can learn more about the dangers of by watching “American Gospel: In Christ Alone”). You do not have to agree with everything the church you are checking out believes in theologically. In fact, if you are purposely seeking out individuals that believe everything you do as well then all you are doing is seeking affirmation and comfortability; you should be challenged by your church and different opinions, but the gauge by which you measure what is being said must be scripture and not personal opinion.

The Congregation

Just about everywhere you go there are multiple generations, races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic classes within that area, and your church should reflect that; it is not a sin to have a church made up primarily of one socioeconomic group or one race, but we should recognize that heaven will contain “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages…” (Revelation 7:9, ESV). If there’s nothing but white people in the area you live in, do not feel like you are failing miserably because there are no other races within your church congregation, but if other races or generations are never sought out or people of other ethnicities being within your church congregation makes you uncomfortable, that screams that there needs to be some study of scripture, hard conversations with a mentor, and prayer for that anti-gospel disposition you hold in your heart, as the Gospel goes beyond all boundaries (Acts 10:34-35).

It would be wise to look for multiple generations within a church you are looking at as well. 2 Timothy begins with Paul acknowledging that he sees the same sincere faith that was in Timothy’s grandmother Lois and in his mother Eunice in Timothy (1:5). Proverbs 16:31 notes “gray hair is a crown of glory”; this denotes how there is encouragement to be had from the elderly, those who have been running the race for a while, who have walked the path before you, who hold so much wisdom from life experiences and decades of studying the word. While we should not be despised for our youth (1 Timothy 4:12), it is sort of hard for someone only a few years older than you to give you the kind of advice that a person twice your age could – experience often cultivates wisdom.

Final Thoughts

If you are at a church and you feel a conviction about not leaving the church but want to make a change within it to have it exemplify biblical models of what a church should look like, then that is a worthwhile mission. Be the change you wish to see within the church (looking to scripture as the model for what it should look like to begin with; there is a need for people to go into spaces and influence things for the better, undoubtedly). Start by talking with your pastor and the elders about what you see your church lacking and go from there; if there is an absolute refusal on their part to change and that is not based in scripture, after a fair amount of time, it may be time to consider actually leaving but never have them leave your prayers.

Lynchburg has a myriad of churches to choose from with a variety of denominations, preferences, settings, and styles, but regardless of the church you end up at be faithful and active, a doer rather than just a hearer, a student, a listener, a disciple maker, a server, an ambassador for Christ, and an imitator of Him while you are there and beyond.

Sources

1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nT70cA-7qMk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2FrYWub95o

2http://www.quotehd.com/quotes/hank-hanegraaff-quote-if-you-find-a-perfect-church-dont-join-it-youll-ruin

3https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-is-worship

4 https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/billy_sunday_183041?src=t_church


Written by: Landen Swain

Landen believes the human experience longs to be expressed; through our art, our labor, our songs, our storytelling. As a published playwright, author, and poet, he enjoys expressing his little chapter of the human experience through his writings and is thankful that the SA blog allows him to do that. He is published in numerous magazines, literary journals, and has several plays published by Off the Wall Plays, an online play publishing house.

SA Previews: Andy Mineo

August 22, 2019

Andy Mineo, an American hip hop artist who displays self-reflection and vulnerability to connect with his listeners, will be performing at Liberty on September 13 at 7:30pm. The 31-year-old Christian rapper has been making music since 2009 when he dropped Sin Is Wack Vol. 1. Ever since, Andy Mineo has produced a multitude of records making it to the Billboard charts as well as selling out on tours in the United States and Europe.

After moving to New York City, he accepted and began following Jesus Christ and restarted his career, going a new direction. Andy Mineo has used his platform to reach others and empathize with them using his musical gifts. This can be evidently seen in his two-part series I: The Arrow and 2: The Sword. In “Anxiety” from I: The Arrow, he discusses the effects of anxiety and uses imagery that listeners can clearly understand. Andy Mineo’s music is more than just a catchy beat with fun and exciting choruses and hooks. He uses his music to spread God’s truth and the Gospel.

Work In Progress, his newest album, is expected to release on August 23, 2019. And from the couple songs that have been released, “I DON’T NEED YOU (DEMO.)wav” and “Anything But Country (break beat_no trap version).mp3”, we can expect more songs that have unique beats and thought-provoking lyrics. Purchase your tickets for Andy Mineo now!

Sources

http://andymineo.com/

https://genius.com/artists/Andy-mineo

https://www.billboard.com/music/andy-mineo


Written by: Andrew Reynolds

Andrew is a Senior Project Management Major, and enjoys writing for the blog because of the opportunity it gives him to grow as a writer and to challenge himself to see current topics and discussions from a view point he may not have otherwise thought about.