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Book Review: Glory Hunger by JR Vassar

March 25, 2019

Revelation 2 contains the letter from John to the Church in Ephesus. In this letter, Jesus, who had been using John to write letters to several churches to either call out their issues that needed addressing or affirm them as they went through times of struggle, brings up how the church in Ephesus has been “enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary” but “have abandoned the love [they] had at first” (Revelation 2:3-4, ESV). These letters to the ancient churches contain truth for not only them in that time period, but for us nowadays as well, and the truth that struck me with this message not too long ago was that I, in some ways, have lost my first love, or at least had lost some of the things I had done when I first was falling in love. When it was all fresh, new, and exciting, and I had my first real encounter with Jesus, I loved reading books and listening to sermons all to try to learn so much more about Jesus, but as time went by, I got too busy and sort of lost my love for doing those things, but I longed to get back into the swing of things, remembering my first love once again.

JR Vassar’s “Glory Hunger: God, the Gospel, and Our Quest for Something More” was the book I initiated my resurgence into reading books regularly again with, and I am overjoyed that it was. Vassar, the Senior Pastor of Church at the Cross in Grapevine, Texas, sought to show readers a problem all of us have as a result of the Fall in Genesis 3, the repercussions of that problem, and how to renounce one of the ever-present side effects of the Fall, which is the issue of us seeking the glory that rightfully belongs to God.

Following a foreword by Matt Chandler, Vassar exposes how “the glory hunger we all possess is to be restored to a glorious image and crowned with honor by God” (pg. 23) which stems from our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, who brought sin into the world and made a need for restoration. As a result of the Fall and the emergence of sin we often try to compensate for our lost glory, adopt narcissistic tendencies that turn the attention on ourselves, and try to put on a good face to try to remain in good graces with society; “a hunger for glory is a legitimate part of humanity’s intended design, but it has been twisted. God built us for glory but our glory hunger has made us slave to it.” (pg. 16)

Vassar observes that “until the opinion of the one who matters most actually matters most to you, you will never be free from your unrelenting glory hunger” (pg. 44) and calls for us to abandon the hunger of our own glory by giving it to the One truly worthy of it. Referencing multiple passages of Scripture including Psalm 145, Vassar motions for readers to look upward to God who is vast and wonderous in all of His ways instead of inward to our shallow hearts that are prone to be selfish, wicked, and in search of ultimate affirmation, as “in Him [Jesus] we are given the unchanging status of justified and adopted children of God” (pg. 54). Once we get it through our thick skulls that when we are saved we are called God’s beloved sons and daughters by God Himself, we can finally rest in our pursuit of our own glory and instead give it to the One who is truly worthy of it.

With an easy to read flow and repetition of main points to make sure readers understand what he is trying to say, Vassar delivers a goldmine of practical information on a subject we all deal with in a small book. For those seeking freedom from self and the never-ending labor of trying to build up our own reputations, this book is a must-read.

Sources

Vassar, JR. (2015). Glory Hunger: God, the Gospel, and Our Quest for Something More. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.


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: Tori Kelly

March 22, 2019

Tori Kelly, recognized off stage as Victoria Loren Kelly, has been singing her own songs since she can remember. Kelly grew up in a music-driven home in Southern California with the dream of one day “making it” in the music industry. While her parents inspired her style, her career ultimately launched as a result of her self-driven efforts. Kelly is generally recognized for her many viral Vine and YouTube covers in which she gained recognition from artists like Justin Bieber. However, her independent EP Handmade Songs by Tori Kelly was an experiment that led to the onset of her music career.

Kelly’s most recent album, Hiding Place, was a collaborative piece in which she was afforded the opportunity to work alongside one of her very own music inspirations, Kirk Franklin. This album showcases Kelly’s gospel roots with a variety of songs centered around the Christian values that she continues to carry with her through the fame of today. In turn, this album has received two Grammy Awards for Best Gospel Album and Best Gospel Performance/Song.

We are so excited to host Tori Kelly in Vines on April 6th! Join us then as we sing our hearts out to some of her greatest hits. You don’t want to miss it!

Sources

http://www.torikellymusic.com/

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/tori-kelly-mn0002717459/biography

https://www.capitolrecords.com/tori-kellys-new-project-hiding-place-set-for-september-14-release/ 


Written by: Naomi Bower

Naomi is an avid coffee drinker and google calendar enthusiast from Arizona who spends most of her time outside, exploring new places. She enjoys writing for the blog because it forces her to remain educated on current events happening in our culture today. Naomi is especially passionate about bringing awareness to issues such as women’s rights and diet culture.

Evangelicalism and Republicanism: Lines Blurred

March 21, 2019

I distinctly remember in elementary school being told by an older person that George W. Bush was the good guy and his opponent, John Kerry, was the bad guy. The picture painted for my impressionable mind was that Bush was Rocky Balboa and Kerry was Ivan Drago. It wasn’t like Kerry wore a dark cape and had a diabolical laugh like most of the bad guys in the cartoons I watched growing up had; in my little “America is the greatest nation on Earth and you can’t say that she has done anything bad, ever” bubble, Kerry was the bad guy because he was a Democrat and Bush was the good guy because he was an Evangelical Republican. Nothing else seemed to matter in the process of determining who to vote for.

For the longest time, I thought that “Evangelical Republican” was a special kind of Republican, but then I came to realize that Evangelicalism originally had no roots in politics whatsoever. Donald Bloesch writes: “The term ‘Evangelical’ as designating a particular religious identity came into prominence in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, although it had already appeared in the Reformation period as a point of dispute between a rising Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Evangelicalism came more and more to be contrasted with Modernism and Liberalism.” Being an Evangelical used to be an identifying term that set Christians apart as those holding to sound biblical doctrine, but as it gained popularity and influence, Evangelicalism became more of a credential for politics rather than a distinguishing term for those in Christianity.

As Republican and Evangelical become more and more synonymous with one another, the lines between them often seem blurred. During the 2016 Presidential election, a common sight to see on Facebook was a Republican sharing a post on loving our neighbors, but then follow that with vicious attacks on the Clintons, from bringing up Bill’s affair with Monica Lewinsky to making fun of Hillary’s physical appearance. Evidentially, since the former Secretary of State was a Democrat, that must mean that she was not a neighbor that should be loved and that she, due to her political stances, was not made in the image of God.

This commonly-found hypocrisy has given Evangelicals a bad name, one that has made it seem like Evangelicals are more concerned with who is in office than who is being shown the love of Christ. Peter Wehner, a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, concludes, “The term Evangelical — despite its rich history of proclaiming the “good news” of Christ to a broken world — has been so distorted that it is now undermining the Christian witness.” The nastiness of politics has polluted the love that should flow out of Christianity. Author and Presbyterian pastor Timothy Keller also notes, “‘Evangelical’ used to denote people who claimed the high moral ground; now, in popular usage, the word is nearly synonymous with ‘hypocrite.’ When I used the word to describe myself in the nineteen-seventies, it meant I was not a fundamentalist. If I use the name today, however, it means to hearers that I am.”

What frustrates and confuses me all at once is that many who say they are evangelical are not even actually evangelical. Bob Smietana of LifeWay writes,

“About one in four Americans say they are evangelical Christians. Most of them are white, live in the South and identify as Republican. Many go to church every week. But they’re not always sure what they believe. Fewer than half of those who identify as evangelicals (45 percent) strongly agree with core evangelical beliefs, according to a new survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. ‘There’s a gap between who evangelicals say they are and what they believe,’ said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. And a significant number of evangelical believers reject the term ‘evangelical.’ Only two-thirds (69 percent) of evangelicals by belief self-identify as evangelicals.”

This is like if a fan at a Lakers game wearing a jersey he bought online got on the court and started shooting air balls, thinking he was part of the team – he would be giving a bad name to something that is meant to be good, just like how many Republicans, who do not know what an Evangelical is supposed to be, identify as one and then have their political passions broadcasted, which many on the outside mistake for what Evangelical faith supposedly looks like.

If this sounds like I hate conservative politics and all things Republican, I don’t. My quarrel is with the distortion of the term “Evangelical” and where the priorities of even some of those who claim to be Evangelicals are. If Jesus is truly your Lord & God then He should have your love far more than any nation should. Jesus should have your pledged allegiance far more than any flag should. I love this nation, but I want it to be abundantly clear with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength that I love Jesus way more than I love this country. This country can’t save me, the Republican nor the Democratic party can save me, only Jesus can save me, and that’s regardless of how I vote.

Let this not discourage you from your political convictions but instead encourage in your loving interactions. You can be an Evangelical, you can be a Republican, you can be an Evangelical who happens to be a Republican; these are fine things to be, but be cautious about getting those lines blurred and getting priorities mixed up.

Sources

Bloesch, D. G. (2008). Evangelicalism. Dialog, 47(1), 16-20. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6385.2008.00363.x.

Keller, T. (2017, December 19). Can Evangelicalism Survive Donald Trump And Roy Moore?. The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/can-evangelicalism-survive-donald-trump-and-roy-moore.

Smietana, B. (2017, December 6). Many Who Call Themselves Evangelical Don’t Actually Hold Evangelical Beliefs. LifeWay. Retrieved from https://lifewayresearch.com/2017/12/06/many-evangelicals-dont-hold-evangelical-beliefs/.

Wehner, P. (2017, December 9). Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/09/opinion/sunday/wehner-evangelical-republicans.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fpeter-wehner&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&ccontentPlacemen=1&pgtype=collecti.


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.

Every Square Inch Review

March 7, 2019

Workshop: The Challenges of Discipleship in a “You Be You” Culture

To get the juices flowing for the main lecture, Trevin Wax dove into a short speech on why “You Be You” culture is a hurdle for discipleship in the church. It seems like everyone nowadays tries to be self-made, self-sustaining, self-expressing solo acts whose main concern is with themselves alone, which contradicts Scripture on multiple fronts. With the “You Be You” culture that has grown to unrivaled providence over the last few decades, the idea is ‘you be true to the you that you perceive that you truly are, conforming to that mindset and lifestyle rather that conforming to the image of Christ’, which according to Trevin Wax, is the whole point of discipleship.

Citing Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” several times, Wax uncovered the issue with the “You Be You” culture by targeting its confusing logic and its moral flaws – such as its insistence on reaffirming yourself no matter the cost, even if you are engaging in a blatantly harmful lifestyle but are happy. He discussed how this culture impacts religion, claiming that due to You Be You’s pillar of happiness, self-definition and self-expression as being the highest goods, anything that tells you how to live otherwise is bigoted and wrong according to society. Wax, not wanting to give too much away from his speech that night in the Concert Hall, asked the following questions for those in attendance to discuss at their tables before inviting those in attendance into an extended conversation on a related subject later that night in the main lecture:

“In what ways does the You Be You culture create new challenges in the mission to create disciples?

What are longings of the people whose purpose in life is to find themselves?

What are the problems in imagining the world this way? How would other countries challenge us in You Be You thinking? How does Scripture challenge us?

What is right about the message of You Be You, what is wrong, and how is the Gospel better?”

Main Lecture: The Gospel vs. Expressive Individualism: Why “Being True To Yourself” is a Dead-End on the Road to Happiness

The main lecture of the ESI conference took place in the beautiful, 1600-seat Grand Concert Hall in the Music and Worship Building at Liberty University. The campus band Captivate opened the night up, leading students, faculty and staff in a few worship songs. The second half of the night included a convicting message by our speaker for the conference, Trevin Wax. Wax discussed why a life of expressive individualism will ultimately lead to a life of unhappiness. Wax describes expressive individualism as “a lifestyle when someone strives to find the deepest part of them self and attempts to express it to the world.” Wax also explained that, according to research, “84% of Americans would say that enjoying yourself is the highest goal in life, and 66% of church-going Christians would say the same.” He then compared the difference between an expressive individualistic lifestyle versus a lifestyle where one is living for the Gospel. He says that living an expressive individualistic lifestyle leads to a dead end on the road to happiness, and the Gospel is better because it avoids running into that dead end.

Wax gave many reasons why expressive individualism leads to a dead end on the road of happiness, and one of the reasons that he explained is “expressive individualism leads to loneliness.” Advanced stages of expressive individualism will eventually lead to isolation, due to pursuing one’s own path. Wax used the example of Elsa from Disney’s movie Frozen; Elsa wanted so badly to express who she was (a snow queen) that she ended up freezing her hometown and having to escape to a faraway land, alone. Wax also gave many examples of why the Gospel is better than striving towards expressive individualism, and one of the reasons that Wax gave is “the gospel gives rest.” Expressive individualism causes one to worry about what other people think about them because they are trying so hard to express themselves as “good enough or happy”. However, the Gospel gives rest because one does not have to live an exhausting life seeking out the approval of others, knowing that God’s opinion is what matters the most.

The evening closed with a Q&A between Trevin Wax and Dr. Karen Prior (English professor here at Liberty). This was an incredible night and we are so thankful for the opportunity to learn more about the discussion on expressive individualism and why the Gospel is better.

The Gray Havens featuring Chris Renzema and Gray

Packing the LaHaye Event Space with scores of fans ranging from Liberty students and Lynchburg natives to JMU and UVA students, this three-artist concert was noted by regular concert-goers as being one of the best concerts ever hosted by Student Activities. No stranger to the stage at Liberty University, Grayson Perry, also known by his stage name “gray”, started the night off with melodic songs that scored him many new fans and pleased many a loyal fan. From there, the stage became Chris Renzema’s, who was welcomed with a thunderous applause. “I Don’t Wanna Go” sticks out as being a highlight from his set, as concert-goers rose from their seats and happily swayed back and forth and sang along to the easily lovable chorus.

Headlining the show was The Gray Havens, who stepped onto the Liberty University stage for the first time. With Dave’s quick wit and Licia’s easily loveable personality being on full display, the crowd at the LaHaye Event Space not only had the chance to sing to phenomenally performed songs, but also to laugh as Dave read from “Gray Flowers”, the children’s book he authored. The Radfords shared the comedic story of how they met, which involves the awkward turning of a corner and a bottle of Sprite. All three artists gave a fantastic show, capping off the Every Square Inch Conference in fantastic fashion and leaving fans craving more, which likely led to many car ride beltings of the artists’ tracks on Spotify. Both new fans and longtime fans alike left with a smile on their face and a song in their heart; the exact feeling you hope to leave a concert with.

It was such an honor to have Trevin Wax here to speak to some of the students and faculty of Liberty, and we loved wrapping up the ESI Conference with a memorable show from The Gray Havens. We’re already getting excited for next year’s Every Square Inch!



Written by: Gabi Cormier & Landen Swain

Gabi is a Sophomore majoring in Business: Project Management. She loves being a part of the SA blog and having the opportunity to discuss crucial topics that she is passionate about with the students of Liberty.

 

 

 

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.

Where Are You Going? Hawaii!

March 7, 2019

Spring Break: the long awaited and much anticipated event that marks the halfway point of spring semester. When I think of spring break I think of sitting in the warm sun with my toes in the sand, sippin’ on an ice cold La Croix. Funny enough, I have never actually done any of these things during my previous three spring breaks here at Liberty. This spring break, however, will be different. 

It’ll be different because I will be kicking up my feet in a place accurately titled the “Aloha State”, but better known as Hawaii! For the last few months now, I have been scouring the Internet for an affordable flight. Thanks to Sky Scanner, a handy app that notified me about affordable tickets, I will be making the 12-hour journey from Washington D.C. to the beautiful Big Island this Friday.

This is not a typical vacation with a five-star resort, pool and endless buffet. This break I will actually be staying on a YWAM base where my sister has been living for the past few months. Youth With A Mission, or YWAM, is a global missions organization which focuses on serving Jesus throughout the world. My sister, Lauren, is currently enrolled in Discipleship Training School (DTS) at The University of Nations in Kona, HI. DTS is a six-month program where the first three months are spent learning and being discipled in your faith, and the following three months are spent living as a missionary in many different parts of the world. My sister left at the beginning of January for DTS and will be sent out to minister to the people of Germany and Wales at the end of March.

I remember when I first learned about this adventure that my sister was about to embark on. I couldn’t help but be jealous that she would get to learn about Jesus in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. For me, the times I have truly experienced God’s presence the most viscerally has been in beautiful parts of His creation, like looking out at the deep blue waters of Laguna Beach or standing on Sharp Top at sunrise. My sister has learned many things during her short time in Hawaii and I cannot wait to experience a bit of her journey with her this week.

There are a few things I plan on doing during my limited time in Hawaii when we venture out from the YWAM base. My first plan is happily eating myself into a poké and sushi-induced coma. Hawaii is known for their seafood, similarly to how I am known for my love of seafood. The problem is, being from the Midwest, my encounters with good seafood are few and far between. I plan to “strike while the iron is hot” and eat as much of Hawaii’s diverse and delicious cuisine as possible before I fly home on Thursday. Next on my list is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I, like many, have never witnessed the sheer power of a volcano firsthand and I have also never been to any of our nation’s national parks. This would be a lot of firsts for me, but I imagine I will feel a lot like Moana when she encounters the volcano monster Te Ka and defeats it with the power of song. Last on my list is something to satisfy my inner adrenaline junkie, a cliff-jump at a place appropriately named The End Of The World. I have been known to take risks and seek out fun and adventure in many forms, but this will probably be the most wild thing on my list of to-dos. 

The remainder of my week will be spent living the life of a typical YWAM student, from going to class to meeting with my sister’s outreach team to a weekly gathering with the entire school for a time of worship and prayer (much like Liberty’s Convocation). I cannot wait to see the beauty of God’s creation in Hawaii and also get to spend time with my amazing and Jesus-loving sister.


Written by: Kate Dolan

Kate is a senior studying Business Administration: Communications. She has worked for Student Activities since her Junior year and it is honestly the best thing that’s happened to her since coming to Liberty. After graduation, she hopes to move back to her hometown in the suburbs of Chicago and get a big girl job downtown.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

February 25, 2019

Gabi: It was July 5, 2018, when I knew my life was never going to be the same again. I had spent the night before  sleeping in a hospital waiting room with my boyfriend and little sister. At around 7:00 am, my dad woke my sister and I up and I could tell by the look on his face that we would be saying goodbye to our mom today. Sure enough, a few hours later my mom took her very last breath. I cannot even put into words the way that I felt that day. Only a week before, we found out that my mom had a rare skin cancer inside her chest wall, and she would have about two more years to live. How did two years turn into one week? How could this really be God’s plan?

Kaitlyn: It was September 4th, 2018, when I got the call from my parents while I was walking through Montview Student Union. I knew from the missed calls on my phone and the tone of my dad’s voice that this was not the normal “How are you doing?” call. Without hearing the words, I already knew that my brother, Kyle, had passed away. At that moment, there was relief because of the struggle my brother had gone through, but also immense pain and heartbreak. Only two weeks into my semester, I had to face the fact that my life was going to change forever.  The thought of dropping out and going home popped into my head, but I heard my brother’s voice in my head telling me I need to finish strong. Ultimately, I decided that I needed to stay at Liberty and fight through my pain and suffering; I think that is one of my biggest accomplishments. The first month after my brother passed away, I felt constant guilt whenever I had a smile or a good laugh because I thought to myself, “How could I be happy and have fun while something this horrible is going on?” I had to fight through that and learn that the joy I was experiencing was the joy of the Lord. Even though this was the hardest experience to ever happen to me, I have never felt so near to God, and because of that I experienced strength like none other. Ultimately, I was still constantly wondering: why was this God’s plan?


People are constantly wondering “why bad things happen to good people”. When dealing with death and pain, it is important to remember the life that God desires for us to have. In order to begin this journey of healing, we have to look back in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. In Genesis 1 and 2, we see that God created a perfect world and man in His image. God desired for the world to be filled with life and sinlessness. Genesis 1:31 states, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good…” God admired the world that He created because he saw the perfection and beauty within it.

Although God created this world to be perfect, in Genesis 3 we see sin enter into the narrative. Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord’s commandments and believed that their ways were higher than God’s. Therefore, they listened to the serpent and ate the fruit from the tree of “knowledge of good and evil”. It was man’s own doing that brought sin into the world, not God’s intention. When man sinned, not only did sin enter the world, but so did death. In other words, because we are sinners we deserve death. Thankfully, death is not the end of the story. God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our past, present and future sins. Because of this, we are able to have eternal life in Heaven with our Creator. Death is only temporary on this earth and no one is immune to it; however, we are able to accept the free gift of eternal life and salvation from Jesus.

As Christians, we are able to hold onto the hope of what is to come because we have the promise of Jesus, and the battle against death has already been won. Often times, the world views death as depressing, but as Christians, we are able to view death as a celebration because we can recognize that this earth is our temporary home and heaven is our permanent destination. By making Jesus the center of our lives, we are able to have the assurance of knowing where we and the ones we love go after our life on Earth ends.

Although we as believers can rely on the truth that this world is only temporary and Jesus defeated death on the cross, it does not necessarily make losing someone we love any easier. We are given the opportunity to either run towards Jesus in a time like this or to dabble in the ways of the world. The world may appear more attractive and simpler, but the only thing that is going to satisfy our deep sorrow and pain is Jesus. Yes, it still hurts losing someone we love, but through fellowship with the people around us and by intentionally pursuing a relationship with the Lord, we are able to overcome pain from death. When we ask the Lord for something according to His will, as stated in John 15:7, He will equip us with what we need to get through such a time, as long as we choose to abide in Him. God provides undeniable strength and peace because He understands what we are going through. God experienced the pain that comes from death because of the sacrifice of His own Son. He sacrificed His Son so that we no longer have to feel the pain of death; instead, we can rest in His joy.

Eventually, things will get easier and life will start feeling “normal” again.


Kaitlyn: For me, it took getting back into a routine and going back to activities that I was present in before I lost my brother for life to feel “normal” again. Being in a routine helped me feel like life was constant and unshakable. I tried to surround myself with people that felt like home and made me feel safe and loved. One of the most important things I learned in my grieving was that community is everything. Community comes alongside you and helps you walk when you can’t walk and mourns with you when you are mourning. 

Also, while making new memories was important for me to feel like my life was continuing, it was also crucial for me to remember the good memories I had of my brother. Some of the most important times for me were spent alone because it gave me space to think and pray. It is so easy to get caught up with being busy so we can distract and numb ourselves from the pain we are experiencing, but the best advice I could give to someone is to spend time alone with yourself and God. My journal and my Bible have been two of the most vital things in my life through this season.

Because my brother passed away while I was at school, I had not been home for a consistent amount of time until I went home for Thanksgiving break. That break was difficult because everything at home reminded me of my brother and it finally hit me that he was gone. The “firsts” are always the hardest, and I have to constantly remind myself that it will get easier and the Lord will give me the strength to go on. Even though life starts to feel “normal” again, there are still times when I am sad, which I know is completely normal. An important thing to remember is that mourning looks different for everyone and there is no right or wrong way to process grief. Sometimes sadness will hit you in the weirdest way and at the most random time, but that is okay. Whenever I experience those feelings, I have learned it is better to deal with it right away than to let them boil up and slowly eat away at you. Everyone has a different process of grieving, but it is vital to remember that you need to surround yourself with community, Jesus, and times of solitude.

Gabi: It honestly took a while for life to start feeling “normal” again for me. I had a month left at home before returning back to school, and between planning my mom’s funeral, moving into a new house and starting a new semester and job, it took a while for me to take time to sit down and process everything. In order for life to start to feel “normal” again, it took a lot of tears, prayer, time spent in God’s Word, and the community that my family, friends and hall had to offer. If it was not for being intentional in my relationship with the Lord, I know that I would not be standing where I am today. Honestly, it also took some time for me to figure out God’s plan for my life, and to fully understand why something like this would happen. 

I did not fully understand God’s plan for my life until I started reading the story of Job. Job is a very popular Bible character from the Old Testament. Job had a life full of heartbreak and suffering. Although everything was taken from Job (his wife, his children, his income, his crops, etc.), he still continued to bring God worship and praise. Although I by no means was perfect at praising God through this time in my life, I learned that the more I focused my eyes on God, the more He would reveal his plan for my life and the more I would in turn want to bring Him praise through this time of suffering. Not only is it so crucial to grow deeper in a relationship with God during this time by reading the Bible, journaling and praying, but it is also important to seek out community. God desires for us to be in community with others, and thanks to the people in my life, I was able to move towards a life that is more “normal.”


As stated earlier, mourning and a normal life looks different for everyone and it will not happen overnight. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. are going to be hard (especially the first time around), but eventually things will get easier, thanks to the grace and love of Christ. Therefore, we wanted to include some resources that we found helpful or that were recommended to us and/or are available here at Liberty.

Resources we found helpful:

  • Student Counseling Services
  • Books
    • Hope for Hurting Hearts; by Greg Laurie
    • Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love; by Raymond Mitsch and Lynn Brookside
    • Helping those in grief: A guide to help you care for others; by H. Norman Wright
    • Surprised by suffering: The role of pain and death in the Christian life; by R.C. Sproul
    • A Grief Observed; by C.S Lewis
    • Why suffering?: Finding meaning and comfort when life doesn’t make sense; by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale
  • Community on Campus
    • Community Groups/Hall Leadership
    • LU Shepherd Office
  • Many churches that surround Liberty

If you are reading this, and you have not lost someone, but you know someone who has experienced loss and is going through the process of grieving, the best thing to do for them is to simply be there for them. Although it may be uncomfortable and hard to think of the words to say, listen when they need someone to listen and speak when they need some advice. It is okay not to have all of the answers, because the most important thing is to be a constant friend during this time for them.

Another thing to remember is that if you are experiencing the loss of someone you love, you are not alone. There are people all around us who are also mourning, and we may not even know how close they are. One in five children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18 (Kenneth Doka, Editor of OMEGA, Journal of Death and Dying). There is a lot of loss and pain in this world, which is why there is an even greater need to foster community within our halls, college campus, hometown, etc.

Although losing someone you love to death can be one of the hardest trials in one’s life, we hope this testimony can be an encouragement to you. We want you to know you are not alone, and there is a God that cares about your situation and loves you. You will get through this by the grace of God. We are praying for you!

Resources

The Action Bible Study Bible: ESV. David C. Cook, 2015.

Anyabwile, Thabiti. “105 People Die Each Minute.” The Gospel Coalition (TGC),

The Gospel Coalition, 31 Oct. 2017. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/105-people-die-each-minute/  .

“Omega: Journal of Death and Dying: Index—Contents of Volume 68, 2013–2014.” OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying, vol. 68, no. 4, June 2014, pp. 383–385, doi:10.2190/OM.68.4.f.

“Student Counseling Services.” Liberty Journal, Liberty University Online, www.liberty.edu/studentaffairs/studentcouseling/index.cfm?PID=161.



Written by: Gabi Cormier & Kaitlyn Skarstein

Gabi is a Sophomore majoring in Business: Project Management. She loves being a part of the SA blog and having the opportunity to discuss crucial topics that she is passionate about with the students of Liberty.

 

 

 

Kaitlyn loves being able to write for the SA blog because she thinks it is important to share her voice. She loves being able to express her own opinions on important subjects that are relevant for students, faculty, and many others.

Why You Should Be Our Next Performer at Open Mic

February 22, 2019

If you have been to one of our Open Mic Nights, you know exactly how much of a good time they are. Open Mic gives students the opportunity to show their gifts to Liberty’s student body, displaying talents such as singing, rapping, spoken word, and comedy. Sign-ups usually fill quickly with students eager to perform, and Argo Tea is packed with an audience of students excited to be entertained.

As an Event Staff who gets to work and sometimes host Open Mic Night, I enjoy getting to see students grow as artists and become more comfortable with performing in front of a large crowd. Every Open Mic, prior participants come back and grow in their confidence, and that is something I love to see. Part of the reason why participants are likely to keep returning and performing is because of the supportive audience of students that attend the events. Having this event in Argo Tea makes it easy for you to sit with friends, grab food, and even work on an assignment while you watch your peers perform.

For anyone who is considering performing at Open Mic, you should definitely go for it! This is a great opportunity for you to share your gifts with the school and grow in your craft. Our next Open Mic will be on March 19 in Argo Tea at 7:00 pm. Sign-ups will start at 6:45, so make sure that you get there early if you plan on performing. We can’t wait to see you showcase your talent!


Written by: Trae Christian

Trae is studying Strategic Communications: Social Media Management. He always thought that he wasn’t a good writer until he started writing about things that he is passionate about. Writing for the SA blog has really helped him get over his writing insecurities.

How to Kick Senioritis

February 18, 2019

Graduating is such an exciting time because you finally get to see the outcome of all the hard work you put in to get to this point. College is not necessarily easy but it is also one of the best times of life because you get to meet new people, try new things, and focus on preparing yourself for the future. Moving on from college and going into another chapter of life can be very exciting as well, but in order to get to that next chapter you have to go through the journey of senior year, and it can be tough.

If you are like me then during your senior year you have experienced what is commonly known as senioritis. Senioritis is used to describe a lack of motivation to push through senior year. While finishing my senior year and talking to other seniors, I have realized that senioritis goes so much deeper than not being motivated.

During this time of looking for a job, or a graduate school, everything is up in the air, which can be very nerve wracking considering the fact that we haven’t really gone through this much change since deciding on a college to attend. Hearing from peers that have jobs lined up after graduation can be very discouraging, but through talking to other seniors I’ve realized that most of us actually have no clue what is going on. This doesn’t make not having anything lined up any better, but it does bring me peace to know that I am not alone in this part of life.

What I have been doing to make myself feel better about graduating is making sure that I am preparing to be a good employee or graduate student. This looks like making sure that my resume communicates what it needs to and also continuing to stay focused on school so that I can show myself worthy of being accepted into a graduate program. If you are a senior trying to figure out what is going to happen with your future, my advice would be to not forget how important it is to live in the present and focus on preparing yourself for the future the best way you can.


Written by: Trae Christian

Trae is studying Strategic Communications: Social Media Management. He always thought that he wasn’t a good writer until he started writing about things that he is passionate about. Writing for the SA blog has really helped him get over his writing insecurities.

SA Previews: Josh Garrels

February 14, 2019

Josh Garrels is a multi-genre, self-produced musical artist who, through only seven albums and a few EPs, has developed a respectable and musically significant career. The Indiana native has scores of fans from all across the country and globe. With close to 850,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and a myriad of songs reaching the seven digit listen total (with “Born Again” from his album Home being his sole song that has reached the mark of eight digits in total listens on Spotify), Garrels’ passionate sound has developed him a faithful music-loving fanbase. The Small Voice Records founder has been seen across many genres as he has dabbled in not only indie music, but hip-hop, rap, folk, and Christian music as well. Appearing in songs by John Mark McMillan, Andy Mineo, Mason Jar Music, Beautiful Eulogy and more, Garrels has been a well-sought after featured voice for years.

Garrels has one of the most distinguishable and recognizable voices in not only the Christian music world, but even in the mainstream music world as well. The only artist that comes to mind as having a similar deep, raspy nature to their voice is George Ezra, but Garrels displays a wider range of vocals, with his soulful falsetto being the main weapon in his repertoire. Pairing his unique voice with his strong but peace-of-mind guitar playing makes listeners feel like their headphones have turned into Heaven’s outer radio frequencies.

Few artists have the ability to make you feel like you have just read a really good book like Garrels does; his music is not only a muse but a journey. In his song “Ulysses”, Garrels takes listeners into Homer’s The Odyssey and Herbert James Draper’s portrait “Ulysses and the Sirens” as he describes fighting pretty temptations that the world offers that will ultimately leave him hurting as he strives to return home to the one he loves. Adding to the variety of his music, Garrels took the lyrics of the 1911 Southern Gospel hit partially written by Reverent W. A. Fletcher “Farther Along” and modernized them, adding a whole new theatrical flair to the tune, which, thanks to the revitalization by Garrels, has become the anthem for many in a generation much different from the one found in the 1910s. “Farther Along” proves all the more that Garrels possesses a timeless sound that is sure to be appreciated for years and generations to come. Josh Garrels offers concert-goers an adventure through love, human struggle, faith and more with a variety of sounds that are pleasing to both the ear and the soul.

Don’t let anything, not Love or War or the Sea in Between or anything else keep you from getting to the School of Music’s Concert Hall on March 22. We’ll see you there!


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.

What My Brother Taught Me About Disability

February 11, 2019

From the ages of two to five, I had the privilege of praying every single day and night for God to give me a brother. Needless to say, my parents were very content with three children, but that is probably the most consistent and intentional I have ever been with my prayer (which baffles me due to my young age). Yet, it seems that with young age and blissful ignorance comes an unbelievable amount of faith. The same kind of childlike faith that Jesus spoke of in the Bible was the exact childlike faith that I lived out during that time. I couldn’t be more joyous or grateful that my prayer was answered. 

My brother John was born on March 20, 2004, in Enid, Oklahoma. Beginning from birth, there was a battle for his life. To put it lightly, he struggled from the beginning. The first few years of John’s life were more difficult than anybody else I have ever met. He was sickly and frail from birth, was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, he aspirated food and later had to have the food surgically removed, and was later diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and had to go through copious amounts of chemotherapy. After all of that, he had to have two surgeries, including one open heart, to repair a hole in his heart. And if all of this wasn’t enough, his hip socket was injured during one of the surgeries and for the first 12 years of his life, he walked with a severe limp. Now it has digressed to the point where he is not even able to walk anymore because of the amount of pain that it brings him.

One could have the idea that John could be the most withdrawn and spiteful person on the planet. Thankfully, that statement could not be farther from the truth. John is the single most loving human being I have ever met. He loves without bounds and is not afraid to show you tangibly what that looks like. John has one of the most admirable views of people that I have ever seen. My deepest fears, fondest memories, and greatest dreams all revolve around this human being. In the public’s eye, he is “disabled” or impaired, but in God’s eyes, he is made perfect and will be made complete in Heaven, and that is a day that I long to see more than life.

Why is it that when we see how much joy people like John have and we notice that they live a normal life in and of themselves, we still tend to view them as solely “impaired” rather than as a human with unique abilities? Far too often we see somebody’s disability before we see any possible abilities in them. I argue that this way of thinking stems from a skewed societal view of “normalcy.” 

We need to challenge and redefine what society views as normal and abnormal. According to the ADA National Network, they define a person with a disability as, “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.” While maybe the first thing that comes in our heads after reading that definition is something like Autism or Down Syndrome or a person who can’t walk, I want to make the point of how something so common as a vision impairment where a person is required to wear glasses is defined as a disability. Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” If we are made wonderfully in the image of God, then that goes for every human, not just the ones that society deems as different.

I was 5 years old when John was born and I was too young to know that he was going through complications. As we grew, the thought never crossed my mind of what life would be like with a “normal” brother. When you grow up and spend so much time with someone in his situation, you never get the chance to view them as different because you are just doing life together. We should always strive to view everybody as a person and not just label them by their disability. Blaine Grimes, author of “Finding Ability in Finding Dory” summarizes it the best when he says, “Look for the ability in disability.” I challenge you to try and keep this in mind in the future when you encounter someone who is disabled or impaired. The key element of this is to be intentional with others regardless of who they are or how they differ from you. This simple gesture can mean the world to somebody and can promote others to be intentional with you.

References

https://www.christandpopculture.com/99917/
https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/education/edlife/disability-studies-a-new-normal.html
https://services.anu.edu.au/human-resources/respect-inclusion/different-types-of-disabilities
https://adata.org/faq/what-definition-disability-under-ada


Written by: Josiah Frisbie

Josiah enjoys writing for the blog because he believes in the power of discussing relevant topics. He wants to be challenged in his writing and research style while still growing and striving for knowledge.