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Different Ways to Worship

November 18, 2019

“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God.” The opening of Psalm 100 cannot be clearer to believers that worship is a command from the Lord. But what is worship and is there a correct way to do it? Does the Lord prefer one way to all others? If you are like me, I have been exposed to many different “worship traditions” in my life. Worship traditions can include a myriad of things, but the two that are most differing in style is the choice of raising hands or not during worship, and for the sake of this article I will be focusing solely on these. Personally, I do not raise hands when I worship and unfortunately have dealt with uncomfortable situations where I have been called out in my worship style because according to that person it was “not the right way.” I hope that this article will encourage all believers that worship is not how you do it, but Who you are doing it for, regardless of personal choice of style.

The idea of raising hands during worship has been reflected in both in Scripture and through the lives of Christian writers. In Psalm 134:2 it says, “Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord.” Multiple other passages affirm this form of worship throughout Scripture. Additionally, John Piper wrote an article on this very idea of raising hands during worship. Piper states, “Either it comes from the heart and is valuable as an expression of the heart, or it is a performance and has no worship value at all.” Authenticity is the core of hand-raising worship because without having the intent to worship God through it, all the person is doing is simply raising hands for attention. The focus should never be on yourself, or what people’s opinions are on your worship style, but Who you are worshipping. God created worship to bring praise and thanksgiving for the wonderful things He does in everyone’s lives. It is not a time to show off yourself, but to show off God. Raising hands in worship is an awesome way to express praise and worship to the Lord, but Christians should make sure that their heart intent is right.

What if you worship without raising hands? Worshipping involves joy. If you’re not worshipping with joy, you’re not worshipping at all. In Psalm 84 it says, “Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Happy are those whose strength is in you.” God commands us to be happy when coming before Him to worship. The problem that arises with people who do not raise hands is that they can come across as not joyful. That since there is no physical expression, that they are simply just singing the words but not meaning it. According to Christian journalist Chuck Abernathy, “We are encouraged in Galatians 5:25 that if we live in the Spirit that we should also walk in the Spirit… To keep step with Him is to be inconsistent fellowship with Him, and there is no better way to accomplish this than through daily personal worship, whereby we experience the beauty of His holiness and presence.” Personal worship is key in the life of a believer. When one does not show physical expression in worship, the focus should be on personal and internal praise with of course being joyful through and through.

No matter if you worship with arms lifted high, or by your sides, the focus should always be on God. Christians can become used to a certain way to worship, but I would like the key takeaway to be blind to how people worship and just enjoy the presence of God. You are not the focus, and neither are the people around you. Utilizing this idea will be freeing in the sense that you can worship with believers around you in harmony and show the true admiration that God deserves.

Sources

ESV Bible

https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/should-we-raise-our-hands-in-worship

https://www.savedhealed.com/Worship_Fresh_Look.htm


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.

Your Voice Matters

November 11, 2019

The increasing epidemic of human trafficking (child labor, underpaid labor, sex trafficking, debt bondage) is one hard pill to swallow; it can be easy to think it is too large an issue for one person to tackle alone. I think where a lot of people struggle in helping in social justice issues is they personally feel that they are not “big enough” or “important enough.” This could not be further from the truth.

I read a story recently of two women from the article “Understanding Human Trafficking in The United States.” These authors are two women who were someone’s daughters, someone’s friends. Their names are Samriah and Enung, and they were “recruited” from Indonesia to live with a kind, American family. This family would provide them work and a way to make their dream happen here in America. These women were promised much by this American family. Once arrived, these women were excessively beaten, abused, starved, and tortured by the family. There was no explanation as to why these women were treated so poorly; the family was twisted and selfish. This is human trafficking and it is happening in America. These women were seen by various witnesses within the home. A witness even saw one of the women crawling up from the basement, her forehead bleeding. They were seen by outsiders, and yet were not rescued from their terrible reality until one of them ran away to the police after five horrible years. Why did no one ask two clearly abused women what was happening?

Recognize signs, friends. Report suspicious behavior. Ask neglected-looking individuals about their lives. Medical professionals have so much opportunity to recognize trafficking victims, like when children or a “family member” do not resemble the rest of their family, or when sickly patients come in with excessive dental decay, HIV, or pelvic pain. The list goes on. Maybe you aren’t a medical professional so these signs feel irrelevant – don’t feel irrelevant. I have seen human trafficking and not known until further learning the signs of it. I could have done something, but I didn’t do anything, and it genuinely hurts me knowing that I could have done more. I don’t want you to look back and realize you could have helped, but didn’t.

There was one night I was driving back to my hometown, somewhere where prostitution is active and known about. I noticed three BMW’s all sitting, turned off, lined up along the curb of an empty street. Seeing this at 1:00 AM as an 18-year-old-girl didn’t make me feel the safest, so the last thing I thought to do was stop and investigate. Although, looking back, I know for a fact that those three well-dressed men, all sitting in their cars, late at night were there with the same intentions. I learned just a bit later that prostitutes will generally wait outside of sight, while pimps roam the streets searching for waiting cars. As the cars wait, pimps select a victim, put them in the car, and they begin their “work”. It is as disgusting and repulsive as it sounds, and I actually saw this all happen. I 100% did not do the right thing in this. Obviously, everyone, stay safe. Make wise decisions and know your boundaries. BUT, if you see this occur, please by all means call the police and report what you have seen. You can do so anonymously (which is what I would recommend), and leave the situation knowing you did all that you could. Even seeing children out and about with adults who seem crude, aggressive, and genuinely disrespectful to the child can be a sign. Asking children you meet about their life is not a bad idea; in fact, be a little nosey if you believe something more may be happening in their current living situation.

Donation to organizations who are actively training medical professionals, counselors, law enforcement, or providing safe homes helps so greatly. Engaging in challenges such as Dressember makes an impact. People ask questions because they don’t understand, but you can help them understand. Ask questions when you don’t understand. It is okay to not know, but push yourself to learn and educate yourself so you may be the positive change the world needs. This world needs more fighters in Jesus’ name. In knowing Christ, we know then that the same Holy Spirit who lived in Moses, John the Baptist, or Paul lives in each of us. The Holy Spirit is not limited to whether or not you believe you are enough; the Holy Spirit is entirely outside of our own comprehension and will use you if you allow Him to.

There is so much I wish I could say in this little post. One blog won’t shake the world; I know that full well, but I hope if anything it is able to give you a glimpse into the life of a human trafficking victim. I think understanding victims starts with allowing ourselves to become uncomfortable for a minute or two. Jesus was fiercely uncomfortable in His most important work, so we should be able to be uncomfortable too if it means bringing forth change. We all have a voice to be used. My greatest hope is that followers of Christ would use their voice, in love, to impact those around them; this is me trying to do that. Please, everyone, know that your voice does 100% matter; YOU matter. Anything you say is heard by those around you, whether you believe they are listening or not.

Human Trafficking Hotline:

Call: 1(888) 373-7888

Text: BeFree to 233733

Human Trafficking Organizations (Donate! It is good for everyone involved!):

Dressember: https://www.dressember.org

International Rescue Committee: https://www.rescue.org

Free the Girls Bras: https://freethegirls.org

Polaris Project: https://polarisproject.org

Shared Hope International: http://sharedhope.org

Sources

https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?v=2.1&it=r&sw=w&id=GALE%7CA330005276&prodId=HRCA&sid=googleScholarFullText&userGroupName=vic_liberty_sp&u=vic_liberty_sp

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1524838008327262


Written by: Natalie Barsamian

Natalie is a Junior Digital Marketing & Advertising Major, and she decided to write for the blog because getting to share a bit of her story to encourage other students sounded like an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

 

Candy Crush: A Love or an Addiction?

November 4, 2019

Did you know 9.2 million people play Candy Crush Saga for three or more hours a day?1 And this is just 3.4% of those who have downloaded the loveable (and frustrating!) puzzle-matching game. Discover King, the developer, shows there are currently more than 270 million players across the series. In 2018 alone, the Candy Crush series made over $1.5 billion in revenue. Compare this to Pokémon Go which brought in $800 million or Fortnite’s $455 million on iOS, and you see that the game is highly addictive.2

Both Kaitlyn and I consider ourselves avid Candy Crush players; and some days, we might even be part of those 9.2 million (some of you consider this an “addiction,” but we’ll call it a devotion to something we love). For those of you who have played, you can certainly share with us the ups and downs of trying to complete many levels one right after another. From the (sugar) rush you experience when finishing a level to the utter frustration of running out of lives, playing Candy Crush takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. We are happy to admit that even at our lowest points, neither of us have dropped a dime on the app. Although, we can’t say it hasn’t crossed our minds to spend our life savings just to add another booster to the bunch (just one more color bomb, please!).

We are here to share the benefits of Candy Crush, if played within moderation. Just like anything in your life, the time spent should be balanced and not interfere with your priorities (your spiritual health, family, relationship, academics, job, etc.). So, assuming we’re all playing at a non-addictive level, what mental and social benefits come from swiping a few colored candies each day?

We believe games often have the misconception of being a waste of time, as well as something that rots a person’s brain. Candy Crush is not immune to this stereotype. However, Candy Crush has been said to increase your dopamine levels, which is the neurotransmitter that plays a part in our happiness levels. Dopamine is instrumental to our learning and helps develop both bad and good behavioral responses because it begins to retrain our brain behavior. 3 Women’s Health states that your dopamine levels are raised when you win a level of a game because you are craving the success, and then you hunger to beat more levels. 4 The same article goes on to say that when you are playing the game, the “bright colors activate your brain’s reward system”. 4    

Candy Crush is also beneficial in increasing cognitive behavior, including memorization. Woman’s Health states, “Thirty daily minutes of mobile gaming can exercise the brain regions responsible for problem-solving, memory, and spatial recognition.” 4 People sometimes think that apps like Luminosity or Elevate could develop brain training more than handheld games like Candy Crush. However, The Sun found that those apps are not any better at stimulating your brain than Candy Crush is. 5 Another article concluded that active video games that were played for just 12 hours increased the reading levels of players that had dyslexia in the same time as one year of reading development classes. 6 Video games have also been known to improve the attention spans of participants, which could then increase their attention span during classes, church, or many other activities.

Discover King’s mission statement states, “Our mission is to provide highly engaging games to our audience to match their mobile lifestyles.”7 The goal for this company is not for the average consumer to get addicted to this game, rather for it to “match their mobile lifestyles”. There are a few questions to ask yourself to decide if a game is becoming an addiction for you. First, am I spending money on this addiction? Second, am I playing this game during everyday routine tasks or conversations? Third, is this game interfering with my life on any level?3 Handheld games, such as Candy Crush, can be a help in “escaping the stress of today”, which is conveniently the games’ slogan, however it can also become unhealthy really quick. Limiting your time on games or even on your phone can lead to more intentional relationships. Understanding that things are good in moderation is a good way to go about playing video games because it still gives you the freedom to enjoy games without the addiction to them.

If the facts are true, then is playing games on your handheld device as bad as people make them out to be? We believe Candy Crush has many benefits as long as it is enjoyed in moderation and paired with other passions, priorities, and plans. Candy Crush not only helps increase dopamine levels, but it also helps increase cognitive behavior at the same time. We love Candy Crush and the thrill of beating a level, and we hope that someday you might give it a try too!

Sources

1 https://gizmodo.com/candy-crush-developer-says-9-2-million-users-play-at-le-1835893580

2 https://www.gamespot.com/articles/heres-how-much-money-candy-crush-makes-compared-to/1100-6464305/

3 https://www.pilotonline.com/blogs/article_0e05c407-3eea-5da0-9bfd-b814ce913752.html

4  https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a19910448/candy-crush-saga-addiction/

5 https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/4000340/candy-crush-could-be-as-good-for-improving-mental-health-as-brain-training-app-lumosity/

6 https://www.lifemapco.com/news/health-and-wellness/why-candy-crush-may-be-good-your-health

7 https://discover.king.com/about/


Written by: Steph Ward & Kaitlyn Skarstein

Steph is the Director of Student Activities. She has a B.S. in Visual Communication Arts: Graphic Design and a M.S. in Management. Steph oversees the overall calendar and vision of the Student Activities Department from promotion to execution and analysis. She also leads the Student Activities staff, comprised of 20+ full time and student worker employees.

 

 

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.

Fighting For Your Time

October 28, 2019

How do you spend your free time? If we sit back and really look at our lives, it can be interesting to see how you really spend your days. There are so many things that we want to accomplish in our everyday lives, but when it comes down to it, we are almost never as productive as we would like to be in our spare time. Some people choose to try and rest or grow in various areas of their life, while others squander what is given to them and do not use their time wisely. Isn’t that something that we have always heard since we were kids? “Use your time wisely.” We’ve all heard it, but what does that really mean? It is different for each person because we are all heading in different directions and striving for different goals. For some, watching and critiquing movies or plays is the best use of their time, while for others, choosing to analyze and study the stock market is the most productive thing they can do. We each need to find the best way to use our time.

Look around our world – there are so many things that each one of us wants to do, but it seems like we always wind up choosing to fill our time with the things that don’t matter. For example, I want to go to tutoring, counseling, exercise, listen to and write music, grow in my friendships, etc., but I seem to always wind up doing anything besides what I wanted to get done. In life, almost any activity that you are involved with will pressure you and make you feel like it is the most important thing in your life. It seems like everything fights for your time nowadays. Time is the most important and valuable thing that we can give, but we can never receive it back. Unless you are Doctor Strange, no matter where we go, time goes on and never returns. When we leave school, get sick, or go home, time refuses to stand still, and people move on with their lives. This should be motivation to get out there and make the best use of your time.

One of the biggest struggles with using your time well is trying to combat boredom. Boredom can be so draining, and too much of it can make you feel like you are sinking into a pit where you are incapable of doing anything. It is a gateway to laziness, which is the exact opposite of what we should be striving for. But there are healthy doses of boredom that can be good for you. In our day and age, it seems that instant gratification and satisfaction are the only things that people want. This is especially rampant among those surrounded by technology and electronics. Generally, when somebody gets bored, one of the first things that they do is to pull out their phone to “kill time”. This is not the approach that we should be taking when we have extra time lying around. I would argue that a healthy dose of boredom is good for the mind! With the right mentality, it can keep you from relying too much on instant gratification and can help you actually stop to look around and view the details and beauty that exist around us in life and in nature. A little bit of boredom can help somebody think and branch out into a creative outlet that they might never have tried before. I believe that cutting down on the amount of time we spend on electronics is crucial to reclaiming a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle instead of a life run by technology.

Fight for your time! It is good to relax and rest; we are not able to perform our best without first taking the time to recharge. Do not get complacent with your life. Spend your time wisely! Get out and go rock climbing like you’ve been wanting to, make that playlist you’ve been telling yourself you would make, and go make those friends that you keep desiring. If you are wise with your time, you can accomplish anything that you want to do.


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.

Mental Health

October 21, 2019

“I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I will fight with you.” This sentence alone has the power to transform lives – specifically the people in life that are battling mental illnesses. We can say with confidence that loving people battling mental health issues is not easy at all. It can be a hard and frustrating role, as you are desiring to help that person and not getting anywhere. This topic has been on my [Kallie’s] heart for years now as I am continuing to battle anxiety and depression. The people in my life who love me will often ask me how they can help and/or love me better through this season. Even though I get this question often, it can be difficult to answer on the spot, because I’m not sure that I even know the answer to this question. The conclusion that I have come to is that there isn’t one. You may be thinking, “wow, Kallie, that’s pretty negative”, except it’s not. The reason that there is not a conclusion is because there are hundreds of different conclusions for hundreds of different people. There are many different types of anxiety, many different types of depression, and not to mention all of the many more types of mental illnesses. Considering each person’s different genetic makeup and the level of intensity of their mental health, it would be nearly impossible to release the secret recipe to the perfect way to love someone in your life battling mental illnesses. What I am here to do though, is to give you a few of the tips that I believe will generically be a huge aid in loving that person you are thinking about while reading this.

My first piece of advice would be to deepen your understanding. This is extremely important and can help you figure out exactly what your loved one could need from you. Even if you personally struggle with the same mental illness your loved one has, it doesn’t mean the circumstances or situation is the same as theirs. Therefore, educating yourself on their type of anxiety, depression, etc. is extremely important to better understand why they do what they do. If you do not struggle with any type of mental illness, it can be difficult to understand the way this person is acting without diving into what they deal with on an everyday basis. Educating yourself, for example, can look like Googling facts about the specific illness, watching YouTube videos about personal stories, asking a doctor or someone who is an expert in the issue, reading books, and lastly, asking your personal loved one what they experience in purposes of learning more about them. Another important way to educate yourself is to learn their triggers and symptoms. This is so vital for being a good friend for this person. By recognizing what triggers them and what happens when they are triggered can immensely help in their safety and comfort. Often times, recognizing mental illness is difficult as it isn’t necessarily obvious. Mental illnesses are often called “silent killers” because they are mostly internal. For this exact reason, you should focus on studying the triggers and symptoms to better notice when your friend, family member, or significant other is struggling without them having to say anything.

Another tip for loving others that are struggling with mental health is to refrain from offering your own advice. With mental illnesses, there often is not a reason in the present that could be why they’re experiencing what they’re going through, and they also might not be able to explain how they are feeling. The most important thing to do is just listen. Whether you are listening to them rant, or verbally process, or even just listening to their silence. It’s important that you let them speak and do not offer your unsolicited advice. You do not have their brain and you are not living their life with this illness, so giving advice usually will not be helpful. Although giving advice is not recommended, neither is ignoring it. One of the worst things for all parties is pretending it doesn’t exist. It is important to use the “I” pronoun instead of using “you”. “I am worried”, “I am noticing”, not “You are acting like –.”

NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness, is an incredible resource for insight on mental illnesses as they offer practical applications to offer support for others. They emphasize the importance of helping your loved one recognize their needs. This doesn’t mean telling them what they need to do and then expecting they will somehow get better; rather, it is about supporting them as they attempt to lead healthier lifestyles. One of the most encouraging things you can do is fight this battle along with them. Karen Young, writer for HeySigmund, says “You don’t have to fix anything or change anything. If there was a way to do that, they would have done it themselves by now. Instead, acknowledge their pain…and validate what they’re going through.” Be the person that’s there for them without having to change them.

We have to realize that depression, anxiety, and illnesses along those lines are trying to steal the people that we love. The enemy is using these struggles with mental health to take the people that we should be fighting for away from us. As brothers and sisters in Christ, it is our imperative duty to step up and reflect Jesus’ love onto them. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Ultimately, the only thing that can bring true healing to these scars is His love, and He has commanded us to love each other as He has loved us. We have to love one another; it isn’t a choice, it is an obligation.

“I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I will fight with you.” This affirmation is the hope that can change the lives of those you love who struggle with mental illness. We have the opportunity to bring light into this darkness that so many people are going through. We encourage you guys to not sit on the sidelines anymore, go out there and fight for each other. Love is the only answer.

Sources

NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nami.org/Find-Support/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-

Condition/Managing-Stress.

Young, K. (2016, July 14). When Someone You Love Has Depression. Retrieved from

https://www.heysigmund.com/when-someone-you-love-has-depression/.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV



Written by: Kallie Moore & Alex Quan


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.

 

 


Alex
 is a Junior Business Communications Major and enjoys writing for the blog because of the opportunity to express his thoughts and interests through the medium of a blog! It’s a healthy way to share his opinions with others and hopefully start a dialogue with them.

Opinion: Truth Hurts

October 14, 2019

This past summer I was able to work with two separate camps, both having the overall mission of sharing the gospel with children and adolescents. Being immersed in that environment where those working around me were Christians and it being generally understood by everyone attending the camp that the Gospel was something that we openly talked about and shared, it became unusual for me to see any big time kick back towards the Gospel – after all, the kids attending these camps had signed up and paid for the camp knowing that they were going to a camp run by a youth ministry organization.

After two months of really not having my phone for that much, I randomly decided to get on Twitter. It just so happened that the first headline I saw was about Maraji sharing the Gospel and offending many people. Until that headline I had no idea who Maraji was; @Maraji_, as she is known on both Instagram and Twitter (which have 1.1 Million and 102.7k followers, respectively), is a popular Nigerian YouTuber and Social Media Influencer whose real name is Gloria Oluruntobi.1 Her followers, just like with any celebrity, range in backgrounds, ethnicities, and beliefs, so when Maraji took to her Instagram story to offer thoughts on faith, she offended many with a repost of Own the Truth Ministries’ (@ottministries) July 24, 2019 post that bore a picture of Fred Flintstone and the words “THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO HEAVEN[.] NO ALLAH, NO BUDDAH, NO KRISHNA, NO EVOLUTION, ONLY JESUS” followed by John 14:6 at the bottom of the post, which reads “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

Many took to Twitter to vocalize their outrage or disappointment: Gimba Kakanda (@gimbakakanda) noted that Maraji was “insensitive to her fans”, a user going under the name Olumide O.G (@OlumideOG) tweeted “Some opinions are best kept unsaid, and the fact that she chose Eid-El-Kabir of all days, very offensive, insensitive, and uncalled for.”, Iyorah Obehi Desirée (@Desireeiyorah) said “Why is it so impossible for some Christians to fathom the idea that theirs is not the only way??”; these were just a few of the many tweets against the content Maraji posted, while there were also a host of supporters as well.2

The tweets criticizing Maraji bring up some valid questions Christians must assess:

Should we still share the Gospel even if it offends people?

Should we just let people go on believing their faith to spare their feelings?

What’s wrong with people believing other things?

For starters, yes, we should share the Gospel even if it offends people. Bluntly, the Gospel is offensive; there is an acknowledgement that our best efforts to be good enough are not good enough for Heaven, we are sinners, and we are deserving of Hell. It’s offensive and it hurts, but the truth of the Gospel crashing into us wakes us up to our depravity, our lostness, and our need for a Savior, which points us to Jesus, the greatest truth of all. People going under other religious banners will likely be greatly offended by the statement that Jesus is the only way, which comes as no shock considering that if you are saying that then you are questioning the very ground they stand upon; it is Earth shattering to say that the faith you follow is wrong and another is right. Through that breaking down of a foundation a new structure can be built on which you can rely; you can exchange the sand for solid ground.

Many will likely say claiming that Jesus is the only way is bigoted and stubborn, denying the presence of absolute truth. As Dr. David R. Reagan writes, “The mantra of the Post-Modern Era is the statement, ‘There is no such thing as absolute truth.’ Truth is viewed as being relative. You have your truth, and I have mine, and neither of us have the right to declare that our truth is the absolute truth. This mantra is a lie. First of all, it is hypocritical. Think about it: When a person asserts there is no absolute truth, he is uttering an absolute truth statement! He is saying, ‘It is an absolute truth that there is no such thing as absolute truth.’ The statement is self-contradictory.”3 When we realize that Jesus truly is the Truth, we should be inclined to share the Truth to dispel all the lies.

Letting people go on in their beliefs just because we do not want to be potentially offensive or confrontational is not really an option. Just the other day I was throwing a football with some friends and with my untrained and quite inaccurate throwing arm I launched a pass that veered towards a professor walking by. Seeing the potential pain coming his way, I called out “heads!” to give him warning, not just letting him continue on his way. The same applies to our faith; if we see people heading towards doom as they are misled, the only loving thing we can do is tell them of the impending danger, the perils that lie ahead, and steer them towards what is good and true.

Some of the tweets against Maraji asserted that Christians believe that their way is the only way and that is ignorant; it is not arrogant to believe that biblical truth is the highest truth and that Jesus is the only way, it is brave to stand up for the truth as the world tries to deny the firm foundation upon which you stand. The assertion that there are multiple ways to Heaven (as in different faiths and following different gods will eventually lead you to the same place as all other faiths) is wrong; polytheism simply does not add up if a person thinks through the concept of God.

In Greek mythology, different gods ruled over different things (Poseidon was the god of the sea, Demeter was the goddess of agriculture, etc.) but being the god of just one or a few areas of existence implies limits and confines. With God, there is no limit – He is infinite, incomprehensible, and Holy. He is the Alpha and Omega, Sovereign, and Omniscient; “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:9-10). God is King and the King welcomes into His Kingdom whom He wishes; those who try to find another way into the Kingdom except through the designed way of His Son will be sadly let down and disappointed. Denying that there are other ways to Heaven and accepting the fact that Jesus is the only way to the Father is part of salvation.

While Maraji did right in sharing biblical truth, the medium through which it was shared may not have been the wisest. With social media, for the most part, it is easy to misinterpret tone and you are usually limited in how long your message can be, which speaks to there being better methods of sharing the Gospel. From experience, and from observation, that best way to share the Gospel is to do life with people, come alongside people, develop a relationship with the person, and then speak truth and act out truth within their lives. When you have a relationship with someone you have built trust with, they are much more likely to listen to you, trusting that you have their best in mind. With strangers on the internet, there is little to no intimacy or trust between the two people, likely making it way less effective; this is not to say that someone cannot come to know the truth of the Gospel through the internet, but doing life alongside people sets up accountability, discipleship, and a host of other things.

Regardless of medium, we must be mindful of our rhetoric, tone, and the way we treat people before, during, and after sharing the Gospel with them. The truth hurts but that does not mean we have to shove it down people’s throats. Like medicine, sometimes it is better to spoon feed it to people; the important part is that they are getting what they need. Be gentle but unwavering from truth, firm but not strict, listening and not closeminded, proclaiming and sharing but not screaming. The truth hurts, it may even offend, but through both of those, there comes eye opening, realization, and healing.

Sources

1https://www.pulse.ng/gist/maraji-meet-the-nigerian-creative-who-turned-social-media-to-her-audience/y3vgxsc

2https://www.legit.ng/1253958-maraji-jesus-heaven-allah—comedian-says.html

3https://christinprophecy.org/articles/absolute-truth/


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.

My Take on Minimalism

October 8, 2019

Minimalism. At first mention, the word sounds fairly straightforward. I mean, it’s all about owning very few things and living a boring life, right? For a long time I sold this description as the only definition of what it means to participate in this social phenomena called minimalism. However, over this past summer I went through several life changes that made me put how I was living my daily life in perspective. Various thoughts such as What really matters to me? What do I find value in? Is my growth apparent to not just myself, but to others? swirled in my mind. These hypotheticals puzzled me and spurred me into more self-discovery. It was through this acknowledgment that I took a deeper dive into minimalism. Though I am nowhere near close enough to calling myself a minimalist, this journey of finding the true values in my life has been interesting to say the least.

The fascinating thing that I found in regard to the definition of minimalism is that there isn’t a fully set description of what it is. What is agreed upon, though, is what it’s not. Many of the experts’ opinions on this concept is that minimalism isn’t getting rid of all your possessions and living sparingly. Minimalism isn’t living like a monk and being boring. Colin Wright, author and full-time traveler, expounds upon this by saying “just giving away a bunch of things doesn’t make you a Minimalist any more than buying a statue of Buddha makes you a Buddhist or doing yoga makes you healthy.”1 These misconceptions are where I, and the majority of people, get stuck and stay thinking of these perceptions on minimalism. Why would someone want to get rid of nice things they own? To me, it just seemed as if it were an attention grab to let people know minimalists think of themselves more highly than others. While this is true in some cases, genuine minimalists don’t act in condescending ways at all. In fact, some of the most humble people that I personally know have employed a more minimalistic lifestyle.

To further preface my journey of discovery, I always like to look back at a friend I have that has been on my same dorm hall the past two years. I remember walking into his room for the first time and looking at his side of the room; it’s almost completely barren with a plain bed, no wall decorations, and a simple desk set up. I would also like to throw in that he uses a phone where you slide up to open the keyboard (you guys know the kind of phone I’m talking about). After seeing what little he had, I began to further observe his behavior and habits. This guy is genuinely one of the nicest and down to earth guys I know, always down to have intentional conversations, super into fitness and health, and overall just a great dude. It continues to amaze me how he conducts his life in such a humble manner and I believe it directly correlates to what he finds value in. Although he never mentioned being a minimalist, I find it extremely evident that he lives a minimalistic lifestyle. With all of this on my mind, I sought after what minimalism means to me.

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, authors and entertainers that bring awareness to minimalism, describe this way of life as “a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”2 The concept of freedom, of liberation, is something that is human nature to search for. I find this intriguing because getting rid of things just to clear up space doesn’t mean you’re a minimalist. When you free yourself from the possession that your very own possessions have on you, breakthrough happens. This doesn’t just stop at material possessions either, but in other things we tend to give too much meaning to such as relationships or jobs. It is also important to know not to just abandon these things; rather, you have to realign your priorities to focus on healthy self-empowerment that produces lasting happiness – joy. Leo Babuata, writer of the blog Zen Habits, describes minimalism as “a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning.”3

Now that I have a better understanding on minimalism, I recognize the vast opportunity I have to implement this lifestyle into my daily routine. Although I do love the clothes and cool technology I own, I am starting to let go of the high value I have on these things. I’m learning to live in the moment and focus on creating more while consuming less. Minimalism to me is genuinely appreciating all the blessings I have in my life. I have a long way to go, but I encourage you all to join me in this – let’s pursue the amazing life we’ve been blessed with together!

Sources

1 “Minimalism Explained.” Exile Lifestyle, 15 Sept. 2010,

https://exilelifestyle.com/minimalism-explained/.

2 Nicodemus, Ryan. “What Is Minimalism?” The Minimalists,

The Minimalists, 24 June 2019,

https://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/.

3 “Mnmlist: Minimalist FAQs.” Mnmlist RSS,

https://mnmlist.com/minimalist-faqs/.


Written by: Alex Quan

Alex is a Junior Business Communications Major and enjoys writing for the blog because of the opportunity to express his thoughts and interests through the medium of a blog! It’s a healthy way to share his opinions with others and hopefully start a dialogue with them.

Book Review: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

September 30, 2019

Blue Like Jazz is described as “nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality”, which enables us as Christians to read this book and examine author Donald Miller’s perceptions of what he thinks the Christian lifestyle looks like. Miller writes his book in a conversational tone, making it feel more like a chat over coffee rather than a preacher from the pulpit. I strongly believe that Miller has a lot of lessons, a couple that I will mention below, that I believe the Church needs to hear about. This book allows us to take a stand on what we believe about Christian culture and helps us critically think through what Christian spirituality really looks like in today’s society.

This book changed my outlook on reading and Christian spirituality. By reading this book, I not only found a new love for reading, but I also discovered a lot about myself and what I believe. This book is about Don’s journey to Christian faith after growing up in a broken home believing that God only had a social or political agenda in mind. There are a few major things I learned from reading this book.

“Americanization” of the Gospel

Miller talks about what the Gospel looks like in today’s culture and how we have changed the perception of it. He states that he felt as if his pastor was a part of a business deal when he shared the Gospel with him, “They felt like they had to sell God, as if He were soap or a vacuum cleaner, and it’s like they really weren’t listening to me; they didn’t care, they just wanted me to buy their product” (p. 46). It is our job to not make the Gospel feel like a business transaction, but rather an emotional and life-changing decision. We should not solely try to get people to agree with us, but instead encourage them to meet God. We should be completely out of the way when we are sharing the Gospel. Miller states, “I loved the fact that it wasn’t my responsibility to change somebody, that it was God’s, that my part was just to communicate love and approval” (p. 221). We often make the Gospel about us, but Miller states, “I realized in an instant that I desired false gods because Jesus wouldn’t jump through my hoops, and I realized that my faith was about image and ego, not about practicing spirituality” (94). We want Christianity to appear attractive to non-believers and believers, but that is not the goal of the Gospel. He then goes to say, “If the supposed new church believes in trendy music and cool web pages, then it is not relevant to culture either. It is just another tool of Satan to get people to be passionate about nothing” (111). The goal of the Gospel is to bring forth new life and glorify God in the process. Miller talks about how Christian belief is not fashionable because there is a real God, devil, heaven, and hell. Sometimes we do not need to understand all aspects of Christianity and God because Miller states that often through the process of that, we cheapen it. We need to take God at His word and follow Him. We love to “Americanize” the Gospel so that we can make it relevant to our culture, but I believe that we need to keep the Gospel the way it was intended to be.

Cultivating Heaven on Earth

Often, I find myself wanting as much of Heaven on Earth that is possible. I would like to believe that this is a popular concept in today’s world, especially since there are songs written about it, like “Heaven is a Place on Earth” by Belinda Carlisle. However, achieving this kind of status is impossible without Jesus. Jesus causes heart transformation and that heart transformation causes the world to become a better place, or as some would say, like Heaven on Earth.

Miller talks about some simple practices we can do that I believe can turn Earth into a little piece of Heaven. First, as Christians we should know how to love people the best we can because we have the perfect example of love, Jesus. Second, so many people want to do great things for our world, but often we start in the wrong place. Miller introduces the idea that if we want to change the world, we need to have an x-ray of our lives first because we cannot change the world if we don’t change ourselves first. He states, “I think Jesus feels strongly about communicating the idea of our brokenness, and I think it is worth reflection. Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what is wrong with the person in the mirror” (p. 23). Third, loving what God loves helps cultivate this environment; “Jesus gives us the ability to love the things we should love, the things of Heaven. Tony says that when people who follow Jesus love the right things, they help create God’s kingdom on Earth, and that is something beautiful” (p. 77). Miller also goes on to say that we should pray that God will reveal to us people who need to be loved because God would want us to care for His people. Fourth, having endless passion about the right things causes people to want to follow you; “If you are passionate about something people will follow you because they think you know something they don’t, some clue to the meaning of the universe” (p. 109). Passion is what discerns a great leader from an okay leader. We need great Christian leaders in our world to set the standard and lead us into things that give glory to God. Fifth, the power of a solid community changes everything. According to Miller, “Loneliness is something that happens to us, but I think it is something we can move ourselves out of. I think a person who is lonely should dig into a community, give himself to a community, humble himself before his friends, initiate community, teach people to care for each other, love each other. Jesus does not want us floating through space or sitting in front of our televisions. Jesus wants us interacting, eating together, laughing together, praying together. Loneliness is something that came with the fall. If loving other people is a bit of heaven then certainly isolation is a bit of hell, and to that degree, here on earth, we decide in which state we would like to live” (p. 173). Community is not only something that Miller raves about, it is something that is biblical. God tells us to be in community and not to be alone because he knows what the human heart needs, love and acceptance. Sixth, we need to learn how to love ourselves so we can accept love and give love. He gives us a good thought by explaining how the Bible tells us to love your neighbor as yourself, but are you loving yourself as good as your neighbor? Would you say the same things to your neighbor as you say to yourself? Miller states, “If it is wrong for me to receive love, then it is also wrong for me to give it because by giving it I am causing somebody else to receive it, which I had presupposed was the wrong thing to do” (p. 231). Miller gives us a lot to think about when he gives us these practical ways to do life because I believe a lot of these ideas are counter-cultural.

Overall, I believe this book is essential to read no matter what age you are, but especially in your 20s. This book helps refocus on the things that matter and gives you an eternal perspective rather than an earthly perspective. Donald Miller does a fantastic job presenting these ideas in such a fun and relatable way.

Sources:

Miller, Donald. (2003). Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 


Written by: Kaitlyn Skarstein

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.

Love Won’t Stop: Ministry Never Ends

September 23, 2019

A year ago around this time I really was not sure what I believed. God, who I had known so intimately in high school, seemed like a friend that had moved away and our contact had become less and less frequent. I was holding onto memories and a past intimacy while not pursuing making new intimacy and depths within my faith in a present tense. When Francis Chan came to Convocation and then Campus Community last semester, he said things that made me question everything. Did I truly believe? Was the Holy Spirit really within me? Was I just someone who was going along with a man-made wave?I rededicated my life to Christ that night; rededicated, not started my life with, as my relationship with God started in high school and was still very much intact (albeit dim) within that low season.

Since then, I’ve seen steady growth and my passion increase as I have made greater efforts to spend more time with God in prayer and in studying His word. But as I reflected on the whole experience of questioning my faith, I realized something: there undoubtedly are people who call themselves Christians that truly are not.This is not to say they are trying to fool everybody, they may just not even know what it all means. Perhaps they were deceived by the prosperity gospel or they figured that since they were nice, went to church, and acknowledged the existence of God and Jesus then they must be set. Whatever the reason being, it is clear that outside of those who blatantly are not believers and do not claim to be, there are many within the pool of those who think they are found that are actually lost. Barna Research indicates a shocking number of Americans believe good works result in going to Heaven, with 55 percent of Americans surveyed believing that “if a person is generally good, or does good enough things for others during their life, they will earn a place in Heaven.”1

This reality puts forth a calling for each of us to examine our lives in the light of Jesus’ amazing grace and Scripture’s hard truths. Thoroughly study 1 John, assess what you believe, examine whether you are producing Fruit of the Spirit, talk to a pastor – assurance of salvation is a peace worth pursuing, and even if all it does is affirm your salvation, a reminisce of the love poured out on you by God with the Gospel is time well spent.

Outside of assessing ourselves, the fact that we are unaware who truly is a believer and who is not calls for us to treat others differently as well. With the knowledge that there are those who live among us, work with us, volunteer with us, go to church with us, and worship with us that do not believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, we should be moved to love, action, and proclamation of the Gospel. No one is exempt from needing the Gospel proclaimed and displayed to them. 

Love should be radiating from us as well as grace and mercy; we should not be guilting or shaming unbelievers for being away from home, but instead encouraging them to come home and then celebrating them and Jesus if or when they finally come home, much like how the Father responded in the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. The model of love and kindness set by Jesus throughout Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John should be imitated by us not just to the atheists, but also to the religious, the believer, and the agnostic as well.

I have unfortunately been around people within ministries who are just as nice and loving as they can be to people that come to their ministry (and are the ones designed by the program to be evangelized to), but behind the scenes they treat their underlings, fellow believers, and co-ministry operators like the scum of the Earth. I believe this happens partly because subconsciously they think since they were already in Christ, they did not need to keep up appearances around a person, and that gave them license to not be evangelistically minded. The mark of Christians should be kindness despite the mission of evangelism being accomplished, because that is only part of the mission; we are called to make disciples. Kindness, “the opposite of brutal, harsh, hurtful, uncaring, rude, and such like”2should be a part of disciple making, putting on display the standard you want those you are discipling to exemplify.

While you may recognize that a person follows Jesus, worships, serves, and trusts in the Lord, that should not excuse you from loving, serving, and encouraging them in Christ like you would an unbeliever. A person’s salvation grants them no exemption from needing to be shown love, kindness, and gentleness by others; we all need the Gospel daily – ministry can’t stop and shouldn’t stop, ever, to all people, regardless of their state of life. As Martin Luther once wrote:

“The highest of all God’s commands is this, that we ever hold up before our eyes the image of his dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He must daily be to our hearts the perfect mirror, in which we behold how much God loves us and how well, in his infinite goodness, as a faithful God, he has grandly cared for us in that he gave his dear Son for usDo not let this mirror and throne of grace be torn away from before your eyes.”3

We will fall short at loving people all the time: we are but humans. We have bad days, people perceive things oddly, things may not come across as we want; we are not perfect, but there is grace for that from our Heavenly Father, but the effort needs to be there to love everybody always despite what state of life (meaning alive in Christ or not) they are in. Part of love is kindness (1 Corinthians 13) which means sharing hard truths with someone, but that does not mean doing so without gentleness or with total disregard for the fact that something may be hard to swallow; rhetoric, tone, and phrasing all matter when sharing truth in love and all of those things matter when interacting with our neighbors daily. Love the people you are trying to share Jesus with and love the people you are in Christ with all the same; ministry and love does not stop once the person is in Christ with you, it just broadens.

 

Sources

1https://www.barna.com/research/state-church-2016/

2https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/883-magic-of-kindness-the

3Tappert, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, p. 116.


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.

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.