18Dec

saturday morning coffee

Every Saturday morning I make a full pot of coffee, a little more than usual.

Most weekday mornings find me nursing my first cup as I get ready and then filling up a to-go mug on the way to work.

But Saturdays are different.

On Saturdays I find myself catching up on articles, videos, or other interesting Internet finds. I’ll share my best finds with you here.

Welcome to saturday morning coffee. (all video edition)

 

Will Ferrell Returns to SNL as George W. Bush

Husband and Wife Team (Us the Duo) Sing BEAUTIFUL Mashup of 2015 Pop Hits

 

Fuller House Teaser Trailer (and the 90’s kids nostalgia continues)

 

Jordan Spieth pulls off the Happy Gilmore drive

 

Nick Offerman Sips Whiskey in Fireside Silence for 45 Minutes

14Dec

No Capes: Serving in Secret

The first time I heard Bob Goff speak in person he starting talking about Jesus and the Incredibles. I loved him from the get go.

He spoke about one of the opening scenes from the Incredibles, where Mr. Incredible needs a new suit. So he goes and sees this tiny little woman named Edna, seamtress to the superheroes. She explains that she has one stipulation for Mr. Incredible’s new suit, NO CAPES.

While Edna wanted a suitless cape for pragmatic reasons, Goff connected it to all the times in the New Testament where Jesus served someone and told them to keep it secret, like when Jesus heals the leper at the end of Mark 1.

Moved with pity, he [Jesus] stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to no one.’ – Mark 1:41-44

Jesus didn’t want to become famous for healing this man. It was compassion that moved him to act, not a desire for notoriety. No fame. No capes. Just serving people.

When did service become about us being recognized instead of simply loving our neighbor?

Some would have you believe this is a new development, a plague wrought on today’s society by the selfie generation.

But it takes no more than a cursory glance at the New Testament to see it starting to happen even as Jesus is showing his disciples a better way. They start making it about them, just like we do now.

In Luke 9, Jesus predicted his death again and the disciples didn’t understand again. Immediately after Jesus explained to them again that he was going to die the disciples launch into a discussion about which one of them will be the VP of Jesus’ new kingdom. Jesus tells them,

“He who is least among you all is the one who is great.” – Luke 9:48

Instead of humbling serving in secret, the disciples were fighting for recognition and power in a kingdom they fundamentally did not understand. When we do the same thing today, people see right through it, especially those outside the Church. It reeks of hypocrisy.

Companies are guilty of this.

Over the last few months, Gillette started a razor subscription plan to compete with Dollar Shave Club, a start-up company that risen to prominence with cheap razors sent right to your door. To try and squash this new competition, Gillette paid to promote ads on Twitter, not an unusual practice. But the tweets they chose to promote were from users who switched back to Gillette after trying Dollar Shave Club. Gillette ended up clogging up people’s Twitter feed, mine included, by promoting their “welcome back to a man’s best shave” and “2 million guys switched back to the best” tweets.

While the jury is still out, several advertising and marketing execs have estimated their shameless promotion may have cost the company more business than it created.

People, not just DSC customers, saw that type of advertisement as ingenuine and petty.

Pastors are guilty of this.

I really appreciate when people point out corruption or hypocrisy from within their own ranks. For example, the most powerful rebuke of radical Islamic terrorism is from mainstream Muslims. The most powerful rebuke of police brutality and corruption is from good, hard-working police officers. Likewise, the most powerful rebuke of pastors come from other pastors. Most Muslims are not terrorists;  most cops are not racists; most pastors are not embezzlers.

However, when it comes to serving in secret, no capes, most pastors struggle, myself included.

Most of the time it seems innocent enough. I think most pastors mean well. When they post things like, “So #blessed to baptize __ people today” or “Wow, we had ____ salvations this morning!” I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. I want to think that they’re trying to give God the glory and spread the story of what God is doing in their midst…

but Jesus never does that.

And I think if they were honest, those pastors would admit that their intentions are not in fact 100% humble.. I know because I’ve done it before, at times accidentally and at times on purpose. The pastorate can be hard and a little validation can go a long way. But that’s not the way of no capes service.

The only reason numbers matter is because numbers are people and people matter.

I’m grateful to serve at a church that doesn’t do the “We served ____ people tonight” celebration messages. And honestly, it’s a hard thing to be great at and I’m sure we fail just as much as we succeed but I do know that we are a place that genuinely desires to serve without capes, without fanfare and without recognition.

Are you guilty of this?

It’s easy to point out companies and pastors/churches failing at this because it’s less personal than looking at your own life. Are you content to serve in secret or do you need to constantly document every good thing you do on Instagram?

Do you find yourself casually mentioning ways in which you helped someone else when that’s not necessary to the conversation, maybe just so someone takes notice and recognizes you?

Do you get frustrated when you do something nice for someone and it’s not reciprocated? Since when does service come with strings attached?

Friends, let’s take off the capes, serve in secret and point people away from us and toward Jesus because you and I make sorry excuses for Saviors.

11Dec

saturday morning coffee

Every Saturday morning I make a full pot of coffee, a little more than usual.

Most weekday mornings find me nursing my first cup as I get ready and then filling up a to-go mug on the way to work.

But Saturdays are different.

On Saturdays I find myself catching up on articles, videos, or other interesting Internet finds. I’ll share my best finds with you here.

Welcome to saturday morning coffee.

Husbands of Instagram

  • “Behind every cute girl on Instagram is a guy like me…and a brick wall.”
  • “I’m basically a human selfie stick.”
  • “We take so long to get anywhere…because we’re taking pictures of our feet.”

This might be the best YouTube video I’ve seen all year. HILARIOUS.

 

Unfollow: How a Prized Daughter of the Westboro Baptist Church Came to Question its Beliefs.

megan

I’ve written about Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church before. They are a tragic but fascinating family and are not true representatives of orthodox Christianity. In his 10,000 word essay in the New Yorker, Adrian Chen presents a compelling profile of one of Phelps granddaughters, Megan, who went from the church’s social media darling and PR whiz kid to questioning her oppressive upbringing and eventually leaving the church (although I would substitute the word “cult” for “church”).

Chen’s article is fascinating because he explores the role Twitter had in allowing Megan to first question what she previously never had. As Megan was defending the church’s harsh stances on Twitter, she began to build genuine friendships with people who helped and challenged her. (See: What the Church Can Learn From Facebook)

Hello from the Motherside – Adele Parody on Parenting Struggle

This video is awesome for a lot of reasons, but what you might not know is the creator, Emily Mills, lives in my hometown of Waco, TX and created an amazing ministry for women in the sex industry called Jesus Said Love.

 

You Ain’t No Muslim, Bruv

Two days after a knife attack in a London subway station left one man seriously injured and prompted a terrorism investigation, Prime Minister David Cameron praised the reaction of one bystander, who told the attacker, “You ain’t no Muslim, bruv.”

The hashtag #YouAintNoMuslimBruv took off on Twitter as Muslims all over the world condemned radical actions like this. Just like Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church don’t accurately represent Christianity, radical people like the one behind this knife attack do not accurately represent Islam. (See: An Open Letter to American Muslims from a Christian Pastor)

 

31 Rolls of World War II Film Discovered and Developed

What an incredible find! All rolls were shot by an American WWII soldier. You can skip to 5:50 if you want to skip the part about how they were developed and just see the photos instead (from the Rescued Film Project).

 

The Minimalist Christmas Gift Guide

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How to avoid the frenzy of gift-giving by giving gifts that actually matter. Stop swapping neck ties with people you don’t even like and actually enjoy the holidays!

10Dec

Can You Ignore Jesus?

“In the corporate psychology of every city, there is a threshold of non-ignorability.” – Ray Ortlund

It was in a breakout session a few years back at a conference when I heard Ray Ortlund say those words.

The threshold of non-ignorability is an invisible line, in the cultural atmosphere of any given place. Most things (sub-cultures, groups, movements, passions, etc.) live and operate below that line. They fly under the collective radar of the city. They are important, no doubt. They are just very important to a specific group of people or a rather small amount of people.

In my hometown of Waco, TX, the Baylor Bears are no longer ignorable. They were extremely easy to ignore my entire childhood. You can like them. You can hate them. You can be indifferent. But you simply cannot ignore Baylor in Waco today. They currently live above the line of non-ignorability.

What is impossible to ignore in your city?

It’s impossible to ignore country music in Nashville or hipsters in Austin. Or food trucks in Austin. Or naked people in Austin. Austin’s weird.

It’s impossible to ignore the Razorbacks in Arkansas or the Pacific in southern California.

In the South, it’s impossible to ignore college football, sweet tea and religion.

It doesn’t matter if you like college football or not, it’s everywhere here in the fall, on every TV in every restaurant in town.

Last week I overheard a woman in a local restaurant ask why everyone drank sweet tea down here. The waitress was baffled at why this woman, clearly not from ’round here, would ask such a ludicrous question.

There’s also religion everywhere. Religion is impossible to ignore in my town with a church on every corner and most major world religions represented.

But sometimes I wonder if Jesus is impossible to ignore in my city.

I am not one of these “relationship-not-religion” people. I understand what that movement is trying to accomplish but I think they unintentionally drag through the mud valuable traditions and the foundation of faith built by 2,000 years of committed Christians.

However, a genuine need exists to separate genuine faith from rote religious activity.

This is my biggest prayer for my city – that Jesus would rise above the threshold of non-ignorability so that every person living here notices all the evidence of Jesus in our city.

They won’t all follow him, but that’s nothing new. “And some were convinced by what he [Paul] said, but others disbelieved.” (Acts 28:24). My hope is they simply can’t ignore him because of the collective work of the churches here and more importantly, the collective life change and joy on display in the lives of my city’s Christians.

True life change will make Jesus impossible to ignore in our city.

The New Testament book of Acts ends with Paul in Rome. He gathered the local Jewish leaders together and shared his experiences with them. Paul was respected by them and they asked him to tell them about Jesus and this new movement of his followers causing a stir across the empire.

While they did not know much about Christianity, they knew one thing, it ellicted a response.

“But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” – Acts 28:22

Christianity has been spoken against since its inception. It could be argued today that the biggest fear of many Christians in America is being spoken against. Yet historically, Christianity has grown the most when it has been pushed to the margins, away from the majority, away from the center of public acceptance.

Maybe Jesus is ignorable in my city because I am.

Maybe Jesus is ignorable in your city because you are.

Are people speaking against you as a direct result of the way in which you live out your faith?

Are you taking risks for the kingdom of God that seem foolish in the kingdom of this world?

Are you radically generous in a way that makes non-Christians scratch their heads in confusion?

Or are we simply living life exactly like people who don’t believe but we just wake up earlier on Sunday?

Is Jesus ignorable in your city?

9Dec

An Open Letter to American Muslims from a Christian Pastor

To All Muslim Americans,

I’ve had it.

There are a lot of political issues and current events about which I have formulated certain opinions. Collectively they don’t neatly place me in any specific category of political thought. Labels like “conservative” or “liberal” don’t fit the sum of my thoughts.

Moreover, I am a grateful pastor in a church where a wide range of political opinions are expressed. Even if those opinions were homogenous I would not share my political opinion because I greatly appreciate the separation between church and state. Thank you, Baptist up-bringing.

But I simply cannot remain silent on this issue.

I am a white American male. Statistics prove over and over again that based simply on surface level impressions, I get the benefit of the doubt more than any other gender/race combination. Based solely on my gender and skin color I am usually the most easily trusted and the least suspected person in any given situation.

I am also a Christian pastor. As a grateful follower of Jesus Christ, I could not disagree more with Islam.

I do not appreciate, and I don’t think you should either, the efforts of some Christians to synthesize our two distinct faiths, making them appear more similar than they actually are.

I believe a saving relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to know lasting, true life with God, the God who lovingly created us all in His image. I hope you do not hear my expression of faith as anything akin to arrogance. Instead, I simply believe what Jesus said when he was the way we come to know the Father (John 14:6) and that he and the Father are one (John 10:30), along with the Holy Spirit distinct but equal members of the Triune God.

However, even though we will disagree on many theological issues, I must tell you…

Donald Trump does not speak for us and he definitely does not speak for me.

One of the greatest strengths of Protestant Christianity in America is its diversity. It is simply impossible to think about that diversity, even with its unity in Jesus Christ, being personified and represented by one person, especially that person.

I cannot begin to understand how we are even having this conversation. The First Amendment clearly gives you the right to believe in whatever religion you choose, “and the free exercise thereof…or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”

It is the definition of hypocrisy when so many people want to ignore the First Amendment when it does not further their own position yet embrace the Second Amendment when it does.

Donald Trump’s comments the last two days have been absurd. He wants all lawful Muslim immigration to stop, calling for a “total and complete shutdown.” He wants all Muslims to be forced to wear some sort of ID badge. Absurd.

America is as much yours as it mine.

 


 

We realize that what it means to be a Christian has absolutely nothing to do with what it means to be an American.

To say otherwise is to insult the 2 billion Christians who do NOT live in America, claiming that they have are practicing an inferior form of Christianity because it is not wedded with some syncretistic form of nationalism. God Doesn’t Need America

We realize that religious liberty only exists as actual liberty for all religions, not just the most popular religion.

We don’t think American mosques should be shut down, as Trump does. This would obviously be a gross violation of the Constitution but we also don’t want American mosques to be shut down because we don’t want American churches to be shut down one day, or any type of peaceable religious assembly.

One of the pastors at our church wrote recently, “As Christians restrict the religious practice of Muslims, secularists will begin to restrict the religious practice of Christians. And we will not have a logical argument to stop it. We must choose a better way.”

As Christianity, and religion in general, continues to move to the margins of American society, we will all soon be in the minority. As secularism continues to gain more and more ground, how dare Christians approve the words of someone like Trump when they could just as easily be used against their own faith one day.

We realize that radical Islamic terrorism has little to do with mainstream Islam.

We would ask that you consider how little Donald Trump’s words match up with any tenant of mainstream Christianity.

We realize that ISIS is a perversion of true Islam even in their pursuit of true Islam.

We realize that Islamic terrorists also target Muslims who they deem unfit for true Islam, which is nothing more than their ruthless form of brutal radicalism.

We realize that we have a shared responsibility to call out radicalism from within our own ranks.

It has been so powerful to see so many Muslims denouncing Islamic terrorism as radical violence they want no part of. Thank you. As Christians and your fellow Americans we also commit to do the same.

Donald Trump is not our voice just like ISIS is not yours.

I was glad to see Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan condemn Trump’s comments with four simple words, “This is not conservatism.”

Ryan also said that freedom of religion is “a founding principle of this country…What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and, more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”


I am grateful to share this great country with you. I am grateful for the ways in which you enrich our cities, neighborhoods and schools. As a Christian, I am choosing a better way than what Donald Trump proposes.

Question: What do you think the Christian response should be to Muslims in America?

4Dec

saturday morning coffee

Most Saturday mornings I make a full pot of coffee, a little more than usual.

Most weekday mornings find me nursing my first cup as I get ready and then filling up a to-go mug on the way to work.

But Saturdays are different.

On Saturdays I find myself catching up on articles, videos, or other interesting Internet finds. In a world fueled by bad news I’d love to share my favorite Internet goodness with you here.

 

Homemade Bacon Jam…because bacon.

baconjam

You know that Mariah Carey Christmas song every woman knows by heart? “All I Want for Christmas is You“?

THIS IS WHAT SHE’S SINGING ABOUT.

There’s also coffee and bourbon in it. Yum.

 

Hobbit Houses are a Thing in Real Life (and my wife wants us to live in one, for real).

hobbit hole

If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, this one’s for you. If it’s not for you, no worries. It’s a smart people thing. Ask your boss about it on Monday.

Seriously, though. I showed Hayley. We might have one of these in the backyard ready for spring time.

Help.

 

 

50 Famous Misquotations…and What was Actually Said

You know those absurd Abraham Lincoln quotes that make the rounds on Facebook? These are better, and will surprise you.

 

Greg Popovich Was Actually Not a Jerk

Pop does it. Belichick does it. I don’t get it.

I’ve never liked the way some coaches treat the media. Maybe it’s because my dad’s in the media and has been unfairly, publicly yelled at by coaches, even though he was just doing his job – better than the coaches I might add.

But once broadcaster Craig Sager returned to his rightful place reporting courtside, Popovich gave him a playfully warm welcome. Sager has been battling leukemia for the last several years and Popovich reportedly checked in on him regularly during treatment.

In a world that glorifies bad news, let’s celebrate the good.

Happy Saturday!

3Dec

The Anti-Vax Mom was Right and Donald Trump was Wrong

Over the past few days I have said the following words/phrases in perfectly normal conversation:

  • ding-a-ling (a crazy person)
  • cattywampus (crooked, out of place)
  • yonder (over there a ways)
  • feeder road (a road to merge on the highway)

Some of these might make sense to and some might not. I use some of these terms more frequently than others but a few phrases that don’t come out of my mouth as much they should are:

  • I’m sorry.
  • I was wrong.
  • I made a mistake.

Those are usually tough things to say to someone because they always mean two things:

1. You’re about to be humbled.

(Notice: a lot of people speak about the value of pursuing humility but not as much about humility pursuing you). Luke 14:11 says, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Sometimes humility finds you, whether you like it or not.

2. You messed up.

Nobody likes making a mistake, but you can tell a lot about a person by how they respond after making one.

What an Anti-Vax Mom Got Right

Earlier this year, the Washington Post ran a story about Canadian mom Tara Hills. Hills and her husband have seven children and were passionate anti-vaccine advocates until all seven of their children contracted pertussis, or whooping cough.

As Hills started to research further she learned how the study she was basing her skepticism on was in fact a debunked 1998 study that falsely linked the measles vaccine to autism. Both Canada and the U.S. have suffered large outbreaks of whooping cough and measles in recent years.

Her children were ordered to home confinement until their antibiotics were completed.

But that’s not why this mom’s story made the news. Plenty of other families feel the same way. It was her loud admission that she got it wrong that drew attention from people on both sides of this issue.

“I set out to prove that we were right,” Hills said, “and in the process found out how wrong we were.”

After years of getting it wrong, quite publicly in fact (Hills was a blogger in the anti-vax community) she boldly admitted what more of us need to: I got it wrong.

What Donald Trump Got Wrong

What the anti-vax mom got right, Donald Trump got wrong.

On November 22, 2015, presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Among topics of discussion was Trump’s November 21, 2015 assertion that he witnessed footage on television of large crowd of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the September 11th attacks.

Trump claimed “I watched thousands and thousands of people cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”

Stephanopoulos told Trump that Jersey City police at the time were aware of the rumor and investigated it proving it false. The rumors of said celebrations were traced back to an Internet claim that was also proved false.

Trump doubled down on his original claim and insisted further the he saw thousands of Muslims celebrating.

A simple Internet fact check proves his claim was incorrect and thus, a lie.

At best, Trump suffered from an exaggerated memory that stems from deciding to react to a tragedy with confidence instead of fear. It’s a noble trait but one that often produces false memories.

But almost fifteen years later, Trump has all the information he needs to respond honestly yet he refuses. He won’t do what the anti-vax mom did, admit he’s wrong and apologize.

It’s easy to point out others successes and failures in this arena but what about your life? What about mine?

I’m still learning to say those phrases. They sting. Often, humility is still pursuing me instead of the other way around but I’m trying to learn from mistakes and get better each day.

I never thought I’d say this but…

I want to be more like the Canadian anti-vax mother.

2Dec

The One Regret You Never Have to Feel

It was 3 A.M. and he would not stop beating on my door.

I stumbled toward the door, simultaneously stubbing all my toes on the trappings of a college dorm room along the way, and flung it open.

His face was as red as his hair. He had  just sprinted all the way down the hall.

Our rooms could not be farther away and still be on the same wing  yet our friendship was closer than most.

We were in a group together, a small group of college boys trying to become the men we felt God calling us to be. That calling meant a lot of things to all of us but one thing was the same: our desire for purity.

We had all struggled with it as various levels. Some struggled with moving too fast with girlfriends. Others struggled with how fast you could see any type of girl you wanted on the Internet. All of us felt the longing to be better than we currently were and through several years of mostly failure we had collectively realized we needed one another.

We met once a week to encourage and pray for one another. As we ended our meeting each week in the cramped common room upstairs we reminded each other of one of the pillars of our group: If any one of us felt a temptation coming that we did not feel strong enough to resist on our own, we could always…always go to another person in the group and that person would stop whatever they were doing to be with the one fighting off temptation.

Over the years we met there were dates cut short, workouts missed, papers not completed. Whatever it took; it didn’t matter. We were there for one another. Anytime, day or nightt.

The whole concept was centered around four simple words:

“Flee from sexual immorality.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18

I love when the Bible’s simple. You don’t need to know Greek to know exactly what this verse means.

On this particular night, one of the guys was struggling with the temptation of pornography. His roommate had unexpectedly gone home for the weekend and he knew that temptation is magnified in isolation.

So at his greatest moment of need, he didn’t just try to resist for awhile and ask for forgiveness later. He literally (and I hate when people say that word but don’t actually mean it) literally ran down the hall and started beating down my door at 3 A.M.

I didn’t greet him with anger or a lecture. That wasn’t how the group worked. We supported one another with the gifts of time and presence, two things that are even more valuable to me now.

Nothing super spiritual happened except everything.

We didn’t have a Bible study on purity right then and there. That’s what we did to prepare to flee. I let my friend in and we made popcorn and watched the Sandlot until morning when we crashed.

My friend woke up after lunch the next day with…no regrets.

He didn’t care that he woke up half the hall, at least not enough to fall into sin. He didn’t care that his hallway dash was caught on the security cameras and the RA’s probably watched it back later laughing. He didn’t care about giving into a temptation only he would have ever know about.

He cared about becoming a man of God. He cared about purity. He cared about our future wives that we were already praying for but hadn’t met yet.

Nobody in the group was or is perfect and of course we all have regrets but none of us have ever regretted resisting temptation.

In a world that is bombarding us with the message that we should never say no to a new experience or a thrilling rush, our group helped each other do just that. The ethic of the kingdom of God, humble self-denial, flies in the face of the rampant “you deserve it” “treat yourself” culture that’s especially being marketed to millennials.

You might miss out on a thing or two but speaking from my experience, those things aren’t worth the baggage or pain they cause, if not immediately then soon there after.

What helps you resist temptation?

1Dec

How to Connect With a Younger Generation

It’s one of the biggest paradoxes in my world: often the most qualified adult volunteers in student ministry feel like the least qualified because they think they’ll have trouble connecting with students. Additionally, the younger college students that are typically seen as the best youth volunteers may connect well with students on a relational level but have little maturity or experience to guide them once they do.  See: What the Next Generation Needs from the Church

Maybe it’s not teenagers you’d like to understand. Maybe it’s 20-somethings. Millennials. We might be the most talked about generation except so few of the people talking about millennials regularly spend time with millennials. See: 5 Reasons Your 20’s Matter

Maybe you’ve added someone new to your family and you’re trying to figure each other out. It doesn’t really matter who the person is.

So how do you connect? What does it take to build meaningful relationships with people decades younger than yourself?

Two simple things:

1.) Love

11059600_10153456077491001_6317721647227367480_oMy Grandpa is over 50 years older than me and our lives are very different. Outside of a general love for Jesus, sports, and family, we have very little in common yet I’ve never had trouble connecting with him because I’ve never wondered how he felt about me.

He has always made it abundantly clear that he loves me. He made a consistent effort when I was growing up to be a part of my life. He attended endless baseball games over my illustrious baseball career…and he hates baseball. When we moved 6 hours away almost three years ago he has made it a point to come visit on a regular basis.

He doesn’t need to know what the latest apps on my phone are or who Adele is to love me and connect with me.

2.) Authenticity

This is where older generations most often make mistakes in their efforts at connecting with a younger generation. They try too hard, which younger people see right through and it’s embarrassing for everyone.

One of the things I consistently try and thank my mom for is not being my friend when I was a teenager. She was constantly there for me, but always a parent first. I never confused who was in charge. It’s heart-breaking watching some parents try so desperately to win the approval of their kids or their kids’ friends that they start being a friend first and ditch their job as parents. My mom knew that being a parent was more important than connecting as a friend.

A few months ago, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was trying to connect with a younger generation. You could argue that Barack Obama’s success in doing so was one of the keys that propelled him to the White House. She sent a series of tweets specifically targeted at recent college graduates (early 20s) asking them to…get this…describe in 3 emojis or less how they feel about the national student crisis.

hilary-clinton-emoji-tweet

 

 

 

 

Predictably, the move backfired.

She got thousands of tweets criticizing her woeful attempt at connecting with a younger generation. Several people even compared her to a mom trying to look cool in front of her daughter’s friends.

Here’s the big drawback to this approach: several members of her key target audience were offended they weren’t simply asked the question. Why the emojis? Are college graduates incapable of using words and forming full sentences? Hillary should have simply asked the question like she would have to any other demographic.

To connect with a younger generation, you need to do more than just care for them. You need to be YOU. Be authentic. Don’t try so hard.

Try hard at love. Try hard to be the version of you God made you to be. THAT will always work.

30Nov

How to Survive Finals Week in College

Can you remember? Back to that very first day of class when you got the syllabus. You were thinking, “This is going to be awesome. I’m going to work ahead, knock out those papers early and be super prepared for all my labs.” See: Start College Right

Well, maybe you did…maybe you didn’t. But no matter what the bulk of the semester brought your way, it’s crunch time now. Finals week is finally here.

Finals are stressful even for the most prepared student because they hold so much weight. So much of your semester grade is contingent upon your performance on several comprehensive tests over a mere handful of days.

At this point, you know you should have studied more earlier in the semester and you’re probably aware of general stress-reduction techniques but that’s not what you need. You need to manage the crazy.

How to Survive Finals Week

1.) Log off all social media.

Delete the apps from your phone. You don’t need to have that tab open on your laptop. GO DARK. What was a fun way to connect with new friends over the course of the semester has become your number one enemy during finals. Nothing has the power to distract and derail you more.
See: When the Cool Kids Grow Up

2.) Figure out how you study best…and DO IT.

For me, it actually depended on the subject. I had a friend in college who learned best by teaching. In the subjects where I best studied in a group session (history, theology, philosphy, ethics, etc.) I always made sure to put myself in the same room as my teaching friend. It worked out best for both of us.

But some subjects I learned best by studying by myself. Figure out what works best for you and do that. Don’t waste time in group study sessions you don’t need or trick yourself into thinking you’re studying because you spent 3 hours making note cards.

3.) Eat and Sleep

If you were performing surgery at the same time as your final tomorrow the hospital wouldn’t let you binge eat all the Doritos and drink the entire caffeine contents of your local grocery store. At some point, you have to stop and sleep. Take care of yourself. Take breaks. This is why studying before now is so important. There’s only so much you can cram in a week.

My trick: Study hard for 2 hours, take a 5-10 minute break. Study hard another 2 hours. Take an hour break to eat a meal and go for a walk. Rinse and repeat as needed. Watch one episode of something on Netflix…not ALL the episodes. Pizza rolls are your friend, though…even if Mom’s not there to make them for you.

4.) Pray

One semester I set up a bean bag chair in the corner of my dorm room. It was gross and I don’t think it moved or was cleaned all year but it was my prayer spot. Finals are tough because they help you believe a lie, that all your identity is caught up in passing this test so you can graduate ahead of the person next to you so you can get a better job than the person you graduated next to so you can get a raise instead of the person next to you, etc. etc.

Don’t forget who made you, who gave you the opportunity to learn where he’s placed you. Don’t forget who holds the whole universe in his hands. Finals are important, but Jesus doesn’t check your transcript at the pearly gates. For some of you, the first words you need to focus on are Jesus’ last words, “It is finished.”

Study hard so you can succeed out of response to all that God has done for you, not to earn his love or admiration. God isn’t impressed with your 4.0 or bummed by your 2.0. He simply loves you. Don’t waste an opportunity to carve out some time to remind yourself of the simple truths of the Gospel in the place of prayer. See: On Prayer: Pews and Plastic Tables

5.) Spend (a little) time with friends.

Finals also signal the end of a semester. And every semester some students never return. Some graduate, others transfer to other schools. Some study abroad and some enter the work force or go back home, maybe for good.

Maybe on one of your study breaks you need to grab coffee with a friend or go on a date. I met my wife during finals week! You never know who you might meet that could potentially change your life. Friendship gets a lot harder after college – something about the real world, I don’t know.

6. Call your mother.

This has nothing to do with finals. Just do it. Because you should. Every day.

P.S. – when you rock a C instead of a B you can tell Mom you just couldn’t focus because you missed her so gosh darn much and that’s why you called so much. It works. And she’ll bake you cookies when you get home.

 

What other tips help(ed) you survive finals week?

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