Upgrade U

By Hannah Alford

Often times, when I get overwhelmed I continue trying to do everything myself, oblivious to the people around me who want to help me and ease my burdens. But more than just friends, I find that when I get stressed my involvement with the church suffers, my relationship with Christ suffers. However, stress is not an excuse, for it is in these times of unease and turmoil that we must come to God with our burdens and he will grant us grace and peace in our times of need. Queen Bey said in a song called “Upgrade U”
“Don’t doubt yourself, trust me, you need me
This ain’t a shoulder with a chip, or an ego”
How does this connect to Jesus? Well I’m glad you asked. In Isaiah 41:13 it states, “For I, the Lord you God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ’Fear not, I will help you’.” God will always be there to support you through hard times, holding your hand. It is important to remember that God will not always rescue you by making your problems go away, but, instead giving you the strength to conquer it. So just like Beyonce will be there for Jay-Z, Jesus will always be there for you with no judgement or resentment, and trust me, you need him!

The Glad Texts

by Ruth Hallstead

Paul (Selden, not the apostle) reminded us on Friday to rejoice in the joy of the Lord. With spring break coming up, bringing with it thoughts of sunshine and beaches (or at least no classes), it’s a good week to continue in that theme. Joy is a powerful emotion, and one of my personal favorites. There is no better feeling than smiling until your face hurts and laughing until you cry. However, with homework, sleep deprivation, work, rain, bills, taxes, life… and everything else piling up around us it can be easy to slip into negativity. Complaining is a major part of our society. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In the movie Pollyanna, the town preacher is one of those fire and brimstone, eternal damnation every Sunday preachers. One day, Pollyanna comes to him and asks whether he likes what he does (since he’s so negative all the time), and they begin to talk about his job. Pollyanna tells the preacher there are over 800 happy texts in the Bible, and “if God took the time to tell us 800 times to be glad and rejoice, he must have wanted us to do it”! This sparks a spiritual awakening in the preacher, and changes his entire life. Now I have no idea if that number is correct, but I do know there are a lot of passages about joy, gladness, and rejoicing! Across 13 translations, the word joy is found 470 times in the bible, while sadness is only found 29 times! After the resurrection, we were upgraded. We were transformed from hopelessly lost, broken people into God’s people, His masterpieces! If that isn’t something to rejoice about, then I don’t know what is. Truly joyful, positive people are some of the best people to be around, and as Christians that’s what we should aspire to be. Life won’t always be sunshine and rainbows… but we will always have Jesus and for that we can be happy! Give it a try today– read some glad verses, and find something to be joyful about in every situation throughout your day. Whether it’s that a really boring class got out ten minutes early, or simply the sun was shining on your walk across campus, you can (and should) find something good in every situation.

Sunshine Feel Good

by Paul Selden
Ah Snoop Dogg (also known as Snoop Doggy Dogg, Bigg Snoop Dogg, Uncle Snoop, Snoopzilla, DJ Snoopadelic, Doggfather, Coach Snoop, and Snoop Lion), what an interesting artist.  As mentioned earlier this week, the Lord uses many different kinds of people to spread his gospel, but let’s look at a specific song that Snoop has used for this purpose.  One song off his new album is called “Sunshine Feel Good”.  It goes like this:
It’s just another, just another day that the lord has
It was no goodness of my own
It was you and you alone
You deserve all the glory
This song reminds me of another verse (which is also a song): Psalm 118:24
“This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it”
Essentially, this song highlights the joy of life that we can experience because of God’s wondrous love for us.  I find it so important that Snoop says “It was no goodness of my own” which conveys the nature of Jesus’s love for us.  Jesus loves us before we could have ever loved him, continues to love us each and every day, and will always love us no matter what we do or how far we stray from him.  I like to think that Snoop realizes that, because even with an interesting past, there is always time to embrace Christ and let him into your life and praise God in this way (as Snoop says “You deserve all the glory”).  That being said, it is another day that the lord has made, so let us rejoice and be glad in it.

When My Words Are Few

Wesley disclaimer: We do not endorse Snoop Dogg, the language in this song, actions in it or anything illegal or otherwise questionable, but believe God can use anything. 🙂

by Hannah Alford

When listening to the single from Snoop Dog’s upcoming gospel album, one line from the song “When my Words are Few” stood out to me.

“Let my actions speak for themselves, when my words are few”

How many of us let our actions speak for themselves? Often times, I know at least for me, I can get wrapped up in defending who I am and telling people things instead of just doing it. I tell people that “I really need to study for this test” but do I pick up a book? Sometimes, but rarely. Or how many of us throw around “Love you” to a friend, while not taking time out of your day to show your friend that you love them. We start to think that saying is the same thing as doing. But what does the Bible say about this? John 3:18 states, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth”. Simple as can be it’s saying do not just say you love everyone–prove it in your actions, show everyone that you are accepting, by accepting everyone. Do not speak kind words to someone and then turn behind their back and gossip. I know it can be hard, but being intentional about how you love, will start to, as Ruth began explaining on Monday, identify you as a Christian. “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Love is not just a word–it’s an action and as emphasized by the bible we need to show it as an action. So throughout this week, think about how your words and actions are lining up, you are not perfect, and you’ll make mistakes, but by-golly, show love to those around you. Give it to those who may not need it, and those who do, and you can change how others see Christianity and view situations as an opportunity for love, rather than a “could have been” story you tell your friends later.

When Words Are Few

Wesley disclaimer: We do not endorse Snoop Dogg, the language in this song, actions in it or anything illegal or otherwise questionable, but believe God can use anything. If you’re not a fan of PG-13 content, we recommend scrolling to the super awesome devo below 🙂

by Ruth Hallstead

This song definitely needs a bit of introduction. Snoop Dogg perhaps isn’t someone we would typically look to for an example of Christian living… I guess, God can use all kinds? I don’t know though. When I first heard about this new album, I was pretty skeptical. Coming from the singer of “Sexual Eruption”, “Smoke the Weed” and other songs I can’t type out here, gospel music seems kind of suspicious. However, after watching several of the singles from his soon-to-be released album, and reading the comments on YouTube, I’m convinced that this song does belong in a devotional. Multiple comments railed against Snoop Dogg for his hypocritical nature (their words), saying he isn’t a Christian, denouncing any connection he could have to God, and many other judgmental things. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you think about this album, it isn’t my place to speak about that. Instead, I’m going to address one of the comments that hit me very hard in particular. One viewer wrote that he hadn’t heard anything about God from Snoop Dogg in 20+ years, so he couldn’t possibly be a Christian. Reflecting on that, I began to think about how many people only know I’m a Christian because I’ve said “I can’t stay too late, I’ve got church in the morning” or “the main campus organization I’m involved with is Bama Wesley”. Have you ever gotten the surprised “Oh, I didn’t know you were a Christian”? I have. And it hurts. Clearly we are missing something if people are surprised by our faith. While we may not verbally praise the Lord, or bring up the Bible in casual conversation, our actions should set us apart. God told Ezekiel, “A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you…” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). We have a new heart, and we are filled with God’s spirit! How amazing is that? Certainly too amazing to keep inside or to stop it from affecting our actions! As you go about your day, think about what you do. Let your actions speak volumes about your faith. Pray for God to move in you and through so that no one is ever surprised that you are a Christian. In the 1960s, the hymn “They’ll Know We are Christians by our Love” was written—let’s make that true in our lives today, and always.

Bare Necessities

by Paul Selden

Throughout this week we have been looking at the “Bare Necessities”, or the simple ways to be a devoted Christian and walk in the way of the Lord.  One verse that really gives straightforward instructions to be a disciple of God is seen in Deuteronomy 6:5

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength”.

You might be familiar with this verse but with from another part of the Bible, as Jesus quotes it several times in the New Testament, and if Jesus is referring to it, rest assured that it is probably pretty important.  Let’s break it down a bit though.  The first way mentioned to love God is our heart.  This refers to our personal relationship with Jesus, and can be achieved through worship and especially prayer as we seek to understand his love for us and welcome it into our lives more and more each day.  This acceptance of God’s grace is the foundation of our faith.  Next is loving God with all of our soul.  To me this means actively seeking to learn more about God through reading of the scriptures, discussing personal moments of God’s love in small groups, and listening to the sermon in church in order gain a greater understanding of the grace of God.  Finally, we have love God with all our strength.  I understand this as challenging ourselves to serve for the glory of God.  Typically it is the one that makes us most uncomfortable, whether it be trying to spread the word of God, serving those in need directly through a service project, or finally reaching out to that friend to come to church, loving God with all our strength is a constant challenge that we should push ourselves to achieve.  To wrap things up, the key idea is to love God by growing closer to him in prayer and worship, by understanding his presence in the world and his Word to a greater extent, and challenging ourselves to bring glory to his kingdom on Earth.