The One With the Old Testament Stories

Some of us like some background music with our prayer time. Here’s one of Alexi’s favorite worship playlists, if you’re looking to try it out 🙂

 

by Hannah Alford

If you’re reading this right now, congratulations, you’ve already passed the very hard task of staying true to your beliefs and surrounding yourself with word and scripture. In college many students find it difficult to go to church, you’re surrounded with idols and earthly possessions that hold much more tact than faith and God’s never ending love. But, just because he isn’t always visible, doesn’t mean he’s not present. This reminds me of an old testament story from Exodus, the story of the Golden Calf, and it goes a little like this…

So Moses is on the mountain with God, and all the people on the bottom of the mountain begin to lose faith because Moses was taking a long time away from his people. They turn to Aaron, and asked him to make them a god, he then takes all the gold and throws it into the fire, and out pops a calf. His intention was to give the wicked people a god that they could look at, but they began worshiping it and praising it as the Egyptians did to their false gods. This made God very angry and those who stood by him were spared while the others were slayed. In the end God forgave the people who turned from him, because they came back and that’s what was important. First semester is hard, for many of us, church was a family event, and when you’re away from your parents for a long time you start to think that it doesn’t really matter if you go to church or not. College students turn to parties, alcohol, starbucks, etc. there are an immeasurable amount of things to praise and distract one’s self with in college and it takes effort to say “no.” Even if you did turn to them, don’t be afraid to start going to church again, God loves you and wants nothing more than for you to be actively loving him. Second semester, it’s a fresh start, use that fresh start to remove some on the golden calves in your life, worship God and only God, and you will find that your life will become so much simpler, and your future more clear.

The One With the Old Testament Stories

by Ruth Hallstead

With the start of the new semester, it can feel like you might not be in the right place right now. Whether this is because you did some serious thinking about your future (aka had an existential crisis… or several), or your grades from last semester cast some serious doubt on the practicality of your dreams; right now you might be feeling like the exiled Hebrews. Stuck in a foreign country and not sure what to do. The Hebrews were told to just hang out in Babylon until…later, I guess. That can be a hard message to stomach. When your world falls apart as your path suddenly hits a dead end or reaches a bazillion pronged fork, “build a house and live in it” seems like terrible advice. Let’s fast forward a bit. Imagine being called to the palace in a strange land and then several weeks later becoming the new queen. Oh, and you’ve hidden your faith and can’t let anyone find out. Not only are you stuck in a foreign land (okay, this was technically after exile ended, but some Hebrews stayed where they were at), but now you’re the wife of a temperamental king and harboring an intense secret. Welcome to Esther’s life. If you’re unfamiliar with Esther’s story, her big moment was saving the Hebrew people from unrestrained slaughter through an intense saga of calculated flattery and meticulously following royal procedure. However, what she did isn’t the focus here. Instead a conversation she had with her cousin is what really hits home. When she is tasked with stopping the impending slaughter, her cousin encourages her by saying “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this”. I love this part of the story. First of all, no one says that she is queen because now she can save the Jews. Instead her cousin says perhaps. Second, she appeared to have no purpose whatsoever when suddenly, a possible (absolutely terrifying, potentially deadly) path appears! To me this is a story of hope. Esther never knew if this is why she ended up where she did. Yet she pushed onward, working towards something, until a path made itself visible. When your plans change, you may not know why for a long time, or even ever. Yet just like Esther, never give up. Continue pushing forwards. Pick something good (or at least less bad) in the situation and go with that. Ride that hope until you find something else. Eventually your path will be made clear. It may take a while, and it won’t be easy. It’ll probably be scary. But as our fearless leader often says, the worst thing is never the last thing.

Cancellation

Per UA’s schedule, activities are cancelled and the building closed until noon tomorrow. Changes to evening activities will be announced tomorrow if needed.

All I Want For Christmas is You (Wednesday)

by Hannah Alford

On Monday, Ruth gave us a prayer and reminded us then in this time of studying we need to bring our focus to the Lord, as well as our classes. By now we’ve reached the thick of it, finals week has begun and it’s like you can feel the tension around campus as people walk to their next exam. Some students care too much and some students care too little, but, there is something they all share in common. Whether they know it or not, the Lord is working in their lives! He’s there to support you and keep your head in the right space, however, if our own ideas and motivations get in the way, it can be hard to feel his presence. We must be actively seeking the Lord both in times of bliss (like the upcoming Christmas break) and times of great stress (finals, duh). A verse that helps keep me in check is from Romans 8:6 “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Those times when you’ve stayed up hours studying and pumping yourself with caffeine and you feel like death, it’s not just the lack of sleep. Make time in your day to relax and connect back to the Lord, I promise you’ll feel better after you do it, then you’ll find that when you go back to study your stress is at least somewhat relieved and you’re more focused, or at least this works with me. So try praying, even a small prayer, nothing too fancy, and see what happens! To help you along I’ll leave you a prayer too

 

Hey God!

I’m using this time to connect with you. This week has been hard insert concern here and I could use your support. So Lord, be with me in my studies this week, help my mind stay clear and my motivations good. Lord help me feel your presence throughout the week as I take my finals and remind me if I forget to spend time with you because you are stronger than any stresses I have, and your glory will live on past my anxieties!

In Jesus’s name we pray, AMEN!

All I Want for Christmas Is You (Monday)

by Ruth Hallstead

Christmas may be the last thing on your mind at the moment (or maybe the only thing on your mind, in which case you should probably go study). With projects and essays and tests piling up, you may be feeling more no no no than ho ho ho. Worries of losing a scholarship, failing a class, or simply facing your parents might seem paralyzing as you frantically read (and re-read), study, and type. Even if this isn’t the case for you, right now is probably a little more stressful than usual. It’s time to take a step back. Take a deep breath and remember who you are and who He is. Whatever threatens to overwhelm you, whatever you need this week, lift it up to the Lord. Take a break from studying to ask for patience, for inspiration, for focus, or simply for peace. You’ve got a lot on your plate this week, and there is absolutely no reason to try and carry it all by yourself. Work in a few minutes throughout the day to pause and remember that you are never alone. Read some scripture (Not sure where to go? Try John 10, Ephesians, Philippians especially 4:13, and Psalm 23 are all good options). Listen to or sing a song (“My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective, “Press On” by Building 429, and “Hello, My Name is” by Matthew West are all full of motivation). Most of all, pray. You should probably get back to the books now, so I’ll leave you with a simple prayer for the day.

Heavenly Father, I know you are with me and for me. But sometimes I forget and try to go it alone. Lord, be with me this week as I prepare for insert concern here, remind me to give it all to You. Take my stress, take my worry and give me peace, and the strength to face today. Thank you for the promise of your love and grace no matter what. Amen

P.S. Don’t forget to eat. You may think you don’t have time to, but your brain needs fuel just as much as your body does.

Last Christmas (Wednesday)

by Ruth Hallstead

Christmas comes with a lot of expectations. Gifts promised or assumed, family traditions, seeing old friends, lots of food… the list goes on and on. Most people have a special place in their heart for this season, and any disappointments can be hard to take. Over time this can cause cynicism or simply ambivalence rather than the enchantment that used to accompany the Christmas season. In “Last Christmas”, a certain apprehension can be heard. “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. The very next day, you gave it away.” The singer has been hurt, and they haven’t forgotten that heart wrenching feeling. What is holding you back this Christmas season? Are you worried that you won’t have time to check everything off your list? Perhaps this is the first time you’re going home since summer and you’re concerned that too much has changed while you’ve been gone. Maybe you’re remembering relatives’ and parent’s prying questions, and you just don’t want to go there again. This worry can hold you back from experiencing the true joy of Christ’s birth. It can distract you from what really matters. So this Christmas, don’t hold back. Even if you still feel pain from something LAST Christmas, jump fully in. Surrender completely to the Lord, and prepare for His coming with joy and hopeful expectation. Keep in mind the words of Mary after finding out she was to be a mother “Here am I, the servant of the Lord. Let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). She was scared. She was unsure what was coming next, except for one thing: God was with her. And that was enough. Whatever happens THIS Christmas, we have the same promise. God will be there, and Christ is coming. And that is cause for one heck of a no-holds-barred, Christmas morning as a kid, we made the playoffs, kind of celebration.