Friday, March 30, 2012

Never Forget.

Katie Arend is a junior, majoring in Psychology and Communication, she hopes to get her master's in socail work.  She is currently spending the semester studying in Philly, and enjoys catering weddings in the summer!
God is always there, but do you always acknowledge his presence? I can honestly admit that I haven’t always in the past, but God always find his way to make himself known every place and step you take. That was one of many things I realized here in Philadelphia. Coming to Philly I had no expectation to even attend a church service or any other religious based activity.

Passage to read: John 15:7

A week or so after I got into Philly I started having nightmares about the recent passing of my grandfather. I am not just talking about one or two bad dreams, this was happening every night. Coming to Philly while not knowing a single person made me a bit nervous to disclose what I was struggling with. I decided that I was going to talk to my friend Alicia whom I felt I could trust talking to. It was not until she and a few others started praying for me and encouraged me to pray about it. From there I started feeling better about my loss and stopped having nightmares. At this time I started to really feel convicted by the power of God more than I have in a long time. I then started strengthening my relationship with God and putting more trust in him.
I always thought being a Christian was easy. I realized that going to church, saying an occasional prayer is not what makes a true Christian. Being a Christian takes work and can be really challenging. My main focus this Lenten season and this semester is to maintain a great relationship with God. I want to have a true, never ceasing relationship. All the strong relationships in life need effort in order for them to grow and the one with God is no exception. This semester while walking with God I hope to look at my relationship with God as never failing and throughout the highs and lows of my life not forget that relationship. Even when I am weak in faith remember to make God a part of my life in every way that I can. This Lenten season I challenge you to examine your relationship with God and make him a never ending or forgotten part of your life.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

We are so loved.

Emily Hollenberg is a sophomore RA and an education major with hopes of being an English and Spanish teacher. She enjoys reading, writing poetry, blogging, and watching The Lion King obsessively. She’s a member of Gamma Phi Beta and Active Minds, and hopes to become more involved in Chapel!

             As soon as I decided that I was going to write this, the first scripture that popped into my head was Psalm 139.14: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I’ve always liked this verse because it reminds me that I am loved by God. He made me with intention. He knows my hopes and fears and dreams and aspirations, and He couldn’t be more proud that I have them. He wants to watch me grow and learn and become myself, to reach my full potential, and that He loves me absolutely unconditionally. I am Emily, and I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am made in wonder. I am made in fear. Look out world, here I come, ready to be the best that I can be and worship the loving God who made me; who I am with all of my perfections and imperfections. I couldn’t be more happy that I am me, and that this is what God has planned for me, whether I know what that plan is or not.
            Sometimes I feel like maybe we stray away from this idea. We know that God loves us, but do we truly understand that love? Do we realize the gravity of how loved we are, how fearfully and wonderfully made we are? You, yes YOU, are loved by God, and fearfully and wonderfully made. Praise, praise, praise! We are fearfully and wonderfully made and we are LOVED, we are so loved.
            Maybe this isn’t a traditional devotional, and maybe it is. I don’t know to write a devotional, I just know how to be loved by God and how to love Him with all my heart.  And I know that we are so, so, loved. Always remember that you are wonderful. Always.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Maybe you've seen her in the lab, or playing the guitar in chapel... Senior Kayla Zuiderveen is Alma's most recent Fulbright Scholar and an enthsiastic star gazer!

The Bible is depressing.
Okay, not exactly, but the first few chapters of Ecclesiastes certainly are. If you’re ever in an overly optimistic mood and wish you could feel a little less happy, give Ecclesiastes a try; it’ll turn your smile upside-down in no time. If I could sum up the first three chapters in a sentence, it would be this: everything we do is meaningless.
Solomon had a point when he penned Ecclesiastes:
“The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south and turns to the north;
round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full.

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my work,
and this was the reward for all my labor.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
 nothing was gained under the sun.

Pretty depressing, huh? Perhaps the reason I have been so drawn to this passage lately is the senioritis I’ve been experiencing. It’s so much easier to shirk assignments when I’m convinced they’re not worth anything in the long run. Even Jesus describes the meaninglessness of the daily grind:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy,
 and where thieves break in and steal.
 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
 where moth and rust do not destroy,
and where thieves to not break in and steal.
 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

But neither Solomon nor Jesus ends on a blue note; instead, they offer some very wise words of application: “Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Paul echoes Jesus’ words when he reminds the Galatians about the point of human life:

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law in summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I guess the message that hit home for me was to keep things in perspective. The things that occupy our minds now – that next exam, paper or recital; the romantic melodrama; being accepted to the fraternity or graduate school of choice – these things pale in comparison to our calling as followers of Christ – to love and to serve.

During Lent, don’t let the college scene overshadow what really matters. Remember to love instead of judge, to encourage instead of tear down, and to treat other people as if they were more important than you. Otherwise, everything we do is nothing but a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal, meaningless, a chasing after the wind. And that’s depressing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Be. Listen. And worship.

Trevor Kline is a music and dragon loving senior.  He rocks the drums and is majoring in music education.  He also enjoys reading, video games, and eating popcorn.

Find some time during the day to be alone and without interruption and throw in some headphones and listen to this song.  Do more than listen, let it truly be a time of worship.  Listen to the words and truly let them sink in and relate to them.  We have an incredible God (duh) that no matter the struggles or the sin we fall into, he loves us and we're able to break free from it.  All we have to do is literally make the decision to follow Him.

There are hesitations however for a lot, maybe most people.  There a couple really common themes in this:
One is that we're not good enough for God.  While this is pretty much true (sorry to be a downer),  God's love for us transcends all knowledge and comprehension of what we know of love.  To have a fully unconditional love is something that we can think about as a general concept, but truly trying to understand is not possible, for me at least.

This song talks about the face that we fail God every day, yet, if we look to the cross and realize that he became man, came to earth, and was murdered by us, all because he loves us (again with the mind blowing), that through him our chains are broken and we are free through him.

Whether we like or not, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, there is a war happening for our hearts.  We need to realize who the enemy is and know that the only out of his grasp is to fall into the loving arms of Christ.  It may seem like a strange or abstract thing to some, but a life dependent on Christ will transcend that of an earthly life every time.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Getting Out of My Own Little World

Simone is a senior majoring in English and dance. She loves obnoxiously high heels, good books, and traveling. After graduation she hopes to dance professionally and continue to grow her photography business. 

In many ways the season of Lent is a period for reflection and self-examination.  We are encouraged to spend time in prayer and to make sacrifices in our personal lives - to examine our personal relationship with Christ and grow deeper in our faith lives.
There's much more to this period of preparation than mere self-examination however.  Lent is also a time for us to examine ourselves as Christians - not an easy task to say the least.
It's so very easy, especially in the context of life at Alma, to become self-absorbed. Between academics, clubs, sports, extracurriculars, jobs, and a thriving social life there's a lot to occupy one's attention. Every day brings a new set of responsibilities and challenges: more meetings, more to do, more stress, more, more, more. . . always more. Somewhere along the line remembering to look at the bigger picture tends to get lost in the shuffle.
Maybe you're like me, struggling to stay ahead, to stay positive, to figure out what comes next in life. Each morning I wake up thinking about myself (what's my schedule today, what do I have to do, where am I going to eat dinner) and go to bed in much the same fashion (how long can I sleep, what didn't I get done today, etc). Even much of my conversation with God centers around myself: Lord, help me with this. God, I could use this. Jesus, I'd really love this opportunity. Father, thank you for all the blessings in my life. It's basic human nature, and just like in the context of Lent, focus on self is not entirely negative.
But, it can't be everything.
Earlier this week my ipod began playing this song by Christian artist Matthew West, and the lyrics really hit home. Take a listen.
What if there’s a bigger picture?
Wow. Talk about a reality check. In the struggle and stress and daily routine of being a student, going to rehearsals, leading meetings, and trying to graduate and find a job, I'd become totally unaware of the fact that everything is so much bigger than me. Though it's discouraging to find yourself so out of touch, it's also an incredibly comforting to have a reminder that someone has better vision and a more wonderfully created plan than you or I could ever dream up.
So here's the challenge for us during this season of Lent - to remind ourselves that there is more than just what we see and worry about on a daily basis. Though it isn't always easy and sometimes we're dealing with things in our individual lives that seem to be more than we can handle, we have to strive to look beyond our own little worlds -- to see the bigger picture and address the larger needs in our community and world.  I hope, like me, you'll step forward to accept the challenge to the best of your ability; imagine the profound impact of many individuals seeking beyond themselves and beginning to create a world that includes more than just themselves. Imagine the potential if we could all even just begin to see as Christ does.  Then we'd be on our way to serving as true Christians.
Father break my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors
Put Your Light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about me
Good luck - you'll be in my prayers.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fully Committed?

Brendan McNeal is a sinner saved by God’s amazing grace, trying to live his life glorifying God, but failing miserably more times than he would like to admit. 

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

                                                                                                                              Mark 12:28-30

We have all probably heard this verse at some point or another, whether we read it in the Gospels or hear it in the song by Lincoln Brewster. However, how many of us think about what that really means and if we are living up to that commandment? We are all sinners and we all fall short of the glory of God. There is no debating that. However, there is debating whether we are doing our part to completely be devoted to following Jesus Christ and to love God with everything we have, doing the best we can to obey Him. Are we continually practicing our religion, living out what God calls us to do? Or do we call ourselves “Christians” and go to church or chapel on Sunday, and never think about God the rest of the week, being “Lukewarm*?”

We need to take the time to evaluate where our hearts lie and if we truly are living what God commands us—to love Him with everything we have. Here are things to think about, whether we are really showing that we love God and are fully committed to Him:

Are our actions glorifying God and pleasing to Him? We call ourselves Christians, but we get drunk on Saturday, knowing God will forgive us on Sunday. We belittle others who are different. Our language is not pure. Is this showing love to God?

How are we spending most of our time, and what are we putting ahead of God? Playing sports, playing in the band, singing in the choir, playing video games, watching TV or even studying, is useless if we are not doing it with the intent of doing for God.

What are we exposing ourselves to? Is it glorifying God? The music we listen to, is it clean, something God would be proud of? The shows and movies we watch, are they really something that we should be watching?

Are we reading the Word on a regular basis? Not only reading, but living out the Word. Telling everyone that we can about the Good News! Sharing God’s love with others.

Is this how we would treat other people who we love?  If we truly love God and are committed to following Him, we need to take inventory of our lives and see if God is the center of everything that we do and if what we are doing is really showing love. 

*Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Friday, March 23, 2012

I Don't Want this to End

Kait is a spunky sophomore majoring in IPHS who gets pumped from helping others. She wants to live her life like a mango: beautiful, colorful, and sweet with her “pitt” being God, the base holding her together.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
“Man, I wish life would just pause and let me enjoy life before it’s gone.” I find myself wishing this a lot. Life is full of bliss—new beginnings, new relationships, new opportunities. But sometimes it feels like these exciting times of our life come and go before we can enjoy them. Change is always occurring. Seniors cannot believe their years at college have already come to a close; family members pass away before anyone expects it; life throws us curveballs that perpetually keep us on our toes. Being human, we hate change. We love to be comfortable—we love that perfect meatball that we can crush every time and feel great. Change, well… it doesn’t really make us all that comfortable. Having to become accustomed to a new way of living is just another hassle to add to our plate of things “to do.” Instead of accepting change, we complain and wonder why things can’t always just stay the same. Luckily for us, even though change is inevitable, God’s love for us will NEVER change. We can always count on Him to love us, no matter how selfish, how mean, or how much we have messed up. In James 1 we are reminded that every gift from God has no variation or shadow of change. His love for us and promises for a prosperous future will always be the same. So here’s the challenge, next time life throws you a curveball, don’t let it strike you out; go with the pitch and make it the best hit you can. Even though change is inevitable, the way we handle change shapes our lives and builds our character.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for change. Thank you for constantly keeping life interesting and never letting us become complacent. From changes in our lives, you mold us into who we were created to be. Remind us of that and help us remember that through everything, Your love will always be the same. Amen.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Search for Peace

Janelle is a spunky freshman thinking about majoring in Religious Studies and minoring in music.  A few of her favorite things are coloring, napping, and eating. 

I am inadequate. Insignificant. Insecure.

Far too often this is what my heart hears. I know very little. I can do very little. I am very little in comparison to this big world. This feeling kills me. I want to do BIG things. I want to be important. I want God to use me to make his kingdom great, but what can I do? I’m just a kid. An inadequate, insignificant, insecure, kid. All I do is fall short.
The reality is, this is my daily struggle. I put on a face of strength and confidence, but I am easily discouraged, my confidence quickly dashed at any reminder of my inadequacy.
Where can I find peace?

1 Corinthians 1:27-30 says this:
Brothers think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not --to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God –that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

2 Corinthians 12: 9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The point is I am inadequate. Insignificant. Insecure. None of that is a lie; the lie is when I believe that God can’t use me because of all that. The truth is God’s grace is sufficient for me. God is big enough to do big things even through little old me, and that is amazing.

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Jennafer Young is a junior from Minnesota majoring in IPHS and psychology. She loves the outdoors, kids, laughter, and chapel!

Matthew 5:5 says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” What in the world does it mean to be meek? In the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word meek is defined in one case as “deficient in spirit and courage; submissive.” Although our culture tends to associate “meek” with “weak,” that is NOT how the Bible uses the word meek!

In the Bible (and in old English), the word meek was used to describe someone who was completely strong, powerful, courageous, and passionate—but also completely under the control of someone else. In the case of Christians, that “someone else” should be God. When Jesus tells us that the meek are blessed, He is not recommending we become spineless doormats who never stand for anything. On the contrary, He is commanding us to take all the strength we can muster—every gift, talent, ability, and passion we have—and to give it all to God to be used and channeled as He desires.

The Bible gives many great examples of meekness: Moses, David, Daniel, Steven, Paul. But the greatest example of meekness is Jesus. HE is the perfect example of strength, power, and character under control. At His arrest (Matthew 26), Jesus reminds His disciples that He could call down 12 legions of angels to save Himself – that’s power. But He refuses to do that because it would not fulfill the Father’s will – that’s control, meekness.

And look at Jesus’ heartfelt prayer in the garden of Gethsemane just before this. He drains Himself in prayer saying, “Daddy please! If there is ANY other way for us to save mankind besides Me becoming SIN, then please let this cup pass from Me! I don’t want to do it. But not My will, but Yours and only Yours be done.” Extreme total meekness. Extreme total power. Extreme total Godhood. Extreme total surrender of His own well-deserved rights.

This is meekness, and this is what Jesus calls blessed.

To Ponder…
What are your strengths? Gifts? Talents? How can you use them absolutely to the max – but only for the glory of God?
What do you think are your “rights”? What do you deserve? Are you willing to sacrifice these in order to live the life God calls you to?
What are your fears or worries? Meekness requires also surrendering these to God and accepting the strength He offers in return.

(For more on this topic, I recommend a sermon by Nick Hall: )

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Love of the Spirit

Emily is an energetic junior, majoring in psychology and minoring in religious studies. She loves being a Christian camp counselor in the summer time!

John 14:16&17
I will ask the father and he will give you another counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

            The Holy Spirit is a wonderful blessing in our lives that we often don’t recognize. In this passage Jesus is telling his disciples how they will know The Way once he has left this earth. He tells them this new counselor, the Spirit of Truth, will teach them of all things and remind them of what he has taught.
            The same counselor Jesus promised his disciples still dwells within us today and every day. So often when we are faced with a challenge or decision or conflict of any sort we are advised to pray; and so we do. But then what? There is no standard answer but the best I can come up with is to listen in our hearts for the Spirit of Truth. Our answers cannot come from the world—from media or how to books or standard expectations of society—because the world does not know God’s Spirit. But it must come from within.
            The Bible has many names for the Spirit: Intercessor, Helper, Counselor, Comforter. These imply that there will still be problems we face. But “the God within” can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It can remind and teach us of all things, it can comfort us, it can guide us to answers or relief and it can bring us into the greatest presence of God. Allow his Spirit to fill you up today by carry it in your heart and keeping it on you mind.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Stop Worrying is a sophomore majoring in IPHS. She loves the outdoors, especially –hiking, biking, and camping. Watching movies is a past time of hers.  She enjoys exploring, and one day hopes to go kayak.

Worry wart.  I feel like some time or another we have all felt like this—especially now during our college years.  We worry about the littlest things from what our weekend plans are, to how our exam for bio, is going to be on Friday, to big things like what am I going to do with this degree I’m getting from Alma College?  It’s normal to think about these things and prepare in advance.  It is also normal to feel frustrated at times and almost hopeless, because you have no idea what’s in store for you and if there even is anything planned for you.  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, God doesn’t send down maps from Heaven with cute little pictures of us with our future family, friends, and homes.  He isn’t going to show us what job we will have after school or what car we will be driving (or bike if you’re still in the process of paying off loans). As frustrating as it can be to feel lost in life at times, it can end up being a good thing I think.  It can be God’s way of showing how much He loves us and letting us learn to trust Him allowing our relationship to be that much better—which is a beautiful thing.  I want you to take a look at Matthew 6:25-34 to show you this… 
Read, read, read…
Ok so now that you have read this this passage, let’s sort of talk about it and reflect.  There is a lot to take in and interpret.  What I really love about this is how much attention God pays to the grass, birds, and other things in nature.  He clothes the grass giving it life and beauty.  This is grass that will be grown and then thrown into the fire to heat the clay ovens used at the time.  If God is giving so much attention to the birds and the flowers, imagine how much devotion He is giving you.  (There are 6,994,600,169 people in this world, and God still cares for each blade of grass along with every person; that’s pretty awesome.) He is making sure that every minute, every second, every millisecond, you are attended to.  You may not feel like it at the time, but He is watching you and guiding you to get you on the right path, even when you feel like you’ve reached a dead end.  We just have to do a “trust fall” with God and give up our worries to Him knowing that all will be well; put your faith in him, your doubts, your cares, and your uncertainties.  No one’s holding you back except yourself.  He says in verse 33 to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.  If you pursue Him and trust God’s design for you, everything else will fall into place.  Focus on your relationship with Him first, and don’t fret over all that you have to do; He has it all taken care of.  What He wants is you and your attention.,%20B000BUZHG6.01-AEKIZOOW1W4NI.jpgC:\Users\Owner\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\BZWUN74B\MP900177811[1].jpgSo I want to challenge you to pray or talk to God every time that something comes up for you no matter how big or how small.  If you have an interview approaching, pause, pray, and prepare.  Don’t let the stress of it get to you everyday and take over you.  Cast those qualms on Him and have trust knowing that the “big guy” has got your back.  Don’t hassle, focus on what you have to do today, and still prepare for it without the stress.  It’s such a great feeling to know that there is no need to worry about the things that strain us when God is the one in control and taking care of it.  No matter how good or bad the interview goes, it will all work out in the end.  Don’t ever feel like God has left you alone when things don’t turn out as expected. Be calm knowing that He has the wheel.  He attends to the flowers with such great care; He will surely attend to you.   
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34    

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What is Faithfulness?

Jessie is a senior English major.  She enjoys cuddling, singing, being sassy, going on fun and exciting adventures, and laughing... a lot.  

faith·ful [feyth-fuhl] adjective:
1. strict or thorough in the performance of duty: a faithful worker.
2. true to one's word, promises, vows, etc.
3. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends.
4. reliable, trusted, or believed.
5. adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy.
Faithfulness is something that we as Christians tend to grapple with at some point or another during our individual walks with Christ.  It is far too simple for us to become discouraged and weak during times of turmoil and in the rage of a life storm.  Often during times of trouble we will find ourselves questioning God and His intentions-- but fear not!  The Lord our God is faithful to us always, as He told Joshua in Joshua 1:5, “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life!  Just as I was with Moses, so will I be with you.  Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Because of this promise, it is wicked important that even during our hard times we turn to God and remain faithful to Him without question... After all, if He can promise us that He will never leave nor forsake us, isn’t it only fair that we should be able to do the same for our Creator?  

Friday, March 16, 2012


Kylie is a bubbly sophomore education major who enjoys hanging out with friends and serving others!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Every single day I find myself ‘running out’ of patience, whether I’m waiting in line at Saga or getting frustrated with an assignment. As I go through my day and find myself losing patience for the simplest things, it’s almost as if I need a constant reminder from God to pull everything I need from Him. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us of the Fruit of the Spirit—the visible attributes of living a Christian life with the Holy Spirit. Read on down the list and you’ll soon run across patience. What a great prompt this is for us as Christians. When we find ourselves being impatient, we can use those feelings as a reminder to give it up to God and draw from Him for anything that we need. So today when you find yourself getting frustrated, take a minute to close your eyes and draw your strength from the Lord!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Devotion of Humility

Hey ya’ll I am Lance Jongekrijg – a Junior and an IPHS major.  I play basketball here at Alma, and enjoy listening to Christian Rap.

I don’t know how many of you have listened to Lecrae before, but he has some good music if you are into hip-hop with a Christian spin.  So, I wanted to give you a little preview.  This song is called Background and it focuses on the role we should play in our relationship with God.  It explains how we should not be the ones thinking we know everything in our life, but rather to follow God and his plan – to play a background with Him at the lead.

I also want to think of this song with a sense of Humility.  Our pride can account for many problems with our relationship with God and with others.  It is important to humble ourselves before others – Jesus showed us exactly what this means with his disciples when he washed their feet.

Read John 13: 1-17.

Pride and self-righteousness are common problems we run into being human, but we must remember that we are all created in God’s image and although we all may have different roles within school, society, etc. we are all equal.  Sometimes the best thing for us to do is to take a step back and play the background once and awhile – don’t let our pride get the best of us.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Come to the Well

Marissa is a senior and an education major.   Did you know that she is a twin?  Not only that but she really loves hugs and serving others.

Check out John 4: 7-15 and James 4:8.

When you feel empty where do you turn? Do you turn to your best friend or significant other to fill those holes but still feel empty when done talking with them? There are plenty of times in my life when I have turned to other people to help me through whatever it is I am going through. This fills me up but when I go back to my room or am alone again I still have that empty feeling, and I start to wonder what it is I need to do to not feel drained. I heard this song from Casting Crowns and also heard Mark Hall the lead singer of Casting Crowns give a “behind the song” talk and was smacked in the face with what I had been missing. I had been turning to the world to help solve my problems when God was right there just waiting for me to come to Him because He is the One who can fill me up and completely erase those empty feelings. God has put people in our lives to lean on and go to for support but ultimately it is Him that we have to go to be filled up so that we can pour out our lives for other people. Humans will never be able to fill that empty void. Jesus is the only one who can do that! I encourage you to listen to this song and turn to God the next time you are feeling lonely about something and see how He is able to fill you up so that the empty feeling goes away.

The Song is titled “The Well” and comes from their newest album, Come to the Well

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hope and Blessings

Sarah is a freshmen who rocks out the keyboard and piano at chapel on Sunday nights!!

The Beatitudes shown in Matthew are meant to be a sort comfort for those who feel unworthy to be welcomed into the Christian faith and also feel that they are being criticized for their faith. I personally will often have times when I feel weak and beaten from daily life. In attempts to keep the people around me happy and not cause issues, I often run myself down in exhaustion. Sometimes there seems to be no end in sight to the barrage of chaos and unhappiness.

But that's exactly the point of these Beatitudes: to provide hope when things look bleak. Not only for those who are being persecuted for their faith, but simply for those who often feel discouraged by life itself. I am one of many people who feels like I must constantly try to step down from an argument to keep things peaceful, or that I have to be the one who says "I'm sorry" first. I try to keep the peace and I try to be as generous and merciful as I possibly can. After awhile, I begin to feel beaten down and hurt from this borderline subservience. Despite this, however, I feel blessed. He has not waited to bless me when I pass on, He has blessed me now with comfort and support from the most unlikely of places during times when I feel that I am giving myself up for everything and everyone else.

Yet He also blesses me when I do finally decide to stand up for myself—namely for my belief in him. I'm not a very loud person when it comes to opinions, but through His strength I am not afraid to calmly and openly explain to others what Jesus's love means to me. And if people unfairly criticize me for my beliefs, I know in the end it will not matter because He is always there to comfort me.  The word "Christian," like any other religious label, has developed its own connotation that is not always positive, and I am more than willing to correct the meaning, and God has blessed me with strength to do so and also with people who will support me or people who will hear what I have to say.

Never forget that He will always be your strength and guide when you feel at your weakest. You will always be blessed, because even though it can be discouraging to be the one who apologizes or always forgives, He will never leave your side. He knows what you did and you will be rewarded the Kingdom of Heaven for it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

All that Stuff

 Linsey is a senior EHS major and generally always has a smile on her face. She loves hiking and being outdoors as well as just unwinding and watching movies with friends.

Since I was a little girl I have always been taught to praise God for all of the good things he has done in my life before I ask him for anything. This always seemed so easy when I was younger, when life was much simpler. I have discovered though that as my To-Do lists get longer, my days get busier, and time just seems to fly by that I get caught up in all of the little things in life that don’t go right. Things like forgetting to set my alarm, spilling coffee, misplacing something end up ruining my day. I forget how blessed I truly am and end up just asking God to make my day better. I didn’t realize how often this happened until I heard a song called “This is the Stuff” by Francesca Battistelli. I like to call this song my anthem now because I have come to realize that God has truly blessed me and that he knows what he is doing in my life. God really might use the tiny things that annoy me in life to shape and mold me into who I am supposed to be. The truth is that I may never really know what events he is planning on using in my life but I need to remember that I shouldn’t worry about what will happen that day or the next because God knows what he is doing. I challenge you to reflect on this song and a verse in Mathew that tells us to not worry about what will happen in our Life because God has blessed us and he will always take care of us.

Scripture: Mathew 6: 25-34

Favorite part of lyrics:

In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I’m blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You’re doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mercy loves singing and spending time with friends as well as volunteering her time!

Haggai 1:9
 ‘You expected much, but it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.’

Reflect on this passage and allow it to speak to you. I encourage you to read Haggai 1:1-9 in order to gain a better understanding of the importance of what is happening.
In this passage, the Israelites had returned from captivity in Babylon (538 B.C.) to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. However, they were delayed because of hostile neighbors who challenged them. Because of this opposition, the work on the temple was left untouched for over 15 years. Haggai delivered this message to encourage the Israelites not to give up, but to continue rebuilding.
In our own lives, how often do we allow the tide of opposition sweep us away from the work God has assigned us in building up His temple? Today, our “hostile neighbors” may appear as positive aspects of our lives. Sometimes the things we hold close enough to be called our neighbors are the very things that hinder us. Who are your neighbors? Good works, busy-ness, a desire to excel? Perhaps complacency, envy, bitterness, and the desire for worldly acclaim? Do we work to advance God’s Kingdom on earth, or do we become passive, overwhelmed by how draining the opposition can be, distracted from our purpose?

In Haggai’s day, the temple was a building in which the very Spirit of God dwelt. Now, the Bible says our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), and that we all belong to the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27).  Until we connect our actions and convictions with the purpose for which God called us as children, our deeds and goals in life will never reach their full potential to bless others and we may find ourselves feeling empty and unfinished. How is God calling you to rebuild His temple?

“You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” – C.S. Lewis

Friday, March 9, 2012

Gifts from God

Edward "Ted" Webb is a New Media Studies Major focusing in Documentary Video and an SMC. His videos can be seen in chapel on Sunday, and is currently working on two documentaries, one to be finished this semester, and one for his Senior Thesis. Keep an eye out for his work in and out of Chapel.

Scripture Referenced:
1 Samuel 20
Galatians 5:22-23

After reading 1 Samuel 20, it is apparent that David and Jonathan are best friends. What qualities do they both posses that cause them to be such good friends? The answer is not one single quality but several. All of these are gifts from God, as he wanted them to be there for each other so they could grow in themselves and the Lord. Now after reading Galatians 5:22-23, it states that: "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Think of the fruits of the spirit as every child of God, we were given life from Him, just like fruit on trees. Now look at all the fruits of our spirits, these are all qualities that every child of God posses. This means that David and Jonathan are possessed of these qualities, and through their similarities in them, they become great friends. Now instead of thinking about your best friend, think about your enemies. They are also a child of God, even if they are not a Christian, thus they posses all of these fruits of the spirit as well. And through that, you can extent your love to them, just like a tree would extend it's roots. Don't think about it as conforming them to the Christian way, but being a loving Christian and connecting with them, and hopefully creating a new friend through these new found qualities that you may not have thought about before.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"I am the I AM"

Phil is a sophomore/junior majoring in Music.  He really enjoys studying the word and working with YFC on Thursdays.

        Of all the "I am" statements in the Gospel of John it is perhaps the line in John 8:58, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM" that reveals the most to us as believers. In one breath Christ claims both pre-existence and exclusive divinity with the Father. He provocatively proclaims the mystery of His unity with the Father and His glorious supremacy in all things. This holds monumental implications for us. Jesus continues to reinforce Himself by saying " I and the Father are one," (John 10:30) and "He has seen Me you has seen the Father" (John 14:9). This truth is a great blessing because it enables us to see the Father through the Son. Yet, it also presents us a challenge because that truth requires seeing the Father to be seeing Jesus. Just as when we see the love, mercy, and boldness of Jesus we then see the same in the Father. But, this means that when we see the righteousness, holiness, justice, and glory of the Father they necessarily reflect on our understanding of Jesus. Simply the beauty of the Father in the Old Testament teaches us with the Gospels about our Lord and Savior. The challenge then during this season of Lent is to look back and reflect on the Father in the Old Testament in order to cherish more completely the Son we embrace.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Alissa is a senior and a future doctor!  She majored in IPHS and has spent time as an SMC, a member of the IPHS Honorary and many other on campus organizations.  She is learning to love Chinese food and is awesome at making yummy cakes and desserts!

 Then read James 5:13-18.

 I love that this passage reminds us to pray at all times and promises us that our prayers will be heard and answered. When I recently reread this passage, however, two things stood out to me: verse 16 where James says, “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” and vs 17 where he compares us to Elijah. I was confused as to how James could tell us that Elijah was the righteous man verse 16 talks about and then tell us that he was just like you and I. I am quite certain that I am nothing like Elijah seeing as I have never performed any miracles. This really frustrated me. If James is telling us that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective and then saying that Elijah (!) is a good example of this, do I even have a chance? How can I become this righteous person that James speaks of so that all of my prayers and become powerful and effective?

 Flip to Romans 3:21-24. Verse 22: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” When we believe in Christ as our Savior, God doesn’t just declare us to be not guilty, but rather declares us to be righteous. Christ died so that we can be called righteous; we can pray as Elijah did and the Lord will answer. As you go out into this day I challenge you to pray with purpose; remember that you are praying not just to some unknown power lurking somewhere beyond the sky but rather to God. Elohim, our Everlasting Father, Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. A God so much bigger than our comprehension and understanding and yet someone who loves each of us so much, who has covered us in His mercy, grace, and love, who has declared us as righteous, and who truly hears our prayers. (Go ahead, pray to Him!)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Smoothies of Life

Teresa Larson is a junior at Alma majoring in elementary education and working to get her early      childhood endorsement. She likes music, working with kids, and playing in sun-showers. 

Of all of the great improvements that are going on around campus, I must say that my favorite by far is addition of Stucchi’s. I personally think it’s one of the highlights of our campus, and the perfect place for a lunch or dinner date or meeting spot for your group to work on a project. All of the delicious coffees, snacks, and of course ice cream have made a perfect haven for us to step outside of the cafeteria and spend time with other college students and members of the community. My personal favorite thing to get when I go to Stucchi’s is some kind of smoothie…the perfect blend of all of the delicious fruits and flavors can make this simple treat the highlight of my day.

One of my all-time favorite bible passages is Galatians 5:22-23, also known as the Fruits of the Spirit (quick, how quickly you can name them all!!)…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I sat looking at that list one day, thinking about those fruits of the spirits that I think I do alright with, and those that I really need to seek God’s direction and guidance with. As I’m sure many of us can relate, the second list was much longer than the first.

Like most people, I think best with analogies. So let’s say that I’m a smoothie…I prefer something passion peach-like. I’ve got a mango of peace, a little bit of pineapple of patience, and nice  healthy serving of a peach of gentleness. Ta-da, that’s my smoothie and I’m delicious!

But what about the strawberries of love, or the grapefruits of faithfulness, or the kiwis of faithfulness (the list goes on, but you get the idea)? What about all those delicious flavors? Sure, I’m a decent smoothie with my own fruits of the spirit, but why wouldn’t I want to be the best smoothie ever and have all of the fruits of the spirits? When we look to the perfect smoothie, we look to one with all of the flavors, not just three or four.

In the same way, when we look for the perfect example of how to lead our lives, we look to the one with all of the fruits of the spirit. Jesus was a real, living human being that walked among us and who’s sprit dwells with us now that was the best example of how to live our lives…full of love, joy, and peace, embracing patience, kindness, and goodness, and demonstrating faithfulness and gentleness, and showing us how to live a life of self-control…the perfect fruit smoothie.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Always There

Alex Sprague is a  freshmen at Alma College.  Double majoring in Political Science and Religious, he aspires to be a minister as he has since 3rd grade. He loves hanging out with friends both in chapel and outside of chapel.  You might find him reading Harry Potter or enjoying  Baseball. He loves Mercy Me, especially the song I can Only Imagine.

Isaiah 43:1-4
            But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lore you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.

            This passage means a lot to me, I discovered this passage right after my cousin died from cancer and my pastor died in a drowning accident. It brought me closer to God after reading this and helped me get through the pain that I was feeling during that time. To me this passage reminds me that God is with you no matter what goes on in your life, in the good times and the bad times. It also reminds me that God loves us even when we screw up and do crappy things and also when we do great and awesome things. As we go through out this Lenten season, it may be a rough time for you but just remember that even though you may go through a crappy time God is always there ready to hear the problems that you are going through. As Jesus went through 40 days of fasting, he knew that God was right there, and even as he knew he was going to die, he knew God was there.

Closing Prayer: Dear God, Thanks for always being there and walking with us through our             crappy times and through our good times. It means a lot to know that you would save us from a flood or a fire and that you love us so much. In your name, Amen

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Shine On

Annie Bourbonais is a senior this year who loves to dance and be a part of community theater. Phi Sigma Sigma is where it’s at, she is so proud to be a part of the greek life on Alma College’s campus. Next year she hopes to possibly go to grad school for school counseling! 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” John 8:12 (NIV).

Christ is our light and our way. We know this to be true, but often times we forget that this light is not only something to follow, but also something that dwells within us. Not only is Christ our light, but we also can be light unto others and be a light unto the world. In John 3:20-21 Jesus says, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (NIV). As we continue to live in the light we are able to show others our understanding of Christ and all that He has done for us. We are to live as examples of Christ and as we do that we are able to have the light of Christ shine from within us. We are here to help and support one another and when we are showing this light we are able to help lead others to know of God’s love for them. Through all that we go through we must remember that with this light we are able to glorify the Lord and He will be pleased with us. This life is not ours to live, but His, and by shinning His light through us we are able live a life centered on God. He wants for us to be like Him and we truly can when the light of Christ resides within us. We must remember that although darkness may surround us there is no need to be engulfed in it. We can always see the light if we are living our lives in accordance to Jesus’ example because His light will shine from inside us.

Check out this song by MercyMe called “Shine On”