Apathy is hard to conquer, but necessary

By Garrett Jones, Contributing Writer

The biggest enemy of success is apathy.

How do you complete any task you don’t care about? It only gets more difficult when you feel like you can’t care about it.

The more apathy takes over one thing, the more it creeps into other parts of your life. It can start with something you don’t want to do, school or work. Then it slowly creeps into your relationships with friends and family.

Maybe you stop seeing your friends as much. With apathy taking over your life, before you know it, it’s been months since you’ve seen your friends. If you let it get that far, it can suddenly take over your relationship with God. This one hurts the most. It might be the hardest to get back.

The best way to restore or even maintain a relationship with Christ is by spending time with Him in the Word or through prayer. How do you do those things when apathy has taken over your life?

It feels like you just forget to read Scripture at first. Eventually, it has completely become a chore. You don’t want to do it. Even if you can force yourself, you don’t care enough to comprehend what it means and certainly not enough to apply it to your life.

So, what do you do?

Obviously, you’re stuck in this spiderweb of detachment. It probably seems like there is no way out. It’s amazing how the lack of emotion toward something can cause more emotion than the thing itself. From my experience, there is one way out.

I will warn you, it’s not very easy. You have to be completely fed up with your apathy. The desire to destroy it has to overcome all of your natural instincts.

Pray without ceasing. I know, it sounds too simple. Quite frankly, it is too simple, but it’s the only thing that is guaranteed to work. I’ve already said prayer is something hard to care about when struggling with apathy; that’s what makes it difficult. You have to force yourself.

Set reminders on your phone. Wear a rubber band around your wrist or something. As long as you can remember, you can make yourself pray. Not only does this praying open up communication between you and God, but it changes your perspective on life. Everything you say or do is done with the mentality that God is present in your life always. Even your thoughts change.

I know it’s a difficult challenge, but if you can’t stand feeling apathetic anymore, it’s what you have to do.

Social clubs encourage community in Christ

By Ashton Smith, Assistant Faith Editor

Although the female social clubs may have different events and philanthropies that make them unique in each of their own ways, there is something that unites them all: faith. Each of the social clubs aim to bring their members closer together as sisters in Christ, and to raise one another up, to encourage each other and to have a place to turn when times get tough.

Through these clubs, many friends have been brought together that otherwise may not have met. This is one of the most special aspects of social clubs and something that many of the girls cherish.

“Kappa’s, to me, is a huge support system,” junior Kappa Phi Beta member Isabel Palos said. “I’ve met girls from all different types of classifications, majors, and every person possesses a unique set of interests. It’s a really beautiful thing to see how the Lord has brought this sisterhood together.”

The girls also are a major support system for one another, as they are each other’s ‘sisters’ in the context of being in a social club. From praying for one another to coffee runs, to even just helping out with some homework, there is no shortage of love that is given to each girl in each social club.

“Honestly, fellowship and doing life together is a huge part of the Christian walk that isn’t focused on,” junior Pi Sigma Phi member Jillian Walker said. “The girls in Pi Sigma Phi played a part in helping me find a church when I was church hopping. They helped me get connected and feel a part of church instead of just attending.”

Another thing that social clubs do in their faith aspect? They have different ways that they encourage the group, such as prayer groups, prayer retreats, and devotions that they do in their club meetings. They help each other in their good times and bad, and they share their prayer requests and praises as well.

“I’ve had a lot of stuff going on in my personal life lately,” junior Theta Sigma Chi member Taylor Boyd said. “And every time I would come to them with something, they never fail to let me know they love me and are praying for me.”

Not only that, but these social clubs are open to every girl on campus, and they do their best to make sure that every girl feels like she has a place and is free to share what’s on her heart with her fellow sisters in Christ. Social clubs are a growing opportunity to grow stronger in both their friendships and their faith.

“I personally find it hard to get into those conversations on my own,” junior Theta Sigma Chi member Sierra Davis said. “But Theta’s is a safe place where Christ-centered conversations just flourish – and you feel safe in sharing your insecurities or questions concerning your spiritual life and journey.”

Connect Chapels include artistic emphasis

By Kedrick Nettleton, Faith Editor

The church’s relationship with art has been turbulent at times over the past decades, but OBU’s Connect Chapels are helping, in their own small way, to change that.

The students and faculty involved in organizing this year’s Connect Chapels have made a concerted effort to include more artistic expressions of worship in their programs.

This has included poetry readings, by both students and faculty, the showing of visual arts pieces, and even rap and spoken word.

The inclusion of such expressions in the worship services has allowed students who might otherwise not be able to contribute to an event like chapel to be included.

The desire to begin including creative expressions of worship came out of a desire to shake things up. Heath McClure, who is one of the Co-Chairs of Chapel Crew along with Ivy Penwell, said that he and his team wanted to move away from some of the old models.

“Having been a part of Chapel Crew for three-years I have seen a wide variety of approaches to the idea of a student-led chapel,” he said. “At times it has leaned towards a somewhat bland model of student testimony only, with little else,” he said.

“While this has merit, it fails to capture the student body’s attention often and confines the idea of student representation to a small box in which a select few capable of speaking in front of others and with an appropriate story have the chance to share. Testimony is great but it loses its depth and value when it’s the only thing.”

Penwell, the other Co-Chair, agrees that it was important to include students who might not be as geared toward a traditional “church service.”

“One of our goals in chapel crew is to involve different types of majors and students in chapel, not just those who are gifted in worship or speaking,” she said. “We know that the Gospel can be so beautifully presented in a thousand different mediums.”

This idea fights against a kind of chapel “clique,” as well, against the same select students being on stage each week.

“We realized a large part of the student body was underrepresented and we desired to find ways to incorporate them,” McClure said.

Director of Student Ministry Clay Phillips, who preaches during Connect Chapels and who works with Chapel Crew to plan the services, is quick to point out that the credit for the artistic emphasis goes to the students.

“All of the credit goes to your peers on Chapel Crew for the ideas and creativity,” he said.

And while it was the students’ ideas, Phillips saw the potential immediately.

“I really felt like it was a great way to utilize the talents God has given to our brothers and sisters who are gifted in artistic ways,” he said. “Those talents aren’t always seen in our worship gatherings, so I thought it’d be a great avenue to allow them to be.”

All those involved with the services are enthusiastic about the results of the new artistic emphasis.

“[It’s] really been such an unexpected blessing this semester,” Penwell said. “We all know what it looks like to encounter the Holy Spirit in worship or in listening to a speaker, but to hear from Him by looking at a painting or by listening to a rap? It’s a little different, but it’s been really cool to see.”

Phillips notes that including art in the service is meaningful to all people, not just those students who are artistically inclined.

“They add to our worship of God in a way that people like me, who are not gifted with those abilities, can see Him in new and fresh ways,” he said.

Dr. Ben Myers, the Crouch-Mathis Professor of Literature, has become involved in the Connect Chapels, and has read poetry for the services a few times over the past year. He’s glad to see students using art as a worshipful expression, and especially poetry.

“Art is a gift from God — a reflection of His Truth, Goodness, and Beauty — and, like all His gifts, we should return it to Him as an act of worship,” he said.

Everyone involved in the chapel services is excited to see how this avenue of worship can be explored and expanded in the future.

“I hope that in future Connect Chapels we will continue to find new ways of highlighting the gifts God has given to our campus community, so that we can offer worship to Him in a way that gives fuller expression to who He is and what He does in and through us,” Phillips said.

Penwell agrees.

“It has become a really beautiful way to see the Holy Spirit moving in a new and fresh context, through fresh people and fresh mediums,” she said. “I hope we keep doing stuff like this.”

McClure perhaps sums it up best.

“We have the privilege to steward elements of creation in such a way to utilize the members of the body to exalt the name of Christ,” he said. “We believe that any way we can get more students involved in this desire, the better, so we will continue to explore ways in which that can happen.”

The tradition of Good Friday services

By Kedrick Nettleton, Faith Editor

Good Friday service is traditional to me.

Now, tradition is an interesting thing, and the Easter season has set me to thinking about it a great deal.

Protestant Christianity is not as reliant on tradition and ceremony as Catholicism is – and certainly not as reliant on tradition and ceremony as some of the other main monotheistic religious traditions like Judaism and Islam.

In certain ways, that’s a good thing.

The trappings of religion can often become a crutch, a hollow shell that leaves out the possibility of the presence of God.

The case can be made that there are negative aspects to this lack of tradition, too, but that’s a tangent I won’t get into right now.

The point is that I’ve been thinking about tradition, especially about how Easter makes traditionalists out of even us Protestants.

We’re never more aware of the physical aspect of our faith than we are during Holy Week, because it is in Holy Week that the incarnation of Christ takes on immediacy – brutal immediacy, in this case, as we are forced to confront the fact of our Savior’s physical body scourged, tortured, killed.

The week leading up to the crucifixion screams out to us that Jesus was a man.

He had a body. He had nerves. He hurt.

He had a mother, who stood at the foot of the cross weeping.

This is an unofficial Protestant ritual, I think.

Catholics too, I’m sure – Shawnee’s St. Benedict Church recently hosted the stations of the cross.

Looking back at my own upbringing in the church, I can remember many a Good Friday service attended, and I can remember that many of them seemed to want to pound home the brutalities of Jesus’ death.

If you grew up in the church, I can almost guarantee that you’ve heard a pastor read through a very explicit description of what exactly happened to someone’s body during a Roman whipping, during a crucifixion.

A few times my church even hosted a showing of Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” film – a film I’ve only ever been able to sit through once.

In many ways, I understand this fixation on the aspect of pain.

Christ’s suffering, theologically, was meant for us.

We’re the ones who are supposed to be afflicted by that whip.

We’re the ones who are supposed to be strung up on that cross, with nails in our hands and in our feet.

Christ is doing all of that for us.

It’s supposed to affect us powerfully.

But I sometimes wonder if this fixation on pain comes at the expense of our appreciation for what happens on Sunday.

If Good Friday shows us like nothing else the humanity of Jesus, then Easter Sunday shows us like nothing else Jesus’ complete divinity, his power over death and his victory.

Christ has won. Christ doesn’t stay in that tomb.

We don’t need to stay fixated on Friday, because Sunday overshadows it.

What happened in the garden overshadows what happened on the cross.

I went to Moody Bible Institute my freshman year of college, which is a fairly well-known place of training for those going into the ministry.

We got to talking about this topic once, this idea that people remain so fixated on the brutality of the cross.

He made an interesting comment, noting that God chose to send Jesus into the world at a time when everything could only be recorded via the page, could only be read about.

He went on to say, specifically mentioning the Passion movie, that perhaps part of the reason that God did this was so that we wouldn’t have to see what Jesus went through.

Perhaps we weren’t meant to see it.

This doesn’t mean we aren’t to reflect on Good Friday.

Please, please, please don’t misunderstand me.

Good Friday is powerful, and it should absolutely be a time of contemplation for Christians.

Good Friday services are necessary and… well, good. But don’t stay stuck on Friday.

Sunday’s what we’re celebrating.

Opinion: Let’s reject the impossible standard of perfection

By Jaden Jennings, Contributing Writer

Sometimes when I am doing all of the right things, I still feel separated from God. Do you?

What I mean to say is that even when I am reading my Bible, having a regular quiet time, or even praying like I should, periodically I get this awful, wretched feeling that I am still not doing enough. Or even worse, I don’t look good enough.

Let me explain. Lately, the devil has been attacking me. I don’t mean to say that for you to pity me, but I am telling you in this article for transparency purposes. I want to be honest and upfront with all of you readers.

I know the old song and dance that I am made in the image of God, blah blah blah, but it seems as if every time I look in the mirror as of late, those scriptural truths are pushed to the side. I am just left standing there, my reflection and I competing in a silent battle.

Who will win? What I know to be true from Christ, or the distorted image I see in the mirror?

This has been a haunting nightmare of mine for quite some time. Attending a Christian University, you would think the opposite to be true, but unfortunately, that is not my story.

I know being involved with a dance team in college adds certain pressures to maintaining a specific build, but I have realized that this insecurity is much deeper than that. This issue I have has been buried deep inside for so long, that the more I have tried to contain it throughout my life, it has boiled over into self-doubt, perfectionism, and distorted body image.

I feel crazy while I am typing this, but here is my concern: I am not the only one. Millions of women (even men) Christian or not, absolutely hate the way they look, or what they do.

Without pointing fingers at a certain reason behind this statistic, we know as a generation there must be something wrong. As a God-following gal, I thought my prayers would cover this issue, but still to this day, they have not.

You would think that following God would contain the thoughts of self-loathing and inadequacy, but truth be told, this is a natural human problem. Christians are not immune.

The media today has whispered temporary satisfactions into our minds about body, weight, and image. These messages are delivered to us every day whether we know it or not. They actually are so close to us that it will fit right in our back pocket.

Now, I don’t believe that cellphones are inherently bad. I use it to keep in contact with family and friends back home. My phone is my flashlight, my calculator, and even my personal calendar. I couldn’t live without mine, but currently, I am conducting a social media detox with myself until I can be truly content with my own life.

I sound like a bit of a drama queen because I know many people around the world have it worse than I do. I realize that and I know it. However, our world has become so submerged in being perfect on our accounts that I catch myself wanting to be perfect as well.

This is a problem.

I want to serve those in need and help others, but when I see someone else that looks super cute in their missionary outfit in Uganda, I feel a surge of jealous rush through me.

This isn’t even just about the way you look. It is about the way you dress, what you post, and so much more. Yesterday a woman posted the cutest picture of her starting her ministry, and guess what? I was jealous!

Something I should never be jealous about was twisted into something I couldn’t control. I wanted to be happy for her, but this is the truth of reality.

However, my life doesn’t have to be this way, and neither does yours. I have realized something the older I get, when I know where my identity is, that is when I am the happiest.

No comparison, no remorse, just God and I living life to our fullest potential.

In the famous words of Teddy Roosevelt, “Comparison is the Thief of Joy,” and I would have to agree completely.

I want to talk to my Christian ladies out there, is the self-doubt bug eating you up? Do you feel a presence gnawing at you telling you aren’t good enough or you won’t ever amount to a single thing? If that is you, let’s fight this together.

No more pretending we have it all together just because we go to a Christian University. (And news flash, Jesus won’t look at our social media accounts for us to enter into the gates of heaven).

Let’s be raw and open with one another. Women supporting women and men supporting men. We are brother and sisters, and most importantly, we are allies.

Instead of fighting for perfectionism on our Instagram posts, let’s start fighting for one another before Jesus takes us home. Hand in hand, we can do this. Together,

 

OBU offers faster pathways for MDiv

By Kedrick Nettleton, Faith Editor

For students of the Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry, there’s a new reason to celebrate.

The department, which is headed by Dean Heath Thomas, has instituted partnerships with several seminaries across the country to provide a shorter pathway to a Master of Divinity. The idea allows students to skip past material in their master’s program that they’ve already received on Bison Hill, potentially bypassing 25 percent of their master’s education and saving them about six or seven thousand dollars, depending on the institution they plan on attending. This can turn a 3 to 5 year education into something more manageable for students.

The program at OBU comes at a time in America when the cost of higher education is a hot-topic issue, with many in the country crying out for reform. While much of the discontent revolves around undergraduate education, those pursuing graduate degrees face similar tuition costs. Don Davis, president of The Urban Ministry Institute, as quoted in a 2013 article by the Christian Post, says that the average cost of seminary education amounts to at least 35 thousand for many stu-dents.

“[It’s] out of control,” he said.

And while allowing students to save money is certainly on Dean Thomas’ mind, the main impetus for the idea came from his time working with students as Southeastern Seminary, as director of the seminaries Ph.D. program. Thomas remembers hearing many students complain of redundancy in their education.

“I saw students, even OBU students, coming into Southeastern, saying ‘Gosh, we’ve had a lot of this stuff, and now we have to take it again. We feel like we’re wasting time and money, and there’s no need to do that,’” Thomas said.

What allows a program like this to succeed, in Thomas’ mind, is the extremely high quality of an undergraduate degree from OBU.

“Oklahoma Baptist University has a very good reputation academically,” he said. “What I wanted to do in this program is take the best of the education that we have at OBU and recognize the… level of work done, and provide some very intentional partnerships, where we do a course by course evaluation and formalize it that so that students who come from OBU can essentially step into year two [at a seminary].”

The idea of partnerships between undergraduate universities and seminaries is a fairly new one, but it’s something that’s been in Thomas’ head for years.

“I thought about it a long time ago, when I was working at Southeastern,” he said. “But when I got here, it was a priority.”

That priority has been taking shape for about a year, and the program is currently in effect with two seminaries, with more agreements and partnerships forthcoming.

Thomas says that finding partnerships with willing seminaries hasn’t been difficult, as many are willing to partner with undergraduate entities.

“The biggest hurdle in all of these things is working through your accreditation agencies,” he said.

On a practical level, students looking to get the most out of the seminary partnerships will need to work closely with their advisors and mentors within Hobbs College.

“One of the ways this is going to flow is through our advisement culture,” Thomas said. “We can help shepherd our advisees through and help them think very critically and intentionally about the shape of ministry… What this does, it incentivizes students coming into our school… [They] have a pathway for a diverse educational experience at two different institutions… and it does it in a way that [they’re] not wasting time.”

More partnerships are forthcoming from the program, and Thomas is keen to expand this idea to its furthest potential.

“I want to provide as many outlets… as possible,” he said. “We’re working to try and give the best education and pathways for our students, where they can go where they want to go and do what they want to do, but they’re not breaking the bank or wasting their time. And that’s really important.”

Full information on the program can be found at http://www.okbu.edu/theology

Professor makes faith a priority

By Ashton Smith, Assistant Faith Editor

When students think of larger campuses that aren’t associated with words like Baptist or Christian, they usually think of more secular or logical ideas about teaching subjects like math or science.

That isn’t the case here at Oklahoma Baptist University.

Due to the Christian roots in OBU’s founding, teachers are able to intermingle faith into the subject they are teaching.

“You’re freer to discuss the religious aspects related to science,” Dr. Yates, Associate Professor of Science, said. “As opposed to restrictions that you find in public schools. And it seems that students are more open to that as well, coming to a Christian university; in which they expect that the [religion] will be tied… that’s part of our goal. To tie it to our curriculum.”

At OBU, students often encounter the gospel – and teachable moments in their faith – even outside of chapel or the classes that are strictly about religion. This is especially true for professors such as Dr. Yates, who encourages his students to pursue their faith even in the field of science.

“Dr. Yates helps us to recognize the ordering of God’s creation and the perfection of God’s work even down to the smallest microorganism,” Anna Harmon, a junior biochemistry major, said. “With every new topic, he taught us to recognize how incredible and purposeful God is in everything that He does. The Genesis account has never been truer than when I was taking classes with Dr. Yates.”

Dr. Yates’ positive attitude and encouraging spirit to lead students on in their studies and in their faith has affected both his students and him equally.

By having this opportunity to bring glory to God, through a subject that many students normally struggled with, he has guided students to see the world of science in a different light.

“I’ve had students that, after a class, will email me and say, ‘You know, I have never thought about it like that,’” Dr. Yates said. “I’ve seen lights come on in student’s eyes and in their mind, and in their behavior. They become interested in the topic because you can tie it into one’s religious beliefs.”

Because of Dr. Yates and the large impact faith plays into his life and into his student’s lives, it becomes very apparent in his teaching, no matter what the subject matter be. “When [Dr. Yates] discussed how UV-radiation can control microbial growth – to non-science people, it may not mean anything except dead microbes,” Har-mon said. “But to me through the teaching of Dr. Yates (and other science professors), I recognize that God had a plan in mind when he was designing microbes and UV-light.”

Even though science and math may seem less interesting and not as applicable to non-math and science majors, there’s always something you can get out of it when it comes to the professors at OBU.

By mixing in faith with these subjects, students can connect and understand the subject matter more.

“It’s a good opportunity to have, to be able to teach science and within that realm of science to discuss religion as well,” Dr. Yates said. “Which, in the public school, you typically cannot do to a very high degree.”

RAs provide spiritual mentoring on campus

By Kedrick Nettleton, Faith Editor

At any college, the role of an RA is a hal-lowed one. It is these students who help their younger peers undergo a stark transition: from living at home, to living alone.

But on Bison Hill, or at any university professing faith to Jesus, the RA role takes on a deeper aspect: spiritual mentor.

And this is a respon-sibility that RAs – and the people who train and prepare them – take very seriously.

“To be an RA or CL is to be a servant-leader,” Lanie Allred, the Residence Director for Taylor and the West University Apartments, said. “These students are exceptional in character and are no ordinary stu-dent workers.”

Leavi Everett, a freshman Elementary Education major who was recently selected to be an RA next year, echoes this sentiment.

Everett points to RAs as one of the reasons that residence halls begin to transcend simple living arrangements and become something greater.

“The RAs make the hall feel like it’s a com-munity,” she said. “Through various hall events and Bible studies, the hall eventually starts to feel like a small group, and the residents grow to love this feeling.”

Everett is quick to say what it is that allows RAs to have such spe-cial relationships with their halls: proximity.

“RAs… are never re-ally off the clock,” she said. “Because they live where they work, they are constant mentors to their residents… The RAs are defi nitely always there when you need someone to talk to and walk alongside.”

Another word for this? Intentional. It’s this point that Allred stresses.

“RA’s don’t just plan social events, but they intentionally try to meet each resident where they’re at and support them in a personal, unique way,” she said. “Whether that’s encouraging their hall to maintain good physical health by going to the RAWC, or connecting them to OBU’s Counseling Center to care for their mental health, an RA is there to bring peace while living among the community and being a friend who can point them in the right direction.”

This act of being pointed in the right direction is vital for students, especially for freshman who are trying to ensure a smooth transition to college life.

“There are lots of times, especially as a freshman, when things get really hard and confusing and you just don’t know what to do,” Everett said. “The RAs were completely ready to be there and help guide me back to the Lord.”

Often times, an RA can mentor in ways that an RD simply can’t, given that they are going through the same phase of life as the resident and can relate to it on a special level.

“RAs are in an opportune position for the greatest spiritual impact because they’ve established trust with residents and get to do life with them every day,” Allred said.

Micah Lynn is a recent graduate of OBU, but he spent his sophomore year as an RA in the Lodge. He asserts that while the opportunity is certainly there for an RA to help his residents grow, the RAs themselves are often changed the most.

“I hope I was able to make an impact to those on my hall, but also the guys on my hall made a huge impact on me,” he said. “Being surrounded by other guys going through the same walk of life as me, and guys who are Christians and non-Christians, really forced me to think about the conversations I was having with all types of guys on my hall.”

Allred agrees that this personal edification should be a goal for RAs.

“The most important way an RA does his or her job well is by striving after God and personal holiness, by allowing him to work through their own life,” she said. As a Residence Director, her overwhelming feeling towards RAs is pride: pride in what they accomplish and in the way they affect Bison Hill for the better.

“Our RAs and CLs have some of the biggest hearts that desire to serve and love OBU’s campus,” she said. “Just look around – they’re holding nothing back.

Identity found in the Lord, not human image

By Jaden Jennings, Contributing Writer

For me personally, working out has always been a part of my daily routine.

As I was in the gym yesterday though, I had an epiphany. I thought to myself, “wait a minute; why am I doing all of this work to my body?”

I run to get skinny, I lift to look muscular, but when I die, is anyone really going to care how chiseled my abs and legs were?

I do not believe this random thought came from my own mind at Planet Fitness on a Tuesday; Rather, I believe it came from God himself.

Now don’t get me wrong before you continue reading. I believe with my whole heart that working out is important as well as eating healthy.

Nevertheless, I have realized during my journey as a Christian, I was claiming I was exercising for God, when in reality; I was selfishly doing it for the results.

Being toned? A plus, but not my identity.

Rock hard abs and arms? Good for winning a fight, but not necessarily for winning souls.

You probably think that I will never step foot in a gym again, but I am here to tell you that is completely, 100% false.

Our body is a temple for God, and I hope to maintain it to the best of my ability here on this earth.

However, my mindset when going to the gym will no longer be one of selfish desires and comparison, but more so, of an opportunity I have to honor God with my body.

Nevertheless, I did have a small thought that maybe my philosophy to working out could be applied to shopping as well.

Ugh, that hurts to say in the very depth of my soul, but still, remains true.

What if we spent less time focused on designer brands, and more on our hearts?

I love my Louis Viton handbag no doubt, but I have been thinking lately, what is the point of having it?

Did I want it for myself when I bought it?

Maybe so, but I have a hunch that I bought it because of the prestige that came with it.

This column is not discrediting shopping of course, because I am a firm believer in looking good to feel good.

However, our identity should not be about our bodies or the items that cover it, rather, it should be more concerned with spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth.

That’s what we are here for anyways right?

To be good stewards of hope and worship God. All the rest is just temporary.

If you are reading this column, I would encourage you the next time you go to the gym to change your mindset.

Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself this body is just temporary, and I am working out for God because my soul is eternal.

Or in the dressing room, tell yourself that this article of clothing is just an accessory.

It doesn’t matter if it is from TJ Maxx or Versace. I will not rely on my clothes to define my worth.

If looks were important to Jesus, He would have been one good-looking man here on Earth.

Maybe He was, but the Bible describes His appearance as being common to man.

This alone should give us hope that attraction is not what God holds dear to His heart.

Instead, it is our actual hearts He evaluates.

Imagine what would happen if we exercised our hearts just as much as our bodies?

Or what if instead of buying new clothes every two months, we donated some of our old ones to those in need?

Or what if we stopped comparing ourselves to people on Instagram and started interacting with actual people?

God cares about our physical health and the way we feel when we look good, but you know what? I believe that it goes much farther than that.

I believe that Jesus loves us so much that He could care less about how skinny we are or how much money we spend.

I believe that He just wants us. Period.

We can run as much as we want, but if we do not have Him, we have nothing.

We can spend as much as we want on designer clothes, but if we do not have Him, we are just as empty as our bank accounts.

You see, if you are anything like me, this thought should set you free.

No longer will you have to be measuring up to an Instagram fitness model with an obtainable figure.

No longer will you be worried about the clothes you have on your back because you will know that brands don’t defi ne you.

You are loved just as you are.

No exceptions and no expectations; And that my friends, is a good feeling.

University Baptist Church welcomes students

By Kedrick Nettleton, Faith Editor

For students at Oklahoma Baptist University looking for a church congregation to be a part of, home could be found just across the street.

University Baptist Church’s history has been deeply interwoven with OBU, and the church continues today to be a powerful partner in the spiritual development of students. The communities of the church and university overlap, and the result of this overlap is a congregation that enjoys welcoming the young people who come to Shawnee through the university.

Justin Dunn is the pastor of University Baptist Church, and he’s thankful for the connection that the church has been able to share with OBU.

“In the past, and in some ways today, the church being across the street from campus was convenient and helpful for students who didn’t have cars or were saving on gas money,” Dunn said. “At times the church has hosted OBU events and different organizations in our facility. A couple of times over the past ninety-eight years UBC has held services on the campus during times of construction or special occasions.”

The fact the church congregation is peopled by many from the OBU community – both students and faculty – allows connections to be made beyond the school, and sometimes beyond the time of service.

“Through the years there have been many from the OBU community that have remained in the church long after graduation or retirement from working at the university,” Dunn said.

University Baptist Church has a rich history in Shawnee, being founded in 1921 as North Church.

“In those early days of 1921 the church met in a home with around 20 charter members,” Dunn said. “Much of the leadership, from a ministry student as pastor to two young women leading music, came from the student population at OBU.”

A few years later, the church building was constructed – which still stands as part of the facility today. In 1931, ten years after the church began, it was decided to change the name to University Baptist.

As pastor, Dunn is especially proud of the church’s social conscience, and the way that it has guided the congregation through the years.

“The church has had a history of taking stands on social issues of the time,” he said. “This has included racial equality and fair housing practices. Believing strongly in the autonomy of the local church, UBC has a long history of upholding the role of women in ministry. As such, women have the opportunity to serve in the role of deacons as voted on by the church.”

That strong social conscience still exists in the church.

“Today UBC continues this legacy of seeking Christ and being Christ in our community,” Dunn said. “Our ministries include partnering with Mission Shawnee in serving lunch once a quarter through H2O, hosting families through Family Promise, and many partnerships with the work of Community Renewal.”

UBC hosts two worship times every Sunday, a traditional service and a contemporary service. Dunn is quick to point out, though, that these are not separate groups – they are all expressions of the one body. The many generations served by the church add a richness to the congregation.

“We come from various backgrounds and there exists within the church a healthy theological diversity,” Dunn said. “We have various ministries, various interests, and various perspectives, but there isn’t a different place for each of those groups. They are all a function of the one church.”

Dr. Canaan Crane, associate professor of psychology and one of two worship leaders for the contemporary service at the church, echoes this.

“I think UBC is a great place for students who want to find ways to serve and who also want to interact with all ages and generations,” he said.

Dunn’s first advice for any students looking for a church is to take the decision seriously.

“It may sound typical, or ‘churchy’ but I would honestly first encourage them to pray,” he said. “Then, I would ask them to consider that just as they are a member of the OBU community, that plugging into a Shawnee church could be their opportunity to broaden their community and enhance their time not just on Bison Hill but in Shawnee… At UBC you will find a place to expand, explore, and strengthen your faith. Our community is flexible, free, and open to people at all stages of their faith development to come add to the ongoing conversation of knowing Christ and displaying Him in our lives. Any student that is considering a church home should check out UBC.”

This aspect of the congregation, the ability to add to an ongoing conversation, is what Crane points out in his own life.

“It’s a place where I’ve been challenged to grow in faith and to follow God’s call on my life,” he said. “We are a thoughtful congregation that believes we are God’s people doing God’s work in God’s world.  We seek to deepen our relationships with each other and this also challenges us to live lives that reflect Christ to the world.”

Dunn, perhaps, sums it up best: UBC can become a home.

“UBC has become a home for me and my family,” he said, “and I want people in our community to know it may be a home for them – for a season or for a lifetime.”