OBU’s spiritual foundation will be missed

By Kedrick Nettleton, Faith Editor

There are a lot of things for a graduating senior to be anxious about.

First of all, of course, you have to be sure that you do graduate, which means taking care of the schoolwork that remains on your plate.

For many, this includes wrapping up capstones or final theses, meaning that those ideas you’ve had in your head for two years finally have to actually coalesce into something real.

You’re actually going to have to finish – and you’re going to have to do so while writing those final papers or completing those final projects that are a part of the end of every semester, including your senior semester.

Not an easy task.

Then you have to figure out what comes next. Now, I’m not saying this is hard for every senior – there are friends of mine who know exactly what they’re doing after May 17.

Some of them are headed to grad school, and others have jobs and apartments lined up.

They’re going to step seamlessly into their new life, no prob. They’re excited, and I’m excited for them.

But I know just as many others who have no idea what’s happening next. I include myself and my wife in this category.

We have leads, sure. Lines in the water. Eventually, something’s going to bite, and we’ll be fine.

But until that point, what we have is stress. Loads of it.

And we’re not alone.

Even with all of these stressors bouncing around inside my skull for the past few months, I’ve become aware of something else that I’m worried about: losing my spiritual foundation.

That sounds more ominous than I mean it to. I’m not talking about losing my faith or rejecting the church; I’m talking about leaving the strong spiritual environment that I’ve come to enjoy here on Bison Hill, and leaving some of the people that have become mentors in my life.

Because I am leaving. It’s happening.

My wife and I are leaving Oklahoma, we’re headed to a new adventure.

The church that we’ve come to be a part of will be left behind.

Our professors and mentors here on Bison Hill can’t come with us.

We’ll have to find a new church family. A new small group. New people that we can open up to about our faith, that we can encourage and be encouraged by.

And like it or not, I’m going to miss the environment of faithfulness that Bison Hill encourages.

Think about it. First of all, we have chapel. I know that these can be annoying at times – I know that you’re certainly not just amped to go every Wednesday.

But these services, I’ve found, have a way of really sneaking up on you.

Often it was the Wednesdays when I least wanted to be there that I found God speaking to me the clearest – and what He was telling me, often, was to slow down. To focus up.

Then there’s the classes themselves.

It’s an unusual thing to have Christian truths sprinkled into your study, into your disciplines.

This isn’t going to happen at work. My boss isn’t going to stop a staff meeting to make connections to the Gospel.

There won’t be a spiritual life office at my company. There won’t be an RA or an RN asking me how my walk with the Lord is going.

I’m trying to say that we’re inundated with the Christian message around here, and while I know that can feel annoying at times during your college career, it’s a blessing. An unusual blessing.

At no other time of my life will I have all these resources to grow spiritually.

I’m leaving that behind, and it’s a worry to me.

Sure, OBU is a bubble. But there’s a part of me that’s going to miss that bubble

 

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.

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,

 

Out of context scripture misses the mark

By Garrett Jones, Contributing Writer

You know what really grinds my gears? When people take Scripture out of context for a particular agenda 

I don’t mean people misunderstanding Scripture. That happens and while it isn’t a good thing, I can at least understand it.  

What really upsets me is when people quote Scripture to tell someone what they are doing is wrong, when realistically it isn’t.  

I’ll give you some examples: “Tattoos are evil!”  

Everyone who grew up in a good ol’ conservative Baptist church has probably heard something at least similar to this.  

Whether it’s from the old lady who, every time she sees you, tells you that she remembers changing your diapers when you were in the nursery, or the usher who makes visitors take their hats off in church.  

Now I’m sure these people love the Lord, and I’m sure they love you too, but they certainly are not applying the context to the verses they think speak against tattoos.  

Leviticus 19:28 says “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourself: I am the Lord. (ESV)”  

I’ll give you a little bit of context for this verse. This verse was written to the Israelites when they were enslaved by the Egyptians. During this time, the Egyptians were worshipping pagan gods by marking their skin. Moses is telling the Israelites, who are easily influenced by the culture around them, not to tattoo themselves because people will think they are worshipping pagan gods.  

Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone’s tattoos, but you’re probably not worshipping pagan gods with your bison tattoo or your tattoo that says (insert any cliché in Hebrew or Greek here). Another verse some people like to use against tattoos is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 which says “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (ESV)  

These verses are absolutely true… when speaking about sexual immorality.  

Seriously, just look at any of the seven verses before them. Paul is specifically talking about not being sexually immoral.  

“Do what your government tells you”  

In June of 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” when speaking about prosecuting anyone who crosses the border from Mexico. 

 This one really makes my blood boil.  

As I’ve proven so far, taking Scripture out of context upsets me, but using God’s loving word to defend such hateful actions is absolutely disgusting.  

In this passage, Paul has written to the church in Rome. Now, at the time, this church had recently been joined back together after a new emperor of Rome made it legal for Jews to live in Rome.  

Up until that time, it had been illegal for several years. Paul is specifically telling the Jews of the church not to act out against their government.  

Why? Because he doesn’t want them to get kicked out again!  

I’m not trying to say that you should do everything in your will to act out against your own government. I doubt it would be very easy to glorify God while doing that.  

But I don’t think that disobeying your government is, within itself, sinful. If your government made it illegal to own a Bible, would it be sinful to own one?  

(I don’t think I have to tell you the answer to that one.)  

“You can’t be poor and glorify God.”  

College students, this one goes out to you.  

In an interview with Oprah, Joel Osteen said “I can’t be a blessing to people if I’m poor and broke.”  

I feel like I shouldn’t even have to comment on this one.  

Joel, do you have a minute to hear about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  

This one is so blatantly stupid that if I didn’t know who Joel Osteen was, I probably would just think he’s crazy.  

Folks, if you haven’t figured it out yet, Osteen wants your money, and he’ll tell you anything you want to hear in order to get it.  

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24 (ESV)  

Scripture is such an incredible gift from God. It is literally the Creator of the universe speaking to us. It has never been more accessible to us than it is now.  

We should never take it for granted.  

So the next time someone quotes Scripture to you, in an effort to prove their point, kindly speak the truth in love and tell them “I will have to look into that” Then thoroughly do your own research of the Word. Or just write a column about it.  

 

Embracing singlehood in college

By Loren Rhoades, Assistant Features Editor

There I was drinking my coffee, when I was asked the dreaded question. “Oh, you’re still single?”

When I’m asked this I never know how to respond. Obviously, my initial response is “yes” but it almost seems as if people don’t like that answer nowadays.

Many people equate saying ‘yes’ to being single as admitting there is something wrong with who you are.

Being single is so looked down upon today, that it makes those who are feel like they will never be enough.

Our society has put such a stigma on not being in a relationship that anyone in that situation is bound to feel bad about his or her situation.

This stigma is portrayed in books, movies and even music. For example, almost every
rom-com celebrates finding “the one” while pitying the single supporting characters.

Every indie song ever bemoans the heartbreak which accompanies singlehood,
and Five Seconds of Summer mourns lost love in “Youngblood.”

While there are tunes which celebrate embowered singles (think Beyonce and Ariana
Grande), most songs on the radio deal with the loneliness or insecurity of some sort. We are constantly being fed the idea that we must be in love in order to achieve happiness.

But we don’t have to listen to that particular message any longer. It is time to embrace the idea that singles can and will live joyful and fulfilling lives. If you have already embraced this mindset than that’s fantastic, but if not, this is for you.

I’m 20 years old now and this school year is the first time I’ve been single since I was 16.  Initially being solo was a strange feeling but as time goes on, I’m realizing it’s the best thing for me.

I have time to devote to things and people that I didn’t before; I also have the opportunity to learn more about who I am outside of a relationship. Although realizing this time alone is good for me, it hasn’t made life any easier.

It’s hard enough being single in college, let alone on a small campus where over half of the student population is either dating, engaged or married.

Being constantly surrounded by couples who are head over heels in love can at times be disheartening. It can also make you feel extremely lonely and unfulfilled.

But I’ve decided I won’t allow myself to feel that way. I don’t need a significant other, in order to be happy or fulfilled. All I need is the love of family and friends, and most importantly, Jesus Christ.

I’ve been given this time to learn more about myself and the people around me. So instead of sulking around about what I don’t have, I should be grateful for what I do.

In fact, the Bible touches on this notion specifically. In 1 Corinthians 7:7 the Apostle Paul describes singleness as a gift that is worth just as much as marriage. Singleness is the gift of time that you can share with others. It is the gift of love you spread amongst everyone you know. It is the gift of intentionality that you put into your relationships.

Singleness does not have to be looked at as a burden, but as a blessing. Even if you are single but long to be married, this is a time that should be cherished, because you may never again get such an opportunity to discover your own voice.

Stop focusing on the idea that being single now means you will be that way forever.

If you are called to marriage, then it will happen when the time is right—and in the meantime, enjoy the growth and be in the moment.

While it may be God’s plan for some to live in holy matrimony, I would say there is
also a treasure in being called to singleness.

Jesus never married, and neither did Jeremiah. God specifically commanded Jeremiah not to marry in order to fulfill his calling as a prophet.

Whether it be for a season or a lifetime, living in singleness allows you to focus on finding fulfillment in God alone.

It gives you the opportunity to look at love as something that is universal throughout all types of relationships, not only romantic.

So the next time someone asks you if you are dating, try not to feel as if your answer is lacking somehow—it isn’t, and it reflects where you are now.

And you are right where God envisioned you.

Student takes permanent social media fast

By Easton Oliver, Contributing Writer

I recently took a two-month break from social media.

I deleted Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – anything I felt was wasting my time.

It was for the purpose of productivity, but, at the same time, it became more than that.

It was an incredibly healthy experience for me personally, and I had a lot of time to think about why that was.

In short, social media is hurting us.

I think the main reason that it’s creating so much insecurity in people today is that it has sold us on competition.

We’re all encouraged to put forward only the best parts of our lives – vacations, pets and significant others. We’re then rewarded based on how fulfilling our life seems in the form of “likes” or “shares.”

When we don’t receive as many likes as we want, or worse, as many as other people receive, we begin to feel insignificant. This is toxic.

We begin to subconsciously look at social media as a blueprint of how our life should be playing out.

When a rough patch hits, as they often do, we begin to feel our problems are exclusive to us because we aren’t observing them in others lives.

We fill in the gaps of others’ timelines with our imaginations. Since every post of that person’s life is positive and great, our life must be like that too.

What’s wrong with us, then? Why aren’t our lives like the one we imagine others have?

Humans place too much weight on the opinion of others to begin with.

That’s only magnified when coupled with the impersonal nature of a screen.

We find our worth in our followings. It becomes a cycle of validation.

Studies have been linking social media addiction to declining mental health for years now.

It’s not a coincidence that many millennials are plagued with depression and anxiety while simultaneously being the most connected generation in history. I’d argue that it’s more common than not to have social media addiction.

If you find yourself scrolling through an app, closing it and immediately reopening it out of habit, you likely have an addiction.

“Likes,” “shares” and “retweets” all give us a hit of dopamine that we begin to crave. It satiates us until we make that post that doesn’t perform as well as others, leading to those feelings of irrelevance.

I’m probably making this sound scarier than it actually is, but as someone with medically diagnosed clinical anxiety, I can tell you that social media makes it so much worse, and I hadn’t realized it until I stepped away.

I only redownloaded Instagram because it’s required for my business, but otherwise I might never have come back.

I do not think humans are supposed to be so connected to the world. Constant streams of new information have helped us progress as a society but is likely hurting us as individuals.

Maybe I sound old and cynical, or maybe I’m just not as hip as my peers.

From my own experience, however, I believe we would all be a lot better off with a little less screen time–just something to consider.

Artistic creativity not easy for perfectionists

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor

I’m a perfectionist. …No, really.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. “Everybody says that because it sounds good and responsible and all that.” But I’m totally serious.

Way too serious, in fact.

I’m the 12-year-old kid who had to be dragged away from the piano because otherwise, I would keep practicing the same exact song for twenty minutes longer than I was supposed to because “I just need to get that one measure right.”

It happened so often that my siblings would actually beg me to stop.

I spent hours at the local park’s terribly run-down soccer field while my sibling drilled me on goalkeeping skills, practicing three or four nights a week, for two whole summers.

Never mind that the team I played for was a recreational team that formally practiced a total of once a week. It didn’t matter to me how I compared to the team’s standards; it mattered how I compared to myself. In my own eyes, if I wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t good enough.

When it came to starting college, things weren’t much different.

I listened on the first day of freshman year as my professors told their students over and over again the importance of trying your best, giving it your all. “You’re paying for this education, so make it count,” they said.

So, I did. I gave it my all.

I still have 13 separate word documents saved on my computer from the first college research paper I wrote; all of them are different versions or portions of only one assignment.

Anytime I had the chance I took the paper I was working on and talked it over with someone else, just like they had us do in my Honors Critical Skills class.

(I still do that now. This column was read by three other people before it was submitted.)

I proofread my first Civ daily reading response sheets. Twice.

I carefully labored over every single word of every reading assignment during that Civ semester, because “SparkNotes just can’t equal the educational value of reading it yourself.”

When I asked about an advising meeting to prepare for Spring 2019, my advisor burst into laughter, then promptly apologized. Maybe the fact that I was asking about advising in September had something to do with why?

So… yeah. All that to say: I’m a perfectionist.

But then things changed in college.

I’m a theatre major and that has gradually started to shift the way I look at things. I’ve loosened up (a little).

This is not to slag theatre students, or say that I don’t care about the quality of the stuff I do. Of course, I do and I should.

But that’s beside the point.

Theatre is a creative field, and that means coming up with creative solutions which means – deep breath – being able and willing to frequently mess up big time, in order to succeed once.

Publicly messing up does not come naturally to everyone, definitely not to me.

Throwing away six drafts of a paper? Yes, I’m used to that. Yet the only one who sees those drafts are me and maybe a peer reviewer. Make a less than stellar move in rehearsal or performance and everyone in the room knows. That’s nerve-wracking.

But as I’ve advanced in my classes, I’ve figured out that the only way to get it right is to repeatedly risk getting it wrong.

Having a bunch of great people around you supporting you through the risk is key. Yet, so is being willing to look silly in order to communicate something that matters and do something you love.

So, through my classes, I’ve learned some things. Or, rather, three things.

1). Perfection is impossible (at least without some major deus ex machina type God-intervention, anyway).

2). You will drive yourself crazy if you try to force perfection.

3). Sometimes broken, messed up messes are the most beautiful moments of your life.

Not everything is serious. Not everything has to be perfect. The little things that seem to matter so much right now and look so ugly are really so very, very small in the scheme of life.

I’m going to fail an exam, and so are you. That’s part of being human. But the story doesn’t end there. We learn by making mistakes. It’s part of life and, even better, we worship a God who can do incredible things with total screw-ups.

So instead of fighting it, enjoy the process. Make that huge ridiculous choice in rehearsal. That choice you’re so nervous to make – it could end up being the best choice you can imagine. So cut yourself some slack.

Don’t just take care of making yourself perfect; take care of yourself for your own sake. Take a nap. Give yourself the time for a heart to heart with a friend.

Your grades matter; your responsibilities matter; but so do you. You matter to the God who made you and He does not make mistakes. Rather, He plants seeds and lets them grow.

Although I have to admit, sometimes I just wish those seeds would hurry up, skip the growing pains and turn into a flower.