Truth Seekers

media, music

Okay, so maybe I’m overreacting… but today I was looking in the top albums on Google Play Music, and I noticed a trend in album titles.  I then went to iTunes and got a better list:

  • Magna Carta…Holy Grail by JAY Z
  • Don’t Look Down by Skylar Gray
  • Yeezus by Kanye West
  • Born Sinner by J. Cole
  • The Gifted by Wale

That’s just in the top 6. Thank you Ciara for the self-titled album to mix things up. Oh, wait, you’re explicit.

Other Top Album titles that are popular include religious references as well (my favorite title is (The Devil put Dinosaurs Here by Alice in Chains…made me chuckle), and that’s before you even click on the song lists of those albums.

I’m not going to go on a rant about “devil music” or “post-post-post-modernism” and “false prophets.” I think that many people are more gifted than I in spreading those messages when appropriate. I also don’t think it’s a “new thing” that secular music uses some religious themes in its music.

I’m just going to say one simple thing: The world is watching Christianity and religion in general.  They have something to say, too.  And they are also watching our responses.

One more thing: seek out truth for yourself in scripture.

Last week we encouraged our high school girls small group, when reading chapter 5 of Crazy Love, to go into the Gospels, drop our predispositions, and read about Jesus for ourselves.  The group will discuss what we discover, and frankly, I’m pumped.

Don’t listen to popular media or even what your church/pastor “pass down” to you. Seek it out using only red letters.

Videos for Student Ministry

fun video, lessons, media, music, youth ministry, youthmin.org

HEYOOO!

I would love to tell you about a NEW RESOURCE for STUDENT MINISTRY!

I can’t tell you how many times people in our YouthMin.Org private Facebook Community post the day of youth group, “Hey, does anybody have a video for ______?”

I usually hit up Google and give half-serious, half-kidding, but all-terrible videos for them.  I can’t blame them–how many times have I been an hour before youth group and gone, “I’m gonna need to fill an extra five minutes” or “I bet Francis Chan could explain this wayyy better than me” or “I need something funny to connect this truth to my students.”

That is where VideosForStudentMinistry.Com comes in!

There are many different categories. I’ll share some of my favorites for you!

Funny

Stuff Christian Singles Hear. I’ve heard 100% of these. :)

Sermon Jams

Jesus is the Victorious Ever Present God by Judah Smith. Can’t help but scream AMEN!

Music Videos

“Tell the World” by Lecrae. This is my current favorite song.

Spoken Word.

“GOSPEL” by Propeganda. 100% of youth groups need to watch this. Even white brothers gotta shout.

Clips that teach.

I am Second (Yo Soy Segundo) by Albert Pujols. I had to rep my man, even if he quit repping my city. BONUS: en español!

.

Go to the site, browse, and suggest videos you know! This new site is all a part of the NEW YouthMin.Org that will be launching VERY VERY SOON.  My friend Frank Gil has been working hard on this!

Feeling Boujie

Blogs about Heather, christ, faithfulness, fun video, identity, media, music, testimony

Holy cow, I can’t even describe how I’m feeling right now.  5 years ago, I was dirt poor both physically and emotionally.  I surrendered my life to ministry and went off to college, and my life drastically changed.  When I had my first hot shower in three years, I knew things were going to be different.  And while I’ve recently had some bits of financial blessing, it’s the love that I have discovered from my friends and Christ that make me feel boujie.

I’m sure all of my white friends are like, “What’s boujie?” Boujie is when a person acts as if they are rich (they may or may not be, in my particular culture it means they aren’t). So, usually this has a negative connotation. Yet I feel like I’m living life as if it has value, as if I have value. I feel like I have it all (even when my bank account says otherwise). I am boujie.

For fun, I included this video to describe the word “boujie”…and an insight to my life living in St. Louis ;) (excuse the one curse word)

Our Ministry "Halos"

leadership, music, youth ministry

Something I really struggle with in ministry is learning how vulnerable I can be with my students.  As in, how much of my sin do I show them?

I remember a child coming to me last year asking me about Jesus.  I asked her, about 7 or 8 years old, if she did bad things, AKA “sinned.”  She agreed.  I said, “You’re right! You sin, your mom sins, I sin, even your leaders Pam and John sin!” (the leaders of the community center, names changed because frankly I can’t remember them).  She responded with, “Whoaaaaaaaa…”  She didn’t realize that everyone, including people she looked up to, did bad things just like her.

I think our students have forgotten that we, their leaders, sin.  I personally royally screw up daily.  But how much do I tell my students?  How vulnerable do I get with them?

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but here are two things I am learning:

1. You need to be vulnerable.
A few months ago, we were talking one night about anger; how we can’t come before God with a pure heart if we are still angry with a brother or sister.  I was, dare I say “preaching” for a moment, then it hit me:  I had two people in my life that I needed to make amends with.  And I shared this with them.  This really helped me teach.  The next week, I told them the progress I had made, and through my life lesson was able to teach them.  I tell them that I struggle with pride, but that’s a “safe” sin.  What if it’s not a “safe” sin to talk about it the church?  Read on.

2.  They don’t need to know every detail.
I partied in high school.  I consumed alcohol and did not honor my pledge of purity.  How much do I tell them?  What do I say?  Obviously, I don’t tell them what kinds of drinks I thought were tasty, which ones had the worst hangovers, etc.  But what about when it comes to purity?  What do they need to know?  Saying, “Well, I didn’t have sex, but I wasn’t doing what I needed to be doing.”  Then their minds start racing, and their respect for their youth leader, does it vanish?  What do I say?  Sex isn’t one of those things that seems “safe” to talk about in church, especially with a group of teenagers.  But it is so necessary.

3.  We are held to a higher standard.
This is the tough part.  In my last post, I talked about how teenagers thing very concretely; so speeding may be considered an awful sin to one, saying “crap” may be considered a sin, etc.  Basically, if an action is questionable, we shouldn’t do it.  This makes me think about the age-old question: Do we listen to “secular” music in the church van?  What if they realize I know the lyrics?  Do I lose respect?  I’m posing too many questions to answer in this post.  This is also where we remind ourselves that we are LEADERS and not FRIENDS (well, friendly leaders).  They don’t need to see how I know every word to Ke$ha in order to like me.  In fact, I should probably not brag about that right now.  Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.  Some famous dude said that…;)

4.  They need to understand that we are not to be put on a pedestal.
Students need to understand that even their leaders fall into sin.  Period.  I am not perfect.  They need to remember that the only model we have of what it looks like to lead a perfect life is Jesus Christ himself.  Does this justify us leaders to do whatever the heck we want?  Definitely not.  Even the holiest people sin; this shouldn’t discourage us but encourage us to follow the one example we got.  And going back to point 3, we DO need to try to be that example to them, yet we ain’t gonna get it right.

Here is one of my favorite songs that reminds me not to put myself on a pedestal:

Also, I wanted to post a song that I came out when I was in high school.  I LOVED it; it was on my favorite show, One Tree Hill.  It’s called “Halo.” enjoy! :)

As you can see, I by no means have this figured out.  I need help in this.  I’m really struggling.  I need to be respected as a leader, yet I need to relate.  Do I use my own experiences?  What do I say about things?  What about the sin I struggle with now?
Youth pastors, how much do you share with your youth?

I’m down with Rebecca Black!

music, youth ministry

Every time I have logged onto Twitter in the last week, I have seen one name: Rebecca Black.  The other night, a friend of mine showed me Rebecca’s music video, “Friday”, that went viral.  The lyrics are less than genius, the singing is completely auto-tuned, and the video itself is…well… hilariously bad.

The reason she has gotten so popular is because the song has been dubbed “the worst song of all time.”  And although that might be true in some ways, I’ve decided I love it and love her.
First of all, the responses have been absolutely terrible.  People are telling her to “go cut herself and die”, they are tweeting her that they are going to “come to her house with an ak47”, and more.  People are being downright rude and mean to her.  It’s terrible.  What happened to the recent campaigns of trying to prevent bullying?  We laugh at their comments, contribute, but what is it doing?  Making a thirteen year old cry.
And that’s a huge thing–she is THIRTEEN.  Her song isn’t about getting high, having sex, or adult love (which she had the option of doing a song like that, but she refused for something more “age-appropriate”).  Her song is completely appropriate for being thirteen.  Is it a funny song?  Yes.  Does she know the lyrics are dumb?  Duh.  But she’s thirteen, people.  I love me some Justin Bieber, but what does a 17-year old know about his “one love?”  She’s singing age-appropriate songs.
I laughed and laughed when I heard this song…and I still laugh.  But then God reminded me–what if she was in my youth group?  This girl is hurting.

And getting famous because of it.

So gon’ head Rebecca Black! Do yo thang! And don’t let people stop you!

And from now on, every Friday, I’m gonna be sing your song! Because then tomorrow’s Saturday, and I always forget what comes afterwards, but then you reassure me it’s Sunday ;)

It’s Friday! (Lent Update)

music

So I busted Lent. I listened to “secular music.”

I watched Glee, which I allowed only on the stipulation that I watched it online and not on television (I went to a bible study instead).

Then I played copious hours of rockband.  So not only did I listen to it, I played it.  Although, judging by my score, it shouldn’t count either.

Then I listened to Rebecca Black’s new song, “It’s Friday.”  Which once again, isn’t good enough to be considered secular music.  It’s like Kidz Bop without an original artist.  It’s terrible.

But after justifying that all, I can’t get that dumb Friday song out of my head.  Maybe because it’s so terrible.  Maybe because it really is Friday.  Maybe because every time I quote it or sing it, I get lots of attention. Maybe because I feel like obnoxious music this, the day my spring break begins.

Then I thought: What if I had God’s word stuck in my head like this song?  Jesus juked myself.

But seriously, wasn’t that why I gave up secular music for Lent?  Getting rid of music that was poisonous and entering prayer and scripture?

But I wasn’t doing that last part necessarily.  So not only did I “fail” Lent, but I really wasn’t doing it all that good in the first place.

So, I’m starting over.  And I’m doing it right this time.  It wasn’t that I was listening to Ludacris.  But I failed at the point of giving up “secular” music (bad or not)–to get my mind focused on the song that God is trying to teach me as he sings over me :)

Lent 2011

music

I’m celebrating Lent this year, as I do every year.

“But Heather, you are not Catholic?”

I get that question all the time.

This is why I celebrate:
The 40 days of Lent represent the 40 days in the wilderness that Jesus spent praying.  In order for Jesus, the Holy Son of God, to spend such an amount of time with God, don’t you believe there had to be some sacrifices?  Ya bet.  When I look at my walk with God, I recognize a need for sacrifice.  I want to be able to walk with God the way Jesus did.  I recognize I can’t just “drop” everything for 40 days, but what can I do?  What can I do to get closer?  One of the traditions of Lent is giving something up.  Most give up soda, fast food, etc.

What am I giving up?
Last year I gave up Walmart, which was seemingly impossible to a college student like myself in a small town where Walmart is “The Mall.”  The reason I gave it up was because I spent a lot of unnecessary time there.  When procrastinating, I would go there.  We all know I have ADD-tendencies, so I can be in Walmart for hours.  It was an excuse.

But I got to go bigger this year.  I got to get where it hurts deepest (or at least deeper)

Secular Music?
Yes.
Why?
I spend so much time listening to it, to where it hurts me.  I justify the music I listen to by saying it “doesn’t affect me”, or that it keeps me “culturally relevant.”  And although those might be true some days and might be some of the reasons, the biggest reason is, I love it too much.  I love it too much to let go.  So this is going to be the hardest Lent of my life…thus far at least.

Here are my rules (because I need them):

  1. No listening to secular music–in the car, in my room, at work, at all.
  2. I’m changing my secular ringtones to Jesus-loving ringtones. Goodbye, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars.
  3. Instead of Glee, I will go to a Bible study.  I needed to go anyway. And I won’t allow someone to call me into work to justify sitting there and watching Glee.
  4. Switchfoot counts, according to the Grammys.  They beat out the reformed lyrics of Lecrae and David Crowder’s melodies that can only come from God Himself, so Switchfoot MUST be the holiest music I can find, right? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

So what’s going to happen after these 40 days?  Am I just going to pop in Ludacris and Lady Gaga and drop it like its hot?  Don’t think so.  Normally after Lent, I realize that what I had wasn’t really a necessity in my life, and I end up giving it up either for good, or at the very least it doesn’t control me as much.  In the past I’ve given up fast food and french fries, and I no longer desire either of them (except Taco Bell).  What I’m giving up is something that I plan on giving up for good, or at least something that I plan on purging from my life to make room for some more Jesus.

Please check out this great resource for Lent. I’m going to be using it with my youth group!
Also, this is a great post on Lent as well.  It explains almost everything you need to know!

Please comment with what you are giving up!

Stormageddon :)

music

I hate posting twice in a day, but I wanted to write this on facebook and it wouldn’t let me write all that I wanted:

Every time it storms, it makes me think of this song. Last summer it stormed a LOT. I would be driving home from my internship in the evening (about a 30-min drive) and it would storm like crazy, lightning crackling and just craziness. I would listen to this song as it the sky lit up. It was such a beautiful reminder to me that the God I worship is so much greater. That right now, there is lightning, but in a while there will be peace and stillness.  God is glorified rain or shine, and it is all for his glory.  I take this metaphor both figuratively and literally.  The God I serve is powerful. So much higher than anything else in and outside this world we dwell in.

Plus, when the lighting is thundering and this track is bumping, it makes a great pair :)

This Semester…and other rambling! :)

Blogs about Heather, music

Well, this semester is going to be very interesting, very difficult, and very worth it!  I’m taking two upper-level Bible courses, Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ and Pentateuch.  I was convicted to take Pentateuch after realizing that some of my students probably know more about Genesis than me (they are also focusing on that in Sunday School, so that adds to it!).  I love Dr. Bayer, he is one of the funniest professors I have ever had!  He’s very intelligent, yet funny at the same time.  And scatter-brained.  I bet that if I were an old man who taught Old Testament and knew Hebrew I would be just like Dr. Bayer. pahahaha.  As for Life and Teachings, I’m pretty pumped and rightly nervous.  I heard this class is going to rock my faith and cause me to ask a lot of questions.  I’m excited to learn about what Jesus was really like, not the Jesus that we have fit into our Americanized Christianity.

Speaking of, here is an image that I found today and thought was interesting:

I’m also taking Principles of Teaching, an easy yet informative class; Camp and Retreat Administration, which I heard mixed things about but am excited about; Guitar, enough said pahaha; History of Christianity 2, which I’m getting used to Dr. Bass so I’m sure I will do well; and Apprenticeship.  Apprenticeship is a class where I document every single little thing I do with my youth group.  Dr. Jones, beware.  I do a lot.  I don’t think he understands exactly what he is asking of me.  But I am excited to learn how to baptize people and all that other cool stuff that you don’t learn in theology classes.

Which also brings me to another ramble, I’m officially a theology minor. Oh yesh. I’m getting smarter by the second. And more arrogant.  Which reminds me… please pray for me, that I will be more humble.  I’m really struggling with my pride.  The only pride that I want to have is a pride full of lion’s (Lecrae song reference!).  Thank you guys for affirming me privately about who I am in Christ.  It means a whole lot.

Give Me Your Eyes

christianity, music, sin

Sometimes I hate that I’m so transparent with my readers, because a post like I’m about to write is one of those where I’m DYING to share with people, but at the same time am afraid that people will just laugh at me.  I don’t mind the laughs (I laugh at myself all the time), yet I hope that some conversation and contemplation will spark.

This last week, I have been overly emotional.  I know this is due to a LOT of things, including spending time with my family last week, reading a book recreationally for the first time in a LONG time, just being a woman with hormones, and my cat dying last night.

Every time I see someone hurting, even when it’s supposed to be “funny”, I hurt inside.  I turned on Maury the other day, which I haven’t seen since middle school.  It was showing the top 10 guests of 2010, and every single story broke my heart.  Baby daddy drama, people cheating on each other, best friends stabbing each other in the back; I couldn’t take it all!  So I started bawling like a baby!  Friends would talk to me about the hurts they were going through, and the tears just started jerking!  I couldn’t watch the ASPCA commercials with all the animals needing to be adopted, because it hurt me to see them hurting.

Now, I’m not having an emotional breakdown (yet).  I think that it’s due to my increasing sensitivity of pop culture and how it glamorizes sin and hurt.  I don’t find a lot of things funny anymore.  I really don’t enjoy movies that curse every few seconds.  It hurts me when I see children cursing on television or Youtube, and parents think it’s funny.  I just find a lot of things unnatractive.

My challenge to you is to think about things that you have been desensitized to, and really just cry out to God to make those known to you.  Pray that you can have a heart for the things God has a heart for.  I hope that this week of increased emotions lasts and stays with me, even if that means that I do a whole lot more crying (FYI, I’m not much of a crier).

Here is one of my favorite songs, just for good measure ;)