Comic Art and Ministry Come Together

In my last blog post, I discussed 6 Reasons to Join a Ministry. This past Sunday, I had an opportunity to participate in one as a temporary volunteer.

My home church’s children’s ministry hosted an annual carnival that journeys from the typical Sunday format and incorporates at least four times as many teachers. This year’s carnival featured pie tossing, face painting, a show in a fully glow-in-the-dark room, several games, and more.

Part of the “and-more” included a section where the children posed for a quick self-portrait of themselves. Because the carnival saw over 400 children attend over the course of two services, it became apparent that multiple artists were needed.

That’s where I came in! I was invited to sit along three other colleagues to use my talent in drawing to tackle the daunting yet extremely fun task of drawing these youth. I’ve drawn for fun since about six years old, albeit much less since I started college. After drawing a character for the missions ministry a several months ago, I was recommended to partake in the carnival.

The children had a blast! Excited about the possibility of getting their face painted without the hindrance of having to ask a guardian to shell out some cash, the 3-6 year olds lined up to receive a portrait in their likeness. Few actually held still the whole time, but who could blame them? Elsewhere about the room, other exciting activities raged on.

Using art skills to draw children caricatures last Sunday was a fun variation of ministry.

My colleagues included Linda, a professional artist who does illustration in corporate, freelance, ministry, and just-for-fun settings (and has her own website), as well as Jason and Lloyd, two comic art students from the Kubert School of Cartooning and Graphic Art in New Jersey. Needless to say, I was rather intimidated next to these comic art geniuses. However, they were all reassuring and non-patronizing, which was a relief.

They also taught me a great deal. Just by observing Linda at work, I picked up some techniques for getting a proportionate face shape and  realized that putting the same spare sheet under every artwork that I did would save a lot of papers from going to waste–my marker could bleed onto the same substitute sheet each instead of on fresh new ones.

Jason also gave some helpful hints. He recommended comic art as a great fallback plan or side hobby even if someone isn’t pursuing it as their main career, and advised that people should always find a way to make progress in an activity that they enjoy.

These artists’ enthusiasm for drawing was catchy; I was greatly inspired to continue drawing regularly. Even if my art won’t bring in six figures, I know that it is beneficial for at least three things. Drawing is 1) a relaxing activity, 2) a great tool for exporting ideas from your mind on paper for others to see, and 3) a way to put smiles on children’s faces, as we did for over 400 last Sunday.

Interested in sharing your unique ministry experiences? Feel free to write on this site as a guest blogger! Click “register” on the life.nyack.edu homepage.

6 Reasons to Join a Ministry

During the Spring 2012 semester, several Nyack College students met Kurt, a bright, friendly man with a huge smile and loads of passion for what he does. Kurt seemed as if he could get along with every person he meets. While setting up a lit display in the NYC Campus student lounge, he explained his reason for visiting the school.

Kurt wasn’t selling gym memberships or recruiting students into the military. He invited Nyack College to join him at Inspire Sports Camp‘s Northeast location in New Jersey for the summer as counselors and coaches.

CTA button for Blog ATSThroughout the year, Kurt and millions of other people are excited to be a part of one unique genre of activity. This engagement encourages the use of your giftings, passions, and fields of expertise. There are few limits to its manifestations; as long as you have the ability, you can use it here. When executed correctly, this recreation is so fulfilling, rewarding, and, dare I say, fun, that you’ll find yourself looking forward to the next occasion each time you go.

I’m talking about ministry here!

In a general sense, ministry is an opportunity for you to help others while pointing them to God, whether in your family, work environment, church, et cetera. For the sake of this post, we’ll discuss six reasons why you should get involved in an organized ministry–a group most often at (but not limited to) your church where you join others for a distinct cause–ASAP.

Quite a few Nyack College students will help out at Inspire Sports Camp–not for pay or incentives, but to invest into the lives of children.

1) You get to serve God in an organized setting. Is there anything in life that is not structured, maintained, and orderly, yet still successful? Don’t rack your brain too hard on that question, I didn’t–the majority of the time the answer is no. Ministries adhere to this law with no exception: lots of time, dedication, and prayer goes into ministries that wish to be effective. Like any other organization, they consist of leaders, members, resources, and a vision.

Participating in ministry makes you part of a team striving to accomplish the extraordinary, whether preserving the church property through housekeeping or persuading others to Christ with evangelism. You also receive mentorship from the ministry’s leaders, whether directly (you and the leader mutually recognize a mentor/mentee relationship) or indirectly (their behavior, decisions, and attitude affects your own as you analyze them in action). Seeing how a ministry works, you may even be encouraged to begin your own! With God’s help, of course.

2) You serve God and people, bringing your acquired skills, ideas, and experiences to the table. Love is a verb, right? It’s an action. We show love to God and people by our sacrifices, our time, and our zeal. To God, love is the biggest deal. As stated in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

The love displayed when you place a helping of free food on a disadvantaged person’s plate, give medical attention to civilians from another country, or put sincere energy and feeling into your gifted performing art as people watch being left with an indelible mark on their hearts. This is surely augmented when you do it for the Lord, as suggested in Matthew 6:33–not a bad way to spend your time at all.

3) You gain fellowship with other believers. Fellowship is a big deal that few people purposely choose to live without. Many folk are willing to hang out with acquaintances who have compromising values, all for the sake of company. Why not bypass that option and get to know the wonderful people in your local community of believers? If you were to ask me the #1 way to get to know people in a church, whether large or small, I would conclude ministry without much of a second thought.

Check it out: you join a group of dedicated people who joined the same ministry with intent to use similar skills to pursue a shared goal. You work side by side with them, and most likely will recognize them outside of the ministry during service or even in your neighborhood. They might have some other like-minded friends who all want to hang out. Before you know it, you’ve fostered a whole new social circle. Voila! No need to pat yourself on the back; your new friends can do so for you.

4) You build on your skill sets. Looking to list work experience? Start with your ministry! Explain why serving as the graphics design, administrative assistant, or sound engineer at your church wouldn’t count as relevant experience on a resume? I learned acting, puppeteering, and child care skills at my church, and developed a myriad of other abilities both there and in other ministry venues. Colossians 3:23-25 states “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord,” right? You can live this out in ministry, all the while perfecting your craft and loving every minute of it.

I acted as a “nerd” with my church’s drama ministry. We performed this play circa 2007 for the church’s youth ministry. Good times!

5) You enjoy purpose. So, you decided to dedicate a Saturday morning or weekday afternoon to participating in a God-ordained ministry? Ever grow tired and start to think that your effort is a waste? Unless the ministry has been sorely mismanaged, think again. Chances are you are exactly where God wants you to be, when God wants you there.

The fact that you selected that activity over all others (most likely as a volunteer) and you’re sticking to it is monumental. You’re absolutely filling a void and doing your part to assist in works for Christ, whether through charity, soul winning, or encouraging the brethren. Now that’s purpose. Remember, never get tired of doing good!

6) You can develop leadership skills. The ability to lead is cultivated–no one acquires it overnight. Ministry is a perfect place to develop leadership skills, and in every ministry, they are direly needed. Without people participating in ministry for the right reasons, things have a tendency to fall apart.

Be humble. Be diligent. Be thorough in every assignment you receive, whether exciting or monotonous. People will take notice, and when the timing is right, you may be given more responsibility.

There are all too many positive reasons to join or begin a ministry. Whether you aren’t employed or you’re holding down two jobs and a family, you can still dedicate some time to get involved. Opportunities abound at your church, your local organization, or from a God-imparted vision. Go for it!

Movies: Know Before You Go

So friends, how do you go about selecting which movie to watch in theatres?

If you’re like most people, you judge a film by its marketing campaign’s captivating graphic designs and stirring trailers, plus a brief glance at the MPAA rating.

If you’re like a growing number of people, you engage in steps 1 and 2, then promptly visit pluggedin.com to find out exactly what kind of scenes you’ll be spending money to expose yourself to for the next couple of hours. After all, you shouldn’t just watch anything, right?

Pluggedin.com, your #1 resource for media reviews from a non-secular perspective!

In the past several decades, the movie industry increasingly sees new films pushing new extremes–and we’re not just talking about Sasha Baron Cohen and Quentin Tarantino movies. When we embrace images that in the past would have made us run out of the auditorium, we live out a manifestation of the “boiling frog” syndrome: our disgust of inappropriate content is slowly whittled away by small, indistinguishable  increases of immorality, all during our simple pursuit of a good time. After all, we go to movies to escape from life’s stress, right?

Here’s an example: my then 12-year brother and I once sat down in front of the television for some bonding time, browsing through channels until we encountered a 1980s action flick. It was rated R, but again, it was 1980s. We enjoyed the storyline and fighting scenes without having to cover our eyes or clear our throats. Most of the moments that were supposed to leave us grimacing at the edge of our seats in shock actually led to sincere laughter. In the two scenes where blood was shown, we questioned jokingly if such blows even solicited bleeding. Good times!

Would I watch a choice R-rated movie with Charlie that debuted after 2005? Well yeah, we both thought Ip Man 1 and 2 were amazing. Would I randomly select a movie without knowing beforehand what kind of content is involved? No. Way.

Thankfully, that’s where thorough, content-based reviews come in handy! So what’s so good about PluggedIn, and what can it do for you?

The well-structured and aesthetically pleasing Focus on the Family subsidiary offers not only movie reviews, but also television, video game, and music evaluations. For movies, the site breaks each film into these categories: positive elements, spiritual content, sexual content, violent content, crude or profane language, drug and alcohol content, and other negative elements, before giving readers a conclusion. The other media types follow suit in the form of articles.

As for its benefits, I’ll break them down into three categories:

  1. The website will give you all the red flags that the majority of other reviewers will overlook, letting you know straight up what you will encounter regardless of how enthralled you became with the plot. While other reviewers are focused mainly on special effects, camera angles, and replay value, PluggedIn’s sincere assessment points out what content will grieve you as a believer.
  2. It will also help you realize which entertainment you can and cannot absorb. Honestly, there are certain aspects of a movie that some enjoy while others would prefer to avoid. I personally can watch several PG-13 and a few R films over and over again for action and drama (e.g. Dark Knight), while movies and games with demoralizing profanity or objectification of women make me writhe in anguish.
  3. Finally, it will brace you for the influential, sometimes hidden, messages that certain films attempt to induce on unsuspecting minds. Maybe you saw contrary ideals coming in the alien movie Paul, but you’d be surprised at what Happy Feet 2 insinuates, using its cute animals and “G” rating as a green to access children when their values are rapidly developing.

Here’s a personal testimonial: PluggedIn has certainly helped preserve my relationship. I don’t watch movies often, and when I do, I try to watch them with mi novia. This wonderful woman has a low tolerance for inappropriate content, meaning I can’t sit through movies like Man on a Ledge without it becoming very awkward. This also keeps me in check, helping me guard my heart from subtle invasions.

Talk about not being able to judge a book by its cover. I must admit, after putting all negative assumptions about horse movies aside, I found War Horse to be phenomenal.

We’re known to spend 10 minutes in front of our local Redbox, even in the cold, looking at listings of available DVDs and scanning through their corresponding PluggedIn reviews. “Nope… nope… definitely not… alright fine, this one,” resembles our conversation as 90% of the movies I hoped to see are rejected, revealed as too compromising. Still, quality over quantity, right? In an attempt to avoid inappropriate content, we’ve actually selected great movies I otherwise wouldn’t have dreamed of watching.

Now for plenty of people, taking five minutes to read a media review from a Christian perspective may seem a bit crazy. But think about it for a second: the negative content we take into our eyegate has a serious effect on our view of life, our self-control, our motivations… harming us slowly but surely…

…just like a boiled frog.

Instead of choosing to be that frog, visit Pluggedin.com for your movie, music, television, and video game reviews, and choose your movies with confidence!

Nyack College Spring 2012 Collection

A new academic year with new developments naturally calls for a new t-shirt design!

During a brief visit to my admissions counselor, I was informed that a new Nyack tee was available. I requested one in medium, not too sure what I would find, but I wasn’t disappointed. Have a look at the new design:

Forgot Nyack College's core values? Take a look in the mirror!

The shirt references to “Miracle in Manhattan,” the now-fulfilled prayer for a new and improved campus New York City students and faculty can call home. After an exciting series of events, and, well, miracles, the New York City Campus is set to move after the Fall  2012 semester.

The shirt also features Nyack College’s core values! Save for one, at least on this edition–Academic Excellence is not in sight. Otherwise, it’s a great way to engrave these important values into the minds of incoming and returning students, helping them make Nyack College’s values their own.

So, whether you’re going to a Reach Records concert, your church’s young adults ministry, or just hitting up your favorite deli for some Tylenol and cream soda, you can proudly rep your institution in your new Nyack swag, available at your local admissions office.

2011-12 Academic Year in Review

Phew, that was a marathon! After having completed my final presentations, tests, and research papers, sent my community’s newspaper to print, helped host a corporate spotlight event with the Business Club and Aflac, persevered through a rigorous election campaign, and managed my relationships with God and people in the course of two weeks, it all came to a close. What ensued were long awaited 10-hour sleep nights and celebrations all around.

You can view the election results video below; this year featured a record turnout at the polls. Guess who will be Student Government President at Nyack College NYC? Special thanks to everyone who participated; they made this election an unforgettable experience.

After it was all said and done, we enjoyed quite a few celebrations. Brenda and I visited a local restaurant in light of the semester’s end; I spent some time in the city with some senior graduates, and my family even threw a dinner for me with relatives as guests.

Brenda and I enjoyed a dinner celebration at The Door Restaurant

Last year I listed a few lessons I learned about taking college classes. Here is a new list with equally relevant info:

  • Resolve in the beginning of your education that you want to aim for the valedictorian of your school, and let others know so they can keep you accountable! (If you’re entering Nyack College this upcoming semester, let’s talk! I’m on Twitter: @LelioAD)
  • In the fine balance between academics, student activities, work, ministry, social activity, and entertainment, always be willing to sacrifice entertainment and self-gratification first. You can receive gratification from doing well in school and enjoying the company of friends–and don’t forget sleeping after the semester’s over!
  • Working hard is (often) the consequence of not completing the work in a timely manner. Avoid procrastination and catch up by working smart, setting realistic goals, and completing your homework and other responsibilities on schedule! Then you can avoid late-night cramming and put quality into your homework efforts.

Celebrating the class of 2012 graduates

I’m especially proud of this year’s graduates, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure to know personally. S.G.A. members were invited to serve at the baccalaureate banquet, a dinner held just days before the actual graduation. As a greeter, I had the opportunity to see many of them off one more time as official Nyack College NYC alumni. Of course we’ll meet again–some sooner than others, as certain students have considered taking job positions at the school.

Now, planning begins to make this summer the most worthwhile and productive one yet. Stay with us; there’s plenty to write about during the break. I’m surely not leaving campus either, as we intend to have S.G.A. meetings throughout the summer semester!

 

Change is on its Way (Inside and Out)

It’s election time at the NYC Campus!

Students are really getting into this one. First it was the flyers letting students know that Student Government applications were available in the library and at the Student Development office. Conversations broke out around the school between those who knew about the elections and those who were just finding out.

By the way, I’m definitely running for S.G.A. President for the upcoming 2012-2013 academic year! Wish me… uh, godspeed?

Then flyers started appearing for the new presidential candidate, Rolando Rozales. He started appearing in classrooms, sharing his vision for the school. Next thing you know, it was debate time! We had a healthy turnout as the two presidential candidates answered questions from the Dean of Student Life and the students.

Rolando (left) and I participate in the April 18th Presidential Debate. Exciting stuff!

Now here ‘s the thing: I’m not really the “talk about your ideas and accomplishments” person–at least I wasn’t before this election. I’m well accustomed to taking the background, having been Vice President of the Business Club, Vice President of S.G.A.,  Assistant Editor of my community newspaper, and Executive Assistant of a startup Christian music company. I’ve had the opportunity to serve in all sorts of ways, from folding chairs to piecing together large events.

Now, be the face of an organization? “Nah, I’ll pass,” I’d say, “(he or she)’s got that.”

But Nyack College’s President, Dr. Michael Scales, said something prominent during a past Nyack Experience that I still remember: “You don’t take a position because you want to, but because there’s a need.”

Deep, huh? It’s also true; because I’ve been given so many opportunities to practice leadership at Nyack College (I’m even taking classes on leadership development and organizational behavior), I know a lot about how to make a difference:

  • It starts with the organization. If your team is dissenting, you’ll make little to no progress.
  • You must have respect for everyone, not just those who can help you out.
  • Be a listener more than a talker. Always take opportunities to learn.
  • You can never have enough knowledge and wisdom to lead efficiently. Stay reading, especially the book of Proverbs!
  • It’s not about the position, but serving God through whatever position He gives you that counts.

I could go on and on about leadership–don’t get me started! But the one experience that really motivated me to speak, campaign, and maintain a vision was a conversation I had with a fellow, non-traditional student.

She shared how she was also a background person, until she realized the organization she volunteered in was in disorder. She had built relationships with people in that organization, knew the needs and the solution, and was ready that week to take up the mantle and become its president.

Although neither of us were seeking presidency (I wasn’t seeking Vice President of S.G.A. either, another good story for another time!), we were being redirected. “Sometimes He pushes you into the position,” she explained, “and you just have to be ready.”

So, may the best man win! Like Bill Clinton said in a 1992 interview, “I stayed in [the presidential race] because I thought I could be a force for change… and I wanted the voters to make up their mind. If the voters say, ‘Hey, we think some other person will be a better president,’ I will go home a happy man to the life that I’ve got, it’s a wonderful life. But I would have been a gutless wonder to quit… in the face of the convictions I have.”

The New World Trade Center in Progress

Today isn’t exactly an anniversary of the day the twin towers fell in New York City as the result of a terrorist attack by an extremist sect. However, I felt it not inappropriate to share about the former and current twin towers.

I still remember the day in full detail as a 10-year old: my mother woke me up from rest on my aero bed mattress to start school. I was stuck on problem #16 from my math curriculum when my dad called and told us to turn on the news. He worked in a building a few blocks away from the carnage, and could see casualties real-time from his office window.

Over a decade later, the site has yet to be rebuilt; however, the construction workers have made steady and significant progress in the last year. Below is a photo of the towers from a long distance (three blocks away from Nyack College NYC by the E train) taken this January:

A pretty big difference from Fall 2011, I believe! On the way to New Jersey last week, I found myself practically under 1 World Trade Center and had to take this shot:

Yes indeed, these new buildings are coming along nicely. I can recall how awkward and unpleasant it was driving to church on Sundays no longer able to view the twin towers–a sight I would regularly look forward to. Obviously more unfortunate is the large amount of businesspersons, police and fire department officers, and other citizens who lost their lives in the catastrophe.

Now the towers are being rebuilt, with exciting new concepts. According to Larry Silverstein, the CEO of the company that develops the trade center, people from all over the world are investing capital into the project. The company offers up-to-date photos and conceptual art of the project on their website, seemingly updating monthly.

Both the current and new campus for Nyack College NYC are easily walking distance away from the new towers, so students here will always have an opportunity to stroll around the new grounds when they’re completed. Expect a blog update around the week the area is open to the general public!

Apologetics for the Win

If you listen to Star 99.1 fm (I know I may be addressing a small target audience there), you may have heard Dan Buttafuoco’s commercials about his practice as a lawyer. Last Tuesday, he was the speaker at the Nyack Experience. One would naturally expect the “1800-now hurt” law veteran dubbed New York and Long Island’s “top Christian Lawyer” to speak about law; however, that evening Mr. Buttafuoco discussed with the student body the importance of apologetics.

“The Bible defends itself,” Stated Mr. Buttafuoco, who happens to be a graduate of Nyack College’s Alliance Theological Seminary. Over the next hour, he quickly but thoroughly explained the Bible’s formation, its accuracy to historic events, and how numerous scriptures in the Old Testament prophesied Jesus’ life and sacrifice for the world. He mentioned how the Bible is the #1 bestselling book every year, and that people are willing to translate it into a nation’s language if only fifteen civilians are dying to read it. He shared with students the story of a man who created a language for a tribe so they could have their own translation of the Bible.

Mr. Buttafuoco brought several significant ancient Bibles to Nyack College NYC, augmenting the presentation

To Dan Buttafuoco, understanding Creation and the Bible benefits our faith and confidence, and gives us opportunities to answer genuine questions people have about God and his Word. In his profession Mr. Buttafuoco has plenty of opportunities to share about God’s word, its accuracy, and its relevance to the 21st century. He encouraged everyone to take the time to grasp the real truth behind the Scriptures, even if only for the purpose of enlightening others. After all, blind faith has its merits, but assured faith wins souls.

To paraphrase Mr. Buttafuoco, “If I don’t know the answer to someone’s question, I go back to the Scriptures and study, say, “aha!” And return to the person with a confident answer. That’s what apologetics is about; continually sharpening our faith and answering questions about God’s Word.”

So readers, do you have any questions about the Bible? On your own, gotquestions.org is a great place to start; to date they’ve explained over 300,000 questions in a straight, plain-English manner. If you still have a question left unattended to, feel free to leave a comment below; to the best of my abilities I’ll respond with an answer based on the Bible’s context!

Class Preview: Organizational Behavior

Let’s talk about the classroom. One reason students blog is to give readers insight to our experiences here at college, and the courses we take. Today I’ll be divulging a bit about BUS 326 Organizational Behavior! This is most likely one of the most unique business classes I’ve ever taken, as it weaves together the unique studies of business and psychology.

Take management, the task of making the most of your resources (including people), and psychology, the study of the human mind and its thought processes, and put them together. The result? Learning about different personalities, attitudes, behaviors, and motivation in your current and future workplaces! You develop a deeper understanding of what people do and why, learn about different theories like Maslow’s hierarchy and moral cognitive development, and understand how to judge and attribute a person’s behavior to both internal and external causes instead of using bias.

Organizational Behavior. It's business and psychology fused together!

You also learn about your personality traits, and how they relate to your work in an organization. For instance, I discovered that my work style recently leans slightly toward “introverted.” In a social setting, this is usually considered taboo; but in an organization, it means you are more contemplative, think thoroughly before responding, and work well independently.

This became apparent soon after in a different class when we were divided into groups and asked to work on a task. I instantly began delegating the assignment among myself and the other two students before the professor added, “By the way, don’t do this individually–work together as a group.” My initial reactions: No! Ugh. Still, it’s important to be versatile, so I eventually threw all of my support behind the team’s efforts. Success!

Studying Organizational Behavior from the textbook is nice, but the class really becomes interesting during group exercises and conversations. Between self-assessment tests, experiential exercises, students talking about their experiences on the job, and chapter discussions led by a professor who consults and studies organizational behavior as a second occupation–well, boredom is a rarity.

If you’re going into business with a focus on management, or even if you want to learn how to better understand the bitter misanthrope in the adjacent cubicle, take Organizational Behavior! Oh, and avoid the temptation to change your major to Psychology.

Broadway’s Case of the Blues

More fascinating than watching the 2012 Superbowl with family several Sundays ago was observing the epic crowd that gathered to watch the Giants parade down Broadway–the avenue where Nyack College NYC Campus is currently located.

Two sports posts in a row from a business major? I know, but bear with me. So the Office of Student Development posted a picture on Twitter from the second floor window. In mass number, many dressed in blue, a horde of fans from the tri-state area and beyond cheered for their heroes. Take a look at the brief video I scraped together:

[iframe_youtube video=a47WUWmYwZc]

It was a pure social event; groups of friends seemed to have skipped class and adults took the day off just to all gather in the same spot and celebrate mutually. I sensed sincere happiness from the crowd as I navigated my way to the college building.

Throughout the day, chanting was clearly audible from the windows of the library and the classrooms. At one point my Organizational Behavior professor stopped mid-lecture, raising her eyebrow at the sound of a particularly loud group. “Giants fans, huh?” She mused with an understanding smile. We had to shut the window.

Still celebrating? Have any photos or videos of the event? Share below!

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