10 Amazing Adventures around Nyack

Here’s a list of 10 amazing adventures you can have for cheap or free while you are looking for something fun to do while you are a Nyack College student. College life is busy, but sometimes it is hard to come up with fun and new things to do. Or maybe you are a perspective student and you want to know what there is to do around Nyack in your free time. This list is a compilation of just a few of the fun things I have gotten to do since I’ve been here and I look forward to adding many more adventures in the future.

Day in downtown Nyack

Nyack College is nestled in the small, but lively town of Nyack which is filled with cute shops, unique food, great events, and amazing river views. I have spent whole days just walking around downtown and especially on days they have street fairs I love walking around and meeting some of the community.

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Hall Events

Whatever dorm you live in there are sure to be many hall events which are hosted by different floors and R.A.s. I love going to the ones on my floor, but have also crashed many other ones. These events offer free food, good conversation, bonding, and often time some crafting and all for free.

The Woods

Another great way you can spend your time is taking a hike or walks through the different wooded areas and trail that sit on the mountain behind the school. This is a great place to just relax and enjoy nature or visit some of the infamous sights that students like to visit in the woods.

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NYC

Of course if you have a little money and some willing friends you can always go and spend the day in the incredible city of New York. There are endless things you could do in the city and even get out without spending a lot of money. Take the public transportation in and eat cheap like at the $1.00 pizza joint at 40th and 7th street.

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“DATES”

Set a date with a friend or even your roommate to share some tea and coffee or watch a movie together and pop some popcorn.

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Go Home with a Friend

I live 8 hours from Nyack so I don’t really have the option to go home, but I have gotten offers from some great friends to go to their home for the weekend. I got to go spend the time in a nice bed, get my laundry done, eat home-cooked meals, and spend time with a great family. It was such a huge blessing!

Yonkers

The Tappan Zee Bridge can be seen from the college and just across it is the city of Yonkers. My favorite things to do across the bridge are to visit a giant market-style store call Stew Leonard’s or to visit the other unique sites on the other side of the bridge.

 

Sports Events

There are a ton of different sporting events on campus that I have been able to attend throughout my time at Nyack. We have lots of different teams and it’s a great way to spend time with friends and support our Nyack teams.

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Piermont

Just a short drive along the Hudson River lays the adorable town of Piermont. It’s right on the water and as you can guess the town is complete with a huge pier. I love driving out on the pier and singing or to watch the sunrise on occasion.

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Photo-shoots

This idea may be last, but it is definitely my favorite thing to do with my friends on slow Friday afternoons. We get dressed up and go to take pictures at different places around campus or hop in the car and visit some of the beautiful abandoned building that dwell in Rockland County.

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God used words to create…so be careful with ’em.

“God used words to create this planet so be careful with ’em.”- Andy Mineo ( “Still Bleeding”- Heroes for Sale) 

Words. We use a lot of them, every second of every day, to create, inspire, teach, relate, share, love, confess, repent, rejoice, bless, worship,  pray, but also to hate, destroy, tear down, criticize, judge, condemn, make fun of, reject, inflict pain… Without ever realizing that some of the most of powerful weapons in this universe are: WORDS. Because while sticks and stones always break bones that eventually heal, the impact of an ill placed word, can last a lifetime.

I find it interesting that we read verses like ” In the beginning was the WORD… or  until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter… by any means will disappear…” (John 1:1; Matt 5:18) And somehow overlook the fact that not only do God’s words hold that much weight but ours, as his children, do also.

 I mean it’s in the scriptures folks: ” Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Provers 18:21

So where do we justify and find it okay to gossip, back-bite and slander one another? I guess in the fact that we can say whatever we want, whenever we want, to whomever and it’s cool, because YOLO we got freedom of speech.

Or do we justify our hateful words, snide remarks, and hurtful comments in our hearts because what’s in our hearts is just as poisonous as the words we speak?

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

Now please don’t get me or this post wrong, no one is talking about me ( if they are, it doesn’t matter to me) and this isn’t directed to any specific person in particular. In fact, as a woman in Seminary, I am so guilty of this too. I can think of the times in Nyack college, I chewed people up verbally. But I can also remember the wounds all too well inflicted by Christians shooting rounds like “she’s too deep… she’s too fat… she looks like Steven Seagal…she thinks she’s better than every one else… get away from me, I want nothing to do with you….” – Sounds familiar, eh?  I’m, writing this post because frankly, I am done  listening to people cut each other down, and using freedom as the excuse to do so.

 Perhaps the issue isn’t the words that we so creatively use against one another. Because a word, standing alone on a blank page, means nothing, perhaps the real issue, the force behind what we say lies in the; heart. 

When God spoke, he revealed his heart to us, his heart to create, to establish, to be in relationship, his heart of faithfulness, holiness, love, and grace. With his heart he formed a word, that would become the redemption of mankind. His words could sustain the universe and all that lies within because of the life force his heart provides to those words.

It is the same when we speak!

This past September in my Divine Healing class at ATS, God healed me from rheumatoid arthritis. The dean of my seminary inquired, during the time of prayer I was receiving, as to when this disease began to affect me. I replied that it started as I was about to begin my first year in Nyack College. A few seconds later, a classmate began to pray against any curses spoken against me. Ron Walborn, our Dean at ATS followed the students prayer, by saying ” people have been speaking against you in ministry… they’ve cursed you with their words.” Ron broke those curses spoken over me, and began to speak blessing. I NEVER had another flare up again.

Moral of my story; THE POWER OF LIFE AND DEATH ARE IN THE TONGUE .

And what comes out of your mouth FLOWS from you heart and has the power to give life, renew and restore or to kill, steal and destroy…

Before I can change the way I talk about others, I need to allow God to transform my heart and renew my mind and the way I view myself and others.

I am a work in progress, but I am proud to say, God has placed a distaste in my mouth for any words filled with venom.

I invite you, join me and let’s fast from gossip, slander, negativity etc., and used our words to Bless and give life to one another, permanently!

What do you say?

Words; Written and spoken over me by dear friends, left posted on my desk as a daily reminder of God’s faithfulness…. ( click on the pic and you can read them.)

Serving God While I Wait

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My head is constantly full of dreams of travel, of holding orphaned children in Africa, of touching the outcasts in India with the story of Jesus, and countless other scenarios. I get it stuck in my head a lot that once I graduate and jump through all the right hoops and go to the mission field that is when I can finally and completely serve God and fulfill the calling on my life. This seems like a fair statement, but in truth it is flawed. Because of this intense focus on the future I have often lost sight of the things that are right in front of me now.

There is this song that says ‘while I’m waiting, I will serve you’ and this is the attitude we must have in life and one I continually strive towards. There are so many ways to love and serve in every stage of life. Doing God’s work looks different in every setting, but it is important to involve yourself in such thing. For me a lot of times when I’m at school that means doing stuff like studying and going to classes and even spending quality time with a friend. And right now as break has started and I spend time at home I get to rest with my family, but also volunteer to help as needed or make connections with old friends. These sometimes can seem pretty basic, but they are important as God calls us to love and serve those around us. At the same time I look forward to the plans God has for me in the future. This means farther off when one day I serve him abroad, and even as I head to another summer working at camp in a few days. I know and trust that God will use me. And, something I believe and hold as a principle in my life is that it does not matter if I am washing dishes or preaching a sermon, I am serving God and that is all that matters. I know that God has an amazing destiny for each one of us, but that destiny starts today. Whether you are a student, a parent, a pastor, a teacher, a librarian, or even a missionary trust and know that God has placed you exactly where you are meant to be. Trust that he is good and know that His hand is in your life wherever life may lead you. God calls us to love and serve so remember to focus and to love the ones who are in front of you right now in this stage of your life.

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Dorm Rooms at Nyack College

Coming into Nyack as a freshman, one of my biggest questions was what my dorm room would look like. I searched the internet for picture of dorms, but couldn’t wait to move in and just find out what the place I would be living in would look like. Since being here the dorms still fascinate me and I love seeing how different peoples look and how they choose to decorate them. So if there is anyone out there anxiously trying to find out what their new home will look like here are several pictures of some of the rooms I have lived in as well as rooms on my floor in Christie and Simpson Hall. They are all unique and creatively decorated and I hope this gets you excited to move into your new home if you are a new student.

Here are some panoramic shots then some general ones that reflect dorm life. Update: New pictures here for Simpson Hall. Enjoy!

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Are you graduating from high school?  Do you want to go to a Christian college?  Check out the bachelor’s program and start learning about nursing, education, criminal justice, and communications at Nyack College!

 

The Wall at Nyack College

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“I love The Wall because there’s a great view of the entire campus from there. When the sun hits the stone, it gets nice and warm making, it a great place to relax. It’s also a great place to hangout with friends because it’s in a very central area.” -Inez Montgomery

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“I love it there because the view is really pretty. When you’re chilling on The Wall, you can see the river, and people on the field, and watch the sports games. It’s one thing the athletic department has that other schools don’t. Also, it’s a little dangerous up there.” -Rebekah Williams

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“The Wall is a great spot because it’s close enough to the cafe that you can grab a sandwich and sit there and just enjoy the view.” -Tori Hummel

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“It honestly makes me feel nostalgic. And it’s really high up, which is fun.” -Kathryn Stoehr

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“I love watching sports games from there. It’s a perfect view of the field.” -Brian Lawrence

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“The Wall is a wonderful place to interact with my friends.  It provides a neat, natural environment where I can enjoy watching nature and other students. Also, its central location is ideal for meeting up with people.” -Rachel Kunker

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One of those Nights

Never again will I believe the lie that I am not pretty enough…

A couple of nights ago I had what I like to describe as,  “One of those nights”. We’ve all had them. One of those nights when the lies, doubts, fears, insecurities and loneliness overwhelms our hearts, minds and souls. You know exactly what kind of night I am referring too. The ones where we want to scream, cry, or run to some other kind of distraction that would numb the pain and the dark reality we’re facing. (Yes, it’s okay to admit that as students at a Christian college and seminary we struggle with this…)

Yeah, I had one of those nights. You see I am 25 years old in seminary and single. I have been single for 5 going on 6 years (pretty much since I got to Nyack College). I have gone on dates, talked to guys and gotten to know a few, but all that ever resulted in was  heartache. This reality hit me like a ton of bricks, when the desire for a relationship bubbled up out of me, seemingly out of no where. Truth is, CTA button for Blog ATSI’ve wanted some one to share my life with all along, but I suppressed that longing with the Christian ideologies that: “once you’re content with only the Lord, then you will meet the one” or ” you should only be seeking God, first”… When really, God created me for relationship, longing for one is absolutely normal and being discontent in my situation is also okay.

I was bound by the lie that told me my feelings and desires were wrong. And attached to that lie was the greater lie that the reason why my desire for a relationship wasn’t being satisfied was because I am not pretty enough. That night I stood in my room, staring in the mirror absolutely hating the reflection that looked back at me.  All I could see were the flaws that surely have kept a man from wanting to be with me. After spending what felt like hours hating on myself, I laid on my bed and I cried. I cried tears I didn’t know were waiting to be released. Tears of a longing that was laying dormant within me. And tears of  pain I didn’t know I possessed.

My heart was aching with the thought that I would never be beautiful enough, or good enough for the man of my dreams. As much as everything within me wanted to crawl out of my skin and find some sort of escape, I laid  in my bed and I felt every bit of the pain, I’d carried for so long.

 Instead of turning to empty escapes, I turned to friends ( I learned through Nyack, in our darkest moments, community is so important) and a real conversation, with a good friend, helped me to process and recognize the lies, fears and insecurities that held me captive.

I still have much to release, and freedom to find in this area, but one thing is certain: I know that truly I am beautiful! and I am more than good enough!  I know that God has promised me a spouse and he is not a man that he should lie. I know that I could trust that he knows what is best for me. I know that I am not alone and that we have all, whether male or female felt this pain, and that true freedom and rest, lies only in the comfort of the father. I know that one day every tear will be wiped from my eyes. I know that I can keep it real about my pain, I don’t need to hide, I don’t need to suppress. God very much cares about EVERY detail of my life.

My friends when you find yourselves caught in the middle of ” One of those Nights”, run, run to God, run to community, and receive the truth: that no matter what the voices in your head tell you;

You are NOT alone… For He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.

You are beautiful… Because He made you beautifully and fearfully.

You are NOT forgotten…  His eyes are always on you.

You’re Loved … With an EVERLASTING love.

And while for the night, pain is your reality there is always a sunrise…

Hudson River view from Nyack, NY

Hudson River Sunrise view from Nyack, NY

Just “BE”

 

Just BEing on the Sea of Galilee

Just BEing on the Sea of Galilee

 

I have been a lot of things to a lot of different people, but it wasn’t until a couple of months ago, at ATS that I learned to just BE; To just be a daughter, to just be Madelyn, to simply be.

In the past I had been that connect who was always in full supply for her customers. The ride or die chick who was down for whatever, for her set. The crazy girl, who didn’t care about a thing. The rebellious one, who thought only about herself and her interest.

And then when I became a Christian, I became a follower of Christ. A disciple. A worshipper. At Nyack College, I became an R.A.,  a small group leader, a peer mentor, a preacher, and a friend to many.

But every role, I have ever played, has always been with the goal and purpose of receiving love, acceptance and an identity that I, ultimately could never find apart from Christ.

The thing is you, reading this, are just like me, you too have worked hard trying to be something to some one and I my friend have good news; You DO NOT have to work anymore! 

For me this revelation came during a time of ministry in one of my seminary courses at the Alliance Theological Seminary. My professors Dr. Walborn and Dr. Reimer announced that they were going to end class early in order to have a time of ministry. I knew at that very moment that God had something up his sleeve for me. After praying with and for several friends, it was time.

As two of my friends began to pray, in my mind I saw a picture of huge wall, with words written all over it. These words were the names of things I had tried to be for so long. Then I saw a massive jack hammer strike the wall, until the wall began to crumble. What I saw next changed everything; I saw myself as a baby in a crib, in a dark room, alone. I was crying, and crying and no one was coming. And I thought, “why isn’t any one coming to me”. That’s when I saw the door open and this man clothed in white walked over and picked me up, he held me tightly to his chest, and said ” I have always been with you”.

Tears and snot were falling down my face as I wept, nearly uncontrollably as healing overwhelmed my soul. Seconds later my friend began to describe the same scene, saying that Jesus was and always will be with me.

I learned that day, that I DO NOT have to try harder, I do not have to do a thing; I can simply just BE. Because I am already loved, I am already accepted, I am already good enough! I am already a daughter, I am already a friend, I am already everything God intended me to be.

And so are you my friend. There is freedom in knowing that before you even try, God our Father already loves you and is so deeply proud of you! 

YOU are God’s beloved. His beloved daughter, His beloved Son. You are HIS.  Just BE. 

 We don't have to work harder, we can just BE.

One ATS Student Says Simply: I am…

This is who I am...As you might have figured out by my profile, my name is Madelyn Badillo, and I am a current student of Nyack College, Alliance Theological Seminary in New York. But for the sake of being more than just words on a site, you can call me  Maddy, as most of my wonderful friends, and family members do.

When asked to write about myself, as most of you probably would have been, I was stuck. I can talk about a hundred other things, but to talk about Madelyn, er I mean Maddy, and who she’s become on her journey in Nyack and ATS, is a bit more difficult. I like all of you, am a bit complex, there are layers and layers of things you can get to know about me. But for the sake of word space and time for now I will share briefly, what makes me the unique woman and seminary, Masters of Divinity student that I am.

In March of 2008 my life was radically transformed, when in the living room of my home, I once and for all made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as my Lord. Prior to this pivotal moment in my life, I was heavily involved in a lifestyle of gangs, drugs, abusive relationships and steadily pursuing the American dream of wealth, power and fame. All of these led me down a terrible path of destruction that culminated with me making a decision between life and death that changed everything. Seven months later at 21 years old, I found myself as a freshman in New York’s Christian College, NYACK College. The next 4 years of my life were perhaps some of the most difficult, yet best years of my life.

After leaving the gang, being set free from an addiction to weed, and finally ending a 5 year abusive relationship, I had NO idea who I was, I had no sense of worth, direction or security. I learned through many tears, failed attempts, laughs and victories throughout my years at Nyack, who it is that God says I am…

I am deeply loved.                                          My journey has taken me places I would have never imagined. Omw to JFK; going to Israel w:ATS.

I believed I wasn’t good enough but truth is…              I am a daughter.

I was a slave to lies, fears and my past but now …       I am free.

I stood alone, but today…                                                  I am a friend.

I constantly felt empty, yet I find that…                          I am whole.

I thought grace could never find me but truth is…        I am forgiven and forgiving.

My emotions made me weak, but truth is…                    I am strong.

I was full of fear but today…                                              I am courageous.

I cared about only myself, yet now…                              I have a heart of gold.

I was fearful but I have found that…                              I am secure.

I wore a mask and today…                                                I am real.

I felt so unloved but I discovered that…                         I am the reason God smiles.

I had no idea who I was but I know now that…     I am Maddy, I am Madelyn.

I felt alone, but honestly…                                          I am just like YOU.

I am a 25-year-old woman, on a deep journey of self-discovery, who happens to have found bits of herself through her community here, on this amazing campus. I welcome you into my journey and invite you to stick around to discover alongside me, what God has up his sleeve next.

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Part of This Good Breakfast!

Hello again everyone, It’s been a while! I’ve taken on some new life responsibilities (and said goodbye to a few as well), but I’ve been organizing and calculating, and I’ve concluded that blogging is something I would love to do this semester!

So, a couple of changes: As mentioned in my review of the 2011-2012 academic year, I was recently elected as S.G.A. President for the NYC Campus! That was no small feat considering all the hard work my opponent put into his campaign, but we got to know each other well during that period, and we now serve together on the team (he’s the upperclass rep, representing juniors and seniors). In the meantime, I’ve stepped down as Business Club Vice President to give due time to these new responsibilities and let more people have the opportunity to experience what I learned in that exciting role.

I’m a senior now, and coincidentally my classes are more challenging. I think it’s a senior thing. But I’m enjoying every minute of each one! I’ve also accepted new responsibilities at my job and in the music company I’ve worked with since 2008.

How do I do it all? through one fundamental change that makes it all possible: my eating habits! Yes, that’s right.

My breakfast went from a couple of grab-and-go foods (left) to a diverse assortment of nutritious breakfast items.

Now my frame is rather small (one of my professors jokingly replaces “enjoy the rest of your day” with “go eat something” in our conversations), so most people assume that I’m healthy and fit. However, both my biology course and my former feelings of excessive fatigue argued otherwise.

Dr. Wenbo Yan teaches biology and other science courses at Nyack College. He’s really passionate about his occupation, and he emphasizes the importance of eating healthy to take proper care of your body. He makes classes intriguing and engaging, and the students taking biology with him can truly say they know how their body works. Because of that, when he describes health implications of not eating, we get it.

“Big breakfast, nutritious lunch, small dinner,” Dr. Yan repeated on our first few classes, “but most Americans do the exact opposite.” Reflecting on my life, I realized I was a prime offender–I often woke up half an hour before leaving the house, grabbing some snacks and bolting out the door. Lunch would be anything I could find to stop my stomach from growling, and dinner? Oh, this would be the feast I anticipated upon coming home; surely it would make up for the meals I missed.

Sure we’ve seen plenty of ads about the no-breakfast fade, but I never really knew how it worked until now, like how your body relies on energy from nutrients we consume so that the mitochondria can produce ATP, our body’s universal energy currency. I also didn’t realize exactly how eating a large dinner and skipping breakfast leads to all sorts of health deficiencies and issues, like problems with your bladder. Yikes!

I once acknowledged the importance of a big breakfast, but I was less faithful when it wasn’t convenient. I’m now realizing that, similar to  connecting with God daily, breakfast is a vital requirement to a successful day. And yes, while going about my daily activities after doing both, I feel an extremely positive difference. Now that I know the facts, I’m all the more serious about eating healthy.

More about this later–healthy eating isn’t a topic you can fit into one blog post! Feel free to share your insights on healthy foods in the comment section. Have a great day (particularly contingent on your breakfast choice)!

Oh, and if you’re near the Nyack College NYC Campus this Tuesday around 5:15, you’re in for a treat: Dr. Yan is speaking during this week’s Nyack Experience about how physical health and spiritual health are related.

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

 

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.

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.

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!

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