When You Don’t Use Your Bachelors Degree

Recently, I started doing “writing prompts” with someone, and the one for this week is “Write about a passage of Scripture that was influential to you and why”.  Here is what came to mind: 

musician

I have Bachelors of Arts in Vocal Performance. Many of my undergrad years were spent studying music theory, faking my way through sight-reading, rehearsing endless hours in a piano room, and entertaining/annoying my friends with “Shower Time with Betty” when-no lie-I’d sing Disney songs while in the shower, and they’d gather in the common area to listen & sing-along.

And then I graduated, and 100% of my jobs since graduation have not required nor even preferred a degree in music. How do I feel about all of those hours on stage, in rehearsals, and in a green room? How do I feel about the random information stored in my head about picardy thirds, Porgy & Bess, and how to find and secure the ideal practice room?

I discovered how I feel about all that while reading through the book of 1 Samuel a few years ago. Matt Chandler (a pastor/speaker/author I wish was my friend) said this to summarize where we’re at in Israel’s history:

And then Israel began to grumble again. It’s weird. They started to complain again. Here’s what they were whining about. ”We’re tired of hearing directly from You, God. We want a king. Give us a king, not just a leader. Because the other nations have kings.“ And so God gives them a king, a man named Saul. People Magazine 930 B.C. voted him ”Sexiest Man Alive.“ Saul is a foot taller than everyone else, he’s the best hunter they have and other men feel like lesser men in his presence. He is made king, and it does not take him long to believe the hype about himself. He falls out of favor with God, and God anoints another to be king, David. Now David plays the harp, but you’re not going to jack with him. When he goes and hears Goliath talking noise, he goes to fight him and the rest of the soldiers start mocking him a bit. He says to them, ”God gave me the lion, He gave me the bear; He’ll give me the head of this dog.“ So David’s going, ”I’ve killed a lion and a bear, and both of those were by God’s power and God’s might. God will give me this fool’s head.“ So he plays the harp, but you’re not going to go, ”Hey, harp boy!“ Because you’ll lose your teeth. So in the end, David plays the harp, but he’s a man after God’s own heart.

Doesn’t he have such a way with words? 🙂 So I’m reading 1 Samuel 16 and it gets to verse 18 and it says, “One of the young men answered [Saul], “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” So Saul says that sounds great! Bring him here! He ends up loving David as a musician and thusly allows David to stay in the King’s court.

That is what was so incredibly impactful to me.

Let me explain, we all know the rest of David’s story. He didn’t stay a full-time musician, he didn’t become a world renowned harpist. God continued using his gift of musicianship and artistry in many ways (cough cough entire book of Psalms), but God’s purpose and plan for David’s life was far greater than his musical aptitude. God used David’s musicianship as the ship that sailed him into the port that was to develop him into the man God called him to be. The man that would lead Israel. The man that would defeat Goliath. The man that would repent deeply after sinning grievously. The man that would, through the power of the Holy Spirit, compose scripture. The man that was after God’s own heart. The man from whose lineage came the True and Better Adam.

God used music as the vehicle that took David into the palace. There God developed a beautiful relationship between Johnathon and David, the likes of which has never been seen on any other page of Scripture. God used David’s musicianship as a vehicle to get him into the palace to show him the inter-workings of the kingdom, of affairs of war, and how to interact with other countries’ noble man. Music is what God used, but it wasn’t the end goal.

Pretentious as this may sound, though humble I long to be, I feel like my life in a very small way parallels that of David’s. Hardship as a child, a skill and love for music that took me to a place that transformed me, namely my college, and a life marked by both failure and a heart for God. At LBC I was developed and sought after as a musician. However, God used my time there on such a grander scale. He developed friendships with Emerald and with Amy that have transformed me forever. He gave me an opportunity to observe, experience, and execute intentional & righteous leadership that has prepared me for the role in which I am currently serving. I learned perseverance. I developed passions. My mind’s eyes were transformed in how I see myself, others, and God himself.

The point wasn’t the palace, the point wasn’t the harp, the point was who God was creating in the palace because of the harp. Likewise for me, the point wasn’t Lancaster Bible College, the point wasn’t vocal performance, the point was the person in me God was creating at Lancaster Bible College because of vocal performance.

 

How Did Your College Education Shape You?

I have a Bachelors in Biblical Studies, a Bachelors in Music Performance, and a Masters in Leadership from Lancaster Bible College & Capital Bible Seminary. I now work at The Factory Ministries in Paradise, PA as the Youth Center Director—working mostly with teenagers in poverty to introduce them to Christ and help equip them to lead healthy lives. 

In some ways, my time and major at LBC did not “prepare” me for my responsibilities as a Youth Center Director. My studies did not teach me how to budget for events, or how to respond to suicidal students, or how to recruit committed volunteers. Fortunately, my education experience at LBC was so much more than information, content, and job prep. 

My time at LBC instilled in me a love for learning, showed me the value of introspection, and cultivated my love for knowing God.  My time at LBC inspired a love for ministry, molded my work-ethic, and gave me the opportunity to be invested in by amazing, godly men & women. My time at LBC rooted my faith in understanding and discipline, and sparked a desire and confidence to share the good news of the Gospel with anyone who will listen! These passions, values, and skills have been imperative to my work at the Youth Center. 

My ministry at the Factory Youth Center is so wonderfully centered on building relationships. I have the privilege of investing in relationships with the teens that come to the Youth Center, with my team of volunteers, with teachers and administration in our school district, as well as with local church and business leaders. We believe that all significant life change happens through significant relationships, and that the gospel travels best over bridges of relationships. I see that very truth modeled in my own life through my experience at Lancaster Bible College. My moments of significant life change didn’t occur during programs or events. The lessons I cling closest to today aren’t because of their astounding content. When I really reflect on who I am today, and how I do ministry–it’s greatly because of the people, the relationships I formed during my years at Lancaster Bible College. 

I am the woman, and therefore the ministry leader I am today because of Dr. Teague’s humility, Dr. Bigley’s kindness, Dr. Soden’s brilliance, Dr.Sidebothum’s tenderness, Amy’s friendship, Emerld’s prayers, Josh’s passion, Kim’s accountability, Mandi’s encouragement, Timmy’s example, Kristen’s steadfastness, Jess’s patience, Carrissa’s thoughtfulness, and Judy’s support-just to name a few. My time at Lancaster Bible College-through education and relationships-shaped who I am, how I think, and what I value. I am beyond thankful to be the Youth Center Director at The Factory Ministries, and beyond thankful that God used my time at Lancaster Bible College to prepare me to do the work He has for me there.

grad

How Do You Stay So Positive?

happiness

It was a question via Facebook messenger, completely out of the blue from a high school girl from our Youth Center. She simply asked,

“How do you stay so positive?”

I wanted to hug her.

It’s such a simple, little question packed with SO much.

I remember what it is like to be a teenage girl. It’s overwhelming. It’s difficult. It’s lonely. It’s confusing. I love that this young lady feels all the feels and wants to fight negativity. Fight lies. Fight cynicism. Fight apathy. And have positivity.

Here’s how I responded to her that night (it was late, and a little jumbled :)):

“I know it’s a little cliche-but honestly, it’s my faith. Faith and age 😊 I wasn’t always like this-when I was your age, I was on depression medication, Zoloft, and definitely had breakdowns and felt despair. I’ve even had those in the last couple of years (though the older I get, the less and less frequent that happens). My faith keeps me positive for 2 main reasons: one, I believe that absolutely everything that happens, God can use for good-to grow me into a better woman. He is doing a million different things in my life all at once, for me- for my good, and I only can see a few of them. I believe He is good and patient and kind-so that helps a lot. And secondly, I believe that no matter what happens in this life–it’ll pass. I know it will. And eventually this life will be over and the best life will begin! And that helps me maintain a positive perspective too.

It doesn’t come naturally always. A lot of times i have to “walk myself to truth” and journal out what I know to be true, and what lies I may be believing that are causing my heartache. It doesn’t just happen overnight; it is a journey. But I can say for fact, that choosing joy and fighting for positivity now, is sooooooooo much easier today. So wherever you’re at-keep fighting for joy. Figure out truth and preach it to yourself and have others speak truth to you too! God really is the great Comforter and believing in him-his power & goodness & control- is the only way I’ve found to really BE positive!”

Questions About Satan

questions

I love it when the Youth Center teens ask me random questions. 🙂 Here’s one I got the other day:

“Why does Satan punish sinners? Wouldn’t he be happy you “turned your back on god” and like went to the dark side? Alternatively if Satan punishes sinners why isn’t he considered good?”

Such a fantastic question, right?!

It all boils down to the nature of who Satan is. Is he anti-God, or anti-people? It he a just punisher or an embodiment of total evil?

I was falling asleep last night thinking of this question, and this analogy came to mind:

Imagine I take you on a vacation to the most amazing resort in the world. I pay for the plane ticket, book the rooms, and spend the whole 10 days trying to get to know you and spend time with you and love ya well with a vacation. It’s not perfect-you get sunburn, some bug-bites, etc. but even so, it’s an amazing, incredible trip. 

When the vaca is over, I say to you, “Alright (insert your name). It’s time to go home. Pack your bags and lets go!” I grab my duffle, knowing how much time, money, and energy I’ve spent on this resort-I was HAPPY to do it, because I FREAKING LOVE YOU, but I’m ready for us to go home. I’m at the door with my keys out, and I look behind me and see you lying on the bed playing with your phone. “______, ” I say, “it’s time to go. What are you doing?” 

What you tell me next, is a shot through the heart. You tell me that you don’t want to go home with me. That you’re thankful for the nice room, and the delicious food, and the scuba-diving lessons, but you are pissed about the bugbites, and don’t really enjoy my company. You tell me that you find me boring-or really just not all that important and that you’d much rather just be by yourself than with me. Beside, while I’m there you can’t do the things you REALLY wanna do here in Florida. You tell me I’m a killjoy. Me, the one who took you parasailing and snorkeling and to the best Indian Restaurant you’ve ever experienced -think I’m a killjoy?

I implore you-please come. Don’t stay here-it’s not safe here without me. This is an amazing resort, but the owner is absolutely insane. Without me here to keep you safe–

but you cut me off. “No, Betty. I don’t want to be with you. I don’t want to get to know you. I don’t care if you did all these “amazing things” for me. I don’t care. I just want to be here. Without you. Doing whatever the heck I want. So back off and just go home. And I don’t even believe that @#$% about the owner being a sociopath. He’s probably not all that bad. He’ll probably understand why I didn’t want to go with you.”

We argue for hours. You’re being ridiculous and hurtful. But, you’re an adult. You can make your own decisions. You clearly don’t really know me. You rejected me. So I leave. 

What you won’t believe is that the owner of the resort not only hates me-but he also hates you. He hates everyone. He is a sociopath. If you would’ve loved me-he would have been furious. You hating me makes him a little less mad-but he still hates you. When you choose to stay at the resort-he doesn’t pat you on the back and welcome you to the family of “Betty Haters”–he, evil to the core–begins tormenting you because that is who he is and what he loves to do. 

Do you understand this whole little story? God has given us time here on earth (the vacation)-HE made the earth perfectly habitable, HE gave you gifts and passions and joys, and relationships (snorkeling, etc.) and yes-there is such awful stuff here too, but Satan (the owner of the resort) is the ruler of this present world (2 Cor. 4:4) and brought evil into it. When it’s time for you to die (go home from the vacation) and you choose to NOT go with God, the only alternative is to stay with him. And he is awful. Absolutely awful.

So, Satan doesn’t “punish sinners”-he hates EVERY human. Attacks the righteous ones on earth especially, and then in the afterlife, continues hating all people, whether they were really good or really bad, as long as they rejected Christ-they are with him, and he will do what he loves to do. You “going to the dark side” only brings him joy because that’s one more person to torment, one less person worshipping God is complete fullness of joy in heaven.

Satan is a little bit of a joke in our current culture. And I think he prefers it that way. Laugh about him. Don’t take him seriously. Think he’s harmless. But that is not true my friends. He is real. He is awful. He is heartless.