Author Archives: jesserice13

Everything that is wrong with Christian college fraternities (and why I choose not to be in one).

DISCLAIMER: Before I begin to write down this opinion, I just want everyone who reads this to know that I know a ton of people in frats and this isn’t them, but more against the system and the way many people view and take on fraternities. This view is from an outsider explaining outside experiences, so feel free to comment if anything I say is inaccurate.

When you go to college, I think one of the main things you think about is being involved in Greek Life.  Whether you want to party hard (which a lot of people do) or become involved in serving on campus, or just wanting to meet new people, it definitely seems attractive from the get go.  What dude doesn’t want to be able to feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves?  I think from personal experiences as an incoming freshman AND as a Christian, I definitely wanted to find a group I could get involved with that would not only be fun, but a group in which I could cultivate my Christian identity while feeling free to display my inadequacies and struggles within the group.  To be brutally honest, in my experience, if this is what you are sincerely looking for, I do not think a fraternity, much less a Christian fraternity, is the right place for you.  Often times, besides a few subtle differences, it’s hard to even distinguish the Christian fraternities from the non-Christian fraternities, and that’s kind of sad.  Here are a few reasons why I think that they marriage between being a Christian and being in a fraternity fails:

AN OVERWHELMING SENSE OF EXCLUSIVITY

Look, I get that it is supposed to be a “brotherhood”, but I just don’t get the inherent exclusivity because of how cool you are, how much money you have, or how well liked you are by everyone else.  If the whole purpose is too build a community of Christian men who live life together and hang out together, who’s to say one person is “better” than another to do that.  We live in a broken world with all types of different people, and Christ didn’t choose to die on the cross just for the “cool kids”.  He died for everyone on Earth.  Heck, he was even homies with, the cheats, the thieves, the prostitutes, and basically ever other person alive that I’m sure wouldn’t make the cut for a frat.  So why is it that this happens?  I honestly would love to hear someones answer to this, because I just don’t know.  If I had to guess, it is because they want their group to look “legitimate” and be able to get noticed by potential rushees on campus.  After all, who wants to join a Greek group of weird guys that are absolutely crazy for Christ. (That’s weird, huh.)

FINDING IDENTITY IN THE WRONG THING

I know a ton of frat guys, and honestly this is the single most thing I think (most, not all) fraternity guys struggle with the most.  Most people live by their frat and die by their frat.  It’s one of, if not the most, important things in their college career (besides a girl or something, which I will touch on later) and without it, this person would feel lost.  They find their spiritual, emotional, relational, physical identities in their fraternity.  The emphasis on the frat often overshadows the Christian emphasis.  As people of the world, it is easy to find identity in ourselves or groups instead of finding out identity in Christ.  This I think is where Christian frats lack. They may promote building a relationship with God, but fail to see that many of its members are struggling with identity in Christ and finding their identity in the frat.

DON’T BE OF THE WORLD

I touched on this earlier, but what word do you think of when you hear the word “fraternity”?  I bet if I asked 100 people on campus the unanimous answers would be “drink” and “party”.  So what would people say if they heard “Christian fraternity”?  My guess is the answers wouldn’t be too terribly different.  I think it’s a fact that if you ride too close to the line between “of the world” and “of Christ” there comes to be a lot of gray area.  Just as an example, I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing that Christian frats have “root beer keggers”… It is funny, but I think it still sends the wrong message. “Basically we are trying to be as close of a real frat while still maintaining our sense of morality.” Yeah to me that is kind of wrong.  Jesus Christ, our ultimate example of how we should live, lived such a crazily different life than the norm, that he was crucified for it.

If Christian fraternities transformed this ideology of assimilating to the norm of college life, we’d see a heck of a lot of things go down differently.  We see a group of guys that were unmistakably desiring to get to know the Lord better.  We would see a group of guys transforming the way people see fraternities.  And most of all we would see a group of guys that were at least attempting to see out a culture change on campus above and beyond donating a few bucks to a philanthropy or something.

Now I know that this post may seem like a huge jumble of words. I sincerely do not hate Christian frats, I just hate to see guys join Christian frats who then end up trying to be “cooler” than they were before, and totally ditching any faith they once has because they are under too much peer pressure or find themselves in the wrong things.  If anyone has any rebuttal, if you think I am wrong in anyway, comment, shoot me a text, a tweet, a Facebook message, a DM on Insta, or a VM on Vine, and I will answer.  Over all, I just don’t want to forget who we should find significant in our college career, Christ:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him. He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him. He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross – through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven. -Colossians 1:15-20

God Bless,

//Jesse//

What I Have Learned In College [And What I Plan to Do About It]

It has been quite a while since I have written anything on this blog, mainly because I have felt that I do not have anything especially awesome to write about. However, my former and future roomie Kyle has told me I should write about what I have learned the past 2 years in college (some advice) and what I hope to make different in the next two years. So, without further ado, here they are (kinda chronologically I guess):

1. Don’t leave a younger boyfriend or girlfriend behind when you go to college

There are always exceptions to this rule, but your freshman year is all about meeting new people, cultivating new friendships, going and doing crazy fun stuff because you are in COLLEGE now. If you feel like a girlfriend or boyfriend at home will hold you back at all, there are plenty of other people you will meet.

2. Find a good group of people to go to church with

It is hard enough to motivate yourself to go to church every Sunday, because if you’ve grown up going to church all your life Mom is not there anymore to wake you up and force you to go. So you kinda have to make a relationship with God your own and figure out what you actually believe

3. MEET PEOPLE

As a freshman, it’s easy to think that everyone already has friends, when the fact is, nobody really has any friends. Everyone is on the same level. This is probably the one main thing I am going to do better the next two years. It is exceedingly easy to sit back and do nothing, but you’ll have more fun if you go out and meet new people.

4. Get to know your professors

This will probably be on every “how to have success in college” list you will ever see, but if your lazy like me, it is really hard to do. I have learned, though, it really can be to your benefit to go to your professors office hours and see them often (you’ll get better grades most likely)

5. If you are majoring in something you cannot see your self enjoying as a job for the rest of your life, switch

I switched from Electrical Engineering to Business last semester and it was probably one of the best decisions I have made in college. I love computers and stuff, but sheesh I do not love them as much as some other people do that’s for sure.

6. Get a job if you can

As much as I am all for having time to do nothing, I have found myself more-so not wanting to do schoolwork when I have time than when I get home from my job. I guess when you are busier you do better (obviously free time is good too)

7. If the frat life isn’t you, don’t force it

There are plenty of people who belong in fraternities. I personally couldn’t ever really see myself in a frat, and there are plenty others who see the same way as me. Though it is a great way to meet people, if it’s not for you it’s not for you.

Now that you’ve had my little tidbits version of Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide tips, I want to talk about another topic that is a big thing in college that I kinda harped on earlier, relationships.

Whether it is with a girl or a guy, relationship and friendships are probably the biggest facet of college. There will be people you date and people you become friends with, and not matter what the relationship is, they take work. It’s so easy to do nothing, instead of being proactive and cultivating these types of relationships.

Most of all though, I could say the same thing about my relationship with Christ. It takes work. I struggle at times of being passive and not actively pursuing a relationship with Christ, as well as pursuing all other relationships in my life.

Nevertheless, I have had a great two years, and I hope that the next two will bring even more joy and growth.

//Jesse//

Noah: Some Thoughts.

Going into see this movie, I had heard a ton of controversy about what Christians should think of it, and what exactly was the point of making this movie was.

First, if you are one of these people complaining about the lack of biblical authenticity in this movie, DUH. It would have taken just a peek at who is directing this movie to figure out that likely it wouldn’t be biblically accurate.  Darren Aronofsky is, in fact, a self proclaimed Atheist who throughout the movie never refers to a “God”, but instead the being who governs the earth is known as the “Creator”.  It’s irresponsible to think that a director like Aronofsky wouldn’t take a creative license and change up the story.  After all, the usual point of a movie is to make money.  

While VERY biblically inaccurate, there are a lot of elements that were very intriguing and linked to Scripture.  Throughout the movie we see a decline of Noah’s son, Ham.  Though in the Bible it never says Ham helped an evil stowaway on the ark, it does outline a curse put on Ham and his descendants.

Noah, a farmer, was the first to plant a vineyard. He drank from its wine, got drunk and passed out, naked in his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and told his two brothers who were outside the tent. Shem and Japheth took a cloak, held it between them from their shoulders, walked backward and covered their father’s nakedness, keeping their faces turned away so they did not see their father’s exposed body. When Noah woke up with his hangover, he learned what his youngest son had done. He said, Cursed be Canaan! A slave of slaves, a slave to his brothers! Blessed be God, the God of Shem, but Canaan shall be his slave. God prosper Japheth, living spaciously in the tents of Shem. But Canaan shall be his slave.

The movie, surprisingly, outlines this part rather well.  We see Russell Crowe (or a stunt/nudeness double) facedown in the sand with Ham standing over him.  We never hear Noah yell out this curse, but the next scene shows Ham leaving the family.  What leaves me confused at some points is this kind of scene and then elements such as the “Watchers” (aka rock people, angel things).

Honestly, though, no matter how you look at it, this movie is pure fiction.  Here are 2 (sarcastic) things that I learned from watching Noah.

  1. Emma Watson should never be in a musical.  Her rendition of Noah’s lullaby would not have got her to Hollywood.  On the other hand though, as Russell Crowe sang the same lullaby I felt like I was back watching Les Miserables.
  2. I was not aware that the people of Mesopotamia were the first to invent iron weapons.  Pretty sure this setting predates the Iron Age

Overall, if you want to see a good movie, go see Noah.  It really is a well done movie and keeps you entertained for the duration of the movie.  If, though, you were hoping for a tale that followed along with the Bible, don’t see it, you’ll just be disappointed.

As pointless as this “review” was, my advice would be for Christians to settle down.  Sure, Aronofsky’s intentions may not have been good, but that doesn’t mean we have to get in a big fuss over a movie.  After all, it is just that, a movie.  The bigger picture is that people are actually becoming familiar with the story of Noah.  Whether or not they accept this twisted version is for them to decide, but some may look into it and ask questions.  

Then, we can begin telling them the real redemption story of a guy and an ark, who decided to do the unthinkable and trust God in the  midst of extreme adversity.  

//Jesse//

 

Live like you are dying.

As I look back on the events of the past two week I cannot help but think to myself how much I take for granted.  My grandad, just 73 years young, never thought in a million years that the day he died would be his last.  In an instant, everything material in this world was gone, the only thing left standing, Jesus.

As creatures of this world we are prone to find identity in love, money, and status, when at the end of the day none of those things with continue to exist as we move on to bigger, better life transcendent of this Earth.   Every day I am given 86,400 ticks on the clock, none more, none less.  What do I do with those precious seconds?  Honestly, I waste them.  I walk to class with my headphones in so I don’t have to interact with anyone.  I sit in my room organizing files on my computer just for something to do with my free time.  I worry, I am anxious.  I get so high strung and caught up in the microcosm that is my life that I forget about the life, and death, that truly matters.  Jesus died a gruesome, painful death so that I could have extra time on the clock.

So why waste it?

Instead of walking to class with blinders on I can say hello to someone or possible even give them a smile.  Instead of sitting in my room doing whatever comes to mind, I can go out and enjoy God’s immaculate Creation.  Instead of worrying and being anxious I can put hope in the fact that Jesus will never let me down.  No matter the situation, no matter the mountain to climb, he will always be there.

Way too often I have put my hope in things that ultimately will let me down.  I waste my precious time on things that aren’t so precious. I wish I could tell the future, but sadly I cannot.  So, the most I can do is life like today is my last, and treat every second as if it is a priceless gift given to me by an Almighty King.

Rest easy, Grandad. You will be dearly missed.

//Jesse//

NBA Champs.

Y’all take a quick second to answer this poll!  I wanna see where we are at!

//Jesse//

Let the Future Begin.

This weekend I had the most incredible opportunity to attend the Passion Conference down in Houston.  My first impression, having been in that building tens of times for Rockets games, was “wow, this is one of the few times I have seen Toyota Center this crowded” (sorry Rockets).  

As the weekend unfolded I was completely unsure of what to expect.  I knew the lineup of speaker and worship leaders, but I wasn’t sure if I would get bored after hours and hours of worshipping and listening to sermons.  As the Passion Band started us off I knew this was going to be different than just any old church service.  I knew that God would be at work in Houston, TX that weekend and that it would be one to remember.

Probably one of my favorite moments, for whatever reason, was hearing “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” sung by Hillsong United on Friday night.  It is such a powerful song and was just a powerful way to end the first night.  It left me wanting more (even though we were completely exhausted by that point).  

After a short (too short) night’s sleep we were up and at em early for Saturday’s events.  I was really struck most probably by Judah Smith’s message that day.  Besides his multiple references to his “World Champion”  Seattle Seahawks he really stressed this idea that when we become Christians we are literally new.  In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul writes:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

I don’t really know why, but the way he emphasized this made me think of my own life.  When we become Christians we don’t just get a hardware and software upgrade or a refurbishment, to put it in nerdy computer terms, but instead we are bought completely new.  Christ died for not only the sins we’ve committed in the past, but also for every sin we will ever commit. How powerful is it that we have a God who willingly sent His Son to die one of the most horrible, gruesome deaths a human can die, and a Savior Jesus Christ who was willing to bear my sin and accept this horrible death that I should have died? Powerful.

As I look back on this weekend my prayer is that the same passion (no pun intended) and energy for God that I had during those two days I can keep going in my everyday life.  It not every day you get to worship with Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Kristian Stanfill, Matt Redman, Kari Jobe, and Hillsong United or hear sermons from Francis Chan, Beth Moore, Louie Giglio, or Judah Smith.  But even after I am back at Baylor and out of the bright lights and sounds of Toyota Center I want to have the same fire and motivation to seek Jesus that I did this past weekend.

I want it to affect my relationships, my outlook on life, my view on the world, and want those around me to see the difference.  

This weekend I will never forget and hope, Lord willing, I will be able to make it back for Passion 2015!

//Jesse//

D.E.A.L. (Drop Everything And Listen).

Once again it is a new year.  2013 was incredible, and I am looking forward to an even better 2014.

This past January I set out to do an experiment for myself.  For the month, I deleted every social media application from my phone in hopes to get rid of something that I felt like was very, very distracting to my relationships with people.

We live in an age where technology dominates the social scene.  Many kids have trouble developing socially because of things like texting, Facebook, Twitter.  We constantly want to feel like we are connected with the world.  Sometimes this is to a fault, where we feel like every moment we aren’t busy we have to be stuck on our phone or our laptop.

What I have learned over the past month is not only is the above true, but being constantly locked in to technology takes me away from experiencing the beauty of the world and its Creator.  One of the most beautiful creations God has given the world is us, humans.  This social, physical experience with other humans is a part of life that I know I do not embrace enough.  By far I would rather text someone than talk to someone on the phone.  When I am hanging out with people I also have an urge to check out what’s going on in others peoples’ lives by checking out their News Feeds or Timelines.  

What I have found in the last month is I am not a good enough listener, and often times it is due to me checking out technology too much.  Being a better listener will help cultivate the relationships I have and help me build new ones in the process.

What is something I am working on now?  I am trying to realize that that text or notification can wait if I am with other people.  Rarely will it be important enough to warrant an immediate response, so I might as well jus drop my phone and listen.  I would encourage anyone who reads this to try to become better at listening to other people.  It’s helped me in the past month with my relationships, so I hope it’ll help you too.

//Jesse//

Finding Your Motivator.

So for the past couple of hours, I have been sitting here doing some of my Calculus homework.  Constantly I find myself asking “why”.  Why am I doing this?  What’s so special about Calculus that I would put hours and hours into it?  Well I mean the most apparent answer to me is that I want to get the grades to obtain my engineering degree,  work for a high tech corporation, and then make the big bucks.  But why should I really be doing it?  As Americans we are often driven by this idea of the “American dream”, having a great career, with a great family, with a lot of money to buy fancy cars, fancy clothes, and other “stuff”.  While the money and the stuff is great at times, if our minds aren’t where they need to be it can become a sort of idol; something we put above what we really should be putting our time, talents, and effort into:  glorifying our Creator with all of the talents and gifts he has bestowed upon each and every one of us.

I feel like got has given me a great interest and talent for working with computers and technology, and more specifically figuring out how they work.  I know many people who have been gifted with a heart for people, and the skills to communicate with them in a way better than I would ever be able to.  I know people who have been gifted with extreme athletic abilities, and the ability to perform in their respective sports better than I ever would be able to.

For me, alot of my motivation to achieve comes from the fact that I hope to make alot of money when I get out of college.  I often have to refocus, and realize that I should be striving for success not for my own selfish gain, but to glorify the One who has given me all of this in the first place.

One of my biggest inspirations is my buddy Mitch.  He has been gifted with an insane ability to play baseball.  I have watched him since the 3rd grade working day after day to achieve the ultimate goal of playing professionally one day.  Many in his position would be mainly motivated by the possibility of making millions of dollars.  While I am sure that is some sort of motivator for him,  that’s not why he works hard.  He works hard purely because it’s a game he loves, and he feels like he can glorify God with the talents he’s been given.  I’ve seen him after incredible highs and even letdowns, but yet he never fails to give Him the glory for the game, regardless of the outcome.

It often brings some perspective to my own life.  I won’t ever play professional baseball (just ask my little league coaches), but in whatever I do, whether big or small, I should do it not for myself, but for God.  Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men”.  If I am going to be some wealthy engineer someday, which I hope to be,  I need to motivate myself to do my best for the glory of God, and not for the glory of men.  In the end when we die,  what are we taking with us?  We can’t take the money, the cars, or the clothes.  God sees us as we really are behind the façade of materialism that most Americans, including myself, live.

So back to Calculus.  Why am I doing this?  My answer should be because I want to hone the skills God has given me in order that I may glorify Him in everything I do from here on out.  The best I can do is try to train myself to do this on a daily basis.

If you haven’t checked out my buddy Mitch’s blog please do,  he says some really great things so you really should.  I will put the link below.

So anyway, I should probably get back to this Calculus I was talking about; hope you all have a great week.

//Jesse//

http://mitchelltraver.wordpress.com

Confident in God’s Plan.

It has been quite a while since I’ve posted, but I just wanted to share something.

I have been doing this research paper for my American Lit class, and I have been dissecting some critical articles of the novel The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  I came across an article about change.  One of the main characters was stuck in the past; believing herself to be someone she used to be.  She was scared to change, because she feared the unknown of the future.

This really got me thinking.  As a Christian, I often have a fear of the future.  Why is this?  I have come to the realization that this fear stems from the fear of losing control.  When we are in control, everything seems comfortable.  Yet, when our life takes an unexpected slide we worry about the what is to come.  

Jeremiah wrote,”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I think it is easy to take this verse out of context and think that just because God says he will “prosper” us everything good in the world will happen.  As humans our minds are bound by the restrictions of time and space.  God knows no bounds.  He sees the entire picture at one time.  Something that is used to prosper us may not seem very prosperous to us at the time, but God has got a plan.

My encouragement in this short note is to give up your future to God and trust in the plan He has for your life.  Accept change as it comes, and allow it to shape you into the person God has made you to be.  Being confident in His plan is the first step to live a more fulfilling life without fear of the future.

//Jesse//

Lessons Learned.

https://soundcloud.com/keonthetrack/lecrae-feat-b-o-b-round-of

To start off I would like to say a big congratulations to the Class of 2013.  You made it.  The feeling of finishing something as big as 12 years of grade school is pretty incredible.

A year ago I remember being in the same position; excited to leave the high school years behind and experience my new found freedom at college.  Since today is such a momentous  occasion for a bunch of people I know, I thought I would share some tips to get the most out of your first year “on your own”.

My first piece of advice would be to take full advantage of the freshmen events that your college or university has put in place to get you out and meeting new people.  I always felt intimidated to approach people I had never met before, but looking back on it I feel sort of dumb.  While some people may not share similar interests with you, every single new student may know a hand full of people from high school, but that’s it.  Once you being to realize that everyone is basically looking for people to connect with it makes it easier to step out of your comfort zone and talk to people.

One of the simplest pieces of advice I would give would be to go to class.  I’ve learned from personal experience that it really does benefit you to go to class. The professors are more likely to help you at the end of the semester if they can see that you’ve put in the effort to at least make it to class.  And who knows, some of your professors next year might actually give you extra credit for going to every class! (A couple of mine did that)

I think it would also really be beneficial to find a small group of people in every class that you can study with.  I know you may think you are only able to study on your own because being a group distracts you, but in addition to studying alone, studying in a group will give you a different perspective on the material and allow you to ask questions if you get stuck.  This is something I didn’t do a great job of doing, and I feel like if I had I would have b=made it easier on myself.

The last thing I would encourage you to do as your embark on this new part of your life is to figure out what you believe.  You’re on you own now, if you don’t go to church mom and dad won’t be there to make you go the next week.  It’s real easy in college to get into this mode of spiritual complacency.  Whatever you have believed in the past it should be a goal to figure out whether that is something you really believe, or if it’s something you just believe because your parents believe.  I think it would be a great thing to find a group on campus that shares in your spiritual desires.  Maybe even just a single person who can encourage you to continue to pursue a better relationship with Christ.  Having that person can help keep you on track and sort of remind you to keep doing the things to grow your faith.

Again, congratulations Class of 2013, you did it.  

//Jesse//