Category: Life

Traditional vs. Cutting-Edge Economy

With the innovative “share-to-share” or “peer economy” on the rise, Americans are reaping the benefits of competitive prices and experiencing more affordable ways to travel and lodge. However, some consumers have stuck to the comfort of the traditional economy. After all, isn’t climbing into a stranger’s car or sleeping in an unfamiliar basement risky?

I’ll tell you everything you need to know!

This broadcast was produced for use by Radio America, the University of Delaware, and The Kylee Zempel Blog. You can find the podcast version here.

Traditional vs. Cutting-Edge Economy from Radio America on Vimeo.

 

Will the Real Christians Please Stand Up?

All across America, Christians are sitting down.

As if their lethargic posture were not enough, this apathetic sub-sector of nominal “Christians” not only remains seated, but they sit in a bothersome position. They sit on the fence–the fence that separates guardians of the truth from its relentless opposition.

I am actually quite alarmed when I consider the number of times in the past few weeks I have heard so-called Christians and other good people engaging in a practice I like to call “comfort promotion.” That is, a hands-off approach to culture that seeks to make everyone comfortable, and in turn, disregards the fate of truth. “Comfort promotion” mindsets take different practical forms, but their symptoms are unmistakable. Perpetrators take part in “comfort promotion” because, in their minds, they win on all fronts. After all, it allows them to maintain a satisfactory level of self-righteousness while at the same time affording the perfect opportunity to hold weak convictions. They often unknowingly become the most valuable players in the stripping of the truth and the spreading of the anti-gospel of self-indulgence and relativism.

Recently, I have been in conversations that yielded these statements from comfort promoters and Christians:

I would never have an abortion. I mean, I think in some specific cases it’s okay, but think it’s wrong for me personally.” or “I don’t think gay marriage is right, but they can do whatever they want. I’m not going to get involved.” or “It was definitely wrong for people to own slaves, but that was a different time. It just wasn’t the same back then.”

The reason comfort promotion is so dangerous is that comfort and truth are often opposed to each other. Human nature is to make oneself and others more comfortable, but we have begun to sacrifice the truth in order to do that. The truth is inherently uncomfortable. “The truth hurts,” is more than just a timeless adage; it is a reality. But while truth makes humankind uncomfortable, it also offers hope that cannot be found anywhere else. It offers hope that is unknowable apart from that truth.

I know some true believers who cringe at the idea of taking strong positions against immorality within the broader culture or who think it is inappropriate to proclaim any truth that is not explicitly the gospel of Jesus Christ, stopping at the doctrines of salvation. What those well-intentioned believers fail to recognize is that the broader fight for truth is not about telling people how to live. The fight for truth is not about legislating morality. The fight for truth is not about creating a society in which Christians feel more comfortable.

Most importantly, the fight for truth is not an antithesis to love.

The fight for truth is about fighting for the preservation of what is true and right and good and godly. It is about loving what God loves and hating what God hates.

The truth is being silenced on our watch. If you are a follower of Christ, it is your responsibility to guard the truth, to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and to hold forth the word of truth (Philippians 2:16). Relativism and “subjective truth” are perpetuated by advocates of such ideas, yes. But even more detrimental than explicit opposition to the truth, is individuals who possess the truth and yet remain silent or those who have knowledge of the truth but do not really believe it. Rather than standing firm in the fight for truth, people claiming the name of Christ remain seated in their weak convictions, not wanting to offend or step on toes. Passively sitting down is the natural response of human nature and sinful flesh because it is the path of least resistance.

Sitting is always easier than standing.

Standing requires you to know what you believe and why you believe it. Standing demands a defense of conviction. Standing puts passivity to death. Standing is exhausting. But standing is non-optional.

In this day, there is no place for cowardice. There is no place for lethargy. And there certainly is no place for fence-sitters.

Stand up, cowardly Christian. Apathy stops here. Quit your weak attempts at justifying your lack of conviction. Stop tacking weak disclaimers onto the end of everything you claim to believe. Pick a side of the fence, and stay on it. And if you feel like you have to apologize for which side you chose, you probably picked wrong.

A war has been waged for truth, and the victors will not be found sitting down.

For the love of truth, Christian, stand up.

Follow-through

 

“Nope, you didn’t follow-through.”

I cannot tell you how many times I heard my coach say those words.

I have always loved playing the game of volleyball. When I was in middle school, the girl in high school that I looked up to the most was beautiful on the inside but a beast on the court. She was the model outside hitter, and I dreamed of filling her shoes when she graduated. Athletics always came naturally to me, and I think part of that just came from just being a physically strong kid. Needless to say, I had all the power in the world to hit the ball hard and serve it far.

At least that’s how I thought it would go.

My serve was uncontrollable, and my spikes were hardly different. No matter how hard I tried, 50% of the time my hits went in the net, and the other 50% they went far out of bounds.

“It doesn’t matter how strong you are if you don’t follow-through.”

That’s what they told me, and they were 100% right.

I’m starting to learn that those word apply to far more than just my time on the court.

Frankly, I’ve been in a rut. Spiritually, I feel a bit stuck. It is not for a lack of desire. I don’t feel rebellious or bitter. My Christianity just feels dry and my personal walk fatigued. I still look forward to church every Sunday and leave feeling rejuvenated, convicted, and uplifted. I feel like I want more of God, or at least, I want to want more of Him.

The desires are genuine, but I’m still not as faithful as I want to be. Spiritual conversations feel forced, and my seemingly scarce personal time in the Word is laced with apathy and distractions. So where is the disconnect?

Tonight it hit me.

It doesn’t matter how “strong you are,” how real your desires are, how much head knowledge of God you have, how right your intentions are…if you don’t follow-through.

Intent vs. follow-through is a battle in so many areas of life: exercise, academics, diets, relationships, goals, hobbies, tasks, etc. And so it goes for the Christ-follower’s relationship with his or her Lord.

Follow-through may take different forms for different people, but I think it starts with a prayer of dedication, reliance on the Holy Spirit’s power and work within us, and a careful look at what has robbed our attention and first priority.

For me, tonight it started in the form of denying myself in a prayer of hesitant surrender. “Please take from me my life when I don’t have the strength to give it away to you, Jesus.”¹ 

I realized that I had been denying the Holy Spirit from working freely in my heart and mind by approaching the throne with leftover time and apathy. The help of the Holy Spirit is completely essential if we are to have any hope of following through; my flesh is too weak to consistently seek God on my own.

Practically, following-through took the form of deleting some apps on my phone…that’s right. A careful consideration of my recent devos reminded me of how easily I allow myself to be distracted by my phone and how I have chosen social media over prayer and study over and over again. Bye, Instagram app!

Prayer and reading were different tonight.

So, friend, do you have good intentions and still feel stuck? Take it from my coach, and consider your follow-through.

¹”Take My Life” by Third Day, 1995

Creative Outlet

As I begin my junior year of college, I am already wondering how on earth I will be able to find time for all the things I need to do, not to mention all the things I want to do! I drafted this post during a past semester, but I needed to be reminded of the value of creative outlets and the importance of deliberately carving out time for them. I seek to challenge you in this post, but more than that, I am decisively planning to make creative outlets a priority amidst the madness that I’m certain is about to ensue!

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Processed with VSCO

It’s a busy world. Life is crazy.

I have so many ideas, just a plethora of things that I want to do and create–letters I want to write, pictures I want to take, memories I want to sketch, poems I want to finish, songs I want to learn, ideas I want to express.

The list could go on and on.

I find that I live in this world of constant motion, perpetual noise. I find myself in a treacherous pattern of always going from one thing to the next, keeping my sights set on the next moment when I will be able to take a deep breath. I slip subconsciously into the mindset of: If i can just get through this Monday or that project or this double waitressing shift or that event

This list could also go on and on.

But the reality is that another thing will always exist. The moment I cross “the next thing” off my list, “the next next thing” is right there to take its place.

Sometimes I get frustrated when someone says “I didn’t have time for that.” And another individual will correct him with an ever-so-predictable, “No, you didn’t make time for that.”

Now, as much as I adore that beautiful blend of good intentions and pompous condescension (and I do), sometimes “making time” is not realistic. Maybe the reason I didn’t have time to post on my blog (or whatever “that” is) was not that I neglected to “make time” by squandering precious hours immersed in social media and binge-waching Friends on Netflix. Maybe it’s not because I wasted my afternoon sleeping  or texting or catching up on all the greatest Snapchat stories. Maybe I needed all twenty-four hours in my day to write a paper for a difficult class, listen to a troubled friend, finish a time-consuming group project, answer my mom’s phone call, attend a class lecture, go to work so I can pay my school bill, and sleep for a few hours so I’m ready to repeat a similar cycle tomorrow.

See, sometimes it is not realistic to “make time.”

So I’ve decided that sometimes….it’s okay to just “take time.”

So maybe instead of getting a 93% on my project, I get a 91%…maybe I chat on the phone with my mom for 10 minutes instead of a half hour…maybe I get 5 hours of sleep at night instead of 6 hours…a little opportunity cost in action.

Take time.

Take time to refresh your mind. Take time to create beautiful things. Take time to challenge and inspire people. Take time to write about what you love. Take time to journal about your day. Creative outlets are essential and immensely valuable.

That’s why I have decided to take time for them. I think you should too.