The Old Taylor Can’t Come to the Phone Right Now

It’s been a little over a month since Taylor Swift’s Reputation was released to be purchased online or as a CD in tandem with a magazine at Target. Initially, I was asked by multiple people what I thought of the album, and I could never really give a cut-and-dry response, because my opinion was as varied as Taylor’s album itself.

Now, however, after listening to Reputation all the way through multiple times (probably more than 20 or so), I feel I can more accurately describe my opinion of it without hemming and hawing.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Taylor’s music, and when 1989 came out a few years back, it solidified my admiration and respect for an artist who simply knows what she’s doing when it comes to releasing an incredible collection of songs that are able to move another human being on multiple levels. She showed bravery, heart, spirit, and maturity in her songwriting, coupled with catchiness that hooked me for years. I absolutely loved it.

It’s Almost Here

It’s almost here! Nope, I’m not talking about Christmas (which is also almost here)…I’m talking about the fact that we’re only about three and a half weeks away from Cru Winter Conference /// Baltimore!

When the clock strikes midnight on December 8th, the price of the conference will go up $50, so college students, now through 11:59pm on December 7th is your cheapest option for attending the life-altering event that includes A-list speakers like Sam Allberry.

Sam was one of our speakers at the conference last year, and his time up front was so well liked in 2016 that we asked him to return this year and do three separate talks over the course of our four days in Baltimore. I promise you nothing but an incredible time of worship, Bible teaching, deep community, and fun connection with others.

Plus, I’ll be emceeing this year and I’ve been working hard to deliver an exciting time during our main sessions in the ballroom together. One of our emcee videos is already complete, and I’m plugging away at a fresh Taylor Swift parody that will entertain you and simultaneously embarrass me. It’s a win/win!

Head over to the Cru WC /// Baltimore site and register now! It’s a perfect way to invest your winter break instead of just spend it.

As You Were

A little over a week ago, Liam Gallagher released his first solo album As You Were. For those of you who don’t know, Liam was the lead singer for the English rock band Oasis back in the 1990s up through 2009. He and his brother Noel rocked the UK and America with hits like Wonderwall and Champagne Supernova, but infighting between the Gallagher boys ultimately ended the band. In fact, to this day Liam says Oasis will never get back together because he still can’t stand Noel.

That being said, both Noel and Liam moved on to different musical endeavors when Oasis broke up. Noel started Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds in 2010, and Liam started Beady Eye around the same time. Beady Eye never received the acclaim that Oasis did, leading many to believe that the bulk of Oasis’ talent rested with Noel and his song writing skills.

Baltimore

The Cru Winter Conference in Baltimore, Maryland is inching its way closer to us every day. We’ve got quite a tremendous lineup planned this year with speakers like Sam Allberry and Darryl Smith, along with The Bridge Band feat. Danni Peace leading worship.

This is typically the month when I start preparing my monologues for the emcee gig I do at the Winter Conference, so it’s all starting to feel real. I’ll prep and write scripts for the videos we’ll shoot, plot the structure for each main meeting, work on interview questions, think about group games, and giveaways. Bottom line, it’s full-steam ahead to December, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it once again.

If you’re a college student, and you want to learn more about it, be sure to head here and sign up! The earlier you register, the cheaper it is! Four star hotel from December 28 through January 1? Yes, please!

CruWC /// Baltimore Sneak Peek

The preparations have begun! Well, we’ve actually been preparing since January, but you get my point.

This weekend is the official Sneak Peek event for Cru Winter Conference /// Baltimore! Around 70 students and Cru staff from the east coast will be attending on Saturday and Sunday at the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, and they’re in for a treat. They’ll attend this weekend for free and get the insiders view of what our big conference will be like when December 28th hits later this year. The purpose of this weekend is to create buzz for the Winter Conference, and encourage the students and staff to get excited for how great the event is going to be.

I’m thrilled to be a part of Sneak Peek again this year, and I’ll be speaking a couple of times too over the weekend. Of course, there’s more information to come on the main event in Baltimore this December, but until then, you can check out the Facebook Event here. We hope to see around 1,450 students and staff at CruWC /// Baltimore. Join us!

The Irony of ‘Promise Me’ by Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato

I’m a huge fan of pop music, and as it goes, I usually have a favorite song on my playlist that I bump to the top and repeatedly listen to for about 2 to 3 weeks until something else more ear-candyish comes along. And for the last few weeks, my favorite song has been Promise Me by Cheat Codes feat. Demi Lovato.

Like most people, I appreciate the sound of a radio hit first. If a song is catchy, I’ll want to hear it again and again.

But where I stray from the masses is after some repeat listens. I begin to pay attention to the lyrics and really try to figure out what the artist or artists might be saying in their song. I loved the cleverness of Promise Me because it’s kind of a twist on the popular cliche, “Never say never.” The main line of the chorus is “Promise me no promises,” and that’s interesting—the entire point of the song cancels itself out. What I mean is that it’s a self-defeating statement because you can’t make someone promise you that they won’t make you any promises. Cheat Codes and Lovato obviously understand this irony, and it gives the song a layer of depth unlike other popular tunes that might on the radio nowadays.

My Struggle With Fear and Anxiety

In one form or another, I’ve been in full-time Christian ministry since I graduated from college, and I would easily label myself no less fearful today than when I was a sprightly twenty three year-old back then. I’m more wise now, of course, and my specific fears are much different than they used to be back when I had no gray hair…but if you were to judge my life based on quantity of fear right now compared to the amount I had in the past, my guess is the scales would remain even on both sides if we weighed them. That’s an embarrassing thing to admit, but it is unfortunately true.

Yet in spite of my fears, the grace of God remains strong and very abundant in my day-to-day. The flow of fear and anxiety may rush into my heart with annoying consistency, but the Lord’s merciful grace rushes all the more to meet and overwhelm that fright and panic. I’m reminded of Lamentations 3, and how so many Christians are quick to quote verses 22-24 that read,

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

These three verses are wonderful, but they wouldn’t be as impactful if it weren’t for the twenty dark verses that come before it. Go ahead, look it up. Lamentations 3:1-20 is a stripped down, honest slog through some very gut-wrenching hard times the likely author Jeremiah is going through as he writes. I mean, my boy is talking about how God shuts out his prayers, blocks his paths, and fires arrows at his kidneys. He uses the metaphors of chewing on gravel, suffering the attack of bears and lions, and being beaten with a rod of wrath. He is full of fear.

The Main Reason I’m Alive

The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. (The Westminster Shorter Catechism)

Has anyone ever put you on the spot and inquired, “Why do Christians insist on trying to convert people?” Trust me, if it ever happens to you, you’ll remember it.

Questions like these, no matter if its tone is one of cheekiness or just plain curiosity, really make you reflect on the overall purpose of evangelism. Should we be motivated by results—seeing more people go to heaven? That’s important, right? Or maybe the reason for evangelism should simply be duty—being obedient to God’s command to go and make disciples (Matthew 28). After all, the Great Commission isn’t just a suggestion. What if our incentive is rewards—to one day hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” and receive jewels in our heavenly crown? Sounds selfish, but it’s biblical. Or, perhaps a better motive is that of love—love for God and love for people’s souls, compelling us to share the good news.

It Happened By Accident

I’ve heard plenty of stories over the years about how Jesus has changed people’s lives, and here is one of my favorites…

Adam came to Cru’s spring break evangelism conference (called Big Break) because one of his friends had invited him to check it out. After hearing about how sweet it would be to enjoy a Florida spring break with the price tag that Big Break offered, Adam easily made the decision and soon found himself on a bus with a bunch of people he had never met, traveling down to the Sunshine State.

But Adam had a plan. And it was a good plan, too…mostly because it would get him away from all the weirdo Christians who, for some reason or another, really liked to sing. He’d check into the hotel where the conference was happening, skip out on the boring conference part and enjoy some fun in the sun.