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Millennial Faith: March Madness

The Scoop:

It’s March. The weather is unpredictable and so is College Basketball.

The good teams aren’t guaranteed to win anything while it’s common to see a not-so-good team step up in the tournament.

Sorry to break it to ya, but the odds that your favorite college team wins it all is slim-to-none. Even this year’s favorite contender, Villanova, only has a 4.5% chance of winning the National Championship according to Las Vegas.

You think those chances are low? The odds of predicting every possible game in the tournament is even lower. WAY LOWER. You have a one out of nine quintillion chance to be exact… I’ve never even heard of that number until I looked it up.

9,000,000,000,000,000,000. Yeah, that’s a nine, followed up by 18 zeros. No wonder Warren Buffet offers a million dollars a year to whoever guesses a perfect bracket.

If you’re in a bracket pool at school or work, here’s what you need to know before filling out your bracket.

1.) The tournament is full of upsets. The vast majority of upset teams are either the 10, 11, or 12 seeds. Over a fourth of bracket upsets come from the 12 seed, alone.

2.) Since 1985, about 40% of 1 seeds arrive at the final four. They have the best shot at making the championship but don’t fall in love with all of them because over half of the Final Four teams aren’t 1 seeds. Any team ranging from a 1-4 seed is a safe pick although last year, South Carolina (7 seed) arrived at the Final Four.

3.) Predicting the National Champion is worth the same amount of points as it is to guess 32 out of 32 of the winners in the first round, so don’t get too caught up if you don’t get many picks right in the first round.

Scripture:

So why do millions of people fill out brackets every year when there’s practically no chance of winning? We believe.

In a similar sense, Christians believe in God.

In John 3:3-18, scripture says you gotta believe in God in order to reap his treasures.

  • By getting baptized, you’re proving that you believe in God (John 3:3-5).
  • By believing in God, you’ll receive eternal life (John 3:16).
  • By receiving eternal life, you will not be condemned (3:18).

Pretty good gig if you ask me. What do I have to lose by believing in The Lord? Perhaps, there are some worldly things, but no matter what it is, eternal life lasts forever… FOREVER.

Application:

What do you have to lose by filling out a bracket? A sheet of paper and 5 minutes of your time. If you win, you can receive millions of dollars. You’d definitely be on the better side of that trade.

Recollection:

What are some other ways, besides filling out Final Four brackets, do we believe (in anything)? What are you giving up by believing? What is the potential reward? Is it worth it? Why?

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Millennial Faith: Anxiety

The Scoop:

Gun Control. We talked about it last week, but it’s becoming an increasingly worrisome topic for me. There’s been another school shooting at the University of Central Michigan where two people have died.

According to CNN, there’s already been nine school shootings across America this year after two months. What scares me the most, is what’s happening, locally. Just in the past couple weeks since the Parkland shootings, Maryland schools have seen it’s fair share of chaos.

Students have brought pellet guns to Loch Raven High School … Right down the block from Towson University. Students have made bomb threats at Einstein High School … I’m from Montgomery County, where it took place. A student got shot in the face on his way to Paint Branch High School … I graduated from Paint Branch.

I fear that one day in the near future, violence will strike my campus. Am I anxious about it? Yes, every student in America is on high alert right now.

So, how can we reduce our anxiety in the wake of these school threats and attacks?

1.) Shift Our Focus: The likelihood that your school is going to be attacked is slim-to-none despite the recent attacks. If you’re a student, focus on your school work. If you want to protest, do it on your own time. You’re only hurting yourself by skipping school.

2.) Trust Those in Power: I’ll address the elephant in the room; a lot of people don’t like Donald Trump. I don’t particularly like him as a leader. That being said, he’s in a position of power. We may not agree with his decisions, but we should support him and trust that he is preforming the duties of the Oval Office to the best of his abilities. United we stand, divided we fall.

3.) Live in the Moment: Worrying isn’t going to add any more hours to the day, so stop stressing over the bad things and rejoice the good in this world!

Scripture:

In Matthew 6:25-34, the gospel tells us, “Do Not Be Anxious.”

On a lighter note than school shootings…

It’s easy for us to get picky. Man, I was so certain I would get an “A” on a big test I took recently, but I earned a “C” instead.

At first, I was frustrated with the grade I received, but because of my trials, I’ve been motivated to work harder in the hopes of getting the best grade possible in the course. In the long run, I’m going to have a better work ethic that can help me secure the job I want after college.

Getting a “C” certainly wasn’t my plan, but God laughs at “our plans” and shows us his plans instead.

Life is like a jigsaw puzzle. Every day we add a piece to our own puzzle and sometimes, those individual pieces look ugly. If we step back to look at the whole puzzle, those ugly pieces help produce a masterpiece. Remain positive and look at the big picture.

This puzzle analogy concludes our talk with one of my favorite verses. “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” –Matthew 6:34.

Application:

Take a deep breath and relax. God has a plan for you. God also has a plan for the victims and communities of recent school shootings. Keep doing your thing. Trust in The Lord.

Recollection:

What’s something you’re stressed about? How can God help relieve the stress in your situation?

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Millennial Faith: Acceptance

The Scoop:

Every week or so, I receive an email from Towson University stating that the school is testing an “emergency siren system” which rings loud across the entire campus. One day, I forgot to check my email and heard the alarm. I panicked due to uncertainty.

Last week, students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School heard loud rings, but they sure didn’t come from a siren.

By now, you’ve probably heard of the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida. We can make the census agreement that these school shootings should never happen.

Many Americans blame our nation’s gun control policy for recent mass shootings. While gun control should be addressed, a gun can’t fire unless someone pulls the trigger.

Nikolas Cruz, the shooter, was an outcast to society. His parents died at a young age and his peers neglected him. He may have been hard to love but he was still deserving of acceptance.

How can we love those who are deemed “hard to love?”

1. Set aside your differences: Regardless of your differences of social class, race, popularity, political party, or really anything, Love can break down walls. It’s important to that our society is united rather than divided.

2. Learn about them: We’re all quick to judge. For example, it’s hard to get a job if you’re covered in tattoos. Employers may automatically think you’re a thug, but by explaining what the ink means to you (by telling your story) they can grasp a better understanding and may even relate.

3. Look at yourself: We tend to broadcast our strengths to the world, yet hide our weaknesses. If our weaknesses are found, we become vulnerable to criticism. Outcasts may have distinguishable weaknesses but you’re not perfect either.

Scripture:

Jesus didn’t just love those who fit in. In many cases, he loved those who were unlovable.

Throughout the bible, Jesus goes out of his way to love the blind, the tax collectors, and the adulterous. In Mark 1, Jesus loved a variety of outcasts.

In Mark 1:40-45 specifically, Jesus didn’t just love a man with leprosy, but he also cured him.

Leprosy was a disease that was very contagious at the time. It was painful not only because of the disease itself, but the ridicule and isolation from society was extremely harsh.

Society believed that leprosy was deserved by those who caught it. They claimed that the diseased disobeyed God one way or another (which is not true). As mentioned earlier, we all have our own separate set of flaws, but God doesn’t hand out punishment in the form of disease.

Truth is, anyone could have caught Leprosy. You and I can still catch the flu, today.

Jesus was disgusted by the unfairness of treatment in society. After curing the man, he never entered a town again. Instead, he remained on the outskirts of towns, yet he was still surrounded by crowds wherever he went.

Application

Jesus wanted us to love everyone fully. He wanted those in the Parkland community to accept Nikolas Cruz for who he was prior to the shooting.

Let me make it clear. Although, Cruz wasn’t loved, that doesn’t make his actions tolerable. Killing other people is downright unacceptable.

I strongly believe there have been so many mass shootings in the 21st century because we, as a society, have neglected others more than ever.

Think about the 9/11 attacks. Teenagers, today, have never seen a world without terrorism.

Those who are neglected, are capable of more harm than ever before and I’m deeply concerned.

Recollection:

Who’s someone you know that is hard to love? Why are they hard to love? What can you do to make them feel accepted?

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Millennial Faith: Sacrifice

The Scoop:

Valentine’s Day sucks. If you’re single, you’re lonely and if you’re boo’d up, you’re wallet’s lonely. Either way, you can’t win.

Ash Wednesday just so happened to fall on the same day this year which meant my day didn’t just consist of loneliness, but it also consisted of no meat. That’s basically a tier lower than Jesus getting crucified.

Ok, stop judging my humor. Maybe you should give up judging others for lent.

Anyways, for those of you who don’t know what Ash Wednesday is, it’s a holiday that marks the first day of lent; 40 days during the spring where Christians try to better understand Jesus’ death on the cross by giving up bad habits until Easter Sunday when Jesus was resurrected from the dead.

Along with not eating meat once a week, believers often give up just about anything that holds temptation to them.

In case you don’t know what to give up for 40 whole days, I came up with a list of common temptations that believers try to avoid this time of year.

1. Envy: You want something that belongs to someone else. They may obtain a better sense of humor, a higher paying job, or a nicer car than you, but God’s got distinctive plans for everyone. No two people follow the exact same path.

2. Self-Centeredness: Social media serves as a platform
that makes us feel more powerful than we actually are. In many cases, we actually feel less loved regardless of more connection. Don’t believe me? Check out the correlation between Donald Trump’s Twitter activity and Presidential Approval Rating.

3. Materialism: Anything you touch can technically lead to addiction if you get carried away; Beer bottles lead to alcoholism. Cigarettes lead to lung disease. Chocolate leads to obesity. Even treadmills can lead to knee problems. Too much of anything, is probably not a good thing.

4. Lust: Sex deserves a blog of its own… This time around, I’m just gonna say love and lust are different. The line that separates them is hazy rather than distinct. Best bet is to avoid nearing that line.

Scripture:

Relationships only work if both parties cooperate. What good is a friend if they don’t want to be your friend? What good is a husband or wife if they aren’t faithful to you?

Unlike any human being on Earth, God always cooperates. It’s our respective decision to either grab or ignore the hand he reaches out to us. A relationship with God only works if we pursue his hand.

In order to pursue a relationship with God, 2 Timothy 2 says that we must “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; we know that they breed quarrels.”

Imagine your life as a cup. The water inside that cup serves as joy. Every time you smoke, drink, have sex, or do anything that you know is wrong, you take a sip from that cup. These temptations will give you pleasure… but the high doesn’t last.

Eventually, that cup is going to run dry.

God wants us to pursue a pure heart. It’s difficult but if we pursue purity, God rewards us with a cup that overflows with joy and it’ll never run dry.

Application:

Lent is a great time to start/strengthen a relationship with God.

In order to pursue God’s hand, we have to fight our temptations. Rather than saying “I’m NOT going to *insert temptation here*,” pursue a new habit; one that calls for a pure heart.

Recollection:

What are you giving up for lent? How are you going to follow through with your goal?

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Millennial Faith: The Eagles’ Secret Formula

The Scoop:
As a football fan, it’s demoralizing to watch the Patriots go to the Super Bowl every single year. They’ve been the “Goliath” of the National Football League for decades.

David, I mean the Eagles, cherished the “underdog” role this past season. They were considered the best team in the NFL until the injury bug snagged many key players, including their franchise quarterback, Carson Wentz.

Most teams stuck in the Eagle’s position would have thrown in the towel. Face it, if you don’t have a quarterback, you can’t win a football game let alone the Super Bowl… to the Patriots.

Well, the 2017-2018 Eagles are not like most teams. Unlike many prior Super Bowl champions, the Eagles don’t strike fans as a big, nasty, dirty team whose ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl.

Whoa, hold up. The Super Bowl champions’ main goal wasn’t to win the super bowl? What was their goal?

“We have such a great group of guys,” said the Super Bowl MVP, Nick Foles, when delivering his victory speech after Super Bowl 52. “All glory (goes) to God!”

No doubt, the Eagles wanted to be champions, but it mattered more to them to be champions off the gridiron, as opposed to on it.

How were they champions off the field?

1.) Brotherhood: They had a common goal; to grow in their faith together. Players would organize regular bible studies and even get baptized in hotel pools before their away games.

2.) Overcoming Adversity: When adversity struck, no one panicked. When someone got injured, the next man in line stepped up and performed to the best of their abilities.

3.) Discipleship: The NFL serves as a platform that gives players the opportunity to broadcast their opinions. Tight end, Zach Ertz, claimed that the Eagles “want to draw people to Christ.”

4.) Charity: The players spent their free time giving to others. Some fundraised, others worked hands-on in the community, and then there’s defensive end, Chris Long, who donated his entire paycheck this past season to fund scholarships and promote educational equality. What a guy.

Scripture:
In the story of “David and Goliath” (1 Samuel 17), Goliath was tested for battle. He was one of the biggest soldiers, equipped with an iron spear, a mighty shield, and a bronze coat of armor that covered him, head to toe.

David was a servant that herded sheep. Although, David wasn’t considered much by others, he worked harder than anybody else in Bethlehem and had a strong relationship with the Lord.

One fateful day, David and Goliath crossed paths. When no one in town was willing to stand up against Goliath, David put himself to the test.

The whole town laughed at him. Nobody believed a servant could take down the mightiest soldier around.

David was offered the same weapons and armor that Goliath took to battle, but he said “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” He put his trust in the Lord.

Once the battle commenced, David loaded his slingshot with a stone and whirled it at Goliath’s forehead.

Goliath fell to his death.

Application:
Anyone is capable of amazing feats, but we have to first put our trust in the Lord. He gives us the tools to succeed, even against the mightiest foe.

On February 4, 2018, the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory reminded me of what David did thousands of years ago. They took down Goliath.

Recollection:
Think of a time when you put your trust in the Lord. What tools did God equip you with? Did you achieve what was deemed improbable (by either yourself or others)?

20 Goats Go Where Mowers Can’t at Towson University this Week in Efforts to Eat Down Noxious Weeds.

Towson may be home to the Tigers, but this week, grazing goats are giving the Tigers a run for their money.

Glen Woods, located in the heart of Towson University’s campus, has been faced with suffocated vegetation. Maintenance crews can’t get their mowers into the dense, hilly forest, so Towson found an alternative… Goats! They get the job done while giving the students and faculty something to talk about.