Post #11

Posted in Uncategorized on April 16, 2014 by micknick

In my exercise of unplugging from technology, there some interesting things I learned. The most prominent of these was how much I felt like I had to prepare to simply unplug for an entire day. I had to think about when certain homework assignments were due and if I would need my computer and the internet for them, I had to think of if I was going to be making plans with friends via text, and I had to consider when any TV shows that I watch come on TV. At first I was going to try to go all of Sunday without technology, since I knew I would not have very much to do that day. But I quickly realized that would be even more challenging because then I even more wanted to cure my boredom by watching TV and playing PS4. I couldn’t unplug on Tuesday or Thursday because I work on a computer day all on those days, so being on social media would be inevitable. I ended up choosing Monday to unplug. This was challenging because I had to use my computer in a couple of my classes that day. However, I was able to stay off of social media and text messaging until the very end of the day. I never actively felt like, “It feels great to not be on Facebook right now,” but periodically I did reflect on how nice it was that I had so easily been able to disconnect from my usual constant connection with the world – and how nice that felt to not have that extra, useless information in my mind, adding to my stress.

 

I don’t know if there is one big thing that sticks out in my mind that I learned this semester. I do remember many statistics that were very interesting and often surprised me. Things like how many people are actually on social media to how many people own cell phone and what percentage of those people own smartphones. Among these statistics, I found it very interesting to see how the displacement theory worked itself out. Seeing the percentage of people every year began using DVD’s instead of VHS tapes was very fascinating to me. Also, seeing how quickly new technology makes it’s way into society. Like, how radio became integrated, then TV, and all the other ways of playing music and video. The time in which it takes society at large to accept and adopt a new communication technology is always a very interesting pattern to observe. 

Post #8

Posted in Uncategorized on March 20, 2014 by micknick

Video games have become a very large part of society and what entertains us as a culture. I personally have owned a GameCube, a Wii, a PS3, and am about to purchase a PS4. Game truly have become something that have the potential of having the same impact as a movie or book. Game like Last of Us, which came out this past year and has won many awards very much stretch the abilities of games to tell a truly cinematic and compelling story in a way that could only be done as effectively through an interactive experience provided through a game. This type of scenario will continue to become more popular as games get more recognition and as consoles continue to become more powerful. 

Another interesting thing to note is that games have often automatically gotten a bad rap for supposedly causing ADHD in children, which I’m sure can happen when kids are allowed to play games without limits. However, I recently watched a TED talks video in which it is explained just how much playing video games in moderate amounts can greatly improve and enhance one’s brain in its ability to learn, focus and, fascinatingly, multitask. People too often brush games off as being stupid or mindless activities, but the right games and the right amount of time spent playing them can really prove to be beneficial to the individual and society as a whole.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FktsFcooIG8&ntz=1

Post #1

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2014 by micknick

As a 20 year old junior in college, communication technology has become a large part of my life in many different ways. I would not consider myself to be someone who always needs to have the newest version of a device, but simply something that is enough to efficiently keep up with the types of interactions and communicating that I enjoy. I own an iPhone 5, a MacBook (which is a couple years old), and, of course, watch my family’s TV a few times a week. I have noticed more recently that my iPhone has become increasingly the primary communication technology that I use. This is largely in part because my use of my computer, TV, and other devices has decreased since I spend much more time at school, work, or out with friends instead of at home. The primary thing for which I use my phone is probably Twitter. After that, I use it for texting, making notes, watching videos or TV shows, listening to music, and, yes, sometimes making calls. Overall, I believe devices such as my iPhone have a positive impact. Especially for myself, since I work a job in medical records which is oftentimes tedious and almost always passive, I can use it in the background to keep myself entertained (and awake). However, it does take practice to keep communication technologies from becoming a larger obsession in my life than they ought. 

 

My prediction is that radio, at least as we have known it, is going to die out in the not too far distant future. I listen to the radio occasionally (usually just when I’m in a hurry and don’t hook my iPhone up to my car’s stereo). However, for the most part, people opt for listening to their music in the car. Whether it is from their MP3 player, iPhone, or maybe even a CD. Most people, at least in my generation, want what they want – and they want it immediately. Therefore, radio as we know it, with commercials, DJ personalities, and a variety of songs that the listener may or may not like, is simply not a preference shared by most young people. I don’t think that radio is going to die altogether. Instead I think that it will become increasingly used through the medium of the internet. This is already happening both with sites like Pandora, which originated online, and most regular AM and FM radio stations stream their broadcasts over the web, as well. The internet has become the medium through which most other communication technologies are not available and used popularly, from steaming TV shows, movies, instant messaging, video calling, or even making “phone” calls over the web. I am sure that as time goes on and the internet is incorporated into more devices, including cars, that the radio will very soon be something that is used very much, but it will look very different. This will probably consist of there being less jobs for DJ personalities and more ways in which listeners will be able to immediately gratify their musical tastes and desires.

A Reason for the Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized on December 12, 2009 by micknick

This is the text for a sermon I preached a couple weeks ago.

At this time of year, we celebrate such an intricate part of the gospel: how salvation came to the world through the life of one baby. The merit of this one life would be the basis of a sacrifice to redeem all humanity.

I have heard so many great sermons of the gospel and salvation and the question I have always asked myself is this: why? Why would God ever crush His own son on my behalf? Why would Christ ever shed his blood to redeem a dirty, sinful person like me? It is a question that has always humbled and puzzled me. So tonight I am going to do my best to answer that question. If you’ll turn with me to 1 Timothy 1:12-17, you see that Paul lays out an outline of several reasons why Christ came to save sinners.

The first reason is this: God saved us because we could not save ourselves

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  15The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  16But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.  17To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Three times in this passage, Paul gives a reason for his salvation. The second and third reasons begin with him saying, “I received mercy because…” “mercy” Mercy is such an important part of the gospel. Salvation would not be possible if God was not merciful. However, the first reason that Paul gives starts out differently: “I thank him who has given me strength, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.” Strength in the Spirit is the first and most important thing we are given in the process of regeneration. Paul was formerly a blasphemer, persecutor, and an arrogant opponent of God. And his transformation into a faithful apostle was not an overnight process. All of his sinful habits and behavior did not immediately disappear after his conversion. He had to be strong in order to make his body and his mind obedient to God. This is called the doctrine of sanctification and it is hard work. It takes strength and endurance. Though it is not the kind of strength that Mr. Cochran mentioned you could get in a gym last Sunday. This is the strength that only God can give.

God saved us because we could not save ourselves.” Because without the strength that God gives through sanctification, we are nothing. If we were to attempt to save ourselves, it would be as if we were pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. It cannot be done – at least not without supernatural help. The life of a blasphemer, persecutor, and opponent of God, just like Paul, is all that any of us can hope to have without this supplied strength. So when God saved us, he gave us the strength that we needed to break our habits of sin and to live a life obedient to his commands.

- It is this same strength that sustains us after regeneration and empowers us to face obstacles of physical need and temptation. It is as Philippians 4:13 says, “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

The second reason for which God saved us is this: God saved us because he is gracious to those whom He has chosen to justify. This is found in the second half of verse 13. Paul reflects on his days of being blasphemous and being a persecutor of the church as he writes, “But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief.” Now Paul is not saying that he received mercy because he acted ignorantly. Rather, he is contrasting himself with the false teachers and religious leaders of the day. Paul acted ignorantly – he sinned – while he did not profess to have belief in Christ. Many of the leaders of the day would claim to be Christians, yet they would still act in sin, as if they were also ignorant of God’s teachings. They were hypocrites. In doing so, they were coming dangerously close to being cut off from the possibility of God’s mercy. Scripture makes it clear that hypocrisy is one of the vilest sins in God’s eyes.

Paul concludes his statement by saying that it is an overflow of the grace of God from which all good things must first come. “But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” It is by an overflow of his grace that we are saved, that we are justified, and eventually glorified. However, it is by his common grace that we are able to do any good works at all. It is by his grace that we have the capacity for selflessness and are able to perform acts of forgiveness and altruism. And God’s grace, as Edwards said, is the only thing keeping the earth from opening up and swallowing us into Hell this very second.

But even with this gift of common grace, we are still completely unable to save our selves. Without some greater, propitiating sacrifice, we are still slaves to out own passions and desires. Titus 3:3-7 says this:

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us” He saved us! God did for us everything that we could not do for ourselves.

“Not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Through the gospel, God has chosen to give us that which we could never even dream of receiving without his grace. We are heirs to His Kingdom! This means two things.

1. First, it means that while here on earth, we will experience the “washing of regeneration and renewal of the spirit.” Salvation brings divine cleansing from sin and the gift of a new Spirit generated, Spirit empowered, and Spirit protected life.

2. Second, it means that God has legally declared us as justified before His throne. As adopted children of God we are heirs through faith in Christ. However, we are also heirs with Christ. When Jesus bore His father’s wrath on that tree, his death became our death, his life our life, and his righteousness our righteousness. So when God looks at a believer’s life, He sees nothing that we have done and everything that Christ has done. We will be given the same reward as that of Christ our Savior. Next time you think about how unfair your life is or how you might wish that things were a little different, I encourage you to dwell on the fact that we, quite unfaithful Christians, will receive the same inheritance as the captain of our salvation

God saved us because he is gracious to those whom He has chosen to justify.

The third reason for which God saved us is that He is a loving God who will be faithful to redeem you for His glory. Verse 15:

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

For Paul to say, “This saying is trustworthy and full of acceptance” is a way of giving a thesis and summarizing the whole letter in one sentence. When we read that it deserves our full acceptance, it is Paul’s way of saying that he is about to let us in on some key points that Christians need to know.

Now the fact that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners is at the crux of the gospel. God came to save sinners. But then Paul adds, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost.” That means that if you were to form a line of all the people in the world and put the very least of sinners at the end of the line and the most wicked, vile, and depraved people at the begging, Paul is declaring that he would be in front of everyone else. Yet in spite of his wickedness, God chose to redeem Paul and make him probably the most influential preacher and writer of all time.

A similar story can be found in Matthew chapter 9. Jesus made a habit of calling the foremost of sinners to be his followers. Everyone hated tax collectors. They were despised and known only as cheaters and traitors. Matthew was hated above all these men not only because of what he did, but also because of who he was. Matthew was a Jew. But because of he collected taxes for the government; he was required to do whatever the Roman Empire asked of him – the same institution that had held Israel captive for hundreds of years. Matthew had become friends with the enemies of his brothers. Yet this was the man to whom Jesus said, “Follow me.” Matthew 9:10

“And Jesus reclined at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.”

We have a loving God who is faithful to redeem you for his glory – no matter who you are or what your occupation has been. He is able to use the most wicked sinners to bring glory to himself. Why? Why would Jesus seek out those who were held most condemned by the law and choose to offer them mercy before anyone else?

Coming back to 1 Timothy chapter 2, we read that Paul directly answers this question in verse 16:

“But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”

Through this verse, Paul uses himself as an example by which he can clearly show that salvation – that regeneration and sanctification – can only be the work of God and not of man. The law formerly condemned him as a blasphemer and persecutor, but now by the grace of God, he is able to preach the gospel that he once fought to destroy. This incredible example of transformation shows God’s great faithfulness and it is evidence that only by the patient working of the Holy Spirit can anyone have hope of salvation. 2 Peter 3:15 actually tells us that we are to consider God’s patience and our salvation to be the same thing:

“And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him…” “Count the patience of our Lord as salvation.”

We know this to be true because without God’s patience, it would be impossible for any good work of the Spirit would come to completion.

“… Take care that you do not get carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and until the day of eternity. Amen.”

The world is full of ignorant and unstable people who twist and pervert the gospel. But God, through his faithful patience will turn ignorance into knowledge. And through his sovereign grace is able to make the disobedient obedient. God saved you because He is a loving God who is faithful to redeem you for his glory.

For my final point, please turn with me to 1 John 4:19: “We love because he (God) first loved us.” It’s a small verse, yet it carries so many implications and so much doctrine. We love because he first loved us. Now the first half is addressed to Christians who are to follow the two greatest commandments that we have been given: “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” We love others in order to exemplify what God has done for us through Christ. And we love God because he fist loved us. In verse 17 we read that

“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.  18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

When God saved us it was so that we would not have to feel his wrath and it is because of his love that we are capable of following any of his commands. Christian love is always a gift from God. God’s love always takes the initiative. We see this by his sacrifice on the cross and we know it is true because we bear his image. However, there is one step in this process of love that we do not as often acknowledge.

-     We love people as a result of our love for God.

-     We only have the ability – the capacity – to love because God first loved us.

-     And to take it one step further, we recognize that before God loved us – before he was even able to love us, he first must have loved himself. In order for God to love us, he first must have loved himself. What does that mean?

It means that God is the ultimate source and the ultimate embodiment of goodness, righteousness, and holiness. Every part of God, including his affections must also be perfectly, good, righteous, and holy. In order for God to love us wicked sinners, he first must have loved himself. Because he is altogether good, all of his actions must reflect his perfect nature. And because of that, there is only way that God could both love himself and love sinners at the same time. He must be faithful to redeem sinners for his own glory. Therefore, we love because he first loved us and before God could love us, he must have loved himself. Everything God does, he does because of who he is. And because of who he is, everything he does must ultimately for his own glory.

So, am I saying that when Christ was on that tree, He didn’t really care about you? He couldn’t even bear the thought of you, really. He simply endured the cross because he knew he would receive glory.

-     No! You were made in God’s image and because of that Jesus cared more for you than you could ever imagine.

But this is what I am saying: When Jesus Christ was on that tree, it had nothing to do with who you are or what you’ve done and it had everything to do with who God is and how he is going to redeem you for his glory.

You can have full assurance that God chose to save you because:

1. You, in our sin, were unable to save yourself.

2. God is a gracious God to those whom he has chosen to justify.

3. He is a loving God who is faithful to redeem you for his glory.

And as Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:17, “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be the honor and glory forever. Amen.”

Erratic Thought #15: Why Love?

Posted in Uncategorized on June 16, 2009 by micknick

I have a question. It’s something that I’ve been pondering for quite a while now. (Notice how I quietly sidestep the fact that it’s been a couple months since I’ve updated my blog, now increasing the shock-factor on the faces of my 2-3 readers.)

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.floral-hearts
There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. It’s easy.
There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time – It’s easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
All you need is love (all together now)
All you need is love (everybody)
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

What do you think the point of that song is? We need love. I think that even without the invaluable influence of John Lennon, we have all at some point come to the conclusion that love is a pretty important thing to have.

It is obvious that humans were designed for relationships. Our trinitarian God has been in relationships since before time began. It is only natural that we, as humans, look to share relations with others. And we do. We have friends, who we come to cherish and rely upon, but it is not enough. Shouldn’t it be? It seems like having a trustworthy circle of friends, with whom we share interests, activities, and beliefs would be enough to content someone for life.

Yet somehow it is not. We spend our days searching for the one person we believe fit to forever share a special bond. Romance has been universally searched for since Genesis. One of the most popular Scripture passages in regards to marriage, which has been quoted several times throughout the Bible, is Genesis 2:24. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

When I have dwelt upon this issue, this was the first verse that came to mind. However, after just reading verse 24, we are still left asking “Why?” So, I looked at 2:23 and read “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” After first reading this, I was inclined to think it meant that a man needs a woman because of his vanity. (“she is flesh of my flesh… she shall be called woman… Therefore a man shall leave his mother an father..” just saying.) However, after looking back at Genesis 2:18, it makes sense that Adam’s words are less of a remark upon himself and more upon what God had done for him: Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

“A suitable helper.” The OED’s definition of “suitable” is “right or appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation.” This means that for every man, for the purpose of having a loving companion, and in the situation of marriage, God has created a perfect woman (this obviously applies vice versa, as well). Aside from salvation through Christ, I am convinced this is the greatest gift God has given. I would say that is a treasure worth searching for.

A Parent’s Praise

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2009 by micknick

Parents praise their children for one of four things:

1. Academic achievement

2. Athletic achievement 

3. Cultural achievement

4. Attractiveness 

It is fine to give praise for these things, but it would make an extreme difference in society if parents reserved their highest complements for acts of kindness.

~Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

Memories of a Freshmen Year

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23, 2009 by micknick

The following has been copied and paste from a facebook note I recently wrote. I suppose it’s more of a personal post then I usually put on my blog, but hopefully you will enjoy reading it. 

I am now trudging through my sophomore year of high school. It’s been a pretty good run thus far… but sometimes I really miss (or at the very least, laugh at) my freshmen year. It was a year when we had hard, new classes, challenging, yet funny teachers, and awesome friends.

Ninth grade was my both first and last year having Mr Menikoff as a teacher. That man had such a honest personality accompanied by a very dry sense of humor. 

It was my first real year having Mr. Goad. I had him for half a year of logic and all of latin I. But neither of those could be considered really Goad classes as compared to last year’s history’s class. I will never forget (and unfortunately, I doubt any of my friends will either) when at the end of the year’s first test I walked out of the class room saying, “That really wasn’t that hard!” He made sure that no one ever said that again of his class.

I really miss Austin Hammonds. Last year was his second and last year at DSCS. If I could describe him in one word, it would be a listener. Sometimes I would call him and he would listen to me blather on forever about tests, teachers, girls, and whatever else. Then he would often answer me with something as profound as, “Man, you’re stupid” or some variation of that. But if I was really lucky, I would get one of his awesome analogies summarizing life and how simple it is and how I make it much too complicated. 

The last (but most definitely not least) thing that I miss is Mr. Bartlett and his awesome speech and debate class. It is probably my favorite class ever. Well, everyone did hate it hate the beginning of the year when we tried to prepare for a debate on the topic that every other school in the country was doing. That lasted for several weeks, until Mr. Bartlett realized we were no good at it. That’s when the fun began. We started having awesome theological debates every two weeks. 

The first was Angela and I against Austin and Alex. We debated wether or not a person could loose his or her faith. The right team won. If you ask the loosing team, they’ll spread propaganda saying that we cheated or something. We won. 

The next debate I remember was the one with Angel and I against Laurelen and Laura. The topic was whether or not baptism is necessary for a person’s salvation. This topic was decided before Christmas break so we would have around a month to prepare for it. However, I learned that my partner, Angel, was not coming back to DSCS after the break. Mr. Bartlett gave me the choice of either being given a new partner or going it alone. I, of course, decided to debate the girls by myself. I won. Now, they may try to tell you that it was a tie or something, but I won. 

I was also in a debate with Laurelen in which we argued a case for capitol punishment. Quite unfortunately, however, there were two things working against us. First of all, because of the number of students and the turns that we were taking, we somehow ended up going against the teacher. Mr. Bartlett was a master at that stuff …and let’s just say that we died. The second thing working against us was the fact that Laurelen was still emo and this somewhat hindered our preparation against a master debater.

The last debate of the year was on the topic of whether of not it would have been ethical for a Christian to fight against Britain in the American Revolution. I don’t remember many good moments from this one. Every student in the class was included since it was the last debate of the year. It was Alex, Angela, and I against Laura, Laurelen, and Austin. It was very entertaining to learn that Angela did not know what the American Revolution was (“I mean, I knew America was free, but…”).

There were many other random things that I won’t forget such as wether or not you eat the gristles on the chicken, what it really means to blow your nose, caramel, where the mud-vain is, how much I hate crawfish, where the point of actuality is, and much more. For better or for worse, ninth grade was quite a memorable year.

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