Survival Mode

Last summer, when we were planning worship, we decided to start a new series called “Survival Mode” on the first week back from spring break. Little did we know that the first week of the series would be the first directive from UNC Charlotte concerning COVID-19. Here we are, now, learning to socially distance from one another and survive in a strange new world.

Our daily devotions have ended for the spring semester. We will begin summer updates soon.  

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Our staff is committed to being in prayer with you while you are away from campus. Complete the online form here.


Daily Devotion (Saturday May 9, 2020)

Our daily devotions have come to an end after fifty-three days. It feels like it has been a pretty long time since our first devotion on March 17. Although some days I really struggled writing a devotion, I am really grateful for the push and motivation they gave me. I am also thankful for the consistency, reminding me what day it is, and helping me prioritize my relationship with God. We all accomplished something during the past fifty-three days. Maybe you completed a “quarantine project,” graduated, completed your classes, exercised, read these devotions, or simply made your bed. I accomplished tearing down an old fence and building a new one with my dad. When we finished our fence, there was a lot of excitement, relief, and exhaustion. I expect these same emotions to occur when staying at home is finally over. 2 Timothy 4:7 says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” We aren’t exactly at the end yet, but we are close. Although some days this has felt more like a marathon than a race, we have kept the faith. Let us continue to keep the faith through this time and every other fight or race that we encounter. 

by Cailee Franklin, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Friday May 8, 2020)

“If you love me, then…” is one of those phrases that we usually hate to hear. We hate it because there are all types of strings attached. Sometimes the phrase is followed by coercive demands. For instance, someone may say, “if you love me then, sleep with me,” or a child may speak to the parent “if you love me, then buy me this car.” Sometimes the phrase isn’t followed by manipulative desires but instead desperate pleas. For example, someone may say, “if you love me, then stop lying to me,” or “if you love me, then stop being so inconsistent with me.” Either way, we often associate the phrase “if you love me, then…” with someone’s annoying or even toxic behavior. It’s wild then to know Jesus said this. He says in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” However, the way its phrased reads less like a demand and more like an invitation to give Jesus some respect by keeping his commandments. In plain speak, Jesus is basically saying, “if you love me, show it.” And when we show it, when we love each other just as he loves us (John 15:12), Jesus makes a promise that God will live in us. Imagine how much more we would love each other if we only realized God is living and dwelling within our very soul, and inviting us to show it to the world.

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Thursday May 7, 2020)

When all of the stay at home orders and social distancing protocols first started, nothing about them was normal. It was weird to see streets empty, people wearing masks, news outlets having 24/7 coverage of the virus, and sports all being canceled. However, after about a month and a half, all of those things now seem somewhat normal. I went to the grocery store yesterday and was in line behind a family of five checking out, and none of them had any sort of face-covering on. To me, that was very weird and definitely not normal. This weekend is the beginning of Phase 1 of reopening the state here in NC. To be completely honest, I am hesitant of the change. It sounds crazy to type that. I have written several devotions on being ready for all of this to be over, but here I am, not wanting it to change. That hesitation comes from my desire for things to be consistent and without change. I have always been hesitant to change, but being able to see and anticipate this change with no distractions has heightened that. This season of transition we are about to step into is something I can relate to in my personal life as well, as I’m sure you can too. Maybe you are a senior about to graduate and start a new job! Maybe you are moving to an apartment and trying to navigate that move. Big change is constantly happening around us. Being vulnerable and accepting that change can be quite challenging. When navigating change, we can look to the Lord for comfort and consistency as he “is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” (Hebrews 13:8) As we walk into this upcoming season, let the change around us be a reminder that our Lord remains the same through it all.

by Ben Rogers, Associate Campus Minister 

Daily Devotion (Wednesday May 6, 2020)

Every day I seem to be less and less motivated to accomplish tasks. I find myself procrastinating and unable to complete simple things. My routine remains stagnant, lazy, and uninteresting. Even this devotion was a challenge to write. Everybody has crosses to bear in their lives, but recently, a lot of us have been carrying the same cross. The cross has never been something that scares me. Instead of thinking of Jesus’ death or the injustices he endured, I find the hope of salvation in the cross. Right now, this may be the only grasp that I have on staying focused. As the prayer in Ephesians 3:16-17 proclaims, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” I believe the love that “dwells” in our hearts and the faith we have in salvation is carrying me through this pandemic. In fact, the power over our situations comes from Him. I think it is helpful to not try and focus on whatever task exists at hand, but rather focus on the love and strength that God gives. It’s through His strength that we are able to accomplish all things. For me, mindset remains the most significant obstacle, and I find a secure mindset within any light that exists in darkness through God’s love. I pray others do as well. 

by Connor Willis, UNC Charlotte Student

Daily Devotion (Tuesday May 5, 2020)

Family Time is something you may or may not look forward to in the best of times. Lately it has been forced upon us, and it can feel like a lot. Turns out there can be too much of a good thing. Whether you are self-isolating with your biological family or friends you call family, tensions could be high. The Bible is full of family drama. The story of Jacob and his 12 sons would make for a great Netflix Mini Series. The full story found in Genesis 37-50 reveals favoritism to one brother who seems to “know it all,” attempted murder, lies, prison, the works. If you fast forward to the end, you find out that somehow God has worked through a dysfunctional family and brings about forgiveness and healing. Has this time sequestered with your family helped or hurt your relationships? Has it drawn you closer or pushed you apart, or maybe a bit of both? What new things have you discovered about the people you are living with? What things do you have the chance to heal or make better with the spare time? God can and wants to do great things for family dynamics. Let’s choose to put family (the good and bad parts) at the top of our prayer lists today. I am praying today that you remember that you and the people you consider family are essential to God.

by Sallie Anna Barton, Guest Contributor

Weekly Devotion (Monday May 4, 2020)

When I was a criminal justice major in college, I remember a large part of my classes dealt with recidivism. Recidivism refers to one’s relapse into unlawful behavior. In short, of the many failures of our criminal justice system, and in particular in corrections, is that reentry fails. Walking out of prison into a brand new world, with little preparation, and often a system that is not on your side is a recipe for disaster.

For the last two months, many of us have likened our situations to prison. Soon the governor will lift restrictions, and we will embark on our journey into a brand new world. Bars will be slammed, the malls will be packed, and we will be starving for time with friends and fun. Perhaps, we ought to be prepared. The last thing we need is for our reentry to fail.

Concerning the coronavirus, we need to pay attention to the alarming rate of cases in Georgia, as their governor opened the state prematurely. We still need to be safe and mindful of our most vulnerable populations.

Concerning our habits, we need to pay attention to the ways we may have improved during isolation. There are perhaps parts of your life that you like better, now that you have been distant from those who may have been toxic or treated you with disrespect. They needed your low self-esteem, but maybe while stuck at home, you have enhanced your personal growth, and without even noticing, your self worth has grown. As you re-enter the world, you may accidentally focus on some of the bad habits that were present in your life pre-COVID-19. Just remember, though, when you focus on yourself, you grow. When you focus on a mess, the mess grows.

Concerning our soul, we need to observe the ways God has been working in our lives. It’s conceivable that during isolation, you have prayed more, and maybe even read some of your Bible. It’s no accident that when you dive into the spiritual disciplines that you bear fruit. However, it’s also likely that you may not even realize this because fruit doesn’t grow overnight. Like in a garden, a fruitful life takes attention, nourishment, and time. The apostle Paul wrote, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).” Like the fruit we eat, love must be cultivated, peace must be grown, kindness must be nurtured, goodness must be nourished, faithfulness must be developed, gentleness must be tended to, and self-control must be encouraged.

Don’t waste these last two months that we have spent in the garden. Let’s not relapse during our reentry. Let’s together show the world we have all grown and transformed for the better.

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor 

Daily Devotion (Sunday May 3, 2020)

Every breath we take is an invitation to experience the presence of God. If we pause and take a few moments to observe the breath, time itself seems to slow down. We begin to see the beauty around us that we may not have noticed had we not paused. A caterpillar walking across the sidewalk, the sun setting in the distance, the comfort of a loved one’s presence. As we grow accustomed to the prayer that is listening to our breath, we begin to stop worrying so much about what is to come or what came before. Instead, we start to feel the serenity of living in the present moment. I believe that is the heart of Jesus’ message in Matthew 6:26. “Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.” Jesus’ words weren’t a directive to give up and do nothing, but an invitation to live most fully in the here and now. To not be so hard on yourself when you fall, and more optimistic about getting back up. The COVID-19 ordeal has been stressful for us all, and some have fallen harder than others. Returning to the breath won’t take the pain away. It won’t remove the suffering. It is no magic prayer for it all to go away. Instead, the present moment is a reminder of the one thing that can bring us comfort during times of suffering. God’s love. This prayer, this gift of returning to the breath, is a constant welcoming into the eternal love of God.

by Chris Hampton, UNC Charlotte Alumnus

Daily Devotion (Saturday May 2, 2020)

I try my best to think positively during most situations, but I still fall into cynical and negative mindsets from time to time. Most days are pretty good, but some days I have a hard time staying motivated, and quite frankly, feel a bit lonely. I miss my friends, my school, and the new normal I had established in Charlotte. Sometimes it can be hard to focus on the joys and gifts of life when there is so much uncertainty around us. Recently, I started reading Elizabeth Elliot’s book, The Path of Loneliness. She states, “My joy is becoming less dependent upon my own immediate circumstances and more attached to what He is doing…He is a God who never loses, a God who has taken the ultimate humiliation and defeat and turned it inside out. Somehow my ruined plans fit into His larger plans. And so in the moments when I am forced to face my own loneliness, I find that I am not really alone at all!” The Lord hears our cries and holds us tight. We must find joy in all the big and small things. James 1:2-3 says: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” We will get through this together! 

by Kathryn Goretzka, UNC Charlotte Student

Daily Devotion (Friday May 1, 2020)

I’ve really missed having the chance to attend worship services in the past several weeks. When I’m listening to and singing worship music at Niner United or at my home church, I feel close to God. It’s a time for me to stop thinking about everything that’s on my mind and just be present with Him. For the first couple of weeks of social distancing, I really struggled. It felt like my attempts to spend time with God didn’t make me feel better or closer to Him. Thankfully though, I’ve started to find new ways to worship God. I’ve started listening to worship music while I walk or run. I’ve also started setting aside time to sit in silence and pray. After persistently trying new things, I feel that same closeness that I feel when I’m worshiping at church. Some of you may be struggling with the same thing. For you, you may feel close to God when you’re listening to a sermon or having discussions with your friends at a bible study. Whatever you way of praising God may be, I want to tell you that it’s so important to continue doing that during this time. If you’re like me and that specific type of praise has been disrupted by social distancing, I encourage you to try something new. Maybe journal, meditate, paint, have a zoom meeting with your friends, anything you can think of! Whatever you do, try your best to keep at it, and I promise it will get easier. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 says: “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” The circumstances we face today haven’t changed who God is. The way we worship Him may change, but the need to worship Him will always be in your heart.

by Emily Ledermann, UNC Charlotte Student

Daily Devotion (Thursday April 30, 2020)

Since March 16, we have been providing daily devotions. Combined, the devotions take up over 13,000 words. The words God and Jesus appear in our devotions 226 times. Time, Day, Feel, Out, Way, Go, One, See, Know, and Up are other words used very often. I generated the 13,000 words within the Niner United logo below. When I break it down, it gives me the sense that somehow we have pictured ourselves in a valley, maybe a dark time, and message after message has been reminding us to know, feel, and see that God in Jesus is the way to go, the way out, and the way up. Of course, humanity has often been stuck in dark times. Ezekiel, the Old Testament prophet, is driven to a sad and dark valley of dry and lifeless bones (Ezekiel 37). The Psalmist even recollects that there are times in our lives where we must walk through the dark valleys (Psalm 23). As a university, we walked through such a valley a year ago today when Reed Parlier and Riley Howell lost their lives, four other students were injured, and thousands of us experienced the worst day in UNC Charlotte history. As we walk through the horror, pain, and suffering of the darkest valleys, we can quickly resort to hopelessness. But in Ezekiel, God made even dead bones live, and the Psalmist reminds us that we ought not to be afraid because God walks at our side and gives us comfort. As you remember our dark valley of April 30, 2019 and undoubtedly will experience future dark valleys, may you find comfort in the God who walks with us. 

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Wednesday April 29, 2020)

Everyone goes through seasons in their life. Seasons of joy, seasons of growth, and seasons of hardship. It is safe to say none of us knew this season of life was coming. One where special events or moments were taken away, where we were concerned for our health and the well-being of others, or where we can’t simply hug a friend. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, what do you think the Lord might want to say to us in seasons like these?Maybe to slow down, take a deep breath, and trust how His hand is in this? What if we viewed this as a time of opportunity to get to know our heavenly Father more intimately? Romans 5:3-5 states, “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” We can’t skip this season, but we can embrace it for what it is. We don’t have to know the outcome to be obedient to what God is calling us to do during this time. There is a song called Way Maker by Leeland that I would encourage you to listen to. “Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness, My God, that is who you are”. We get to serve a God who is the same today, tomorrow, and forever despite our circumstances.

by Leah Kresser, UNC Charlotte Student 

Daily Devotion (Tuesday April 28, 2020)

What’s new? Not a dang thing. There seems to be no newness or excitement in our lives at all right now. Either that, or everything is new, and I am not sure I like it. While the Israelites were in exile, God said to the people through the prophet Isaiah, “Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” What a message for those exiled away from their homes, or in our case, exiled strictly to our homes. My goal is to spot the rivers or the life-giving parts of this pandemic. What will I leave behind, and what new thing will I take with me into whatever life is next? Maybe it’s a touch more family time, a less cluttered schedule, a new hobby, less Netflix because honestly there isn’t a show I haven’t seen, or maybe just genuine care and a willingness to sacrifice for my neighbor. I am comforted by the thought that God is in control of our “new normal.”

by Sallie Anna Barton, Guest Contributor 

Weekly Devotion (Monday April 27, 2020)

A recent article I read gave eleven things socially aware people should never say: 

1. I told you so.

2. I know how you feel.

3. Good luck with that.

4. It’s not my fault.

5. It’s all in your head.

6. That was stupid.

7. You always. You never.

8. Everything happens for a reason.

9. As I said before.

10. With all due respect.

11. Whatever.

That’s an excellent list to mitigate conflict and avoid uneasy situations. I want everyone I encounter to know that I am actively listening, sincerely caring, and always trying to maximize the energy toward loving my neighbor. However, I make plenty of mistakes, and sometimes I catch myself unintentionally being less emphatic than I ought to be. Therefore, I think this list is a helpful start. Take number eight, for example. It is not a lie to say everything happens for a reason. The problem with saying it, though, is twofold. First, we may not know the reason. For example, the coronavirus happened for a reason, but we aren’t exactly sure what the reason is. Virologists disagree on how viruses start and then move to humans. So while there is a scientific reason for the existence of the coronavirus, it hasn’t been fully discovered. 

The second problem with saying everything happens for a reason is that it often is used as a code for “God caused it” or “it’s part of God’s plan.” Everything that happens, though, is not part of God’s plan. Harmful and destructive things are not part of God’s plan. Someone may try to suggest that becauseGenesis 50:20 states, “even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good” it means God meant evil to happen, to use it for good. This, however, is from the words of Joseph, who is telling his brothers that their evil plans will not counteract God’s plans. Joseph’s brothers planned evil, but God intends good. More so, God is also able to turn evil into good. Joseph concluded that God can produce good from any bad situation. 

Saying everything happens for a reason can be true if you’re an infectious disease expert, but it can be a lie if you’re talking about God’s plan. We can take comfort in knowing that absolutely “everything” finds its own purpose in God. At least, this is what Paul thought. He writes in Colossians 1:16-20

“all things were created by him…

    …all things were created through him and for him…

He existed before all things,

        and all things are held together in him…

…and he reconciled all things to himself through him—

        whether things on earth or in the heavens.”

Let’s be on the lookout for the good that can come from the bad and know that God can reconcile all things. If you’re a reader, maybe take some time to read Kate Bowler’s book,Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lie’s I’ve Loved. She also has an excellent TED Talk. And meanwhile, during this time of quarantine, let’s work on the eleven things socially aware people should never say. Especially number eight.

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor 

Daily Devotion (Sunday April 26, 2020)

So we are going on day what feels like a hundred of quarantine with no end in sight, at least for where I live. That also means we’ve been communicating with professors, advisors, fellow students, and possibly bosses virtually for some time now. Is it frustrating for you? It is for me. I feel like it takes hours for one of the questions in my email to be answered, and often it’s not even the answer I was looking for or wanted from the person. It makes me frustrated and a little angry that they don’t understand what I am asking at times, and I just remember how easy it was asking the questions face to face instead. And although I’m frustrated, I think of James 1:19 where it says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” This brings me to think of patience and how our professors, advisors, fellow students, and bosses might be struggling with their own frustration and patience. So I challenge you the next time you start feeling frustrated or angry, try to listen to what is not being said, to review the email you write out of irritation, and to take a deep breath or a few to figure out what you are actually feeling.

by Kelsey Blatz, UNC Charlotte Student

Daily Devotion (Saturday April 25, 2020)

The stay-at-home order was officially extended, which is probably something most people aren’t excited about. I am glad we are being cautious and trying to keep everyone safe, but being at home is getting pretty boring. It is also oddly exhausting and not the most fun. Most days I am fine and even enjoy staying at home, but other days, I am completely over it. Today is one of those days. As I was trying to change my mindset and find something positive, I found that Ecclesiastes 7:8 says “The end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than arrogance.” Even though today is one of those days, I am thankful for the reminder that the end of staying at home is going to be better than the beginning. We can all probably think of plenty of reasons why the end of the stay-at-home order is better than the beginning. A few of my top reasons are: being around people I don’t live with, physically going to church, eating in restaurants, going on trips, concerts, and being in my friends wedding. I am looking forward to the end, but until then we must be patient, even during our most difficult days. 

by Cailee Franklin, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Friday April 24, 2020)

I had two big trips planned this year. One was for a study abroad, and the other was for international missions. Alas, both were postponed because of the Coronavirus. I went through a lot of different emotions when I first heard the news. I was not shocked by the decisions made, but I was still very sad and disappointed. Then I became frustrated. Why did this have to happen? Why did my plans have to change? What did I do wrong? After some time reading my Bible and prayer with God and my fellow friends and family, I have accepted and understood my situation. My initial plans might have been canceled, but that does not mean they won’t happen in the future. This will not be the only opportunity I have to go abroad. I trust the Lord and His guidance at this time, even though I do not fully understand. Traveling is one of, if not the biggest desire of my heart. Psalm 37 says, “Trust in the Lord, and do good: dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I believe what the Bible says, and I will try my best to be steadfast in my faith during this time of unknown. God is forever faithful to us. God will never lead us astray. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).”

by Kathryn Goretzka, Student

Daily Devotion (Thursday April 23, 2020)

Yesterday was Earth Day! Maybe your social media feeds looked similar to mine, full of people sharing pictures of the many places they have traveled. These posts challenged me to reconsider my perspectives on travel and how I view the Earth. I have been blessed to travel all over the world. I have experienced some truly breathtaking views. Just with Niner United alone, I have seen the mountains and giant trees of Yosemite National Park. I have viewed Mount Kilimanjaro and the vast plains that surround it. I have climbed the hillsides of Haiti and mountains and rock formations outside of Denver. I have swum the crystal clear waters in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. Many people have a desire to travel to see new things, to witness beauty in other places in the world. Traveling is definitely an amazing way to see God’s beauty. However, I have seen more of that beauty the past month during all of this chaos than ever before. I’ve noticed plants in my yard that I have overlooked for years. I’ve seen the same bird each morning as I sit on the porch drinking my coffee. I’ve seen plants grow, flowers bloom, and bees collect their pollen. I’ve never been more in tune with the nature that surrounds me, and I owe all of that to being forced to slow down and be present where I am. However, what is the most breathtaking is that our Lord created all of this with immense attention to detail. (Genesis 1) I am so thankful for the beauty that I have witnessed and can not wait to see more and more of it each day. My challenge to you today is to take time to sit outside, or by a window, and soak in the beauty of God’s beautiful planet

by Ben Rogers, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Wednesday April 22, 2020)

I saw a few memes the other day…well…let’s be real…I see about 100 memes EVERY day. Anyway…two of them attempted to commiserate with the high levels of stress & anxiety present day in and day out (See Below). Some folks I know are feeling very “Winona” right now, and for some very real nameable and identifiable reasons. Others are looking a lot like this cat. I am not sure exactly what is going on inside (and maybe neither are they), but the anguish, stress, loneliness, and anxiety is present.  1 Peter 5:6-10 reminds us that evil (in its many forms) is always at work and in search of someone to “devour”. Fortunately, it also offers us a way to avoid being “eaten up” by the demons around and inside us. “Cast your anxiety on to God” and do it because “He cares for you”. Remember that “we are all suffering together” and ALL includes our Lord, who wants to take the anxiety & stress away. Okay, but, “How do we let God take hold of what is causing anxiety? I do not see this issue going away any time soon.” Someone once told me to “name it”. Give it to God by saying it out loud or writing it down as an offering and throwing it away. I know that God cares for you and for me. Wouldn’t it be great if we actually LET GOD CARE and allow God to protect us from the evil ways that stress and anxiety cripple us? “Cast your anxiety onto God, because He cares for you!”

by Sallie Anna Barton, Guest Contributor

Daily Devotion (Tuesday April 21, 2020)

The social isolation we have been facing from COVID-19 is miserable in many ways. Last night, I got word that a friend’s mom just died from the virus. I never met his mom, but I know she raised a wonderful son, who today is in intense pain. In the next couple of days, I am sure the United States will jump to over one million confirmed cases. We are already at over 42,000 deaths in basically a month. My friend has no plans for his mom’s final arrangements. I am sure this is true of most of these families. We can’t gather together for birthday parties, to see the movies, to go to church, to go to class, or even to bury the dead. I can’t even begin to imagine the level of pain such circumstances bring. Paul tells the church in Corinth that “we are afflicted in every way.” The Voice translation says, “We are cracked and chipped from our afflictions on all sides.” I can relate. The despair is coming from every single angle. There is no doubt in every direction we look, we are seeing and experiencing pain and suffering. But, Paul is reminding us that God’s transforming power is revealed in this pain. More so, God’s power is what brings us through our most tragic afflictions. He writes, “We are cracked and chipped from our afflictions on all sides, but we are not crushed by them. We are bewildered at times, but we do not give in to despair. We are persecuted, but we have not been abandoned. We have been knocked down, but we are not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).”

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Weekly Devotion (Monday April 20, 2020)

I am really tired and I don’t have a reason. I have been home a lot and not nearly as active as I ought to be. I can’t remember when the last time I set the alarm clock. Most nights I sleep well, so you could say I’m well-rested. Maybe you are working an “essential” job that has you putting in long hours with lots of exposure to potential risks. Not me. Yet I am exhausted. Maybe your professors have been giving you extra busywork, lots of papers, and worrisome exams. Not me. Yet, I am still fatigued. I don’t know why I am so tired. I don’t understand why I am spent. I can’t wrap my brain around why all of this change in our lives has me so drained. Who knew that doing pretty much nothing all day is so demanding? 

I have been trying to make sense of my exhaustion. It’s not that I am doing nothing, rather I am doing something different. After all, it takes a lot of energy to become a totally new person. I have a new routine. My days are different from what they used to be. My patterns, habits, and behaviors are entirely unfamiliar. If I go out, I am extra vigilant in the store. I wash my hands like crazy when I get home and I even wipe down my phone. I sit so much that when I eat, I have noticed I like to stand. I even found myself watching a cornhole tournament on TV. A cornhole tournament. I am becoming a different person. It is draining and I am not sure I like who I am becoming. I am tired of the new me, and I am even more tired of the new world we are living in. I have always tried to embrace change. I’ve read tons of books on change management. However, I’m not so much a fan of change these days. I am just tired. 

It oddly comforts me to know that Jesus also got tired. We see this in the gospels in several places. He got tired of the crowds. He got tired of taking care of everyone else’s problems. He got tired of his own followers and even got tired of his family. Sometimes Jesus just had too much, so he withdrew. However, we can be sure that even when Jesus withdrew, he never gave up. For instance, Jesus withdrew right before he fed five thousand and right before he walked on water (Matthew 14:13-36). Jesus’ exhaustion was not indicative of his inactivity or inattentiveness to the world around him. Instead, Jesus’ withdrawal was purposeful. And that gives my tired-self hope. It gives me confidence that it’s okay to be tired of all of this change. It gives me assurance that I am not damaged or messed up. It gives me affirmation that perhaps this exhausting withdrawal is a behind the scenes way of recharging of my faith. It is conceivable that God has something amazing ready for us to accomplish when we return to the world we once left, or maybe before then. Rest up, because I have a feeling God is up to something good in our lives that will need us focused, ready, and recharged.

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor 

Daily Devotion (Sunday April 19, 2020)

Today is day 20 of the Stay-at-Home order. I’m not sure about you, but I am starting to go a little stir crazy. Friday, as I was sitting on the back porch chatting with my family, we started talking about the best “home” you could be stuck in during this time. Take a minute to think about where you would want to be. Would it be a massive ranch with lots of land to play? An upscale mansion with an indoor swimming pool and basketball court? Or maybe you’d pick a penthouse suite in the middle of New York City. My Dad’s choice would be a yacht so he could fish and relax until this all goes by. His answer got me thinking about the story of Noah and the ark (Genesis 6:5-9:17). Noah is minding his own business, and then God instructs him to build a huge ark and load it up with thousands of animals. Noah then spends 40 days locked away in his ark, simply waiting for the water to recede. He occasionally sent a dove out to see if it would return with anything proving there was dry land. Eventually, because of the Lords desire to show grace, and his desire to save Noah and all of the animals, the floods went away. I know it’s a long shot, but it feels like we are in a somewhat similar situation, minus a boat and a few thousand animals. We are separated from everyone, waiting for the “all clear” from government officials. Noah’s obedience to the Lord and his willingness to be patient paid off in the long haul. His family was safe, the animals let free, and God made a new covenant with all of the living creatures on Earth, represented by a rainbow. We can find rest knowing that the Lords desires are still the same, to show grace and to guide us through whatever season we are in. Whenever we see a rainbow, we can remember the covenant that came after the flood. What “rainbow moment” are you looking forward to on the flip side of the Stay-at-Home order? 

by Ben Rogers, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Saturday April 18, 2020)

I have spent a lot of time worrying about when this stay at home order will end. I find myself constantly wondering if it will actually end at the end of the month or how much longer they will need to extend it. I am curious if I will be able to go to a retreat in May or when I can visit my grandparents again. There is a lot of wondering and planning that runs through my mind daily, but yesterday I was reminded of how important it is to be present in each moment. I have been wishing this quarantine away and haven’t taken the time to focus on some things I have really enjoyed. I love how my dog sits or lays beside me all day while I work and how we have more time to play and learn new tricks. I have enjoyed not having to rush in the mornings and not having to spend as much money on gas. I am thankful for the nightly family dinners and walks that I would usually miss. Today I am especially thankful for Matthew 6:34, it says “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” This verse is a reminder to assess what I am worrying about or focusing on and probably something I should read every day. So for the remainder of staying at home, I am striving to focus on each day because they are full of moments I am going to miss when quarantine is over.

by Cailee Franklin, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Friday April 17, 2020)

What do you see in the image below? 


If you saw the car, it could mean that you like your freedom (and maybe want to get out and take a ride). If you saw the person with a pair of binoculars, it could mean that you like to focus on the big picture. If you saw the letter A, it could mean you are very detailed oriented. These image tests are fun. 

What do you see in this image?

If you see an N on top of a U, you might think of Niner United, our campus ministry, because this is our logo. But some people don’t see the N or U, at first. Some people see the cross. If you see the cross first, you could convince yourself you have some extraordinary spiritual gifts, or it could just be how you perceive things. Research has shown that people are not influenced by events so much as their perceptions of events. Right now, we have a significant event disrupting everything. Life will never be “normal” again. Yet, it’s not so much the event of the virus that is changing us, as it is how we perceive the event. This is why we know very careless people, and we know very cautious people. Their perceptions differ. Our perceptions of ourselves, others, and life’s events orchestrate our feelings, our relationships, and our well-being. During their exile, the people of Israel were very depressed. They were held captive against their will, lost their jobs and homes, went without food, and people died. But still, the prophet Isaiah relayed God’s message to them. He says, “You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen (Isaiah 42:20).” Their perceptions and God’s differed. Yes, bad things were undoubtedly happening, yet they were – and we are now – being called to be a light in a world of darkness. Choosing to be the light, isn’t simple, but it’s simply a matter of perception. 

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Thursday April 16, 2020)

We offer a lot of mission trips. Right now, I am missing those mission trips. In fact, I actually missed the last one because the night before we were supposed to leave for the Bahamas, I was hospitalized with meningitis. It was awful. After I got out of the ICU, I had to take antibiotics through a midline for ten days. I had to remind myself to be patient and kind. I tell every mission team, before every trip that there are two primary rules. Things on these trips will move to a different schedule and pace than you want, so first, be patient. These trips don’t always happen the way they are supposed to, which could bring out the worst in us, so also be kind. I really needed that wisdom facing meningitis, and I think we could use this wisdom facing Coronavirus. Today is one month of writing daily devotions, so that means this isolation gig is getting old, and may even at times bring out the worst in us. These, of course, are Paul’s rules. He writes, “Love is patient. Love is kind. (1 Corinthians 13:4).” We must practice patience and kindness if we genuinely want to be a loving person that intimates God. After all, God is love. I lose count of the number of times that I screw up. Nonetheless, God is so patient and kind to me. God is patient and kind to us all, so let’s practice a bit of that wisdom and “be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1),” and be patient and kind, with ourselves, and each other.

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Wednesday April 15, 2020)

Over the past few weeks I have been especially thankful for the opportunity to meet online with Niner United. Even though it might seem a little strange to talk to everyone through a computer screen, it has been one of my highlights during this stay at home order. It is easy to feel lonely when you are restricted from your usual social functions, but continuing to invest in your community will remind you otherwise. Hebrews 10:25 urges us to not neglect meeting together (even if it is only online) and to encourage one another. So, even if it feels awkward at first, I am grateful that we continue to meet online and encourage each other during this unprecedented and crazy time. In fact, we are meeting today at 5pm. Join us:

by Cailee Franklin, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Tuesday April 14, 2020)

I have realized while being quarantined how important it is to set my sights on heavenly ideas, instead of earthly ideas. What are you doing right now with all that God has given you? It is so clear in Colossians 3! Verse 2 emphasizes, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” We are instructed to put the things that are not of God to death. Especially in the midst of a pandemic, it is so crucial that we are using this time wisely by honoring God through reading our bible, praying fervently, and spending time being filled up so we can pour out. Christ is our only standard, not human beings. As followers of Jesus Christ, we should strive to live like Him in every aspect of our own lives. Verse 12 popped off the page at me saying, “Clothe yourself with COMPASSION, KINDNESS, HUMILITY, GENTLENESS, and PATIENCE. It is so key that we “clothe” ourselves with all of these character traits so we can represent Him well; especially during a time like this where people are looking to cling to the hope only Jesus can offer this world. We are the face of Jesus! When you walk into a room, are you bringing in darkness or light? In the book of Exodus, Moses could not come face to face with God because the presence of the Holy Spirit was so powerful. The same Holy Spirit lives inside of us because we were made in His image!!! We have the power to change this world through serving Jesus with our whole hearts, which is our sole purpose for being created! My three main takeaways from Colossians 3 are: 1. Free yourself of any sin that is separating you from God 2. Clothe yourself with love 3. Commit to serving Jesus with your whole heart right now, don’t wait!

by Kailey Galloway, UNC Charlotte Student

Weekly Devotion (Monday April 13, 2020)

In Acts 10, Peter begrudgingly followed a call to speak of Jesus’ resurrection. The story echos Jonah in the Old Testament, who also begrudgingly follows a call to share the love of God. Similarly, I begrudgingly gave this message livestream yesterday. Today, we are in month two (or nine, I can’t tell) of quarantine, people I actually know have the coronavirus, and now there is no Hulu, Netflix, or hot water because Easter storms have left thousands of us powerless. But, begrudgingly, I need to say, Jesus has risen! Indeed. Amen.

I hope you hear the whine of Peter, Jonah, and me in these words. Really, believe me, things could be worse. This is what crucifixion should teach us. And really, believe me, things will get better. This is what resurrection should teach us. God does something new, and the new that God does is often out of nowhere. We find new life in God by actually not finding what we are looking for. God surprises us with the unexpected. Perhaps during this shelter-in-place, you’ve heard from an old friend. Maybe during this quarantine, you’ve learned a new skill or hobby. For all one knows, during this time of seclusion, perhaps you’ve got some needed rest. Sometimes a few good things can grow in crappy soil.

Resurrection is the mother of all miracles. Out of death comes life. So we make Easter the mother of all Sundays. But today is Monday. These two months have been one big Monday. Perhaps this is why the church has long taught that every Sunday should be remembered as a “little” Easter. If we do this, that means every week should be a holy week. Say your power is out: Death. But in time, the power will be restored: Life. Say commencement is canceled: Death. But in time, you will be a college graduate: Life. Let’s encourage one another to be open to the smallest of miracles. Even if we begrudgingly start to see glimpses of the cycle of death and resurrection in the ordinary and smallest ways, I promise, we’ll begin to understand how God works in the biggest ways.

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Sunday April 12, 2020)

Happy Easter, friends! As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, I want to share two things that have brought me lots of joy this weekend. Every year, my home church sets up a cross in the front lawn for people to place flowers on to turn it into a living cross. With church not physically meeting this was not going to happen. However, as I was on a walk Saturday morning I noticed a blank cross at the front of my neighborhood, by mid afternoon, it was FULL of flowers from people waking by and placing them. Another favorite memory from Easter Sunday was my old pastor singing “Lord of the Dance” to the children of the church. He retired a few years ago but went live on Facebook on Friday to sing it! My whole family sat around and watched it together reliving that memory. One thing I have been reminded of while celebrating Holy Week this year is that the Lord is ALWAYS with me, with us. While everything around us might change, Jesus will always be our Living Cross. He lived, was crucified, and rose so we can have eternal life and that brings me comfort and joy during this season.

“Dance, then, wherever you may be,

I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,

And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be,

And I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he” 

Join us at Noon today on Facebook live for an Easter message from our pastor, Rev. Steve Cheyney!

By Ben Rogers, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Saturday April 11, 2020)

Today we remember the Saturday between Jesus dying and Jesus rising. It seems like not much happened that day. At first glance, it is just a day in between two enormous events. But, I think it is a day that is pretty significant. When something happens, especially if it is bad, it is pretty common to be in shock or feel numb. Of course you are sad, but things really haven’t started to settle in yet because there hasn’t been enough time to fully understand everything that had just happened. However, when you wake up the next morning (if you were able to get any sleep), things start to feel more real, and emotions begin to pile on pretty strong. That was the Saturday after Jesus died, the first full day without him. I imagine it felt really weird and really sad. In Luke 23:54-56, it says they rested on the Sabbath to follow the commandment. When we just sit and do nothing (rest), our feelings begin to overwhelm us. Often these feelings are negative. That Saturday was the day Jesus’ family and followers were starting to process, sulk over, and fully comprehend that he had actually died. It was an awful day. Awful days still come. We call the Saturday after Jesus died “Holy Saturday.” We can call our own grief “holy” because we can be reassured by Romans 8:18 that says, “the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us.”

By Cailee Franklin, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Friday April 10, 2020)

Today we remember the Friday Jesus died. Mark 15 covers it all. Being handed over to Pilate, the mocking of soldiers, the carrying of the crossbeam through the city, and the crucifixion death of Jesus. And for some reason, we call this Good Friday. It was a particularly violent and sad day. Crowds turned against Jesus. Before Jesus died, they humiliated him. They forced him to drink sour wine and hung him on a pole to die. Jesus, in utter pain, cried out, “My God, my God, why have you left me?” Yet we call this day Good Friday. Calling today Good seems to be quite the hyperbole. It feels like I would be exaggerating if I said today, April 10th, was good. We have 830 confirmed coronavirus cases in Mecklenburg County – that’s up by a hundred from yesterday. But it’s good because experts are saying our distancing is starting to work. We just can’t quite see it with our eyes. So “good” is relative. The Friday Jesus died was good, relatively speaking, because, in just a few days, his death would make more sense. Theologian Jürgen Moltmann put it like this: “God never died, death is in God.” Death became part of God on the Friday Jesus was killed, and that’s why we call it good. We call it good because Jesus Christ, our God in the flesh, took on not just what was good about humanity, but also what was awful about humanity. He took on death. Today is Good Friday because God sees the goodness ahead, even when we can’t. 

By Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Thursday April 9, 2020)

Anyone who has driven around lately, especially the northern part of Uptown, has probably noticed an increase in tent camps around the Men’s Shelter and Urban Ministry Center. Homelessness has always been a problem, but the coronavirus has made things desperately worse for this very vulnerable population. Today is Holy Thursday, the day before Jesus died, and the day he washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). There are no showers or even running water in these tent camps. No one is washing anyone’s feet on North Tryon. Shower ministries and other programs offering services to the homeless are gated closed. All of this makes the significance of Jesus washing feet feel different today. So often, we focus on the sacrifice of the cross and pour a lot of time into considering the significance of Jesus’ death, but today I think we need to be challenged to consider the importance of Jesus’ life. He humbled himself to serve others. Jesus sacrificed reputation, honor, and even his health by breaking down barriers and making everyone equal in God’s eyes. Some of us will go to sleep in a bed, and others will sleep in a tent. None of this feels equal or right. Some of us will shower and wash our own feet, while others will remain stained by the million reasons for poverty. Truth is, we are all stained in different ways and, therefore, we are all in need of Jesus’ sacrificial love. Those privileged to have more, yet are called to make even more sacrifices to follow the risk-taking lead of Jesus.

By Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Wednesday April 8, 2020)

On the Wednesday before Jesus died, he was having dinner in Bethany (Mark 14:3-9) at the home of Simon “the leper.” Right as he sat down, an unnamed woman approaches him and “anoints” Jesus with oil. Some naysayers at the dinner were surprised. They even said, “why was this ointment wasted in this way?” They were aghast because the expensive stuff was only saved for kings. A few months ago, in my small group, we talked about the many “faces” of Jesus. We reviewed passages in the Bible that shows his philosophical, cynical, and humorous sides. We talked about Jesus being a Jew, a sage, and a Galilean. We discussed the historical “threefold office of Jesus” as prophet, priest, and king. Theologically speaking, this woman was simply anointing her king, the king of Israel. Ironically, though, Jesus never really embraced that identity. He was humble, simple, and sat at the dinner table of Simon, the leper. She may never have even viewed Jesus as a king either. She was giving “Jesus,” not a king, a gift. He agreed. That’s the thing with Jesus, we find him in everyone we encounter. We find him in the philosopher, the cynic, and the comedian. We find Jesus in the poor and rich, the black and white, the person we love and the person we despise. We find Jesus in everyone. It’s easy to overlook, considering most everyone we encounter seems far from royalty. Regardless, the way we treat others is the way we treat Jesus. So this “holy” Wednesday, remember that everyone is, theologically speaking, royalty. 

By Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Tuesday April 7, 2020)

When Jesus encourages us to pray in Mark 11:24 he says, “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Sometimes I forget that “whatever” can include prayers of lament. Let that be so for us. Don’t shy away or be ashamed of your current laments, whether they seem petty or great. I am closest with the people I feel comfortable venting to & crying in front of. Shouldn’t we feel like we can present our honest selves to God? Let it all out. God wants to hear those prayers, because it creates a vulnerable closeness like nothing else. God can take it. If Jesus can handle the cross, God can handle our laments. However, we must communicate them to God and believe that He will come through. God has provided before and Jesus has faith not in His prayer but in God’s provision.

By Sallie Anna Barton, Guest Contributor

Weekly Devotion (Monday April 6, 2020)

The admiration of Dr. Anthony Fauci has feverishly spread. In fact, I am pretty sure that I am buying a Fauci bobblehead for my mom sometime soon. Some memes I have seen have replaced God, saying, “In Fauci we Trust.” One Charlotte bakery is even making Fauci cupcakes. Like the virus, Fauci products are widespread. I suppose this is what we do during a pandemic. We put our hope into something or someone to save us. We do this anyway without pandemics. Idolizing all types of things other than God is part of our human nature. I even fell for the trap and completed Tiger King on Netflix. That show is confusing, concerning, and consuming. Idolatry doesn’t have to be revering something. Binge-watching seven straight episodes and enjoying someone else’s bizarre and cringy life is also idolizing, because I was excessive with my interest in it. Imagine if I had spent that time in devotion to something Godly?

Two years ago, I led a year-long series on the Gospel of Mark at Niner United. I repeatedly told everyone that Mark only had four characters: Jesus, the disciples, the opposition, and the bystanders. The call of Mark’s Gospel is to be Jesus’ unwavering and devout disciple, and if we are merely a bystander, we might as well be the opposition. Jesus wants all of us, not just part of us. Giving just a bit of ourselves to God is just as good as opposing God. Moreover, Mark’s gospel tells us that Jesus’ disciples were pretty cringe-worthy misfits. These were some weird and unsuccessful folks. If you want to imagine how freakish and abnormal his disciples were, maybe you should watch Tiger King. Jesus wasn’t looking for the best in anyone. Jesus was looking for genuineness. So it makes sense that Jesus cared about and reached the most isolated, loneliest, awkward, and rejected people in society. These folks had been so deprived of their dignity, that it made no sense to polish themselves up and put on a show.

This week we celebrate Jesus’ last week. Despite knowing that he was a marked man and that if he entered the city, he would die, Jesus and his small fanatic group of disciples entered Jerusalem for the Passover festival. The religious authority of the day (the Temple) had become fixated with mongering fear instead of showing faith. It brokered on and thrived by making people fear for their lives and pay for favor with God. So on the Monday of his last week, Jesus cleared the Temple (Mark 11:15-19). By doing so, Jesus demonstrated to his disenfranchised disciples that following God was not a religion of power, control, or greed. Instead, following God is an act of love, mercy, and forgiveness. Once Jesus did this, Mark’s gospel records that the religious leaders “regarded him as dangerous.” This spring, the coronavirus has literally cleared thousands of temples across the globe. We have rightfully regarded the virus as dangerous, but we must remember that no matter how much we need to respect the virus’ power, we can’t idolize it. Instead, the Temple is a community of imperfect brothers and sisters that only Jesus can cleanse. If only Jesus can cleanse us, then only Jesus is worthy of our reverence. So this holy week, may Jesus cleanse us from the fears and worries that have infected our every second, and fill our emptiness and sorrow with hope for a new and more peaceful day.

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Sunday April 5, 2020)

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. During the last week of Jesus’s Earthly ministry he was betrayed, arrested, crucified and resurrected. As I sit here trying to find the words to write on such an important day, I keep going back to the chance I had to walk the city of Jerusalem this past summer with a group from Niner United. We spent over a week exploring all of sites of Jesus’s footsteps. My whole life, I have been taught about and have studied the stories of the Bible. The trip allowed me to put my feet in these places and meditate on what it would have been like to have been there. So, today I am wondering what it would have been like to be there the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-11) knowing what was to come?  The ability to wonder is such a beautiful thing. Today I am lost in the wonder of our Father and the way He has orchestrated every moment of time. As we go through each day this Holy Week, take time to sit back and be mesmerized by the events that truly shaped Christianity.

By Ben Rogers, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Saturday April 4, 2020)

My parents have been on a yard work kick. Last weekend, we put out over 60 bags of mulch and pine straw. My mom has a list of things she would like to get done around the house. Most of these tasks are ways to make the outside of our house look better, like painting the deck and replacing the fence. There are very few tasks that involve making the inside look better. Although she wants the kitchen to be painted, putting out mulch was prioritized, probably because more people see the mulch. Others see the outside of our house more than the inside, but we see and deal with the inside significantly more than the outside. I think a lot of times we do this with ourselves as well. It is really easy to prioritize making sure our outward appearance is what we want it to be, because it is what people see. 1 Peter 3:3-4 reminds us that outward beauty does not matter as much as your inward beauty, because the inner-beauty is what is precious in God’s eyes. Since we are staying at home and away from others, we have a good excuse to not focus as much on our outward appearance or beauty. This provides the perfect opportunity to look inward and take the time to focus on enduring the quality of a gentle, peaceful spirit. After all, we have to deal with our inner-self significantly more than what others see on the outside.By Cailee Franklin, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Friday April 3, 2020)

I’ll admit it, I’m ready to escape. Hawaii looks nice. Tickets there are cheap. Maybe Fiji. I can live on one of those huts in the sea. Nobody will find me in the Maldives. It’s smack in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the last unchartered spot on our planet. I just want to get away. Escaping never sounded better. Of course, wherever I go, the virus and the isolation will follow. Rarely are we able to escape to paradise. Sometimes, though, folks escape from their reality through harmful ways – like binge drinking or displaying toxic behaviors. The desire to escape isn’t wrong. After all, life can be unfair and burdensome. But we need to be careful about how we act on our desires. There is a compelling story in Acts 16:16-40. Paul and Silas are jailed for blessing a slaved girl, but her captors knowing she would no longer be a source of income, persuaded the authorities to arrest them for disturbing the peace. While in jail, an earthquake broke open the doors. Despite having a free getaway, Paul and Silas decided that helping themselves wasn’t the best option. By staying, they encountered a distraught guard and were able to share God’s saving love with him and his family. His needs were greater than theirs. No matter how bad it gets, there is always someone who has it worse. If we escape from our problems, how could we ever help someone else with theirs?

By Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Thursday April 2, 2020)

I don’t know about you, but it seems that every time I go to the store to stock up on food during the quarantine, I end up eating it way faster than I planned. This past weekend I was watching Food Network and ended up being hungry even though I had eaten just before the show! Food is a wonderful thing, a lot of people also call it the “universal language” since it can bring people together from all sorts of backgrounds. Food, or the lack of food (hunger), is also a very powerful thing. Food is used throughout the Bible in different types of ways. Some of the most notable stories involving food include the story of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), Jesus Feeding the Multitude (Mark 6:31-44), and The Last Supper (Luke 22:7-38, ). Food, in the Bible, is both a physical and spiritual matter. Read Isaiah 55:1-7 . The metaphor reminds me that while I might hunger physically, my spiritual hunger is actually even greater. Our relationship with the Lord is sometimes hard to describe in physical ways, but food helps us be descriptive. I have gone to the grocery store to look for food multiple times over the past few days, and each time I am reminded that I need to spend time with God filling myself with the food only God can offer. As you go about your week, think about the ways you can feed your relationship with the Lord.

By Ben Rogers, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Wednesday April 1, 2020)

I was finally reading a book one of my friends gave me over Thanksgiving and stumbled upon Isaiah 42:16. It says, “I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them. I will turn darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them.”  We most certainly do not know what is going to happen, but God is guiding us. This verse’s theme of God’s guidance comforted and reminded me that He will not forsake or abandon us. Sometimes I need to be reassured through specific topics, and maybe you do too. So, I want to challenge you to think about what topic or theme you need encouragement in or would like one of these daily devotions to focus on. Reply to this email with your ideas so we can create specific topic-driven devotions and continuously support you during this time.

By Cailee Franklin, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Tuesday March 31, 2020)

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11. What a verse. This one is packed full of the assurance that God has a plan in place and that plan is GOOD. We hear this verse a lot when we are in the midst of the “big knocks” of life like losing a loved one, not getting the job, struggling through tough decisions. We are thirsty for hope and that is what God promises. So, Jeremiah 29:11 is a “fan favorite”, “go to” verse  to use for times of struggle. While we may be familiar with this verse, we may not be familiar with its backstory. This verse is a message from God through His prophet Jeremiah to the people who are in exile from their homeland. Exile means to be “barred” from your native place. Much like today, these people are not where they are “supposed to be” and are not allowed to go back. They are uncomfortable, they are without, they are uncertain, and they are in limbo. Lots of waiting and lots of dreaming about getting back to where they belong. Sound familiar? I feel like “exile” sounds about right.  Exiled from school, exiled from friends, exiled from family, exiled from “normal”. All of a sudden, this verse packs a whole lot more punch. They, like us, need to hear and know that God has future coming down the pipe that involves our wellbeing and a big dose of hope. How is it going to play out? God doesn’t let us in on the details (Ugh…I know) For today, I pray we let God’s assurance found in Jeremiah be enough for us to survive another day, week, or so in exile.

By Sallie Anna Barton, Guest Contributor 

Weekly Devotion (Monday March 30, 2020)

A few days ago, I hurt some people with the words I said. These weren’t strangers. I love and appreciate the people I just wronged. Oddly enough, I didn’t mean to harm them. It’s not like I started my day telling myself, “go and hurt my loved ones.” To be honest, I only realized how foolish and combative my words were after I already said them. This wasn’t the first time I’ve said something harmful. On this particular day, I felt backed into a corner by someone, feeling as if I had no room for any control. Therefore, I was upset. I wasn’t even upset with the people I hurt. I was bothered by someone totally different. But my anger set me on a path of destruction, and anyone I encountered during the day was at risk of seeing my bad self. At the time, however, I didn’t realize I was even on the warpath. I didn’t take time to process my feelings, so instead, I lashed out and misdirected my anger on others. It turns out that the person who upset me also misdirected his anger, and I fell victim. The cycle can seem to be universal and never-ending.

Eugene Peterson, who wrote The Message, paraphrases Ephesians 4:29: “watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Sadly, I often ignore this advice. Too often, when I feel like I lose control, everyone around me suffers because I don’t watch the way I talk. I don’t say what helps. I don’t treat each word as a gift. Thus, I hurt people. If I realize this before too late, I apologize, and if I am lucky, they forgive me, and we can move on. Yet, it is inevitable that I will get angry again, so I simply can’t let the cycle continue. I can’t rely on luck. At some point, misdirecting my anger will ruin my most treasured friendships and relationships. The last thing I want is a ruined relationship, therefore, I need to heed the wisdom and honestly “watch the way I talk.” To be disciplined enough to do this, I have to be much more mindful of my own emotions and more intentional about showing empathy and respect.

The fact that I misdirect my anger is a sign that there is some underlying unresolved issue in my life. I am pretty sure its that I don’t like losing agency. I don’t like being unable to resolve problems that are bigger than me. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I have little power at home, at work, in the community, or anywhere. I want power but can’t have it. And it’s not like I want to be powerful. I just want to have some control over life, but I still seem to come up short. The truth is I need to be mindful that control is an illusion, and the only thing I can actually control is my own behavior. The more I accept this, the less I will feel backed into a corner, the less I will misdirect my anger, and the less I will hurt others. Paul writes in Romans 8:6 “to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” My need for control is selfish. It is “setting the mind on the flesh.” The only way I can set my mind on the Spirit is to let go of my “fleshly” selfish desire to have control. Remembering that God is in control, and not me, is the best way to step back and let go, even when I’m angry. Being mindful of this will remind me to control my emotions and “say only what helps.” I owe this to myself and to everyone around me, especially the ones I love, and who I deeply regret ever hurting in the first place. In fact, we all owe it to one another.

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Sunday March 29, 2020)

Who else is struggling to stay disciplined during this new normal we are living in? I know that I am and it’s a challenge each day to stay focused on the “why” behind everything I do. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 talks about the discipline of athletes as they prepare and compete in their sport. It requires running with a goal in mind, sport specific training, and most importantly, self discipline. The other day one of our students shared a wellness calendar she made to make sure she included certain things into her daily routine. It was a great reminder for something we should all do. If you are currently struggling to stay focused or up to date with an online class, maybe try writing out a plan for each day this coming week. If you are trying to maintain friendships that are more challenging from a distance, make it your goal to call one friend a day to check in on them until this stay at home order is over. Above all, sit down and think about the ways you can stay disciplined in your walk with Christ. Or try starting each morning off in the Word, or start up a christian podcast as you get ready for the day. Next time you go on a walk, put on some worship music to clear your mind from the distractions that surround us. One great place to start is set a reminder on your phone for Wednesday at 5pm and Thursday at 2pm to hop on Niner United at 

By Ben Rogers, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Saturday March 28, 2020)

Recently I have been playing a lot of iMessage games with friends to feel less bored. Something as simple as a game has been a reminder of community on a daily basis for me. After realizing this, I started reaching out to friends to see how they were doing. Most of these friends are friends that I have been intentional with in a while, who are nurses, and who are dealing with their plans of a wedding or a job being drastically changed. I was also on the receiving end and had a someone I had not talked to in months text me to catch up. Talking to each of them reminded me how important it is to reach out to our community and make others feel loved and not alone. Each conversation left me feeling encouraged and boosted my mood. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says to “continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already.” So, take some time to reach out to a friend and ask them how they are doing or take the time to really catch up. It is important that we continue to encourage each other and invest in community.

By Cailee Franklin, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Friday March 27, 2020)

A few years back, I was feeling burned out and less than creative. Before I spiraled out of control, I asked for a sabbatical. A sabbatical is a very fortunate benefit of working at a university. It is an extended sabbath or time of rest. For six months, I didn’t answer any work emails, texts, or phone calls. I read twenty-seven books from the luxury of my Eno hammock. Before you judge me as a bum (which if you did, I can’t really blame you), I want to pass on at least one helpful habit I learned. I learned how to do “Centering Prayer.” Centering prayer is a detailed concept, but the practice of the prayer is something easy to take up if you have extra time, are bored, or have exhausted every possible series on Hulu, HBO, and Netflix. Find a quiet place by yourself. Open to the Psalms and read maybe Psalm 23, 121, 91, or 139. Then set the timer on your phone for twenty minutes and close your eyes and sit. Don’t talk to God. Try to listen to God instead. Just hear the silence. After twenty minutes, close it out with “Amen,” “Thank you, God,” or the Lord’s prayer. The first two or three times you try this, it may seem like a failure. You may get distracted or fall asleep. However, I assure you, do this once a day for a week, and you’ll start to hear the voice of God in unique and mysterious ways. It won’t be audible or even intelligible. Instead, the voice of God will be comforting and encouraging. A voice we really need to hear these days.

By Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Thursday March 26, 2020)

Happy first day of shelter in place orders! Does anyone ever laugh when the timing of things just seems to be just right..or wrong? For inspiration while writing today’s devotion I decided to look back at March 26th from a daily devotion book I did a few years ago. This days devotion starts with, “Today you will encounter things that will confuse you, but rest assured the One who rules all those things is not confused.” How comforting that one line is. It is exactly what I needed to hear today. It is nothing profound and in some ways sounds too good to be true. Sometimes the answer to our confusion is so simple that we refuse to see it for what it is. I am constantly causing confusion in my own head by looking at the latest news articles trying to figure out what is going to be next, what celebrity will be sick next, when the government will be sending me a check, and so many other questions. All of these questions make me confused on why this is all happening and when it will all stop. My challenge for today is this: When you find yourself confused about things surrounding us, or try to make reason of things that seem so crazy, remember that God is worthy of our trust and will cover us in his love and peace!

By Ben Rogers, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Wednesday March 25, 2020)

Since COVID-19 really started impacting the United States, it seems like that is all anyone talks about. We talk about what is changing, our hopes or expectations for what is to come, and even how much we hate talking about the coronavirus. Just one topic consumes so many thoughts and conversations that I don’t really remember what we talked about before this. These common themes in conversations I have had lately have reminded me of Romans 12:12: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” We can rejoice in hope because we know this will not last forever. We can be patient during this time, even though we are suffering. Maybe you are suffering with anxiety, being home too much, having to deal with the semester abruptly ending, or coping with so many unknowns, but we are all suffering with something during this time. Finally, we can persevere in prayer. Other versions of this verse say to be faithful in prayer. If we are faithful in prayer, we can preserve through this and all situations. So even when COVID-19 is the only topic of conversation, and it is driving you crazy, be hopeful, patient, and prayerful.

By Cailee Franklin, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Tuesday March 24, 2020)

Life was majorly disrupted at UNC Charlotte in the spring of 2019. Life is majorly disrupted again for the spring of 2020. Of course, disruption is nothing new. The coronavirus isn’t the first pandemic, nor will it be the last. Our lives are fluid and will always change. Negative changes (but sometimes even positive changes) bring about stress. We stress about losing control over our daily routines. We stress about being in isolation. We stress about money. We stress about people getting sick. We stress about being overwhelmed. Change causes stress. Interestingly, the more I read the gospels, the less I see Jesus stressed. Jesus got upset, mad, angered, and saddened, but never stressed. I think Jesus rarely stressed because he always kept the problems and worries of the day in perspective. He knew that while the world gives us challenges and stress, God does not give as the world gives. When we feel isolated, be reminded that God never abandons us. When we feel defeated, God gives us abundance, and when we feel knocked out, God gives us peace (John 14:27).

By Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Weekly Devotion (Monday March 23, 2020)

In the early 1600s, the bubonic plague was ravaging Europe. In a small Bavarian town called Oberammergau, the residents prayed promising that if God spared them from the epidemic, they would act out the “passion” play of Jesus’ death and resurrection until the end of time. Ironically, the village was spared. So they kept their promise, and performed the play every ten years, since 1634. A few days ago, however, the villagers announced that the 2020 play would be canceled due to the coronavirus. These are extraordinary times. Some say the end of times. I’ve seen the tweets, the instagram posts, and headlines. Some of the headlines are: “Death tolls rise as Australian wildfires burn on,” “Swarms of locust forced Somalia to declare national emergency,” and “Coronavirus, a world pandemic.” These headlines are then followed by various quotes from the Bible, like 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, that states:

“When I close the sky so that there is no rain or I order the locusts to consume the land or I send a plague against my people, if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 

However, we have a small problem. The problem is that anyone can take the Bible out of context and use it to prove just about anything. The Bible isn’t a book of predictions. Even “prophecy” in the Bible isn’t about future-telling. Prophecy in the Bible is always about justice-seeking. This quote is from Second Chronicles, a historical book, not even a book of prophecy. Sometimes in the Bible, God seems angry or vengeful. It can be hard to wrap our heads around this, but the Bible isn’t God’s autobiography. God isn’t telling us that God is angry. Instead, writers of various Biblical books occasionally paint that picture. Since these are very ancient writings, at times, the numerous Biblical writers blamed plagues, famines, disasters, and other horrors on God because they hadn’t developed the resources to fully understand the causes of the events that they experienced. Or, if they didn’t blame God, they blamed sin against God for the events. When sin was to blame, the writers would develop a way for God to have retribution for the sin. In the proper context of time and culture, these were reasonable explanations for the faithful followers of God. 

Today we know a tiny bit more about God and a lot more about the science of why things happen. So believe me on this: God has not caused or punished us with the fires in Australia, the locust in Somalia, or the coronavirus. God has not caused or punished us with the loss of jobs, failures in our lives, or the sicknesses of our family members. God is not, nor ever has been, a God of punishment or retribution. Our understanding of the world and the ways we read the Bible have changed. The Bible teaches us way more than dire predictions. It teaches us that God created us in his own image and liberated us from sin and death. It teaches us that God seeks justice for the weakest and most vulnerable. It teaches us that Jesus walked among us as God’s own son, and set aside that privilege by humbling himself, living so selflessly out of love, that it took him to the cross. The Bible teaches us that our sin, the problems of the world, pandemics, and even death couldn’t stop Jesus. The Bible teaches us that love conquers everything. The Bible teaches us that Jesus said, “Don’t worry (Matthew 6:25).” Therefore, in our own time and culture, it is wiser for us to not worry about the tweets and the “signs” of end times, and instead strive to know and share the love of God that the Bible really teaches us about.

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Sunday March 22, 2020)

I have always loved Sundays for many reasons, one being the ability to sit back and relax. Growing up, Sundays were spent at the park, hanging out with family, and usually a nap on the couch. It was the perfect way to rejuvenate from the week before and prepare myself for the week ahead. Today, after a week of social distancing and constantly finding myself napping on the couch, I already feel rested. If I’m already rested, how do I keep finding rest without just being lazy? Quite frankly, I’m getting tired of all this resting and want to get back to “normal.” For me, the sabbath calls for a different type of rest. Resting in the Lord doesn’t require a nap, but it requires us to go to Him to let go of the things that prevent us from having peace. Matthew 11:28-30 reminds us of this. The Lord reminds us that He is the one who is able to give us rest. As you go about your day today, talk to God, let Him know where you are burdened and tired. I am thankful for the ability to rest in the Lord and find peace, knowing that He carries my burdens and will see that I am equipped for the week ahead.

by Ben Rogers, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Saturday March 21, 2020)

Over the past week or so, I have been trying to figure out how to adjust my typical day. I had a pretty consistent weekly routine, I am sure we all did. It has been really weird to have that routine disrupted and to not see faces I typically would, to not go to the gym, to not go out to eat, etc. Consistency is something that I crave because it makes life feel more comfortable and helps me thrive. This new routine has included a lot more breaks than before, probably because the pace of life seems a lot slower, but it still includes keeping things clean and organized, not sleeping all day, getting work done, and incorporating some type of exercise for myself (and my dog). Our routines and everything around us is constantly changing, but Jesus isn’t. Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” When things seem uncertain or irregular, remember to seek the consistency we need in Jesus, because He will never change or fail.

by Cailee Franklin, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Friday March 20, 2020)

So here we are in day eight or nine of social isolation. Not quite quarantine, but it feels like it. For me, it is hard to imagine that South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela was isolated — incarcerated – for twenty-seven years. Even so, he never gave up. Nearing his death, the NC State basketball coach Jimmy Valvano gave a speech and said, “We are starting the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research. And their motto is, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up. That’s what I’m going to try to do every minute that I have left. I will thank God for the day and the moment I have.” Some trials of life make everyone tired, and so the prophet Isaiah also reminds us not to give up: “Youths will become tired and weary…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary (Isaiah 40:30-31).” So, even though things are not good right now, we can all learn from these three and countless other leaders: don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Daily Devotion (Thursday March 19, 2020)

While there is so much noise and commotion around us with all of the recent changes, I have constantly found myself thinking of the stillness and silence that it has brought. Pictures of the Venice Canals being clear, Time Square nearly empty, even large sports venues are still and silent. This reminds me of myself and the constant chaos I have in my own life. The noise in my head sometimes makes it so difficult to see the stillness I’m surrounded by. However, when I am able to step back and look beyond the chaos, I see how incredibly faithful the Lord is to me. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” During these times of chaos, remind yourself of the sovereignty of the Lord. He is here, he is moving through the commotion, he is in control. Take time to look through the distractions and find the silence and stillness that is there. Take it one step further and share what you find with those around you. While it might be easy for you to see the Lord in this season, your friends might be struggling. Seek the silence, embrace it, and share it!

by Ben Rogers, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Wednesday March 18, 2020)

Lately it feels like there are so many things being taken away from us. Everyday there are more restaurants, schools, churches, and gyms closing. This makes it extremely difficult to focus on anything except where we can no longer go, what we can no longer do, or what the weeks to come will look like. To continuously be in this headspace can be daunting, especially while feeling distant or isolated from others. During this time, we can look at Colossians 3:15. Instead of focussing on what we are unable to do, we can be thankful for new things that have made their way into our lives because we now have time for them. Today, and maybe everyday for a while, write down three things you are thankful for. This could be something to start your day off, or it could be how you end your day as a reflection method. By intentionally writing these things down, we remind ourselves that we truly have multiple things to be thankful for, even when our lives our disrupted, and we allow the peace of Christ to guide our hearts in the midst of what can seem like chaos.

by Cailee Franklin, Associate Campus Minister

Daily Devotion (Tuesday March 17, 2020)

We call Jesus’ last meal with his disciples communion (see Luke 22: 7-20, CEB). Communion with God and one another is at the heart of the Christian faith, and our lack of community in social isolation seems counter to our faith. We need one another. To remain in community, while distant from our friends, today would be a good day to reach out to someone with a text. More specifically, the next time you grab a bite to eat, check in on a friend that you haven’t heard from in a while. Making the first move, even in a text, is a show of love and compassion for someone else and acts to fight our isolation from each other. And, while eating and communing  (i.e., texting) with this friend, you can “do this in remembrance” of Jesus.

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor

Weekly Devotion (Monday March 16, 2020)

Most students love spring break, but seniors especially love the time just after spring break because graduation is just around the corner. Of course, not only seniors like to look ahead. We have a direction we want to head in. We “orient” ourselves on what to do tomorrow, next weekend, this summer, and in five years. Lately, though, we are being forced to “reorient” or to change our directions. For instance, we are being forced to do everything online, to be more disciplined about coursework, to stay six feet from one another, to eat to-go boxes from Crown, to not watch sports on TV, and maybe not have a graduation ceremony.


There’s this story of Jesus encountering a woman by a water well on his way through Samaria (John 4:1-42). This woman was a social outcast. Samaritans were not respected and considered unclean by the Jewish people of Jesus’ day. These two social groups were forced to isolate themselves from one another. On the flip side, during those days, Jesus risked scandal by even talking to a woman in public. Jesus, by interacting with her, was teaching us that social isolation is wrong and that we need one another’s touch, embrace, and acceptance.


Jesus and the unnamed woman went to the well not to socialize, but because they equally thirst. They both needed water. However, Jesus changed things up and reoriented her needs. He told her that when we drink from the well, we will just get thirsty again. In contrast, Jesus gives living water, so we will never thirst again. Some things are temporary, while others are eternal. If you stop by Harris Teeter, you would think we need toilet paper and hand sanitizer to survive COVID-19. But these really aren’t our real needs, or, if they are, they are merely temporary. The woman in this story actually leaves her water jar behind, reminding us to reorient from the temporary to the eternal. COVID-19 is real, but won’t last forever. Our fears and anxiety are real, but they also won’t last forever. What lasts forever is God’s assurance and love for us. So as we are called to socially distance, the living water is the eternal reminder that we are never isolated from God.

by Steve Cheyney, Campus Pastor