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.

As we monitor the daily changing situation regarding COVID-19, events that support social distancing will be posted here.  

  

Online Live Gatherings   

Wednesday 5pm, March 25  

Thursday 2pm, March 26  

Login to Live Gatherings Here   

 

Online Prayer Requests 

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

 

Hospital on Campus

The six residence halls of South Village are being readied to convert into emergency field hospital space. If you need assistance with moving out, please let us know by below:

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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 https://uncc.webex.com/meet/ninerunited 

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