A New Flock

Every August at Toccoa Falls College, a new group of freshmen move in, make friends, and love Jesus right in our midst. Some stand out as leaders while others just want to turn in their spiritual formation journals in on time. This year, TFC has been graced with the largest freshman class since 2007.  While each freshman has a story to tell and an opinion of his / her first month at school, three freshmen in particular form the basis of this article: Susannah Bloomer, Michelle Stephenson, and Daniel Snow.

All three are true freshmen. Bloomer is an early childhood education major, while Snow and Stephenson are performance majors with specialties in guitar and piano. All three are truly different people, but agree on many parts of TFC culture. When asked what their favorite part of TFC is, Bloomer and Snow both agree the professors have been friendly, helpful, and caring and knowledgeable, and Stephenson has become acclimated to the music culture here. Freshman orientation week is a vital part of integrating freshmen into TFC culture. From tours of the campus, to the multiple daily Wal-Mart runs, the week often feels like camp for all students who take part in it. Every TFC student can remember one part of that week which they will never forget. SGA provided numerous activities for the freshmen during the week. From scavenger hunts, to hiking trips, and even a few games were played for fun. For these three, SGA’s showing of “The Avengers” was a highlight as well as playing ultimate Frisbee with their soon to be classmates. Since freshman orientation week, SGA has provided the student body with events on a weekly basis. While “The Avengers” has still been a memorable event for all who attended, Stephenson considers the luau as her favorite SGA activity. The waterslide provided was not just a spectacle to behold, but an adventure to be experienced by all who attended the event.

After all the orientation procedures are finished and classes have been in session for a month, the freshmen have settled into life as a TFC student. While syllabus shock may still keep people up at night, and the fear of missing classes inspires early rising, life still goes on. Assessments are taken, graded, and then returned to the fresh faced students under the watchful eye of upperclassmen. While the easy part of college is over, each student emphatically spoke of their favorite memory thus far at TFC. For Bloomer, making new friends has framed her experience here. Stephenson emphatically answered that she truly loves everything about college here. Snow spoke of being able to worship God under the stars. In one way or another, these experiences are relatable for each person who has every gone to college. The freedom to live life combined with love for God and his people have shaped the new student’s first month here.

What does all this mean for the rest of campus? One word comes to mind: legacy. We have been given the opportunity to shape the college experience of others who we see on a daily basis. While the seniors of last year who shaped and formed our experiences have left, we are still here. God is still working on campus, and the evidence can be seen in not just the small matters of campus life, but the larger aspects as well. From SGA, to chapel, to faculty, and even friendships, there is a place for every student to learn more about the body of Christ from one another. It is time for a new generation of students to shape the direction of TFC. With new faces and dedicated lives, the class of 2016 is a sight to behold and be proud of.

How to Break Up with Your Roommate

Recently, I had to confront a professor about dropping a class, and it was terrifying and nerve-wracking. Here’s a transcript of what was said as he was signing the withdrawal form:

Professor: You’re not gonna get awkward around me now, are you?

Me: Well… I’m awkward around everyone.

Professor: I know.

Me: [Incomprehensible stuttering, and then…] Thank you.

Cue exit hanging head in shame.

Even though I’ve dumped classes, I’ve never had to dump my roommate. All of my roommate changes have been mutual. Okay, I’ve been dumped once or twice, but they had pretty good reasons. The point is, I learned a thing or two about dumping roommates: that it’s a lot like tactfully asking emotional questions to your significant other. Actually, it’s probably nothing like that, but comparing it to a girl dumping her boyfriend would be too easy. So here are your tips for breaking up with your roommate brought to you by a relationship advice article on asking sad questions or something.

Step 1: Decide exactly what you want to talk about and why.
I’ll do this step for you. You’re dumping your roommate, you jerk.

Step 2: Pick a time and place that is both relaxing and intimate — preferably in private
You could break the sad news to them in your room in front of your awesome HDTV and entertainment center that they’ll never get to use again. Try getting them on a good day too.

Step 3: Ask your question and be honest
I believe that questions work a lot better when dumping your roommate. “Do you know if Jim is looking for a roommate? Let’s find out together.” “Have you considered living off campus, but not with me?” “Would you mind tidying up your side of the room … by moving all of your stuff somewhere else?”

Step 4: Take care not to scare the person away or be too emotional
I think this step would make more sense if it were options. You can either take care not to scare the person away, or you can be too emotional. It’s really your pick because sometimes you want to be tactful, and sometimes you want to be so untactful that there’s really no chance that the guy would stay.

Step 5: Keep it casual
This is the point where you take your shoes off and shake your nasty feet in your roommate’s face until he gets the heck outta there. There’s no such thing as being too casual.

Step 6: Be confident and direct
“I’m confident that your bed is haunted.”

Step 7: Listen to the other person completely when they answer you
Okay, most of the steps leading up to this one may make you come off as a big meany. But despite this, listen to the other person’s stance on the whole issue. Whatever they want to say really isn’t gonna matter anyway. Why would he wanna continue to live with the guy who told him to go away?

Step 8: Be prepared to compromise
You might have to help move his stuff to his new room. I’m already working on the tips to avoid that part.

 

XC: A Portrait of Dedication

When it comes to sports here at Toccoa Falls College, we normally think of baseball, basketball, soccer, or volleyball (our football team hasn’t done that well recently, so they are often forgotten). Unfortunately, this leaves out a group of athletes that work just as hard, if not harder. The ironic thing is that you probably see them running around on campus during their practice time without realizing that they are training for their sport. Our cross country team may be the most unsung sports team at TFC.

For their training, cross country runners do exactly what you might expect: they run for an extended period of time. A common joke among them is that they their main exercise is what most other sports teams do for punishment. This hardcore exercise regime, combined with healthy eating habits, gets the team in shape to run several miles at a time in order to compete with other schools, something they always do well. On September 15th, our cross country men won first place in a three mile race, and our women won second place against three other competing schools. On September 21st, though both the men and women took last in points for their respective races, Ben Pigott took 4th place overall in the men’s race out of twenty-four competitors and Clessie Kendrick took 8th overall in the women’s out of twenty-nine competitors. Surely this team does not deserve to be the unsung athletes of our college.

I was able to talk to several members of the team about their cross country experiences. I asked one member of the team, Jodi Braselton, why she is a member of the cross country team. She responded: “There are several reasons. First, I enjoy running. Second, it keeps me healthy. Third, the team community is amazing. And fourth, you get to eat all you want…not really.” Pigott related the story of how he barely made 4th place in the last race. With a competitor gaining on him in the last quarter of a mile, both racers began to make loud sounds to get a little extra “oomph”, as Pigott called it. Pigott won out in the end, and was questioned later by curious onlookers about his strange noises that helped him to win 4th.

Many of my close friends (including two who are on staff at The Talon) run cross country, and if my testimony means anything, I can say that they are one of the best groups of people around. They have a strong bond, do well academically, and are always willing to go the extra mile for their friends and their school. If you would like to get more information about the TFC’s cross country team you can contact Jeremiah McDuffie, Dr. Dale Garside, or any of the team members. It’s about time that this hard-working team started to get the attention it deserves.

Ways Culture Distorts Our Minds (Part I)

Tim Keller, a pastor and theologian in New York, wrote in his book “The Reason for God” that, supposing that Christianity really is true, “…we would expect that it would contradict and offend every human culture at some point, because human cultures are ever-changing and imperfect. If Christianity were the truth it would have to be offending and correcting your thinking at some place.” When he says human cultures, he means the beliefs, practices, values, and structures of society.  I think he’s right. I want to write a few articles on why Christianity can critique not only American culture in general, but also “Christian” culture. In this first article I will talk about one of the ways that our surrounding culture has lied to us, and how we can work to reverse this deception.

Lie #1: I’m Not Being Judged= I Can Do Whatever I Want!

Back in the Sixteenth century when Martin Luther introduced the idea of sola fide, or, “faith alone” as it related to what gives a human peace with God, one of the Catholic Church’s problems with the idea was that it seemed to leave no room for works in our relationship with God. If how well we submit to God’s commands doesn’t affect how much he approves of us and loves us, what motivation is there to do good? The Doctrine left room for the necessity of doing good, however, as Luther and other reformers then knew.  But it appears the Catholic Church did have a legitimate concern.

When us humans see that no other person is “Judging” us, or displeased with our actions, we tend to do whatever the heck we want, which usually has nothing to do with what we ought (why else do we do all kinds of weird and sick stuff when no one else is watching?).  As long as others are happy with us, we often feel free to do what we wish, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience us.

With the advent of Post-modernism, a wave of non-judgmentalism has gradually entrenched itself in the attitudes of many Americans—and this is a good thing. What gives us the right to assume a condemning stance of others when we likely don’t understand their situation, and when we harbor a wealth of imperfection in our own souls?  But it seems like this attitude can have some pretty bad consequences when it gets mixed with the likes of sinful hearts (most things do). Something about finding out that nobody is going to judge us anymore has turned, in large degree, the collective post-modern humanity into a group of un-disciplined fun-addicts with no desire for much more than what other people’s approval demands—which isn’t much, these days.

So how do we fix this? Well, there are three important things to remember. First, that standards of what is acceptable and what is not most certainly do not rest in hands of other people (no, not even in your TFC professors!), or even ourselves.  For this we can be thankful. But not only should we embrace it when it is convenient (i.e. recognizing that when other people don’t like the way we act or look, we have no obligation to change these things to please them) but we should also submit to it when it is inconvenient (i.e. accepting that whether or not we or our friends recognize it, sometimes the actions we are performing and mindsets we are entertaining need to be changed because they are unacceptable).

Second, we have to find a real standard to decide which of our actions are acceptable and which aren’t. Clearly, we can’t rationally think that people can determine how we should live, on pain of all manner of logical error. There is, however, an omniscient Judge who determines what is acceptable or not as a mindset or action. The Bible isn’t quiet about it: The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.” (Psalm 111:7-8) So, rather than looking to other people to decide whether or not what we do is acceptable, we ought to instead go to God to find out if what we do pleases him.

Third, make God’s standards your own. You’re going in the right direction when you recognize that the people around you don’t get to determine the way you ought to be living (despite how much they often think they do). You’re going in the same direction when you realize that it is God who determines the way you should live. But you haven’t completed the process until you recognize and make God’s standards your own. Until you made your standard of personal purity and conduct one which honors and is acceptable to God, you still haven’t fully made it past the first two steps.  Paul wrote in Romans 12, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Rom. 12:1) As you can see, the ideal Christian who has followed Paul’s advice has taken to heart all that God has required, living his or her life as a full sacrifice out of honor and worship.

In this process lies the formation of confidence and conviction. For when we no longer depend upon what others think to determine how we shall act and think, we no longer need their approval to feel we live rightly. At the same time, we act in conviction, knowing that the truth requires much of us—regardless of whether we or the crowds around us realize or not.

Exciting Soccer Season Ahead for TFC

During the first month of the new school year, most students are just trying to get used to being on their own, focusing on classes, reconnecting with friends, or looking for a job. The men and women who are in the TFC soccer program, however, are already practicing and playing games in full force. A little over a month in to the school year, both teams have already played at least six games, with region play just around the corner. Both Head Coach Douglas Howell (women’s team) and Head Coach Rob Worsley (men’s team) are very excited for the upcoming season, and look to build on the success each team had last season.

The TFC women’s soccer team has a school record twenty-two girls on the roster this season, with eight of them being freshmen. They are off to a solid 3-3 start, with all three of their losses being by only one goal. Their team strength this year is defense: after setting a school record for allowing the fewest goals last season they are looking to do the same this season. One of the things Coach Howell looks to improve on over the course of the season is scoring goals, and in order to do that he has the team playing a 4-5-1, meaning they have four forwards, five midfielders, one sweeper, and one goalkeeper, with the midfielders featuring a majority of the attack on offense. The team philosophy this season is that you can play hard and play to win, but at the same time represent God in everything you do. The team has already been complimented because they play hard and play with a Christ-like attitude, no matter how the game is going. Also, the officials love to come out and work the games, because they know that our girls and fans will always have an attitude that represents Christ. There is good reason to be excited for the women’s team this year as they look to fight for the region championship, which they last won just two short years ago.

The men’s soccer team is off to a strong start as well; in eight games this season they are 3-5, but with three of those losses coming to schools who have scholarship players, and are 1-0 in region play. This team is also fairly young with nine new players (six true freshman, one transfer, and two players who were at TFC last year but didn’t play), but Coach Worsley believes this to be one of the best years he’s had from a team chemistry standpoint. The men’s team strength is also defense, as they have only given up more than one goal one time this season. Coach Worsley’s team philosophy this season is to emphasize excellence: to be excellent in the way you play the game as well as the way you glorify God, and to find the balance between the two. The men’s team is looking to build on the success of last year, when they went into the ACCA tournament in Missouri with the number one seed and brought home the trophy. The goal for this year, however, is to win the region banner and go to Nationals in the NCCAA tournament. As Coach Worsley put it, “We have too much talent to settle.”

All of the signs point to this season being an exciting one for both soccer programs here at TFC. Both teams are off to good starts and are building momentum with each game they play, and are looking forward to playing for the region championship. To help them reach their goal however, they need fans to be there supporting them every home game, so get out there and support your eagles soccer teams!