If you and I were having a conversation in the hallway and I suddenly stopped, looked both ways, firmly but politely grabbed you by the arm, pulled you to the side, and whispered to you in all seriousness, “Aslan is on the move!” you would probably consider discretely calling for some help out of concern for your own safety. Unless, of course, you know who Aslan is and then you might chuckle and recommend that I take a short break from reading C.S. Lewis books (just a short one though). Read more
Posts By Ryan Armes
As I write this, this week has been extremely difficult for the residents of Oklahoma. A large tornado wreaked devastation, injury, and death without much forewarning. Having grown up in the Mid-West, I have witnessed two tornadoes and I know the feeling of helplessness is somewhat overwhelming when one is within eye-sight. There is not much the residents of Oklahoma could have done in preparation except perhaps to build a storm-shelter, and even then that does not give full assurance of protection.
As they recover, I hope and pray there is much healing and outpouring of God’s love and mercy on those affected. I hope that the Church will take the lead in providing for those in need as God has called us to do. Tragedy as a result of natural disaster is nothing new. We can pick up the Bible and read about numerous accounts of earthquakes, pestilences, and famine on the righteous and unrighteous–a direct result of living in a fallen world. There is hope for all of us, though, and that hope is found in the birth, life, ministry, sacrifice, resurrection, and eventual return of Jesus Christ. For those who know Him, these tribulations will someday become a forgotten memory.
The tragedy in Oklahoma stirs in my heart Luke 22: 35-38 where Jesus tells His disciples in verse 36, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.” I’ve read several commentaries on this verse, and done my own study and here is what I take away from it: “As we go to proclaim the gospel, we should go with a lean self-sufficiency and the understanding that difficulty will come.” I believe that Jesus is saying to be prepared spiritually and physically.
For one to sell his coat and purchase a sword means giving up something that is very important (a coat to keep you warm) for something that is of even higher value (a sword that may keep you alive in dire circumstances). There is obviously a hot-button political angle to this verse in which a “sword” could mean a modern firearm, and, perhaps it does encompass that, but I believe Jesus is talking big-picture here.
The disciples respond in verse 38: “Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, ‘It is enough.’” There are two scholarly perspectives on Jesus’ words, “It is enough”. One is that, “Two swords are enough” (small swords to be more accurate), and the other is that “It is enough of this conversation.” I believe He means both.
Jesus obviously allows the disciples to keep the swords, because Peter draws one on the high priest’s servant when the soldiers come to arrest Jesus. But Jesus immediately tells Peter after he slices off the servant’s ear, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matt 26:52). There is an important lesson of healthy tension between the spiritual and physical in these passages.
Regent teaches a healthy view of spiritual and physical self-sufficiency. One of my very first assigned readings was Discipling the Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Cultures by author Darrow L. Miller. . Miller explains how a theistic worldview (“The belief or system of belief in one God; sees the universe as ultimately personal”) differs from the worldviews of animism (“A set of metaphysical assumptions that see the world as ultimately spiritual, in which the physical world is animated by spirits or gods”) and secularism (“A system that sees the world as ultimately physical and limited, controlled by the blind operations of impersonal natural laws, time, and chance”) (1998, p. 285, 292).
As Christians, we are neither limited nor controlled by the spiritual or physical world, apart from God; but we face trials and tribulations in each realm. However, we are completely free and empowered in our relationship with the one true God through Jesus Christ. In this relationship, we are able to be completely self-sufficient in how we operate in this world. We are given a healthy worldview that encompasses both the spiritual and the physical. It is in realizing and understanding this that we can securely go forth and successfully preach the gospel to all nations.
Miller, D. (1998). Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Cultures. Seattle, WA: YWAM Publishing.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. - Psalm 23:5
When I was going through a very difficult time in my life, my mom mailed me the book, A Table in the Presence: The Dramatic Account of How a U.S. Marine Battalion Experienced God’s Presence Amidst the Chaos of the War in Iraq, by Navy Lieutenant Carey H. Cash. The book shares details of God’s intervention into the mission of the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment during its 2003 advance into Iraq from Kuwait by the battalion’s chaplain, . It’s simply an amazing testimony of God’s love, power, and sovereignty. Read more
Globalization is a touchy subject for some people, and understandably so. On the extreme end, talk about and movement towards a one-world government, currency and economic system often arouses concerns of tyranny, deculturalization and the fusing of many “faiths” into one so-called religious system. Many of the associated ideas of globalization do attempt to challenge the teachings and sovereignty of God’s Word, and it is upon us as Christians to hold firm to our Biblical foundations in spite of the popular global socio-political, economic and psuedo-religious movements. There is, however, an aspect of globalization that we as Christians need to understand and embrace. Read more
Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me;
Yes, let him trample my life to the earth,
And lay my honor in the dust. Selah
Psalm 7:5 (NKJV)
I was recently looking through the media content of a freshly downloaded Bible study app on my tablet computer when I stumbled upon a painting that not only caught my eye, but also utterly grabbed me by the heart. The Christian Martyr’s Last Prayer was painted by French artist Jean Leon Gerome in 1883, and depicts a heart-wrenching group of Christians huddled and praying together on the arena floor of an ancient Roman coliseum. Along the perimeter of the floor are multiple crucified people as an arena official is lighting each on fire. As the coliseum is packed with spectators, two lions and a tiger emerge from a passageway out of the arena ground. The fate of these Christians is certain, and, from the world’s vantage point, it is thoroughly and violently bleak.
What seeds of glory could these Christians have had planted in their hearts to endure such a spiteful and savage death? The love for and truth found in Jesus Christ is what led these believers to their fate. This painting is an accurate representation of the many believers that Rome’s maniacal emperors had violently murdered during that era. The believers’ sacrifice and martyrdom was not lost on the world as Christ’s Church remains today. It is one of many ways through which God has established and grown his Church.
If one travels to modern day Rome, Italy, and tours the Coliseum, he or she will notice the large wrought iron cross situated at the gateway entrance to the inside of the arena. There appears to be no better symbol than what this cross represents with respect to the martyrdom that many Christians experienced in this and other arenas. The cross itself signifies the sacrifice that Christ made for us all and the iron seems to signify the strength that these martyred believers were given by God in their darkest hour.
All of this is a reminder that, as believers, we are in some sort of arena nearly every day. That arena may be our workplaces, our homes, our communities, or even our churches. The spiritual and academic preparation that Regent gives its students is critical in the individual and professional arenas of each student. God does not need for His people to have a college education in order to be used by Him, but for those who have been called to arenas in certain academic and professional fields, God can certainly work through the Christ-centered education that one will receive at Regent University.
Several years ago, my family and I spent a fall vacation in the German Alpine town of Garmisch. Our week there was absolutely amazing. It was one of those rare times in life when God pushed aside life’s concerns and gave us, as a family, a glimpse of the love, peace, joy and beauty that we will enjoy eternally in Heaven.
In our hearts and minds, nearly everything about that vacation was a metaphor and an image of Heaven to come. The fact that our family was together without a lot of stress, the October beauty of the mountains, the clean crisp air, and the wonderful Bavarian cuisine were just some of the reflective highlights.
I believe, and often tell my wife, that we may have even entertained an angel disguised as an old German man named Hepp. For a small fee (so small that it seemed suspicious), Hepp offered us a ride in his horse and buggy back to our car after we tirelessly walked several kilometers to see a waterfall. Hepp’s pleasant and gentle demeanor was overtly displayed when he voluntarily spread a blanket over my sleeping infant daughter before carrying us away in his buggy.
“But as it is written:
‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’”
- Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV)
Garmisch, Germany, in that week was a powerful, yet dim, reflection of the type of community that we will live in when Jesus is the Master, King and Ruler of not only our hearts and lives, but of our world and our community. Personally, I’m so excited about a Christ-ruled world that I can hardly wait, but I must, and I will. As Christians, we must and we should. Why? Because even the best communities here , even on a good day, are largely broken and struggling groups of people compared to the glory that we will experience under Christ’s rule.
As Christians, we possess the ability, by virtue of who our Father is, of ruling in the image of Christ and bringing a wonderful balance to those communities in which we live. Regent University is a great place to become equipped to learn those Christian community attributes.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
- Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the very word regent means “ a person who rules or reigns” (2012). We may not get to wear crowns or make decisions affecting kingdoms of millions of people, but it does mean that we will rule in the domains that we have been charged with.
Let us always rule with the grace and wisdom that God has given to us through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. With that, I leave you with Matthew 5:14 in which Jesus tells his disciples how important their role is in this world of broken communities: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (NKJV).
Regent. 2012. Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved Oct 12, 2012, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/regent
The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
One of the most valuable leadership concepts that I’ve learned since becoming a Regent student is that of servant leadership. As a Masters in Organizational Leadership student, the concept was important enough for the school to introduce it in the very first course, LMOL 601 Foundations of Leadership: History, Theory, Application & Design. In every course since, servant leadership has either been an important aspect of a project, embedded in an assigned reading, or made honorable mention in a forum post by either the instructor or a student. There is no doubt that Regent puts a high emphasis on servant leadership. Personally, I have gained absolutely nothing by practicing the concept of servant leadership, but that is precisely the point. Servant leadership isn’t about what I can gain, but about what I can give. “The focus of the [servant] leader is on followers, and his or her behaviors and attitudes are congruent with this follower focus” (Patterson, 2003, p. 3). In John 13:5, we see Jesus demonstrate servant leadership when he washes his disciples’ feet, “Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded” (NASB). Bible commentator Matthew Henry calls Jesus’ actions, “a miracle of humility” (1994).
Now that I can articulate servant leadership better, I often walk into my work area in the morning, grab some coffee, log on to my computer, and then think of ways how I can serve my subordinates, peers and superiors in the midst of my daily tasks. Sometimes it means writing a formal recognition package on a subordinate and at other times it means praying for and being there for my superiors when they need that extra effort to get things done. In any case, it means emptying self for the sake of someone else’s benefit. A summation of the life of Christ described in Matthew 20:28 gives us the ultimate example of a servant leader: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (NASB).
Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume. Peabody: Hendrickson.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
Patterson, K. (2003). Servant Leadership Theory. Virginia Beach, VA: School of Leadership Studies, Regent University
I’ve heard it said that eating healthier actually saves you money in the long run even though healthier foods are normally more expensive straight off of the grocery shelf. The idea is that you get more “bang for your buck” because your body is more readily able to use the calories and nutrients found in healthier foods without all of the bad trans-fats, artificial flavors and other chemicals found in certain foods. As life moves on and the years accumulate, health problems are avoided because an individual has chosen to spend a little extra money up front on healthier foods. The long term result is that medical bills are reduced and the individual’s working years are extended, enabling that person to earn a living through more years in their life. In addition to the money saved and health benefits realized, this idea also adds ‘enjoy-ability’ to years that one has on this earth. I don’t know if statistics reveal this to be factual, but it makes logical sense.
Interestingly enough, there is a very important principle revealed in this claim in regards to “knowledge.” 2 Peter 1: 5-8 says that, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. As we can see in what Peter says, knowledge is a milestone in one’s faith, among other spiritual principles, and it begins and ends with faith in Jesus Christ. Knowledge apart from Christ is simply “empty calories”, and its dangerous “ingredients” conspire over time to erode away at the mind in the same way that unhealthy foods erode away at the body.
Since knowledge begins and ends with Christ (and the salvation and eternal life therefore found in Him), worldview is the lens through which we see all knowledge. In his book, World-Views in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas, author Ronald Nash says that, “A worldview, then, is a conceptual scheme by which we consciously or unconsciously place or fit everything we believe and by which we interpret and judge reality.” (1992, p. 16)
One of the key attributes of Regent University’s programs that I appreciate is that they wholeheartedly incorporate the concept of worldview into each university course. Sometimes my worldview will differ from some of my classmates and my professors, and that is completely OK; however, Regent’s goal of conforming our worldviews to begin and end with Jesus Christ is paramount. Taking the time to incorporate worldview into knowledge may ‘cost’ the Regent student a little more time and energy up front, but the life-long rewards will consist of a more spiritually enriched education, the unshakable foundation on which knowledge is built, and the ability to impact the world for the cause of that foundation which ultimately begins and ends with Jesus Christ.
The eternal benefits of a Christ-centered worldview can be found in 2 Peter 1:2-4 which says
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”