Posts By Tonya Johnson

27 Jan 2014 TonyaJohnson

Willingness to Embrace Change

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Regent University - born againGood things happen when we are willing to embrace change and go with the flow. This is something I know all too well. What is this flow? God’s wonderful, awesome and powerful Holy Spirit.

A couple months ago, I did something that I never thought possible. While completing my culminating internship, I was asked by the principal of the internship site to conduct an assembly for grades 1-8.

In the past, I probably would’ve tried to wiggle my way out of it, but when asked, I accepted the challenge. No sooner than I said yes, he asked, “Do you think you could also do the Teacher’s Devotion and Assembly on Monday? Again, I decided to willingly submit by adding, “Sure. Yes I will do it.”

Afterwards, Mr. Bonifas took the time to give me some pointers about how he conducts the assembly and shared the theme for the week. The lesson I was scheduled to share was taken from John 3:3 about how to be born again.

The morning of the assembly, I was going over my notes in the auditorium when a friendly little girl with a bubbly disposition came over to ask me what I was doing. After sharing what I was about to do, she replied, “What is born again?” I took that as my cue to share a mini version of the lesson. Read more

16 Sep 2013 TonyaJohnson

Part 2 – Staying Together: Fun and Fellowship at a NYC Alumni Dinner

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Regent University - fountainRead Part 1 here.

My husband and I recently had the wonderful opportunity to attend Regent University’s Midtown Meet and Greet at the Salmon River Restaurant in New York City. It’s a place where RU leaders from Virginia and New York, along with alumni, guests, and current students, can mingle, dine, reminisce, catch up, discuss new happenings, network and stay connected. At this year’s event, I was able to talk with several Regent “family members” and friends during and after dinner.

When asked the following three questions,

  1. How would you describe your experiences at Regent University?
  2. How have you used the knowledge that you obtained by attending Regent University to impact your peers and the world for Jesus Christ?
  3. Is there anything that you would like to share with current and prospective students to inspire/empower them?

Here’s what some of our RU colleagues had to say: Read more

03 Sep 2013 TonyaJohnson

Part 1- Staying Together: Fun and Fellowship at a NYC Alumni Dinner

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Regent University - alumni dinnerMy husband and I recently had the wonderful opportunity to attend Regent University’s Midtown Meet and Greet at the Salmon River Restaurant in New York City. It’s a place where RU leaders from Virginia and New York, along with alumni, guests, and current students, can mingle, dine, reminisce, catch up, discuss new happenings, network and stay connected. If you like warm, inviting and intimate places, then Regent’s Annual Alumni Dinner is the place for you.

At this year’s event, I was able to talk with several Regent “family members” and friends during and after dinner.

I asked the following three questions:

  1. How would you describe your experiences at Regent University?
  2. How have you used the knowledge that you obtained by attending Regent University to impact your peers and the world for Jesus Christ?
  3. Is there anything that you would like to share with current and prospective students to inspire/empower them?

Here’s what some of our RU colleagues had to say: Read more

11 Mar 2013 TonyaJohnson

Starting the New Year with an Old Principle

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adoptionThe Principle: Preserve the sanctity of human life

I learned from reading one of the awesome textbooks here at Regent University that during the times of the early Christian church, Christian men and women were instrumental in putting God’s Word into action by reaching out to those in need and taking in large numbers of children who were considered unwanted and had no homes.

The low value of life among the Romans was a shocking affront to the early Christians, who came to Rome with an exalted view of human life. Read more

28 Jan 2013 TonyaJohnson

To Live in Love

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Regent University - childrenThis week, I was reminded of the Apostle Peter’s words to the people “scattered” in “Pon’-tus, Ga-la’-ti-a, Cap-pa-do’-ci-a, Asia, and Bi-thyn’-i-a” as he admonished them to “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly; not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God” (1 Peter 1:1, 5:2, KJV, NLT).

After reading Regent University’s “Verse of the Day,” I found myself reflecting on an experience I had the day before which exemplified Peter’s sentiments.

While conducting a site visit for a class assignment at a very prominent educational facility in New York at a leading charter school in the nation, one of my fondest moments was seeing a teacher kneel down to hug his young student at approximately 7:15 in the morning as he declared, “I’m so glad that you’re here today!” Mind you, this was not a Christian school; however, I watched loving, friendly, happy and courteous faculty members travel through the halls; very disciplined, receptive, obedient and hardworking students willingly interact with peers and confidently engage in dialogue with teachers as I sat in the back of a number of classrooms quietly making observations and taking notes.

For the first time in years, I saw elementary and middle school age students who enjoyed being in school, enjoyed learning, expressed a great deal of respect for teachers and administrators; staff and faculty that enjoyed their jobs and students that enjoyed their “school family” in their “home away from home.” It became clear to me that this type of school environment/dynamic, coupled with the strong, loving Christian emphasis and Christian worldview that’s fostered at Regent is what I hope to duplicate in my own future Christian school.

After conducting observations, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with two of the school’s operation directors to explore the reasons behind the school’s success. During the interview, when I asked what resources or books they recommend, I was taken aback and elated at the response I received. One of the directors stated, “Love and Logic”; “Teach Like A Champion,” by Doug Lemov; and “Creating Schools That Heal” I joyfully exclaimed, “Love and Logic is one of the books that my school uses!”

While attending the “Individual Differences & Classroom Management” course here at Regent in 2011, I was exposed to this dynamic educational series and valuable resource written by authors Jim Faye, David Funk and others. This New York City charter school has received all A’s in “student progress,” “student performance” and “school environment,” according to the New York City Department of Education’s Progress Report. The fact that one of the recommended resource materials used is also one that highly skilled faculty at Regent University also use speaks volumes and is a testament to the quality of education and resources that we receive here. This quality of education has earned Regent an “A” grade as rated by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA).

As I further reflect upon the Apostle Peter’s passionate words, the positive interactions that I’ve experienced at Regent as well as in the school I visited this week, I am reminded of a very profound question I heard a couple of years ago that has remained with me, which comes from Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison and the question she asked of all parents: “When your child walks in the room, does your face light up?…let your face speak what’s in your heart…” (www.oprah.com).

I extend this same thought-provoking and applicable question to not only parents but to teachers, pastors, religious leaders, parishioners, employers, employees, grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, nieces, nephews, neighbors, and heads of states and ask the following questions: How do we respond to those we come in contact with? How do we treat and care for the impressionable souls that God has entrusted us with? How do we treat those in our sphere of influence, in our neighborhoods, and in this world? “Does your face light up?”  Do we respond with love, patience, kindness and forgiveness, or are we quick to assume the worst about others and respond impatiently, grudgingly with hatred, unforgiveness and indifference? What spirit and character are we living and projecting? Is it God or someone else?

As always, be blessed dear hearts!

10 Dec 2012 TonyaJohnson

Becoming a Model Christian Student and Graduate

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Regent University- successful studentThis year in one of my classes, I was challenged to reflect upon the “Christian school graduate” and incorporate “8 outcomes” into my report. The following succinctly highlights portions of the outcomes:

1. Embrace “power to exercise authority,”
2. Display “a lifestyle of faith-based and heart-felt obedience,
3. Acquire “mature, Godly character qualities,”
4. Exhibit “loyalty to God’s Holy Nation and Royal Priesthood,”
5. Strive to “actively participate in the Great Commission,”
6. Love “God and neighbors,”
7. Successfully demonstrate “Knowledge competency,”
8. Successfully demonstrate “Skill competency [in] critical thinking, spiritual formation, Christian character development, loving…serving others and Biblical obedience” (www.regent.edu).

I believe that all eight outcomes are needed to live a successful Christian lifestyle, achieve success in school and impart these valuable principles into the lives of others. For better self-reflection, let’s ask ourselves: does my life resemble the lifestyle and character of Jesus Christ? With this question in mind, as Christians, servant-leaders, and students embracing higher learning, let us explore each outcome and make it personal by adding the words “How do I” or “How will I” at the beginning of each statement.

These Scriptures can be used for personal reflection when exploring these results: Acts 13:22; 2 Corinthians 10:5, Ephesians 6:10-18, Galatians 5:22-25, John 3:16; 13:2-4, Luke 10:25-37, Mark 12:31, Matthew 5:1-16; 28:18-20; 1 Peter 2:9 and Titus 3:4.

15 Oct 2012 TonyaJohnson

Life Happens

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Life Happens! This is one phrase that perfectly sums up what I’ve been going through lately. As we strive to reach our goals, we are reminded that the journey is not always smooth. At times, we experience bumps and dips along the way in the form of unexpected circumstances and challenges; yet we must be willing to make room for these encounters, keep the faith, balance ourselves and continue to stay the course.

Regent University - ChessI truly thank God for keeping me in the midst of life’s great ups and downs. For the most part, I’ve been able to overcome those rocky roads when life seems to throw a few curve balls. We all have them. Things that seem to break out just when a semester starts, is about to end or when an important paper is due. While on this journey towards completing a Master’s in Education, I’ve certainly had a few. For examples: painful leg and foot cramps during finals, anemia which tried to slow me down, an in-law who suddenly went AWOL (not from the military); two family members that were in the hospital at the same time, and a loved one who recently went home to be with the Lord… Even when a situation is not directly happening to us, it still affects us. It’s just like a chess board or puzzle, when something is missing or out of place, the entire game is affected.

Today, praise God, I am reminded that God never gives us more than we can handle. I am also reminded of the words of Jesus, which Paul shares in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, saying,

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distress for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

It’s a great comfort to know that, no matter what we go through in life, we can draw strength from God, who’s our rock, sword and shield. Today my spirit soars higher and higher as this familiar verse from Psalm 61 fills my heart “…when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I…” (KJV).

So what pressures, burdens or stressors of life are troubling you? Let go and let God have His way in your situation. Let Him see you through it. He cares for YOU!

24 Sep 2012 TonyaJohnson

Sharing our Faith

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I recently found myself thinking about our fore-parents, Adam and Eve, and how we are an extension of that union no matter what region of the globe we come from. It is that wonderful union that makes us family.  I also found myself thinking how often people pay too much attention to where another person comes from and not enough simply loving and reaching out to another human being.

On my way to run an errand, I was drawn to a shop in the El Barrio because the displays were very inviting. As I walked around admiring the merchandise, I noticed an employee of the store walking behind me while other patrons seemed to go unnoticed. I thought to myself, “Is he following me?” He then stopped and stood at a distance. I thought of asking why he was following me, but chose to remain silent. As I selected a few items to purchase and came to checkout he said: “You’re an honest woman” and we got to talking about Puerto Rico. I told him about my paternal great- great- grandfather who was born in Puerto Rico, like him. He briefly shared Puerto Rico’s history and said he was “also boriken” (a term Puerto Ricans call the island of Puerto Rico and commonly used to identify someone of Puerto Rican heritage). After paying for my items, he began pouring out his heart to me and sobbed, sharing how he “lost everything.”  I encouraged and prayed for him.  In the process, praise God, he accepted Jesus Christ into his heart and life.  After chatting, he handed back the money that I’d given him to pay for my items. I threw my arms around him, gave him a big hug and said, “God loves you, be encouraged, I’ll stop by again; Keep the faith.”  As I was leaving, I thought about how this had started out as an uncomfortable and uncertain situation, but turned out to be a blessing instead. Things are not always what they appear to be at first glance. I left feeling very joyful and thankful to God for all that He had done.

Just a few days later another unexpected situation to share my faith presented itself. I had let an exterminator into my home for service, and after chatting and learning of the nose bleed he had had earlier, I asked if I could pray with him. Afterwards, he said, “I feel good! What did you do?” In response, I praised God, asked him if he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and shared a pamphlet my church prepared entitled “Four Steps To A New Life.” We discussed accepting God’s love and inviting Jesus into his heart. I used relatable stories and answered the questions he had. He eagerly recited a suggested prayer. After congratulating and encouraging him to get baptized, I invited him to church. He described his previous relationship with God as “loving and dating a girl but not having enough time to spend with her.” I encouraged him to take his new faith one day at a time.

We are encouraged here at Regent to make positive connections with those around us. Throughout my daily walk, I am often reminded of a statement my former professor, Dr. William Cox shared with the class. During one of the sessions, as we talked about following the Great Commission, I remember him saying, “the Greek says…as you go…as you’re about the business of living do the great commission,” adding “As you’re living your life then keep the great commission in the forefront of what you’re doing.” I learned from taking a number of Dr. Cox’s classes about the importance of making a difference by influencing others in our sphere of influence. Not everyone is called to witness in mission fields. As believers, we are called to seize the daily opportunities to witness, share our faith, love and spread the Word of God with those around us. With this in mind, I ask you my dear readers and partners in this wonderful Christian experience: Is there a special life that you can touch? An impact that you can make on the earth to advance God’s Kingdom? Have faith, trust God and forge ahead with great victory.

06 Sep 2012 TonyaJohnson

New Beginnings

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Regent University LibraryWelcome fellow students and co-laborers in God’s great kingdom!

What is life like for this new blogger? Aside from being a disciple of the Lord, daughter, sibling, aunt, godmother and student, I am a wife, mother of three sons, grandmother of six and very blessed to have God in my life, many wonderful family members and dear friends, especially those like you. To say the least, trying to wear all of these hats keeps me quite busy.

What I like to do when I can finally convince myself that it’s okay to take a breather and not be such a work horse is what many of us like to do: let our hair down long enough to really sing and dance when nobody’s watching, pop in Zumba or some other fitness tape, go to the gym and work out, barbeque, write stories, try a new recipe, work on a cookbook, kick back and read a good novel, study science, explore anatomy models and diagrams, put something new together, take a stroll, go to the park or the beach, which is one of my favorite places to visit, call someone we haven’t talked to in a while, change a piece of furniture around, watch shows like “Law and Order,” “Cold Case,” “Seinfeld,” “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “The Price Is Right.” Well, enough about hobbies.

Just as some might say “you have to crawl before you can walk, walk before you can run” and “practice, practice and practice some more before you can make any substantial improvement,” as a first time blogger, I will take one step at a time while trying not to “put the cart before the horse.”

In this blog as well as in upcoming ones, I will highlight some of the experiences and teachings here at RU and how it impacts school, work, home, church and community life.

Isn’t it interesting how God sometimes sets up challenging opportunities to help us stretch and cause us to grow? That’s exactly how my RU journey began. After working in the New York City school system for fifteen years, pursuing graduate studies for a year in childhood education, and attempting to follow an entirely different career path that included working as a case manager for adults diagnosed with mental illnesses; serving  adults who were diagnosed with emotional and physical challenges as a direct care professional and job coach (which are just fancy words for showing love toward others by caring for their daily needs and empowering them to function better in society and throughout their lives); I was later challenged to resign to home school my granddaughter whose parents were deployed overseas in Iraq. In the process, my love for God, His people and for teaching was further strengthened and I was led to Regent University.

If I could sum up my experience here at Regent in three words, it would be “sincere unconditional love.” It is this type of agape love which emanates right out of the heart and mind of God and into the minds, hearts and lives of every person that I’ve come in contact with here, throughout my distance learning experience and visit to the campus. Expressing God’s love, positively influencing the world for Jesus Christ, and equipping others are the central themes taught and displayed in every class. From the moment I was led to this university, I wanted to be a part of it. God gave me favor and answered my prayers. RU is a special place where God resides. I’m sure that you feel the same way I do when I say that the more time I spend here at Regent, my life is forever being transformed. I am happier than I’ve ever been and becoming a more loving and kinder person and strive to share love with not only my RU family but those around me. God’s Word teaches us in 1 John 4:8 that “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” As a body, we are one. It doesn’t matter where we’ve been, where we come from, what we look like or where we’re going; together we are family, we are united and we carry the love of God with us.

Be blessed dear hearts.