06 Feb 2013 KevinMills

Thank God I Don’t Have to Thank God for Everything

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Regent University - Photo by Blake CortrightIn everything give thanks – but don’t give thanks for everything.

I heard an excellent preacher make this statement one Sunday morning and it’s stuck with me ever since. How many times had I misread 1 Thessalonians 5:18? If you’re like me, you’re most likely not going to look up this reference and see what it actually says – so here it is: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God…”

A series of studies have come out in the past decade seemingly pointing to stress and depression causing a physiological ‘shrinkage’ of the brain. I chuckled at this since it seems to make sense that the more we become inundated with the anxiety, worry and stress around us, the smaller our worlds (and brains) become! Conversely, the more we externalize our focus on others and on God, the larger our world becomes (I guess our brains stay the same size in this scenario… no published research here).

I mention this study to underline the importance of having a ‘thankful heart’ to enlarge our vision, our world and our reality. Dr. Martin Seligman (University of Pennsylvania) continues to be a trailblazer in the new discipline of Positive Psychology because he teaches the importance of thankfulness, altruistic behavior, and overall getting your eyes off yourself and focusing your life on others.

God is not vying for you to thank Him for everything – rather thank Him in the midst of everything. Another way to represent this is: Love your neighbor in spite of their behavior, but you certainly don’t have to love all their behavior.

Often times I was under the delusion that I had to somehow find the good in the midst of a tragedy. For example, when my mother died, I wasn’t sure if I was somehow supposed to find the ‘good’ and be thankful (i.e. thank you God she didn’t suffer longer?) This didn’t seem right!

God is asking us to show thankfulness in spite of our surroundings, not necessarily for the particular surrounding(s). Consequently, in my scenario, it wasn’t a matter of thanking God for some minuscule ‘good’ within my loss and grief, but rather giving thanks in spite of my loss and grief. I could still thank Him for His faithfulness, love and friendship even though it may not have been presently observable (at least to me).

When you face setbacks or tragedies, remember that God desires for you to develop thankfulness in spite of and not necessarily thankfulness for. 

05 Feb 2013 JoshuaWilliams

Meet My Friends!

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Allow me to introduce you to some of the great friends I have at Regent – some are new, and some I’ve known for over 17 years!

04 Feb 2013 RudolfKabutz

Life in the Era of Unstable Tennis Balls

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Regent University - ping pongThere was a time when people played table-tennis just for fun. This was the age before computers, Game Boys and PSPs. Yet times have changed. Is the dramatic change really so dramatic?

Today, 30 years later, I took up the table-tennis rackets again with the kids. The old skills improved quickly, until… one of the youngsters brought along a little egg-shaped plastic ball! “You can now play with this egg,” was the simple instruction. After a few shots, amidst lots of giggling, we realized we could not continue like this! The movement of the egg-shaped ball was totally unpredictable. Even with the best anticipation of the movement, there was no way we could figure out in which direction the odd-shaped ball would move. The movement was inherently non-linear, so that we could not carry on playing by the old rules. So we gave up!
As a teenager, I used to really enjoy hitting a little white round ball across a table for hours on end. The repetitive click-clock-click-clack surely irritated my mother, but she never complained about it. The game was quite easy: when you hit the ball with a certain force in a certain direction, it usually moved in that direction, and after a bit of practice hitting the ball became quite easy. We added more excitement to the game by adding a little spin when hitting the ball, which made the movement of the ball a little more unpredictable upon impact. Yet when the opponent also hit with spin, the ball could be returned fairly accurately.

Is this the same way that our world has changed? Instead of linear, predictable movements requiring simple skills, the global environment has become odd-shaped with non-linear, unpredictable changes that require very different competencies. This has occurred in the economy, technology, politics, society, media, and even in the environment. The old rules do not work anymore. Neither does the old understanding of the world. So where to from here? Complexity requires complex answers, and chaotic movements need systems thinking. This is the point at which strategic foresight comes in. We want to ask new questions: What new goals do we want to aim for? Whereto could these non-linear movements take us? By which new rules should we play? And how can we still enjoy the game of non-linear movements?

As future thinkers, we could come up with a new game that does not require predictable straight-line movements of little white balls, but that could purposefully involve the erratic movements of small egg-shaped objects jumping in all sorts of directions. What should we call it – “unstable tennis?”

04 Feb 2013 LeilaMills

Big Video Blog News!

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Video blogs are coming to this “Out of the Ordinary” blog! Part of why I love being a Regent student is because I get to be so involved in the community here. Between blogging, serving on the Regent Undergraduate Council(RUC), going to class and holding an on-campus job, I keep myself pretty busy. The best part is that I get to document all of the fun stuff I do as a Regent video blogger! I keep my little flip camera with me and record RUC meetings, time with friends, UnChapel and more. I’m not the only video blogger – there are more than ten of us! So you not only get to see my point of view, but my friends’ as well!

We’re excited that video blogs will now be posted on the “Out of the Ordinary” blog! So instead of just reading about the cool things Regent students do, you’ll get to SEE it. We have several on-campus video bloggers and even an online student video blogger that contribute to this year’s series “Regent Life.”  Keep an eye out for upcoming posts from the Regent Life team. Thanks for letting us share our stories with you!

Check out one of our most popular video blogs- a tour of the Regent Commons with video blogger, Hope!

01 Feb 2013 TimothyNargi

All things C.S. Lewis

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If you’ve been reading my previous posts you are aware that I attended Oxford via the C.S. Lewis class last summer.

I have continued my own C.S. Lewis studies in my spare time, but once a month I get a nice dose of Lewis from people a lot smarter (and older) than me.

Regent has a C.S. Lewis Society on campus where students, professors, and those interested in all things Lewis can gather for about an hour and hear a lecture about Lewis. I’ve been to two of these events. The first was on Lewis’ method of communication and how we can apply that to our own creative endeavors. The second was a discussion about updating The Screwtape Letters and some of the ways and means that we can engage an audience on relevant issues.

Each meeting has been intellectually stimulating and I walk away with something new learned about Lewis, as well as something new about how to engage our world. I do wish the society would meet more often as there are a lot of topics to talk about. So if you are on campus or thinking about coming to Regent and you are a Lewis buff, well, the C.S. Lewis Society is a good enough reason. Plus, they serve free pizza. Come out to the next event on February 5!

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31 Jan 2013 KevinMills

Defining Your Rat Race – Part II

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Regent University - country highwayPopular musician Toby Keith, in his song Somewhere Else, says, “Cuz if you don’t know where you’re goin’ – you might end up somewhere else.”

In the last article, I wrote about the rat-race that encompasses most of our activities, schedules and priorities. There is a prevailing (but subtle) pressure on each of us to become progressively unsatisfied with all that may constitute our lives. We are told through marketing (self-help books, motivational speakers, educational programs, real-estate companies, banks, etc.) that we deserve a better car, education, house, salary, relationship, career, hair, face, body – and the list continues indefinitely.

Even though there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to “improve” these areas of our lives, it can create major issues if you’re not aware of WHY or FOR WHOM you’re doing them. Most of us haven’t even defined WHY we want a better education, salary, house, car, etc. We might state things such as financial security, respect, prestige, etc., but here’s where we often confuse “ends” with what need to be “byproducts.”

Many men and women have given testimony of the emptiness felt by pursuing something as elusive as power, prestige, money, position – only to discover that once achieved, the emptiness that first drove them still exists.  It’s not a coincidence that Bill Gates is an incredible philanthropist – money does not satisfy the longing within man for meaning and purpose, only servitude and the giving of oneself to something larger.

This is why Jesus asks us to “seek first the kingdom of God.” It’s about setting our eyes on something much larger then ourselves. Not only are we to seek it, but we’re also to help develop it here on earth. How?

Developing a “kingdom mindset” means taking every opportunity afforded us (through work, school, relationships, etc.) and doing it to the best of our ability as if we were doing it for God Himself. This does two things: 1) glorifies God, and 2) creates a more beautiful world for your fellow man and woman. These two principles embody the command to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.

From this core principle can spring up the true meaning and purpose needed to support your further pursuance of “improvement,” educationally, financially, relationally, vocationally, and the list continues.

The third part of this article will deal with HOW we structure our lives and habits to consistently live out these practices.

28 Jan 2013 LeilaMills

Jumping Back on the Lion

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RUCWell, it’s not a real lion. It’s the metaphorical lion associated with the Regent Undergraduate Council, aka RUC. RUC is the student government here at Regent University. It’s an organization I have been involved in since my freshman year. My first year on the council, I served as Vice President and had a blast! My second year, I stepped up to serve as President, but only served in this position for one semester before I had to step down because my grades dropped. I stayed involved with RUC as a special assistant for the rest of the year and still had a good time. Now it is my junior year of college and I’m ready to take on more responsibility again.

Special elections are only held when there are positions on the council that need to be filled. There were two executive board positions available this year: events promotion coordinator and treasurer. Since I am not so great at managing my own money, I decided to run for the event coordinator position. In this position, I would oversee all of RUC’s events and social media, which sounded like a fun job to me.

Regent University - Undergraduate Council

We’ve had elections, and since I was running unopposed, I won! It wasn’t as simple as that though. First, there is an application process for approval to run. If you have all your financial aid in order, your grades are in good standing, and you haven’t gotten into any trouble then you’ll be good to go. After you have been approved, you receive an email that says so and on a specific date, the campaigning begins. I’ve campaigned twice before for RUC and each time was greeted with success of a position. I continued that winning streak this election and I am so ready to serve as the event and promotion coordinator!

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!

24 Jan 2013 JennaEdwards

Move Out of Your Comfort Zone

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“The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!”

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NASB)

Regent University - friends

Every semester, I seem to be counting down the days until I get to go home and see my family; however, once I get there, I truly appreciate Regent University and all of the opportunities God has placed in my path since coming here. I suffered from such terrible homesickness my entire life. I can still remember being in fourth grade and going home from a sleepover in the middle of a snow storm – at three o’clock in the morning – because I didn’t like being away from my own home.

God placed me in a home full of love, and it became a comfort zone. When He placed me at Regent University, He pulled me out of that comfort zone. One night when I was on my knees praying about where I should go to school, I heard His voice loud and clear: “I am calling you to become uncomfortable. Make a move for me.” When God asks us to do things, we really should do it.

At first, I bucked and refused, but after I submitted to His will for my life, an unbelievable, unfathomable peace settled within my soul and remains to this day. Sometimes I find myself missing home, but soon after, God makes a point to remind me why I am here and how blessed I am to have met the people I have at Regent University. I can most definitely say I love my school and am proud to be here.

18 Jan 2013 RyanArmes

The Wrought Iron Cross

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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)

 Regent University - crossI 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.