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.

13 Sep 2012 FrederickJones II

Stress Management

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As the season of summer is ending, most high school students are closing their senior albums to start a new chapter in their lives as a college student. While young adults mature, students rebuild their energy after a summer break to go through the process of quizzes and staying up late writing papers. For high school students entering their first year of college, the majority lose focus or create negative study habits, and is unaware of how to manage their stress. Stress can affect your studies, and cause loss of/increased appetite, sleeplessness, mental exhaustion, severe feelings of frustration and so on. Stress symptoms can also manifest in a student’s social and physical life.

When I first returned to college after a two-year hiatus, I suffered from a loss of appetite, which led to a loss of weight, feelings of defeat, anxiety, mental lapse. The mistake that I made as a young student was that I didn’t seek educational counseling. Regent University counselors are trained to help college students to manage their stress levels by providing tools that will give the student the ability to maintain control when situations, people, academic studies and events make excessive demands.

It is imperative to learn how to relax yourself: fill your mind with positive words of inspiration, positive music, meditation and breathing exercises. Enjoy the journey! Don’t overwhelm yourself with so many classes that will damage your grade point average (GPA). Start with a few classes to learn the system of Blackboard and other functions at Regent. Then handle each class with excellence and integrity. In your spare time, try to exercise by walking or jogging around campus or home with your iPod or with a friend, because exercise reduces stress and builds your immune system.

11 Sep 2012 MadelineWenner

Why Study English?

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Regent University EnglishAre you considering studying English, but wonder how to justify majoring in the arts in this economy? Or do you dismiss a major revolving around books as, frankly, a waste of time?

I myself have had to listen to people who believe that English literature is unmarketable, even moribund. I’ve struggled to articulate my reasons for pursuing this degree. I know that God has a purpose for me with literature, but I’m always grateful for encouragement and affirmation. In a recent class discussion, I received just that.

On the first day of British Literature: Middle Ages Through the Eighteenth Century, Dr. Elam asked us why literature matters. To begin the discussion, he had us read Psalm 14:3 and Ecclesiastes 7:20, which remind us that we all suffer the consequences of the Fall. We have all sinned; we all live in a fallen (or post-lapsarian, for you sesquipedalian word lovers out there) world full of tragedies, with the greatest tragedy, sin, on our backs. The Fall goes beyond individual sin, too. All around us we see the “ought-is” problem: while the world is full of darkness, it ought to be full of light. Young children die of leukemia; hurricanes destroy whole towns. This should not be so. We know that things are not right, but we have not the power to set them right. In the profound words of one of my classmates, “Reality kind of sucks.”

Through literature, we can step back and experience reality, with its tragedies and victories, with much lower stakes. When we close the book, we are not in a war zone, mourning the death of a loved one, or going through a divorce—but in a way, we feel as though we are. We internalize the conflict, so we can learn from a cataclysmic life even without ever actually experiencing it. We see in ourselves that character, in our lives that situation, in our hearts that struggle, and we learn about human nature as it exists in us and in others.

“In literature, tragically flawed characters reflect the recognition that you can’t escape from the Fall,” Dr. Elam told us. “Still, the things that ought to happen, happen. How many of you have read The Lord of the Rings?

I sat a little straighter in my chair and raised my hand with the rest. It was one thing to talk abstractly about literature, but illustrating a point using my favorite trilogy? This professor was awesome.

“Okay, a few of you. Would you say that Frodo succeeds in his mission?” He paused. “No, Frodo fails miserably. Once he finally gets the ring to Mt. Doom, he decides to keep it and refuses to destroy it. Frodo fails his mission. But it’s still accomplished—the ring is still destroyed.”

I smiled to myself, remembering Gandalf’s words: “And that is an encouraging thought.”

Outside the Bible, literature portrays the Fall and reveals Redemption. God is at work, and even when we fail, He doesn’t. A work need not be explicitly Christian, or even Christian at all. A story can show us what’s wrong with the world, condemn our nature, promise a better land with the Greatest Being, and encourage us along our way. A nonbeliever who wouldn’t read the Bible might pick up Paradise Lost and feel homesick for a place they’ve never been, a place where God reigns.

The right book in the right hands can change the world, and Regent has a great English program to get you on that track.

10 Sep 2012 LeilaMills

An OL’s Perspective

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I know what you’re thinking: what’s an “OL?” Well, my friend, an “OL” is an Orientation Leader and they are the students involved with the various orientations that Regent offers. To accompany the variety of students coming onto campus, we have “SOAR” (Summer Orientation Advising and Registration) for the incoming freshman, “Transfer Transitions” for the transfer students, and “Campus Connection” as an additional event for both!

So far, I have been involved twice with SOAR and most recently with Campus Connection. Our Undergrad Student Services Office pulls these orientations off so effortlessly it seems like planning such an event is a breeze. But trust me, it’s not. Just from my perspective there is a lot of training, testing, talking, setting up and more involved to make sure every new student is ready to make Regent their second home.

As much work as SOAR was, it was definitely the highlight of my summer! This year, the freshman and I rocked the PANK (pink) team! Oh yes, that’s right PANK! The incoming students were just as excited as we were and their energy has made me so excited for the start of the new school year. With Campus Connection already behind us, I can hardly believe the summer has gone by so fast! I feel as if I was just having fun at SOAR yesterday.

With summer slowly fading out and fall, my second favorite season, blowing on in, I look back at my time at Regent so far and realize I am truly blessed. Being able to welcome the new students to a university I love is such a privilege and I can’t wait to start the new year with the friends I have made through orientation.

06 Sep 2012 WendyHarris

How Many Hours Do You Give Away?

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Let’s talk about work-life balance. Who doesn’t struggle with achieving balance in this area either as an employee, professional student, or otherwise? I have been thinking a lot about this lately and have come up with some reasons why I think work-life balance is so difficult to obtain.

Regent University Library

1. We identify ourselves by our occupation. Think about the last time you introduced yourself or met a new contact.  How did you identify yourself? Typically we start with our occupation and end, maybe, with a little of our personal information. Even when we are asking for introductions, we often ask “so what do you do?”

2. There is typically no ‘boss’ at home to approve requests for ‘time on.’ Most jobs have some type of official tracking system to identify how much time off we use throughout the year. Who tracks our “time on” during personal hours? Furthermore, there is typically no permission required to answer a few emails or take a phone call.

3. It is easier to cheat ourselves than others.  It is so easy to work through lunch, stay a little late, come in early, or answer a few messages from home.  In many cases, you can even do this without cheating anyone other than yourself. So if you don’t mind it, why should anyone else care? However, in the end, you are cheating yourself from the downtime needed to recover from the stress of work. Our bodies need relaxation and downtime to maintain good health, attitudes and energy levels. As a result, you may be cheating your family of the healthy, happy spouse, mom, or dad they need.

4. Being a good parent or spouse does not usually get us a promotion. Aside from our performance ratings at work, we often have other opportunities for bonuses, stock options, promotions, salary increases, new challenges or even a certificate and a handshake to recognize a significant contribution. What compares to this in the home environment? While it is true that our wonderful families are all the reward we need, human nature craves recognition.

So I go back to my original question – how many hours do you give away? You cannot get them back. Think about the little things you can change to make work-life balance easier to achieve. Here is what I plan to do: I commit to introduce myself personally before professionally; get my job rating for being a mom; ask permission for ‘time on’; respect my personal needs for downtime; and look for opportunities to reward my husband’s outstanding contributions. What about you?

06 Sep 2012 KevinMills

My Pet: God

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Regent University- dogWe as humans love pets. They bring us comfort. They make us feel good. And above all, they give us that token feeling of having something solely dependent upon us. A person once said this about pet dogs: “We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It’s the best deal man has ever made.” People love coming home to something (or someone) that shows them love, comfort, and acceptance. Many people will actually find themselves confiding in “pets” their most intimate struggles and secrets. In other words: Pets  make us feel good inside and usually give us comfort and acceptance when we cannot readily find it elsewhere.

But how many of us would take our pet dog, cat, budgie, or other animal to work in order to solicit advice from them? Or how many would ask advice from their parrot on relational difficulties? This series of questions may bring a chuckle to us,  but we often treat God the same way.

How often do we compartmentalize God into the areas of our lives where we think He is applicable? How many times do we treat God as the “pet”? We’ll only run to Him when we need comforting or an ego-boost. We throw Him a few treats (prayers, church attendance, etc.) and figure all is well and He’ll be there again when we need Him.

When it comes to real situations in business, relationships, politics, and health, we fail to ask for His advice or wisdom. We’ve relegated God to being our pet–that something or someone we come to for comfort and then go back to our “real lives.”

Galatians 6:7-8 says, “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Many times we isolate the spiritual from the physical instead of realizing that sowing to the spiritual (i.e. pursuing God in all areas of our life) causes the physical to benefit as well.

Let’s be careful to not compartmentalize God to an area of our life which we run to only in times of trouble, but let us seek His wisdom and grace in every aspect of our lives and consequently bring glory to Him in all of our “business.” God is not anyone’s pet, but we unfortunately have a tendency to treat Him exactly that way. It’s time for us to realize who God really is and focus our entire life around Him.

06 Sep 2012 SeretaCollington

Superwomen in the Seminary

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Regent University Robertson HallMy life is so busy. I have to work; go to school; minister to others; create my blogs; and attend to my family duties. Learning to balance everything is quite complicated, and I think I need to master the skills of being a “superwoman.” I believe women in the seminary may have it more difficult than men do because we have the duties of being mothers and wives, as well as students. My experiences have been very time consuming over the years, and I am still learning to balance it all with the help of God.

I’ve tried many time-management skills, but few of them have worked for me.  I have combined my studies and my experiences and have come up with a list of ideas that can help me to become a “superwoman.”  I don’t have “superpowers,” but I have the ability to really let go and let God. So far, what I’ve learned is that I cannot balance my time on my own, regardless of all the skills I have; I have to depend on God and His wisdom to get me there.

First, I evaluate my current daily schedule which, by the way, is a lot! Then, I find ways to cut back. The following is my plan.

I create a daily schedule using my Google Calendar, which synchronizes really well with my phone. My daily schedule is fixed by time, so I can know what is done and for how long it is done. For example, it will take me two hours to cook dinner from 6:30-8:30 p.m. So, I change the ways in which I prepare dinner.

  1. It’s a good practice to pray over your schedule, daily. Not that God will allow it all to happen, but whatever should be done, will be done.
  2. I use times that are unaccounted for to do other things. I recently changed some of my “unaccounted for” time. On the train on my way home, I normally try to complete some class readings. However, what I realized is that since I have no free time, using my train ride home for relaxing is much more valuable.
  3. I keep the Sabbath. I know it’s hard, but on Saturday I let everything go. I sleep, relax, read a book, and watch television. I have to do this because my weekdays are so crazy and busy, I need this as my “down time.”
  4. Finally, I leave it to God. When I am tired in the evening and cannot get some of my class assignments completed or cannot write a new article for my Spiritual Renewal blog, I just leave it to God and go straight to bed.

I’m still working on getting enough sleep. That can be a challenge when you are a wife and a mother. The most sleep I get is four hours each night, and sometimes, I sleep on the train on the way to work. Getting home at 6 p.m. and getting up at 3 a.m. is not easy, and I do not get enough sleep. But, this is my next challenge as a “superwoman” with God at her side.

What are you doing to balance your life?

06 Sep 2012 TimothyNargi

The C.S. Lewis Experience

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At the end of June, I visited Oxford, England as part of Regent’s C.S. Lewis class. The class consisted of reading his most famous works for the first few weeks, then the class convened in Oxford for a week. While there, I saw and experienced the places where Lewis lived, ate and worshiped. It was an amazing experience, spiritually and intellectually, the way Lewis would have liked it.

The week-long course consisted of lectures on Lewis’s life, philosophy and theology. There were also lectures on Tolkien and the Inklings as well. We met Michael Ward, author of Planet Narnia, which seeks to explain why The Chronicles of Narnia seems to be inconsistent, but in fact, it actually is not. We ate at practically every pub that Lewis and the Inklings ate at, one time even walking 3 miles through cow pastures to get to a pub.

We visited Oxford campuses where Lewis taught, walked and eventually converted to Christianity. Many of these places were also locations for the Harry Potter films.

We took a trip to Lewis’s home at the Kilns, learning about his home life. There was a wall in one of the rooms that was an ugly yellow from the nicotine of his pipe he smoked every day. Behind his home was a beautiful lake that some say is the spitting image of Narnia. If you saw it, you would agree.

It is very hard to express what I saw and how it impacted my life, but hopefully this quick overview and these images will help give a tiny glimpse of this trip, so that one day maybe you too can experience the wonder of Lewis and Oxford, in person.

06 Sep 2012 RyanJohnson

In-N-Out, Greasy Guilt and Chuck Colson

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I was about halfway through a delicious burger from In-N-Out when it hit me. In addition to a greasy burger and fries, I was being served a big side of guilt. I was on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, eating a late lunch at 3PM, frustrated that my schedule was pushing my lunch back so late.

I had been photographing work done by a group of college students on Skid Row, a chronically poor section of downtown Los Angeles. Skid Row contains one of the largest stable homeless populations in the country. In the span of only a few blocks, 2,000 people of L.A.’s 80,000 homeless population spend the night on the street (L.A. Downtown News, 2011). I had been tagging along, documenting the students’ interaction with the homeless as they served food. Not that I minded much, but my own lunch was pushed back as the students prepared food for a group of young moms who arrived late.

As stroller-pushing moms filled up the mission’s tiny cafeteria, I watched hungry families devour hot trays of food. Students played with the more energetic children, holding crying infants while chasing trouble-making toddlers, giving the moms a few minutes of peace. It was fun to see Christ’s love shared in this way, over a tray of hot food and a screaming infant. Those moments soon ended though as the moms and their children filed back out onto Skid Row. It was time for the group of students and me to get lunch, so we piled in a large white van and sped off for an In-N-Out burger on Hollywood Boulevard.

Within minutes, we were waiting in a large line at In-N-Out. We were surrounded by clean, hip, iPhone checking fellow fast-food goers. We carefully studied the simple menu, deciding on what greasy delight we wanted. It was ironic that only five minutes before, we were in an area of L.A. where people live hungry all the time, struggling to get a full meal even once a day. Here I was, grumpy we were eating at 3PM, but excited to eat my second full meal of the day. That’s when the greasy guilt hit hard, in the middle of a large bite.

There’s nothing wrong with In-N-Out, but in that moment, it hit me: the complacency I felt for the closeness of these two worlds. I had separated them in my heart. I had built a fortress. To put it simply, I felt guilt.

In the Christian Foundations of Government course, a required class in the Robertson School of Government, we were taught about Christianity as a worldview, as presented by Chuck Colson in his book How Now Shall We Live? We were exposed to ideas regarding post-modernism, the effect on Judeo-Christianity, and the need to live out faith in action as a result of a comprehensive, Christian worldview. Colson’s writings and my professor’s lessons leapt into my head, sitting in that crowded In-N-Out.

“We must be men and women who will dare to wrest Christianity free from its fortress mentality, its sanctuary stronghold, and establish it once again as the great life system and cultural force that acknowledges the Creator as sovereign over all” (Colson, 36).

Chuck Colson, a course at Regent University, and a greasy burger from In-N-Out broke down the fortress mentality I had been carrying around all day. As we went back out into the hurting communities of L.A., I found my fortress had crumbled, and I was grateful for it. Here’s to hoping it stays in ruins.

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.