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.

06 Dec 2012 RyanJohnson

Traveling with an Ally

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Studying in a coffee shopI often find myself amazed by the specialized skills of those with unique hobbies, passions and interests. I want to ask permission then, to share my knowledge in a small area of passion. Will the following words change your life? Probably not. Are there bigger problems in the world? Definitely. However, as a Regent scholar, it might make that next late-night study session on the road a little better.

First, let me qualify: I travel a lot. In the past three years, I’ve been to most of the continental United States, as well as a handful of countries. Over that time, something has always bothered me: the coffee. For any coffee aficionados that have been forced to drink Hampton Inn or Best Western coffee for a few weeks—you can relate to my grumbling.

If you find yourself in Paris or Rome, surrounded by small, independently-owned cafés, consider yourself exempt from my advice (but not my jealousy). Otherwise, here are a few options for constructing the optimal cup of joe.

1)     Starbucks Via. These are a little on the pricey side, but they travel well and taste good. Go with the Colombian or Italian packets–they taste a little more like the in-store Starbucks brew. An extra option: combine with weaker hotel coffee for an extra strong cup.

2)     Mug Press. For those French press fans, you can purchase a mug press. They don’t work nearly as well as a full-size French press, however, they are portable and you can pack ground coffee inside the mug while traveling. Bodum makes a nice mug press, but it will cost you around $25. The worst part of the mug press is that the used coffee grounds sit at the bottom while you sip, which can make the coffee taste overly bitter or over-brewed.

3)     Cold Press/Toddy coffee. If your hotel room has a fridge, you can cold press coffee using two empty plastic bottles. Mix filtered, cold water with coarsely ground coffee (grind before you leave home). Let it sit for twelve hours in a fridge and then filter. You can reheat the coffee if you’re looking for a hot cup, or after a quick visit to the ice machine you can enjoy iced coffee in the classic tradition. Because the leaching of flavor uses a different chemical process (I’m putting on my nerd glasses here), the coffee tastes sweeter and less bitter. The best thing about this method is that it travels easily: just bring ground coffee, a couple empty coke bottles, and coffee filters. Don’t let the filtered coffee in the fridge for more than 48 hours though—the fresher the better.

Coffee in a hotel4)     Single-cup pour-over brewing. This is my preferred method. You can buy a Swiss Gold or Melitta plastic pour-over system, which is really just a fancy ceramic or plastic cup that sits on top of a mug (ranges between $4 and $20). Use a #2 paper filter (the ones that look like a cone chopped off at the end), finely ground coffee, and fresh water. Put the #2 filter in the plastic cup, add some finely ground coffee, and place it over a paper cup. Carefully pour hot water (using a microwave to heat) over the brewing apparatus, filling up the paper filter and coffee grounds to the top. Sit back and let gravity do the rest. The entire system travels easily and allows for a strong cup of fresh coffee. I pack a couple of mugs along with the plastic brewing cup so I can heat up bottled water in the microwave.

5)      Get out there and find a local café. A good tip: if they have a large, visible espresso machine you have likely found the right place. Order an Americano and pull out that Econ textbook.

French novelist Honore de Balzac said, “As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move…similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.” As traveling students, whether with noses buried in case law or the Encyclopedia of Psychology, bring with you a proper ally.

05 Dec 2012 WendyHarris

Do You Believe or Support the Belief of Others?

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This post is not intended for young children.

This past summer a church leader in my 9-year old daughter’s Vacation Bible School class abruptly revealed the truth of Santa Claus in the name of honesty. While I don’t believe this individual intentionally set out to disillusion her entire class of children, she has historically taken a stand against lying in this manner.

I confess I don’t know the right thing to do with this dilemma. I agree that systematically lying to our children seems wrong. However, it also doesn’t seem right to rob children of this fanciful myth. Additionally, aren’t these great opportunities for our churches to engage our neighborhood children?

Regent University - children

On top of this overarching dilemma, I have the issue of dealing with this church leader. It’s not that I intend to confront her in any way. However, I have a younger daughter who will continue to be invited to Vacation Bible School at this church. This happens to be the church where my mother attends and I grew up. The church family is full of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I would love for my daughters to continue attending this Vacation Bible School while spending the week with their grandmother.

So I ask for your help! How did/do you handle the concept of Santa Claus with your children? Has anyone found a good way to integrate the two while staying faithful to the Bible? In addition, of course, would you continue to let your children attend this Vacation Bible School?

Thank you in advance for sharing your wisdom and experiences!

03 Dec 2012 JennaEdwards

His Eye is on the Sparrow

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Regent University - cardinalIf He can take care of the birds, why would we ever think that He won’t/can’t take care of us? Matthew 6:25-34 talks about the “fowl” of the air. God is saying not to worry so much about what we are going to eat or drink, the clothes we will wear, etc., because life is about more than food and more than clothes.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26 ESV) I recently was sitting at my kitchen table doing homework when I glanced out on the patio and noticed a cardinal under the tree outside. The beauty in that moment was just immense. God showed me how worthy He is, how incredible and how encouraging He is. Sometimes I feel like I’m so overwhelmed and I’m struggling so hard, but the truth is, if I would give my stress and worries over to Jesus, I would feel so much better. When I glanced outside and noticed that beautiful red bird, it reminded me of the blood that Jesus shed so that He could take my burdens.

1 Peter 2:24 tells us that, “He bore our sins in His body on that tree so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.” Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we could put the chains right back on ourselves. He died to release the chains of sin. Stress is unavoidable in this life, but the beauty of it all is that Jesus takes it. He is standing right there waiting for us to release it to Him.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.

Ephesians 1:7 (ESV)

 

27 Nov 2012 RyanArmes

Reflections of Heaven, Communities of Hope

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Regent University - GarmischSeveral 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).

References:

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.

02 Nov 2012 SeretaCollington

Is the Seminary a Good Investment?

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When I received my call from God to preach, I did not receive any instructions that I had to go to seminary. I grew up in a country where preachers were just using their Bibles and depending on the Holy Spirit to preach. So, why then are there so many requirements for us to receive a degree from a seminary so that we can become a preacher? Well, for one, the lessons we learned in seminary will last for a lifetime. I do not believe that we need a piece of paper to say that we can preach, but I do believe that the journey to receive that paper is worth it.

Regent University - TeachingIn America today, education costs are higher than ever. This can limit the number of candidates who attend seminary. Many years ago, I told myself that I would not go to seminary because it would only bring “unnecessary” knowledge. However, one of the requirements of my church is to be a seminary graduate, so I did not have any choice. For me, the pros of going to seminary really outdo the cons, and here is why:

1. Seminary opens our eyes to the history of God’s Word and not just to our own interpretations.
2. Seminary teaches us how to appreciate many different interpretations.
3. We get to meet new classmates who share the same life purposes and meanings and who, eventually, become lifetime friends.
4. Learning about God’s Word is important; doing it on our own can be more difficult.
5. Seminary teaches us things that we need to have a successful church in this generation.

The results of going to seminary always outshine the reasons not to go. Though other degrees can be just about work or career, a seminary degree is about our lives. Serving God through preaching is a life calling, and we can use seminary to better that calling and to give us the credentials that society requests. Very few congregations will listen to a pastor who does not possess a degree; this is because today’s generation believes that degrees prove our worth. We can never prove our worth with a seminary degree because the Spirit of God does all the work for us when we preach. Nevertheless, we can prove our commitment to God’s work when we take the time to attend a degree program to learn more about our Biblical history.

31 Oct 2012 TracyRuckman

Celebrating the Breaks of Life

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Regent University - celebrationWhen I first started back to school, working and going to school full-time, I thought the breaks between sessions would be my “catch-up” times. I planned to use that time to catch up on all the housework that fell behind because of my schedule, or on the work I could get done before the new session started.

But after a year of doing that, I realized I was burning myself out. So now, I’m more strategic in my planning, and build in some fun and relaxation during those down times.

As crazy as it sounds, we clean house and put out many of our Christmas decorations during our fall break in October. This gives me more of an opportunity to actually enjoy them, rather than trying to scurry around during our short Thanksgiving break to get it all done. By at least having them upstairs (rather than their hiding place in the basement), I can do a little at a time to make special arrangements all around the house.

I try to plan a vacation for after Christmas. This year, we have a longer break before school starts back, so that gives us more time to wind down and really relax. As Session A winds down and Session B begins, I’m already counting the days!

Here are some other ideas for celebrating during breaks:

  • Take a road trip. With current gas prices continuing to rise, your “road trip” might just have to be to the grocery store, but make an adventure out of at least one journey.
  • Visit local museums or tourist attractions. Playing tourist for a day or two is almost as good as a real vacation!
  • Read a book for fun. Okay, so maybe you read books regularly for fun, but with my work and all the textbook reading, I have to plan when to read for fun, and I use the breaks to do it. Getting lost in a delightful novel is a great escape.
  • Read an entire book of the Bible during your break. Digging into the Word restores, refreshes, and rejuvenates more than any other activity. Don’t believe me? Spend a week in Acts and watch what happens!
  • Throw a party! Most younger college students don’t need an excuse to have a party, so why should all of us non-traditional students? Invite friends or family over for a meal, or for coffee, dessert and conversation. Doesn’t have to be extravagant – the point is just spending time in fellowship with friends and loved ones.
  • Take a hike. Have you checked out any of the state or national parks near your home? Throw some picnic foods in a backpack and hit the trails – getting into nature is a great way to refresh.
  • Volunteer for some mission work. Check your local homeless shelter, food pantry, or senior center and see if they could use some help for a day or two during your break. Giving of yourself to someone in need is a great way to acknowledge appreciation for the blessings of your own life.

As I wrote this post, I learned of the death of a very special lady. I never met her in person, but we both belonged to the same professional groups and had been acquainted online for many years, exchanging occasional e-mails, prayer requests and Facebook comments. Her sudden death was a surprise to everyone, and caused all who knew her to pause. We all just stopped for a few minutes or a few hours, pondering life and death. She was a Christian and she shared her love of Jesus with everyone. We don’t wish her back, because we know she’s happy and well with Jesus, but we do reflect on our own lives.

Life is too short. Make the most of every break, the most of every day – live your life with gusto, so that when you’re gone, people will pause. Celebrate life in such a way that people will want to know what you have, and then you can tell them what Jesus means to you.

29 Oct 2012 JennaEdwards

Fasting is a Beautiful Thing

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“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? - Isaiah 58:6

Regent University - ChapelEvery year since beginning college at Regent, I fast from one thing. I try to really focus on Jesus and my studies and to do that, I let go of something that I feel is getting in the way of it. My freshman year, I chose to fast from television. My sophomore year, I chose to fast from Facebook and Twitter.

This year, I chose to start a fast from Facebook. I let my family & friends know simply because it is one of the only ways of communication I have with them. Fasting is a beautiful thing. It truly allows us to focus on what really matters–God.

This life is busy. Things crowd our minds, and our judgment, every single day. In this crazy life, it is so important to place God first in everything, and fasting allows us to do just that, when we take it seriously.

We all know how Facebook is–we get on to check it for a minute and we stay on for thirty minutes to an hour doing nothing but being nosy. I decided that wasn’t satisfying. It doesn’t fill me like Jesus does. I decided every time I even have a thought about Facebook, I am going to pick up my Bible. Throughout this fast (until Easter), I want to have read the Bible completely through once.

It’s time we stop being addicted to social media and become addicted to the Father.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” - Psalm 73:26

26 Oct 2012 MadelineWenner

Beware the Likable Professor

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On that first day of class, you have no idea what your professor will do.

Take Dr. Jayce O’Neal. For the first day of Public Speaking last year, he abandoned the lectern and sat in the back of the room, posing as a student. Though we all vehemently denied it afterwards, the ruse had us half-fooled, and we couldn’t help liking a professor who wasn’t above a practical joke.

The course was incredible. Dr. O’Neal discerned our personalities after just a few classes and pushed us out of our carefully constructed comfort zones. While teaching us to relate to audiences and argue properly, he instilled confidence in the shy and helped the proud realize their weaknesses. When the course ended, we weren’t just better public speakers; we were better individuals.

A few months later, Dr. O’Neal invited a group of students to meet about “an exciting new project” he hoped we’d be interested in. I assumed he meant a student club or a simple internship program. You know, something student-centric, something to influence our academic performance or build our résumés.

I was thinking small.

Dr.  O’Neal was thinking big.

Church-sized, in fact. Several years of careful planning and guidance from mentors and pastors had gone into planting RED Church, and now he wanted students to help in the final months before the launch. After explaining its mission–reaching out to the unchurched and de-churched and emphasizing the Redemption, Encouragement, and Destiny of believers–Dr. O’Neal asked us if we were willing to commit. Nearly everyone signed on.

Regent University - Red ChurchSeven months later, RED Church has been more than a feel-good volunteer opportunity. Dr. O’Neal wanted everyone involved to develop into a leader, a kingdom-builder. We’ve worked through three major fundraisers, attended training sessions, and helped with small groups. We’re preparing for the first preview service on October 27 and the official launch this winter.

Just as he had in Public Speaking, Dr. O’Neal has helped everyone involved discern our strengths then push us beyond them, out of our comfort zones, and into the area where faith and natural ability combine. Months before opening its doors, RED Church is already building new leaders.

24 Oct 2012 RudolfKabutz

The Future-Thinking Mountain Biker

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On a lovely fresh morning, we went mountain biking in the largest known meteorite crater on earth. The crater located at Vredefort in South Africa. The overall diameter of this crater is about 300 kilometers. The wild-card event of the meteorite hitting earth turned a depth of 17 kilometers of rock layers upside-down, which led to a significant change of events many years later: gold, which is otherwise located at a depth of about 3 kilometers, was found on the surface of the earth. The resulting South African history developed very differently due to this single highly uncertain but very impactful event.

Regent University - Meteorite impactThis meteorite impact was a long time ago, but as we prepared for the mountain bike ride, we had to start thinking of the future: which route should we ride amongst all the possible routes? Before we set off, we had a good look at the overall landscape surrounding us. On the satellite photographs of the circular meteorite crater, we found a little hill close by in the fairly flat valley. This hill was composed of rock that had melted due to the intense heat of the impact explosion. These rocks had been mined in an old quarry because of the beautiful patterns that the fluid rock made amidst many other rock fragments. By first seeing the overall system, we were able to plan out our route, get a rough idea of where to travel, and anticipate some of the challenges along the way. We then knew how to get to the little hill.

As we started cycling in the cool morning breeze, the shortest route would have been to head straight towards the little hill which we could see in the distance. The others in the group were too skeptical to follow unknown paths through the brush and grass. Instead, we followed the wide tar road that took us on a long loop to the other side of the hill. This was fine with everybody. Once we were closer, a small jeep track took us right into the quarry. By then the group had established sufficient trust that these paths were actually leading to the desired location. They became more willing to move along these smaller and less used paths.

Once we came to the top of the hill, an amazing change in perspective happened: all of us could see our starting point in the distance! Our group became ready to even take new routes. To get back home, we scouted out narrow footpaths that the cattle had taken through the bush. This was a lot more risky, because we might have had to backtrack if a path just stopped, or we could even have gotten lost when the location became unclear. Our group struggled to follow these fuzzy paths, because they were not completely clearly visible. We kept our vision focused on our goal, which kept us going. Only once we returned exactly to our starting point did everybody rejoice that we had found the best route home!

As you think about taking a team into the future with you, you might consider these questions:

Regent University - Mountain biking1. While you are thinking ahead, how can you help others to see the overall picture?
2. How can you prepare people to “see” where they will be going, even when paths are unclear?
3. In which way can you help your team to build trust in the route that you are guiding them?
4. What will help you obtain consensus for moving ahead to reach the goal?
5. How can you prepare each team member for the rough challenges they will encounter en route?
6. How can the team remain motivated and enthusiastic along the journey?
7. Which unexplored paths would you want to leave aside for the sake of staying with the team?
8. How can your team celebrate once you have reached the desired goal?

Future thinking becomes useful when the insights about potential developments from past events are used in the present. Well, until the next meteorite hits, we hopefully will be able to plan and implement a few more exciting mountain biking trips with our teams riding into their future!