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.

09 Jan 2013 LeilaMills

Find Your Style

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Regent University - Leila's hairstylesSome say college is all about finding yourself, and in some ways, I can agree. Of course, you have the obvious growth in maturity, educational level and independence. But in my college career, the most tangible transformation has been physical and it all has to do with my hair. Yes, my hair!

You see, as a child of mixed race, my hair has always been a staple of who I am. In middle school, I couldn’t control it. It would frizz and go crazy as I tried to hold it back with a single hair tie. I had so much hair and so much frizz that I was nick-named “The Bush” one year because of my thick pony tail. In high school when I got a job and a car, I started going to the salon more and kept my hair relaxed and straight. I carried this look into college and when I couldn’t make it to the salon, my classmates would experience the full power of my poufy hair.

The summer before my sophomore year I had a sudden desire to chop all my hair off. I was tired of trying to manage it and, with a boldness that came out of nowhere, I went to my hair dresser in secret and told her to chop it all off. It sounds weird, but I felt so empowered after making that decision. I loved the way my new hair looked and so did others. I rocked the look well, but then I felt the desire for change once again this fall, the beginning of my junior year.

When I was younger, I relaxed my hair and destroyed its natural texture. Now that I had cut my hair down I could see my natural texture growing out. I wondered what I would look like in my “natural state” and started doing research. I didn’t do a lot of research though before I decided to just take the plunge. I had my lady cut off the rest of my processed hair and in the end loved the results! My natural hair makes me feel strong and I laugh because I think, “God this is the way you intended my hair to look and I think it is the best.”

My changes with my hair have shown me that I have grown in self-confidence and awareness. I changed my hair both times because I wanted to. I didn’t care what others thought of my new styles because I loved them. In that way, I found a part of myself in college and, even though I wish I had found it sooner, I am so happy to know who I am now…in my hair!

02 Jan 2013 TimothyNargi

What Does Regent Feel Like?

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Regent University Performing Arts CenterWhen people discuss a college campus they may describe its scenery.
“Look at that beautiful tree!”|
“Check out that architecture!”
“I love this open field!”

They may also chat about events and activities that occur.
“Yeah, we’ve got an outdoor study group.”
“Those guys practice on the lake every day.”
“Let’s go; the concert is starting.”

These people may also post pictures online to share with their family and friends. Pictures are good. They let you visualize college life; they let you experience a part of it. Some photographs even let you feel what it may be like to attend there.

Personally, I can’t speak to the nature of attending class every day or living on campus as I am an online student. However, I am able to walk the campus every day and I can tell you what I feel when I stroll about.

I feel beauty.

Beauty? You can’t feel beauty–you see it, you say.

Rightly so, but what is seeing something if you get no feeling from it? You might as well walk around in the dark.

When I walk around campus and behold the well-groomed grounds, the majestic trees, the colonial themed architecture that speaks to times past, I feel it. The beauty overwhelms me, sweeping me up in its embrace, imparting something to me that I can carry with me all my days and share with others. I feel privileged to be able to walk around such a beautiful place, thankful to those who work hard to make it such, and mindful of the pleasures God has given to His children.

I look at a tree with its multicolored leaves while the sun rakes its rays over them and I feel beauty.

I see a stream of fountain of water arch into the air and splash down upon the stone it tried so hard to escape from and I feel beauty.

I gaze at the clay brick buildings and marvel at the craftsmanship and I feel beauty.

I watch students scamper to and stroll from class and I feel beauty.

Why do I feel this? Where does this feeling of beauty come from?

It comes through the people that work hard on and around campus and it comes through the blessings and fortunes that Regent has been bestowed. When I walk around campus, I feel a little bit of God shine through. I feel a little bit of His beauty.

23 Dec 2012 LeilaMills

Daily Christmas Challenge

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Regent University - Leila with SantaChristmas time is here! Happiness and cheer!

This year I am so excited for Christmas because I feel like I actually get it. We celebrate Christmas to recognize Christ’s birth. This is something I have always known, but I’ll be honest. When I was younger, it was all about Santa and the presents. In middle and high school, Santa dropped out of the equation and it was more about Christmas parties and presents.

In the last year and a half of high school, my relationship with God was strengthened and the next year when Christmas came around, I didn’t know how to respond. I had this incorrect notion that if I had too much fun during the Christmas season, then I wasn’t paying proper respect to God. So a couple of my Christmases were pretty bland because I didn’t allow myself to experience the joy of the holiday season.

But this year I get it! My time at Regent has taught me a lot. The birth of Christ is something to be celebrated and it can be celebrated in a number of ways. I don’t think God wants me to be somber when I think about the birth of Christ because it is such a joyous occasion.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 says, “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun” (NIV).

This season I have found that I can enjoy Christmas to the fullest because I am constantly reminded of the greatest gift: Christ’s birth and God’s love. Therefore, I have decided that this year I will enjoy Christmas to the fullest by doing one Christmas-y thing a day until the 25th of December. I’ll document my days and share them all with you in a video blog next month.

Until then, each and every one of you be blessed. I hope you enjoy this Christmas season and remember that God loves us all so much. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

See Leila’s 25 Christmas-y things here!

15 Dec 2012 TracyRuckman

Going Through the Motions

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Regent University - nativityAs I write this, Christmas decorations are being put up all across the world. Here in the States, the air is nippy in some areas, downright cold in others. Twinkling lights, Christmas carols, and shopping ads come onto the scene as everyone rushes around trying to make the season just perfect.

But I find myself in an oddly familiar place once again this year. As my husband pulls out the Christmas decorations, I seem to be in the same state of mind I’ve been before –a place of just going through the motions. I find myself reflecting back on the year, and again repeating what I said last year, and the year before that – it’s been a hard year. Oh, this year wasn’t nearly as hard as other years, or anywhere near as hard it could have been, and I readily admit that – but still, it’s a year that has taken a toll on me just the same.

So I sit a moment and ponder these things.

Is every year going to be hard from here on out? Is this our “new normal”? Is it just us, or are others struggling through the same kinds of things?

I belong to several prayer groups and loops, so I can answer the last question easier than the others. It’s not just us. In fact, it’s too many others too. So many others that our hard times don’t look nearly as hard as others. This past week, I sat at my desk crying. My husband walked through my office and asked what was wrong. I shared with him that a friend was going through a very difficult time. It was a situation I’d been through myself years ago, and my heart just felt like it was breaking all over. I wanted to fix her problems, although I knew they were so enormous that only God could truly fix them.

But it’s practically impossible (not totally – because I’ve experienced this as well) to see that GOOD can and will eventually come out of something so horrific. So I cried for my friend. And I prayed for her. And for a brief moment, I wasn’t going through motions of anything. Resting in Him, trusting Him, loving Him.

Then it hit me.

That’s where He wants us.

God doesn’t want us just going through the motions. He deserves our full worship because Christmas is not about us. It’s not about living that wonderful life, warm and fuzzy and perfect. It’s not about stuff – giving or getting. It’s not about doing – even when the doing is something good. It’s not about decorations, or cookies, or egg nog, or divinity. It’s not about shopping til we drop, getting good deals, filling the empty space under the tree with more boxes than it can hold. It’s not about gathering with family and friends in a warm kitchen or around a gorgeous, overflowing Martha Stewart kind of table. It’s not even about helping out at the food bank, or picking a need from an Angel Tree, or handing out mittens to the homeless.

This season is about JESUS.

We’re celebrating our Savior’s birth, and His death. Jesus came to earth as a baby, lived a human life, and then died for us – innocent and perfect, yet He chose His Father’s will over His own, so that we could live forever with Him.

The prophet Habakkuk lived during a time of oppression and lawlessness, a time that sounds eerily familiar today. But Habakkuk was wise, and penned these words of encouragement that we all should take to heart this holiday season. Habakkuk 3:17-18 in The Message Bible[1]:

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom

and the strawberries don’t ripen,

Though the apples are worm-eaten

and the wheat fields stunted,

Though the sheep pens are sheepless

and the cattle barns empty,

I’m singing joyful praise to God.

I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.

Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,

I take heart and gain strength.

Let us all take heart and gain strength this year, regardless of our circumstances, and remember the true reason for this season. Let us REJOICE, for our Savior lives!

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

[1] The Message: Remix. Eugene H. Peterson. Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group. 2002. Print.

13 Dec 2012 RudolfKabutz

The Jumping Unicyclist

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Regent University - unicycle jumpWhen I travel to a huge city, I ask myself, “How long has it taken for all this to be built?” I also ask myself, “How long will all this still remain as it is?” While my mind moves into the past and explores that which has come before us, my mind also moves into the future to explore that which is still to come.

Before I started with a systematic way of exploring the future through the Masters of Strategic Foresight at Regent University, my thoughts about the future just drifted off and disappeared again without becoming useful. I just felt overwhelmed by thinking about the future.

When my son started learning to ride a unicycle, he realized how difficult it is and how long it takes to be able to balance and ride with only the one wheel. But it did not take too long, and then riding along a flat stretch became almost second nature to him. To learn more, my son started trying to jump with the unicycle, which is even more difficult. One day, he came to me and joyfully said, “Dad, now I can jump with my unicycle. Even riding on uneven mountain paths now is easy. The rocks that previously were obstacles on the cycling path have become fun challenges: I actually want to overcome them, because I now know I can do it!”

Using strategic foresight to explore the future was a similar experience to me. Initially I felt overwhelmed by questions about the future, but then the obstacles of the future became fun challenges. The foresight methodologies now bring joy when intimidating questions can be explored and addressed.

What questions about the future are intimidating you now? By learning skills of dealing with the future, you may begin enjoying the challenge of overcoming obstacles–or maybe, like the unicyclist, just jumping right over them!

12 Dec 2012 FrederickJones II

The Purpose of Change and Hope

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Regent University - students in classroomWhile you are navigating your journey at Regent University, it is vital that you discover your purpose in life. My friend, here are five questions to ask God as you complete your undergraduate or graduate program

1. Who am I? – Identity

2. Where am I from? –Source

3. Why am I here? – Purpose (define your passion)

4. What can I do? – Potential

5. Where am I going? – Destiny.

Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president of the United States (1923-1929), declared, “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them [the foundations of society] if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country” (http://boardofwisdom.com). People who see themselves as change agents can make a difference for the next generation. Until righteous people learn to occupy the seven spheres of influence by being the salt of the earth (Mt. 5:13), we, as a nation, will continue to allow the advancement of immorality (e.g., abortion & the like) through our so-called “conservative” Supreme Court.

As our nation continues to change and grow, you have the power through God-given gifts to be a leader who changes the world in your sphere of influence: family, education, religion, media government, arts and entertainment, or business. I believe that you have the confidence, the power, and the authority to make a difference in your community, business, home, and family by having an unshakable Biblical worldview of love, faith, and hope.

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!