08 Jun 2012 WendyHarris

Got water?

2 Comments Community

Regent University Bible PageI am that peculiar girl who lugs in a gallon of beverage to work every morning.  I’m not incredibly picky when it comes to beverage choices, but apparently I am very Southern in my desire for iced tea instead of soda or coffee.  I even stretch my peculiarity a bit further by toting a big insulated glass with me throughout the day.  Apparently I stay very hydrated although it’s more about the drink than the result for me.

At the same time, I am that girl who provides cash and change to panhandlers when given the opportunity.  And Houston has plenty of opportunities.  I’ve had many discussions with individuals regarding what my donation is funding.  My argument has steadfastly been that this is between the panhandler and God.  I can’t always control the end result but I can faithfully act as the hands and feet of God.  However, I do realize many disagree with my efforts.  I also admit to moments when the cynicism in me creeps up and I question if my actions are truly helpful to these individuals.  So, I’m excited to explain how these two particular sides of my personality recently collided.

The other morning I flipped on the news as I got ready.  In a very distracted state, I heard an interview with the founder of a charitable organization that focused on providing drinking water to the homeless.  In my hurry, I finished my task, turned off the TV and moved on to my next activity.  However, the seed had been successfully planted…providing drinking water to the homeless.  What a great idea!

So at the next opportunity I purchased a six-pack of bottled water and placed it in my car.  I have to admit to being excited to encounter a panhandler after this preparation.  I developed a keen eye as I waited for my first opportunity to hand that precious water out.  How fun this was going to be!  And I was not let down.  My first distribution of water was around 4 p.m. on this year’s first day of 90 degree heat.  The woman was so appreciative that she asked, “If you come back around, bring me another.”  Dispensing the second bottle of water was less eventful.  However, I look forward to many happy provisions going forward into the hot summer months.

Once I decided to write on this topic, I researched the charity mentioned on the TV.  Without much difficulty I found the website for the I Am Waters Foundation — iamwaters.com.  A quick review of their webpages identifies former fashion model Elena Davis as the founder.  I urge you to take a minute and explore their website.  Not only do they have information regarding their mission of providing water to the homeless, they also put a face to these individuals through video interviews, pictures and quotes.

I also urge you to consider how you are the hands and feet of Christ.  Our education at Regent University teaches us many things but among them is how to “change the world.”  With “Christ-centeredness” as one of Regent’s values, identifying effective ways of ministering to our community is critical.  According to Matthew 25:40, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  What an awesome privilege we have to love on those in need through a simple drink of water!

What other ideas do you have for loving our community in God’s name?

07 Jun 2012 TracyRuckman

Do They Offer a Degree in Juggling?

No Comments Home, School, Work

Regent University InteractionJuggling responsibilities of home, work and school can be a full-time job all by itself. I enrolled as a nontraditional student at Regent University in 2010 (after a 28-year hiatus), and then in 2011, I reorganized my business and launched two publishing companies. Talk about juggling!

Five things have helped keep me sane (or at least keep what little sanity I had left.)

1)      Prioritize. Every night, I make a list of all of the things that need to get done the next day, or the next week, and then I prioritize the list, based on deadlines, available time, and speed with which I can get that particular task done. School deadlines for discussion board posts and papers are prioritized by due date and by difficulty of assignments. Last session, I had two upper-level classes, each with a 10-page paper due toward the end of the session. Both classes required much research and a great number of academic sources, but one class had even more restrictions and guidelines. I focused intently on that paper for five weeks, while gathering my sources and formulating ideas for the other paper. As the deadlines approached, the priorities shifted.

2)      Delegate. I went back to school because my husband was forced into early retirement due to the economy and company layoffs. Since he’s now at home fulltime, he offered to take over some of the household chores. Busy moms can enlist help from friends, family members, and even age-appropriate children. Delegation is a tremendous time-saver and stress reducer. My husband’s contribution is an investment in our future, and I could not do all I do without his hard work.

3)      Focus. One of my friends, a life-coach, recommends putting various aspects of your life in mental “boxes.” When you tackle the top priority on your list, keep the lids on all those other boxes closed until you finish with the first box. Then when you’re done, put the lid back on, and move to the next item on the list. This compartmentalization allows you to focus on one thing at a time, without worrying about what’s in the other boxes.

4)      Play. This one is hard for me because I tend to give my all to everything – work hard, play hard. But I don’t always have time for play, so it got pushed to the side until I learned to play in tiny increments. Even if it’s 20 minutes a day, take time to just play and unwind. Do something that makes you laugh – be silly. The refreshment will surprise you.

5)      Rest. The busier our week gets, the more tempted we are to push things to the weekend so we can get caught up. But don’t neglect one day of rest. Make yourself unplug – no phones, computers, internet – for 12-24 hours, more if you can stand it. (I try to unplug from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday, then I’m not so swamped first thing Monday morning.) Trust me, the world won’t collapse while you’re gone and you’ll be stronger for it.

Balancing work, school, and family life is indeed a challenge, but there are benefits. Discipline, perseverance, determination, focus – these benefits are not listed on our degrees, but they are character traits not easily attained. Who knew juggling offered such reward?

06 Jun 2012 MadelineWenner

Best Job Ever

No Comments School, Work

Regent University Atrium Like most college students, I need to supplement my loans with extra money to pay for school—in this economy, everyone to some extent has to work to go to school. But, after all, I came to Regent to learn, and the challenging but edifying curriculum, along with my non-salaried internships, often left me wanting to relax, not job hunt. After sending out 10 applications that came to nothing, I asked God to send the perfect job my way.

He did. He knew I wanted more than money. I wanted to be challenged, energized and restored. I wanted my job to be both a learning experience and an environment to practice my education. So that’s what He gave me.

At this dream job, I am served five-course meals at a fancy restaurant. I become both evil stepmother and fairy godmother in a pantomime Cinderella, eat fluorescent ice cream made from Play-Doh, watch PBS Kids, and even have time after a few hours to read my Modern Literature assignment.

I am a babysitter.  During the past year, I babysat eight kids ages nine months to 12 years. Most of their parents are Regent students and graduates. All of the children are sweet in their own way. Some are outgoing, some shy; some willingly listen, while others need persuading. The five-year-olds, with their active imaginations, create stories more brilliant and fantastical than any I read in my literature classes, while the babies’ wide-eyed smiles alone speak volumes.

I come from a big family, so I’ve been babysitting since I no longer needed a sitter myself, but coming to Regent changed the experience again.

Babysitting fights off homesickness. I was used to being around little siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and neighbors. At college, I was on ‘kid withdrawal” until I started babysitting. Twenty-year-olds are just too tame; I need some chaos to calm down.

It heals my stress. Nothing cures that midterm exhaustion like the wild, buoyant, infectious, untamable, scampering, choking, shrieking laughter of a toddler.

It changes my perspective. My own stress about living expenses and a heavy workload was caricatured in the personal gravity of one four-year-old girl. For her, every decision was important, from the doll she played with in the afternoon to the pajamas she picked out at bedtime. Every small moment was inflated with her immense appreciation, and I too could be grateful for misty mornings and warm cookies, for cold popsicles and sunny afternoons.

We play dolls and make-believe and pirates and trucks. The world becomes new again as old experiences are presented as if for the first time. When a two-year-old and I saw, right in the heart of suburbia, a small rabbit nosing in the grass, we shared a wide-eyed, wordless wonder.

Babysitting allows me to apply my lessons from Regent, too. In Communication and Popular Culture, we learned how to pitch a project or story idea to an employer in less than a minute. I had to do use the same technique, only faster, while babysitting. Creative executives may have short attention spans, but three-year-olds have no attention span at all.

I step away from the battle of grade-point-averages, textbooks and Blackboard posts and enter a different crusade. I learned logic in Philosophy, argumentation in Research & Academic Writing, and persuasion in Public Speaking, but this mighty arsenal of rhetoric failed to convince one charge to eat all her dinner. I used instead a mightier weapon that Regent arms every student with: prayer.

In this new world, child A is in a tattle-tale, child B is a possessive three-year-old, and child C still requires frequent diaper changes. So while A snitches on B for stealing A’s toy, you don’t have time to intervene and stop the ensuing fight before C remorsefully announces, “Poo-poo…”

But oh, what triumph when they settle down and play together nicely! I could hear triumphant fanfare when they cleaned their plates. I rejoiced when they fell asleep at bedtime. And when their parents came to drive me home, I was grateful for the job that paid more than money.

Babysitting strengthens me for college. Regent enriches the experience.

How do you coordinate school and work?

05 Jun 2012 RyanArmes

What is the “Value” of a Regent Education?

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Regent University ProfessorI’ve heard it said that eating healthier actually saves you money in the long run even though healthier foods are normally more expensive straight off of the grocery shelf.  The idea is that you get more “bang for your buck” because your body is more readily able to use the calories and nutrients found in healthier foods without all of the bad trans-fats, artificial flavors and other chemicals found in certain foods.  As life moves on and the years accumulate, health problems are avoided because an individual has chosen to spend a little extra money up front on healthier foods.  The long term result is that medical bills are reduced and the individual’s working years are extended, enabling that person to earn a living through more years in their life.  In addition to the money saved and health benefits realized, this idea also adds ‘enjoy-ability’ to years that one has on this earth.  I don’t know if statistics reveal this to be factual, but it makes logical sense.

Interestingly enough, there is a very important principle revealed in this claim in regards to “knowledge.”  2 Peter 1: 5-8 says that, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  As we can see in what Peter says, knowledge is a milestone in one’s faith, among other spiritual principles, and it begins and ends with faith in Jesus Christ.  Knowledge apart from Christ is simply “empty calories”, and its dangerous “ingredients” conspire over time to erode away at the mind in the same way that unhealthy foods erode away at the body.

Since knowledge begins and ends with Christ (and the salvation and eternal life therefore found in Him), worldview is the lens through which we see all knowledge.  In his book, World-Views in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas, author Ronald Nash says that, “A worldview, then, is a conceptual scheme by which we consciously or unconsciously place or fit everything we believe and by which we interpret and judge reality.” (1992, p. 16)

One of the key attributes of Regent University’s programs that I appreciate is that they wholeheartedly incorporate the concept of worldview into each university course.  Sometimes my worldview will differ from some of my classmates and my professors, and that is completely OK; however, Regent’s goal of conforming our worldviews to begin and end with Jesus Christ is paramount.  Taking the time to incorporate worldview into knowledge may ‘cost’ the Regent student a little more time and energy up front, but the life-long rewards will consist of a more spiritually enriched education, the unshakable foundation on which knowledge is built, and the ability to impact the world for the cause of that foundation which ultimately begins and ends with Jesus Christ.

The eternal benefits of a Christ-centered worldview can be found in 2 Peter 1:2-4 which says

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 

04 Jun 2012 TimothyNargi

Writing Believable Characters Without Sinning

1 Comment School

Regent University Adult Education Theater PerformancesOne of the arguments against Christian films has been that characters are not believable because they don’t swear or do drugs or cheat on their spouse. Christians won’t write these things into their scripts because the act of portraying the sin is a sin itself. But people really do talk like that, and to ignore that fact means creating fake characters. So how do you write believable characters who do sin, without sinning yourself? I posed this question in one of my film theory classes. After some discussion and reflection, here is my answer.

First, you need to set your boundaries. Here are some of my personal ones for a guideline on how I write. Frankly, writing swearing into a script or writing a sex scene is more than a sin for me, but those actors who have to act out those scenes are also committing a sin. This also goes against one of my guidelines – I will not knowingly portray any act, speech or gesture in a manner that will entice impure thoughts or encourage immoral action. Knowing your boundaries will determine what you will write and what you won’t write.

Once you set those, how do you portray real characters? How do you write about a biker who doesn’t swear? Well, I would ask this question – if things are so real, why don’t we ever see characters going to the bathroom? Never saw Jack Bauer do it. Why don’t we ever see people cleaning their house? Because it’s a movie, it isn’t real in the first place, and as an audience we maintain a suspension of disbelief. So your character doesn’t have to swear just because real-life bikers swear. What it means, though, is you have a tougher job in writing. You must figure out another way to portray your character’s personality. It makes for challenging writing, but your character will be far more interesting and developed than those who depend on swearing to portray character.

Another way to portray sin is to remember that it doesn’t have to be shown. It can be heard or heard about and characters reactions can be shown instead. You can show the aftermath of adultery, the broken family, without showing the adulterous act itself. The sound of a murder or rape can be heard from behind closed doors, it doesn’t need to be visually depicted. As producer Roger Corman, states:

“The scariest shot in all of movies is the camera approaching a closed door, that you know somebody’s got to open it. The anticipation is much scarier than anything, it’s the most terrifying shot in the movie, it’s not expensive, it’s not special effects.”

Depicting real characters that aren’t “fake” without sinning yourself is easier said than done, but it just means you have to work harder and be more creative than the other guy.

02 Jun 2012 JaniceDaynette

7 Best Talks for 1st Year Seminary Students

1 Comment Church, School

Regent University Group PrayerWhat’s your deepest secret? Obtaining an M.Div. degree was mine.  I didn’t share it with anyone, didn’t talk about it and certainly didn’t write down any goals to complete it.  Life was happening around me just fine.  Then along came a few bumps in the road, I won’t get into that now, but I can tell you this: when life changes, whether you expect it or not, you adjust.  It could be your surroundings, the people in your life, or even your circumstances.  Either way, they all have the ability to change you.

I think many of us do not appreciate the opportunity, but as you will soon know, I am someone who embraces shifts.  I don’t just wait for things to happen, I encourage it.  I believe change is growth.  I always tell my daughters that if you’re working on something and you feel like it’s a little over your head, it is a good sign.  It means you’re growing, learning and changing.  When I decided to listen and pray about the call to attend seminary, I didn’t understand all the changes that would take place in my life.  I didn’t even understand how it could possibly happen considering my busy lifestyle.  Two teenage daughters, active with sports, a fulltime business to run, commitments with church, family, etc.  Where would I find the time for this change in my life?

Fast forward, I am thriving in my third semester at Regent. The process has been awesome.  During my first two semesters, I met other women who were undertaking the same commitments.  Full schedules, families, work and even a nail appointment or two (when we can find the time).  We were all juggling our schedules while adding master’s classes to the mix.  I soon learned their similar journeys.  We spent countless hours Talking and listening to God – before, during and after the semester. Each class will remind you to, “Begin with prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide your study and give yourself wholeheartedly to the course assignments that involve spending time in prayer.”

So what other conversations are essential?  Here is the remaining list of the 7 Best Talks for 1st Year Seminary Students…and each year till graduation.

Talk to your pastor. You will need a mentor or two during this journey. Ask for prayer. Prayer for all you will accomplish now and in the future.  Meet on a regular basis and share your growth.  You are growing the Kingdom and it is a blessing!

Talk to your family. You can’t do it alone.  Change requires everyone in the family to change something.  In my case, it was my daughters understanding that Mom needed to be home right after the soccer game for a Wimba class and designating some nights as “Post Night.”  I shared with my family my dream and how God is moving in my life.  I asked them to change with me.  I am so blessed they are a willing part of this journey.

Talk to your co-workers/staff. A time will come when you will have that crazy look in your eyes (usually driven by a major paper assignment due date). Let them know how they can support you.

Talk to your professors.  I know it sounds easy enough, but I’m a first year M.Div. distance education student and it was a difficult call to make.  Touch base with the professors, say hello, ask a few questions and let them know what’s happening in your neck of the world.   I admit I was hesitant (my fault, not theirs). Each time I pick up the phone, it’s the best call I can make.

Talk to fellow students.  This is important and I don’t mean on Facebook.  Find others to connect with.  In my case it was for women from my first semester Spiritual Formation class.  We’re getting together this summer to meet face-to-face and enjoy a casual retreat.  These women are awesome, and we have encouraged and prayed for each other many, many times.  I am thankful for Professor West, who told us to hold on to one another.  She was right, again.

Talk to yourself.  Really?  Yes, really.  When the professor says, keep up with the reading, follow this advice.  Help yourself to stay on track, look ahead and carve out time to read and write.  Take time at the beginning and the end of your day to evaluate what’s happening in school and how this is changing your life.  In the midst of it all, encourage yourself, enjoy the journey, and continue to pray.  And remember….enjoy the change.

Wishing you Grace upon Grace!

01 Jun 2012 LeilaMills

On vs. Off-Campus Living

No Comments School

Regent University Adult Education HousingWell my second year at Regent is over, and I am feeling good about it all. After two years I have lived both on and off campus. This coming fall I’ll be returning home to my off-campus status but after my experiences I feel like I can honestly compare the two living lifestyles.

Pros of On-Campus Living

  • You are surrounded by friends and classmates: If you ever need help with an assignment, you can go knock on your neighbor’s door because they are likely in your class. Your friends are close by, which makes hanging out a daily activity.
  • Perks of the Commons: The Commons are the residence halls that the students live in, and it seems like they have everything! A 24-hour gym, grilling area, volleyball court, free laundry, free Wi-Fi and cable, and awesome rooms!
  • Everything is close by: You can walk to class, to the Ordinary, to the library. Everything is in walking distance, with many surrounding stores, so you never have to venture far unless you want to.

Cons of On-Campus Living

  • You are surrounded by friends and classmates: We have all heard too much of a good thing can be bad, and if you don’t learn how to use your time wisely you might find yourself hanging out when you should be studying. Even if you do find that time to study, others may be having fun that echoes through the halls and walls. For peace and quiet you’ll have to take a trip to the library.
  • The Cost: Regent has great residence halls but they aren’t free. This is good if you don’t have a place to stay in the surrounding area, but if you are a local with a home nearby it can be hard to justify the cost.
  • Multiple roommates: As nice as everyone is at Regent we aren’t perfect. Everyone has their off days and small things can start to get on your nerves, like lack of parking spaces in the housing area, someone taking your laundry out just to put theirs in, and rules that you may not agree with.

 

Pros of Off-Campus Living

  • Everything is paid for: The great thing about living at home is you don’t have to pay anything. There is food in the fridge, Wi-Fi that isn’t slowed down by a couple hundred people, electricity, cable, and everything you could possible need.
  • Your own space: You have your own room that’s decorated to your liking. You can come and go as you please without worrying about upsetting any roommates.
  • Pets! : I don’t know about you, but I love my two little Shih-Tzu puppies. They greet me at the door, snuggle with me at night, and overall improve my mood if I’m feeling down. No pets, except fish, are allowed at the Commons. No offense to fish but they are just hard to cuddle with.

Cons of Off-Campus Living

  • Travel time: If you’re constantly late like I am, you need more time in the morning to prepare for the day. Depending on how far away you live, you might have to wake up an hour earlier just to get to class on time. Oh and don’t forget about that morning traffic!
  • Your parent’s rules: Even though I am almost 20 years old, my Mom has set a curfew, I have to clean the whole house with my family instead of just a small apartment with my roommate, and there is yard work to be done and on and on and on. No matter where you are there will be rules to follow.
  • Cannot participate in Commons-only events: Mafia Wars. A great game but only for people living in the residence halls. Off-campus students are not allowed to participate but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved in everything else!

There is so much going on at Regent that anyone in any living situation can have fun. So get out there and make your college experience the best for you!