Why Regent University?

Simply put – God called me here. When my wife and I were still dating in 2005, I worked at a place I loved, lived near friends and family in Ohio, and I was all set to go to another university on a full-ride scholarship. Yet, there was a sense of unrest – God was whispering and I listened... In a matter of two months, we quit our jobs, got married and moved here to get a degree at Regent. There is no question that Regent was the right choice.

Why Online Learning?

As a direct result of earning a Christian education, I have a better grasp of my roles as a Christian, a husband, a lifelong learner, a friend, a follower, and a leader. Moreover, earning a degree is a very fulfilling yet difficult experience. I can’t imagine earning it without the support and encouragement of dedicated Christian faculty and the freedom (and expectation) to grapple with spiritual challenges in the context of the classroom.

Why A Business Degree?

Leadership is interesting, relevant and applicable. Leadership is everywhere but it is not understood by many people. Also, there is a critical need for good leadership everywhere. Last, leadership is essential influence, and without influence, one cannot change the world. The real question is, “Why not a leadership degree?”

Alumnus

A Video in Words

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Ever hear that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, what is a video worth? I’d say probably at least a thousand pictures.


I came across this video, which uses mostly words to convey its message, one that will hopefully make you pause, even for just a moment, to reflect.

Consider the alternative

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While waiting for my car to get fixed at the auto shop, my thoughts were of the “boy, cars are a real pain” type. Gasoline, insurance, washing, cleaning, routine maintenance, scheduled maintenance, and unexpected maintenance come with the territory. Let’s not forget the original price tag, inspections, registration, tags, and, if you live in Virginia, personal property tax once each year. Like I said, a real pain.


Of course, we could consider the alternatives. I live close to work, so walking would only take an hour each way. My church would be two hours. Hmmm… not so convenient. What about rollerblading or skateboarding? Both would be faster than walking. I used to do both fairly well! Let’s see, it’s been 15 years since I donned a pair of blades and 23 years since my foot touched a skateboard. Yeah, I see a hospital visit in my future. That won’t work.

Okay, how about biking? That should cut the time by about 75%. Imagine the wind in my face on a nice warm day… zooming along the side of the road, the cars whizzing past me at breakneck speeds. Hmmm… not as safe as I’d prefer. Not to mention, where do I put my golf clubs?

Okay, so it sounds like I need more room… and a motor. I used to ride a motorcycle back and forth to work? They’re inexpensive, gas efficient, and just plain cool. Well, that still doesn’t solve the space problem, and my wife would not ride on the back. Not to mention, showing up to work with dead bug carcasses on my clothes probably wouldn’t be very good.

Fine, I’ll use a car, but not my own! Think of the money I could save on insurance and maintenance if I just use someone else’s car! Of course, that’s not very convenient. Also, I’d probably use up all my favors in a week or two. My boss is real nice. Maybe she would just give me her BMW??? Not so much.

Taxis aren’t reliable enough, and my fares and tips could get quite expensive after a while. I can’t use the bus because the closest bus stop is across the street from work, and that would defeat the purpose.

I guess a decent used car is not a bad alternative. Considering the alternatives, it’s convenient, relatively safe, and economical (about $0.59/mile). I have a place to keep my golf clubs, and my wife can ride, too.

I took the long way around to get here, but my point is that when we are frustrated with something, like waiting in line at the grocery store… consider growing or hunting your own food. When complaining about having to go through several sites to research something on the internet… consider spending a day or more at the Library. When having to cut and paste two or three paragraphs out of or into a 10-page paper… consider retyping the whole thing on a manual typewriter (or rewriting it by hand).

The funny thing is that each generation is born into a world that is more convenient than the world in which their parents lived. Microwaves meals in fewer than five minutes; 1000+ channels on TiVo-enabled hi-def flat panel television, email, texting, and tweeting at your finger tips; and much, much more than our ancestors had.

So when you are frustrated, consider the alternative… it’s not that bad.

Race to Register

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WHEN I SAY, "I AM A CHRISTIAN"

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I enjoy this poem, by Carol Wimmer. It is posted with her permission:



WHEN I SAY, "I AM A CHRISTIAN"

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting, "I’ve been saved!"
I'm whispering, "I get lost!
That's why I chose this way"

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I don't speak with human pride
I'm confessing that I stumble—
Needing God to be my guide

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong
I'm professing that I'm weak
And pray for strength to carry on

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success
I'm admitting that I've failed
And cannot ever pay the debt

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I don't think I know it all
I submit to my confusion
Asking humbly to be taught

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are all too visible
But God believes I'm worth it

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache,
Which is why I seek His name

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I do not wish to judge
I have no authority...
I only know I'm loved

Used by Permission

Copyright 1988 Carol Wimmer

Blast from the Past

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I once did a marketing report on Coca-Cola, a beloved beverage from my youth that has remained the most consistent (earthly) fixture in my life since. Coca-Cola was famous for associating a sense of altruism to their product. The famous "Hilltop" commercial is one of these efforts. This commercial has become one of the most memorable commercials in television history. Lyrics are below the video:



The “Hilltop” Commercial Lyrics

I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love,
Grow apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves.

I’d like to teach the world to sign, in perfect harmony,
I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.

It’s the real thing…. What the world wants today

I’d like to teach the world to sign, in perfect harmony,
I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.

It’s the real thing…. What the world wants today

Extinction in America

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I got this in an email recently. There is a very high propensity for incorrect information contained within; thus, this is for your entertainment only. Enjoy.

TWENTY FOUR THINGS ABOUT TO BECOME EXTINCT, IN AMERICA...

24. Yellow Pages
This year will be pivotal for the global Yellow Pages industry. Much like newspapers, print Yellow Pages will continue to bleed dollars to their various digital counterparts, from Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs), to local search engines and combination search/ listing services like Reach Local and Yodel Factors like an acceleration of the print 'fade rate' and the looming recession will contribute to the onslaught. One research firm predicts the falloff in usage of newspapers and print Yellow Pages could even reach 10% this year -- much higher than the 2%-3% fade rate seen in past years.

23. Classified Ads
The Internet has made so many things obsolete that newspaper cassified ads might sound like just another trivial item on a long list. But this is one of those harbingers of the future that could signal the end of civilization as we know it. The argument is that if newspaper classifieds are replaced by free online listings at sites like Craigslist.org (http://craigslist.org/ ) and Google Base, then newspapers are not far behind them.

22. Movie Rental Stores
While Netflix is looking up at the moment, Blockbuster keeps closing store locations by the hundreds. It still has about 6,000 left across the world, but those keep dwindling and the stock is down considerably in 2008, especially since the company gave up a quest of Circuit City. Movie Gallery, which owned the Hollywood Video brand, closed up shop earlier this year. Countless small video chains and mom-and-pop stores have given up the ghost already.

21. Dial-up Internet Access
Dial-up connections have fallen from 40% in 2001 to 10% in 2008. The combination of an infrastructure to accommodate affordable high speed Internet connections and the disappearing home phone have all but pounded the final nail in the coffin of dial-up Internet access.

20. Phone Landlines
According to a survey from the National Center for Health Statistics, at the end of 2007, nearly one in six homes was cell- only and, of those homes that had landlines, one in eight only received calls on their cells.

19. Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs
Maryland's icon, the blue crab, has been fading away in Chesapeake Bay.. Last year Maryland saw the lowest harvest (22 million pounds) since 1945. Just four decades ago the bay produced 96 million pounds. The population is down 70% since 1990, when they first did a formal count. There are only about 120 million crabs in the bay and they think they need 200 million for a sustainable population. Over-fishing, pollution, invasive species and global warming get the blame..

18. VCRs
For the better part of three decades, the VCR was a best-seller and staple in every American household until being completely decimated by the DVD, and now the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). In fact, the only remnants of the VHS age at your local Wal-Mart or Radio Shack are blank VHS tapes these days. Pre-recorded VHS tapes are largely gone and VHS decks are practically nowhere to be found. They served us so well.

17. Ash Trees
In the late 1990s, a pretty, iridescent green species of beetle, now known as the emerald ash borer, hitched a ride to North America with ash wood products imported from Eastern Asia. In less than a decade, its larvae have killed millions of trees in the Midwest, and continue to spread. They've killed more than 30 million ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone, with tens of millions more lost in Ohio and Indiana. More than 7.5 billion ash trees are currently at risk.

16. Ham Radio
Amateur radio operators enjoy personal (and often worldwide) wireless communications with each other and are able to support their communities with emergency and disaster communications if necessary, while increasing their personal knowledge of electronics and radio theory. However, proliferation of the Internet and its popularity among youth has caused the decline of amateur radio. In the past five years alone, the number of people holding active ham radio licenses has dropped by 50,000, even though Morse Code is no
longer a requirement.

15. The Swimming Hole
Thanks to our litigious society, swimming holes are becoming a thing of the past. '20/20' reports that swimming hole owners, like Robert Every in High Falls, NY, are shutting them down out of worry that if someone gets hurt they'll sue. And that's exactly what happened in Seattle. The city of Bellingham was sued by Katie Hofstetter who was paralyzed in a fall at a popular swimming hole in Whatcom Falls Park. As injuries occur and lawsuits follow, expect more swimming holes to post 'Keep out!' signs.

14. Answering Machines
The increasing disappearance of answering machines is directly tied to No 20 our list -- the decline of landlines. According to USA Today, the number of homes that only use cell phones jumped 159% between 2004 and 2007. It has been particularly bad in New York; since 2000, landline usage has dropped 55%. It's logical that as cell phones rise, many of them replacing traditional land lines, that there will be fewer answering machines.

13. Cameras That Use Film
It doesn't require a statistician to prove the rapid disappearance of the film camera in America. Just look to companies like Nikon, the professional's choice for quality camera equipment. In 2006, it announced that it would stop making film cameras, pointing to the shrinking market -- only 3% of its sales in 2005, compared to 75% of sales from digital cameras and equipment.

12. Incandescent Bulbs
Before a few years ago, the standard 60-watt (or, yikes, 100-watt) bulb was the mainstay of every U.S. home. With the green movement and all-things-sustainable-energy crowd, the Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb (CFL) is largely replacing the older, Edison-era incandescent bulb. The EPA reports that 2007 sales for Energy Star CFLs nearly doubled rom 2006, and these sales accounted for approximately 20 percent of the U.S. light bulb market. And according to USA Today, a new energy bill plans to phase out incandescent bulbs in the next four to 12 years.

11. Stand-Alone Bowling Alleys
Bowling Balls. US claims there are still 60 million Americans who bowl at least once a year, but many are not bowling in stand-alone bowling alleys. Today most new bowling alleys are part of facilities for all types or recreation including laser tag, go-karts, bumper cars, video game arcades, climbing walls and glow miniature golf. Bowling lanes also have been added to many non-traditional venues such as adult communities, hotels and resorts, and gambling casinos.

10. The Milkman
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 1950, over half of the milk delivered was to the home in quart bottles, by 1963, it was about a third and by 2001, it represented only 0.4% percent.. Nowadays most milk is sold through supermarkets in gallon jugs. The steady decline in home-delivered milk is blamed, of course, on the
rise of the supermarket, better home refrigeration and longer-lasting milk. Although some milkmen still make the rounds in pockets of the U.S., they are certainly a dying breed.

9. Hand-Written Letters
In 2006, the Radicati Group estimated that, worldwide, 183 billion e-mails were sent each day. Two million each second. By November of 2007, an estimated 3.3 billion Earthlings owned cell phones, and 80% of the world's population had access to cell phone coverage. In 2004, half-a-trillion text messages were sent, and the number has
no doubt increased exponentially since then. So where amongst this gorge of gabble is there room for the elegant, polite hand-written letter?

8. Wild Horses
It is estimated that 100 years ago, as many as two million horses were roaming free within the United States. In 2001, National Geographic News estimated that the wild horse population had decreased to about 50,000 head. Currently, the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory board states that there are 32,000 free roaming horses in ten Western states, with half of them residing in Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management is seeking to reduce the total number of free range horses to 27,000, possibly by selective euthanasia.

7. Personal Checks
According to an American Bankers Assoc. report, a net 23% of consumers plan to decrease their use of checks over the next two years, while a net 14% plan to increase their use of PIN debit. Bill payment remains the last stronghold of paper-based payments -- for the time being. Checks continue to be the most commonly used bill payment method, with 71% of consumers paying at least one recurring bill per month by writing a check. However, on a bill-by-bill basis, checks account for only 49% of consumers' recurring bill payments (down from 72% in 2001 and 60% in 2003).

6. Drive-in Theaters
During the peak in 1958, there were more than 4,000 drive-in theaters in this country, but in 2007 only 405 drive-ins were still operating. Exactly zero new drive-ins have been built since 2005. Only one reopened in 2005 and five reopened in 2006, so there isn't much of a movement toward reviving the closed ones.

5. Mumps & Measles
Despite what's been in the news lately, the measles and mumps actually, truly are disappearing from the United States. In 1964, 212,000 cases of mumps were reported in the U.S. By 1983, this figure had dropped to 3,000, thanks to a vigorous vaccination program. Prior to the introduction of the measles vaccine, approximately half a million cases of measles were reported in the U.S. annually, resulting in 450 deaths. In 2005, only 66 cases were recorded.

4. Honey Bees
Perhaps nothing on our list of disappearing America is so dire; plummeting so enormously; and so necessary to the survival of our food supply as the honey bee. Very scary. 'Colony Collapse Disorder,' or CCD, has spread throughout the U.S. and Europe over the past few years, wiping out 50% to 90% of the colonies of many beekeepers -- and along with it, their livelihood.

3. News Magazines and TV News
While the TV evening newscasts haven't gone anywhere over the last several decades, their audiences have. In 1984, in a story about the diminishing returns of the evening news, the New York Times reported that all three network evening-news programs combined had only 40.9 million viewers.. Fast forward to 2008, and what they have today is half that.

2. Analog TV
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, 85% of homes in the U.S. get their television programming through cable or satellite providers. For the remaining 15% -- or 13 million individuals -- who are using rabbit ears or a large outdoor antenna to get their local stations, change is in the air.. If you are one of these people you'll need to get a new TV or a converter box in order to get the new stations which will only be broadcast in digital.

1. The Family Farm
Since the 1930s, the number of family farms has been declining rapidly. According to the USDA, 5.3 million farms dotted the nation in 1950, but this number had declined to 2.1 million by the 2003 farm census (data from the 2007 census hasn't yet been published). Ninety-one percent of the U.S. FARMS are small Family Farms.

Narrow Gate, Narrow Path

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Christian Leadership Examined

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A little over a month ago, the Center for Student Development organized a wonderful rountable, entitled, "Christian Leadership Examined." Speakers from the Schools of Psychology and Counseling, Government, Law, Education, Communication and the Arts, and Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship shared insights about Christian leadership from the perspective of their various fields.

Below is a video of just one of the speakers, Dr. Robert Stacey, from the School of Government, challenges the audience to think critically about Christian leadership. Is there really a difference between Christian leadership and other forms of leadership?


Find more videos like this on CSD - Christian Leadership Examined

You can sign up for the Christian Leadership Examined site at https://regentcsd.ning.com. The site is by invitation only for the Regent Community, so the moderate will need to approve your membership once you enter your information.

Wing Suit Base Jumping

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I must do this some day! Years ago, I used to be an extreme skier and rollerblader. I plan to go skydiving soon. Once proficient, base-jumping is the next "logical" step. Oh... and then the ultimate aerial experience:



Like he said, if you have ever imagined flying, this is about as close as you can get. What a rush!

Finding Strength in Weakness

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Recently, I was blessed to go on a Men’s retreat with my church. I have been with the church for several years now, but this was my first retreat (and the church’s 10th). Located in a sufficiently secluded woody area next to the James River in Surry, VA, the retreat was appropriately “manly,” and the schedule included “manly” activities involving paintball, trap shooting, hiking, fishing, golf, and several fires. (For all you Tim Allen fans, you start grunting now.) However, the retreat was not just about “manly” fellowship; rather, it was about finding strength in the unlikeliest of places – in our weakness. The idea of finding strength in weakness is paradoxical, particularly for men.

Men do not like to be – or even appear to be – weak physically, intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually because we are not wired that way. In addition, admitting our weakness is not often welcomed amongst other men nor is it positively rewarded nearly anywhere else.

Physically, men are the stronger of the two sexes. Our role models throughout the last several decades have ranged from John Wayne to John Rambo (Yes, Rambo’s first name was John) and many others in between. Many jobs often depend on our strength, and our roles (such as being the protector of our families) reinforce it. Men are often seen as being aggressive, flaunting and resorting to our strength in times of distress. We even fellowship and play in areas that pit our individual strength against one another (such as just about any sport or competitive activity) or even our strength against the elements of God’s creation.

Intellectually, men often compete with one another in contests or games of strategy, or in areas of problem solving where intellectual ability is a measure of success and to a degree a measure of one’s self-efficacy. This is just my observation (and perhaps a stereotype), but men appear to have more interest than women do in games of strategy or a contest that pit one’s ability in something against another’s ability. These activities can serve to reinforce a man’s intellectual “strength.”

Emotionally, men do not like to appear weak; interestingly, my experience is that women do not want men to be emotionally weak either. Yes, women want men to be emotionally available and in-touch, but not weak. In a book that I am reading, the author tells the story of a wife who chastised her 6’ 4” tall husband. When her husband responded in tears, she remarked, “Oh, how can such a big and strong man like you cry? You should be able to take it!”

Size does not mean that a man does not have feelings that can be hurt. From the time men are boys, they are trained not to show weakness in the face of pain—physical or otherwise. To this end, men are often regarded as weak if they do show that they are hurt. Ironically, men holding back their feelings may lead to maladaptive behaviors such as alcohol/drug use, withdrawal, or even physical violence.

Spiritually, much of the same wiring and reinforcement (or lack thereof) can play into a man’s development. Think about it – admitting that we are not strong enough to overcome something is just absurd! We are men! All of us (at least my generation) have a bit of Rambo inside of us that yearns to be the one-man army that is able to defeat the enemy and save the day (and our souls). Admitting that we are not smart enough to “solve the problem” and think our way beyond addiction and destructive behaviors is to admit inferiority to all the men who seem to have it under control (of course, they are probably just more adept at hiding their issues). Admitting that we are overcome with emotions that we do not know what to do with – that we have been trained to hide since we were boys – is to be soft and somehow less “manly.” All of these things would be to admit that we need help (oh no!), and for many men, that is simply not an option. How do you suppose a man, who faces all this internal opposition, who has been trained and reinforced throughout his life not to show any sign of weakness, admit that he is in fact so weak as to need not just some help but a savior?

For many men (including me), the answer to this question is only found in a time of desperation—in a time of utter brokenness—only then are they are able to admit their weakness and ask for Jesus to come into their lives and save them. It may sound silly to you, or you may understand exactly what I mean from your own experience. Regardless, it is only through Jesus that men can find true strength in their weakness, and it is in those moments of weakness that God’s strength is perfected. Allow me to take you back to the retreat to explain.

Through the various corporate and small group sessions, fireside devotions, impromptu exhortations, several meals, and random conversations, dozens of men explored how God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. The key scripture is found in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. Paul just finishes a rather revealing rant about his hardships, including beatings, hunger, thirst, shipwreck, and much more (2 Corinthians 11:21-29). Further, Paul lamented about a “thorn in his side” that he had asked the Lord to remove three times to which the Lord answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a, NIV). Let us now explore how we got here, as the journey is just as important as the destination.

The opening night set the tone with Regent’s very own Charles Fox addressing the men, talking about some of his own struggles with transparency and reverence. As a respected teacher and a preacher, he admitted his weaknesses in front of the group of men, most of whom he did not know personally. Throughout the retreat, other men shared their testimony; some have come through tremendous adversity and sin. Regardless of their growth, however, a common theme was that each of them was still a work in progress – we all are.

Are we men not strong enough to do the right thing? Are we not strong enough to resist our sinful ways? Are we not strong enough to keep the devil at bay? Nope! Consider the Apostle Paul, so sure of himself and so committed. Yet, Paul struggled. In fact, one of my favorite scriptures is when Paul lamented, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me” (Romans 7:15-17).

The fact is that both men and women alike have sin as a part of their nature, and only through our salvation as a result of Christ’s death on the cross and God’s continued and perfect grace do we ever have a chance at living forever in heaven. There is not enough cumulative strength among all the men of the world, who have ever lived, to save even one person.

During one of the fireside morning devotions (at 6:45 am!), our retreat leader led a discussion to this effect. He was a well-respected man, having walked some of the darker back roads of life, and he stood in front of the group of men and spoke. He did so in such a way that he said only what needed to be said, nothing more, in a way that captured everyone’s attention. A few men shared some of their struggles but most were quiet, taking a contemplative posture.

Even great biblical leaders lacked the strength to live in God’s will. Think of the remarkable transformations of Gideon and Moses. Each was nothing special. In fact, they were somewhat less than ordinary before God got a hold of them. Gideon lived under the oppression of the Midianites. The Israelites hid in caves in the mountains and were unable to harvest crops or keep their livestock. In desperation, the Israelites cried out to the Lord. An angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, a member of the weakest clan in Manasseh and a bit of a runt in the family to deliver Israel from Midian, saying, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand” (Judges 6:14). Even after the angel appeared to him, Gideon nearly demanded several “proofs” that it was really God speaking to him. In the end, the Lord was with him, guided him, and strengthened him. Then Gideon became a great general, scattering the enemy with only a small army. Gideon was physically weak and he was fearful. Moses on the other hand was not exactly a mental giant and he had many excuses.

After the Lord told Moses to bring His people out of Egypt, Moses’ fear manifested in excuses. At first, Moses questioned whether he should be the one to deliver God’s message. Who, me? Then he said, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me, and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’” (Exodus 4:1). So God gave him miraculous powers to show that he spoke for God. Then Moses pointed to his ineloquence, stating, “I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10) and he begged for someone else to take this burden. Again, the Lord gave him some peace by offering Aaron the Levite to speak for him. Needless to say, Moses was not exactly brimming with courage.

Gideon and Moses were certainly not extraordinary people until the Lord was with them. As with Gideon, Moses, and many others, the light of the Lord’s strength shone all the more brightly in the weakness of others. Time after time, the Bible records stories of God using normal or slightly-less-than-normal people to accomplish wondrous things. Consider Jesus’ disciples.

In Jesus’ day, young boys studied the Torah. They studied via verbal instruction, memorizing chapters, a whole book, and even the entire Pentateuch. This was a great accomplishment and a great opportunity. The boys who were able to memorize all five books of Moses, were able to study as an apprentice under a Rabbi and learn the Rabbi’s interpretation and thoughts about the scripture. The boys who could not memorize the books went home to learn a trade from their fathers, such as fishing.

In your mind’s eye, picture Jesus spotting two fishermen, as he walks along the Sea of Galilee. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). Essentially, Jesus called those men who as boys were not smart or “strong” enough to become apprentices of Rabbis. That would be like a company intentionally seeking to hire high school dropouts. The importance of the opportunity was accentuated because the Bible reads, “At once they left their nets and followed him.” That is, without hesitation, they gave up their trades to follow Jesus.
Okay, let us take this one step further. Were Jesus’ disciples superstars? Nope. Yet, Jesus worked with them for quite some time, and they still had to overcome many obstacles, times of disbelief, and even outright betrayal. Yet, within and through their deficiencies, God’s strength prevailed.

Men would do well to learn the lessons contained within these examples. Hollywood fabricates ideal men who are able to single-handedly defeat the enemy and save the day, but real men cannot live up to these standards under their own strength anymore than real women can live up to the Photoshop pictures of 20-year old models. Everyday men struggle with their thought lives, their emotions, and their behavior. Whether we try to do what is right, what is needed, or what we want to do, we will fall short. In our own ways, we are flawed and we are weak. However, these weaknesses set the stage for men to lean upon Jesus and his strength, not our own because in all things he strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Ironically, the more we admit and even boast that we are weak, the more room there is for God’s strength to work. This brings us back full circle to the beginning…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a, NIV).

We all face hardships. We may not be flogged or shipwrecked at the same frequency that Paul seems to have been (or what would be a contemporary equivalent anyway), but our pain and obstacles can be as foreboding as any other can. Our difficulties and problems will come in many forms, but through those challenges, the Lord will draw us closer to Him and he will strengthen us through His power.

God will send us on journeys that require more strength than we have within us. As evidenced in biblical stories (and in my own life), God calls us to a life for which we do not have enough strength to live. Gideon was the runt of the weaklings and Moses was the pauper of the poor. Yet, each of these men – and many others like them – accomplished great things through God’s power and strength.

It is through God’s grace that we find strength to do all things; it is through our weakness that God is glorified. God’s grace is sufficient for all of us, individually and collectively. Whether we face specific challenges or the hardship within a difficult circumstance, our reliance upon the Lord for His grace is the key. Through our dependence upon His grace, we will find the strength to persevere.

After coming to this conclusion, Paul gave us the second half of the message: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9b). Wow! Boasting in weakness? Contemporary manhood does not seem to have room for that kind of strength! Moreover, Paul’s rationale about Christ’s power resting on him is more to the point. Yes, within the condition of our humanity we find strength in relying upon God’s grace, and in doing so, God’s strength is perfected – not because God needs us to highlight his power, but because His grace is perfect for what we need and when we need it.

On the final morning of the retreat, we took Communion. We ate of our Lord’s body and drank of his blood. Though largely symbolic in many traditions, this Communion seemed more powerful, more real, and more necessary than those I had before. It was more than a symbolic reaffirmation of my faith; it was a tangible recognition of the weak and frail condition of my humanity and a re-commitment to accepting a life of strength through Jesus Christ.

Gifts

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What is a gift? A gift is a natural ability or capacity, a natural endowment or talent. A gift is often something given to someone specifically with him or her in mind. A gift is something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient. A gift is also something we should share with others or use to serve others.

God has gifted us with the natural ability or capacity to do something or to be a certain way. Many of you are familiar with the following verse from 1 Corinthians 12:28, which reads, “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.”

God has gifted you in a very special way, specifically for you. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5a). God has gifted you for His calling upon your life, and He has done so with a plan in mind. The Lord proclaims, “For I know the plans I have for you” (Jeremiah 29:11). Further, He has and will continue to give you what you need to fulfill His will.

God has gifted you without any effort on your part. You were born with your gifts. Granted, no one comes out of the womb teaching, healing or proselytizing, but there is a good chance that over the years you have found things that you do well without really even trying, things that come naturally.

God has gifted each of us in specific ways to serve his purpose, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). We honor Him when we use the gifts He has given us in ways that please Him. A Danish proverb reads, “What you are is God’s gift to you; what you do with yourself is your gift to God.”

So, what gifts has God given you? Do you know? Moreover, what do you do with your gifts once you have identified them? If you do not know what your gifts are, here is my “two cents”… feel free to give me back some change:

· Pray for guidance and be ready to listen. The first step in figuring out just about anything is to pray. God wants us to ask for His guidance, but He also wants us to listen. I think we sometimes ask the question, but then fail to listen for the answer.
· Consider the innate desire that you have to serve others. In what ways do you see yourself serving others for glorifying God? Specifically, what are you doing? What skills were involved? How does it feel?
· Consider the ways in which you have already been successful. In what contexts have you been most successful? What were you doing? What role did you play? What skills were involved? How does it feel?
· Consider the opportunities in your environment. What needs to be done? Where do you see yourself as a best fit?
· Ask your trusted life advisors. For some people, your trusted advisors may be your parents or close friends, or they may be pastors or others involved in the church. Regardless, people close to you may be able to see your life from a different perspective and point out themes that you may have missed.
· Take an assessment. Sure, assessments are not always accurate. However, sometimes they can provide clarity by giving you the opportunity to affirm or deny the results. In addition, assessments can equip you with new ways to articulate what you feel intuitively, which can spur a more focused search. Here is the free test that was mentioned on the Center for Student Development’s career development web site.

Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk, 20th Century

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Prayer Against the Seven Deadly Sins

The following prayer is from his book, "New Seeds of Contemplation." It is widely available. For Merton, the word illusion could be substituted freely for sin. This makes sense in many ways: we often lament our past sins and say, "How could I have not seen how horrible this was?" or "What was I thinking of?" Here is a prayer from his book:

Let me use all things for one sole reason: to find my joy in giving You glory.

Therefore, keep me, above all things, from sin. Keep me from the death of deadly sin which puts hell in my soul. Keep me from the murder of lust that blinds and poisons my heart. Keep me from the sins that eat a man's flesh with irresistible fire until he is devoured. Keep me from loving money in which is hatred, from avarice [greed] and ambition that suffocate my life. Keep me from the dead works of vanity and the thankless labor in which artists destroy themselves for pride and money and reputation, and saints are smothered under the avalanche of their own importunate zeal. Staunch in me the rank wound of covetousness and the hungers that exhaust my nature with their bleeding. Stamp out the serpent envy that stings love with poison and kills all joy.

Untie my hands and deliver my heart from sloth. Set me free from the laziness that goes about disguised as activity when activity is not required of me, and from the cowardice that does what is not demanded, in order to escape sacrifice.

But give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace. Give me humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens. And possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love. Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love, that I may love not for the sake of merit, not for the sake of perfection, not for the sake of virtue, not for the sake of sanctity, but for You alone.

Blogging Hiatus

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Wow! It has been a while since I have been to the blogs... it’s great to see all the blogging going on! Who will be the first to reach 100 posts? On my end, things are moving right along. I feel I am in a good place, but also that there is only more to come. For now, here's the update: I have graduated from the Organizational Leadership & Management program in Undergrad. The last class was difficult, culminating in the largest project/paper of my brief academic career, but the challenge was well worth it. So, I am now a blogging alumnus. After taking one year off from school, I am currently tackling graduate coursework in Organizational Development Consulting (so much for finding a program with a very short title).

The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful role at Regent as the Director of Student Services for Undergrad. This job offers a lot of variety of tasks and responsibilities as well as many opportunities to interact with students. We have a lot going on right now and it’s great!

There have been a lot of changes since I came to Regent, and there will be plenty more to come. Some people don't like change and prefer consistency. That's okay for them, but for me, change represents progress, new challenges, and opportunity to learn new things. Embracing this allows me to grow and to be stretched so that I can offer more and more to my current and future employers.

“Leadership, by its very nature, inspires people to move in directions they would not otherwise have been willing to take. From time to time, good leadership requires excursions into unexplored territory, and draws on a leader's courage” (Buzzell, et al., 1998, p. 242). Good leaders can encourage people to go willingly to places they don’t necessary want to go. Like walking in a fog with low visibility, we need to trust those that God has placed in leadership to guide us through to the other side.

Further, each new or different position or role lends a new context for growth in my relationship with the Lord. God will often ask me to take on new roles or responsibilities, particularly those that challenge me. I personally believe that accepting the changes is a way of honoring Him.

Reference

Buzzell, S. (1998). The leadership Bible: Contemporary leadership principles from God’s word. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

So nice

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Just a quick thought out loud... it is so nice that it is the fourth week of the session, and I am all caught up on my school work... because I have officially graduated! The registrar has confered my degree and I should be receiving my diploma in the mail in the next couple of weeks.

But, the vacation from school may be short-lived. There is a distinct possibility that I will begin my graduate work in January, or at least take a class to stretch my brain :)

Skit to Lifehouse

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This was on theBranch, and I thought it was great! Very moving... watch it through to the end.


A Joke is a Joke Unless Nobody is Laughing

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A Joke is a Joke Unless Nobody is Laughing

Generally, humor is funny. Is that an obvious statement? Maybe—maybe not. Humor has taken many forms over the years. Humor has relieved tension, built relationships, and even unified previously estranged peoples. In general, psychologists view our ability to laugh at ourselves a sign of good self-esteem. It is okay, after all, to not be perfect.

A joke is a joke. We all joke about some stereotypical characteristic about some thing or some group. Cultural sensitivity and sense of timing is important; however, there is an “understood” limit as to when a joke is offensive. Not many of us can clearly define pornography, but we all know it when we see it. All nudity is not pornography; all jokes are not tasteless. A joke is just that—a joke.

Sometimes a joke is not a joke anymore. Over the years, our society has, in fact, drawn the line on certain types of humor in certain environments. For example, several decades ago, it was commonplace for men to joke around about slapping around their wives (or girlfriends). Obviously a detestable act, the country at large revolted against this kind of humor. It is no longer “socially acceptable” to use that kind of humor. Wife-beating has made it onto the list of other topics that—though at one time many people in our society considered them to be “funny”—are not a joke anymore. Whereas a joke about beating one’s spouse might get you dirty looks, make a joke about a bomb anywhere near a school or an airplane, and you could be looking at jail time. Sometimes, depending upon numerous varying characteristics, a joke is not a joke anymore.

The anatomy of a joke is complex. Although jokes can only be comprised of a limited number of combinations of several components—people, places, things, and animals—the results are infinite. Jokes can range anywhere between two extremes of a number of different continuums such as the clean-dirty, child-adult, innocent-insidious, specific-general, corny-clever, plausible-implausible, chaste-lewd… you get the picture. Furthermore, timing and delivery of the joke, the audience and the context all contribute to the joke’s overall humor value. Socio-political and socio-cultural norms as well as laws may also play into the jokes overall humor value.

Considering Jeff’s jokes were currently socially acceptable, stereotypical, clean, innocent, plausible, chaste, gender/hair color-based delivered in writing to a general audience of educated (or getting there) people who are charged with forgiveness, love and humility, under circumstances where a representative from the allegedly offended group first passed these jokes to Jeff, I think a survey of 10,000 Americans (blondes included) would reveal that blonde jokes are still acceptable and funny in most situations and under most conditions with the possible exception of funerals and Marilyn Monroe conventions.

However, if we go to the extreme by banning all jokes pertaining to hair color, the following subjects of jokes are now off limits as well: ethnicity, gender, age, relationship status, income, height, weight, and any reference to the size of any body part including, but not limited to the eyes, nose, ears, mouth, feet, hands, etc.; the ability (or lack thereof) of eye-hand coordination, athletic ability, ability to sing, dance, draw, speak in public, write, or talk; all occupations, interests, hobbies, talents (or lack thereof) are off limits, as are anything to do with politics, religion, science, engineering or education; all jokes about, pertaining to, or containing references of animals, fictitious characters such as cartoons or superheroes, pop stars, politicians (local representatives to the president both in this country and internationally), movie stars or musical artists are forbidden; any humor directed toward the deceased or yet to come, the past, present or future, about anything that creeps, crawls or flies, anything below the surface of the ground, water or skin and anything below, within, or above the clouds or outer planetary atmospheres are also off limits; jokes repeated within and about certain industries such medical, engineering, law, restaurant, higher education, performing arts, psychology, theology, and business/organizational life (sorry Dilbert) are also forbidden; moreover, any and all references to any person, place, thing, animal or idea that someone may or may not have an unhealthy connection, association, or otherwise dependence on are also strictly prohibited…

Gimme a break!

In the final analysis, God enjoys humor. Since most of us are Christian, He should be our final authority on the matter. In fact, there is undeniable proof that God does enjoy humor and playing jokes… just look in a mirror. Enough said :)

Kyle

By the way, I am an Irish-German, short, overweight, bearded (sometimes), non-athletic, non-coordinated, fashionably challenged, four-eyed, slightly balding, mildly intelligent, moderately educated, partially asthmatic, newly Christian, politically confused, middle-aged, married man, who is only aesthetically pleasing to one woman (God bless my wife). I would love to hear your jokes… thanks in advance for your submissions.

Thank You

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http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=1545489532

The above link was posted to the TheBranch, and I just wanted to make a comment:

I have never served in the military. In fact, in my own young ignorance, I had a somewhat negative view of the military. My father served in the Navy during Vietnam, but he never talked about it. I don't think he "saw any action" per se, but nonetheless, I grew up in the post Vietnam culture, which unfortunately did not respect the military as it had done in the prior decades.

Today, I have a different view. While I do not necessarily agree or disagree with war in Iraq or the "War on Terror," I do stand behind the men and women who have sacrificed their daily comfort and safety for mine. After graduation, many asked, "What next?" It was at that point that I realized I had the choice to contemplate "What next?" For some, their next steps are dictated by the level of engagement in lands thousands of miles away. For me, I have a choice.

I have family and friends in the military. I am grateful that they are willing to put their lives on hold and on the line so that I can continue with mine. This notion places a deserving importance on the decision making process involving "What next?". While I will not argue theology here, I believe that God has provided us with the widsom as well as the responsibility to choose within his moral will, and that He will support and guide us as He always has and will continue to do.

In sum, indecision or decision by default is a terrible way to utilize our God-given and soldier-secured right to choose. In the end, our lives are the result of a series of decisions. While most of our decisions happen quite regularly and easily, major decision require (usually) a bit more thought. Who we will marry, where or if we will get our education, and whether or not we will choose to accept Christ are among the most impactful. If you are in a place of making major decisions, take your time to make a good decision, but also remember the sacrifice, privelage and responsibility you have.

Guitar Hero?

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Over the course of my life, I have played (or attempted to play) a number of different intruments. I started with the trumpet (played for 3 years), moved to keyboard (played for several years), then the harmonica and guitar. I currently play the drums (not very well). The fact is, without talent (that's me), playing an instrument is hard!

I just ran across something called, "Guitar Hero." Apparently it is an interactive game that uses a guitar-controller to simulate playing a guitar. The on-screen personality mocks movements associated with song. It plays of the dance games you seen in the video arcade, where participants must (with amazing coordination) match the steps on a sensor pad to the music. In the case of the Guitar Hero, participants must hit keys on the fake guitar with as acurately as possible in accordance with the song they are attempting.

This kind of video game sure is a long way from my original Atari 2600 with Space Invaders! Check this kid out below... he is five years old and quite the expert.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yEjyuw42YY

Research Topic - A Fleeting Thought

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An interesting thing happened this weekend... well, maybe not interesting; rather, it was unusual for me. I am in the Culminating Experience course (OLAM 486), which is essentially a research paper. On the surface, it is not so difficult, until you here the words... "What you do for your project is up to you." Sounds great? Not really.

It is much easier to be told what to do. Seriously! "Your assignment is a 50 page paper on ___________." Okay, I can do that. Thinking of a topic that is interesting enough, large enough (but not too large), yet one that is manageable is rather difficult. Why? Because there really is so much out there that is interesting!

Our task for the first week was to select a topic. Okay, after 2 or 3 submissions, I settled on servant leadership. In the second week, we start to get serious... the proposal, which is the 10-15 page document that describes what you are going to do and how you are going to do it as well as an annotated bibliography of the sources you wil use. In this phase, a research is supposed to let the research guide them; that is, see what is out there, what is really interesting, what has been beaten to death, or what needs more research. From that research, one narrows down the topic. For me, this was quite difficult.

So, we derive a research question: "Can servant leadership survive in a transactional world?" (This question actually came about in a collaboration from a previous class) It may seem simple enough, but in actuality, it was huge! Too huge! in a matter of days, I had more than 20 books and 100 articles, and I barely got into it. Okay, so obviously the scope of that project was not condusive to an 8-week class.

How about, "College students' understanding, perceptions, and use of servant leadership: An early indicator of whether servant leadership will survive the twenty-first century" Again... more focused, but still really, really huge. Okay, how can I do this.. think! Think! Ahaaaa...

Just chop the second half and be left with: "College students' understanding, perceptions, and use of servant leadership" - Now we are getting closer. Not sure if we are there yet, but better. Perhaps I should just take one of the three elements... understanding, perception or use? Not sure at the moment, but hopefully this will get all cleared up in the next 12 hours.

Home Stretch

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Q: So, Kyle... now that you have graduated, what are you going to do now?

A: Take another class.

Yes, that is right. I am one of those "lucky" ones that still have another class to complete in the summer. OLAM 486 is its name and research and writing is the game... and lots of it. They call it the culminating experience, and I suppose it is, but I would have preferred commencement to have been my culminating experience.

This course should prove to be quite challenging. Time management will be a huge factor. I can't imagine trying to work full time, keep up two blogs, write for a magazine, build a web site, maintain relationships, bathe once in a while, sleep once in a while, pray a whole lot (becuase you know I can't do it by myself) and do this last class. Well, okay, everything is true except for the bathing... I do that every day--honestly.

The logical progression of leadership theory from 1900 to the present.

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There are nine major theories that comprise the progression of leadership theory from 1900 to the present, including trait, style, skill, situational, contingency, path-goal, LMX, transformational and servant (Northouse, 2004). These theories developed logically in that they first focused on the leader as an individual, then on the situation or context, and finally on others and the dynamics of the leader-follower relationship.

First, theories focused solely on the leaders. Trait, skills and style theories respectively examined leaders’ characteristics, capabilities and what they do (Northouse, 2004). Trait theory is often referred to as the “great man” theory, suggesting that leaders were inherently endowed with favorable attributes through genetics or birthright. Skills theory focused on the leaders’ abilities, suggesting as set of competencies was most important. Style theory again focused on the leaders but more on their behaviors and whether those behaviors were more task or relationship oriented.

Next, theories centered on the leaders’ adaptation to situation, context of leadership, or the followers they were leading (Northouse, 2004). Situational leadership focused on appropriate tactics or style adaptations for the situation, contingency theory choosing appropriate leaders based on a fit between their styles and the contexts in which they were to lead, and path-goal theory focused on leaders’ adaptation to use the style that most appropriate meet their followers’ motivational needs (Northouse).

Finally, theories began to focus the dynamics of the leader-follower relationship. Leader-member exchange (LMX) theory examines the “interactions between leaders and followers” (Northouse, 2004, p. 147) and transformational leadership theory examines how leaders and followers are changed through the process and relationship of leadership. Servant leadership suggests a radical change in the perspective of the leaders toward those who follow in that leaders should lead by serving followers rather than being served by them.

Jesus Christ advocated servant leadership: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Luke, 9:35) and “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26). Like many of our own journeys, we often begin self-centered, thinking about how we can become “great men” through whom we are or what we can do, only to realize that greatness in life and leadership is ultimately found in being others-centered—through service.

References
Northouse, P. G. (2004). Leadership: Theory and practice (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Discussion posts

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I was just thinking of those wonderful discussion board posts that we all do for our classes. In a few hundreds words... explain or articulate this or that. Honestly, it takes me at least a good hour or so to write a good post. I am not talking about the first bit of nonsense that comes to mind; I am talking about thoughtful prose that really answers the questions posed by the instructors.

There a few things about those posts I must dwell upon. First, I wonder how many of our classmates read them? If the responses received are any indication, not many. Second, am I the only one spending quality time with them? It seems that posts come easier to others. One classmate said they spend about 15 minutes on a post. Last, are these posts really a good substitution for classroom interaction? My guess is no. That post that took me an hour to write would have only taken me 3-4 minutes in class to articulate. Moreover, I would have seen the expressions on my classmates' faces instead of wondering if anyone even "heard" me.

Discussion board posts are great; however, I think it would be better if we moved toward "audio" posts--audio messages recorded and posted by students. This would take less time and do a better job recreating the characteristics of classroom interaction.

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Commissioning

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“This service is a very special time dedicated to worshiping God and commissioning our graduates to take the training they have received through Regent into the marketplace and world to make a difference for Christ”

Commissioning and Commencement often get confused. Even internally within Regent when speaking about two events, the opposite word will slip out. So, I thought I would take a moment to breakdown what commissioning is all about solely based on my interpretation of the preceding description.

First, we are there to worship God. In everything we do we should worship God. The way in which we speak to people, fulfill the duties of our jobs, and raise our children are all ways in which we can worship Him by fulfilling His commands.

Second, “commissioning” means to grant authority to someone. We are being granted the authority to move into the world on Christ’s behalf. We have studied and learned as apprentices, but it is now time to take that training and make a difference.

Third, we are taking our training into the marketplace. That marketplace is in not just mainstream business, but the marketplace of interaction within our communities and families. Anywhere there is exchange of goods, services, or ideas can be a marketplace. This broad definition places us in the realm of responsibility 24 hours each day.

Last, we are taking our training, into the marketplace, to make a difference for Christ. Not for each other, not for pride, not for material possessions, but for Christ. We are not only granted the authority but we are charged with changing the world. We can change the world one person at a time if necessary, but it can and will change.

Just as our students have received and followed a call to study our respective fields from a biblical perspective at Regent University, so now our graduates are charged with engaging in their fields with the same perspective. So, go forth bravely into this needy world, dear graduates. Go forth with your authority and your mission, and change the world for Christ.

Horrendous Heat & Humidity

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As summer weather steadily approaches, I am reminded of when my wife and I first moved here to Virginia nearly two years ago. We moved on a day that seemed to be about 95 degrees coupled with 95% humidity. At that rate, I prefer 4 feet of snow.

When we told people that we were moving to the Virginia Beach area, many people made reference to the sun and the beach. I said it then, and I will say it now, "I don't like the beach and I dislike the sun even more." Summer in Virginia Beach is about as exciting as winter in Siberia. In addition, this area of Virginia has another glorious perk... humidity and lots of it. Performing simple daily tasks such as walking to the mailbox or taking out the trash now mean catching a shower and a fresh change of clothes. It is so humid in this area, if you took a drinking glass, held it out away from your body, and spun around about a dozen times, you would have a glass of water. In the final analysis, I guess I am a native Buffalonian in mind and body. Final thought: I can't wait for October.

Our ever-changing world

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Turn on your sound and sit back to watch, think, dream, and pray for our future. The rate at which the world is both expanding and shrinking at the same time is incomprehensible. http://www.glumbert.com/media/shift

Baby Got Book

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Just in case anyone has not seen this before:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTYr3JuueF4

Jesus Picture - Production

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Wow! What a production. I think this would be phenomenal to see live.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M4_IlbaZHA

Jesus Picture

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kijvepozdw

Exercise Before Tee Time

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For some reason, it always amazes me how much my body can hurt. I seem to always surprise myself when simple activities can wreak havoc on an otherwise sedentary body. As a student, much of my time is spent sitting, reading, surfing the net or just clicking away at the keyboard. As a full-time employee working in an office, the activities are remarkably similar. This weekend was just another and literally painful reminder of just how important exercise is. After eighteen holes of golf (walking the course and carrying the bag of clubs) and a large bucket of balls at the driving range, I began to wonder if my muscles could conceivably be any more sore.

Last year, I took up golfing. I used to make fun of the sport; after all, how much fun could it be to hit a little white ball hundreds of yards and then chase after it? However, after the finer points of the game were explained, and after I experienced the thrill and exhilaration of chipping in a shot from forty yards out, I was hooked. Moreover, having only a few experiences with golf in my life prior to last year, I was told that my game was very good—not Tiger Woods good, but good for a beginner. By the end of the first year, I broke 100. In sum, I played only 81 holes in 2006—just four and one-half rounds, but I plan to play as long as my body will allow. This thought fosters the sad realization that while golf is not as rigorous as football, it is physically demanding.

Believe it or not, golfers are prone to injury. According to golf fitness instructor, Sean Chocran, more than fifty percent of all golfers will incur a lower back injury sometime in their golfing careers (1). In addition, this likelihood can be greatly reduced through proper fitness, including certain exercises designed to strengthen the lower back and increase flexibility. Apparently amateur golfers’ swings are simply inefficient; thus, use more of the lower back muscles and place more pressure on the spine to generate the force required to drive a golf ball a respectable distance (2). Because golf is a fairly rigorous activity, particularly if one walks the course while carrying his or her bag of clubs, golfers should keep fit.

Keeping fit is relatively easy. A regimen of basic stretches, light cardio, and light strength training can reduce injuries and even help golfers improve their game. Focus stretching on the back, core muscles, and the shoulders is important. Light cardio will help build stamina for those long courses, and strength training could lead to more efficient swings and less demand on players’ backs. However, if you want to play like Tiger Woods, prepare to spend more time getting in shape. “When he is not competing, Woods typically spends three or four hours a day, five times a week, in the gym” (3).

Whether you are just a weekend golfer like me or aspire to someday be a seasoned pro, exercise is an important part of improving your game and preventing injuries. While you don’t have to commit to a regimen like Tiger Woods, regular workouts designed to increase strength, stamina and flexibility can not only keep you on the course long, but also make that time much more enjoyable. Happy tee time.

References

(1) Cochran, S. (2007). Injury prevention exercises for the lower back. About.com. Retrieved April 1, 2007, from http://golf.about.com/library/weekly/aa090806a.htm
(2) Cochran, S. (2006). Lower back injuries in golf. PGA.com. Retrieved April 1, 2007, from http://www.pga.com/improve/features/cochran_blog/20061004lower_back.cfm
(3) Kaspriske, R. (August, 2004). Tiger’s workout revealed. GolfDigest.com. Retrieved April 1, 2007, from http://www.golfdigest.com/features/index.ssf?/features/gd200408tigerworkout.html

Make a Difference

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Make a difference in someone life.

http://www.makeadifferencemovie.com/

Pray it Forward?

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The following message was recently posted to the branch:

"What would happen if each family prayed and fasted for another family? What would happen if each student prayed and fasted for another student? What about Mothers for Mothers and Fathers for Fathers, or husbands for husbands and wives for wives? Think what could happen should men start lifting up men and women start lifting up other women to God? Then what about children bringing other children before the throne of God? What if Regent Village prayed and fasted for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on each home? What if we did this for a day, then regularly? Whatever is in your mind right now is what would happen, and more. Yes we would see a revival! I just felt impressed to put this out there." -- Philmore James

---

This is a nice image—people lifting each other up to God in an unselfish desire to see others feel the power of God in their lives. Embracing the idea that we could start a revolution, previously dubbed "revival," for everyone to experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit is wonderful. I have wondered these things as well. I think the reminders of the sinful nature of our humanity are so pervasive we may sometimes forget the power of corporate worship and prayer. Jesus proclaimed, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." I wonder how much proximity matters? It probably doesn’t.

This image of people praying for each other "naturally" brings wonderful thoughts to mind. I can imagine the transformation that would take place in everyday life. The exponential nature of one person praying for a few others ad infinitum is astounding. I am reminded of one of my favorite dramas, Pay It Forward, where Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) incites a movement in which one person picks three people for which to do one big unsolicited favor, and then instruct them to "pay it forward" to three others, rather than pay the favor back. Honestly, each time I watch the movie my eyes well up with tears as I think of how things could be. This movie, as well as the notion of revival, taps into my idealistic tendencies and altruistic desires.

So, who is going to start? Who will stand up and take the lead? Maybe it should be you. Maybe it will be? But in case it is not, here is a prayer for you—the one reading this post (of course, this assumes that someone will read my post).

Heavenly Father, we more than just welcome your presence into our lives—we need it. Lord, I humbly ask that you touch the person reading this right now. I pray that you reach into his or her heart and make your presence and love known. If it is in your will, let the power of your love convict this person to spread your love to others. Father God, please protect us, love us, and move us in your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The ball is in now in your court. Let us pray that this does not become one of those things that only happen in the creative minds of Hollywood. Better yet, let us do something about it right now. Pick three people right now for whom you will commit to pray—and then just pray it forward.

Keep Your Fork

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There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things "in order," she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.

"There's one more thing," she said excitedly.

"What's that?" came the pastor's reply.

"This is very important," the young woman continued.
"I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand."

The pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.

"That surprises you, doesn't it?" the young woman asked.

"Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," said the pastor.

The young woman explained. "My grandmother once told me this story, and from there on out, I have always done so. I have also, always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement.

'In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, 'Keep your fork' It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming...like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!' So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder "What's with the fork?" Then I want you to tell them: "Keep your fork ... the best is yet to come." The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman goodbye.

He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that something better was coming.

At the funeral people were walking by the young woman's casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the pastor heard the question.

"What's with the fork?" And over and over he smiled. During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her.

The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

He was right.

So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

And remember to keep your fork.