Back to University 

Clocktower Building University of Otago Dunedin New Zealand

It’s that time of year again where schools throughout the world have started up again, waving goodbye to long lazy summer days and hello to autumn, filled with pumpkin spice lattes, homework and essays. Mine starts in a month’s time so I’m enjoying every second that I can!

While reading through Daniel, I realized that the first two chapters can really apply to university students. I shows how we should be an example on our campuses as Christians. Daniel and the others were chosen to be trained for three years so they could go on to serve the king. In the United Kingdom, most BA degrees are completed in three years and after go off to get graduate jobs to serve under a boss, CEO, whomever it may be.

A few things that needs to be remembered…

  1. Be excellent

The King wanted those who were chosen to be “…young men without any physical defect, handsome,showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.” Daniel 1 :4

These men had criteria they needed to fill before they were accepted to study the “language and literature of the Babylonians”. The same way we fill in the criteria with our grades and take exams to get into university like the SAT in the USA. Since you were chosen to enter thatt university, you should be grateful and do the absolute best that you can because not everyone will have the opportunity that you have. The scripture says to chose people who “SHOW aptitude”. Aptitude, according to dictionary.com, is readiness or quickness in learning. So showing aptitude in uni is asking questions, engaging with the professor, working hard to get the best possible grade without anyone telling you to work hard. If someone has to tell you to work hard on something, you don’t really have an aptitude for it so you will not be excellent in that area.  Jesus never did things halfway and he instilled in those who follwed him, such as Paul, to work hard at everything they set out to do. Always have the mindset that all the essays, projects and presentations are not for the ones who will give you the grade but as if God is looking at it himself. You can not use church commitments or bible studies as an excuse to do not study diligently or complete assignments on time.

“Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” 

Colossians 3:22‭-‬25 MSG

2. Don’t eat junk / fast food all the time

“The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table… But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Daniel then said to the guard…, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.”

Daniel 1:5‭, ‬8‭‭-‬12‭, ‬15‭ NIV

Who hasn’t fallen into the trap of snacking while studying or not eating properly because You forgot to cook the night before? I sure have! Daniel knew that his diet would affect his spiritual life even more so than his physical. If you don’t eat a balanced diet you will be more fatigue and emotional unable to focus 100% on anything. Eat fruits and vegetables. Stay away from munching on crisps all the time. Start having ready meals so you can grab it on the way out the door as you’re running to the train or bus. Wouldn’t you want to be “healthier and better nourished”? If you don’t take care of yourself spiritually and physical, how will you take care of others? Especially being a christian, if you aren’t strong spiritually you can’t help others get close to Jesus which hinders your mission.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

1 Corinthians 6:19‭-‬20 NIV

3. God will help you 

“To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning… The king talked with them, and he found none equal… so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than in his whole kingdom.”

Daniel 1:17‭, ‬19 – 20 NIV

Daniel received wisdom from God because he wouldn’t compromise on his convictions. He was a hard worker before anyone even noticed him and even stuck to being healthy when he had the perfect opportunity for some great free food! God will give you what you need as long as you put him first (Matthew 6:33). Disciples need to be the ones who set the standard on campus not follow what everyone else is doing so people can find “none equal” to those who practically apply the Bible to their lives daily.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

James 1:5 NIV

Hard work, healthy diet and God on your side! Have a great uni yeat! 

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A Biblical Concept of Yourself 

Lately, I have been going through a series by J. Hampton Keathley III called Marks of Maturity: Biblical Concept of Christian Leadership, it has really heed me think through some of my thoughts. However, the chapter that has really helped me recently is chapter 3 which in the title of this entry A Biblical concept of oneself. When I got on to write this was looking at some of my drafts that didn’t make it to the published side. One those entries is called inferiority complex. Something I can struggle with in my christian walk is how I view myself which usually isn’t how the Bible says that God sees me. The study is quite long but I’ll share the things that really impacted me or greats points he makes.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

– Romans 12:3 NIV

This scripture tells us to not think that we are not to think of ourselves as if we the best thing that has ever Wales on earth but to really look at ourselves as God sees us. What women hasn’t struggled with her image? Her worth? Her characteristics? I’m sure everyone has at one point but the beautiful thing is that we need to think of ourselves with SOBER judgement which means a real look at who we are and where we want to be. Better yet, where God wants us to be. If we have the right thoughts about God, we’ll have a right view about ourselves. On the oher hand, if we don’t like who we are, we will have the crazy notion that no one like us either. That’s a sad mental state to be in because it can paralyse yourself,  your ministry and the relationships around your (friends, family, etc). That mentality will put your further in isolation and selfishness and as Christians we need to consistently pour ourselves out (deny ourselves) as mentioned in Luke 9 : 23. If we live in a state of self hatred and hating others, we will focus on our own personal strength and not on the strength tat God provides us with and when failures come around it becomes a huge hindrance in the Christian walk. God has made us able to accomplish his plan into reality.

“Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant…”

– 2 Corinthians 3:4‭-‬6 NIV

If we focus on what people think about us, we’ll never really get anywhere past of what the limitations people will give us. You don’t want to be a slave to the opinions of people but be fully confident that God has equipped you and made you competent. I love what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:4‭ & ‬6,

“On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.” NIV

Paul had the mindset that he could honestly care less what the people thought about him because he was confident in his calling and how God saw him. Paul didn’t measure success by men’s standards but by God’s grace which helped him to be grateful and work harder.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

– 1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV

Paul also knew the danger of measuring up to men’s standard, instead of God’s. When you look at men to set your standard and give you approval, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Not only that, it’s sinful because you’re idolizing people.

“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’  For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”

– 2 Corinthians 10:12‭, ‬17‭-‬18 NIV

Keathley gives a list of what false standards lead to which are:

  • False motives – Philippians 1 : 17
  • Guilt, frustration, depression – 1 Thessalonians 2 : 4 – 6
  • Feeling of pride and false success – 1 Timothy 3 : 6
  • Fear of failure and not wanting to go for the ministry – 2 Timothy 1 : 6 – 7
  • Self deprecation with the belief that we aren’t good enough

Falso standards -> false feelingso of significance

He continues to say that all those attributes lead to “handicapped people who are divisive and unloving because they compete with others and themselves for a sense of significance” and become defensive, argumentative and fearful. Have you ever been a person who is defensive, argumentative and fearful? I have and that was because I allowed my emotions to keep a hold of me and not rely on the word of God for the truth.

A mature believer… (From Keathley)

  • Act on the truth in their identity in Christ
  • Rest and act on God given abilities

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

– 1 Corinthians 12:4‭-‬6 NIV

  • Act on God’s purpose and nature for this life

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

– Ephesians 2:10 NIV

To summarise what I learned from this lesson is that if I know who I am in Christ, I will act accordingly regardless of the response or success of others because I know of where I am going. Jesus knew who he was and where he was going that he did not really care for the negativity of the people of the leaders of the time. It’s always about the cross and our relationship with God. You should only measure yourself with Jesus and not other people because their sense of measurement is broken. God knows you more than anyone and even yourself and he has really made you one of a kind with gifts and talents! Find out what those are and excel in them and be okay with your weaknesses.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

– Psalm 139:13‭-‬14 NIV

Fearless Dreamer

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Have you ever been going to sleep and all of a sudden your body jerks because you thought you were falling? It felt pretty real, didn’t it? But then you wake up and realise it was just your imagination. Maybe you’ve been sitting in a long lecture and you start day dreaming about being at the beach as the sun warms your face or your bed that you begrudgingly rolled out of this morning……… oh wait I’m back! Dreams are something that can seem completely impossible, like once I dreamt that I ran, jumped and next thing you know I was flying overlooking the city. Now, in real life if I attempted to do that, it probably won’t be as successful. But what about the dreams that are possible? Dreams that are goals? We are halfway through February of 2016. Have you already giving up or forgotten about your goals for this year? I have a poster on my wall that has all my goals for this year. Some of them seem absolutely impossible to me and others are highly possible in my eyes.
My “impossible” goals for this year are reachable if I focus on God wholeheartedly. Next to my goals on the poster are scriptures that speak about God making the impossible possible and I try to focus on those every day. I’m thinking Nehemiah may have had the same mindset while trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He didn’t see a pile of ruble that was the city but he saw a better, bigger and stronger city that was to come.

“…I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem….” Nehemiah 2 : 12

God had put the dream in Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild the wall and he went after it without anyone knowing about it because he wanted for God to get the glory not himself. How are you helping to rebuild the wall in God’s modern day movement? What is your Kingdom dream?? Do you have a dream? Or better yet, are you afraid to dream out of insecurity? I can relate to that! I have two dreams that ever time I look at it, I stop and think, “God, I don’t know how this is going to happen….” but in order to be a fearless dreamer it takes the faith to say, “God, I don’t know how this is going to happen…. but I know that YOU can make it happen.

“…And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.” Nehemiah 2 : 8 & 18

Therefore, as the scripture above states, my requests can be granted if I take them to God and they’re in accordance with God’s will. Even if those two specific dreams don’t become true in the sense that I want them to, I still need to have dreams but not just any dream. Dreams that actually scare me to think of because they’re so out of the ordinary. I saw a quote once that said “vision without action is fiction” and that’s completely true! For example, if you’re an entrepreneur you constantly have to think of new ideas and make them come alive. That’s putting action with your vision and making it nonfiction. How many people when they get older look back and think if I had only done… . Personally, I don’t want to get older and look back filled with regret of opportunities not taken.

Are you living an ordinary life or an extraordinary one? Not to quote Drake but YOLO (you only live once) is a true statement and “life is what you make it” is straightforward. If you’re bored being a christian, you’re doing it wrong. John 10 : 10 says Jesus came to give life to the full so if you feel like you’re not living a full life, are you close to Jesus?

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Proverbs 29 : 18

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Single but Taken

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Happy Valentine’s day!

It’s a worldwide day celebration of love. You see bouquets of roses everywhere, chocolates being sold for way more than it should be, people blushing and falling in love… and then there is the other side. Single women wondering why they don’t have that “special someone” but I am here to persuade you that you do have a special someone on this day and EVERY DAY! My some one special speaks to me through the Scriptures and tells me how much he loves me every day and how special I am to him and even compliments my hair *blushing*.

I find Song of Songs to be a very romantic book and it is perfect for today to remind us that even though we are “single”, we are completely taken in God’s eyes. These are some scriptures I found extremely encouraging and I hope you are encouraged as well…

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Songs 4:7

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he browses among the lilies.” Song of Songs 6: 3

“…but my dove, my perfect one, is unique, the only daughter of her mother, the favorite of the one who bore her. The young women saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines praised her.” Song of Songs 6 : 9

Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” Song of Songs 8 : 7

I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.” Song of Songs 7 : 10

How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.” Song of Songs 1 : 15

“I’ll marry you for good—forever! I’ll marry you true and proper, in love and tenderness. Yes, I’ll marry you and neither leave you nor let you go. You’ll know me, God , for who I really am.” Hosea 2 : 19 – 20 MSG

God has a love that no person can fill. Reading these scriptures helped my heart to remember that I have a love that will never fade or go away. It is also a love that loved me first, when I was unlovable and kept pushing him away.

Below is one of my favourite songs about God’s love to me! ❤

 

 

*This is posted a day late*

Dating – What Good Women Want

So this post is a bit different than my usual. It is a collaborative between myself and some of my fellow Christian bloggers. It is a mix of married, single professional, university student and a recent graduate. I am posting on behalf of everyone else. Hope you enjoy it and leave feedback in the comment section! The links to the other blogs will be at the bottom.

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Guest editorial: What Good Women Want

(James Morgan of the London International Christian Church)

I don’t know what happened in my congregation last year but there was a veritable explosion of dating couples in the second half of the year. This kind of thing usually happens in the spring right? But there it is. One after another like dominoes the London church singles got Twitterpated! It was quite something to behold. Even guys who had held on to singleness for decades were going head-over-heels.
I don’t know if it was our ex-Hollywood actor Evangelist regularly encouraging dating in the congregation or the annual international conference attended by delegates from around the globe. Anyway a number of your men had the unusual situation all of a sudden of having to organize a date almost every week. That brings with it certain challenges. So I thought about what might help them in this Herculean task of fighting off the demon of Droopage, their brother Bashful and cousin Cancellation!
I decided to ask the ladies in the church (both married and single) an important question. Beatriz has edited the answers below to remove duplications. So it seems that the these good women agree on a number of things. I hope these answers presented here will really help the chivalrous men in the church who are busy planning dates. Here they are.

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I decided to ask the ladies in the church (both married and single) an important question. It went like this….

“Sister..  You’ve been around a while. I’d like to ask you a personal question. Hope that’s OK. I’m interested.. What is top 3 things that make a date memorable for you?”

I plan dates for singles at my place. My wife and I love to cook and offer hospitality to our friends. I thought it would be useful to have a variety of answers to help me improve on the dinner dates we do. I am sure the answers below from several sisters will be invaluable to brothers thrust into an organisational role that can be quite stressful at times.

 

1. Giving your heart with planning
The main concept that popped up with all the women is planning. Planning an outing makes a person feel special because they took time out of their days to think of that person and give their hearts fully. Here is what the women have said…

– I love it when a Brother plans a date to encourage me and not just jumping on another plan. I love doing things that are fun,  action packed , good quality time with a creative twist. Great dates have input from both sides.

– To be honest, an encouraging date starts for me before the actual date. When the brother really gives his heart to plan and doesn’t just muster up something last minute so i guess my number one thing is “Heartfelt planning”. It’s super encouraging when i just know that a brother is planning the date to specifically encourage me. I can tell he is when during the week, he asks me what i like eating, what i don’t like eating, activities i like/would like to try, etc. It doesn’t have to be something big, even if its just getting my favourite dessert or something for a dinner date. It shows the heart.

– Fun and creative dates. I love to have quality time than to have the most glamorous and expensive date. New activities really encourage me.

– I’ve always had a deep conviction about going on dates in order to build unity between everyone. I feel loved when brothers ask me what I like to do or to eat and plan it ahead of time. I appreciate when I am told in advance about the date so I can properly plan my day. When they ask, it shows that they’re putting their heart behind it and really trying to encourage me.

 

2. Personal conversation
Friendships are built on being honest and sharing your life with the person, allowing them to know who you are. It also gives them a glimpse into your life and your heart!

– I love when I see the heart of God in a brother where he can share deep insight on the word ,  tips on what God is teaching him and he helps me to further strengthen my walk with God. It is always great when a brother is interested in my power times; prayer needs, really listens; and tries to be my friend and really connect. This scripture comes to mind, Colossians 3 : 16

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

– This definitely is a huge one. Dates where the conversation is vague or superficial, where I don’t really learn anything new, deep or personal about the brother, to me aren’t really dates. I believe the type of questions a brother asks and the type of conversation we have really shows whether the brother actually wants to get to know me as his sister or is just on the date for the sake of it. For me, openness helps me draw closer to people and endear myself to them.

– I love God focused conversations where the brother can share deep insight on the word. I think the type of questions a brother asks and the type of conversations shows if the brother really wants to get to know the sister deeply. Openness helps me to draw closer to the brother and understand the brother better. Numbers 32:23,

“…and be sure that your sin will find you out.”

– To me this is a big one. Conversation is such a powerful tool. Superficial conversation does not help me to know who you really are. When brothers are open and vulnerable, it shows that they trust me and aren’t trying to just say the right thing. Also, with a good conversation there’s no awkward moments.

3. Feeling appreciated

Appreciation (according to Google) is defined as recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.
– There is a brother; who has a hash tag on Facebook called #everysisterdeservesflowers.
He sets the standard for how all Kingdom dates should be planned, led, conducted and ended. He always ends the date with flowers and cards for the sister just to say thank you and I love that you are my sister in the Lord. He has this focus for all sisters to be encouraged just because he has the heart of a great man of God not just because he has an interest in a sister.

– Fun! Absolutely! If a date has no fun, its totally discouraging. Fun doesn’t have to be big like going to Thorpe Park or the London Eye or something. It can just be something we do at the dinner table that causes laughs and great memories. Having fun makes a date memorable and encouraging for me. I’ll always remember and be grateful for the laughter and the memories even when I am far away from those with whom I had them.

– As a student in university, I feel appreciated and supported of when a brother offers to pay; that really shows care in the sense that he’ll be there for me when times are tight. I have also had brothers make me a card after a date and it puts a smile on my face because they took even a little bit more time after encouraging me to go beyond!
– It’s fun to consider that not only what I would like. Show genuine love on a date even if the brother doesn’t like it. He sets the standard for how the date should start, conduct and end. Ending the date with a thank you the brother doesn’t have to end with flowers and a card the brother who shows love through words of affirmation is great. He has a focus for all the sisters because he is a great man of God.

 

So there it is. Many thanks to the sisters. I’ve already adjusted how I plan dates myself. Below are the urls of the personal blogs of some of the awesome women who contributed to this article. Love. James

http://teephuong.tumblr.com/
http://www.lydiasladies.com
https://morganites.wordpress.com/
https://diaryofanewdisciple.wordpress.com/

Faith

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” -Romans 10:17

This verse in itself speaks power and wonder no matter at what part of life you are at. The message about Christ is a universal one and it brings life and hope to those who chose to believe.

Every one has heard the name Jesus Christ. Even those who claim to be an atheist, agnostic, scientist, philosopher, etc… the list goes on in on. The truth of the matter is that every one has heard something about Christ at one point or another in their life. They can choose to believe or not to. God doesn’t force us to love him he gives us the free will because he wouldn’t want false worshipers . Think of it in a way of a parent to child relationship. No parent wants for a child to forcefully say “I love you”. They want for it to come from the heart. A sincere heart with true love. How much more so God…

Every one believes in something or someone, that is a given fact.

“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.” Hebrews 11:1 MSG.

People may not believe in God per se but they do have faith. A good number of people I have spoken with have said that they believe in themselves, astronomy and horoscopes. I doubt they have asked themselves is “what good has this brought to my life?” As in “what has believing in *this* truly accomplished?” The world has over seven billion people. The amount of beliefs are numerous which often leave people confused and lost. Most enjoy going along with the lines of whatever feels good or whatever their friends are doing because it’s okay. The word good or “being good” will be defined 7 billion different ways. So what makes a person good What standard do they use? Certainly they can’t use their own definition because they’re the only ones who have been in their shoes thus defining what is “good” in their life. Being your own god can’t be of much help because you can’t control the future. You don’t know what may or may not happen despite of all of your “good” efforts. The apostle Paul addresses this in Athens,

“For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship – and this is what I am going to proclaim to you….From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17: 23-27 NIV

What is so amazing is that the message is the same one, every where. For over 7 billion people. *insert blown mind here* How is that possible, you may ask? Well by the one and only Alpha and Omega. God planned our lives just so we would seek him! As a woman, I read that as a cute love story. Imagine: There’s a guy who really wants to get to know you so he plans things out just to see you happy and maybe one day you’ll want to get to know him as well. That day that you finally know who it is, the man will be very happy! That is just a silly example of what this scripture is talking about! The Lord of Lords has put you on this earth at this time at whatever location you may live at because he wants to have a relationship with you. He wants for you to hear the good news about Jesus. Not only hear about it but also acting upon it building your faith from the message and not based on people’s opinions. Have a deep conviction! 😀