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

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/

A Hope That Purifies

This message that Tracy gives is just eye opening and completely will make you think. She is vulnerable and real, something you don’t get to see too often in the world. People often puts up masks but she has hers off and inspires us to do the same… to get over our insecurities!!  More importantly, to help me get over my insecurities. These are my notes and thoughts about it. I will try to follow as her lesson goes along.

 “People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” Hebrew 6:16-19

1) Purification

“It is impossible for God to lie.” Wow. Think about that for a second. In a world where there are endless possibilities, there is no chance that God will lie. There are no tricks, no shadiness, no confusion, no small print, nothing. Just a simple but powerful truth. Yet God (in his awesomeness) still chose to make an oath to me to stress that I really can hold firm to him as it says “an anchor for the soul”.  As a woman, I can try to hold firmly onto many things other sisters, my own thoughts… but at the end of the day none of those will be firm as holding onto God and his promises. That means laying everything into his hands and letting go of my life. Letting go of my insecurities.

James 4:1 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” Tracy parallels it: “Insecurities causes fights. Getting insecure is an argument over who you are and what you can do. We want to argue because we aren’t in control.”

I never saw being insecure as an argument over who I am and over what I can do. I thought being insecure was just not believing in myself or being faithless. When I can’t get what I want I go to my comfort which is eating or being debaucherous with watching videos. Clouding my mind. Acting as if it’s not there. Why am I not praying? Asking God for help? Whenever I don’t have a good prayer in the morning, I find myself being very defensive (putting walls around my heart so none can get close) and if too many questions are asked that make me doubt I want to run away. Trying to hide my insecurities from others.

2) Purify ourselves from anxiety

“Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were evening!’ and in the evening, ‘If only it were morning!’– because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see.” Deuteronomy 28: 65-67

Wooooohhh maaaan! Anxiety and I go waaaaay back. All of my self reliance has caused me to have migraines for years. I go to doctors and there’s nothing they can do except give me prescriptions that don’t really work. At those times when I really can’t take the pain I go to prayer. See what’s wrong with that picture? I am going to God AFTER I have tried to do things my way. Am I praying in my distress? Why am I not in the battle on my knees with my voice crying to the One on high? Satan knows my weakness of self reliance aka pride. He will use it against me. I need to develop a deeper knowledge of scripture to battle my anxiety. Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6. Pray to be righteous. Where is my faith during the storms?

3) Purify yourself of resentment and bitterness

This is the one I struggle with the most.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:30-31

Holding onto things of the past that I wish were different or not letting go of hurts. That makes me bitter which ends up being shown as anger and defensiveness. Dig and SOUL SEARCH! Hit rock bottom. It’s OK. I think that’s when (I) you can find what’s really bothering (me) you instead of blaming someone/something for it. At the beginning of my christian walk, a dear friend and mentor encouraged me to write in a journal. I chose to not do it because I didn’t want to open the door to the deep waters of my heart. So I kept skimming the surface with the bitterness shark still swimming around. I will work on diving into those deep waters and purifying myself from it!

The end goal is to become more and more like Christ every day! It’s a daily challenge and self denial. Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”