The Virtue of Study

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The Virtue of Study: Why All Christians Should Be Life-Long Learners

 
Christians Should Love Learning
I’m of the opinion that all committed Christians should (and do) have a genuine love of learning. Christians have been serious students of knowledge since Jesus called the Original Twelve. From Jesus’ example as the Master Teacher, to the scholarship of monks that led to the first and best universities, Christians have always been in the forefront of teaching, learning, and education. If you think about it, that’s the way it should be.
God Wants Us To Know More Than We Currently Know
First, God is omniscient— meaning He knows everything. This all-knowing God made part of His infinite knowledge available to us. He has done this through the process of “revelation.” Divine revelation is the act of God revealing knowledge to us. God has given us both General Revelation and Special Revelation.
General Revelation (the cosmos, science, history, and the human faculties of reflection and conscience) has two main purposes: (1) To provide knowledge that helps people survive and thrive in our earthly lives, and (2) To help us realize that a Supreme Being exists, so we will begin to seek to know the true identity of this God (which is discovered through Special Revelation).
Special Revelation (including the Bible, Jesus Christ, and God’s supernatural activity) provides us with the information we need to know God personally and to cultivate a never-ending relationship with Him. Together, God’s Revelation helps us live lives informed by God’s knowledge, truth, and wisdom.
Acquiring Great Knowledge Isn’t Effort-Free
But there’s a catch… Though God has revealed enormous amounts of information, we do not naturally or automatically possess all of this knowledge. In other words, “revelation” is everything that God has made knowable or discoverable. Some of it we already know, but we’re born with very little innate knowledge. The rest has to be learned.
God helps us discover new knowledge in two ways: Through reflecting on life experiences and by intentionally and deliberately committing ourselves to learning.
Christians, of all people, have a responsibility to learn. The Apostle Paul, in writing to Christians in the city of Ephesus, made this clear. He prayed that God would “give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God” (Eph 1:17, NLT). Not only that, but “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him” (Phil 2:13, NLT). For these reasons, Christians who walk with God have a supernatural desire to obtain information, knowledge, truth, and wisdom— and they are willing to do what it takes to learn them.
Christians Should Study Regularly and Systematically
Since there’s so much we need to know, Christians should be life-long learners. And because time is limited, we should be discriminating about how we study and what we learn.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give about building a strong Christian mind is this: study regularly and systematically. Don’t just pick and choose books or subjects willy-nilly. Rather, identify important categories of knowledge in which you should be informed, then deliberately, intentionally, regularly, and systematically use solid materials from reliable sources to build your mind and worldview.
No One Said It Better Than Paul
The Apostle Paul said it best: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

2 Timothy 2_2

What Does the Bible Say About "Youth Ministry?"

billy_graham
A Young Billy Graham

What Does the Bible Say About Youth Ministry?

The Bible doesn’t address “youth ministry.” Youth Ministry is a phenomenon of the 20th Century, though an important one.
The word “adolescent” wasn’t coined until about 1942. At least three major historical movements led “Youth Ministry” as we know it.

1) The Industrial Revolution and Challenging Economic Times for Families Led Children Into the Work Force Where they Faced Adult Situations and Adult Temptations.

Times were tough in the 1800s and 1900s. People were scratching a living in order to survive, and this often led to the need for children to work on their farms and in their homes. Then, as the Industrial Revolution occurred, it offered more jobs and the opportunity for making money and upward mobility. Lots of children entered the work force.
Keep in mind that most kids at this time had little education and few educational opportunities. Plus ‘public school’ as we now know it didn’t exist in most places. So kids got very little education on average, unless they were wealthy.
Portrait of a child laborer standing between a spinning loom and a window at a cotton mill.  The young girl wears tattered work clothes. North America 1909
Portrait of a child laborer standing between a spinning loom and a window at a cotton mill. The young girl wears tattered work clothes.
North America
1909
The lack of child labor laws and the sheer need for income led to many kids moving into the workplace.
As these kids were exposed to adults, they were exposed to adult situations. This forced them to grow up quickly.
It also led to lots of stress and the opportunity to make mistakes. This led to an enormous upswing in lifestyle issues, moral problems, and challenges with working young people. There became a growing conviction that there was a problem and that something needed done.

2) More Educational Opportunities For Young People Delayed Their Move Into Full Adult Society and Its Responsibilities.

Even though children grew up and matured into adults throughout history, it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution and on into the Early 20th Century that there rose a need for more highly-trained people to serve in larger companies as managers. This led to more and more people making the decision to pursue formal education in hopes of even higher paying jobs as, because, for the first time in U.S. history, a “Middle Class” was rising.
Prior to more people going to college, there were simply the “haves” and “have nots.” But the opportunities and needs resulting from the Industrial Revolution led to more production and the growth of industry, resulting in large businesses. These large businesses required middle-management positions. All this led to higher tiers of income and entirely new working classes, from Blue Collar, to Gray Collar, and White Collar.
But getting an education took time. So more and more children began delaying entering the workforce as kids and continued though grade school and high school, with some also entering college. In addition, because corporations had been abusing child laborers for decades, laws began keeping children from working as much. As as result, they were not intermingling as much with grown adults and being forced to “grow up.”
In 1925, the release of public tax funds (US v. School District No. 1 of Kalamazoo, MI) allowed more children to get education, because it was now being offered for everyone and paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
Before long, school attendance became ‘compulsory.’ When that happened, kids were systematically delayed from entering adult life and the work force until later.
The outcome of that was young people entered a period where they did not move from “childhood” into “adulthood” quite so rapidly. This leisure and time to grow up more slowly without adult responsibilities soon resulted in a sociological phenomenon called “adolescence.”

3) Delayed Adulthood (for those not going into the work force and spending more time in school) Resulted in Young People Having More Identity Crises and Moral Challenges.

Because more and more children were not moving directly into adult life with adult responsibilities (full work weeks, job responsibilities, hard labor, early marriages, and having children while still in their teens), they had time to develop and mature.
But because they didn’t yet have ‘careers’ and were increasingly going away from family-based trades they had done for generations, more began to struggle with their identities: “Who am I?” “What am I going to do?” “Where will I live?” “Will I make it?” These identity crises led to stress and struggle. Also, with teenagers with adult bodies and adult urges but child-like responsibilities and delayed adulthood, this increasingly became a time of moral struggles, experimentation, and often ‘excess.’
As kids were sometimes able to have childhood responsibilities (not work) but adult freedoms (living on their parents’ money while they went to school), this responsibility-freedom imbalance began to cause problems. Young people and early adults were increasingly struggling with behavioral issues, sexual struggles, alcohol problems, and more.

Enter Youth Ministry

All this led to organizations coming into existence to help young people.
From the Society of Christian Endeavor to other Temperance Societies, to the Boys Clubs and Girls Clubs, to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the YMCA and YWCA, Sunday Schools, Singing Schools, and denominational camps and recreation ministries, there was a growing specialization in ministering to young people.
So “ministries to youth” became ‘a thing’ and grew rapidly. By the early 1900s, educational institutions recognized the need to help equip youth workers, so academic programs started developing to train them. That led to a growth of literature in this area.
With academic degrees, a growing literature base, and more and more jobs in the field… “Youth Ministry” as a profession was born. This began to really happen in the 1920s, and it soon exploded in the 1940s-50s-60s-70s and beyond.

 

Twitter Impact Facts

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Technology Tuesdays, Soapbox.Network

900 x 80 Transparent ImageGet the Facts on Twitter Impact in this issue of Tech Tuesdays on Soapbox.Network.  Learn about engagement and best practices on Twitter
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Teach with your Strengths, part 2 of 2

Teach with your strengths

Teach with your Strengths, part 2 of 2

by Dr. Kevin Nguyen
In my last article (Teach with your Strengths part 1 of 2), we discussed the Biblical Reasoning of Teaching with your Strengths. This sequel article outlines the practical gifts that teachers may have according to the research team at Gallup. I highly recommend you purchase a book right now, and get the Strengthfinder 2.0 test for free!! Otherwise you will be paying $13/license. After I took this test, it has open my eyes to a whole new world of developing new skills in the teaching world.
What about the other assessments like DISC or Meyers-Brigg? Well these are personality assessments that focuses on the general demeanor of a person. But Strengthsfinder gives an accurate assessment on your teaching strengths and then follows up on practical steps on enhancing your top strengths.
After I (Kevin Nguyen) took my assessment, the results spits out 5 of my top strengths of the 34 listed. Most of us would want to zoom down to the bottom and focus on the bottom 5, but the results will only show you the top 5. Curiosity may kill you, but don’t worry, it didn’t kill me knowing my fatal flaws. Instead, I am zoned in on the top (see below of my top 5): Arranger, Significance, Strategic, Command, Communicator.
or you can just skim through this…then go take your assessment! What is your strength?
 

Signature Theme Definition in my own words
Arranger Organize with flexibility, figure out how all the pieces and resources can be arranged for max productivity Conductor, in complex situation involving many factors, you enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until you are sure you have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible, You are a shining example of effective flexibility, whether you are changing travel schedules at the last minute because a better fare has popped up or mulling over just the right combination of people and resources to accomplish a new project.
You are at your best in dynamic situations. Confronted with the unexpected, some complain that plans devised with such care cannot be changed, while others take refuge in the existing rules or procedures. You don’t do either. — because, after all, there might just be a better way.
Ex. Games – Risk, Tetris, tower defense, real-time-scenario (RTS)
Command Presence of Person, take control of a situation and make decisions Command leads you to take charge. Unlike some people, you feel no discomfort with imposing your views on others. On the contrary, once your opinion is formed, you need to share it with others. Once your goal is set, you feel restless until you have aligned others with you. You are not frightened by confrontation; rather, you know that confrontation is the first step toward resolution. Whereas others may avoid facing up to life’s unpleasantness, you feel compelled to present the facts or the truth, no matter how unpleasant it may be.
You need things to be clear between people and challenge them to be clear-eyed and honest. You may even intimidate them. And while some may resent this, labeling you opinionated, they often willingly hand you the reins. People are drawn toward those who take a stance and ask them to move in a certain direction.
Ex. Where do you want to eat? Where you want to go?
Communication Easy to put their thoughts into words, they are good conversationalists and presenters. You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public.
Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors.
This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act.
Significance Want to be very important in the eyes of others? Independent and want to be recognized???? You want to be heard. You want to stand out. You feel a need to be admired as credible, professional, and successful. Likewise, you want to associate with others who are credible, professional, and successful. And if they aren’t, you will push them to achieve until they are. Or you will move on.
An independent spirit, you want your work to be a way of life rather than a job, and in that work you want to be given free rein, the leeway to do things your way. Your yearnings feel intense to you, and you honor those yearnings. And so your life is filled with goals, achievements, or qualifications that you crave.
(driving motivation)
Whatever your focus your Significance theme will keep pulling you upward, away from the mediocre toward the exceptional. It is the theme that keeps you reaching.
Strategic Create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues. Sort through the clutter and find the best route, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner,
Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path—your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward.
Ex. Odyssey of Mind

Teach with your Strengths, part 1 of 2

Teaching with strengths part 1

Teach with your Strengths, part 1 of 2

by Dr. Kevin Nguyen

 
We tend to ask the common question of priority, “What do I work on first, my strength or my weaknesses?”  I had asked this question prior to starting my doctorate program.  My advisor at the time posed this conundrum to me and shared me both philosophies of thinking.  Some would work on their weaker areas to make them stronger.  Others will go all the way with they are good at so they can become experts in their field.  I chose the latter.  Why?  First, I am rooted in a Biblical Worldview in how God dispenses every believer spiritual gifts.Romans 12:6-8 says,
6Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: ifprophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7ifservice, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Second, if God has given us these unique gifts, why would we neglect it, but rather improve upon them.  The book “”Teach with your Strengths” follows these Biblical principles.  Although not written to a Christian audience, the book does support the principle that we should continue to A) Strengthen our Gifts, and b) Minimize our Weaknesses.  It takes more energy to focus on our weaknesses to make them even at par.  But the extreme energy exerted on improving our weaknesses will go further when we focus on our Strengths.  Let’s focus on our strengths.
In the next article (part 2 of 2), we will discover what my strengths are… stay tuned
I came across this book not too long ago in 2010. This book comes from a series of book from the Gallup Press.  Read more there. Teach with your strengths

Research Topics: Finding Yours in 6 Steps

research topics- choosing yours in 6 easy steps

Research Topics: Finding Yours in 6 Steps

 by Timothy Howe
 

All academics do research. Finding research topics is a part of the job. If you are in academia you will need to research. Whether you are working on a research paper, thesis, dissertation, field project, or a new book, you will need to research. Many times research topics come easily. They are dictated by someone else, by pressing circumstances or are a particular passion. However, almost every writer comes to a point in his or her career when he or she is required to write without a lead. The writer knows that something must be written, but what?


Six Steps to Choosing Your Research Topics
1. Work in an area of personal interest.
You will not want to research a topic that is dull to you. The larger the project, the more personal investment will be required to stay the course. So, from the beginning investigate topics that interest you. It is also likely to be the area where you already have some expertise.


2. Consider if your interest matters.
Just because you like a topic does not mean it is either important or interesting to others. Since writers presumably research in order to be read, consider if your interest matters. If it does not, select a new one. If it does, your are on the right track.


3. Identify what research already exists in your field of interest.
You do not want to expend a great deal of research effort only to find out that someone else has written your paper. Identity what topics are sufficiently covered and what topics have questions yet unanswered or conclusions yet unchallenged.


4. Brainstorm various possibilities.
Before researching, sit down and come up with as many ideas as you can concerning your interest. Among other things, brainstorming benefits you by leading you to something you never before considered, helping to establish the outline for when you begin writing, and by producing many future topics.


5. Narrow your topic to a manageable size.
It does no good to choose a topic of gargantuan scale. You must narrow your topic as soon as possible to a size that is appropriate for your project. Research papers must be very narrow in focus; theses, dissertations and books can be a bit broader, but be careful to not let them grow unwieldy.


6. Choose your topic. 
Sometimes the enemy is not the lack of a topic, but it is that you cannot decide between equally compelling topics. There comes a time when you must simply choose. Choose your topic and begin your research. Put your remaining other good topic ideas in your mental vault for future research.
Finally, once you have chosen your topic, start writing. 

Technophobia: Internet Anxiety

Technophobia: I hate the internet

Technophobia: Internet Anxiety

by Dr. Sharon Short
I belong to the last generation of people who are amazed by what can be accomplished online. I have located out-of-print books, purchased shoes in hard-to-find sizes, found cheap airfares, downloaded articles from obscure journals, conversed with people on other continents, participated in classes, searched for jobs, reconnected with old friends, edited dissertations, and completed a host of other tasks—all using this astonishing resource called the internet.
On the other hand, because for most of my life this powerful tool did not exist, I am also part of a generation who suffers from technophobia. Our generation is quite anxious about the implications of using the world-wide web. The very same technology that enables me to find out so much from around the world also allows anyone in the world to find out a great deal about me. It makes me nervous to realize that the products I buy, the websites I peruse, even the Facebook messages that I post, are all noticed, recorded, and used to market new products and services to me. Not only that, but the information that this vast, complex system called the internet accumulates about me never goes away—it is always immediately accessible to anyone who knows how to look for it.
Having experienced the incredible advantages of the internet, however, I do not expect that I will ever go back to living without it. In fact, I am so excited about its educational potential that I am building a career as an online instructor. I have made peace with my “internet anxiety” by accepting one simple reality, namely, that the internet is a completely public venue. It feels deceptively private and anonymous, but as long as I recognize that nothing—absolutely nothing—that I do by means of the internet can be kept hidden, it will probably not hurt me. My solution is to transmit online only the same sort of information that I would be willing to see printed in a magazine, mentioned in a newspaper, reported on a television show, or announced on a marquee. These examples are public media with which we have all grown up, and we have a clear sense of what would be wise and appropriate to publicize in these sorts of ways. The relative newness of the internet, combined with its illusion of secrecy, tempts people to relay information about themselves and say things about others that they would never consider publicizing through more traditional channels, and therein lies the danger. Recognizing that the internet is as communal as a billboard but much more widely accessible frees me to use it prudently as the worldwide public information forum that it actually is.

Relationships Among Research Methods and Paradigms

Research methods and Paradigms

Relationships Among Research Methods and Paradigms

 
by Dr. Sharon Short
 
During the past several decades, considerable debate has raged between those who favor empirical (generally termed “quantitative”) research and those who prefer interpretive (generally referred to as “qualitative”) inquiry. Those who draw the lines most dogmatically argue that, since these research methods and paradigms are based on fundamentally conflicting views about the nature of reality, the researcher must commit to the one approach that corresponds to his or her philosophical position. One cannot endorse both paradigms because they represent reality in essentially contradictory ways and are therefore incompatible and mutually exclusive.
Several thoughtful scholars, however, have argued for complementarity among research paradigms rather than exclusivity (Eisner, 1981; Salomon, 1991; Soltis, 1984). As I struggled with these issues in the preparation of my dissertation proposal, I eventually concluded that those who claim that reality is either objective and external or socially constructed are claiming to much, and that it makes more sense to recognize some aspects of reality as objectively real and stable and other aspects of the same comprehensive reality as socially constructed. Salomon explains it in these words:

The very logic that underlies the acceptance of reality as social and research paradigms as human-made, admitting therefore a variety of these, ought also to accept the notion that no single paradigm or set of assumptions is necessarily superior to others….Rather, paradigms are ways to study selected aspects of the world, and thus their selection must be a function of that aspect chosen for study. (p. 15)

I think it is fair to say that reality is both stable and consistent (in general) and idiosyncratic and individualistic (in particular). This claim is much more true for the social sciences than for the physical sciences, and that may be the source of the trouble. Social scientists began by imitating the scientific methods of physical science, and these methods worked for them up to a point. But then there was so much more unexplained information than one would find in physical science, so much more variation and inconsistency, that some theorists rejected the paradigm entirely in favor of a different one, when in fact both of them could helpfully tell a part of the whole story.
Different aspects of education may appropriately be researched from each perspective. There is enough consistency, for example, in the way children develop cognitively, linguistically, and so on for general “laws” to be discovered, but there is also enough variation and individuality for research into specific cases to be important. More so than in the physical sciences, educational research needs to be approached from both ends of the spectrum if the reality under investigation is to be represented comprehensively. The correct paradigm, then, is the one that corresponds to the particular aspect of reality that is being examined.
Sources:
Eisner, E. W. (1981). On the differences between scientific and artistic approaches to qualitative research. Educational Researcher, 10(4), 5-9.
Salomon. G. (1991). Transcending the qualitative-quantitative debate: The analytic and systemic approaches to educational research. Educational Researcher, 20(6), 10-18.
Soltis, J. F. (1984). On the nature of educational research. Educational Researcher, 13(10), 5-10.