Teeming Cup

This past week of camp was exciting, fun, wild, and exhausting. We had a week packed full of insane activities mixed with constant dancing and eternity-altering decisions were made. This week has been great, but at the same time I found myself many times feeling drained and tired. I love this ministry. I am blessed to be a part of it and was reminded that this is what I’m going to be doing my entire life. I see that ministry is necessary, but if I’m pouring out every part of my being into it then I need to be getting filled up at the same time. As I have the blessing to be a part of the lives of my staff, campers, and countless others whom I encounter I see that I will die if I’m not getting my energy from somewhere.

We have four main things we stand for as a leadership team and one of those is having a teeming cup. This means that I must be getting my fill and portion from God if I want to lovingly pour into those around me. For me this requires setting valuable time aside to spend with God every single day. This seems unattainable at times with my endlessly busy schedule, but without this time I lose focus and thus I am wasting my time. This ties in closely to James chapter two when he talks about work without face and vice versa. It is not enough for me to just serve God, but I must be doing so as an outpouring of my love for God and as fruit of what he is doing in my life.

Basically it all comes down to me working hard to be intentional with my time and where I’m focusing my attention. Maybe I am just rambling, but I’m hoping some of you out there can relate. Some practical goals I am aiming for in order to live a fruitful life stem from the most basic Christian principles. For me I have found the best way to focus my attention is to start my day off with Bible reading. Another thing you can do to challenge yourself is in practicing the discipline of fasting. I am blessed to have been able to experience and learn about fasting in high school and I continue to see it as an important practice in the Christian life. These are just a few ways that help me to fill up on God’s goodness before I head out into the world and dive into different ministries.CTA button for Blog UG

Running out of Shelf Space: What to Do with Old Textbooks and Notes

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Pierce StudyingPaying for textbooks can be a hassle, but sometimes figuring out what to do with them after the class is over can become even more problematic. It can also be hard to throw away all of the notes that took so much time and effort to create. Old textbooks and notes may be relevant only to the class they were for, but they may also continue to be relevant once the class is over. Making back a few of the dollars that you spent on books by selling them might be the best thing for you to do, but you could end up helping yourself or others by saving your old textbooks and notes.

Whenever I go into my professors’ offices I am amazed by and envious of their massive personal libraries. Each of them owns shelves and shelves of books filled with information that they have read or referenced. Many of them have also saved many of their notebooks from when they were in school so that they can look back at what they have learned over the years and re-familiarize themselves with old but relevant course material. To me, amassing a collection like this seems like a valuable thing to do. I would advise saving textbooks and notes that have something to do with the field in which you plan on having a career so that you can start making your own collection. Since I intend to become a theology professor I have started saving my theology textbooks instead of selling them, and I began filing away the notes from my theology classes instead of throwing them away. I hope to have a personal library as large as the ones that my professors have one day.

Many classes will have nothing to do with your projected career path, so the notes and textbooks from those classes will lose relevance after the classes are over. For classes such as these, you may want to consider renting the required texts. If you do end up buying the textbooks, selling them will probably be the best thing for you to do. You can make a quick and effortless few dollars by selling your books back to the school store, but this option will bring in the least amount of money. If you are willing to put some extra effort into it, you can make more money by selling the books to students that will take the classes in future semesters.  You will have to do more asking around, but it is worth the extra profit. I would advise charging a little less than the asking price on Amazon or Ebay. I have had some success with this, but there are still some books that I have not been able to find buyers for. If finding student buyers fails, selling the books back to the school store always remains as an option. As for notes, instead of trashing them, you can save them and give them to friends that take the class later on to help them study, especially during finals.

There are a lot of factors to consider both before and after buying textbooks and taking notes. Because of the large sums of money that are spent on textbooks and the huge amount of time spent on taking notes, what to do with these things is an important decision. With some planning, some effort, and some common sense, you can make the most out of your old textbooks and notes.

What is Theology?

Pierce and PrestonWhile I was home for spring break enjoying the company of my family and some good food, I got to have a few good discussions with my brother, Preston. One of them got started because he asked me “So what, exactly, is theology?” Being a Biblical and Theological Studies major, I have an answer prepared for every time I am asked that question; it comes out automatically, almost like a reflex: Theology is the study of God; theos is the Greek route meaning “God,” and –ology is the suffix meaning “the study of.” When having a casual conversation with the average person, it is easy to leave it at this stock definition and move on, but I felt that my brother deserved something more in-depth.

When I first came to Nyack College I was also unsure as to exactly what theology is. What gave me the most helpful insight was the main text in my Introduction to Biblical and Theological Studies class, entitled Who Needs Theology, by Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson. This book posits that everyone is a theologian, even non-Christians…even Atheists! Theology is simply thinking and philosophizing about deity in general, whether that deity is the God of the Christians or some other deity. That means that even those who have decided against the existence of God are theologians, since they had to ponder and consider the divine in order to deny it! You may be surprised to hear this, but  you are a theologian, too.

Even after realizing this, you probably don’t feel like a theologian; I didn’t feel like one either when I first read this in the Grenz and Olson book. When most of us think of theology, we think of old men with their doctorates writing long, complicated books on topics that almost no one actually cares about. Many of us go as far as to think that theology is harmful to ministry because it confuses people with unnecessarily complex doctrine. The way that I view Christian theology, and the way I think that everyone should view it, is  the earnest search for better and more comprehensive understandings of God in order to more properly love and serve him.

Through my studies I have come to a realization that has helped me understand what I do as a Christian theologian and why it needs to be done. God is vast, infinite, and above human understanding. No matter how much humans ponder, study, and write, we will never have a complete understanding of who God is and how he works. Instead of using this as an excuse not to try to understand him, I see it as an invitation to continually increase my understanding of him, since there will always be more to learn. I feel closest to God when I am nose-deep in the Bible or a theological text.

Preston, I hope this helps.

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