Sunday, June 20, 2021

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Most Neglected Resource

         In the book, “Foundations of Spiritual Formation,” section author Jonathan Morrow writes, “Spiritual formation is divinely enabled by God through three essential resources: God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people (the church)” (p. 45). Of these three resources, God’s Word is the most neglected in today’s society. The church wouldn’t be top on the list since churches across the world can be filled with people, but those people not exhibit change, and instead, be victims of “cultural Christianity” instead of being true disciples of Christ. Also, many may put too much much misguided reliance on the God’s Spirit (Elwell and Yarbrough, 2013). After all, Jesus told us,

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak for himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (John 16:12-14, KJV)

         But, the Word of God declares, “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV). Although God’s Spirit will be there to teach and guide us, we are also expected to spend time in God’s Word. It is through God’s Word that God’s Spirit takes to teach us about God and living according to His ways. It is God’s Spirit that teaches us from the Word; therefore, if one does not have God’s Spirit living within, then one may have a difficult time reading God’s Word. Thus a reason that the Bible is often neglected: There is a lack of understanding the Word of God.

         When people read parts of the Bible that may need discernment from the Spirit, they may have difficulty and give up. Also, there could be new believers that are intimidated by the length of the Bible, especially in today’s society when people are opting to listen or watch something instead of read a book. Similarly, the increase in individualism had resulted in the decline of spiritual dimension (Elwell and Yarbrough, 2013, p. 81). Individualism embraces autonomy and neglects cohesiveness with other people and moral virtues, which produces a loss of community. With this progressive idea increasing globally, it may become more difficult to build new churches and disciple new believers. The church will have to fight against the individualist culture to foster community.


Bibliography

[1] Elwell, Walter and Robert Yarbrough. Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey, 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2013, p. 14.

[2] Pettit, Paul. Foundations of Spiritual Formation: A Community Approach to Becoming Like Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2008.

[3] Ibid.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Final Assessment Memo Assignment

     After working ahead through the course content regarding adult learning, I have learned that I am more alert in the evenings and have a convergent and assimilative learning style that requires kinesthetic strategies with a slight tendency toward the left brain. Therefore, I am convinced that I need to make every attempt to approach my learning through a practical, hands-on approach. To do this, there are three things that I’ll need to address: (1) to become better engage with my academic community, (2) to become a proactive reader, and (3) to become a more organized writer. Putting these changes into effect will not only increase my chance of success throughout my studies, but will also better the outcome of my ministry preparation. Earning an MDiv and subsequent DMin are what I’m dedicated to finishing and feel that it’s the Lord’s leading, thus the following changes are a must for me to meet my ministry’s calling.

     First, I need to integrate myself with my peers and better engage with my academic community for support. I’ve learned that adult learners need to include other people and connect what they’re learning to immediate application for their life. Engaging with my peers in discussion boards will increase a sense of mutual support (from feedback). Additionally, I’ve seen that learners often include practical examples or illustrations in their discussion posts. Sharing experiences and examples increases learning for adults because it connects course content on the practical level that might not have considered previously. Therefore, I will take an active part during discussion time, as well as reach out to the professors as needed for support and clarification. Reading ahead in the course material, I’ve learned that this will also assist in active experimentation, which emphasizes practical application from doing – something I need.

     Second, I need to work to become a proactive reader. This means that I will investigate background information and consider the text as a whole before digging into the details of a passage. I’ve learned that knowing the circumstances that a writer was facing, and having a big picture view of what their writing will be about, may shed light on a deeper understanding of their message. It will take time to break old habits, but with the constant reminder from the hermeneutics and theology courses that await, this will force the application to into habit. Additionally, increasing this skill is needed for my future ministry needs, so making this into a habit would not only be beneficial, but would also be pleasing unto the Lord. I have a sense of urgency for fully understanding the content of my studies, and therefore am happy to do what’s needed to increase in my learning to better support the church as a whole.

     Lastly, I need to work to become a more organized writer. I’ve learned that having a plan for what I intend to write will ensure that the reader has a logical flow. Additionally, following a flow plan will also keep me on topic and will allow more substantial content (since I’ll know where I’m heading). Instead of writing off-the-cuff as I am thinking, I will take the time to plan out my writing submissions and include illustrations to get my point across. Implementing this action will take out the guess work and better focus my end result. This will be a major change in habit since I have much writing experience; I’ll need to prevent myself from reverting to my old method of writing. However, I do believe that putting this into practice will greatly strengthen the outcome of my writing, which will be needed for teaching and sermon preparation. Plus, this will strengthen learning with my writing process having a step-by-step approach. 

     Already having much academic experience gives me an edge in returning to school, but increasing the skills mentioned above will sharpen that edge. I realize that I’m older than a traditional student and that my learning style and method may be different from others. My business studies and secular occupation is independent in nature, and therefore, engaging with others to increase my current learning is stepping out of my comfort zone (but is needed due to the nature of the content). I am worried about attempting to break old habits, but I am also comforted to know that these changes are what the Lord wants for me (since I feel he has called me into this course of study and these actions are outcomes of the study). Therefore, hopefully by the end of the first or second semester of my program, I will have completely overhauled by reading and writing habits of the past.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Learning How to Learn

Of the five learning skills discussed by Lowe and Lowe, I am convinced that I’m strongest at listening, critical thinking, and essay test-taking.  However, I need to sharpen my skills in reading and writing.  But overall, reading this week’s lesson has enabled me to improve all five skills for learning.  I know now what specific things that can be done to increase my learning by enhancing all five of these skills. Below will review my learning of the five skills.

As I’m learning how I learn best, I know that listening is a top skill for me. This probably comes from honing my listening skills as a young musician (playing piano by ear instead of reading sheet music). Musically, I’ve developed my ear such that I can play a song after hearing it only once. When it comes to learning, I’ve found that I retain more information by hearing or seeing material presented than I do with only reading. From my music hobby, I’ve learned to avoid distractions and concentrate fully on what I’m hearing, which is a skill needed for proper listening. I started developing this skill at a young age to where now, I can block out to focus on individual instruments as they’re playing. From this lesson, I noticed that I already pay attention to spoken repeated words and key phrases.

Over the years, I believe I’ve developed critical thinking skills, and this mainly come from my academic training and business, finance, and economics. In my current profession (economist), we deal with mathematics and statistical topics, thus a need to logically process information is needed. In January 2021, I was promoted to a senior economist position in a new office – an office in which I had no prior knowledge. They hired me because of my SAS coding abilities (which means that I can program statistical analyses into a software through computer coding to automate activities). Since this is a new office, I’ve been having to learn the tasks of those that have been in the office longer. Since this is a senior position, I would need the knowledge to replicate what they’re doing in the event of their absence. So while learning the new knowledge/tasks, I noticed critical thinking skills taking place. For example, I would probe to get the “why” and “what” so that I can understand why they were doing specific tasks. I would generally write down instructions logically in steps, and then once the complete instructions were written, I’d go back and see what can be combined, shortened, automated, or otherwise modified to be more streamline. Having this mindset has enabled me to pick up on large quantities of highly technical instructions needed to produce a monthly index of inflation for the federal government.

When it came to test-taking, I was never very good at multiple choice. This is because the answers were too limited. I could know the concept, but not the specific word they’re looking for and miss the question. However, with essay questions, I have the ability to clearly explain my thought process and understanding, which will let the professor know whether or not I know the content regardless if I use a specific that might have been used in a multiple choice test. According to what was learned in this section, essay questions should be well organized. Relating this back to critical thinking and logic, when I’m answering an essay question, it’s usually in a highly logical format to explain every aspect of my thought process. I do this because I want the professor to know where I’m coming from and to be able to correct me at any given step of my through process. I know this is very important because, coming from mathematics, if one step of thought process is off, then the outcome would be incorrect. Even though I consider myself as being good at this skill, after learning from this week’s reading, I can still improve in this skill. If I took the time to plan a logical flow and outline beforehand, it would probably produce a higher quality essay answer.

Initially, I would have assumed a high skill level in reading. But after learning the proper reading skill sets and habits, I know that I am lacking in this area. For example, I’ve never taken the time to consider promotional comments, introductory sections of the books, or the author’s background. However, as we learned from Kaiser and Silva, reviewing related content and the author’s historical setting is useful in understanding a deeper meaning behind their thoughts. Another technique that I learned was to scan over the chapters, including paying attending to headings, for a big picture of what will be happening before digging into the content. Normally, I just start reading at chapter 1 and continue until the end. But if I were to spend a few minutes reading some background information and having an idea of the layout, then it would help me better categorize the content in my head once I start reading. Another skill learned that would help me would be to write down bits of information and reflect on them in writing to decide to incorporate the information.

Likewise, I assumed that writing would have been a top skill for me especially since I do a lot of writing for work. But then again, for those instances, my work is always run by an editor before being released in a government publication. And after learning the skills for better writing, I now understand the reason behind many comments that I receive from the editors of my work. When writing, I’ve generally written how I think while I’m thinking on a topic. Instead of planning out sections, it generally comes as a single flow of information. Not all of my writing has had thesis statements, which I know now that my writing should have a related statement where I defend and provide details to support it. In the past, I’ve viewed much of my writing as just informational pieces of review information that did not need a thesis since I wasn’t going to be support any claims. However, by adding claims to support with information, it would have better directed my work and help the reader get a sense of what my details were trying to support. One thing that I generally do not do, but have learned to do during this lesson is to create verbal illustrations (just like Jesus did to teach his lessons).

So far, this has been the most interesting lesson. Since I learn by application, seeing how to increase my skills through specific actions is very useful to me. I’m confident that by putting these skills into practice, that I will ensure great success throughout my studies at Liberty University.


Bibliography

Kaiser, Walter and Moises Silva. Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007.

Lowe, Stephen D. and Mary E. Lowe. Orienting Adults to Learning in Graduate Theological Education. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University, 2017.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Adult Learning Assignment

My whole educational journey began later than your normal college student.  I graduated high school in 2000 but didn’t enroll in college until 2006 (at age 25).  At the time, I didn’t see the need.  It wasn’t until after the birth of my first child in 2005 that I considered educating myself for higher wages.  For my undergrad, half of the courses were in person and half were online.  I completed that program in 2010 and then enrolled into a MBA program in 2011 that was completely online.  The master’s program finished the following year, then I enrolled into an online doctorate program and completed that in 2016.  Over the course of my business education, I’ve seen every variety of teaching adult learners, and can gladly concur with the underlining text for this module’s discussion.

During my undergraduate studies in economics and finance, the focus was mostly on theory.  This method of learning does not appeal to adult learners.  “Adults heave a deep desire to see that the content they are learning can have immediate application to their life, vocation, or ministry.”  During this time, I knew that learning theories was needed for the degree, so students had to suffer through it.  However, I am unable to recall most of those theories today and I even work as a full-time economist.  Knowing what I know now from the Lowe and Lowe text, it is my opinion that the university did a poor job in showing the immediate application to life and vocation.  Likewise, my undergraduate university preferred the old way of doing things, which required strict time limits on everything.  In the MBA course that I currently teach, I’ve learned from this experience and have completely eliminated time constraints on all assignments, just as long as the students have everything turned in by the last day of class.

The MBA program was ran similarly to the undergraduate program.  Many theories on management styles and finance was taught.  Again, I am unable to recall those theories now.  But, what I do remember is the application skills that were stressed in that program.  The MBA program was slightly more hands on, meaning that we were given hypothetical real-world situations for which to mock up a financial analysis.  Learning how to do this made the classes much more interesting because I knew that completing a task like that would be something that I’d need to know for the future.  These skills were shared using Lowe and Lowe’s recommended methods of visual and kinesthetic-tactile.  The professor would show us an example and then give the students the opportunity to work together in manually solving a similar problem, and then developing a presentation as if we were decision-makers of a company needing to offer a proposal.  Since this method had a greater impact on my learning, this is exactly how I currently run my MBA course at the University of Maryland Global Campus.

My doctorate program was completely different from my undergraduate program.  Time limits were completely removed, except for the last day of class.  There was much reading, but the activities that were considered deliverables were taught with a hands-on approach.  Many skills and concepts stressed in this program were introduced briefly during my undergraduate and MBA programs, but the doctorate program is where I got the most out of it.  During this program, we were shown step-by-step how to use research libraries, find data, clean data to put into a usable format for research, and then to run the statistical tests and interpret the results.  We were even clearly instructed on how to write up the results in an academic format.  The university even went as far as to advise us on how to construct a sentence that showed the proof, and all we did was replace specific values.  This was also where I learned a different type of writing that the university called “MEAL.”

Having seen the variety of teaching techniques and knowing what has worked best for me over the years had allow me to replicate these best practices for my students.  This is because I have been able to reflect upon my experiences and see how learning should be life-centered.  Now that I am starting a new journey at Liberty, I am even more excited because I know how I learn best and can consciously make the efforts of learning the material using my preferred learning style.  This new adventure isn’t something that I’m doing for vocational purposes, but is something that I feel that I must do.  It is extremely important to me for ministry purposes.  Knowing this, I have a seriousness to learn the materials to the best of my abilities, and feel that the Lord will bless my efforts.  If I were not to take this seriously, then I would feel as if I were letting God down in what I feel he’s calling me to do.  Therefore, I must put more effort in better learning the materials in my MDiv and DMin programs than I did during my business programs.

Knowing this information as taught by Lowe and Lowe, this will also help as I construct lessons and sermons in the future.  I’ll stay away from a lecture style of teaching, and make the content interactive as much as I can.  This will take some work and I know that I’ll have to seek others that are doing similar things so that I can replicate their process.  Replication is a way that I learn best.  Replication is basically what Lowe and Lowe describe in learning through audio, visual, and kinesthetic-tactile – being told, shown, and given hands-on demonstration on completing a specific tasks for a desired outcome.

Bibliography
Lowe, Stephen D. and Mary E. Lowe. Orienting Adults to Learning in Graduate Theological Education. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University, 2017.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Sunday, June 6, 2021