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A New “Back to School” Series

back to school academics education teaching teacher teach learning study studying

It’s August. I’m not sure what that means for other people, but to me the beginning of August always represents the end of summer. I know that’s a depressing way of looking at things, but August always brings with it the realization that I only have a few weeks left to get ready for the fall semester. And, since I’ve almost always failed to accomplish what I’d hoped to in June and July, that’s never a happy thought.

Nonetheless, it’s August and it’s time to think about going back to school. So I thought it might be a good time to write a few posts on approaching school successfully. The idea is to highlight some key issues, share a few of my own thoughts, and call for suggestions from other students and teachers. Almost everything about “doing school” (reading, research, writing papers, preparing for exams, etc.) involves a fair amount of personal preference. It’s usually more about “what works for you” than “how you’re supposed to do it,” though I know that often it’s about “What do I need to do to keep Professor X happy?” So I’d love to get a variety of perspectives on each issue.

I’m still working out the details of the series, but here’s what I’m thinking so far:

  • Why everyone should start building a quality research database and how to do that.
  • How to read and take notes efficiently.
  • The most important things to keep in mind when writing a research paper.
  • How to start the school year off well.
  • Some tips on preparing for exams.
  • Why you need to connect with your teachers/professors and how to do that.

If you have any other suggestions for posts to include in the series, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll just look forward to your input on the posts as we go along. And I’ll keep updating this page with links to the various posts in the series. So stay tuned.

Saturday Morning Fun…Old Sayings Updated

I think I will definitely start using “Hell hath no fury like a troll.”

sayings 2.0 (550x707)







Top Posts for July

top5-200x200I spent most of July packing, driving, and getting set up in our new home and my new office. So things were a little quiet around here. But here were the most popular posts of the month anyway. Enjoy!

A Prayer for Sunday (Susanna Wesley)

susanna wesley john charles wesleyan methodist

via Wikipedia

Although John Wesley is well known to many Christians, his mother Susanna Wesley has received less attention. That is unfortunate given that many think that her influence on her sons John and Charles made an indelible mark on their ministries and the subsequent history of the religious tradition they founded.

Susanna Wesley died on July 23, 1742. In honor of her amazing life and ministry, this morning’s prayer comes from her.

Help me, Lord, to remember that religion
… not to be confined to the church, or closet,
nor exercised only in prayer and meditation,
but that everywhere I am in thy presence.

So may my every word and action have a moral content.
May all the happenings of my life prove useful to me.
May all things instruct me and afford me an opportunity
…..of exercising some virtue
…..and daily learning and growing toward thy likeness.


What Are You Going to Do Today?

June’s Top Posts

The blogging has been lighter than normal around here as we spent most of June finalizing details on our move to Wheaton. But I did manage to post a few things. So here are the top five posts from the last month.

Flotsam and jetsam (6/24)

Good Reads

  • Why I Don’t Hate the Word ‘Inerrancy’: I hate a number of things. Some of them are rather silly: soap operas, egg mayonnaise, cats. Some of them are deadly serious: sex slavery, adultery, cancer, human trafficking, abortion, racism. In a handful of cases, I even hate words: “moist,” “ogle,” and “pamphlet” are among the most odious. But I don’t hate the word “inerrancy.” In fact, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
  • How Much Time Do Pastors Spend Preparing a Sermon? Most pastors have workweeks much longer than we realize because of the invisible nature of sermon preparation. As for me, the results of this poll have caused me to pray even more fervently for my pastor. His work is long. His work is never-ending. But the work he does is vitally important.
  • Five Dangers of Unaligned Small Groups: Over the years I have been surprised to find out how many church leaders have a laissez faire attitude about what is being taught in small groups and Sunday school classes. Allow me to share five dangers of this “anything goes” approach.

Continue Reading…

Flotsam and jetsam (6/10)

Good Reads

  • When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? The march toward gender-specific clothes was neither linear nor rapid. Pink and blue arrived, along with other pastels, as colors for babies in the mid-19th century, yet the two colors were not promoted as gender signifiers until just before World War I—and even then, it took time for popular culture to sort things out.

A Prayer for Sunday (St. Columba)

Saint Columba was an Irish monk and missionary best known for founding monasteries all over Ireland and the spread of Christianity in Scotland. He founded an influential abbey on the island of Iona, which served as one of the centers of Christianity in the British isles for many centuries.

Although the date of Columba’s death cannot be known for certain, the traditional date is June 9, 597. So, in honor of his amazing life and ministry, today’s prayer comes from him.

Be thou a bright flame before me,
Be thou a guiding star above me,
Be thou a smooth path below me,
Be thou a kindly shepherd behind me,
Today – tonight – and forever.

Flotsam and jetsam (6/7)

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Good Reads

  • Evangelicals and the Growing Gender Debate: Both sides make compelling Biblical and theological cases for their point of views, but according to the most current data on the culture and the church, egalitarian evangelicals seem to have momentum. Those Christians who hold to traditional views on gender must either catch up with the broader culture or learn to communicate their beliefs in ways that feel less outdated and disconnected from modern realities.
  • You Won’t Finish This Article: I’m going to keep this brief, because you’re not going to stick around for long. I’ve already lost a bunch of you. For every 161 people who landed on this page, about 61 of you—38 percent—are already gone. You “bounced” in Web traffic jargon, meaning you spent no time “engaging” with this page at all.
  • Origen and the Problem of Writing: Augustine writes to make progress; he writes to seek God. Prudentius writes to transcend the world of the flesh; he writes to be saved. Writing has become something quite different here, something Origen could never have imagined. It has become part of the apparatus of spiritual life, a means of purgation and transformation. Writing has become a vocation and a spiritual discipline.
  • The Quiet Shame of the Half-Book Reader: But reading is not about the chore of finishing a book, it’s about pleasure, regardless of the type of pleasure we expect from reading (some want a challenge, some want a good story, some want to look smart). Even so, sometimes it’s difficult to let ourselves go and just read for fun, and maybe it’s more difficult to actively cut the cord, step away, admit that it’s not going so well and your best bet is to move on.

Continue Reading…

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