Identity

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Who Am I?

People wrap their identities in where they came from, who their parents are, or even what sports team they pull for. Their primary characterization of themselves is all about something in this physical reality. But, for a Christian this is a real and spiritually fatal problem.

There are a couple of primary issues that come to mind when we as Christians consider who we are. One, of course, is the fact that we are supposed to be ONE in Christ. This is an issue that has been on God’s mind since before the creation. Just look at what Jesus says in John 17: 23-24:

I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

God wants us to have unity in Him! He wants us to identify ourselves as a body of believers who hold Him up as our single point of honor, glory, and praise!

This unity has everything to do with identifying ourselves as His. God wants us completely. He wants us undividedly! This goes all the way back to Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are the center of who we are.

This being said, we also have to understand WHY God is the center of who we are, not just as a body of believers, but as individuals.

For everything else that scripture tells us about who God is and who we are, the one most defining fact that stands out is that we are individually created in God’s image.

But, what does it mean to be created in God’s image?

While both humans and animals are referred to as “nephesh chayyah” (living souls), the Scriptures make it clear that God did something special in reference to man. Genesis 1:26-27 records: “And God said, Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. …And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” Nowhere does the Bible state or imply that animals are created in the image of God. This fact leaves us with the special distinction of a closeness to God that is lacking in the remainder of Creation. As God’s image-bearers, we have souls and spirits that allow us a privileged position within God’s created order. This understanding and ability to not only have dominion over the Creation, but understand it by way of observation and study, allows human beings the envied ability to see the universe for what it is; a physical manifestation of God’s awesome love for us all.

I use this illustration (Figure 1, God’s Image) to describe to the sixth grade Bible class I teach each year how God can be three, but one. As image bearers of God, we also possess three parts of a whole, (1 Thessalonians 5:23). This similarity agrees completely with the fact that we are created in God’s image. If God is three-in-one, then as beings who are modeled after Him, we should maintain the same properties. That is not to give the false impression that we are divine in any way, but to simply draw a parallel between the nature of human beings and a God who desired to make His pinnacle of Creation like Himself.

InHisImage

Figure 1, God’s Image

In the end, we as individuals are three in one, Image Bearers of God! Our entire identity is wrapped up in Him and Who He is! We must never let this escape us, but live each day as people whose identities are indelibly conjoined to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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Practice Makes…

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Malcolm Gladwell in his book titled, Outliers makes the assertion, based on research, that the magical number of practice hours it takes to make one an expert in his or her field is 10,000. While I agree with this approximation, I still see areas where natural ability can come into play when referring to talent.

My chorus director in college always said, “Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.” Many people believe that if they practice long and hard enough, they can be great at anything. But, can a tone deaf person become a virtuoso? Can someone with a flat personality become an actor? These questions aren’t meant to put down or discourage, but rather to increase our perception of what talent is and how we develop it.

Practice is a way to improve a talent you already care about and realize you have. If you have a greater talent for singing, for instance, you are more likely to spend the time and effort it takes to develop that talent. If you have a lesser talent, you might make some improvement, but mostly you will integrate improvements that, with more practice, will continue with you throughout life.

This goes for writing, too. If you have the talent in the first place, you will be interested in the craft and will continue to hone your abilities. No matter what, if you love your art, you will never give up on it, no matter how difficult it may be to succeed. That’s what we do…peace to you.

SNS (Social Networking Sites) In eLearning

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The following is an excerpt from my dissertation. It deals with the changes that have arisen of late in the field of education; especially eLearning. Has the paradigm shifted? I believe it has:

SNS are increasingly being used in the eLearning sphere of education. This is mostly due to the adaptability of the SNS to the already technology-based eLearning methodology. Boyd and Ellison (2007) define social networks as “web-based services that allow individuals to 1) construct a public or semipublic profile within a bounded system, 2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and 3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site” (p. 2). With the advent of SNS also came the capability to reach out to numerous people in order to gather information. Usually, this information is personal in nature and not necessarily meant to be used professionally; however this tenet is changing rapidly due to the ability to network professionally through one’s own personal site or through various professional sites. “Although originally intended for use by the general population and for social purposes, it nonetheless has found its way into academia—if not by accident” (Gibson, 2010, p. 64). This is true for many SNS since so many students and faculty use these sites. As a result, SNS have prevailed themselves upon academia at a rapid rate. Consider some of the following statistics:

Popular social networking activities among online students (K-12): 41% post messages; 32% download music; 30% download videos; 29% upload music; 25% update personal websites or online profiles; 24% post photos; 17% blog; 16% create and share virtual objects; 14% create new characters; 10% participate in collaborative projects; 10% send suggestions or ides to websites; 9% submit articles to websites; and 9% create polls, quizzes or surveys (National School Boards Association, 2007).

With the influx of so much information and the consequent use of SNS for organizing and disseminating this information, it is easy to see the benefits and associated challenges for using SNS in eLearning. However, the die has been cast and SNS are only going to continue to grow and advance. The future of eLearning is being written daily by numerous students and faculty already in the grips of this new, flexible, and exciting tool.

Avoid it like the plague

ImageCliches in writing are death to a book. If you want a publisher or agent to immediately reject your book, use cliches. But, why are these writing devices so terrible? The first problem of course is that everyone uses them. We’ve all heard and seen these phrases since we were old enough to read. Another problem is the fact that cliches tend to convey very little emotion. They are shallow representations of a feeling or action. Consider the following list:
1. Avoid it like the plague
2. Dead as a doornail
3. Take the tiger by the tail
4. Low hanging fruit
5. If only walls could talk
6. The pot calling the kettle black
7. Think outside the box
8. Thick as thieves
9. But at the end of the day
10. Plenty of fish in the sea
11. Every dog has its day
12. Like a kid in a candy store

What commonalities do you see? Why are these considered cliches? Have you ever used any of these while writing?

Cliches are deceptive. They make you think that it’s okay to use them here and there, but don’t listen to them. They’re little monsters who would like nothing more than for your book to fail. And don’t be deceived by thinking you can just take a cliche and change it a little to make it okay to use. For instance, modifying a cliche to say, “Like a dog in a boneyard” versus “Like a kid in a candy store” is really just recycling old cliches.

Be clever in your writing, but don’t let it go so far as to become cliche. Keep yourself clean of writing transgressions and you will find that you are creating new thoughts instead of rehashing old ones.