Siblings

Today is all about siblings. My brother is getting married tomorrow and since I have to figure out a story to tell about him, I have been thinking a lot about our relationship. I am going to cheat a little today because I’m not going to answer the question until Monday when I get back from Chicago. I still want to hear from you though, so please let me know your stories.

What is one good thing that your sibling has done for you that you will never forget? I want to know something (as personal, silly, or tear-jerking as you want) that your sibling has done for you that was good. No negative thoughts today, only happy ones. I’ll add a comment on here on Monday with my story so if you are interested come on back and check it out.

The Real Trouble With Online Learning

By now, if you have been reading my blog for a little while or you have checked out my about me section you know that I am going to be a full-time missionary in Europe designing online courses to spread Bible training to those who can’t afford it otherwise. Two and a half weeks ago I favorited a tweet from a friend of mine that had a link to an article titled “The Trouble With Online Learning.” The article was written by Mark Edmundson, an English professor at the University of Virginia and was originally published in the New York Times. I agree with Dr. Edmundson that there is a problem with online education, but I am not completely in agreement about what that problem is.

Dr. Edmundson talks about the relationship between the professor and the students  and how both generally benefit from the relationship that is built during a face-to-face course, whether it be a large lecture or a small upper-level course. The professor benefits because they can immediately see what is and what is not working and make adjustments for that and future classes. The students benefit because they can get more help if needed or possibly less help when the concept comes quickly. I completely agree that in good face-to-face course this happens and it is extremely helpful.

My biggest issue with this article is when Dr. Edmundson says, “Online education is a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It tends to be a monologue and not a real dialogue.” In fact that statement bothers me quite a lot. For those of you who do not know, I completed my Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in Educational Technology through the University of Florida. I never once stepped on campus until commencement and yet I would say that my education there was impeccable. Did I have some courses that weren’t the best? Yes, but I can’t imagine anyone saying that every course they took for their undergraduate or graduate degrees were perfect. Some curriculum, whether they are online or face-to-face, are going to be poorly written. Some professors, whether they teach online or face-to-face aren’t going to be the best teachers. No matter where the course is taught, some courses are going to be poorly designed or taught.

The real problem with online education, in my opinion, comes with the fact that professors and instructional designers are not prepared to design online courses or teach them. Dr. Edmundson raises a good point when he talks about a course he saw that used a taped lecture as the medium for the course’s information. He says, “In fact there was nothing you could get from that course that you couldn’t get from a good book on the subject.” He is completely correct. That course will provide the information for students who learn well from lectures with no dialogue, while others could probably read the textbook from the course and get the same information. That is not a high quality online course. A high quality online course is designed by an instructional designer, who has been trained, based on the curriculum and assignments the professor would use in a face-to-face course. The professor should then be trained on how to encourage interaction between him/herself and the students as well as between the students. The relationship between the designer and professor before the class starts is vital as well as the relationship between the professor and students during the course. Too often the professors are left to design their own course and teach it online without being properly trained. That is the real trouble with online learning.

Prayer Monday – Azerbaijan

I have talked several times about why Europe is in need of missionaries and why I am going over there to do my part, but I thought it might help if I highlighted more specifically what is going on in each of the countries in Europe. So, my plan for the next year is to share some data with you all about one country in Europe every Monday. The data I will be getting will partially be from Operation World. Operation World is an evangelical Christian organization that is concerned about fulfilling the Great Commission. They have compiled information on every country in the world and I want to share it with you so you can be praying for Europe specifically. I will also be using a book put out by Greater Europe Mission called “Prayer for the Nations.” Inside the book it has a guide for each country that makes up Greater Europe. There is much more detail then I will share, but if you want a copy of the book for your own prayers please let me know and I will get you one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Azerbaijan is another one of those Asian countries that puts the “er” in Greater Europe Mission. Azerbaijan is a relatively small country straddling the border of Europe and Asia with a total population of just under 9 million. Of those very few are Christians, some estimates are as low as 3,000, others only as high as 10,000.

The biggest prayer need for this country is for the large population percentage that have never heard the Gospel (as high as 63% of the total population). In addition to that the word Christian is often associated with the Russians and Armenians who have been warring with them for their land for quite some time. This negative stereotype of Christianity is a major stumbling block for any Azeri who might be considering professing faith in Christ.

 

 

Favorite Restaurant

I am determined to continue with the question friday’s despite the lack of reponse (respond below and lets get some conversation going!).

Food seems to be a topic just about everybody is willing to talk about so, what is your favorite restaurant and why?

 

Mine is probably Thunder Burger & Bar in the Georgetown area of Washington DC. Their burgers are some of the best i have ever had and their Kobe beef burger (Called Love me Tender) is silly delicious. I honestly have not had a single bad thing there. Last summer I found myself spending Wednesday’s up in Georgetown in order to eat their Wild Wednesday menu item. Each Wednesday they make some sort of food item from a different animal that you don’t typically see at restaurants. They were all pretty tasty. If you are in DC you should make a stop at Thunder Burger and then go around the corner to Baked & Wired for some dessert (the best cupcakes ever!).

Theology book #5 – Speaking of Jesus by J Mack Stiles

I am still recovering from my trip to Alaska so I will keep today’s blog nice and short. Short in length, but hopefully not in content.

I’ve talked about evangelism before and my struggles with making this a regular part of my life and not waiting until I get to the mission field to start so Speaking of Jesus by J Mack Stiles was a natural fit for my current season in life. I liked the book, but often times found myself thinking that the book made it sound much easier than it really is. Even though Mack Stiles repeatedly said that it takes work to become comfortable with talking to people about Christ, I still kept thinking that he made it seem simple.

I guess it is simple though. When you get an amazing present from someone is it hard to share with anyone and everyone that will listen? I know it’s not for me, I even have a hard time keeping to myself a great gift that I am going to give to someone. Why are we, and i am definitely including myself in this one, so slow to share what Jesus has done for us? I mean, seriously, can you get better than the gift He has given us, life eternal? How does your new video game system, piece of jewelry, trip or other temporary gift stack up? Don’t get me wrong, I still love presents, giving and receiving, but do they compare? If they don’t compare to the gift God has given us then why aren’t we will to share it with others?

I want to highlight a few interesting things that Mack Stiles says in the book that I hope will pull on your heart as much as it has mine.

God asks the same of us in evangelism. God wants us available to people, not shouting instructions at them. (They often can’t understand what we’re talking about at first, anyway.) He wants us to get into others’ lives. He may not ask us to steal a boat, but he may ask us to cross some conventional boundaries. If we are willing to risk our comfort to get into other people’s worlds with the truth we bear, we’ll be a more powerful witness than all the instruction manuals in the world.

Availability-mental and physical is the first step of evangelism. Christians need to go physically and mentally into all the world: to Africa and non-Christian cubicles at work, to Congress and smoking sections of restaurants, even to Florida beaches.

When we come to know the love of God, we want to share our faith.

But here’s shocking news: our comfort has a very low biblical priority. Jesus doesn’t seem to care much about our comfort.

 

I know I have been plugging my indiegogo project a lot on this blog and that’s because I want to get to Germany as fast as possible, but that is only possible if I have your help. Please check out the project and share it with your friends. Even if you can’t donate money, maybe someone you know can. Any help I get is greatly appreciated!

Prayer Monday – Austria

I have talked several times about why Europe is in need of missionaries and why I am going over there to do my part, but I thought it might help if I highlighted more specifically what is going on in each of the countries in Europe. So, my plan for the next year is to share some data with you all about one country in Europe every Monday. The data I will be getting will be from Operation World. Operation World is an evangelical Christian organization that is concerned about fulfilling the Great Commission. They have compiled information on every country in the world and I want to share it with you so you can be praying for Europe specifically. I will also be using a book put out by Greater Europe Mission called “Prayer for the Nations.” Inside the book it has a guide for each country that makes up Greater Europe. There is much more detail then I will share, but if you want a copy of the book for your own prayers please let me know and I will get you one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Austria, the setting for the Sound of Music (which is how most people know this beautiful country) is home to 8,387,491 people, 6,925,551 (82.5%) Christians and a meager 40, 524 Evangelical Christians. According to Operation World, the total number of Christians is in decline every year by .4%, but the good news is that Evangelicals grow by 2.1% every year.

Prayer insights:

Pray that God will continue to use the Evangelikale Akademie, a ministry training school, to equip Austrians for church leadership. Pray for more Austrians to be drawn to this school so people will come to Christ and be discipled through them.

Pray for new initiatives to reach hundreds of thousands of unreached Austrian youth.

 

 

 

What if the next five years were your best five years?

Here is the second Friday question. I have to admit, I stole this question from someone. I can’t be too honest about it though, because I have no idea who I stole it from. So if you see it somewhere else don’t think they stole it, because they probably didn’t.

What if the next five years were your best five years? What would that include?

Ever since I heard this question I have periodically thought about what would happen in the next five years if I looked back on my deathbed (morbid I know) and said these were the best five years of my life. It is a tough question for sure and could encapsulate a lot of things, so I will provide only the highlights and not go in detail at all.

  • Married
  • One or maybe two kids (hey it could happen!)
  • Have a major impact in Europe through my ministry, whether I get credit or not
  • Visit as many countries as possible in greater Europe

That’s about it for me. Please comment below giving me one or a few of the things that you would do to view the next five years as your best ever!