Avoiding grade inflation

One of the challenges of serving as an adjunct professor for online courses is grading papers. Each week the students submit a 300-500 word post on the week’s discussion question as well as comment on two other student’s posts. They also take a weekly quiz. In addition, they turn in a 1200-1500 word paper during the seventh week. While the quizzes are automatically scored by the computer, it is my task to evaluate and grade their posts and term papers.

I use a rubric with several different categories to help me grade the assignments. They include content, research, original thinking, spelling and grammar, use of Scripture and textbooks, and much more. The papers are also evaluated by SafeAssign, a program which measures how much of the document is original and how much is copied.

With all the evaluation tools at my disposal, I still have to make a judgment call on the quality of the assignment. Do I put in under a microscope or do I give it a general once over? Do I criticize every jot and tittle or do I give an “A” for showing up? On the one hand, I don’t want to be too critical and fail every student. On the other hand, I’m not doing them any favors in praising mediocrity. While I have to identify and point out errors, I also try to suggest what they could do different next time to improve.

Ultimately, I want all my students to succeed. But it means I need to be honest with them and challenge them to grow and improve.


Who are you cheating?

Well over a decade ago, I read a book by Andy Stanley entitled, Choosing to Cheat: Who wins when family and work collide? The book was later retitled, When Work and Family Collide: Keeping your job from cheating your family.

The premise of the book is that all of us have a limited, finite amount of time. Consequently, we must cheat to be successful. You have to cheat your family if you want to be successful in your career, or, you have to cheat your career to be successful in your family responsibilities. We have to determine our priorities and decide who is going to get the most amount of time.

While the book focuses on work and family, the principle holds true in every area of our lives. You cannot be equally successful at home, work, school, church, friendships, sports, etc. You have to make difficult choices where you will invest your time and energies. You have to give yourself permission to get a “B” instead of an “A.” You have to be satisfied with being an employee rather than a manager or an owner. You have to be content with having an apartment instead of a house, or a house and car rather than a house in the city, a cabin in the country, and two cars and a boat.

At some point in time, you have to wrestle with the question, who are you going to cheat? But spend much time in prayer before you make that choice to insure you make the right one.

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Posted by on March 6, 2018 in Books, Culture, Personal growth


Parking perplexities

I attended a funeral on Saturday. As I pulled into the church parking lot, I headed for the handicapped parking. A car arrived just before I did and pulled into the spot closest to the handicapped entrance. I parked in a normal parking spot two spaces away. Four people got out of the car in the handicapped space and walked normally (without crutches, canes, walkers, wheelchair, limping) to the front of the church. I got out of my car and used my cane to limp to the handicapped entrance and elevator.

Just because you have a handicapped placard, should you park in the space if you really don’t need it? Just saying.


Posted by on March 5, 2018 in Personal growth


A heart shaped by grace

People occasionally ask me why I do what I do. Why do I go to Russia once a year to teach and train leaders? Why do I mentor students through online classes at Regent University? Why did I teach a class on the character and habits of a leader last fall? Why do I invest in interns?

My passion for leadership development is because I failed as a leader. When I started in ministry, people assumed I knew what I was doing and no one mentored me. Getting fired from my first ministry was the best thing that happened to me because it shaped the course of my ministry. I learned the hard way of how to lead and I wanted to help others succeed without making the same mistakes I did.

As we see in the apostle Peter’s first letter, his message is shaped by several key events that took place earlier in the gospels. As we begin our study of 1 Peter today, we’re going to focus more on the background of the letter. Next week we’ll begin our exposition of the letter.

Author: Peter was one of the twelve disciples (Mark 3:13-19). The word, apostle, is used in a technical sense of one who was sent on a mission. He was part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples. Along with James and John, Peter was present during Christ’s transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8) and when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 26:37). His name, Peter, was actually a nickname given to him by Jesus (John 1:42) and means “rock.” Jesus saw potential in his life and pictured his future strength of character.

Recipients: The letter is written to both Jewish (1:1; 2:12) and Gentile (2:10) believers who were scattered abroad because of persecution.

Date: The letter was written from Babylon (5:13) which is probably a code word for Rome. It was most likely written about A.D. 64, just before the persecution begun by Emperor Nero.

Theme: The theme of the book is Hope in a Hostile World. 1 Peter was written to Christians who were experiencing various forms of persecution. Peter exhorted them to steadfast endurance (5:13) that resulted from putting one’s focus on Christ even though they lived as aliens and strangers (2:11). Peter reminded his readers that we have a living hope because of a living Christ (1:3).

Divisions: There are three main divisions in the book. Each one focuses on a theme and answers a basic question. Salvation: What does it mean to be a Christian? (1:1-2:12). Submission: How are we to living in relationship to others? (2:13-3:12). Suffering: How should we respond to those who oppose the gospel? (3:13-5:14).

The events of Peter’s life shaped his heart and his message.


Heart Shaping
Matthew 16:13-23 Peter confesses that Jesus is the Son of God.

Christ will build his church and Peter will be involved.

1 Peter 1:15, 20-21; 2:4-8

Jesus is the Holy One who called you.

Jesus is the cornerstone of the Church.

John 13:1-10

Peter was proud and unwilling to have Jesus wash his feet. 1 Peter 5:5-6 God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Matthew 26:30-35, 69-75 Peter is unaware of the spiritual warfare taking place.

Operating in his own strength, he denies Jesus three times.

1 Peter 5:12

Stand fast in the trued grace of God. Don’t give up and walk away.

John 21:15-17

Jesus restored Peter and gave him a task—Be a good shepherd of God’s flock. 1 Peter 5:1-4 The elders are to shepherd the flock of God. They are accountable to the Good Shepherd.
Acts 10:9-16 Peter was prejudiced. God had to help him understand that the body of Christ is bigger than his narrow theological convictions. 1 Peter 2:9-10

The body of Christ is unique.

When you compare Peter in the gospels with the message of 1 Peter, you see a profound transformation. Peter goes from spiritually dense to spiritually discerning; from listening to Satan to listening to God; for worldly minded to heavenly minded; from proud to humble; from walking away from Christ to standing fast in God’s grace; from having a narrow view of the gospel to having a broad view of the church; from being a failure as a disciple to being a restored servant; from being a stumbling block to God’s plan to being used by God to help build the church.

Life Lessons:

  • Nothing is ever wasted in the will of God. The trials and experiences we go through are part of God’s curriculum to prepare us for an even more determinative ministry.
  • Failure is not fatal. No matter what you’ve done. God can forgive and restore and use you in ministering to others.
  • Don’t allow pride to keep you from serving and ministering to others.
  • The Body of Christ is BIG. It is bigger than just us and those of our narrow theological persuasion.

This is a synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on March 4, 2018. It is the opening message in a series on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


Rehab progress

Sounds like my rehab progress 😉

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Posted by on February 28, 2018 in B.C., Health


Make Your Life Count

Book Review: The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life, by Erwin Raphael McManus

I have always been motivate by The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). I don’t want to stand before God and have him ask me, “Why didn’t you do more with what I gave you?” It is perhaps for that very reason that I resonate with the message of Erwin McManus’ latest offering,

The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life.

The theme of the book is that we should die with an empty quiver of arrows. We should spend and be spent at the end of our days. We should die without any regrets, any sense that we left something undone. We should live with relentless ambition, a sense of driving passion, and a heart on fire.

The author mixes personal stories, interviews, and examples with the biblical account of the prophet Elisha, David and his mighty men, and Jesus. He weaves together biblical principles with business practices.

On the one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I found it to be inspiring and motivating. On the other hand, I felt I could not identify with the author. I do not pastor a megachurch, rub shoulders with Hollywood celebrities or power brokers, and do not travel the world speaking to thousands or ministering to refugees. It would have been helpful if he used examples that the average person in the pew could identify with.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


Posted by on February 27, 2018 in Books


The next step

Rehab is progressing and exercise is paying off …

From a walker to two crutches to one crutch and now to a cane. With each step forward, I have to use new muscles and relearn how to walk all over again. Each phase takes effort and practice. I go from awkward and painful to easier and more natural, and then I start all over again. I have to practice long in private before showing new skills in public.

Walking with a cane, however, makes me look like Yoda when he walks with his stick. Related image

One day (hopefully soon), I will be back on my own two feet. God is answering prayer!

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Posted by on February 26, 2018 in Health, Personal growth, Star Wars