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Thrive Principle: Grow Closer to God
The day before you entered college, you were a kid in your parents' home. But you'll hopefully exit college as an adult, fully owning your life, your choices, and the consequences of those choices. If you started college as a Christian, you probably did so because your parents raised you in a Christian home. Thank God for that blessing; chances are it has helped you more than you know.
But college is a season in which you can—and must—really take ownership of your faith. You can't truly grow in the Christian life on borrowed faith, and most find college to be a season in which their Christian faith is put to the test. Even at a Christian college, you'll probably experience some influences that could draw you away from God. At non-Christian colleges and universities, the pull away from Jesus Christ often comes from every angle and can be quite fierce.
So Mistake #1 is abandoning the Christian faith. In fact, even to neglect your Christian faith is to commit Mistake #1 because a Christianity not practiced today becomes a Christianity that is absent tomorrow. To thrive in college you'll need to spread your wings from the firm foundation of your Christian faith. Let's unpack what you don't want to do (abandon or neglect your faith) and what you do want to do (grow closer to God).
INTELLECTUAL CHALLENGES TO CHRISTIANITY
There are basically two lines of attack that your Christian faith may encounter in college: intellectual attacks and moral attacks. Let's take a look at them one at a time.
Particularly if you are at a non-Christian campus, here's the sort of thing you can expect to hear:
"The Bible is mythology." "Christianity, in claiming to be the only way, is intolerant."
"Morality is relative, not absolute."
"Truth is subjective. What's true for you does not have to be true for me."
"Jesus was a great moral teacher, nothing more."
"We can be good people without God."
"Organized religion causes divisions and wars."
"There can't be a good God because there is so much evil in this world."
"Evolution has proved that 'God' had nothing to do with the origin of the universe."
"To be a tolerant person, you can't believe in moral absolutes."
Many of your professors will be overtly anti-Christian. That may seem hard to believe, but it's true. In the United States, 4 percent of the overall population is either atheist or agnostic. That percentage, among college professors, varies from 24 to 37 percent. It increases the more elite the university. My wife, Marni, attended Stanford University and was told within the first two weeks of her biology class, "Some of you may believe that God created the world. That's nice. But your faith is personal, and it has no place in this classroom." You see, the professor wanted to privatize Marni's faith—as if Christianity were a nice, warm fairy tale that made her feel good, but of course could not possibly be true.
What should you do if this happens to you? First, recognize that you are not alone. Other Christians have been and are right there with you, and even at your school, you can find them if you look in the right places. You are not alone in another sense, either. The struggle with these questions is not new. Whole libraries are devoted to books by intelligent, scholarly, godly Christians that respond effectively and in detail to each of the criticisms I listed. I'll mention a few in this chapter, and your pastor or parents may know of others.
Let's lay out some of the nuts and bolts of how Christians can not only stand firm, but be emboldened to live their Christian faith in every facet of their lives, including the classroom setting. With regard to intellectual challenges, we can more or less put them into two categories. The first has to do with the evidence or believability of Christianity. Can the Bible, written thousands of years ago by various men over many years, really have ongoing validity today? And could Jesus Christ really have risen from the dead? I mean, don't we now know that miracles are impossible?
THE BIBLE IS RELIABLE AND ACCURATE
If you test the Old and New Testaments the way a historian would test any old book, you'll find more supporting evidence for the sixty-six books of the Bible than for any other ancient book. No other book even comes close. That means we can be very certain that the Bible we have today is the same Bible that early Christians had.
But does that mean our Bible is accurate? Well, no other historical book, written by Christians or non-Christians, has ever successfully contradicted it on a matter of history. It has never been disproven. In fact, archaeological findings over the last fifty years have strengthened, not weakened, the case for the Bible's historical reliability.
But what about Jesus? Consider the alternative of accepting the Bible's message. Could a group of monotheistic Jewish men really have concocted the story of a man claiming to be God—and not just a god, but the one God who made the entire universe? And then this man is horrifically killed, after which he rises from the dead? And the guys making up this stuff are so certain of it that they are willing to get themselves killed for it? It takes more faith to think that such a wild story could be made up than to accept it at face value!
Jesus was the most amazing person who ever lived. Most regard him as a profoundly wise moral teacher. But what they neglect is that he also claimed, repeatedly, and to his own demise, that he was the Incarnation of the one God who made the entire universe. That sort of claim is either lunacy, the most sophisticated lie, or the utter truth. Again, which explanation takes more faith?
Now, of course, if there is no God, believing Jesus was deluded or a liar is easier than believing in the Resurrection. The disciples could have evaded the Roman guards, stolen Jesus' body, and then convinced the world that he rose from the dead. They could have been experiencing a series of mass hallucinations (some form of wishful thinking) when they thought they saw him after his death. Or they could have made up the whole story, and Jesus of Nazareth never lived. Many bizarre things are more possible than a man rising from the dead, because a man rising from the dead is impossible if there is no God.
But that's just the point. The person seeking to discredit Christianity has generally assumed that the miraculous is impossible. Just as your non-Christian friends may be questioning your assumptions, feel free to examine theirs. We need to compare which perspective or assumptions make better sense of reality. What's more "open minded," to believe that miracles are possible or to believe they are impossible?
CHRISTIANITY MAKES GOOD SENSE
That brings me to the second category of intellectual objections to Christianity: coherence. In other words, is Christianity self-consistent? Does it explain and make sense of what we see in the world? Let me show you what I mean.
The Christian view
Christianity teaches that men and women were created in the image of God, as moral, intelligent agents, capable of abstract thinking and possessing consciousness. The fact that the universe exists means that something or someone must have always existed—the created order screams that God is real (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:19-20). As humans, we are all born into a fallen world and are, individually, fallen. What the Bible calls "sin" has infected every aspect of our lives. We often think bad thoughts and do bad things because, let's face it, our very nature is corrupt. There is evil in the world, and there is evil in us. (The world, after all, is just a bunch of "us" multiplied billions of times.)
But God remains infinitely good and pure. And since we're made in God's image, we have an innate sense of right and wrong embedded into our conscience. Because God is good, he must be opposed to that which is evil—which includes us. Part of goodness is justice, and it is just to punish wickedness. The punishment is death, both physical and spiritual (eternal). That may seem harsh, but if we consider that God is infinitely worthy of our obedience, then our disregard of him is an infinite offense. So the punishment fits the crime. To reject God's rightful rule in this life is to invite his rejection in the life to come.
But because God is also merciful, he has done something amazingly kind: He has chosen to become one of us and, as a man, succeed where we have failed. We (humanity) failed the test, disobeyed God, and became corrupt, while Jesus aced the test, obeyed God, and was exalted (Philippians 2:6-9). That obedience, for Jesus, included receiving God's punishment on behalf of every person who would ever trust in him, love him, and obey him. For every Christian, there is a "double exchange." Jesus takes all our corruption (our sin) upon himself, paying for it in full, and his perfect record of obeying God is transferred to our account. After that, God begins the work of remaking us in his image, the image that was corrupted by our rebellion against him. In fact, he puts us into a community (the church), which corporately is meant to be a reflection of the glory of God's grace in redeeming (or buying back) people who had rebelled against him.
All evil in the world will eventually be punished by the just, merciful, and omnipotent God.
The atheist view
The atheist view claims there is no God who created the world. The world is an accident that came together as a result of time and chance. Human beings are just complex collections of molecules. Our brains are not the product of any sort of intelligent design—there was no Designer. Consequently, life cannot possibly have any transcendent meaning whatsoever—there is no Person who stands outside of history and gives purpose to the events of our lives or lends validation to our instincts about right and wrong. That said, each of us can create "meaning" for ourselves through living in a way that gives us satisfaction, by choosing our own values and pursuing them. We can and should pursue what is in the universal interest of mankind, since we ourselves make up mankind. And precisely because there is no God to enforce or eternally reward the right behavior, or punish the wrong behavior, doing what's right is all the more virtuous than if we were to do good merely to be rewarded by some deity.
The "spiritual but not religious" view
This view is an eclectic tossed salad in which people pick and choose what they want to believe from various religions—Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, New Age, you name it. Or they make up their own principles from popular self-help or psychology books. There isn't one clear set of beliefs for these people, but there are a couple of common threads. They tend to believe that truth is relative, not absolute, and that all the religions of the world have something valuable to offer because they all teach us to be basically "good" people, whatever that means. They think God won't particularly care about their religious beliefs when they die. The true higher power is much bigger than the tribal "gods" of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and all the other "-isms" we foolishly divide over and fight about. Even internally, organized religions cause conflict because they inevitably degrade into battles over power, ego, and money.
This is the religion of Star Wars, Avatar, and John Lennon's "Imagine," a song played for mandatory meditation in a psychology class I once took. Being sincere and trying to do good is what counts. Peace out.
Okay, so which of these three views makes the most sense of reality? Notice that the Christian view is the only one that gives any meaning to morality—or to humans themselves. In the atheist scheme, you and I are just accidental blobs of molecules. Telling us it is wrong to kill each other is meaningless. The funny thing is that many atheists today (like Christopher Hitchens) are intensely interested in justice in the world, but if they are consistent, they'd know that there cannot possibly be any true justice, since morality is just a human construct. From their perspective, there can be no "objective good" because there is no true, universal standard of good that comes from outside us. Only God can supply that.
The old atheists like Nietzsche, who influenced Adolf Hitler, at least were more consistent. Unlike Hitchens, they didn't display moral outrage over atrocities like ethnic genocide. They realized that, from their perspective, there simply was no fixed moral standard from which to critique such actions, even if many find them to be heinous. Neither was there any basis for transcendent beauty or meaning (only a subjective beauty or meaning that each defined for himself). As a result, the writings of men like Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus are basically depressing.
Our moral core—our conscience—makes the most sense within the Christian worldview, where it is understood to be a reflection of God's nature that we, as God's image bearers, have hardwired into us, no matter how much our corruption may have warped it.
Plenty more could be said on this topic, but the bottom line is that the story of Christianity is intellectually credible. But more than that, it is deeply satisfying. C. S. Lewis once said, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." Life (even the academic pursuits of biology or physics) makes more sense from the framework of Christianity than from any alternative framework.
Particularly at secular colleges, face the fact that you'll be swimming upstream. Your beliefs will be questioned if not overtly attacked in most academic disciplines. Your Christianity won't relieve you from conflict; it will guarantee that you have it. But your belief is the one that consistently coheres with reality. Your non-Christian friends—trying to make sense of the world and develop a moral framework—are the ones who are truly conflicted. Be sustained by a deepened faith in Christ, and speak words of truth and life to them.
At Christian colleges, you'll want to be aware that there may be a measure of theological diversity among the faculty. Some may subtly undermine the authority of the Scripture or the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. It is wise to stay connected to your parents, youth pastors, or other mentors who can help you work through new ideas. College is a great time to really examine what you believe and why you believe it. But remember what G. K. Chesterton once said: "The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." Perpetual uncertainty is not a virtue. Yet precisely such uncertainty is promoted in our day under the guise of "tolerance."
THE "TOLERANCE" ISSUE
Before we go on to talk about moral challenges, let's hit on an intellectual challenge that is particularly big in our day, especially on the college scene: the issue of "tolerance."
In a 2007 Associated Press (AP) poll among thirteen- to twenty-four-year-olds, about 68 percent agreed with the statement "I follow my own religious and spiritual beliefs, but I think that other religious beliefs could be true as well." Only 31 percent agreed with the statement "I strongly believe that my religious beliefs are true and universal, and that other religious beliefs are not right." And generally speaking, these were religious people. Of those surveyed, 44 percent said that religion was "very important" to them, and only 14 percent said that religion played "no role" for them. The others were somewhere in between.
So here we have a group of mainly religious people—people with specific religious beliefs—most of whom think that other religious beliefs could also be true. You've probably heard the phrase "What's true for you is true for you, but what's true for me is true for me."
And as a society, isn't agreement with that concept considered a necessary ingredient for being "tolerant"? But is that really how we should understand the concept of tolerance? Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines toleration as "the act or practice of allowing something" and tolerance as "sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own." To be tolerant is to allow people to believe or do things that you don't agree with. But the very lack of agreement means that you think they are wrong. So to tolerate someone, you need to think they are wrong, but be willing to accept them or allow them to be that way. Perhaps an example will help.
Excerpted from THRIVING AT COLLEGE by Alex Chediak Copyright © 2011 by Juan Alexander Chediak. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted August 23, 2011
I have a son who plans on going to college in 2 more years. I have heard so many horror stories from friends who went to college or have kids now in college that I was making myself sick with worry. I feel so much better after reading this book by Alex Chediak.
The book is separated into four main sections including college matters, relationship matter, character matters and academics matter. Each of the sections point out common mistakes that are made during college. I loved this book and how it tackles the issues facing today's young students and even older students. The first section of college matters was my favorite section of the book.
Covering and showing the common mistake of *Chucking Your Faith* and *Treating College as if it Were High School* touched home with me and my fears of sending my youngest off to college and what he will do.
Throughout the book there are different Factoids that were very informative. The most interesting and alarming one to me was *Of those college freshman who aspire to become medical doctors, less then 10% actually do. My son wants to enter the medical field so this really gives me cause to worry.
I feel every parent and student should read this book no matter what their religious beliefs are. It gives sound guidelines for everybody.
In exchange for my honest opinion, I received this book free of charge from Tyndale House Publishers.
Posted July 8, 2011
Thriving at College is a guidebook for students already in college or entering college. Many students enter college ignorantly, thinking that college is similar to high school. This book touches on common issues and mistakes faced by college students and how to avoid them. The 10 most common mistakes college students make are listed and thrive principles are given on how to avoid making these mistakes. At the end of each chapter, discussion questions are listed. When I realized that I was going to receive Thriving at College in NetGalley format, I had second thoughts about reviewing this book. All this changed after I read the Preface. I knew this was going to be a good read and it did not disappoint. Many of the mistakes students make while in college affect their after-college life and plenty of good knowledge can be learned from this book on how to avoid such mistakes. What I like about the book is the practical tips on the dos and don'ts in college. While not all the tips mentioned in the book applies to everyone especially since the book is pretty US-centric, they are important and should be kept in mind. In Appendix 1 of the book, tips on how to choose a college are given. I found them very helpful and will definitely be keeping them in mind the next time I visit an education fair! This book is especially handy for those who have yet to go to college and for parents who want to help their kids avoid common mistakes college students make. As the author is someone who has gone to college and who is a college professor, I agree with what Alex and Brett Harris said in the Foreword: Alex Chediak "understands this (the college issue) better than most". I think that he is certainly in a good position to give college advice. Overall, Thriving at College is crammed with advice and information. As someone who has yet to go to college, I found it extremely helpful and eye-opening. College sounds like an exciting place to be at, but it is littered with pitfalls that has brought many a person away from his religious roots. However, principles and rules given in Thriving at College will always remain as what they are: principles and rules. It is up to the reader to take up the initiative and act on them.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 15, 2011
Now that school for some of us is beginning to draw to a close, college planning is a concern for some of us. So where do you begin if you're not sure what to do first? What should you major in? What planning should you be doing during your summer? How will grades impact you in college? What groups should you be drawn to and which should you avoid? How does one maintain their faith while attending college away from the influences of their church and home family members?
In the latest book by Alex Chediak, Thriving At College, is just the tool you should be adding if college is in your near future or even someone you know. I am sure, you wish if there was a great Christian book that would help you make the right plans to get you started on the right foot. This is where this book comes into play. Here are some of the things you'll discover and mistakes you can avoid making:
What to do with your faith
Expecting College To Be The Same As High School
Distorting Dating and Romance
Refusing to Grow Up
Being A Flake
Living Out of Balance
Being Too Passive or Too Cocky
Living For Grades
The book also contains some appendix's that will help you weed through the college selection process and how to make sure you don't waste your college years while getting ready for the real world that awaits.
I received this book compliments of Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review and think that every parent that is planning on college in their child's future or even for the parent considering going back to college, this makes the perfect resource and scores a perfect 5 out of 5 stars.
Posted April 25, 2011
With language that thankfully doesn't underestimate the intelligence of its audience, the book communicates good, solid ideas. It sets your perspective of college straight, which could spell the difference between how you feel on graduation day (if you even get there): excited to start toward your life goals vs. bummed that the party just ended.
My only beef about this book is that it's too thick. I remember my university years well enough to know I wouldn't have slugged through one more textbook than necessary, and Thriving at College is in danger of gathering dust until graduation.
And yes, the title bugs me, too. Either I'm wrong and in and at are perfectly interchangeable in this phrase, or this is an example of how even teachers can still sometimes get an F.
Posted April 25, 2011
Thriving At College is a comprehensive, down to earth resource guide for anyone considering college. It's full of practical advise, guidance and it encourages the reader to take full stock of where they are, what their goals are and the steps needed to take to reach those goals. The book covers the 10 most common mistakes that college students make and it shows you how to avoid them. It covers the whole gambit of college life ~ academics, personal relationships, character building and so much more. I plan to incorporate this book into my family's homeschooling curriculum when my boys get a bit older. They may not fully appreciate all the great tips and bits of knowledge this book has to offer at first but it will be a wonderful resource for them later during their college years. I know one thing, I really wish I had had this book available to me during my college years and my boys will have a copy when they go! Click here for more information on Thriving At College! Many thanks to Tyndale Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. My recommendations are completely my own.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 8, 2011
I wish I had read this book before I went to College. In many ways the author try to stress the importance of holding up with our faith. In a light an easy written style, Mr. Chediak shows in a Christian perspective which are the common errors that the student should avoid when entering into a College life, in order to succeed and live the best experience of his/her life, while getting ready for the real world. The book is divided in four main sections: College Matters, Relationships Matters, Character Matters and Academics Matter. On each one Alex goes deep in the analysis of the common mistakes, giving guidance and suggesting different approaches to overcome common situations. He speaks with the authority of being a professor and living in a daily basis observing the struggle of his students. I have a fifteen and a thirteen year old daughters. The older is only talking about colleges now and definetely I will make her read this book. And the type of wisdom that is presented in this book can be applied not only for College situations as well as for many other situations in life, at any age we are. I definitely recommend this book to any Christian that wants to keep his/her standards according to the Word of God. It deserves to be in the permanent library of any serious reader. Thanks, Mr. Alex Chediak, for such a masterpiece. This book was written by Mr. Alex Chediak and published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in 2011 and they were kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing through their blogger book review program.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 28, 2011
There are many college books out there to advise students out there. What makes this book different is that it has a focus on Christian students and is written by a college professor--who teaches engineering at a Christian institution. Depending on one's level in life, some of the lessons in this book may be redundant. However, when used as a reference book for when students have particular questions, this does a superb job. Bible verses are quoted often, and pertinent advice is given. I don't agree with everything the author says, but the overall intention is good. For instance, I think it's good for students to take a Sabbath (or whole weekend) to do no homework. However, I do like how he said that female students ought not to dumb themselves down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 27, 2011
Well I got another book and have been reading it the last two days. The book I read was called Thriving At College by Alex Chediak it is a good book. The book is 317 pages long with two appendixes. It is a book about the best ways to survive college life with God in it. It addresses so much more than just how to pick your major or school (but it gives you help with that to). There are real life issues like dating life, friends, the stress of college and going home to parents after living with out them. In dating life there are common mistakes written to help you with priority and expectations. It addresses how with God you need to focus on more than just being in that relationship. It helps you with giving you scriptures to address relationship issues and other stress that come with college. In the book Alex Chediak has testimonies, factoids and references to other books that may help. In one chapter for instance it points out to limit your time online and in another chapter it points out that researchers have found that Face Book use goes hand in hand with lower GPS. I really liked this book and will be sending it to my step daughter. I sure wished I had this book when I was in school. I have to say there is so much more stress now days that I loved that God was addressed so much in this book. I even learned from some of the scriptures even though I am not in a college situation. It is good for both parents and college aged adults to read. This is a book that should be kept to use later for reference. I think in fact if I was in college I can go to chapters and read for my needs over and over and maybe even can be read out of order. I have to say that I have to let you know I have a DISCLAIMER I need to tell you about. I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
This would make a good gift for a high school student before graduation.
Posted March 26, 2011
This book contains an amazing wealth of basic common sense and specific information that will help both the incoming freshman and those students who already have some college under their belts. The author's focus is on helping students to avoid the most common mistakes made while in college. Throughout the book, the author, Alex Chediak, sprinkles various topic-related "factoids," such as: "Did you know that some researchers have found that Facebook use can go hand in hand with a lower GPA?" He also has some Q&A pages which answer actual questions asked by college students (from incoming freshmen to grad students), e.g. "Do you have any advice on how to study while taking a class so that the material will stick with you longer after the class is over?" Both the format and the writing style make this not only informative, but an enjoyable read. Alex Chediak is an "insider," being a college professor, so he understands the college environment. He writes in an encouraging, focus-on-the-future way that I think everyone will enjoy reading. I have three young children, all under the age of 10, so I'm hoping this will be revised later to include help for the new challenges college students are bound to face in the next five to ten years. In the meantime, I'm letting my friends with teens read this and pass it around to their children. I highly recommend this resource. Thanks to the publisher for giving me a free copy for an honest review.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 25, 2011
Thriving at College by Alex Chediak is a personal growth book for older teenagers and young adults embarking on the biggest adventure of their lives: college.
This would have been a great book for me when I was starting college. It could have helped me avoid some mistakes I made during my freshman year and helped me get my priorities straight a little faster than I did!
For students who lived a sheltered life growing up, this is a very good book. It covers common mistakes that any student could make, such as refusing to grow up, treating college as if it were high school, distorting dating and romance and living out of balance.
I would highly recommend this book for any high schooler getting ready for college and I think it would be a good read for the parents too.
DISCLAIMER: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
Posted March 22, 2011
If there is any book that every college or college-bound student should read, it's Thriving at College by Alex Chediak. This thick book isn't fat because of big text; it's fat because it needs to house all the profound wisdom, advice, stories, examples, and discussion questions found between its covers.
The moment I opened my package to pull out my copy, I was surprised at its length. I wondered why it would be so long, until I looked at the table of contents. Then it all seemed logical that all this information requires a large volume. Alex takes the reader step by step through the college process, from choosing a major to planning your social life, and of course all the technicalities in between. He offers scriptural guidance, testimonies, stories, examples, and anecdotes to prove his point: that college can be the best four years of your life, if you so choose to make it that way. It is also the best time to keep your faith, contrary to the horrifying rising rates of Christians leaving their faith in college. It teaches you not only to survive, but also to thrive. Now that's one big attribute that makes it stand out from all those other "college survival" books.
Endorsed by many well-known authors such as Alex & Brett Harris (Do Hard Things), Jerry Bridges (The Pursuit of Holiness), Tedd Tripp (Shepherding a Child's Heart), and Randy Alcorn (Heaven), this book deserves all the acclaim and praise it did. I'm already recommending this books to a few high school seniors I know, and strongly encouraging them to get a copy. And of course, if you are also a high school senior or a college student, you should buy or borrow a copy as soon as possible. Thriving at College is just too awesome a resource (and blessing!) to miss.