Monthly Archives: April 2020

COVID-19 Response

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We are deeply grateful to God for His protection and care of each one of us. Our pastors, faculty and staff love each of our students and we are encouraged by their trust and reliance on Him in this time of trial.

The health and safety of our PBC family is our number one priority. We also are committed to the welfare of the larger Portland metro community we are a part of. As of today, we have no known cases of COVID-19 within our Portland Campus. ⁠At the same time we are committed to assisting our students in completing their semester courses and graduation requirements.

In light of the State and Federal guidelines issued. We are taking additional steps to ensure the continued safety of our students, faculty and staff. PBC took the following actions:⁠

  • For Portland Campus students, we are extending remote instruction of our courses for the remainder of the school year. These is in an effort to agree with the current plans for both Washington and Oregon public schools.
  • From an academic standpoint, there are very few program course outcomes that are only able to be accomplished through in-person instruction. Any class session that requires meeting in person will meet virtually through various online platforms. Students in such classes will be notified directly.
  • We are encouraging students to move out of their dorms and return to their permanent homes. We will leave campus housing open for students who have limited options. The cafeteria will remain open with take-out service only. A housing check-out system has been made available for all resident students needing to return home.
  • Although the pandemic is necessitating physical distance, we want to stay connected relationally. Staff will continue to work and will be available to students remotely. Essential staff are on a rotation schedule with their supervisors to ensure office services remain open with minimal employee presence on campus. Our deans and campus pastors live on-site. Students remaining on-campus will be served by people who love them and have their best interest at heart. Counseling and personal care services will remain available to all virtually. CDC hygiene guidelines will be strictly followed at all times.
  • All campus events are canceled until the campus re-opens. We will also have to postpone our graduation ceremony to a later date. We are currently surveying our graduates before making a decision concerning rescheduling. Those meeting requirements for graduation will be awarded their degrees as of May 15.
  • A Student Life Facebook page will remain updated and we will host Chapel prayer times at 10:30 on Fridays and our senior sermons on Mondays and Wednesdays on that page.
  • We were made for this. We are the Church and have a great opportunity to be the salt and light we are called to be. We encourage all students to remain vitally connected to their local churches. For those staying on campus here is a link to how we will accomplish this at Mannahouse.

We are so grateful to each student, parent, pastor and friend of PBC that is walking through this season of uncertainty and constant change with us. We remain committed to equipping each student with the character and competence to rise to the world’s needs and become catalysts for Kingdom impact even in the darkest of times.

Together, we will rise out of this stronger, more resilient and victorious.

In Him,

Ken Malmin
Dean

WATCH: How You Can Help Students Impacted by Coronavirus

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The Shadow of Death

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Through the virus outbreak the last couple weeks we have all become aware of something. This awareness is there any time we see numbered statistics about the pandemic. It is there in the background of every photo of health care workers or first responders in their protective gear. It is there as we wait in line to get into a grocery store. It is like a faint specter that drifts across the scenes of our lives. We know it is there, but we often refuse to make eye contact with it. The specter is death. It is always there and it has cast its shadow across every aspect of our lives during this time.

We often try to ignore its existence, but the longer the threat remains, the greater the odds are that we will all come into contact with it somehow. It might come to a friend, a family member or working colleague. We may not personally feel its touch, but most of us will feel its presence as it passes close by. It is an enemy and it is real.

As people of faith how are we to respond to death? We cannot just deny it is there. We are to have faith, and yet how do we balance faith with reality without denying either? Our success in facing our enemy comes by joining two things together. These two are the Word of God and knowledge. The Scriptures give us a lot of information. This information becomes the basis of our faith (Rom 10:17). If we believe the information in the Bible then it can impact us and become the basis for our faith. That does not mean we will like everything the Scriptures say, but it does mean that if we trust God’s Word, then it can become a secure place from which we face this difficult situation. The Bible talks about death and what it says can help us face this specter with confidence. 

What does the Bible say? It says that humans are mortal (James 1:11; 4:14). Our mortality is the result of sin (Gen 2:17; Rom 5:12-14). Death has spread to us all and is an enemy that we have to face (1Cor 15:26). It will one day be overcome (1Cor 15:54), but knowing this does not mean that some people will not still live in fear of its shadow (Heb 2:15). Jesus became human and suffered death. He also came back to life to show that death had no control over the final outcome of His life. Death touched Him but did not control Him. This knowledge can bring us all great comfort. Our lives are limited in their own strength. We are only temporary occupants on this planet for now (1Pet 111-17; Php 3:20). The lifespan of each person here may vary (Ps 90:10). Ultimately how long we each live is in God’s control (Ps 31:15), but there is a future.

A challenge that we face in this season is that we do not know how each of us will be affected by the virus. We lack specific knowledge that helps us anticipate our own future. It is this unknown that can be overwhelming at times, but Jesus came to bring truth to us that can help set us free from the grip of the unknown (John 8:32). This is the knowledge that when joined with our faith can have a positive stabilizing effect on us. Here are some simple words of truth that help bring perspective through this time.

  1. By far the majority of people will make it through this time. The current percentages support that fact, as was also true for previous pandemics.
  2. The health care officials have given us information about how to minimize our chances of contracting the virus. Follow their advice. These are people who are genuinely concerned for our wellbeing.
  3. Don’t take unnecessary risks. True faith does not reside in stupidity. Remember that even Jesus was tempted to recklessly expose His body to dangerous behavior under the deception that God was required to always protect Him. If Jesus could be tempted with this so can we.
  4. Keep your eyes open to what is going on around you (Eph 5:15-16).  This is not a time to go to sleep with our minds and hearts.
  5. We do not know all that lies in the future, but that does not mean we can’t move ahead. The study of Eschatology tells us an important truth. There are things about the future we do not know like the day and hour of Jesus’ return. There are things, however, that we do know like what He wants us to do until that time. Proceed with what we know and leave the rest up to Him.
  6. Don’t let the attraction to this life on earth be the most important thing to you (Matt 10:39; James 4:4).
  7. The lives of God’s people are precious to Him (Zech 2:8; Deut 7:6; 14:2; Ps 135:4). Their deaths are also precious to Him (Ps 116:15). Nothing gets past His eye.
  8. Whether we live or die in this life we can do it for the Lord (Rom14:8).
  9. It is possible that no matter what happens, that we can honor God in both life and death (Php 1:20).
  10. When all our efforts have been expended, and we have done all we can, in the end, we must  commit our lives to the gracious God who will make things work out in eternity (1Pet 4:19). This is our hope even if we don’t see now what will happen. We hope for what is not seen (Rom 8:24-25).

Ps 23:4 says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  We are surrounded by glimpses of that shadow daily. It discourages many and it could also be disturbing to us as well, except for a very important truth. Our Lord is with us. He has been through this valley before and He knows the way through it for us as well. This is the Shepherd of our souls. He is the one who guides us in this season.

… and now you’re an online student!

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…and now you are an online student!

Many students choose to study in person because that’s how they feel they learn the best, so now that education is being pushed online, how do we adapt and be successful in this new environment?

The key to success as an online student is not only to become fully comfortable with the functionality of the online environment, but to learn how to manage your time and understand the unique circumstances of online education. The skills that serve students well in the classroom are still important in an online environment, but they must be coordinated with a self-starter attitude and good time management skills.

Strategies for Success

We have pulled together advice from past online PBC students and from our online team:

  • USE A SCHEDULE (paper or electronic) to keep track of the beginning and ending of course weeks and when assignments are due. Time management is huge and will be the difference maker in your success.
  • DESIGNATE REGULAR, UNINTERRUPTED INTERVALS through the week to interact with your online classroom, such as reading and contributing to discussion forums. Some classes may require that you spend more time interacting with them each week, but it really depends on the circumstances of each class and the expectations of the instructor.
  • CREATE A DESKTOP FOLDER on your computer so it regularly catches your attention. Within that main course folder, create a place for downloaded files and any assignments you may be working on.
  • COMMUNICATE PROACTIVELY. Don’t be shy to email your teachers about any questions you may have. It is easy to misinterpret instructions, a comment in an e-mail or on a discussion board. Your teachers want you to succeed and will be more than happy to provide clarification when needed. When you do communicate, take the time to be clear and concise to minimize misunderstandings and be patient. Because you are communicating online there may be a delayed response, and that is okay! 

Summary 

Even if you feel completely prepared for online coursework, don’t be surprised if you have some challenges getting oriented at the start. Every class is unique. Every instructor has their own method of teaching a class. Work on being self-disciplined and building the skills you need and you will succeed.

From Stress to Strength

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In this unprecedented season of stress, anxiety, fear, and so many other emotions, we believers earnestly implore the Lord asking for a Divine Exchange.  We yearn for, reach for, claim, and proclaim that our God is real and that He not only sees, but cares. We reach out to Him in our sincerity and offer Him our frailty for His strength, our weakness for His empowerment, and our fear and anxiety for His peace.  

In our confidence, and yet to our surprise, He offers to give us that Divine Exchange and we step into His very Presence and go from stress to strength in a moment that leaves us in breathless astonishment of the good and gracious God that we love and serve.  We cease to grasp for control that so obviously is out of our reach. We cease to be the proverbial Commander of the universe and put our concerns back into His trustworthy hands. In that moment we find ourselves residing, no longer in turmoil, but rather in peace, surrender, and resolve.  We allow Him to be Lord once again, just as He was, is, and will always be. Hence, somewhere in the process of surrender there is a tumultuous, yet serene, journey that takes us from stress to strength moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour, and day-by-day.

James 1:2-6a (NIV) tells us that trials will come. “(2) Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (5) If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (6) But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt..(12) Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

We learn at least four things from this passage:

  1. Stress is certain to come.  James says, “when,” not “if.”
  2. It can come suddenly. James says, “when you fall into,” fall, not crawl or walk.
  3. It can come in several ways.  James refers to “various trials.” Your stress may be more about financial provision than it is about this pandemic, or health more than your singleness, or social connection more than homeschooling your ‘littles’ so suddenly, or it may be all of these various trials all at one time.
  4. When we persevere, we will be blessed. James does not say that we should be joyful for the stress/trials, but rather in the stress/trials.  A godly perspective of joy and faith releases heaven’s perspective.  It helps us to see beyond the stressful situation into God’s perspective through His eyes.

The Greek word peirasmos, which is testing, trial, or temptation, has an expanded definition here. It means ‘a testing that is directed towards an end, and the end is that he who is tested should emerge stronger, purer, and more godly from the testing.’

While Satan tempts us to question God’s goodness, or to give into hopelessness and our own solutions, God allows stress, pandemics, difficulties, and challenges to come into our lives to make us strong through it all. Yes, in the middle of it all, we must come to a resolve that we are either in God’s hands or we are not.  If we are in His hands, then we have this solid hope and belief on which we can stand, kneel and bow, that God is God and we can trust Him and come out of the trial stronger than when we went into it. If we are not in His hands, we are destitute and left to our own designs alone. God has given us sound minds on which we can come to practical wisdom, but ultimately, our trust must be in His guidance, His touch, His wisdom and direction.  

James says in verse three, depending on the translation you read, that the “…testing of your faith produces perseverance/ patience/endurance.”  He tells us that the aim of the testing is to purge us of all impurity.  If we meet this testing in the right way, it will produce hupomone.  The English word “patience,” or even perseverance, is far too passive to describe what the Greek word means here. 

Hupomone is not simply the ability to bear things; it is the ability to turn them into greatness and glory.  

I doubt that our world will ever be the same again after this pandemic.  This season has tattooed an indelible mark on history. It will be remembered along with other great plagues, wars, and Great Depressions.  When the stories of people begin to pour in about how God turned this challenge into greatness and how His glory was revealed through it all, we will never see Him in the same way again.

Hupomone is also the quality which makes a person able, not simply to suffer things, but to vanquish them.  They give you the strength to bear still more and to conquer still more challenging battles in the future.  

Just as anerobic exercise tears and then rebuilds the muscle tissue to make it stronger, so trials come so that we might become stronger, vanquish them, and be better prepared for the next challenge.  I can only imagine that, even as science works hard to catch up with the ever-increasing strength of viruses today, this generation will become stronger in wisdom and in the spiritual realm and will be well able to vanquish trials and turn them into greatness and glory. 

In all of this, I would like to humbly offer some practical tips to consider:

  • Discern what is the most important thing in life to you and prioritize accordingly.

“The secret is priorities.  If you can get your priorities straight, you have the foundational tool you need to control the pressures and tensions in our life and to prevent stress from becoming overwhelming and debilitating.”  Dr. Kevin Leman, Say Good-bye to Stress

We are tri-dimensional beings; spirit, soul, and body, and should consider what our highest priority is in each.

  • What are your spiritual priorities?  Make sure these fit your spiritual temperament.

(i.e. If you best connect with God when you are outdoors, get out and walk. If you best connect with God when you are sketching or painting, start doing that.  If it’s through playing an instrument or singing, let God hear you. If it’s reaching out to someone in need, go for it.) Figure out what you do in your relationship with God that brings you the most peace and joy and go do it. 

  • What are your emotional priorities?  Make sure these fit your personality. How do you recharge and restore energy to your soul?  You may not be able to hug someone right now, but you can still connect relationally and meaningfully through social media. 
  • What are your physical priorities?  Make sure that these are enjoyable as well as physically profitable.  Exercise releases endorphins needed to reduce stress, as well as having other health benefits.
  • Discern the root cause of your stress and face it honestly & tenaciously.  Assess your stress.
  • Group your stress/fear/anxiety into two categories:

–One-time stress, such as a pandemic

–On-going stress, such as chronic health issues

  • Is your stress, fear, or anxiety level harmful to your health?

Is it beginning to affect your health, joy, peace, or sense of well-being?

-Is it causing you to lose interest in your favorite hobbies?

-Is it causing you to constantly feel rushed?

-Are you making more mistakes than usual, or are you performing at a level that is less than your best?

-Do you feel constant fatigue, lack initiative, feel generally unwell, having muscle & joint aches, a pounding heart, and perspiring without exercising. Are you having stress symptoms, connected to, but unrelated to COVID19?

  • Categorize your stress/anxiety:

–Stress factors you can change now. 

–Stress factors you can work on over time, but cannot fix right away

–Stress factors that are totally out of your control

–What are you most afraid of?

*Finances – daily, educational, or retirement provision

*Relationships – family, work, friendships

*Health – major, chronic, low-grade concerns

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed.  If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.”  Corrie Ten Boom

  • Prayer
  • Personal Prayer Effectiveness – Flow with your Spiritual Temperament (See Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas)
  •  “Prayer is as necessary as the air, as the blood in our bodies, as anything to keep us alive – to keep us alive to the grace of God.”  Mother Teresa
  • “When faith ceases to pray, it ceases to live.” E.M. Bounds
  • “The wonderful thing about praying is that you leave a world of not being able to do something and enter God’s realm where everything is possible.  He specializes in the impossible. Nothing is too great for His almighty power. Nothing is too small for His love.” Corrie Ten Boom
  • Prayer Partners/Friends – Who are the people in your life that you really trust to pray?

There is power in agreement.  Mt. 18:19,20 NIV 

–Give a prayer and ask for prayer

  • Health Evaluation – Although I am not a medical professional, from research I have done, many professionals suggest that these health tips help in stressful times.
  • Honestly evaluate your Diet & the effects is has on your health and make the appropriate changes needed.

–Caffeine:  Research suggests that caffeine raises cortisol, the stress hormone.  Chronically high cortisol levels can damage immune health. Cortisol can make handling pressure difficult.  Skipping a caffeinated drink can immediately help regulate this hormone and it’s short and long-term effects.  On the other hand, some caffeine, in moderation, may help your mood. 

–Complex Carbs: All carbs prompt the brain to make more serotonin.  For a steady supply of serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical, it’s best to eat complex carbs, which take longer to digest.  Good choices include whole-grain breads, pastas, and cereals, including old-fashioned oatmeal. Complex carbs also help you feel balanced by stabilizing blood sugar levels.

–Simple Carbs:  A little of these carbs is okay but avoiding a large intake of them is helpful in avoiding stress.  They are digested quickly and lead to a spike in serotonin, then a sharp decline. These include sweets and sodas. 

–Vitamin C: Studies suggest that Vitamin C can curb levels of stress hormones while strengthening the immune system.

–Spinach & other Green Leavy Vegetables:  These vegetables provide magnesium which lowers blood pressure and eases anxiety, among other health benefits.

–Fatty Fish:  Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon & tuna, can prevent surges in stress hormones and may help protect against depression as well.

–Black Tea: This tea helps to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

–Nuts:  Pistachios, walnuts, almonds, or other nuts & seeds, are good sources of healthy fats. They help lower cholesterol, ease inflammation in the arteries of the heart, make diabetes less likely, and protect against the effects of stress.  

  • Honestly evaluate your Exercise Routine

Some research studies say that a 12-minute walk improves mood and helps eliminate feelings of boredom and dread.

-According to the National Institute of Mental Health in 2017, “thirty minutes of daily, gentle walking can boost your mood and reduce stress.”

–Exercise also has immediate effects on blood sugar, minimizing energy peaks and valleys throughout the day.

  • Honestly evaluate your Sleep Routine

–The American Psychological Association in 2017 reported, “Sleep is so crucial that even slight sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood….Many report that their stress increases when the length and quality of their sleep decreases.  When they do not get enough sleep, 20% of adults report feeling more stressed.”

–Top 7 Sleep Tips:

1. Schedule 7-9 hours for a full night of uninterrupted sleep. Some people need only  5-6 hours; some need as much as 10-11 hours. The majority need 7-9 hours of sleep.

2. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine.

3. Do not watch TV, use the computer, or focus on bills before going to bed.

4. Avoid coffee, chocolate, caffeinated soda, or nicotine in the evening.

5. Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet.

6. Use your bedroom for sleeping, relaxing & intimacy only.

7. Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime.

  • Relationships

–Stay away from or reduce the amount of time that you spend with negative, toxic people in especially stressful times like these. Toxic people add to stress.

–Forgive those who have offended you and release yourself from the tension of trying to please them.  Do not continue to put yourself into their negative, hurtful atmosphere.

–Studies show that married people in a trusting relationship, who engage in consistent sex, have less anxiety.

–Reach out to others.  You are not alone. We are in this together.  Don’t get disconnected. In times like this pandemic, we may have physical distance, but we do not need to have relational distance.  Stay connected through social media, the phone, or any avenue possible at a 6 foot distance. Lean into, not away from, others.

–Edify others with your gifts and talents.  Share words of encouragement, songs, photo-art, calligraphy, poetry, humor, etc.  Mow a lawn or offer to get groceries for a Senior citizen. Sew a face mask for a First Responder.  Give a smile or take a photo of yourself smiling or something that makes you smile and post it for others to see.

  • Focus on the Positive – Be grateful.

–You may not be able to change your circumstances or stop a pandemic, but you can adjust your attitude.

–A grateful spirit relieves tension and relieves stress.  Start a Gratitude List. Write what you are thankful for each day.  Let gratitude be your focus.

— IN whatever circumstance we find ourselves, we can thank the Lord that He is with us. (1 Thess 5:18)

Let me now close with a few simple thoughts of wisdom, blending the spiritual and practical together.  In doing so, I propose that God does not waste any trial that comes into our lives, whether it is a pandemic or the results of one.  He always uses it for our good and for the sake of others, that we might run this race with hupomone and turn it into greatness and glory.

Eph. 1:17-23, Jer. 31:3, Psa. 138:8

  1. Stop.  Remember who you are. You are a son or daughter of the King of kings.  He has called you by name and you are His.  He loves you with an everlasting love.
  2. Look.  Look to Him. You’re not God; He is.  You can’t be all things to all people, and you can’t be everywhere all the time.  When you try to be everything everywhere, you’ll burn out, stress-out, and melt down.  You can only do successfully what He enables you to do. Psalm 121
  3. Listen.  Meditate on Him.  Hear His voice.  Offer praise in the silent times.  Phil. 4:6-8 
  4. Proceed.  Go where He wants you to go and do what He wants you to do in faith……. ON Social Media and without spreading the virus. Mt. 6:25-34, Pro. 3:5,6 

Today, call on the Lord and then go with the strength that He gives to you.  Trust in Him. Remember, you are not alone; we are in this together. Today, we stand on our balconies and wave to our neighbors.  We sing Happy Birthday from our front porches. Today, we light our Christmas lights early to proclaim to the world that Hope has come; there is reason to go on. Today, we do what we can with a six-foot distance between us physically, but a heart to embrace within us.  Today, we grieve the loss of friends; we carry the burdens of others. We may be weak, but He is strong. Today, as those realities saturate our souls, we cry out to the living God. Today, we stand in the strength that only He so generously gives.  

Tomorrow, we will not be the same.  Tomorrow, we will walk, we will run, we will embrace, and we will share the love that our Heavenly Father has so generously given to us in abundance.  Tomorrow, we will be changed. We will be a little more aware of our neighbor, young or old, healthy or infirmed. We will be more aware, and we will care.  We will help one another find jobs, finish wedding plans, and attend funerals of those lost in this storm. Tomorrow, we will reach out and we will be a little more attune to the needs of those around us. We’ll be better stewards of those around us.  We will be changed for the good; we will be better than we were before. Tomorrow, we will go forward. We will step into the future with clean hands and brave hearts.  

Let us go forward in faith into the future together, arm-in-arm with each other and with our precious Heavenly Father.