Series The More Excellent Way

The Way of Love

“Love” may be the most widely used and least understood word in our culture—and even our own lives. Christine Spicer begins to unravel the meaning, power, and importance of the love of Christ.

Kissing the Witch Doctor: What Love Does (with Bob Goff)

Bob Goff has a special revelation of the transformational love of God, a love that compels him to wash the feet of witch doctors and bring education and justice into their lives.

Lessons in Love from the Persecuted Church

2014 was reported to be the worst year in history for persecution worldwide. Read astounding stories from PLNU members working on the front lines—powerful testimonies of Christ’s love shattering darkness.

Hike for a Home: 2,185 Miles of Compassion

BY ADAM (AJ) WOLF (14) Last year, from June 11 to October 31, PLNU alums AJ Wolf (14) and Tavis Robertson (14) and Wolf’s father, Eric, set out on a journey to change the lives of abandoned children in Jusarang, Seoul, South Korea. Their campaign, Hike for a Home, was a journey of faith along the Appalachian Trail, a nearly 2,200-mile hike stretching from Maine to Georgia. During their adventure, the three raised more than $8,000 toward the construction of a rescue center for South Korean babies, a project being developed by Pastor Lee Jong-rak. In 2009, Pastor Jong-rak responded to infant abandonment in Seoul by building an incubated “baby box” on the side of his home, which also served as his church. The box is a padded, heated compartment made to be comfortable for an infant, with a door on the outside and another inside; it enables unwed mothers to safely and discreetly surrender children who would otherwise be left out to die. Since its inception, more than 500 infants have been delivered anonymously through the box. Pastor Lee has found homes for every abandoned child. The work of his church has become the subject of the acclaimed documentary The Drop Box, created by filmmaker Brian Ivie and his film crew, including Robertson, and the inspiration behind the Los Angeles-based non-profit Kindred Image, whose mission is to support Pastor Lee’s work. Wolf, his father, and Robertson paired with Kindred Image on a fundraising campaign to help Pastor Lee achieve […]

Rhapsody from the Ashes: The Music-Making of J.R. Bishop

BY JAMES BISHOP I don’t know why or how the notes came when they did, but it happened at 2 a.m. I had stared at the piano, seriously disappointed that I wasn’t in bed. I’d been frustrated and perplexed for hours, clunking out good but unsatisfying notes, melodies, chords, and themes that felt more forgettable to me than worthwhile. I was in the basement of Cooper Music Center after hours, falling asleep on a piano in one of the practice rooms.   As I drifted off to sleep with my head resting on the keys at the lower end of the piano, I kept noodling in the upper register with my right hand. I was kind of desperate, honestly. Any properly functioning human would have set it down and gotten back to it in the morning. I had wrestled with this monster of a piece for a while though, and I had to come up with something. I tried at first to come up with something that would sound complicated and smart. Maybe I felt the need to do that, so I could try and convince myself that I was worthy of the label “composer”—which people assume I am because I’m a music composition major. But I am not a virtuoso. I am not Beethoven. I am not Bach. I am not Schoenberg, or Gershwin, or Mancini, or Williams, or Zimmer. On the contrary, I felt like I was an imposter. Was it an inferiority complex that drove my music? I was tired at 2 a.m., but I managed to […]

Athletics: Spring 2015

Tim Whetstone & the Green Sea BY DANNY BARNTS Among the sea of painted faces at the 2014 Homecoming basketball games—though hard to spot at first through all the green paint—was PLNU university chaplain Tim Whetstone. Whetstone’s familiar face caused quite a few double takes as attendees walked by the Green Sea, a designated student cheering area of the gym. “The students were just awesome to be with, especially with that amount of energy,” Whetstone said. “It was great to see the guys go away with a win and the women play great ball. To be a part of that whole experience on the Green Sea side was classic.” In 2011, the PLNU student government and the women’s volleyball team came up with the idea for the Green Sea as a way to bridge the gap between athletics and the student body. It became an official section of the gym that year and since then has succeeded in joining the two. This Homecoming, the contagious spirit of the Green Sea brought in Whetstone as well.   Excellence On and Off the Field BY WENDY ROBINSON Within the first year of its membership in the NCAA, PLNU received the Division II Presidents’ Award for Academic Excellence for having a high academic success rate (ASR) among student-athletes. Coming in third of all NCAA Division II schools in the country, PLNU was recognized with this honor for its high ASR of 98 percent, meaning almost all student-athletes from the 2004-2007 cohort graduated from PLNU […]

Romani-Meets-World: Racing to Serve

Romani-Meets-World: Racing to Serve BY TIFFANY MUSICK MATTHEWS After graduating from PLNU with a degree in athletic training, Nikki Romani (10), like so many students, began her pursuit of a graduate degree. With her heart set on becoming a physical therapist, Romani found work in a local physical therapy clinic, took prerequisite courses at a community college, and sent in applications to several grad programs. As she waited for responses, she prayed that God would open the right door. Little did she know then, a door would open, but it would be far from the one she expected. Months later, with no grad school acceptance letters, Romani found herself uncertain about the future. It wasn’t until her best friend, Rachel, told her to check into an event called the World Race that things began to change drastically. The World Race, Romani quickly discovered, is a ministry-focused tour of the globe. Developed by the interdenominational missions organization Adventures in Missions, the World Race takes participants to 11 countries in 11 months and offers them the chance to work alongside ministries in each location. “When I looked up the World Race, it seemed like an amazing opportunity, but I definitely had reservations,” said Romani. “I had never been away from home that long, and it meant leaving everything behind and living for 11 months off of what I could carry in a backpack. Still, I couldn’t shake the idea of going, so I applied just to see what would happen.” Less than a week […]

Heather Ross

BY WENDY ROBINSON When you sit in a classroom during a discussion led by Heather Ross, associate professor of philosophy, you’ll most likely sit in a circle, surrounded by peers and Ross herself. Ross intentionally chooses a circle of chairs for learning so every participant is both teacher and learner. Accountability is formed, trust is earned, and respect is fostered, she explained. Because of the deep nature of the subject of philosophy, she added, a strong sense of community is not just helpful but necessary. “It’s important to me for all of us to be sitting in the same plane, for all of us to be horizontally related to one another,” Ross explained. “The way that the classroom is set up is extraordinarily important for the educational process to be effective. When we have the opportunity to arrange the desks in a circle, it cultivates the atmosphere of education that we’re all looking for.” For Ross, teaching is about creating transformation in her students, particularly transformation toward ethical ends. “I want to cultivate a pedagogy that supports a vision of education as transformational, opening up learners so they can be disposed toward the other, particularly in matters of justice,” said Ross. “I want my students to awaken to the possibility of enacting justice in the world, and that requires a certain vigilance, wakefulness, and consciousness. That, to me, is philosophy at its best, when it’s making us aware of the questions at the heart of human existence. Philosophy also removes the illusion […]

Q&A with Brandon Sawyer

Dr. Brandon Sawyer, assistant professor of biology and kinesiology, has been on faculty at PLNU since 2013. We sat down with him to find out more about his background and recent research in maximal exercise and weight loss. Q: You graduated from PLNU with a degree in kinesiology and athletic training. What first sparked your interest in these fields? A: I first became interested in sports medicine during my senior year of high school after I fractured my pelvis in football and my knuckle in basketball. This knocked me out of playing sports that year, but I spent a lot of time around sports medicine professionals and realized I would love to work in a field where I helped athletes recover from injuries. During my junior year at PLNU, I took exercise physiology and was blown away by the beautiful complexity of the human body. Studying physiology was something that made me come alive. When I considered spending my career lighting that same fire in students— and studying and researching exercise physiology—I was sold. Q: You have researched maximal exercise performance, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. What led you to these areas? A: Studying the physiology of maximal exercise, you consider all aspects of physiology and how they work together under very intense conditions. The human body is designed to exercise—it optimizes our physiology and significantly reduces our risk for most chronic diseases. Studying how exercise prevents and treats disease is exciting to me because cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes are leading causes of death […]