A Hebrew Thanksgiving

Rich Israel, Vanguard University

Rich Israel, Chair of the Vanguard University Religion Department and Professor of Old Testament, wrote our featured article this month. As we prepare for Thanksgiving this month, he writes this –


George Washington initiated it nationally, on November 26, 1789, and Abe Lincoln institutionalized it in 1863, but Thanksgiving began here in America much earlier.

Claims for the first one include Texas, at San Elizario in 1598; Florida, at San Augustine, in 1565; Virginia, at Berkeley Hundred in 1619, as well as the Pilgrims, in Plymouth, in Massachusetts, 1621. The Pilgrims set theirs separate from Sabbath worship, held on a weekday, and ours is most like theirs.

But let’s step back even further, to Bible days. Let us consider Thanksgiving from the perspective of biblical festivals.

The Hebrew word for ‘thanksgiving’ is todah (תּוֹדָה). The todah offering is one example of a ‘sacrifice of well-being’ (zevach shelamim) (זֶבַח שְׁלָמִים) according to the instruction in Leviticus 7:11-15. Prayers of thanksgiving in the psalms are offered with sacrifices of thanksgiving (Psalm 107:22, 116:17 for example.)

For a parallel to the Pilgrim festival of Thanksgiving, Deuteronomy 26:1-11 provides instructions for thanks to God as the Hebrews entered the promised land. The verses describe a harvest festival of first-fruits, probably celebrated in conjunction with the festival of weeks (called Pentecost in the New Testament.) The ‘order of service’ in the text indicates several steps:

  • A pilgrimage (vv.1-2)
  • A declaration by the worshipper (v.3): A testimony that God has been faithful to his promise of land (‘erets)( אֶרֶץ)
  • A transference of the offering to the priest (v.4)
  • A response by the worshipper (vv.5-10): A ‘historical credo’ (Latin for “I believe”) that acknowledges the “fruit of the ground (אֲדָמָה)” comes from the “gift of the land (אֶרֶץ).”
  • A communal celebration (v.11)

Through this festival, the Israelites were bearing witness that bountiful blessings come from a promise-keeping God, not the fertility deities of their Canaanite neighbors. Thanksgiving calls us to the same confession.


Contact Rich at Richard.Israel@vanguard.edu for further information.


theology and california

Religion Department Colloquium

Vanguard University’s Department of Religion invites you to a dialogue on:


Theology and California: Theological Refractions on California’s Culture
Dr. Richard Mouw, President Emeritus of Fuller Theological Seminary & Dr. Jason Sexton Co-editor of the volume and Faculty member at Cal State Fullerton, Honors Department


Thursday, November 6
4:30 – 5:45 PM
Great Commission Hall


Vanguard University





Interested in Interning in a local SoCal Network Church?

There are local churches that are looking for student interns, and you could be one of them!  Take a look at this video, and apply for one of the Internships here.

AG Internships with Vanguard University from Vanguard University on Vimeo.


Go Forward

Doretha OQuinn, Vanguard University


Christmas Fantasia – 2014 Group Sales

Christmas Fantasia, Vanguard University Kick off the Christmas season with us! Enjoy favorite carols and breathtaking masterpieces performed by Vanguard University’s 200-member choirs and orchestra, in the elegance and acoustical perfection of two stunning venues –


Tuesday, December 2
8pm | Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Friday, December 5
8pm | St. Andrews Presbyterian Church

**Group discounts are available at the December 2 concert ONLY**


This would be a great way to bless your Church staff or board members!


Katie Heemstra
Vanguard University Special Events
(714) 966-5441 | fantasia@vanguard.edu

Event hashtags – #ChristmasFantasia #VUMusic


Christmas Fantasia, Vanguard University


Missionary Intern to a “Start Up” Mission

Vanguard University


We can’t tell the name of the places.


In at least one case, no known local Christians are there.


“Missionaries” are just at the stage of trying to “make friends,” and “making disciples” is somewhere in the future.


Vanguard University students Niki TVanguard University rueb ’16 and Kiera Husband ’16 spent 8 weeks last summer, with teams of Assemblies of God workers, in a pilot missionary project, learning missions at this earliest of stages.


They were Vanguard representatives among the 20 students from AG universities from across the nation that AG World Missions sponsored in this front-edge effort. AGWM picked up all the cost except $1500 in an experiment to help students learn how to introduce the news of Jesus where He is not known.


Practically speaking, how do you do this? Organized meetings are out of the question. Song services, “street meetings,” sermons? Not for quite awhile.


Instead, you introduce the idea that you are a follower Jesus in the first five minutes of every conversation. They spent time with Christ each day, focused on him, then talked about him. It is Vanguard University about Jesus.


They taught English, learned the local language, lived with their own cooking, and cold water only. And started friendships.


When the opportunity for followup questions came, they were ready. And the questions did come. In one case, it was a local leader who asked, “”Can you give me a French Bible? Who is this Jesus? Why do you believe this when I believe that?”


Vanguard University From Niki: My biggest takeaway is definitely the fact that I have so much more confirmation in my faith after this trip – seeing these people live such empty lives based on what we know as lies, confirmed everything I have ever believed in Jesus Christ. However, these people are also the most loving individuals I have ever met, and my heart remains on that little island, with people who I was afraid of at first but are now some of my nearest and dearest friends. I was there for 58 days and my heart definitely broke in more than 58 ways, I will never forget my time there and definitely plan on returning after school!




From Kiera: I learned how to love people without needing to use words; our actions make all the difference. God showed me the importance of loving every person no matter how different they are. Sharing the Gospel requires at times being put out. GoinVanguard University g to Eastern Europe has showed me how big a God we serve, and the heart He has for His people. Jesus died to save everyone not just a few. When we look at people according to the worth God sees them, that makes all the difference.


Was this investment worth it, or was this just an interesting summer junket? “I left my heart there. I will go back.” That kind of evaluation suggests that it has already paid off for all.



For more information on VU’s many summer trips:

Kayli Hillebrand

Vanguard University Global Outreach

(714) 662-5262 | kayli.hillebrand@vanguard.edu



Assemblies of God World Missionshttp://worldmissions.ag.org/


Vanguard University



Chapel Services

Bryan Rouanzoin, Vanguard University


Chapels are the heart of the campus time in worship and the Word. Planned carefully, their pattern may help you think about your preaching themes. After sitting down with Bryan Rouanzoin, Associate Director of Chapel and Discipleship, to discuss this, here is their approach.


Who I Am In Christ (identity), and Who We Are In Christ (community), are the core themes for the two eight-week blocks of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday Chapel services this fall.These themes form a good base to start a college semester, and are two on the eight themes to be presented during a four-year program.


Given those themes, how are they to be preached and taught?


In a student survey, some clear preferences emerged:

  • Students want ongoing connection with primary chapel speakers, rather than a majority of outside voices.
  • They want biblical preaching rather than organizational promotion (being “preached to” rather than “promoted at!”).


We organized a Chapel Planning team: staff and faculty members from across the campus, whose areas of expertise include pastoral leadership, worship, and aesthetics; and also mental health and multi-cultural programming.  Each of these men and women has a passion to see our students worship God, know Jesus and learn to hear the voice and leading of the Spirit.


One of the primary changes that emerged from this team was a shift to primarily on-campus chapel preachers.  This allows students to become familiar with preaching styles and grow in relationship as their professors or staff members journey with our students through scripture.


The primary speakers this fall include:

President Mike Beals

Bill Dogterom, A/G minister and Religion professor

Jon Allbaugh, Dean of Spiritual Formation

Doug Hutchinson, Director of the Counseling Center

Bryan Rouanzoin, Associate Director of Chapel and Discipleship

… Also, about one third of our scheduled speakers are women.


In addition, we will host occasional off-campus speakers, being strategic about how many are invited and how they are connected to the student body. Local pastors, such as Karl Vaters, Chris Harrell and Scott Rachels, who are known and respected by students, get priority as well.


Local campus life provides a good source as well, with departments such as Music, Communication, Athletics, and student speakers given opportunity to lead.


The Chapel schedule also includes an in-depth Monday night verse-by-verse Bible study called “Excavate,” led by Bill Dogterom, and the popular, “Shine,” a Wed 9:30pm worship service.


Click here to check out who will be featured in Chapel this semester.
May lives be changed as students meet with God!


For further conversation, contact Bryan at Bryan.Rouanzoin@vanguard.edu


Adults Learning Today

Andrew Stenhouse, Vanguard University

Andrew Stenhouse, Director of Graduate and Professional Studies at Vanguard University, wrote our featured article this month. We asked him to tell us how adults are learning these days, and help us think about best discipleship teaching practices in that light. He writes this –


Adult learners are primarily driven by three things:
relevance, immediacy and convenience.



We file all kinds of data in our minds. And like filing cabinets, our brains get full and unorganized. Many adults have learned to function on a “need-to-know” basis. They focus on obtaining and retaining information if certain they will need to retrieve it at some point. In other words, they don’t want to waste time on information that has no relevance. In higher education, career advancement is the number one reason adults attend college.

What they learn has to have relevance. I have often said that when teaching adults, “If it doesn’t matter to them, they won’t bother to learn it.”


Andrew Stenhouse, Vanguard University Immediacy

It’s not just the kids who have grown accustomed to instant access to information. We all have quickly learned to download and watch movies and read books the moment we get the urge. While we all agree that there is nothing quite like the smell of a bookstore and the touch of actual paper, we turn to our Kindle for an immediate and less expensive option. Likewise, while we all know there is nothing like an IMAX with surround sound, we often turn to Netflix for an immediate and less expensive experience.

Adults expect to learn the same way – fast. This is why learning on YouTube is outpacing college and universities worldwide.



Along with everything else on-demand, we now have life-on-demand. We have grown accustomed to life-work integration replacing life-work balance. The majority of adults understand that the great divide between personal life and professional life has become pretty thin. Today we parent our kids while we’re at work via text and Facebook, and we work the same way while away from our jobs. We parent from work and work from home. The question for adult learners today is not when we learn but how we learn. The when is a given – now.

We need convenience to fit our now-oriented schedules that are no longer static, but are now dynamic. We scroll through our phones and tablets while in the stands at a soccer game, waiting in the doctor’s office, or catching some downtime between kid’s events.


In short, we learn what we need, when and how we want.

Contact Andrew at AStenhouse@vanguard.edu for further information.


“And God Rested.” Do You?

Terry Zeigler, Vanguard University

Terry Zeigler, Ed.D., ATC Professor of Kinesiology and Health Center Director at Vanguard University, writes this month. Terry attends Newport Mesa Church; her father-in-law, Virgil, is a retired AG minister.


We work to serve our churches and God’s people. When crunch time comes, we push through fatigue to work long hours, and choose to sacrifice free time, family time, and rest time.

All of this “serving” takes a toll on both mental and physical health. Too much work and not enough rest can result in:



  • Decreased immune system resulting in more frequent illness/disease
  • Fatigue/lack of energy
  • Indigestion; increased stomach acid leading to ulcers and stomach upset
  • Increased muscle tension resulting in neck and back pain
  • Increased headaches
  • Insomnia/sleep disturbances



  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Decreased concentration/attention span
  • Irritability
  • Nervous habits


Recreation and leisure are important contributors to wellness and a better quality of life. They provide a means for your body to mentally and physically heal and recover from the fatigue of demanding output.

“Time out” allows you to “re-create” yourself by reducing and eliminating the stress hormones that can accumulate in your body from constant work. Research has shown that chronic stress can actually damage your body at the molecular level leading to an increased risk of illness, disease, and early aging.

This is summer in SoCal when God’s people tend to take time off, vacation, and rest. Rather than packing your summer schedule full, try being intentional about scheduling daily, weekly, and annual rest, leisure, and re-creation time. Then hit it hard in the fall. Adapt to the rhythm of the year.

God rested. How about you?


Rest = Recovery = Better Quality of Life and Ministry


Contact Terry for further conversation at TZeigler@vanguard.edu


Trish Fisher

‘Marketing’ Your Message

Trish Fisher, Vanguard University

Trish Fisher is an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Department of Business and Management at Vanguard University and is Chair of the Business Degree Program for working adults. Trish shares her practical suggestions for maximizing the use of the Sunday sermon message.


It’s Saturday night and you’re in your office, going over your Sunday sermon one more time. You’ve spent hours praying about the sermon series, researching the text, and thinking through relevant images, stories, and anecdotes to help bring your points to life in a meaningful way. While the message you have so prayerfully developed is powerful and the goal is to reach and share this Good News with as many people as possible, too often your work ends up as a one-Sunday message reaching only those hearers gathered at your church building.

Maybe a simple marketing approach can help accomplish the greater goal: to reach more people.
(After all, you’ve already done the work.)


I know—marketing is that discipline that often seems to create a divide among people. They either value and appreciate its benefits, or they think it’s salesmanship at its worst, just a broad array of strategies designed to manipulate people into buying things they don’t really need or want. But marketing at its core is about reaching people with a message, and meeting consumer needs and wants—and our greatest need is to hear and respond to that Message (and that Savior!) through whom the Holy Spirit will transform us into people whose needs and wants align with God’s eternal desires for us. (And Paul, for that matter, knew something about reaching people with a message: “But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them?” (Romans 10:14, The Message)

What might the apostle Paul have done had he lived in a digital age? Would he not have embraced the opportunity to reach many more with communication and promotion vehicles such as instagram, snapchat, twitter, and blogs? Paul was willing to pay any price to reach people with the gospel; as a marketer I like to think Paul would have been so zealous in his evangelistic goals that he would have been open-minded to innovative ways to broaden the reach of his messages.


Here are a few marketing tools and strategies discussed in current marketing texts and promoted by various bloggers and church websites. Consider these as options that might help you use your Sunday message in additional ways to reach a broader segment of all those who need and want to hear the Good News:

  • Take a few paragraphs from the sermon, add an introductory sentence and closing though, and use it as a future blog
  • Transcribe and reprint the sermon audio version in the church newsletter
  • Upload both the audio and print versions to the church website
  • Take a few key sentences and use them over several weeks on Twitter
  • Use the content of a sermon series as the basis for Bible study lessons and discussions or a teaching class or a weekend retreat
  • Take a few key points from the sermon and send out on a post card or direct mailer to a particular zip code near the church
  • Take a sermon series and turn it into chapters in a book—get published!
  • Make audio copies of the sermon and give it to visitors; get a list of new house sales in the area and deliver a welcome basket that includes a sermon cd/reprint
  • Email the written sermon (and link to the audio version on the church website) to the church database; encourage church members to forward the sermon link to their Facebook friends with an invitation to read/listen and then call to discuss ( keep track of Facebook’s changing policies as to how many people it reaches)
  • Video the sermon, upload to You Tube, put the link on the church website, email the link
  • Use some parts of the sermon as an email devotional
  • Engage in an online discussion on the sermon message


There was a time when the preacher could reach only as many as could immediately hear his/her voice, but today we gladly utilize the airwaves around the world to reach people everywhere. There was a time when Paul’s written instruction could reach only people within earshot of someone reading from the scrolls he had written to the churches; the Church was quick to utilize Gutenberg’s printing press to reach a far broader audience. God knows the other side is marketing like crazy to reach the masses today; may God help us to be wise in the ways we use current marketing tools and strategies.

For those of you who have been called to the mighty task of preaching, and teaching, and evangelizing, and working to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing”, (1 Thessalonians 5:11) know that you are appreciated!

For further conversation, contact Trish Fisher, MBA at tfisher@vanguard.edu