Tag Archives: seminary

Some big announcements

God has been doing some amazing things in our family lately and I wanted to share them with you.
First, and most exciting, Connie is pregnant. We thought it would be fun to announce it today on Facebook to create a little stir. But rest assured, faithful reader, that Connie is indeed pregnant! In fact, she’s already started showing a little bit; it’s incredibly cute! The photo we used to announce it is too fun not to share here:

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Please pray for Connie & baby’s health. She’s due early November, so it would be fun if baby and I shared birthday dates.

Another big announcement is that I’m going to stop attending seminary for a season. I originally began seminary pursuing a Masters of Divinity and have recently realized that it’s probably not the degree I need for the specific ministry role to which God is directing me. Rather than being the preacher on the stage, I feel like God is pushing me to be the man behind the scenes making sure that all the volunteers have what they need, that the electric bill has been paid, etc.
With that in mind, I recently began the application process for an MBA program at George Fox University. Truth be told, I would study theology whether I got a seminary degree in it or not, but I would probably not study corporate finance or organizational development unless I forced myself to do so. This is why I think the MBA program will equip me with a skill-set that I wouldn’t get elsewhere but will serve the Church well. Please pray for that process and ask God to grant me wisdom as I move forward.

Finally, this week I start a new job installing hardwood floors! As I transition from full- to part-time school with another child on the way, God has provided a job that will pay the exact dollar amount necessary for us to meet our needs. This is an answer to our family’s recurring prayer that God give us neither poverty not riches (Pr. 30:7-9). Another bonus is that Connie will be able to stay home with our children indefinitely, which is very important to us. Also, this job will help me accomplish one of my long-term goals: learn a trade!

Connie & I are excited about all these changes and look forward to watching God at work during this new season of life. God is good and has recently reminded me that He will provide for His children.

5 Reasons to Study Church History

Although I wouldn’t consider myself a history buff (yet), I’m becoming increasingly convinced that it’s absolutely essential for us to study and know our history. I’m beginning to think that history only repeats itself because we fail to learn from it. We can change that! Therefore, I wrote for a guest post for my seminary blog about just that topic, you can read it here: http://www.transformedblog.com/2012/01/28/5-reasons-to-study-church-history/

The Rest of the Story

Many Chris­tians appeal to the Ten Com­mand­ments as the ulti­mate exam­ple of God’s moral desires for us. And yet we (I say “we” because I’m guilty too!) quickly dis­miss that one about tak­ing a day off! So really, many of us point to the Nine Com­mand­ments as the ulti­mate exam­ple of God’s moral desires for us and we don’t even bat an eye at our casual dis­missal of the Sab­bath. For some time now God has been prompt­ing me to recon­sider whether I know bet­ter than He does and whether skip­ping the Sab­bath is wiser than delib­er­ately enter­ing into a day of rest.

Long story short, I’ve had an exhaust­ing semes­ter thus far and I haven’t taken a full day of rest since it started. Last week was par­tic­u­larly exhaust­ing because I was busy all day Tues­day; granted I went to the David Crow­der* Band con­cert and it was amaz­ing. But it essen­tially took up an entire day and left me tired and dehy­drated Wednes­day. I had trou­ble con­cen­trat­ing but did as much home­work as I could that Wednes­day. Then I woke up Thurs­day and did home­work almost all day. Then came Fri­day where I had class from 8–12, then had Air Force com­mit­ments Fri­day after­noon and most of the day Sat­ur­day. I stayed up until around mid­night trans­lat­ing Greek on Fri­day. Sun­day, I did a bunch of home­work until I felt like I couldn’t think any­more, then had another cup of cof­fee and went at it for a few more hours.

Then came Mon­day! I woke up early to go for a run and hope­fully clear my head. I did a lit­tle more review, and then I had class from 10:30 A.M. to 3 P.M. and from 6 P.M. until 10 P.M. And oh, by the way, I real­ized that I had for­got­ten to do my mid-term for my sec­ond class so I spent my 2.5 hour break play­ing catch-up!

I woke up yes­ter­day morn­ing utterly dis­cour­aged and feel­ing like I was com­pletely out of gas. I hon­estly didn’t even want to get out of bed. I had two voices in my head:  one told me to suck it up an get to work and the other kept whis­per­ing that I needed rest. The truth is, I hadn’t taken a day off in so long because I didn’t trust God. I didn’t trust God to come through for me and give me rest or energy. I didn’t trust God to come through so I refused to take a day off. After months of lis­ten­ing to the first voice, I decided to see if it was just pos­si­ble that God might have an idea of what He’s talk­ing about con­cern­ing the Sab­bath. I rested! I watched a movie. I hung out with my dog. I spent time alone. And per­haps most impor­tantly, I refused to feel guilty for rest­ing and instead chose to trust that God would give me refresh­ment from the past weeks and energy for the com­ing week. It was great!

Today, I woke up and I felt recharged. I feel ready to attack my home­work for the rest of the week. I feel like I wasn’t work­ing as effec­tively as I could have last week because I hadn’t rested at all. It was like try­ing to run a race with­out sleep­ing the night before. You might be able to fin­ish the race, but you won’t fin­ish well. I’ve decided that I want to take God’s instruc­tions about rest more seri­ously. I want to feel rested, refreshed, and ener­gized and I want to give Him the glory for giv­ing me strength.

Do you take a day of rest? When was the last time you felt refreshed? I encour­age you to carve out a day where you rest. Take a day to allow God to refresh you. Take the day in faith, trust­ing that God will give you energy for the rest of the week. You will never regret the times that you honor God.

Lesson One: Spiritual Gifts

Once upon a time and for only about 8 long weeks, I was training to be a combat controller (I was medically disqualified because of my eyesight, but now I see God’s hand in that). Becoming a combat controller demands that all candidates be in world-class physical condition and one of the big philosophies ingrained in me early on is that you must focus on your weaknesses. If you’re a really great runner but you’re horrible at push-ups, then you need to double your training-efforts to get better at push-ups. If you can knock out pull-ups with no problem but you sink like a rock in the pool, then you need to spend extra time developing your form. It made a lot of sense, because all combat controllers need to be pretty evenly rounded when they’re out on missions.

Somehow, this mentality stuck with me for the rest of my military career and, even worse, as a Christian. While there is some merit to this approach, I think it’s significantly short-sighted when it comes to our spiritual gifts. This is the first lesson God has taught me in seminary. According to 1 Cor 12:7, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (Another translation I just learned about, the J.B. Phillips New Testament, puts it like this: “Each man is given his gift by the Spirit that he may make the most of it.”) Later on, Paul develops this thought a little more specifically by saying that we’ve each been given very specific gifts for very specific reasons and that no one is a miniature body with all the gifts (1 Cor 12:18-20). This diversity is meant to cause unity and interdependence in the Church.

Coming into seminary, I thought “I feel like God has given me a gift and a calling to teach, so I need to supplement that with classes about pastoring and shepherding.” I had imported the combat control mentality that I needed to be “balanced” or “well-rounded” into my calling. This really doesn’t make sense when you think about it. Paul agreed in 1 Cor 12:17 when he points out how ridiculous it would be for every member of the church to try to have the same spiritual gifts.

I’ve realized that, instead of trying to compensate for areas where God has not gifted me, I should be focusing on the areas where God has gifted me. Instead of trying to be a flashlight and shine over a wide area, I should be like a laser and focus on the central area where God has gifted me. In Maximizing Your Effectiveness: How to Discover and Develop Your Divine Design, Aubrey Malphurs says about spiritual gifts:

“God has sovereignly made us just the way we are–God is the Architect, the Master Designer, the Potter. Whether you are an ear or an eye, 1 Corinthians 12:18 teaches, “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” Therefore, there is no need to be upset with our place or function in the body of Christ. Instead, there is much satisfaction in knowing we are ministering in accordance with God’s design and purpose for our lives. The key is discovering which body part you are, then functioning according to that design.”

So, the first big lesson that God has taught me is that it’s time to embrace the gifts He’s given me and realize that others in the Body will be able to minister in areas where I’m not gifted. This season of my life is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to harness my spiritual gifts in preparation for full-time ministry. It would be foolish and wasteful of me to try to become the spiritual equivalent of a Swiss-army Knife when God has gifted me to be something far more specific and useful. I encourage you to pray for wisdom and discernment and ask God to reveal the gifts He’s given you; then serve in those areas mightily for God’s glory and your joy.

187 + 182 + 600 = Methuselah

(Fair warning: If you don’t care about some of the Geeky incidental details of the Bible, stop reading now.)

 

This week I start classes at Western Seminary and to prepare I’ve started doing my required readings. For one of my classes I’ll be reading through a large portion of the Old Testament (Genesis through Song of Solomon). I don’t know about you, but any time I read a list of Hebrew names, I always wonder what they mean. Do any of them mean, “he eats his boogers” or “he makes a tasty chicken sandwich”? Yesterday as I was reading Genesis 5, I took the time to look up the names in Gen 5:6-25. But before I show you what I found out, we have to do a little math, so bear with me.

In Gen 5:25, we read that Methuselah fathered Lamech when he was 187. Then, in Gen 5:28, we find out that Lamech fathered Noah when he was 182. Add those two together and you get 396… which means that Methuselah was 369 years old when Noah, his grandson, was born.

We all know what Noah is most famous for:  the Ark! Noah’s Ark, right? Well how old was Noah when the deluge came? Genesis 7:6, says that Noah was 600 years old when the flood came. So add 600 to the 396 and you get… drum roll… 969. Pretty cool, right? Yeah, not really…unless you look at Genesis 5:27 and pay attention to Methuselah’s age when he died:  969!

So why is this (debatably) interesting enough to warrant a blog post? Well, I’m glad you asked! Guess what Methuselah’s name means. Yesterday I found out that, according to The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names, Methuselah can mean “Messenger of death,” ”Man of the dart,” ”A man of the javelin,” or, most commonly and most interesting “When he is dead it shall be sent.”

“When he is dead it shall be sent??” Yeah, that was his name!

What shall be sent? The flood! The year Methuselah died was the same year that God sent the flood to cleanse the earth. For almost 1,000 years, Methuselah’s name served as a warning of judgment that the flood was coming!

What Comfort Zone?

While visiting a brand new mall, in the new city we just moved to, in an unfamiliar state where we know no one—and in the midst of reflecting on the fact that within a six month period I’ve finished the last 28 hours of my bachelors, gotten out of the military, found out we’re having a baby girl, and am preparing to start seminaryI received this fortune cookie:

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I guess we’ve always got room to grow, eh?