Tag Archives: Western Seminary

4 Quick Thoughts on Marriage

One of the things I absolutely love about my seminary is that they truly value the marriages of their students. As a result they have a couple’s banquet every year where the married students are served dinner by the professors, child care is provided, and a miniature sermon about marriage is presented. This year one of my professors, Carl Laney, gave four reasons why marriage should be held in honor and I thought they were so great I’d share them here.

  1. God ordained it. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24).” Marriage is the first institution created by God. Any other time God has made a covenant with man it has been regarded as something sacred and holy. In the same way, marriage should be viewed as a sacred institution that was created by God.
  2. Jesus blessed it. Jesus blessed marriage by turning water to wine at a wedding feast (John 2:1-12). He did this because marriage is something that deserves to be celebrated. Furthermore, Jesus said that there is a supernatural element to marriage. God joins the husband and wife, and we ought not separate what God has joined (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9)
  3. Children illustrate it. From the beginning, the biblical view of children is that they are a blessing. When a child is born, they have DNA from both the mother and the father. This is an illustration of the bond that occurs at marriage. Children are a vivid reminder of that unity that God creates when he weds a man and a woman.
  4. Death alone ends it. Marriage is intended as a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman in the sight of God and their family. The Bible says that wives are bound to their husbands as long as he is alive (Romans 7:2; 1 Corinthians 7:39). It also says that men are to love their lives to the point of dying for her (Ephesians 5:25-30). This lifelong devotion is meant to serve as a picture of Christ’s devotion to the Church.

There you have it! May your marriage be blessed and may it be a blessing.

Tips for Sharing Your Faith

This semester at Western Seminary, I’m taking a class called Practicing Evangelism and Apologetics with Dr. Gerry Breshears and Pastor Jim McGuire. At first I wasn’t exactly sure what I should expect from this class and I was a little nervous because evangelism is one of my weaker areas. However, we had our first class session last night and I really enjoyed it. We went around the room and all shared our testimonies. Despite my nervousness, I really appreciated having a chance to intentionally articulate what God has done in my life; it was even better to do so in a safe environment where I could receive advice on how to be more effective. I learned a ton in the class and want to take a few minutes to share some pointers about sharing your testimony. Continue reading Tips for Sharing Your Faith

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/

Lesson Two: Means & Ends

Something my professor, Dr. Randy Roberts, said in my “Learning to Love God and Others” class hit really close to home. Therefore, I have a confession to make: my devotional times have been an idol. Almost every day for years now I have made it a priority to spend time alone with God. I like to set aside the first portion of my wakefulness to read my Bible, meditate on God’s message for me, pray, and occasionally read an entry from a devotional. Sometimes I used to even blog as a response to whatever God showed me.

So how could this ever be an idol? This may sound surprising, and indeed I was surprised to realize this about myself. The sad truth is that for far too long I have viewed my quiet times as an ends, not a means. I’m not saying it’s bad to read your Bible, pray, meditate on God’s Word, memorize Scripture, etc. I’m saying they’re not the ultimate point. Our quiet times must always be a means to an ends, not the ends themselves. For years, I would read my Bible for the sake of reading my Bible. Shame on me! For years I would pray for the sake of praying. Oh, what vanity! For years I would do these things because I thought I was supposed to do these things. These things are not meant to terminate on themselves, they are meant to point us upwards.

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I forgot why I did these things: to connect to my Savior. I must read my Bible not just for the sake of reading my Bible, but in order that I may know my God in a deeper way. I must pray not for the sake of simply praying but in order that I may commune with my Savior. I must attend church not for the sake of warming up a seat, but so that I may worship my Maker.

Our quiet times are not a ends, they are a means. We must always remember why we read the Bible, why we pray, why we spend time memorizing the Bible, why we attend church, why we do all the things that we do.

We do these things because they are a means to a far greater ends. We do these things so that we may connect with the God of the universe. We do these things to to fall deeper in love with our Savior.

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!