Seminary Notes 3: Pick Your Pace

While we were at the beach last week, I finished up summer quarter finals. I wrote two final papers, one on Hamilton (which was a major win for 2020) and an exegetical project on the Davidic covenant. I also took an exam, which was a timed series of four essay questions. It was brutal and I was glad I got to view the ocean while I was writing. Second quarter is finished even if I don’t have grades yet.

During the summer quarter I made the decision to only take one class in the fall quarter. It was hard to decide to slow my pace but the words of one of my professors were instrumental in making my decision. We had a guest speak to the class and she commented on how long it had taken her to finish her degree because of her job and her family. My professor calmly replied, “We don’t apologize for things like that.” Instantly I remembered that this isn’t a race.

How Story Shows Us the Way

Moses ended his ministry leading the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Promised Land with a brilliant sermon and song. When he finished the song he said, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 32:46-47.

Moses had already spent the entire book reminding the people of their story. He reminded them how God had brought them “out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deuteronomy 8:14) and he reminded them of how the law is supposed to shape the people they become in the midst of people who don’t know God. It’s his time to die but the story of the people will go on. As they go, it’s important that they remember what happened before.

Living in the Age of the Internet: 2 ways to keep focus

I’ve been spending this past week working on a seminary application. Since this has moved from a dream that I’ve had for multiple years to the first steps of a goal, I’ve been hit with fear. What if they don’t accept me? What if I’ve forgotten how to be in school? What if I don’t have time to work on actual class assignments? But I’m committed to not making decisions out of fear so I’m still writing essays and asking a few people for references.

I don’t think seminary is for everyone. However, if we went around stating our wildest dreams I’d love to sit on a translation committee when I’m in my 60s or 70s. I want to learn Hebrew and Greek. I’d love to learn to fly planes and contribute to missions work. I’d like more ministry training. I’d love to do research and eventually get my Ph.D (I already have an idea for a dissertation). I want to settle down in a community, serve locally, and leave behind a lifetime of work that disciples the people I meet in real life and the ones that come after me.

It’s Not About Me: tiny mantras that change my thinking

Sometime in my mid-twenties I learned a valuable lesson. When having a bad hair day, ignore it. Don’t apologize for the offending hair. Don’t make self-deprecating comments about it all day. Every time it comes to mind, redirect my thoughts.

I have better things to do with my brain space. If I spend my day thinking about my hair and how it doesn’t look like what I want, I’m not doing the work that God has given me. You know what I discovered? Not one other person is paying attention to my hair. They are too busy thinking about their own hair or that project at work or a tiff with a friend.

Who’s the Real Hero of the Story? (hint, it’s Jesus)

Not shockingly, I’ve been reading a book. Overall, it’s a great resource, but there’s one sentence that we should discuss. The author is noting what identifies her as a woman and how all women know they are women.

“Or that in us, was not the instinct to jump in front of a bullet for a man but to be the first warm face he saw once he fell to the ground.”

Now to be fair, this is actually in a paragraph that I disagree with as a whole. Her markers for being a woman are not true for all women everywhere; actually not one of the women in our small group identified with the whole list.

My point in writing about this is not to pick at the author. But this particular idea is actually unbiblical and we are still doing a lot of damage with the ways we talk about gender. This quote represents a Disney fairytale, a princess desiring to be rescued by a knight in shining armor. This is a woman waiting for a hero when women already have one (so do men). The hero of all stories is God, and we are called to act like that hero.

Kindness + Respect: a primer for believers

Nice is a nothing word. Sure, it has a dictionary definition but if someone tells me that my outfit is “nice,” I go change. I attempt to never tell my kids to be “nice” because what does that even mean? A lot of times I think it just means “don’t rock the boat, don’t make waves, and for heaven’s sake, don’t be the wave.” I’m almost always the wave so I don’t have a lot of space for that. I’m not interested in nice and much more importantly, God never tells us to be nice.

But I do frequently remind my boys to be kind. One of my parenting goal is teach my boys to be kind and respectful by teaching them why they should be kind and respectful. We need good reasons for the things we do; motivation can make all the difference.

Kindness, as opposed to niceness, is a characteristic that should flow out of a believer. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). God describes Himself as kind. Psalm 145:13 says, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.” Love is kind (1 Corinthians 13:4) and we are told to be kind to everyone (Ephesians 4:32, 2 Timothy 2:24).

How to Have a Settled Life: finding a firm foundation

Occasionally, I hear someone say a pretty flowery thing about following Jesus. They present an almost fairy tale; candy that entices, but doesn’t sustain. It’s not that they aren’t true; they just left out the meat. They presented the fairy tale ending too soon and left out the part about life today. The full redemption and transformation comes after God makes the world new. Then He wipes away all our tears; pain and suffering and death are gone forever. But here, even with the joy of being in Christ, comes persecution and suffering and loss. We are joined, not just in Jesus’ resurrection, but also in His death.

Paul never minces words about this dual reality. This both/and narrative is his story. He’s writing this book to the Philippians from prison. He’s in prison and he doesn’t know if he will live or die. He doesn’t know if he will see these believers he loves again. And even if he lives and does see them, it’s second best. He would actually rather go be with Christ.