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Posts Tagged ‘seminary’

Well, so much for a regular update on the status of my 101 Things list.  I haven’t even been very good at keeping up the list here at the site.  I did go back and make some updates, though – so here’s what’s new with 101 Things:

#1: Call one friend a month just to catch up
I’ve done a fairly decent job of keeping up on this one, making some intentional effort to connect with friends the good-old fashioned way over the phone.  So far, three months and at least three phone calls.

#20: Read the Bible in its entirety
Thanks to seminary classes that require a fairly heavy amount of Bible-reading, I’ve been keeping up with this one.  So far: Matthew, Mark, John and Galatians (all for classes), and Philippians (during my silent retreat at Mowana)

#30: Attend 30 On-Turf Youth Events
Three PSHS varsity basketball games, one community league indoor soccer game, and a spaghetti dinner sponsored by the PSHS volleyball teams.

#43: Complete the One Hundred Pushups Challenge
I began this program at the same time as the Two Hundred Situps Challenge.  After four weeks of the program, I am currently able to do 32 consecutive pushups.  I’m hoping to be able to do 100 by the time the next few weeks are over!

#47: Tackle the Tower
Finished!  February 7th Scott and I joined a group from PLC to Tackle the Tower for Ronald McDonald House.  It may not have been my best athletic performance to date, but I did it nonetheless!

#49: Complete the 200 Situps Challenge
Finished!  After completing only four weeks of the six-week challenge, I was able to do 210 crunches on 4/5/09.  I will be finishing the last two weeks of the program and then maintaining by doing a minimum of 200 crunches three times per week.

#52: Read and Finish 101 Books
I’ve definitely been keeping busy with this one – between reading for classes and a voracious appetite for personal reading that I’ve had lately, my list now includes the following titles:

  • The Shack by: William P. Young
  • The Synoptic Problem by: Mark Goodacre
  • Mad Church Disease by: Anne Jackson
  • She Said Yes by: Misty Bernall
  • The Way of the Heart by: Henri Nouwen
  • Holy Bible, Human Bible by: Gordon Oliver
  • Eat This Book by: Eugene Peterson
  • The Last Word by: NT Wright
  • Fundamentalism and American Culture by: George Marsden
  • The Real Billy Sunday by: Lyle Dorsett
  • Crazy Love by: Francis Chan

In addition to those, I’ve got about nine more that I am currently in the middle of reading both for class, ministry and personal enjoyment.

#53: Spend an entire day in silence
Finished!  In fact, I spent two entire days in silence while on a personal silent retreat at Camp Mowana from March 22nd through 24th.

#54: Watch 101 movies I have never seen before
Added to the last list are: Wall-E, The Final Cut, and Down With Love

#82: Go one week without logging into Facebook
Finished!  And beyond a week, since I gave up Facebook for Lent, it has currently been 41 days since I was last on Facebook.

#88: Spend at least 15 days at Camp Mowana
Two down, 13 more to go!  I’m definitely hoping to make a few more silent retreats down to Mowana during this 1001 days, and hopefully a few trips with the youth group and this goal will be more than met!

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Tonight in my Theology of Scripture in Ministry class, we spent some time digging into the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5:1-8:1.  As part of the study I ended up in a group handling the following case study:

You have been asked to assist in the preparation of 7th and 8th graders for their Confirmation at Easter.  As a layperson you and others from your church have been asked to explain what The Sermon on the Mount has meant to you in your walk of faith as a personal testimony.  You are sitting in a very informal group setting in a circle with these young people, the pastor and several other laypersons.  What would your understanding of The Sermon on the Mount contribute to this group?

As I started nonchalantly tossing around my thoughts on Confirmation (there’s a topic for another post) and 7th and 8th graders in general, something started to churn inside of me.  As I began a simple distillation of the Sermon on the Mount (a la junior high lingo) I began to see the sermon in a new light.  Now, there’s a lot to be said about the Sermon on the Mount – it’s probably one of the most well known sets of teachings given by Jesus in any of the gospels, and it includes a number of “all time favorites” (The Beatitudes, the “you are the light of the world” discourse, the Lord’s Prayer, etc.).  Right along with these “all time favorites” there is some pretty hard-to-handle stuff in there.

In Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus presents a number of discourses which include the phrase “You have heard that it was said… but I tell you” in which he essentially takes various Old Testament commandments and then heaps on additional seemingly impossible to achieve commands.  For example:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go to hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)

Now, as I was trying to figure out how to explain this series of “You have heard that it was said… but I tell you” statements to a group of 7th and 8th graders, I drew this comparison:  It’s kind of like if your teacher would say to you, “Your teachers last year taught you not to plagerzie, but I tell you that you can’t even look at another source while you’re writing a paper.  Don’t read anything.  Don’t listen to anyone speak on the topic.  Don’t talk to your classmates about the assignment.  For if you do any of these things you have already plagerized in your mind.”  There were a number of other examples that came to mind to use with junior highers, but basically you get the idea.

So what’s the point?

Jesus takes some old school commands, which although difficult, are obeyable.  One could reasonably go through life without murdering, committing adultery, divorcing his or her spouse, etc.  However, the instant Jesus gets a hold of these commands they become seemingly impossible.  I don’t think Jesus’ point here is to completely discourage his followers by making them believe that what he requires for discipleship is impossible and thus it shouldn’t even be attempted.  Rather, Jesus is demonstrating exactly what Paul has so beautifully stated in Romans 3:23 “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”  We need grace.

If we didn’t need grace, there would be no reason for Jesus to have come, died and risen in the first place.  There’s some beauty in the fact that we can’t live up to what Jesus teaches.  It means that we need him.  We need his grace.  I need his grace.

What a beautiful truth to reflect upon in this Lenten season.

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I feel like my life has really become quite the mess lately.  I’m disorganized, behind on work, grieving, unmotivated, and running on “fumes” spiritually.  I have really had trouble focusing in classes this quarter.  I constantly feel like I’m a half-step behind everyone.  I honestly need some time to pursue my identity in Christ and to be refreshed in my relationship with Him.

I’m really challenged by Los and his blogatical.

Are there too many distractions in my life?

Am I not protecting myself and my time with the proper boundaries?

Have I lost sight of my true priorities?

I’m wrestling through a lot of issues right now.  I hope you’ll all hold me in your prayers as I pray about what God is leading me to in this season of life.

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…and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

After three full days of reading, writing papers, translating Greek and exegeting Biblical texts, I’m seeing the light.  And it hasn’t even been all that bad.  Maybe there’s a reason why I procrastinate so much.  I’ve enjoyed passively getting to know the baristas over at the local Caribou Coffee, breathing the aroma of freshly brewed beans for hours on end, and even getting in a bit of people watching as I quietly sit at my corner table tapping away on the keyboard of my laptop.  There have been a number of moments where, in the back of my mind I said “Man, I should blog about that!” (like the noisy lady with her phone on speaker phone, or the impromptu mac convention on Monday, or even the man who comes in with his laptop and printer and sets up a little office for the day) but alas I stuck with the work at hand and the moments passed.

I’m a fan of the whole coffee house scene: people catching up with old friends over a cup of peppermint mocha, making themselves at home on the sofas, or simply making small talk with the baristas or fellow coffee house dwellers.  It’s that whole concept of the “Third Place” (Cheers, anyone?).  It kind of makes me wonder – maybe the church could learn a thing or two from coffee shops (but please not the other way around).

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It’s Crunch Time

So, it’s that time of the quarter, and I must say – while I missed the academic stimulation of formal schooling, I did not miss this feeling.  I have a number of big assignments due this week for classes.  This week marks the beginning of advent and another super busy season in the church year (are there any seasons that aren’t busy?), which means lots of youth activities filling the calendar.  Basically, it’s crunch time.  In the next 7 days I probably have about 10 days worth of work, and I’m probably going to have to cut down on my hours of sleep and “hang out” time at least a little bit.  Hopefully by this time next week I’ll be ready to sail smoothly through the last week of the quarter to finish up my first quarter of seminary.

Posting could continue to be scarce this week – or it could peak in fits of procrastination.  Who knows.  Either way, I do know this:  I will survive.

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Something of Substance

I’ve been longing to write something of substance lately, but when combined with all the end-of-the-quarter writing I have for my seminary classes, all the things that have been flying through my head just seem like mumbo-jumbo.  I haven’t really been able to find clarity in any of it – even the papers I’m writing for classes seem less organized than usual.  I’ve been gripped by a lot of things these past couple weeks – fear, feelings of failure, guilt, questions and doubt.  I’ve been praying for freedom, clarity and direction.

Hopefully I’ll have something of real substance to write sometime (very) soon.  Until then, it’s the honesty of a writer who doesn’t know what to write.

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How To Think TheologicallyThis book was required reading for Introduction to Theological Education.  I found it to be a pretty thorough overview on the topic of theological reflection.  The authors begin by laying a solid foundation for theological reflection, stressing the fact that everyone is a theologian, because everyone (particularly anyone who follows Christ) has to engage in theological reflection as part of their daily lives.  They discuss some basics of theological reflection, such as the difference between embedded theology and deliberative theology and using the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (Scripture, tradition, reason, experience) as a resource for theological reflection.  Following this foundational work, the authors seek to engage their readers in the practice of theological reflection through a series of exercises dealing with various theological topics.

I’d probably give this book a four-ish star rating (out of five) as a resource.  The authors lay out the topic well, but the subject matter can come off as confusing and frustrating if you don’t know much about theology before picking up the book.

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