Welcome

To the Seminary, and Beyond!
Follow us as we embark on our journey through the seminary and into ministry to which God has called us!

Don't forget to subscribe to get all the latest updates!

July 31, 2012

And so it continues

I know that some people will look down on this post, but that's okay. I want to be honest with all of you about where I am at. I'm discouraged. I'm still underemployed (thanks government for the fancy label) at the Gap where my hours have been dwindling to under 10 hours a week. I did not hear back from Stephen Ministries. After a positive three hour interview and them telling me it would be three weeks before I heard anything, I was expecting at least an email saying that I wasn't approved for a candidacy. But the silence continues. After two awesome interviews with Abstrakt Marketing, I spent an hour and a half waiting in the lobby for my third interview. They had forgotten I was there. So I moved on from that opportunity. It's been almost a week since my second interview with PNC Bank and I've yet to hear anything back. So the cycle continues:

1. Apply for lots of jobs
2. Interview for one
3. Hear nothing back
4. Repeat

The cycle is really wearing me down. I'm discouraged with the whole process. Although I'm trying to take hope in God that He will care for us in the meantime, it's hard.

July 21, 2012

Resting in Jesus

I have been leading a Bible study on Sunday mornings about resting in Jesus. Two weeks ago we read through Ecclessiastes 1 and 2 to talk about the problem of restlessness. Then last week we read part of Genesis 2 to look at the cause of restlessness. This week we are finally looking at the solution of restlessness by looking both at Ecclessiastes 3 and 1 Kings 19.

In Ecclessiastes 3, Solomon is saying to take enjoyment in our life and work, because if we're always pursuing after the next best thing we will always be chaing after the wind, and if we ever do get it we will die and lose it and who knows if the person after us will take care of it or not?  He also tells us to enjoy our lives and work because God gave us this life and work because everything apart from God is futility and is also chasing after the wind.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is fleeing for his life and stops to lay down under a tree and begs God to let him die. But when He falls asleep a massenger comes to Him and brings him bread and water, telling him to eat. He does and falls asleep again. Once more an angel comes, but this time when he tells Elijah to eat, he includes that Elijah cannot continue on his own, but with God's help he will be able to. After than Elijah picks up and goes to a mountian where he encounters God and He promises to Elijah justice and rest.

So, why am I sharing all of this? Because it's something that I really need to listen to myself right now. I was never good at being a student. I've never usually had to work too hard for my grades so I usually didn't. School has always been something that I've done because it's expected or neccessary. When we started Greek I had new energy because I had a long break from school and I was now going to school to persue my calling by God. However, 6 weeks into Greek my tank is running dry. I've been trying to do it on my energy and I'm growing extremely weary of Greek.

Lord, please help me internalize what I've been teaching the Bible study you have given to lead. Please help me to stop relying on my energy to finish out Greek and rely on you to get me through. Let me find rest and rejuvination, taking joy in learning the languages in which you gave us your scriptures. Thank you Lord for always providing and promising that when we seek you, you will answer. Than you Lord. Amen.

July 14, 2012

Friday the 13th

Yesterday was an exhausting day.  It wasn't bad, just exhausting.  There were a range of emotions throughout the day, more than any I've ever had.

The day started with Marie and I waking up and getting ready for my grandmother's funeral.  At church, I was able to see a lot of family.  I also met some family that I didn't know.  I also met family that I did know that I didn't know was family (neither did they).  During the funeral, I heard things about grandma that I didn't know, things that I did know and forgot, and things that I remembered and cherished.  She was such a woman of faith.  I forgot that she was in the women's club at church, but hearing that made me remember going with her when I was younger to help fold the bulletins at church.  I also forgot that she was such a great cook.  That brought back memories of big family thanksgiving dinners and other meals.  I was so eager to forget about my childhood I forgot a lot of the good memories of my grandmother.  It made me happy to have those memories be recalled, and made me regret the time that I didn't spend with her by choice.  It was good to celebrate the life she had on earth.

Being a pallbearer though had an effect on me that I didn't think it would.  I know at the funeral, she was no longer with us, but yet getting to be a part of putting her earthly dwelling at rest was meaningful.  That was only this side though.  I know the moment she passed, grandma left this earth to join Christ in heaven and rejoin those loved ones that have departed before her.  She also probably got to meet many other people that she never knew in this world but is now part of her family, including people like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, David, Paul, Peter, and other countless people whose stories are told in the Bible, as well as those who are less well known to us but are still part of the Christian family.

My sister Kari read a poem at the funeral that I really liked the imagery of.  It was of a ship sailing from out side out into the ocean.  We watch with sadness as it disappears, yet we know that as soon as it does, it comes into view of a crowd on the other side gathered around to greet it.  It really made me think about how we gather together on this side to say goodbye to her, she's already joining that crowd on the other side.  I'm sure she embraced grandpa as he was waiting next to Christ for her.  She's at home now, finally resting and peaceful, and waiting for us to join her.

After celebrating my grandmother's life and her uniting with Christ in eternity, we moved to a different kind of celebration of life and uniting in Christ.  My cousin Katie was married to a man that obviously made her happy and meant the world to her.  Getting to hear the stories of their first date and the time they spent together was infecting as it made me feel the joy they had together.  At the reception, we joked and laughed and danced.  I know that Grandma would have been more than happy that we celebrated with Katie instead of sitting at home.  It was a great ending to the day.  It may be weird to say, but I can't think of a better way to end a day that started with a funeral than to end it with a wedding.  Christ was present through the whole day and He made evident more than ever that He is with us through every stage of life.  We have an awesome God and I am thankful for the experience I had this Friday the 13th.

A Funeral and a Wedding

Yesterday, Friday the 13th, Timothy and I attended both a funeral and a wedding. Almost seems like something right out of Hollywood. Timothy's grandmother, Irma Roth, was buried beside the love of her life, Hilmer Roth, in the morning. That evening, we celebrated with Timothy's cousin Katie as she married Paul. Throughout the day, we were able to celebrate two of life's emotional moments.

We said our final goodbyes to Irma with heavy hearts, but took comfort in the fact that she has received her heavenly reward. As a woman of strong faith, Irma has been called home to heaven and reunited with her Lord and all the loved ones who went before her, including her husband. It was really a happy moment, despite the tears. She also is free from the pain of cancer that ravaged her body at the end. She is truly at rest, worshiping her Lord. It was truly a triumphant celebration.

Katie and Paul made a commitment to each other and began their lives as husband and wife. It was another joyous celebration of how our Lord works and how He loves. Katie and Paul truly understand what it means to love unconditionally and I'm excited for them as they begin their family.

Overall, it was a very emotional day. We celebrated with joy two life changing moments, both of which were guided by God. I also think that celebrating new life (both new life in Christ and new life in a new family) twice in one day was amazing, albeit exhausting.

July 12, 2012

Rough Year

It was said to me recently that Timothy and I are having a "rough year." Since getting married in January, we have said good-bye to two grandmothers, Grandma Norma in April and Grandma Roth a few days ago, and two dogs, Kona and Pugsey. We've spent the first four months of our marriage living apart. Timothy was dismissed from Old Navy in February and I have not found a full-time job in St. Louis yet. I guess you could say that we have had a "rough year" but that would only be half true.

By focusing on the negative, you miss all the highlights. We celebrated our marriage with family and friends in January. We had the opportunity to spend almost one weekend a month together during our four months apart. Timothy passed his Old and New Testament and Christian Doctrine qualifying exams during his unemployment so he could start summer Greek. I traveled to Cleveland to present three papers at the regional Central States Communication Conference in March. I finished my master's thesis and graduated in May. We finally set up our apartment and began living together in St. Louis. We've had the opportunity to experience several STL cultural events, such as Cardinals games, Muny performances, the zoo and Fourth of July fireworks over the Arch. We've made new friends and (hopefully) found our field work church for our time at the seminary. A version of my thesis was accepted to the National Communication Association conference in November so Timothy and I will be traveling to Orlando for our "honeymoon." Better late than never.

We've truly been blessed this year. It has been very dynamic, with high highs and low lows. But I wouldn't say it's been a rough year. I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

Communion

I was doing good today up until the time that we took communion in chapel.  I received the sacrament and went back down to my pew to sit and pray.  As I started praying, it hit me.  Something slipped from my head knowledge to my heart knowledge.  As I started praying, I gave thanks that I could commune with God and other believers.....and there it happened.

We say that when we take communion, not only are we communing with God, but we are also communing with all other believers.  By it's very nature, communion is something that transcends the physical, meaning it is not bound by distance.  When we take communion, we are communing with those believers in other parts of the United States, with believers in Europe, Africa, China, and everywhere else too.

But not only does communion transcend distance, it also transcends time.  This is a two part point.  Not only are we communing with those who "have come before us and are yet to come," but with those who have come before us, it's not a passive act as it seems, but an active one.  We are actively communing with them because as they passed, they passed into eternity and are into true communion with Christ.  They are active, not dead but alive, and in communion with Him all the time.  We commune with the church militant, those here still fighting the battle on earth, as well as with the church triumphant, those who have died with Christ and are now with Him waiting for the Resurrection.

And it was in that moment that I thought about how I just communed with my grandma.  Friends in Christ are friends forever.  I don't want to make this sound like my connection with grandma, or our connection with the church triumphant, should be the focus of communion.  By far, the most important part of communion is taking Christ's body and blood which reminds us of His sacrifice and directly connects Him with us.  But it's still joyful to be reminded that the body of Christ really does transcend time and space, and that when we commune, the church militant is getting a taste of what the church triumphant has already gained in full.

July 11, 2012

Shepherd of the Flock

In Greek we talk about a lot of different things, as taking Greek relates to a lot of what we do at the seminary. Through a chain of thought in a particular discussion today, which I'm not going to take the time to lay out, we ended up on the topic of what the role of the pastor is.
This is a topic which is of much interest as I believe today's church has lost sight of the true structure of what the church is. When we look to Corinthians, Paul explains that the church has prophets, apostles, teachers, pastors, and evangelists.  Each have their own role in the church.  The church today, I feel, has tried to combine all, or most, of these into one.  This is not true.
Now onto the role of the pastor and our discussion in class. My professor was giving us some words, as he typically does, and in his speech he told us that as pastors we are the shepherds of the flock has given us. This does not only mean that we are to feed, nourish, and take care of them, but we are also the ones to stand between them and the wolves.
This thought stuck me. It's nothing new to me, but I've never heard it put that way or so forcefully as he put it before. He of course followed this up with the fact that leaders of the church will give an account, not the sheep themselves. Being a pastor is a big responsibility. It's a serious calling that should not be taken lightly. This thought scares me to the end of the earth, but it excites me as well.
I know that I am not able on my own, but as long as I follow Christ in the calling He has given me, I will make a difference in the world.  I live for the day when I give my account, Christ looks at me and says, "Well done, good and faithful servant," as  He turns to my flock with which He has given me. I will not run in fear but stand in the love of God to help take care of and also to defend the sheep He will give me.

July 6, 2012

Another week of Greek come and gone.  It waits for no one.  I know I haven't posted much about anything other than Greek, so I am going to take this moment to take a break and just talk.  While Greek trucks along, so does life.  My grandmother has been fighting a long battle with ovarian cancer.  It is a very painful cancer as it slowly crushes your insides and shuts your organs down.  Thankfully, my grandma has enough pain medication that it is bearable for her.

But her situation has made me reflect a lot.  One of the things I have been reflecting upon my relationship with my grandma.  I know that she loves me, as she loves all of her grandchildren greatly.  Sometimes in families you can tell who the "favorite" kids or grandchildren are, but my grandma really does love all of us.  But it makes me question, have I really loved her as much as I should have?  Have I respected her and looked towards her for wisdom which she undoubtedly carried.  Even in her dementia, she may not remember the conversation you had with her a couple minutes ago, but she can still paint beautiful pictures for you what life was like in her youth.  She can give you facts about where she grew up and fascinating stories of events from her past.  Why did I not ask her more questions.  I question why I did not seek more guidance and information from her?  The Bible teaches us value of our elders, but why do we not appreciate things while we have them?  I wish I would have invested more into our relationship, I know my grandma was willing.  I guess I will have to take peace in knowing that after she passes, I will get to meet her one day again and spend eternity with her.

Another thing it has made me reflect upon is the strange behavior of humans when it comes to illness and death.  One common phrase you always hear is "It's so hard to see him/her like this," when someone is sick or dying.  I know I'm about to pull out a soap box here, but guess what?  It's not about you.  How would you feel if you were sick or dying and people wouldn't come near you?  Especially if they told you it's because it was hard to see you in the state you were.  I think my response to them would be, "Try to see how hard it is to BE in the state that I am."  I've heard that death is a communal event, just as birth is.  I agree with that.  We are brought into this world surrounded by loved ones, we should be taken out of this world surrounded by loved ones.  Yes, it gave me sorrow to see how weak and frail my grandmother was, but that drew me to her, wanting to be there to comfort her.  Let's stop thinking about "us" and be more concerned with the sick and dying.  Who's going to take care of them if they are all "too hard to see like that?"

But enough about that.  My grandmother is seriously a woman with an amazing heart.  She has endured so much, including the loss of her true love over 20 years ago.  But her heart is the biggest I have ever seen.  Her faith to this day is still very strong.  Her life has been blessed with a big family and she was able to see her great grandchildren.  When she gets to heaven, she'll be able to tell grandpa all about them.  I hope that she'll also be able to tell him plenty of good things about me too, since I never was able to meet him.  Please pray for my grandma and my family as she passes from this life into eternal life.  Pray that though we will mourn the loss of her in this world, we will be comforted by not only her legacy, but in the knowledge that she will be with grandpa and God forever and one day we will meet her again.

Water

Today is the tenth day of 100+ degree weather for St. Louis. The heat is set to break next week, but only back to the low 90s. With outside being next to unbearable for a few minutes, we have been driven inside in search of air conditioning and water. That is, after spending the Fourth of July down at the Arch for an airshow, a Heart concert and some fireworks. There's nothing like the heat  to remind us of how delicate our lives really are. Without enough water, we shrivel, get splitting headaches and require intensive medical attention. Physical effects are easy to see. But the same happens with a lack of spiritual water. Timothy and I have been attending chapel on the seminary's campus every weekday for him and when I am able for me. As a very traditional service, I find myself missing out on the relationship with our Lord that I find during my own devotionals. Is the spiritual water we need different for each person? Or is it like the physical water we need to survive that is universal?

July 5, 2012

Finding Light in a Dark Place

I have a stack of vocabulary cards several inches high.  Greek is getting more and more complex.  But all of this frustration and hard work is worth it.  I've already learned how the Jahovah Witnesses use the Greek texts of John 1:1 to defend some of their beliefs, and how in doing so they are manipulating the Greek syntax to try and make it say something it does not.  I've also already learned a lot of nuances in the Greek that do not get carried over to the English, like emphasis and the Middle voice.  I hope that one day my hard work pays off and I will be able to communicate all of this to my congregation

July 3, 2012

Ramblings...

Greek is still frustrating, and a week of 100+ degree weather doesn't help...especially when there is no end in sight.  Anyway, I'm getting to know my brothers better.  When Marie is at work after chapel I go eat lunch with them.  Yesterday I also helped one moved into their house.  They are a pretty cool group of guys. I'm happy that I'm getting the chance to know them and will be spending a lot of time with them.