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!

December 27, 2013

Vacation

So, we've been pretty bad at keeping this updated.  Sometime life just overwhelms and you don't have time to do everything you'd like to.  But this week we've been on vacation in Florida.  We're visiting Marie's parents for Christmas and New Years.  It's an added bonus that they live on the beach...though it's too cold to get in the water right now.  Yesterday (the day after Christmas) we went out to exchange the Goggle Chromecast that Marie's brother gave us because it wasn't working and the backpack that Marie's parents got me because it wasn't big enough.  After that we went to Verizon to look at phones since we will be updating our contract soon (we're on a family plan together).  Marie's mom, Marie, and I made up our minds pretty fast, but Marie's brother has done is research and is taking his time picking.  While we were in the store Levi was getting fussy so Marie and I took him out to the car and the following video is what ensued:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=2960890543799&l=1319755595015978195

Vacation has been relaxing so far.  We will be here for another week before having to get back to real life.  Then I will have only seven more weeks of Winter term left!

December 1, 2013

My First Sermon

Romans 13:8-14 - English Standard Version (ESV)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.  The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh,to gratify its desires.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.
This weekend is the first weekend in Advent, the four-week long season where Christians busy ourselves with repentance and prayer in preparation for the Lord’s coming.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “The Church of Christ bears witness to the end of all things.  It lives from the end, it thinks from the end, it acts from the end, it proclaims its message from the end.”  Today’s theme is all about the end: the second coming of Christ.  Advent, derived from the Latin verb “to come,” culminates with the first coming of Christ on Christmas Day, the day when the kingdom of light broke into our world of darkness.  For now, we also wait for His second coming, the day when the kingdom of light will swallow up the darkness once and for all.  Living in a time between the two advents of Christ puts us in a very peculiar place.  Bonhoeffer said, “Within the old world the Church speaks of the new world.”  This tension of living between the inauguration of the Kingdom and it’s consummation is what we Lutherans call the “now/not yet.”
            The reign of God is here now; it came at the birth of Christ.  However, it is not yet fully realized and won’t be until Christ returns.  This is where the whole, “being in the world, but not of the world,” comes about.  This tension is both a blessing and a frustration.  It is a blessing because we are no longer waiting for God’s salvation.  We know that we have been saved through Christ’s death and resurrection.  We know that He overcame sin, death, and the power of the devil.  Yet it is a frustration because we still live in a world consumed by sin…death…and the power of the devil.  What makes it even more frustrating is how confusing this can be to a Christian.  Often, Christians walk around unsure of the kingdom because they see sin, death and the power of the devil all around them.  Often, they are unsure of their own salvation because they themselves live lives immersed in sin.  What doesn’t help is when they read texts like, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law,” and “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law,” and “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.”  All of these sound like commands that we must obey in order to be saved.
            When we are honest with ourselves, we know that we are incapable of following these commands, and Paul’s words lay heavy on our heart.  When we think this way, we unfortunately miss some things that are quite important.  First, we must remember who Paul was.  Paul, before writing this very letter, persecuted Christians relentlessly and was responsible for many of their deaths.  After his miraculous conversion, God told Ananias to go to Paul and to heal him, and Ananias responded by saying, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.  And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”  Paul, this very same Paul who zealously killed Christians in the name of the Law, is the same one who is writing about how loving and doing no wrong to your neighbor fulfills that very same Law.
            Yet his past did not cause him to loose hope in his salvation.  Even his present struggles did not cause him to falter.  Earlier in Romans Paul admits that he does not understand his own actions because although he wants to do good he persists in doing what is evil.  Because he wants to do what is good he agrees that the law is good, but the sin within his flesh prevents him from doing it.  This war between his will and his flesh is his reality, it is our reality too, at least while we remain in the “now/not yet.”  The question becomes though, why does Paul, the one who calls himself the chief of sinners, never give up hope in his salvation?
            Here is the other important thing, it is because He knows that not only is God’s kingdom already here, but that his place in it is secure, for it is by faith alone that we are saved.  So when Paul says that love is the fulfillment of the Law, He is not telling you that you must love in order to fulfill the Law.  He is telling you that the Law has already been fulfilled for you.  Christ’s love freed us from the bondage of sin, death and the power of the devil, and it is only through Him that we receive our salvation.  That is why Paul says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  It is only though Christ that we are given the freedom to live as members in His kingdom of light while also living in this present darkness.
            In the explanation to the Lord’s Prayer, the Small Catechism teaches us that when we pray for God’s kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, it is not our prayers that cause this to happen.  Instead, we pray in those petitions that God would give us the Holy Spirit so that we believe His Word and lead godly lives both here in time and there in eternity.  We pray that He breaks and hinders the plans of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which try to destroy our faith in Christ Jesus.  We pray that He strengthens us and keeps us firm in His Word and faith and helps us lead God-pleasing lives.
            It is for this reason that Paul declares, “So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  By walking properly we do not earn salvation for ourselves, but by the power of His Holy Spirit when we live a life of faith we do participate in God’s kingdom and bring His light to others.  For, “The Church of Christ bears witness to the kingdom of God.  It lives from the kingdom of God, it thinks from the kingdom of God, it acts from the kingdom of God, it proclaims its message from the kingdom of God.”  So while we wait for Christ’s return, we can take hope in this darkness, for the kingdom of light is already here.
For it is not an earthly kingdom; no, it is far greater.  It is a kingdom of power, as it knows no limits or boundaries, and the Creator of all things has given Christ the King all power in heaven and on earth.  It is a kingdom of grace existing within each believer as Christ rules from their hearts, and it is established and governed by God’s Word and maintained through His sacraments.  And it is a kingdom of glory, where all believers will be crowned in honor and glory either at their death or at Christ’s second coming.  “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.  The night is far gone; the day is at hand.”
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

October 9, 2013

Soooooo.....

It has been a LONG time since we've posted.  About a month and a half.  You know what else happened about a month and a half ago?  If you guessed we had a baby, you'd be right!  Weird coincidence, Levi being born and us not posting, I know.  Anyway, since that time life has been busy.

Levi was baptized September 8th at my fieldwork congregation and I was able to help with the baptism.  September 9th, the next day, classes started back up.  I am in Synoptic Gospels (studying Matthew, Mark, and Luke and theories about their relationship to each other), Worship (where I am learning how to plan and lead a service), Systematics I (where I am having Lutheran theology and thinking being crammed into my head), and Marriage and Family Care (where I am learning to care and counsel marriages and families, which is a COMPLETELY different approach than just counseling individuals).  I am really enjoying all of those classes.

As far as fieldwork goes, one of the returning fourth years came back to Our Savior.  I AM NO LONGER ALONE!!!!!  I have started teaching the youth Bible study and I am taking them through the articles of the Augsburg Confession.  We have talked about God in Trinity and original sin.  They seem to be enjoying it, especially since I used Lutheran Satire's St. Patrick's Bad Analogies video when talking about the Trinity.  Anyway, my supervisor met with the other fieldworker and myself to plan out the schedule, and I am officially on the preaching schedule!!!!  I am really excited to start preaching.

Being a dad is the best thing in life right now, though.  Levi is growing up so fast it's amazing to watch, but I don't want him to grow up too fast.  I know I must cherish the days when I can hold him in my arms and let him fall asleep on my chest.  I just pray that God helps me be the parent that Levi needs.  Anyway, that's life right now.  School, fieldwork, and parenting.  Oh yeah, and Oktoberfest is Friday.  Hopefully I planned well enough that it will go off without a hitch.

August 28, 2013

Welcome Baby!

On August 24, 2013 at 2:40 p.m. Timothy and I welcomed Levi to this world. It was one of the most wonderful and amazing things that we both have ever experienced.

Now that we're home, we're learning how to be a family. How to balance Levi's feedings with feeding mommy and daddy. How to sleep when Levi sleeps so we aren't exhausted all the time. How to take care of Levi and ourselves while still keeping up with the outside world. And it is proving to be exhausting. Doable, but exhausting. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we transition into parenthood and become a functioning family of three.


August 14, 2013

Book of Concord: Part I

The last two terms I was in Confessions I and Confessions II.  You might think that is a weird title for a Lutheran class, especially if your mind roams to thoughts of confessionals and priests and penance.  However, Confessions is not about the act of confessing sins, but is about the act of confessing a set of beliefs and doctrines.  For example, as a Christian we confess the Christian faith meaning we hold certain set beliefs such as the Triune God, Christ as Savior, etc.

The specific confessions of the Lutheran church are contained in the Book of Concord.  So what is it exactly?  The Book of Concord was compiled in 1580 and contains Lutheran documents written during and shortly after the Reformation.  The exact starting point of the Reformation is up for debate, but no one can deny that the Reformation when into high gear when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses in 1517.  These theses were points Luther made where he saw corruption and abuses in the church and thought that by addressing them they could be resolved.  Little did he know, he did not know these corruptions and abuses ran all the way up to the pope.  He did not mean to fracture the church, but when the church told him to recant or he would be excommunicated he had little choice.

In the sixteenth century, the government and the church were struggling for power, but the pope still held the most power.  So when Luther refused to recant, the pope sent Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor at the time, after Luther to execute him.  During this time, Luther gained support by the German princes and several other influential Germans who called for a meeting with the Roman Catholics to try and reconcile and resolve the issue.  The Catholics finally agreed and they met in Augsburg at a meeting called the Diet of Augsburg in 1530.  Philip Melanchthon, the public face of the Lutheran cause, wrote the Augsburg Confession in 1530 in which he wrote why the Lutherans were following the true faith while demonstrating how the Roman Catholics strayed.  This was the first real battle for the Lutheran's right to exist.  When the Roman Catholic representatives came back with a rebuttal against the Augsburg Confession called the Confutation, Melanchthon wrote the Apology (or Defense) of the Augsburg Confession in 1531.

The Book of Concord starts with the three Ecumenical Creeds (Apostle's, Nicene, and Athanasian) to show that the Lutheran identity stems from these three witnesses to Scripture and is in fact a continuation of this tradition of faith.  Next, the Book of Concord contains the Augsburg Confession and the Apology to the Augsburg Confession.  These make up the primary defense for the right to legal existence in the Holy Roman Empire by establishing their connection to the early church and showing how the Roman Catholic church no longer continues this tradition.

In the next blog post I will continue with the Smallcald Articles and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope.

If you would like to learn more in depth about the Book of Concord and the Lutheran Confessions, visit http://bookofconcord.org/index.php.

August 7, 2013

Standing Strong

It's easy to stand strong when those around you believe and live the same way you do.  This is why it's easier to stick to some biblical stances that are a bit "controversial" in this culture, like homosexuality and premarital sex.  But what about when you find yourself at odds with your brothers and sisters in the church?  That is much harder to stand strong.

I both love and hate being the Social/Cultural chair for Concordia seminary sometimes.  More specifically, I both love and hate being in charge of Oktoberfest and Springfest.  This is because as German Lutherans, we love our beer.  Yet, Paul lists drunkenness with the likes of sins along with the other things we take a hard stance against.

For example in 1 Corinthians 6 Paul writes, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor med who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."  And in Galatians 5 Paul writes, "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."  And in Ephesians 5, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit."

I think you get my point.  The Bible is filled with all kinds of warning against drunkenness whether you look at the Old Testament or New.  So, what do you do when you find yourself in charge of Oktoberfest, a celebration so known for beer that a lot of breweries even make an Oktoberfest beer, at a seminary that is training pastors in a German Lutheran, who love beer, tradition?  Now, I am not against drinking at all.  I enjoy the occasional beer.

To be fair, I know that I am probably more sensitive to this issue than most.  When my cousin was killed when she was struck by a drunk driver, and when he put my other cousin in a back brace after almost taking her life as well.  At a young age, this has an impact on you.  Still, here I stand in this tension.  What do I do?  It's a lot harder when you know that if you stand strong, people in your own community will turn against you.

July 26, 2013

Double-Minded Culture Part 2

Hello!  This is a continuation of a post I created in May.  This post was supposed to be a continuation of that post I started only a few days later, but never finished.  After a discussion with my fieldwork pastor a few days ago, I realized the importance of finishing what you start less someone get the wrong idea!  So, here, finally, is the second part to my post, "Double-Minded Culture."

In the first part, I discussed the difficulty of reaching this culture and how we as pastors need to finds ways to encounter this relativistic culture personally.  Once we make that personal connection with them (both to us in God's stead and to God Himself), then we must work at bringing them back into the fold of Christ's church.

To the confessional Lutheran, the way to go about this is clear: we catechize them of course!  However, this process may not be as straight forward as it seems.  How unfortunate would it be to partner with the Holy Spirit in bringing this person to faith only to get in way once they are ready to join the church.

What I mean is this: Luther's Small Catechism is a historical document written by Martin Luther in 1529 to the German people of the Holy Roman Empire.  He wrote it as a practical guide for the heads of families to instruct their family in the Christian life.  With it they would be able to apply the Word of God, revealed in the Bible (which is another historical document with its own time and context), to their own lives 1500+ years later.  Luther's Small Catechism is a sixteenth century document written for sixteenth century people.

So why care about Luther's Catechism today?  Now, I want you to hear me loud and clear, I AM NOT ADVOCATING DOING AWAY WITH LUTHER'S CATECHISM!  In fact, I argue the opposite.  Luther's Catechism is the continuation of the tradition of witness to the Scriptures.  Just as Jesus came as the ultimate international witness to God's Word, Luther's catechism is an international witness to Jesus Christ.  By it the Word of God comes to meet people where they are at, but then lifts them back up to its source.

This "descending" and "ascending" is essential!  Imagine two people: one standing on a bridge and the other drowning in the river below.  It will not help if the one on the bridge simply yelled, "Stop drowning, come up here!"  If he could do that he would not be drowning in the first place.  Yet, if the person on the bridge jumps into the river without any way to get back is just as useless.  They both end up perishing.  Now, the best would be for the person on the bridge to secure himself to it and then jump.  He would then be able to pull them both back up to safety.

So if descending is meeting people where they are, a.k.a. helping them experience God personally, then ascending is bring them into the corporate body of Christ.  The catechism is a great tool to use to instruct those who are new to the faith, yet we must not forget that this culture is starving for personal experience.  Therefore, we must contextualize the content of the witness, but stay faithful to the message of the witness.

We are able to stay faithful to the message of the witness when we use the same language as the witness.  Now, I using language here as a spoken dialect (such as English, Spanish, German, etc.), otherwise we would be restricted to only using the Hebrew and Aramaic of the Old Testament and the Koine Greek of the New Testament.  What I do mean by language is the categories that we use in the witness, such as justification, sanctification, Law, Gospel, grace, and others.  This helps us stay anchored to our sure foundation.

Thus, after bring people to the personal experience of God, we must then bring them into the corporate body of the church.  This is done through catechizing, but we must take care to make sure that the people see how and why these things apply to their lives, not just 16th century Germans.  Therefore, as pastors our primary job is interpreters.  This is because if we cannot interpret Scripture and the witness to it, we will not be able to bring our people into the fold of God and they will not be able to recognize what they have been searching for.  Yet, it is no good to show them what they were looking for and leave them outside the church because it is something that only can be received in the corporate body and witness of Christ.

July 9, 2013

Running

So, for those of you who don't know already, I've picked up a new, disgusting habit: running.  I know, it's pathetic, right?  Who in their right mind would ever willingly decide to torture their body, and for what?  Well, it's becoming more and more a part of who I am.  I've recently outfitted myself with a pair of five finger running shoes.  I've began a personal program to help me run longer and faster, part of which is running every Thursday with my brother who served as an Army Ranger.  Talk about trying to kill myself... So why do I run?  A couple reasons; let me tell you:

My first reason for running is for a sense of personal achievement.  Running is a competitive sport not only against others, but also against yourself.  As I am still a beginner, I have had a lot of personal bests recently.  Yesterday I ran an 8:53 mile.  A few weeks ago I ran 11.6K (that's 7.25 miles).  These "records" keep pushing me further, not only because it is exciting, but it motivates me.  Further, it proves that "I am able."  I have had many voices throughout my life that have told me, "You can't;" most of them being my own.  I am proving to myself I am able to do something I never thought I could.  One of my new life goals is to run a marathon, something that I would never have aspired to simply because I never thought that it was within my reach.  Now that I've started running, I have surprised myself in big ways and know that if I keep working at it, I will be running marathons before I know it.

My second is my health.  Marie and I are pretty health conscious.  We are not fanatics in, but we are aware what we put in our bodies.  We eat lots of fruits and veggies and mix up out meets.  Of course, eating alone won't do the trick.  Activity is a big part.  Running works a large portion of the body: the heart, lungs, abdomen, legs, and even the arms.  You put a lot of yourself into running.  As a result your entire body is built up.  I have another reasons to be healthy too.  My baby is expected to arrive next month.  I want to be the healthiest father I can be for my baby.  I want to be here to not only see my child grow, but to be an active participant in my child's life.

My last reason for running is my faith.  Running, believe it or not, has had an impact on my relationship with God.  Along with health, I want to take care of my body because it is a gift, crafted for me by my heavenly Father.  He gave it to me to use and experience His creation, and as a gift I am to keep it holy, as a temple.  Frankly, I have spent most of my life treating it like the money collectors did.  This past year, Jesus has been helping me drive the money collectors from my temple.  All the bad things I put into myself, He has helped me clean it up and rededicate myself to Him.  I also started marveling at what God created the human body to be able to do.  This time last year, I could barely run a mile and now I'm running over seven in one stretch.  It just blows my mind how elastic He has designed our bodies to be.  Lastly, running is the physical manifestation of faith. Paul says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7)  Running can be painful, and sometimes you just want to give up and stop, but you know that once you cross the finish line it will be worth it.  It reminds to keep going even when it gets tough.

So that is why I run.  It has become part of who I am and makes me feel great to be alive.  God bless!

July 5, 2013

Day of Freedom (in more way than one)

It's been almost a month since I posted last.  Life has just been busy.  Yesterday, Marie and I were both off of work/school.  The night before we turned off our alarms and had no plans.  When we woke up and started moving, we decided to use our AMC giftcard to go to the Dine-In movie theatre.  We saw the Lone Ranger.  It was a great movie and good food.  I really enjoyed the experience.  After that we went to REI to use our gift card that we received for buying me new running shoes (I bought a pair of five finger shoes and I love them.  I ran my first 10K straight through in them!)  and used it to buy some camping cooking equipment.

After that we went home and rested a bit while we thought of something else to do.  We couldn't come up with anything so we headed out to Grant's Train and walked a couple of miles.  After that we went back home and Marie started making dinner, mac and cheese with broccoli and breadcrumbs, while I worked on a bit of homework.  When dinner went in the oven, we started watching episodes of Lost: Season 6.  We're almost halfway through the season now.  When we finished eating dinner, we played a game on Monopoly while we kept watching Lost.  Once we finished the game we went to bed.  Overall it was a good day.

This weekend is going to be busy though.  I will be leading the liturgy both Saturday and the second service on Sunday.  I'm also leading Bible study as Pastor Sell leads the New Member class.  I also have homework to do as I need to finish my manuscript for the first sermon I have ever written.  I may post it on here once I am done.  Anyway, it's about time to go to chapel!

June 24, 2013

Life Changes

Life at the Roth household is about to get really different, mostly because my family (the Hoffmans) has a lot going on as well. If you've somehow missed a that a baby will be arriving in Timothy's and my life in the next two months (give or take a few weeks depending on when Baby chooses to arrive), there's Life Change #1. Baby is the first grandchild on my side. Not only will Timothy and I be learning how to be parents, but my family will be welcoming a completely new addition. No reference point to help them out, like Timothy's family for whom this is grandchild number seven.

Life Change #2: my brother is awaiting word from the Navy on whether he will be headed to officer's school on July 8. After graduating with his Master's in Mechanical Engineering in May, Aaron decided that hands-on work would be more fulfilling than the life at a desk that an engineer has become known for in corporate America. The Navy has a pretty wonderful four-year program. Aaron will spend two years on various ships, learning maintenance for a variety of issues. He then will spend one year in school to gain more technical knowledge and certifications. His last year will be at a port, working on anything that comes in. His goal is to get stationed with an air craft carrier. His undergraduate education is in Aerospace Engineering, so that would allow him to use both degrees. Not to mention, he will get to travel far and wide. We're excited for him and hope he gets official word soon.

Life Change #3: my grandmother continues her battle with cancer. Last week, I had a quick note and I don't know much more beyond that yet. She has lost 20 pounds from the treatments and has mentioned that it may be time to look into Assisted Living or Hospice care. This comes as a bit of a shock to me. My grandmother, in my mind, is going to live forever. Before the cancer returned, she was walking several miles each day, coordinated social activities for her community and volunteered regularly with the local library. She seemed invincible to the effects of time. We love her dearly and know that she is ready to go. Her husband passes away when I was 18 months old and my brother was a newborn. Today I'm 25 and Aaron is about to turn 24. Grandpa has been gone for 24 years and although she hasn't been alone, we do know she has missed him deeply. Saying goodbye is never easy and this will be very hard for my family.

Life Change #4: Timothy and I will be starting our own family traditions. With Baby arriving in August, we're looking ahead to holiday scheduling (and mixing it with life after ordination and serving a parish on all holidays). Timothy is scheduled to help with worship on Thanksgiving so that will land us in St. Louis for that holiday, but we are planning on cooking on our Thanksgiving dinner. He will have Christmas off this year, so we are planning to go visit my family in Florida. (It's also going to be the only time I will be able to get off to go visit my family for Timothy's next school year.) Beyond holidays, we're looking at how we will be celebrating birthdays, taking vacations and even just spending time together on the weekends, a notoriously busy time for clergy.

Life Change #5: Timothy has begun researching ministry options after the seminary. Of course, there is the parish ministry, which we would be in for a little while at least. We have also started looking into chaplaincy in the armed forces. We're still just getting information now (not even talking with recruiters) but this may be a path we take. Timothy will still become an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. He needs to have two years of parish ministry before any branch would accept him. Another option he is looking into is obtaining his counseling certificate after ordination. His counseling course at the seminary really peaked his interest. Timothy also has a huge heart for people and is particularly suited to this aspect of ministry. Gaining a counseling certification will open his options and could change the path our ministry takes us.

In addition, I have started looking forward (albeit way forward) to a year from now. Our lease is done at the end of June 2014. By then, we will know our vicarage assignment and will be headed that way very shortly after packing up our home, complete with all baby accessories that will accumulate in the next year. It seems strange to think that in one year, life will be completely changing again. We will be moving before Baby's first birthday. We will be settling in with a new church family. We will be saying goodbye to some dear friends we've made at the seminary. Life will look very different. But I will try not to get ahead of myself here. There is a whole year of life to live before the Roth's will make it to that day.

June 19, 2013

Life can be exhausting

Recently, Timothy and I have been living life in the fast lane. And it's taken it's toll. Both of us are exhausted from work, school, dog sitting, birthing classes, Bible studies, church, time with friends, running errands, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning and all the other miscellaneous life events that seem to pop up in a week.

In addition, the emotional rollercoaster of life has taken me for a ride. My grandmother was finally honest with our family (since my mom will be arriving in town tomorrow and the truth cannot be hidden anymore). She has been going through chemo for lung cancer that returned. She's lost 20 pounds during her treatments these past few months, which makes her 80 pounds right now. She's thinking it's time for Hospice. Please just pray for mercy and comfort for her right now. Thank you friends.

June 10, 2013

Hello Summer (School)!

Today marks the beginning of week 2 of Timothy's summer school and his second week as a second year seminarian. (Technically, Concordia doesn't count him as an official second year student until the fall, but he's been in school for a year so I think he's a second year student.) His schedule is keeping him fairly busy. He currently has three classes, including one four-week intensive class in the month of June. His classes are Homeletics I (introductory class on how to preach sermons), Confessions II (a deeper look into Lutheran theology) and Isaiah and the Prophets (a close examination of Isaiah and most of the prophetic books of the Old Testament). He's actually really excited for all three classes, but swamped with work.

Summer is also the season in which Timothy and I are learning how to do all things baby-related. Last week, we began birthing classes at our hospital of choice, Missouri Baptist. We will also be taking classes in a wide range from infant care to parenting choices to breastfeeding. Some friends have lent us several books over lots of different baby topics that we are currently reading. We are also picking up most of the books available to us through our local library. We will be attending a seminar on cloth diapering. We are going to be some of the most book-learned soon-to-be parents by the time Baby arrives in August. (Not that we think in the least that any of these classes or books will prepare us for life with our little blessing, but we can try.)

As June ticks away, I find myself wondering just when Timothy and I will get to meet Baby. I suspect two weeks after the due date, so the end of August (likely the 30th or 31st). Timothy thinks around 3-4 days late, so August 20-21. There are our predictions. Now, let's see when Baby actually makes an appearance :)

May 29, 2013

Double-Minded Culture

One of the hardest things that my generation of pastors will be facing is the double-mindedness of our culture.  With the rampant relativism, people tend to look at truth as mere putty in our hands that we can shape and mold as we see fit with no real permanent form of its own.  I don't mean this to be antagonistic, but in today's society, critical thinking is becoming a lost art.  There has been a lot of discussion over the years on George Orwell's book, 1984, and how much it seems to be a prophetic book that is coming more true with every day.  One concept in there I see running rampant in today's relativism is the idea of "doublethink."

If you've never read 1984 before, doublethink is defined as the acceptance of two mutually contradicting beliefs as correct.  An amusing example of this would be the Dufflepuds in C.S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  When their leader says something they are quick to agree with him and say how smart he is, but when Lucy disagrees with him they are quick to also agree with her and say how wise she is.  Truth is nothing but what is "right" at the moment.  In our culture, we can even further to say truth is whatever "feels right" at the moment.

If you do not know anything about relativism, it is the current standard of today by which banners of "toleration" and "coexistence" are flown.  Their motto is, "What you believe is right for you and what I believe is right for me."  That is, unless you believe in an absolute truth.  Then you're just wrong.  The problem with flying the banner of relativism is by stating, "There is no absolute truth," you are stating an absolute truth.  A bit contradictory, don't you think?

So why is relativism so appealing?  Relativism frees us from the obligations and social responsibilities of our beliefs.  It allows us to say, "I would never do it, but it's okay for them," or "I don't need to defend my beliefs because what I believe is right for me and what you believe is right for you."  What fascinates me is the fact that relativism itself parallels in a society with the obsession of evidence and proof.  How often have you heard the phrase, "I don't believe in God because there is no evidence for Him."  Yet, with relativism there is no debate and no argument.  No evidence is necessary and I don't need to reevaluate my beliefs and opinions based off of external evidence or arguments because they are mine and so they are right for me.

Furthermore, champions of relativism would have no way of condemning hate groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, or the KKK, or Skinheads, or Nazis.  After all, "What they believe is right for them."  To condemn them is to say there is some moral ground on which we stand, some standard outside of ourselves by which we judge, and some absolute truth to which humanity is held accountable.  Yet argument and reason is not going to get through to the relative generation.  What will get through to them, and what our challenge is as pastors of the relative generation, is to share with them personal experience.  After all, that's what relativism is all about.

We need to some way share with this generation the personal, loving God.  We need to expose them to the Father in heaven, who knows the number of hairs on their head, who loves them despite everything they have done, and who welcomes them with opened arms.  However, our job does not just end there.  Jesus's parables about lost sheep, lost coins, and a prodigal son does not end with the account of finding the lost, but with bringing the lost back into the fold.  The church has a great, long history that is rich and plentiful, full of fellowship and liturgy.  It is our connection to the Church through space and time that makes us part of the church. Personal experience is the lead to bring back the lost, but it isn't until we connect them to the communion of saints that the task is complete.  This is how we win back the relative generation, and this is our task as pastors of this age.

May 15, 2013

6 months pregnant

I'm officially six months pregnant, as in the full six months, and I still can tie my shoes. Last weekend, I even walked a 5k (3.1 miles for those of you who aren't metric savvy). Although I set no speed records, I did finish and it was a wonderful feeling.

Baby continues to be healthy and active. I have lots of happy dancing feet pounding my tummy throughout the day. However, I am in no place to complain. Baby is active, which is a good sign. Baby is healthy, based on all the tests that the doctor can run. Baby is growing. I am healthy and not experiencing any of those "pregnancy side effects." While I am more careful, I can still be as active as I want to be. I have a great excuse to eat lots of healthy foods. Bottom line, there is no cause for concern. As long as everything continues as it has been going for the past six months, there's also no reason to believe that Baby will be born dangerously prematurely.

Timothy and I are very thankful to have been blessed as we have with Baby and a healthy pregnancy.

May 5, 2013

To Atlanta and Back

We got back late last night from our trip to Atlanta.  We left Thusday night to head down to her brother's graduation.  We drove most of the night and arrived by 7:00 in the morning and had a small breakfast.  Marie's brother was busy so we headed off to Olympic Park, the sight where they hosted the 1996 Olympics.  We walked through the park for a bit and then went to the World of Coke.  We went through the museums and then had a lot of free Coke-a-Cola product samples.  After that we went to our hotel, checked in, and crashed.  We were able to sleep a couple of hours before Marie's parents arrived.  After they got there we went with them out to dinner and stuffed ourselves on Mexican.  Once we were done with that we finally met up with Aaron to get tickets for graduation.

Graduation was long, but we got to watch Aaron walk and receive his masters in Mechanical Engeneering!  And after that we went back to the hotel, had a couple drinks, and then decided that we needed some Chinese and stuffed ourselves again.  Not long after we decided it was time to go to bed.  Besides, Marie and I were exhausted.  In the morning we went down to the lobby with Marie's parents and spent a couple of hours talking and having coffee.  After the 'designated time,' we met up with Aaron again and we decided to go to Ikea.  Marie and I had never been before, and let me tell you it was an experience.  Before we headed out we decided to stuff our faces yet again at Taco Mac's.  It was pretty good.  But, as all good things, it had to come to an end.  So Marie and I got back on the road and headed back home.  It was a long weekend, but it was good to see family that we don't get to see often!

May 1, 2013

May 1: Call Day

There's a lot of excitement and anticipation at the Seminary today. Second year students are receiving their vicarage placements at 3:00 p.m. and concluding students are receiving their first calls at 7:00 p.m. Needless to say, those who attended classes today were not focused on the material. Timothy and I continue to remain separate from this anticipation (after all, it is 365 days until we receive a vicarage placement, but who's counting?). The day couldn't be better: sunny with a high of 85 degrees. Families are everywhere on campus.

We're excited for all of our friends receiving calls and vicarage placements, specifically our friends Hunter and Elizabeth from Alaska. They will be receiving a vicarage placement, most likely not in St. Louis. They are thrilled to have an opportunity to be traveling (something a native Alaskan doesn't have much chance to do). They will also be getting a break from the stressors that they have found in St. Louis through the Seminary. Although we will be sad to see them go, we are beyond thrilled for them!

That's one of the hard things about Call Day. We will not see the students receiving calls and vicarage placements after they move this summer (unless we go to visit). When the current second years return from vicarage, we will be leaving on our own vicarage adventure. When we return, they will be graduating and entering first calls. It's a bittersweet time, in the midst of all the excitement.

April 16, 2013

O Israel, You Stubborn Fools!

I am currently working my way through the book of Judges.  Countless times I want to cry out, "O Israel, how many times must you wander from your Lord in your stubborn and wicked hearts before you learn your lesson and be faithful to the Lord?!?!?!"  But soon as these words enter my mind, my thoughts turn on myself and say, "O Timothy, how many times must you wander from your Lord in your stubborn and wicked heart before you learn your lesson and be faithful to the Lord"

See, we can look back on Israel in judgement and condemnation (And let's face it, what Christian hasn't at one point said, "I would have recognized Jesus as the Messiah if I was there?") now because it's already a thing of the past.  You foolish people, each time you turn from the Lord and worship false idols bad things happen to you!  I can see it plainly because I am reading this in the histories of the Bible.  But "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?"  It's easy to condemn Israel for their foolishness, but if we are honest with ourselves and with God, we are just as bad as Israel.  I do not have enough fingers for the amount of sins that I can think of that I have committed this week (and it's Tuesday morning!).  And that does not include the ones that I am ignorant to.  Before we condemn Israel or anyone else for their sinfulness, we must first examine ourselves and he who is without sin be the first to cast the first stone.  In other words, don't worry about condemning others for their sin, instead bring your own heart before the cross to repent of your own sins.  Only after you have done that can you then gently encourage others to do the same.

April 15, 2013

A Month Until the End of My First Year

Wow.

Have I come this far already?  I am almost to the end of my first year at the seminary.  Registration for summer school starts this week.  That will be the start of my last year before vicarage.  I will be taking Homiletics I (Two part class where I learn to preach), Confessions II (Two part class over The Book of Concord), and my first Exegetical after Hermeneutics: Isaiah and the Prophets.  But before we get there I still have plenty of work to do.  Most of my assignments and exams for this term still lay ahead of me, in the last month.  So it's going to be pretty busy and hectic from now until the end of the term.  I am confident that I will be able to wade through it all though.

On a different note, I received word that I was elected as Social Cultural Chair for our student government.  That means that all of our big events on campus like Oktoberfest, Spring Fest, Green and Gold Follies, and Prof 'n Stein falls on my shoulders.  I'm really looking forward to this and I start in the summer.  I also have a few other plans up my sleeve to help make this next year a good one.

April 10, 2013

Cloth Diapers

So Timothy got the easy end of this decision: we will be using cloth diapers with Baby (as long as it is feasible - disposables may wind up at Mrs. Veronica's house so that child care is easier and for traveling so a dirty diaper from MO doesn't end up stinky in FL). Now that the decision is made, it's up to me to research and have a few ideas of what we should have on hand for when Baby comes home from the hospital.

Frankly, I'm overwhelmed. My mom friends have provided some great input but I'm slowly realizing that I will have no idea of what we will like and what will fit Baby until Baby is actually here. (Or even if cloth diapers will fit at all when Baby comes home. Baby might not be big enough for them yet). I'm comfortable having a more "complicated diaper" to assemble, but will that work for Timothy? Snaps or velcro? Cotton or bamboo or hemp? Pre-folds or inserts or all-in-ones? There is so much to a diaper anymore that a disposable seems easier.

So why cloth? For one, I was a cloth diaper baby (back when snaps and velcro didn't exist but safety pins were king). Second, Timothy and I both have super sensitive skin, so Baby is likely to not like all the chemicals in a disposable diaper. (Can you say diaper rash?) Third, the idea of Baby generating thousands of diapers that will sit in a landfill for a hundred years or more is a little unnerving. Plus, we're looking to save some dough and cloth diapers is one way we can do that, especially since the diapers can stick around for siblings Baby might be so lucky to have.

All that said, I just hope that I can wade through the abundance of information about cloth diapers so that Timothy and I can try a few so we can find some that work for Baby. If you have any recommendations, throw them our way!

April 8, 2013

GIving Blood

So, today was the first time I have ever donated blood.  I've never given blood before because honestly it scares me half to death.  Every time I've thought about it before my stomach would knot up and I would start to feel sick.  But the past several opportunities I've felt more and more convicted to donate blood.  After all, if it can help someone who really needs it, what is a little pain and discomfort on my part?  But each time the thought of the needle froze me in my tracks and caused me to run in the other direction.  But not today.  We had the Spring Blood Drive at the seminary.  Marie is unable to donate because she is pregnant, so I forgot that it was even today.  As I walked across the campus this morning though I saw the truck and I felt the immediate pang of conviction mixed and seasoned with a desire to give.

I resolved myself on the way to class that I was going to finally do it, and I was going to surprise Marie at work with my donation shirt. (She has been trying to get me to donate blood for years)  So classes were over and the moment of truth had arrived.  I walked over to the cafeteria, sat down at an open station and began filling out my first questionnaire.  My heart was confused as it was unsure whether it should beat rapidly or not.  I finished the form and sat down in line.  There was a little voice inside me saying, "It's not too late!  Bail now!  Go, go, GO!"  But my determination became stronger and I planted myself in that seat until I was at the front and I heard the assistant call out, "Next."  I walked over to him and he started looking over my form.  My heart was still unsure what it should be doing.  He took my blood pressure which I thought was going to blow off my arm.  Finally, it was time for them to puncture my finger.  This was it!  THUD!  Ouch, that hurt, but at least it was fast.  He gathered my blood and put it in the liquid.  It sank, I was good to go.

He pulled out a clean pouch with five tubes and handed them over to me.  I took them gently still unsure if I was able to go through with it.  I walked over to where the ladies were stationed, ready like vampires to take my blood.  One was just finishing up with someone, so soon as I laid down she was on me to find my vain, clean the spot, and stick me.  I told her it was my first time and that I was nervous and a little scared.  She reassured me that I have big veins so it would be pretty quick and painless.  She readied herself and I looked away.  A sharp inhale.  "That didn't hurt, did it?"  "I sure felt it." I responded, but really wanting to say, "Yes" though I know it could have been much worse than it was.  I HATE the feeling of needles in me.  I was relieved after about 30 seconds I couldn't feel the needle so much in my arm.

I don't know what it is about me, blood doesn't bother me, and seeing someone else give blood or get shots doesn't bother me, but just that thought of the needle piercing my skin and whatever else just freaks me out.  After the needle was in and I couldn't feel it anymore I was pretty relaxed, in fact I was a little too relaxed.  The nurses thought I was going to pass out or puke a couple of times because I gave them enough cause for concern and I started doing things like staring at my blood flowing out on my body or laying my head back with my eyes closed and giving a big sigh.  The sigh was from relief though after a not terrifying and painful experience and I felt relaxed and the staring was just because I was curious.  I filled up the bag pretty fast and it was over before I knew it.  I had given blood!  I was proud of myself; I felt like I had just conquered a giant.  Thank you, Lord, for the strength and the courage to get through the experience.  And now I know that it's not as bad as I've been imagining it all these years.  Now, I'm not saying I am going to give blood every time I am able, but I definitely will be giving occasionally now.  :)

April 5, 2013

An Ultrasound and Call Day

Monday was priceless. Timothy and I went for my mid-pregnancy ultrasound. Baby is very healthy (the tech said Baby was the healthiest she had seen all day and we were in there at 3:30 p.m.) and developing normally. Timothy's first reaction to seeing Baby: "There's a skeleton in your belly!" As if babies only develop bones after birth. Silly Timothy! We both are very thankful that everything is going well and that Baby is very healthy.

April has come and spring is here (perhaps to stay this time?). Life has been busy, between work and school and settling into a new apartment. Timothy is half way done with his spring term and we are only 26 days from Call Day. Call Day is a huge deal at the seminary! Each May 1st all the second year students receive their vicarage assignments and the finishing students receive their first calls. The festivities start at 3:00 p.m. and run late into the evening. Timothy and I are staying a bit away from Call Day this year. As first year students, we won't be receiving a vicarage assignment yet or a first call. We are excited for our friends to learn where they will be going, especially those who have been anxiously awaiting the good news that they are leaving St. Louis for vicarage. (Don't get us wrong. They like St. Louis, but they also want to experience the church as it is in other parts of the USA.) A vicarage assignment is very nerve-wrecking this year. Since it is a National Youth Gathering Year (July 1-5 in San Antonio this year), some assignments will start as early as June 1, leaving only a month to wrap up life in St. Louis and get to a new place.

With Call Day just around the corner, it's got me thinking about how vicarage placements work. I'm sure most arrangements have been made for many months already. Interviews and placement meetings begin when you start your second year and are usually completed before Christmas. I understand letting everyone going on vicarage know their placement at the same time, but holding everyone in suspense until a month (possibly two months) before you start your vicarage does seem a little akin to torture. I'm calm this year, because I am not affected by Call Day. Next year will be a different story. Packing and moving life (with a baby less than a year old) will be a challenge. On the other hand, it's kind of a blessing to not know too far in advance where you will be going for vicarage. Then you might have too long to research your new congregation and home town and already have formed opinions about it before you even pack the first box. I don't know if I really like the whole idea of Call Day but I do understand the purpose of it. Here's to 1 year and 26 days before Timothy and I know where we will spend our vicarage year.

Last side note, Concordia Seminary is currently home to a family of five ducks. I hope we see the ducklings before Call Day and all the snow we had on Palm Sunday didn't hurt the eggs!

Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics (Biblical Interpretation) so far has been a class that I have enjoyed but wasn't anything special.  That was until this week.  In class on Thursday, something just clicked and I began to get really excited.  One of the books we are reading besides our main textbook is called Eat This Book.  It was named for the imagery of Ezekiel and John who during a vision were given a scroll and told to eat it, and when they did it tasted sweet in their mouths.  The idea of eating the Book of Life is one of great significance.  To eat is to nourish your body.  The nutrients permeates your body and fuels you.  Have you ever hear that if you eat too much of a certain food your skin will reflect that, like if you eat too many carrots your skin starts turning orange?  Now think about that in terms of the Bible.

What would happen if we opened the Good Book and instead of reading through a passage once, saying to ourselves, "Okay, I get it," and closing it until the next time we were so inclined to open it again we actually opened it, read through a passage and then really chewed on it by studying the meanings of the words in the passage, scrutinizing the grammar and structure of the sentences, and observing the cultural and textual contexts of the passage.  We would get WAY more out of the passage than just our preconceived understanding of the text, and by doing this we would start letting the Word speak to and define us rather than the other way around.  We would be reading the Bible into our lives instead of our lives into the Bible.  We cheat ourselves by ignoring the fact that the Bible can only pour into us, not the other way around.  When we try to pour ourselves into the Bible we lose so much life giving nourishment that we starve our very souls.

This past class we were talking about "word studies" where you decide on a word in your passage to really scrutinize and study.  You look up all the possible meanings and really work out what the best meaning is in this context.  You look up how the word is used in the surrounding contexts and how else the author uses the word elsewhere in The Bible.  It's something you really wrestle with ad you chew and digest The Word.  At first, this seems like an overwhelming task because the Bible is a very large book.  However, I like what my professor encouraged us: "Find something to be an expert in."  Yes, as a pastor I will have to wrestle with the entire Bible to bring people The Word, but I don't have the time or energy to become an expert on the entire Bible at once.  Instead, I can find something that I want to be an expert in, and scrutinize that text in the time that I am not preparing for my sermons or making visits or counseling or doing other pastoral care things.  I can build up my expertise and when I am asked to speak I can use my knowledge of that specific text to put together a talk.  And once I know that text backwards and forwards I can move on to a new text and start all over again.  Thus I would slowly build up my expertise in the Scriptures to bring the Word more effectively to the people.  It also comforts me that my professors don't even claim to be experts on the whole Bible and talk about it as a "life long journey."

I think this method of Biblical interpretation combined with the relieving of pressure of feeling like I have the next couple of years to become an expert on the whole Bible made me feel like it was possible.  I want to digest the The Sweet Word, let it transform me as it nourishes me one bite at a time, and bring it to the people as I do.  This excites me.  It electrifies my very being.  I can't wait to start really studying, even doing my homework.  I cannot remember the last time I was this excited about my homework.  And then my Exegetical paper due at the end of the term, I cannot wait to get going on that!  I am so excited!

April 3, 2013

Counseling

I am currently in Pastor as Counselor where I am learning tools and tips on how to effectively help counsel people as part of my future pastoral care.  It's not supposed to be an end all be all class, but it's suppose to equip us with basic knowledge in counseling and give us the resources so that we can continue learning on our own.  As part of this class, we are required to attend 5 sessions of counseling ourselves and write up a "Self Discovery" sort of paper at the end.  For my sessions I chose Dr. Hartung on campus because not only is he a professional counselor but I talked with him over the summer a bit when we had to take personality assessments and I trust him and have confidence that he knows his stuff.

Today was my second session with him and a lot of tumblers have already started turning.  First, it's nice knowing that I have a safe place that is just my own that I can go to and just talk about whatever.  All the more that I have a safe place to self explore and look at what makes me tick and motivates me.  Today when we were talking we touched on something that left me feeling very vulnerable.  My stomach muscles quivered because of how exposed I felt.  I may has well of been naked.  I did not like the feeling at all and it was indeed quite painful, but that wasn't the point.  The point was that I let Dr. Hartung into my experience and my views of myself.  He was there with me in my rawness, and in bringing him in he was able to reach his hand out and tell me what he saw and what his views of me were.

Sometimes we forget, me especially, that the world isn't a scary, unkind place.  We are alone not because everyone rejects us but because we shut ourselves off from the world without even realizing it.  I'm glad that I am seeing Dr. Hartung and I look forward to seeing him next week.  I don't know what we will talk about or how it will make me feel, but having that safe space to talk and explore myself can do a lot of good for me if I let it.  I thnik I am going to try to continue seeing Dr. Hartung after this assignment is over and try to keep on with counseling after the seminary.  I think that it's something that could benefit everyone if we all just gave it a chance, even if you don't have "problems."  I thank the Lord for this opportunity and hope that I can keep it up.

In Christ,
Timothy

April 1, 2013

No March Newsletter Yet

Marie and I have not yet been able to complete our March Newsletter.  Marie's faithful laptop, which has served for seven years, has finally started dying.  Taking it to two different stores, we have found that it is considered "vintage" by Apple and they cannot do anything for us and that MacHQ is able to help us, but it would cost us more to fix it than it is worth, kind of like a totaled car.  So we are beginning the search for a new computer.  If you are on our Newsletter list, be expecting a larger March/April combined Newsletter.  Hopefully we will be back in business by then.  Otherwise it will be a more "plain" looking newsletter but we will try our best!

March 31, 2013

Good Friday and Easter with Pastor Sell

Today was my first Easter as a seminarian. When I arrived at church, I found Pastor Sell and talked over what I was going to be helping with today. I ended up leading part of the responsive readings in addition to the readings. It was fun and I was happy that I was able to take a bigger part in the service. The congregation really has started blooming like an Easter Lilly under the direction of Pastor Sell. I'm happy to see them come out of this transition and to be part of this experience. The energy of Pastor Sell is also contageous to the congregation as well as to myself. I am excited to meet with Pastor Sell this week to begin working closer together.

I also had the privlage of being part of the Good Friday play with the students and a few other adult volunteers. The students were pretty good and had to memorize several lines. I only had one line I had to memorize. It was pretty fun and made me miss doing theatre. I hope I get the time to perform when I'm pastoring. I'd like to do community theatre.

March 22, 2013

Fieldwork

Yes, this is two posts in a row, but they are unrelated and I didn't want to make one giant post.  ;)

Anyway, three weeks ago Our Savior said goodbye to their intentional interim pastor.  Two weeks ago, the installed Rev. Mark Sell as their new full time pastor and last week he gave his first sermon as the pastor at Our Savior.  This was the most fast I have seen or heard this process happen (Did I mention that they extended the call only about a month ago?), but I am excited to have Pastor Sell at Our Savior.

I already knew Pastor Sell as he was my Greek Readings adjunct professor during the Fall term.  We talked about Greek, but he also spent some time preaching to us (seminary professors can't always help themselves I've come to learn.  Preaching is just in their nature.).  He has a lot of energy and a good solid theology.  I really think he is going to help out Our Savior a lot and I think he's going to teach me a lot about being a good pastor.  We have had a line of communication open since he started and in a couple of weeks I am going to start trying to observe him as he goes about making visits and counseling and preparing for sermons and all of the other things pastors do.  We're also going to start figuring out what else I can help out with around Our Savior in the time I have (which will be more next term and year than this term).  I won't be able to take my worship class until next year, so I won't be able to lead a service until then, but I can still help out with certain parts.

I am excited for Pastor Sell and I am excited that he is my supervisor.  I can't wait for this roller coaster ride with him as he also acclimates himself to the congregation and then starts moving with them.  I know Marie is pretty excited to.  His sermon delivery demands your attention and you never get bored.  In fact, I have come to the decision that pulpits real reason for existence are really more for pastors like him so they have something to hold on to so they don't fly around and take off like a rocket during their sermon.  Did I mention I am excited?

May I breath now?

A LOT has been going on recently.  With a new term (which isn't quite new anymore) I am back to reading, writing, and studying.  This term I have so much more reading assignments than I've had yet.  I'm enjoying the classes though.  There is a lot that I am learning that I didn't know before and there is also quite a bit in my classes that are fun.  They are keeping me busy though.  Unfortunately, they have also kept me from going to my men's group on Tuesday nights thus far.  I'm really missing the guys and the fellowship and can't wait until I am able to go back.  On top of class and school work, I am attending my cross-cultural module.

I am helping out at World Impact, an inner city ministry that has the mission of seeking out individuals in the community to raise up and train to be leaders.  I help out on Thursday nights which is basketball nights.  The night starts at 6:30 with a Bible study for all of those who are interested in going a little deeper.  Then at 7:00 the court opens for 5 on 5 games.  They each last about 10 minutes.  Helping to organize this is crazy insane, especially where there are 40+ guys that show up.  Last week this happened and I was in charge of keeping the list of names and organizing the teams.  It was not the easiest but I made it out alive.  Then between 8:00 and 8:30 we will break for Half-Time, a shorter evangelistic Bible study.  This week I lead Half-Time and we read the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  I was a little disappointed because one of the guys I really wanted to be there left before Half-Time.  I think it sank in with some other guys though.  Then after Half-Time basketball continues until 10:00.  Needless to say, getting out of classes at 2:00 I don't have a lot of free time Thursdays.

This week has been extra crazy because my boss at the school store, Erika, went on vacation and put me in charge of the campus store.  With class schedules, we have five other guys that I have been in charge of in order to cover a full day.  It has been interesting and not always easy.  There was one point where there was a confusion over the schedule and I had to work 15 minutes because someone was told he wasn't working when he was supposed to be.  I was fortunate enough he got there before I had to go to class.  There has been a few other issues...I'll just say were not here for our math skills.  But overall, just the busyness has been what has been wearing me out.  I'm the only one who knows the process we have to go through to make coffee (thank you Health Department) and I'm the only one with a key to the store and any mishaps fall on me to take care of.  Campus Tours also fall under the Campus Store and though we haven't had many scheduled, that was just another thing to add to the plate.  I don't envy my boss and can't wait until she gets back on Monday!

Even though this week has made me go full speed and be stretched in all kinds of direction, I'm still here and I'm still alive.  It has helped me confidence in myself.  I know everything hasn't run smoothly, but it's still running and mistakes have been fixed.  The store is still standing, and I've come up with some ideas to make it run easier the next time Erika leaves.  My paper was written and turned in completed yesterday and I'm confident I aced my exam today.  I can do this.  I can be a good pastor and I can be a faithful leader.  I thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity to be stretched because He has shown me that I am able to be stretched without breaking.  He has also shown me that He has made me strong and able.  Thank you Lord for all that you have done.  Let your name be praised.

Did I mention that we are dog sitting this week?  And into next week?  For two different people?  Thankfully the only overlap was yesterday...