Back to School and Teaching

That “journey of a thousand miles” that begins with a single step? Sometimes the miles are rather bumpy and uphill! 19961584_10156053107102580_8234462455579791982_n

It’s been eleven months since Hurricane Micheal tore up Panama City – it’s like we all put life on hold for a whole year (or more). I certainly put seminary and even our local Bible study group The River on hold… when you have no home, no church building, no internet, no childcare, no everything… life is just difficult. But we’re making progress, things are slowly becoming functional again, and we might even have a church campus renovated by December!

I’m teaching again at The River women’s Bible study this fall – we’re going back to the basics because we are community undone by drama.  We’ll relearn how to meet with God and take care of ourselves as we read through “Feeding Your Soul” by Jean Fleming.

I am a student again at Asbury Theological Seminary this fall too. By taking one class at a time, and adding in a hurricane, I’ve managed to turn a two year MA in Biblical Studies into a five year program, but that’s just the way it is. My class this fall is Missional Formation – a study of the mission of God in the world, the role of the church, the global church, and even an ethnographic study of our own church culture and missional engagement. It’s an interesting topic to study as our own church is reborn post hurricane.

Finally, I am returning this fall as a Teaching Assistant for an inductive Bible study class at Asbury. It will be my third time through the book of Mark and I have enjoyed helping other seminary students as they learn to study the text.

We’re coming out of the darkness here in Panama City, and “normal” never felt so good!


Interrupted by Hurricane Michael

I keep getting reminders that I have not posted to this blog since September 2018.  There’s a good reason – Hurricane Michael tore through my home town of Panama City, Florida on October 10, 2018 and it might be a couple of years before things return to normal around here.  Now five months later I am happy to report that the internet works, we have a new roof and front doors and windows at our house, and even Target reopened this week.  The rest of town is still quite a mess. Of the 16 houses on my street, three of them have been vacated, and five families are living in trailers in their front yard while the interior of their home is being restored.  Approximately 30% of the entire population of our town is displaced or homeless. Our church owns two campuses, neither of them are functional. It’s going to be a long time before things are working again here.  Yet, we choose to rejoice. God is at work here. Tomorrow is another day!

Introduction to First Corinthians

35 min lecture introducing the city of Corinth and the setting of Paul’s letter First Corinthians.  Many students were out this week and it’s the first time I’ve tried taping in the chapel…  Excited to be studying this epistle this fall!


Richard Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation series, John Knox Press, 2011.

Personality Types, Spiritual Gifts, and Ministry

My Vocation of Ministry seminary class homework has included taking various inventories – personality type, spiritual gifts, witnessing style, conflict management style, and more.  For years those of us in discipleship ministries have been using these type of inventories as a starting point for self-discovery, personal growth, and reflection on types of ministry people might be most suited for.  Please explore some of the links below for yourself and for those you spend time with!

Personality types – why we use them, testing website, and the four basics (because it’s easier to grasp than Myers-Briggs or the Enneagram, though I’m a fan of those too!)  personality-types-and-discipleship

Spiritual gifts – Spiritual Gift Assessment Tools

For a book and/or Bible study that covers both of the above, plus your heart passions, life experiences, and natural abilities, try SHAPE by Erik Rees of Saddleback Church.  SHAPE

And for fun, here is one I had not seen before:  Witnessing Style Inventory – though we are all called to share the gospel, our preferred manner to do so varies. Witnessing Style Inventory

Do you have a particular tool you love to use?  Tell us about it and send a link!

Graphing Your Spiritual Journey

What would your spiritual journey through life look like as a line graph?  Up, down, steadily rising, some bumpy spots?  When did your spiritual life begin?  Where are you today?  Try this simple exercise of drawing out your spiritual journey as a line graph on a piece of paper.  (Imagine a stock market graph, from the day your were born until today…)StockmarketLine

If your take your time and reflect on your journey it can be a powerful tool for self-discovery, and a great preparation for sharing your story with someone else.  Be sure to label important markers on your journey such as:  salvation, sin issues or difficult seasons of trials, high points, changes of direction in career or ministry, getting married or divorced, having kids, etc.

Here’s a full set of instructions if you’d like to incorporate this exercise into your discipleship ministries.  Graph Your Spiritual Journey Exercise

Ladies at The River, you know we will be doing this exercise this fall! : )

A Class for Those Considering Ministry

If you’re paying to go to seminary, you presumably have some sense of being “called into the ministry” as a full-time vocation.  To help students intentionally reflect on what that might mean, Asbury Seminary requires all students to take a Vocation of Ministry class their first year. This is my summer 2018 project.

The class is designed to help us:
– Articulate our spiritual journey and calling to ministry,
– Consider our gifts, passions, and experiences as they relate to ministry,
– Embrace spiritual growth and character development,
– Find life balance so that ministry is sustainable,
– Recognize healthy (and unhealthy) patterns of relationships in ministry (including sexual ethics), and
– Demonstrate sensitivity to cultural, ethnic, and gender issues with regard to ministry.

That’s a lot of ground to cover in one class!  We have done some interesting projects that I will recount for you in brief posts as the summer continues.  Our reading list for the class is:BookList

-Guinness, Os. The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. 2000.
-Smith, Gordon. Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential. 1999.
-McNeal, Reggie. A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders. 2011.
-Barton, Ruth H. Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation. 2006.
-Ethridge, Shannon and Stephen Arterburn. Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan For Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment. 2003.  (Guys are reading the men’s version.)
-Lupton, Robert. Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, And How to Reverse it. 2011.
-Roberts, Benjamin T. Ordaining Women. 1891, reprinted 2016.

A Semester in the Gospel of Mark

Seminary classes appear to either be (a) content-based in which one must master a body of knowledge (theology, church history, etc.), or (b) skills-based in which one must master a skill to an academically acceptable level (preaching, interpreting text, Greek, Hebrew, etc.)  This spring I spent a semester learning Inductive Bible Study (IBS) skills and practicing on the English text of the Gospel of Mark. It was a lot of work, but rewarding!

If you think about it, no one recorded every waking moment Jesus spent on earth.  Even today we do not record every moment of every day, even if reality t.v. shows and Snapchat stories promise you otherwise… everything is edited! So we have four different gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, each by a different author, each telling the parts of Jesus’ life and ministry that they wanted to communicate to their audience. The content of each narrative is absolutely true, simply edited by a different author.

IBS asks the question, “Why did Mark chose to tell this story, to this audience, at this point in his narrative?” IBS presumes that Mark, with the help of the Holy Spirit, arranged the stories of Jesus in a particular fashion to communicate particular truths to his audience.  IBS is a bit like bringing AP English Literature skills to the gospel narrative and asking questions about structure, recurring themes, framing, foreshadowing, climax, repeated cycles, and more.  Once we understand the structure of a passage, and its context, then we become better interpreters of the text.  Single verses, yanked out of context and


applied to a situation, become taboo… After all, no one opens a letter from an old friend, reads only the 5th paragraph, and then puts the letter away for another time!

This is the companion commentary we used which I recommend for anyone teaching on Mark by Mark Strauss:

And just to give you an idea, here are some examples of the introductory paragraph of IBS papers I wrote every week all spring: