The Surprises of 2017

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I had no idea.  I’ve been thinking about how life with God is such an adventure.  Last January 1st I spent time reflecting on the previous year, and in prayer.  God gave me Hebrews 11:8 as a theme verse for the year.  Then on January 2nd I read this in My Utmost for His highest:

Heb118 I didn’t know what was next.  I wasn’t expecting anything unusual really.  Then in March I spent a weekend with Sandy Richter, and two weeks later I knelt on the grave of Paul in Rome and the words that came out of my mouth were, “Lord, help me be faithful to preach the Word, in season and out of season.”  (Is the Word ever out-of-season?!)  In April I applied to seminary, in May I was accepted at Asbury, in June I stood in the pulpit on a Sunday morning as a guest speaker for the first time, and in September I started classes.  A year ago seminary was not on my To Do List, and here I am one semester into the game.

I still don’t know what’s next, other than the Inductive Study of Mark class I registered for this spring.  I really am enjoying being in seminary, but I don’t have an end game… In fact, not knowing “why” makes school a continual faith exercise… I am here because I am obedient, not because I have a plan.  As long as I check-in with The Master Planner on a regular basis, He will certainly keep me headed in the right direction.

My verse for 2018 is Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  I wonder what the new year holds… I wonder if I am already standing ankle deep in the rising river waters?  Last January I didn’t give my theme verse much thought, this year I am paying attention!

Tell your story – How has God been busy in your life this last year?

Adjusting to Being a Student Again

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I’ve turned in my research paper and finished my final exam – my first seminary class is done!  Thank you to all of you who have supported me (to the ladies at The River who paid for my books!) and encouraged me not to lose sight of the end (you who take my phone calls when I need to vent, you know who you are!).  A special thank you to Lynn Haven UMC who has been flexible with me studying, travelling for class, and given me a quiet office space.

For Introduction to the New Testament I read 6 books (about 1400 pages) this fall, and listened to some 40 hours of lectures online or in person, wrote a research paper on interpretations of Luke 16 (the Parable of the Dishonest Steward), and took two exams.  I have no idea how people in full-time ministry with families can take more than one class at a time!  (Be nice to pastors you know who are still in school!)

I discovered that I procrastinate by cleaning and doing laundry, so my house is still looking pretty good.  Ha ha.  I really enjoyed the academic work, but that is my nature.  I was overjoyed to discover that my background in sociopolitical systems and other cultures is very relevant to modern Biblical studies.  I found time management challenging – it was difficult to evaluate how much time to give to various projects, since they always expand to fill whatever time is allotted.  I was annoyed to have to give up other activities to make time for studying… (I am coming back to tennis, I promise!)  I struggled to keep things in perspective – when I had 100 pages of reading to do and it was 10pm, but my teenager wants to talk… then I would choose to set the book down and talk.  In the end I keep reminding myself – I have a family, a job, a ministry, and friends – seminary is extra.  Stay with it for the long haul, but keep it in its proper place.

Thanks to all who have asked how I am surviving.  Now, time to celebrate!