A Seminary Adventure

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AsburyLogoI have no idea what I have gotten myself into.  Today I received an acceptance letter from Asbury Theological Seminary to start an M.A. in Biblical Studies this fall, as a long-distance learner.  Last week I asked Dr. Sandy Richter “Are you aware that God has used you to call me, thus disrupting my relatively peaceful sheep-herding existence?!”  Two months ago, seminary was not on my mind.  The call of God is sometimes like that – sudden, clear, unmistakable, and always life-changing.

This January God gave me, “And Abraham obeyed, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8) as my verse for the year.  I raised my eyebrows a bit at that one – my first clue that this could be an interesting year!

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Renewal conference with Dr. Sandy Richter, March 2017

Then in March God called me to seminary,
through a weekend spent with Dr. Richter and the unanimous affirmation of my pastoral colleagues and students.  I will never forget my first discussion with my pastor-friend Rudy Olivo.  He listened to me for a long-time, and then he asked me three times, “Are you called?”  I nodded slowly, “Yes, I know this in my heart to be true.  This is what God is calling me to.”  So, my answer was “yes” even though I didn’t know exactly what I was saying yes to!

When I told my Isaiah class that God was calling me to seminary but I was not sure exactly why, they looked at me like I was crazy.  “To teach, of course!” they exclaimed.  I am passionate about teaching and I thrive in the classroom environment, interacting with students and helping them connect Biblical truth with their daily lives. Over the last two months, He has continued to give me courage and clarify the details of this new call.

And so the adventure begins.  It’s a two-year degree if you go full-time, but I hope to finish it in 4-5 years without leaving my current ministry (which should be about the time my youngest will finish high school).  By doing Biblical Studies I will mostly be dealing with inductive study of the text, some Greek and Hebrew, and some theology,  which fits what I’m really interested in.

Please pray for me, for continued direction and wisdom, for funding, and for my sweet family as I attempt to balance my current commitments and this new project.  I have experienced the emotional roller coaster of excitement and amazement that God would call me, then terror and fear as the task feels beyond me, and slowly I presume I will settle into a place of hard work and dependence on His grace!

Applying for this program really is an act of faith for me.  I am not certain what the outcome will be, but I identify with what Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost For His Highest, “One of the difficulties in Christian work is this question – What do you expect to do?  You do not know what you are going to do; the only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing.” (January 2)

 

 

Teaching the Old Testament

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I’m teaching an 8 week overview of the Old Testament right now.  It’s a class that provides a framework and helps my students understand the big narrative of scripture… plus they finally understand where all the kings, prophets, and covenants fit.  I dare to say that many churches would profit from an Old Testament Overview type class, so here is what I recommend:

Our text is “Full of Promise” by Bryson Smith and Phil Campbell, Mattias Media, 2011.  It hits all the highlights in 8 weeks and the homework load is 60-90 minutes/week.  Students skim a lot of chapters, and I encourage those with time to just sit down and read the extra passages like a novel.  It’s easy for me to add maps, charts, and teaching sidebars on everything from the implications of the fall to details on various characters and events.

http://www.christianbook.com/full-of-promise-ot-overview/bryson-smith/9781921441899/pd/441891?event=ESRCG

Another GREAT find is “The Epic of Eden” by Dr. Sandra Richter, 2008. This is the single best background and teaching resource I’ve ever seen on the Old Testament.  It’s extremely readable and quite valuable.  It helped me bridge the gap from understanding the Old Testament, to being able to teach the Old Testament to newcomers in a comprehensible manner.

http://www.amazon.com/Epic-Eden-Christian-Entry-Testament/dp/0830825770/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422832319&sr=8-1&keywords=epic+of+eden+sandra+richter

My favorite piece from Dr. Richter is her 5 Men, 5 Eras, 5 Covenants framework.  If your students can just remember Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David… then they have already mastered the outline of the Old Testament timeline and covenantal framework.

Happy teaching!