Archive for the ‘GTS Blog’ Category

Easter is Coming

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Over the past several years, I’ve had memorable Easter’s. There have been a variety of factors, from The Passion of the Christ opening, to ministry involvement, to simple worship. This year I am realizing I’ve spiritually prepared very little for the celebration of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. And that’s disappointing.

Work and life have been busy. Short-term and long-term planning have clouded my focus and distracted me from the heart preparation I need. Such is life. And I don’t have a super-deep lesson to share, only the hope that the worship I can offer and participate in this weekend will be worthy of my King.

It is time to ‘Be still and know I am God’ even in the hustle and bustle of life because Easter is coming.

“I dare say you will think it a very easy thing to stand still but it is one of the postures a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching.” – Spurgeon

Messianic Secret

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Coming back from lunch today, I heard an old-school Michael W. Smith song, ‘Secret Ambition’ playing. It’s classic early 90′s Christian music that I’m semi-embarrassed to say I loved back in the day. It brings back some memories for sure.

Of all the connections my mind makes with that song though, the one that stands out the most is the connection to a ‘Exegesis of the Gospels’ class I had in seminary. We focused mostly on Mark, and the dominant theme of that Gospel account is the dominant theme of ‘Secret Ambition’, namely Jesus’ hidden agenda as Messiah. His secret ambition was to give his life away, as the song states.  The book of Mark hinges on his three ‘Passion Predictions’ in chapters 8,9, and 10 where Jesus explicitly states that His messianic role is not one of earthly power and might but one where he and his followers must suffer and die. Scholars have even coined the term ‘Messianic Secret’ that is prevalent throughout most in-depth commentaries on Mark.

Easter is approaching, and I find this song and my memories from that challenging seminary class to serve as convicting reminders that ‘whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.

Is that my secret ambition? Is it yours?

Secret Ambition

 

 

 

Better than I Deserve

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Today I had an omlet for lunch. It was a leftover omlet and I didn’t eat the entire thing.

It was leftover from a breakfast my wife enjoyed last Saturday at a local restraunt famous for their huge portions of delicious food. Written on the carry-out box was a note from my wife giving me permission to eat the box’s contents for lunch. Even reheated, it was pretty good. Large portions of potato with eggs and cheese mixed in.

Also earlier this weekend, my wife and I separately arrived home from some separate social activities. I got home first and since we only have one garage door opener, I left my car in the driveway and took a seat on the couch watching some of the NCAA basketball games that were on. My wife came home a little later and immediately volunteered to park my car in the garage.

Two random events from my weekend, but both carry along the theme I’ve known for a long time – my wife is too good for me. I must give her props for being so nice and helpful.

If you are intending to go into full-time ministry like I am, it’s critical to have a spouse who is supportive. And these events reminded me again that she will be a fantastic compliment when the Lord leads us into that next phase. I haven’t even mentioned her work as a small group leader with our youth group.

Our marriage is far from perfect and we as individuals are flawed of course too. But I love my wife and feel blessed by God for being married to her.

Forgiveness?

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

You hate to hear stories like this. A few days ago, a teen is killed in a hit-and-run accident. The police found the driver who hadn’t stopped or tried to help.

The family is left struggling with how and why this could happen. I saw that news report last night. It caught my attention when the mother mentioned how she was praising Jesus when she heard they’d caught the guilty party.  But I went from interested to confused when she went on to say that she could never forgive that lady for killing her son. “How could you?” she says matter-of-factly.

The painful wound of loss and grief is naturally still fresh. I’ve lost a family member and that is not something you just ‘get over’. I feel for that mother and I especially feel for the fact that she cannot forgive. One moment she’s thanking Jesus for the arrest, the next she’s completely shut off to the possibility of forgiveness. Part of me wants to jump up and scream, “how can you praise Jesus but not forgive?” Our Father forgave us for the sin that killed his Son and Jesus is the only solution that can bring the healing she clearly is searching for.

Whatever her spiritual condition, the disconnect is troubling. But it’s all too common in those who call themselves Christians. James 3:9-10 came to my mind quickly:

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

We all say things we don’t mean when we are in the midst of deep pain. But those sufferings ought to draw us to Christ and as we do, his healing power will make us more like Him – more forgiving, more loving, more holy. That is the path of genuine faith and it restores it’s broken travelers. Bitterness is the path of dead faith and it eats its travelers alive.

Which one will we travel when our next crisis hits?

True Confessions

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

My eyes started welling up with tears before I could even catch myself. Driving in the early morning hours to Cedarville University to represent our grad school and seminary, I listened to my ipod most of the way.

The David Crowder Band song ‘How He Loves Us’ got me choked up as I focused on the poignant words of that song:

“Love is like a hurricane and I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy…He is our Portion and we are His Prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. If His grace is an ocean we are all sinking…heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest. I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way.- Oh how He loves us!

While I quickly wiped away the tears feeling a sense of embarrassment at crying (I don’t cry much), I love those moments. Who cares if I show up to Cedarville with bloodshot eyes? I had a good, convicting, and glorious moment. It was the perfect spiritual refreshment of worship that I needed.

The rest of the day has only been ‘so-so’ in terms of what I was hoping to do. But that’s of lesser importance. May God’s love overwhelm you and may other see it clearly in our lives.

“…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power – together with all the saints – to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  – Eph. 3:17-19

Ministry’s Realities

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Yesterday in chapel, Winona Lake’s very own Indiana Jones spoke. Dr. John Davis is a renowned Old Testament scholar as a former faculty member and President of Grace College and Seminary. He has taken dozens of trips to the Middle East for Archeological digs, writes a weekly Outdoor Wildlife article for our local paper, and has even recorded guitar and banjo music.

I had the privilege of taking an OT Foundations class in college with Dr. Davis and found it to be incredible interesting as he helped us discover the rich history of the culture and period of the Old Testament. But yesterday he spoke from the New Testament, specifically 2 Timothy 4:9-18.

Let me share with you his main points as he spoke on ‘The Realities of Ministry”:

- There are Disappointments in Ministry (4:9-12)
- There are Discomforts in Ministry (4:13)
- There are Detractors in Ministry (4:14-15)
- There is Deliverance in Ministry (4:16-18)

I could not adequately share all of his thoughts and points concerning that outline, but let me just encourage you to look those verses up for yourself and see how that is fleshed out in Scripture.

At Grace, we are all about training people for ministry, and we would fail to effectively prepare people if we didn’t recognize the ‘dark side’ of ministry. But praise God that there is deliverance and He will help us!

Grace Seminary’s Sabbath

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

In the next 15 minutes, I am going to walk in the freezing cold from my office in Mount Memorial to Ashman Chapel in McClain Hall. I will spend about an hour there, and it will be one of the best hours of my week.

Tuesdays from 10-10:50 every week during the semester, our Seminary and Graduate students meet for chapel. I don’t have to go, but it’s nice to stay connected to the student body and faculty. But more than that, I find chapel to be extremely valuable for my own spiritual life. It always seems to be the perfect break from my busy week in the office. It’s a time of refreshment, reflection, and worship. The speakers rarely fail to bring encouraging challenges from God’s Word. And our students do a solid job of leading worship too.

If one thing defines our seminary, it is that we stress heart knowledge and not just head knowledge. Our faculty and administration are more passionate about spiritual growth than they are about grades. And chapel is one key way our school puts that passion into practice. It’s a great weekly sabbath break for students and staff alike.

Somebody’s Watching

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

I’ve had three different conversations recently where people referred to the fact they had been talking about me.

Creepy? Not really in these situations.

Convicting? A little.

I try to be aware of how I come across to people and I know that I’m probably the subject of conversations others are having just as much as they are occaisionally subjects of my conversations. But especially two of these revelations caught me off-guard for whatever reason.

I’m a pretty self-conscious person but it serves as a reminder that people watch us even when we aren’t aware of it. We need to be living as examples to other Christians and especially the unbelieving world. ‘You may be the only Jesus some people ever see’ is a bit trite but it is true.

‘But in your hearts, revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those woh speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15-16

Priorities in Prayer

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

I was recently struck by a very uncomfortable thought when studying Ephesians 6:18-20.

‘What if God decided to answer all of our prayers for one day? Would more people be healed from an illness or saved by grace?’

In the movie, Bruce Almighty, Jim Carey is given God’s powers for a period of time and decides to answer yes to all the “PrayerMail” requests that were sent to God. In the movie, there are a few scenes depicting the chaos that ensues, but as I was reading Ephesians, I was struck with Paul’s request for courage to “fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which i am an ambassador in chains.”

Paul wasn’t concerned about being imprisoned, he didn’t ask for prayer about his physical condition, though most assuredly he wasn’t in perfect health. His concern was for the Gospel. And this was a characteristic of his ministry. 2 Thessalonians 3:1 says, “As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.”

But so many times, our prayer requests are dominated by health issues, job situations, and other temporary situations. I’m afraid many Christians I know have given the Gospel second or third place in their prayer lives.

Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not bad to pray for those other things. But we must put our prayer emphasis on the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ. We must make it a habit to pray for opportunities to share our faith, to pray for those we know aren’t saved, to pray for our missionary friends who are spreading the Gospel overseas.

I’m afraid it would be a bittersweet day if God decided to affirmatively answer all our requests. We might rejoice in the restored health of our grandparents and the resolution of our job uncertainty, but it would be tempored when we came to realize the opportunity we missed to see more people come to Christ.

Dependance in Chaos

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

The past several weeks have been crazy busy for me. Lots of travel, lots of extra work because of some office changes. Needless to say I’m way behind on some things.

But I’ve experienced the importance of staying dependant on God during this hectic time. It’s not natural or easy, but I’ve worked to keep my focus on Christ and relying on His power and strength. I’ve been busy before and tried to ‘just get though it’. I don’t find peace and joy and success in what I’m doing when that happens.I have found Philippians 4:6-7 to be true though – casting our cares on Christ will bring us the peace we seek, especially when everything chaotic around us.