Archive for the ‘GTS Blog’ Category

Confirmation

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Today a prospective student visited. In many ways, he is typical.

Well, his age isn’t necessarily typical and he’s not looking to pursue the most common or popular degree. But the rest of his story is like so many of the students I have the privilege of interacting with. His is a story of open doors. After a long and successful career in the business world, he’s sensed the Lord leading him to something greater.

And as he’s submitted to the Lord in faith, doors have opened. The doors haven’t revealed everything all at once, but they have revealed the next step. And this individual has confidently stepped through each door and has gained further insight into what God desires him to do.

I love seeing God work, and I get to see this all the time. What a Savior and what a Faithful God!

Self-Control

Monday, September 13th, 2010

One of the greatest paradoxes of the Christian life revolves around the issue of self-control.

It’s something that you are taught about early on in life, because it’s a fruit of the Spirit and teachers love to tell little kids in Sunday School about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. The fruit of the Spirit is easy to conceptualize and a thing like self-control is important to teach to kids who are often very much out-of-control.

But the truth of the matter is, self-control is impossible in and of ourselves. If we want to be more disciplined in our eating habits, or our entertainment choices, or our spending impulses, or in how we handle the our anger, we won’t be able to fully be self-controlled until we are Spirit-controlled.

And here is where we recognize the inherent paradoxical nature of this character quality. Self-control doesn’t come from inside me, it is a fruit of the Spirit! We can try our hardest to fix behaviors, but we won’t find real sustained success until we submit to the Spirit’s control. The Thrid Person of the Trinity must do the work inside us and empower us to change our habits from excessive and sinful, to controlled and godly.

Prayer and an attitude of dependance of God are key. The Spirit will convict us of the areas we need self-control and He’ll also provide the grace and strength we need to stick to our commitments to holy living.

Self-control can’t happen without the Spirit’s control. What a beautiful paradox!

Here we go again

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Whewwwww. The weekend is over.

Now usually I look forward to the weekend and hate it when it’s over. Well this past weekend was our Seminary Colloquial Gathering (aka New Student Orientation). It was busy and fun and hot and informative and encouraging. And now the students are prepared and registered for class as the school year begins officially tonight.

The more I’ve gotten to know these men and women, the more excited I am about how God’s going to work in and through their time here. It was a good weekend, but I’m glad it’s over. I’m glad the details worked out and the events worked for everybody.

To God be the glory for the great things He will do this year!

A Holy Man and Holy Moments

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Last Wednesday, as I was preparing to go to Cincinnati for the Grace Brethren national conference, one of our faculty stopped by to drop off some old admissions files and folders. This man has a reputation for being a man of prayer often interrupting conversations when an issue comes up to lift it up to the Lord. He greeted me with a smile and a handshake and explained about the contents of the box. Then he asked me how I was doing and I talked with him about my semi-busy schedule and how things were going for the fall.  Before leaving, he offered to pray with me and led us in prayer for my upcoming activities and the incoming students.

Despite his reputation, he caught me off-guard by praying with me, but it was just what I needed. Stopping and praying was a perfect reminder to me that all I do depends on God. I can work hard, email and call people constantly, and host great visit days and campus tours. But it’s the grace of God that anyone comes at all. God has to be working in people’s hearts first of all for them to consider going to school post-college. And I am very far from being an expert recruiter and admissions counselor, so any fruits of my labor are also the result of God’s grace. It took a holy man to remind me of this and I want to focus on this as I prepare for the fall.

That brief meeting was good preparation for my weekend as well. At the national conference, I was challenged and encouraged in my own personal walk and had the privilege of reconnecting with a lot of old friends. Friday night during the main adult meeting, the focus was on preparation for the next day’s FGBC service projects and the rest of the weekend. I wasn’t going to be directly involved, but again I felt the conviction of the Spirit about making an impact for the glorious Gospel of Christ in the world God’s put me in. Unsaved friends came to mind that I resolved to reach out to, along with upcoming opportunities to mentor and disciple others. I walked away appreciative to the Lord for leading me to get my mind right and prepare for what He might have ahead for me.

The past week has been filled with some holy moments and it was all foreshadowed by a random interruption by a holy man of God.

Depths of Depravity

Monday, July 12th, 2010

I’ve often heard it said in relation to the Gospel that you can’t understand how good the Good News is until you understand how bad the Bad News is. I think that’s pretty sound and true as it properly emphasizes our sin problem and need for a Savior.

I’ve encountered this principle reading in the Old Testament recently. Judges is well-known for stories like Deborah, Gideon, and Samson but the majority of the book is focused on the defeats and failures, not the incredible victories. It’s discouraging just how bad it got for the nation whom God redeemed out of slavery in Egypt. Blatant idolatry, religious leaders being anything but, civil war all concluding with  ‘everyone did as they saw fit.’ (21:25).

Thankfully God provided Samuel and David and for half of his life, Solomon. And even for many years after them, though the nation strayed from God, there were prophets to bring them back. And the process culminates in our wonderful and merciful King coming to earth to redeem us once and for all.

Isn’t God’s grace amazing. Even though depraved humanity continues to prefer it’s depraved state, our gracious God consistently responds with grace. Eventually he cuts it off and sends the punishment that we had coming.
But He is truly long-suffering and gracious and unchanging in that regard.

JOY

Monday, June 21st, 2010

It took a week of missing church to make me realize what I was missing. Returning after a Sunday away, I re-discovered the energy and enthusiasm for participating in worship and fellowshipping with our local body.

Everyone  has those days and weeks (months and years?) where everything seems stale. Sometimes entire churches get infected.

A friend of mine suggested that this issue can be the result of a lack of the Holy Spirit’s work. I countered that when churches grow stale, it’s because we lack true worship. I think we might have both been wrong.

I now think the solution is very simple – it’s joy.

Check out 1 Peter 1:8-9. It’s not just about love for Christ and belief in Him. We are living incomplete lives if we aren’t filled with an overwhelming and overflowing joy. Why else would Paul emphatically repeat – ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!’ (Phil.4:4).

But why rejoice? What is the reason we can be full of joy, happiness, and satisfaction?

‘for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.’ (1 Peter 1:9)

We have a hope and a redemption and an inheritance that is so amazing, it transforms our outlook on our present circumstances, no matter how good or bad.

Joy will prompt us to unhindered worship and joy will give us a thrist for more of the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives. And as a fruit of the Spirit, it’s convincing evidence that the Spirit’s already at work. All we need to do is ask.

Remembering an afternoon with a Wizard

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

John Wooden, nicknamed ‘The Wizard of Westwood’ died last Friday at the age of 99. While he never embraced that poetic nickname, he certainly earned it after 620 wins and 10 national titles as a college basketball coach, mostly at UCLA.

Many with closer ties to the man and with much more training have already written eloquent responses to the passing of this coaching legend. But allow me to share about the privilege I had to spend some time with this man in January of 2001 during a basketball Christmas break trip I was a part of as a member of the Grace College men’s basketball team.

Through connections I’m still unsure of, our coach made arrangements for us to eat lunch and spend an afternoon with Coach Wooden. I will always remember traveling to his condo and getting out with the rest of our group of about 20 at a very modest, non-descript apartment complex. I remember thinking, Are we lost? Coach Wooden couldn’t live anywhere around here.’ Sure enough we entered the complex and were greeted by the short, frail but friendly basketball genius.

While the living room was barely big enough to hold all of us, it was a monument to the history of basketball. I’ll never forget all of the random trophies and awards that were sitting in on book shelves and coffee tables. It was clear though that they were not set up so much for our viewing pleasure as much as there was nowhere else to put them. And these weren’t just your run-of-the-mill plaques and trophies. They had titles like ‘NCAA Coach of the Year’, ‘ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award’ and ‘Sports Illustrated Coach of the Century’. He spent a couple hours talking with us about his philosophy and career. I don’t remember him describing very many games or plays unless we directly asked him about those. But he freely shared about his perspective on life, his famous ‘Pyramid of Success’, and his love for his players, friends, and family.

And that’s true to who he was. ‘Basketball Coach’ didn’t define him. He was a man of impeccable character. John Wooden was a strong Christian who wore his faith on his sleeve without shoving it down anyone’s throat. While not perfect, he was an incredible example of humility and grace while at the same time being very determined and disciplined. Spending that afternoon with him was surreal. My only regret is that I have since lost the autographed copy of his Pyramid of Success that  he took the time to give each and everyone of us. But I will never lose the memory of his friendliness and grace. If you pay close enough attention, you can discern who is trying to act a part and who is the genuine article. And Coach Wooden was as genuine and real as anyone I’ve ever met.

John Wooden is widely acclaimed as the greatest coach in the history of sports but it’s his impact on those he interacted with that is his real legacy. I know that because it was my privilege to spend one short afternoon with him. I can barely imagine what it would have been like to play for him.

Some thoughts on thoughts

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I used to memorize a lot of Scripture. Our kids programs at church had memory verse cards, our youth group had memory verses for quizzing and other parts of the Word of Life program. I got away from it in college, but eventually adopted a more rigorous discipline of quiet time where I read more chapters. And in many ways that fulfilled the Scriptural command to ‘meditate’ on God’s Word (Josh. 1:8). My rationale was memorizing Scripture is a good way to meditate on God’s Word but not the only way.

This is certainly true but I convinced myself to get back into the habit of Scripture memorization. I chose Philippians 4:8 to start. I can get this memorized easily, but I didn’t want to to just settle for temporary ‘rote’ memory. I have been dwelling on the verse for about a week now, having it written on a card in my office.

‘Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.’ (NIV)

I have only realized the last day or so though that applying this verse has been a challenge. The past week while I’ve been focused on this call to a godly mindset, the enemy has been sending things my way to undermine what I am thinking about. Different things from different directions and different situations have been affecting my attitude and thought life. This is to be expected in the Christian life. When we seek the grace of God to address an area in our lives that needs improvement, Satan and his forces enjoy making us fail.

But thankfully, ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.’

Being Like Daniel (Day 7/Conclusion)

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Well, Saturday came and went. No great new insights, just a day like the others.

And everything I have said thus far certainly rings true as I look back. I didn’t miss much and I hope I remember that this coming week when I reach for the remote to check the latest scores or listen to the day’s political commentary.

I think I will certainly remember the time I had to work on all the stuff I’ve been putting off. And I will remember a week where God gave me grace to work on my heart and my focus as each became more centered on Christ.

Being Like Daniel (Day 6)

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Friday has come and gone. And Saturday’s half over. Going to Ft. Wayne with my wonderful wife to do some errands and meet her family for Mother’s Day.

Yesterday was a good day. I did work out, this time with the TV’s on in the front. If God can give me the grace to not give those TV’s any more than a passing glance – what else can he do? What else might he want me to commit totally to and what kind of grace could He provide?

Side note: so far my refusal to watch tv has allowed me to avoid watching one celtics win where they allowed a big comeback and one loss where they apparently played poorly. I actually prefer this in some ways because I’m not as emotionally connected to it as I am watching it live.

I’m prepared to teach on Daniel 2, which highlights God delivering Daniel out of  an impossible situation. I hope I don’t have to apply this part of Daniel’s life next week : ).

You are my joy, you are my joy, you are my joy, you are my JOOOOOOOOOOOOOYYYYYYY!
- Sorry, Crowder’s playing on my itunes as I write this. -