My last assignment and thoughts on the future

This past fall and spring, I was taking Greek as a seminary student. Greek both semesters lasted the duration of the semester, making it an anomaly since most of my courses last half a semester as online intensives. In addition to Greek, I took four or five other courses. Of course, fall Greek was easier than spring Greek. Unwisely, I signed up for five courses in the spring instead of the fall. Thus, in the semester with the harder base language, I found myself taking a larger course load with one half especially unbearable.

So, thinking ahead, I planned to take Hebrew in the upcoming fall and spring semesters. Hebrew is much harder to me than Greek. Wisely, I determined that I would only take four courses each semester beyond Hebrew (so that I was never taking three intensives plus Hebrew, which would be dreadful). In order to succeed in that goal in the upcoming fall and spring, I had to take seven intensives this summer.

This first half of summer has been super fun with regard to school as I’ve attended an exciting tour and taken three courses that are on subjects I really enjoy: denominational history, leadership, practical ministry. But I have one paper I failed to write on time. It was due on the 20th and five days later I still haven’t come close to finishing.
Hopefully, I can do it this afternoon and tomorrow morning and turn it in before it is an entire week late. But the irony of turning in a leadership paper on time management is not lost on me.

So, that’s the last assignment for the two classes that I took on tour. The other one course will end this Thursday and I suspect that I will have no difficulty finishing its assignments on time since I have been faithful to keep up with the coursework so far.

The second half of the summer semester has already begun though and this half, I will be taking four classes, so I’m a little nervous about that. I pray the Lord will be with me and will keep life calm as we finish the other side of the duplex (to move someone in by August), participate in church life and work, and as I devote myself to my education and other longer-term goals.

One thing that I have determined to give my heart rest about is where we will go upon graduation. I don’t know where we will go and often I am overwhelmed by anxiety or dread regarding the lack of decisive vision. But recently, I have decided to rest in that tension and not be worried. I plan instead to work hard on school, still striving to finish early. And then devote the season after graduation to recalibrating with the Spirit and my ambition in light of those I love. A large variety of options are on the table and I plan to sweep them into a box and close the lid cutting a small hole to receive future ideas, but not to be examined until the time is right. Grant me patience and peace as I trust the process and live temporarily without long term vision.


Post for June 23, 2017

How do you feel about how you spent your day?

I feel wretched. I hate that at the end of the day I felt like it was wasted. The whole of the day was meaningless. At least I’m writing. That way there is some record and maybe I can process and grow through it.

Days that feel meaningless are not always meaningless and days that feel meaningful are not always meaningful. Most days are somewhere in between: having some meaning.

Today feels meaningless because I did not do anything I wanted to do. I did not exercise my autonomy and authority to do that which I value. I was rather subject to insecurity and fear and feelings of unworthiness as I did nothing I esteem to do.

Lord, if you are merciful, please give me another day. And help me to number my days so that I will gain a heart of wisdom.

Post NOT for the end of ‘post for’ posts

I haven’t written since the beginning of June. Part of why I have not written is because there have been other more pressing matters that have kept my attention. But a deterrent has also been knowing that the format I have set up expects a post a day that coincides with a survey a day. Because knowing that system is in place means that I either need to make amends for past shortcomings (type old post for posts) or scrap them and move on from the day of return and scrapping is harder for me although probably wiser.

Why was I using that format and why am I giving it up for a little bit?
The format was there to help my partners in accountability keep me accountable. I am the chief person keeping myself accountable and this format does succeed in keeping me accountable. So, although I began this post expecting to be a farewell to the format, I am instead going to use it in its unedited version as a revitalization.

I’m not going to give up answering the question, “how do you feel about how you spent your day?” because I am still convinced that it helps me hold myself accountable to standing guard at the door of my mind and engaging in the pursuit of my values.

So, moving forward, I’ll probably give a brief summary of past seasons and then get back to writing a daily post for post (M-F) and then writing about things that interest me – of which there are stacks of notecards! For now, thanks for reading whoever it is that is reading.

knowing I have played my part well

I wrote the phrase that is the title of this post in this one. And when I did, I knew I needed to comment. You see, even though it is my heart’s desire to enter eternity and here from God, “Well done my good and faithful servant”, I realize that I cannot hope to succeed in that. I am not a good and faithful servant. I try to be good. I try to be faithful. But I fail in both aims. Jesus succeeds in both aims and if ever I am to hear from God, “Well done my good and faithful servant”, it will be because of the work of Jesus in me. Any and all good and faithful behavior is the result of Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit working in me to make Christ manifest and the Father glorified by my life.

So, it is my prayer and I hope it is yours that the Holy Spirit will continue to minister to us and bear fruit in our lives so that the name and work of Christ can be made much of and the name and glory of the Father be enjoyed forever to ever increasing degrees.

My White Board at Church

Some of you know that I am a seminarian full time. In fact, my primary occupation is that of a seminarian. Recently, I was feeling insecure about how I spend my time and wanting to better use my time and resorted to listing the obligations of certain roles that I fill. There are of course roles I neglected to write about – hopefully someday I will consider those as well and craft an exhaustive list by which I can measure my behavior (hopefully resulting in the peace of knowing I have played my part well).

The reason that I am writing down the list before it is complete is because I need the space. When I wrote it, I used the white board at church but now I need that space for something else. I still want to keep the lists as a good starting place for this project to be addressed later. Thus, here it is:

  • Because I am a Christian, I should lead a healthy…
    • spiritual lifestyle by praying, fasting, reading, considering, serving, memorizing, and loving well.
    • physical lifestyle by eating, sleeping, exercising, and doing hygiene well.
    • intellectual lifestyle by reading, writing, and talking well.
    • financial lifestyle by striving to live on less than I make, intentionally considering each recurring cost to ensure they reflect my values, considering major purchases to ensure they reflect my values, saving for future expenditures I can imagine incurring, investing the margin wisely, keeping good records, and giving generously.
    • social lifestyle by maintaining a relational schematic and honoring the social roles that I have agreed to fill.
    • mental/emotional lifestyle by seeking out and investing in therapeutic practices/relationships, vacationing/honoring the sabbath and tending to self care to prevent burnout.
    • romantic lifestyle by insisting on defined romantic relationships and functioning faithfully as a lover within defined boundaries.
    • vocational lifestyle by regular considering how to spend my time, regularly tending to my habits, and regularly create and manage goals and aspirations.
  • Because I am a seminarian, I should…
    • watch my faith and practice closely; live as a healthy Christian.
    • pursue my certification through diligent, faithful, academic work.
    • prepare for the pastorate by:
      • considering what it means to pastor
      • developing my systematic theology
      • developing my historic theology
      • developing my biblical theology
      • develop my understanding of ecclesiology
      • practicing discipleship
      • practicing evangelism
      • memorizing God’s Word
      • fostering relationships that will be useful to future ministry endeavors
      • engaging in the languages of the original scriptures
  • As I consider what it means to be a pastor, I have determined that a pastor should…
    • watch his faith and practice closely; live as a healthy Christian.
    • teach his flock, which requires:
      • having a developed theology
      • expositing God’s word regularly
      • creating or sharing resources
    • shepherd his flock, which requires:
      • having a developed ecclesiology
      • arranging for regular preaching of the word
      • arranging for discipleship of membership
      • arranging for church discipline
      • modeling and teaching Christian service to persons in and outside the flock
      • raising up and empowering elders, deacons, and members to the calling of the Lord on their lives
    • equip the saints to protect and manifest the gospel
    • develop or maintain a healthy duplicating church

Post for the start of June, 2017

A week has past since my last “post for…” and I want to answer the question, “How do you feel about how you spent your day?”

I feel pretty good. This week has been a good restoring week. I’ve reconnected with my wife and my church and my habits and my home.

Something that is resonating with me though as I consider this question is that there is a difference between feeling something, thinking something and believing something. Usually the difference is in the object of the feeling/thinking/believing, but it is ultimately in the action done by the subject to the object.
When a person feels, he/she is perceiving, sensing, or experiencing. Many post-moderns think with their feelings. But feeling is not thinking.
When a person thinks, he/she is concluding, considering, recalling, imagining. This is the realm of opinion. It overlaps with feeling in that the moment after a person feels something, he/she thinks about the feelings he/she has had. So, a person might feel sick to his/her stomach and thereby thinks that he/she is sick to his/her stomach.
When a person believes, he/she is affirming credence, having faith, holding as true, maintaining conviction. Continuing our example, the person who thinks that he/she is sick, also believes he/she is sick. However, usually beliefs are not only opinions that have been thought, but they are thoughts that have been held through opposition. Such that after examinations revealing there is no problem with our example’s stomach, he/she considers his/her feelings about his/her stomach’s state and re-affirms his or her belief that he/she is indeed sick to his/her stomach.

So, when I ask, “How do you feel about how you spent your day?” I’m not considering how I spent the day really. I’m not affirming a belief about how I spent the day. I am merely putting into words how I perceive or sense the quality of the day(s) in question.

Thus, my answers can and will be rather short – although length is allowed, because feelings can be deep.

Stop owning; start stewarding

I’m sure that I did not coin this phrase, but I am unable to give credit where it is due. If you as a reader know where I ought to give credit, please let me know and I will include it here.

On the notecard that I am addressing in the post I have written an (what I believe to be my own) interpretation of that header. It reads:

  • We have responsibility in:
    • every thought
    • every word
    • every deed
    • every attitude
    • every motive

My Response:
Presumably the we refers to all people, but especially believers in Christ.
Having responsibility is needed for the Christian – even the Calvinist. Thankfully, almost all philosophers in this day affirm compatibilism as a valid expression of metaphysics. I affirm compatibilism and the persons responsibility. Further, I find the categories helpful for brining to mind the extent of personal responsibility.

I keep above my desk at work a note which exhorts, daily, stand at the gate of your mind. I’m trying to remind myself that I am responsible for every thought. Likewise, I want to remember that I am responsible for every word and deed, which require a more permanent thought (or at least they should although some are in the habit of acting/speaking without thinking). Last, it is good to remember that the attitudes and motives of thoughts, words, and deeds also matter, because God is seeking to transform our very beings, our affections, and our nature into Christlikeness. He is not satisfied to have us doing and saying the right things – not even thinking the right things – we must do and say and think the right things with the right attitude and motive, because then it will be known that what we have become was not the result of human will (which is corrupted by sin), but rather the result of gracious, merciful divine intervention.