Seminary, The Walk

Thunderstorms

I was driving home tonight, drowning in my own thoughts and frustrated with the confusion that I felt in trying to wrap my head around a really technical theological problem. While questioning my own biblical and theological abilities, I noticed a massive lightning storm in the East. Watching the clouds silhouetted by lightning, God brought to mind how confusing and terrifyingly beautiful storms like this must have been to the people in the past. In doing so, God reminded me that confusion will always be a part of this life, especially in my studies of Him, because He is so transcendent beyond my feeble mental capacities.

So now I lay in bed and watch the lightning, comforted in the few facts I know; God loves me, died for me, saved me, and wants to know me. Everything else seems so little in comparison to that.

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Featured, Seminary

Buried in Books

These are my textbooks for this semester, well, the ones that are in print anyway. Add on another 2-300 pages of notes, handouts, and electronic books and you have all my required reading for this semester. When I finish this semester I will have written 60-70 pages of papers in response to these readings and other research.

Holy. Crap.

Overwhelmed is an understatement. Despite that, I’m excited to read many of these books. One I am particularly excited about is Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ronald Sider. From what I have gathered it will be a book that is going to really challenge my thinking in my American Christian world.

What are you reading now? What have you learned from it?

Well, back to reading.

Zack

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General, Seminary

Don’t be a Sheep

I have encountered many times in my life in ministry those who are seemingly skeptical of education. I have had pastors tell me they had no interest in improving their exegetical skills, or taking the time to further their education in general, that they would rather leave the “hard stuff” up to others and then read what they say about scripture or life.

This attitude disgusts me, and I think really disappoints God. Jesus said these words to His disciples before he sent them out.

Matt 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”

This is why education is important for pastors, because Jesus commands it. Sadly, many pastors choose to spend time playing golf rather than studying.

We are sheep in the midst of wolves. Sheep are by nature stupid creatures, that is why shepherds are needed. Sheep are vulnerable to wolves. Sheep believe whatever they are told, which is why shepherds must be trustworthy and knowledgeable.

Most pastor’s nail the “innocent as doves” part, they love people, they love God, they have good intentions.

Satan can take good intentions and misguide them just enough to make someone complacent, and make them sitting ducks for failure. If the shepherd is complacent, the sheep are dinner.

If you are in ministry or called to ministry, then you are called to be educated.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14 to not be children in your thinking, but to become mature in your thinking.

If you are a pastor, don’t be lazy and rely upon other people to tell you what to believe, because their words are not infallible or inspired, rather take the time to read the scriptures which are infallible and inspired so that you gain knowledge from the source of all knowledge.

Want to get your thinking started? Check out www.projectebenezer.com a new online project from an intelligent friend of mine.

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General, Seminary

Checking In

It has been a crazy few months. I am 2/3 of the way through my first semester at Phoenix Seminary. I have already had to process more information than I thought I would take in over my entire time in seminary. I am already examining my theology in some very very significant ways. In this process Tara and I after much prayer and struggling decided God was moving us away from our church and to find a new church home. So about 6 weeks ago I said goodbye to our junior high students, who made me cry as they prayed for me and Tara. So combined with visiting churches, reading, studying, writing, and wrestling with changes in my theology, my blog has been quite lonely. So I thought I would check in.

What have you been up to dear reader?

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Seminary, The Walk

So that just happened.

Change was in the air indeed. Holy crap has my life changed since October 29, when I wrote my last post. I wrote that post half feeling like God was getting ready to change things, and half hoping things would change, because I was drowning in life at that point. Well…here’s what I got.

When I wrote that post, I had sent off a resume to a church in the Valley applying for an open youth pastor position. I had talked with the pastor and it seemed like a perfect fit, except for the fact that there was another couple coming in town to meet with the pastor and staff, and the pastor wanted to follow through with that before talking to me further. So as I wrote, I was praying that that guy was not the fit. I knew God was saying change was coming, this had to be it right?

No. November 11 I found out they had decided to bring the other couple on as their youth pastors. Bummer.

November 13 I found out my pay was being reduced at church. Bummer.

Now I faced a problem, I could not keep working the same hours, getting paid less, and make the bills. I prayed to God to either give me wisdom or change my situation, and that I was giving our financial situation to Him, then proceeded to melt down for 3/4 of a church service, crying and praying out all my frustrations and confusion. I told God I didn’t think I could do a good job at church doing something that I did not love.

The next day I was told November 30th would be my last day on staff at church.

My response surprised both my pastor and me, at the end of being told why (which was nothing negative, it was just clear I was not the right fit for the position) I just said, “Ok, Sweet”

And I meant it, completely. I was free to work one job, serve the youth ministry fully, and spend more time with my wife. I just was concerned about which direction to go as far as pursuing ministry, and was a little concerned about if I really was hearing God about being in ministry.

Then last Friday the admissions director from Phoenix Seminary called me and requested a meeting with the dean of students and myself. Cue the stomach turning and stress.

Today I had my meeting. Where I found out that I have been accepted to pursue an M.Div with an emphasis on Biblical Communication. They said their only concern was how busy I was working two jobs. I explained how that was not an issue anymore.

HIS timing is perfect. HIS will is perfect. HIS plan is perfect. Me and my plans are not.

So no, I am not a youth pastor right now, instead God has placed me in a community of wise counsel and like-minded people where I can grow, learn, and prepare for what God has for me.

Change has happened, and I am diving right in.

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