23 February 2006

Bluegrass Country

So, I'm sitting at a generic computer in the lower level of the Beeson Manor, which is a hotel on the campus of Asbury Theological Seminary. ATS is an interdenominational seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. We're here for tonight and tomorrow checking the place out. I've been here before in the fall of 2004, but I decided it would be a good excuse to get away from school for 48 hours and take time to experience the campus again, praying to find God's will for the direction of my graduate education. I'm still mostly considering Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, and also considering Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC. More on those ideas in a different post.
Tonight we spent time hanging out in Matt LeRoy's place. We spent time there with Matt, Josh LeRoy, Jake Neal, and some others. It was a good time hanging out with each of them. Tomorrow (or I guess, later today), we are going through some admissions and financial aid speeches, a chapel service, lunch, tour of the campus, and sitting in on a class. Then another 8 hour ride back to school to get back around midnight. It should be good stuff though.
New stuff in my life: Benji, Todd, and I started a "band", in the sense of a John Wesley band. A band, a type of small group system set up by John Wesley in England, is a group, maximum of 6 same gender people, who hold each other accountable, encourage and spur each other on in a pursuit of holiness. I believe this will be a great means of grace to help us on toward perfect love being acted out in our lives, toward both God and others.
Something to ponder: If you take a Wesleyan-Arminian theological worldview, then you believe in free will. This is the greatest power that God has granted mankind: choice. However, that greatest power of ours is also our greatest responsibility. We have a responsibility to choose and to move. We can NOT stand stagnant, waiting for life to fall into our laps as we wish it would. We can NOT sit by idle. The kingdom of God will not advance if we sit on our hands, do not leave the comfortable chair, and do not risk our lives, desires, and fears. I'm slowly learning that. Take that in for a little while today. If we truly understand this, we would live quite differently.

14 February 2006

Happy Birthday Rachid!

Today is Valentine's Day. I could make some long negative spill about today, dating, girls, etc. To be honest, I wouldn't feel bad about doing that. However, instead I'm just going to say this: I CAN'T WAIT for the day that I can spend a day like today with someone whom I can love, with reckless abandonment, enjoying that bond of complete trust and not fearing that vulnerability.

For now, Nikiema Abdoul Rachid turns 5 years old today. He's my child... Compassion child, that is. I can't wait for the day he can write me a full letter. For now, he draws me pictures of clouds and monkeys.

This week has been great. I was able to connect Monday with Phil Stevenson, the Director of Evangelism and Church Growth for The Wesleyan Church. I met with him over coffee at the City discussing my ideas about urban ministry, urban church planting, and possibilities of planting in Boston. There are no Wesleyan churches in the whole state of Massachusetts. So he said he calls those kind of church plants "parachute drop" operations. It's like the military when they fly out over areas that they aren't allowed to land on and they drop some men from the helicopter who soar down to the ground with their parachutes to do some operation. Interesting analogy. He was able to get me some ideas on what to start doing now to prepare and figure out if that is certainly what God wants me to do.

Last, I just want to mention something that has been on my heart recently. I can't go into depth with it now because I need to get some other things done, but maybe I will be able to expand later. I must confess that I have not served well. I have not loved unconditionally, given of myself wholly, or served others whole-heartedly. I have given in to the sins of selfishness, self-pity on occasion, complacency, mediocrity, among many others. For that, I ask forgiveness and beg mercy from God to change and mold my heart to love and serve completely, abandoning my selfish desires.

11 February 2006

Quick post...

- Greek was saved! Props go to the Religion faculty! It will remain at 4 semesters. However, Dr. Fipps is restructuring the 3rd and 4th semesters to get more inductive Bible study done (in Matthew and Romans).
- I had my Alpha Chi induction ceremony this morning. Alpha Chi is a national college honor scholarship society. The top 5% of the junior class is inducted. I'm not sure of any benefits other than something more to add to graduate school applications, but I am still honored, nonetheless, to get accepted.
- I went bowling tonight as the student activity this weekend. I had a great time with friends. I bowled 4 games (126, 90, 128, and 114). That's not so bad I guess.

More to tell, I'm sure, but it is too late and I am going to bed. Goodnight to all!

09 February 2006

Anniversary of my escape...

Well, yesterday was my birthday, number 21 to be exact. However, for anyone wondering, the only addicting or altering substance that I consumed was two coffee beverages, one at the City and one at Starbucks (part of my b-day present from Emily...thanks!). Although I still had meetings throughout the day, it was a great birthday. Everybody made it great. I received two cakes today, the first one at lunch (made of random desserts in the cafe all piled together on a plate smothered in whipped cream...props to Lyle and Thomas) and the second late tonight (cinnamon cake made by Ashley and Megan...thanks ladies!). I was given some awesome gifts too (thanks Em!). Many others made the day awesome too. I didn't have any big celebration for my 21st, but I did get a great day surrounded by friends.

On Wednesday, the Religion faculty had a meeting and a vote to decide what to do with the Greek classes. As far as I understand, the issue on the table: We need to cut back on required amount of Greek because 1) alumni are not using it much, 2) those hours in the major could be used for more "practical ministry" classes, and 3) the school is losing students and not growing because students are going to the other Wesleyan universities so they will not have to take Greek. So, basically, we compromise because our Religion students are extremely lazy punks who don't want to put any effort into their training to serve the almighty and sovereign God. Nobody wants to have to WORK at their ministerial training...as if the pastorate is easy. How do we expect to be rightful stewards of the eternal Word if we can't know it in its original language, diction, grammar, and context? Do you believe that the Word isn't that big of a deal? That it speaks for itself or something? There lies the problem with the Church today: we have lost the desire and passion for the Word. We don't realize anymore that we have the very mind and heart of Christ on our bookshelves, just waiting to transform us into the people that we've always wished we could become. We no longer pursue the mind of Christ, to think like He thinks or live as He lived, especially not to love like He loved. We look like everyone else. We struggle in picking up the Word everyday, many of us for even half an hour. We certainly struggle in loving the Word enough to dig into it for hours a day. Yet we expect to be transformed people, to be capable of leading others to a Christ that we don't know well ourselves.
I have hoped and prayed that the vote would go as God would have it. However, I still can't help but hope that they do not diminish the value of Greek in our preparation. The Church has destroyed the value of intellectualism enough the way it is. That's why we have a bunch of religion majors who don't think they have to know stuff to be a pastor. I feel sorry for all the people whom they will inadvertently turn away from Christ and the Church because of their [religion majors] ignorance.

Sorry for the soapbox. All in all, Happy Birthday to me! Goodnight and God bless.

05 February 2006

Call to Holiness

I'm reading through More Than Forgiveness by Steve DeNeff. If you haven't read it, READ IT. Brilliant book on the doctrine of holiness and how to apply those doctrines into our pursuit of Christ.

While reading today, I was blown away by so many simple statements that I knew, but never deeply thought about. In the reading today, DeNeff was presenting the idea that holiness is not about actions, but about the desire of the heart. Here are some excerpts from today that I feel compelled to share and hope that you take them to heart. I hope that these words are as piercing for you as they were for me.

There are two kinds of sinners. There are those who act like sinners, and there are those who act like saints. One kind of sinner indulges an appetite while the other starves it, but both have the same appetite. One kind does whatever he wants while the other does what he thinks he should, but underneath they both want the same things. One fornicates while the other lusts, but both have committed adultery (see Matt. 5:28). One tells dirty jokes while the other merely laughs at them, but both enjoy bawdy humor. One perjures himself in a courtroom while the other slanders his enemies over lunch, yet both are guilty of bearing false witness. Yes, there are two ways to commit nearly every sin, and so sinners are not always what they seem. Some are proud of their brazenness while others rest in their apparent righteousness; some are straight forward, others self-righteous; some ignore the Cross of Christ while the others presume upon it but, both are its enemies.

I am going to define two categories for you, and I would like you to put yourself into one of them. The first is attrition, which means that you feel very sorry for your sins because you know they are ruining your life and keeping you from heaven. In addition to this, you know that the Bible and the church are against these things, and so you feel guilty when you do them. The other is contrition, which means that you feel sorry for your sins because you know they grieve the heart of God. It means that even if the church and the Bible did not forbid such things, and if they did not ruin your life, you would confess them anyway because you truly desire to be rid of the sins themselves, not merely the guilt incurred by them.

If they were granted a single day to do whatever they pleased with no need to fear the wrath of God, what would they do? If it were not wrong to neglect the reading of Scripture, would they read it simply to know the mind of Christ? Do their sins truly bother them, or do they hate to love them? Do they truly love their enemies, or is it only that they are supposed to?