Because life is a series of edits

Archive for January, 2006|Monthly archive page

Learner, Learner, Let Down Your Hair

In Thought on January 28, 2006 at 5:56 pm

Of the many assignments Learner received last week, one was to read Jerram Barrs’ The Heart of Evangelism. Suffice it to say, it’s been a long time since Learner read a book on evangelism. And, while the ideals of “going and making disciples” and “always having an answer for the faith he professes” were motivating in his early faith, Learner says the reality of his non-existent evangelistic life – not just in the past year, but easily the past five – is quite embarrassing. He wonders how true of the American church this really is, or if he’s the only person training for the ministry who has little to no desire to seek out relationships with unbelievers in the midst of learning more about God, his heart for the world, etc.

Part of his problem over time (at least as he has so quickly rationalized it) has been the fact that the “place” mentality of campus living he has so enjoyed has really served as a huge barrier to the natural flow of all kinds of people, particularly unbelievers, into his life. This, of course, has not been supplemented by any kind of intentionality in the midst of those non-campus journeys out into the world; rather, his mentality has always been one of “leaving the fortress” of home, hoping not to get thrown off track of his errand list or timetable, being courteous to all the people he’s sure he’ll never see again (and he usually doesn’t), and then making it home unscathed despite the hassle of having to go out in the first place.

After reading half the book, he again finds himself wondering (as he says he has many times before), what kind of heart he really has for unbelievers? Or, perhaps a more penetrating question (as asked in his Apologetics and Outreach class, for which the book reading was assigned last Thursday) is this: “Who do you love to hate?”

Learner says his “love to hate” list goes something like this:

– slackers
– demeaning extroverts
– Muslim fundamentalists
– politicians
– really, really brilliant people
– celebrities
– parents who don’t discipline their children
– overly (annoyingly) happy people
– poor people
– rich people
– people unconcerned with hygiene
– Oprah
– and, after reading this list, himself

He’s sure the list could go on, but the length of it (and his ease in creating it) bothers him. The more he thinks about it, he wonders if his “fortress mentality” is truly to blame for his lack of evangelism of people – seems to be more of his heart and its inability to break for others in need, in want, in sin, in darkness, in life.

God, forgive him for being so opposite of You in so many ways. Help him love people. He wants to…and he doesn’t…but he does…really.

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Christian Theology’s Adorable Mystery

In Thought on January 26, 2006 at 10:13 pm

From Learner’s first day of readings for his God and Humanity class:

“Agnosticism, suffering from a confusion of concepts, sees here an irresolvable contradiction in what Christian theology regards as an adorable mystery. It is completely incomprehensible to us how God can reveal himself and to some extent make himself known in created beings: eternity in time, immensity in space, infinity in the finite, immutability in change, being in becoming, the all, as it were, in that which is nothing. This mystery cannot be comprehended; it can only be gratefully acknowledged.”

– Herman Bavinck in Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, vol. 2

Learner, doing his best Keanu, said “Whoa”.

False Simplicity

In Thought on January 25, 2006 at 2:46 pm

Learner officially registered for classes on Monday, and tomorrow kicks off the spring semester. He’s eager to get back into the classroom and justify his existence as a student. While he’s felt guilty at the relaxed pace of things, I can vouch for the fact that he’s been working on stuff; he just has little to show for it, I suppose.

Yesterday, Learner picked up the various syllabi to try to get a jump on some of the reading this semester which, considering his shelf-and-a-half of new books, will be quite a bit. Unfortunately, none of the syllabi contained actual assignments but instead more readings, so he’s just going to have to wait until tomorrow to start.

Last night, the family and I went over to Albert‘s house for dinner with his wife and kids. Learner commented to Albert’s wife that Albert, a flaming extrovert, seemed in dire need of school to start – he was bouncing off the walls, enjoying the conglomeration of kids as much or more as he did the adult company.

Learner says he is greatly looking forward to a semester without having to learn a biblical language. Though he’ll still have to use Greek this spring, as well as deal with Hebrew this summer and fall, he says he wants to take good advantage of not having to carry flashcards around with him everyday or cram for vocab quizzes the morning of class. This will be a nice change for him.

In addition this semester, he and Mrs. Learner (who is taking another five hours of classes this semester) are trying to be more intentional about exercising regularly (at least three times a week), and he has one volume left of The Chronicles of Narnia to read to his girls, which he hopes to begin tonight with them and finish early next month.

“Everything seems so simple today,” I told him.

“That,” he said, “changes tomorrow.”

Grades

In Thought on January 13, 2006 at 2:10 pm

It’s been a good, long break. Learner and I are slowly but surely getting back into the academic routine, and I thought I might start with a report on Learner’s grades. Despite his doubts and two wretched group projects (which cost him in both Prep and Del and Covenant Theology), he did well (and even slightly better than he thought overall). Here’s how things turned out:

Greek in Exegesis – Predicted: B-/C; Actual: B-
(Learner’s papers saved him; not too bad for flunking the mid-term)

Preparation and Delivery of Sermons – Predicted: A; Actual: A-
(group project dragged him down)

Theology of Prayer – Predicted: A; Actual: A+
(one project was the whole grade; fortunately, he did well on it)

Covenant Theology – Predicted: A-/B+; Actual: B+
(group final exam score of 85 hurt; this one made him mad/sad)

Spiritual and Ministry Formation – Predicted: B-/C; Actual: A-
(strong performances on final paper/exam salvaged this grade)

With classes starting in another two weeks, Learner is gearing up for the following courses:

– Elementary Homiletics
– Apologetics and Outreach
– Covenant Theology II
– God and Humanity
– Gospels

More as we get closer to starting back up…