Not much of a blogger, but just thought I would document my thoughts and feelings during the course of my study at Oak Hill.
Been here for just under three weeks, and relatively everything is going well. I am enjoying the lectures, the people and the environment as a whole.
As I have met new people (outside of bible college) who ask me of what I do, the general response when I tell them I am studying Theology is:
Do you want to be a Pastor?
Now, aside from my views on female pastors and scriptures clear instructions on the qualification for an elder, I realise many (even close friends) may not understand why I have chosen to take this course. So I thought I’d lay it out with three brief statements.
I have a love for the Lord and His Word Now this is not some awesome special anointing I have, as it ought to be true of every one that names the name of Christ. Nevertheless I desire to understand the scriptures further than my personal bible studies can take me. I want to sit under learned men and women who have given thought to things that have never crossed my mind.
I love working with young people My course focuses on children, young people and how best to communicate the gospel without distorting its message. I have previously studied youth work but was quickly frustrated by the restrictions placed on me to share my faith.
I want to encourage more women to get into ‘Theology’ I wholeheartedly agree with the title of R.C Sproul’s book “Everyone’s a Theologian” because whether you like the word or not once you have a view of who God is, you’re stepping into the realm of theology.
Still there is a great need for women in theology (not to be pastors) but to assist the work of the church where needed.
That is not to say that you need some type of formal education to be a help to your local church, however it does in many ways make you more equipped.
My time here so far has been a great blessing, still please keep me in your prayers as the work is beginning to pile up.
As usual upon entering a new year I take a moment to reflect and evaluate the previous year. 2011 proved to be one of the most testing years concerning my personal walk. Through all the storms and setbacks however I learnt many lessons, one of the most precious being the value of love.
1 John 4:20-21 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
Love for God must be coupled with selfless love for other people. However as with most of the scriptures, it is easier said than done.
Recently I revisited a sermon by Shai Linne on ‘Fulfilling the Law through Love’ he walks through 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 emphasising on how every possible ‘spiritual gifting’ is invalid without love. Without love we are ‘clanging cymbals’. Without love we are ‘nothing’.
On the topic of marriage, Paul Washer said
‘How can you learn unconditional love if you marry someone who meets all your conditions?’
This is true also outside of marriage. ‘Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things’.
Love is what separates Christianity from every other religious belief system because it was love that caused Christ to be the ultimate sacrifice so we can be reconciled with the Father.
Now when we consider love, we tend to also include external factors, yet the power behind love rests in that fact that it knows no conditions. Throughout the past year I believe my desire to love has really been tested, especially when I have been offended. A major barrier to me displaying love has been pride; it creeps up in the most subtle forms.
Many times I’ve felt like I’m being taken for one German Shepherd, and all thoughts of relating to people with the love that Christ has worked within me gets thrown out of the window. A song by Deon Kipping (Not Like Us) causes me to wonder what my life would be like if God was like me.
If God responded to me, how I treat some friends or family.
If God reacted to an offense the same way I do.
If God judged people according to their past failures.
If God never dealt with my short-comings with patience and grace.
Truthfully if God was like us, not just concerning love, we’d have no hope because He would’ve seen no purpose for Jesus to die for people who don’t deserve it.
I haven’t made any ‘resolutions’ for 2012, but one of my main desires is to truly love people according to scripture. Unconditionally.
At any age, living for Christ comes with a price. In our teenage years the cost tends to be trying to live by a standard that is impossible to reach within our own strength, while dealing with the pressures/expectations of society. Daily we are faced with circumstances where we must reflect Christ.
One thing we must remember is that challenges are normal to every Christian, whether young or old and so in this we must not be discouraged.
The process of sanctification will always prove to be a challenging one simply because of the world we live in.
Jesus declares: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24 NKJV)
Denial of self is not simply giving up things or actions occasionally, but surrendering to Christ and striving to wholeheartedly walk according to His Will.
Practical spiritual maintenance/integrity is acquired through:
– Spending time daily studying the scriptures:
This will give us a greater understanding of the character of God, and how to react in many situations. It will also give us deeper insight into who we are. Once we know our value, and acknowledge that the identity we now have is rooted in Christ, it’ll free us from trying to be something we’re not.
– A consistent prayer life:
Through prayer we communicate with God, and we’re able to vocally express our daily troubles. Our prayers should consist of a plea to God to make us stronger, rather than make things easier, because this is how we grow.
– Having Christ-centred friends:
The purpose in this is that you are able to effectively build one-another up according to the scriptures and provide each other with a sense of accountability, in & out of the 4 walls of the church.
The Bible rightly says: “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10 NKJV)
However none of the above steps are as simple as it seems, as our flesh is in a constant battle with our spirit. In Matthew, Jesus addressed His disciples as He found them sleeping while He was praying in the garden, He uses these specific words:
“The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 NKJV)
When we take a look at our own lives, we can truly recognize how valid this statement is. We know we haven’t read the Word, or we haven’t prayed and there is a deep conflict that takes place, where we find it hard to detach ourselves from meaningless things.
Many times it is easy for us to find ourselves occupying our time with things that do not benefit us – from TV to the various social networking sites. We live in a day and age where we can connect with others (Text, Email, BBM) no matter where we are, so quite frankly we are never alone. These sorts of things rob us of our time.
It is essential that we make a conscious decision to remove ourselves from anything that we are placing and/or valuing more than acquiring godly knowledge. There is a cost for following Christ, a price that many of us don’t want to pay or even acknowledge. Nevertheless we need to come to the humble understanding that no matter what we give up on earth, it can never compare to the sacrifice that God paid in allowing His Son to die because of the sins we have/do commit.
Paul tells us:
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2 NKJV)
As Christians, it is vital that earthly things are not the focus of our minds or hearts. So in essence we live for eternity, with that said it means that there are many things we do not give our time to. If we understand that our ‘life is a vapour’ and regardless of how long we live it is nothing compared to eternity, then we’ll persevere through the temporary trials.
Therefore the Christian life consists of:
– Yielding to God, and seeking to understand Him better, and recognising who we are before Him.
– Daily denial of self and working to not satisfy the flesh.
– Challenging times in life. “Therefore you must endure hardship as a good solider of Jesus Christ”
(2 Timothy 2:3 NKJV)
One thing that should never cease in the life of a believer is growth spiritually; this is where we find our strength and our hope. A.W. Tozer said:
“Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth”
Never must we believe that we understand enough about God; His nature and character is beyond what the human mind can comprehend. All we can do is strive to know Him more.