You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘resources’ category.
I remember looking at the situation before me. I was working for a few dollars above minimum wage while wanting to go to seminary. It seemed like I was walking common path of others who had gone before me. The path weaved up the sloop of getting a basic level job where you make enough to get through. This did not appeal to me for the simple reason that I didn’t want to count pennies to make sure I made my budget. I guess I am not that hard core.
Yes, we are not to worry about what we need. The flowers are cared for well and I believe I am of a bit more importance to the Lord than them. God wants us to look at the flowers and be taught. But as we notice the flowers He also wants us to notice the ant crawling down the stem. “Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (Pro. 6:7-8). Wisdom fears the Lord, thus trusting in His provision, and then gets to work. So trusting the Lord’s provision I explored the best way to be like the ant.
While exploring another option came open to me. I could take extra time to get a trade skill which I could use to get a good paying job. The benefits of taking this appraoch looked very appealing
- I could have breathing room in my budget. And even more that that I could, gasp(!), actually be saving money while going to seminary.
- This would mean that I would have flexibility with my finances that I could do things which I wanted to do. Like getting married and having babies without shuttering while I looked at my inflow and outflow.
- FREEDOOOOOM!!! (in ministry decisions at least). If I had a trade I could pack-up and move wherever I wanted since I did not have to be dependent on the finances of others. If I wanted to go with a team to church plant I didn’t have to rely on others to give funding. If I wanted to work in a particular church I did not have to wait for them to open a position. I could just show up!
- I would not have to go in debt. Going in debt has the benefit of providing the cash when it is needed. But the cost is long term for the quick infusion of cash. Debts can be wise when the pay off of the loan is going to out weight the long term cost. But for seminary the cost of a loan is heavy. That is because working in a church does not pay a lot of money. This means a loan is going to be a heavier financial burden. With a good paying job, however, a loan would not be a necessity. I could pay my way through and come out the other side debt free.
These points won me over. Looking long term, 5-10 years, getting a trade had a lot of pay off. Even if it ended right after seminary it would have the benefit of giving me stable finances through the program.
Now, I had already spent my four years of college at Boyce Bible College. I don’t regret that decision. I gained a lot through Boyce. But doing that meant that I could not use those four years to get the trade. So I took a break in between my time at Boyce and Southern to pursue a trade.
I can happily report that after a year of schooling I have learned a new trade and working in a job which has me set to fulfill all three points listed above! As the little picture on the side of this blog testifies I went to through a community college here in Louisville. I spent a year pursuing Medical Coding. Now I am working at a hospital doing just that.
If you are thinking of seminary I would advise that you think about this. The points I listed above are great reasons to consider the option. If you already have a trade then use it. But if you don’t I would say consider getting one. Here is how I went about getting mine.
I determined what I needed. I thought about the kind of job I needed which would fit with what I was planning on doing. Some jobs do not fit with school and ministry. So here are the basic points which the job I searched for had to meet:
- It would give me the money I needed. Provision was what I was after. If it would not provide then there was no reason to pursue it.
- It would fit with future ministry. There are great jobs out there but which can demand 50 or 60 hour work weeks. Such a job will not work with either school or bi-vocational ministry. I needed a job which could ride nicely with what else I wanted to do.
- I could see myself doing it for a long time. Basically, I didn’t need a war in my inner man every morning to push myself out the door towards work. I needed something that could be my trade for the next 10 years or longer. I needed a basic enjoyment of the job so that I could do it well.
- Now, one should not take this to the place where people in the world take it. Your job does not need to be your identity. I am not seeking fulfillment in the depth of my soul in what job I do. I simply asked the question, “can I do the job day in and day out with a basic level of enjoyment.”
- It would not take a long time to get. I did not want to take another 4 years to get a job. It needed to be shorter. I was prepared to take up to two years to get an associates in something if I had to.
So with all the pillars set in place I moved forward. I stared out by Googling, “10 top paying jobs with an associate degree.” I took about three different lists which came up and look through each one. I ran each one through the grid above. If it failed one I dropped in and move on. If It seemed to fit I explored it more throughly. That is where I started.
To lend a helping hand let me give you some other places to start your search.
Certifications are a good places to look. Certifications for jobs take less time and less money. If you are looking for something quick but maybe not as much pay (depending upon what you get) you might want to look into it. Here is a list of different jobs in the medical world which want certifications.
There are schools around which offer intense programs for medical jobs. These programs can range from 6 months to little over a year. But you come out the other side with a trade and ready for a job. Here is one in Louisville for medical jobs called ATA.
Also, for those interested in business there are trade schools which focus on apprenticeships.
This one is a two year program in New York, NY called Enstitute :
Another one is called Praxis:
I have not looked into these programs a whole lot. But I wanted to bring them to your attention if you wanted to explore them.
You can also look into your local technical college and see what programs they offer which interests you. As, I said before, I found my local college gave a program in Medical Coding.
Hopefully this helps you start out on the right foot. I don’t know everything it every field so I can’t direct you to exactly what you are looking for. Hopefully this links, if they don’t directly help you, will give you a guide in your search.
Going back to the flower and the ant an important thing I experienced was God’s provision around and through my choice to pursue this job. Now, this is not “God helps those who helps themselves” kind of idea. But God does call us to take responsible actions. To take wise risks and move forward with the aim to glorify Him. And while we do He proves Himself faithful. Not because we earned it. But because He has promised to lead and shepherd us.
If anyone has any question please send them my way.
Here are some excellent fighter verses for the battle with anxiety from Justin Taylor.
I am thankful for the Words of God which cast light upon the darkness of our fears. Our God is great and it is a sin to not trust Him. But how gracious He is to keep reminding us again and again, out of Fatherly love, that He is our rock and refuge.
1. God is near me to help me.
Philippians 4:5-6: “The Lord is at hand; [therefore] do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
2. God cares for me.
1 Peter 5:7: “. . . casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
3. My Father in heaven knows all my needs and will supply all my needs.
Matthew 6:31-33: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
4. God values me more than birds and grass, which he richly provides for and adorns; how much more will he provide for all my needs!
Matthew 6:26-30: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
5. The worst someone can do to me is to kill me and take things from me!
Matthew 6:25: “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” [I.e., you still have eternal life even if you have no food; you will still have a resurrection body even if you are physically deprived.]
Luke 12:4: “Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.”
Romans 8:31-32, 35, 38-39: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
6. Anxiety is pointless.
Matthew 6:27: “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” [Answer: no one.]
7. Anxiety is worldly.
Matthew 6:31-32: “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things. . . .”
James 4:4: “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
8. Tomorrow has enough to worry about and doesn’t need my help.
Matthew 6:34: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Lamentations 3:23: “[God’s mercies] are new every morning.”
HT: Justin Taylor
The patristic fathers are an important group of people for the church to hear. They stand the closest to the Apostles in time and place when it comes to understanding doctrines and Christian beliefs. The Roman Catholic Church even uses their words to create traditions that Christians must follow and believe.
This raises the question for us about how we are to read and understand them. Should they have an authoritative word for us when we think through doctrines? Should what they say be the decisive factor if there is a debate over a certain issue? Are we to assume that they are closer to the truth because of their relative closeness to the early church?
Mark R. Saucy raises an important point about the teachings of the Church Fathers in his article, Canon as Tradition: The New Covenant and the Hermeneutical Question. He states the logical flow of his thesis,
1. The theology of the new covenant is central to the story of the Old and NT and so comprises the canonical tradition.
2. The patristic church did not pay sufficient attention to the canonical tradition of the new covenant.
3. Therefore, by implication, the claims for the patristic church’s necessity and normativity in the hermeneutical question must be moderated accordingly.
He then explores each one of these points. The hope of the bible is placed in the New Covenant planned by the Father, brought about by the death of Christ and activated by the work of the Spirit in the hearts of believers promised in the Old Testament and inaugurated in the New. This is an essential grid to have when coming to the Bible. Without it we miss the grand story of redemption that is portrayed in the scriptures. Dr. Saucy writes ( διαθήκη means “covenant”),
As is clear from this brief survey of the canonical tradition, Johannes Behm’s assessment accurately reflects the view of the NT writers: “Jesus conceived of His Messianic work fulfilled in His death from the standpoint of the fulfillment of prophecy of the eschatological διαθήκη.”(J. Behm, “διαθήκη,” TDNT 2:133. Themelios) In this fulfillment, Jesus truly continues the Great Covenant Story of restoration of the creation promised to Abraham back to the earliest parts of Israel’s Scriptures. But he also advances that Story by moving it beyond and cancelling earlier transitional elements. The final resolution of the sin-problem accomplished in Christ’s cross made obsolete earlier mediated approaches to God in the temple cult. With the life of God’s own Spirit pulsing within, the believer in Jesus has new knowledge of the Holy One of Israel as Father, giving the new, true power of full acceptance and sonship from within that enables obedience and holy living. As heirs of God’s irrevocable promises, the blessing of all flesh could be expected in the future restoration of Israel itself. Here then is the canon of Scripture’s tradition of the new covenant’s continuity and discontinuity that founded the church by the apostles’ inspired witness.
After reading Jason Meyer’s book, End of the Law, I find myself in more and more agreement with this point as I look at the bible. The New Covenant is not an interesting point that the biblical authors refer to now and then. But the reality of God’s actions through the New Covenant is foundational to the Apostle’s understanding of God’s redemptive workings in this world.
Then Dr. Saucy looks the different patrisitc fathers and how they departed from this central point. He lists four main areas of departure,
- First, dominance of the Christus Victor model of the atonement in the early patristic tradition means that things other than forgiveness of sins occupy center stage.
- Second, the second-century church tended to dissipate the power of Christ’s cross to other mediating objects and human moral striving.
- Third,…, the ecclesiology of the church’s tradition developed along vectors alien to the canonical tradition’s new-covenant ideals.
- Fourth, the growing institutionalization of the patristic tradition also correlated well to a perception of God quite alien to the new-covenant canonical tradition.
- Whereas the new-covenant Story climaxes in the unbroken communion between creature and Creator provided in the forgiveness of sins, God the Father in the patristic tradition waxes again strangely distant and becomes shrouded in the mist of absoluteness, impassibility (ἀπάθεια) and apophatic discourse as the maxims of Neoplatonism are enlisted to talk of him and battle pagans.
Now, I do not have the personal knowledge of the writings of the patrisitic fathers to give authoritative backing to what he says. But Dr. Saucy does work through the actual writings of the fathers to back up his points.
What we have with the apostolic and church fathers are men who were susceptible to error like the rest of us. If Saucy’s findings prove true then we see the fathers departing from a central motif of the Scriptures. This should cause us to not treat the patrisitc church as a final authority over matters of doctrine but as simply other righteous voices that we should listen to as we allow the bible to be the final authority on all things. And where they agree with Scripture we should embrace their teaching but where they depart we should depart from them as well.
You can read the article in full if you want the full explanation of backing of all these point.
One of the most helpful books I have read on Justification and Regeneration was Charles Leiter’s book called Justification and Regeneration. It is simple and concise, yet it is substantial in its presentation of these two doctrines. Leiter cames from a pastoral standpoint where he has grasped the depths of these doctrines and gives them to the sheep in ways they can comprehend and appreciate. Also, his section on regeneration was very helpful when I read it. I had never given much thought to what regeneration entailed for me as a believer until I read this book. I would gladly past along this book to new and mature believers as a source of growing in their knowledge of these two doctrines.
And now the book can be downloaded and distributed for free. Challies has a link to the book if you want to download it.
Justin Taylor lays out the steps, given by Ed Welch, in fighting the fear of man,
“Fear of man is such a part of our human fabric that we should check for pulse if someone denies it.”
—Ed Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small.
In order to fear God not man, here are the steps Welch sets forth in his book:
Step 1: Recognize that the fear of man is a major theme both in the Bible and in your own life.
Step 2: Identify where your fear of man has been intensified by people in your past.
Step 3: Identify where your fear of man has been intensified by the assumptions of the world.
Step 4: Understand and grow in the fear of the Lord. The person who fears God will fear nothing else.
Step 5: Examine where your desires have been too big. When we fear people, people are big, our desires are even bigger, and God is small.
Step 6: Rejoice that God has covered your shame, protected you from danger, and accepted you. He has filled you with love.
Step 7: Need other people less, love other people more. Out of obedience to Christ, and as a response to his love toward you, pursue others in love.
You can read chapter 1 of the book online for free.
This is a very convicting listed given by Derek Brown. Its main aim is students at a theological school (bible or seminary). Yet, I don’t believe that it is wrong to say that there isn’t something in here for everyone. Give each point a read and see if it can’t apply to you in some way.
- 1. Cultivate pride by writing only to impress your professors instead of writing to better understand and more clearly communicate truth.
- 2. Perfect the fine art of corner-cutting by not really researching for a paper but instead writing your uneducated and unsubstantiated opinions and filling them in with strategically placed footnotes.
- 3. Mistake the amount of education you receive with the actual knowledge you obtain. Keep telling yourself, “I’ll really start learning this stuff when I do my Th.M or my Ph.D.”
- 4. Nurture an attitude of superiority, competition, and condescension toward fellow seminary students. Secretly speak ill of them with friends and with your spouse.
- 5. Regularly question the wisdom and competency of your professors. Find ways to disrespect your professors by questioning them publicly in class and by trying to make them look foolish.
- 6. Neglect personal worship, Bible reading and prayer.
- 7. Don’t evangelize your neighbors.
- 8. Practice misquoting and misrepresenting positions and ideas you don’t agree with. Be lazy and don’t attempt to understand opposing views; instead, nurse your prejudices and exalt your opinions by superficial reading and listening.
- 9. Give your opinion as often as possible – especially in class. Ask questions that show off your knowledge instead of questions that demonstrate a genuine inquiry.
- 10. Speak of heretical movements, teachers, and doctrine with an air of disdain and levity.
- 11. Find better things to do than serve in your local church.
- 12. Fill your life with questionable movies, television, internet, and music.
- 13. Set aside fellowship and accountability with fellow brothers in Christ.
- 14. Let your study of divine things become dull, boring, lifeless, and mundane.
- 15. Chip away at your integrity by signing your school’s covenant and then breaking it under the delusion that, “Those rules are legalistic anyway.”
- 16. Don’t read to learn; read only to refute what you believe is wrong.
- 17. Convince yourself that you already know all this stuff.
- 18. Just study. Don’t exercise, spend time with your family, or work.
- 19. Save major papers for the last possible moment so that you can ensure that you don’t really learn anything by writing them.
- 20. Don’t waste your time forming friendships with your professors and those older and wiser than you.
- 21. Make the mistake of thinking that your education guarantees your success in ministry.
- 22. Don’t study devotionally. You’ll never make it as a big time scholar if you do that. Scholars need to be cool, detached, and unbiased – certainly not Jesus freaks.
- 23. Day dream about future opportunities to the point that you get nothing out of your current opportunity to learn God’s Word.
- 24. Do other things while in class instead of listening – like homework, scheduling, letter-writing, and email.
- 25. Spend more time blogging than studying.
- 26. Avoid chapel and other opportunities for corporate worship.
- 27. Argue angrily with those who don’t see things your way. Whatever you do, don’t read and meditate on II Timothy 2:24-26 and James 3:13-18 as you prepare for ministry.
- 28. Set your hopes on an easy, cushy pastorate for when you graduate. Determine now not to obey God when he calls you to serve in a difficult church.
- 29. Look forward to the day when you won’t have to concern yourself with all this theology and when you will be able to just “preach Jesus.”
- 30. Forget that your primary responsibility is care for your family through provision, shepherding, and leadership.
- 31. Master Calvin, Owen, and Edwards, but not the Law, Prophets, and Apostles.
- 32. Gain knowledge in order to merely teach others. Don’t expend the effort it takes to deal with your own heart.
- 33. Pick apart your pastor’s sermons every week. Only point out his mistakes and his poor theological reasoning so you don’t have to be convicted by anything he says.
- 34. Protect yourself from real fellowship by only talking about theology and never about your personal spiritual issues, sin, and struggles.
- 35. Comfort yourself with the delusion that you will start seriously dealing with sin as soon as you become a pastor; right now it’s not really that big a deal.
- 36. Don’t serve the poor, visit the sick, or care for widows and orphans – save that stuff for the uneducated, non-seminary trained, lay Christians.
- 37. Keep telling yourself that you want to preach, but don’t ever seek opportunities to preach, especially at local rescue missions and nursing homes. Wait until your church candidacy to preach your first sermon.
- 38. Let envy keep you from profiting from sermons preached by fellow students.
- 39. Resent behind-the-scenes, unrecognized service. Only serve in areas where you are sure you will receive praise and accolades.
- 40. Appear spiritual and knowledgeable at all costs. Don’t let others see your imperfections and ignorance, even if it means you have to lie.
- 41. Love books and theology and ministry more than the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 42. Let your passion for the gospel be replaced by passion for complex doctrinal speculation.
- 43. Become angry, resentful and devastated when you receive something less than an A.
- 44. Let your excitement for ministry increase or decrease in direct proportion to the accolades or criticisms you receive from your professors.
- 45. Don’t really try to learn the languages – let Bible Works do all the work for you.