I know that there has not been much posting these last few months. Once the semester hit I did not have the time to get around to blogging. The graded assignments took priority over the blogs that aren’t. As the semester winds down I hope to work on posting things. Hope everyone is having a wonderful fall!
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.
After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks. Even reeds need bruising, by reason of the remainder or pride in our nature, and to let us see that we live by mercy…
Hence we learn that we must not pass too harsh judgement upon ourselves or others when God exercises us with bruising upon bruising. There must be a conformity to our head, Christ, who ‘was bruised for us’ (Isa. 53:5) that we may know how much we are bound unto him.
Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Carlisle, PA: The Banner Of Truth Trust, 1998), 5.
By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world…Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both…He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.
God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly.
…because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ…we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for what He has done for us. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by His call, by His forgiveness, and His promise.
…Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it is so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deed, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together-the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mists of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community, trans. John W. Doberstein (New York, NY: HarperOne, 1954), 27-29.
May Richard Sibbes words give you renewed strength to run as it did for me,
So, likewise, we should take heed of a spirit discouragement in all other holy duties, since we have such a gracious Saviour. Pray as we are able, hear as we are able, strive as we are able, do as we are able, according to the measure of grace received. God in Christ will cast a gracious eye upon that which is his own.
…Let us not be cruel to ourselves when Christ is thus gracious. There is a certain meekness of spirit whereby we yield thanks to God for any ability at all, and rest quiet with the measure of grace received, seeing it is God’s good pleasure it should be so, who gives the will and the deed, yet not so as to rest from further endeavours. But when, with faithful endeavour, we come short of what we would be, and short of what others are, then know for our comfort, Christ will not quench the smoking flax, and that sincerity and truth, as we said before, with endeavour of growth, is our perfection.
Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Carlisle, PA: The Banner Of Truth Trust, 1998), 51-52.
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.
23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:21-25)
God does not have a only one means of exhorting us in live in obedience. He is not a one string banjo which only has one cord to harp on.
You can, however, hear different people try to reduce it down to one. They will do it either in their practice or in their teachings. One will say, “Just preach the gospel of justification.” Others will say, “Work hard to follow the example of Christ.” The list can go on.
Now, such statements are true in part. That is why they can profit an individual. One person has been crushed by their guilt for most of their Christian life. When they hear about living in light of the gospel they start to live in joyous freedom and see so much sanctification in their life. Another never knew the sustaining grace of Christ until they were pushed outside their comfort zone to be obedient in a particular area. They pushed themselves and witnessed power and grace sustaining them.
Now, what these people might be tempted to do is to take their individual experience with the sanctifying work of the Spirit and make it the standard by which all must walk with God. They take the part and make it the whole. So the only thing people need is to know justification by faith alone or to be pushed hard to live out their faith.
But what this section of 1 Peter 2 reminds us is that there are multiple ways that God exhorts us in our pilgrimage as believers to live obediently.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
- Here we see the example of Christ given. Christ lived His perfect life “so that” we could strive to walk as He walked. Believers are to be looking to the life of Christ to give instruction as to how they are to live and thus move to live it.
“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”
- The person of Christ is given as the One we are to look upon in our warfare. Peter does not tell them to look within themselves to find the courage to obey. To the complete contrary, he tells them, and us, to look away from ourselves and fix our eyes up the Christ who went before us. The person of Christ is who we are to look upon so that His beauty can encourage us to endure as we follow after Him.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
- Here we are told to behold the power that is ours over sin because of Christ. His death to sin means that we are dead to sin. His resurrected life raises us up to live a life of righteousness. The wounds which killed His body bring life to both our souls and bodies making us capable to live for Him. We are, thus, given the greatest healing possible! No sin will have dominion over us! Resurrection power is at the believer’s disposal.
“For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
- Finally, in this passage, we are told to remember what God has done for us. To the persecuted believers Peter is writing to he directs the attention to what God has done for them. They were straying but now have be brought back. The Lord is their Sheperd and Overseer. They are now counted as members of God’s flock who are being watched over by the Lord Himself. They are not forgotten, pointless commodities. The Shepherd will not lose one of His sheep. Look at all the Shepherd has gone through to bring them under His care (vs. 21-24)!
Thus we see that the ways the Lord brings sanctifying truth to His people are multiple. We could even find more by exploring others texts in 1 Peter (or the whole bible). We can even see the truths crisscrossing over the above texts. There is not one phrase, one truth that is the silver bullet to press believers on in their sanctification. As this text demonstrates the truths are multiple.
This means for us that we should be as multifaceted as the bible is when we exhort believers to be like Christ. We are in the dominion of grace in Christ. But that grace may take the form of gentle gospel reminding comforts or it may be the hard confrontation of warning. Truth, wisdom, and love are to guide us as we seek to apply biblical truth to individual lives and circumstances.
Andrew Fuller was a Particular Baptist minister in England in the 1700s and into the 1800s. His most known work was The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. In the work he argued against the prevailing notion of day amongst English Particular Baptists that the gospel is only for the elect and should not be openly proclaimed (a.k.a Hyper-Calvinism). Fuller’s work against this belief was the tipping point which saw the Particular Baptists move to be more evangelic in their life and theology (proclaiming the gospel openly).
The other night I was reading a overview of Fuller’s work by Dr. Peter Morden, “Baptist and Evangelical: Andrew Fuller and the Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation.” (Strict Baptist Historical Society, Bulletin 2011, Number 38). In his work Dr. Morden gives two influences which helped Fuller craft and argue his position: The Bible and Jonathan Edwards. I believe seeing these things at work in Fuller can help us as we work to understand the teachings of the bible. (Note: All quotes are drawn from Dr. Morden’s work)
The first is Fuller’s commitment to let the bible be the final authority upon what he believed. Fuller wrote the following as a personal ‘covenant’ to himself,
Let not the sleight of wicked men, who lie in wait to deceive, nor even the pious character of good men (who yet may be under great mistakes), draw me aside. Nor do thou suffer my own fancy to guide me. Lord, thou hast given me a determination to take up no principle at second hand; but to search for everything at the pure fountain of thy word. (Ryland Jr., Andrew Fuller, 1st edn., pp. 203-204)
Fuller committed himself to going back to the bible to let it be the authority as to what he believed. Fuller did know that he was susceptible to error. But it did not keep him from pursuing truth as much as he could.
Along with this commitment was a secondary influence of Jonathan Edwards. Not only did Fuller study the bible but he used the thinking of others help him understand what the bible taught. This was very apparent when it came to the issue of how we can offer the gospel to people who do not have the ability to believe it (non-elect). Fuller turned to the bible but he also turned to the writing of Edwards on the Freedom of the Will. And it was Edwards who helped him unlock the puzzle as Fuller describes (speaking of himself in the third person),
He had read and considered, as well as he was able, President Edwards’s Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will, with some other performances on the difference between natural and moral inability. He found much satisfaction in the distinction; as it appeared to him to carry with it its own evidence – to be clearly and fully contained in the Scriptures .. The more he examined the Scriptures, the more he was convinced that all the inability ascribed to man, with respect to believing, arises from the aversion of his heart. (Fuller’s Works, Vol. 2, p. 330)
While thinking through the scriptures Fuller relied on Edwards to describe what the bible was teachings. And Edwards’ work was no light reading! Fuller took time and energy to read and grasp what Edwards was showing about how God can command men to do things which they do not have the ability to preform while not infringing upon His justice. Fuller considered what Edwards was saying against the teachings of Scripture. But without Edwards he would not have been able to develop what the scriptures were teachings with regards to this particular objection.
Thus, we see the blend of personal study with the aid of what others have studied. God wants us to use our personal minds to think through His word and discover, through the work of the Spirit, what is revealed there. But He also has the very same relationship with every other believer. With the bible as the norming norm we are to use God’s working with others as we think through what the bible is teaching.
Genesis I-II is `primeval history’ or `prehistory’. It is concerned with beginnings: the origin of the world, and also the origin of things that play an important part in the lives of human beings, such as sin, death, marriage, conflict (between husband and wife, within families and communities and between nations), the nature of God and his relationship with human beings, judgment, forgiveness and covenant. The OT believers are confronted with the same world as their counterparts in Babylon and Ugarit. They are also aware of the mythologies of surrounding nations, in which those nations seek to account for the world as they see it, though from a very different perspective; and they present their own explanation of the way things are, an explanation that puts God at the centre. That is not to suggest that this is a human attempt to explain origins. It continues to be divine revelation, but revelation given in a form that would make most sense to those who would receive it rather than necessarily appealing to modern standards of scientific and historical enquiry.
-Robin Routledge, Old Testament Theology: A Thematic Approach (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2005)
This section brings out a lot of helpful information when reading the Old Testament
1. The main aim of texts in the Old Testament, such as Genesis 1-11 and others, is to teach about theology (who God is, who we are, and how this relates to the world around us) not history or science. That is why the texts are not at all interested in explaining facts like where the wife of Cain came from. It does not make-up anything about history and science but it is not concerned with it. If, thus, we are going to let the bible speak we must approach the texts as they were meant to be read as theological. Not as discussion starters about whether or not Adam had a belly button.
2. The texts of the Old Testament were written in a world like ours with real world questions. Work was hard, relationships where rampant with conflict, and death was an unwelcomed guarantee. My, how things have not changed much. The Old Testament is not a collection of abstract historical facts but a revelation of God’s workings in this broken world with broken people. Texts like Genesis 1-11 are giving explanations to the real issues and problems people in that day, and ours as well, face.
3. There is an apologetic purpose in the Old Testament narratives. They were not written in a bubble. Surrounding people had their own explanation of how the world came to be and how a person was suppose to live. The Hebrews needed counters to these ideas and so we have the Old Testament. The text was not just written to inform but to delineate.
4. The Old Testament was written for the people of the day to understand it. When the bible starts talking about the “foundations of the earth” and such it is not making a scientific claim about the tetonic plate structures. God is using the language and understanding of the people He is speaking with to adequately communicate His truth in a comprehensible manner. It was not God’s aim to give secret scientific information to his followers so that they would know the different magma layers of the earth while others didn’t. His aim was that they would know Him! And thus, for humans with small brains and small language capacities He spoke in forms they could understand.
5. All this should make us give praise to our loving and compassionate God who stoops down to bring His word to us. He is not distant but speaks our frail language to our limited minds about the issues which matter to our well being. He wants us to know Him, to know Christ, and to be in relationship with Him. How low the infinite becomes so we could live with Him!
What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over a half century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his scenario in his weekly sermon…Barnhouse speculated that is Satan took over Philadelphia,
all of the bars would be closed,
and the pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other.
There would be no swearing.
The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,”
and the churches would be full every Sunday
…where Christ is not preached
-Michael Horton, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008), 15. Emphasis his.
This is a good reminder that we do not proclaim good morals. We proclaim Christ! “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:28)
“When the heart is cast into the mould of the doctrine which the mind embraces, . . . when not the sense of the words but of the things is in our hearts, when we have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for, then shall we be garrisoned by the grace of God against all the assaults of men. Without this, all our contending is of no value to ourselves. What am I the better, if I can dispute that Christ is God but have no sense that he is a God in covenant with my soul? . . . It is possible to contend for truth in a spirit most opposite to its nature, and most warmly to advocate the rights of a cause from which we ourselves may derive no benefit. In all cases, it should be remembered, that the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God.”
John Owen, in The Works of John Owen, edited by Thomas Russell (London, 1826), I:164-165.
HT: Ray Ortlund