Pity for Those Who Do Not Know: The Story of Jonah, Part 2

In Part 1, we summarized the story of Jonah and noted that Jonah’s attitude toward his mission was very disappointing and not what we would expect from a prophet of God. Jonah was all mixed up about what was important.

But then I think: what about us? 

There are over 7 billion people in the world today. Christianity is the world’s largest religion (though not the fastest-growing) with a little over 2 billion adherents. Now, even if we could take that number at face value, that means there are over 5 billion people—16 times the population of the United States—who don’t claim to have a relationship with Christ at all. 
And of the 2 billion who claim to be Christians, a lot of those are people that you work with and go to school with and see everyday—people who say they are Christians, but who make no real attempt to be obedient to what God says in his Word. For them Christianity is not something that affects their daily lives, but is rather a box that they check on a census survey. We know that the number of real, faithful Christians is much, much smaller. 

It is staggering when you realize just how many people in our world need a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

And yet, for the vast majority of us, we hear those statistics, and perhaps we think things like, “That’s too bad” or “What a tragedy” or “I really should do something about that”, but that’s all we do. Why is that? 

Maybe there are some people who we just aren’t concerned about. We talked about how the Ninevites were the enemies of Jonah and his people and how this affected his view of them. What about us? You might not have enemies in your life in a classic sense, but you certainly have people who you don’t care for as much. What about your boss at work who treats you unfairly and acts like a jerk? How motivated are you to share Jesus with that person? Or the person at school with a bad reputation, or perhaps the unpopular kid that no one likes—how likely are you to talk about your faith with that person? Let’s be honest—there are some people that we just don’t care about very much! 

Maybe our culture has made us feel bad about sharing the Good News of Jesus. In a postmodern culture where people argue that there’s no such thing as absolute truth and that one person’s beliefs are just as valid as another’s, evangelism has almost become a dirty word. People who share their beliefs with others are regarded as pushy, nosy, Bible-thumpers. We’ve all heard the jokes about religious groups who go door to door to spread their faith—we don’t want people making jokes like that about us! It’s actually reached the point that most churches have to have a special Invite-a-Friend Day in order for their members to make much of an effort to reach out to others—what’s up with that? Do people have less of a need to hear the Gospel at other times? Or are we just so impacted by our culture that it takes a special occasion for us to work up the courage? 

Maybe we get so distracted by other things that we just forget. You know, Jonah was so concerned about the precious plant that grew up over his head and gave him shade that he didn’t really have enough concern left over for the people of Nineveh! We as a people are so busy; we have so many things going on in our lives that it’s easy for us to get distracted and lose perspective. When we’re so concerned about issues going on at work, or our squabbles with our spouses, or our children’s athletic careers, how can we have concern left over for those who are lost? 

As the people of God, I think we can get mixed up too. Just like Jonah was.


Pity for Those Who Do Not Know: The Story of Jonah, Part 1

Jonah is not one of my favorite characters in the Bible, and I think it’s because he reminds me too much of myself.

The story of Jonah is a familiar one—it’s a story that many of us have known since childhood when we learned it in Sunday School. 

God calls Jonah to go and preach to the Ninevites, but Jonah doesn’t want to, so instead he goes down to Joppa and hops on a boat bound for Tarshish in the other direction. Of course, the boat has trouble at sea, the sailors become afraid and go and wake up Jonah, who was taking a nap, and implore him to cry out to his God. Then they decide to cast lots to see whose fault it is that this storm has come upon them, and the lot falls to Jonah. Jonah confesses that he is running from Jehovah, the God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land. At this point, the men become terrified and they ask Jonah what they should do in order to make the sea quiet down. He tells them that they should throw him overboard into the sea, and after the men unsuccessfully attempt to row back to the land, they reluctantly throw Jonah overboard. 

Then comes the most famous part of the story, where God appoints a great fish to come and swallow Jonah, and Jonah is stuck inside the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. There, Jonah prays to the Lord, and then God has the fish spit Jonah up on dry land. 

And from there, Jonah goes to Nineveh, and preaches to the city, and the people believe him! They begin to fast and put on sackcloth and the king of Nineveh covers himself in sackcloth, sits in ashes, and commands that no man or beast be allowed to eat or drink. And when God sees the repentance of the Ninevites, He decides not to destroy them after all. 

And you know, in Sunday School, that’s where we tend to stop…with a happy ending.

But that’s not the ending, and Jonah isn’t happy at all. Rather than being happy that his preaching has led to the repentance of the Ninevites and has saved them from destruction, he is angry—“exceedingly angry” the Scripture says. 

So he prays to the LORD and says, “This is why I ran away in the first place, because I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abounding in love…I knew you would forgive them!” Then Jonah goes on to say that he is so upset that he would rather die than live. 

And God asks Jonah an interesting question: “Do you do well to be angry?” And obviously, it’s the sort of question that isn’t meant to be answered, but is supposed to make Jonah think. 

You know, people have wondered why this seems to make Jonah so angry. We know from 2 Kings 14 that Jonah was a prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and Assyria (of which Nineveh was the capital city) was a long-standing enemy of Israel. In fact, it would ultimately be Assyria who conquered Israel in 722 BC. So it makes some sense that Jonah would be hesitant for the Ninevites—his enemies—to be saved. He didn’t think they deserved it. 

At this point, Jonah goes outside the city and makes a little booth for himself there so he can watch and see what happens. Perhaps he wanted to see if the Ninevites would remain faithful in their repentance or if they would turn back to evil and maybe God would still punish them. And while he is there watching, God appoints a plant to grow up over Jonah, so that it provided him with shade and made him comfortable. Scripture says that Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 

But then the next day, God has a worm come to attack the plant so that it withered, and then a scorching east wind comes and beats upon the head of Jonah and Jonah is miserable again. Once again he tells God that it would be better for him to die than live, and once again God asks him a question: “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” 
And all of this language brings into clear comparison Jonah’s reactions to the salvation of Nineveh and the destruction of the plant:
  • Jonah was “exceedingly angry” about the salvation of Nineveh, but “exceedingly glad” about the appearance of the plant. 
  • Both when the city was spared and when the plant withered, Jonah was so upset that he said it would be better for him to die than to live. 
  • And after both episodes, God tried to get him to reflect on his attitude by asking him if he did well to be angry. 
And this second time, Jonah answers the question, belligerently stating that he does do well to be angry, angry enough to die! The plant shaded him from the sun; its value is clear to him. But the Ninevites, on the other hand, why would God want to save them? They’re worthless! 

What a disappointing attitude for a prophet of God to have! 

Jonah is mixed up.


Getting Students Into the Word: A New Bible Class Approach (At Least, For Me)

In my years of youth ministry, one of the most alarming trends I have noticed is how little most teenagers actually know about the Bible. Sure, they’ll know some major characters and a few significant doctrines, but on the whole, it isn’t pretty.

And this is a big deal, because how can we claim to live by the Bible (which we do), if we don’t know what it says?

I haven’t done extensive research, but I suspect that there are several reasons for this trend:
  • Kids don’t actually read anymore. Seriously. Between TV, game consoles, the Internet, and iPhones, most young people find plenty to occupy their time without ever picking up a book.
  • Christian parents do less Bible study and teaching in the homes with their children. Families have busy schedules between school events, sports, and TV shows, and family devotional time tends to get squeezed out. Besides, what’s the point of having a youth minister if he isn’t going to teach our kids?
  • More and more, Bible class curriculum tends to be topical rather than textual. This isn’t always a bad thing, but taken to the extreme, all your students get are a lot of words on morality and only a little of the Word.
  • A significant portion of church members and families don’t even bother going to Bible class in the first place (this varies from church to church, but at our congregation, roughly 1/4 to 1/3 of our people don’t attend Bible class on Sunday morning).
All of that to say, this issue is something that I’ve become very convicted about over the years, and as a result, I have put a lot of emphasis on and effort into teaching the Bible to my youth group kids and getting them to read Scripture for themselves. This past quarter, we tried something a little different on Sunday mornings which actually turned out quite well, and I just wanted to share it very quickly. 

I got the idea from a friend in youth ministry, who pointed me to a new rendering of the NIV translation of the Bible that has the chapter and verse numbers removed to make the text more readable. Of course, the original manuscripts of the Bible didn’t come with chapter and verse markers; those were added later to help organize the material and make it easier to reference. Without the chapter and verse numbers, I found the text much less choppy, and it read much more like a story. Biblica, the company which released this new format, provided a free sample of the books of Luke and Acts, and this is what we studied over the past quarter.

Using the free PDF download of Luke-Acts, I worked up a cover, an introduction to our study, and a reading schedule for our students, and bound them as individual books (they were about 100 pages long). Then for the whole quarter, our Bible class consisted of us talking about the things they read from the previous week (Bible stories and events they had never read before, things they liked, things they didn’t understand, things that bothered them).

Obviously, for this class format to be successful, the students actually needed to have read ahead of time. Especially since my youth group is currently skewed toward younger ages, I was a little concerned about them remembering to actually do the weekly reading assignments. To encourage this, I kept track of those who had done their reading assignments from week to week, and promised that we would take a reward trip at the end of the quarter for those who had done their homework throughout (yes, I absolutely believe in rewarding people for good behavior).

On the whole, I was pleased with the results. I had six students (out of 15-20) who read their assignments almost every week and qualified for the trip, and several others who missed the cut but still read about half the time. The quality of our class discussions fluctuated based on how many people had read, but on the whole, the students had a lot to talk about, as many of them were reading these chapters in depth for the first time (if that seems surprising to you, re-read my lamentations at the beginning of this post).

Currently, I don’t think this is a sustainable class model year round, as the level of readership tended to decline as the quarter progressed and the freshness wore off. Still, I think it’s something that I’ll try for at least one quarter a year.
Our group at the Oklahoma Aquarium as part of the reward for doing their Bible reading.


Book Review: Soul Work

As I mentioned in this post, I intend to do somewhat better in 2013 in regards to writing about books which I read. I really don’t enjoy writing book reviews (probably because it reminds me too much of school), but from time to time I will try to write very informal reviews and share some quotations which I found to be helpful or insightful.

I recently finished reading Soul Work: Confessions of a Part-Time Monk, by Randy Harris, which focuses on prayer and spiritual living. Harris has spent considerable time among monks and religious hermits (making him somewhat of an oddity for a Church of Christ minister and professor) to gain insight on the disciples of prayer, silence, and solitude, and in Soul Work, he shares some of the lessons he has learned.

Harris has an easy-to-read style, is full of humor, and doesn’t take himself too seriously at all. Parts of the book were a little mystical for me, but he had a lot of good things to say. Here are some of my favorite quotations (with random thoughts by me in brackets):
“One of the reasons that I think we struggle with prayer so much is that we think we need it so little.” (p. 13) [Ouch.]
“If you’re willing to walk and talk and spend time with God, he’ll start to remake your life even when you don’t know what’s going on.” (17) 
“Obedience and submission aren’t really tested until you have to submit or obey in situations where you’re pretty sure you know a better way.” (56) 
“We often give ourselves credit for obedience when we do what we’ve already wanted to do anyway—when the real test of obedience is doing what we don’t want to do.” (57) [Ouch, again.]
“Optimism depends on human beings and hope depends on God. And while I don’t see any reason to be optimistic, I see every reason to be hopeful.” (66) 
“We would get healthier if we committed to fewer things over longer periods of time.” (72)  [Our obsessed-with-activity culture would benefit greatly from this wisdom.]
“Things are learned in suffering that can be learned in no other way.” (99) 
“What would we lose if we lost all suffering in the world? There’s no longer any courage. There’s no longer any compassion. There’s no one to be compassionate towards. There’s no longer any patience. There’s no longer any endurance. There’s no longer the love that doesn’t give up when life goes badly. I don’t know about you, but it sounds like you give up an awful lot.” (100) [Great perspective on suffering.]
“Many of the most important events in your life are going to be ones over which not only do you have no control but which you’re not even going to see coming. And there is nothing like one of those events to burst your illusion about being one of those people who’ve got things under control. Nobody expects that their children will die before them. No one looks for that debilitating disease.” (102-103) [Wow, this really rang true to me.]
“Often the greatest ministry you do is while you’re on the way to do what you think is the important ministry.” (147) [I have found this to be true in my ministry as well.]
“The goal is not to have us praying more. The goal is to have us aware of and practicing God’s presence every moment of every day.” (154)
If you are interested in examining your prayer life and looking at prayer from several perspectives that you likely haven’t before, I recommend this book.


Abortion: A Lament and a Remembrance of the Faithfulness of God

It’s been 40 years since abortion became legal in this country. The legacy of that decision is beyond heart-breaking—there have been approximately 55 million abortions in the U.S. over the last four decades, and in our greatest city, 40% of all pregnancies end in abortion.

This is incredibly depressing stuff to me, as it represents the chilling disregard for life that we have developed in our culture. But last night, as I was thinking about it, something else dawned on me for the first time: 
A sizable contingent of those who will dwell for eternity with God in the new heavens and new earth will be those who never experienced this earth in the first place.*
As Christians, that should not diminish our abhorrence for the premeditated destruction of unborn infants, but it should provide us with hope and comfort.

Blessed be our God, who provides for His children!

*Remember, the 55 million are just babies aborted in this country over the last 40 years. World-wide, that figure is much, much higher.


Viewing Your Church Leaders as More than the Customer Service Department

We live in a consumer culture which, among other things, means that we are constantly buying things, using them up, and then buying more. In a consumer culture, the idea of customer satisfaction and the practice of customer service is incredibly important—if you want customers to purchase and consume your product or use your service instead of those of your competitors, then you either have to focus on having a better or cheaper product/service than they do, or treating your customers better than they do (or, ideally, both!).
As a consumer, I value customer service highly. I’ve mentioned before about how I love Amazon because of their outstanding customer service. They make it easy (and usually free) to return items and they’ve even paid the shipping before for me to return items even when it was my fault. 

And there’s nothing wrong with any of that.

The problem though, is that we take our consumer mindset and try to apply it to church as well. You see this all the time: when looking for a new congregation to be a part of, families “shop” around for a church and compare different congregations like they would products in a store. 

And to a degree, that’s a necessary thing—when looking for a church, you need to find one you agree with theologically, and you need to find a community of believers where you can fit in and form relationships. But it can also be a dangerous thing, I think, when churches are evaluated only from the perspective of what they have to offer you (as a consumer), rather than you asking yourself how your gifts and talents could be added to make the work of a particular congregation more effective (to paraphrase JFK: “Ask not what your church can do for you; ask what you can do for your church.”).

Another part of this consumer mindset in the church is that it basically turns church leadership into the customer service department.

In his book, A Church That Flies: A New Call to Restoration in the Churches of Christ, Tim Woodroof says something that I think is incredibly important (even though it’s not at all the focus of the book). Basically he says that it’s amazing how many church members are willing to voice their opinions and complain to their elders* but are very reluctant to listen and learn from them. In my experience, this is absolutely true—church members are very quick to run to elders with their complaints, but very slow to seek their counsel and advice. And that’s a shame.

We have four elders at Farmington, and I know all of them well. None of them are perfect, and they all have flaws (as they would freely admit). But all of them are good, mature Christian men who deeply care about the spiritual well-being of the flock they oversee. As a group, they complement one another well, and would be a valuable resource to any church member who is struggling.

And probably the same could be said for the leadership at your church, which means they deserve more than to be treated like the church customer service department. Think about that the next time you have a complaint.

*One of the distinctive marks of churches of Christ is that we seek to follow a model of church leadership, found in the New Testament, where each congregation or church is autonomous and led by a group of men known as elders (or shepherds, or bishops, or overseers).

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The Doc File: 2012 Blog Review and Plans for 2013

The past year was a significant one for my little blog, primarily because at the beginning of 2012, I began to view it as an outlet for ministry rather than a random hobby and this led to some significant changes.

First, it provided more motivation for me to post regularly. Last year I wrote 103 posts, which is the most I’ve ever done in a year, and was the first time I had made it to 100 since 2008 (for the sake of comparison, I blogged only 35 times in 2011). As I continue to blog as a means to teach and provide encouragement in 2013, I am hopeful to continue with a similar level of output, roughly 8-12 posts per month.

Secondly, it occurred to me that if I wanted people to actually read what I write, I needed to be more proactive about promoting my blog. This was (and continues to be) unnatural for me, as I generally don’t like attention or the idea of self-promotion. But since it’s hard for my writings to do much good if no one reads them, at the beginning of the year I started sharing posts on Facebook and Twitter. This, along with the increase in the frequency of my posts, led to a huge jump in my web traffic. By web traffic, here are the three most popular posts of 2012:

(1) What To Do When Your Hard Drive Crashes. Although I primarily write about theology and ministry, I do occasionally branch into other areas, and early in the year I shared some lessons that I learned when the hard drive on my laptop failed. As computers become more and more a part of our lives, obviously this is a problem that a lot of people have to deal with, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by how much traffic this post got, but I was.

(2) The Fall of Man and the Widespread Devastation of Sin: An Introduction. This post was an introduction to a series on the widespread negative consequences of sin in our world. Regrettably, I got distracted by some things at the end of last year and didn’t finish the series, but I plan on returning to it soon.

(3) Is All Sin The Same In God’s Eyes? I like this post, partially because it was this post in large part that helped me to see the teaching potential of having a blog. It sparked quite a discussion both in the comments of the blog and also on Facebook, and led to me being branded as a “false teacher” for the first time. Exciting stuff.

Looking ahead to 2013, I have tweaked the blog a little bit to make it easier to follow and receive updates. First, over on the sidebar you’ll notice a “Followers” widget, which gives you the option of becoming a follower of the blog and receiving updates that way. This is a feature I haven’t used before, so we’ll see how it works.
Also, you might notice that at the end of each post, there is now an array of buttons where you can share a post on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ (yeah I know, no one uses Google+), or email it to someone. So by all means, if you read something that you like and think that other people might benefit from it as well, please share it on Facebook or Twitter and spread it around.
And finally, I do tend to share many (but not all) of my posts on social networking sites, so if you haven’t done so already, feel free to add me as a friend on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading in 2012. I hope it was worth your time and that you will continue to do so in the new year.


Reading in 2012

I like statistics, I like making lists, and I like competing with myself, so a few years ago I started keeping track of the books I read each year.

Here is my reading list for 2012:
  1. Garden of Beasts, by Jeffery Deaver 
  2. In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon 
  3. Jesus and Jonah, by J. W. McGarvey 
  4. How we Got the Bible, by Neil R. Lightfoot 
  5. Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane 
  6. Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara 
  7. Watchmen, by Alan Moore 
  8. Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man who Led the Band of Brothers, by Larry Alexander 
  9. The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson 
  10. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller 
  11. The Days of My Life, by George L. Dockery 
  12. Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in your Kids, by Kara E. Powell and Chap Clark 
  13. V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd 
  14. Will God Run?, by Charles Hodge 
  15. For Freedom: The Biography of John Nelson Armstrong, by L.C. Sears 
  16. Determining the Form: Structures for Preaching, by O. Wesley Allen Jr. 
  17. Greek To Me: Learning New Testament Greek Through Memory Visualization, by J. Lyle Story and Cullen I.K. Story 
  18. Steeped in the Holy: Preaching as Spiritual Practice, by Raewynne J. Whiteley 
  19. The Practice of Preaching, by Paul Scott Wilson 
  20. The Witness of Preaching, by Thomas G. Long 
  21. Emergence of the “Church of Christ” Denomination, by David Edwin Harrell 
  22. The Mystery of Cabin Island, by Franklin W. Dixon 
  23. The Sinister Signpost, by Franklin W. Dixon 
  24. A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
  25. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson 
  26. Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases, by Ida B. Wells 
  27. Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, by John Updike 
  28. Fielder from Nowhere, by Jackson Scholz 
  29. The Status of Missions in Churches of Christ: A Nationwide Survey of Churches of Christ, by Gailyn Van Rheenen and Bob Waldron 
  30. The Fall of the House of Usher, by Edgar Allan Poe 
  31. The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster, by Cheeseburger Brown 
  32. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry, by Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas 
  33. Christianity in Culture: A Study in Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, by Charles H. Kraft* 
  34. The Church of Christ in the 21st Century, by Mark Adams 
  35. Reading New Testament Greek: Complete Word Lists and Reader’s Guide, by Bernard Brandon Scott, Margaret Dean, Kristen Sparks, and Frances LaZar 
  36. The Mark on the Door, by Franklin W. Dixon 
  37. It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, by David Alan Black 
  38. Set Free? Stay Free! The Fallacy and Failure of Legalism, by Larry Deason 
  39. Using Twitter Effectively as a Congregation, by Adam Faughn 
  40. Is The Bible Really Completely True? A Deeper Understanding of Biblical Inerrancy, by Matt Robertson 
  41. Friend-O-Nomics: How Friendliness Can Make Your Youth Ministry Grow, by Rick Lawrence 
  42. A Church That Flies: A New Call to Restoration in the Churches of Christ, by Tim Woodroof 
  43. My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf 
  44. Stars in the Shadows: The Negro League All-Star Game of 1934, by Charles R. Smith Jr. 
  45. The Story, by Biblica**
I stated at the beginning of last year that I intended to write more book reviews in 2012, but I didn’t do very well in that regard. I would like to do better in 2013, but I also realize that for whatever reason, I hate writing book reviews so I’m not sure that I will. Still, even if I don’t write formal reviews, I will try to share helpful quotations and ideas from books that I enjoy.

I read some really good books in 2012. The Devil in the White City and Mystic River were both great (though disturbing), and I also enjoyed Biggest Brother and Killer Angels. Moving over to biblical and theological books, For Freedom was an excellent biography on J.N. Armstrong, the first president of Harding University, and a helpful window into Restoration Movement studies as well. How We Got The Bible was a useful primer on the history of the Bible, The Church of Christ in the 21st Century is an excellent book for Bible class study, and The Status of Missions in Churches of Christ was a very helpful survey book which every Church of Christ elder and minister should read. Undoubtedly though, the gem of the year was Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in your Kids. This is a wonderful book which I believe should be read by every minister and Christian parent in the world. Seriously (it’s so good I just linked to it!).

Disappointing books that I read in 2012 include In His Steps (why is this book famous?), Is The Bible Really Completely True? (a very poor and barely coherent defense of inerrancy), In The Garden of Beasts (which was pretty good, but just disappointing after reading The Devil in the White City), and Christianity in Culture (which was truly unreadable). I also forayed into the graphic novel medium in 2012, but was rather disappointed by some of its highly-rated volumes: Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (none of them were awful; neither were they very good).

My overall book total increased from 39 in 2011 to 45 in 2012. Realistically, I think this is about my limit. Maybe I could push it to 50, but with the delicate time balance that I currently maintain, I’m fairly pleased with this amount.

I’ve already started reading in 2013 and have a long list of books to read (I got 15-20 books for Christmas!), but I’m also interested in the recommendations of others. What were your favorite books from 2012?

(For comparison’s sake, you can see the books I read in 201120102009, and 2008).

*Full disclosure: I didn’t read this entire book. I read the first 1/3-1/2, and then skimmed the rest because of time constraints (it was an assignment for a class). As I mentioned above, I thought it was almost unreadable—some good ideas, but in need of significant editing.
**This was part of Biblica’s new Bible translation which puts the NIV in chronological order and removes chapter and verse numbers to make the text more readable. “The Story” was a compilation of Luke and Acts which we used for our youth group Bible class this past quarter. Since it was self-contained and over 100 pages on its own, I listed it on my reading list separate from my regular Bible reading for the year.


Grad School Update

I haven’t been as active on the blog over the last couple of months as I would like, partially because I have been distracted with concerns for Kinsley, and partially because I was consumed with what has been, to date, my most challenging semester of grad school.

Speaking of grad school, I still tend to get quite a few questions from people asking how much longer my studies will be, so I thought I might as well give an update.
This past fall semester marked the completion of three full years in grad school (I started in the Spring 2010 semester). During that time have I have amassed 36 hours as a part-time student (I also work full-time as a minister), which although enough for a full Master’s degree in several programs, puts me 3/7 of the way through mine (the M.Div. is an 84 hour program).

At my current pace, I have at least four more years of study ahead of me (not counting doctoral work). It’s a long time, but I have largely adjusted to the balance of being a husband/father/minister/student. It is stressful at times to put the necessary time toward my studies and also give everything else the attention it deserves: I have had to hone my time management skills, become better at planning and organizing, and occasionally miss out on some needed sleep. 

It has been challenging and stressful, but it has also been rewarding, and there is no question that my studies, although difficult, have made me a better minister and (I think) a more mature Christian as well.

The Doc File © 2006-2012 by Luke Dockery

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