Library of Love

I have fallen so deeply in love with God by studying this weird collection of books called the Bible. I’m not talking about romantic love, but a love that is so, so much better.

Today in class, we finished the Old Testament.

*Pause for applause*

One of our fearless leaders, Scott Frase ended class by playing a slideshow he had made of the 65 books we’ve journeyed through in the last (almost) nine months (they begin the last book this Friday). Each slide was a book title, the main characteristic of God found in that book and then one or two key verses from said book which expressed this characteristic.  Most of us were devouring each slide and responding with tears to see what an epic story we have been immersed in for so long. (Maybe I was the only one crying?)

It was as moving as I’m sure the picture slideshows will be when we finally graduate these beloved students in two weeks. 

When any of our teachers finish their last lecture, it is SBS tradition to shower them with encouragement and prayer. For guest speakers, this happens soon after we meet them, but for those of us on staff with this school, we finish our last teaching near the end of a very long time together.

I was really struck today by a comment one of the students made to Scott as she expressed her appreciation and love for him. She talked about how, before coming to the school she’d had such a close relationship with God and she had feared that studying the Bible academically would suck the life right out of that relationship. It was a real battle for her and for several other students, but to Scott she said, “I thought I had to choose between knowledge of God or intimacy with God, but every time you teach, you show me I can have both.”  …

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A Plan to Lose it All

Lately I have been a real mess. Not a quirky, things-will-come-out-right-in-the-end kind of mess, either. A gross and ugly mess that you’re sure will yield rotting surprises. I have seriously questioned my mental health and the wisdom of even interacting with other humans. My heart and mind have been dark and confusing. Even just last night, all of the worst lies came out to taunt me as I tried to go to sleep.

When I woke up (after very little sleep) I felt that same raw and twisty anxiety, but as I sat down to spend some time with God, he came quickly in just the way I needed. He didn’t soothe me with “No, everyone really loves you, it’s okay,” but instead pointed me to how incredibly faithful he is, has been and will continue to be. I think it’s only after I recognize how big and good he is that I am able to feel comforted by what he then says about who I am.

Then, at the end of class today I had a good dose of “hindsight” as I finished up my last teaching in the School of Biblical Studies.

What I got to see at the end of my teaching is how all the things that God spoke about this season before it happened  (this season being my involvement with SBS since the beginning of 2012)  have taken place…

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Mental Digestion

I‘ve been mentally digesting two important thoughts today that seem to oppose each other.

Thought number 1 came this morning from the Twitter world. It struck me so soundly, that I typed it into a sticky note on my computer. It’s been staring at me all day.

“Hyper-individualism leads to spiritual homelessness.” -Bevin Ginder

This makes so much sense. I have walked that particular road, although I have also seen God pushing me ever toward interdependence with other believers.

Thought number 2 came this afternoon in class. Ron Smith, the founder of SBS is here teaching the Gospel of John to us. Today, in the first four chapters, he touched on several great things about Jesus, but one that got stuck right in my throat. In John chapter 1 Jesus is baptized. John the baptist (who dunked the Lord himself), says that he saw heaven open and the Spirit descend upon Jesus like a dove. He saw the Spirit, and it was like a dove.

Ron pointed out something that makes the dove particularly unique among birds; their flight pattern is unpredictable….

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Don’t Freak Out

Last Monday I taught the book of Philippians to the students in our School of Biblical Studies. I get nervous before teaching- not because I have stage fright and not because I’m afraid of what they will think of me. I get nervous because I really want to do a good job- I don’t want to waste people’s time, but I also want desperately to convey something of who God is when I teach.

I know, I know- this is really only something God can do. At the same time, I am responsible to invest time in studying the books I teach so that I do have a foundation. God can speak through any donkey, but I don’t actually want to be an ass.

Teaching Philippians was a really good time. A few hours before the teaching started I had this wave of gratitude for the fact that I get to do the thing I’ve dreamed of doing! It’s ridiculous, people. I have no degrees and very little experience. But I get to spend serious time in God’s word and then I get to lead this awesome group discussion. This is what teaching mostly is to me. I love asking the students, “What do you see?” because even after studying for weeks and weeks they still see things I have not seen. It’s an honor and a joy. We laughed and we cried. Together we had a clearer picture, a fresh reminder of who Jesus really is and who God is really calling us to be together….

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Let Down Your Nets

This weekend I was really wrestling with the feeling that I am not up for the job I’m doing. I had all kinds of questions about how much stress is healthy and leads to growth and how much is unhealthy and leads to deterioration. It’s not as straight forward as setting boundaries for when I work and when I rest because sometimes when it’s time for me to study my brain won’t engage… and sometimes when I feel like I need rest I do actually have to be at that meeting.

Often people will say that if God calls you to do something he will give you the strength to accomplish the job. Thinking along these lines, if I look back at the last school I staffed, I see that it took a while to get the swing of things and until I

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“got it,” I was really wrestling – similarly to how I am wrestling right now.
On one hand it gives me hope that there will be a tipping point when it stops feeling like there’s an ogre sitting on my chest. On the other hand because there is a lot more work with this school, it feels like maybe it’s just more than I would ever be able to handle…

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What Matters Most

The speaker for our class last week started out her time by asking the class for introductions. She asked where they were from, what they were passionate about and one thing they’ve learned so far during the school.

This question, “What are you passionate about?” is a good one and although I have looked at various branches of my passion and tried to articulate these things well, I had not come to the direct point until the other day. I think what helped me with this was that the speaker said, “You’re not allowed to say, ‘Jesus.’ We’re all here because we’re passionate about Jesus.” She was right, of course.  I never felt like this answer was a cop-out because it is true of me, but being forced to find a more specific way to express myself  was enlightening….

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Burnout For Jesus

I felt a call to be a missionary when I was 17yrs old. It started with a concert put on by an organization called Operation Mobilization. I read a book written by the guy leading the organization (George Verwer) and I started filling out an application to join them. It was part way through the application that my heart sunk right to the floor…

They wanted to know if I’d ever struggled with depression.

Bummer. I had and I did.

At that point I actually allowed the question to stop me from moving forward. I can’t remember if I thought I might ‘get better’ and be able to apply later on or if I just lost hope in fulfilling this great calling.

Four years later I went to Bible college for a year because I thought maybe this would be the preparation that I needed to finally become a missionary. Unfortunately, I didn’t do very well academically. The only class that I passed the second semester of my freshman year was Christian Missions. It was in that Christian Missions class that I began to understand a little bit more about what missions might actually mean… but it was a strange lesson. A few books I read informed me about the experience of past missionaries; From Jerusalem to Iryin Jaya, Bruchko, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, and a book that pertains to ministry, A Man Called Peter. There were others, but these are the ones that stick out to me….

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Inner Healing, Outer Armor

This week the students are learning about spiritual warfare. Their speaker is a power house of a guy named Wes Tullis. His teaching method is much more circular and story oriented than our Western minds are used to, but it’s also kind of blowing my mind.

In my own DTS (in 2003)  the speaker used the book of Ephesians to teach on spiritual warfare. Things like knowing the truth about who God is and who we are in Christ. There was more to it, but her basic message was about living from that place of truth to stand against the enemy because it is God’s power which has already defeated that enemy.

Secular humanists would say there is no spiritual realm and Spiritualists (or animists, Buddhists, Hindus, etc) would say there really is no physical realm but only spiritual. As a follower of Christ, I believe that both physical and spiritual are real. Whatever your beliefs are about angels and demons, the spiritual realm is real and is intrinsically linked to what happens in the physical realm- both directions.

There are two things I want to share on this topic…

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Learning the Steps

I always want to say really epic things when I post. It’s not because epic things aren’t happening that I cannot find the words, it’s because too many things are happening with too little time to process them.

One beautiful thing happened on Friday. Thursday night I saw this video about a dog named Skipboot (and his owner). Skipboot is the most incredibly smart and obedient dog I have ever seen. I was really moved by the dog’s obedience… to be listening so attentively to hear and obey every small step. While watching the video I thought, “I want to be like that with God. I want to hear and obey Him that well.”

The next morning in class we heard teaching on the book of Hosea. In that story are pieces of Hosea’s incredible obedience to God. At the end of class the teacher invited us to spend some time talking to God personally. She turned on music… to be honest I can’t remember what she told us to seek God about! I just remember that when I closed my tired eyes and set my heavy head in my arms I immediately thought of Skipboot and was going to start praying along the lines of God making me more like that dog.

Almost as immediately I got a picture in my mind of dancing with a man, ballroom style….

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The Cryptic Apocalyptic

We’re studying Revelation this week. I’m taking a breather right now to digest what we’ve heard in class and read thus far.

Just as the book itself seems to depict layers of the same “event” and from different perspectives, I have had layers of reactions to it and tried to view it from different perspectives. For a book with so much potential to confuse, I love one of the opening statements…

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” Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” (1:3)

If you’re like me, you just don’t read Revelation ever… except maybe pieces. Over the years I have especially loved chapter 21 which talks about heaven. I have also loved the letters to the churches in the first 3 chapters because there are practical things in there I can relate to. Don’t be lukewarm in your faith, don’t give up, remember that enduring to the end leads to eternal reward… stuff like that….

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