Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah or Thrilling Kwanza…whatever you prefer. It has been awhile since a major update on what is going on in my life, so I figured I would post it (a long with a Facebook note) in order to catch you up on what is going on. The last update was on 8-22-11, a long long time ago. So, I am here to catch you all up.
Well, God hasn’t change much to tell you the truth. He is still all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present. I will say that may relationship with God continues to grow and mature; I am learning anew the discipline and power of prayer. There have been many things that have needed prayer, mostly because I simply have not been able to do anything about them. God has taught me over the last few months that I am not all-sufficient, all-powerful, or all-knowing; I am William McPherson, a poor, desperate recipient of his grace.
I have been reading many things since August including but certainly not limited to The Cross of Christ by John R. Stott, Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels, and I will just finish rereading The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. I am continuing to read Augustine’s Confessions and David Bentley Hart’s The Beauty of the Infinite and I hope to finish both by this summer (I have been reading Hart’s book since I graduated from college!). All of these books have benefited me greatly and I picked quite a few new ones from McKay’s in Chattanooga, TN; one of the best used bookstores I have ever been it!
I have been wondering how I can serve God in the coming few months (I have not been able to do much considering that I have been out of town so often). I would love for more opportunities to teach, lead bible studies, etc. I am hoping that a lot of this year’s lessons on humility and brokenness will finally lead to some area of service. I have toyed with the ideas of going to a new Sunday school class, joining the choir, and even visiting another church…none of these ideas seem very appealing and I would love to be used where I am finding myself at the moment.
Having said all of this I realize that special places of service are given by God as he pleases. Whether I like it or not, there are many areas where I can serve and just choose to be a servant whether that is manual labor, fill ins, or other things…there are places to serve in most cases. There are always opportunities to go out and share the Gospel with others, which oddly I suddenly have a more burning urge to do (and my church’s new emphasis might be the opportunity to do just that).
But what about my relationship with God? All of the other stuff is fine, but what my inner time with God? I would say that I have an increasing desire to spend time with God outside of my quiet time. I want to encounter God in my everyday interactions and behavior. I want to see God really come alive in who I am; I want the people I care about the most to see Christ in me. I have had rough patches over the last few months, but I am encouraged that Christ’s image is being formed in me. I am beginning to reread Desiring God with Wendy (who I will talk about in a minute) and discovering that my desire for God is of most importance to my spiritual health.
If you have not known before now, I have been dating Wendy Rebekah for almost four months now (four months on 1/12). It has been an exciting and exhilarating experience to see God move in our lives as we have sought, imperfectly, to love each other through him. We have been to each others’ houses here in Athens and also in Kennesaw, GA; plus, we have been to several dates in Chattanooga. Our families are both thrilled about each other and we are glad to have their support, encouragement, and love.
Wendy has had to deal with a harrowing accident that has really caused her life to be consumed with all of the chaos that has ensued. She has dealt with unwilling insurance companies, hostile hospital billing departments, and now an attorney in order to get her normal life back. I wish I could say that I have been the perfect support through it all, but my own frustrations at wanting to be with her and wanting to help have sometimes got the better of me. I have found myself constantly having to remember that God is sovereign, that he is in control and ultimately some good will come out of this mess. I am glad to say that we have already seen God’s good hand in all of this adversity.
Wendy has also been unemployed now since October, not long after we started dating. She has been aggressively trying to find work even after the accident mentioned above occurred. She has been able to take care of her bills through the unemployment check, but we both have come to realize that the amount simply will not allow her move forward in life. The good news is that she has a second interview after New Years at a credit union near where she lives. We are both hoping and praying for her to get this job because of the pay and benefits that she would receive.
Being in this relationship has shown me that I am not always a very thoughtful individual. Living for myself, by myself, with myself…has take its toll on my others thinking. Even living at home, I am still an adult individual responsible only for myself. Wendy would tell you differently; she is always uber supportive and complimentary…but I know me and I know who I could be given some time and some more maturity. It is my desire that she always feels loved, wanted, and needed…that she would never doubt that I care about her as Christ cares about her.
Oh and I got her this a-mazing pink heart sapphire ring for Christmas that looks absolutely marvelous on her hand.
School has been going non-stop since August while all the rest of this has been going on. I have finished four classes: NT Hermeneutics, OT II, Discipleship Ministries, and Apologetics. These classes have been challenging (especially the OT paper and the DMIN project) but at the same time, they have shown me how much I can do with the power of God on my side. It has not always been an easy experience balancing my school work, seeing Wendy, and spending time with the family. I am reminded though, that many people go to seminary and work part time or full time jobs and have children, so I am blessed with more time than I wish to admit.
It was a challenge though the first half of the semester to do two papers in one week (I had become ill the week before when I was supposed to do one of the papers). The Old Testament professor I had was incredibly strict on his requirements and the NT Herm paper was an exegetical paper on a biblical passage. So, between considering the literal or mystical elements of Ezekiel’s temple or considering Colossians 1:21-29, I was having to really bust my hump to get the work done.
The last half was spent writing a paper almost every week and then the massive Discipleship Ministries Project which ended up being 30+ pages of material building a discipleship ministry from the ground up. It took a lot of effort and a lot of writing (and yes, quite a bit of prayer) but God allowed me to finish.
This semester will include: Part A: Homiletics (Preaching) and Systematic Theology I and Part B: Systematic Theology II and Ethics and Christian Ministry. It will likely be another challenging, rewarding experience that feature prominently God’s grace.
My family is doing well, Erin finished his first semester of auto body classes and he and hopefully Ian will be returning to Northwest Shoals this semester (meaning that I won’t have to drive out there). If Ian does not, however, then I may still end up driving him out there on Tuesdays…not something I particularly excited about.
I am planning on doing some job hunting again now that holiday season has passed. Not sure what I am qualified for or what I can get, but I am going to try to find a 9-5 (or 8-4) job during the week that will allow me to continue to see Wendy on the weekends. This may take some time to find, so prayer concerning that is necessary.
Thanks Thomas for inviting me to your party; it was good to see you and I hope to send your present to your house soon. To all of you, I miss you all very much and I rejoice to see what God is doing in your life when I get to occasionally glance at Facebook. I wish I could be a better friend to some of you and if there is any way I can do that, do not hesitate to let me know! If you have a prayer need feel free to send me a message or give me a call: I am always here for you.
Grace and Peace to You All
And a happy New Year!