First Semester: DONE!
As Teresa and I drove back to Berkeley this morning after our last final, (myself being slightly defeated by the final), we reflected on our first semester of seminary at Golden Gate: How did we do? What did we do well? What could we have done better? What will we have to change for next year? How can we get our lives a little bit more together?
Of course, lots of things came up about how we can change things, what we would like to improve, how much smarter we would like to get in order to accomplish everything we did this year, except better. How much more disciplined we both need to be to face a crazier course load plus more ministry next year…
But a curious thing happened as we went through analyzed and reflected on the moment to moment of our past semester…it ended with the both of us realizing that what we just “pulled off” was actually not us at all, but the workings of many people, our community, our peers, our pastors, our families, our roommates, our professors, even our sheep— everyone coming together intermittently, at different points, all right when we needed them. The prayers to cover us during rough weeks, the coffee to sustain us during long nights, the grace to let us skip a week of discipleship so we could get our homework done (that was mostly me), the free meals to bless us when we had no time to even get food, the encouraging notes to remind us that we are doing ok and that you still love us no matter how much of a hot mess we are… It was like discovering the beautiful fingerprints of the Master marked all over our seemingly inadequate, weak, and fragile “work” that made this semester a breathtaking masterpiece in the midst of all the chaos.
And then thats when we realized that this right here, this moment of driving back to Berkeley after just having conquered (sort of) our last final of our first semester in seminary, in the picturesque warmth of Nor Cal weather which decided to be kind to us today, not miserably alone but sitting together, side-by-side, genuinely joyful inside and out— this was a testament to the supernatural, miracle this journey has shown itself to be so far. And no matter how many improvements we can identify to make for next year, in this moment, we are truly grateful.
When God gets ready for you to take a new step or direction in his activity, it will always be in sequence with what he has already been doing.”
— Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God
How the angels react when someone is born again
ahahaha i love this one its so cute! #postmidtermsocialmediabinge
Survived my first mid term exam in seminary today. The professor didn’t even sit in to proctor the exam, he just gave us the test, read us a bible verse (John 16:33 hah), reminded us to provide biblical references for our answers, and then peaced out. Oh, and not to mention he said: “I fully trust you to take this on your own, because God is here :) ” It’s funny how well that line works on us seminary students. Fear the Lord and don’t cheat. PLAGIARISM IS A SIN DONT DO IT. (This, I quote verbatim from a syllabi for one of my classes.)
It was an “open Bible” test, meaning we could use our Bibles, not the electronic kind though. It felt kinda surreal and disorienting flipping frantically through my Bible as if it were a textbook, wracking my brain to remember the exact references of the verses I had studied over the weekend. Something else I realized, to my dismay, through preparing for this test was how my Bible app and Bible Gateway has significantly decreased my Bible verse memorization abilities, forget trying to remember the references. I could not for the life of me remember where “imitate me as I imitate Christ” was! For some reason I just kept hearing PJ’s voice say it over and over again in my head which did not help at all…I so desperately wanted to bust out my phone and search it on my app… but I just settled on another verse that sounded similar instead.
Time to study for my next midterm on Thursday!
My textbook’s definition of “spiritual warfare”
Spiritual warfare- reflects the reality that Satan does not want believers to live fruitful, holy lives. The warfare that Christians face involves Satan and his hosts constantly trying to maneuver them toward spiritual lethargy or depression while they seek to live the abundant life that Jesus promised.
We read a hymn to open up my intro to missions class every time we meet. I think the class has made me more akin to hymns now… I’ve never realized how deep and theological they can be! Anyway, for some reason after I read this definition of spiritual warfare, onward Christian soldier came to mind, even though I had no idea how the melody goes or even what all the lyrics were, so I looked it up, and voila~ so perfect for addressing spiritual warfare! :) I encourage you to listen to it whenever you feel discouraged, oh Christian soldier, in the battle not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Onward, Christian soldiers! Marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle, see his banners go! Onward, Christian soldiers! Marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee; on, then, Christian soldiers, on to victory. Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise; brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Onward, Christian soldiers! Marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.
Like a mighty army moves the Church of God; Brothers, we are treading where the Saints have trod. We are not divided; All one body we: one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Onward, Christian soldiers! Marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Onward, then, ye people; join our happy throng. Blend with ours your voices In the triumph song:
Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ, the King. This through countless ages men and angels sing.
Onward, Christian soldiers! Marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.
Not gonna lie
When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way…
-Psalm 142:3a (NIV)
This week was pretty tough. No, this month was pretty tough. After two years of not studying, writing papers, reading books on deadline, and then going to pulling weekly all-nighters 4 weeks in a row, sometimes twice a week, has been nothing short of brutal on my body and emotional strength. I like to pride myself in the fact that it takes a LOT to get me stressed out, but this past month I have met my match. My spirit was definitely growing faint. In the midst of all that, I can confidently say that God has indeed known my way and pointed me to it, step by step, moment by moment. In spite of my weakness, God has been moving and doing mighty works in the lives of those around me, in my ministry, house church, speaking through lectures & readings in seminary, especially my missions class which has been getting better and better by the week. (Oh! And I also invited my missions professor to come speak at our next Flood in april fyi! ^.^) God has answered our prayers to start a Bible study at the IHouse!! I had a divine appointment with a student from Brazil who loves the Lord and has a passion for preaching the Gospel and she is perfectly located within the IHouse to share with those around her! Thank you Lord!
I am gearing up to lead a team to Kenya this summer, and to my surprise, thinking about it has brought nothing but peace and yes, a bit of fear but not the unhealthy kind I think. I am praying that the Lord would whittle out the perfect team from Livingwater this year, not too fancy, not too big, but just perfect for what He wants to accomplish in Kenya this summer. I pray that He would have His way and that all the details would be fitted together for those who are meant to go!
In this season I find myself really wanting to know the secret of being content and joyful through all things— all nighters, sickness, barely making it to class on time through morning traffic, not always knowing how we’re getting to our vision, uncertainties in relationships.
note to self
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…not a seminary degree, listening to a lecture, a good book, or even a powerful sermon.
There’s a lot of reasons why our twenties matter. It’s arguably the time our lives begin to take the most definition. Most of us start our twenties on similar planes: we’re not making money really on our own, still slightly on the leash of our parents, living in small dorms, eating bad food, internship hunting, etc, etc. Around 25 we begin to segue more into finding careers versus finding résumé builders, we drink cheap wines in small apartments and have 3-4 close friends who share in our smaller, but free from our parents (so-to-speak), lifestyle. Then, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you might find yourself at the end of your twenties with a steadier income that enables you to regularly shop at Whole Foods, owning a dog that you can afford on your own, actually using your workout clothes as workout clothes and not sweats, being in love or possibly married, and maybe even having kids.
Regardless of if you fall in love at 19 and are having kids by 22, or you’re working in a New York City high rise all of your twenties, everything seems to be happening. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s the decade to be completely and utterly selfish. Not in a bratty friend kind of way, but in the way that is going to build your life. Now is the time to forget about pride and to forget about doing everything by the book. Live your own experiences, make mistakes that are lessons and stories to tell when you’re older. Your twenties are when you let go of the teenager within you that hates being the bigger person, and hates stepping on toes. It’s when you stare life right in the face, say what you want to audiences larger than your bathroom mirror, and you go get what you dreamed about in your teens.
Don’t waste time. That’s the biggest thing in your twenties. If you’re going to be selfish and you’re going to be pursuant of the life you want, you can’t push it until Monday morning or New Year’s Eves when you decide to make a change. You have to start actively living, pursuing and deciding before your mind even has a chance to regret something. If you ever want to become who you’re supposed to be, you take advantage of the freedom that’s in your lap now. Most of us don’t have children or serious spouses, so make use of your independence. It’s true that life isn’t guaranteed, you may not get all of your twenties to leave a mark. Don’t put off the change you wish to make in this world.
Love in our twenties is anything but neat and tidy. Sometimes the timing never feels as right as you think it should. Sometimes Hugh Grant and Julia Robert’s way of having fate take it’s course in rom-coms is too slow. Sometimes the stories we weave won’t appear perfect at first glance, but if you find yourself feeling strong emotions for another person, you sieze those moments now, in your twenties, when you’re allowed to love a little more recklessly. Now is when you don’t have to apologize for loving without thinking. Now is when we should be a little risky. Now is when, even if you put yourself on the line and things go differently than you had hoped, you have time to dust yourself off and move forward. You don’t wait for fate, you don’t wait for perfection. You wait for when your heart is ready to jump and that’s when you speak up.
When I say be selfish, I don’t mean it to the effect of forgetting those around you. Especially, especially in love. Never love just one person. Don’t ever make your best friends feel like they have to file a missing person’s report on you because you dedicate all your time and Instagram feed to your boyfriend of six months. I don’t care if he is a rebound or your future-husband, spend your time equally. Don’t spend your twenties nurturing one relationship. That’s why you live your thirties in a lonely apartment with cats. Love fiercely, but love more than your Valentine’s Day partner. Network at work, bring bagels to your stressed best friend at their internship, offer a nice text with random emojis for your sibling if they’re feeling low. Be present in your twenties. Being selfish doesn’t mean to forget this. Pursue your life while maintaining tabs on those around you. If you become completely AWOL, you quickly lose sight of things. They’re building you as much as you’re building yourself. Time will be wasted if it’s spent giving too much of yourself away to one thing. And like I said before, your twenties are too quick to waste time.
The person we become is molded in our twenties. The choices we make and the effort we put in reflect to everyone around us and show who we are trying to become. Show you’re driven and working. Show you’re loving and compromising. Strong relationships, success and skills aren’t born from small effort. They don’t magically appear just because we write it in a diary. Be active, care, and use now to grow. Everyone is labeled an adult at some point in their twenties, no one is immune to it. We’re allowed to go to greater lengths now. We’re tall enough to ride all the roller coasters at the theme park, we’re smart enough to know what budgeting looks like, we’re sensible enough to know what to wear to work, we know how to write résumés, and we can use the phrase “well, twenty years ago…”. We’ve lived, but we’re only just starting. We don’t need permission to raise our hand anymore. So use now to love more than just the significant other in your life, work with the intention that this is the decade you become something greater, challenge yourself every single day, be an active friend and family member. Always be five minutes early, always respond to e-mails within 24 hours. Mold into the adult you never thought you’d age to be. We’re no longer “growing up.” Nope, we’re “up.” So how high do you want to go? How far up?
I’m not usually one to make posts like this because I do believe that everyone has a right to post whatever they want on their tumblr, whether I agree with them or not. But for some reason I really felt led to post this, against all my personal insecurities about what people will think, say, or feel in response to what I post… so here goes: If I were to summarize this in one word, it would be “humanism.” As I read this, I felt that it was such a perfect illustration of all the things that stand contrary to the Gospel message of which I have been made a minister.
I’m sorry, but this is not the Gospel. Granted, I understand that the person who originally posted this is probably not a Christian and probably doesn’t hold the Bible as the infallible word of God upon which they align their lives to, but I am writing this for the Christian who does claim to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in today’s day and age and who is striving to live in such a way that is set apart from the world and in line with Scripture.
“Time will be wasted if it’s spent giving too much of yourself away to one thing.”
What happened to selling everything away after discovering the pearl of great price? (Matthew 13:45-46)
”I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s the decade to be completely and utterly selfish. Not in a bratty friend kind of way, but in the way that is going to build your life.”
Jesus says, for whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 16:25)
“…forget about doing everything by the book.”
I understand that this is taken out of context, but I believe the principal behind it, this idea of not letting anything govern or “rule” you and just living life, making mistakes that you’ll “laugh about later,” is actually addressed in this verse: But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:25) or this one: How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. (Psalm 119:9)
“…but if you find yourself feeling strong emotions for another person, you sieze those moments now, in your twenties, when you’re allowed to love a little more recklessly. Now is when you don’t have to apologize for loving without thinking.”
This is what Scripture says about the human heart: The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
And often times what we assume to be “love” is actually nothing but lust: but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28)
and not to mention the consequences of giving into our lust: but each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin;and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived my beloved brethren. (James 1:14-16)
“And like I said before, your twenties are too quick to waste time.”
Perhaps the only statement I fully agree with in this post. Yes, not just your twenties, but this whole life is too short to waste. What are you going to give your life to?
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:7-8)
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that. (James 4:14-15)
This is in no way mean to condemn or judge anyone, and I pray that it isn’t taken that way. I just felt stirred up to share these things after I read the post. I understand that it’s easy to get caught up with different philosophies and ideas of the world, but I believe that now is a time for the followers of Jesus Christ to be more vigilant than ever and test everything by the word of God. We need to live in such a way that people would see our lives as markedly different from the world’s, and whether they mock us or bless us for it, at least we will be able to stand rightly before the One who will one day judge all things.
So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. (James 2:12)
Professors in seminary are pretty humble. They are so readily willing to admit what they don’t know, which I guess is bound to happen when you’re approaching theology.
Pulling my first all nighter in years…to read and study the Bible (currently studying the book of Acts) so that I can write a reading report on it. Still can’t believe I’m majoring in the study of…God.