Saturday, August 31, 2013

Church and Football

Today is an exciting day all over the country as college football comes back into full swing. Personally I love college football and being from Iowa makes me a die hard Hawkeye fan.  My wife though is from Michigan and that makes things a little interesting when Big Ten play starts. Then there is my brother that is currently attending Mississippi State (an SEC school). So football is a big deal in my family. 

So this week starts 15 weeks of excitement. Also it starts 15 weeks of every time that 11 players step on to play a game. These 11 players have to work together if they want to have a chance of winning. They each have to know their roles for the day to go well and if they want to make sure that they stay safe as well. The quarterback needs to focus on the offense and the linebackers need to make sure that they are focusing in on playing good defense. In fact even the coaches need to make sure that they are all on the same page and that they handle all of their individual responsibilities in order for the team to be successful. 

What is interesting is that we see in Scripture that the church is a team. In fact the way that we are told that the church functions is like a body. 

1 Corinthians 12: 12-31 states: For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

Our desire then as church members should be to figure out where we need to be as church members to make the body of the church function at its highest level. We need to find our area of service and strive to do it to the best of our ability. We should be on our knees praying that God would make it clear to us where to serve and get in and serve with our whole heart. One of the hardest things is to be okay with where God has you. Everyone wants to have the position that is out in front getting all of the glory and all of the praise, but if we are really honest with ourselves the glory does not happen if the small things are being done correctly and for that matter well. I know that I need to be aware of what God has for me in the church and I need to serve. I cannot wait to serve based on God sending me a sign. I must be prayerful about what God has for me but at the same time I cannot sit on the sidelines waiting. We need to serve the church because the local church is the vehicle that God is using to change the world!

Lets Go Hawks!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Welcome to Seminary Talk

Welcome to the relaunch of my blog! I know it has been a long time in the making but it is finally here. The new blog as you can see has been named Seminary Talk. The purpose of this blog is to write about things from a seminary student's point of view. I will be tackling all kinds of topics, from posts on the Bible, to sports, book reviews, and anything else that I come across. I hope that this blog is an encouragement to your day and challenges us to think about topics in fresh and exciting ways. Feel free to subscribe it only takes a minute and then blogs will be delivered automatically to you when they are posted. Thanks and have a great day!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Blog Update

Well it has been a little over a year since I launched out with the idea for a blog that reviews books. It has been said that the first year of anything tends to be the most difficult. This truly has been the case for me. I set  out with the intention to try to review 36 books a year. However several things have kept me from that and I would love to take a minute to update you on my life.

1. I graduated with my Bachelor's Degree in Pastoral Studies from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO

My Family (from Left to Right): Mike (Dad), Audry (Mom), Me, Cory (Brother),  Amy  (Sister)

I enrolled at BBC in the Fall of 2008 and graduated on May 17, 2012. It was as incredible four year journey in which I learned a lot and made a ton of friends. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the college.

2. I got married on July 28, 2012.

I met my beautiful wife in February of 2010 and we started dating on March 29, 2010. We had a wonderful wedding in a small town an hour north of Detroit, MI. I have loved every minute of our time together and cannot wait to see where God is going to take us.

3. I enrolled in Seminary and have just completed my first year at Baptist Bible College Graduate School in Springfield, MO.

I was blessed to begin working on my Masters of Divinity this Fall and work as a teaching assistant for the College. I was challenged with Hebrew and Systematic Theology and all in all I could definitely see God working in me and growing me. I also had the opportunity to teach in the College during the Fall and Spring as a teaching assistant. It was a lot of fun and work but again so worth it to watch as God worked in me and the students that I was teaching.

It is crazy to think that it has been so long since I started this blog. There will be some updates to the blog and I wanted to tell you personally what to expect:

1. There will be a new name!

I am in the process of changing the name of the blog as it will be heading in a new direction. Instead of just posting book reviews the blog is going to expand to include posts about culture, Scripture, and other fun things. Also the blog will be doing giveaways of gift cards and books and other things to subscribers from time to time, so if you are not a subscriber make sure to watch to see when to subscribe for giveaways! 

2. More posts and more book reviews!

I am making sure to have more than one post every other couple of months. Posts will become more frequent and hopefully you will enjoy them. Thanks for taking the time to check the blog out and please stay tuned for more to come!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Desiring God Blog Review

It seems as though I have been on a little John Piper kick lately and it has done me well. I think that it can be tiresome to read the same author over and over again even if the books are different. Piper is not this way. In Desiring God Piper makes this as the claim as the highest thing a believer must grasp and that is: God is most glorified in us when we are satisfied in Him. Many people will argue as to whether or not that statement is true, but Piper does an excellent job in this book of explaining his position and why he personally holds to it. Piper is not holding to a position just because he was told to hold it by a professor or a pastor or another type of teacher. In the book Piper makes it clear how he came to this clear understanding of God. Piper also does an excellent job of explaining different aspects of God's character and why we can trust that God is who he says he is. Piper is not shy in his book either by presenting his beliefs boldly. I truly was challenged by this book and here are a few things that I was challenged by:

If God is sovereign and can do anything He pleases, then none of His purposes can be frustrated.

God has been supremely and eternally happy in the fellowship of the Trinity.

We have accustomed ourselves to such meager, short-lived pleasures that our capacity for joy has shriveled.

If we do not carry Scripture in our heads, we cannot savor it in our hearts or wield it in the Spirit. If you go out without the kindling of Christian Hedonism, the fire of Christian happiness will be quenched before mid-morning.

Personally this book was deeply moving. I know that if you listen to many well-known leaders in Christian circles they will state how much Desiring God has had an effect on them. This writer resounds with a loud amen to that point. If you are looking for a book that is going to push you into a deeper relationship with God this would be a great place to start. This book challenged me and I know that I will reread it before too long. Take the time to pour over this book with your Bible and I promise that it will move you into a better relationship with God.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Soul Print Book Review

In Soulprint we find Batterson using King David as our point of connection. He uses key events throughout David's life to connect to you and me, the readers, to the truth within the pages.

Batterson relates the idea of the soulprint to a fingerprint. He explains how just as there are no two fingerprints alike there are no two soulprints alike. God has created each one of us as individuals with a divine plan. The author establishes David as the example for our individual uniqueness. Sharing about David facing Goliath and how King Saul put his own armor on David, and since it could not fit he could not use it. Much like Saul's armor we cannot put other people's lives on like they are our own. Here are some interesting themes I saw in the book.

David may have been a shepherd boy... but God saw more.
David may have been a soldier on the run from his king... but God saw more.

David may have been a king you killed a man to have his wife... but God saw more.

God saw David's soulprint. David pursued God through the high-times and the low. However, he always hung onto God.

Batterson wants the readers to walk away knowing that it is not too late to start living out the divine plan that God has for you. In fact all believers should be trying to find that plan so that they can live in a way that brings the most glory to God as possible.

A complimentary copy of Soulprint by Mark Batterson was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Brothers We Are Not Professionals Book Review

When it comes to reminding us of what ministry is and what ministry is not John Piper is one of the best. A constant thinker Piper takes pastors or ministry leaders on a journey to remember that what we do is not just a profession like any other. What is amazing is that he uses 30 different small chapters to remind us of what we are called to do. Some of these chapters were sweet reminders of things that I know that I have taken for granted. Piper reminds us of the importance of prayer, of reading the Bible, reading Christian biographies and so much more. I think one of the chapters that really hit home with me was when Piper reminded me that God inspired hard texts within Scripture and that we need to make sure that we are faithfully preaching them. Another chapter that moved me was one in which Piper reminded the reader that we need to teach people that the essence of worship is more important than the form. I needed to be reminded that God is looking at the heart of my worship and not how I am doing it. I could go on and on about different chapters that moved me, but instead I want to share some lines from the book that moved me.

So the goal of spiritual leadership is to muster people to join God in living for God's glory.

The essence of the Christian ministry is that success is not within our reach.

When it comes to reading the Bible slow down. Query. Ponder. Chew.

When the heart no longer feels the truth of hell, the gospel passes from good news to simply news. The intensity of joy is blunted and the heart spring of love is dried up.

The problem is not with earning a lot the problem is the constant accumulation of luxuries that are soon felt to be needs. If you want to be a conduit for God's grace, you don't have to be lined with gold. Copper will do.

I don't know where you are today. You may be on the verge of ministry burnout. You could be in the middle of seminary and needing a refreshing reminder of why we do what we do. You could be a lay person who needs to be reminded of what ministry should be about. Whatever your situation is or wherever you are this book can encourage you in your walk with God. I know it impacted my life and my prayer is that it will impact you.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Pastor as Scholar and The Scholar as Pastor

The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor is a must read for all Pastors and Seminary students. D.A. Carson and John Piper do an excellent job relating their personal experiences into how and why a pastor and a scholar should not have to choose one over the other but rather be both.

Piper begins the trip into the role of the pastor/scholar by telling about his journey from scholar into the role of pastor and explaining how he got there. He explains about the highs and lows of his educational experience and his journey into the classroom. He also tells the reader about God leading him out of the classroom and into the pastorate. Piper goes on to explain how the pastor/scholar role is not a competition between the two roles but should be a beautiful harmony of the roles together. Here are a few things that he said that struck me:

"Truth and Beauty and goodness are not determined by when they exist. Nothing is inferior for being old, and nothing is valuable for being modern."

"Don't try to manipulate people. Don't try to coerce people and make them do things. It has to come from inside, from their hearts. And that means they need knowledge that awakens love. People's affections are changed by what they know. Knowledge itself is, of course, not sufficient, as we have seen (the Devil has plenty). But it is necessary. The Holy Spirit uses it to awaken new desires and new wonders and joys. That is how God is exalted in changed behaviors."

Carson begins the trip into the role of the scholar/pastor by telling about his journey through school pastoring as he went and ultimately landing into the scholar role at Trinity in Deerfield, IL. I think one of the things that burdened me while reading through this book is that both men realize that God has placed them in these positions and that they are going to serve faithfully in them until God moves them. Carson shows how much he cares for and loves the pastorate and loves training them at the seminary level. He truly loves and respects both roles as being a gift from God. Carson also stresses how the pastor and the scholar role should not be at odds but rather should be something that works together to serve either position to the fullest extent. Here are a few things that he said that struck me:

"Unless you are actively involved in pastoral ministry in some sens or other, you will become distant from the frontlines and therefore far less useful than you might be."

"The aim is never become a master of the Word, but to be mastered by it." 

"I dare never forget that students do not learn everything I try to teach them but primarily what I am excited about."

Personally, I think this is a book that all pastors, seminary students, and professors should read. It is a short read (a mere 111 pages) and well worth the time. It is time for these roles to not be at odds but rather to be working together to produce the best pastors and scholars that God would have us.