Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Seminary Update: April 5, 2016

About 4 ½ more weeks of classes to go! This is quite bittersweet! Spring Break was a full week, but really good time spent with Mike, my family and his family. Below are pictures from our visit to Plymouth Rock, on a bridge over the Delaware River (near where his parents live in New Jersey) and from Easter Sunday.

Thanks for your prayers, please keep them coming! There’s lots of change coming and decisions to make. I have an interview with Harvest USA on Friday, April 16th where I will have to give a presentation (as if I’m teaching women about the area of sexuality). I’m excited but nervous, so prayers for me as I prepare and present would be amazing!!!!

And lookie here, I have a Reading List update for you!

Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture by Walt Mueller
This is a book I read for a class on counseling children and adolescents. Teens struggle to communicate, but often we don’t listen, and as a result they don’t feel understood or cared for. And when “young people realize they aren’t understood, church becomes a place where they don’t belong” (p. 25). Children and teens are listening, but who are they listening to? They are listening to their peers, to pop culture – because they listen, they understand, they’re communicating about the same struggles and feelings. The media and youth feed off each other in an unending loop. They’re looking for purpose, meaning; they’re dealing with facing “real” life with all its uncertainty and disappointment. The breakdown of the family in our day and age only adds more pain and confusion to the stress these young people are enduring. How do we regain our ears and give them back their mouths? Walt asks. Ministry to teens, he writes, is cross-cultural ministry. He gives three steps: First we need to know the Gospel, then we need to know the teens and the culture they are in, and finally take the message of the Gospel applicably into their rapidly changing culture. While we are commanded in Scripture not to imitate or be “of” the culture, we are nevertheless to be “in” it and shining our light in the darkness. We do not do this world a service by separating ourselves from culture and avoiding all things secular. Shining our light means that we are exposed (to a degree) to the darkness, but yet we are not influenced by it. Teens need to feel loved and understood before they’ll be willing to listen. Then the Gospel needs to be presented in a way that resonates with them. This doesn’t mean “watering down” the Gospel message, but how we present truth to others matters!

“The emerging generations need people of faith who are willing to bridge the chasm. They need to be in relationship with people struggling to relate God’s unchanging Word to today’s rapidly changing world.” (p. 78)
 “Today’s Christian culture so resembles the world, that standing contra mudum - against the world, in opposition to its culture – would amount to standing against itself.” (p. 139, emphasis his)

Depression: Looking up in the Stubborn Darkness by Ed Welch
This was a really excellent book that I could write a whole essay on! Actually, I think I will… so I guess you’ll just have to wait on this one. But I’ll give you a sneak peak:

Regardless of the cause, depression “is a time to answer the deepest and most important questions: Whom will I trust? Whom will I worship?” The truth is that God is at work, even in the darkness, and He’s at work in us to change us. Depression doesn’t always mean that we have sinned, but we can sin in the process by doubting or turning away from God. In this way God uses our suffering to change us at the deepest level of our heart.  You must believe that the fact that “you belong to God and have a God-given purpose. Furthermore, the cross of Christ reveals that God’s purposes for your life are good.” There is hope, but not just for the future, for right now. Your pain may not disappear, but it can be alleviated as you hold on to hope and believe that Jesus is greater than your experience.

Washed & Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill
This book was written by a Christian who has long experienced and struggled with same-sex attraction. It is mainly written to those who have similar struggles or who are not sure what to think about it. In our culture today this is a “hot” topic and unfortunately many Christians either are going with the cultural flow or they judge and recoil. While homosexual behavior is sin, the attraction they experience, while twisted and tainted by sin, is not. Homosexual lust is really not any different from heterosexual lust. We cannot help thoughts and feelings that we experience, but we are responsible for how we respond to them. This book was written from a heart that has struggled and endured through confusion, loneliness and very real suffering, but it also gives so much hope! It was a reminder that God may not remove our struggles, but He does promise to walk with us through them and transform them into something that can be used for His kingdom. “The Christian’s struggle with homosexuality is unique in many ways, but not completely so. The dynamics of human sinfulness and divine mercy and grace are the same for all of us, regardless of the particular temptations or weakness we face.” (p. 19). We are all “washed and waiting” for the redemption of our bodies, for the final deliverance from sin and temptation, and for all things to be made new and whole. Come Lord Jesus!

For more on this topic, also check out this article: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/homophobia-has-no-place-in-the-church

Boundaries in Dating by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend: This book could be very helpful to many people. It gives very good advice for what to look for (or watch out for) in a potential spouse, but also addresses areas that you need to grow and change to be the person you should be as well. It talks about what it means to be a safe person yourself (as in trustworthy) and the importance of dealing with past hurts ahead of time and that dating/marriage will not “cure” a lonely heart. The importance of honesty and openness were emphasized throughout as foundational to a healthy relationship – yes, very important! While there were some things I wouldn’t entirely agree with, it does give a lot of good advice for personal growth and as you seek to have healthy relationships.

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