Sunday, January 27, 2019

Update: Endings & Beginnings

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to send you all an update of where I’m at!

I had a fantastic (albeit short) 11 days at home over the Christmas break catching up with family and some friends. I arrived back on the 2nd of the month, and on the 3rd, we jumped right into the swing of things!

The English Countryside on a rare sunny day

We finished off the New Testament by studying 1-3 John, the Gospel of John and Hebrews (we haven’t studied Revelation yet, that will be at the very end of the school in June). Our speaker for John was incredibly challenging; he did his SBS (School of Biblical Studies) a few years ago and is now a youth pastor in the States. He challenged me on a lot of areas in my life, but one of the most important was my attitude to the work I have here. I had started to slip into a ‘university mindset’, working with the intent of getting good grades based on who the grader was. I hadn’t been letting God’s Word examine me and point out the areas of my life where i needed to grow or recheck myself. This was really a humbling moment for me. Since then I have been putting much more of myself into my studies to really understand more of the book, who it was written to, etc.

We knew it was going to be a good week when we walked into the classroom to see that the speaker for John had written this on the board.

Then on the 18th, we had our Oral Exam for the New Testament. That was intense! We needed to memorize a key verse from each of the 26 books we studied, as well as the main idea of the book, the major reason it was written, when it was written, who it was written by, who it was written to, where it was written from, some key background information, and the overall structure of the book. That was hard!

But… we’re done the New Testament now! (Mostly)

And onto the Old Testament.

This past week has been focused on an introduction to the Old Testament, as well as studying Genesis. Genesis has always been my favourite book of the Bible, and it has been quite the ride studying it this week! I grew up in a Christian culture where most people tended to believe that the Genesis creation account was literal and there was no deviation from that. However, I have learned that there are 5 different approaches Christians take when they try to explain our origins. Interesting stuff. I gained a better understanding of the people and the patriarchs of the book. One thing I think really changed in how I read Genesis was that I tended to read my modern 21st culture self into the book. But when you actually take a look at Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s family, God hasn’t given them any ‘rules’ or ordinances for how to govern themselves. Abraham was given the promise that his offspring would inherit the land of Canaan, and this promise was reaffirmed in various ways throughout the generations up until Joseph. God hasn’t told them to worship him alone. God hasn’t given them guidelines for how they should live. God just gave them an unconditional promise. There was no “I’ll do this if you do that”. Which explains a lot of their behaviours. We often think of Abraham bearing Sarah a son through Sarah’s servant Hagar as a ‘fault’ on Abraham’s part; but God only promised that Abraham’s offspring would inherit the land, not that it would be through Sarah (yet). This was a very common ancient cultural practice, Sarah ‘bore a son’ through Hagar, and for 13 years, God didn’t say anything! Only after 13 years did he reaffirm his promise and tell Abraham that the promise would be carried on through Sarah. This was probably to show the incredible power of who God was, as Sarah was barren. People in their culture saw barrenness as a ‘curse’ of the divine, but for her to become pregnant in her old age would have been seen as truly a work of God.

There is so much more I could say about the book, but I think I’ll keep it at this for now!

We didn’t have to do any homework on the weekend after our Oral Exam, so I headed up north to Grimsby to visit a good friend of mine from DTS. It was a fantastic weekend catching up with her and exploring York.

Exploring the York Minster Cathedral in York

Exploring the wall the Vikings built around York when they settled it

My friend and I exploring old Viking buildings

Prayer Requests:
- Continued focus on my studies, it is easy to lose sight of why I’m here and what I’m doing, pray that I would continually be renewed in my excitement to dig into the Bible and learn more about God’s character and nature, and his plan for his people.
- Rest: as always, I am exhausted! Pray that I would be wise in resting and having energy for the school
- Funds for classmates: Some of my classmates still need to pay fees for the school, so please pray that the funds would come in for them! They are awesome people!
- My future: I am naturally a planner, and the back of my mind is nagging me about next steps, which is a bit distracting to what I’m doing now. Please pray that that wouldn’t be something that deters me from what I’m doing now! Also, there is a chance that the Titus Project, which is the outreach school I am planning to do after SBS, will not be running here as I previously thought. Please pray that I can figure out where God wants me to be for that season.

Thanks everyone! Please get in contact with me if you want to learn more!

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