Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My essay

I did some thinking about it tonight and also did some research and I think the subject of my first essay is going to be "Paul's take on Love and Marriage in the New Testament". I was surprised how much Paul wrote about Love and Marriage since Paul was never married himself. On one hand Paul spoke about it being better to be single like himself in order to serve the Lord more completely (almost frowning on marriage) and then commented that marriage was there for those that "burned with passion" and at the same time wrote very elegant and romantic language about love in Corinthians. Pretty interesting dichotomy. I am already thinking about the subject matter and tomorrow I will start doing my formal research on it and gathering data to support my theory on the subject.

My initial hypothisis is that I think Paul really depended on his superior knowledge of the Torah and Old Testament and what is written there about marriage to carry over to the gentile community that was mainly his focus in the New Testament, yet his understanding of Jesus added some definite love components to the doctine not found in the Old Testament. He took alittle of the old and new and mixed them together to form some of the directions he wrote in the New Testament concerning marriage. I think it is interesting because chances are Paul's way of thinking about marriage was probably new to the gentile community as many of them followed Roman cults that had very different views on marriage. The combination of the Old Testament, love of Christ and the gentile community's adaptation and adherence to this new thought process could make for an interesting essay.

Thoughts/feedback? What do you think of that subject matter for a research/essay?

School Cont'

Just got back from my NTII Tuesday class. Another amazing 3 hour lecture. I took another 6 pages of type written notes (that is alot of notes). The subject matter today was to finish the rest of Acts and then get into the Apostle Paul. It was fascinating because the prof went through Paul's education, background, thought process, argumentative style and really took you into the mind of Paul and what he was facing. Then, after that was finished, the prof started lecturing about Paul's letters to the various different churches and how he formulated the letters into 3 categories: to address a specific situation, correct an inaccurate doctrine or to educate. We then delved into 1 Thessalonians and started studying that specific letter to the Thessalonian church.

There is much to learn in 3 hours of lecture that I cant possibly explain on this blog, but I will give you one small nugget that was a "ah-hah" momen for me today -- something that really stuck with me and I liked:

The prof was explaining Paul's Damascus Road (where Paul, who used to hunt down and kill Christians for being Jewish apostates, came face to face with the risen Jesus on the Damascus Road and was asked point blank why he was persecuting him and then struck blind) experience and he asked the question "do you know why the Lord stuck Paul blind?" and students all gave various answers; punishment, to get his attention, to show that he was the Lord etc. etc. and the professor then went on to say that Paul was both a "Jew amongst Jews" and also a Pharisee and that with that much study Paul was very very familiar with the requirements to identify the Messiah yet even though he knew all of these, he missed them because of his pride and his zeal and the Lord struck him blind because Paul WAS BLIND to the evidence right in front of him. In otherwords, "you want to be blind to me, then I will really make you that way"...he said that the Lord uses "parallelism" in alot of situations and this was just a really great example of it. It was a small tidbit, but I really liked that.

Again, I learned more today then I have in a ton of study on my own and I really love this professor. He doesnt pull any punches and tells it exactly like it is but at the same time he can talk for 3 hours and you never get bored.

The reading is getting better. I am starting to get into a routine. It is still hard and time consuming but I am feeling more confident about it. I already have a quiz in my NT1 class this Thursday that I am studying for. The test is about Roman culture, geography, Emperors and the dates they ruled and significant events (ie. destruction of the Jewish temple). I think I will do pretty good on it, I have alot of that stuff down.

On a side note, I run the risk of being somewhat of a hypocrite and I am seriously considering going back to work. I know, I know, I said I wasnt going to do that, BUT a 30% correction in my portfolio due to this economy downturn with no relief in sight may just force my hand. I am thinking and praying about it but I believe it is in the best interest of my family for at least one of us to be working in this dire economic time. I think it is going to get much worse in the next few months and I think it is wise to be in a job. That doesnt mean I would give up school. I thought about it and talked to Kim about it and I will probably just finish these two classes and then only take 1 class a semester at night for the foreseeable future that I can work into my work schedule. Kim is on board with it and supportive (she is my rock) like she has always been...I am going to put a few calls into my good friends in the industry and see if there is anything that fits. Hopefully I didnt burn too many bridges. But if nothing turns up, then it was never meant to be and I will just push forward....honestly, I also miss my friends at work and the work itself. 99% of the people in Seminary are working full time so it is very common.

So that is it for now. Two more books arrived from Amazon today on how to write research and essay papers so I have to get cracking on those and figure out what the heck a "Turibain Format" is because that is how I have to write it. BTW: My research paper for NT1 is basically on any subject in the NT I want to pursue (ie. Paul's "suffering", or a parable, or a specific teaching)....I am thinking about subject matter now. Let you know on what I decide.

Take Care


Friday, October 3, 2008

2nd Class....

I attended my second class last night - New Testament 1 (The Gospels). It is being taught by a woman that is just finishing her PhD...she is doing her thesis on the book of Romans and also is an expert on Roman culture and politics. She is from Switzerland and she is extremely interesting.

We are starting the class with just a deep review on Roman culture, politics, leaders, religion etc. She is trying to give us a strong basis for the entire climate of when Christianity first started and what I learned last night that was pretty thought provoking was that Christianity quite honestly fit very well within Roman culture and thought process. I always though Christianity was revolutionary to Roman thought and doctrine, but I could see why Christianity really took off with the Romans. As I learned last night that Roman religious evolution went from many different Gods to the idea (actually the philosophers helped us here) that perhaps all these Gods literally came from one God. Also, the people of Rome were hungry for a personal relationship with God that was lacking from the "many Gods" theory....the Stoics philosphy also helped propel this idea forward as people because to be self aware and self examining. All pretty fascinating.

It is interesting to me to see how different my two professors are in their approach. My NTII professor is very deep and interesting to listen to, but he is all lecture. I really dont have a sense of where this class is going or the requirements for passing because he isnt real detail oriented. He just comes in and goes and we are supposed to put 2+2 together and be prepared. Plus he is all lecture, all the time. My NT1 professor is extremely organized and I know exactly what is required each week. She has already given us all the handouts, we know when our tests are (each week) and what they are going to be on and while she lectures, she also really drives us to contribute and elaborate. Not saying one of the profs is better then the other, they are just really different.

But with both of them, there is just an insane amount of reading required. After class I spoke to my NT1 professor last night and just commented that I felt the amount of reading was counter to learning because you really cant retain all of that. She actually agreed with me and said that she is trying to streamline the reading but she felt that all academics get so used to reading and the pursuit of all knowledge that it becomes second nature to them and they forget the impact on their students and never really ask the question "are they getting the real meaning of what I am trying to say?"...I thought that was pretty astute....

I am going to read alittle bit today to get prepared for my Tuesday night class but am planning on taking some breather time today and tomorrow to just get away from it and pace myself. Dont get me wrong, it is incredibly interesting material and I am learning alot....

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I have been reading for about 5 hours now between yesterday and today and I am just now finishing for this week.....this reading is really interesting, but it is quite different then reading a novel. This reading really requires significant attention and about every 4 to 5 pages, I have to stop and really think about what the books are trying to tell me. It makes my brain hurt, but I guess I will get used to it.
The book on the left is where we are getting alot of our New Testament information from. The author takes you VERY deep and is somewhat hard to follow. Lots of new terms that I have never heard before so I have to stop every once in awhile and take out my Pocket Dictionary on biblical terms and figure out what the heck he is saying.
The book on the right is a theological dictionary and my professor gives us about 10 terms per week to look up. I thought that was pretty easy until I found that each term is about 5 pages long in definition! Take "Pentacost" for example. Sure it gives you the definition of Pentacost, but it also goes over narrative linkage, narrative shaping, characterization of spirit, intertextuality, historical issues, place, time miracle of language, Peter's speech, theological significance of Pentacost, Pentacost and Christ, Pentecost and the People of God, and finally Pentacost and mission! wow.
I learned the great benefits of Starbucks today. Now I see why you always see people studying in there. It just gets too boring at home...so today, I packed up my books and headed to Starbucks where I spent a couple of hours reading. For whatever reason, the white noise you find in Starbucks along with a cup of coffee makes it easier to read and retain the information. But the problem is that in my little town, I cant go 10 minutes without having somebody come in that I know and wants to know what I am up to....lol
I also ran into my first series of "study questions" today. Here is an example:
"Why is the re-telling of Moses story in Acts 7:17-44 iimportant for grasping the structure of Luke-Acts as a whole and what does it mean to say "Acts is the first and most important interpretation of Luke's gospel?"
Got to run. I have my first day of my other class tonight and I have to get ready to go to that....
I will let you all know how that class goes.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First class down....many more to go....

I just got done with my first class. 3 hours of pure lecture! But honestly, it was the most fascinating experience I have had in a long long time. I learned more in 3 hours then I have in 5 years of bible study. I honestly didnt want the class to end.

But a couple of things I did learn:

1. Laptop computers RULE! The last time I was in college, there was no such thing as a laptop - it was chicken scratch on paper back then. I was totally unprepared for all the students tapping away on their laptops taking notes during the class and the professor totally fine with it. I tried to take paper notes like I always have but that lasted literally 10 minutes and then I too was tapping away on my computer.

2. Taking notes on a computer takes some skill. I took 3 hours of notes on my computer and they were all disorganized and unformatted and then I looked at the lady in front of me and her notes were perfectly outlined and readable. I was seeing how a "real" student does it. She showed me how to put Word into "outline" form and now I too will have real, easy to read, notes.

3. I am OLD! I was at Northwest University today in Kirkland and I swear that all the kids around me were in 9th grade when in reality they are probably Juniors in college. I am ancient compared to these kids lol. I have never felt as old as I did today.

But like I said, the class was amazing and I survived. I took about 6 full pages of notes so I think I got it all down. We studied the biblical books of Luke and Acts in incredible detail. We spent the majority of our time on Luke and Paul and I was shown not only what they were trying to say in these books but how it related to the culture, the politics, the Romans, Jews and Gentiles of that time. What really struck me was just how many references Luke and Paul used to the Old Testament books (that were written thousands of years before) to show the difference between the "Old Covenant" (the Law) and the "New Covenant" (Jesus does away with the Law) and how that affected the Jews. Let me just tell you that it is fascinating.

So one class down and many many more to go, but I am off to a good start. Probably the best news is that I really like it and know that I can hang in there. Also, I know this is where I am supposed to be and that means more to me then anything.

Off to School....

Well, the first day of school is here and I am CRAZY nervous. Absolutely petrified. I go to Northwest University for my Tuesday class and to Tacoma for my Thursday class. I am too old for this lol....

Here is a couple of pictures of me on my first day of class....the first is just some of the 22 books that I need to read for these two classes. My educational counselor told me that there is more reading in a Theology degree then there is in a Law degree!

Did I mention that I am nervous? lol...its been a long time since I have been in a classroom.

Decisions, Decisions, Descisons....

As many of you know, I made the decision to go back to school and change my entire life's pursuit about a year ago. After much prayer and thought, I felt I was being led out of the business world and into some form of Christian ministry so I enrolled in Fuller University (www.fuller.edu) for a Master's of Theology with no idea at all on what I would do after school is finished. I am thinking of expanding my role in the Drug Rehab center where I currently volunteer, or maybe go into Christian Apologetics (which very much interest me) or maybe even do something with my church (http://www.newliferenton.com/) as my Pastor has been great in introducing me to some possibilities. But who knows? I still have two long years of school in front of me.

I decided to tackle (2) classes in my first semester; New Testament 1 (The Gospels) and New Testament II (Acts-Revelation) and my classes start on Sept 30th. But in the last week, I have really been challenged because several different jobs have come available to me back in my old industry and with the recent market conditions, I just wondered "should I put off school for a year and go back to work?"....so, right when I was going to start school I got hit with a ton of indecision, insecurities and worry...but I fought through them and made the decision to continue on with my original plan and just leave everything up to the Lord to figure out...and He delivered in spades and have calmed me down and shown me that I am going down the right path....

So, off to school I go....