Last year had its share of big events with my first book coming out in March and moving to a new home in June. This year I’m looking forward to lots of new teaching and research opportunities.
We’ve Moved In to Our New Home
On June 16 of last year we moved in to our new home just a few kilometers outside of Banská Bystrica. It’s not a big house (~1100 sq feet) but it’s about twice as big as our apartment. That finally gives us room to have guests and we’ve been enjoying hosting friends and small group.
Even though we’ve moved we are still using our old address. Keep your eyes open for a change of address sometime this year.
The Big Ministry Milestone
The big milestone for me this year was my first book coming out in March. It was kind of a special feeling to see it on the bookshelves at the conference in Denver this year.
There were other highlights as well. I’ve started teaching a course called The Bible’s Scenic Trail (the name sounds better in Slovak). I’ve had the opportunity to teach this in various forms. I do once a month meetings in our local church and I teach something similar at a local church near Bratislava. In March I’ll also do a one hour seminar at a conference for evangelicals throughout Slovakia.
It’s encouraging to see these invitations increase. This helps me fulfill my calling of helping the church to better read and apply Scripture to everyday life. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continually improve the course. Please pray for a positive impact on the individuals that participate in the courses and especially on the church.
Teaching at the Seminary
I still enjoy teaching at the seminary and continue to teach my catalog of courses including Hebrew (three semesters), Intro to the Hebrew Bible, Theological English, Exegesis of Proverbs and Genesis, and Advanced Hebrew Reading Skills.
This last year I had a perfect storm of Hebrew students. Our seminary is very small with only about ten students per class. Last year I had three gifted students that showed a deep love for Scripture, especially the Old Testament. All three signed up for my Exegesis of Proverbs and Advanced Hebrew Reading Skills electives. It was a thrill watching these students grow in their ability to rightly handle God’s word. This year I’ll be working with two of them as I supervise their Master’s theses.
Of course, not everyone shows so much aptitude or even interest in the Old Testament so for me, the most important class I teach is the Intro to the Hebrew Bible course. That’s where I have the opportunity to open student’s eyes to the wonder of God’s word.
Please pray as we at the seminary strive to prepare the next generation of church leaders for ministry in God’s kingdom.
The Joys and Pressure of Research
Since our seminary is a part of the state university system in Slovakia, where the competition for funds is intense and accreditation carries strict requirements, the pressure to put out research in top publications (especially journals) is intense.
For me that means pressure to advance to the next level (~full professor) by 2022 and to do that I have a list of criteria to fulfill. The list includes, for example, 20 articles, 10 papers at conferences, 30 quotations, 1 monograph, etc. In some areas I’m well on my way, in other areas I have far to go. In some areas (quotations), I just don’t have much direct influence–I can’t force anyone to quote my work, especially when there’s not much out there.
But it’s not all pressure. I do enjoy the research and I think it’s an important ministry for the church, even if the average lay person or pastor may not see the immediate effects.
Of course last year’s highlight was having my book published. Now I’m waiting to see what reviewers will say. That will give me some important feedback and help me hone my work in Genesis.
This year I’m finishing up two articles left over from the creation project. These articles deal with the issue of the Bible as both a work of history and a work of literature. Basically, the question is: How can the Bible be a work of literature and still give faithful account of what happened in history? I think this is an important and interesting topic. It’s certainly difficult as I am finding myself way outside my comfort zone and deep in the philosophy of history.
How can the Bible, as a work of literature, offer a faithful account of historical events?
Another highlight from last year was receiving an invitation to give a paper at this year’s theological conference in San Diego in November. I’ve been asked to present an argument for the coherence of the two creation accounts in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. This is just my second invited lecture so it’s also a pretty big milestone for me.
I appreciate your prayers for wisdom as I tackle some of these hard issues. My desire is that my research benefit the church so that God’s people can confidently read and apply Scripture to every day life.