Sometimes it seems like at the seminary it’s just the same ol’, same ol’ since I’ve been teaching the same classes for at least eight years. On the other hand, there are always new students and that’s what makes everything new every year. Along with new students, this year I’m hoping to do some new publishing, new coaching, new service for the denomination, and we’re hoping new partners will join our team.
Today (Feb 3) we started our spring semester. The spring semester is my favorit because I teach The Hebrew Bible: Background and Literary Introduction. This is the class where I feel I have my biggest opportunity to impact the kingdom.
For a lot of people, the Old Testament is outdated and unimportant for our New Testament faith. In the extreme, some think we should stop reading and teaching it. But even people who believe the whole Bible is God’s word find the Old Testament difficult to understand and even more difficult to apply to life.
Many New Testament authors, if not all, shared those struggles until things suddenly clicked. At least that’s the impression you get from reading the Gospels. The same people that didn’t understand Jesus had to go to the cross wrote books proving that the Messiah had to be crucified to fulfill Old Testament prophecies.
The point is, once Mark or Matthew or Luke started writing what we now have in the New Testament, they couldn’t help but look at Jesus and see him as the fulfillment of everything the Old Testament longed for. In fact, the reason they wrote was to prove just that. They wanted people to know that this new and unexpected thing Jesus did was exactly what the Messiah was supposed to do, even though no one saw it coming.
The Old Testament is full of surprises because it’s full of Jesus in ways we aren’t always able to see. In a very real way we need to understand the Old Testament in order to appreciate the richness of the New Testament. Instead of throwing away or unhitching the Old Testament, we need to recover it, and understand it. When we do that, we are amazed at how awesome our God is and how awesome his plan of salvation is, and always has been. Opening students’ eyes to all of Scripture is what my Hebrew Bible class is all about. I often witness my students’ eyes being opened to the wonder of all of Scripture and that’s why I love teaching that class.
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.Psalm 119:18
The Creation Articles: My Most Anticipated 2020 Deliverable!
I’m now a couple of years late on getting two articles out that I’ve been working on for the Creation Project that I was a part of in 2016.
In these articles I’m trying to deal with the creation account in Scripture as a historical account in a literary text. But this raises a problem. Literary texts use literary structures and figurative language. If a literary text imposes a structure on history or paints a figurative picture of history, then how can it also give a faithful account of history? And how do I know when the text speaks figuratively about reality and when it speaks in a straightforward way about reality? In other words, are the days in Genesis 24 hour days, or figurative days?
If you’re curious, I’m writing about this in my series of articles, The Evangelical’s Creation Conundrum. If you’re interested but want to get straight to the point, then you’ll want to read the most popular article in this series, The Structural Symmetry of the Six Days of Creation.
Last year was a great year for the expansion of my ministry to local churches throughout Slovakia. I’m hoping that will continue into 2020 and so far it looks like it will. I’ve been asked (and I accepted and have been approved) to come on board the Theological Committee for our denomination. That committee is responsible for theological issues in the denomination as well as ordination and theological/professional preparation for new pastors. This is something close to my heart and I’m very encouraged by advances our churches are making toward healthy teaching and pastors that are more skilled at preaching and teaching.
Theological Coaching and the Multiplication Principle
One of my highlights from last year was meeting with a young pastor (Bohuš) and future church planter to coach him in biblical theological issues while he was in preparation for ordination.
Well, Bohuš felt like he gained a lot from those meetings and he recommended that I meet with some others that he felt could benefit from this kind of coaching. At first, nothing really came from that but a month ago I met with Dávid. Dávid is currently working with Child Evangelism and has been doing a lot of self study in theology. He’s been wanting to take that even deeper and so we’ll be meeting every other week through June. We’ll be learning to read Scripture better, using a hybrid of material from my lectures at the seminary and my local church teaching on The Bible’s Through Trail.
At the end of our first meeting, Dávid mentioned that he also knows some of some others that might be interested in this kind of study and asked if I would mind of some others joined us in our meetings. Well, pretty soon he had sent me a list of 14 people with serious interest. That’s 14 people in two groups. One is a group of men like Dávid who are pretty far along in their study of Scripture and the other group is college students that Dávid has been discipling.
I’m really excited about this ministry opportunity and would appreciate your prayers for these men. Almost two years ago I wrote up an article Is This a Movement? Church Planting Push in Slovakia Gains Traction. It turns out that this kind of “side ministry” or coaching with these men is one of the most strategic aspects of my ministry in Slovakia. As I teach these men to be more skilled at reading, living and teaching Scripture, God’s kingdom is multiplied throughout Slovakia.
More Partners for our Support Team
Every since I started on my path to serve the Lord in Slovakia we have been blessed with a great team of ministry partners and supporters. We have never been short of funds for ministry and we have faithful people that pray for us and Slovakia. As time goes on, we do need to add some fortifications to our team in order to continue in faithful service to the church in Slovakia. For the last few years our ministry expenses have surpassed our monthly giving and it’s only been through special gifts that we’ve been able to continue in Slovakia without making unplanned visits to the States to raise support. We’ll be coming to the States on home assignment this year and we’ll need to focus on finding new support.
Please keep this in mind as you pray for us.
Along with your prayers you can help in other ways as well. Do you know of a church or pastor or individual that is interested in theological education, Christian education as an outreach ministry, church planting, Europe, Slovakia…? Please share our ministry with them.
Do you know of a small group or Sunday school that is interested in learning more about reading the Bible? Let them know about my ministry and send them my contact info. I would love to visit their small group or Sunday school if they would be interested. I’ve found that many of our supporters gained an interest in our ministry after hearing me teach or preach.
If you find an article on our web site interesting, you can share the link with someone that might share that interest.
Just by keeping us in mind in these small ways can be a great help for us.