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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Back to School: A New Perspective

Seven months after graduating college, I’m back in class. By my free will.

But this isn’t college. It isn’t cooking basics. It isn’t road rage control. No, this class meets at a church and is all about Christian missions. It’s a class that started about 40 years ago and has spread around the world. I will let the class introduce itself with its own promo video:

If you didn’t catch all that (or just skipped the video), Perspectives on the World Christian Movement is a 15-week course with 15 speakers and a whole lot of reading. The Perspectives reader weighs more than most of my college textbooks. It includes 136 articles or essays by Christian leaders around the world. The class also uses a study guide alongside the reader to keep students on track with the reading and lectures.

Since college still feels like yesterday, I decided to opt out of the certificate and credit options for the class registration. I instead signed up for the lowest level of commitment, otherwise know as “key reading.” Of course, I still plan on attending each week’s lecture and keeping up on the reading, but key reading students are not required to read as much, submit lesson reviews, take exams, or create a final project. Key reading students do not receive grades. In other words, I felt lazy.

I look forward to seeing where this class goes, though. From the first, I’ve heard only good things from all corners to recommend the class. Overall, everyone told me this class will change my perspective on the world–and ultimately, it will change my life. So I already had high expectations by the time I showed up for the first lecture last night.

The church hosting the weekly class is on the outskirts of town and is the closest I’ve ever seen to a mega-church. The building looks more like a conference center than a place for worship. Walking inside, I found 40 to 50 people milling around before the start of class. A woman found my registration and directed me to the book table, where a man stocked me with the reader and study guide before sending me on to have my photo taken. Once I made it into the classroom, I realized the class offers dinner. Students were roaming along the tables laden with crock pots, vegetable trays, and plastic boxes of store-bought cookies. I grabbed some apple slices and a chocolate chip cookie and chose my seat.

The three-hour class introduced the course, covered the beginning of God’s story in Genesis, gave time to meet other students in small groups, and instilled in me an eager excitement to begin my reading and go to class next week. Our hilarious first speaker asked us why we chose to take the class and what is our motivation to finish. I chose this class to continue learning about God and his plans. More specifically, I hope God will speak to me through this class, saying what his plans are for me.

It’s already obvious that this class will impact my life and the way I think, although I’m not sure yet in what ways. Who knows who I will be by the end of 15 weeks? Only God.

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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Other thoughts

 

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The One-Year Anniversary

Happy anniversary!

Dear readers, what started out as a three-week, required class project has turned into a one-year old blog. Thank you if you are one of the few who have been with me from the beginning. Knowing that you were there to see each new post motivated me to keep sharing my thoughts with you and the rest of the world. More importantly, this blog has spurred me on in studying the Bible, reading Christian-themed books, and reflecting on my faith.

The last year impacted me in many ways, and as a friend recently told me, the coming months look to hold more “formative” moments. I feel as if I stand on the brink of a freefall. When I lose my balance and tip over the edge, I will have to trust that God will either bless me with wings or be there at the bottom to catch me. The changes, as well as challenges, ahead resonate in my bones like the sense animals feel of a coming storm. I tense for the impact without knowing what to expect.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Ecclesiastes because of its strangely contrasting tone of voice next to other books of the Bible. Most of the book sounds like the author, King Solomon, is depressed. He talks about how everything in life is useless, because everyone dies eventually and everything is destroyed. He leaves little hope. Yet, one passage from chapter 3 is well-known and often quoted:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

There’s no divining the future. All we can do is wait to see what the present brings. It’s ridiculous to think we could do anything better. Who can comprehend the thoughts and plans of God? The finite cannot hold the infinite. So we must trust and listen.

My own plans can fall at any moment like a pyramid of cards, because my “times” do not always match God’s. I may think it is the time or season for something, but planning is best left to God’s omniscience. I do not know what God has planned for me. I do not know where he may lead me next or what he may tell me to do. The best I can do is be ready and listening when he calls. 

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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Other thoughts

 

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