Monday, May 24, 2010

Life Update - A.S. (after seminary)




On May 15th, I went through commencement at Denver Seminary. It was a very special service and I was challenged by President Mark Young's message from 2 Cor. 5:13-14. In the pictures above you can see my immediate family, then a pic of my mom, dad, and brother (Heeth), and then a picture with my great mother-in-law (Peg), her husband Pete (and my gifted, former employer), and Carrie's grandma Betty (a very special great grandma who came all the way from Conde, SD). It was great having them at the ceremony and around for the weekend festivities.

After graduation, Carrie and I with the boys spend a week at a cabin in Fairplay, CO (about 30 minutes south of Breckenridge). We went on a few hikes (hence the final picture); we went on a tour of an 1880s mining town (http://www.southparkcity.org/); and we also ate all kinds of good food at the cabin and at various restaurants. The goal was to rest and then reflect on the last 3 years of life (what went well/poorly/etc.) We made some goals for the coming year. And we created a Rule of Life to be implemented now and in the coming year.

And now what's next? (at least that's the million dollar question)

Answer: "We're not sure." We move back to IA next week to live with Carrie's dad in Hiawatha, IA. Then, we await God's final direction for our family. We have had some good conversations and interviews and we have a sense where the Lord is leading. We pray, hope, and sense, Lord willing, a church will call me to be their pastor this summer. I'd love to give you all the juicy details, but instead, I will wait until the Lord reveals His plans in His time. Please pray for final confirmation and for His continued peace in our lives (Isa. 26:3).



Currently Reading (if you were wondering what people read when they graduate from seminary):

Institutes of the Christian Religion  by John Calvin

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Top Ten Books Read Outside of Class During Seminary

TOP TEN BOOKS READ, BUT NOT ASSIGNED, DURING MY TIME AT DENVER SEMINARY (in no particular order):

1. Preaching & Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: this is, in my opinion, still the best preaching book on the market. It gets to both the form and foundation of preaching.
2. Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin: a short business book that takes the practices of the greatest people in their field (Mozart, Tiger Woods, etc.) and shows us that hard work is what pays (not necessarily inborn talent).
3. Emotionally Healthy Church, The by Peter Scazzero: I reread this book just a few weeks ago and I think it is a must-read for every pastor and volunteer Christian leader.
4. Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald: I recommend most of Gordon's books, but I really enjoyed this early book. I especially liked the breakfast we had with Dr. MacDonald when we had finished the book so we could ask questions and process his professional life.
5. Charles Simeon of Cambridge A Biography by Hugh Evan Hopkins: I loved this biography. It demonstrates the importance of faithfulness in the pulpit and faithfulness in disciple-making. This lifelong bachelor, by God's grace and Spirit, changed England, one life at a time.
6. Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church by Michael Horton: if you have ever felt the church can become a watered-down version of the true Gospel, Horton offers the antidote.
7. The Complete Novels of Jane Austen (Wordsworth Library Collection) I read aloud quite a bit of Jane Austen while in seminary with my wife. We watched several movie adaptations to boot. Jane Austen is probably one of the greatest writers of the English language. I commend all her works, especially if you read her aloud.
8. A Little Exercise for Young Theologians by Helmust Thielicke: I read this after my first semester of seminary. It was later assigned, but I had read it before it had been assigned. This is a must-read for any person who considers themselves a lover of theology.
9. Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry by John Piper: the best modern day description on what it means to be a pastor in the 21st century.
10. Christian Theology, by A. Clarke, Selected from His Writings, with a Life of the Author by S. Dunn by Adam Clarke: thought I disagree with some of Adam Clarke's conclusions, I believe his section on the doctrine of God may be some of the best material ever written.

Seminary is done - What books to recommend?

I finished all the work related to my Master's of Divinity for Denver Seminary yesterday May 12. Now, all I have is to wait for commencement this coming Saturday May 15th. As I reflect on my time in seminary, I thought I would post a few book recommendations. First the top 10 assigned books, and then a second top 10 list of books read, but not assigned, during my time in seminary.

TOP TEN BOOKS ASSIGNED IN THE COMPLETION OF MY M.DIV DEGREE FROM DENVER SEMINARY (in no particular order):

1. Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by R. Kent and Barbara Hughes: a book that challenged me to be faithful, and trust any measure of success to come from God.
2. Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, Second Edition by Craig L. Blomberg: a superb introduction to New Testament studies! The best part of it all is I took the class with Dr. Blomberg and not only enjoyed his teaching, but his personality and passion for the Lord.

3. Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry by Ruth Haley Barton: a simple book on how to make sure your walk with Christ is central to your ministry for Christ.
4. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman: a classic treatise on the dangers of living in a TV-image-driven, post-literary world.
5. Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice: Experiments in Spiritual Transformation by Dallas Willard: a book on what it really means to grow into Christ-likeness. This was another class in which i had the privilege of being taught by the author.
6. The Epistle to the Romans (New International Commentary on the New Testament) by Douglas J. Moo: probably one of the best treatise of the greatest epistle ever written.
7. The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal, Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force .... by Rodney Stark: a fascinating sociological explanation on why Christianity was able to influence the pagan Roman Empire in deep and profound ways. It is also my opinion that the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ has the same potential today.
8. In The Shadow of Fame: A Memoir by the Daughter of Erik H. Erikson by Sue Erickson Bloland: written by the daughter of the fame pscyhologist Erik Erikson, Bloland shows the dangerous effects of fame in a home. This is a must-read for every pastor in ministry.
9. Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George: a great history and theological guide to, in my opinion, the greatest centuries in Christian history since the Apostles walked the earth.
10. Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life by John Calvin: This short little book has a powerful punch on what it means to walk with Jesus in one's everyday life.