Professor for a Week

A couple weeks ago I was emailing with Dr. Schmutzer from Moody about an essay he had written, and as we were interacting on some theological points, he threw out this generous invitation:

Before I forget, would you like to teach my Genesis, Psalms, 1 Samuel, or Hebrew Reading for a week? I know you’ve never been busier, but I wanted to ask.

Every year Dr. Schmutzer and thousands of other scholars and professors meet for a week with the Evangelical Theological Society. Usually this means that a week of classes has to be cancelled, but not if you can find someone to sub for you! So while Dr. Schmutzer got on a plane to San Diego for a week of fellowship and scholarship, I got to drive back down to my alma mater and return to the classroom.

I felt super honored to have been asked. I got to do some teaching for him last year when I was his Teaching Assistant, and it’s really a little surreal. Last year my brother Caleb was taking a class on the Psalms, and he snapped this picture while we were talking about the Songs of Zion, a collection in the Psalter.

psalms

This year was just as exciting as I got to teach 6 classes. It was a ton of work to prepare for, and I was exhausted at the end of it, but teaching was a blast. Whenever I have the opportunity to teach on the Old Testament, it confirms that this is what I want to do with my life. I love digging deep and highlighting the theology in the text, allowing it to illuminate our understanding of God.

I was really impressed with the caliber of the students and their grasp of the text, which made for some fantastic discussion. Caleb is taking “Biblical Theology of 1 Samuel” this semester, so he was in my class again this year! He even had a presentation on a passage, and he made me a very proud brother as he engaged with Scripture with such depth and conviction.

photo (3)

My favorite class to teach always ends up being Genesis. I was so formed in that class as a Junior at Moody, and the text is just incredibly foundational to theology and God’s Story. The students in this class have spent the first 3 months working through Genesis 12-50, and now that they have acquired the proper reading skills, they are going back to the beginning and reading Genesis 1-11. I had the privilege of teaching Genesis chapter 2: God’s creation of man and woman. In this text God is portrayed as Gardener, Craftsman, and Builder in order to complement the transcendent and all-powerful God of chapter 1. God gets his hands dirty as he plants a garden, forms man, and builds woman. From the beginning, humanity is placed, given a vocation, and expected to share in God’s work. It’s a beautiful passage that shapes so much of our understanding of God’s character and our own purpose for life.

I’m so thankful for opportunities like this to grow as a teacher. And I am especially thankful for Dr. Schmutzer, who continues to invest and believe in me, allowing me to practice being a professor for a week!

Advertisements

Receiving God’s Strength

Last Tuesday I was talking to a friend named Dan about how busy the next couple weeks will be. It is all really exciting things, but it was starting to feel a little overwhelming. I get to teach some classes at Moody next week, I’m doing a Scripture recitation at church, I have a lot of Hebrew homework to catch up on, there is lots of reading I need to stay on top of, and finally I was working on a sermon for my Hermeneutics class. This is on top of a full-time job and responsibilities as a husband.

Dan asked what my upcoming sermon was about. “It’s on Isaiah 40:27-31,” I said. “It’s about God’s sovereignty and receiving his strength in the midst of trials.” Dan replied, “It sounds like you need to use this sermon preparation as a devotional exercise. Apply what you are learning through this class assignment.”

I am thankful for the men God has placed in my life to give me the right perspective. God spoke through Dan’s simple exhortation that afternoon. I approached the sermon preparation completely differently when I was asking God to convict me before I was to try and preach Scripture to others.

Image-1

What I learned in Isaiah 40 is that indeed, there will be times where we will feel hopeless and powerless. We will feel like victims. We will feel inadequate. It is easy in those moments to cry out to God, “Don’t you even care? Can you even see what I’m going through?”

Isaiah points us back to the magnificent power and sovereignty of God.

40:28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.

Our understanding of who God is (=theology) gives us a firm foundation to stand upon when trials come. When the waters of life are up to our neck, the unchanging character of God is our relief. The mind-blowing thing is that God does not exist with all these great qualities in isolation. No, he has freely chosen to enter into covenant with us and extends his very resources to us who are weak.

29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Aligning ourselves to God in hopeful expectation allows us to draw on God’s very own strength. Even the most qualified individuals will fail. But another reality is possible. Once God’s power is received, the most amazing things happen. Such men and women will be able to endure and flourish in all spheres of life. These people will have sufficient strength to face whatever is necessary to endure: if flight, then wings; if running, then stamina; if walking, then endurance.

This week I am reminded of the necessity to root myself in the character of God as revealed in Scripture. This is a good reminder of why I am studying at Trinity. I have been called to study his Word to the best of my ability, so that I may know God better, and be able to serve him more faithfully. But as I study to teach, or learn Hebrew vocabulary, or make lattes at Intelligentsia, may I never forget that it is the Lord’s strength that must sustain me.

Let’s all make sure our foundation is secure in the character of God — one with limitless power and resources, yet who extends his very own strength to the weak. 

Celebrating in Tennessee

This past weekend Lara and I took a couple days off work in order to drive down to Tennessee. Before I met Lara, I didn’t even know where Tennessee was, but it has since become one of my favorite places in the world. Although I still experience culture shock (the South is very culturally unique!), there are few things as comforting as driving across rolling hills and into the valley where Chattanooga lies. After a good 14 hour drive, Lara and I found ourselves at the doorstep of her parents’ beautiful home.image

We were visiting to celebrate a very exciting occasion — Lara’s dad’s 50th birthday party! Despite all the old man jokes (and tombstone birthday cake!) he is full of youth and vigor!

image

It was such a fun time with the whole family, and we were so happy to celebrate him. He is an amazing husband, father, and father in-law, and I continue to learn so much from watching how he loves his family, his ministry at AMG, and the Lord. We love you! Happy 50th!!

image