Monday, August 20, 2012

My MRE is Finished!


Yesterday afternoon I sat down and took the last final exam in my Master of Religious Education program at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (LBTS) of Liberty University.  My last term paper already submitted the previous evening; it was time to conclude my studies of the last 3 ½ years and turn my sights towards the future.  I am pleased to say I finished strong with a grade of 100% on that exam.

What can I say of my time studying for this latest milestone?  Twenty classes later, dozens and dozens of books, journal articles, and (at times) interesting websites later, what have I learned?  Well, quite a lot actually!  I cannot imagine anyone spending this much time in study and not only learning a great deal but also not being changed profoundly by the experience.  I certainly have in both respects.

First and foremost, no man is an island!  To say that I could not have completed this program without the support of my wife and children would likely be the greatest understatement ever.  With many long nights in study or writing or taking a test, etc. now behind me, it is easy to see just how much they supported this effort.  Their love and constant support deserve more than mere words can convey.  For now, I will simply say “thank you!”

As one might expect, I have learned that there is a great deal more to knowing the Bible than one might expect sitting in Sunday School/small group meetings.  Biblical theology, systematic theology, hermeneutics, exegesis, the impact of Scripture on worldview, and on and on all play a part.  My point?  The level of education the ministers in many churches possess has likely never been any greater than it is at this point in history.  That is not to say education is the end all be all for Christian service but it sure doesn’t hurt!  Many churches are blessed to have ministers on staff with as much (if not more) formal education as the medical doctors and attorneys in their pews (yes folks...doctors and lawyers go to church too!).  Take advantage of this blessing!

It is amazing what some people think they know about what the Bible says about particular topics as compared to what it actually says.  This goes for both church members and people who do not attend church.  It is actually staggering that some people, well meaning, educated people want to argue about what Scripture actually says without referring to Scripture.  I find it equally staggering that many of those same people simply will not listen when the truth is spoken.  During a class discussion I mentioned this and was reminded of 1 Corinthians 2:14.  The Bible is spiritually discerned and apart from the Holy Spirit is foolishness to those who read them.  Given this truth there is little wonder so many people have such little interest in what the Bible has to say.

There are so many people in need right here in our own communities that every member of every church should have no problem finding a place of service.  Indeed the harvest is great but the laborers are few (Luke 10:2).  Something to think about: when was the last time you took advantage of an opportunity to intentionally serve another in a context outside of your normal day-to-day activities?  Think about it!

Finally, life is challenging alone.  Even with the support of my family, seminary was more challenging when we were not plugged in to a small group and it was easier when we were.  I cherish the group of people in our small group!  People are made to be in community with each other, not isolated from the rest of the world.  If you are not part of a Sunday School class or small group (depending on how your church does this) then I urge you to consider it.  I can assure you of this: you will be blessed by the experience.  Also, you may be a blessing to others!

As always, I am grateful for the support of my readers from across the United States and around the world (ain’t the internet amazing!).  I covet your prayers more than you can possibly know!  Please continue to pray for me and my family as I consider doctoral studies (my bride has already begun a doctoral program).  I just might have one more degree in me...

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