The past several weeks have been quite full, which is an echo of the past few months. I asked Cindi if she thought it was worth the time to give a personal update since I wasn’t planning on writing on a particular topic. She said it was, so here I am.
On Friday I finished a 45-page paper entitled “The Internal Testimony of the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:16” for my Seminar in Pneumatology class. In Romans 8:16 Paul says, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” I present the paper in class tomorrow followed by anything from a casual discussion to a grilling, depending on what my classmates think of my research and conclusions and what they want to ask me. Here’s the last paragraph of the paper (which will make more sense if you carefully compare Galatians 4:6-7 and Romans 8:15-16):
The internal testimony of the Holy Spirit is the simultaneous testimony of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the human spirit heard in the adopted child’s instinctive cry of “Abba! Father!” It is a recurring expression that issues from deep within the redeemed soul, providing constant subjective assurance that the believer is indeed a child of God.
In other academic news, The Master’s Seminary just knocked two elective classes off the Th.M. requirements, which means that I have two less classes to take between now and the summer when I’m hoping to finish the degree. This will make the spring semester and summer less busy (or equally busy with other things), which I’m excited about. It also may give me the opportunity to sit in on a class or two (either at TMC or TMS) without doing all the homework, which I’ve wanted to do but have never had time for.
Tomorrow I’ll be starting a two-week blitz researching and writing a paper on Jonathan Edwards’ conception of the Trinity, focusing especially on his view of the essence of the Holy Spirit. I’m glad my professor doesn’t read this blog (watch him show up in the comments).
The past few days have been a good time of catching up with old friends. Todd Bolen spent the night Saturday night, Kent Dresdow preached at church Sunday night and in chapel Monday morning and we spent some time together this afternoon, and Eric Zeller will stop by tomorrow before heading down to the ETS gathering in San Diego. It’s strange to be 26 but already old enough to have friends and partners in ministry. I assume the bonds only grow sweeter, though I know from experience that a few of them break tragically.
This semester has been unique in several ways. I won’t mention them all, but at least one is the piercing and above-average sense of frustration (euphemism) I feel with more than a few insipid characteristics of the conservative evangelical community. This has almost eaten me alive at some points this semester and has spun me in a variety of directions especially as I think about our future. Often my thoughts have reflected the heart of the arrogant, hypocritical, stone-throwing critic, but I’m holding out hope that the Lord will use the conviction that’s weighing heavy on my heart to stir up the pure passion of the righteous, zealous, Spirit-filled prophet. It wouldn’t be right or safe to say much more at this point. I think I could articulate my thoughts with clarity, but the grace, gentleness, and balance might be a bit elusive. So I need to wait. Suffice it to say that the conviction currently being assembled in my heart will probably end up serving as the foundation for upcoming life decisions that may be different than what I previously expected. Or maybe the same decisions saturated with different values. Either way, the Spirit is painting a clear picture in my mind of the person I don’t want to be. I think I will be thankful for this once the paint dries, and hopefully even before then.
On a simpler and happier note, I was going to post a video of Judah at least for our good friend Cheryl Robinson who apparently checks in semi-religiously to see if I’ve added any new videos of Judah recently. But it’s taking a long time to upload and Tuesday mornings don’t start late for me, so it’ll have to wait. Frankly, Judah does so many ridiculously funny and cute things that we can barely video them all much less upload and post them. Plus, posting them all would mean turning this blog into a Judah-video outlet, which, while fun, wasn’t the original purpose. Anyway, there’s at least one pretty great video on the way, Lord-willing. I’m not exaggerating when I say that he’s the happiest and funniest child I’ve ever seen.
Perhaps I should end with something I read last night in Malachi (which, by the way, reminded me once again of the massive difference between wanting to read something and having to read something). Here’s what God says, for those of you who don’t skip Bible verses in blogposts: “But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts (Malachi 1:8). That’s a horrifying picture — some Israelite perusing his flock and hand-picking his one blind, crippled sheep to offer as a sacrifice because it’s no good for anything else. The only thing more horrifying is the fact that we do the same thing today, don’t even know it, and don’t even care to know it. I’ve offered a whole lot of blind sheep to God in the past, and I’m hoping to change that. God doesn’t want your leftovers.