Lessons from My First Semester

by on February 13, 2009

paulSemester 1 Stats:

  • Less than 4 months (Sept-Dec)
  • Pages of papers written: 114
  • Pages of notes taken: 154
  • Pages read: about 1,900 (+/-100)

Total pages written: 268 (I produced just over 13% of what I consumed)

Ending GPA: 3.2

Wow. That first semester. Semester 2 began here recently and I’m both excited and hesitant. Last semester gave me wrestlings and questions I never knew were there. It showed me depths and complexities of my own sin I never knew resided in my heart. I never knew just how undisciplined I am. It seems that the greater the work load, the more things I use to distract myself from doing it. The TV website hulu (that had that great Super Bowl commercial) consumed more hours of my life than did Greek or reading. I think I tripled how many shows I kept up with. It’s embarrassing and difficult for me to admit that, but it’s true. My Bible reading withered down to a few chapters a week. I didn’t get to spend time with anyone from my church. I questioned my place at the church, attempting to leave a few times before God exposed my pride and youthful arrogance and called me to submit to the place he had called me to. I realized I am self-willed, addicted to control and self-pleasure, and unwilling to properly steward the relationships and opportunities God places in my life.

In short: my first semester was the most amazing 4 months of my life.

I just want to use the rest of this post to list out the main take-aways I got from this first semester in seminary. If this is what just one semester does to me, I have no idea what 6 or 7 more will do. This is going to be an incredible experience. So I hope these lessons and wrestlings find a place in all your hearts as just one sojourner’s path down this bloody, uphill, broken, tear-stained, cross-bearing road called the Christian stumble.

  • My biggest take-away all semester: I am a weak and finite man wholly dependent on the grace of God for anything good within him.
  • The substance of this Christian life is one of God using people, circumstances, and His Spirit to show you the depths of your own weakness and sin, that you might see His love and faithfulness toward you to a greater degree and that this might lead you to worship and rest in Him more.
  • The entire logic and reason behind the whole of the Christian faith is ultimately circular, just like everyone else’s epistemology. But circular logic is okay, as long as you’re in the right circle.
  • God has so structured this “Christianity” thing such that it would all depend wholly on faith. Ultimately we believe in God because we do. Any reason other that that makes that the authority our faith is resting upon. This faith is messy. Our canon development, textual criticism, historiography, and even our very knowledge of God rests ultimately on our faith in Him, and not on any external standard or rule of truth.
  • I am more sinful than I ever dared imagined, but more loved than I could ever dare hope.
  • Due to the curse of God on this earth because of Adam, everything will war against me being the man God has called me to be.
  • God has given me the opportunities, things, and relationships in my life not to feed my lusts and insecurities, but rather for me to properly steward and enjoy them as God has providentially led them to be right now.
  • Sanctification is a crawl; it is no super-highway. It is progressive and rarely happens in spurts. I have waited too long for “the perfect sermon”, “the perfect song”, or “the perfect Bible verse” to change me rather than resting on and in the perfect righteousness of my Savior.
  • The imputation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ to His believers is my favorite and most precious doctrine of the Christian faith. Clothing His sin-stained Bride in the robe of His own life is the foundation of my acceptance and rest in the arms of my Lover.
  • Right theology must lead to both right practice and worship for it to be true Orthodoxy. Anyone studying the Bible who is not stirred at the affectional level is not doing theology, they are merely studying literature.

Semester 2 has come with me not as prepared for Greek as I should be, but with a fire in my bones and a grace upon my heart to find the discipline and time management to fully take advantage of all this semester has to offer. If you get this far down this post, please pray for me, that I might remain conscious of my finitude and weakness, trusting alone in all my Savior has accomplished on my behalf that I might freely enjoy Him and every nuance of who He is.

Grace and peace. (oh the beauty of those words!)

About

Frequenting the coffee shops of Philadelphia while employed in social work and finishing up a Masters of Divinity from the Newbigin House of Studies at Western Theological Seminary. He serves Liberti Church as a deacon and seminary intern. Paul blogs at the long way home and tweets as @PaulBurkhart_.

Comments

I love this, and thanks for sharring your journey! How Exciting. I am in the application process right now, while I finish up my last undergrad class. Keep sharring, you’ve been added to my blog roll as well! Blessings Robin