The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Month: September, 2013

Letter #19: Fight Hard to Finish Well

Dear Jonathan,

Welcome to your final semester of seminary! You are almost there! The finish line is in sight! There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train! Praise the Lord for graduation day!

I bet thoughts such as these have been racing through mind lately. However…I feel I need to give you a warning. The excitement of your impending graduation won’t last long. I don’t mean to be a Debbie downer, but if you are anything like me…senior-itis is going to set in real bad, real quick!

Business Finish LineYou have to fight hard to finish well!

The road has been long and hard. You’re tired and feel like you deserve to be done, but don’t forget…seminary has never been about what you do or don’t deserve. You are not there for yourself, and so you are not finishing for yourself! You do it all for the glory of God and the good of his church.

Finish your classes well. You may have been saving a few “easy” courses for this final semester so that you can coast, or perhaps you just have fewer courses. No matter what, work just as hard as you always have. God is still equipping you through your courses and you need to pay attention.

Finish well with your profs. You have formed some great, lasting relationships… don’t check out of them! The way you interact with professors during your final semester is indicative of what your relationship will be like with them post-graduation. You are transitioning out of the professor-student relationship into that of friend and colleague…make the transition well.

Finish well with underclassmen. You may not know it, but there are so many students watching and listening to you right now. Those who are just beginning are taking cues from you the same way you did from upperclassmen just a few years ago. Set a good example and pass on what you have learned. Teach them why they are there and how they can get the most out of their time in seminary. You are the expert now…perhaps you need to write some letters of your own!

Finally, finish well with your friends. We have spoken many times about the sacredness of the friendships you have formed during seminary…don’t let them slip away. You are in the midst of applying for different ministry positions, some of your friends are planning weddings or having babies. It is easy for you all to forget about one another. Stay in the trenches together…now and always!

Jonathan, the temptation to walk to the finish line is great, but don’t walk…crawl! I mean…stay on your knees in worship before Jesus. Know that everything you do is for his name’s sake. You began well…

Fight hard to finish well!

Grace and Peace,

J

*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.

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Letter #18: Don’t Whine…Worship!

Dear Jonathan,

I walked through the halls of my old seminary today. So many feelings stirred within me as I passed places where years of conversations took place and lifelong friendships were formed.

In a single moment I felt like laughing and crying, which may sound silly, but one day you will understand. I realize I might have been being overly nostalgic and was probably romanticizing my seminarian days just a bit, yet I couldn’t help but wish that I could go back…even if only for a bit.

I wasted so much of my time in seminary wishing I was out! I wanted to get to the next phase of life. I would whine and complain about my classes, profs, work load, etc. All the whining made me miss the wonder of what I was actually getting to do.  I was being given the gift of taking several YEARS to devote knowing the Lord through his Word.

Sure…this is what all believers devote their lives to, but seminary affords you dedicated space, time, and resources for this pursuit unlike anything else. Jonathan, let me encourage you even in your last year…

worship3Don’t whine…worship!

As you do homework…worship! As you study languages…worship! As your reading load burns holes in your head where your eyes should be…worship!

Worship will help you keep the proper perspective on all that you are doing. It will help you keep going! Trust me, your grades will not sustain you, but worship will. Do not work hard for grades…work hard so that you are equipped to know and worship God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

When you sit around with your friends and a whining party begins…excuse yourself to another room to pray for yourself and them. Don’t be all “holier than thou” and try to call down fire on them for their complaining ways. Simply pray that you will have a heart filled with gratitude for where you are and that they will to.

You are in an incredible place, with just a little bit of time left…don’t waste it….maximize it!

Don’t whine…worship!

Grace and Peace,

J

*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.

Letter #17: It’s not about the Paper…it’s about the Passion

Dear Jonathan,

I remember several points in my seminary career when I was discouraged, my friends were discouraged…or both. Many of us wanted to quit along the way. John-Mark probably more than anyone else…well…he and Jeremy.

As we crammed church history into our heads the day before a test, Jeremy would lament the manner in which our time was being “wasted.” He’d think of all the things we could be doing that would be “more” productive.

To a certain extent I agreed with him, but I knew (and so did he) that what we were doing in those moments wasn’t necessarily meant to bear immediate fruit, but future fruit. I would encourage him to keep on going because we were so close to finishing. His general response was, “J, I don’t want to do something just for a piece of paper…just for a diploma.” I couldn’t agree with him more.

graduation-cap-and-diploma-1024x749It’s not about the paper…it’s about the passion.

In those moments, I had to remind myself that all this work should in some way be stirring up within me a deeper passion for knowing God and making him known. Even as I looked at subjects like church history I knew that the lives of saints past should waken my heart to the wonder of a God who has worked through the lives of his people in all times!

Study can dull the affections of the heart, but only if you let it.  Wind can extinguish a flame…or that same breeze of oxygen, when channeled correctly, may actually serve as fuel. You want your studies to do the latter!

You and your friends are getting closer to the finish line and the paper, that wonderful diploma, is in sight! But…don’t run the race to graduation for the paper. Run it to know Jesus more. When you feel your studies are burdensome, know that there is mostly likely not something wrong with your material, but with your heart.

Jonathan, we have talked a lot about what NOT to cultivate at seminary, but perhaps I should focus more on what you should be cultivating. ZEAL! PASSION! LOVE…for the son of God who loved you and gave himself up for you.

It’s not about the paper…it’s about the passion.

Grace and Peace,

J

*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.

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