I Enrolled in Seminary and Forgot to Invite God

Despite the fact that I attend chapel every day, prayed with my classmate before the start of every class and I read the Bible every day in support of my assignments. I discovered one critical part of my seminary experience was lacking. I forgot to invite God to come to Seminary with me!

 

From the day my yearning to serve the Lord turned into a call to ministry, I knew that I would attend seminary.  In the nearly three months since I have been at

 

From the day my yearning to serve the Lord turned into a call to ministry, I knew that I would attend seminary.  In the nearly three months since I have been at Columbia Teleological Seminary I have concentrated on the tasks of school – such as learning Greek, writing papers, performing seminary service and finding the right balance between studying, rest, and life.

 

However, despite the fact that I attend chapel every day, prayed with my classmate before the start of every class and I read the Bible every day in support of my assignments. I discovered one critical part of my seminary experience was lacking. I forgot to invite God to come to Seminary with me!

 

The life of a seminarian, especially one who approaches this adventure later in life, requires imagination to see the possible in the impossible.  Resilience to take the punches of the ups and downs of learning new things, along with attentiveness to see the details of the little, and the opportunities of the large.

 

This week I wrote several papers about Peter’s conversion in Acts Chapter 10-11. God open Peter’s eyes to see that the Gospel was to be shared with both Jews and Gentiles.

 

Breaking with Jewish laws and customs that forbid association with Gentiles was big deal for Peter.  It called on him to go beyond the norms of just doing the things expected because of his religion to truly worship God with his faith.

 

One thing I learned from the study of Acts Chapters 10 -11, and the subsequent writing assignments, is that I must have imagination, resilience and attentiveness to do God’s and not just tasks of being in seminary.

 

Therefore:

 

The Lord is the source of my imagination:

God will help me write papers, unlock ways of learning Greek, and provide opportunities for service I thought were possible.

 

The Lord gives me the resilience:

God will provide the stamina to keep me going with a superior attitude regardless of the setbacks.

 

The Lord will make me attentive:

God’s hand is in everything that I do. God’s attentiveness to me, my classmates faculty and staff will bring glory to our efforts at Columbia Theological Seminary and the world we are called to serve.

 

I now know that seminary is more than an academic exercise, it is truly a calling.

 

So despite my struggles:

 

  • I will learn Greek to interpret God’s Word for the people of God,

 

  • I will wash dishes in the cafeteria so that I can be a better servant leader, and

 

  • I will go to chapel not because it is expected, but because it is a place where I worship the Lord.

 

Nearly three months after my enrollment I finally decided to invite God to attend    Seminary with me and to my surprise God has been with me all along.

 

Read more of my blogs www.marbenbland.com

Text Marben to 22828 to receive my weekly blogs and emails

 

I have concentrated on the tasks of school – such as learning Greek, writing papers, performing seminary service and finding the right balance between studying, rest, and life.

However, despite the fact that I attend chapel every day, prayed with my classmate before the start of every class and I read the Bible every day in support of my assignments. I discovered one critical part of my seminary experience was lacking. I forgot to invite God to come to Seminary with me!

The life of a seminarian, especially one who approaches this adventure later in life, requires imagination to see the possible in the impossible.  Resilience to take the punches of the ups and downs of learning new things, along with attentiveness to see the details of the little, and the opportunities of the large.

This week I wrote several papers about Peter’s conversion in Acts Chapter 10-11. God open Peter’s eyes to see that the Gospel was to be shared with both Jews and Gentiles.

Breaking with Jewish laws and customs that forbid association with Gentiles was big deal for Peter.  It called on him to go beyond the norms of just doing the things expected because of his religion to truly worship God with his faith.

One thing I learned from the study of Acts Chapters 10 -11, and the subsequent writing assignments, is that I must have imagination, resilience and attentiveness to do God’s and not just tasks of being in seminary.

Therefore:

The Lord is the source of my imagination:

God will help me write papers, unlock ways of learning Greek, and provide opportunities for service I thought were possible.

The Lord gives me the resilience:

God will provide the stamina to keep me going with a superior attitude regardless of the setbacks.

The Lord will make me attentive:

God’s hand is in everything that I do. God’s attentiveness to me, my classmates faculty and staff will bring glory to our efforts at Columbia Theological Seminary and the world we are called to serve.

I now know that seminary is more than an academic exercise, it is truly a calling.

So despite my struggles:

  • I will learn Greek to interpret God’s Word for the people of God,
  • I will wash dishes in the cafeteria so that I can be a better servant leader, and
  • I will go to chapel not because it is expected, but because it is a place where I worship the Lord.

Nearly three months after my enrollment I finally decided to invite God to attend   Seminary with me and to my surprise God has been with me all along.

 

Read more of my blogs www.marbenbland.com

Text Marben to 22828 to receive my weekly blogs and emails

 

So What Am I Doing Wrong?

I have a son and a nephew both are under thirty.  They both graduated high school, both have gone to college, or are currently attending college.  My son has a lovely wife and three wonderful daughters.

As a Father figure to both young men, I tried to teach them by example, how to be a good American.

Therefore:

  • I graduated from high school

  • I graduated from college

  • I have a master’s degree, and I am currently studying for another one

  • I served in the Army, and I defended our nation in a war

  • I have been gainfully employed

  • I pay taxes

  • I vote

  • I don’t do drugs

  • I exercise

  • I volunteer

  • I have never been in trouble with the law

  • I stand for the National Anthem   

So what am I doing wrong? 

Why is it that the young men I raised to be good American citizens are nine times more likely to be killed by police than any other demographic?

I am asking because I want to protect them, I want to keep them safe, and I want to keep them alive!

So what am I doing wrong?

My conservative friends say be polite and do as you are told by the police.  Will being polite keep my young men from being killed if they are arrested?

My First Amendment friends say get them a gun for protection.  Will having a gun keep my young men from being killed during a traffic stop?

My liberal friends say there is no need for a gun.  Will being unarmed keep my young men from getting killed if the car stalls?

I want to know because this is America – the land of the free and the home of the brave.  This nation was founded on the premise that all men are created equal.   

I want to know because we are the country so free of racial bias, that we elected an African American President. Then that President was dogged out to show the country his birth certificate.  Now the same man who gave the President such a hard time, is now running for the same office, but he refuses to show his county taxes.

I want to know, what am I doing wrong?

If you are a White friend of mine, I am certain you raised your son or nephew with the same, or higher standards than I raised my own.  Please tell me if you ever worry about them being shot by the police, if they are stopped for speeding, or if the car breaks down?

You don’t have to tell me; I think I know the answer!   

If you struggle with the question of what white privilege is, perhaps this will help.   

However, I do have an answer for you – If you struggle with the question of what white privilege is, perhaps this will help.   

White privilege is the fact that you never have to worry about your son, your nephew or even yourself being shot by the police during a traffic stop, or simply because your car broke down.

So now, we all know what my son, my nephew and I, are doing wrong.

Jesus A Protester Long Before Colin Kaepernick

Jesus is a protester, and He is calling on you and me to also protest

Are you ready for some football!

As we ready ourselves for another great weekend of play in the National Football League, let’s think back on the games of last weekend.  Perhaps the most talked about action took place off the field, as San Francisco 49ers Quarterback, Colin  Kaepernick continued his protest.
colin-kaepernick2Kaepernick a six-year pro, who lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl following the 2012 season, has willingly immersed himself into controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the National Anthem.

The QB is taking this action in protest of what he deems as wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States.     

In an interview with NFL Media, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black People and People of Color.  To me this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

Many people, including those of us who profess to being Christians, have complained that Kaepernick’s protest is wrong.  Many think it is disrespectful to the flag, and to those who served and died in the military.

As I military veteran who took part in the first gulf war, and wore the uniform with pride for over a decade, I am not offended in the least by Kaepernick’s protest.   

I fought for the free speech rights being exercised by Kaepernick’s protest.   While I may differ with his specific expression of protest, I support his right to do so.

Furthermore, I applaud his courage for taking a stand when he did not have to do it.  I stood up for freedom in the Army, so Colin Kaepernick could knee down in protest in a football stadium.   

As a Christian and now a seminarian, I understand that God calls us to protest.  More importantly, Jesus protested long before Colin Kaepernick.

Jesus was a protester when he stormed the temple overturning the tables of the money changers while  proclaiming, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”  (John 2:16, New Living Translation)

Jesus was a protester in His boyhood home of Nazareth.  In the synagogue service, He read the scroll of the prophet Isaiah declaring, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day” (Luke 4:21, New Living Translation). 

This incredible true statement by Jesus was true because He is the Son of God.  However, the people would not accept this, so it led to the formation of a mob so furious, they chased Jesus out of town with the intention to kill Him.

Jesus was a protester when the disciples betrayed Him. He was a protester when the officials arrested Him. He was a protester when the soldiers mocked, spit on, and beat Him.  He was a protester when He hung on the cross from the sixth to the ninth hour.  Jesus was a protester when He died and arose again victorious three days later.

Jesus is a protester, and He is calling on you and me to also protest.

Therefore:

Jesus is calling us to protest – when we see injustices in the treatment by law enforcement of specific segments of our society, based only on skin color or economic status.

Jesus is calling us to protest – when floods take place again and again in places where it should not flood, and when earthquakes happen on lands where fracking was practiced.  While our elected officials may deny the dangers of fracking, or the science of global warming, we cannot use this as an excuse to do nothing!     

Jesus is calling us to protest  when our fellow man is left delicate by vagaries of life, and dumfounded by the ravages of sin.  The best way to protest is to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   

My fellow faith blogger Steven Mattson put it best when he wrote, “Christianity isn’t political power, military might, safety, wealth, control, fame, or comfort — it’s emulating Jesus.”

Jesus protested for causes that were just, for people who had been wronged, and for the world the way it should be.  Jesus’ earthly life left us an example of what He wants us to do until He comes again.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12, King James Version).

  

9/11 From Disconsolate To Joy

Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish; earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”

This Sunday, marks the 15th anniversary of the catastrophic terrorist attacks which took the lives of 2,996 people and injured more than 6,000 others. According to Wikipedia, the deaths included 265 on the four planes that crashed, 2,606 in the World Trade Center and the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon.

None of us of a certain age, will ever forget our actions, our shock and our response to this event.  We can all answer the question, “Where were you on 9/11?”

I experienced the gut retching actions of the day, as the crash of United Airlines flight 93 was only sixty miles from my then home in Pittsburgh.

That evening I attended a service of healing and memorial.  The very first song that was played was the great hymn of the church, “Come Ye Disconsolate.” While I had heard the hymn many times, this night perhaps for the first time, I really understood the meaning of the word disconsolate.

In Middle Age English, the word disconsolate was used to describe someone who was feeling sad, unhappy, doleful, woebegone, dejected, downcast, desponded, dispirited, or crestfallen.

Sir Thomas Moore the 18th Century Irish poet was well known for penning the sentimental romantic ballads of his day, wrote “Sir Thomas Moore ,” because he knew a great deal about being disconsolate.

Dogged by tragedy, Moore endured the deaths of all his five children – from age 2 to age 27 – within his lifetime.

Moore used his sorrow and personal pain to write “Come Ye Disconsolate,” an anthem of godly hope and strength in the midst of unspeakable grief.

With words like “languish, wounded and anguish,” the opening stanza of the song painted the perfect picture of the United States on September 11, 2001, as we were a nation of the disconsolate.

In the closing lines of the first stanza, Sir Thomas gave clear direction as to how the nation should move forward from September 11, 2001.  He urges us to “bring your wounded hearts to the mercy seat.”

Moore reminds us to tell the Lord of our anguish because “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”

Reflecting on the decade and a half since that evening in Pittsburgh, this is what I know:

In this life, we will all feel disconsolate –

We will all feel sad

We will all feel unhappy

We will all feel dejected

We will all feel desponded.

Regardless of the reason for our feelings, God is with us to comfort us, to renew us, and to give us hope.  Psalm 30:5 says it best, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Sir Thomas references this joy in the second stanza of the hymn with the phase, “Joy of the desolate, light of the straying, hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!”

Desolate is the perfect word to describe the United States that day as we were in a state of bleak and dismal emptiness.

However, desolate and disconsolate is not the way God wanted us to be on September 11, 2001, and it is clearly not the way God wants us to be on September 11, 2016.

God wants us to move from disconsolate to joy!

Therefore, on this Patriot Day, “Come ye disconsolate, come to the mercy seat.  Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;

This Sunday, marks the 15th anniversary of the catastrophic terrorist attacks which took the lives of 2,996 people and injured more than 6,000 others. According to Wikipedia, the deaths included 265 on the four planes that crashed, 2,606 in the World Trade Center and the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon.

None of us of a certain age, will ever forget our actions, our shock and our response to this event.  We can all answer the question, “Where were you on 9/11?”

I experienced the gut retching actions of the day, as the crash of United Airlines flight 93 was only sixty miles from my then home in Pittsburgh.

That evening I attended a service of healing and memorial.  The very first song that was played was the great hymn of the church, “Come Ye Disconsolate.” While I had heard the hymn many times, this night perhaps for the first time, I really understood the meaning of the word disconsolate.

In Middle Age English, the word disconsolate was used to describe someone who was feeling sad, unhappy, doleful, woebegone, dejected, downcast, desponded, dispirited, or crestfallen.

Sir Thomas Moore the 18th Century Irish poet was well known for penning the sentimental romantic ballads of his day, wrote “Come Ye Disconsolate,” because he knew a great deal about being disconsolate.

Dogged by tragedy, Moore endured the deaths of all his five children – from age 2 to age 27 – within his lifetime.

Moore used his sorrow and personal pain to write “Come Ye Disconsolate,” an anthem of godly hope and strength in the midst of unspeakable grief.

With words like “languish, wounded and anguish,” the opening stanza of the song painted the perfect picture of the United States on September 11, 2001, as we were a nation of the disconsolate.

In the closing lines of the first stanza, Sir Thomas gave clear direction as to how the nation should move forward from September 11, 2001.  He urges us to “bring your wounded hearts to the mercy seat.”

Moore reminds us to tell the Lord of our anguish because “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”

Reflecting on the decade and a half since that evening in Pittsburgh, this is what I know:

In this life, we will all feel disconsolate –

We will all feel sad

We will all feel unhappy

We will all feel dejected

We will all feel desponded.

Regardless of the reason for our feelings, God is with us to comfort us, to renew us, and to give us hope.  Psalm 30:5 says it best, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Sir Thomas references this joy in the second stanza of the hymn with the phase, “Joy of the desolate, light of the straying, hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!”

Desolate is the perfect word to describe the United States that day as we were in a state of bleak and dismal emptiness.

However, desolate and disconsolate is not the way God wanted us to be on September 11, 2001, and it is clearly not the way God wants us to be on September 11, 2016.

God wants us to move from disconsolate to joy!

Therefore, on this Patriot Day, “Come ye disconsolate, come to the mercy seat.  Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish; earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”

For more posts go to www.marbenbland@com

For more posts go to www.marbenbland@com

Your Labor Matters To God

“I would rather be a (dishwasher) in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness”

After a working career spanning over three decades in corporate American and the military, I am now a fulltime student at Columbia Theological Seminary.

The school has a program called Seminary Service, where it awards institutional financial grants to students in exchange for “service work” on campus.  Like traditional work studies programs, Seminary Service Students are matched to jobs on campus, corresponding to the skills and abilities that they bring from the life they had before entering school.

Armed with a lifetime of business experiences in sales, marketing, finance, human resources, and social media, plus my consulting and writing background, I was confident that I would be matched to a cutting edge job that would leverage my executive profile.

This week with great fan fair, we received our Seminary Service Assignments.  Many of my classmates, fresh out of college, with little or no business experience were thrilled to be assigned to the various offices, tasks and projects on campus.     

Seeing the pleasure of my colleagues, I was tingling with anticipation of my own assignment.  I was taken aback when I learned that my Seminary Service Assignment was to work in food services.   

My thirty years of military and corporate experience with some of the best companies in the world, would be leveraged in the “important task” of washing dishes.   

On reflection, I now understand God’s purpose in giving me this assignment.  As Christians, many of us hold a decidedly unbiblical view of work.

Some view it as a curse, or at least as part of the curse of living in a fallen world.

Others make a false distinction between what they perceive as the sacred – serving God, and the secular – everything else.

Others make work into an idol, expecting it to provide them with their identity and purpose in life, as well as being a source of joy and fulfillment.

In their excellent book, Your Work Matters to God, Doug Sherman and William Hendricks expose the wrong ways of thinking about work, and explain how God invests work with intrinsic value and honor.

Rick Warren echoes this idea in his blockbuster, The Purpose Driven Life when he writes, “Work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of his presence.”

The origin of work is depicted in the book of Genesis.  In the opening passage, God is the primary worker, busy with the creation of the world (Genesis 1:1-15). The Bible states that God worked for six days and rested on the seventh day. These passages reveal that God was the first to do work on the earth.

Therefore, legitimate work reflects the activity of God.  Because God is inherently good, work is also inherently good (Psalm 25:8Ephesians 4:28).

Furthermore, Genesis 1:31 declares that when God viewed the fruit of His labor, He called it “very good.” God examined and assessed the quality of His work, and when He determined that He had done a good job, He took pleasure in the outcome.

By this example, it is apparent that work should be productive.

My work as a dishwasher, as a student, or as a pastor should be conducted in a way that produces the highest quality outcome for the glory of the Lord.

God has demonstrated that the reward for work is the honor and satisfaction that comes from a job well done, not the work that has been assigned.

God also wants us to see that work is His gift to us; it is not a result of the Fall!  Before sin entered the world, God gave Adam and Eve the job of cultivating the garden and exercising dominion over the world.  We were created to work, and for work. Work is God’s good gift to us!

Listen to what Solomon wrote:

“After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live:

Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot.  Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift!”    Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 MSG

Yes, work truly is God’s gift to us.  It is His provision in a number of ways.  In Your Work Matters to God, the authors suggest five major reasons why work is valuable:

1. Through work we serve people.

Most work is part of a huge network of interconnected jobs, industries, goods and services that work together to meet peoples’ physical needs. Other jobs meet peoples’ aesthetic and spiritual needs as well.

2. Through work we meet our own needs.

Work, whether paid or unpaid, allows us to exercise the gifts and abilities God gives each person.  God expects adults to provide for themselves and not mooch off others.  Scripture says, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”  2 Thessalonians 3:10

3. Through work we meet our family’s needs.

God expects the heads of households to provide for their families. He says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  1 Timothy 5:8

4. Through work we earn money to give to others.

In both the Old and New Testaments, God tells us to be generous in meeting the needs of the poor and those who minister to us spiritually.

5. Through work we love God.

One of God’s love languages is obedience.  When we work, we are obeying His two great commandments to love Him and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

We show our love for God by obeying Him from the heart.  My work as a dishwasher is truly my Seminary Service.  I will be able to love God and my neighbor with every glass I empty, every table I buss, and every dish I wash.   

Therefore, on this Labor Day Weekend as we rest from our labors, let us reflect on the value of work.

Through Seminary Service I understand better than ever before that “I would rather be a (dishwasher) in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10) because my labor matters to God.