One Year at Seminary

It has been one year. One year in a new place that has quickly become my home for this time in my life. There have been many lessons, some hardships, abundant joys. But everything has been a blessing. I have received nothing from the Lord except grace. I truly believe that each and every happiness and sorrow in my life is a gift from God. There is no other way I can see these things. The times I’ve stumbled also are gifts that God has allowed to teach me more about myself and about Him.

Joy has been stirred up in my heart like never before. The riches given to me in Christ Jesus are truly abundant and satisfying.

In the midst of tremendous joy, I have also been saddened in deeper ways than before. I don’t consider myself a very emotional person–though I realize some would disagree with me–and the fact that I don’t feel others’ sorrows deeply has concerned me. The Lord has brought along situations, however, that have developed this capacity in me. I want to feel empathy, not just speak compassionate words, and the Lord is generously granting this desire.

There are ‘high places’ even in the valley, where God causes some of his sweetest springs to flow. Trials are steps heaven-ward; sorrows steps God-ward, in the experience of the saints. –Octavius Winslow
Let us suppose the thing we are most afraid of actually to happen. Can it come a moment sooner, or in any other way, than by His appointment? Is He not gracious, and faithful, to support us under the stroke? Is he not rich enough to give us something better than ever He will take away? Is not the light of His countenance better than life and all its most valued enjoyments? Is not this our time of trial; and are we not traveling towards a land of light? – John Newton

During my first two semesters, I lived in the dorm on campus. The community that was fostered by living in the same hall as girls who became my best friends is a blessing like none I’ve experienced before. I also loved beholding the view of the campus out of my window and walking out of my dorm onto the center of the beautiful grounds. For one who had never experienced a campus life, immersion in it proved to be very helpful in transitioning to life away from my family. I’m honestly not speaking hyperbolically. Yes, there were and are challenges. But even challenges are a welcome part of the adventure of life.

The friendships. They have been so overwhelmingly good. As my group of friends includes both men and women who are serious about knowing the Lord and edifying others, I consider myself undeservedly blessed in yet another aspect of life.

My church family. I’ve never had to become part of a congregation of believers without my parents and siblings, so this was a new step. However, my new church family welcomed me with open arms, and settling in has never happened so quickly as it has here. Furthermore, to again be part of a congregation that deeply desires and appreciates the preaching of God’s Word is something that I must not take for granted.

On July 1st, I moved into a house with 6 other girls. Though I do miss being on campus, the benefits of living in a house are already great. The comfort of a home, constant companionship, and edifying conversations that happen almost every day characterize a time that I will look back on with gratefulness. Some fun facts about our group of 7:

  • We maintain 7 different nationalities.
  • Each person is at least bilingual.
  • English is spoken by all, but conversations among sets of residents also occur in Chinese or German.

Though I do have a very international background, there is so much for me to learn about relating to those of different cultures, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to live with sisters who come from 6 different nations. It’s a foretaste of Heaven!

I’ve written before that the greatest lessons I’ve learned at seminary include how bad I am and how good God is. I must add that it is really only He Who knows what I need, and that He works all the details in my life to give me those things. If His blessings depended solely on my supplication for them, I would be very meagerly blessed. As things are, He has blessed me way beyond what I ever hoped.

There can be no security felt unless we satisfy ourselves of the truth of a divine superintendence, and can commit our lives and all that we have to the hand of God. –John Calvin

I probably sound like a broken record continually talking about being blessed. But what else can I say? I swim in an ocean of God’s grace that is filled with blessings. If you think hard enough, I think you’ll find that you do, too. If you don’t know the grace and blessing of God, perhaps you don’t personally know His greatest blessing, His Son Jesus Christ, Who created everything and for Whom all things exist. I’ve spent a year here seeking to pursue Him more, and I hope to spend my next short while here continuing to do so. May He give me strength to run the race well, looking to Jesus more and more as each day passes.

My judgment has esteemed God, even his holiness, the most desirable good, and I would be a partaker of his holiness whatever it cost me; and have generally been willing of and thankful for the smartest discipline, in hope of that desired effect, and still would be more holy, though by sickness, pain or any other affliction; having always esteemed sin the greatest evil, and now for many years my bitterest affliction, though in some hurries, have not felt the most sensible mournings for it.
As I have chosen God for my portion, so I stand by my choice and rejoice in it above all the world; and, through his grace assisting, resolve never to forsake him, though I die for it–which I shall never do without extraordinary assistance, having no natural courage. I have chosen the way of God’s precepts as the means to this end, and have deliberately, entirely, rejoicingly given myself over to Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and prefer his love to all the world . . .
O how bountifully has God dealt with me, while he has loved me from death to life.
From the diary of Miss Elizabeth Bury, September 27, 1690
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New Year 2012

It’s a new year. As I think back to resolutions that I made last year, I am overwhelmed with gratefulness for the fact that my salvation doesn’t depend on my rate of success in fulfilling them. God’s grace has amazed me over and over in 2011. Though I have failed Him over and over, He hasn’t let me go.

One year ago, I was already pursuing graduate school, but truly had no idea what was in store. Although I did complete my application and did the research, I feel like God took me by the hand and led me through the dark. Now, I look back on the semester and see a little of why God took me to where He did. And I can only offer praise to Him. Some blessings in being at seminary are as follows:

– constantly hearing the Bible explained

– seeing God’s work in the hearts of others

– being challenged to share the gospel

– having time to read excellent books

– living real life with sisters and brothers in Christ

– building life-long edifying relationships

– growing in appreciation of God’s Word

– seeing myself as wretched and Jesus as wonderful

In four weeks, my second semester will begin, and I am completely excited about delving deep into my studies. My time at seminary will be short, and thus it is my desire to make the most of it.

As I consider resolutions for 2012, I can only think of one.

In all of my activities, I will seek to be reigned by the pursuit of knowing Christ and making Christ known.

The specifics will not, at the moment, be revealed on my blog. As the year progresses, I hope to contemplate ways in which the above resolution affects my daily life.

Choosing Gratitude 16

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing Your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever! Psalm 30:11-12

151. Special needs children.

152. Little children singing.

153. God-honoring Sunday School curriculum.

154. Rain.

155. God’s answers to prayer.

156. The power of a true understanding of grace in rejecting legalism.

157. An intact family.

158. Hardships of the Christian life.

159. God’s chastisement.

160. Ministries to international students.

Choosing Gratitude 15

If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. Psalm 50: 12-15

30 days of thanksgiving:

141. Work at a Christian bookstore where I am surrounded by excellent resources.

142. Kind employers.

143. 12 years of involvement at Literacy & Evangelism International.

144. Opportunities to learn to speak comfortably on the phone.

145. God’s protection and provision surrounding the fire at LEI 8 years ago.

146. The everlasting testimony of God’s hand of protection over the primer archives during the fire.

147. Couples that are a testimony to God’s grace in their lasting marriages.

148. Theologically stimulating discussions with friends.

149. Photoshoot locations in my city.

150. The ability to sing.

Choosing Gratitude 14

Psalm 56

30 days of thanksgiving:

131. The promise of eternal life, not death, for those who are cleansed by the blood of Christ.

132. A future filled with endless happiness for the people of God.

133. The truth that God is intimately acquainted with all my ways because He planned them.

134. The fact that all things are ordained by God before the foundation of time.

135. Small group time with my church family.

136. Colors

137. Clothing

138. Style

139. Eye doctors

140. Eyeglasses

Choosing Gratitude 13

30 days of thanksgiving:

121. Literacy workers all over the world

122. Literacy workers whose deepest desire is to bring people to love God’s Word

123. Cooperation among believers from various denominations toward the common purpose of making readers of God’s Word

124. The abundant availability of the Bible in the English language

125. The work of Bible translators to bring God’s Word to every language in the world

126. Today’s missionaries to deep dark places

127. Missionaries across the ages who demonstrate what it can look like to leave all and go for the sake of the gospel

128. Books that document the lives of God’s servants as an encouragement to others to live fully for Him

129. The variety of cultures in our world

130. God’s creativity in creating people

Choosing Gratitude 12

30 days of thanksgiving:

111. Space heaters

112. Music

113. Powerpoint software

114. Presentation projector

115. Kindle

116. Gifted women authors

117. Volunteers at LEI

118. God’s calling of workers into His harvest field

119. God’s guidance for college students

120. The prayers of a child of God for another child of God