First, I want to say hello to the blog world. Second, I want to thank the guys here at PS23 for asking me to be a part of this blog. I am honored and hope my writing is a blessing to them as it is to the blog sphere.
On May 12, 2013, I received my diploma for the Master of Divinity (M.Div) Degree from The Master’s Seminary. On May 11, 2014, I received my diploma for the Master of Theology (TH.M) Degree, also from TMS. The mantra of TMS is to “train men as if lives depended on it!” I can say with the utmost confidence, that they have trained me in such a way. After 5 years of seminary study, including 3.5 years of Greek, 2.5 years of Hebrew, 1.5 years of Biblical & Pastoral Counseling, numerous pastoral ministry classes, over 12,000 pages of reading (yes, I counted), an innumerable number of pages written on a variety of biblical passages and topics, and a master’s thesis concerning the hermeneutics of millennial positions, I can tell you with all confidence, I have been trained well to do the task I have been entrusted with!
Now, to be perfectly honest, if you would had told me 11 years ago (right before I entered college) that I was going to go to seminary, I would have scoffed at you. If you also would have told me that I would graduate with the best GPA I personally have ever accomplished, I would laugh. If you would have confirmed that I would do not just one master’s degree, but two, I would have written you off as a nut job. AND if you would have told me that the seminary education was not a detriment to my spiritual growth but a vital part, I would have had to enroll you in a serious psychological institution. Yet, by God’s amazing grace, here I am. I am reminded of Eph 3:20-21: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
And now a few reflective thoughts as I have finished Seminary and waiting for a call to a church.
I feel as if I have run my race! I am exhausted and weary from the study, the research, the books, and the tests. However, the truth of the matter is – as our dean put it at our graduation banquet – “You’ve only finished the practice lap. The real race is now before you.”
Due to this truth, I must consult a man who has been in ministry and done the race marked out before him. Now, not only is this man an excellent example, but his pen has recorded the majority of the New Testament books. Yes, the Apostle Paul would be my ministry hero because he had the training necessary to do the job, the call from God, and godly people to back him. I am in the same boat 2,000 years later.
So I want to learn from his tutelage and what better place than in 2 Corinthians where Paul has to defend himself and his ministry. It is in this book that I can hear the heart of Paul concerning a lifetime of ministry.
So, here are the highlights (secrets) of Paul’s lifelong ministry that undoubtedly sustained him to the end (2 Tim 4:17):
(1) Be convinced that the basis of your ministry if the will of God (1:1)
(2) Seek God’s comfort in times of trouble (1:3-7)
(3) Conduct yourself at all times in holiness and godly sincerity (1:12)
(4) Let the unalterable promises of God’s Word be your message, which you are never to peddle, but always to give away as you preach Christ as Lord (1:20, 2:17, 4:5)
(5) Know that your enemy, Satan, will blind the minds of unbelievers, scheme against the saints, and send out a host a deceiving servants cleverly disguised as ministers of righteousness (2:10-11, 4:4; 11:13-15)
(6) Always place your confidence in God who will continually lead you in triumph (1:9, 2:14)
(7) Count on God to be your adequacy and sufficiency (3:5, 12:9-10)
(8) Depend on being transformed from glory to glory, knowing that your inner man is being renewed daily (3:18, 4:16)
(9) Regularly acknowledge that you are a “cracked pot” in which the treasures and power of God reside (4:7)
(11) Make it your personal ambition to please the Lord (5:9)
(12) Serve in the roles of a servant to the flock, an ambassador for Christ, and a servant of God (4:5, 5:20; 6:4)
(13) Direct the fruit of your ministry to the end that the giving of thanks abounds to the glory of God (4:15)
(14) Live in such a way that your reputation is one who give no cause for offense or in any way discredits the ministry, but rather prefects holiness in the fear of God (6:3, 7:1)
(15) Forever be reminded that the indescribably riches of God were given to you, a spiritual pauper, by the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ (8:9, 9:15)
(16) Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (10:5)
(17) Let your recognition be from God alone (10:17-18)
(18) Set before you the goal to have a ministry of building up (10:8, 12:19, 13:10)
(19) Prioritize your labors to spend and to be expended for the sake of your flock (12:15)
(20) Weep over sins in your own life and that of your flock; then cleanse yourself from all defilement of flesh and spirit (7:1, 12:21)
(21) Let the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always (13:14).
I am sure this list could be applied to all Christians which is why it is helpful on this blogpost and not just to seminary graduates.
One final quote: speaking about “the common ingredient” among truly spiritual men, A.W. Tozer (The Pursuit of God) wrote:
I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them Godward. Without attempting anything like a profound analysis I shall say simply that they had spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response. They were not disobedient to the heavenly vision. As David put it neatly, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (Ps 27:8).