Hearing God Speak

Last week was a bit of a milestone. I picked up the bound copy of my master’s thesis. The following is a modified version of an article I wrote for my church’s newsletter recently explaining my thesis topic:

Deere and SamraIf you’ve been following this blog for some time, you know that I recently graduated from Dallas Seminary with a ThM Degree. However, graduation was delayed due to delays in my thesis completion and approval. Despite the struggles, it was worth the endeavor because I wrote on a topic that I believe deserves addressing in our contemporary evangelical environment. The title of the thesis is “God Already Spoke: A Response to Extra-Scriptural Divine Speech.” I interact with three books that encourage hearing the voice of God outside of Scripture. These books are Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere, God Told Me by Jim Samra and Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  I refute the premise these authors promote that God needs to tell us more about himself or his requirements for us than what has already been communicated through Scripture.

I have been immersed in this topic for some time. Having spent much of my earlier Christian life in Charismatic type churches, there was always the expectation that God needed to provide additional information through some kind of direct speech, or through a “prophet” or a voice we hear in our heads. The underlying presumption is that Scripture is insufficient to hear the voice of God and we need something more.

My journey towards discovering God’s voice through Scripture and its sufficiency began in 2006 when a friend challenged me on how I was reading the Bible. Like many today, I read it in a very fragmented fashion, which served as a springboard to hear the voice of God outside of Scripture. But this way also subjects divine speech to inconsistent methodology. I was re-oriented with a framework of how the 66 books should be taken as a whole.  Over time, I discovered the beauty and sufficiency of the redemptive-historical narrative of Scripture that provides a wonderful picture of God’s communication to us. Continue reading

When You’re Graduating from Seminary…and have no idea what’s next

Graduated_next pathIn just a few short weeks I’ll be donning the graduation regalia and walking across the stage. My diploma will come later in the summer since I needed an extension on my thesis. But the thought of having all my classes done is a refreshing one indeed.

A common question that gets asked of me, as I’m sure it does other seminary students and near graduates, is ‘what’s next’? I wrote about this a couple of years ago, in What’s After Seminary? Not a Job but an Adventure. What the question really refers to is what fantastic ministry will you NOW be a part of, where you will be on staff and serving God’s people? I mean after all, why ELSE would you have gone to seminary if you aren’t doing that? In fact, there’s such a strong emphasis on church ministry that not obtaining that can make a seminary grad feel like they failed or wasted their time.

Despite my insistence in my article from 2 years ago that its all about the ministry adventure and not the actual position, I still find myself quite unsettled and a bit anxious these days. I was fortunate enough to land a good part-time position in the field that I had been working for many years and the job was secured even before moving to Dallas. Unfortunately, that position was eliminated and I took another position that didn’t work out. For the past few months, I have been engaged in an intensive job search and recognizing that I may have to continue what I was doing prior to seminary or at least leveraging that experience. In fact, during the drafting of this post I did indeed accept a position and it’s not in a church. Continue reading

Help with the Final Seminary Push

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I am in the Masters of Theology (ThM) program at Dallas Theological Seminary. I began in fall 2008 and have and have now registered for my final semester. A lot has transpired in the past 5 1/2 years and I received many surprises along the way. It has not been an easy journey, especially as a single mother. But it has been a needed one on many levels. I am so grateful that in God’s providence and grace, I’ve had this opportunity for ministry training and theological learning.

Having had a successful career in Rhode Island, naturally I was a bit uneasy about the uprooting to attend seminary. But I knew that if this was something the Lord intended for me, he would make a way. My biggest concern was for employment, especially considering I would have to work part-time in order to handle everything and meet my financial obligations as head of the house. Thankfully, the Lord opened the door to a well-paying part-time job, which leverage my many years of experience working in human service funding and homeless services programming. The job was secure even before I moved, a clear signal that the road was paved for this next step.

This position sustained most of my seminary journey but sadly, ended in April 2013. Even worse, the following employment opportunity did not work out and I left mid-November. So as I head into the final semester, I am facing a number of things I wasn’t counting on, most notably a breach in employment that has lessened my ability to pay that final bill as well as some uncertainty in the next steps. Yet I am persistently reminded of God’s faithfulness through it all and that he surely has a plan for the ways in which he has uniquely gifted me for the sake of his kingdom. I am confident that he will provide the clarity and open door for the next steps.

But in the meantime, the payment deadline for the final spring semester is approaching on December 13th. Would you please consider helping out with it? I created a GoFundMe account to make donations easy.

Thank you for your consideration and for your interest in my writing. There is much more to come!

Transitions, Trust and Trying Something New

door_ajarToday was a bit of a milestone and one that I’ve looked forward to for quite some time. I registered for my final semester of seminary, or at least the ThM program (meaning there may be a possibility for the PhD program). Well, I still have to complete everything: this semester, thesis and the remaining 5 classes that will be taken this coming summer and fall. But it signifies that the end of something is near and the transition to a new chapter is on the horizon.

As I’ve wrote about in Cracking the Door to 2013, I approached the flip of the calendar with much hesitation. Unbeknownst to me during the celebratory zeal of my acceptance and preparation for the move to Dallas in 2008, I had no idea how personally trying the next 4 years would be.  Nothing could have prepared me for the intensity of personal trials and stark contradictions. No need to rehash but I think I’m in a far different place then I was that first day in August 2008.

I have suspected for some time that 2013 would mark a transition in multi-faceted ways, a time to turn the corner. Aside from wrapping up the ThM program, I don’t really know much in the way of details. But I’ve suspected that it also meant an employment transition. When I found out I was accepted to seminary, I kind of carried my profession with me. God really opened that door for me to have a good part-time position with a good mission to address the root causes of poverty and placed me among some wonderful people. Continue reading

The Road to Somewhere

I mused when I saw this photo yesterday on Facebook of incoming DTS students

That was me four years ago. What enthusiasm I had. I was so thrilled to be here. I couldn’t believe that I was embarking on such a journey. Little did I know what I’d be stepping into that would begin to chip away at that naive enthusiasm. No need to rehash since I’ve written about here and here and touched on it here.

Well, that’s been just my journey. The one thing I’ve discovered is that the Lord carves out a unique seminary experience…good, bad and/or the ugly for each one.  From what I’ve experienced?

  • Some will find love and marriage
  • Some will encounter marital difficulty
  • Some will find unexpected ministry opportunities
  • Some will lose loved ones
  • Some will encounter health issues
  • Some will have great financial difficulty
  • Some will have their ministry focus shifted
  • Some will be confronted with deep rooted issues
  • Some will have cherished doctrines deeply challenged
  • Some will change church affiliations
  • Some will withdraw for various reasons
  • Some will encounter a crisis of faith
  • Many will develop life-long friendships
  • And many will get weary in the process

….And the list goes on

Whatever the case may be for these smiling faces, they are embarking on a journey with twists and turns that will probably surprise most if not all of them. But it too is all part of the ministry training process, too. They’re on the road to somewhere. And even if it may not be what they expected, the Lord will see that they get there. And he will do the same for those of us who have lost that initial enthusiasm.