The Value of Lifelong Learning

Jeremiah and I both love learning. I am thankful that our kids seem to be catching this as well. I hope I never stop wanting to learn, and that I continue to experience learning in many different venues–in the classroom, by trying new experiences, by watching and loving children, through struggles and challenging circumstances, by being a student of other cultures, by listening to people different from myself and, most importantly in my view, by continuing to read God’s Word and seeking to know Him more.

This summer we have the great privilege to focus on deepening our knowledge of God in a classroom setting. Cru has some excellent theology classes so that its staff continue to grow and learn theologically and in ministry. These classes help us keep Christ at the center of our motivations and strategies as we continue to serve, reach out to, and minister to college students (for those of us in the Campus Ministry) around the country and the world.  It helps us to deepen our trust in and dependence on God in our personal life and minstry life, and reminds us that what matters most is His glory, not our own.

I have found that I am learning a lot about things that I thought I knew already, but had not grasped the depth and beauty of them as fully.  For example, taking a closer look at God’s attributes has both encouraged and amazed me. Similarly, studying the theology of salvation has blessed me. Christ accomplished so much through his life, death and resurrection, and yet it is so personal in how it applies to us individually in a real way–both at the point of receiving Christ as Lord, and for our whole lives after that. We are not just forgiven, but are seen as having Christ’s perfect record; we are not just given a gift, but are adopted and loved as God’s children (an amazing forever family); because we know we are loved as His children, we can experience discipline and sanctification as a safe, joyful experience for our good. Those are just some of the thoughts that have blessed and challenged me.

In addition to theology, my Apologetics class has been great. Apologetics is not just about “defending the faith,” but is really about learning how to listen and care about people, noticing and humbly addressing people’s barriers to understanding who God is and why belief in Him and in God’s Word is relevant and meaningful to our lives.

I also enjoy that Jeremiah and I have so many great conversations about what we are each learning in our different classes. We end up encouraging and challenging each other, and also enjoy talking about life and how our beliefs about God intersect it.  We would also love to hear about what you are learning from God and through life. Don’t hesitate to email us and let us know how you are doing!

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A Happiness Analogy

This is an analogy I’m toying with. Please let me know your thoughts, and suggest any corrections, additions and corresponding Bible verses.

“Imagine being in a small, narrow bay, a sound. At one end of this bay is happiness, joy, gladness and the other end is sorrow and sadness.
Our boat is our well-being, our emotions, simply how we are doing. It is our soul, our heart, our life.
Our boat is moved by the wind and waves and tides of life, and our well being moves towards or away from happiness.
Many people’s boats move up and down the bay, changed by the realities of this world but completely unhinged from anything that could give them constancy.
But for the believer, their boat is fixed to bottom by an anchor, linked by a chain, and that fixation is Christ, his goodness and happiness.
Are Christians moved by the ups and downs of the circumstances of life? Of course we are.
We groan and rejoice as life comes towards us, but we aught never to be unhinged. The anchor of our faith is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Now some people’s chain may be longer than others, and they move and sway more due to circumstances. This may be due to a variety of factors, both of nature and nurture.
There remains a very practical question, ‘Can we grow in our happiness?’ Can we grow in the range of pleasure and sorrow that our boat travels?
We cannot change the tides or the wind, but what if what we connect to at the bottom of the bay runs the length of the bay, and we can move our anchor along it? What if it is a long line that runs along, and we can move the anchor of our chain up and down this line on the bay.
I believe we can. Perhaps this is what the God means, when He says through Paul, ‘Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, [13] for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)
We aught by the power of the Holy Spirit to do Bible study, prayer, worship, fellowship, evangelism and ministry and thus become more happy. We aught to pursue digging out the parts of our nature and nurture that have caused our anchor to be too far downstream, into doubt and sadness. The gear that moves us upstream can sometimes get stuck, and we need the help of God and the help of others to get it unstuck, that we might move further up the bay, into the delta and into the river, the river of God.
[1] Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb [2] through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2 ESV)
Eternal happiness, joy, rejoicing and gladness awaits us with God in the new heavens and the new earth and we aught to pursue this same joy in God doggedly here on earth.