A Few Notes from my first experiences at seminary appear
Bonnie attended Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary for three years
(2004-2007) in preparation for her ministry as a pastor. Have you ever thought
of becoming a pastor to some of the people God loves? As Jesus said, "The
fields are white with the harvest."
October 15 “Surprise of Joy”
As I was rushing toward the
library for a few more hours of study, I came upon the three Korean
children on the seminary campus. The oldest boy is five, and his brother
is two; the little girl was 2 ˝, and was walking with difficulty because
her pants were wet. They were on the main campus, several hundred feet
from the student housing, so I looked around for an adult tending them,
but found no one. I determined to escort them across the valley and back
to their homes to safety. There were delivery trucks cruising by the
people leaving work, so I clucked them off to the side of the road—aware
that they understand little or no English. “These are such adorable
children,” I thought. “Why in the world are they alone?”
Finally I was able to walk
them home, persuading the little girl to hold my hand while we walked. I
shouted to the Dean of Students as she left for home, asking for their
names and addresses. She told me as she ran to her car, and I headed for
the little girl’s home. The little boys preferred staying at the
playground (where an adult had told them to stay, I wondered?), so I took
the little girl to her mother first. The mother was happy to receive her
daughter, but with few English skills she couldn’t tell me why the
children were wandering unsupervised.
I joined the boys and
escorted them home only to discover that no one was home! (where could
their mother be? Having recently arrived from
, they would have no driver’s license or work permit.) So we returned to
the playground to await a parent. I set down my heavy books and spent the
next hour swinging with the two-year-old, who put his head in my lap and
fell asleep. I had planned a long study session, but God had provided me
with a restful reprieve with three delightful children—and awareness of
the necessity of urgent communication with these parents: We needed to put
the fear of
Somehow the community must
discover their needs and help them create solutions. It was an unexpected
joy for me, however, to care for three adorable children for an
hour—especially since I rarely get to see my own three little
granddaughters of the same age. What a wonderful gift from God—for me
and for three precious young children.
Oct 12, 2004 Special Messages:
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep
your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in
affliction, faithful in prayer.
13 Share with God's people who are in
Practice hospitality. (Romans
Don't be conformed to this world, but
be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the
good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, WEB)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or
vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of
you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of
others. Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)
Pray continually. (1 Thessalonians
'Therefore I tell you, whatever you
ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.'
To him who is able to keep you from
falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with
great joy-- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority,
through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude
October 10, 2004
I'm reading lots and lots about lots
and lots of people’s histories and writings. Read Augustine, Luther, Wesley and
Calvin last week. This week is Tillich, Channing,
Thurman, Williams, Ray.
Also the Pentateuch. Busy times.
Hope I don't get wet because it would
all run together.
If anyone wants to know more about
Ezra 1, just let me know.
I wrote a paper on it for Scripture 1
(after reading Daniel, II Kings, II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and large
portions of many other books).
And here’s the question for the
week: What passage in Jeremiah was Ezra forgetting in his decision about the
people in Ezra 9-10?
October 3, 2004
The almost daily chapel services here
are really inspiring. On September 16, one of the OT professors gave a sermon
about understanding the vindictive language of the Psalms. Earlier our new
president, Dean Thompson, presented a wonderful sermon about how our friends
provide for us. Look for his sermon soon on my web site:
www.Network4Singles.com. Then, last week the new Moderator for the General
Assembly gave a talk letting us know what his community in New Mexico is doing
to help those who might die crossing the border. What an opportunity! Coming
soon to a web site near you!
I'll be in Virginia a day or so after
Christmas for a couple of days but don't know if I'll be there much after that.
In January I'll be taking Greek, and in the spring I'll do the NT and Greek exegesis. I have Clinical Pastoral
Education this summer: 40 hours a week working as a hospital chaplain all
summer. Should be a full schedule.
This week we are learning about sin
and social justice. Reading some of the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Delores Williams and others. We’re planning a Teach-In the end of this month
on ending violence.
September 30, 2004
God's word to me about my gifts to Him
while I'm in seminary was found in Leviticus 2. The grain offering "shows
honor and respect to God" and "acknowledges that all we have belongs
according to the notes in my Bible.
People were instructed to bring 1/10 of a bushel of flour mixed with olive oil
and incense to the priest, and a handful of it was to be burned on the altar.
The rest was used as food for the priest, but all of it was considered holy and
a gift to God. Also, it was to contain no yeast.
So, I'll be giving a
"handful" (about 1%) to the seminary as a "grain offering"
and use the rest to pay seminary expenses. The olive oil and incense are the
other gifts that I give to the seminary (like I brought mugs to all those who
had helped me here and volunteered time for the phonathon), and I'm not to
contaminate the gift by using any of the money for other things, like investing
it in another project. And all of the gifts--to the seminary, to my children,
and to the seminary student living in my body—will be a gift to the Lord,
thanking God and recognizing that all I have belongs to God.
Learned today that there is no Hebrew
word for "obey." When you read the word "obey" in the Old
Testament, it can be best translated "listen" or "harken."
Interesting, isn't it! God is still
talking. All we have to do is listen, really listen.
September 24, 2004
You won't believe what happened to me
yesterday. I've been praying about how to tithe the donations I'm getting. I
want to be responsible toward God and toward those who are supporting this work
I'm going to write up a paper on what
God has been teaching me, and I'll send it later but I'll give you the short
version now. On Friday I got my first paycheck from the seminary (I man the
switchboard for the regular person's 15 minute break every day): $6.50. As is my
custom, I give a first fruits offering for special work, so I added $20 to the
amount and wrote a check to the seminary for $27.
I didn't know how to give it, so I
asked someone during our phonathon (to Alumni) for the Annual Fund. We had a
good discussion, and she pointed out that though it is an individual decision, I
am devoted to God, so using the money donated to me may be the best use. I
contributed my little check to the Annual Fund marked "for seminary
Since I had already written the
donation check, God saw my heart. The wonderful gifts from my church to help
with my seminary funding arrived in the mail that day. I'll be writing a thank
you note this weekend. But that wasn't all.
I got a letter from my mother, and I
expected a little note responding to my thank you for her donation to my
seminary fund. But it was a cashier's check from the recent sale of her house
(she also sent a check to my brothers)—to put into savings. I was praying
about how to tithe it. Praying about it all night, I resolved to ask God to show
me what to do through my scripture reading (thinking, I'll be reading Leviticus
tomorrow, what message can I get out of Leviticus?). And sure enough, the next
morning there is was! Can you guess what answer I got? It's in Leviticus 2.
September 20, 2004
The stranger, "ger" in Hebrew, is the
group of people mentioned most often in the scriptures. We are commanded, not
only avoid abuse, but to care for the stranger and provide for them in every way
as if they were our kin. The woman who is sharing her house with me has welcomed
me and continues to treat me with kindness even though I am a stranger. Thank
God for Jeanne Heberle; she is a gift from God.
Isn't it amazing what benefits we can bring to
one another when we simply do what God would have us do?
I have so much appreciation for all those who
have helped me get to this seminary campus and train for the purpose God has
designed me for.
I'm learning about all kinds of "men
and women of God," and that experience alone is inspiring and challenging. We're
turning in more than one paper a week, and tomorrow a 5 page paper on Jonathan
Edwards is due. Challenging! But they have so much information to cram into our
heads before we can begin interesting discussions.
Our seminary choir is tiny, only about
10 people, but well rounded. Only choir I've ever sung in with too few sopranos!
We sing a small anthem every Friday morning for chapel. Still haven't found a
group singing Handel’s "Messiah" this year. Hope I don't miss a
year. That's the highlight for me.
Let us see what the Lord can do with each of us
as we follow His leading.
My favorite quote of the day—from
the main desk at the seminary library:
Do not wait for divine intervention: Ring Bell for Service.
September 18, 2004
Good News! The seminary was able to
award me a Presbyterian study grant after all! Yea! Everything will really help.
Things are going well financially, but I've still had to borrow about $8,500.
Hope to have better results from the scholarship requests this year: they'll
already be acquainted with me, and I'll have something to show for my work.
I started my Jonathan Edwards class
yesterday. He's one of the earliest, foremost American preachers. You've
probably read "A Sinner in the Hand's of an Angry God," but he loved
nature and wrote lots of gentler things, too. We're going to have a little drama
with important people in his life in a town hall meeting. I'm going to play
Jonathan Edwards! Should be fun with my lengthy experience with revival
I really appreciate all that the CPM
committee does. Presbyterians have to get on fire with this if they want to fill
our pulpits for the next 20 years. I see several retired people on the seminary
campuses because there are so few young people to take their places, and
Presbyterians like to have all the offices filled with former seminary students,
so there are few for the pulpits. All of them are performing wonderful services
for the rest of us!
I agree that the studies are a bit
overwhelming, but God keeps telling me to keep my focus on Him. Keep me in your
prayers. At my age I have the good sense to "just go to bed" and not
worry overly much about stuff.
My favorite quote for the day: (My discussion group was talking about
how welcoming this campus is, and especially happy that pets are allowed in the
rooms. Finally someone remarked, "This school welcomes dogs, cats and
September 16, 2004
Our new seminary president says,
"When I saw a turtle on a fence post, I knew he hadn't gotten here by
himself. Neither have any of us! Someone is always helping us to get where we
are today." If you are reading this, you have helped me in a very
significant way to get where I am today. THANK YOU!!!
Beginning students (like me) are required to take
a two-semester course called Christian History And Theological Studies. We're
beginning with Christian History and dipping into the theological writers. In
Old Testament we're studying the Torah (the first five books) and how the Bible
was pasted together. Very interesting.
Do you know what group of people is mentioned
most often in the Old Testament with special commands for the covenant people?
I'm taking a class on Jonathan
Edwards, well known American preacher in 1750, and we're doing a drama with
several people central to his life. Should be fun! Our professor is an expert
and is helping Yale publish all of his writings (25 volumes so far).
The Bible we are required to use in
Scripture 1 includes the Apocrypha—a set of books that were not included in
the canon that the Protestants use. Canonizing scripture sets it aside as the
"authentic word of God" and there has been some dispute about which
documents and text deserve that designation through the years. We're reading
everything so we'll be acquainted with it. There are examples in the Bible
itself, such as II Kings 22-23 and Exodus 24. Check it out.
September 12, 2004
Classes started here at Louisville
Presbyterian Seminary on Thursday, Sep 9, and a paper was due the following day
covering the intro to a book about all the theologians.
Feeling a little overwhelmed just at
first. Have to read portions of the "Confessions" of St. Augustine
this weekend and a bit more.
Things are working out well with
school and my living arrangements. Lots to read (about 250 pages a night, plus
reflection and papers). One of my professors is a real corker (although she's
older than I am). She's an expert in Hebrew and is teaching us the Hebrew
Bible/Old Testament. She's originally from the Netherlands, and remembers the
Nazi occupation. She says that the Church owes some apologies to the world at
large for allowing Hitler to do so much damage.
Thoughts for the week:
Did you realize that the word
"love" does not appear in the Book of Acts?
Did you know that the word
"sin" does not appear in the story of the fall of man in Genesis?
Did you know that the serpent is not
identified as Satan?
Something to think about.
September 8, 2004
What a delight this campus is! The
seminary is surrounded on three sides by parkland—so big that people get lost
in them. Within the grounds there is a labyrinth and several private places for
an outdoor quiet time. I feel like I’m going to spend three years in a garden
with God. I’ll be busy, but the face of God will be always before me.
I’m making some new friends, and the
professors and administrators are wonderfully helpful. Last week I got turned
around while driving through the city of Louisville. After a while I entered the
Cherokee Park and thought to myself, "I can get lost in this park like so
many people do because I don’t know where I am." I finally stopped a
jogger and said, "If I wanted to leave the park, what would you
Believe it or not, traffic is worse
here than in the DC area. Auto insurance is about 1/3 higher, too. You’ll know
why after a couple of cars miss you by inches. Had two answers to prayer before
I got to class the other morning. It’s a delightful place, though, mountains
to the east and the Ohio River to the west. Lots of interesting restaurants and
September 1, 2004
Things are beginning well. I have signed in at the seminary and applied for a
driver's license. I have a new bank account, but little money in it. I have
emptied my new mailbox. I ordered several books about Hebrew from Alibris
on-line. My favorite is a workbook for adults who are learning Hebrew: Aleph
I am learning to use my new cell phone. Ahhh. The saga begins. More later!
Here's the verse that I feel is meant for me this semester: "Remember
your leaders who have taught you the Word of God. think of all the good that has
come from their lives, and try to trust the Lord as they do. Jesus Christ is the
same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new
ideas. Your spiritual strength comes as a gift from God, not from ceremonial
rules about eating certain foods...don't forget to do good and to share what you
have with those in need... Obey your spiritual leaders and be willing to do what
they say. For their work is to watch over your souls, and God will judge them on
how well they do this. Give them reason to report joyfully about you to the Lord
and not with sorrow, for then you will suffer for it too." Hebrews 13: 7-8,
August 20, 2004
Well, I'm off! Or soon will be. Right now my house is
full of boxes in various states of fulfillment. (Question: do boxes experience
fulfillment when they are filled and fully utilized? Too philosophical for
me.) Moving day is August 25, and all my friend's are invited to a Reception
ten days before I leave.
Here's my inspiration for this week: "Whom shall he teach knowledge? And
whom shall he make to understand doctrine?...For precept must be upon precept,
precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a
little..." (Isaiah 28: 9-10)
I have a lot to learn, and every little bit counts. Please keep me in your