Saturday, September 28, 2019

From Theology to Doxology

In the midst of quizzes, exams and research papers, it is easy to focus on completion rather than contemplation, work rather than worship. Am I stretched with the academic load here in RTS? Of course! However, the deeper question is - Are my studies leading me to a closer relationship with what I am studying or with Who I am studying? There is the temptation that since what I am reading is largely theological in nature, then I should be in good spiritual shape, right? Wrong.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord .. (Psalm 1:2). In your presence, there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Recently, I sense a real tug in my heart to begin delighting in the presence of my Creator, my Savior, my Comforter. Yes, there are the deadlines and assignments but am I operating from a position of rested joyfulness or restless juggling? When delight gives way to duty, then the books will feel heavy indeed. I am thankful that the professors here in RTS do make a conscientious effort to ask the "so what?" question and remind us about the WHO behind the what we are studying. Oh, how I need to regular remind myself about the state of my heart before the Lord and the temptation to run on empty, relying on my own strength and effort.

During the weekend, we love to hunt for a place where we can brunch and then spend hours at the table catching up with our studies. We are in this amazing season in our lives where three of us are all students at the same time (and we enjoy the fellowship of this "suffering"). Of course, coffee, tea and regular snacks along the way helps too :-)

Please pray for us
Next week signals the start of the mid-term exams and also the start of research paper submission deadlines. Please pray that we will diligently steward the hours of the day and study systematically to cover the required essentials. Writing theological research papers is a new experience for me but I am looking forward to the challenge.

Eunice's SAT is next Saturday 5th Oct - please pray for her to be in good health and mental clarity. Please also pray for a new tenant for our house in Bandar Utama - we had an unreliable tenant who just moved out this month and we need a new one as soon as possible in order to lighten the load of our living expenses here in the US. Do let me know should you have anyone interested.

Thank you for partnering with us in this journey of joy.

Joseph, Debra & Eunice.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

My Student Prayer Script

Have started my internship duties at Uptown Church focusing in the area of mercy ministry. The picture above is the internship-lunch-teaching session led by Ps Tom Hawkes and Ps Dave Kulp. The rest of us are the interns (of which I am obviously the oldest one ...). The lesson for us that day was - "What is a theologically-driven ministry?".

On a personal note, I have crafted a prayer script for myself to keep the main thing the main thing as I study in seminary and not lose sight of the larger perspective. Hope it will be a blessing to you as well.

O Lord, thank You for calling me to a life of ministry to serve you with the special gift granted through Your manifold grace (1 Pet 4:10). I am a servant of my Lord before I am a student of the institution (Ro 1:1). Before duty, is devotion. Before work, is worship. 

Renew a steadfast spirit within me (Ps 51:10)  and grant me wisdom to complete (not compete) with endurance (Jam 1:4-5). Holy Spirit, use my assignments to create a thirst for the Presence of the Living God, a holy panting! (Ps 42:1-2). Unite my heart and guard me from distractions that I may fear Your Name (Ps 86:11). I cast my burden of anxious providence upon You (Ps 55:22) because You will grant me all things I need to abound in every good work (2 Cor 9:8). I rest in Your Faithfulness to bring to pass that which you have called me to (1 Thes 5:24). For our loved ones at home, we entrust them unto Your loving care.

While I am here, I make every effort to present myself before God as a proven worker who has no need to be ashamed, but keeps the message of truth on a straight path (2 Tim 2:15).

Fill me, O Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in excellence that I may fulfill the good work set aside for me in Jesus Christ (Ex 31:3, Eph 2:10).

I serve You with the strength You supply so that my Lord Jesus Christ gets the glory (1 Pet 4:11). May I study not with the weariness of duty but with the wisdom of fearing You and obeying Your commandments (Ecc 12:12-13). Bless me with a mind for truth, a heart for God and a life of ministry. Be exalted, Lord Jesus Christ, My Beloved, My First Love.

- Revised Nov 30, 2019

Please pray for us
Eunice will be sitting for her SAT next month - please pray for her preparations in the midst of her school work that she will be able to rightly divide her time. Also, we will be making the university decision very soon as she is in her senior year at high school. Please pray for wisdom and clarity of direction.

During the Fall Break (Oct 7-11), I will be coming home to Malaysia to conduct a corporate client training session. Thank God for this providential opportunity in terms of easing our financial need. Please pray for me to be diligent in completing my seminary assignments/exams ahead of this training so that I will be in the right state of mind (mentally and physically) to deliver the content.

Thank you for partnering with us in this journey of joy.

Joseph, Debra & Eunice.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Responding to God's Will

"For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised" (Hebrews 10:36)

Often I have an image of blessed bliss when I think about being in the center of God's will. The author of Hebrews think otherwise - the will of God is not something that "happens to me", it requires my participation, it shapes my character, it molds my mindset. So, when I think about God's will for my life, I ought to consider in what areas are God wanting me to practice endurance, that which I should persist in doing and not give up? Sometimes, people may use the "will of God" to try something new or as an excuse to get out of something which is very troublesome. But the need for endurance could be the very thing the Doctor ordered!

"And let endurance have its perfect result, that you many be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:4)

We visited the Billy Graham Library about two weeks ago and written on Ruth Bell Graham's gravestone are these words - End of Construction - Thanks for your patience".

Ruth saw this notice when she drove past an actual construction site and thought that this is such a precious reminder that God is still working in us while we are on this side of eternity. His will to shape us never stops - so, she immediately wanted this "signage" to be posted on her gravestone to mark the completion of God's work in her life (and His patience in shaping her)!

So, what do we do when the going gets tough - pray that God will give the wisdom to discern between the need for endurance and our inclination to look for excuses! Discover the Hand of the Great Constructor who is at work and you will be surprised at the long-term results He desires for you.

Please pray for us
Debra and myself need to be practicing endurance as we go through the rudiments of classes, assignments, research papers, etc. Although we are "soaking in" all the good learning stuff of seminary but we need to continuously be on guard to have the mindset of a "excellent completer", not just an "enthusiastic starter".

Also, this week I plan to put a diligent effort to kick-start (and maintain) my online coaching services. This is a needed effort as this will help to offset our living expenses here in the US. Please pray for God's wisdom and guidance so that I will rightly divide my time between studies, internship and also this online coaching service.

Thank you for partnering with us in this journey of joy.

Joseph, Debra & Eunice.