“Dear Dad, I’m thinking about dropping out of college, so I can do something significant for God instead of wasting my time going to school.” So started my freshman letter to my father.
It seemed to me that going to college and possibly to graduate school was too much work, too much money, and a waste of too much time while living in a world that needed Jesus. I figured I could invest my life better in a community rather than on a campus.
My father wrote back, with a letter that changed my life. Although I did not save it, I certainly remember its contents.
When I was about your age, I weighed the same decision. I was passionate
for ministry and wanted to quit school. I asked for advice from Dr. Donald Barnhouse, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Barnhouse told me that if he had 10 years to live he would spend nine in preparation and one in ministry. He was convinced he would accomplish more
for God in that one year than he would have accomplished in nine years of
ministry with only one year of preparation. He advised that sharpening the axe before chopping the tree means you’ll have chopped more wood by the end of the day.
Higher education wasn’t easy for my dad. His parents attended grade school and no more. He dropped out of high school when he was 16. When he believed in Jesus and was drawn to ministry in his late teens, he decided to go back to school. The journey was hard—Bible school at night, back to high school with teenagers in the fledgling church he started, and then college, seminary and graduate studies. It took him more than nine years but led to an amazing lifetime of ministry. He served in missions and evangelism, pastored a large metropolitan church for 33 years, and became a college president.
Today, we bring you a message by Dr. Jerry Flora. This message was recorded on Wednesday January 13, 2016 during our Seminary Chapel. Dr. Flora is a beloved professor who trained hundreds of students for ministry at Ashland Seminary. He was named Professor Emeritus of Theology and Spiritual Formation.
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders,Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peacebe with you!’After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.The disciples were overjoyedwhen they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:19-23, NIV
We recently celebrated Resurrection Sunday. That day where we remember when history pivoted in a new direction. Christ is not dead – resurrection has happened. As the late Yale University historian, Jaroslov Pelikan, wrote: “If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen – nothing else matters.”
Luke Keefer would have agreed with Pelikan but may have adapted the quote just a tad. “If Christ is risen, the church has a job to do. If Christ is not risen, the church can go about its usual business.” Such was Luke’s prophetic call to the church. As an historian who surveyed the entire history of the church, he never gave up hope for its witness.
To change can mean to make the form or nature of something different than it was previously. I can change my mind, change clothes, change direction and change my behavior. An animal called a chameleon can change its color to match its background, making itself invisible to predators. People change jobs, partners, cars, their minds, cell phone carriers and a myriad of other things in their lives. Interestingly enough, the word transformation is used to define the word change (when the word “into” is added). I believe the word transformation suggests a deeper meaning.
If one simply looks at the dictionary definition, the words change and transform are almost interchangeable. The word change is used to define the word transform. In either definition, a difference occurs because something that was one way has become something else. So what, you ask? Thank you for asking that question!
Paul says in Romans 12:1-2 that a transformation can occur if we choose to renew our minds.
This week we bring you a message by Ken Hunn. He serves as Executive Director of the Brethren Church. The message was recorded on Wednesday January 21, 2015 during our Seminary Chapel.
Rev. Hunn provides visionary leadership, guiding and coordinating staff in fulfilling the priorities and ministries of the Brethren Church. In his role, Rev. Hunn draws upon twenty-three years as a lead pastor in two congregations, as well as his experiences in working with the Church’s Global Partners. He is a graduate of Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana and Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland Ohio. Ken and Nancy are the proud parents of Son Andrew and wife Ashley, daughter Carol and son Jonathan and wife Stefanie. The Hunn’s enjoy antiquing, traveling, fishing and spending time at the lake.
Scripture Matthew 9:35-38
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Rev. Ken Hunn has served as Executive Director of the Brethren Church since July 2003.
I wonder how 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 might work as a New Year’s resolution:
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
These words of Paul only make sense (and will only be “resolutions kept”) if we have faith to believe that God is able to handle the challenges that will inevitably come our way in 2015. I’d like to provide you with a bit of perspective that might strengthen your faith in God’s ability. These are primarily known as cosmological arguments (the view that there is a divine cause of the universe). While these arguments will not show that Christianity is true or Jesus was God Incarnate who came to rescue us from sin, they do have a lot to say about God’s capability, power and creativity. They are important enough to be highlighted in numerous scriptures including Psalm 19, Job 38-42 and Romans 1.
Welcome to the Table, our weekly blog from Ashland Theological Seminary. We want this blog to serve as an online resource where people from different Christian traditions can “come to the table” to exchange ideas about life and ministry. We believe that all of us are called to serve in the Kingdom. Whether you are a full-time minister, a bi-vocational minister or a lay or business leader, this blog is for you.
At Ashland Theological Seminary our calling is to equip people for various roles in ministry. Whether is at a church, a nonprofit organization or in the marketplace.