Friday, October 29, 2010

This is my testimony of how God saved me - a wretch, a worm, a sinner.

I was born in 1988, into a liberal Christian home, to Peter and Prudence. My five and half year old sister was delighted to have a real baby to play with; thus her dollies were abandoned in the pursuit of learning to change my nappies and singing me to sleep. Two decades of growing, learning and running away from God ensued.

My early childhood memories are starting to dissipate into the vast recesses of my overactive brain; generally they were very happy and care free times. I remember having both my parents working from home and being able to spend quality time with them. My favourite memories are: my father reading exciting and hair raising adventure novels, and comforting me in tenebrous hours when one should be soundly sleeping.

I naively made it to about year 3 before I realised that attending church was not normal for every family; 90% of our cousins and family friends went to church. It was a very rude shock. Even ruder was some time later realising that not every person went to Heaven – the only alternative being Hell. My father and I had been walking past the Synagogue and I asked him about Jews. We talked about what they believed and that believing only in God wasn’t enough. It was hugely challenging but I didn’t even attempt to connect the dots that would have resulted in a giant arrow pointing to Heaven.

Things were starting to change. I was far too in love with the world and the more I learned about unbiblical concepts like evolution and feminism the less I really believed God even existed. I stayed in the public school system till the end of primary school, tried two terms in a private school, then home schooled till the end of grade 12. Nothing much happened until I turned 18 and had a mini teenage “rebellious” stage; something I had completely forgotten to do and had no inclination for until I met a boy.

He was a temporary distraction for about 3 months and came along at the same time as my first full time job. (Interestingly, society considered me an angel but even with my limited knowledge, I knew my lifestyle was contrary to God’s standards.)

Every school holidays I was required to attend two weeks of training with all the other Department of Education information technology trainees. When I first started I was the only female in that field so I got a lot of attention and special treatment. One of the guys, Craig, became my best friend and it turned out he was a Christian. In 2007, after nine months of friendship, we started dating. Craig lived an hour from Launceston so when my contract was up I moved in with him. It was now 2008. I didn’t understand how heinous it was for me to drive Craig away from God, but in early July, Craig came to me and said he couldn’t keep living in sin and he needed to focus on God. Normally I’d have lost my temper or considered doing something vindictive but by God’s grace I said wanted to do the same.

For a couple of months we’d been going to his church, Scottsdale Gospel Hall, and I had been learning all the things that were to eventually connect the dots. I finally understood that sin was indescribably odious and abhorrent before God. I knew that God should have sent me directly to Hell. I believe He had every right to squash me like a bug but He didn’t. He kept bringing things my way that meant I couldn’t ignore Him any longer.

I’d been working four days a week, my day off had been Thursday but about that time it got changed to Friday. The first or second Friday I was walking past church and I looked at the sign. It said “Ladies Bible Study 10.30am – 12.00pm Fridays”. Well it was only 9.30am so I had time to go home, get my Bible and be back in time for the study. I knew the ladies there were very aware of my lifestyle and how deep in sin I was and I was so shocked at how loving and accepting they were.

The following Sunday, Craig decided to visit another church, so I made an extra effort to be early for our church. I wanted to be focused and ready to worship when the service started. I was surprised, once again, at the kindness and mirth of the people when I got there. They were enjoying morning tea and confabulating before the service, and I didn’t realise this was what happened. To have a coffee placed in my hands and the most delectable sweets offered the moment I walked in the door just melted my horrible, blackened heart. They had every reason to hate me: I had taken their young friend away, spoiled him and changed him. They showed no resentment and didn’t even hesitate for a second.

Craig’s good mate also attended our church with his wife and their daughter. As we became great friends they taught me about the Bible and about Jesus. The four of us spent many hours discussing theology, and by mid August God had brought me to a realisation that I could not go back; back to sinning without a care and hating God. I had no choice but to turn from my sin, to die to my old self and to trust Jesus. Trust that He is faithful and perfect. Trust that He could and would cleanse me and make me new. I was highly aware that following Jesus would not be easy but I was glad to do whatever He wanted because I knew He had secured a place for me in Heaven.

One of our elders and his wife were taking their family on a holiday. They needed a house sitter and I needed to move out of Craig’s place. They said I could stay with them as long as I needed. When they returned from holiday they found me a little flat and helped me move all my things. During that time Craig and I decided to just be friends. We both knew we needed to concentrate on God and we were only providing each other with a dubious distraction.

In October a group from church trooped of to the GLO ( graduation, held in Burnie, and I went too. I got to hear all about studying the Bible, what living for God entailed and that being equipped for His work was important. I told my elder's wife I wanted to go. She introduced me to the principal and his wife. They thought the Discipleship course would be perfect for me. I talked non-stop about GLO all the way home!

I was so excited. I spent hours making a budget and planning everything. By February 2009, even though I was desperate to get there and get started, I still cried when I was driving out of town. I was leaving my church family and it hurt. I settled into GLO life relatively quickly but I struggled to make friends. I was intolerant of people who flouted rules and my anger showed. I didn’t love them unconditionally as Jesus commands us to. I didn’t intend to upset or offend anyone but I did. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I make no secret of what I am thinking. Abruptness and brutal honesty without grace is a dangerous thing.

In the nine months I was at GLO there were many tears and much laughter. I got on well with the staff and they were very patient with me. I couldn’t say what my favourite subject was because it was all about God. Things weren’t always easy but it was all worthwhile. There were things I just didn’t get around to doing (like reading all the books in the library) and the things I did accomplish were with God’s strength and grace. Being immersed in God’s word continually for nine months leaves a sempiternal mark.

The things we studied were great but not as in depth as I would have liked. Nine months is rather limiting so three years or more at RTC sounds fantastic! I call myself a "Theology Wonk" and a "Sovereign Gracer Tuliparian”. I very much want to engage my brain, so to do that whilst learning about the only important thing in life, absolutely thrills me. I want to be able to serve God well and in a way that honours Him; to be able to study the Bible effectively and accurately, know and hold fast to solid theology, gain and develop skills needed for ministry, and persevere in my faith till He calls me home.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Confusion and Excitement

I am confused about how to make this blog stuff work and I'm excited because I posted my application to the RTC yesterday. (Please be patient while I tweak the page. Also, let me know if my Latin grammar is wrong and tell me what it should say.)

I sent it express so they should be in possession of it and processing it.

Now that the initial paperwork is complete I must patiently await approval/acceptance and the chance to choose my subjects.

The list should look something like this:

Subject No.Subject NameWhen Taught
Old Testament
OT201Formative OT TraditionsO1
OT202From Israel to JudeaO2
OT205Genesis, Deuteuronomy, SamuelO1
OT206Pre-exilic ProphetsE2
New Testament
NT201Gospel TraditionsE1
NT202Early NT ChurchE2
NT205Luke, JohnE1
NT206Romans/I CorinthiansO2
Th310Doctrine of God, ChristE1
Th311The Holy Spirit, Grace and HopeO1
Philosophy & Ethics
PE211Ethics and Contemporary ProblemsE2
Church History
Ch301The Church to 1550All1
Ch3021550 to Modern TimesAll2
Evangelism and Missiology
EM202History of MissionE1
EM207Bib. And Cont. Theology of MissionO2
EM213Mission Area StudyAllBoth
EM223Foundations for EvangelismE1
EM240Cross Cultural Field EducationO2
EM241Evangelism Field EducationE2
Pastoral and Church Focussed Ministry
PC202Pastoral Care (= Foundations)E1
PC203Pastoral Skills & MethodsO2
PC210Personal Life of Those in MinistryAllBoth
PC215Christian WorshipO1
PC235Management and LeadershipO1
PC243Pastoral Ministry Field EducationE2
PC246Lay Ministry Field EducationE2
PC249Supervised Exp. Based Learning (SEBL)AllBoth
RDP21Principles of PreachingE2
Developmental Ministries
DM210Foundations for Youth MinistryO1
DM241Youth Ministry Field EducationO2
LA203a/bBiblical Hebrew (two semesters)EBoth
LA204a/bNew Testament Greek (two semesters)OBoth

Then I'll have to decide which direction to take with the studies. I am definitely doing  Greek and Hebrew but as for the other subjects I'm not sure. I like Church History so I'll hopefully do both. I think I'd like History of Mission, Apologetics, OT, NT and Theology subjects. I'm undecided on Ethics and Contemporary Problems.

Thing is I'll only be doing the Diploma subjects for semester one...unless I fail miserably then I'll do the Diploma till the end of the year. After semester one I hope to be doing well enough to change to the Degree course.

Degree subjects are something like this:

Subject No.Subject NameWhen TaughtPrerequisites
Old Testament
OT301Formative OT TraditionsO1None
OT302From Israel to JudeaO2None
OT/NT303Introduction to HermeneuticsE2None
OT411Former Prophets [E]O14 Subjects incl. 301,302
OT4228th Century Prophets [Hebrew]O24 subjects incl. 301, 302 + LA303
OT423Exilic Prophecy [Hebrew]E14 subjects incl. 301, 302 + LA303
OT426The Psalter [Hebrew]E24 subjects incl. 301, 302 + LA303
RDO31Foundations for Hebrew ExegesisO1LA303
New Testament
NT301Cont. & Set Gospel TraditionsE1None
NT302Early NT ChurchE2None
NT430Synoptic Gospels [Greek]O14 subjects incl. 301, 302 + LA304
NT4244th Gospel [English]E14 subjects incl. 301 + 301
NT4344th Gospel [Greek]O24 subjects incl. 301, 302 + LA304
NT435Pauline Theology & Romans [Greek]E24 subjects incl. 301, 302 + LA304
RDN31Foundations for NT ExegesisE1LA304
TH401Knowledge of GodE14 subjects
TH402The Being of God & the Work of ChristE24 subjects
TH403Doctrine of Grace & EschatologyO14 subjects
TH404Church, Sacraments, MinistryO24 subjects
TH489Seminar - Contemporary TheologyAll1O.T., N.T., Theology & C.H. core
Philosophy and Ethics
PE301Introduction to Christian EthicsE1None
PE418Christian Faith in SocietyE24 subjects
PE420Christian ApologeticsO24 subjects
Church History
CH301The Church to 1550All1None
CH3021550 to Modern timesAll2None
CH421Continental ReformationE24 subjects incl 301&302 or 303&304
Evangelism and Missiology
EM302History of Christian MissionsE1None
EM305Theology of MissionO2None
EM324Evangelism PrinciplesO1None
EM425Applied EvangelismAll24 subjects incl. 324
Pastoral and Church Focused Ministry
PC315Christian WorshipO1None
PC402Pastoral CareE14 subjects + 1 TH400
PC403Pastoral Skills & MethodsO24 subjects + 1 TH400
PC408Spiritual FormationAll2None
PC435Leadership & ManagementO14 subjects + 1 TH400
RDC31Creeds & ConfessionsO2None
RDP31Principles of PreachingE2None
RDP42Practice of PreachingAllBothRDP31
LA301Introduction to Biblical HebrewE1None
LA303aBiblical Hebrew [4]E1None
LA303bBiblical Hebrew [4]E2LA303
LA302Intro to NT GreekO1None
LA304aNT Greek [4]O1None
LA304bNT Greek [4]O2LA304
Projects & Practicals
PE/EM/PC4xx xxPracticalAll24 Core, check with supervisor
++490ProjectAllBothTwo 400 level subjects in field chosen

Lots to learn!