Reflections on Spring Semester

I’ve been meaning to post something and now that the semester is almost over, I finally am getting around to it 🙂

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

I chose to switch it up a bit… this time it is video format!

If you are interested in chatting, I would be glad to schedule some time. You can do so here!

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

Highlights from the past two months:

  • Visiting Afghan restaurant
  • Walking along the ocean
  • Going home to see family
  • Getting together with my dormmates to share testimonies
  • Meeting with men from a Halfway House to discuss the Bible
  • Visiting Chinese grocery store

“And when you pray in the name of Christ, it means that you can prevail just as well as He could Himself, and receive just as much as God’s beloved Son would if He were to pray Himself for the same things.”

Charles Finney (1792-1875)

Round 2 Begins

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

Howdy friends!

Spring semester is well underway as Monday marked the beginning of week four! I have five classes and am loving each one!

Evangelism
The course teaches principles and models of successful evangelism. Topics include: the study of effective evangelists in history, practical ways to increase one’s ability to effectively share the faith, and biblical presentations of the gospel.

Historical Theology
This course is designed to introduce you to the history of theology. In this course, you will examine the theological emphases of the early church, become familiar with developments in the medieval, reformations, and modern periods, and draw connections to current debates in Christian faith and practice. This course highlights key thinkers and debates in Christian theology. Employing primary sources, the course will attempt to discuss the various topics from a wide range of theological perspectives. This course also aims to inspire you to better understand and appreciate historic Christianity, ultimately leading you to glorify God and prosper His Kingdom in your generation.

Apologetics
This course equips students with basic Christian apologetic skills. Topics include the history of apologetics, arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, approaches to apologetics (classical, evidential, presuppositional, reformed epistemology, and cumulative case), the controversy of miracles, the authority of Scripture, biblical harmonization, pluralism, and responses to objections toward the faith

International and Global Affairs
Human security and flourishing tend to be the dominant forces that drive actors on the world stage. What are the origins of statecraft and how do scholars argue that nations make decisions to promote security and flourishing? How do individuals within these systems take action to catalyze change? As a people commissioned bring the “gospel of the kingdom” to all nations, Christians must understand the dynamics of our world to stand a chance to fulfill our commission by God’s grace.

This course is a wide-ranging introduction to central principles of international affairs and foreign policy analysis. Introductory sessions will cover key concepts of international relations and policy. Subsequent weeks will apply these ideas to different elements of statecraft, institutions, revolutions, theories of world change, and a diverse set of contemporary policy problems. The course emphasizes skill development through written exercises (policy memorandums, opinion editorials, and book journals), reading current events, class discussion, presentations, and debates.

Elementary Greek II
This course covers basic grammar, syntax and vocabulary of Koine Greek, through both inductive and deductive methods. Class time will consist of approximately 90% spoken Koine Greek, using total physical response (TPR) and interactive storytelling. Students will acquire basic oral communication skills, and will be introduced to most of the morphology of Greek nouns and verbs which was not covered in the first semester. This class, building on the first semester of Greek, will prepare students to be able to read and comprehend basic passages from the Greek New Testament.

Plus, I have chosen to sit in on Islam class as I want to better understand the Muslim worldview. While I am not completing any of the assignments or readings for the class, I have found the lectures very interesting.

Islam
This course focuses mainly on the three primary sources upon which Islam is based: the Qur’an, the Sahih al-Bukhari collection of Hadith, and Sirat Rasul Allah by Ibn Ishaq. This look at classical Islam is complemented by an historical overview of Islam, an apologetics dimension from a Christian perspective, a mosque field trip, and a research paper on a topic integral to Islam.

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

It was really good to go home and catch up with friends and spend time with family. Since classes have begun, I haven’t done much outside of school, although a friend and I did go visit a Islam Cultural Center which was a unique experience.

Elisha was no common man now that God’s Spirit was upon him, calling him to God’s work, and aiding him in it. And you, devoted, anxious, prayerful teacher, remain no longer a common being, you have become, in a special manner, the temple of the Holy Ghost, God dwelleth in you, and you by faith have entered upon the career of a wonder-worker. You are sent into the world not to do the things which are possible to man, but those impossibilities which God worketh by His Spirit, by the means of His believing people.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Preparing for landing

Its been awhile!

Originally I had planned to post weekly, which quickly became once a month. You can see how that’s gone 🙂 Here is a snapshot into the life of Bennett the past two months. Only a week and a half left of classes this semester!

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

Christian Doctrines
What is a Christ-centered soteriology (study of the doctrine of salvation)? How do we define faith and the gospel? What does Paul mean by the law? Are faith and good works enemies?

What are the different atonement theories? How do each influence our view of God? How does each view impact the doctrine of justification?

What is Calvinism? How does it compare to Arminianism? What is at stake for God’s character in this debate? Is it possible for free will and Divine determinism to exist together?

How should state and church interact? What does history teach us when the two mingle? How does it affect the church’s witness? How does it impact the government?

Is the teaching of the headcovering relevant for today? Was it cultural or countercultural for Corinth? Is it referring to a fabric covering or to the woman’s hair?

How do we apply Jesus’ teaching of divorce and remarriage to relationships today? Is remarriage after divorce allowable in certain circumstances? How do you counsel a convert to Christianity who has been divorced and remarried?

Are gifts of the Spirit still active today? Or, were they simply for the Apostles? Why don’t miracles such as healings seem to be as prominent today?

What happens when we die? Do we go directly to heaven? Is there an intermediary period until we are resurrected? What is heaven?

Fundamental Texts
What is Divine accommodation? What is concordism? How does it impact the creation story? Why is it important to how we read scripture?

How do we know the Bible manuscripts can be trusted? Variances exists between manuscripts so how we do explain them? What are the most trustworthy manuscripts? Which manuscripts are used for various Bible translations?

Where did Paul travel on each missionary journey? What was the location and context in which he wrote his letters? What are major events from his journey?

What are principles of faithful Biblical interpretation? What hermeneutic do we use to discern the meaning of Scripture?


Greek

Just more vocab and greek grammar rules!

Since I don’t have that much to say here I thought I would let you listen to me reading the account on the last supper (τον εσχατον δειπνον) if you wish. My pronunciation is a work in progress 🙂



Expository Writing & Oral Communications

I just handed in my final research paper – what a relief to have that done! My thesis was why 21st Century American Christian College Students should be educated in both the secular and the sacred – it doesn’t have to be either or. College shouldn’t be simply about getting educated so you can get a better job. Rather, higher education can be used to gain a better understanding of church history and develop stronger spiritual disciplines.

My final speech will be on the above topic. The other speeches I gave include a persuasive speech that everyone should learn to play the piano, and an informative speech on the health benefits of getting enough sleep.

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

Most of you probably know my grandma passed away; hence my trip home. I’m really thankful for the time I had with family while home. You never know what a year, month or even a day will bring. It makes me more thankful for a God Who never changes!

This poem and picture are a reminder to let those precious to you know you love them often and enjoy every moment with them 🙂

And although all learning is of great value there is here again a certain priority. If you are interested in learning, certainly this is a fine quality, provided you turn your knowledge to Christ. If on the other hand, you love letters only for the sake of knowledge, you have not gone far enough.

Desiderius Erasmus

And a song! This is one we sang in Choir club called Calm Me, Lord. It’s been a comforting song in the midst of all the change life brings.

Onward & Forward

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

Our first day on campus was September 8th!! Here are a few snap shots of campus.

Student Lounge
Large Commons Area

Christian Doctrines
We began with asking ourselves “Why is doctrine or theology important?” We noted the negative connotations that “theology” tends to carry and discussed its positives.

We’ve discussed the doctrine of Scipture, the trinity (note: this term never appears in Scripture altho the concept is certainly there), church membership, and baptism. While I would love to dive into a discussion on each of these I think I’ll just leave a few questions for you to ponder based on class discussion and reading we did:

1) Is Scripture the infallible Words of God? Is it inerrant? Why is the Word of God considered inspired?

2) Muslims claim Christians believe in multiple Gods because of our trinitarian belief. How would you explain that God is 3 persons yet 1 God? (If interested further in this, check out this debate of an ex-muslim defending the Trinity)

2) Is church membership biblical? If so, what is the difference between the local congregation and the universal church? Does a Christian join the church or submit to the church? What is the responsibility of the church to the members? What is the responsibility of church members to the congregation?

3) What is the purpose of baptism? Is it necessary for salvation? How old should one be before being baptized? Is baptism in the new covenant equivalent to circumcision in the old covenant?

Fundamental Texts
This is probably my favorite class. My old covenant understanding is very poor and it has been so amazing to watch God’s story take shape. We began in Genesis and are working our way through toward the New Covenant. Currently we are up to Ezra.

A couple worshipful experiences I’ve had include:
1) Connection of Jesus and Joshua. Moses was unable to lead the Israelites into the promised land. Joshua took his place. Joshua is the same name for Jesus, meaning Salvation. Moses represents the old covenant and cannot get us into the promised land but Joshua (or Jesus) can!
2) Connection of Old Covenant feasts with New Covenant events
Leviticus 22 Feasts

  1. Passover/Unleavened Bread (Nisan 14)
  2. Firstfruits (Day after Sabbath after Nisan 14)
  3. Feast of Weeks: 50 days after firstfruits (Pentacost) 7*7+1
  4. Feast of Trumpets: First day of 7th month
  5. Day of Atonement/Cleansing: 10th day of 7th month
  6. Feast of Tabernacles/Ingathering: 15th day of 7th month

Matches history of Jesus

  1. Crucifixion
  2. Resurrection – first day of the week
  3. Holy Spirit descends
  4. Loud blast of trumpets
  5. Day of Cleansing – everything is made right
  6. All is gathered in to a feast to enjoy

We are on our third book. First, we read Inductive Bible Study which taught how to study scripture in a way you can take it in context and at its face value. I found it very insightful and hope to reread it in the future. Our second book was The Circle Maker which discussed the importance of prayer. It made me realize how small my prayers were and my tendency to limit God… if only we would ask more!!! Currently we are reading The Mission of God. It’s making the claim that missions did not start with the Great Commission in the Gospels; rather, it’s been at the center of God’s heart since creation.

Part of the class is learning good spiritual disciplines, such as journaling and consistent prayer for Spirit-inspired requests. Our professor published this helpful journal to aid in building those disciplines.



Greek
θεος εστιν καλος!

God is good! Learning the alphabet was fun as you can see above it is different than the English alphabet. Also, we are making progress towards reading small bits of scripture! The other day we got to act out John 1:19-23 when the Levites come to John asking who he is.

Expository Writing & Oral Communications
We are discussing the history of how education has been viewed including discussions from philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato. Some of our class discussion has been about what should education be and what issues are hinder effective education.

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

The walk to campus is about 20 minutes. Going through the Boston Public Gardens which has some beautiful flowers is always a day brightener! Also, there are some beautiful flowers in front of homes.

Sattler is all about discipleship. Therefore, each student is placed in a journey group. This is one of the things I’m most excited for. To kick it off, our group went to Mooyahs – the burgers were great as was getting to know my group members!

I had a wonderful evening of food and fellowship at my hosts place one evening. I enjoyed meeting an amazing Chinese couple who are first generation Christians! Hearing their testimony was very life giving.

God reminded us that He keeps His promises the other afternoon 🙂

I began a work-study position at the college as campus coordinator. Once or twice a week I stay on campus in the evenings and close up. One of my favorite views is the city at night!

Small numbers make no difference to God. There is nothing small if God is in it.

DL Moody

Also, I want to share a couple songs. I had never heard either. After a time of prayer with some students, we concluded with this song. In such a polarized nation, we long to “be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we shine as lights in the world” Philippians 2:15

Lastly, here is a recording of when some students got together for an evening of singing. The lyrics comes from Psalm 25. As mentioned in my about me post, I’ve wrestled with shame. I love how Psalm 25 is a request to God to keep us from shame. This can only happen as we place ourselves in God’s hands and let Him grant us deliverance from the sin and brokenness that threatens to destroy us!

Let the learning begin…

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

As the clock struck 8 am Monday morning I officially began my first day of class at Sattler college! While we couldn’t be on campus the first week it was great to just get started.

Following is list of courses I am taking this semester with the professors description:

Fundamental Texts of Christianity: This course is an introduction to the content, interpretation, and theology of both the Old and New Testaments. The overview of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) provides students with an appreciation for and cohesive understanding of the major figures, events, and themes of the Old Testament and its foundational relationship to the New Testament. Attention will be given to the character, background, and central themes of the New Testament as a whole, and to the authorship, date, setting, theme, purpose, structure, and general content of its individual books. Special topics include: the New Testament canon; methodologic differences in interpretation between the Protestants and Anabaptists; and soteriology in the early church.

Christian Doctrines: The course covers doctrines such as the Trinity, theological anthropology, soteriology, hamartiology, eschatology, the Calvinist-Arminian debate, the atonement, baptism, nonresistance, and the Lord’s supper. The course concludes with an introduction to Christian
ethics and practical applications.

Elementary Greek: This course covers basic grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of Koine Greek, through both inductive and deductive methods. Class time consists of a majority of spoken Koine Greek, using total physical response (TPR) and interactive storytelling. Students will acquire basic oral communication skills and will be introduced to much of the morphology of Greek nouns and verbs. This class, along with the second semester of Greek, will prepare students to be able to read and comprehend basic passages from the Greek New Testament.

Expository Writing: This course will provide intensive practice in writing – introducing students to the fundamental building blocks of effective academic essays. Expository writing, however, is also a skill set that is vital to success in almost every profession outside of academic life.
We consider expository writing as a form of nonfiction writing: an opportunity to explain a part of the world as it is or was, including our own experiences of it. Expository writing is an art, but one that must be based on good research and recognition of others’ contributions to your knowledge and point of view.

In this seminar, we will read many of the texts that express the foundational ideals of a ‘liberal arts’ education – ideals that have animated humanities instruction at colleges, as well as primary and secondary education, throughout most of American history. We will examine the roots of these ideals in both philosophy and rhetorical instruction in ancient Greece and Rome, Christians’ appraisal of their usefulness in the medieval period, the rise of Renaissance humanism and its influence in Protestant and Catholic schooling for both boys and girls in the early modern period, and several autobiographical accounts of education that have uniquely shaped American culture.
Historians’ reconstructions of the characteristics of childhood, family life, and schooling in Europe and America will provide cultural context, alongside changing images of youth and education in artwork, popular advice manuals, and personal memoirs. Students will also have opportunities to discuss the implications of humanist legacies for educational reform movements today: are ‘liberal arts’ ideals culturally elitist, or are they the best way to spur students to ‘perform well’ and find meaning in any walk of life?

Oral Communications: This course focuses on the basic principles and techniques of oral communication with emphasis on platform speaking. You will develop and demonstrate your organizational and communication skills through the preparation and delivery of short speeches in a variety of genres as well as longer speeches to inform and to persuade.

It is exciting to get started. The first week was pretty light homework wise. A couple of highlights include learning the greek alphabet and beginning a discussion on the doctrine of Scripture.

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

On Saturday I had the privilege of meeting Steve and Julie Lanz for lunch and touring the USS Constitution Museum! It was good seeing familiar faces and getting to know each other better. Unfortunately I never got a picture of us together 😦

USS Constitution Model

Any guesses what the drink above may be?!

Mango Bubble Tea from Up Tea Hub

Its like a creamy mango drink with chewy tapioca like balls. It supposedly originated in Taiwan. I hadn’t had anything like it before but it was really refreshing!

On Friday afternoon, all the new students got to head to New Hampshire for the weekend for the 2020 New Student Retreat at Toah Nipi.

It was a wonderful weekend of getting to know each other and enjoying ourselves one last time before we were sabotaged with homework!

A few highlights include:
1) Collect Dots – this was a activity to get to know each other. I believe the theory is based off a guy named Danny Meyer. You can read more about it here. Basically, we were to ask each other questions, and each piece of info we gathered about someone was considered a dot! We were encouraged to continue the practice life long – always be collecting dots!
2) Hike Mount Monadnock – this was a thrilling hike. One of the best parts was the motivational speech at the top by a junior. He encouraged us to reflect on our journey of faith with praise and worship, and to fight the giants of our day (Islam, human trafficking, abortion, pornography, racial injustice, etc.). He had one more point but I forget – thankfully there were no quizzes yet 🙂
3) Devotional Time – each morning we gathered for a song together then broke into our personal devotions somewhere on the camps acreage. I found this really peaceful setting next to the pond as pictured below!
4) Greek Class on the Grass – we hadn’t had any in person classes yet so it was exciting to finally be together for class!

We returned safely Sunday evening!

Settling In

I made it!

I landed in Boston approximately 7 PM EST on Friday, August 21st.

Sattler offers host families to any students who are interested. I signed up and was placed with Jeff Todd, a single brother. He picked me up from the airport and we had a great weekend together.

View from the Charles River Esplanade

While I wasn’t able to move in on Monday evening as was planned, I got to meet some students on the Esplanade for a great al fresco supper.

Tuesday evening came and I got to move in 🙂 My room is really spacious and I’m liking my view from the 4th floor!

On Thursday, after I had got settled in my dorm, I had the opportunity to help at a local food bank. A friend and I helped pack the truck at the pantry then drove to a local school to setup the distribution tables where people would come to get their bag of food.

Friday I played detective! They split the freshman class into 7 groups. We were given a list of places to go or things to do around Boston with each one worth certain amount of points. Three of my classmates and I were teamed up for the challenge. Below are a few snippets from our excursion!

While theres no cornfields to behold and few wide open spaces, I’m finding the city very beautiful. There are so many cultures represented in one place. And so many people who need to hear about King Jesus!

This week was the calm before the storm as I prepare to dive into classes next week!

You can choose courage or you can choose comfort but you cannot choose both.

Brene Brown

Boston It Is

“I’m moving to Boston”

These words surprised most who knew me.

I was working a good job, had nearly optimal living conditions, and was surrounded by family and friends of a lifetime.

But there was something not visible to the human eye.

The conviction of the Holy Spirit.

I began my walk with God at the age of 13. For the first 4 years of this journey, I whole-heartedly embraced the faith tradition practiced by many conservative Apostolic Christian members. I wanted every member to embrace it. With a desire to gain deeper understanding behind the practices, I began listening and reading material that discussed the doctrine and practices. One of influence was David Bercot, an early church historian.

While I found the material fascinating, it revealed cracks in my own life and thinking.

The 2 biggest questions that I’ve begun praying about, searching scripture for and discussing are:

  1. What was Jesus’ original design for His church?
  2. What does scripture teach a disciple of Christ is?

With these 2 questions burning on my heart I found it difficult to continue living life the way I always had.

In my mind I was trying to sort out which parts of my life were Christian and which parts were Apostolic Christian. In other words, if I’m going to be a disciple of Christ who disciples others what parts of my life are absolutely essential and nonnegotiable (Christian) and what parts were bound to an organization (Apostolic Christian Denomination)?

I wasn’t really sure how to resolve all of this except through faithful prayer for God to work in my life and continue to live out what I knew Christ would want to do in the place I was.

Transitioning for a moment to the career side of things. I had been working in the office for about 1.5 years for a small construction company. While I had originally decided against completing my CPA certification, which would require additional schooling, I began to reconsider the idea.

While I didn’t see myself using the certification in the imminent future, it seemed it would be a good credential to have should I want a change of jobs in 15 years. And if I was going to do the schooling and studying for it, I should do it now instead of later.

There were various options to consider. I could do a Masters of Accounting; however, I had met all the business credit requirements for the CPA certification. Therefore, I just needed 25 credits regardless of their discipline. Since I was working at a construction company, I considered some construction management courses. I also just thought about doing random courses that intrigued me (i.e. music). Or, I could do an MBA.

As all these ideas swirled around in my head, I received a newsletter from Sattler College and noticed a 1 year Biblical Studies program they offered. With the context I shared above, this instantly caught my attention.

An open-house for all interested parties was being held in December so I booked my flight to learn more. It was a wonderful experience. However, I learned they were not accredited yet which would be required in order for the credits to be used towards my CPA certification.

Depending on your biases you may be thinking – it’s a closed door, he should’ve given up here. Maybe I should’ve. That will become clearer in the day ahead. Others look and say, is it possible God had a different plan than you had?

As I prayed and agonized over what to do, I came to peace with the idea that it may not help me career wise. I believe strongly if we seek His Kingdom first, all other things will be added. In light of this, I was willing to put my career on hold that is what it took to grow in my faith and work through some of these questions.

Some may be wondering – couldn’t he have just stayed where he was? Why move?

It’s a great question.

I long to see bridges built amongst believers and experience the unity Jesus prays for in John 17. We lose a lot when we isolate ourselves from others who are seeking to follow Jesus. Coming to Boston allows me to learn beside those who have different experiences than I. Together our beliefs and convictions are sharpened.

I don’t know where I will end up in May. My only goal is to be faithful to God and give my life for His purposes. That could mean returning home or it may mean moving elsewhere. It may mean remaining an accountant or it may not.

When I come to end of my journey on Earth, I only want my last thoughts to be similar to those of Samuel Froehlich:

“I shall die, Lord my God. Mayest Thou keep Thy holy ones from temptation that is in the world, that they may not perish but abide in Thee, and give them eternal life. For the prince of this world is prepared with his whole power of darkness, and preachers of unrighteousness who seek to destroy Thy work, to mislead Thy elect. Thou knowest that I have not sought glory before men but only to further Thy glory and have declared Thy name before all, and have not been ashamed of Thee and have fought until this hour.”