Why Am I Pursuing a PhD in Leadership?

Why am I pursuing a doctoral degree?

Why indeed.

I feel terribly unqualified. I am a young woman who has never seen herself as an intellect, a scholar, or a theologian. As it seems nearly every other woman I know enters into marriage, motherhood, or contentment at her current level of education, the Lord seems to have shut those doors for me, and opened others. He has given me a ferocious love for learning, no matter the subject, and a passion for influencing change and nurturing passion in the lives of people I come in contact with. When God opens a door no one can shut, and shuts a door that no one can open (Rev. 3:8), you have no other peaceful option but to trust and obey.

Why am I pursuing a doctoral degree? Sometimes it helps to know why I’m not:

I’m not pursuing a PhD because it will get me in a higher pay bracket, a more comfortable house, or a more respectful vocation.

I’m not pursuing a PhD because I’m passionate about Leadership and aim to be CEO, CFO, COO, or President of something someday soon.

I’m not pursing a PhD to find my identity in a title, pride in letters after my name, or to earn respect from my family, colleagues, or strangers.

To be honest, I am pursuing a PhD because of the simple reason that I love learning and the Lord opened the door for me to learn more here. Oh, and he opened it widely. And obviously.

So the more appropriate question to ask me is, why did the Lord push, allow, provide, and permit for me to pursue my PhD? That is a good question. That is the one I ask myself often. I think I can answer a few pieces of that question today. Ask me in a few years, I’ll have more pieces, and as time goes on I know I will more clearly see the purposes in this exciting, terrifying, experience and education God has brought me to.

I believe that leadership, simply defined, is influence (Maxwell). And influence is something I very much want to do. I want to influence people towards biblical literacy, towards godly femininity and masculinity, towards delight in purity, towards journaling, towards a deep appreciation of church history, and towards a pleasure in knowing and loving our triune God. I want to be a woman of virtue, of discipline, who can, like Paul, tell people with a humble confidence, “Look to me as I look to Christ”(1 Cor. 11:1). I cannot imagine saying this right now…not without being struck by lightning 😉 but I long for and work for that day. I am confident that part of that journey is the process of earning my PhD.

 

Sin-It Isn’t What You Do, It is Who You Are

These are some excerpts from my message in Germany

“We are going to read in 1st john tonight, the entire first chapter. John wrote this letter to a group of Christians who were struggling with some pretty tough questions. And you know what’s something really awesome about god? He can handle all of your toughest questions. Questions like: Does God care if you are a good person or not? Is sin even a big deal to God? Once you become a Christian, should you not sin ever again? What do we have to do to be cleansed from sin? Was Jesus really god? Does God ever sin? were addressed.

Let’s read 1 john chapter one together. This is the most perfect thing I can ever say, it is precious, beautiful and true. ) Let’s all stand to show respect and reverence to God’s word:

1 John 1

Two quick things: Every time you read the bible ask yourself, what does this tell me about God? And secondly, if you don’t know what to be reading in your Bible, Johns writings are a great place to start. 🙂 Anyway, the first few verses give an eyewitness account. Jesus really walked and talked and bled and died and rose again. Those CLOSEST TO HIM SAW HIM EVERYDAY FOR YEARS SAY, YEP…Jesus Christ really is God.

Then, you can see how the text goes on to talk about how you know for sure that people are really believers in Jesus Christ? The answer is not if you’re a good person, but 2 parts, 1 if you have realized/confessed that you are a sinner and 2, God has opened your eyes to trusting in the payment that Jesus Christ has made for your sins! Atonement! And once you TRULY BELIEVE ONE AND TWO, then you r truly a believer in Christ and you will less and less want to sin and more and more want to honor and serve God with your life.

As for me, even at a really young age, i KNEW I was a sinner. Though I didn’t do drugs or kill anyone, I KNEW that I WAS a thief a liar and a manipulator, and that God was as good as everyone around me seemed to think he was, I bet he didn’t really like it when I did bad things. So I confessed to God that I knew I did wrong things, sins, and told him that I believed In Jesus and wanted god in my life to help me not to do wrong things anymore. And probably that is what many of you have done and thought. I did the first part, of confessing, but I didn’t do the seconds trusting. I didn’t trust in the payment that Jesus Christ made for my sins. Because I was afraid that god didn’t love me after I would do bad things, or that he would punish me, like hit me with a lightning bolt or something! If you struggle with those thoughts, you are not realizing the beauty of the truth if what Jesus’s PURPOSE was when he died on the cross FOR YOUR SINS.

So let’s go back to the first part: confessing you are a sinner.

So confess or admit  that you are a sinner? What does that mean? What is a sinner? Is it JUST the bad things that you do??? I think helpful way to answer that question is to watch the beginning of a cartoon that I remember watching as a child about a frog and a man who wants be rich, let’s watch that now!

Love that song! It’ll be stuck in my head for daaaays now! 🙂 anyway, here is my question…when the little green creature was sitting a croaking, what animal was he? Everyone say A frog! That’s right! Good job! Now, when that animal was dancing and singing, what animal was he? Right! Even if he acted differently, that didn’t change what he was. Still a frog.

In that same way, Sin Isn’t just what we do so much as it is who we are. We are sinners. We have a sin nature. So we are each born this way.

It is like we are that frog in the video! There are things we would naturally do as a frog, live eat flies, jump and hop along and croak like this ribbitt. And if we stop and start singing and dancing it does to make us a human, just a dancing frog.

NATURALLY WE ARE SINNERS. NO ONE TAUGHT US HOW TO LIE, OR CHEAT,  OR HIT OUR BROTHERS OR SISTERS WHEN WE WANT THEIR STUFF- we just do! And if you just try to stop sinning, without having the faith that Jesus Christ died for your sins, you are not a Christian, just a well behaved sinner, who still is separated from a perfect, holy, loving, and just God.  Just a dancing frog!

God is amazing and wonderful and perfect. He is the ruler, judge, and flawless king over all things. Sin is everything opposite of that…rebellion against God, and  in compete opposition to God. Sin says, “I am the ruler, only I matter, I should be worshiped.” God says he should be worshiped and the ruler!  So clearly these two things cannot coexisted. You must choose which one will be the ultimate ruler and authority in your life!

So let’s recap, shall we?

Sin is not JUST the bad things you do. But who YOU ARE NATURALLY. And God is so incredibly and so perfect and so wonderful, he is not just a little annoyed by your sin, he is not okay with your sin, he does not simply see it as an inconvenience, but God HATES IT WITH A HOLY PASSION! It is against him, it hates him, and therefore he wants nooooo part of us. The bible tells us in that we are Gods ENEMIES! It shows us that he is beautiful and good and perfect! And we, though initially created to be those things too, chose to rebel against god and are now all sinner, naturally you are opposed to God.

Do you feel uncomfortable? Kind of like you suck? Me too! Sin is not good news!

But here is he crazy awesome, beautiful, wonderful thing. There is really, really, REALLY GOOD NEWS.

Another way to look at it is like this, God is a king, and his kingdom is a beautiful and perfect and it’s walls are high and it’s gates are impenetrable! Sinners are His enemies, from a nearby city. All They do is attack him and everything he stands for! They want to rule his people! God, the king is not worried, nothing can get past fortress, but instead of just getting rid of us, or waging war against us like he should since we’ve rebelled against him, he has made a way for us to no longer be his enemy, no longer be “frogs”…he can give us a NEW nature be on his side, in fact be his heir! Isn’t that awesome? Because without God giving us a new nature, we could never be part of his kingdom because we would just attack it!  So he is loving and just and thought of the perfect way to do that. He allowed Christ to take on all of our punishment for all of our sin natures .

The Bible tells us that because of his great love for us, that while we were still sinners, even though we are his enemy, Christ died for us!!!! It says in 1 Tim, 1:15 Jesus was sent into the world to save sinners. He took alllllll of gods wrath and anger and judgment that SHOULD RIGHTFULLY BE ON YOU, on himself on the cross, so that you can be united with God and no longer his enemy but now, his child.

If you do not believe that Christ is the only way to salvation. If you do not want to read Gods word to know God better. If you do not want to obey the commands he makes in scripture, even if it is really hard. If you do not want to submit to the authority of the local church…then you want to stay a frog…you want to submit to your ruler, sin.

But…if you see that it is a privilege and a joy to be ruled by the wise, kind, just, perfect, gracious creator of the universe, and you believe that Jesus is who he said that he was, and he did what the bible said that he did, and you want to live a life dedicated to pleasing him as your lord and ruler…then you have rid yourself of your sin nature and now have Christs nature.

Get this, I sin every day and I hate it! Just like Paul does in Romans! But God does not see me as a sinner, but as RIGHTEOUS, LIKE HIS SON, because HE BECAME MY SIN SO THAT I COULD BECOME HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. And knowing that motivates me to WORK HARD TO TRY TO NEVER SIN!! Knowing that I deserve to be banished from his kingdom, because of my sin nature and that instead of banishing me, he has made his son take my punishment and I get his righteousness motivates me, causes me to PRAISE HIM AND LOVE HIM AND DEDICATE MY LIFE TO KNOWING HIM AND HELPING OTHER PEOPLE KNOW THIS INCREDIBLY GRACIOUS AND LOVING GOD OF THE UNIVERSE.

We are justified, seen as righteous in Gods eyes by our faith in Jesus Christ. And not just that he existed, but that he took on himself, all of my sins.

Listen carefully, you are NEVER, NEVER good enough to not need God. And you are never, never, never “bad enough” for his death on the cross not to cover alllllll your sins, and for you to be a NEW CREATION in him.

So I close with this, 1 if you haven’t yet, realized you are a sinner, and enemy to perfect, loving, and just God, realize that today! but please, don’t stay there go to part two and believe that God made a way through Jesus Christ for you to be his child and seen as righteous in his eyes and to be part of his kingdom here one earth and in the afterlife. Then let’s embrace being no longer sinners, but now children of God.

 

DTR: Faith and Reason

Recently, I wrote a paper on defining the relationship between knowledge acquired through the social sciences (reason) and knowledge that comes through the Bible (faith). Here is an excerpt:

“In Greek mythology it is said that human beings were first created with four arms and four legs and were extremely powerful creatures. Zeus, fearing their influence and strength, cut them in half and split the two parts as far away as possible hoping individually they could never accomplish what they could have when united. This is where we derived the idea and terminology of “soul mates”. There is someone who is our “other half” that we must spend our lifetime trying to find in order to be truly whole and most powerful.  Though clearly biblically inaccurate in the human sense, can we apply this unique notion to the relationship between faith and reason? What if faith and reason are actually soul mates? What if truly, they are two parts of one body who originally were designed to labor and flourish in harmony, but have been torn apart because of the fall? What if it is not a matter of who came first or of who holds more value because they are in fact, one?

…If faith and reason are two parts of the same coin; if they are soul mates, what are the repercussions of this for the work of ministry? …During the evening session [of a ministry I served in] there were sermons taught…[and] I am aghast to inform you that during too many of these evening gatherings faith was the only truth present and reason was asked to sit in the back row and not speak. Questions were not encouraged, and neither was deliberation. One evening an alter call was given, sternly telling the teenagers in attendance that he “wasn’t going to wait long”, and that they “only have a minute to make their decision”. What damage this does! What a shame to not encourage thinking. This is truly the most important decision they will ever make in life, and though not all their questions can be answered, let not them go unasked! And to not assure them that salvation by faith is accessible at whatever moment God opens their eyes to his grace is heartbreaking. I fear that has banner of, “Don’t overthink, just believe” did more harm than good.

…Similarly, far too often in the church pulpit on Sunday mornings, faith is preached, but not its other half-reason.  One of the most sneakily detrimental norms of Christianity in America today is the palatable topical preaching being lofted from our stages. When we preach only child-like faith without integrating intellect, reason, and truths found in social sciences we are setting our congregations up for failure. We are at war. The enemy troops have cannons loaded with fact, philosophy, and rhetoric. We are fools to think our dart guns of easy application and slingshots of skirting difficult issues with “love” will win us any battle.

It would be equally foolish to swing the proverbial pendulum the other direction. To speak only of knowledge gained through social sciences with no regard or integration of faith derogatorily displays our faith and our God as a puny one…

Faith and Reason are a breathtaking, perfectly balanced couple. When manifested in a life, culture, or topic well, God’s glory shines in such undeniable brilliance, his name is seen as great. We need joyful, strong believers to be educated, deep thinkers in every facet of civilization. That happens not by chance, but by penetrating intentionality. Though we all share in this mission, the burden should weigh heaviest on the shoulders of parents, pastors, and educators.  They have the hallowed charge to both live and teach the truth that knowledge gained through research in the social sciences and knowledge gained through the study of God’s word are soul mates and should never be torn asunder.  For his name’s sake, may God grant us wisdom, stamina, and winsomeness for such a cumbersome, arduous task.”

What 2 Weeks at a Christian English Camp in Germany Taught Me

Germany Take 2 1052

When you come back from a trip-everyone wants to hear a snippet about it. Though you made be prepared to speak for a mere 7 hours reflecting on your favorite parts, fondest memories, and lessons learned, they (most of your friends and family) have just a few minutes to spare to listen to the highlights about your travels.

This is hard for a talker like me.

I have hundreds of stories ranging from dangerous Hunger Game resembling afternoon activities, to fireside fun and language laughs. But I need to boil it down to just a few minutes worth of memories and lessons so when I am asked, I can  explain what I want them to KNOW about the trip.

So I’ve thought of three main lessons that God taught me through the two weeks I spent in Germany:

  1. Use any means God provides to build relationships and share the gospel
  2. We all need to be reminded of the AWESOMENESS of salvation
  3. Know in Scripture where to back up your beliefs

Let me elaborate:

  1. Use any means God provides to build relationships and share the gospel
    1. God is brilliant and uses the English language as a vessel to share His good news. How cool is it that hundreds of teenagers will sign up to attend a Christian camp in a little, nowhere town in Germany simply because they have the drive and desire to learn the English language. Some of them are hearing the gospel for the very first time, and all because God in His AWESOME sovereignty has made it so some people are drawn to our language. As English speaking Christians, we need to be ON this! What a cool opportunity! We need to be leveraging this tool that the Lord has given us for as long as it is available to us! Who knows if this is just a fad, and in just a few short years, it’ll be all the range to learn Hindi! The doors are open now, so let’s go! Always keep your eyes  attentive to looking for ways that you can share God with people!
  2. We all need to be reminded of the AWESOMENESS of salvation
    1. Is your faith stagnant? Prayer life feeling stale? Are you struggling in sin? Then pray along with David in Psalm 51 for God to restore to you the joy of your salvation! And for me, the number one way He does that is through evangelism and discipleship. Try sharing the gospel with someone! What a JOY it is! Nothing blazes a passion in my heart more than being able to talk to someone about the God that sees me as righteous, though I was at first born his enemy. I hadn’t been PUMPED about that in too long. I had forgotten, in a way, what a big deal salvation is. Talking every day to young people about what a huge deal it is that while we were still sinners Christ died for us, reminded me of the exciting truths I needed to hear as well!
  3. Know in Scripture where to back up your beliefs
    1. If you are anything like me-you are awful at remembering references. I can tell you if it is Old or New Testament, and sometimes I get lucky and remember the book…but once we get down to chapter and verse…I’m far too often stumped. And this is so not cool. I was confronted quite a few times on why I believe what I believe about the Holy Spirit or the gifts of the spirit or about the Bible. It is not enough to be able to say, “somewhere in Scripture it talks about blah blah blah”. I’m blessed with my Bible’s concordance in the back, but sometimes even that can’t help me! So I was really challenged to be able to, simply put, know my Bible better, and not just “know I believe things because it’s what I am taught at my church” but know WHERE in the Bible I can find solid support for what I believe. Hopefully a blog post on HOW I am planning on doing that will be coming soon J
      1. Side Note: VALUE THE BIBLE. It is CONTAGIOUS. Love the comfort, knowledge, and holiness that Scripture brings so much, that when other people see it, they are DRAWN to its pages as well.

So that is basically what I am going to tell people if they ask. And that I was SUPER blessed with an AWESOME, SELFLESS, ENCOURAGING team, that I thanked God for every day. Oh and here are 10 random additional things that I may include just for kicks:

  1. Germans are wonderfully, very blunt
  2. Some bathrooms have self-cleaning toilet seats!
  3. Germany looks just like Lancaster County, but with more trees
  4. They don’t have peanut butter
  5. They eat A LOT of bread and meat…but on just one slice of bread-not as a sandwich!
  6. Their windows open 2 ways! And don’t have screens!
  7. It’s really cute when the mispronounce their v’s and w’s (wegtables, williages, and motiwating)
  8. There is a German “translation” of the Bible that is “modernized” and has Jesus riding into town on a scooter, and eating not bread and wine, but chips and cola.
  9. They have bread machines (like a vending machine!) in Aldis that pops out warm bread of your choice
  10. Saying “Goodnight!” in German is dangerously close to saying “Good naked!” in German. Be careful…

A Little Poem of Thanks

I should have, could have, and would have been

purposeless,

alone,

my own selfish deity.

 

Completely without hope beyond this age,

Your ENEMY

Destined to a life a cyclical misery.

 

Undeserving.

Impatient.

Disobedient.

Unkind.

 

YET. Out of all the rebellious hearts of stone,

you breathed life into mine.

 

I can live to bring you praise.

There is purpose for my days.

You’ve taken all my shame,

so your glory I’ll proclaim.

My eyes are opened to your grace.

I delight to seek your face.

This old creation, your made new.

 

For altering my

destiny,

identity,

and purpose,

 

Yahweh, Thank You.