It has been a rough few weeks lately; lots of worldly busyness as well as ministry and school work. Thankfully, summer break has started, and I have elected to sit this one out even though it would probably be better if I gritted my teeth and pushed through it. But, with trying to start up a new beginning for our family on top of everything else, something had to give, and the opportunity to remove school from my plate for the summer couldn’t be passed up.
I will admit, though, I am enjoying my time spent studying and learning and growing. A few short years ago, nothing would have been further from the truth. I would have scoffed at the idea of going back to school, and laughed hard and long at the idea of attending a Bible college! By the time the summer is over, I will be more than ready to get back to it.
Part of my love for school lies in the relationships that I am building with other students and the professors, and the examples they all set in so many ways. Every semester, the first thing we have to do is post our autobiography for the entire class to read. It changes slightly class by class as some things come to mind to be added, and some removed, but it basically stays the same. And it is brutally honest about where I came from, my sins, and how God delivered me through His miraculous and undeserved grace and through my loving and beautiful wife, Cristy and our children.
Every class has read my story so far, and whether it is a class of five other students, or a class of twenty, not once in these years that I have been posting it has anyone had an unkind word or been judgmental in any way. I can honestly say that the leaders at Nazarene Bible College are bringing up tomorrows leaders to be loving and open and honest. And they are doing it by example.
One of the reasons there has been no condemnation is because anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Bible know the story of how one of the worst persecutors of Christians was converted, himself, to Christianity. Of course, I am talking about Saul of Tarsus, later called Paul. He went on to write the majority of the New Testament, most of those letters penned during the forced rest breaks kindly provided by the Romans in their jails and prisons (another example of God turning something meant for evil to good).
Saul is one of the characters of the Bible that I readily identify with. Before my conversion, I thought Christians were hypocritical liars, hung up on presenting a goody-two-shoe face to the world while judging and condemning everyone else and each other. Who would want to be a part of a group like that? (Like many things in this society, don’t believe the media hype on this, either).
I was easily in the running for worst of the worst. Granted, I was not guilty of actual murder, but I held it close in my heart beside my anger towards just about everyone. I practiced deceit, lying and stealing for no reason and for many years was an adulterer. Everything I tried to accomplish in my life I personally self-sabotaged in one way or another, including my marriage, my family, my career in the Army and on and on.
Do not give up. Necque. That is Latin for “Never Give Up”.
New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.