Why I Want To Go To Seminary

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I believe I was about nineteen or twenty years old when I received the desire be a pastor. Since then began to seek counsel on whether I was called to be a pastor. I began testing my calling to the ministry from both subjective and objective perspectives.

Subjectively, I was persuaded that God had put the desire into my heart for preaching ministry. Throughout the years God provided me with opportunities to receive some training in counseling and theology. It was a joy to practice what I learned in various preaching, teaching and managerial contexts. Seeing my personal fulfillment and the fruit of those labors continued to add willpower to pursue the call further.

Objectively, I sought to have my call tested by my elders and the congregation as a whole. So far the Lord has affirmed me through the evaluation of others in my life, and I strive to continue working out my calling. I believe that receiving a call is not a once-and-for-all thing, like becoming president, but something one continues to strive for and “fan into flame.” Thus far my elders and fellow churchmen agreed that a theological education would be good to further my development. God has given me peace, a clear conscience and solid conviction to pursue a full-time theological education, in hopes of further testing my call to pastoral ministry.

I wanted to be taught by some of the best and brightest in the fields of systematic theology, apologetics and biblical counseling.

Systematic theology is valuable to me because I wish to have a thorough understanding of every doctrine, from the entire testimony of the Scriptures. I wish to be well trained to compare Scripture with Scripture, to explain passages that seem to be contradictory, but can be brought into harmony, and to be able to bring the truths of the Bible into a well-organized system for explaining the world through a Biblical worldview. My conviction is that a pastor must be well trained in this field to proclaim the Word of God with clarity, edification and to equip Christians to think logically and scripturally, as they seek to make sense of the world around them and as they interact with others.

Apologetics is precious to me because it helped me as pre-medical student in my college years, to strengthen my faith. It is invaluable to be well trained to defend the truth and give guidance to Christians who are assaulted with every manner of non-Christian worldviews. There is no denying it – we are at war. As a fellow Christian I wish to play a part in helping God’s people by building up those whose faith has been shaken. I want to be a means that God uses in other’s lives to restore any lost confidence and boldness by providing answers to the typical questions and objections that disbelievers may raise.

I believe that Biblical Counseling is vital to the local church because God has used it to help people like me receive Christ-centered correction. After receiving Biblical Counseling for the first time I came to see that the head knowledge that I had was not enough because I did not know how to apply it. I was not applying the Word of God because I was stuck in sin and Biblical Counseling helped me to see that the Scriptures are all sufficient when applied to the heart. My pastor would meet with me once a week to help me see the gospel as the path to true, deep, and lasting change. I learned that God will do serious things in the lives of those who take the Bible seriously. It was not therapy and it was not rehab – it was the simple call to apply the Word of God to my own heart. My elders were great examples to follow in their patience, love and tact. I have been a member in a church where there was no biblical counseling and I saw first hand that “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 11:14). 

Once I came into a context where there was an abundance of wise counsel, I experienced spiritual victory. I am persuaded that no congregation should have pastors that are unable to biblically counsel. Christians need help in times of trouble, confusion, and difficulty; we need to be able to use the Word of God as our counselor. Sometimes we will need others to walk us through the Word together, but we must always walk through the Word.  This is why I wish to be well equipped in helping others walk through the Word with direction and focus. Considering many different seminaries, Westminster Theological Seminary stands-out with itsvalue of Systematic Theology in the tradition of John Murray, in its apologetics in the tradition of Cornelius Van Til, and its emphasis on biblical counseling in the tradition of Jay Adams.

I am searching for a seminary that is doctrinally reformed and committed to the infallibility of Scripture, and stresses the inspiration of Scripture. I hope to find a place where I can develop lifelong partnerships with likeminded people, where academics are valued, and concerned about the Great Commission. I was also attracted to Westminster’s wide array of studies and it would be an honor to study under the current faculty.

I realize that I do not yet fully comprehend all the difficulties that will come through seminary training. I do however know God blesses those who take the time and effort to be equipped for the work of ministry. I believe Westminster Theological Seminary is the right place to further test my call and provide me with an education that will equip me for ministry. I have made my decision with the peace that God’s will is leading me, knowing the difficulties that will come will be filled with profound joys and worthwhile sorrows.

 

 

 

A Christian Vote

The right to vote is the supreme power that we possess as citizens of the United States of America. Many people have fought and died so that we can have this right. We as a collective body, have the voting power to influence political candidates to support our causes. The Christian community needs to band together and vote for those candidates that will help further our cause for a Biblical way of life, Church peace, freedom, restrictions on evil activity and many other issues that become prevalent.

Our American forefathers intended everyone to have a voice in how this nation is governed and everyone across this land now has the right to vote. It is vital that everyone expresses their voice in the election process.

By listening to political debates, reading newspapers and attending live political forums, we as citizens can better understand what values and programs the candidates are forming with their campaigns. It is vital that Christian citizens research the political platforms the candidates stand on.  There are so many recourse available today to help Christians to do research on candidates.

Here is a just few to get you started:

           http://www.albertmohler.com/

 

Remember to visit the website of the candidates to read what their agenda is. You obviously need to read all with a “grain of salt.” I understand that we cannot have a great Christian candidate over night but we should seek after implementing our Biblical world view into our way of life as a nation.

 

Many people today have given up there right to vote with petty reasons like; I’m too busy, I’m not exited about either candidate, my vote does not really matter, nothing ever gets done anyway, and etc… In today’s news update Albert Mohler told this group of Christians the following;

“Eligible voters need to keep in mind is… not voting is indeed a vote. A vote does not go to your candidate and is a vote that a candidate does not have to earn or overcome…this is where Christians need to understand that they are given a stewardship of our political influence and of our citizenship…that is not only a matter of our common democratic accountability but of our accountability before God. With that in mind…when you look at the reasons for not voting, not registering to vote, for not being plugged into the democratic processes…we need to realize for Christians those are not adequate excuses.”   http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/08/16/the-briefing-08-16-12/

 

According to USA today 90 million Americans plan NOT to vote: http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/story/2012-08-15/non-voters-obama-romney/57055184/1

 

We must realize the high cost of indifference before it’s too late. The lesson will be learned through defeat or through victory. So far we have lost the right to say marriage is between a man and a woman, we have lost the right to pray at school, we have lost the our Christian backbone and have simply become indifferent and then we complain of all the wrong “they” did who ever “they” are.

I am simply urging the Christian reader to take the route to victory. Obedience to authority demands good citizenship. The apostle Paul in Romans chapter 13 clearly states that we must obey governmental leaders because all authority comes from God. Here’s the catch: If we the people choose the leaders of America then we choose the direction the nation will follow, and if we neglect to lead, to guide, then we neglect to be the influence that we as Christians are commanded to be, by Jesus Christ’s sermon on the mount (Matt 5:13).

Paul did not have this indifferent attitude that we see so often today, but rather he spoke before governors and officials of Rome. (Acts 24:10) Luke would write the book of Luke and the book of Acts to a Roman official named Theophilss. Both Paul and Luke can be used as a great example of how we are to stand for the good news and truth of Jesus Christ before, all mankind and this includes kings, presidents, governors, mayors and so on.

 

Exercise your right as an American citizen and your liberty as a Christian.  See you at the polls!

 

 

 

Porn, Ariel Castro, and Your Sexuality

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In light of the recent turn of events I would like to take the opportunity to shed some light on a very serious topic. I will in no way exhaust it but simply spark a thought.

The recent discovery of three young women (Michele Knight, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus) found at the house of Ariel Castro’s in Cleveland, Ohio,  have gotten everyone asking “why?”. Why would someone do something like this? Why did he admit it to himself and was even willing to kill himself and yet he did not turn himself in nor did he seek help? There are these and many more questions that we ask when something like this happens.

I do not claim to have the answers all these questions but we should still not neglect to think about how does one make sense of such things. In the recent years we have been able to see that there is a strong effect of pornography on the brain. William M. Struthers, associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College. ” Knowing how it is wired together and where it is sensitive can help us understand why pornography affects people the way it does.” Here are 9 things you should know about pornography affects the brain: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/05/08/9-things-you-should-know-about-pornography-and-the-brain/?comments#comments To summarize the article; porn will 1) hijack your brain, 2) it is highly addictive, 3) it leaves you unsatisfied, 4) desensitizes, 5) ruins sexual character, 6 ) deforms sexual appetite, 7 ) leaves you dysfunctional, 8 ) makes you sexually reliant, 9) demoralizes and bastardizes you every time you watch it.

The topic that I want to talk just briefly is not just porn but the connection between porn and rape.  Today Ariel Castro was charged with multiple four charges of kidnapping and three counts of rape. Castro later told investigators he is a “sex addict.” http://abcnews.go.com/US/ariel-castro-cleveland-kidnap-suspect-face-death-penalty/story?id=19139911

The claim I would like to make is that he was not born a “sex addict” but rather that a number of choices he made throughout his life lead him to be that man that he is exposed to be today. I would even go as far as to say that he probably was a “porn addict” before he became a “sex addict”.  His excessive exposures to porn most likely lead him to demean women and reassert their treatment as objects feeding his lust. I make this claim because there is a connection between pornography and violence against women.

 

Pornography and Rape: Is There a Connection?

http://www.mecasa.org/joomla/images/pdfs/media_and_pornography/sexoffenders_pornography.pdf

  • The literature in this area is substantial and growing. A few examples follow: In a comparative study of rape rates in the USA, Scandinavia, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, Court (1984) found a connection between the availability of pornography and the level of rape. He specifically refutes earlier studies that purported to show otherwise, particularly in relation to Australia, where the uniform crime data: (actually support the case for an increase [in rape rates after the liberalisation of pornography] quite convincingly (Court 1984, p. 158).
  • In the USA, the eight major men’s magazines (Chic, Club, Gallery, Genesis, Hustler, Oui, Playboy and Penthouse) have sales that are five times higher per capita in Alaska and Nevada than in other states such as North Dakota¾and rape rates that are six times higher per capita in Alaska and Nevada than North Dakota. Overall a fairly strong correlation was found between rape and circulation rates in the fifty states, even with controls for potential confounding variables, such as region, climate, propensity to report rape and police practices (Milne-Home 1991; Baron & Straus 1985 cited in United States Attorney-General’s Commission on Pornography 1986, p. 944-5).
  • Exposure to pornography of less than five hours over a six-week period resulted in a halving of sentences thought appropriate for rape (Malamuth 1984). Malamuth (1986) links pornography to the level of hostility felt towards women and, further, finds the level of hostility is a significant predictor of sexual violence.
  • In New South Wales, in the period 1975-91, a time during which pornography has become increasingly available, there has been a 90.6 per cent increase in the level of rape (Categories 1-3 Sexual Assault) (New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research 1991; New South Wales Police Statistics Unit 1988-89)
  • In Hawaii in 1974, restrictions were placed on the sale of pornographic material. Rape figures fell for the following two years. The restrictions were then lifted, and rape immediately increased. (United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation 1973 −78); and
  • In Oklahoma County, ‘adult’ stores were closed in 1985, and a 25 per cent decrease in the rape rate occurred over the next five years 1985−90. In the remainder of Oklahoma, there was no such law and no decrease in the rape rate (Macy 1991).

Today we live in a new world with more acceptability to porn and demoralized society. In a society that is no-longer ashamed of being porn addicts but rather proclaim it with pride.

The proper response to the Castro case is not to lock up and turn off the lights, but get up and

1) cry out for God’s mercy,

2) talk to your children about the perversion and dangers of porn and lust,

3) declare war on the porn industry.You don’t have to be political if you don’t want to but if you or someone you know watches porn then stop that behavior at the heart! We must fight lust. We must declare war on sin! Stop supporting the porn industry. Stop supporting men like Ariel Castro. Stop acting like Ariel Castro before it is too late. Start looking at women with respect and love. Start fearing God. Start practicing self control.

This week has been a good reminder that our sins will find us out and although not every “porn/sex addict” will be exposed like Ariel Castro, there will come a day when all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and on that day it will be too late for change and too late for any hope whatsoever. So Christian, if your struggling with porn today, repent afresh and confess your sins, man up, mature up, and live up to the name of “Christian.” Either you start fighting porn or stop calling yourself a Christian. To the unbeliever come and believe because hope, liberation, and salvation is found in Christ. There is no sin that is too big or too vile that Jesus Christ can not forgive.

 

Snoop Dogg says he is “born again”…

Snoop Dogg says he is “born again” (http://music.yahoo.com/news/snoop-dogg-becomes-snoop-lion-readies-reggae-cd-161013663.html) and we as Christians cannot help but look at this publication with a raised eyebrow and speculation. Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr is best known as Snoop Dogg (formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg) and now usi

ng his new “born again” name Snoop Lion, is not professing to be a born again Christian but simply “born again” as the reincarnation of Bob Marley. Snoop will now be producing Reggae rather than rap. As much as I would love to hear Snoop becoming a born again Christian that’s simply not the case. I grew up listening to Snoop and I would love to hear Snoop joining the 116 clique with Tripp Lee, Lecrae, Tedashii, Sho Baraka, etc… that too is not the case.

We should take a minute to think about what happens in the new birth. Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:7, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” And in verse 3, he told Nicodemus—and us—that our eternal lives depend on being born again: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” So what does it mean to be born again? I love how John Piper puts it: “The new birth is not like the makeup that morticians use to try to make corpses look more like they are alive. The new birth is the creation of spiritual life, not the imitation of life.” Although the new birth is a new life that is initiated, completed and sustained in and by the Holy Spirit we must remember that is a complete inward change and not an improving of the old.

To be born again means to be forgiven and cleansed, but to be forgiven and cleansed is not enough. If you are still reading this you probably already know that or you have never heard of such a thing. But its true. We need to be new and we need to be transformed and not just a change from rap to reggae. We need life! We need a new way of seeing and thinking and valuing. That’s why Ezekiel (not the rapper) speaks of a new heart and a new spirit in verse 26 and 27: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

The promise is that this with be a heart, mind and soul that is; new, warm, touchable, responsive, living and not like a hard, cold, unmoldable stone. The Holy Spirit will presses himself up into the new heart and gives spiritual, moral shape to it according to his own shape.

What happens in the new birth? In the new birth, the Spirit unites us to Christ where there is cleansing for our sins, and he replaces our hard, unresponsive heart with a soft heart that treasures Jesus above all things and is being transformed by the presence of the Spirit into the kind of heart that loves to do the will of God (Ezekiel 36:27).

 

If you have this new birth rejoice and be glad because you are a child of God and having not deserved mercy you have been chosen to be a vessel of mercy rather than a vessel of wrath (Romans 9). Do not be ashamed to talk about your new birth with others. Do not be ashamed of the good work of the Holy Spirit, but rather use today’s headline about Snoop to engage into a conversation with your unbelieving friends, family, and co-worker about what it means to be born again and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ who alone can give life and real change.

 

Pray for Chechnya

My family moved from Russia to America in 1993 primarily to seek a better and safer life. We lived in a region called Stavropol, Russia. Stavropol, Russia is located in between the Black and Caspian Sea. Our home was about 3 hours away from the boarder of Chechnya. We had debated for a long time whether we should move or stay, but with the persecution of the Soviet Union just subsiding and the growing persecution of the government and Russian Orthodox Church would only add to the social oppression on the Baptists. The danger was not simply in our home country but also from the radical Muslims of Chechnya terrorizing our small town. One day my brother came home from school, excited to tell my mother that he was shot at by a terrorist. Mom didn’t not find it funny at all, and told Alex not joke around like that. Alex came up closer and put his foot before her and showed her the hole in his lower pant leg from the bullet. There was in deed a terrorist who hijacked a bus and was shooting at the police out of the window and one of the bullets seemed to have just miss my older brother by a thread. This was a difficult decision for my parents to make but the truth of the matter was that  our own country didn’t want us because we are Baptist and now we had Chechnian Muslims that wish to “convert” us.

 

After we moved to USA we continued to hear from friends about the Chechnian attacks in Stavropol:

·         1994 – Mineralniye Vody, Stavropol there was another bus hijacking where 6 dead and 19 injured.

·         1997 – in my birth town, Pyatigorsk, Stavropol, Russia, there was bombing of train station, 2 dead and 12 injured.

·         2000 – Pyatigorsk, Stavropol, Russia, 2 car bombings, 1 dead, 6 injured.

·         2003 – September – Stavropol, Russia, train bombing, 7 dead, 90 injured.

·         2003 – December – Stavropol, Russia, train bombing, 47 dead, 186 injured.

·         2010 – May – Stavropol, Russia, Cultural center bombing, 7 dead, 46 injured.

·         2010 – August – Pyatigorsk, Stavropol, Russia, Café bombing, 30 injured.

 

Chechnya has resisted Russian rule for a long time. The wars of the 1990s between the Russian military and Chechen rebels “ended” only in 2009 with Russian withdrawal and a pro-Moscow president installed. But as we have seen in the Boston bombing on Monday April 15, 2013 there is still must terror coming from the Chechen Muslim radicals. The 1.4 million Chechen are almost entirely Muslim, and international Islamists have radicalized many of them.

 

We must not think that the next Chechnian we meet is a Muslim radical or that all Chechnyans are the US enemy. I pray that this not become another “9/11” excuse to invade Chechnya. I pray that the Christians would see Chechnya a place that is in desperate need of spiritual reform and in immediate need for prayer. The only way we can have real, deep, fundamental, and genuine change is by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Chechnya has resisted Christianity for a long time. The Christian presence in Chechnya has been largely eliminated or expelled. A small Baptist presence remains in Grozny (capital of Chechnya). Most Christian organizations withdrew to work among refugees in North Ossetia and Ingushetia. Hatred of Russians (and thereby all Christians) and ruthless Islamist groups make ministry extremely sensitive work. (The Voice of the Martyrs).

 

Brothers and sisters may this tragedy not inflame more hatred and Semitism but rather may it unite us as Christians to;  pray for, go to, send to, encourage, and support the remnant of Christians still left in Chechnya.

Hadababyitsaboy

Two months ago today my first child, my son Silas was born. I was scared and excited all at once to know that my wife was pregnant and now we are 2 months deep and it feels like yesterday she told me she was pregnant. So far it’s been a mix of things, but mainly its been joyful and frustrating. Joyful, because I could just look at him sleep or lay in his crib looking at his sheep and my heart just fills with joy. He doesn’t even need to do anything and whats more interesting is I don’t even know him. I don’t know his character and yet I love him to death. Frustrating, because I want to be a good father but there are times when he just cries…I changed his diaper, Natalie just fed him, he burped and his hands and feet don’t feel cold but he is just crying and all I want to do is help and I am utterly useless. In these early stages of his life I have trouble finding my role, that is besides being his burp buddy and being on diaper duty. I don’t know how to bond with him. I want to teach him so many things but I have to wait for now and I find myself on the bench waiting. I do love seeing my wife play mommy. She is already a great wife and it’s so good to see her growing into a strong and wise woman. I love these two and I look forward to getting to know them both more with every new chapter of our lives together.

 

I would go on but I have to get back to work. 🙂

 

Goodbye for now,

your brotha Paul.

 

 

 

Satan may have driven accused killer James Holmes to open fire at a Colorado cinema

A Catholic priest has suggested that Satan may have driven accused killer James Holmes to open fire at a Colorado cinema, continuing the religious debate over a shooting that claimed 12 lives and wounded 58 more.

“Was he demon possessed? Maybe. It happens,” the Rev. Dwight Longenecker wrote on (http://www.patheos.com/Catholic/Aurora-Murders-Demonic-Possession-Dwight-Longenecker-07-24-2012.htm) where the Catholic priest from Greenville, S.C., is a columnist.

Religious leaders and public figures have had some very heated discussions in the wake of the tragedy as they try to offer various explanations for the violent outburst and spiritual guidance for dealing with it.

Longenecker dismissed the range of explanations for what might have motivated Holmes – a bad childhood, mental illness, social awkwardness, extreme political or religious views, or exposure to violent video games or to the Batman movie that was showing when he allegedly opened fire. The real culprit, he says, was spiritual, and malign.

“Demonic infestation is a rare, strange and terrible psycho-spiritual affliction,” Longenecker said. “In simple terms, a malevolent, separate intelligence infests the mind and spirit of a person.”

The priest conceded that “trying to diagnose the possibility of demonic influence is extremely difficult.” An exorcist, he says, “often feels like he is walking blindfolded through a minefield set in quicksand. He is wrestling with a pool of oily octopuses.”

Longenecker suggests that in the end, it is best to say that Holmes was “taken over by Evil.”

“Something happened to the mild mannered science geek. He turned into a monster. Something twisted in his mind and heart, and Evil made an entry. Evil infested his life. It took him over.”

I would have to agree with Mike Huckabee, who said it was sin that is the cause of the crime. I would go on to say that this is only a glimpse of human depravity and the inherited human sin from our first father Adam. Adam was a real man in history past that did in fact sin and today we see the ramifications of his sin. This was indeed a violent outburst but that is because violence was already in him to burst out. The only way to deal with it is not simply externally but internally. We must deal with the sin factor that is in our very DNA, and if that seems impossible to you, thats because it is. Our only hope is Jesus Christ. We must not fail to see that no one is good – no, not even one. Holmes was not turned into a monster he was born a monster just like everyone else. Yes, you and I are bad, evil and no better than James Holmes or Hitler when it come to our stance with God. It is only by God’s mercya and grace that everyone does not live out the desires of their hearts like Holmes did. Man is born hell bent, thus you do not need to teach a child to lie, steel, or hate.

Our life has and will be infested with sin unless someone outside of us, and not sinful like us, can help us. The good news is that there is, his name is Jesus of Nazareth who is the Christ to save us from ourselves. We do indeed live in desperate times. The human race is in desperate need of Christ to come and change our hell bent heart and mind with the exchange of Christ’s own desires and Christ’s own thinking. Why would you wait? Why would you delay? Stop thinking like Holmes and start living like Christ. Repent of your sins and be saved without delay – not tomorrow or some day, but today. I am not what I could have been. For all I know it could have been me instead of James Holmes at that theater. I am what I am by the grace and mercy of God. If you are a Christian today then never ever lose focus of your heart and never ever lose focsue of your Savior.