What I’ve Learned After One Semester of Seminary

I would first and foremost want to thank you all for your prayers, your calls, and texts. …And not just because today is Thanksgiving.

You are all just a bunch of blessings from the Lord. We love you and miss you and are so so so so so grateful to have you in our lives. We could not get through these last few months without your prayers. This evening we have been invited to have dinner with a group of seminarians and we are very excited to just relax, encourage one another, and eat like elephants.

I have compiled a list of things I have learned after my first semester of seminary. Yesterday was the last day of lecture class. So technically the semester is not over yet, since we still have two weeks of finals exams to do. Some of you might be wondering how that works. Well just as a quick note we call these two weeks as reading week or I call it study-until-you’re-blue weeks – blue weeks, for short. Throughout the weeks we have scheduled exams to take, some are online and some you have to come into class to take, but throughout these two weeks we do not have classes to attend to – except the exams of course. …you get the picture so not lets move on… ☺

My first semester has been a blast. Literally a blast. It was fun, fast, intense, took lots of energy and a little smoky at the end…just like a firecracker blast.

While I did learn many things in the classroom, most of the lessons were like little seeds that were planted in the midst of the lecture, reading, interacting with other students and so on.

1) We are made for relationships with God, and people.
a. When I came to seminary, I had no idea what I was walking into (I still think I don’t). After not having been in school for over 4 years, I was a bit nervous. A ton of insecurities welled up in me. Am I smart enough? Could I handle the heavy course load? Was this really what I was being called to? As a Russian-American, would I be fully accepted and acknowledged? Would I fit in? I hate to say that all these questions were surely in my mind as I arrived to Philly. Unfortunately the weight would often become heavier before it got lighter. Now and again I still think about these questions as I meet gifted, intelligent, and passionate people. I sometimes find myself longing for the gifts, skills, and talents of others. I realized it is in these moments that I lose sight of who my God is and who I am. My identity is being pushed and pulled to achievements and works and gifts instead of Christ. One of my professors helped me see this as he shared that he too sees this in his own heart. The more we are honest with God, the more we find peace and comfort to say with the Apostle Paul; “I am what I am by the grace of God”. With this I have been renewed in thankfulness and joy for who He is and who He has created me to be.

b. I learned how easy it is to be disconnected from God and people when you are in seminary. It has been a real fight not a challenge – but a FIGHT to do my morning devotions. I am always in a hurry and rushing like a Russian 😉 . This is the lesson I learned; if you plan on doing devotionals then do it right away, all the way and with a joyful heart.

2) Seminary is a lot of work.
a. Study at WTS is not easy. Not simply because the coursework is rigorous, but because on top of this coursework, you will be forced to look at the junk in your heart. Writing papers, taking tests/quizzes, and reading tons of books, while at the same time examining your heart, is weary work but comes with a priceless payoff.

3) I have a love/hate relationship with Greek.
a. The languages are huge here at WTS. I am still yet to take Hebrew but Greek has kicked my butt more times than I can count, no wait I can – 13 times (that’s every week since the first day of class).

b. Greek is my enemy because it kicks me while I’m down and wont let me get a breath. Greek is my friend because it takes me to the source of the message and gives me insight and appreciation for the text like I have never had before. Greek is heavily used in the upcoming studies for Systematics, New Testament, Apologetics and others. And WTS languages emphasis really sets you up for a higher education, as graduate school should.

c. My Greek class gave me the most grief but it also gives me the most joy. When I can read and break it down well (not a common phenomena I can assure you) I am happier than a room without a roof.

Prayer requests:
Please be praying for our little family to find a place to live closer to the seminary under $800mo. And also that final exams go well.
Sorry for the length of this post. I try to keep them short but I wanted to share something more this time. This is not an exhaustive list, and it will only continue to grow (so if you think this is long just wait until my last year of seminary…no no I’m kidding of course).

While these are things I learned in my circumstances what have you learned in yours.
What have you learned in the last three months?
What is God teaching you now?