Tag Archives: College

Six things that I’m loving about college

College life is pretty awesome. Other than the five things in that last post I’ve got no complaints. Here are my five favourite things about college at the moment.

  1. Studying with Robyn – my wife is very organised. She keeps me on my toes and keeps telling me to pay attention and to do my homework (I think this is because she’s a teacher).
  2. Conversations – the best part about college is that lunch time is full of interesting conversations. People do tend to spontaneously break out into conversations about baptism though. Which is odd.
  3. Classes – I’m enjoying our classes – even the languages – but particularly Bruce Winter’s pet subject “The Cross and the Clash of Cultures” (I’ve been planning to turn my lecture notes into posts – I just haven’t done that yet) and Old Testament with Leigh Trevaskis (I think he has a google alert set up) and Keith Birchley. Greek is my favourite language. So far.
  4. Church – I’m enjoying being “on staff” at a church and going along to team meetings. Preaching was fun too.
  5. Reading – I haven’t really started turning my readings into writings yet as far as essays go – but I’ve enjoyed ploughing through textbooks and journal articles trying to come up with a workable essay thesis.
  6. Morning Tea – the coffee is good. And supplied by me. At reasonable prices – if you’re interested in subscribing to my coffee roasting services let me know.

Theological leanings and Acts 15

After a week of studying theology and one team meeting bandying about a bit of (in my opinion) a speculative theological interpretation of Acts 15 (see Andrew’s blog for details) I’ve been wondering about how to balance the excitement I feel at new “special knowledge” interpretations of old passages.

On the one hand I think there’s lots to learn from better understanding the original culture and context of passages and grappling with different nuances of the original languages – and on the other I have a high view of God’s sovereignty and the perspicuity of scripture (the idea that God teaches truths clearly through his word).

So I wonder what place new theological ideas grounded in particular and special knowledge (as opposed to general knowledge and a plain understanding of the text understood in the context of the Bible rather than in the context of history) has when it comes to application.

Because I’m now all about nuance and balance I have come up with this fence sitting position where you can own both the perspicuous reading of a passage and the more historically and theologically nuanced position at the same time – unless they are in direct conflict with one another.

The example I’m thinking most about is the Acts 15 passage that Andrew wrote about. Acts 15 is a little story where the church leaders are called on to decide how Gentile converts to what is essentially the continuation of the Messianic Jewish faith should conduct themselves. Some Jews want Gentiles to circumcise themselves and obey the law – but the church leaders decide this is unnecessary because salvation is through grace, not the law.

But they do give the Gentiles some ground rules – rules that have been traditionally understood as relating to how Gentile and Jewish Christians could share “table fellowship” – ie eat together as brothers – while not causing one another offense.

Kutz’s position (based on someone else’s position) on Acts 15 is slightly more exciting. The Gentile Christians are given a list of four things they are not to do as Christians. They can’t eat food sacrificed to idols, food strangled, food with the blood still in it, and they can’t engage in sexual immorality. These requirements tie in to the Levitical law (and in Leviticus also apply to gentiles sojourning amongst believers). The exciting new bit is that this may well have been shorthand for not participating in first century idol temple worship. All of the prohibitions address elements of that practice.

I would argue that the everyday Christian believer throughout the last two thousand years would understand this passage on the basis of table fellowship – I don’t think the new argument is convincing enough to do away with this perspicuous understanding – it is enough to nuance it though. We can better understand that these actions were synonymous with the worship of idols, but that doesn’t negate the understanding that Gentiles should be avoiding that conduct in order to stay in fellowship with Jewish believers.

In conclusion, I think it’s a case of “both” not “either”. And I wonder how this is going to work out as we continue to grapple with new and exciting ideas. I think the temptation can be to throw out the old understanding when we come up with something better, rather than improving our understanding of the old. And I don’t know what that does to two thousand years of church history which if you’re a trinitarian and Calvinist is Holy Spirit inspired and God ordained.


Visiting grammar

One of the perks of moving back to Brisbane is that we’re living around the corner from my gran for the first time ever – she moved to Brisbane this year from regional New South Wales. It’s nice having the family together.

I have no doubt that my gran would be horrified by the story I’m about to share with you. It comes after Robyn and I (along with some other first years at QTC) took a crash course in English grammar as part of our first Greek lesson today.

There may be hope for us yet – apparently first year university students in Canada are demonstrating a complete lack of proficiency in the English language. This is happening all over the world, but some of the quotes from lecturers at the university are brilliant.

“Little happy faces … or a sad face … little abbreviations,” show up even in letters of academic appeal, says Khan Hemani.

“Instead of ‘because’, it’s ‘cuz’. That’s one I see fairly frequently,” she says, and these are new in the past five years.

I must confess – in the past I was a complete comma fiend. My father always used to bang on about run on sentences. I solved that problem by replacing commas with dashes and throwing in the occasional ellipses between disparate clauses. This little quote from a second professor is pretty funny.

“Punctuation errors are huge, and apostrophe errors. Students seem to have absolutely no idea what an apostrophe is for. None. Absolutely none.”

“I get their essays and I go ‘You obviously don’t know what a sentence fragment is. You think commas are sort of like parmesan cheese that you sprinkle on your words’,” said Budra.

A new dawn

College starts today. Robyn and I decided to set a precedent and be on time. Early even. So we left home at 7am. I didn’t even know there was a 7am. Let alone a 6am.

Needless to say we got to college fairly early. Earlier than anybody else – staff included.

There are 84 students at QTC this year apparently – and more than half of those are first years. And we’re keener than all of them (judging by arrival time alone).

Simone, in a little piece of offline wisdom, told us that the first few days of college are going to be all about establishing a pecking order (at least in our minds). I think it’ll be a bit like first year uni except without the low cut clothing and unrealistic expectations of finding true love in the lecture theatre.

I think pecking order should be established chronologically. So we’re first.

All quiet

Thanks to some helpful friends we’re almost settled in to our new place.

Today was full of paperwork. Centrelink is painful. We spent 3 hours in the line and the waiting area.

We checked out the college, I watched a recording of Manchester United beating Arsenal, we bought some pot plants and had dinner with my folks… and we are internetless at home currently. So you’ll have to excuse the slow posting over the next few days.

Raising dough

If you’re here for a post on breadmaking you’re in the wrong place. Robyn might do that later. The only thing I use a breadmaker for is roasting coffee… which tangentially leads into the point of this post.

Today is Robyn’s last day of teaching. Next month I’m giving up my job. We’re going to be poor uni students again which means stepping out of DINK time (double income no kids) into the great unknown of government supported poverty. We’re trying to come up with ways to earn money on the side. I am seriously investigating the possibility of upgrading my roasting capacity and flogging of roasted coffee to friends in Brisbane – if you’re interested in cheap, but quality, coffee beans – let me know.

Anyway, I’ve just read a couple of stories that had great ways to save (or make) money that I thought I’d share with you.

Frequent Flier programs are pretty much a license to print money for some US residents. They’ve cottoned on to this great scheme in courtesy of the Federal Mint. Now, this won’t work in Australia – I bought a $1 coin at our Mint for $2 when I was a young lad… I’m not sure what they cost now…

Here’s the scheme that has been cooked up in the states

At least several hundred mile-junkies discovered that a free shipping offer on presidential and Native American $1 coins, sold at face value by the U.S. Mint, amounted to printing free frequent-flier miles. Mileage lovers ordered more than $1 million in coins until the Mint started identifying them and cutting them off.

Coin buyers charged the purchases, sold in boxes of 250 coins, to a credit card that offers frequent-flier mile awards, then took the shipments straight to the bank. They then used the coins they deposited to pay their credit-card bills. Their only cost: the car trip to make the deposit.


BoingBoing reports on a guy who makes $45,000 a year cashing in discarded betting slips that are actually winners.

Mr. Leonardo, who is married with two teenagers, is hardly living on the fringes. He said that stooping brings him $100 to $300 a day, and more than $45,000 a year. Last month, he cashed in a winning ticket from bets made on races at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., for $8,040. His largest purse came in 2006, when he received $9,500 from a Pick 4 wager (choosing the winners of four consecutive races) at Retama Park Race Track in Selma, Tex.

Got any cool money making schemes for Bible College students? Share them in the comments…

Five Reasons I’m not doing MTS

I’ve had a number of conversations with Ministry Training Scheme apologists telling me that MTS is an essential. They do it lovingly and genuinely. And MTS is a terrific program for people thinking about vocational ministry. But I don’t think it’s for me. I think it’s probably for others. I don’t think of this as a double standard. I’m not sure when MTS became an essential. I’ve no doubt it’s helpful. I just doubt that it’s necessary.

MTS apologists have also, on occasion suggested the effectiveness of one’s ministry is tied to whether or not one undertook MTS. This is rubbish.

I don’t think setting up anything as a compulsory step in the path to ministry is right.

These apologists think my reasoning is weak. And it’s hard to argue with their reasoning without sounding arrogant (which I am, and which MTS would help) – but our minds are pretty made up. We’re already well underway with the college process. I’m not sure what these guys hoped to gain outside of unsettling us.

I would have gladly done MTS if I was still single and was asked 3 years ago. But I’m not, and I wasn’t. Well, not in any convincing way.

Here is my reasoning.

  1. Finances
    Training for ministry is a significant financial sacrifice – four years living below the poverty line while potentially trying to start a family doesn’t sound like much fun – six years sounds crazy. I’m not completely driven by finances but I am a pragmatist.
  2. Time
    I want to go to college because I want to be in full time ministry (and I want to be appropriately equipped for a lifetime of doing that). College is four years of not doing the job that I want to be doing – and not taking responsibility for a ministry. 

    I am headstrong, stubborn and confident (also known as arrogant) – I don’t want to spend two years as an apprentice before spending another four years essentially being an apprentice while at college. We feel a little bit like we’ve left the college decision a year late anyway – Robyn wants to study with me, and we want to fit a family in somewhere (God willing), and adding another two years to the schedule doesn’t work.

  3. Experience
    This reason is twofold – one, our plan, prior to college – is to end up in parish ministry and I think the most important experience for parish ministry is in the workplace – not a couple of years of extra years of ministry training. 

    Two – MTS is great for giving people an experience of the lifestyle that comes with full time ministry – and the costs involved, as well as hands on responsibility for programs. I think I’ve done a fair bit of the latter – and I grew up in the former. I don’t know how much MTS could possibly teach me about life in ministry that I haven’t experienced directly or vicariously.

  4. Pragmatics
    There are practicalities and external factors driving our decision to head to college (QTC) next year. The college is in its infancy (following significant strategic and cultural change), it needs students to keep this momentum, and I’d like to be part of that.
    If we’re thinking about Townsville as a long term option (and it’s on the list) then I’d like to be in a position to be back here sooner rather than later.
  5. I have plenty of “mentors”
    MTS National Director, Ben Pharlet, was in Townsville over the weekend – his MTS apologetic was that it’s a great chance to be spiritually “fathered” ala Paul and Timothy. He may have a point on this as a “mentoring” type role – and it has made me reconsider my ill conceived mentoring rant last week. I was probably wrong there.

    But I don’t feel like this is a massive gap in my ministry armour – I’ve benefited greatly from close relationships with people in Ministry in various roles with AFES and church. I know what Christ centred gospel focused ministry looks like. I know what it costs. I know people can be draining and hard.

    From what I’ve observed in the ministry of people I know it’s brotherhood that sustains ministry in the long term. And my peers are going through college (or finishing MTS) now – or will be in the near future. I have no doubt I could find new peers later on – but why put in the relational hard yards when I’ve got a ready made group of friends already in the throes of ministry training.   

While I love and appreciate many people who have MTS’d in the past – and think it did them (and would do me) the world of good – I just don’t think

that two years of training prior to training will have a massive effect in the long term. Having spoken to many MTS graduates I’m sure it’s a good thing – I just don’t think it’s a necessary thing. Your thoughts (especially you Izaac)?

Candidacy update

Just in case any of you out there are actually wondering where we’re up to in terms of plans for the future…

I have an interview with representatives from the Presbytery of North Queensland this afternoon as the penultimate (I think) stage of enrolling at QTC as a candidate.

Exciting stuff. I hope they didn’t find my little betting sheet at church last night…

Spurious claim

Robyn and I went to a session of Spur on Saturday morning – Brisbane’s equivalent to whatever Sydney’s MTS conference is now called.

It was mind boggling. After a 4 year exile from Brisbane I knew almost nobody there. There’s been a complete generation change. It seems most of the guys of my generation are either doing ministry already, in theological education or doing some sort of MTS (and perhaps some have ruled it out).

That’s greatly encouraging – and is another prod that suggests college is the right thing for us next year. Enough thinking and talking – now it’s time for acting.

It must be said that the conference was “targeting” uni students so we didn’t quite fit the demograhpic.

The speaker was Townsville AFES staffworker Dave Walker – who used the pulpit to exhort and encourage the people there towards “reliability” – not flippancy or a reluctance to shoulder responsibility. He included a little dig about me in that – which was funny because we were in the back row, had arrived late, nobody knew we were there, and very few people knew who I was. It was like he assumed my notoriety still existed. Haha.

One memorable moment from his sermon though – that is worth recording for posterity – was his “first law of theodynamics” – which must surely rival “Walkers Ultimate 500” (still on the Wikipedia entry for 500) as one of the wisest things he’s ever come up with.

Roughly paraphrased it states:

“(Christian) Glory always follows suffering”…