As I sat in class the other day, listening to the professor talk about God’s love and how it relates to the Cross, someone’s coat pocket began belting out “What is Love” as if auditioning for The Voice.
I remember my first day at seminary. It was orientation day where the professors introduced themselves and explained the different departments of the school. This is where I met quite a few of the people I know to this day. I met avid frisbee players, folks that could out-cook Bobby Flay and…people who still played Pokemon.
One of my mentors told me that day that the friends I meet at seminary will last a lifetime. I knew just what they meant when someone I knew broke into my dorm and watched me sleep. Don’t worry, I found a restraining order.
Needless to say, seminary has some really rad experiences. It also has some rather odd and/or annoying ones. I’m going to share with you these odd experiences every other week on Wednesdays.
Now, please do not take these too seriously. Some of them you can probably find yourself in. For example, the first one is how to use technology in class. At some point in time, we all find ourselves using technology in less than appropriate ways in class. These guides are meant to get a good laugh on a bad day. Or a good laugh on a good day!
Just take them for what they are: a guy in seminary sharing some experiences he has had while in seminary. You’ll meet some of the people I’ve met. You’ll meet their alter egos I’ll create to protect their identity.
I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I have writing them and remembering all those moments.
Oh, this isn’t a preview? Chill out, little Timmy! Here’s a small snippet of what’s coming Wednesday!
“Sure, you can tempt fate. Most of the time a phone vibrates though, it leads to bad impressions. That gorgeous southern gal you’re sitting by? She’ll think you ate some bad food for lunch and you’re minutes away from exploding lunch everywhere. That dapper guy you saw in the mirror in the morning is no longer there when a girl gives you that look. Also might help if you wore a tie with a button up, not a NOTW tee.”
I’ve been married for 9 months now and I must say, despite what troubles come, it has been the most convicting, challenging and amazing 9 months of my life. I’ve learned so much about my wife that I know her funny quirks as well as her weird niches. For example, and this is going to make every nerd jealous, when my wife and I play Halo online, she gets fierce. When someone taunts me during a match, she gets even more fierce. It’s very similar to the Hulk; the angrier Hulk is, the deadlier Hulk is. It’s quite entertaining on my end whereas the people she’s decimating can vouch that it’s not so much fun.
But recently, I took my wedding ring in to get polished. Unfortunately, I had to leave it overnight so I was without my ring for a day and a half. All sorts of jokes ran through my head while I feverishly looked at and held the spot where my ring used to be. Then a question piped up, “What is marriage”.
It’s not the first time I was asked this question; I had been asked this same question a few weeks ago. Looking back, I realized my reply to that question was completely unfinished and did not do marriage justice.
Sure, a lot of aspects of marriage people practice anyway, minus the ceremony, in-laws and rings. Take away those and what’s left? What is marriage? Is it even necessary anymore? The answer is a resounding YES!
See, a marriage is more than just two people, man and woman (keeping it Baptist here), coming together to do life together, sharing experiences and shouting every now and then. You can do that in any relationship, it’s easy. A marriage is something bigger, something more; marriage is a covenant.
“Wait. Marriage is a ‘covenant’? Like, those aliens from Halo?” No, little Timmy!
Look throughout the Old Testament at covenants. What do you see? You often see certain aspects when covenants are made. You’ll see things such as: witnesses present to see the covenant take place, the terms of the covenant spoken, presence of God and a symbol of the covenant, set as reminder that the covenant is still in play i.e. the rainbow being a symbolic reminder of God’s covenant to never flood the entire Earth again. (If you do not know that story, that’s fine. Go check out Genesis where you’ll find Noah and his ark).
This is what makes a wedding so important, apart from appeasing the in-laws. Think about it, you have a gathering of witnesses. You have the two making the covenant. You have the presence of God. You have the symbolic reminders, which, people tend to go crazy with. Not only do my wife and I have wedding bands but we have a 3-string cord, photos, video and those sweet memories of everything leading up to the ceremony.
And that’s what happens during the ceremony: the covenant is forged. Now, let me explain the difference between covenant and contract: covenants cannot be broken. Once they’re made, they’re made. They’re forged, sealed and everlasting. Contracts can be broken, amended, changed and ultimately, nullified.
In my marriage covenant, I can’t just swap my wife out with another candidate when things get tough; that would be considered adultery a.k.a. cheating. No, we have to come together and work things out. That’s why in Song of Songs, you see the bride telling her groom to catch the little foxes (issues, problems) that come and spoil their relationship. When you pledge yourself to your wife/husband, you are theirs until death do you part. And while at times that can be frustrating, it’s far more beautiful than anything else.
Why? Because it forces you to realize that the world does not revolve around you. It forces you to place someone’s needs above your own in humble service. This is when you grow, learn and love all the more.
As I now look at my shiny, polished wedding band, the Hebrew letters, the silver shine, I’m reminded of my covenant with my wife. That gorgeous, amazing, hilarious woman I met in the cafeteria of my school who I was incredibly too shy to talk to.
And that, is the major difference of marriage against just dating someone. Dating, there is no security. Marriage, there is a hedge of protection and security. There’s no way out and that is completely, utterly beautiful when love and servanthood are integrated into the covenant.
“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…”
Song of Songs 6:3a
I was having a conversation with a friend from work the other day. He was energized as he spoke about how his life had been changing drastically over the past month since him and his wife had been going to these meetings/seminars at his church. It was very apparent something had changed in his life because, as energetic as this guy already was, he was even more energetic.
It is always refreshing to see someone new to Jesus: they’re so energized, ecstatic and, well, they’re the equivalent of a 7 year old who had been drinking Mountain Dew non-stop for a week.
But as we were talking, he dropped a name that, for some reason, made my equivalent of Spidey-Sense go off. (I like to call it the Seminarian Theology Sense…ugh, that sounded cooler in my head.)
Benny Hinn. I mulled the name over in my mind for a while, trying to remember where I had heard that name.
Thanks to Google, I found him, his ministry and some rather…interesting videos of his “crusades”. I now remember why I got a funny feeling when I heard the name: he abuses blazers like no one’s business. But really, I had heard about him through my seminary studies.
When you are in seminary, you study a broad range of topics in the realm of, not only Christianity but also, religion and popular culture. Benny Hinn happened to come up in one of my classes and several chapel sessions, both of which he was never talked about in a good manner. You see, he is, what many people will and have called, a false prophet. He holds many seminars, or crusades, where he claims to prophesy and heal many, usually by “slaying” them with the Holy Spirit.
No offense but the word “slay” has a kind of negative connotation to it. For me, it makes me giggle because I see Benny Hinn in a suit of armor, Monty Python-style, slaying a dragon with his blazer.
But here’s my problem with false prophets: they lead a lot of people away from Christ and towards themselves. I watched a documentary several months ago called Pint-Sized Preachers. I got to see into the lives of three different toddlers/youth who preached, sort of not really, and healed people by casting out demons. The thing of it is, is that the documentary spoke with the people who were supposedly “healed” by these guys and they found out, they weren’t healed. People still had lung cancer, heart disease, growing blindness, just to name a few.
And their answer for their sickness still occurring? Lack of faith. To a degree, I can believe that because the majority of their faith is put in these false prophets, not Jesus. It’s only logical that if you go around, claiming to be a faith healer in this society, people will put a lot of faith in you, and not in Jesus, who they should have faith in. Then, when they are not healed, they think that either God hates them or they did not have enough faith, the latter resulting in their painful pursuit to make God love them more. Do you see how sick and twisted that is? They confuse faith in Jesus with faith in a man who is a liar. Needless to say, it is earth shattering and confusing for these people.
I strongly urge you to study people whom you would like to learn from. It completely breaks my heart when I see friends and family members, and really people everywhere, following someone who claims great things but is clearly not a prophet of God.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?” – Matthew 7:15-16