Seminary Update from Whitney (repost from www.whitneyandjosh.com)

We’re finished with all of our midterms! We took our second Greek exam last night and so I am able to take a few minutes this afternoon to give you a snapshot into how I’m doing and what our experiences here at Gordon-Conwell have been like thus far. I’ve struggled with not only finding time to write a blog post but also with what exactly to say. I’d love to sit down with each of you over coffee and share all of the things that the Lord has shown me thus far, because it is difficult to understand and experience such transformation merely through words on a  page.

But, here is my best shot.

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Missing these faces

Really missing my Gathering Georgetown students today, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments from this past school year!

I love you guys!

Dear Gathering Georgetown

Dear Gathering Georgetown,

All weekend freshmen have been moving in on the Hilltop. They’ve arrived with all of the exuberance, dreams, and ambitions that they’ve been storing throughout their high school years. Their parents’ cars and their luggage has probably clogged the roadways and the hallways alike. They’re likely really excited and quite loud. They, with almost certainty, have no idea where the Esplanade or Bulldog Alley are located. I’m sure you’ve seen them and perhaps been annoyed by them. Please befriend them! Please come alongside them and love them. Please remember your freshman year struggles and your desire for community. They need upperclassmen to befriend them, show them the ropes, patiently answer their questions, and mentor them.

This morning the Protestant community came together for their annual Protestant Worship Service, and I heard via @jonathandrice that it was packed!

You have no idea what that news did to my heart. It reminded me that there are freshmen on campus now who I won’t get to sit down with over coffee this year. It reminded me that I’m missing my first Welcome Week on a college campus in five years. And it reminded me that The Gathering Georgetown kick off service is happening in just THREE days on the Leavey Esplanade and I won’t be there. I have to admit that I’m a little heartbroken over all of these facts, but I am thrilled that YOU are there and that your impact there will lead to more followers of Christ on Georgetown’s campus! Continue reading

On moving, friendship, and the things that matter most

Ever since we left DC, I have had almost zero desire to write. I’ve barely journaled, much less blogged (which is problematic since I am an expected contributor for whitneyandjosh.com). And I didn’t cry until Thursday night, but once it started, I sobbed for a good fifteen minutes or longer.

Several thoughts hit me all at once this weekend, when I least expected them.

First, I miss hugging people. I miss being hugged. I realized that there are very few people here that I could legitimately throw myself across a room in a dramatic fashion to embrace. If you know me well, you know that every friend is greeted with a huge hug, whether it’s been a year or an hour since I’ve seen them last. There’s something quite priceless in a hug that I don’t think I have recognized, or truly valued in quite some time.

The second thought that immediately followed did so in the form of a question: “Why do I not hug people here?” The third thought was, “I really, really miss my friends.” And then I began to think about what makes people special to me and why I value friendships as much as I do.

I have been frustrated with myself lately. I’ve been frustrated that I have yet to find close, best friends. And I’ve struggled to figure out why that is the case. It finally dawned on me. A friendship is made of a million little moments, shared experiences, successes, and failures. I’m sure that I knew this before, but in the span of the past five to seven years, I’ve built strong, solid friendships. The kind of friendships that do not just happen and definitely do not happen in three short weeks.

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The News Media, Jerry Sandusky, and Illusion

During my undergraduate years, I took a class at American University called “News Media and Foreign Policy.” Essentially, the class focused on the effect that the news media has in shaping foreign policy.

Our primary textbook, entitled, News: The Politics of Illusion, by W. Lance Bennett, defines “political news” as information that “newsmakers (politicians and other political actors) promote as timely, important, or interesting[,] from which news organizations select, narrate, and package for transmission (via communication technologies) to people who consume it at a given time in history” (Bennett, 11).

Doris Graber, in “Adapting Political News to the Needs of Twenty-First Century Americans,” says that “news is not just any information, or even the most important information about the world; rather, the news tends to contain information that is timely, often sensational (scandals, violence, and human drama frequently dominate the news) and familiar (stories often drawing on familiar people or life experiences that give even distant events a close-to-home feeling)” (Bennett, 11).

Bennett’s assertion throughout his book is that politics and foreign policy do not happen in a vacuum. They are shaped by external forces, one of which is the news media. He argues that the news media plays a large role in how the United States interacts with the world and does not want the public to know how large its influence really is. They want the public to think they are merely reporting the facts without bias, rather than shaping the news and the audience’s perceptions of, and reactions to, the news as it occurs. Thus, the name of the book.

Now, what does this information have to do with Jerry Sandusky? Well, I’d like to argue that in the same way that the news media shapes U.S. national policy, media also shapes what we think about our own hearts. I also want to argue again that the mere volume of sensational articles that we see about evil, violence, and scandal make us immune to the sin in our own lives.

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Only Jesus Opens Blinded Eyes

I’ve been reading Charles C. Ryrie’s Basic Theology over the last year with my fellow McLean Bible Church Residents (second year Future Leaders). We meet monthly to discuss different theological topics and gain a solid understanding of where MBC stands doctrinally. I really appreciate that I have the opportunity to learn and grow in my understanding of Scripture – and it’s part of my job!

As this year has progressed, I’ve found myself always eager to dive into the next section of Ryrie’s book. I don’t always agree with him, but I’ve enjoyed skimming the surface of a lot of doctrinal topics this year and it’s built great anticipation in my heart for the coming three years I’ll spend in seminary.

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Article Review: “A Wife’s Testing Ground” – Jen Smidt

I read a great article today entitled “A Wife’s Testing Ground,” by Jen Smidt

She articulates well what I’m only just beginning to learn about the balance between being one with my husband but fully reliant on the Lord. It’s an interestingly complex situation. One particular sentence struck me – “There is no more heart revealing place for a wife than when her husband is vulnerable.” That is so true. When Josh is fearful, I feel afraid. When he seems vulnerable, I feel I am as well. If he’s not leading, I question venturing. If he’s discouraged, I struggle to have faith. I lean on him, I trust him, and often, I expect him to remain steadfast, stable, and strong so that I can be those things as well. However, while there areas of our marriage that Josh can support me in these ways, that’s not ultimately his role. And besides all of that, while he’s an incredible husband, he’ll never be perfect.

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One of the Reasons I Can’t Wait to Take Church History

I’m currently reading Charles C. Ryrie’s Basic Theology for tomorrow’s Resident Meeting and, as usual, I learned something new.

Here’s an excerpt of his chapter “The Worship of the Church,” that I found to be particularly interesting:

IV. THE DAY FOR CORPORATE WORSHIP

The New Testament church used Sunday as their day of corporate worship. They did this in spite of the fact that it was not a weekly holiday that people had free. Undoubtedly many Christian slaves were on call all day every day; yet they made time for corporate worship. (Ryrie, 499)

A. The Origin of the Lord’s Day

Though modern writers invariably attempt to emphasize the connection between the Lord’s Day and the Sabbath, the early church and the church Fathers did not make that emphasis. They did see a moral value in applying the Ten Commandments but made an exception of the fourth one concerning the Sabbath. Notice the absence of a Sabbath-Lord’s Day problem in Acts 15:29 and the clear teaching of the New Testament as to the end of the Mosaic Law, including the Ten Commandments (except as nine of them, all but the Sabbath one, are repeated in the epistles, 2 Cor. 3:7-11; Col. 2:16). The idea of a particular day for worship may have been connected with the Sabbath, but the particular day was unrelated to the Sabbath. (Ryrie, 499)

[T]he only explanation as to why the early church established a new day of worship unrelated to the Sabbath and the existing calendar was that Sunday was the day of the Lord’s resurrection. He not only arose on Sunday, but six post-Resurrection appearances were also on Sunday, and the Day of Pentacost when the body of Christ was formed fell on Sunday. Almost always the day is designated as the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). In Revelation 1:10 it is called the Lord’s Day, a term similar to the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:20) and used by believers to protest and contrast the Emperor’s or Augustus’s Day. The Lord’s Day, then, is the first day of the week, the day of His resurrection, and the day used by believers to celebrate that greatest event in history. (Ryrie, 499)

B. The Distinctiveness of the Lord’s Day

Clearly the early church made this day distinct, for though they went to they synagogue services on the Sabbath they went to evangelize. When they met other believers it was on Sunday. Romans 14:5 does not mean that Christians did not distinguish the first day for worship. Rather Paul was exhorting them not to be pressured by the Jewish element in the church to observe or fast on certain days. (Ryrie, 500)

I had no idea! I had always thought that it was linked to the Sabbath. This is why knowledge of theology and church history are so vital for the church today. We need to know what we believe, why we do things, and how these traditions began. I can’t wait to get to seminary! Josh and I are registered for History of the Church to the Reformation and I’m really looking forward to it.

The Secret Service, Scandal, and Grace

I read several articles this week that caused my heart to break. The news has been full of articles about the Secret Service scandal in Columbia and being the political nerd that I am, I’ve read quite a few. None of them affected me as much as these two:

Wife of Secret Service Agent Stands By Her Man

Name of the Secret Service’s Infamously Cheap Agent Revealed

It’s easy to be shocked and disgusted by the news that men visit prostitutes. It’s easy for us to be aghast at the news that government officials engage in these acts while representing the United States of America abroad. It’s not a difficult task to condemn them for their indiscretions, the shame they’ve brought on their esteemed agency, and the potential endangerment of our President.

In our judgment, it’s also easy to forget that these men have wives and families and lives. They’re husbands, fathers, brothers, and friends. It’s easy to forget that some of them (and according to media reports, at least one) are likely fellow followers of Christ. It’s easy to forget that in many ways we are just like them. It’s easy to forget that we are just as capable of such sin. It’s easy to throw the first stone. It’s easy to forget the way that life breaks down when we sin against one another. It’s easy to forget how much our sin affects the people that we have promised to cherish.

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The Idea of a “Love Bank” Isn’t a Myth… But the Idea that Your Spouse Must Make Deposits Is A Lie

If you’re married, engaged, or hope to eventually be married, I highly recommend that you read Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage. Seriously, I feel that every time I sit down to read another chapter, the Holy Spirit uses this book to change some area of my heart or some long-held cultural perspective of marriage that I’ve been clinging to.

Chapter Two, entitled “The Power For Marriage,” lays the foundation for the rest of the book, namely that marriage is meant to be undertaken only through and by the power of the Holy Spirit. He turns the widely-accepted pop psychology idea of a “love bank” on its head, saying:

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