Saturday, February 11, 2012

New Testament I: The Gospels

    Dr. Mournet began our first class of New Testament 1 by saying that we would never look at the gospels the same way again. Though that seemed a little scary to some of us, he reassured us that it was a good thing. Over the past six weeks, I have learned more about the gospels than I have ever known before. This is saying a lot, because I took a gospels course in my undergrad, and it was also very informative.
     Dr. Mournet was right, I do not look at the gospels in the same way. I have a much deeper appreciation for the incredible task that the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John undertook in writing down an account of the life of Jesus. These four books have changed my life forever. One of our assignments has been to sit down and read each gospel all at once and take notes. I don't think I have actually sat down and read a whole gospel in one sitting. You start to see the big picture of what the author and God are trying to reveal to the reader. I would recommend setting apart an afternoon this week to read through a gospel as if it was the first time. Meet God in the text of the Gospels.

-David M

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy 2012-What will it bring?

So, Dawn West has been bugging me for months to write a blog post. I have been putting her off because I felt like I had nothing on my mind to write about that would be relevant to Seminary students and grads. You see, I haven’t been in any classes since this past summer and up until two weeks ago had been M.I.A. from the Seminary all together. The reason is on November 1st I had my first baby. Let me take a short moment to brag. He was born at about 3:30 am on November 1st-so an All Saints’ baby. His name is Josiah David. Josiah was 7 lbs. 2 oz., 22 inches long, born at home and it was wonderful! He is now 2 and a half months old and is smiling and cooing and so much fun! Parenthood is a wonderful journey.
So, for the nine months leading up to November, all I could think about was this little being that was going to come into my life and change it forever. I’m blessed that I was able to actually concentrate enough to pass all my classes in the spring and summer quarters. So, when Dawn wanted me to write a post for the blog all I could imagine writing on was my little baby that was about to born. Since that really isn’t “Seminary” related  and I couldn’t think about anything else, I just pushed Dawn off for a few months. :) She loves me, so it’s OK.
So, here I am now, a Mommy of a two and a half month old. And having just come out of the holidays I have to tell you, Josiah made them all the more special. I think Josiah’s impact on my life hit me more at New Years’ than at Christmas. As we counted down this year to 2012, I was reminded that this year my baby would learn to crawl, eat food, walk, and probably talk too. In 2012 there are going to be so many changes for us. To think ahead to all this was bitter sweet and amazing. It was a reminder to me of how amazing God is.
For all you parents out there I am sure you can relate to this. Having a child is truly an experience that teaches you so much about God. Since New Years’ the realization of God’s awesomeness has been on my mind. When I was pregnant, it was so cool to think of how God was crafting together a child inside me. Now that I can hold and see that child, it is even more incredible. And as this year unfolds, I am sure I will marvel in that wonder even more. Psalm 139:13-14 has so much more meaning- “You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb. I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart. Your works are wonderful— I know that very well.” (Common English Bible-check it out- it’s a new translation with contributions from Dr. Hawk, and Dr. Byron and editing by Dr. deSilva). So, I leave you with this; spend 2012 marveling over what God has done and what He will do, for He is an amazing God!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie

Late Sunday afternoon, I stopped by a local grocery store to pick up a few things. I was dutifully placing my items on the conveyer belt. A young man at the cash register, Mansur, asked me how my experience had been in Kroger and if I had found everything I had been looking for in the store. I commented that I was a little disappointed because they seemed to be out of the Oreo cookie pie crust; but I did manage to locate a graham cracker pie crust that I could use instead.
The young man at the cash register looked at me quizzically, slowly repeating what I had said out loud. I nodded, saying that was correct. Our conversation was interrupted by another young man, Sheldon, who was putting my groceries into bags at the end of the counter. Sheldon asked what I wanted with an Oreo cookie pie crust. I said that I was going to make a pie. Sheldon asked what kind of a pie I was going to make. I said that I thought that I would make a peanut butter pie. Sheldon said that he really liked pie, especially peanut butter pie.
Listening intently to the dialogue, Mansur politely asked, “What is pie?” I asked Mansur where he was from and if he had ever had pie before. He said he was from Africa, and shook his head no. I asked Mansur and Sheldon if they would like a piece of peanut butter pie. Mansur, still uncertain of what we were talking about, looked at Sheldon, who was nodding his head enthusiastically. Mansur said yes, and I asked them both when they were working again. Mansur said he would be working on Tuesday evening. I promised that I would be back with pie.
Mansur said to look for him when I came back to the store with pie. He said that he was easy to spot because he was the only guy in the store with a Mohawk, and he was black. He grinned. I thanked him for pointing that out, adding that I hadn’t noticed that he was black. He laughed. I looked at Sheldon and asked if he would be in the store on Tuesday evening as well. He pointed to Mansur and said, “I’m with him.” As I was walking away, I could hear Sheldon singing, repeatedly, “I’m going to get some pie…”
I stopped at the grocery store on Tuesday evening, during the designated time frame. Mansur was so excited to see me that he hugged me and said “You came back.” Sheldon was not at work that evening, but Mansur promised that he would get Sheldon’s piece of pie to him. I told Mansur that I would check back with him later to see what he thought of pie.
What a privilege it was to introduce Mansur to pie, and to remind Sheldon of how much he enjoyed pie. Mansur’s excited surprise at my return also was a sad reminder that we live in a culture where promises are plenty, but follow through is often lacking. Clearly, I don’t have any idea where this story will go. God has yet to set the stage for the next scene.
So, what about you and your life? What new friends have you encountered in recent days? How are you engaging the culture with expressions of love and care? How has God used you to bring surprise and joy into the lives of those around you? What promises do you need to keep?
You know, we are reminded in Psalm 34:8 to “…taste and see that the Lord is good…” How grateful I am to know a God who always keeps His promises.
Mary L.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Remembering Dr. Keefer

Notes from Home is intended to send you verbal snapshots of life from the various centers of Ashland Seminary.  In some ways this post is a departure from that intent, but in another way it's right on track.  Dr. Luke Keefer was a treasured part of the Seminary community and touched many lives, so please - read on:

As you may know, the seminary community lost an exceptional teacher, spiritual mentor, and devoted friend last December when Dr. Luke Keefer died.  Dr. Dale Stoffer, Academic Dean, has been asked to write an article about Dr. Keefer in his role as a teacher.  The best way to capture Dr. Keefer's gift of teaching is to have his former students share their stories of how he impacted their lives in the classroom.  If you were a student in one of Dr. Keefer's classes and have a special memory of him in this role, please post a memory or tribute to Dr. Keefer here on the blog where others can enjoy it (and it will be forwarded to Dr. Stoffer) or email your tribute to Dr. Stoffer directly (  Thank you for sharing your memories and for your assistance in presenting an accurate picture of  Dr. Keefer as a teacher.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Let's get this school year going!

With another great year of seminary about to start, I have been going over the syllabi for my classes and have started working on my senior portfolio, and I think I am about ready to go to class. There are a couple of very important things I need to accomplish this weekend before class starts. Among these are completing putting a new gloss finish on my dining room table (a project I started two summers ago), mowing the grass (once classes start the lawn turns back into something out of Jurassic Park), and finally take a nice long nap (because it will be the last nap I take until thanksgiving). I have already stocked up on coffee, Red Bull, and frozen pizza, so let's get this school year going!

David , class of 2012

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September Term and Spiritual Disciplines

I just left my first Summer/September session-type class, and see now just how draining those can be.  I'm happy to say, however, that they are draining in a good way.  The class is Spiritual Disciplines, with Dr. Watson, so how could it be anything short of amazing.  Today we talked about formative reading of scripture, and the Spiritual Masters (which is a pretty awesome title huh?), and meditation.  I often conflate prayer and meditation and I think this is reasonable.  Prayer means so many different things, that we do it a disservice to say almost anything isn't prayer.  My definition of prayer is essentially a conversation with God.  As with conversations on earth, sometimes we speak more and listen less, sometimes the opposite is true, sometimes we simply sit in a room with our spouse and say nothing; we simply look at them and marvel at how they love us so much.
If we understand prayer this way, then certainly meditating on God's promises, trying to discern His will for us in the moment, or hear His wise counsel on how to serve the annoying neighbor is prayer.  I feel like this is what meditation is.  Foster says, "Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God's voice and obey his word."  (intentionally not citing because i'm not getting graded). 

I am often exhausted, by trying to think about what God wants me to do, and remembering every little thing I need to pray for.  The purpose of the spiritual disciplines, both at large and for the purposes of this post regarding meditation, is to pause, and simply listen.  Thinking often gets us into trouble, but when we find the right counsel of the Holy Spirit, and when we know that we know what he is saying, there is a peace and confidence that is built into that moment.  The attached link represents me far too often.  If not in my prayer, then in the hurried pace of thoughts coming and going in my mind as I struggle to decide God's will, rather than discern it.  Give the link a watch. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's The (2nd) Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I’m coming up on my second most favorite time of year.  For some folks, they just love Christmas.  They can’t get enough of the decorations, food, family and spirit of celebrating God incarnate.  I do like Christmas…a lot.  Just ask my wife about my OCD practice of matching my wrapping paper to the tree decorations.  Getting a gift that is wrapped outside of my chosen color scheme means that gift stays in a closet until it is time to open it.  No place under the tree for an inappropriately dressed gift!
Some folks live for summer!  Namely students and faculty, though we administrators, pastors, counselors and non-classroom professionals just think of summer as a season where the office is a little hotter than it was in the spring.  For those who love summer best it means pool time, vacations, sunshine and back yard BBQs.  You may be thinking of your own “favorite time of year” as you read my rant.  That time which, when it’s over, brings a brief sigh of relief because you have given all your energy to it, but that you soon begin to dream of again - how it might be a little different or a little better when it next arrives.
I’m already looking forward to my #1 favorite day of the year.  This year, it falls on June 2, 2012.  Graduation Day and Commencement at Ashland Theological Seminary is my day.  When I first came on staff at ATS as an Enrollment Counselor, I recall speaking with my boss about how my job of getting students in the door wasn’t always particularly fulfilling.  I often got to know a prospect just enough to get them enrolled when my work took me to a new crew of men and women exploring the possibility of a call to seminary.  He looked at me and said, “Just wait until your first graduation where you see someone you recruited cross the stage.”  And he was right!  Every June, as each name is read, my mind is transported to first encounters on a college campus or a meeting in my office when a future student wrestled with the question “How am I going to do this?”  Following God’s call is always an adventure worth taking and graduation is a testimony to His faithfulness (and sometimes His sense of humor).
Now you’re probably wondering what my second most favorite time of year is and why that is the point of this blog...  As I write this, I am three days away from our first Orientation Day for incoming students.  It’s the day when my office, Enrollment Management, puts faces with names of people with whom we’ve emailed and talked for many months.  It’s the day we see new friends who have toured campus with us on past visits- all the time sharing their excitement and/or fear about this next adventure.  Lastly, it’s the day my team of counselors introduces these men and women who are new to Ashland to the team of folks at ATS who will continue walking this journey with them: faculty, advisors, staff members and prayer warriors. 
I recently participated in a round of interviews for a new hire here at the Seminary.  During our conversation with the candidate, she asked President Shultz what he liked best about working here.  His thoughtful response has stuck with me as a mantra of why I also love the work and ministry at Ashland.  He said (and I’m paraphrasing) that as a pastor and counselor he could have an impact on the lives of the folks with whom he came in contact, but at the Seminary, he knew he was having an impact on people who are each called in their own way to have an impact on hundreds and even thousands of others.  This exponential impact is why Ashland strives every year to be better at fulfilling our mission than we were the year before.  The call to integrate theological education with Christ-centered transformation to equip men and women for ministry in the church and the world is too important to not approach it with humility, diligence, prayer and celebration. 
So my season of welcoming a new class of learners to Ashland will end in early October when I will begin to put my eyes upon next June 2: the day when once more smiles and tears will testify to the beauty of fulfilling our mission one life at a time so that the lives of thousands may know the wonder of a transformed life.
Glenn, 2007