The Joys of Teaching

My role as director of the Center for Faith and Human Flourishing limits the number of courses that I teach. The balance is about 30% teaching, 30% administration/fundraising, 30% research, 10% supervising. Furthermore, the courses that I typically teach are upper-level OT and NT courses, which tend to be small. This means that currently my contact with students is somewhat limited and focused. I enjoy the admin and research side of my job, and appreciate how significant it is for my institution.

So, sometimes I need unusual periods such as this past week to remind me how much I enjoy hanging out with young people and discussing/teaching important ideas. One of my colleagues was away, and I covered a couple of his classes on Monday and Thursday.

On Monday, my task was to provide an introduction to the Psalter for two of his Introduction to Bible sections: cover the basic forms and genres of psalms, possible historical or settings, and explain their significance in Jewish and Christian communities. Each section had about 30 students, many of whom are not otherwise interested in the biblical material apart from a grade in a required course. So, it was rewarding to have the classes go reasonably well, and to feel like even those in the back row were at least partly engaged.

On Thursday, I was responsible for the Judaism section of the World Religions course. Steve mainly asked me to read the textbook and field the students’ questions as best I could, but I also spoke a bit from my complicated personal story with Jewishness. Not only did we use up nearly the entire 90 minutes, but one student had more questions, and we chatted for about 45 minutes after class in my office.

This is all in addition to hosting some CFHF guests for talks, my normal Hebrew Wisdom and Poetry course (two 90 minute periods on the Psalter), and meetings to prepare my thesis student for his proposal defense next week. On Wednesday, we had our regular men’s Bible study, working our way through the book of Mark.

Then, last night, a larger student-led Bible study that typically meets on campus asked if they could meet in our home. I joined these ten students–five women and five men–for singing, prayer, and biblical discussion in our living room. Many of these folks are first- and second-year students, and their spiritual maturity and zeal bodes well for the next 2-3 years at LCC

After a research-heavy summer and part of the fall semester, it was refreshing to spend a lot more time with students than I often get to. I enjoy the zeal and excitement of young people, and the fact that they are often not afraid to ask uncomfortable questions about life, God, the scriptures, relationships, etc. I appreciate the position I am in to have influence on their lives, to strengthen the faith of those who are believers, and to perhaps be an instrument that God uses to draw others closer to Himself. I am grateful for the intellectual freedom I have at my institution to ask important questions, and the time that my workload affords me to meet with students outside of class.

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Sermon: God’s Feast

This is the audio (34:11, 31.3 MB) of a sermon preached at the Klaipėda Free Christian Church entitled, “God’s Feast,” in preparation for our monthly celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The text is Exodus 24:1–12. Continue reading

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Review of ‘Sit At My Right Hand’ in ZAW

A short review of my book has been published in Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft.

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My Journey to Affirming the Ordination of Women (Part XI)

As I was reviewing my slate of draft blog posts in various stages of completion, I noticed that I never shared the intended final post in my series on my change of perspective on women’s ordination. While I had intended to put a nice bow on the series, I will just conclude with a list of resources that I read, and one brief comment. Continue reading

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Recap: Tallinn, Helsinki, Klaipėda

A couple of weeks ago we enjoyed several days of travel, as well as some fun times home in Klaipėda. Continue reading

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Theme in Mission (or: “Did you always know you wanted to go to Lithuania?”)

When we mention to folks in North America that we are/have been ministry workers in Lithuania, the response is often, “Oh, that’s great!” I can tell that this person feels like s/he should know where Lithuania is, or something about it. Usually, I bail them out by saying something about how much we like “the Baltic coast,” or “being next to Poland.”

Another question folks often ask a bit further in the conversation is, “Did you always hope to live in Lithuania?” It’s a fair question, though sometimes behind it is presumption that no one else could possibly want to live in this country that s/he didn’t know existed until about two minutes ago. But I try to assume the best of people… Continue reading

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USA Recap: Ordination, Wedding, Friends, Bagels, Falling in Love Again

I know that I don’t need to apologize for longer gaps between posts, but I always feel the need to do so. We have been in the USA for nearly eight weeks; tomorrow at noon, we head to Newark Airport for a 5:30pm departure and a Tuesday arrival in Palanga. We’ve done a lot, traveled a bit, and learned a lot (I hope). Continue reading

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Sermon: So That It May Go Well With You

This is the video of a sermon delivered at First Presbyterian Church of Endicott, NY on June 24 entitled, “So That It May Go Well With You.” The text was Deuteronomy 4:5-13.

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Understanding is Ephemeral

“William Riker, who was one of the founders of the rational choice school of public choice in political science, said that most of the people who get into academics do it because they’re interested in teaching. And a lot of times they’re confused and they think that teaching involves work in a classroom with students. And that’s important, but the real teaching is the one that takes place through writing because once you’ve learned something, if you actually understand it, you can explain it to someone else and the advantage of writing it is that you can communicate this teaching to someone distant in time or someone distant in space. So the most important teaching is writing and if you think of yourself as a teacher, it’s really important that you work on your writing because that’s how you’re going to be able to communicate this understanding that you have. Understanding is ephemeral. A lot of times when you work on something for a long time, you think, ‘Oh now I see it! That’s actually simple.’ Well if you don’t write that down it’s going to be hard for someone else to replicate that moment of understanding. But if you do write it down and you explain it clearly, you’ve added something to the human capital of the world: what we’re able to hand down, the things that we no longer have to think about because we understand them. The more you understand, the simpler things become.”

Mike Munger, interview with The Economics Detective.

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Sermon: Apostles and Exiles

This is the audio (12:39, 11.6 MB) of a short homily delivered at LCC’s International Christian Fellowship on April 22 entitled, “Apostles and Exiles.” The text was Ezekiel 11:14-17. Continue reading

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