I have great news. Over the past few weeks, I have been working very hard to finish my thesis, and to prepare for my comprehensive exam for my ThM program. The great news is first that I have officially submitted my final draft of my thesis: Discipleship in Deuteronomy. Second, I passed my comprehensive exam. Thus, I am officially done with all my coursework and requirements for my ThM, and I’m set to graduate at the end of May. This is a huge milestone in my life. It has been a lot of work, but I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the process of growth in my life.
After completing the requirements for that program, I now have much free time on my hands. Don’t worry, I have plenty to fill the free time.
I plan to take some time off of my academic studies for several years. In the meantime, I plan to stay current by keeping up on recent articles in journals, and to continue reading books in my areas of interest (discipleship and Old Testament theology). Several people, though, have mentioned the idea of whether I might begin to write books professionally. I will look into this, and pray about this, as I do feel that writing may be part of my calling. Would you pray with me to this end?
I am primarily excited to be able to spend much more time on our little church and to seek the Lord’s will for us in the upcoming weeks and months. We have been growing slowly, but I think the Lord is providing the growth that we are able to handle for now. With more time on my hands, I hope and pray that the Lord will guide us into new areas of growth and reaching out to our local community.
In our last newsletter, I described a business luncheon that our church planned to host for downtown Idaho Falls business owners. Unfortunately, we had planned to host this event on April 19th. About a week ago, though, I saw a flyer of a similar business event that our mayor planned to host on the very same day! So, needless to say, we will need to reschedule our event. Our hope with our business luncheon is to get to know our neighbors (business owners and leaders), and to seek to learn from some of them how our church might be more neighborly in the downtown Idaho Falls area. Westill hope to accomplish this goal. Would you join us in praying for this event? We aren’t sure why there was a conflict, but we want the Lord to lead us to exactly what He wants us to do in this area.
We have our men’s retreat coming up, and we plan to examine the life of faith of the Apostle Peter, and his spiritual growth (ups and downs) from Matthew’s gospel. We have ten men signed up to join us, and we’ll be enjoying some time outdoors, and cooking over a fire. Perhaps we’ll learn something of Peter’s faith life as we also enjoy some time fishing as our host has property right on the Snake River just north of Idaho Falls. Please pray with us that the Lord would touch the hearts and lives of our men, and that He would bless our hosts for generously opening their home and their property for the use of our church.
I have recently had the pleasure of preaching on giving your stuff to God over the past few weeks at church, as we’ve examined Moses’ exhortation to “Love YHWH with all your Stuff and all your Space” (Dt. 12:1-28). Upcoming this Sunday, we’ll be looking at Moses’ warning to avoid idolatry. All of this has to do with our hearts, and the orientation of our hearts toward our worship of God. Idolatry is a very real danger for all of us, as our hearts are (at times) easily deceived and “ensnared” (Dt. 12:30) to follow the ways of the ungodly peoples around us.
What “ensnares” you? I could rattle off to you a whole list of the things that threaten to steal my heart’s attention from true worship of Him. Instead, though, I will ask you all to examine your own hearts to determine whether you worship Him with all your heart, soul, strength (Dt. 6:5), and with all your stuff, and all your space (Dt. 12). I pray that He would strengthen and enable you all to keep Him first in everything, all the time.