SEMINARY DIARIES: Learning and Unlearning

After several years of studying the Bible inductively in BSF and being reared by the expository preaching at GCF, I still find myself in awe and overwhelmed with God’s Word. We can never settle with what we already know. In school (like I have shared with a lot of you), there are a lot of things I needed to unlearn and that is very humbling.

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Discernment: Listening to God in Life and Ministry with Dr. Tim McCowan

Upon entering seminary, we were told that we’ll have to put off the pre-conditioning we’ve grown with. Now that doesn’t mean that our previous understanding of the Bible is entirely bad or wrong. There’s just that reality that there are certain positions we’ve come to accept as true but when you get to the nitty gritty of the text, you’ll be surprised that the original intended meaning isn’t so similar with how a lot of people have been interpreting it today. We have to keep in mind that when people read and interpret the Bible, biases come along with it–intentionally or unintentionally. These biases may have been ingrained in us through culture, education and the church.

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A common mistake we make is taking one verse alone and interpreting it without the passages before and after. There’s nothing wrong with using verses from the Bible and making them a personal, motivational reminder. However, we have to make sure that we know the context of the passage and the book. For example, a verse that is often misused is Matthew 18:20:

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

When you look at this verse, it does look very encouraging in terms of prayer. So many times, I’ve heard this recited in sermons and prayer gatherings. The passage in Matthew however, talks about dealing with sin or conflict in the church. It discusses rebuking a fellow believer in private about the sin.

If the fellow believer takes heed, then “you have won him over”–>this phrase can also take on so many meanings. “Won him over” meaning you won the argument or “won him over” meaning you have won his confidence? In the literal translation from Greek to English, it reads “you gained your fellow believer.” So the “winning the argument” angle is not what the passage meant.

This is just an example of the many verses taken out of context. I would love to share more but each verse might require a separate blog entry each. 😀

LEVELING UP MY HERMENEUTICS SKILLS

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Hermeneutics class group work

I’m amazed that with just a few verses, you can unpack a ton of things. Context. Main clause. Subordinate clauses. Key words. The words in the original language. Did the author use the word the same way we use it today? The intended audience—who were they? Where were they located? What was life like for them at that time? So many questions. We were doing termal, grammatical, literary and contextual analysis yesterday when my classmate David told me “Nasa exegete talaga yung trabaho no? Yung exegete yung mag-tatanong, siya din hahanap ng sagot sa text.”

And it made me think, as one person I can only ask so many questions. I cannot ask all the possible questions that may arise from the text and THAT IS HUMBLING. For me, it means that as a community of believers studying the Bible, team work is essential. One cannot do it alone. Our pastors, before they preach their sermon, present their outline and manuscript to a group of other pastors and church leaders and they discuss the text, the interpretation and what it means for us in the present day. In school, I like that we are also usually in groups when we do our Bible exercises for it broadens the way we observe and interact with the text, allowing us to see things from a different perspective.


There’s still more for me to learn and unpack. The Bible is truly a wonderful book and our God–though He is infinite and incomprehensible is definitely KNOWABLE.

God bless you! Until the next seminary diary…when I finish with my reading assignments! 🙂

 

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VLOG: THIS IS WHAT A FULL DAY IN CHURCH LOOKS LIKE

Saturday is usually ministry day for me, except if I have trips, workshops to attend/teach or events to host. Our leaders’ meeting for our Bible Study Fellowship evening women’s class in Ortigas is held Saturday mornings at 6:30. We prepare for class night, have separate leadership development sessions and we get to engage in God’s Word by sharing in the discussion questions and homiletics.

*Thanks to my fellow GL Riva for taking and sharing these photos!

For this particular Saturday, we had our leaders’ fellowship (we do this once a month) so we had time to catch-up and enjoy delicious finger food. 🙂

Following immediately was the launch of S.H.E., the support group for single young professional women in GCF. We invited blogger, speaker and homeschooling advocate Joy Tan-chi Mendoza to speak. She happens to be the niece of Tita Mina, one of the core members of the GCF Ortigas Women’s Ministry team. She brought along all five of her children, who she says are always with her and Edric (her husband) whenever they have speaking engagements.

Joy spoke on Identity: The P’s of God’s Best Life for You (Colossians 3:1-17):
1) Know your Purpose
2) Obey His Principles
3) Order Your Priorities
4) Elevate Him with Your Pursuits and Passions
5) Discover His Pleasure and Peace

Sorry if the bullet points are bitin. I tried to take down notes but I was busy making sure the camera was running well and we were still within the allotted time. The ladies looked forward to the QandA session where Joy answered questions about singlehood, homeschooling her kids, growing up, her background, married life and faith. Watch the VLOG below for more!

After the launch, I had a bit of a break so I changed to more comfy clothes. Youth worship followed at 5pm and then we also had the Youth Leaders Mentoring Session facilitated by Kuya Ave Gaspar. He taught us how to use the Precepts material for our discipleship meetings. Precepts is in-depth Bible study which challenges you to delve deep into God’s Word without the use of commentaries. You focus only on the Bible and let it speak to you as you break down the passages and do word studies.

I realized I’ve already written too much. 🙂 Go watch the VLOG below and make sure you SUBSCRIBE and give it a thumbs up! Thanks and God bless you!

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM NUMBERS 16

What leadership lessons can we pick up from Moses and Aaron as they were challenged and defied by the people entrusted to them?

Numbers 16 talks about Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Korah was a leader from the Kohathite clan while Dathan and Abiram were from the Tribe of Reuben. They connived and rose up against Moses, bringing together with them 250 other leaders from the Israelite tribes. Watch to see what principles you can learn from both sides.

EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS REVIEW

MY REVIEW OF EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS
(If you like spoilers and aren’t the type of person who pulls his/her hair when you see details online, then be my guest and read up!)
by Ingrid Nieto
I don’t usually write movie reviews. Often, I enjoy a post-viewing discussion with friends, sharing what we liked or didn’t like about the movie and what we learned from the story. I decided to watch Exodus: Gods and Kings on a whim today, with no companion because I’m a happy single and I told God that it would be our movie date. As the trailers were shown, I prayed that I’d be able to enjoy the movie but be mindful of things that are not in line with God’s Word.
*INTERRUPTION* Suddenly, that Derek Ramsey action-packed anti-piracy PSA played. It was my first time to see it. Wow. I was on the edge of my seat. A bag falls and a tomato is squished with matching flashback and confrontation. Oh my! It was so moving, I wanted to do my own action-packed video right then and there.

So the movie started. We see Moses and Ramses on-screen and it is established that they have grown up together. The ruling Pharaoh is Seti and the two are being sent off to a battle with the Hittites.

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THE CLOUD AND THE PILLAR OF FIRE

THE CLOUD AND THE PILLAR OF FIRE
Exodus 40:34 “Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”

After coming back down from Mt Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony, Moses gave the Israelites commands that the Lord had given him regarding the Sabbath and the construction of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was like a mobile temple where the glory of the Lord would later settle, once the work has been completed. Through the Tabernacle, the Lord made His dwelling among the Israelites.


After Moses inspected the finished work of the craftsmen and skilled workers headed by Bezalel and Oholiab, he blessed them after seeing that they did just as the Lord commanded. After setting up the Tabernacle and all it’s furnishings, the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and God’s glory filled the tabernacle.


In Exodus 34:10-11, the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites that He would do wonders and drive out other nations as they made their way towards the Promised Land. The Israelites’ journey was guided by the cloud—when it lifted above the tabernacle, they would set out. If the cloud did not lift, they would not set out until the day it lifted. Sometimes the cloud would not lift for days, weeks and months. This taught the Israelites to stay put and trust the Lord for He knew beforehand what they were to face—was the climate too extreme for them? Were there enemies in the way that He still had to drive out?

In the same way, the Lord makes His dwelling among us through the Holy Spirit. When we receive Jesus as our Personal Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit lives in us and transforms us to become more like Christ each day. It is also the Holy Spirit that guides us as we study the Bible and helps us to apply the principles in our lives.
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I’m back!

Well would you look at that!
I haven’t posted anything in over a month.
I’ve been wrapped up with work lately and immensely enjoying my Bible study class! We’re studying the Book of Acts and my eyes are being opened to new truths and realizations everyday. On the first week, we learned about the days following Christ’s ascension and His sending of a “special gift” for the apostles and His followers.
The special gift Jesus referred to was the Holy Spirit. Since He has died, risen and ascended to Heaven, the work of furthering His Kingdom on earth was left to His followers. But how were they to go about propagating the Lord’s work? How were they going to proclaim Christ to unbelieving people?
The sending of the Holy Spirit did not only comfort them, it also eased their fears and made them bolder to proclaim the gospel truth. I’d like to think that when Jesus was with the disciples in the flesh, they felt secure because they knew the Messiah was with them in the ministry and in facing challenges. Even when Jesus faced opposition, they were confident that He would be able to silence them because He knew who He was and what to say to those who attacked Him. Now that Jesus had ascended, the disciples might have felt confused, scared and directionless. If Jesus faced opposition, what would happen to them? What were they to say if the Pharisees started hounding them again?
Then came the Pentecost.
The Spirit’s manifestation in the disciples and other followers were marked by the following:
-the blowing of a violent wind
-tongues of fire appeared on their heads
-they spoke in tongues/their own native language
-they were filled with boldness and wisdom to speak and proclaim Jesus
Nowadays, the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives may not be evident through a violent wind, tongues or fire or sudden speaking in tongues. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit immediately dwells in us. The Holy Spirit not only makes us bold to share our faith, but with His indwelling, our old sinful nature is done away with  and we are transformed to become more like Christ everyday. We need to humble ourselves and be obedient for the Holy Spirit’s transforming work to take effect. If we resist or disobey, the Holy Spirit is grieved.
Have you allowed Christ to be the Lord of your life? What’s stopping you from doing so or what are your reasons for resisting Him?
When I was a younger Christian, I understood the fact that Jesus died for my sins and my slate was wiped clean again, but I was having difficulty surrendering everything to Him. In my immaturity I thought:
If I let God do whatever He wants with my life, He might match me up with an ugly guy I don’t really like and make me his wife. Eeek!
If I surrender to God, then I won’t be able to make my dreams come true.
Back then, I thought that God was a kill joy. I thought that He was someone who desired good for His children, but that good meant BORING. I wanted a career in the entertainment industry. I wanted the excitement, I wanted the fame.
God was very gentle with me as He showed me why that kind of career was not what He wanted for me. I wanted to act! I wanted to sing on ASAP and get a friggin teleserye, but God had other plans. Little by little, God gave me a “backdoor” view of what I wanted to get into–the struggles, the temptations, the stereotypes. The things some hopefuls would do just to be popular and the compromises they had to make.  I admire Christians like Gary V and Coney Reyes who have been able to hold their ground without compromising and taking care of their witness for Christ. For a Christian to survive or withstand an entertainment career, the foundation of faith must be strong. You must realize who you are in Christ.
I still work in the entertainment industry, but God has put me in a place that allows me to influence people to follow Him. I am still able to utilize my talents and skills but there is indescribable joy when you know you are doing what God wants you to do. There are other Christians who have made it as actors and singers and I have nothing against that if it is where the Lord has placed them. Again what’s important is the foundation of faith and how one is living it out as a follower of God. 🙂
I think I’ve written so much for tonight. Looking forward to share more of what I learn with you!
God bless!