Our last blog post was meant to ease the worries of appearing too young–mostly. If you’ve been at the other side of that spectrum, however, and felt too old, you should read Chaplain Michael Summer’s poem and prayer. The rough draft of his book on prayer is almost finished. See his blog for more: http://michaelwaymonsummers.blogspot.com/
Mom, Dad, thanks for having me.
I’m 26 years old today, and I’ve spent the last three years trying to figure out what it really means to be a man.
[Que Damien Rice or Bob Dylan song.]
Truly, many a good song have been written (by others) in search of the same answer. Something has clicked recently, though, and I’m simply less concerned about it all. Don’t get me wrong, young men and women in their twenties should be ambitious, hard-working, and responsible–but that doesn’t require the exclusion of fun.
So for my birthday, I asked my wife to get me a pair of shoes from the skateboarding world. (It is a different world, by the way, very fun and outrageously creative.) That’s where I resided from around the ages of 13-21; I still take short vacations there from time to time.
I’m feeling younger already.
This morning, I remembered reading C.S. Lewis’ words about what it means to be “adult.” I hope they encourage you to be comfortable in your own skin and to do your best, however young or old you are:
Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.
Well, seems as though another trip to China is in order.
Aging relatives, job opportunity, and missions are all factors that inspired us to buy tickets last night.
Linli had an successful interview with one of Memphis’ largest companies, and they’ve asked her for another one next Friday. If all goes well, she might start in June.
Since we have a couple of weeks between school and that potential beginning of a new career, we think the time slot in between might be one of the last chances we get to visit friends and family in China for longer than one week. We plan to stay three weeks, leaving on May 16. (My final presentation is on the 15th, as well as Linli’s next CPA exam!) We are leaving the next morning.
Please pray for Linli’s interview, that God’s will be done. Also, please pray for our endurance, because this is the final stretch of the race that is this semester. We’ve both bitten off more than we like to chew, so we are ready to finish but finish well.
We are happy for my nephew, Bailey, to have an appointment at the National Jewish Hospital in Denver. Maybe this trouble of his will find healing. Please pray for the Hyder family and keep them in your prayers throughout the season. They’re set to fly to Denver on Easter day–which is a good sign.
Spring is upon us, and we are ready for a break like never before. What do we plan to do during the break? Study. Where do we plan to go? To the grocery store and back. We are not, though, without food, though the grocery was without bread for at least one night when it snowed. This is, after all, still in the south.
Now for small news. This blog will hopefully be more focused now: I bought a domain name (clintboyd.com) to host a landing page with links to my résumé, a biographical section, and my blogs. It is a simple website still in the works and serves as a more professional place to present myself online for career purposes. I am keeping this blog, though, for “personal” use, and by that I mean stuff my close friends and family will be interested in. It is still public. I might make another blog in the future for academic writing.
In other news, Linli has taken an internship for a public accounting firm and is enjoying that, along with her Graduate Assistantship at University of Memphis, plus four classes, and the CPA exam preparation. Throw in four cups of my classes, a tablespoon of tutoring, and a dash of air to breath–and you’ve got yourself one beavery, busy little family.
Now let’s hear about what I’m learning (since that was the whole purpose of coming to Memphis)–in addition to patience and perseverance.
The first class of the week, on Tuesday morning at 8:15, is Greek II. We began the semester with participles, then moved on to subjunctive mood, additional uses of infinitives, contract verbs, and more. Instead of explaining each of those now, suffice it to say that our professor, Dr. Allen Black, is helping us out as much as he can, but the key is to put in the appropriate amount of hours outside of class. We’re only in class three hours a week, but we should study at least nine additional hours per class. That’s a lot of Greek.
(By the way, I’ve included links to each professor, in case you’re interested! I really appreciate them; they’re all brilliant yet really humble.)
After Greek we have chapel, and afterwards I usually walk home to eat lunch with Linli. At 1:00pm, though, comes Counseling Skills with Dr. Ed Gray. I have learned so many practical things about counseling that I really feel equipped now to counsel in a private setting. Before this semester, I really didn’t want to do any counseling, but now I feel pretty prepared.
Thursday nights from 6:00-9:00 I have Old Testament Survey with Dr. Rodney Plunket, who is the pulpit minister at White Station church of Christ. He and his daughters both have PhDs in Old Testament, so learning from him is an excellent experience. He is having us read some 300 pages of text per week; we’re looking for the “Grand Narrative” of the Old Testament: what God was doing from Genesis to Malachi. Wonderful class.
Once a month, Dr. Kevin Youngblood commutes from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, to teach us about the Minor Prophets. We read, reread, reread, and then create synthetic outlines for four prophets each month, give or take, and read particular commentaries for each one. That class is packed and for a good reason. Dr. Youngblood is a full time professor in Searcy and preaches at Downtown Church of Christ. (Click here to hear some of his sermons). He recently crafted a commentary on Jonah that was just released in January with Zondervan. Click here for a video of him talking about the book.
So, those are my classes. Again, the work to be done outside of class is what requires most of “my” time. I actually have two weeks “off” because this week is full of classes for people who cannot be here regularly or else choose to take a class intensively: meet eight hours a day for five days and do the rest of the work outside of class. Next week is spring break, so I have two weeks to catch up on what I’m behind on–which is almost everything. There is no thing as “finishing your homework”–there is simply quitting homework and running out of time.
I hope you are ready for the time to change this Saturday night and for spring weather to roll in soon. I know I am. Memphis has had her cold front, but I can feel the heat rising, and it sure gets hot here and is actually more humid than Middle Tennessee. Sweat falls differently here, and I should probably go drip some over a book.
Have a great weekend.
P.S. I’m giving up Facebook and Twitter during Lent, but I am allowing myself to blog because it requires more dedication and allows more explanation. I will also still let this blog sync to Facebook for your convenience, but I will not see any comments there until after Good Friday.
Dr. Richard Oster has poured lots of energy into his commentary on Revelation. Commentary on the first three chapters already printed. Check out his words here and the songs his students made. Pretty awesome.
Next post is Guest Post ~~~ you will not want to miss it!
Post 07 [Whew!, the last one]
Tonight I have not wanted to spend my time illustrating John’s imagery and teachings against the important backdrop of Second Temple Judaism or against the backdrop of important sources from the Graeco-Roman world. Although I do enjoy doing that, and I did some of that in my recent commentary on the Letters to the Seven Congregations of Revelation, that was not my goal tonight. Nor did I want to do an exegesis of the texts of Rev. 21-22, although that is a crucial step in the process of good and reliable Bible study. Rather, I wanted to highlight a few points on John’s spiritual agenda and then make some very needed applications for God’s people in the early 21st century.
I began with some brief comments about interpretive pitfalls. …
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The Chinese Year of the Horse has recently begun, and the next time this could happen would be in twelve years. So, many who were born in a Year of the Horse (at least 12 years ago) are very excited about 2014. To learn more about the Chinese Zodiac, you can Travel China Guide or Google(v.) it.
Horses are considered by some Chinese as “energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able.” I borrowed those adjectives from Travel China Guide because of all the ways I’ve heard horses described tonight, I like these the most, particularly the latter two: intelligent and able. “Able” in my mind connotes humility to accompany one’s abilities. Perhaps, though, Americans primarily see horses as wild and free-spirited. All good things.
Tonight, at Memphis’ Chinese New Year celebration hosted by the Greater Memphis United Chinese Association, the opening speaker said this is a year many people will make big decisions and changes for their lives. Whatever you believe about the Chinese Zodiac and the Year of the Horse, I hope you have an amazing year with lots of joyful surprises.
While I was at the show tonight (which was awesome–it really was one of the most well-ran and entertaining New Year shows I’ve ever seen!), I was thinking about the meaning of the year and the fact that my awesome wife “is a horse.” All of a sudden, I remembered a song I used to love to listen to and play along with back in the days that I was really “into” songwriting.
I love a well written song. One of my favorites is by Ray LaMontagne: “All the Wild Horses.” It’s a tune to listen to with eyes closed, meditating on the lyrics. I found a nice video put together and shared by Sandy Elmore, the woman behind the blog, Wild in the Pryors. She captured some beautiful images of the wild horses up on Pryor Pountain in Montana. The video looks great, and I’m glad it includes Ray’s song.
The lyrics mostly go like this:
“All the wild horses–
all the wild horses, tethered with tears in their eyes–
May no man’s touch ever tame you.
May no man’s reigns ever chain you,
and may no man’s weight
every lay freight your soul.
And as for the clouds,
just let them roll.
Roll away, roll away.”
May your dark clouds roll away and our shared Year of the Horse 2014 be blessed with freedom in Christ.
Well, Sam keeps putting me on the list to serve in the Chinese service at Highland, so I’m forced to stretch.
I’m pretty excited about this Sunday’s service. I’m supposed to read Philippians 2:1-5 and pray. Though I always feel inadequate for this kind of ministry, I’m thankful for the opportunity.
Often I use a Bible that has English, 汉字，and pīnyīn（transliteration of the sounds of Chinese characters), which Beng Chuan Tan gave to me, but this time, because the Powerpoint has the scripture in a different Chinese translation, the reading comes from notes.
I copy/pasted their preferred Chinese translation into Microsoft Word, and thankfully, I know at least half of the characters, so I’m just adding pīnyīn and definitions to the words I’m still learning.
Mostly because I love this chapter of Philippians and am in sharing kind of mood, I want to share what I’m using to read tomorrow. This aims not to glorify me but rather to encourage others struggling to learn a language, especially missionaries. If these notes reveal anything of myself it is my weakness, not strength. Also, the name of this blog comes from the eighth verse in the same chapter of Philippians.
The following message is for interested family and friends who might care about what we’re doing in Memphis. This is not written to attain many “likes,” shares, change the world, or make a point. I’m even skipping the pictures of Floridia and my parents-in-law. Call me cold. This is the winter break update.
Classes began this week, and I’m surprisingly more excited than I was last semester (my first one). An entirely different blog entry is needed to explain why. I haven’t shared much in a while, so let’s start off slow and easy.
The best part of the winter break, first: We saw three new believers born again in Christ. All non-U.S. citizens (you know where they’re from). I really want to show a ton of photos of the baptisms, dumpling parties, and more, but will refrain for their privacy and safety. (I think I can give some stories without names and places, but it’ll take another entry at another time). Suffice it to say that if you are a follower of Christ, you have three new sisters, and that is the best news I can offer for you. If you’re not a Jesus-follower, the best news I have for you, ever, is that Christ died for you, too.
Somehow, we now have to move on to academics:
Last semester, the class results included two A’s and one B, in Advanced Theological Research, Greek I, and the Gospel according to John, respectively. I am pretty happy with the results because as much as I strove for perfect marks, having one “B” under the belt takes away some pressure. (I like to remind myself that John Piper made a C in preaching; also, I met him two weeks ago.) Honestly, I only made the A’s that I did by God’s grace and with the help of some gifted, merciful professors with high expectations. Honestly , I did work pretty hard last semester over the books. A joy, definitely, but by no means easy.
This semester, Spring 2014, we’re revving things up a notch or two: I’m adding an extra class and so is Linli–plus she’s working as a graduate assistant at University of Memphis. Thus, we’ll be even busier than last semester. Life-hint: pressure is a good thing and keeps us from procrastinating. Jesus has already been displaying his ability and willingness to sustain us.
To give you an idea of the workload, here is the school’s expectation: for every weekly three-hour class, nine hours of outside study are expected. If a class meets once weekly (the norm) and is three hours long, then that week’s classwork should take a total of 12 hours. 12 hours x 4 classes = 48 hours of studying needed, plus tutoring.
The classes this semester will be Greek II, Counseling Skills, Old Testament Survey (because I wasn’t a Bible major in undergrad), and Minor Prophets. Only Minor Prophets requires a term paper, so that helped me decide to keep the fourth class. Plus, I’ll continue tutoring in the afternoon and working on my Mandarin for Sunday mornings. (For some reason, they not only allow but ask me to read a scripture and/or pray in Mandarin). God is good.
Please pray for us to continue trusting the Lord and centering our lives around his will. We’re not sure where we’re heading (as no one is), but the difference is this: we’re pretty comfy with that. Linli added a CPA-prep course and is trying to become a CPA—think she could apply our tax codes in China? So, we might be in the States awhile, after all. Never say “I’d never . . . “, though.
I’ve uploaded some songs we sang recently. I’m hesitant to give too many details, but I’ll say there were around 20 people gathered together, about 75% being Chinese Christians. We had a feast, and the food was followed by some singing of worship songs. I recorded these two via my phone, so the quality is low–just the way these young folks like it. I hope you enjoy it and praise God.
Fall is here and more importantly, fall-like weather came along, too.
I see now why not many seminary students have blogs, though: who has the time?
When I simply work, in the restaurant, for example (in past summers), the workday is over when I leave the “office.” When class is over, though, well–the fun begins. Truly, I am enjoying all of my classes and especially the community. I’ve never lived on a campus, and I have never attended a Christian university, until now.
I love it.
I’ve noticed a motif bouncing around this semester, mostly in missions meetings, but you already know what it is.
Deep down, you know:
God is in control — absolute control.
Therefore, He does not need us to make excuses for Him, so as to try to “get Him off the hook,” as it were.
The problem of evil, sure, is a mystery, either somewhat or very much, depending on how your day is going, maybe.
A long-term missionary (I’ve removed his name to protect his privacy) corrected himself once in chapel: “we built…[x amount]…of churches in Indonesia — well, I should say: God built them.”
See what happened there? God uses us, sure, yes and amen, but He does things. He gets the glory.
God also uses worms, by the way. (See Jonah 4:7)
Neither the one who waters nor the one who plants is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (1 Cor. 3:7)
Last Sunday at Highland, another long-term missionary (who spent many years in Russia and China, among other places) came for a weekend of stirring up the missions committee for worship and missions, and he shared a strikingly similar concern as the previously mentioned visitor: the mission not our mission, its God’s mission. He said we need to check our pronouns and get them straight: not ours, but His.
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:12-17, ESV)