The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

The Student’s Desk Newsletter – July 2009

This past semester was quite different from the scholarly grind I’m used to of having to form and present arguments. Instead, I found myself back in a universe where I was either wrong or right, and having to reflect on my own experience rather than what someone else said. It was also a busy semester as I took on some big challenges, and excelled in my objectives.

This semester included two subjects: New Testament Greek and Leadership. It was an odd combination, but I was glad to do a lighter subject along side of Greek.

Greek is a funny sort of a subject. It’s impossible when you don’t know what you’re doing, and a snap when you do. For the first 10 weeks I considered Greek the hardest course of study I had taken on. Particularly when I scraped through one exam with 51%! Then I conceded there are no shortcuts to leaning Greek, and put myself on a daily routine of paradigms (that’s like a times-table for language), translation and vocab. The real stroke of genius (even if I do say so myself) was making my own vocab cards that I could view on my mobile phone. This allowed me to learn my vocab on the train without the fear of hundreds of bits of cardboard ending up on the carriage floor! My Greek improved greatly, and I found the going easy, if monotonous. The rewards are worth the effort. I was recently told the difference between reading the New Testament in English and reading the New Testament in Greek is like the difference between watching TV in black and white and watching TV in colour. Knowing Greek provides so much more depth to the text. So any time I’m in the New Testament, I find myself looking up the Greek. It’s something I’ve really come to enjoy. Though throughout the course I felt sorry for the lecturer. Before he could teach Greek, he had to teach us degree students English! Such is our education system that failed to teach us grammar. Still, I’ve yet to find out how much Greek can a Greek geek speak if a Greek geek only speaks Greek. (Sorry. Just a little vent I came up during the semester to relieve frustration!)

Leadership was the first stage of me becoming officially “Presbyterianised” as I learned about the inner workings of the denomination. I guess it had to happen some time. This also included learning and developing leadership skills generally. For this I organised a seminar on Disability, the Bible, and the Church at my church in Gosford. This was the first time I had organiusd something like this on such a large scale. It was an invaluable experience giving me insight into the demands of leadership, and the type of person and leader I am. Happily, the seminar went off without a hitch. It was well received by those who attended, and enjoyed by those who contributed. Of course, I am extremely thankful to those who contributed and helped out in smaller ways.

Life beyond the theology books…

Church services at the Allambie Heights Spastic Centre are heading in to their 8th year (I think – just where has the time gone?). God is continuing to bless this ministry with consistant numbers which is so encouraging. Also, plenty of people from my church have come forward to assist with the work. This year we finished our series on Daniel, which didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. We are presently working through the miracles of Jesus which is a very interesting study for anyone to do. I certainly have been challenged and corrected in how I think about Jesus as I prepare the talks (with the Greek text in hand of course!), and I certainly hope and pray the discussions leave a similar impression on the people there.

I was also involved in a disability camp as the speaker. This involved using technology which is always a challenge on the day, and talking to a puppet! Never in my theological training did I think I’d be talking to a puppet! Still, this just typified the whole semester – different! What I was encouraged by was the discussions after each talk. For the first time I set discussion questions for the different room groups, and wandered around to each group to hear good, meaty discussions taking place. This worked better than I had hoped.

From the crazy files…

I thought by the time I got to my mid-30s, I’d stop doing so many crazy things. But no. They’re continuing on. Last summer I learned to sail. Perhaps that doesn’t sound all that crazy, but bearing in mind I have cerebral palsy along with the fact I can’t swim, it doesn’t exactly put sailing within the realm of sensibility!

A mate has become really involved in kayaks that can be paddled as normal, peddled with your feet, or sailed. He through me in one of his kayaks to see how I’d coped. I loved it, and it wasn’t too long before I was out-sailing him! The picture on the left is from a trip down to Lion Island in Broken Bay (click on either for a larger image. But, it hasn’t always been plain sailing. (How else can you say it?). There has been some misadventures in some shocking weather conditions. But that’s all part of the fun! The only time I’ve ended up in the water was intentional. That was to see if I could get back in unassisted. What a fun afternoon that was – not! Gladly, I was able to climb back on board! And of course, I always have a life jacket on when on the water.

I am really thankful for these opportunities. This boat really has opened up a part of God’s creation that was closed off to me. There’s also video footage from the same trip.

It’s still uncertain of how long I have still to go in my course. It really depends on how much I want to do and whether I tackle Hebrew as well. At this stage, I dare say I will be studying Hebrew. As difficult as Greek has been, the rewards have been well worth it. I imagine the same will be true for Hebrew.

Getting nearer to the end of my course has not yielded a closer vision of what I’ll be doing after my studies. This is a source of frustration. However, there are many questions I want to pursue and write on as a result of my studies. One way or the other, I will have something to do.

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July 14, 2009 Posted by | Newsletters, Site News | Leave a comment