The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

The Student’s Desk Newsletter – December, 2010

Each time I’ve sat down to write one of these, there’s been something significantly different about the previous semester. The later half of 2010 has been in keeping with that trend. This time, my training for the ministry landed me in Melbourne. Which is why this edition of The Student’s Desk is a little late. But more of that in a minute.

            I only did one subject this semester – Other New Testament Writings in Greek. It was the only subject available to me. While that may seem like a light workload, it wasn’t. I still had to only learn 8 chapters of Greek like last semester. But unlike like last semester, the 8 chapters were spread over two books. So that was two lots of themes, two lots of literary styles, and two lots of arguments. And when one of those books is Hebrews – yah. You should be getting the picture by now. Understanding Hebrews in English is hard. Understanding Hebrews in Greek is fine – so long as you have nothing else to do! I once joked by saying I looked at the first verse in Hebrews in Greek and about the only word I could recognise was kai. Basically, kai is one of the most frequently used words in the New Testament, and means ‘and’. If you can’t recognise kai by this stage of Greek, you shouldn’t be doing Greek! The other book was 1 Corinthians which was a piece of cake compared to Hebrews. I only had to learn half the vocab as I did for Hebrews, and the sentences actually made sense – which is always a bonus! At least I was able to get on top of my vocab by streamlining the production of my vocab cards, which meant drawing on some computer skills from last century – seriously! I made a list of the words that I didn’t know in a spreadsheet along with a definition, the occurrence, and parse. I then imported that information into a word processor to produce vocab cards, which I could then view on my computer or mobile phone. Every time I came across a word I didn’t know while translating, it went into the spreadsheet. It was quite quick to do, and got the vocab into my head – at least long enough to get through the exam! I still make a practice of it when I translate the Greek for my own preaching and teaching.

I’m continuing on with church services at Allambie Heights Spastic Centre, which really has been a privilege. I took them through Jonah this semester before returning to the miracles of Jesus. I struggle with providing teaching from a variety places within Scripture as the people there find it much easier to understand the gospels. But I consider it important to teach from all areas of the Bible. Next year, I intend to go through book of Judges, emphasising the theme of ‘God’s unlikely servants’, drawing out the idea that God can also use people who are different from most to bring about his purposes.

Well, just how does a candidate for the Presbyterian Church of NSW end up doing a training placement in Melbourne? It starts with prayer. Several times over a number of years a suitable training placement has been sought for me, all to no avail. Last time I wrote, I mentioned I had an opportunity, and I asked for prayer that it would lead to other opportunities. It did! The opportunity I had was to be involved in a 1 week intensive subject in July raising the awareness of disability in churches. Here, I met Lindsey Gale who heads CBM’s (Christian Blind Mission) Luke14 disability inclusion program, and asked about the possibility of doing a training block placement with CBM. Lindsey also attends Donvale Presbyterian Church, and discussions began about the possibility of a combined placement. By September, I was on a plane to Melbourne to finalise those discussions, and by the end of November, I was packing the Hotel Royal (my truck) to drive to Melbourne for the training placement.

            And what an opportunity it has been! Donvale was keen to have me teach their people all I could about disability, and I was greatly support in this. I learned so much about pastoral care, and the work of CBM, and am keen to learn more about CBM. I was also given the opportunity to preach at their night service, and my sermon was very will received. I now have a very clear vision of what my future ministry will look like. I still have no idea what I’ll be doing, or for that matter where. But I know how which is helpful for me, and those who’ll be working with me.

            Normally, the placement is done as a 4 week block, but I’ve been allowed to divide it into two 2 week blocks. So mid-January I’ll be doing the run to Melbourne again. I’m looking forward to much of the same as last time, and will also be discussing future possibilities of ministry. All these opportunities couldn’t be more timely – praise God!

Why are these opportunities timely? Perhaps it’s because of the highlight of the year – finishing my degree! On the 9th of March next year I graduate with my Bachelor of Theology. But don’t get too excited, this is not the end of my studies. To fulfil the requirements of my candidature, I need a second award. This is an Advanced Diploma of Theology. I can now say with unswerving confidence that this will take no more than two years to complete.

So what does one do after two years of Greek? Well, they do another year of Greek, of course! Next semester I’ll be doing John’s gospel, and being “fisherman’s Greek” I’m expecting a much easier time of it than Hebrews with it’s “scholar’s Greek”. Although, who knows what the examiners will pull from their bag of tricks just to make it more interesting. I’ll also be doing Grace and Eschatology and I’m looking forward to deepening my knowledge of grace.


We’re nearly there folks, we’re nearly there! One challenge almost done, another one rapidly coming – a ministry placement. Thanks for your prayers and support.

December 26, 2010 - Posted by | Newsletters

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