Well, it has been an interesting start to the new year. I started student teaching last week. I'm not actually teaching yet. So far I'm simply observing and writing lesson plans, but I do have my own desk! It's a bit overwhelming, because I have to plan the whole semester in these next two weeks, but I'm pretty confident I can get things done. It's one of those things where waiting last minute to plan things would make me look like an idiot in front of my students, and that, I have found, is quite good motivation. So is the fact that my every move is going to be monitored by my supervising teacher for the first few weeks.
It's quite amazing how this new structure of the day has affected my life. Being forced to get up by 6:30 so I can make it to school by 7:30, not being able to access Facebook all day, not being able to take a mid-afternoon nap, and having definite goals and objectives in my day has helped me stay focused on other aspects of my life, even if they aren't school-related. Perhaps it sounds silly, but I do think "focus" is a good theme for this semester. (Everyone has themes for particular months and years, right? Or is that just me?)
I have a million things I need to focus on when it comes the collegian side of things: from lesson plans to portfolios to graduate school applications (which, thank goodness, are almost done!) But on the Christian side of things, I only have a few goals for this semester. I mean, they're very big goals (what aspect of faith can be dealt with lightly?) but they're few in number. One is to gain more control of my spending and make sure that I am giving more. I'm a very blessed person. Simply having food in my belly, a roof over my head, clean clothes on my back, a warm bed to sleep in, and a college education makes me a hundred times more fortunate than the vast majority of people on Earth.
I really need to keep better track of the money I spend on extra items, then, because I do think it shows a lack of spiritual discipline to be in debt due to frivolous spending. I also need to develop more of a heart for the poor. I've started feeling convicted that I need to start tithing regularly. The church that I attend is an excellent place, and they are constantly doing a variety of projects to help the poor in the community and spread the Gospel. Due to my very limited time this semester, I can't exactly participate, but I know I can give. I highly encourage others to give to worthy causes as well. My friend Joe recently pointed me towards a cause he has been working with, which helps provide water towards those who are less fortunate in other countries. If you can, please check it out and give what you can, because I know he's passionate about it, and it's a great cause.
The second thing I need to focus on is my Biblical knowledge. My friend Josh recently posted a very interesting and convicting post on his blog about the lack of Biblical knowledge among Christians. As an English major, who tends to take definitions and clarity very seriously, I'm somewhat ashamed that I could not answer the entire list of questions off the top of my head. For a Christian, I do think it's necessary that I be able to clearly define the Gospel, justification, the Great Commission, as well as clearly explain doctrines such as grace, the Trinity, etc. I do think that grace, marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit, is what saves. Intellect does not. However, a clear working knowledge of Scripture and doctrine seems pretty important.
And before I really settle down on my stance on the Calvinist/Arminian issue (I'm still working on that, as I mentioned in this post), I really do need to cover the basics. They're in my heart, and I love Christ with my whole heart, but there are certain things that I simply need to be able to articulate in an intelligent, clear manner. Like I said in my last post, I've kind of already figured out where I stand and how I need to move forward when it comes to the whole homosexuality issue. I can't sit around and talk about all the sex I'm not having anymore. To talk about celibacy is dull after awhile, you know? It's time for me to move on, because there is a lot more to me, and a lot more to my faith.
My church is also going through a series on Proverbs. I usually am not the kind of person who takes notes and follows the sermon series closely, but I do plan on doing it for this series. Proverbs 1:7 certainly struck me during yesterday's sermon: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." I want to know more about Him, and about Christianity, because I love Him. And I hope that over this next semester, and throughout the rest of my life, I can focus on Him and grow in wisdom and clarity.