About reveds

Occupation: Pastor, Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Lennox, SD Education: BS - Christian Education, Sterling College; MDiv. - Princeton Theological Seminary Family: Married, with Four children. Hobbies: Running (will someday run a marathon), Sci-Fi (especially Doctor Who and Sherlock), Theater, and anything else my kids will let me do.

Be Open to Correction

I’ve never claimed to be a great student, but I have always loved learning. When I was in high school, my only goal was to have a better GPA than my brother, and once I did that, I didn’t really push myself. When I was in college I saw which students were graduating with honors, and I figured I was at least as smart as they were, so I hit that standard as well.

It wasn’t until I got to seminary in preparation for Pastoral Ministry, and when I was paying for the education myself, that I really started to apply myself. I read everything that was assigned. I joined study groups, did extra assignments, and really pushed myself to achieve the best education I could. The big difference was I wasn’t as concerned about the grade, I was passionate about the study, and that made all the difference.

What I’ve found, however, over the years since seminary, is that I don’t much remember all the things I got right in school; what really stands out is what I got wrong. Case in point: the only question I remember from my Worship final in the Worship in the Reformed Tradition class is the one I got wrong.

I studied like crazy for that final, and it paid off. I sat down, began the test, and just felt confident with every answer. Except for this one: “What is the Haggadah?” When I read that, my mind went blank. I went through the rest of the test, answering everything as best I could, the circled back to this question, “What is the Haggadah?” Still nothing. Knowing I had done everything I could on the rest of the test, and knowing no amount of head-scratching was going to help me produce an answer to this question, I quickly wrote, “My favorite brand of Ice Cream…” and turned the test in.

I don’t remember any of the other questions from that test. But I do remember the Haggadah. And now I know what it means. In Hebrew, Haggadah means, “A retelling.” It comes from Deut 6, when the children would ask their parents what God’s commands and testimonies meant and why they were important, and the Father would retell the story of their deliverance from Egypt at God’s mighty hand. This is essential in our Biblical understanding of worship, because as we worship according to God’s Word, we are retelling the story of our salvation in God.

What stuck with me from that test is the lesson I learned in my error. I walked away knowing what I didn’t know and still needed to learn. And this is the mark of a wise man, he knows what he doesn’t know.

As you go through life, don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know, to own your own mistakes. Our most important lessons are learned in our failures. The only people who don’t fail are those who don’t try. Mistakes and failures are not flaws in the system, they are how we learn and grow. The true fool is the one who refuses to learn from error, who continues in it, and only grows bitter and resentful when facing setbacks.

This is Biblical.

Proverbs 15:32 “Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.”

Proverbs 18:12 Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.

In fact, God honors and exalts those who humble themselves with a penitent heart.

Is 57:15  For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Ps 149:4  For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.

1 Pe 5:5  Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Be humble, knowing you will make mistakes. Listen to the advice of those who have gone before you that you may avoid their errors. And when you stumble and fall, for that is guaranteed, be humble, repent, admit your error, and with a heart seeking wisdom, grow in the grace of the Lord.

SDG

Be Curious

When I attended Princeton Theological Seminary, one of the first things I was warned abut were the legendary “Black Squirrels.” The story told at the Seminary was that these were the result of experiments at the Institute for Advanced Study, a world-class ‘think-tank” most known because of its relationship with Albert Einstein, who taught at the Institute from 1933-1955.

Now I had been on plenty of “Snipe Hunts” in Boy Scouts, so I was naturally suspicious of any story about genetically enhanced squirrels. The truth is, black and gray squirrels are quite common throughout the Northeast, and there just happens to be an abundance of them at Princeton.

But the urban legend did pique my curiosity, and maybe that’s the point. Abraham Flexner, the founder of the Institute for Advanced Study once wrote, “Most of the great discoveries beneficial to humanity were made by men and women driven not by the desire to be useful but merely the desire to satisfy their curiosity.” This was the purpose of the Institute; to foster curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge, regardless of the “immediate utility” of that knowledge. In fact, Albert Einstein himself, he who proposed the theory of relativity which has shaped our understanding of the way the universe works, once said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

Today we have more information readily available at our fingertips than any other generation that has ever lived. No longer do you need a bookshelf full of Encyclopedias (which are out of date as soon as they are printed), you have the vast wealth of knowledge on the internet. Google has made the advancement of knowledge accessible to anyone willing to start a search.

But how much of this is wasted? There are YouTube videos that show the engineering genius and scientific complexity that came together to put a man on the moon, but we spend our time watching cat videos and viral dance trends. We have access to the great works of literature, free for the reading, but we’d rather scroll through memes and .gifs. The real threat of TikTok is not foreign hacking, but being drowned in vapid, meaningless, and mind-numbing nonsense.

Friends, be curious about the world around you. We live in a wondrous world, full of beauty, power, and glory. The history of humanity is full of trouble and triumph. The great literature of the world provides a glimpse into the journey of the human story. The sciences help us to understand how all things work together. What a shame it would be to go through this life without any curiosity.

Be curious. Become an avid reader, not for assignments or reports, but just for the enjoyment of it. Read histories, biographies, classics, and even new works of fiction. Stop and consider the night sky; marvel at the stars, planets, and galaxies that make up this wondrous universe. Be curious about how things work, the nature of relationships, why things happen the way they do. Ask a lot of questions.

Curiosity is Biblical. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “God has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

Curiosity is encoded in our hearts, we have been designed to search out the truth and pursue wisdom and knowledge. Man is the only creature to walk upright, and to have his eyes gazing upward into the heavens. Adam’s first job was to name the animals of God’s creation, to order all things and have dominion over them. There is built within us a natural sense of wonder and curiosity. Feed it.

Proverbs 4:5–6 says, “Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.”

God has designed us to know Him. He has revealed his power in creation, and His love, goodness, and wisdom in his care for His creation. Our purpose in life is to seek Him out, to know Him more, and to walk in the wisdom that comes from Him.

Be curious!