Category Archives: Personal

Book Sale: ICC, LNTS, and More

It’s that time of the year when I try to purge myself from books (because money). So here are some screenshots of the books, and the prices are posted underneath the pictures. If you’re interested you can comment here, message me on Facebook, Twitter, or email: spoiledmilks@gmail.com.

My prices are just under the used prices on Amazon, even if a book here is new.

  • First come, first serve.
  • Shipping is included in the price.
  • I can combine shipping prices if you buy more than one book.
  • I can only ship within the continental US.
  • I’m very open to haggling.

ICC

New: Acts 1-14 (Barrett, ICC): $35

New: 2 Corinthians 1-7 (Thrall, ICC): $35

New: 2 Corinthians 8-13 (Thrall, ICC): $30

LNTS

New: Swimming in the Sea of Scripture (Han): $30

New (w/ pencil marks): Character Studies and the Gospel of Mark (Hauge/Skinner): $30

This volume’s title was misprinted with Marm instead of Mark.

New: One Lord, One People (Thompson): $30

There are indentions on the edges of some of the pages

Used: St. John’s Gospel (Lenski): $15

Used: Practices of Power (Moses): $35

Etc.

New: Critical Theology (Raschke): $10

New: Theology of Work Bible Commentary: Genesis-Deuteronomy: $8

Used: Evangelical Ethics (Davis): $5

Used: Ethics and Moral Reasoning (Mitchell): $5

Used: Ezekiel 1-20 (Moshe Greenberg): $20

Used: Matthew/Mark (Turner/Bock): $8

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How Spoiled Milks?

If you’ve been unlucky enough to read my previous posts about how I came to use the name SpoiledMilks, I’ll explain why I started using it for my non-MySpace/Facebook blog name, and what in the world I’m doing with my blog.

Why I Blog

After I graduated from CCBC York, my friend/teacher Lindsay, who blogs at MyDigitalSeminary (he’s more clever with names than I am, as you’ll see below), told me how he got into blogging and that I should consider doing it too. Simply enough, there are bloggers who review books for free. They request a book from a publisher, read and review the book, and they get to keep the book for future reference or sharing.

In the middle of Bible college I realized I wanted to teach the Bible, which requires books. No matter who you are, nobody knows everything. We learn from the writings of others. We stand on the shoulders of giants (but we shouldn’t forget the little people too). If others have spent more years than I in the Bible, then I should (and do) consider their thoughts and conclusions as worthy enough to read and to help guide me in my own reading and teaching. We are a community of believers. Biblical authors write so that they can help others outside of their immediate community.

Studying the Bible to the point where I can teach it well would require purchasing books, and good theology books aren’t cheap (and neither are the lousy ones). Christians come to the Bible from different perspectives, and if they come to the Bible humbly, the Bible leads them to remove certain perspectives and it reinforces others. Yet the fact remains that I don’t want to follow one person and their own single perspective.

I grew up in a non-denominational church which was closest to Baptist theology (which makes sense since it had previously been a Baptist church). From my studies, I have only grown more firm in my stance on Baptism, but now I can explain it better than I could have previously. On the other hand, I’ve changed my mind on other points (like eschatology). I’ve become both more discerning and (hopefully) more gracious. I’ve seen good arguments, better arguments, and just plain bad arguments.

Why read so much?

Think of what it means to run a business, or run for office, to be a chef, a mother, a manager, a home owner. Business owners must be very nuanced in knowing economics, finances, law, etc., so that they can make a profit (and not be sued—(way to go America)). Home owners need to know how to cook (to stay alive) and how to keep their house in good shape (to avoid experiencing the stress of a busted pipe). One’s view on politics will affect who he votes for and will affects how society will be run. The better one understands politics, economics, and human behavior, the better they will understand how they should vote (whether or not they make the correct decision is another matter).

Theology isn’t a mere theoretical matter (though it is all too easy to keep it there). Theology has a massive affect on how we live. It shapes our worldview, something the  biblical authors were well aware of. The Bible’s story shapes how we think and live, and knowing it accurately leads to more wisdom. To know the Bible means we have to know how to read the Bible. Growing up I had a very bare-bones knowledge to the Bible (Adam-Eve, Abraham, Moses, sinners, Jesus, resurrection, Paul, heaven), but I didn’t know how much (of anything) fit together. “Be like Abraham because he was good” (except when he wasn’t). Jesus spoke nice things (except where it’s difficult), and Paul told us to love one another (and sometimes harshly demanded strict obedience or expulsion from the church body).

But to blog one needs a name.

Why I used “SpoiledMilks”

  1. Some were already familiar with the name.
  2. I couldn’t think of anything better.
  3. I don’t write well enough for people to remember some generic theology blog name in the midst of all the other blogs with better writers (who wants to read “Theoretical Theology”? “Theology Thoughts”? “Theolocajun”? “Stop Eating Rice Krispies“?)

But I realized I could implement “SpoiledMilks” into my blog. When I reviewed a book, aspects of the book that were very good were placed under a “chocolate milks” section (because everyone likes chocolate milk). Parts that hindered the book were placed under a “spoiled milks” section. I added a Lagniappe (“a little something extra”) section for book details and a place to thank the publisher. Today I don’t use the Chocolate/Spoiled milks sections so much because it can tend to divide my thoughts too much. Often the same place in a book that I think was well written will also have a “spoiled” aftertaste to it. So now I just do whatever I want.

I’ve been able to review over 160 books for roughly 20 different publishers, lectures in six different courses, and have had views from 138 countries. I haven’t had an incredible amount of views in my four years of blogging, but I have saved more money that I would have had to spend, I have learned more than I thought I could know, and am excited to continue to learn and draw closer to God through his normal, boring, exciting, supernatural Word. And since Mari is pregnant with our first(!), the weight is only growing as to how I will image Christ to both my wife and my child(ren). This doesn’t mean that I need to read even more, but that I need to think deeply about what I read, about what our Father is like, who this Jesus is whom we worship, and how that should influence our lives in every aspect. We are not Americans/Norwegians/men/women/parents/children/students/teachers who are Christians, but we are Christians first who live out Christ before those who are Americans, Norwegians, men, women, children, students, teachers, etc.

Hopefully what I read comes out well on my blog. Writing so much has only helped my writing style (which has gone from terrible to… better). I hope to be writing on this for years to come. Sometimes frequently; sometimes not. But this blog is an outlet for me to remember something I read, to share something with you so that you don’t need to read every book I read, and to share it with you in the hopes that you grow in your love for God and his word.

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Down Time

We just finished our Spring Break, and we only have four weeks to go before finals. Then we’ll be on vacation. Last semester I said I would write up some posts on what I had been learning that semester. That never happened. And… well, no promises. But I did write a paper on 2 Corinthians 6.14-7.1 that I plan to put up in a number of posts, which shouldn’t be too hard to work since it’s already written.

This semester I’m taking four classes: Hebrew Syntax, Old Testament II, Discipleship & Family Ministry, and Worldview & Apologetics. This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Hebrew Syntax is my favorite class. OT II is great too. The other two are, to be honest, just OK. They’re not bad, I’m just not too excited about them. I’ve also been auditing Proverbs with Peter Gentry, and it’s been excellent. It gives me more practice with Hebrew, and with all that I’ve put into it so far I don’t want to lose what I’ve worked for.

At the beginning Spring Break, Mari and I went to the TGC conference which was celebrating 500 years of the Protestant Reformation which had topics on the book of Galatians and various reformers (both familiar and obscure). Besides hearing Piper, DeYoung, Carson, Keller, buying a bunch of books, winning a few books, going to a few great workshops, especially Derek Rishmawy’s talk on reaching millennials, we were able to stay with great people, and a friend of Mari’s came over from Norway to go to the conference and then travel the US to hang out with friends. Besides having a good time with him, we met two fantastic people who want to move over to Norway and help with a church over there. It was very encouraging to meet them, and we hope to see them in the years to come.

Beyond that, we’ve moved all of our stuff from our friend’s basement in their old house to their garage in their new house. At least that is finished, and we’ll be applying for an apartment this week. We appreciate your prayers that we can get into it and that we can find a used car to buy. We currently have one in our sights, but you never really know what can happen. Haven’t you ever seen Mars Attacks?

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March Furnace Fires

I woke up to a beep. I could smell smoke. I could hear voices outside, and something was rumbling. Another beep. It must be a work truck outside, I thought to myself. What time is it?, I wondered. It’s dark, but if I can hear people talking then it can’t be that early. Another beep. “I’ll go see what’s going on,” I tell Mari.

Slipping down the stairs I hear our neighbor outside talking. She sounds worried. Another beep. Worse yet, on the other side of the wall from where I was standing I could hear what sounded like her furnace unit jumping around. With every leap a metal piece fell off.

Her furnace was on, and it was blowing up.

I continued down the stairs and looked through our door’s window. I could see the utter shock on our neighbor’s face as she told the person on the phone, “Yes, please get here quickly. My furnace is on fire.” She was talking to local volunteer fire department.

Hurrying up the stairs, I turned the bedroom light on and told Mari, “We have to go! The neighbor’s furnace is on fire.” Smoke was flooding into our room through the vents. We got dressed, ran down our stairs, grabbed our backpacks by the door, and our winter coats. By this time, there was so much smoke coming in from our kitchen that it looked like a youth worship service gone wrong. We ran out safely, though quite shaken up. I was in my blue wool slippers which Mari had made me. I even wore them to church later that morning (it’s all I had at the time).

After running outside, I ran to the back of the apartment only to see large flames coming out from my neighbor’s flat. This whole place is gone, I thought. I went with Mari to the front yard. So far only our neighbor’s duplex was on fire.

Within minutes of getting to the front yard the firefighters were there (at least 5 fire trucks and a few police cars). I soon called our landlord and told him what had happened. It was 3.40am when I called him. The fire began between 3.00 and 3.15am.

On one end of the quadplex, we lived in Apt #4. Our neighbor whose place caught fire was in #3. Two brothers lived in #2, and one guy in #1. One of the brothers had arrived home around 2.30am from his job. After eating, he heard the beeping of our neighbor’s fire alarm. Having heard for a little too long, he knocked on her front door to see if she was awake. It took several minutes and him banging on her door before she finally responded and opened it. A flood of smoke came out through the opening. She had been looking for her dog. Her electricity cut out as they were standing in the doorway. The guy saw a flash of fire in the back of her apartment where her furnace was. He quickly told her to call the fire department. That’s when I woke up.

Everybody made it out safely, including the girl’s dog. Her place has been reduced to ashes. Virtually nothing was left but a black hole. As for our apartment and the brothers in #2, everything was covered with a fine layer of soot and reeked of putrid smoke. Additionally there was some water damage from the firefighters.

Our apartment was (and is, and will be) unlivable, and we were officially homeless. Later that day the ceiling fell down in one of our rooms, as the fire had spread through the attic earlier that morning. But with the help of friends, we got most of our things out later that day (and night). Our small group leaders housed us for a couple of nights, and for a couple of months we will staying in some missionary housing on campus. From May-August we will be going home to family both in Louisiana and Norway. We have to find another apartment in time for the fall semester, where we will hopefully be able to live securely until our time at SBTS is over.

Conclusion

I’ve written this so that you may all know what is going on, and to explain the PayPal Donation button in the top right sidebar. A professor here asked if we had a donations page, so I set this up. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I presume your donations can be given anonymously, though I haven’t tried.

We’ve been able to wash some clothes. We’ve aired out parts of our library. We have a place where we can store what is left of our belongings while we are figuring everything out. We have plenty of dry cleaning to do, along with wiping down our other belongings, making an overview of what we need, and filling out our insurance claims. We don’t know how much some of this will cost or what will need to be replaced (besides our couch, armchair, and bed).

We are so thankful that no one was hurt, and that our teachers have been very accommodating with papers and midterms (as this happened right before midterms began). We have truly been able to taste and see the Lord’s goodness through this experience as church and friends have come together to show us the love of Christ through providing meals, financial support, and prayers.

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Why Spoiled Milks?, Pt 2

Here is another life story giving insight into why I named my blog Spoiled Milks. Names below have been changed to protect the guilty. Any similarities to historic personas are pure imagination. (Read Part 1 here).

Curdle Hurdle

On August 13th, 2011, sometime around 2am after Toby’s party (I used to think this had been a Christmas party because . . . what’s the difference, really? Toby’s a present to all of us) at a house where the owners (at least) will remain unnamed, I was hungry and wanted cereal. I asked Toby if the unnamed owners had cereal, and he replied with a, “Yeah, sure. I think so. Go take a look.”

Jordan and I stole some looks for cookies, and we happened upon some gingerbread cookies that were simply amazing. I ate three. Then two more. Then I found the Rice Krispies. Then I ate two more cookies. After we poured the Krispies into our bowl, I returned to the living room and told Tori how utterly delicious the gingerbread cookies, the ones that were really small and soft, were.

Me: “Tori, those gingerbread cookies, the ones that are really small and soft, are utterly delicious.”
Tori: “Yeah, they’re really good…” (or something).
Me: “Oh, that’s weird . . . they make my cereal taste like . . . Tuna Helper.”
Tori: “ … that’s disgusting” (or something).

I kept eating the cereal because it was still good once I got past the Tuna-Helping taste (and I like Tuna Helper, but not as cereal. At least if it had been called “Tuna Krispies” I would have known what I was getting myself into).

Jordan comes in and says, “Hey, Spencer, is the milk expired?” Now, there is never anything strange about that question. I’m sure Jordan just doesn’t want his Rice Kripsies to taste like Fruit Loops. Some precautions are necessary.

Me: “No. My tongue’s not tingling so I’m sure it’s fine. Just don’t eat those cookies before you eat the cereal. Makes it taste like Tuna Helper.”
Jordan: “Oh, because the milk says it’s from July 24th.”
Me: ” . . . w
hat? Well . . . I’ve already eaten this much…”

I did end up pouring it all out. Afterwards we figured out that the milk was exactly 3 weeks past it’s sell by date, a new record for me, at least for milk already opened. There was another time where a group of “friends” duped me into drinking a small bottle of Borden’s chocolate milk that was two months past due. And it burned.

And I took two more cookies, the ones that were really small and soft.

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Why Spoiled Milks?, Pt. 1

Throughout my three and a half years of having this blog, people have asked me about the name. I review biblical books, talk about biblical concepts from those books, occasionally talk about my life, even Pac-Man . . . but spoiled milk? Even worse… spoiled milks? I thought I’d share with you two events that have scarred me deeply, deeply enough to carry this burden around on my own as a spectacle to the world. It’s the thorn in my flesh.

spongebob-pauls-thorn-in-the-flesh

The Four Letter Curd Word

Once upon a time, anybody who was anybody was a part of the megalodon known as MySpace. It was all the rage back home. I was never one for writing, not until my life flashed before my eyes. What was thought to be a one-off occurrence soon became just too common. In my family growing up, we always drank a lot of milk, especially me. There was always milk ready, and it was always good. I came home from university one day and, given my love and appreciation for (ice) cold cereal, I poured myself a bowl of Rice Krispies. We had no sugary sweets, so plain Krispies would do fine. Bowl + Ice + Cereal + Milk = a good time (I’m a simple guy).

Then a miracle happened. Call it a miracle on Elm Street. I had the aurora cerealis in my mouth. My Rice Krispies had turn into Fruit Loops! The tastes—the colors . . . . It was like the boat scene on Willy Wonka.

My tongue began to tingle.

never happens when I eat Fruit Loops…

………………………………………Two weeks past due.

I poured the milk out, kept the cereal, poured new milk in, and ate the rest. I later found a 13-day-old un-opened gallon of milk. What is this? Goosebumps?

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  • Thus, a machine was born. I began to blog every Tuesday about absolutely nothing. You would think Edwin Starr wrote my life.

    When you’re an only child and you sink this low, the only thing to do is become more spoiled. The next occurrence involved late-night cookies, tuna fish, and a birthday party.

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October Updates

leaving-norway

All packed and ready to go

After spending a year in Norway, we packed up the house and left for Louisville, Kentucky (by way of Louisiana first).

Our cat didn’t want us to leave (for those of you who know me, can you believe I owned a cat? and liked it (eventually)? and wasn’t allergic to it??).

catn-crunch

We left this wonderful backyard

backyard

. . . for tobacco!

tobacco

Not quite. That’s actually in Southern Ohio . . . and we didn’t leave for tobacco either. We left for this place below.

buildings-2

Norton Hall, where we have all of our classes (this semester)

buildings

Our large lawn and some dorms

By now school has started (and is almost finished). In my first draft we were just into our fifth week. The next time I updated this we had five weeks left. Now we only have just over three weeks left. Mari is taking an MDiv with a concentration in Biblical Counseling, and I’m taking an MDiv with a concentration in Christian Ministry (and this one has six free electives which I plan to use for the languages-hopefully). This semester we each have four classes, and three of those classes we get to attend together (Systematic Theology I, Personal Spiritual Disciplines, and Biblical Hermeneutics). I have Elementary Hebrew and Mari has Elementary Greek. The two languages are the most demanding, but they are definitely our favorite classes (usually).

new-couch

Me posing with some hideous pillows on our first couch

Biblical Hermeneutics

A big word for how to study the Bible. Rather than examining how to approach the text according to its genre, in light of the entire canon, in light of Israel’s history up to a certain point (e.g., when you read Lamentations, you should know that Jerusalem had just been destroyed and Israel has been exiled out of the land God promised them because of their utter wickedness), etc. In this class, Dr. Jim Hamilton, the professor, takes a look at the broad storyline and the small details which connect the story. I’ll be writing about some of the small nuggets Dr. Hamilton has talked about.

Personal Spiritual Disciplines

What is fasting? What does it mean to pray? To meditate? To pray the Bible? To even read the Bible? To be held accountable? Even to journal? It’s one thing to look at what the Bible says about these topics; it’s another to live them out. We do both in this class. I’ll write a bit about this too, because there are some things I’ve learned that have been tremendously helpful (like with prayer and meditating on the Bible).

Systematic Theology I

Who is God? What is Scripture? Why do people arrive at such strange conclusions about these topics? This is an brief introductory course to these two topics, and the teacher loves what he teaches.

Elementary Hebrew

This one is basic. Dr. Peter Gentry, a brilliant scholar, called by some as a “true Hebraist,” teaches us how to understand Hebrew. Next semester we’ll get into the Bible itself. It’s great. It’s difficult. It’s my favorite class.

The Kentucky State Fair

You can’t live in Kentucky and not attend some kind of fair. And what do you know? Just mere weeks after arriving in Louisville, Kentucky held it’s state fair, and nothing says “America” like putting fried sugar-glazed bread on both sides of a greasy burger.

living-in-america

Nothing except deep-fried Funnel Cake Oreo Sundaes. Just how many things can you fit into one dessert? It’s like going to a Ryan’s desert buffet.

living-in-america-2

And then we needed to find a church . . . without having a car.

which-church

But we didn’t really need to look. I had heard of Clifton Baptist Church back when I was in York. Tom Schreiner was the teaching pastor then, and John Kimbell has since taken his place. Plus, it’s only a 20 minute walk from our apartment, which is only a 7 minute walk from school (also good when you don’t have a car).

I managed to pull a muscle/obtain a pinched nerve in my shoulder over a month ago. The pain subsided a few weeks ago, but the shoulder itself is still pretty weak. It’s difficult to lift something up or to the side with my arm stretched out (even to push some doors open), so I’m borrowing a exercise band to work it back to what it was before and not look like some poor guy who can’t open doors.

tfs

The Far Side

Reviews

I have some reviews in the pipeline too, but I’m busy enough that I can’t make much time for doing anything else besides on Sundays. Mari and I have tried to make one day out of the week open to do anything else besides school. It usually works well, but sometimes we have too much schoolwork to do so that idea doesn’t work. No rest for the weary.

I’m trying to make it sounds like we’re drowning, but for the most part we’re not. Usually.

Something I’ll start doing with upcoming reviews is to write shorter reviews which focus less on summarizing the book and more on the benefits of the book itself. It’s much easier to only summarize the book, but it’s also not so exciting. It might be helpful before one reads a book, but what would be better would be to interact with the book itself to show why you should read this and how it will (hopefully) benefit you in your walk with Christ and in your knowledge of him.

There are other websites which summarize Christian books better that I can, and really, the average person who reads my reviews would rather know why they should read this book and how it will benefit their thinking rather than what is in the book. Since most of the books I read lean toward the academy, it’s better to show both how reading such books is beneficial and why you might want to.

I should also start reading more fiction. Correction: I should start reading fiction period. Maybe that can be my New Years Resolution. Though I have started moving toward that direction. But believe it or not, I’ll be reviewing a few non-theological books too. I’ve asked for (and received) another book on Norway, The Nordic Theory of Everything, and I’ve also asked for a few books on Apache Indians and the early days of the US Postal Service. So it’s a start.

In the mean time, I’ll write up a few posts about where I got the name for this blog and how I’ve used it within my blog itself.

fair

Later, skater

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26/10/2016 · 19:40

Biking in Denmark and Seminary

For the last 9 days (or from Sunday June 5th to Monday June 13) I’ve been biking in Denmark. I believe this was the sixth time Mari has biked Denmark, and it was the fifth time (or so) for her sister. It was the best time of the summer for the three of us to go together. Mari and Ingliv hadn’t started working yet, and the weather in Denmark was pretty perfect. There was no rain at all until we left Denmark. Then it was supposed to rain for a week.

As you can see on the map, we drove from our town Risør to Kristiansand (red), then took a ferry to Hirtshals (green), three trains south to Struer (blue), and biked back up to Hirtshals (purple). Unfortunately the picture can’t be made any bigger, so you may have to squint a bit.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 5.57.02 PM

The pictures below reflect the better times we had (though the memories might be better than what happened in the actual pictures, like biking against the wind). I have left out pictures of my week-long allergic reactions, blood, and tears.

Place: Denmark:
Length of Stay: Nine days
Bikers: Three
Distance Biked:
300 km/186 mi
Days of Rest
: Two
Ice Cream: Lots
Best Ice Cream: Mint Chocolate Chip (still haven’t found this in Norway)
Theme Park: Fårup Sommerland
Allergies: Grass
Good Nights of Sleep: 1?

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Oh! You mean it goes through that hole!

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Cotton Candy / Candy Floss

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Hey, Spencer! Do you like spiders?!

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We slept poorly, but we were together

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What happens when they give me the map… kidding!

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After 9 days, it was very, very nice to get home. Now one of our Bible college friends is visiting us for three weeks. It’s great especially since I’m finished with my Norwegian language course and my schooling. Now with all of this free time I have (not exactly), I have more reviews coming up. Zondervan has some new online classes up, and I’ve been blessed to be able to review Basics of Biblical Greek 1 by William Mounce and Basics of Hebrew 1 by Gary Pratico and Miles Van Pelt. These classes will be great, and they will prepare Mari and I for our classes at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’ve already gone through a bit of both of the online classes, watched some of the videos, I’ve done a few of the exams, and it works out really well. I’m really enjoying it, and it’s nice to have someone teaching the material alongside the books.

I suppose I haven’t announced this yet, but it is now official that Mari and I have been accepted into Southern Baptist Theological Seminary! We’ve been praying about this for a while and we are excited over our acceptance. Mari will be taking a Master of Divinity degree in Biblical Counseling, and I will take mine in Biblical and Theological Studies. We’ll be living in Louisville, KY for 3 1/2 years, and we’re praying for a car so that we can get around town (400 sq mi with 1.2 million people) and hopefully see some friends around the country. I was able to receive a need-based grant for my first year, and Mari will receive an international student grant (both will be a big help).

We’re working on getting Mari’s international student (F1) visa right now, finding a place to live, a possible car, and the money to cover everything. We would appreciate your prayers now and throughout our time at SBTS. We’ll need it!

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Vis-à-vis

 Shadow Walk

The Good News

If you’ve read my last post about what Mari and I are up to now, or if you’ve talked to me since I’ve been here, then you know I’ve been waiting for a response on my application for Norwegian student visa. About two weeks ago I received good news vis-à-vis my visa application: it was approved! All I need to do is to report to the police within a week of my entering the country. They’ll get my biometric information (picture and fingerprints) and then they’ll order my resident ID card, my official proof of residency. After a lot of hullabaloo, our prayers have been answered.

Group

The Bad News

Our return date to Norway was October 16. I received my acceptance email on August 26. I was also told I must travel to Norway within a certain timeframe to activate my residence permit. My last date of entry into Norway would be September 30. By the way, this is before October 16. Which means not only will I have to leave LA earlier than planned, but I’ll have to buy more flight tickets. I could send a request to UDI to extend the date of entry, but I was told they are reluctant to extend the entry date and “incurring extra expenses” was usually not an argument they listen to. Now Mari and I had some options.

Before we bought our flights over here, we paid extra on my tickets just in case the visa wouldn’t be approved in time. In this scenario, Mari would go back to Norway, work, and go to school. I would wait until my visa was approved or until I was out of Norway for 90 days, in which I could then return. Since my visa was approved, I could move my flight to an earlier date and leave early.

  1. I could change my ticket to leave early. But I would be in Norway for three weeks without Mari, and she would be in LA for three weeks without me. Not ideal, but it’s doable.
    • Problem: It turns out that to change my return flight… I would have had to have changed my ticket before I checked into our flight to LA. This is pointless. We paid extra so I could change the ticket, if needed, while in LA. We found out I had to change the ticket before getting on the plane the first time. Hopefully we won’t fall for that one again.
      f
  2. Mari and I could both leave early.
    • Problem: Even if we find cheap tickets, this is more money.

Since choice 1 wasn’t ideal and I couldn’t change my flight ticket, we opted for choice 2. However…

Far Out

The Problem

There was still yet another issue. As I said before, within a 6 month period, I (and you too!) can spend a whole 90 days in Norway. And then you have to leave. Basically this means 3 months in, 3 months out. Well, this go-round, I spent 88 days in Norway. Maybe even 89. This leaves me with 1 or 2 days at best to be in Norway, and it takes 2-3 weeks to process my student visa. Despite that the Oslo border patrol will see on their computers that I have been approved, I still need legal proof to stay in the country.

What then do I need? I need an entry visa which lets me stay in Norway for up to 30 days while my visa is being processed. How do I get an entry visa? I have to take another 5 hour trip and go back to Houston! I go with my itinerary and my passport, and once my passport is stamped I’m good to go.

Barefoot Walk

The Answer

To make this simple, I asked if I could mail in my passport and itinerary. Affirmative. I mailed it in and it was approved and stamped. It’s official. Instead of October 16, we leave on Friday, September 25. We’ll spend the next 10-11 months in Norway. Mari will work and finish her bachelor’s degree, and we’ll see what kind of work I can do. I’ll take a one year course at a university in Oslo along with a Norwegian language course somewhere in there (after I finish my DuoLingo lessons!). Then we’ll attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY where Mari will take a M.Div. in Biblical Counseling and I in Biblical and Theological Studies. After that… well, we’ll just have to see.

Hop Skip

[Special thanks to Caelen Weber for our wedding photos!]

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What I’m Up To Now

Timber
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything informative about my life. This past spring, besides reviewing books, Mari and I lived in Waterford, Ireland where I taught 2 Corinthians at the Calvary School of Ministry. I enjoyed teaching, and I even saw a few familiar faces from the Bible College that was in Siegen, Germany. Afterwards Mari and I went back to Norway and started revving up for our second wedding. This time, it was only the celebration. We had our civil ceremony back in February [you can read that blog post here. It brought in the most views I’ve ever had in a month, the next month the third highest views – the second highest was November when Mari and I became engaged… perhaps I should write more about Mari?], and this time we wanted our friends and families to be able to celebrate with us.

A week before the wedding Mari’s aunt passed away, and her funeral was the Tuesday before our wedding. There were two houses on her property, one that was built a few months before her passing. Mari’s parents have moved to the old house, and Mari and I are able to stay in the new house (so long as I can actually stay in Norway).

The Test

[The Test]

Student Visa

The summer went well. After our celebration we finally took our honeymoon. We went to Makarska, Croatia. It was nice, but there were a lot of tourists (which I guess we only added to the problem). Now… before our wedding Mari and I went to London to apply for my student visa. Mari has one year left of university before she graduates with her bachelor’s degree. The easiest way for me to stay in the country is to get a student visa (and no, I don’t get to automatically stay in the country because we’re married). I was accepted into Fjellhaug Internasjonale Høgskole (FiH), for a one year program in religion.

To apply for a Norwegian student visa I either have to apply from my home country (US) or from a country where I have had residence for the last 6 months (UK). In my previous life post I mentioned some problems with the visa I had because Calvary York’s sponsorship had been revoked (for reasons which I don’t agree with). Now my visa was going to expire on June 1, so we arrived in London on May 29th. We would go to the Norwegian Consulate there and apply for my visa.

Upon arrival we found that with CCY’s sponsorship being revoked, my visa was also rejected (which happened sometime between March and May). The border agent didn’t understand why we were coming to the UK to apply, but eventually we made it through… with me on a visitor stamp and not on my visa. But after some touring around in the rain, we made it to the Embassy, I applied for my visa, and we flew back to Norway that night. A week later we had the wedding, and then a week later we left for Croatia.

Another week passed and, after Croatia, we returned home to Norway. It just so happened to be my birthday that day, and we were anxious to open up my letter from UDI (they process the applications from foreign nationals) which would tell me if my application had been approved or not. I had met all of the other requirements, but we were unsure about the visa issue. We opened the letter, and my application had been denied. Even more so, it said I had to leave the country in three weeks!

Volvo

[And they wouldn’t be sending me out in this sick volvo]

This didn’t make sense, so Mari and I went to the police station in Arendal to ask them some questions. It turns out UDI had some summer interns working that summer who may or may not have worked on my application. Whoever did work on my application, however, made some mistakes. We could contest them, but it would take up to a year to hear back on anything. And it’s that year that I need to be in Norway. In the end the police told us that I didn’t need to leave in three weeks and I could stay until my visitor stamp was up (August 15). So now what does one do… but continue on with summer life?

Summer Life

Family

During the summer I painted our house and a work shed (elhuset [el-hew-seh]) on the lot while Mari worked at an old people’s home with people who had dementia. I also learned how to drive stick shift, and, as anyone who has tried to learn stick shift can attest, it was horrid. I despised it. But Norway has hills. Low gears make it easier to get up the hills with ease and back down the hills without wearing down your brakes. After a freaky 8 hour drive over to Sola, Norway, and a much easier 6 hour interstate drive back home, I felt much more comfortable with driving. Besides driving, hiking, pancakes, waffles, and plenty of reading, we had a pretty calm summer. In our last week we went to Mari’s 5-year high school reunion.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 7.53.20 AM

What makes me feel old is that my 10-year reunion is in two years.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 8.08.01 AM

So What Are We Up to Now?

If you haven’t heard, we’re in Houma now! Since my application didn’t fly earlier, we had to fly to the states so I could apply at the closest Norwegian Consulate: Houston, TX. Luckily it’s only 5 hours away and I have family there. Mari met my grandparents on my mom’s side for the first time, along with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and we had a successful meeting at the Consulate. And now…. we wait. We’ll be here until the middle of October, and hopefully within the next month and a half I’ll receive my acceptance letter. If not, I’ll be around until November and then I can fly to Norway. For now Mari and I have school online. We’ll hang out with my family and friends, and, as usual, I’ll be reading and uploading other posts about books up here.

Housing

[Special thanks to Caelen Weber for our wedding photos!]

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Getting ‘Mari-ed’

I’m sure this will come as a surprise, but right now, at 11:40 am, Friday, February 13th, 2015, in Dumfries, Scotland, Mari and I are now officially pronounced man and wife. We are married. For those of you waiting, we’re still going to have the wedding ceremony in Norway this June.

What’s the Deal?

Now we’ll have to backtrack quite a bit so you can understand some of the many issues in this story.

My Visa Sponsorship

You may remember my post last semester about our engagement. During that semester, while teaching 2 Corinthians at CCBCY, the church in York had their sponsorship suspended. To be granted a visa, I, being outside the EU/EEA system, must be ‘sponsored’ by the organization that I am coming to the UK to work for. For the last six years, things have been fine and dandy with Calvary York (CCY). They’ve sponsored the majority of Calvary Chapel missionaries that have come to the UK.

The UK Government’s Visa & Immigration (UKVI) are now interpreting the status of missionaries differently than before. Instead of ‘supernumerary’ (a term used to describe someone coming to the UK to work a job that wouldn’t exist if they weren’t there), missionaries are now described as ‘non- supernumerary’. So in most cases, missionaries are now regarded

“as coming to the UK to take a ‘job’ that could potentially be filled by a UK worker. Despite CCY acting in good faith and making every attempt to resolve the situation to the satisfaction of UKVI, the decision was made to revoke CCY’s sponsorship license”

(Steve Vickery, pastor of CC Cardiff, see post here).

Yet before January 8th everything was pretty much up in the air. Was the suspension final? Would CCY get the sponsorship back? On January 8th we received the official news that CCY’s sponsorship had been revoked. Once I received the information, I had 60 days until I would have to leave the UK, that final date being March 9th.

Thankfully I was in Norway with Mari when this news came so there was no need to stress over that. Now the next question come: if I can’t be in England, and I can’t stay in Norway for over 90 days, and I need to be back in Norway in time for our June wedding, and we don’t want to be apart, where will we go? Can I still get into the UK?

My Options

  1. This was no option, but I had to leave the Schengen area. Under the Schengen agreement, moving from one country to another within the Schengen area is done without border controls, making it easier to migrate, travel, and trade. Norway is a part of that agreement, so I would have to live outside the Schengen for 90 days before I could return. My options (within the EU area) were now Bulgaria, Romania, and Ireland.
  2. We don’t know anyone in Bulgaria. I’m not going to Bulgaria.
  3. We have two Bible college families in Romania who Mari and I could stay with.
  4. There is a Calvary School of Ministry in Ireland. I applied to Jon Langley, the director there in Ireland, and was able to land (i.e., was graciously given) a position teaching 2 Corinthians over there. Now I had a place to go, but I didn’t want to go without Mari. But we would have to be married to live together there.

So The Bigger Question…

For the whole experience we had to face this question: How are we going to get legally married?

Most have the luxury of signing their legal papers during the wedding ceremony.

If only it would have been that easy.

Our ceremony would be in Norway, but the law wouldn’t see us as legally married until I had a visa. Only then could I sign the legal documents. While I’m working on getting a student visa, that could come as late as August, and it isn’t guaranteed.

Originally, before the visa ordeal, our plan was to go to Scotland at the end of the spring semester, fill out the papers, go to Norway and set everything up for the wedding, and then on June 6th “be” married. Upon receiving the news of the revoked sponsorship, this could no longer be the case. We had to get married as quickly as we could, and it had to be within the 60 day timeframe. 

We talked to people in Gretna Green, Scotland (famous for its overnight elopements of Britain’s 17-and-up year olds who weren’t required parental consent when in Scotland), found out what documents were needed, and filled everything out. Certain US documents I had (i.e., my birth certificate) were stamp with an Apostille Certification, and that would last for only four months. So what we needed to do needed to be done quickly.

In the End, What Happened?

A few CCY interns were allowed back into the UK, and that gave us some hope. We traveled to the UK and I was allowed through the border with no problems. The next day we drove up to Dumfries, Scotland, with some friends and handed in our documents at the Municipal Office.

Smooth as butter.

The date was set. On Feb 13th, 2015, Mari and I would be officially married. It was the earliest day we could get married and the only day her parents could come.

As It Turns Out

The 60 days haven’t started yet. They start when the letters are sent out. Classes at York will resume as normal, we will still have our wedding celebration in June as planned, and Mari and I will start the first few months of our new life in Ireland. It was a wild few weeks, but I’m not disappointed in getting married early (and neither is she…yet). We praise God for each other every day, and we are thankful that He has worked everything out for us so far. Times will still be tough, but we will continue to put our trust in Him.

Starting Sunday afternoon, we will be in York for a few more days before we leave on this coming Wednesday.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

(1 Peter 1.3-9)

P.S. FYI BTW, If anyone is wondering, we are NOT pregnant. Not for quite a while 😉

Can't Believe

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A Wocka-Wocka Wake Up

Pac-Man Clock

Have a hard time waking up in the morning? Finding your alarm buzzer dull and unexciting? Need something new and thrilling to help get you out of bed in the morning? For those of you who are Pac-Man lovers, now is the time! Both Isaiah and the apostle Paul said it best, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you” (Isa 49.8; 2 Cor 6.2; even they could have needed an alarm clock like this, right?). Now you can build your own Pac-Man Ghost-Chomping Clock.

Pacman_sideart

Over on Making Stuff you’ll find the 3D files and materials used to build this clock (thought the files are .skp and .ino). I’m no handy man, so this isn’t something I’ll likely make anytime soon. But if you are, have at it. And if that isn’t enough, you could even get yourself a Super Mario Bros. alarm clock.

Pac-Man

According to this video I’m not sure what the alarm would actually sound like, but maybe you can figure out how to make the classic wocka-wocka sound to help wake you up. Nothing says you’re a good, punctual employee like one who listens to the sounds of a bodiless head eating big pills and chasing ghosts in the morning.

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New Times Ahead

Though not something I’ll post about often, I thought I’d fill you in on a life event of mine. On Tuesday, November 4th, my girlfriend and I went up for a few hours to Whitby, a seaside town in North Yorkshire. It’s home to the Whitby Abbey and to a slipping geological fault. Cpt. James Cook served there during his apprenticeship, and it is the home of the Magpie Cafe, which, supposedly, serves the best fish-n-chips in England. Also, part of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was set in Whitby.

whitby

We had lunch and went up the 199 steps leading to the Whitby Abbey, though viewing for the actual Abbey was closed for the day. We made our way back down the 199 steps (we counted this time) and down to an outer walkway into the ocean. It was there, in the final beams of sunlight, that I popped the question and asked my best friend to marry me, “Vil du gifte deg med meg?”

Engaged Lighthouse

She said ‘Yes’, of course. For now, we’re going to finish this semester in York. I’ll finish teaching 2 Corinthians and then we’ll see what the next semester will bring. One thing’s for certain, there will be plenty of planning to do for our Norwegian wedding.

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Back to School

It’s been quite a while (almost three months), and I’ve finally taken the moment to sit down and write up this post. If you’ve been wondering, or if not, I’ve been in York, England again for my fifth semester here (seventh overall). I’m interning here again while also teaching through Paul’s second canonical epistle to the Corinthians (which you might know as ‘Second Corinthians’). After my review on Doug Moo’s The Old Testament in the Gospel Passion Narratives, I took some time off to study 2 Corinthians, visit my wife-to-be in Norway, and come over and get settled into the CCBCY schedule.

We are now six weeks into the semester, and on Monday I finished my fourth class on 2 Corinthians. We covered chapters 3.7-4.6 where Paul explains his boldness as a minister of the New Covenant Christians under the New Covenant and contrasts it with the veiled Moses who ministered to the hard hearted, Old Covenant Israel. While believers can be transformed by gazing on the glory of God in face of Christ, unbelievers are blinded by the god of this world.

For this semester, I have plans for more reviews (see below), posts on what I’m reading, along with summaries of 2 Corinthians as I work my way through Paul’s letter, looking at themes of forgiveness, the New Covenant, new creation, the resurrection, the temple, and God’s glory through suffering.

Review Books

Antinomianism by Mark Jones
By the River Chebar by Daniel Bock
The End of the Law by Jason Meyer
For the Glory of God by Daniel Bock
How I Love Your Torah, O Lord by Daniel Bock
The Temple and the Church’s Mission by G. K. Beale

There will be a special review series on Bill Johnson’ book When Heaven Invades Earth. Johnson is the pastor of Bethel in Redding, CA, and I’m fascinated (to put it one way) by what he gets away with in his book. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on when that will be coming up.

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Internship 2

By now, I’ve settled into York, I’m over jet lag, and I’ll be teaching in the Gospel of Mark. I actually have already taught once in the class. I taught through Mark 2.13-3.6, and I hope to put some of my notes on here from insights I’ve gained. Mark has often been the least popular Gospel, And though I can’t say I’ve ever ranked the Gospels according to which one is my favorite, it was always been 4th place on my list.

However, I’ve been enjoying co-teaching through Mark with Steve Kennedy, the Dean of Men over here at CCBCY. We have a good class, and the student body as a whole is a good one. We had a ceilidh on Friday night, which is a form of “dancing” involving Gaelic folk music. It originates from Ireland and Scotland, but it also refers to social dances in England. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, even the ones who did participate. Like me.

Though I’m busy with other interning duties along with studying for Mark, which I will now be co-teaching weekly along side Steve, I still plan to update this page with book reviews, insights from the book, snippets from living in England, and hopefully a few lessons I’ve learned from the Gospel according to Mark.

Right now I’m reading A Mouth Full of Fire: The Word of God in Jeremiah by Andrew Shead which looks at the final form of Jeremiah and how ‘the word of the Lord’ is used. I’m definitely enjoying it. ‘The Word of the Lord’ is certainly the main character in the book of Jeremiah, sharing the name of the prophet who can do no other than to speak the words of God.

There’s a difference between the ‘word of God’ that is heard (which is the main message) and the ‘words of God’ that are written down.  The ‘words’ don’t have to be an exact replica of the ‘word’ as long as the ‘words’ pertain to the same message as the ‘word.’ What does Jeremiah’s use of God’s word to him teach us about the doctrine of the Word of God? Shead shows us how he perceives Jeremiah to be structured, along with how to make sense of it all. It can be very confusing to read Jeremiah and wonder why it’s not in chronological order. Some scholars think it’s just a mishmash of information. But it is the Word of God that tears down and builds up. Nations are destroyed by denying this word, and people are saved by accepting it. There’s much more than that, but I’ll touch on more later on down the road.

If anything here piques your interest about Andrew’s book, you can find mp3’s here on his book before it was released at Moore Library.
Lecture 1
Lecture 2
Lecture 3
Lecture 4
Lecture 5 
They’re all at least an hour long, with another 20 or so minutes of Q&A time, which can be skipped but is very informative too.

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