And He said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." – Mark 16:15

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Reflections on Semester #4

With four semesters in the books, and four more to go, it’s hard to believe that I am halfway through completing my Master of Arts: Christian Studies degree!  This semester was different from the rest in that I didn’t have a single exam; all my big assignments were papers!  I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it, but in hindsight, I really preferred it this way.  Since I am fairly self-driven and good at spacing out my papers, it was a pretty stress-free semester (not to mention I didn’t have to worry about cramming for midterm or final exams).  On top of that, I’ve really found my sweet spot for writing papers at the Graduate level.  I’ve learned that putting a lot of time into the front end (researching, synthesizing, and outlining) has made the actual paper-writing go much quicker/smoother.  For each paper, I spend about 6 hours on the front end and about 6-8 hours actually writing it. For all of these things, I am very thankful!

My first course was an Intercultural Ministry class: “Mission and Culture.”  We covered how culture and ministry collide, which is very appropriate for us as we are called to serve in Japan once I graduate.  My first paper was on “The Mission of God in the Old Testament”.  I chose the topic to challenge me to not only focus on the New Testament in regard to God’s Mission, but to look deeper in the OT as well.  Overall, it was a great learning experience and gives me a better appreciation for God’s sovereignty over the entire narrative of the Bible. 


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Book Review – Gratefulness: The Habit of a Grace-Filled Life

Gratefulness: The Habit of a Grace-Filled LifeGratefulness: The Habit of a Grace-Filled Life by Susan Muto

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Susan Muto’s Gratefulness is the best book I’ve found on the importance of gratitude in a Christian’s life. Unlike other books that only take a cursory glance at the subject, Muto takes the time to examine many parts of a grateful life including the benefits of positivity, dangers of negativity, redemptive power of prayer, signs of progress, and lasting fruits of thankfulness. Within those topics, she also “keeps it real” by moving beyond basic principles and gives real-world, everyday examples of thoughts and actions to make her points come across in a practical way, which I really appreciated.

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Book Review – Life Without a Critical Spirit

Life Without a Critical SpiritLife Without a Critical Spirit by Jim Hammer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“Life Without a Critical Spirit” is the follow-up book to Jim Hammer’s “Victory Over a Critical Spirit.” In hist first book, Hammer successfully discusses the negative consequences of a critical spirit and how it goes against who we are in Christ. In this book, however, the author doesn’t succeed in accomplishing what he sets out to do. In the beginning, he states how he was spurred on by his peers and students that he has ministered to over the years to continue the discussion on the topic of a critical spirit because he has much more to say. The problem is, what he has to say doesn’t really go anywhere, and worst of all does not engage with the topic at hand.

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