Thursday, December 29, 2011

Next Tuesday I go back to School...

It is very interesting how God chooses to answer prayer, and how He chooses to work out His plan.  The past two months have been a learning journey for me that has been interesting to say the least.

When I looked into the Masters Program two months ago, I learned that I needed to take a writing course that I had not taken before I would be accepted.  This disappointed me, as I was very excited to begin pursuing my Masters Degree, but I signed up to take that writing class at Columbus State Community College starting in January via the web.  Since that class was required before I would be accepted into the Master's Program I fully expected to start the Master's Program in September rather than January.  But then, in what seemed like a sign from God that January was the right start date for me, I was accepted into the Master's Program on a provisional basis, meaning I could start in January, and as long as I completed the writing course within the 2012 calendar year, all would be well.

I have been concerned about doing multiple classes at two different schools (I am taking the writing class at Columbus State Community College because it is a lot cheaper) and this has been a subject of much prayer.  "I am willing to do both God, but only if that is what you want for me.  I feel like it will be too much, but then, I don't know what you have planned for me anyway, so this all feels like 'too much'."

I believe in 'laying out my fleeces'.  I prayed and asked God to open doors and make possible what He wanted me to do, show me the way by opening and / or closing doors.  Yesterday, He closed a door, and He did so in such a unique way that it is undeniably His work.  You see, registration for classes at CSCC opened in early November.  There are over 60 different times the writing class I need is offered, and there were 22 online classes offered.  I signed up for one of the online classes. 

Last Friday I found out that the online class I had signed up for was not open to first time students of CSCC.  A 'glitch' had allowed me to sign up for the class, but I was going to have to choose another group.  I looked online last Friday when I got the news and there were several openings in several classes, so I decided to wait until this week and actually go to the campus to sign up for my class figuring this way I couldn't accidentally sign up for the wrong class again.

This turn of events also caused me to spend the weekend in prayer.  A lot of questions swirled in my head, "Is this a sign?  Am I supposed to wait until summer to take the writing class?  Is it wise to begin the Masters Program, knowing I will need to take this writing class or potentially lose my status as a Provisional Student?  Would it be smarter to wait until this class was complete before starting a new program?"

When I got to CSCC on Wednesday, I found answers to all of my prayers.  I found that all of the online study possibilities had filled up since Friday, and incredibly, out of almost 20 classes being offered in the evenings, only two had seats available, both on Tuesday evening.  The Master's Program will be meeting on Tuesday evenings.  I obviously can't be in two places simultaneously. 

It occurred to me that the amount of tuition support that has come in is $10 more than the cost of the writing class at CSCC, and $600 shy of what I need for the first class in the Master's Program.  So, with one day to spare, I received my answer.  One class at a time, and start the Masters Program after completing the writing class.

So, next Tuesday evening, I start my writing class at CSCC.  Over the next three months I will write research papers, several of them.  After talking with someone at the school about this class, I am glad I am not going to be trying to do this simultaneously with anything else.  It is apparently a pretty grueling class with writing assignments every week that must be researched, documented, footnoted, etc.  The first program in the Masters Program entails four written book reviews, as well as a research paper... That would have been a LOT of writing to do if I had taken both classes at once...

God is GOOD.  He knows the plans He has for us...

While I must admit, I am slightly disappointed, I must also admit that I am completely at peace and relieved.  Relieved to know that my anxiety is for naught.  He is in control.  He knew all along what His plan was, and He used this time to teach me to rely on Him rather than my own understanding and desires.

I believe I will start my Masters Program in 2012, it just won't be in January.  I am still very excited to begin the Masters Program and I will still keep this blog updated with all that is happening, because a lot will be happening.  I will still covet your prayers and support as God works out His plan for me.

Postponing the start of my Masters studies opens another door as well... More on that soon.

Until His work in me is Complete...
Paul

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christmas Morning We'll Never Forget

Yesterday was Christmas, and I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas Celebration.

Our traditional Christmas morning was disrupted when we realized that one of the cats was missing.  Just as we sat down to open presents, Espresso walked into the room, and I realized I had not seen Mocha all morning.  I asked if anyone had seen her, and we all realized that we hadn't.  We did a walk through the house figuring we would find her, but when we hadn't, we all started trying to remember when she had been seen last.  She had laid on Josh's chest when he went to bed at 1AM.


Mocha is the cat who loves to rush out the door whenever it is opened.  On Christmas morning at about 3 AM, one of the dogs woke me, whimpering because he needed to go outside.  I grumbled something about it being 3 o'clock in the morning, but then rational thought took over and I decided I would rather get out of bed for a few minutes at 3AM than find a mess in the morning.

I walked through the house in the dark and opened the door enough for the dogs to get out, stuck my head out the door and told them to hurry and waited for them to return.  They did, rather quickly as I expected they would, and I let them back in the house.  I don't know when the cat ran out the door, but we figured out that it had be at one of those two times the door was opened.  I am pretty certain she ran between my legs and out the door while I was telling the dogs to hurry up... that was the only time I wasn't looking at the open door.

Once we realized the cat had probably escaped and had been outside for the better part of 6 hours, a search for the cat ensued.  Coats and hats were donned and the back yard was searched, our neighbor's yard was searched.  We looked in all of her usual "hiding" places and could not find her anywhere.  It is important to know that our cats are all indoor cats, they generally do not spend time outdoors, and when they do, they are supervised.  Their front paws are declawed so they are vulnerable in a cat fight with another animal.  They are kept in our yard under watchful eyes.

Mocha was not found anywhere in our yard, nor in the yards of our adjacent neighbors.  We expanded the search, several blocks were covered in vehicles, shaking the "treat container" out the window as everyone searched.  After more than an hour of searching with no sign of Mocha, tears began flowing.  Would we ever find her?

After nearly two hours of searching, I made up some flyers to stick in doors around the neighborhood, hoping someone had taken her in.  My 15 year old son was placing a flyer in a neighbors door five houses down from us, when he heard a faint "meow", and he started poking around in their bushes.  He found her cowering under an evergreen.  She felt trapped.  She wasn't, Jonathon pulled her right out, but she didn't think she could move for the bush branches upon her back.  He hollered, "I found her", and my 11 year old started screaming in delight... Of course her screams startled the rest of us, thinking she had found the cat hurt or something... But she was found. 

When she was brought in, there was a flurry of activity, someone was sent to get a blanket to warm her up, someone else volunteered to retrieve some food.  She was held, cuddled, and altogether doted over for at least half an hour.  The other cats and even the dogs came and greeted her.  She had been missed, and everyone wanted her to know that they cared.

The life lessons learned were many.  When someone or something is loved, it is worth dropping everything and searching for it when it is lost.  Nothing was more important than finding Mocha, including every kids' favorite Christmas morning activity, opening Christmas Presents.  Not one of the kids even thought about the fact that it was Christmas morning.  None of them even flinched when I said, "We need to leave for PawPaw's house, we are already going to be late getting there.  I think we'll have to open presents later."

We are that precious to our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He left paradise... He literally left Heaven and voluntarily came to this earth, assumed the form of a dependent baby, grew up, just like you and I did.  He experienced life just like you and I have.  He had disappointments, he had joys.  I am sure he lost something precious to him, even if only for a few hours... We have all experienced that at one time or another.

I am very grateful that we found Mocha, safe and well.  She was Scared and Cold, and Hungry, but those were quickly remedied.  The JOY that existed in my home when she was brought in was incredible.  The bible tells us that angels rejoice when someone comes to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  When the lost are found, there is rejoicing.

I pray today that I can be used by God to be one who helps someone lost and lonely find joy and peace in the Salvation of Jesus... That is my post-Christmas, Christmas wish...

Until His Work in me is Complete...
Paul


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Obedience

Thou Shalt Obey.

It's one of the Ten Commandments, it is 10% of God's Laws given to His people.  Sometimes it easy to obey, but most of the time, it isn't.  At least it isn't for me.  I wrestle ALL the time with obedience.  I clearly hear God tell me something, and I almost immediately start calculating in my head what I think He means.

Six weeks ago, God told me to share His calling on me with someone at Church.  That was an easy command to obey.  I was excited, His instructions were so clear to me.  The person I was to share with would be excited, this was an EASY command to obey.  And it made me feel good... So I obeyed.

Shortly after that, He told me to share my news with others, send an email.  Send an email announcing your intentions to follow me, send it to everyone!  So I sat down and wrote an email, sharing what God had called me to do.  And then I clicked on the "To:" button and I started choosing friends and family, fellow Christians and once I thought I had selected everyone God would want me to send the email to, I hit "Send".  I heard not one word in response.  I was beginning to worry a little bit.

10 days ago, I heard an incredible sermon by our Youth Pastor, CJ Buchan, who encouraged everyone to "DIVE into the deep end!"  Trust that GOD will take care of you when you do what He has called you to do.  "Don't put on your swimmies and climb into the kiddie pool.  TRUST God and OBEY Him when He calls, and DIVE in where the water is scary!"

I sat in church that Sunday feeling pretty self righteous.  I thought I was doing what I had been called to do, and I completely missed an opportunity to be blessed by God Almighty as I sat in my seat and felt good about doing what God had called me to do.

3 Days ago, this past Sunday, I don't remember much of the sermon.  It's not because Pastor Duanne didn't preach a good sermon, I don't because he started with a reference back to CJ's visual of sitting in the kiddie pool with swimmies on.  In that moment I realized that I was sitting in the pool with my swimmies on, proud of the fact that I had gotten wet!  God reminded me over the next hour that He called me to send an email to EVERYONE.  He did not tell me to select who to send it to.  He told me to share it in every way I could.  Post it on my Quilting Blog (www.OutnumberedQuilter.com), post it on Facebook, I had not done any of those...

I had obeyed comfortably.  I had shared with those who I thought would be the people God would use.  I had not fully and unconditionally Obeyed.  I had partially Obeyed, but not completely.  Sunday after Church I prayed with a dear friend, Jimmy, and Monday I composed an email that I sent to everyone in my address book.  (Including a few people who I did not realize were in my email address book, and I got in a little hot water, but hey, I obeyed this time!)  I wrote a post for my Quilting Blog, and I posted it on Facebook.

And guess what happened... Within one day, all of the books for my first class were purchased, two of them by someone I don't even know, and one by a friend in my "photography world".  I received emails from people I don't know and from people I didn't expect to hear from.  I received word that I would be receiving a gift toward my tuition...  I received words of encouragement that are simply invaluable.  Most of them from people I don't even know personally.

Followers of my Quilting Blog and at least two people who "happened to see my blog for the first time" sent words of encouragement.  I have been moved to tears several times over the past 24 hours as I have watched God move in ways I would have never expected.

There is still a long way to go.  I am the type of person who doesn't like to be surprised.  God is teaching me things right now that I didn't expect to learn.  I am beginning to wonder which is going to be more instructive, The Masters Program or Life During the Masters Program!  Either way, I am beginning to realize that I am a passenger on this ride and I will gain much more from it if I stop trying to get into the Pilot's seat!

That's not going to be easy for me, but I'm going to start trying...

Until His Work in me is Complete...
Paul


Friday, November 4, 2011

God Called...

God Called Me…

My story goes back several years, several decades actually.  When I was a young boy (11 or 12 years old) at summer camp, I was sitting around a fire and distinctly heard a call to Ministry.  I didn't know what that meant at the time, but I heard it nonetheless.  I even promised God that I would go wherever He sent me, I would follow wherever he led.

However, several years later when it came time for me to choose a career, and establish a path upon which I would travel, I had forgotten that promise and I wound up in Retail.  I have worked hard over the past 20 years and have worked my way into Middle Management.  I met my wife 24 years ago, and 22 years ago we married.  We now have four children, one in college, two in High School and one in 5th Grade.

While I had forgotten the Promise I made to God, He did not forget his plan for me.  Recently He brought that forgotten night back into my memory so clearly I can tell you the conversation I had with my counselor that night.  I remember telling him that I was scared; I didn't know why God would call me and what God would do with me.  He very wisely told me not to worry about it.  When the time was right and when I was ready, God would make it clear to me what I was supposed to do.

A few months ago, God made it clear that I was to earn a Master's of Divinity.  I almost immediately questioned.  Why?  Why Now?  How am I supposed to do this and also take care of my family?  What do you have in store for me?  And many others...  I can't explain this, but God gave me no direct answers, all He did was reassure in my heart that this was indeed His calling for me.  I have no idea what God is going to do with my future.  What I do know is this.  He called me, He told me what to do.  He has not told me why.  He doesn't need to, and I obviously don't need to know.  What I need to do is obey.

Three years ago, my wife and I committed to God to get ourselves out of debt.  We realized that our debt load was too large.  I am not ashamed to say that in the past three years, we have eliminated ~80% of our "non-mortgage" debt.  I have prayed extensively about funding this calling.  A Master's Degree is not cheap.  A Master of Divinity is definitely not cheap.  It is one of the more expensive degrees out there, as most MDIV programs require more hours than most Masters programs, 50% or more hours.  I don't believe that God would call us to get out of debt only to get back in debt just as we are getting so close to being free of it.  But God Called, and I must obey.

I have applied to and I have been accepted into the Masters of Ministry Program at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.  I have chosen this Program for four Reasons.  First, I agree with MVNU's statement of Faith.  Second, their program, in conjunction with the Master of Divinity program at Nazarene Theological Seminary, will allow me to earn TWO Master's Degrees, a Master of Ministry from MVNU and a Master of Divinity from NTS.  (All of the classes taken in the MVNU Master of Ministry program will apply to the Master of Divinity Program, so there are no "extra" classes (read expense) involved... Just an "extra" degree).  Third, It is very convenient.  I will be able to take most of the required classes at the MVNU satellite campus which is 2 miles from my home where I will be able to take my classes in the evening one day per week.  For the few classes I can not take in the evenings, I can take those at MVNU’s main campus (about 45 minutes from home) or via the web.  And Finally, the tuition is the lowest of any of the Masters programs I have looked into.  Cost per credit hour is $283 and I will need 76 hours to earn my MDiv.  Adding an estimate of $100 per class for books, materials, fees, etc. brings my total estimated need to $24,008.  This breaks down to right around $900 per class on average, and I will be taking 2-3 classes per semester.  I do not need to pay for the entire program at once, I can pay for each class as they come along.

I have wrestled with how I am going to pay for this.  Again, I am convinced that God did not call me to get out of debt so that He could call me to go to school and get back in debt.  So student loans are out of the question.  There are many scholarships and grants out there, and I will begin applying for those soon.  But those won't cover all of my expenses and most of them will not pay until the fall.  I have an opportunity to start in January, only a few weeks from now.  While the time window is short, if God wants me to start then he will move someone (or several “someones”) to make that possible.  My first class will be $849 and the books for this class total $46.96.  If you would like to buy a book for me you can visit my Amazon Wish at www.Amazon.com, Click on the “Wish List” button and then type “Paul Perger” into the search box.  You will see a list called “Paul Perger Master Program List”.  The books that I need are listed there, and you can purchase a book by clicking on “Give as a Gift”.  Whenever a book is available on Kindle, I would like the Kindle book because I can read those books on my PC, Phone, or Kindle.  I can take notes whenever I am reading on whichever device I happen to be using and then have those notes available to me when writing papers, etc.

When I attended an information session at MVNU they spoke of getting support from the church you are serving, as most churches will help their pastors earn their degree.  While several of my classmates will be pastors, I am not a pastor, but the concept of asking others to help me answer God's calling is a valid one.  So, I have decided to set up a "GoFundMe" page, which will allow others to contribute toward the cost of my Masters of Divinity degree.  It makes me very uncomfortable to ask people for money, but after long hours of prayer, I am convinced that this is one of the ways God will provide the funds for His calling.

If you are interested in helping with the funding, but do not want to use a Credit or Debit Card on the internet you can send checks directly to MVNU.  To do this, please put my name, Paul Perger and my student ID 112983 in the Comment section of your check.  Please send the check to the following address:

Student Accounts
Mount Vernon Nazarene University
800 Martinsburg Rd.
Mt. Vernon, OH  43050

You can also send checks directly to me made out to Paul Perger OR to Mount Vernon Nazarene University
Paul Perger
1173 Tillicum Dr.
Worthington, OH  43085

IF you support me via a check sent directly to the school please let me know that you have so that I may insure the funds were applied to my account, and more importantly so I can say thank you and add you to my email distribution list.

Please pray for me.  Pray that I will remember to keep God first, My Family second, and my education third.  I know myself, and I can easily get this all turned around.  Please also pray for my family, as while I intend to keep their sacrifice as minimal as possible, there will be sacrifice on their part, it is inevitable.  Pray that they will participate in this journey with me and not perceive it as a burden on them.

And last, pass the word.  We support missionaries we don't personally know all the time.  I am going to commit to sending monthly email updates to any and all who indicate their support of this endeavor of mine.  If you are supporting me financially, I will know that and you will be added to my list.  If you are praying, please let me know so that I can also add you to my list, your prayer support will be valued and coveted just as much as financial support.

I will also be using this blog to document this part of my life's journey.

Until His Work in me is Complete...
Paul