Today is the NBA All Star game. It is being held in Houston, TX. Not many people will care too much about the game, and many people will make negative comments. The comments will have something to do with the lack of effort and defense that seems to be the essence of an all star event. This has led some sports casters to suggest that the NBA takes a card out of MLB’s deck and make it so that the winning team will make that conference have the home court advantage in the finals. 

In essence, this is a suggestion to make the players play for the names on the front of the jerseys instead of the ones on the backs. This will make the game into a team event instead of a showcase for individual ballers.

My own coaches have emphasized the concept of playing for a name bigger than your own. It is also a facet of parenting that is used. Parents tell their children that wherever they go, that last name represents a family and not just their own self. People represent a family, a team, or a larger group of people no matter where they go.

In fact, the matter of a last name representing someone else was a big deal for over a century of civil rights movements in America. Freed slaves would have to face the fact that the name they had represented an Anglo Saxon oppression. Their name showed their owner’s authority. Civil rights leaders recognized this fact and there are accounts of names being changed. The most recognized leader to do this was Malcom X, who was  born Malcolm Little (and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz). A name tells a story.

Many people do not really take full advantage of knowing what their name means. Often people talk about it just being some family name or that their parents thought their name sounded good. I know that my parents took the effort in naming each of my brothers and I (We are all biblical P’s. Aaron, Daniel, Timothy, and Benjamin. A priest, prophet, preacher, and patriarch). But even inside of this, only two of us have done anything with the heritage of our last name. The Murray name comes from the Scottish town of Morey. Morey, Scotland has some interesting history and figures that have come from it. In fact, one of the leaders of Clan Murray fought alongside William Wallace for the Scot’s rights at the Battle of Stirling Bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Stirling_Bridge). 

But what have we done to recognize this history? Well, one of my brothers has the Murray Clan coat of arms tattooed on his right arm with his children’s names under it. What have I done? Well, I wear the clan tartan with pride around my neck. My friend bought a scarf with the clan colors for me when she was in Scotland

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(in case you cannot tell, it is primarily blue, green, and black with thin red stripes)

But I often do not think about my Scottish-ness since I am mostly Dutch and German. In fact, my mother has the journals of her great (or great great?) grandmother that talks about the prior generation having come from Arnhem, Netherlands (Jacob Denherder was the one who came with his mom and Dad and 6 others in 1847 due to religious persecution). Yet the most I do with my Dutch side is to use it as a reason not to spend money. And then during the Olympics I will cheer for Deutschland or the Netherlands when America isn’t competing.

The heritage that I most prominently wear on my shoulder would be my academic heritage. I still wear my high school varsity jacket even though I graduated almost 6 years ago. I still rep my old warm-ups and Sturgis gear as workout clothes. I even sing the fight song from time to time just for the fun of it. 

But that pales in comparison to the identity I place in being a Moody alum (alumni? alumnus? almunnumis? alimony?… w/e Latin endings make no sense!).

This identity of being from Moody seems to be the defining impression I make on people at seminary. See, the first question seminarians ask people is “where did you do your undergrad?” whereas during undergrad the question is “where are you from?” So, I give the appropriate answer.

The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, Illinois.

Yes, there is a definite article in there. It is THE Moody Bible Institute. So says my diploma that is in the Rubbermaid tub nest to my computer. 

But why is this such a big deal (or deal breaker?)?

Moody represents a flagship in conservative Christian scholarship. It isn’t a liberal arts institute that has degrees in every field out there. At MBI everyone gets a duel degree in Bible and whatever they choose to have as their major. At most liberal arts Christian schools they have to take around 10 credits of Bible/ Theology. At MBI we had to take around 30 credit hours of Bible and theology classes.

On top of this, MBI is incredibly hard to get in. From what I am told only around 1 and 3 get accepted into Moody’s program in general (aka they get accepted into the Spokane, WA campus and have to wait 2 years to transfer into the Chicago campus). The application process is to write 5 or 6 essays (I think they have to write one less now than when I applied), and have to have a letter of recommendation from a pastor, a male reference, and a female reference. 

And when you are there, you have the chance to sit under amazing professors and hear world renowned Christian minds speak at the conferences. Some people say that Moody Bible’s theology, Bible, Biblical languages, and pastoral degrees are on par with getting a seminary degree. It is an amazing school.

So that is what people hear when I say, “I went to Moody.” 

But then I go on to make an impression of what it means to have been a Moody student. People take my interactive and verbal processing learning style as being brash and challenging to professors. It can almost seem as though I am arguing with a professor when I say “at Moody I was told…” 

Or, it can seem like I am touting my knowledge by bringing up the reason why one noun is translated into 2 different English words in a passage since one is in the Dative form and the other is in the Accusative. (Yes… I did that … :/ ha. But in my defense, I was bringing that up as a question to the professor so that I could see if I had the proper understanding of what was written).

Or I can seem like a know it all when I ask and answer all the discussion questions in Biblical Hermeneutics class. 

But, if I make the impression that going to Moody makes someone an arrogant brat, then I am sending the opposite message of that fine institution. Moody Bible Institute is about training men and women to be God fearing Christ followers who are equipped to serve in a life of ministry. Being accepted does not mean we are the smartest, brightest, and most charismatic leaders of the Church. Being accepted means they believe we are ones who are called to live lives of humble service to others. The essays and letters of recommendation were not meant to show how great we were, but to show that we knew what we were signing up for.

Or if I give the impression that Moody is about being a know it all, I am representing the opposite of what is taught there. Professors hammer the fact that ministry is about humility and discernment. The knowledge we gain actually shows how little we know in comparison to what could or should be known. I like to illustrate it like this.

Image the purple circle is the perceived amount of knowledge I had going into Moody. The red circle is the amount of knowledge I perceived was out there that I could know.

But this is what happened after I graduated.

ImageI realized I did not know that much, and there was a whole lot more to know.

It seems like only know is that purple circle actually growing. But if the inside circle grown 10% it feels like the outside circle grows 110%. 

And this all leads to title and tagline of this blog. When I look at what I have been through, the response ought to be gratefulness. Deep gratefulness. 

And that gratefulness should lead me to wanting to honor the institution that helped me learn so much about my Lord and Savior, His Church, His Word, and the identity each believer has in light of Him. As a Moody alum, I represent what that institution stands for. They put their stamp of approval on my education by awarding me with a diploma. 

And that diploma makes me realize it is harder to be Moody than to be moody. It is easier to be self absorbed than to be grateful. Living a life of gratitude is not easy.

But, if I am honest about what it means to be a Moodster, it circles around to humble gratefulness. I joke that “I come from Moody Bible Institute, where M/moody is more than just a name, it is a way of life.” And this helps me put a humorous spin on the battle that I have each day. Will I be moody and self centered, or will I be Moody and humble?

And when I choose to live in humility, it points to an even greater name which I represent than Moody, Sturgis, or Murray. I represent the name of my Heavenly Father. Scripture says that as a believer I am adopted as His son (1 John 3:1), and that I am a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:12-17). My identity is as one who is redeemed and revived (Romans 6: 12-14; 1 Peter 1:18). My identity is as one who has been raised to a new life with Christ (2 Timothy 2:11). I represent the name of the Redeeming Lord, the Indwelling Spirit, and the Benevolent Father.

And ultimately, that is the only name that I should care about.

 

 

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