Editor’s Note: From its inception, the women in the PCA have loved on and supported the denomination in practical ways. One way has been through the annual women’s ministry love gift. This year, the women’s ministry of the PCA is praying for and partnering with the different agencies and committees of the denomination regionally. Throughout the year, we will highlight the committees and agencies to learn more about what they do and how we can pray for them. I recently interviewed Mark Dalbey, president of Covenant Seminary.
Christina: Can you tell us a little of the history of Covenant Seminary?
Mark: Covenant Seminary was founded in 1956 and served as the denominational seminary of the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod until the RPCES joined with the PCA in 1982. From 1982 to the present we have served as the denominational seminary of the PCA. Throughout its history, the seminary has been committed to the inerrancy of the Bible, the Reformed faith as expressed in the Westminster Standards, and the Great Commission.
Christina: How does Covenant Seminary engage the broader St. Louis community?
Mark: Covenant Seminary has served St. Louis PCA churches as a training ground in providing many pastors, ministry staff leaders, and church planters in Missouri Presbytery. While our primary role has been to serve the PCA, our location in St. Louis has also been a training resource for other evangelical churches in the greater St. Louis area as well. This includes a growing relationship with churches of ethnic, socio-economic, and cultural diversity in our area…
Have you ever considered yourself small, weak, and insufficient? In our human eyes, we often view our smallness as negative and limiting, but if we look closely, we see that our God-given limits can be the means for us to grow in our faith and dependence upon God.In the book of Judges, Gideon referred to himself as the “least” in his family. Gideon might have felt small, but God referred to him as a “mighty warrior” and he is listed alongside other men and women of faith in Hebrews 11.
God’s Work Through Gideon
In Judges 6-8, consider the following scene: Fearing the Midianites, Gideon is afraid to winnow his wheat out in the open air, where the breeze catches the grain and separates it from the chaff. He is afraid of doing that and becoming too visible to enemy eyes. As a result, we find Gideon crouching down, trying to thresh his wheat in the pit of a winepress.
Suddenly an angel speaks to him. I imagine this encounter probably made him jump out of his skin! Gideon referred to himself as “the least” likely, which meant that Gideon was economically and/or socially one of the poorest members in his tribe. Judges paints a picture of Gideon as shy and reserved. He also seems quite unassertive in the way he asks God to show him some unusual signals and signs. In his book Judges for You, Tim Keller expands our thinking with a different perspective. He believes Gideon’s response came from an earnest, humble heart seeking God’s direction. Keller sees Gideon teaching us how we need to press in and ask God to give us a big picture of who He is.
Missionaries often are asked: “How can I pray for you?” and most likely, we will answer: “Pray for our financial support, our witness, and our families.” These are good things to pray for, but there are some things we are ashamed of admitting and that don’t make the prayer request list.
A missionary is not someone special, more gifted, or more holy than anyone else. In fact, many of us missionaries joke that God needed to take us to the mission field to teach us the hard lessons we could not to learn because of our own stubbornness and zealousness. Among missionary leaders, there is a saying that leading missionaries is like “herding cats” because of our independent streak. Missionaries can exude strength and courage, but as the years progress, I have noticed certain patterns of struggle that are unique to missionaries (and I’d venture to say much of this applies to those who are in full-time ministry, pastors, or church-planters). We need you pray for us in the following areas.
This month, our last child is getting married. And while I am thrilled with my son’s choice for his wife, and anxious to welcome his new bride into our family, it is a bittersweet time of change. This milestone is also a reminder that my parenting years are now officially over. It is another season of change. Only recently, I retired. The job that I so enjoyed and the accomplishments that went with it are now behind me. On top of that my body is beginning to betray me. My arthritic joints and myopic eyes often combine to remind me of what I could once do.
PEach week after our Bible reading. the pastor of our church concludes with the words from Isaiah that “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Every time I hear these words, I think of how my life is withering. Withering is hard to face – and not much fun! We don’t like change, yet change is one of life’s constants. It is guaranteed. The Psalmist wrote about it clearly, though darkly in Psalm 103:15-16; “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.”I could be discouraged with the Psalmist’s words if I did not continue to read the words that follow in verse 17: “But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children.”