This blog entry is probably going to be a bit more personal than I’m comfortable with, mainly because I don’t want the focus on me and my life. Nonetheless, many of you so graciously ask about how things are going, so here we go…
Let me start with where I’m at right now. I’m sitting in Panera (shocker) in Louisville, KY about to work on a major edit to my dissertation. Yesterday was a very long day. I got up just before 4am to get ready for travel, meetings and my oral defense at Southern Seminary. Despite some storms looming, travel went very well and I’m thankful for that because upon scheduled arrival, I had a meeting an hour later. The next meetings went fine and quick and all of the sudden I had an hour prior to the defense to pray and think through my project.
I had a good meeting with those on my panel, Dr. Chuck Lawless and Dr. Timothy Beougher. They were gracious, pointed, and brought up some areas that I needed to work on (almost as much as a shocker as me sitting in Panera). By the time the defense was over I had passed, was congratulated and then met with Dr. Lawless (my direct supervisor) to go over what’s needed at this point.
What’s left for me is some pretty major editing on my paper. Most of the editing is technical and will prove to be the most (potentially) frustrating and time consuming. Some of the editing is just adding some material that would strengthen my paper. You all can pray for me in this because the edits have to be reviewed and corrected prior to me sending in another final copy of my entire paper by October 31st. Time is a bit pressing with the marathon next week and Jan’s c-section scheduled for November 12th.
If all goes well and my final product is complete, I’ll graduate December 11th. Honestly, I don’t feel the relief yet because there’s still work to do, so on that day (Lord willing) I will celebrate God’s mercy and grace and his rich provision for a wonderful wife, great kids and loving church.
I greatly appreciate the many emails of encouragement I’ve received from our body. This is for your benefit that I do this and hope that we become more fruitful disciples and disciple-makers as a result!
The thought of running a marathon next week is not conceivable for me as I sit here. I am extremely tired and I’ve had my first head/chest cold in a long time. I hate whining so I’ll stop with that. I am looking forward to the travel, running and time with Jesse Gray (dear friend and church member). So, pray for us physically, emotionally and spiritually during this time. Truth is, I love running and am thankful to God for the “legs” that still allow me to do this, but only as it will serve Him in my personal life and benefit the gospel in ministry.
Best for last. Jan is due with our 4th on November 12th (technically the scheduled c-section date). We are trying to get several things together for this (obviously) and are really excited about what God has in store. I’m increasingly amazed at all that my lovely wife is able to do between homeschooling the kids, supporting me and living life as a 3rd trimester pregnant woman! What a gal!
The two most prominent things for me in the church right now are Leviticus and the budget. Leviticus is not easy, but I get more excited about it each week I’m privileged to study it because of what is says in the text and how it points us to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Also, it gets me even more amped about studying Hebrews (Lord willing again) beginning the fall of 2010. Knowing that at least a few hundred of you are in our ABF’s on Sunday mornings studying Galatians also excites me because of the continual overlap of seeing God’s redemptive purposes of grace and how that works with the Law.
The budget sometimes feels more like Leviticus without the New Testament! That’s just honest. However, I’m convinced that budgets, money, and the process of establishing budgets is a place where God can and should be most clearly glorified!
This has been a pretty crazy year with the giving. We had the best first six months giving in years (thru June) with the lowest spending in years. Now, we’ve seen significant drop-off in giving compared to then and are trying to assess what that means for the 2010 budget. It’s definitely a point of prayer for this body, both for personal faithfulness with stewardship and extraordinary blessing by God. I know without a doubt that we have done our absolute best with spending, but it still may require sacrifice.
I’m not alarmist in this, nor am I the “faith-only” guy. I believe in wisdom without fear and faith that is informed when it comes to this process. Pray for the Finance Committee, Church Council, Staff and yourselves in this process as God gives us His lead on these matters.
I do want to say what a blessing The Gathering on Wednesday night has been. It’s been great to see so many diverse people sing, learn and pray together. I’ve found great enjoyment there with you all.
Lastly, I’m grateful for what the Lord has done in our midst for the past several Sundays. The worship and spirit of the body has seemed particularly warm, rich, even enthusiastic to me. I’m grateful for the work that He’s doing in our midst. We continue to have many come to Discover Class, be engaged in disciple-making relationships, and contact me with the kind of questions that cause me to be thankful because it’s clear they’re just trying to give effort in going after God.
Well, enough for now. Thank you all for your interest and prayers. Continue to pray for me and my family and that God would be glorified in us as we treasure His Son above all other things (school, running, even our kids and one another) that others may hear and see the gospel in our lives.