Well, I’ve been busy. Honestly, it’s been a struggle for me during this busy fall. I think the main struggle for me is, in all honesty, the busy-ness felt very selfish: Running a marathon / Having another baby / Finishing doctoral work (writing and oral defense) / Graduating. It just felt like it was about “me” and that’s not a feeling I like.
I know at the core that there was no real inherent selfish ambition in these things (except perhaps the marathon). It’s just that the all of these things felt like my focus was off of the church for a while. Then grace and mercy came (as usual through the awesome God-agent named “Jan” – my lovely wife).
She reminded me (maybe even rebuked me) that all of my doctoral work has been to benefit UBC and that on many levels that work is being implemented right now in growing disciples here at UBC.
Having our 4th daughter, Ruth, certainly isn’t a selfish thing, but I was committed to work from home as much as possible for a few weeks, and that caused me to feel somewhat disconnected. However, I’ve had to realize that while my normal connecting points of meetings, small groups, discipleship groups may have been interrupted, it gave way to more people in our home than normal, especially being brought wonderful meals and warm greetings. There is grace in receiving from others — and it should feel a bit awkward as you’re reminded that you truly deserve no good thing.
This idea of “deserving” really comes into the frame when completing any level of doctoral work (DMin – Doctor of Ministry). There is a measure of accomplishment one feels and should feel. But being reminded of why you do these things is far superior to any feelings of accomplishment. Doctoral titles are awkward by nature. They don’t sell and would make for terrible marketing campaigns. But they are meant to convey exactly what the paper is about. My title was “A Discipleship Process based on 2 Peter 1 for University Baptist Church, Fayetteville, AR”. Snazzy, isn’t it? Of course we tweak it around UBC and call it “Rooted” which is much (a little) cooler.
It’s that phrase “for University Baptist Church” that is ever before me. See, I didn’t choose a PhD because, at the time, I would have had to live in Louisville to do it. PhD’s are qualified by degree to teach at the Seminary level. They have since developed some non-resident PhD’s that I’m interested in, but I doubt (at this point) that I’ll pursue that (of course, I said that about marathons as I’m crossing the finish line in Chicago… now, trying to figure out how to start my training back – so, only God knows). My point here, though, is I love the local church and believe that teaching and preaching in the local church should be excellent, Christ-centered, gospel-driven, disciple-equipping kind of work. So, I graduated and felt good about it (for my melancholic personality, you could almost say I was giddy).
My relief of graduation gives way to now work on my preaching skills (reading, study, writing, conferences). My reading list is “mine” again – although, the joy of studying at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, is that what they require you to read is largely what you SHOULD read anyway. So, for the sake of the people of UBC, I continue on to be a much better preacher, teacher and disciple-maker.
I’m not sure the actual point of this blog. I entitled it “Why I’ve not blogged much lately.” Perhaps I just wanted to update you on my life and thoughts during this Christmas week, in which I find myself immensely grateful to God for my wife, children, and my church. I love serving here and the joy of that is both a point of celebration and protection (because I don’t want to blow the opportunity to serve this body).
Thank you for allowing me to study, write, graduate, preach hard and long, and run. On top of that, thank you for supporting me, Jan, and the girls.
10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.