Sunday, December 22, 2019
Cleaning out the inbox
Twenty-one years ago this year (2019) I began my first on-campus classes at Dallas Theological Seminary during the winter session. It was incredible to actually be in Dallas with my young wife and infant child to start a new journey of in-depth discipleship at a place known for equipping and preparing people to rightly handle the word of God and communicate it to others in a way that was understandable and clear.
I still receive emails from the school encouraging me to support the mission of DTS, to pray for current students (one in particular, as we are paired together), to take advantage of free online courses, and so on. I am grateful for the seminary and its role of spiritual formation in my life. Sometimes I meet people who jab at the concept of seminary because it sounds similar to cemetery, as if it is a given that people who go there will die spiritually when they undertake the Bible as an academic exercise. That certainly wasn't my experience, even though it is something to caution seminarians against.
I also receive emails from former professors who not only teach or taught at the school but also lead pastoral training ministries like RREACH (Ramesh Richard Evangelism and Church Health) and Leader Formation (Bill Lawrence). Through their examples, these men have taught me the importance of serving the Lord strategically and passionately. I was a student under Bill Lawrence in spiritual formation and preaching classes. He trains pastors to be spiritual leaders in places such as Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, East Asia, and South America.He is in his 80s, has recovered from a stroke, and is still being used by God to train pastors to be spiritual leaders and godly shepherds.
In January of this year, I had been preaching at a small country church for 3 1/2 years when some of the men asked to meet with me after the service. They politely asked me to resign, stating this was the desire of the church membership. Since that time, I've not preached or taught in a church setting and I have wondered what my call from the Lord really is (or if I have one at all). Bill Lawrence encourages me to believe that serving the Lord may take the different forms (he has been a pastor, seminary professor, and ministry leader) over one's lifetime, and that there may be seasons where I sit on the sidelines, but if I use those times to reflect, rest, and learn, then there still may be opportunity in the future, if He wills, to be useful to the Church. For now, I am striving to be content and faithful in support of my family, our church, and our church leaders in the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
It is not always easy. I can become discouraged and impatient like anyone else. My prayer has been, "Lord, however you want to use me, let me be willing and ready." And during this time, I have had greater opportunity to spend time with family, coach high school and middle school athletes, serve on the board of our homeschool athletic organization, start a new full-time job that I truly enjoy, and serve my wife and children in support of their needs. Although I can feel sidelined, I have not been idle, and I have tried to say "yes" to those opportunities which are right before me.
Dallas Theological Seminary
Tennessee Heat Sports
Green Hill Baptist Church, Mt. Juliet