End of Week 2: Getting in the groove…


Okay, first off this post will have little to nothing to do with playing bass guitar. While I do in fact play bass guitar, I do not possess any of the skills that should be passed on to others. This image was the most appropriate out of all the ones I found when Googling “getting in the groove” so it appears here. I’m not sure why I’m telling you all of this other than I was up until 3 am, and I have drunk way too much coffee this morning.

Good morning! The end of Week Two has arrived, and I just submitted my last assignment for the week (15 hours early). It has been a challenging week, but it wasn’t filled with being overwhelmed like the previous week. Jennifer and I are starting to find a balance between work, life, and study. This balance means that I get to stay up late doing schoolwork, but it is going very well.

Each class has its challenging aspects, but each is proving to be fascinating and rewarding.

My Vocation of Ministry class had quite a bit of required reading, but I was able to get most of it done over the summer before classes started. Thankfully I highlighted the important bits so I’m able to find quick quotes that can be cited in my papers. This class also has a component of forming a “Christian Formation Group” and also an ethnically oriented service project. I’m blessed with a fabulous small group, so I get to kill two birds with one stone for this requirement (received approval from the professor, don’t worry).

My Basic Christian Doctrine class is very heavily online forum discussion based. There are brief assigned reading requirements, a few questions to be answered on those questions, and then 4-5 days of class discussion around the answers generated to the questions. This has been a great class so far. We have had some deep theological discussions about our belief systems and how we have come to those beliefs.

My Inductive Bible Study class will easily monopolize the most of my time. This week I started the process of studying the Book of Matthew. I spent at least 30 hours on writing a paper that was just three pages long. All of the concepts of this technique of study are completely foreign to me, so it has been a real challenge. This lack of knowledge affects all of us in the class (hence, why we’re in the class), so we are all in the same boat. I will say that I have already discovered so many things I didn’t know about this book, and about Jesus than I knew before. And I found these things on my own, using these techniques. That is very encouraging!

It looks like Mondays are going to be my slower days as it relates to school. I might even get a chance to do some of the readings that are due the next week. Tuesdays, on the other hand, are terrible. I have four online classes and three of those four have assignments due Wednesday at 5 pm after just being given the assignment on Tuesday at 7 am.

No matter the workload. No matter the long hours. No matter the lack of sleep. This is just such a HUGE blessing. So many people have been a part of making this blessing happen in my life. I want them all to know how much I love and appreciate them for what they are doing to support my family and I.

Many thanks to each and every one of you.

And of course, my thanks to God for giving me the strength and energy to do this. You give me answers to questions that I cannot fathom. You give me the wisdom I did not have. And you give me maturity I do not possess.

You all humble me beyond measure.


     Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19-20)

First week’s assignments are complete!


Started classes on Tuesday morning and just submitted my final assignment for the week. For those keeping track, that is one day early!!! But what that more than likely means is that I have completely missed something I was supposed to do! I’ve poured over the syllabuses…er… syllabi(?), but don’t see anything jumping out at me.

This week I learned several important lessons about studying. I present them to you here as a top 10 list (ala David Letterman style):

10 – Every professor wants papers in different formats…good luck keeping them straight.

9 – Count on assignments taking you longer because you have to look up and learn what those formats even are.

8 – Make your wife drive everywhere so you can get reading done.

7 – Do not get behind… there is no time to make it up.

6 – There should only be one space after a period before the next word starts. Go figure.

5 –  Read assignment instructions carefully. Save yourself 9 HOURS of reading, highlighting, and tabbing, that you did not have to do.

4 – Sleep is overrated.

3 – Internet memes have no place in a class forum. (Thankfully I learned this before posting a meme, but it was close!)

2 – Coffee = Fuel

And the number one thing learned this week (as it relates to studying)…….. <drum roll>

You can have a life and go to Seminary, but that life must fit between 5:00-5:15 pm or 6:45-7:00 am!!!

All kidding aside, this has been a fantastic week. I have been blessed and humbled every step of the way. God has exposed my naivety, my ignorance, and my limited time as a Christian. But what he has also done is lift me up and given me energy when I was exhausted, given me words and knowledge I did not possess and surrounded me with friends and family that supports this endeavor.

Each day I have experienced and learned new and amazing things. Each day I was immersed in reading material that drew me in and expanded my view of God’s grace and love for all of us. This just shows God’s almighty power…trust me… I can show you how dry some of these textbooks appear. Not once did I ever become bored. Not once did I ever lose interest. The Holy Spirit was present and guiding.

Not only was this week of studying rewarding beyond measure, but it was also rewarding in service to God. This weekend was the annual Feed My Starving Children Mobilepack Event (https://fmsc.org/) at Asbury United Methodist Church (no affiliation with the seminary). This year I was blessed to take part in their efforts in organizing and raising money to purchase meals. Myself, my wife, and my youngest daughter all were able to work many shifts over the weekend. We were tired at the end, but it was the good kind of tired. The initial goal for the packing event was to pack 200,000 meals…then it grew to 225,000…and by the end of today’s last shift we had bought and packed 233,280 meals!!! This was enough meals to feed 639 children for a year. What a rewarding experience.

Well, that’s all I have time to write for now… time to read the entire book of Matthew twice before tomorrow night.

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. — James 1:5-8

First day of class is in the books.


Well… not the books. The first day of class is in the computer, the web, the intertubes. Initial impressions you might ask? One word again? Well let’s try a list of one words:


One word descriptions aren’t going to work without some explanations. Let’s try this again:

Overwhelmed – Coursework… in a nutshell this is graduate school.  The course work is massive.  I was told this going in, but you have to experience it to see it in all its massiveness. I’m a little worried that this first week appears so overwhelming because two of my three professors remarked how easy they were on their class.

WOW! – Inductive Bible Study… wow… just wow. I remarked to a friend that my reaction to this class was “Wow” and he asked if I was referring to how exciting it is or how overwhelming the course work is. My answer was simply, “Yes!”.

Impressed – Asbury turned on the classes and everything works. No broken links. No unexpected downtime. I’ve seen technology companies fall on their face when sites go live, but Asbury’s IT team was well prepared.

Surprised – The virtual classrooms were filled with old guys (and gals) like me. With a diverse spiritual background, secular background, and educational background, all of these students are going to be sharing many different viewpoints on a wide range of topics. As a bonus, there was a nice mix of young blood on fire for Jesus to keep us old ones on our toes.

Blessed – This is how I felt even in my times of feeling like I could not do this, that this was just too overwhelming, that I’m not smart enough, disciplined enough, talented enough.

Shocked – Barely halfway through my studies of the day, I gained new insights into how God views and loves me (and all of us). Insight that literally made me gasp.

Supported – My wife was amazingly supportive today. She forgave my inattentiveness. She forgave my busy schedule. She fell asleep listening to scripture. She worked on her relationship with God, slept on the couch next to me, pretended not to notice when I came to bed at 2 am, and fixed me breakfast this morning.

Overwhelmed – Wait… did I mention that one already? I guess I’m not overwhelmed, but I’m certainly not underwhelmed. I suppose I’m just…whelmed? Is that a word?

I’m left seeking an answer to two questions if you could be so kind as to suggest a reply. First, how does one transport a Bible in a messenger bag or backpack without destroying it (the bible…not the bag)? Second, am I the only one that didn’t know you weren’t supposed to put two spaces after a “.”?!?!

Yesterday was humbling. Today is humbling. Each day I will seek always to humble myself before our Lord. He called me by name in all of my woeful inadequacies and weaknesses to serve him. He calls the weak to lead the strong as a testament to his power and not our own.

Isn’t he just amazing?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. — 1 Peter 1:3-9 NRSV

First Day of Seminary… New Student Orientation


Having just returned from my two days of new student orientation at Asbury Theological Seminary, I couldn’t wait to document my observations, jot down my thoughts, and detail the impressions I had of this amazing higher learning institution.  By the way, the guy in the photo above (not the hairy one, but the short guy that can hold incredibly still) is John Wesley.  If you don’t know who he is, give him a Google.

If I had to describe the past two days in a single word it would be “Amazing!”.  If I was allowed more than a single word I would say “incredible, affirming, energizing, awe-inspiring, humbling, and… amazing (wait did I use that one already?)”.  I’ve already described this experience to some friends and family in this way…  This is the first time I have sat in a room with 200 people and didn’t feel like the “weirdo.”

Allow me to explain:

As a Christian in today’s world, we are the weird ones.  It’s okay.  In fact, Jesus tells us not to conform to the ways of the world.  He wants us to be the weird ones… the different ones… so that we are an example to the world of his love.  Normal today is not love.  Normal today is not sacrificing for others.  Normal today is not peace.

For the last two days, I have been surrounded by other weirdos, and it was glorious!  I was surrounded by others that have been called by God to be in a relationship with him, have honored that call, and answered Jesus’s words of “Follow me.”   For a brief moment in time, I felt like part of an army… God’s army.  I wasn’t the lone scout sneaking around the enemy lines; I was in formation with brigades of troops following God’s orders.  That experience is incredibly affirming and left me with a supreme feeling of peace and contentment.

This experience also exposed, and revealed to me, that the seminary experience is more than just classrooms, lectures, and paper writing.  It is more than just acquiring knowledge.  It is more than just becoming a scholar.  It is more than learning how to preach.  The time at seminary is about God transforming you and your family into a well-equipped example of God’s love and power that he will then use to go out into the world and do his work.

Asbury Seminary is made up of buildings, classrooms, chapels, libraries, community centers, student housing, and statues of really short people, but most importantly it contains fantastic people.  These amazing people are professors, administrators, registrars, executives, student leaders, and the support staff required to make it all run.  Every last one of them is dedicated to equipping tomorrow’s leaders.  Every last one of them is following God’s call in their life… the call to equip others to go into every corner of the world and spread His love.  And they were doing it all from an incredible place of humility.  Dr. Tennent (Asbury’s President), and his wife were kind enough to open their beautiful home to us for dinner. Yesterday I sat at lunch with three professors that are some of the top minds in theology.  They all took the time to eat and fellowship with me, sharing their call, their drive, and their passion, while also listening to my testimony and the story of how God is working in my life.

The Asbury community is amazing as well.  As I walked around the student housing, I saw children doing something I haven’t seen in many years.  They were outside playing.  They were riding their bikes, playing stick-ball, running through fields, and being in relationship with each other.  As I sat on the front porch of a friend’s apartment in Kalas Village, people walking would stop, introduce themselves, and carry on a conversation with you.

I see why people come then never want to leave.  I fear that my family will miss out on this sense of community as I take my classes online from afar.

I owe so many people thanks for providing us with this opportunity.  I am overwhelmed by your love and confidence in us as we live out God’s plan for our lives.  I thank the Lord for each of you and the part you play in his plan for us.  I thank the Lord for being with me (and all of you).  I thank him for making all things possible even when they seem overwhelming and completely impossible.

Me… in grad school?  The guy that just wanted to get through high school so he could run off to the army?  The guy that’s never been to college?  I mean come on… that is all God!

I also thank the staff and faculty of Asbury Theological Seminary.  Your hard work.  Your dedication.  Your long hours.  Your time away from family and friends… they are all making a difference.  Your efforts are making a difference in the lives of students.  Your efforts are making a difference in the world.  Your efforts are being blessed by our Lord and Savior.

I am poised to throw down my net.  My muscles are tensed.  My grip is tight.  I stare out into the ocean prepared to abandon my comfortable way of life.  Please pray for me.  Pray that I will have the courage of Peter and Andrew.  Pray that I will lay it all down.

18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.…  Matthew 4:18-20