Princess, I – – Uh, how’s
it going, first of all? Good? Um, good
for me too. I’m okay. I saw this flower
and thought of you because it’s pretty
and – – well, I don’t really like it,
but I thought you might like it ’cause
you’re pretty. But I like you anyway.
Since I seem to be currently unable to provide any of the kind of content that I would like to read (i.e. erudite ruminations), I thought maybe I’d say something that interests everybody else. (But I like you anyway.) So I would like to announce that (once again) I have my whole life planned out. I’m sure this is a relief to all parties.
The first order of the day is to complete my education. This, of course, is not so easy as it sounds. Never was a man so troubled about so simple a thing as an education. In modern times, choosing a degree is really quite easy: for every career, there is an applicable degree. You pick up one en route to the other. But what career? With careful thought, and earnest supplication, I think I have decided… to be a pastor. I’m sure that’s no great shock to almost everybody, but that step alone was a big struggle for me. I was raised to think that certain professions are not to be entered upon lightly, and, in fact, ought to be outright avoided if possible. “Don’t be a pastor!” my mother cried out, “Haven’t you ever seen a church split?” But more importantly, in certain occupations, it is very important to ensure that you are a shepherd and not a hireling. Pastors have one of the highest rates of burnout, and more than any other, a charge they have to keep. What’s more, as a pastor, and with my personality, I would feel compelled to teach, and the scripture says “Not many of you should presume to be teachers…” So it’s a serious proposition.
If you recall, I even considered doing something in the way of principaling a Christian school. I was stopped cold by the guy asking me about calling. Everywhere I go, I can’t get away from calling. So I put it to prayer, and continued researching options. And then one day, quite out of the blue, my every thought and desire toward running a Christian school simply evaporated, as if that part of me had been, quite sillfully, but completely, surgically removed. And in its place I found something so utterly foreign that it could only have come from God: a desire to preach. Oh wonder of wonders! Miracle of miracles! (That’s a play isn’t it? Sorry.) The one thing that had given me most trepidation about a pastoral calling quite suddenly vanishes, and is replaced by.. what, zeal? Eagerness, desire, confidence? What hurdle have I o’erlept that suddenly the bandying of ideas in the true propigation of the Gospel looks suddenly like a glorious challenge, as if I had crested a ridge and now every inevitable step is a downward hill? (And what flights of rhetoric…)
Alright, I’ll pastor. But there my troubles do not end. Let’s be practical for a moment. (oh, lets!) I have no denomination. I’m not part of some burgeoning movement that has “sent” me to seminary, paid my bills, and now awaits on the other side with positions aplenty to hand out. And what’s more, I have this dashed intellectual integrity that prohibits me from joining any group that comes along and offers me a check. Just as a for-instance: I can’t be a Southern Baptist, because I’m too charismatic. I believe the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit are alive and well today, and I’d be hard pressed to join a place that denied it. I also can’t join any of the traditional pentecostal denominations, because I just don’t buy the argument that speaking in tongues is the end-all evidence of the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” 1 Cor 12:30 pretty clearly implies that not everybody speaks in tongues, and the context indicates that the reason is **not** that they aren’t filled with the Spirit. Honestly, I’ve been leaning toward Presbyterianism; the theology of the reformers, John Calvin and others like him, has a delightful appeal. And yet, frankly, infant baptism gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Just prior to moving here, I had decided that, all in all, denominations were a good thing, and had taken it upon myself to look into joining one. We then promptly joined a small non-denominational church. They are a wonderful church, and a delight to be a part of, but in terms of finding a position after matriculation… probably a bad move. Generally, you have to be a member of a denomination before they ordain you and sign you on as the pastor of a church. What then should we do? Leave our home church in order to join a denomination? At some point, *yeah*. We have a wonderful church, but they’re not exactly going to make me their pastor in 5 years. At some point, denominations notwithstanding, we’re going to have to leave church A and join church B. It’s just not in my normal way of thinking to begin plans to leave a church immediately after joining. But there you are.
Currently at the top of my list of denominations, or church associations, or what have you, is a group called Sovereign Grace Ministries. You may have heard of them. I hadn’t. My first inkling was when I discovered that my mind’s nemesis Joshua Harris was made pastor of Covenant Life Church. Oh, and CJ Mahaney spoke at devotions once when I was working at BGEA. I missed the event. (Why am I calling Josh Harris my nemesis, you ask? Because he once wrote a book that stole my thunder. Said nearly everything I would have said, only first. He was like five years older than me. I was jealous.) At any rate, they lean both charismatic and Reformed in theology. This is an amazing thing. I had thought that charismatics didn’t believe in theology. Like maybe I was the only one–a kind of renegade. Alas.
However, ordination (or whatever they might call it) through Sovereign Grace requires something.. else.. than an MDiv. They have their own proprietary system, called the “Pastor’s College.” It takes about a year. To get in, you have to be sent from a local congregation. A reasonable request. A standard request. An inconvenient request for the unaffiliated. So, the current plan is to complete my MDiv at Pigeon Cove Chapel. I’m planning on taking this education thing as far as it can go, and so after the MDiv is complete, we go ahead and get right to work on the ThM, which happens to be only a one-year course. So somewhereabouts this same time (pending things like visiting these churches and deciding they actually are a good fit) we go ahead and join a Sovereign Grace Church (there are two in the Boston area). I’ve exchanged emails with some pastors in the area who seemed to be saying that this would be a good thing. At any rate, from there, it’s yet another year at Pastor’s College and then finally, I’m “working” as opposed to “going to school”.
And that’s the short term plan. Since this post is already three miles long, I’ll leave the long-term for another day.
Of course, Valerie has her own details she could add to this. I’ve heard there’s a thing that married couples do nowadays that gives their parents grandbabies. She’s really into that. I suppose I am too, but her life is the one that needs the most contortion to make room for pregnancy and early child rearing, so I’ll let her share those, if she so desires to.