Our life is full of transitions right now. At times we feel a bit like Doctor Doolittle’s Pushmi-Pullyu, though in the same breath I must say that we also feel uniquely blessed by the multiplicity of opportunities the Lord has given us. With everything going on, we would be grateful if you would pray that the Lord would generously give us His wisdom (James 1:5). Here are several of the things before us.
Finishing my ThM thesis by the end of the year and starting my PhD work this summer. Virtually all ThM classwork is complete. Now I need to finalize my thesis topic and write the first and final drafts before I begin PhD classwork. Ideal completion date: end of summer. Realistic completion date: end of the year. Meanwhile, I want to (1) take all four PhD entrance/assessment exams, (2) set up a plan to make the most of the PhD reading list, and (3) choose a dissertation topic that will be beneficial, interesting, and personally inspiring (and choose it as early as possible).
Beginning to co-teach an adult Sunday School class sometime this summer. I’ve wanted to get more involved in teaching at our church over the past few years, but the opportunities and timing never joined hands. I think we would’ve drowned. I don’t know why I think I’ll have the time now that RD ministry is turning into Dean ministry and my ThM is turning into a PhD, but for several reasons it is essential to me and to others that I serve in this way at this time. So we will move forward and adjust as we go. It will probably be the Proverbs class at least for the latter part of this summer, though we are pondering other ideas for the future.
Seeking God’s direction about growing our family. We look forward to growing our family in the next few years if the Lord wills. We have several goals, one of them being another adoption (probably two this time). Cindi is already doing research into various countries. Please pray that the Lord would lead us to needy children and that our hearts would be oriented towards biblical mercy and not fleshly convenience. He has already been providing for us in amazing ways that I hope to write about soon.
Becoming an Apartment Manager and seeking to buy a small home. After being an RD, managing the Oak Manor apartments day-in day-out shouldn’t be difficult. But the first steps are challenging as I deal with applications, informal interviews, legal issues, timing requirements, and the tenuous interplay of business, money, and relationships. Meanwhile, we are in an unrushed search for a small home near the college and the church. This is one of the most expensive areas to live in the United States, but because the housing market is so bad, we have the opportunity make a timely purchase. We are looking for a place that will be a wise financial investment, a tool for ministry and hospitality, and a warm home for a growing family.
Transitioning into the idea of staying in Santa Clarita. This is a mental transition, but it is significant. We had been planning on leaving, but now we are staying. There are certain things that are very difficult about staying, so I need prayer for contentment. There are certain things that are wonderful about staying, so we want to be consciously grateful. And there are certain things that we now want to explore since we have more time here, so we need gospel prudence, realistic thinking, and follow-through. A few examples of things I’m thinking about: pursuing semi-fluency in Spanish, playing sports consistently in the community for exercise and evangelism, and exploring the L.A. area to learn about the city and gain perspective.
Beginning to map out frequent ministry/survey trips to other countries (particularly Africa). One of my goals during this next season of life and ministry is to take at least 1-2 ministry/survey trips per year to various countries/ministries of interest. One of the benefits of staying in the world of higher education is the scheduling flexibility provided by school breaks. I want to take advantage of this by serving overseas, seeing the world, and searching out possible missions opportunities for our post-TMC, post-PhD life.
Starting my first year as the Dean of Men at TMC. I officially begin on July 1, but officiality doesn’t mean a lot around here. This past week I helped plan the fall retreats, set up much of my new office, and started getting phone calls and questions. The name plate is on its way, the voice-mail message is recorded, and the post-it notes are lining up. And I don’t even technically start until July. I’ll need to find and implement a simultaneously kind and ruthless way of communicating that I’m on Mission Thesis throughout June even though I’ll be sitting in an office that says “Dean of Men” next to the door. In all seriousness, I understand why Solomon compared himself to a little child and made wisdom his one request to the Lord. I long to see the person of Christ, the passion of the Spirit, and the principles of Scripture rise above the policies, programs, politics, and packaging that can easily outgrow their proper proportions in Christian institutions. With Mary, I hope to choose for us the good part that will not be taken from us (Luke 10:41-42). I do not plan on being (or need to be) a revolutionary. A good direction has already been set by those who have been leading us in the past decade, and I am thankful for it. But truth and life can die in a single generation. It would be my prayer that it would not die but live, and not only live but thrive. And it would be my desperate prayer that many would pray for me, because I do not have the strength, passion, vision, or giftedness to make anything happen on my own. I need the Lord’s hand to be upon me. I mean this.
In all of these plans, we want to come humbly to our older brother James and acknowledge the reality that we are “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” We “do not know what tomorrow will bring.” And we will “boast in our arrogance” about what our future will hold if we do not guard our hearts (James 4:13-16). So please pray for that blessed combination of wise planning and quiet submission. May the planning be in harmony with His will that He has clearly shown us in His Word, and may the submission be in humble recognition of His yet-unknown will that He will unveil before us as we go along. If Christ returns soon, I do not want mainly to have planned well but to have done well.
Thank you for your prayers and friendship. We look forward to the day when transition will yield to permanence and our many crossroads will be swallowed up in Christ.