We knew this day would come; we just didn’t know when. The next two months will be our last at The Master’s College. If the Lord wills, we will be moving to Louisville, Kentucky this summer to begin a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary led by President Al Mohler.
We have lived in Santa Clarita for twelve years. We studied Biblical Counseling (Cindi) and Biblical Languages (Gunner) for four years at TMC (1998-2002). After graduation I had plans to study abroad in Israel and then apply to graduate schools, but the Lord called me back to serve as a Resident Director for two years in Slight Dormitory (2002-2004), a wonderful time that included our first eighteen months of married life and the beginning of my seminary journey. We then moved to the Oak Manor and Cornerstone apartments where we continued the RD ministry for another four happy years (2004-2008). During this season we became part of the Placerita Baptist Church family, finished (and restarted) seminary, and watched God bring Judah home with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Once again we were looking to new horizons when the Lord pulled back the curtain on His providence, revealing His plan for us to stay and continue working with the residential staff and students as the Dean of Men (2008-2010). The story of these last two years with all its difficulties and delights may only be retold after the dust settles. But the rich blessing of the last dozen is clear already.
We have often said that our time in Southern California has left us exceedingly rich in relationships. The memory of stepping onto The Master’s College campus on Saturday, August 22, 1998 as a shy, self-conscious, newly-converted, seventeen-year-old freshman reminds me of just how undeserving I am of this wealth of friendships. Although friends have consistently moved away as the Lord transitions them to new opportunities and responsibilities, we have always been introduced to new ones, and our hearts have been quickly intertwined due to the intensity and partnership of the ministry we share. This is why it feels as though we’re transitioning on from all of our friendships over the past twelve years, since that past has been consumed by one particular place. Yet there are few joys greater than moving from one place to another with the blend of fond memories and a future mission.
Now we’re headed to Louisville because we’re convinced that God has called me to a life of preaching and teaching, shepherding and discipleship, and various expressions of writing, all to build up the church and to inspire God’s people to live radical lives of Christ-following love that ripple out to the world across the street and across the ocean. Cindi, myself, our church leaders, and older men in my life have agreed that this is our calling. So we want to spend the next half decade studying the content of the Bible intensively, honing the specific craft of biblical theology, and sharpening vital skills in the biblical languages. Lord-willing, this will serve as preparation for a pastoral and writing ministry in the U.S. or a life spent teaching the Bible overseas.
Through a long, intensive process, Southern Seminary has proven to be the best place for this preparation. It is theologically sound, historically established, academically rigorous, culturally engaged, church-focused, and gospel-centered. Its clear aim is to build up the church and reach the nations, and I believe that God has blessed Southern to not only accomplish its mission in recent years but also to grow into a strategic hub and a vibrant expression of a greater movement for the gospel.
Yesterday a colleague raised his eyebrows and asked me, “Why Southern Baptist?” The answer is that we’re headed to Louisville not to identify ourselves with a denomination but to be trained up within this greater gospel movement which has begun to transcend smaller denominational distinctives. Southern is one of the major hubs for this movement, which is why I think it would be more accurate to say that for us, we’re going to study at Southern Seminary rather than the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. That being said, those in tune with greater movements within evangelicalism also recognize that there are exciting new things happening within the Southern Baptist Convention such as the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. So I don’t hesitate to say that I look forward to spending at least this brief season learning from and partnering with our brothers and sisters in the SBC.
We will keep running hard here through the end of May, and we plan to move sometime in mid-June so that we can get settled, find a church and a home and a job, and start the program on August 10. There are many uncertainties, but so many before us have believed in so many less visible promises with so much more at stake. We look to the faith and the endurance of this cloud of witnesses, trusting that the Lord will sustain us also as we fix our eyes on Jesus. If you would, join us in praying that God would provide me with a job, orchestrate our housing search, lead us to a church family, oversee our adoption adjustments, and help us to finish well here, since we deeply love the staff and students here, and because despite our vision and our plans, today is really all we have.