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Archive for the ‘seminary’ Category

I first saw Brent Ozar’s bucket list, so that’s where this stems from. I thought about it for just a bit, asking myself what I really wanted to see or do before God calls me home. Here’s what I decided:

The Absolutely Critical List:

  • I want to know my daughters have accepted Christ. My boys have. My 5 year-old daughter understands but isn’t ready to make that step. I can’t force her. She must do it on her own. And we have Alyssa Grace on the way. Others may disagree that what I believe is correct, but the fact of the matter is that since I believe it, the greatest gift I could possibly want for my children is to have eternal life through Christ. And so this is #1 on my list.
  • I want to be at the marriages of all of my children. I want to see them take that next step in life where they are starting their own families.  I want to be there on that special day for each of them.

The Important List

  • I want to take my family to Okinawa, Iwakuni, and Hiroshima. I only spent 3 years in Japan growing up, but they probably had the biggest impact on me of any years of my life other than my time at The Citadel. My family is in Okinawa. We were stationed in Iwakuni and I spent a lot of time in Hiroshima, including Miyajima. I’d like to share with my children and my wife where some of my values and traits came from.
  • I want to complete a seminary degree. This has been a goal now for 15 years. I’ve been accepted into Reformed Theological Seminary, but thus far I’ve not been able to get a good start on classes. I’ve started and withdrawn twice. My desire is to know God better, and seminary is part of that.
  • I want to run a marathon. I grew up being a runner. My mom started me running when I was four years old because she was a runner and I wanted to go with her. I ran cross country in junior high and I ran cross country and track in high school. I won’t win any races. But I used to love running. With as bad a shape as I’ve let myself get, being able to successfully run a marathon would be an awesome milestone, especially if I want to see my children married.

The Nice to Do

  • I want to earn National Master status in chess. I grew up playing chess. At Governor’s School I finally took it seriously. Due to demands of The Citadel, I slipped away from playing chess and I’ve started back a couple of times, but never for long enough to build past being a club player. It was once a goal of mine to earn an International Master title. That’s likely impossible now. However, National Master may still be possible.
  • I want to publish a book of poetry. What poet doesn’t? I started writing when I was six. I have written off and on ever since. I was unusually prolific during my Citadel days, but unfortunately lost most of those poems.
  • I want to publish a Christian book. And I already know what it’s about. It’s about looking at the relationships we in Scripture from the perspective of the men. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? How can we do better within the Church and in society?
  • I want to earn a black belt in traditional jujitsu. I was starting on that path at The Citadel. However, a shoulder injury from Air Force training the previous summer derailed that. I never got started again but I’d like to. Probably next year I’ll start taking traditional jujitsu with my boys.

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Last year I was accepted as a Masters in Divinity student at Reformed Theological Seminary – Charlotte. RTS has a very strong on-line/remote learning program, which I discovered after being accepted. This is a good thing for me, because I need to keep the medical benefits and the like because of the health issues we’ve had with our youngest, whom we refer to as either Princess (old nickname) or Warrior Princess (new one), our five year-old daughter. So that allows me to stay gainfully employed while we hopefully work through everything one-by-one. At some point I’ll need to look at taking classes in residence, and I’m not sure exactly how all that will work out, but I know it will. Getting to seminary has been a long journey, 15 years, in fact.

I started to take an on-line course in late May/early June last year entitled History of Christianity I. Great course. Great books. The problem is I started with a course involving a heavy amount of reading right before taking the youth to a missions camp and then the rest of the professional commitments began to hit in July, August, and September with preparation for SQL Connections and the PASS Summit. Needless to say, I got behind immediately and I was never able to catch up. I did extend the course timeline once, but then we lost the twins, and that’s all she wrote.

However, that was a great learning experience that I believe has prepared me to begin on-line coursework again. I really want to dig in and earn a Masters in Divinity degree because I know that by undertaking such coursework, I will learn a lot. Seminary should increase one’s faith and that is my ultimate goal. I’ve been striving to get to seminary ever since I heard God calling me to ministry back in 1995. There’s always been one road block or another. However, with the effort this time around, rather than finding roadblocks, I found doors continually being opened. So here I am. In seminary. Ready to take a course. Which one? Greek I.

I like languages. I grew up in Japan. We spent three years there, but that was when I was 10-12. I became fluent in Japanese as a result of living in country and being out in town for almost two years. My mom being Japanese and my relatives we would go visit being Japanese and not all of them speaking English meant I had to learn the language to communicate well. For a kid, not a big deal. I found that learning a Japanese helped tremendously when I had to take Spanish in school. I never really had an issue with it, whether in high school or in college. So while a lot of folks would approach Greek and Hebrew with trepidation, I’m actually stoked.

I know there’s a lot of work to get done to complete the degree. I know it’s going to be hard balancing everything. But I think, for once in my life, I’m not worried about it. It’s a step of faith. It’s about trusting that God will work out the details. He also has in the past, and if this is what He calls me to, then He will work in out in the present and the future. I have some great folks who can support me. One of my mentors is extremely well-versed in Greek and Hebrew. And he’s just down the road from me. I can literally walk to his office from my house. So I can see where God has placed people in my path to make this endeavor successful. And I’m looking forward to it

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Goal: Seminary

I first heard a call to ministry way back in 1994. I couldn’t miss it. See, I was part of a service organization called Arnold Air Society. For those who don’t know about AAS, it’s the service organization for Air Force ROTC. My crew at The Citadel wanted to do something at a larger level than just at the school, so we volunteered for Area HQ. Our area covered Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The fact that we were running unopposed should have been a clue to how much work was involved, but I digress. There was a new position to be filled in the coming year called Director of Support. No one really knew what it was about. I was the jack-of-all-trades so they looked at me and said, “You’re it.” At that point, I was not a Christian.

Fast forward to the spring of 1994. I had accepted Jesus Christ in January. A new chaplain had established residence at The Citadel, a Chaplain Clanton, formerly of the US Army. And as I was to learn, formerly head of the US Army Chaplaincy School.  We headed off to the national meeting and I was all set to learn what it was that a Director of Support did. In a meeting with the other area Directors of Support and with the national Director of Support, the national DoS started off by saying the many different hats we would wear. And then she said something that floored me, “And you’re also the chaplain for your area. The chaplain position has been folded in.” She went on to say something about how important that part of our job was because part of a chaplain’s job is health and morale of his or her charges. I didn’t hear much else because I was thinking, “Lord, what exactly did you get me into?”

So I went back to The Citadel and talked to Chaplain Clanton. That’s when he told me what he had just got done doing in the US Army, trying to suppress the chuckles the whole time. My question to God was, “How could you use me, a new Christian, in this role?” And I believe Chaplain Clanton made a comment about how interesting the timing was for me to find out (when I couldn’t back out) and for him to show up at the Citadel when he did. That’s what started me really asking the question about whether or not He was calling me. As I graduated and went off to my Air Force assignment, certain things confirmed that was His direction. And I’ve been serving in ministry every since.

One area that has been at a standstill was seminary. It seemed like every time a door was there, He closed it. It took a long time for me to realize that I hadn’t been ready for seminary. I was more focused on me than Him, and likely I would have gone and done fine academically. But seminary is about more than grades. It’s about spiritual growth. It’s about better understanding one’s calling. And I wasn’t thinking about those things so much. I was thinking about seminary as a checklist item. Well, when my attitude and heart changed, a door came open at Reformed Theological Seminary. I’m enrolled there in my first on-line class (History of Christianity I) and admittedly, I am behind. Way behind. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but it will get done. I know because I know this is what I’m supposed to do.

And that’s the reason I’m adding seminary to my goal blog. I need to stay focused on getting the classes done and doing the soul searching and heart cleaning that should be a part of seminary. It’s hard, balancing a family, a ministry, and my professional job and community involvement. But I’ve asked at each step, “Lord, would you have me involved in this?” and gotten some sort of confirmation before signing on. There’s plenty I’ve said no to, for the first time in my life (I have had a real problem saying no to people). So while I’m busy, I am where I need to be.

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