Per request, this is the audio and slide deck I used to teach on 1 Peter 2:13-25 on New Relationships in Christ, including the idea of the phrase, “be subject to” (ESV) or “submit” (NIV). This teaching was given September 27, 2015, at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Krikwood, Missouri.
That’s the question that everyone is asking now that I am graduating. And it is an honest question, one that deserves an answer, one that I somehow which I were better prepared to answer, even though that was never the goal in this quest to get my Masters of Divinity. While I many not be able to provide the definitive answer at this time, I need to make an attempt, even a paltry response to the RSVP that is somewhat satisfactory to those who are helping me celebrate this milestone of my life. I mean, am I not crazy enough to believe that God called me to eight years of studying theology, learning two dead languages, losing somewhere between 3 and 4 months of sleep and all the other sacrifices my family and friends have made just so I could have an enriched life of learning…
Or am I? Maybe, but if I am to debate or analyze my own sanity this note will be far too long and introspective for me to sustain…
So what will I do next?
Perhaps I begin with the same thing I was setting out to do when I was called to “get trained” by God in the spring of 2007. Words well up inside of me seeking a outlet, seeking a chance to spring upon the world like a surprise geyser of truth and revelation and refreshment. That spring I was setting out to get back to my first love, my love of writing, of poetry, fiction and essays that said something, that meant something to the reader, or at least to me.
But for the past eight years I have been prepared to change everything. I have attempted to try on the suit of a new vocation, full-time ministry, they call it, as if we, as Christians are not already engaged in full-time ministry. But I sought the calling of God upon my life even as I studied and sucked the marrow out of the strong and heady teachings at Seminary, guarding my soul against both academic disinterest and theological burnout. I missed out on making many strong friendships because of the nature of my journey through the classes. Students I began this journey with are working on their doctorates or long-gone. I tried on the robes of pastor; I sought to understand L’Abri; and I brought my wife to just enough classes to expose her to the potentiality of being a pastor’s wife. I bought the software, accumulated the library of books and commentaries.
Yet no calling sounded forth from the clouds, even without the trumpets and fanfare.
At I work attempted to find easier jobs and be an individual contributor so when the time came, the transition for everyone would be easier, but that did not really work out as I planned. God literally placed physical roadblocks in my path when I tried to “relax” the pace of my current career. So… I poured as much energy into my current vocation as I did into my studies and, eight years later, I lead a department of more than 60 people and find that leadership to be very fulfilling. So now I ask, what does the gospel of redemption look like in corporate America? And then I try to make it so in every way I can, valuing and empowering people, seeking relationship, extending grace, finding ways to make things better. Maybe someday that will be a story I write, how to bring the gospel to corporate America, because I am engaged in full-time ministry now.
So that is my calling for now. And I will turn on the words, collecting the water-color paintings of my stories on the electronic canvas for some unknown purpose. Perhaps through my wanderings, years and my journeys through academia and corporate America I have collected enough spirits of perspective or of wisdom or of simple illumination that I may offer some distillation of the truth and awaken the sleeping bouquet of flavors that inspires greatness in others. The wiser parts of me do not aspire to greatness, but yearn to be found faithful in the discharge of my calling. The passionate parts of me drive me to remember, there are some stated high ambitions I have not yet fulfilled, and perhaps now is the time to chase them.
In the meantime, I will listen for the still-small voice, the whispering of God upon the wind. I will seek to be faithful in teaching and discipling those whom he places in my path. To those I work with, I will strive to preach the gospel in my actions and purpose. To those I live with, I will aspire to become a better father and husband. To myself, I promise more sleep and exercise. To the rest of the world, well…
Wait and see.
Today, in a suburban Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, I gave a testimony about how the men and women of the Houlton Wesleyan Church served my family through their mercy ministry to us in November of 1981, to teach/remind us how mercy ministry is supposed to work. To those who were there for us at that time, thanks for being the hands and feet of Jesus to us! And keep it up for others!
So this is a bit raw and perhaps a bit hard to hear in some directions. Grab a tissue. May God be glorified.
Forgive me if there are any inaccuracies in my story. It is not meant to offend or put down any one, or any church, but to call all Christians to put hands and feet on the gospel, to show that you really do believe it enough to demonstrate our faith in works of mercy.
For my Caring for Creation class, I developed a photo and poetry essay on some locations around St. Louis. Click the link below to download a PDF copy. Feel free to share, so long as credit is given. I wrote all the poetry and took all of the photos.