HIStory of Me :: part IV
Continued. (All four posts here)
During my last year of Central Baptist College I met two groups of people that were extremely instrumental in my walk with the Lord. Ray Ortlund, Jr. introduced the first group of people to me in his book, “A Passion for God.” I didn’t know anything about Ortlund, but saw that John MacArthur endorsed his book. I knew who MacArthur was and really appreciated his ministry, so I went on MacArthur’s recommendation and bought the book.
This book remains at the top of my list. In it, Pastor Ortlund gives his paraphrase of the book of Romans derived from his Greek translations. He divides the verses into small portions and after each he writes a prayer in response to the passage. Then he would quote a dead guy. This was the pattern of the book throughout. Just as I knew nothing of Ray Ortlund, Jr., I knew nothing of these men he often quoted – except for the fact that most of them were dead and they all had some profound things to say. I eventually understood these men to be our church forefathers, puritans, hymn writers and reformers. What these men (and Ortlund) had to say about God, man and the Christian life was far beyond the depth of thought I had ever given to such things. This book increased my love for God and decreased my love for self.
The second group of people I met had at least one obvious thing in common: The Bible Church of Little Rock (BCLR). I met several men from BCLR at a conference where theologian Wayne Grudem was speaking. I learned that these men were studying through Grudem's Systematic Theology text and I asked if I could join them. I did and for the next year met with these men at 6am on Friday mornings for what they called, “Doctrine and Devotion.”
I also stayed for a lunchtime study through Alexander Strauch’s, “Biblical Eldership.” It was during this year of study with these men that I came to realize that my level of ministry training was probably inadequate for a full-time, vocational pastor. For over four years the determining factor for me being in ministry was the subjective call (1 Timothy 3:1) that I had expressed when I “surrendered to preach,” and yet now I realized that there were other more objective qualifications (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4) that had to be evident. These objective qualifications would eventually, in my mind, either affirm or deny the subjective calling I thought I had. Subsequently, after much prayer and counsel I stepped away from vocational ministry and moved to Little Rock to attend BCLR to experience this philosophy of ministry and hopefully to receive more training.
We’ve been at BCLR now for twelve years. I’ve received many hours of formal training in class with Dr. George Zemek that include several years of Greek, Theology, Hermeneutics, Homiletics, etc. I've also spent 3 semesters attending the The Expositor’s Seminary before withdrawing to re-evaluate ministry desires and direction. I've been on staff at BCLR as the Children's Ministry director since the fall of 2009.
In August of 2012, my family made the biggest move of our lives to Lufkin, Texas. I am currently the Pastor to Children & Families at Keltys First Baptist Church.
The days ahead are exciting and also intimidating, but my wife and I are humbled and grateful for these opportunities.
Life is still good because our God is so good.