Well, it's been a week that seems to have disappeared. I didn't blog through sermon prep this week. I'll get back to it.
I did spend some time this week looking at how I'm going to finish my Master's Degree. Right now I seem to be looking at 4 options;
Why these? Well, they all have online and distance components. Liberty, for example, I could complete without leaving Monticello. Asbury I can do 2/3 of from my own home, and finish the rest in 1-week intensives at their campus in Kentucky. Gordon-Conwell, I can knock out 1/3 online, and then find a way to go to North Carolina on Fridays and Saturdays to finish the rest. Southwestern, I can do 1/3 online, 1/3 in Little Rock, and finish the other 1/3 in one-week intensives in Fort Worth, but I don't know if the online and Little Rock course offerings duplicate such that I'd have to do more in Fort Worth.
Why else? Well, these 4 schools come from quite varied traditions. I'd consider doing Reformed Seminary, but they don't have a distance component for their M.Div. program, which is the degree I want. The truth is, I want the education and the challenge of finishing the degree. I want the language reinforcement of working in Greek and Hebrew. I'm thoroughly convinced of the truth of Scripture, and the adequacy of the Bible without any new revelation. I'm quite persuaded that we preach the Gospel out of obedience so that those who God draws to Himself will hear, respond, and be saved, all to His glory. We have to spread the Word, teach and preach the Gospel, and do it to the fullest of the ability God gives us. He's responsible for the results.
I'm not looking for a seminary that reinforces that belief or for a seminary that I'll get to argue for it. I'm looking for the opportunity to be challenged by professors I agree with and disagree with, to help me grow and learn to better handle God's word. I'm also not that concerned with graduating from the 'right' seminary. That's been a debate and issue for years for me and many other new ministers. There is a fear that we'll go to the 'wrong' school, and be saddled with having the wrong degree for all of our careers. Different schools get labeled different ways, and sometimes that labeling hurts a preacher's opportunity to preach, teach, write books, or serve in denominational leadership. At this point, it's not even a pious sense that 'God will help me choose the right one' or 'It shouldn't matter to anyone.' It's more of a 'I need tools to strengthen my ministry. If the fact that I, at one point, recognized my weaknesses and tried to correct for them in a way you don't like, that's your business and your problem.' I don't have time to play the politics. If you don't want to hear me preach in a Baptist church if I studied at a non-Baptist seminary, don't come listen. Some of the best preachers went to non-Baptist schools. Some went to Baptist schools. Get over it.
What will be the deciding factor? Well, if I could choose with money as no object, I'd take Gordon-Conwell hands down. I've taken a couple of courses from them online, and have read many of their professor's work. I just can't afford to fly to Charlotte every weekend to finish, and that would be the only way to complete.
Asbury is the most expensive option out there, so that'll probably be out. Liberty and Southwestern both cost about the same, Liberty has the benefit of being completely finishable from here in Monticello. Southwestern would be good because I'd have to go on campus some, which is a good mix into the process (I've done some campus and some distance learning before. They're both good, and a mix makes the most sense to me.). The down side is traveling to Little Rock (we own one car, with lots of miles. Adding a 200 mile weekly trip would probably not be good) and to Fort Worth (since I'd have to take the only car for the week and leave Ann and family stranded). Also, the travel and residence costs would balance out the savings.
So, what do I do? Well, for now, I'm praying for the funding to start. Southwestern, Liberty, and Gordon-Conwell will run be about $800 a course, so when I have that, I'm going to start.
Oops. Just spent 3 paragraphs in my weekly summary. Oh well.
Also this week: HB 2144 was referred to interim study, delaying the assault on homeschool rights in Arkansas. This is good.
I got to review 2 books for Sterling Kids. These were good books, click on the book review tag and see my opinion on The King with Horses's Ears and Aesop's Fables.
I got my next book to review for Thomas Nelson. It'll be a good one.
We're taking kids to the dentist today. I have an appointment in a week and a half, for the first time in 14 years. Then the eye doctor, since my glasses don't seem to cut it anymore.
That's about it. Ann was sick Monday-Tuesday, Steven Wednesday-Thursday. And we still have 2 useless cats.
That's it from here...
The occasional thoughts of an ordinary man serving an extraordinary God. Come with me as we learn, teach, and laugh along the way.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Looking back - Mar 20
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