Saturday, February 26, 2005

Away at Christening

I am away for the weekend attending the Christening of my niece, Noelle Larkin, and we have also been asked to be her Godparents. This will be the first time I have seen a Christening, so I am sure it will be interesting.

I will write about that, and at least 2 other topics once I return. I have started working on some posts, but have not finished yet.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Areligious vs. Anti-religious

There seems to be a new philosophy emerging out of the Southern Baptist Convention in recent months. The SBC and its leaders no longer seem to understand the difference between being areligious and anti-religious.

Of course, the most glaring example of this philosophy is the movement in the SBC and state conventions to encourage all parents to remove their children from the "Godless public schools." The various resolutions that have been proposed have had statements expressing the sentiment that the public schools are run by the enemies of God, and that they are anti-Christian. I don't believe this is true. I don't think public schools are any more anti-Christian than they are anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, or anti-Hindu. Public schools are not anti-religious, they are, as required by the constitution, areligious.

The first amendment to the constitution reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." While fundamentalist Christians understand and preach the second part, I firmly believe that many of them ignore the first. It is the establishment clause that prohibits Christian prayer in government funded schools. It is the establishment clause that prohibits the display of religious symbols on government property. It is the establishment clause that prohibits studying creationism in public schools without studying the creation stories of all other religions. The establishment clause also protects our children from cults in public schools, and leaves the practice and teaching of religion where it should be: in the home and in the church.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend a private Christian school through seventh grade. We had weekly chapel and Bible classes. But I have plenty friends who are equally as strong Christians but were educated entirely in public schools. I never felt persecuted for my Christian beliefs during my time in public schools, but I did have the opportunity to witness to some non-Christians on several occasions. Personally, I believe the great commission, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." applies to all Christians, young and old. Students in public schools have the opportunity to reach people I never could, and I believe they can be a witness simply by being there and letting their life reflect the love of Jesus.

In short, I believe that it is up to the students to be the presence of Christ in the public schools. If the Christian students leave, who is going to carry the light into the public schools.

Of course one issue doesn't qualify as a new philosophy. However, in the past several weeks, the SBC seems to be taking aim at psychotherapy.

Last month, an article appeared on the Baptist Press website that was critical of anti-depressant drugs. Here is a quote from the article:
"But, as long as the public demands relief from the pressures of comfortable living, and as long as there exist manufactories of new disorders and stronger potions, there will continue to be a legal drug problem in America."
I have a friend that suffers from serious depression, and the only thing that has helped him is medication. Are these drugs misused? Sure, what drugs aren't. Of course, the worst thing that could happen would be for someone who suffers from depression to stop taking their medication as a result of this article, which claims to tell the "Truth about Anti-depressants."

This week we found out what the SBC's solution to this problem. The pastoral care program at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is being transformed from a program that "integrated secular psychology and biblical training" into a program that is "built upon the view that Scripture is sufficient to answer comprehensively the deepest needs of the human heart." I firmly believe it is a mistake to throw out all the knowledge that has been collected by psychologists and psychiatrists, many of them Christians, simply because it isn't scriptural. This is another example of disregarding something simply because it is secular. In order to provide the best counseling possible, counselors need to be aware of all of the latest treatments. Anything less is not just wrong, it is sinful!

The way to reach the lost is not to withdraw from the world or condemn everything secular. It isn't what Jesus did, and its not going to be what I do in my ministry. It is entirely possible to be areligous without being anti-religious.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Blog Updates

I have updated the blog to reflect our decision to go to Wake Forest. There is now a link to the Divinity School available in the links area. If you haven't read the previous post, go ahead and read that now. It will bring you up-to-date on everything.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

We've made a decision

Over the past several months, Gay and I have spent a lot of time talking and praying about where I am going to school. I have always felt this was a decision WE had to make, not a decision for ME to make. Although we know what an important decision this is, we also know that I would get a good education at any of the 4 schools we visited.

When we started on this journey, Brite Divinity School, at TCU in Fort Worth, was our first choice, but we decided to keep an open mind. We decided to visit Wake Forest because we would be in the area, but I don't think either one of us expected to end up there. However, after our visit, we both felt that Wake Forest was our first choice.

Before our visit, I had completed my application at both Brite and Wake Forest, so the waiting began. The acceptance letter from Brite came first, followed a few weeks later by the acceptance to Wake Forest. The package from Brite paid all but $1500 of the tuition thanks to their endowments and a CBF Leadership scholarship. I didn't receive any financial aid information from Wake Forest until a couple of weeks ago. I don't have my final offer from Wake Forest yet, but the current package still leaves about $4,000 of tuition unpaid. I am still working hard on reducing that number, but Gay and I still feel that Wake Forest is the place we belong.

Since the visit in November, God has continually put Wake Forest and Winston-Salem in our lives. We have heard from several people who know people who are going there who think they are getting a great education. There are several Wake Forest grads at Bayshore, who have encouraged us to pursue an education there. A few weeks ago, we had a visitor from Winston-Salem visit Bayshore. Gay sent them an e-mail, and we have since had lunch with them, and received an e-mail from their pastor. Housing costs in Winston-Salem are also much lower in Winston-Salem than they are in Fort Worth. We are hoping to be able to buy a condo with the money we make selling our house.

So, Gay and I have decided that it's time to take a step of faith. We are both sure that Wake Forest is where God is calling us. We know that if we follow God's plan for us, he will take care of us, and the money will come.

We also really like Brite, and we both admit to feeling a little sad that we are not going there. We have nothing but great things to say about the school and the people we met there, but we just feel God is calling us to Wake Forest. I will be informing Brite of my decision this week.

We both ask for your continued prayers. We are still waiting to hear about the Wait Fellowship. We will be working over the next month to put our house on the market, and Gay has already put out some feelers for church jobs. Every now and then I still ask myself if I am crazy, and telling myself that this is just not a normal thing to do. But, those thoughts soon pass, because I know this is God's will for my life.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Financial Aid, The Sequel

I mailed off my second financial aid application today. This application was for need based financial aid both from the Wake Forest Divinity School and Uncle Sam. I have to say that I wonder why they didn't include the need based financial aid form in the acceptance letter, my only thought is that they wanted to process the merit-based aid first. There was an online government form involved in this one that wanted to know just about everything except the date I lost my first tooth.

I appreciate your continued prayers for this. No word on the Wait Fellowship yet, and I am not sure when I will hear anything about that. As Hardy Clemons put it, the name is very appropriate.

I plan to start posting more on my call into ministry again soon, but the quest for financial aid has occupied a lot of my time in the past several days.

Monday, February 07, 2005

WFU Update (Edited)

Hello Everyone!

I have an update on Wake Forest.

They have not yet begun interviewing for the Wait Fellowship, yet, so I am still in the running for that. Remember, the these fellowship pay all tuition, fees, books, and also include a living stipend. However I received my merit-based financial aid package today.

The estimated cost of tuition and fees for the next academic year is $14,105. I have been awarded the CBF Leadership Scholarship in the amount of $4,000 a year, and the Wake Forest Divinity School Scholarship in the amount of $5,800 a year.

I am still working on federal financial aid options, and I need to see what Bayshore and Florida CBF can do as well.

I need to let Brite know soon, but it looks like the difference will be about $2,500 a year. I think the difference in the cost of living will make up for that, and Gay and I still see a lot of advantages to attending Wake Forest. So, as of right now our plans have not changed.

Please keep our financial aid situation in your prayers. It would be nice to start school knowing that it has been paid for.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I'm back

I'm back!

Gay and I just got back from a 7-Day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Disney Magic with my parents. I was sick before and after the cruise, so I haven't posted anything. Here is a link to some pictures from the Cruise:

Cruise Pictures

On the school front, I am still waiting on my financial aid package from Wake Forest. I am hoping to hear from them by 2/15 so I can inform Brite of my decision. I will post something here as soon as it happens!