a wee prayer request

So a curious thing happened in 2007. I ended 2006 rather burned out. I had a book written, but no word on if it was going to be published. I felt a bit brain dead, isolated, and otherwise unfocused. I felt stuck and I felt I needed to push. Potential ministry possibilities were staying flat and quiet. I couldn’t seem to get any connections to spark or any directions to open up. So I started looking in to PhD programs. In history. The process for this required me to get in touch with old professors. And getting in touch with one old professor sparked my taking a couple of classes early in 2007. I get two free audits a year as part of my Fuller Seminary Alumni Rewards program so I took a class on Pursuit of Wholeness (mostly uninspiring and tending towards psychobabble) and I sat in on a class on Jurgen Moltmann’s theology. It was a PhD class. After a presentation I did on the Coming of God, the professor heartily encouraged me to to pursue a PhD under his guidance.

While this had been in the back of my head I had basically pushed it aside after graduating with my M.Div in late 2002. Ministry is what did it to me. I loved working with people, disciplining, wrestling with real life situations and approaches. When I had entered seminary in 1999 I didn’t know which path aI wanted to take, and went through three years setting myself up for either ministry or academics. By the year after I had finished I was burned out with both. Not because of a lack of interest or passion in the subjects. Because of the politics that seemed to be much more influential in both directions. I’m bad at politicking. I’m bad at saying what should be said as opposed to what I think. I keep opening my mouth at the wrong times, or not networking as I should.

This pushed me into other directions, and after seeing there was no life there, I went towards writing. My interests continued towards practical ministry, even as my reading regained an academic influence. Most ministry books bore me, to be honest. While most academic books ignite thoughts of practical application. There’s an engineer in me wanting to come out, I think, and my tools and materials are theological.

No doors opened, or have opened, in ministry directions, other than a wee little curious conversation that’s happening in Pasadena each Sunday at Lucky Baldwins. But a door did open in academics, and as I kept peeking through, the door remained open, with increasing curious encouragement.

So I applied to Fuller, for a PhD in systematic theology, where my dissertation, as recommended by that old professor would focus on emerging church theology and Moltmann’s theology. A curious blend of both academics and practical ministry study under one of the foremost scholars on the Holy Spirit in the world.

Well, in the past I thought I had to choose either/or, but with this it might be a wonderful both/and in what is increasingly, I think, becoming one of the institutional centers of emerging/missional church thought.

I got the application in early this year. Yesterday I filled out all the financial aid applications. It’s the latter that is the bigger thing in my mind. I have utterly no money for more school, and I’m still in debt from past schooling, which while pushing me deeper and farther in study and discipleship and spiritual growth, hasn’t at all pushed me farther in finances or income.

If God wants me to take these next steps, go through this seemingly opened door before me, he has to provide a way. I would have to move back to Pasadena, and that ain’t cheap. And I’d have to pay for all the costs of school and books.

So, if you’re thinking of me when you toss some words God’s way, could you pray that he opens the door for finances to go this direction. If there’s no money I can’t do it. And I can’t get more loans. I’m not so sold on this to mean that I’d be utterly crushed if it didn’t work out, but it would be nice to know that as many prayers as possible are out there for me to be confident that how it works out really is the best.

I’m working on a new book now, and hope to have it done before summer no matter what, but I can’t help think it would give me a bit of a boost to know there’s a new step and stage waiting for me not too long after, and the money enough to do it without more financial angst.

So, if you would, pray for financial aid decisions being made on my behalf during this next month. That or encourage everyone you know to buy 5 or maybe even 6 hundred copies of my book. 😀

I’ll keep updating on this as I hear news.

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