I’m enjoying a much needed hiatus after a rigorous fall semester at Talbot School of Theology. The workload caught me by surprise even though I had been in graduate school twelve years ago. I thought that I’d take to the classroom like a duck to water. In one sense, I soared higher than I thought possible; however, in another sense, I found myself struggling to organize my time into a schedule that suited me. The demands of the private sector are quite different. I knew my schedule and adjusted things accordingly. In the academic environment, the class time is known, but not the hours needed to complete the work. It is this aspect that flayed me in the first half of the fall semester.
The more I connected with my peers, the more I realized that I was not alone in my struggle to create a schedule and stick to it. Of course, the upcoming spring semester only gets tougher. I feel like I’m in the early stages of a role-playing game in dire need of experience points. One big plus has been settling into a local church earlier this summer, which was a season of transition. In the month of August alone, I left my Hollywood job, started seminary, and began exploring several churches in the Pasadena area where my wife and I call home. Back in March, my wife and I sought the Lord together about this year and decided that he was leading us to set down roots in Pasadena.
When August rolled around, it was comforting to know that seminary, church, and life in general began to settle down ever so slightly. For me, the local church piece was significant because I wanted to find a solid place for my wife and future family. We really resonated with the blend of the Word and the Spirit at Sovereign Grace Church in Pasadena. The elders stand for God and his word with humility and conviction. Personally, this was a big one for me, especially since I’m responding to God’s call on my life. Sadly, we visited many churches where the leaders either equivocated on controversial topics, or downplayed the importance of Baptism.
After listening to a couple of Sovereign Grace podcasts, and reading over their statement of faith, I knew that the leaders had a solid grounding in God’s word. Their embrace of the spiritual gifts wound up being another plus. Interestingly enough,what sold us on Sovereign Grace Church of Pasadena had to do with the maturity of the people and the leaders. It just seemed like these folks knew what it meant to walk with the Lord in all of life’s circumstances. They practiced what they preached. Is this our church for the next decade? I don’t know. It definitely seems like the place to be throughout my seminary education. The way I see it, one step at a time.
Given the intensity of the previous semester, it refreshed me quite a bit to have a solid home church. My wife and I have a place from which to draw strength and to give back. Like I alluded to earlier, the next semester only increases in difficulty. I’m taking slightly more units, the content level goes up, and I have a child on the way. The temptation for me is to power my way through seminary. In fact, I even began the previous semester with that mindset. It did not take long for the Lord’s discipline to exert its effect. His target was the pride in my heart. It remains a central focus of his, but there is grace and mercy, too. I have needed the Lord to remind me of the importance of acknowledging the good that he has done in and through me.