Back at the Keyboard
According to my SiteMeter stats, I still get between 30 and 40 daily visitors, and for the life of me, I have no idea why. Oh, sure, I've written some compelling stuff, but it has been nearly two years since I posted anything, and longer than that since I posted with any kind of consistency. I'm hoping to change that.
Much of the break has been due to my studies at Liberty University. Twenty years ago, when I should have been pursuing my education, I was instead pursuing my dream of becoming a major league baseball umpire. Sadly, that didn't work out as planned, but by the time it became clear that it wasn't going to work out, life had intervened, and a college education seemed to me to be out of reach. It pretty much stayed out of reach, from my perspective, for the next decade.
Then my friend and SBC Today
co-founder Joe Stewart told me about an organization called the Liberty Baptist Fellowship. Founded by Jerry Falwell in the early 1980's, the group has two primary functions: to plant Baptist churches, and to certify chaplains to the armed forces of the United States. Only churches hold membership in this group, and one of the benefits had always been a tuition-free scholarship to Liberty University, either to study on campus or through their distance learning program. That scholarship benefit has tightened up considerably since Dr. Falwell's death, but it still exists. When I began, the minimum contribution for a church the size of the one I serve was $25 per month, and this made a scholarship available for all full-time staff members. As of January 2011, the minimum contribution became $200 per month per scholarship, and the scholarships are limited in number. I understand that there is now a waiting list.
Even at that higher rate, discerning readers will recognize that this is still an absolute bargain, and I took full advantage. I began studies in the spring of 2008, and on May 14 of this year, I walked across the stage at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center
to shake hands with Dr. Elmer Towns and to receive the degree of Bachelor of Science in Religion.*
I'm sure this won't be the end of my educational journey. I recognize that in order to be fully effective in the role to which God has called me, pastor of a local church, I need yet more training. I've done some investigating of various seminary options, and look forward to beginning work on my M. Div. just as soon as I figure out where to begin it. In the mean time, I plan to return to regular posting here. I will continue to focus on issues of interest to Southern Baptists, or at least to this Southern Baptist. I will continue to write in advocacy of a robust ecclesiology, and against forces and ideas that would weaken our distinctives as Baptists. And I'll look forward to opportunities for interaction with readers.
I had a couple of opportunities last week in Phoenix to reflect upon the beginning of my blogging in 2006. The issues we faced then are not the issues we face now, but in many ways they are similar. What I remember most fondly about those days is the relationships formed, some through heated exchanges in the comments sections of various blogs. Time and time again I was forced more deeply into the scriptures, and forced to be ever more careful in articulating what I learned there. I don't imagine this new phase of blogging will be anything like that, so different is the landscape today from what existed five years ago. But I look forward to making my contribution.
*Dr. Towns didn't actually hand me my diploma, of course. It was a fundraising letter with a ribbon around it.