Theology, and a Kayla Photo

Learning is a lot of work. I spend a little time with my girls, a lot of time with Greek, and what’s left gets spread around to everything else.

Becoming a “theologian” wasn’t near the top of my list of reasons to come to Dallas Theological Seminary. In fact, it wasn’t even on the list. Like many other students, I’m here because many leaders that I admire came here. I came to learn what they learned. We came to learn how to effectively meet the needs of others. The first thing I’ve learned is that to some degree, I am a theologian and so are you.

Theology is not what I so adamantly opposed. Theology is simply thinking about, or studying God. I’ve been a theologian (albeit amateur) for many years. Even the agnostic who questions God or the atheist who denies Him is practicing theology. So, it’s not theology I was opposed to, it was bad theology. So, what is bad theology?

If you are even slightly interested in what theology is, I highly recommend a very easily read book: Who Needs Theology by Stanley Grenz & Roger Olson. It explains what theology is all about and outlines the degrees of theology which range from “don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up” to “I will believe only what I understand.” Obviously, good theology is neither of those extremes. Theology is not (yet) what I expected, it’s better.

Unexpected treats

The past two months have been marked by unexpected good fortune. I’m quite fond of the quote “luck is the result of fate intersecting with preparation”, but all the recent good fortune exceeds any rational explanation, and can only be explained as confirmation that we are where we’re supposed to be, doing what we’re supposed to be doing.

After getting moved in, it was time to get connected. We started out visiting our neighbors, one house per evening. We’ve met all our immediate neighbors and a few more of the near ones. We are thankful to be surrounded by some extremely good neighbors all the way around us. What a blessing.

Now we’re church hopping, searching for a church home that we’ll enjoy and grow in. This morning we went to Fellowship Church over by Lewisville. It’s not the church we’ll be attending but boy did we have a good time. We just happened to visit the Sunday when Newsboys were live in concert. Better still, they played three of my favorite songs. You know it’s a great worship service when your voice is strained afterward.

Classes begin Tuesday. On Thursday, Jen and I attended orientation. Orientation is basically an interactive way to give you the laundry list of things you need to do. Get your ID card. Get a parking permit. Find your mailbox. Figure out how to open it. Read your student handbook. The library is there, sign up for a guided tour (yes, it’s almost necessary). Deadlines for X are on Y date, etc. All very exciting stuff. Yawn.

Friday was far more fun, consisting of two entrance examinations and two take home assignments. The first test was the MMPI (Minneapolis Multiphase Personality Inventory). The instructor told us it’s a way to help them determine how well we adjust to personal and social change. S-u-r-e, that’s one of the uses, but it’s also used to assess mental disorders. With more than a few of the 567 questions like “someone is out to get me: T/F?”, and “I’m being followed: T/F?”, it’s evident what they’re looking for. “Sir, your results are in. Would you mind wearing this jacket while we take a little walk?”

The other test was a biblical & theology knowledge test. We get to take this test at entrance and graduation. The goal is that you do better the second time. That won’t be hard to do. The test was very humbling. I’m guessing I scored about 6%.

One of the take-home tests was actually a pretty enjoyable one. It’s called “PROFILES of Ministry” by the Association of Theological Schools. The test consists of 24 scenarios. Following each scenario description is a selection of possible responses. You rate each response based on your likelihood of using it. Finally, you are presented with a selection of motives for choosing the responses. Again, you choose how likely you would be to have each motive. I expect those test results to be quite valuable and interesting.

Last, but certainly not least is Kayla. We’ve now passed two parenting milestones. We’ve left her in nursery twice now. That’s no small step for a first time mommy. Kayla is now 24″ long and weights 13 lbs. She started out on the small side but has made up for it since. We’re almost certain she spoke. When Grandpa called from Alaska today, I heard her say “Halibut” and lick her chops.

Why I love technology

Today we drove from Cadillac, MI to Nashville, TN. It should have taken 10 hours, but it took eleven. We are quite thankful to have only been delayed by an hour, and we owe those thanks to technology. As we cruised through Indianapolis, I glimpsed a flashing sign that said something like “accident on SB I-65, closed at mile 50, seek alternate route”. The 50 mile marker was a good hour away so I cruised onward. We scanned the AM frequency several times looking for more traffic info and found nothing.

Once out of Indianapolis, I used my laptop and cellular Internet connection to Google “I-65 accident Indiana” and got no results. It hadn’t made the news wire yet so the flashing sign back in Indianapolis was the only clue that something was amiss. At mile marker 55, I noticed brake lights and a two lane parking lot where the Interstate should be. I noticed it just in time to catch an off ramp.

Southern Indiana consists of narrow single lane roads and lots of corn fields. We followed the traffic for a while on the most obvious alternate route. As the miles long procession crawled along, it became obvious that it was going to take a very long time (hours) to make it to the next freeway ramp. This is where technology saved the day.

Thanks to a GPS receiver and Route 66 (my mapping software) I had complete maps of the area, and I knew exactly where we were. I veered away from traffic and charted a course through the corn fields down country back roads scarcely a lane wide. My alternate route ended up being about 10 miles longer than the other option but was largely untraveled and much faster.

Today on I-65, motorists fell into four camps. The tragic were involved in the accident. The unfortunate didn’t see the warning sign(s) nor the sea of brake lights until they were stuck in miles of parked cars. The fortunate motorists detoured early, or got lucky and were able to get off the freeway. Of the fortunate, only the enlightened few had suitable maps of the area, or knew the area well enough to get through with only a minor setback. We were through Kentucky and into Tennessee before the State Troopers hoped to get traffic moving.

It wasn’t until late this evening that information became available. At about 9:30AM, a car had a blowout. A truck driver swerved and lost control of his truck. He crossed the median and Southbound lanes and was killed when his truck collided with a guard rail. At 3pm traffic was backed up at least 5 miles. Police hoped to have the scene cleared and traffic moving by 6PM.

Today, we were fortunate. Alert driving spotted the backup, luck provided an exit ramp, and technology allowed us to navigate through the corn fields and back to the freeway.

Pregnancy & Dallas

We are preparing to enter the 29th week of our pregnancy. I am no longer straining to see a pregnant belly. For the longest time (about 26 weeks), the only discernable difference was the enlarged mammaries. While those are some fantastic side effects, the real deal has finally arrived and Jen’s belly is now protruding. In fact, she now follows it around as it leads the way. Our “face to face” conversations are now belly to belly instead. Junior is growing rapidly.

Last week I drove to Dallas. At 9:30PM on Wednesday evening, Justin and I piled into the Jetta and headed South. We arrived in Dallas 23 hours later and sacked out. On Friday I attended a “Discover Dallas” event hosted by DTS. I got to sit in on a couple classes, meet several professors, and chat with the President of the school. I learned a lot about DTS and what to expect there. I’m pleased to report it was all good.

DTS was quite a bit bigger than I thought, with nearly 2,000 students. It’s one of (if not the) world’s largest non-denominational seminaries. In 1994 it was the sixth largest seminary, period. I’d guess it’s moved up since then. Dallas is certainly in Texas, where they do lots of things in a big way. The worlds largest seminary (SBTS) is there. Whereas most major cities have a mega-church or two, Dallas has dozens, with several that exceed 10,000. Where you might find a religious school or two in most cities, Dallas has dozens. It has been said that Dallas is “in the buckle of the Bible belt.”

That’s not the only thing “big” you’ll find in Dallas. Dallas sports the highest concentration of tech industry outside the silicon valley. Step aside Seattle (which we referred to as “Silicon North”). On Saturday, our real estate agent took us around to help us get a feel for the real estate market.

Yet another “big” is the amount of house we can get for our money. We can get a new 4 bedroom, 2 car garage house with a golf course in the front yard and soccer fields in the back yard for $173,000. Best, it’s only a 20 minute commute into downtown. The options in that price range are many, diverse, and overwhelmingly good. To buy that much house in Atlanta or Seattle we’d expect to be paying twice that, or having a commute measured in hours.

I’m feeling more ready to move to Dallas as each day passes. The house here in Cadillac is making rapid strides toward completion. Our monster profiles are updated and we’re watching for opportunies in Dallas. The pregnancy and health insurance concerns are the only obstacles to leaving before the baby is born.

Fasten your seatbelts

Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached our cruising altitude of 29,000 feet. We have turned off the fasten seatbelt sign and you may feel free to roam about the cabin.


Does this mean that the morning sickness is gone? Nope, but we’re hoping that it eases up soon. It is already getting a little better as normally good food odors like a cheeseburger or pizza now smell good again. Not so long ago, those odors were repulsive. There is still no appetite, but that will come with time.

In other exciting news, I got notice back from DTS. My application has been found acceptable and a background check is being conducted. Once the background check has cleared, I will be officially accepted as a student at DTS. In case you were wondering, the answer is “yes”, we will be moving to Dallas for four years of grad school.