How I spent my summer vacation

September 7, 2013

Life was so busy this summer; one would think I was getting stinking rich. The work was just that hard and, now that fall is almost here, let it be known that. It would be great to find some small part-time something to do. There were a couple of classes to be taught and there were also two courses at the Anglican School of Ministry that will complete the seemingly endless Master of Ministry program. In the middle this overload, I agreed to serve on the strategy team planting New Hope Anglican Church of Little Rock. It starts weekly services on September 15. More on that later.

The act of teaching tends to educate the instructor as much as the student. There was that adult education course on the 39 Articles of Religion at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Little Rock. Now tell me true, how many churches will allow a class on pure doctrine? This is one of the reasons St. Andrew’s is such a great church. And it is treating me very graciously as I help my friend Sam Murrell begin to lead an ACNA congregation.

There was a “continuing education” class on the Old Testament that, as the instructor, caused me to gain some new insights. There is a fresh appreciation for Isaiah, and the second Isaiah. Now do not go tearing your cloths off and start barking at passing cars. I do not personally care if there were six guys named Isaiah. The book is historically accepted into the canon and that is good enough for this little guy in Little Rock. This is one of those non-academic programs that does not have exams or papers and does not issue a diploma. The students are great people who study hard because they want to know more about the faith and get closer to Jesus. This fall I am dong a survey of the New Testament. We will see how these books of Holy Scripture are applicable to everybody today. You will gain an entire new outlook on the Christian religion. Being an Anglican is not necessary for admission and there are some spaces available on WebEx for out-of-town folks. We have wonderful and enlightening discussions.

I also took two classes at the Anglican School of Ministry. These represent the final work in my Master of Ministry program. Spiritual Formation (THE 504 at ASM) deals with the health of the soul and is one of the most useful classes in which I have participated.  This one had a load of reading: Leanne Payne on the Healing Presence, Ken Sande’s The Peacemaker, and my old friend (well, he feels like a friend) C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. These were great and had much practical and inspirational content. Have you read Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God? This is the finest insight for a holy life. Of course, that seems completely beyond all practical possibility in a world dominated by getting more stuff and getting more pleasure. Brother Lawrence has a simple rule of non-stop conversation with the Almighty. It is powerful. Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy is 400 pages of good advice on the Christian life. He masterfully paints the picture of a safe and good world, ruled by a loving and caring God. In this class, the student develops a devotional reading journal for 45 days and develop a plan of scripture and inspirational readings. I used the Daily Office of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer as my framework. Keep in mind, this is a “journal” in which one comments on what the readings say and the personal meaning with application. This is an incredible experience. My instructor was Dr. Mark Quay, who is also pastor of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Without Dr. Quay, I would not have begun this journey in his den as part of the inaugural ASM class. This academic journey has made me into a different person. (Don’t worry, I still have the old “Bad Pat” kick!)

My other academic course was Sacramental Theology (THE 606 at ASM). There was so much reading! The final paper assignment was at least 15 pages on the “missional” understanding of Sacraments in the Anglican tradition. The final product was 22 pages of text (and a 2-page bibliography). There is nothing like the researching and thought process of organizing a paper to impart a deeper understanding of the subject. This was a fine class. I am very grateful to my instructor, Dr. Michael Pahls for his leadership and helpful observations. Many of my friends have helped me out with encouragement, prayer, and financial support. I need prayer most of all for good decisions and wisdom.a

My friend, Rev. Susie Wiggins, compares seminary to killing birds. You kill enough birds and eventually somebody gives you a degree. I hope to get my Master of Ministry in the next few weeks. Many people ask me what I plan to do with it. The answer is “nothing, absolutely nothing.” That somewhat sarcastic answer reflects my typical use of humor to keep people at distance. I am not one of the young hot-shots, so I am really not so sure what God has in mind. Ordination? If that is in God’s good plan, he will take care of it. I would like to do more with my little school – Christian Foundations for Ministry, write more on this blog, and finish the book I have halfway completed.

The Glad Streams blog has suffered. I plan to write much more this fall and maybe even start a podcast. I am still looking for that part-time gig and, sometime soon, God will see to that. I am blessed.

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One Response to “How I spent my summer vacation”

  1. Gary Shires Says:

    Now that you have delved into Dallas Willard’s material take a look at his book “Renovation of the Heart”. It is heavy but valuable teaching.


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