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Why Not?

It’s been a while since I have posted a blog entry, so it is high time to get back to it. The reason for this is that past year has been extremely busy for me as I have been intensely pursuing a master’s degree in Biblical Languages. At the time of this blog entry, I am down to three classes to complete this degree and hope to be done by May of 2022. It has been exciting to read the Bible in the original languages, and I hope to get even better at it in the years ahead.

Often when faced with big decisions we often go through all the “whys”, but there are those times that once the “whys” have been answered we still are hesitant to make a move. It is at those times asking “why not” may erase our hesitation. Recently I had a major decision to make, and after answering all the “whys” I was still hesitant to take the leap. Asking “why not” pushed me over the edge.

But I am getting ahead of myself here.

Let’s go back to December of 2021 when I applied for a master’s degree in Biblical Languages. Some may ask why I embarked on such a journey. I am at the age where I am supposed to be coasting into heaven, filling my days with golf, fishing (which I would never do), television, travel, and leisure. However, as I thought about this, I concluded that God did not leave me here to suck air and take up space, but rather had something for me still to do. I believe I am not only a steward of my finances, but also a steward of time, talent, health, and opportunity. So, what is it that God wanted me to do with whatever years I had left? How could I be a good steward of my time, talent, treasure, health, and opportunity?

The answer to this question initially began to take shape in October of 2021 when I joined the Evangelical Theological Society as an associate member. In their acceptance email they welcomed me and told me if I ever completed a Th.M. program or Ph.D. program to let them know so I could become a full member. That got me thinking. What would I need to do to get the Th.M.? I had the time, money, and opportunity, and always wanted to do that, so why not pursue it? As a result, I called down to Liberty University and asked them what I would need to do to get the Th.M. degree as I already had a master’s degree from them. They told me that to enter the Th.M. program I would need an M.Div. or equivalent. However, when looking at the M.Div. program, it was not for me. It had many classes on pastoral topics, such as premarital counseling, world missions, cross-cultural ministry, and many other classes that do not make any sense for me at this stage of my life. When I related this to the person on the phone, they put me on hold for a few minutes while researching my options and came back with the news that if I got a master’s degree in Biblical Languages or Chaplaincy, I would have an M.Div. equivalent and thus be eligible for the Th.M. program. After two minutes of thinking I signed up for the Biblical Languages option.

As I worked through the Biblical Languages program I began to think about the next step. After all, I started it to pursue the Th.M. program, but was there something else I should do? In analyzing the options, three came to the front. The first is to do the Th.M. program. The second was a Doctor of Ministry degree, and the third was a Ph.D. degree in Biblical Exposition. I had never considered the last two options seriously, but the more I thought about them, the more attractive they became. I remember a friend of mine from years back who suggested I get a Ph.D. but I dismissed it due to my age. But as I thought about it more and more, I concluded that was not a good reason. Perhaps a doctoral degree was an option.

Rewind a few years! When I was 18, my life plan was to attend Oberlin College, get my Bachelor of Arts degree, then go off to Dallas Theological Seminary for a Th.D. (Doctor of Theology). Then life came along, and I never was able to pursue the Th.D. It was always sort of a dream of mine to get an advanced degree, but as the years rolled on, I never really pursued my dream as an 18-yr old young man. The noise of life had drowned out the dream.

Fast forward three decades! In 2018 my wife of 38 years went home to be with the Lord and in 2020 I retired after 42 years in Information Technology. I now had time to do something different. My goal in retirement was always to do more ministry and teaching, and over the few months after retiring I found myself increasingly being drawn to the next step of education. I didn’t need it for any career option. But it was something I always wanted to do, and I also found myself running out of reasons not to do it.

Bizarrely, in October of 2021 I wasn’t even thinking about pursuing more education, but with the confluence of joining ETS, facing a boring winter, a phone call to Liberty University, and the urging of my friends, my dream became a reality. I found that I had the time to do this as I am retired. I had the financial resources to do it as the Lord has richly blessed me financially in my retirement. I had the inclination as it was a dream that I always wanted to do but had forgotten in the busyness of life. I had the ability as God has given me a sharp mind. I had the opportunity – it was right there in front of me. And finally, try as I might, I could find no one that tried to talk me out of it as a bad idea.

So, sometimes when thinking about a major decision in life, we need to turn the question around. We always need to ask, “why am I doing this,” but when we come up with good answers to that question we may still hesitate. We may be afraid of the challenge, uncertain of whether it is the right thing to do, question whether it is God’s will or not, or fearful of our ability to do it.

At that point it may be helpful to turn the question around and ask yourself, “why not”?

When I did that, I couldn’t come up with a good answer!

So, I signed up for the Ph.D. in Biblical Exposition!

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