A little over five years ago, I began an adventure with Ellerslie that has now (formally) come to an end. Elsje and I have determined that the next chapter of life that God has for us leads us away from our dear friends and spiritual family here at Ellerslie. Our main goal and aim for this next season is for me to pursue my Masters of Divinity, to more fully equip me to feed the flock of God, and invest more effectively in the lives of young men who will be the next generation of Christian Pastors and Missionaries. We have a few options on the table for this next step (none of them certain), and we would greatly appreciate your prayers and support during this transition.
I would be remiss if I did not express my gratitude to everyone at Ellerslie: staff, alumni, church families. You’ve made my time here an extremely rich season, and it has been a real blessing to serve you and be served by you. Though our paths now must diverge, I am grateful to have trod this pathway with you thus far and am certain we will have cause to walk alongside of each other again in some capacity or another. My prayers for you remain the same: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power (Eph. 1:17-19).”
As I reflect on this past season, I can see five lessons that I will always be grateful for.
- The Supremacy and Centrality of Jesus Christ in all things. Even before Ellerslie, this was a blazing passion of mine: to know Christ and make Him known. I’m so appreciative of the culture of Christ-centeredness that exists at Ellerslie. Our modern Christian culture is attempting to proclaim a brand of morality without an authority for that morality. Unless Christ is central, nothing will hold together.
- The Authority and Beauty of the Word of God in Text. One of my favorite Eric Ludy ideas is that studying Scripture is really learning to see Christ on every page. This mentality has forever changed me, for I’ve learned to not only recognize that Christ is King over all, but that this necessarily means that His word is the authority for all matters, all nations, and all generations. I learned to think typologically, and tether my thinking to the text! This is a lesson that I will carry with me all my days.
- The Importance of Prayer. The sweet times of prayer with the saints, and the many answers to prayer will always be treasured. I learned the lesson that Ravenhill so frequently taught: “No man is greater than his prayer life.” We serve a God who answers us; He has commanded us to ask, and we would be arrogant fools for thinking we could live otherwise than to ask as a child for all He has to give. During my season at Ellerslie, I came to embrace the idea that whatever else is said of me when I die, I want it to be said, “He prayed.”
- The Need for a Manly Tone. Spurgeon once said, “Speak [the truth] out boldly, and command attention at the very outset by your manly tones.” It is all too common for the modern Church to have a rather effeminate, mushy, limp-wristed tone to its music, preaching and ministry. One thing I’ll forever carry with me from Ellerslie is the need for me as a man, to be a man; do the hard thing, say the hard things (with, of course, great love and humility), and endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. I am thankful especially for Eric’s example of being a man who is Bravehearted, and courageous enough to stand alone. That example is part of what has shaped me to even take this next step in my life, family and ministry.
- The Calling of Honorable and Holy Living. M’Cheyne’s words are a perfect articulation of one of the most important lessons I learned here at Ellerslie: “A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.” It does us no good to say one thing and live another. I want my wife and children to be able to watch me live my life, and then hear me preach, and not see any discrepancies. I want to practice what I preach. In Christ I am reckoned by God to be dead indeed unto sin. Thus, I want to live as one who has presented and yielded his life to be the stage whereupon God might showcase His exceeding power. I want to live as one who actually believes the Gospel, which doesn’t mean merely forgiveness from sin, but the gift of grace to triumph over sin.
This decision to transition from Ellerslie has not been an easy one, but it has been richly blessed. Eric and the whole Ellerslie leadership team have been so gracious and supportive during this season of wrestling through what step is next for us. I have always been the “reformed guy” in the Ellerslie world; and so as I’ve continued to grow and study God’s word, I have been brought to embrace some theological, philosophical and ecclesiological positions that do differ from some of Ellerslie’s positions. I can, however, heartily say that in essentials we have precious unity: Christ died to save sinners. In the issues on which we differ, there is a deep well of charity from me towards Ellerslie and from them towards me.
I find it ironic that we who proclaim that we are justified by faith alone, all too often live as if we are justified by convincing others of our doctrinal position alone. This is not to say that we ought not to hold firm convictions and stand unfalteringly for Biblical authority on matters of life and doctrine; it is to point out that all too often our pursuit of good theology is marred by a grouchy, grumpy ethos.
Thus, from the bottom of our heart, “Thank you Ellerslie.” You have richly blessed our lives, and though God has led us on, I’m so thankful to be on the same team with you all. That team being the great Bride of the Lamb, who is “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners (Sng. 6:10).” May we labor ever more fervently to see the hastening of the day when our faith shall be sight.
We have a few options on the table for us, most of which hinge on getting a good stable job in the areas where I am interested in pursuing my Masters of Divinity.
1. Moscow, ID – There is a great program (Greyfriar’s Hall) that we’d be very interested in doing, however the economy is rather rural in Moscow, so any job leads would be appreciated.
2. Northern Colorado – We’ve considered just finding a job locally, and begin a correspondence program for seminary. Again, job leads are welcome.
3. South Africa – Elsje’s favorite option! This option would obviously be a very logistically tedious one! Move there, raise financial support, go through seminary via correspondence.
4. Dallas, TX – We have some good ministry and potential job connections in the Dallas area, and there are some good institutions there.
5. Philadelphia, PA – Westminster Theological Seminary is of real interest to us; and we know a lot of folks in that area. This is an option that again depends on good, solid income.
If you have any thoughts, suggestions, leads, or want to come alongside of us in some manner (like, say, a full ride scholarship), please get in touch with us. Of course, prayer and encouragement are most welcome!
Update: Moscow, Idaho: Here We Come!