Doctoral Studies Update

I mentioned in a previous post that my writing here has been nearly nonexistent in the last few months. One reason is that I have entered the final year of my doctoral studies. My Comprehensive Oral Exams and my Thesis Prospectus hearings are next week, and I’ve spent the last few months consumed with teaching and preparing for next week. Between those two tasks, there has been little time, energy, or concentration available for much else.

Below is an update on my continuing doctoral studies and information on how you can help me finish well.

As I am beginning the final year of my doctoral research, many have asked about research topics, how they can pray and how they can help.

Right now, prayer and financial support are my two greatest needs.

If you would like periodic updates on our work, please send me a message and I will add you to the email list.

If you would like to contribute financially to the finalization of our research concerning students, digital media, and discipleship, I still need approximately $5000 to complete the project.

To make a tax-deductible donation to this groundbreaking research in Christian education, you can donate in my name to the Timothy Scholarship with The Generosity Trust,

Please feel free to share this post with anyone you know who would be interested in knowing more about our project and would like to support it.

Many thanks to all of you who have encouraged and supported me through this journey the last three years. One more to go!

On Crashing and Burning


1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.
Isaiah 61:1-4

I haven’t had cable or Internet since I moved 5 weeks ago. The digital disconnect has been a refreshing detox, and has given me time to do some much needed soul searching and re-evaluation of life in general.

I also had a Harry Potter movie marathon.

Don’t hate. It’s Christmas break and I desperately needed some time doing nothing. I generally try to not think too much when I’m intentionally having some down time, but the last few days I’ve thought several times about a specific scene in one of the movies.

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry goes to the Headmaster’s office to speak with him. While waiting for Professor Dumbledore, Harry notices Dumbledore’s bird, perched by his desk. As Harry reaches out to pet the bird, it bursts into flames and falls to ashes.

Harry is terrified that he has killed his headmaster’s bird, but Dumbledore explains that his bird Fawkes is a Phoenix, a mythical creature who bursts into flames when its life is over, but who is reborn from the ashes of its death.

That scene and statement has rolled around in my head as 2013 burst into flames and 2014 stuck its little head out of the pile of ashes.

Meditating on any thought for too long eventually gives the Holy Spirit time to pull me around to Scripture, and this morning I awoke with the passage above now rolling in my head.

So many times, my plans for my life have crashed and burned, and while I have stood by, terrified by the wreckage I had created, God has mercifully and gently stepped in, gathered the ashes of my mess and created something infinitely more beautiful than I could have ever imagined on my own.

This is the passage from Isaiah that Jesus read in the synagogue in Nazareth in Luke 4, the public proclamation of the start of His earthly ministry. He declares Himself to be the One who will take the ashes of life and give us beauty for them. He gives joy, praise, righteousness, and glory in exchange for bondage and destruction.

Maybe you’ve been like Harry, reaching out to grasp something beautiful to behold, only to watch it burst into flames and become a pile of ashes before your eyes.

Maybe you feel like your carefully crafted, safe little world is on the verge of a crash and burn.

Maybe the best thing you can do is let it.

Let go of your control.
Let it go and let it burn.
Your plans.
Your ideas.
Your image.
Your reputation.
Your presumptions and prejudices.

Let them burn.

Our Father makes the most amazing things out of ashes.