I can only assume that most of my readers are those who follow me on twitter and attend Ouachita Baptist with me. Thanks for following along! I hope God is using the Word to help you behold Him in His glory (for those not from OBU, I hope God is doing the same thing). For those of you from my school, you know that much of things I love and articulate here are not in the same vein as the norm around campus. I had thought about writing this along with 5 things I am certainly not happy about from my time at OBU. I do not think that would be profitable at this time. Perhaps once furthered removed I can deliver a more sober-minded critique.
But here I want to thank God for things that my time at Ouachita has afforded me. It has be a sorrowful time the last three years but there has been plenty to rejoice about in the midst of great suffering (2 Cor 4:8-10). I’d like to list these 5 things and explore them briefly.
1.) My time at OBU has been stretching.
I do not think it is necessary to be presented with both sides of an argument and never told what is correct. We should be concerned for truth and not speculation. There is a kind of stretching that is unhealthy for a believer. My time here has bordered on that. There have been plenty of times what I believe has been tested. I have had to go time and time again to the Scriptures to prove what I say and lean on. I have never seen the gospel proven wrong, but it has pushed me deeper into Christ. I am woefully self-sufficient, at least in attempt. If not for my theology being challenged, my mind being racked with doubt, my soul in turmoil within me, I would never know the depths of God He has allowed me to peak into.
Matt Chandler had a similar experience during his undergrad (his only official Bible training, might I add). The attempts to shatter what he believed worked in the opposite of the effect intended. I now believe the doctrines of grace stronger, the sufficiency of the Bible greater than I would have if not shown the alternative. I cannot say that I appreciate the teaching I have received. But i can say that I am thankful for how God used it to humble me under the Word.
2.) I have learned some good things here.
I still use some of the basic hermeneutical principles that i learned in my Bible interpretation class. Coming from a charismatic background, this class helped me to see the importance of context and observation. This has taught me to be thorough in my exegesis (or at least I hope). These classes, along with faithful pastors, have informed how I work with texts.
Dr. Joey Dodson taught me greek. He did an excellent job. His Greek class was one of my favorites. He taught it in a way that was helpful and this will provide a great foundation for my Greek studies in the future.
The most I have learned at OBU has come from Dr. Terry G. Carter. I have disagreed and argued with no one here more than him. But I appreciate his graciousness still. He taught me most of what I know about Church History and missions history. I never knew that I would love it so much. We may have disagreed about the implications of the Reformation but I will forever be thankful for teaching me the facts. That class was by far my favorite at OBU. I love Dr. Carter!
3.) I was exposed to world missions.
This year will be my first at OBU where I have not left for South Africa right after finals week. It was these trips that opened my eyes to possibility of doing missions as my career. I saw the great gospel absence. I saw how ill-equipped the pastors were. These things made me desirous to go and pour my life out amongst the African people. I fell in love with South Africa. I love the people, I love the food. Colin Bishop has been a tremendous encouragement to me. He is personal friends with Conrad Mbewe and John MacArthur! That’s awesome! Colin was a breathe of fresh air because not many older believers have affirmed what we are doing doctrinally. He did (he is super reformed on the slide). I met great brothers and sisters that I have had to opportunity to teach and be taught by. Those were sweet times.
To that end, I am thankful to James Taylor and Kendall Calvert. They have given me the opportunity to share the gospel with kids who have no clue about the Jesus of the Bible. Thank you Ken and Baba.
4.) I love my local church
One of my favorite things about OBU is its location. Arkadelphia is very close to one of my favorite places: Gurdon. Gurdon is like my home. I have learned more there than perhaps anywhere else. Gurdon is also where my church is. Halfway through my second year, I was disillusion with my former church. I had met Randy Cox some time before and began to talk to him about joining Beech Street Baptist Church. The church is smaller and is by no means perfect. But Christ crucified is raised up from every text, every Sunday. I am so thankful for Randy. He handles the Word faithfully. Randy has spent time pouring into us, teaching us things he has learned along the way. Lucas has been a blessing in Sunday School. I love his love for the great confessions of the church. Hats off to my Presbyterian brother!
I am thankful for Beech Street’s hospitality and care. They love us college guys well. My favorite thing about it is the pulpit. There is a lack of gospel-heralding churches in the area. God has allowed Beech Street to be an oasis for so many of us. Why else would nearly 25 college students drive 25 minutes to go to church. Thanks be to God for their witness.
5.) I have made life-altering friends.
The best part about being at OBU has been meeting the people I have met. Being sorrowful with the people I have met, rejoicing also. I am thankful for guys like Tye Polk, Dane Jensen, Van, Spencer Bryson, Hunter Lewis, Jesse Webb, Jon Murry, Jim Hampton, the Cats and the rest.
One of my greatest joys has been discipling a small group of guys for the last year. I feel so much of 3 John here. If they stumble it hurts. When they tweet something legit then I go on one. God has done so much through the Word in these men’s life. Our little group has ruined some lives. We have transfer hopes, major changes and seminary plans all going on within the ranks. Thanks to Cousin Joe Hild, William Lawson, Dylan Watson, Ben Ball, and AK. Thanks for your humility under the Word. I love teaching you and pointing you to Christ. If you stand firm, it will be a great joy to me. Thankful that God will see to it that you will.
Nate has been the best roommate that i could ever have dreamed of. We have laughed together and cried together. I’ll always be holding out for the hope that you’ll come to Africa and do the music at my church.
Will Gunter and Brandon Freeman have been two of the most formational people in my life. We all came to Reformed theology separate but grew up in it together. I am not sure how I could have made it through school without them. It has been long and discouraging here. But these guys have grounded me, encouraging me to persevere. God has used both of these men to do just that for me. We read together, helped each other with sermons. There is no substitute for brothers who love to behold the same beauties as you. These men taught me how to disciple and teach a small group. I am very thankful for what I believe will be lifelong friends.
Finally, to my Gurdon boys. Ethan Jones has been such a great testimony to the power of the gospel to save those who are running away from the God of all. This man was saved out of prison by the evangelism efforts of a guy I will mention soon. To see Ethan go from nonbeliever to a growing believer who loves the gospel has been a great encouragement.
The best thing about living in Arkadelphia has been getting to hang with my best friend, Beau McKenzie. No one other than the Triune God has been as instrumental in my growth in holiness. We came into all of this together. We struggled through difficult questions on the back porch of his camp by the river. My grades suffered but my soul flourished. No one has been quicker to tell me I am tripping than Beau. I married him and am now a proud godfather to his daughter. Beau is among the most humble men I have ever met. This brother loves the Word! Beau loves the gospel and sound doctrine. I look forward to continuing this great friendship in Louisville, my dude.
Ready to leave but leaving grateful
I would not come back here. But i would never trade the gifts God has given me during this time. I can walk to the spot God showed me the truth of His sovereign grace. I can go to where I first tasted the sufficiency of Christ in the lost of a good gift from the Lord. I can drive the roads where countless sermons have raised my affections for God Himself through the roof and into the trees.
For these things I am thankful. God has been so gracious to change me from one degree of glory to another here.