Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Modern Day Hospitality


In the ancient world hospitality was a highly valued virtue. Many Jews in the first century viewed hospitality as one of Abraham’s defining characteristics and the growth of the early Christian movement took place as traveling apostles and missionaries found lodging and rest among other believers. This practice is reflected in 3 John 5-8 among many other texts (lol; how often do you see 3 John cited). We have been blessed and aided beyond words by two dear friends and members of God’s people in Nyack, NY, Chris and Sarah Kotecha, as they opened their home to us last night (no small endeavor in light of the energy possessed by our boys), are taking us to the airport later today, keeping our van for the summer, and picking us back up again at the end of the summer.

It was also exciting and encouraging to hear how God is using and leading Chris and Sarah. They have recently joined up with CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) with the vision and goal of starting an after school Bible club in each of 39 elementary schools in Rockland County, NY, an ethnically diverse suburb of NYC. They do this by networking and partnering with local churches which supply the volunteers and resources. This ministry is compelling for several reasons: First, it powerfully brings the Gospel to children; a desperate need at this point in America. Second, it brings together and unites various churches and denominations in a single cause—watch out if churches from different denominations begin to work together for the Gospel! Third, Chris and Sarah are uniquely gifted and trained for this networking and training ministry; they bring a lot of skills and passion to the table. If you are interested in being placed on their mailing list to further partner with them in prayer or with financial support please drop Chris a line at cskotecha@gmail.com.   

Chris and Sarah

 

International Ministry


I just received the registration list for the classes I will be teaching this summer and students are from the following countries: Cameroon, Ukraine, Suriname, Romania, Netherlands, Ghana, Ethiopia, USA, Serbia, Finland, Georgia, Myanmar, Rwanda, Kazakhstan, and Brazil. What an international student body! Jenny and I are so excited to be a part of God’s global kingdom!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dissertation

Since most will not read the actual dissertation I want to share the “Acknowledgements” page below with a wider readership. I would be happy to send a pdf copy of the dissertation to any interested readers. It is entitled “Soteriology as Motivation in the Apocalypse of John” and applies Toulmin’s model of argumentation analysis to the text of Revelation. I hope to get it published sometime in the next few years but that will depend upon finding a willing publisher.

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Looking back over my life and the road that led to the completion of this dissertation, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude to those who have contributed and sacrificed not only to help me complete the project, but to shape me into the man that I am today.
            To my beautiful wife Jenny: there is no doubt about it, I married up. You have shouldered the weight of sacrifice for this project far more than me; and that with unflagging love and without a single complaint. My respect, admiration, and love for you has done nothing but increase since the day we said “I do.” Thank you! To my boys Elijah, Benjamin, Paul, and Micah: thanks for your patience—daddy’s big book is finally done!
            To my parents Michael and Debby Stewart: thank you for your consistent support, love, and encouragement from diapers to diploma—I am who I am today because of you. To my other mom, Karen McAlister: thank you for entrusting your daughter to my care and for embracing me as a son.
To the professors at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Columbia International University that have personally guided and mentored me along the way: Dr. David Alan Black, Dr. Andreas J. K√∂stenberger, Dr. Chip McDaniel, Dr. William J.  Larkin, Dr. John D. Harvey, Dr. Bryan E. Beyer, Dr. Don N. Howell, and Dr. Joel Williams—thank you for approaching your work as a vocation and ministry and not simply as a job. I have benefited as much, if not more, from observing the sincerity of your lives and faith than from your teaching and research, which was, of course, also exemplary.
To the leaders and members of Tabernacle Christian Church in Southington, CT: thank you for instilling within me, from a young age, an insatiable longing for God’s presence and a focus on the heart, not just the externals, of walking with God. To Carey Baptist Church in Henderson, NC: thank you for embracing my family as your family. Your love and support made this project possible and made our ministry in Henderson a joy.
           Finally and preeminently, thank you God for including me within your people, loosing me from my sins, redeeming me from among mankind, and placing your seal upon me thereby enabling me to overcome. I long for your salvation—the coming of the day when you will finally, fully, and completely set everything right in your creation.      

Graduation


The long doctoral journey has finally been completed. God has led us through four years of undergraduate study, three years of graduate study, and four more years of doctoral study. My doctoral research focused on the main point or purpose of the book of Revelation so if anyone has any apocalyptic questions feel free to contact me. I certainly do not know everything about the book but I have learned a few things over the past few years :-). The graduation ceremony was a bit surreal and definitely memorable.

The “hooding” part of the ceremony.

My two bosses: Dr. Andreas Köstenberger (on the right) was my second reader; I worked as his research assistant for 3 years. Dr. Benjamin Merkle (on the left); I worked as a graduate fellow with him for a year.


Dr. David Alan Black; my major professor and a full-time academic missionary (follow his ministry and musings at http://daveblackonline.com/blog.htm). Dr. Black, more than any other person I know, models a sold-out missionary lifestyle for king Jesus.

Dr. Al James; Professor of Missions and pastor of Carey Baptist Church (our home church for the past four years—we miss yall dearly)

 Paul loves hats and stole it at the first opportunity!










Micah also seemed to enjoy the celebration!
 


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

All that paperwork!

Well, they finally arrived!  Passports in the mail!  Yippee! 


All that paperwork and filling the same document out 4 times was well worth it.  There was great excitement as the boys "carefully" ripped into the heavy envelope containing the long awaited documents. 








Now we are just waiting on Mommy's to arrive...apparently the marriage certificate I have is a certified copy and not a court ordered certified copy therefore not enough evidence Alex and I were hitched 10 years ago (happy anniversary to us!).  Prayer request: that my (Jenny) passport would arrive soon!