Archive for March, 2006

I Have Decided…

March 30, 2006

Both Trinity and Southern have so much offer. I wish I could enter the Ph.D. programs at both schools. However, this is one of many parts of life where it is not possible to have it all. I have made my final decision.

Lord willing, this fall I will matriculate (again) at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

For a few days early on I was actually leaning the other way. However, my Dad told me I would find the answer on my knees, and that is exactly what happened, though not as I expected. I prayed about the decision itself, but a moment of clarity came to me as I was praying for something else. One afternoon I was praying for my church members, and the thought occurred to me that I have put a great deal of prayer and labor into this church over the last two years. It would certainly be a shame to move at a time when it looks like some of those prayers are finally coming to fruition. I know I am not indispensible to God’s work, either at my church or anywhere else (no servant of God is). However, I know that I was called to this particular church, and at this time God has not called me away:

– Over the next year, Joyce will either succumb to cancer or she will beat it; I want to be there either to rejoice with her or to preach her funeral.
– Ron and Peggy just joined our church a few weeks ago, and in the process I have built a good relationship with them. I want to see them become an integral part of the church, and I can’t wait to see how God will use them to reach others with the gospel.
– I want to see the new baby that will be born to Travis and Amanda this summer. I hope to be there to baptize their older children when the time comes (Lord willing). I long to see Travis become a strong leader in the congregation, and I have had plans in place for months to take him under my wing for that very purpose.
– Over the last two years, I could count on one hand the number of times I have seen Judy and Lisa, but now they have been coming to church regularly. I am anxious to see what God is doing in their lives, and I want to be a part of it.
– Who knows what else God has in store for us? A number of signs lead me to believe that all of the prayers I have poured into this church are starting to bear fruit, by God’s grace. Again, I realize I am not the only person God could use for this task, but I do believe that changing pastors now would do damage to the church at a time when things are looking more hopeful than they ever have since I began serving there. The academic study of theology is supposed to be done in service to the church. While I know I would still serve the church even if I went to Trinity, at this point in time service to the church means service to real flesh-and-blood people whose names I know and whose hands I have shaken.

My love for systematic theology ultimately stems from my love for preaching. Of all theological disciplines, preaching most overlaps with systematic theology, which is the discipline of applying the whole of Scripture to the contemporary world. It has become clear to me over the last week that the pastorate is an ideal context for me to study systematic theology. God has provided me the opportunity to enter an excellent Ph.D. program in systematic theology while also continuing to pastor a church that I have grown to love over the last two years. In addition, this situation also provides the ideal context for me to be both a full-time student and provider for my family. This would not be the case at Trinity. Yes, we would get by if we went to Trinity, but at what cost? Years ago, Joni and I made the decision that she would devote herself to full-time motherhood if the Lord ever granted us the gift of children. Now that he has done so, I have chosen the option that will give Joni the freedom to be the kind of mother that we both want her to be. The costs of tuition and living expenses at Trinity would have required her to find some way of generating income, and I don’t want that pressure to be put on her. I believe God has opened doors here that will enable us to have the kind of family life that we want while also pursuing further education. Even if I have to pass on the benefits of diversity and depth that Trinity has to offer, as well as the experience of getting in touch with the wider world as represented in the Chicago area, I am happy to do so for the sake of my wife and son. God wants us here. It has been a difficult decision, but ultimately, the will of God is all that matters.

I received my acceptance letter from Southern today. I have been assigned to a faculty supervisor, Dr. Gregg Allison. Dr. Allison is himself a Trinity graduate with strengths in the doctrine of revelation and Scripture, Roman Catholic theology (he lived in Rome for several years as a missionary), ecclesiology, and anthropology. He is very conversant with historical theology, which is a definite plus. I took his class on revelation and Scripture last semester, and I enjoyed it very much. A few of my most recent theological “aha!” moments were hammered out as a result of that class. I look forward to many more over the next few years.

Thank you to all those who offered help with this decision. It was a very difficult one to make, but I am thankful that it was a decision between two great choices.



March 24, 2006

I hope to resume the rhythm of blogging soon. As you can understand, life has been very different around here lately, and we are still adjusting. I have a few things in mind that I want to write about, but they will have to wait at least a little while longer.

With regard to our school decision, it turns out that I have more time to think it over than I originally thought. I have to either accept or decline Trinity’s invitation by April 15th, not April 1st. I confused two different deadlines. Trinity financial aid applications are due by April 1st. I went ahead and submitted mine, but that does not necessarily mean that we will go there. I am still waiting to hear from Southern, so I will take a few more days–maybe up to a week or more–to make a final decision.

In the meantime, life with Benjamin is wonderful!

Son of My Right Hand

March 18, 2006

Benjamin Aaron O’Kelley was born on Thursday, March 16th, at 12:18pm in Louisville. He weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces and was 20 inches long. We brought him home with us today.

The process of labor and delivery was quick and relatively painless for Joni. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. Thank you all for your prayers. God has truly been gracious to us!

This is a picture of me with my new son. Some of you readers have never seen a picture of me before. Contrary to what my profile on the right suggests, I do not actually look like John Calvin.

Here is a picture of Benjamin with his Mommy. He really loves her.

I have started teaching him Greek, but so far he has only been able to cry, whimper, sneeze, and burp. It may be a while before he masters the participles. But he is still the most beautiful boy I have ever seen.

More News

March 14, 2006

I found out today that I have been accepted to the Ph.D. program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Trinity has also offered me a scholarship that comes with the privilege of working as an assistant to the department chair and maybe even giving lectures from time to time. It is not the biggest scholarship they offer, but it is something. In fact, it is something I did not expect. So far in my decision-making process, this situation rarely (if ever) entered my mind. Please pray that God would give us guidance as we assimilate this new information into the process of deciding which school to attend. Southern probably will not get back to me for at least another 1-3 weeks, but I have to operate on the assumption that I have been accepted, since Trinity requires a decision by April 1st. Both Trinity and Southern (and Dallas, for that matter, but I will go ahead and say that we have basically ruled it out) are excellent schools. Now it is a matter of weighing them against each other, with this scholarship factored into the equation.

In other news, still no baby yet. Joni is now at 38 weeks, and we are scheduled to see the doctor again on Thursday (unless we have to go to the hospital before then!).

Ronald Nash, 1936-2006

March 12, 2006

Dr. Ronald Nash died on Friday morning. Dr. Russell Moore writes about him here. I remember the hip-swaying that Dr. Moore describes.

Among many other things, Dr. Nash faithfully defended the Christian faith, stood for the inerrancy and authority of Scripture as the Word of God, and made numerous contributions to a Christian understanding of economics and the state. I hope many faithful servants of God continue his work.

Prayer Request

March 9, 2006

Today Dr. Mohler sent an email to the seminary community informing us that Dr. Ronald Nash, a faculty member here until just recently, is now at the point of death. In the fall of 2003, I took Dr. Nash’s Introduction to Philosophy course. He is a brilliant teacher, and I believe I have a fairly solid grasp of the “big picture” of Western philosophy thanks to him. He authored numerous books including The Word of God and the Mind of Man; Faith and Reason; Is Jesus the Only Savior? (in which he answers, “Yes!”); and Life’s Ultimate Questions, which I just cited a couple of days ago in my conversation with Josh. I consider him to be a towering figure in recent Christian philosophy.

I remember well his great love for Augustine, his gift for presenting complex ideas in a simple way, and his dry and witty sense of humor. He suffered a stroke about a year ago, which forced him to stop teaching (I assume his present illness is probably related to that). I consider it a privilege that I was able to sit under his teaching during what I now know to be the last year of his career. Please pray for Dr. Nash and his family. I am confident that he will shortly be welcomed into his eternal inheritance with Christ.

You can take free online classes (with no obligation!) from Dr. Nash and a host of other excellent scholars at .


March 6, 2006

This morning I took the field essay for entrance into the Ph.D. program at Southern. I just returned from an interview with the faculty. I think it went well. For the essay, I wrote on the doctrine of providence, which is something I have been studying for years. The interview was fairly relaxed, and already knowing the professors helped. I should hear from them within four weeks.

Meanwhile, I still expect to hear from Trinity sometime in the next two weeks. I will keep you posted.

Still no baby yet. But you can bet I will let you know when he comes. Maybe I’ll even post a picture!

What’s Going On With Us

March 2, 2006

Joni was put on bed rest today. She has been having mild, irregular, yet frequent contractions. Her doctor said she has already begun to dilate. Today she is at 36 weeks and one day of pregnancy. The doctor hopes to keep her on medication to subdue the contractions for about one more week, after which I guess we’ll let nature run its course. It is impossible to predict, but signs indicate that our son will probably come before the 28th, which is his due date. The biggest concern is that his lungs may not be fully developed when he arrives (if he comes a few weeks early, but even then it is entirely possible that he could be just fine), so please pray for him. I am so thankful that progress in the medical field has made it very likely that a baby born at this point has a very good chance of survival and good health, but as John Piper has written with regard to cancer, we must seek comfort from God rather than from the odds.

Meanwhile, I’m taking care of Joni, taking care of all things domestic (well, I guess I’m getting by in that regard), taking classes, pastoring, and working part time at McDonald’s. It has been a challenge to juggle so much, so I need prayers too. Also, I have a Ph.D. entrance exam and interview scheduled for Monday. That would be nerve-racking if I were not too busy to dwell on it.

So, if you can pray specifically,
– Pray that Joni and our son would be protected from harm, and that he would be delivered safely into this world;
– Pray that we would be prepared to receive this incredible gift, to care for him, provide for him, and raise him to know and love the Lord;
– Pray that I would have the strength to dedicate myself to all of my tasks, to make the best use of my time, and to glorify God through them all.
– Pray that I would prepare and give my best effort on Monday, and that God would determine the results as he wills.

Blessings to you all.

"Why Men Rule–and Conservatives Will Inherit the Earth."

March 1, 2006

Where would you expect to find a headline like this one? In Woman Bashing magazine (not that there is such a thing, so far as I know)? Actually, this is the title of an article in Foreign Policy written by Phillip Longman. Dr. Mohler discusses the article on his commentary for today. I find it very interesting.

Two significant points from the article are as follows:

(1) Longman argues that a return to patriarchy will fill the vaccuum of a declining society and essentially save civilization.
(2) Longman further argues that brutal, oppressive patriarchy has been the exception rather than the rule throughout history, and that patriarchy that places responsibility on the shoulders of husbands and fathers to care for and lead their families has been good for society.