For the Church:

One More For the Road

A few months ago, I wrote a post here on Medium titled, “Where I Am, Where I’ve Been, How I’m Changing, and How I’m Not.” In it, I revealed some of the ways that God has been molding me as I have grown theologically and experientially.

As I started writing that post, I had no idea that Midwestern Seminary would soon be on my radar. In fact, I only knew MBTS as the guys that brought Charles Spurgeon’s desk to 2014's T4G conference.
Fast forward two months. Now, I’m in my basement, twelve hours out from departure for Kansas City, Missouri, to go to Midwestern, and I feel like I owe you an update before I go. It might be a little while before we talk again, so let me fill you in.

Why Midwestern?

Around a year or so ago, I was finishing up a season of intense theological study. I was nose-deep in books thicker than my head (that’s pretty thick!) and becoming haughty. I was evolving into the guy that Paul warned about in 1 Timothy 6 — puffed up with conceit and craving controversy. I started praying for gentleness, for understanding, and for the mind-truths of Scripture to be pushed down into my heart, where they can culture. I’ve got a long way to go, surely, but God in His grace has helped me push through some of the prideful temptation of academia and see the Truth — His Word, as it speaks of itself. Praise God that He took a puffed-up sinner and deflated him a bit (though he still could let a little more hot air out)!

That said, God, in His sovereign working, led me to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, an institution that exists for the Church. This is where I feel like I need to exist and grow because it is how God wants all of us to exist and grow — functioning in and for the Church, among and for His people, living for the proclamation of the gospel. I’ve had some interesting experiences when it comes to education, but I can plainly see God’s hand in everything happening at Midwestern Seminary and in the path I have taken to get there. I can’t overstate this: It is an honor to be a day away from calling Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary my home. Dr. Allen has been a great steward ever since he took the reins at Midwestern, and I have no doubt he will continue in biblical stewardship as the school grows and is strengthened. The culture being created at Midwestern is distinctly centered on Christ’s church, and I can’t wait to be part of it.

Room for Growth

Academic prestige aside, the thing I most anticipate about Midwestern (and Kansas City) is that there is room for growth. Midwestern Seminary is the fastest-growing school in the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Dr. Allen is practically forming the Avengers of theological education with each new acquisition (I feel compelled to mention that my favorite author, Jared C. Wilson, now works for the school). If there’s anything healthy going on in the SBC — and there certainly is — I think you can look to its seminaries and affirm it, particularly the things happening at Midwestern.

But all glamour aside, Kansas City and Midwestern Seminary will give me room to grow. Being thrown eleven or so hours away from everything I’ve ever known will hurt. Sure, it will be liberating, at least a little, but it will make me cry and ache.
But it will be good. It will be new. And if there’s anything I have learned about Jesus, it’s that he is in the business of using newness to set the stage for his glory. And I long to bring Jesus glory.
I can’t wait to get plugged in to a church (shoutout to Emmaus Church, who has piqued my interest!). I can’t wait to live on such a theologically astute campus while simultaneously living inside a metropolitan area that is home to over 1.5 million lost people. I can’t wait to press into the lives of others as I meet them, to establish real relationships centered on the work of Christ and the working of the Spirit in our lives. I can’t wait to work alongside friends on homework and spiritual disciplines alike. These will all be great. And they will help me grow. But most importantly, they will help me grow into deeper affections for Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World who came in the likeness of man to become sin, all so we could wear the righteousness of God. To His name be the glory and the honor and the power forever!

Where I Need You

As I said, this will be hard on me, and it will definitely be hard on my family. Leaving East Tennessee is a thought that scares me; leaving East Tennessee for Kansas City is even scarier. I would have never imagined even four months ago that God would have wanted me to move so far away from everyone I loved, everyone so formative in my life — and to do it alone!

Here are some areas I would love for you to pray with me in:

  • I struggle with loneliness. Moving to such a foreign place all by yourself seems like a massive red flag. Pray that God will sustain me and that I will rest in Him, not in the wish-dream of companionship. Pray that God helps me feel comfortable in my church family and on campus. Pray that, if I do find myself lonely, God will show me how He is using it for His glory and my good so that I do not feel perplexed by it.
  • I haven’t really done the school thing in a year, so pray that I manage my time well and put systems in place early on that reinforce Christlikeness in academics.
  • Sometimes I’m just discontent. Pray that I like it. It sounds so plain, but it would mean everything to have someone pray this alongside me.
  • Most of all, pray that my experience at Midwestern will push me into nothing less than the exultation of Christ in my life. I want to make much of God and little of Cody. Pray that this happens because it’s the only thing that matters in the grand scheme of things.

I’m glad I have this opportunity. I’m nervous about moving so far away, but I’m trying to rest, all of my deadweight on the Spirit.
I’m begging you…gear up with me. We’ve got a lot to learn together.

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psalm 115:1 (ESV)