Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Academic bio

One final word- my academic bio page can be found at

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Last Post…

This will be the last post on this blog- our time in St Andrews is coming to an end on Aug. 27th when we will be moving to Klaipėda, Lithuania.  I have accepted the post of Assistant Professor of Theology at LCC International University.   LCC is a Christian University that’s very missional and strategically placed to proclaim the Gospel in Eastern Europe (see their website for more details).

We feel tremendously blessed to have had these past four years in Scotland; as this blog reveals, God has been faithful and good to us.  Leaving this place will be sad but we are excited about what the Lord has for us in the future.



We will continue to blog at, fittingly,  Please follow our updates there!


For the last post, signing off. 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Graduation Day

On June 19, 2012, I officially graduated from the University of St Andrews.  It was an enjoyable and exciting time of celebration.  Not only did I receive my PhD, I was honoured to be awarded the Samuel Rutherford Thesis Prize for best PhD thesis in Divinity.

Here I am being “hooded”:


I am very thankful for Sara, whose loving support made this accomplishment possible!


Soli Deo Gloria!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

PhD oral defense: success!

On April 30th, 2012, I had my Viva (oral defense) of my thesis.  Things went very well, and I passed with only minor typographical corrections!

Sara and the girls met me afterwards to hear the good news:




Thanks to all our family, friends, and other supporters: this could not have happened without you!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Thesis Submission

I haven’t updated this blog in several months … but there is good reason for that: I’ve been focusing on the PhD thesis and it’s now ready to submit! 


(final copies will, of course, not feature a crumpled title page …)

The final product is 271 pages (not including front matter and bibliography), approx. 80,000 words long.   

Final proofreading has revealed some humorous typos, including “penal substation” (have the dept. of corrections and the power company joined forces?) and “Calgary Reveal’s God’s Final Judgment” (is Canada really that bad?  In my defense, the ‘g’ and ‘v’ keys are right next to each other …).  I suspect I could drive myself mad trying to find every last typo, so at some point one must say, “go little thesis, fly away and do your work …”

More seriously, there are many people who deserve an expression of gratitude for their support.  Below are my acknowledgements and dedication sections—I am painfully aware that I cannot name everyone and will inevitably leave someone out, so please accept my apologies in advance: you are appreciated!


Scotland and more particularly the small university town of St Andrews has provided an idyllic setting for thinking theologically about the gift of the Christian faith. This is largely because of extraordinary relationships we have had with fantastic people. In addition to the empowering support from our families, illumination and encouragement from a number of people have made the time researching this project in St Andrews so very enjoyable. Several deserve recognition.

The donors who have supported us through the Ministry and Education Foundation have proved invaluable. Without their prayer support, encouragement, and financial assistance this project would almost certainly not have happened. Such value and support of academic rigor wed with Christian commitment is truly exemplary.

It has been a privilege to participate in the St Mary’s postgraduate community. These friends have provided a remarkably supportive and intellectually vibrant Christian environment. Special thanks to my colleagues from the Hadow room and all those in the Roundel who have sharpened my thinking, warmed my heart, and encouraged my faith. Further thanks are due to the spouses and families of colleagues who have shared in life and faith with my own family.

The worshipping community at the St Andrews Free Church of Scotland have provided a place for us to grow in our faith and put theology into practice. Special recognition of thanks is in order to Alasdair MacLeod and Grant Macaskill for affording me the opportunity to hone my preaching skills through regular pulpit supply.

The St Mary’s faculty have been enormously helpful and supportive in this project and in my academic development. I am particularly thankful for the interaction given by the participants, both by faculty and students, of the Theology Research Seminar.

While I am thankful to all of my postgraduate colleagues and their families, several merit specific mention for special assistance beyond friendship and support. Patrick Egan, Stephen Presley, Andrew Johnson, Allen Jones, Sheree Lear, Ryan Mullins, and Jim Watkins, amongst others, have been instrumental in my theological and academic development. David Sonju and Ian Church, in addition to being similarly instrumental to my development, deserve a heartfelt expression of gratitude for their personal and emotional support during the times the weight of this research topic became too heavy for one person to bear. In various ways they each have been to me on this quest as Samwise to Frodo, and for that I am grateful beyond words.

I am thankful for my friend John Feinberg, whose mentorship throughout my seminary training has provided the best of foundations for doctoral study. His wealth of experience, his excellence in theological thought, and his commitment to serving the church through academic ministry have illuminated the path I intend to follow; it is an additional pleasure that he continues to walk with me along this path as my friend.

My supervisor, Stephen R. Holmes, has exceeded all expectations in guiding me through this process. His theological insight, probing feedback, and tenacious encouragement have brought me to where I am; his academic and intellectual rigor, theological acuity, and service to the local church are an example of what I aspire to be.

It must be said that my lovely wife Sara is the real heroine of this period of our lives. She worked several jobs to support us financially, bore our two daughters, and propped up our family with countless acts of service and love. Her support and perseverance through the chaos of young children and my erratic work schedule have made all the difference, and the depths of my gratitude for all she has done elude the proper expression she deserves.

Finally, I am thankful for my dog, Piper, who happily accompanied me on countless runs as I sought cathartic release from prolonged reflection on quite depressing topics. You’re a good boy.


To Sara; as the first could only be hers.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pumpkin Carving Party

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but I suppose that’s to be expected with a newborn in the house (on top of finishing up a PhD and applying for teaching jobs!).  Now that Charlotte is 6 weeks we’re starting to get back to normalcy—so much so that we were able to host a pumpkin carving party.

We picked pumpkins from our own garden (with some added from the store for the actual carving, because the home-grown are so incredibly tasty for baking it seems to much a waste to make those into jack-o-lanterns).  IMG_4845


We brought them inside and washed them.



Then we (well, really the adults) started carving.



Kate was of limited help…


…until it came time to tear out the guts!


Eventually we finished and produced some very fine work.




Kate’s is my favourite…


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Welcome Charlotte Joy!

(This post, fittingly, courtesy of Sara)

On Saturday, two days after my due date, I started to get contractions early in the morning. I wasn’t able to sleep since they were coming every 5 to 30 minutes but I was happy things were happening. I was also very pleased to feel the contractions in my abdomen since I had back labour with Kate. The contractions continued throughout the day Saturday but were not strong or consistent. On Sunday the contractions picked up a bit but weren’t too painful. The day was normal for the most part. We went to church, had lunch, I attempted to take a nap and in the evening we went to the park. My contractions slowly got closer together and by the time we were leaving the park around 7:30pm, I needed to stop and concentrate while I was experiencing a contraction.

I told Shawn to go to sleep around 11pm. My contractions were about 7-10 minutes apart but still very manageable. I figured one of us should get some sleep. Around 3am the pain of the contractions increased substantially. I still felt I could deal with the pain but after about 30 minutes I decided I needed Shawn’s help. So I woke him up and he let me grip his hands (I’m pretty sure his fingers were purple) during a contraction while I slowly breathed and slightly bounced on a birthing ball. Shawn decided it was time to call the midwife unit when the contractions were between 4-6 minutes apart. A little after 4am we decided to head to the hospital. We dropped Kate off at a friend’s house and arrived at 5am. In the car my contractions were about 3 minutes apart but I still felt like I was dealing well with things. Once we arrived the midwife evaluated me. I was nervous at this point that I wouldn’t be dilated much but she said I was 5cm and the head was low. I was slightly discouraged at this point but looking forward to getting into the pool.

Once the pool was filled I was told I could get in. At this point, the contractions were coming even closer together and I just couldn’t imagine how I would stand up and step into the tub. About 6am I got in the water. I was hoping for instant relief. I didn’t get that. The water did seem to take a slight edge off and once I found a comfortable position, I was happy that I had decided to get in. I was mentally still trying to deal with the possibility that I had a number of hours more of labor. The midwife and Shawn chatted quite a bit and I just closed my eyes and concentrated on my breathing. Shawn helped me breathe through contractions and gently would remind me to breathe slowly. At one point when the midwife had left the room I got a very strong urge to push. I was shocked and started splashing around in the water and shouting “I have to push! I have to push!” I’m sure I was quite a sight. Shawn just said okay and to breathe and the midwife quickly came back into the room. With a little urging on her part I was able to turn into a good position and regained some control of my breathing. I was urged to push when I felt the need to. About 15 minutes later, at 6:45am on September 5th, Charlotte Joy was born! Shawn got to pick her up out of the water and place her on my chest. She came out with a little cry and immediately settled while she laid on me. A little after 7am, Shawn and I sat on the bed with our little girl just in awe. I couldn’t believe she was already here! Charlotte Joy was a healthy 7lbs 7ozs and 20.5 inches long.


On her name: Charlotte means “free woman”; “Joy” needs no explanation.  It is our prayer that Charlotte Joy would know the freedom found only in Jesus Christ, and that the Lord would be her delight.











Thursday, August 18, 2011

10 Year Anniversary

Today (18 Aug 2011) marks 10 years of marriage for us! What a richly wonderful and fulfilling decade it’s been. I’ve dug through our picture collection for this blog post and come up with some interesting stuff- here goes.

We met in the summer of 2000 and within a few months we both knew where things were headed…


We got engaged on a beach in Florida (notice the sunburn affliction we’re both ignoring in this shot).


Our wedding day was really fun…1

We moved into a tiny, dirt-cheap apartment (I nearly typed “flat”!) that hadn’t been updated since the late 60’s…


For our first wedding anniversary we went hiking around the Wisconsin Dells, outdoorsy folk we tend to be.

2 (dells) 1st

For our second wedding anniversary, we came very close to being crushed to death by a large semi. Seriously, by all accounts we should be dead. It’s a story for another day, but in sum: apart from God’s providence, there’s no good explanation why a semi vs. compact accident like ours amounted to mere body damage to our car rather than multiple fatalities. After the accident we weren’t really up for posing, so I don’t have any photographs of us on our second anniversary. In fact, I just today realized we didn’t take any anniversary shots for the following 8 years (a subconscious link, perhaps?). 3 2nd

My original intention was to organize this post around pictures of each anniversary—an impossible task with an 8 year gap. So here’s some other highlights and events:

At least one of us has been a student for the entirety of our marriage (which, by the way, sounds more stressful than it actually was). With that comes graduations: first, me from Moody, then Sara from Moody, then me from Trinity (and soon from St Andrews!):



TIU Graduation (20)

We bought our first house…


…and did some serious DIY home improvement…


We got a dog…

Thans-Chr 029

…moved to Scotland (with only a few checked bags!)…


…we had our first daughter (and will have our second in a few short weeks!).

The only other wedding anniversary picture I have is from last year, which we celebrated in Paris!

4 9th paris

Looking back through some old pictures, it is evident that we were young and love-struck:


The more recent pictures have changed—we’re a bit older, but no less love-struck:


Biblically there is a strong and important analogy between the marriage relationship and God’s love for his people. Because of this deep love, Christ took on flesh, lived a perfect life, and gave up his life on the cross, paying the penalty due to us. This gracious love brings forgiveness and reconciliation. The highest meaning and the ultimate purpose of marriage is to put on display the covenant relationship of Christ and his church, and Sara and I have done our best to have a marriage that showcases God’s grace and love. Today we celebrate our 10 year anniversary: here’s to many more!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

To the Continent!

Some of Sara’s family came to visit us here in Scotland, and from there her parents took us on a fantastic trip to the continent- Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary!  It was an amazing trip; too much to cover in a single blog post, so here are some snippets:

We went to the Highlands


Spent some time in St Andrews


From there we went with Sara’s parents to the continent.  In southern Germany, we saw castles…


We hiked through the Alps in Switzerland…






…and saw much, much more! 



Kate “helped” us navigate…




We’re very thankful to have experienced such a great trip!


On a slightly different topic…  I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while, as we are regularly embarrassed by American tourists here in Scotland, but since they were just as bothersome to me on this trip, now seems as good a time as any.  So if you'll excuse the sarcasm and allow me the catharsis, I present:

How To Be An American Tourist.

  • BE LOUD.
  • Wear obviously brand new, bright white tennis shoes.  Also, consider wearing tacky t-shirts with an American flag or an eagle: your patriotic fashion will be appreciated by everyone.  It's even better if you can find matching shirts for the whole family. 
  • A few days into your trip, be sure to sport that gear you bought at yesterday's tourist trap.  What Austrian wouldn't appreciate the wit of your "There are no kangaroos in Austria" t-shirt?
  • Talk either about how cheap or how expensive everything is, despite your fundamental ignorance of currency conversion.  Further, shopkeepers enjoy hearing about how cheap their wares are, and by implication, how rich you are.
  • BE LOUD.
  • Showing your annoyance, request ketchup in most every restaurant you visit.  Ignore that waitress's subtle hint that such is not customarily provided in that part of the world. 
  • Do the same with ice.
  • You should absolutely wear a fanny pack.  Preferably brightly coloured.
  • Did I mention you should BE LOUD?  Everything you say- especially in public- should be at a volume noticeably louder than every other non-American around you.  Of course the fellow diners on the other side of the restaurant want to be able to hear your petty and pointless antidote about running out of hairspray.
  • Learn basically nothing about the country you’re visiting, and refuse to read any historical details in any museum or site you might visit.  If you didn’t pick it up in your regular diet of American pop culture, it’s probably not worth knowing. 
  • Assume everyone speaks English; become slightly peeved if someone does not and then SPEAK (in English) MORE LOUDLY to them.
  • Complain- again, LOUDLY- how various things are much better in America.