Tag Archives: Life Story

Round One

[audio:http://galleryd.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Ozzy-Osbourne-Crazy-Train.mp3|artists=Ozzy Osbourne|titles=Crazy Train]

Life is a blur.

It’s hard for me to believe the summer is gone and I’m already stepping into my second semester at Campbell Divinity School. It’s even harder for me to believe that I have only been a seminarian for about six months; the experiences and lessons I’ve had already seem rich enough to fill a lifetime.

In my first semester, I learned to look at the Bible from a new perspective in Dr. Tony Cartledge’s Old Testament class. I began to understand the complex steps scholars have taken to identify biblical authors based primarily on the unsigned materials they left behind millennia ago (i.e., the Bible). More than anything else though, I have picked up a deep appreciation for the beauty and wisdom that permeates the ancient Hebrew scriptures.

I picked up some more knowledge on how the Bible came to be in its present form in my Introduction to Theological Education class with Dr. Michael Cogdill. I also gained some insight into what it means to be “called” by God to a task, and how people have interpreted and responded to their own calls throughout time. Dr. Cogdill’s class marked the beginning of my own journey of exploration into the classical spiritual disciplines, which have continued to captivate me to the point that I have lead a study on the disciplines with other adults at my church, and continue to find new avenues of application in my own life.

Dr. Daniel Day helped me to discover the difference between an essay and a sermon. As a person who has done a fair amount of writing, I have never been very fond of outlines or strict methodology, but my Ministry of Preaching class with Dr. Day opened my eyes to an entirely different genre of writing — one that is part conversation, part lecture and part prayer. My sermon writing and delivery has improved as a result, and I have found several opportunities to put my preaching lessons into practice over the past few months.

In Worship & Spiritual Formation I gave some serious thought to my own life and tried, as objectively as possible, to chart out the course of spiritual development I have taken over the past 24 years, identifying the major movements, and mentors, that have helped build me into who I am today. I began to understand a little more clearly what Christian fellowship is really all about, and what I can do to help foster that fellowship in all of my interactions with others.

The weekend I spent in downtown Raleigh participating in a poverty simulation pushed me to redefine what it means to be homeless. I walked away from that experience with a keen sense of the value of the personal relationships I hold dear in my own life, and just how illusory our culture’s concept of wealth is.

I signed up for Designing Church Ministries and Programs hoping to get a few pointers on holding Wednesday night youth lessons or putting together a Sunday school lecture, but Drs. Brian Lee and Johnny Ross had plans much deeper than that. Over the course of the semester, our class re-evaluated what it means to be a church in a post-modern culture, and picked up some valuable insights and timeless truths to help keep us focused as we seek to further the Kingdom of God in a rapidly changing world.

Dr. Bruce Powers explained the concepts and principles of servant leadership, as demonstrated by Jesus, in a class called Congregational Leadership — then he proceeded to live out his teachings over the rest of the semester, never missing an opportunity to push us to a new level of thinking as he challenged us to reconsider our preconceived notions of what it means to be a leader, how to identify the relational dynamics in complex situations and how to understand — and even embrace — the paradox of living a life of faith.

As if this whirlwind wasn’t enough, I decided to tack on a summer class: Introduction to Urban and Social Ministries with Professor Stan Yancey. Nearly every Monday in June and July, my fellow students and I visited, observed and discussed projects in place at a variety of very different ministry sites in downtown Raleigh. From homelessness to AIDS; mental illness to chemical addictions; broken families, broken dreams and broken faith; clothes closets, soup kitchens, day cares and emergency shelters — we took it all in, and I would venture to say that not one of us closed out the summer as quite the same person he or she was on June 1.

My first semester at Campbell has been simply incredible. Academically, I have been challenged more than I have by any school experience I have had before; at the same time, I have never felt burdened with work — each experience has truly been a joy. Spiritually, I have been nourished and encouraged beyond anything else I have ever experienced. Every day I walk into class absolutely amazed at how awesome Yahweh is. I continue to be blown away at how my experiences at Campbell keep building directly on the spiritual and academic foundation God has been laying in my life all along.

Hang on.

Here comes the next step.



Eight and a half years ago, I met my wife.

Seven and a half years ago, I found the courage (via AIM) to ask my future wife out on a date.

Two weeks later, she broke up with me. Apparently, it was because she didn’t want to spoil our friendship. Blah! Word of advice girls: that doesn’t make it any neater.

Seven years ago, after a wonderful summer together, I began dating my best friend.

Three years ago today, we were married in an outdoor chapel pieced together with hand-hewn stones overlooking Grandfather Mountain.

Two years ago, we left our mountain home in search of new adventures, and new jobs.

One year ago, we shared a brief glimpse at the beautiful tapestry of life God has been weaving around us.

Today, my best friend and I woke up to the sound of our baby crying in our room and our puppy trying to break through the wall and do her part to help (or at least enjoy) the situation.

Happy Annivesary!







Why Samuel?

People have asked and I haven’t given a good answer yet. A comprehensive explanation is probably not possible, but I hope to begin to answer this question for myself, my son, and anyone else who may be curious.

While it was one of the most significant things we have done as a family, naming our firstborn was quite possibly the easiest decision Kristen and I have ever made together. Samuel just fit. We both thought of it independently. We had joked about other names before, but when it came time to make a list, there was only one boy name on it.

There are several reasons why we settled on Samuel, not the least of which is the fact that it’s simply a fine sounding, timeless name.

Samuel became especially significant to me early last year when my position was cut at the newspaper I had been working at and I found myself with an abundance of time on my hands. I began focusing on developing a more disciplined daily routine and one of the big elements in this new routine was an increased level of scripture study, in addition to devotional readings. The first book I decided to explore, for no particular reason at the time, was Samuel. If I want to be honest (and I do) then I have to admit that up until this point, my knowledge of the Old Testament was hazy at best. I knew all of the key stories and characters, but really understanding how those stories fit together and what drove those characters to act like they did had been left out of my Sunday school lessons.

Samuel made the biblical narrative real to me.

First and Second Samuel document the history of the early Israelites during the time of Samuel — the prophet, priest and final judge of Israel — continuing through the rise and fall of the nation’s first monarchs, Saul and David. Reading these stories of Samuel, Eli, Saul, David and Jonathan, I was struck by how very real these men were. These were the great characters of the Bible, the pioneers of our faith, but understanding their journey means understanding that they were not much different from you and me. They were very real men with very real flaws, yet they loved God with all their might and wanted desperately (with a few exceptions) to serve him. Samuel was a great leader and a devout man of God, but he wrestled with the same problems I face today: pride, fear and frustration constantly threaten to hold him back from the tasks God has set before him; he wants his own sons to know the Lord and seek him, but he understands that ultimately he cannot be responsible for their choices; he has trouble reconciling the ideal community of fellowship God has called his people to with the reality of their situation and the desires of the nation. Samuel, David and Saul may have moved in the upper echelons of society, they may have had personal encounters with God too intense for us to possibly imagine and they may have lived in a radically different world 3,000 years ago, but they were still more down-to-earth than most of the people I come across at church, at school or on the street.

Samuel helped make God real for me. My most ardent prayer — my greatest hope and strongest desire — is that he will be real for my Samuel as well.

Another lesson that I learned from Samuel came from a simple phrase often repeated by the biblical author: “Do what seems best to you.” This phrase is repeated, with some variation, throughout the story of Samuel. Elkanah says it to Hannah once it is revealed that she has pledged Samuel to a life of temple service; Saul’s soldiers offer this affirmation to their leader; David uses the phrase as he heeds the advice of his generals; Mephibosheth uses it to express humility before the king

When Eli receives a prophecy of God’s displeasure with him and his sons, he simply concedes: “It is Yahweh; let him do what seems good to him.” When David decides to begin construction on a new temple at Jerusalem, Nathan tells him, “You should go and do whatever you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.” Once Samuel has established Saul as the nation’s first king, the judge leaves the young man with a final word: “When these signs have taken place, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God will be with you.”

When the prophet’s announced “God is with you” to David and Saul, they were speaking to the kings in a particular context. Still, as Christians, we know that God has sent us his Counselor to guide us as we make our way through life. If our desire is to live within the Lord’s will, his desire for us will become clear.

It may be dangerous to simply say “Do what seems best to you,” especially if there is a possibility that our bad choices may be interpreted as God’s bad guidance. An important part of maturing is accepting responsibility for our actions; an important part of growing as a Christian is trusting God to guide us when we seek to make responsible decisions. This lesson from Samuel came to me at an important crossroad in my life, a time when I had to make a responsible decision but no choice seemed absolutely clear. Finding this balance between freedom and faith, between personal responsibility and surrender to the universal, is a constant struggle for me, and I’m glad.

My first wish for my son is that he may come to know God in a real way; to love him and seek him out, just as the prophet, the king and the shepherd boy did many years ago. My second wish is that he may have the faith to trust God with his hard decisions; to have the humility to know that, even if he is a king on Earth, he will never be able to walk the journey alone, but he does need the courage to act in faith — to “do what seems best” — because after all, as Samuel so eloquently said, “God will be with you.”

Coming Home

Samuel David Anderson

• 7 lbs. 14 oz.
• 21″
• Absolutely Wonderful

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Charting the Course

Reflecting pool at Butler Chapel

Following months of careful prayer, long hours of personal reflection and a host of conversations with my own spiritual mentors, a short voice mail left on my mobile phone Friday put my mind at ease and marked the beginning of a new phase of my life. My application had been accepted. In January, I will begin working towards a Master of Divinity degree at Campbell University in Buies Creek.

Since I began the application process nearly three months ago, I have known without a doubt that God has called me to better equip myself as I work to serve his purpose with my life; pursuing formal theological training was the clear step to take, and looking back, it is obvious to me that the Lord brought me to this place for this purpose from the beginning of my journey.

I originally made this Web site to present myself and my work to potential employers. I quit my job at the Sanford Herald in October and, while I will not place any limits on what tasks God may use me for in the future, I don’t plan on looking for another newspaper job anytime soon. I hope to revamp the site in the near future to coincide with the new direction my life is taking, but in the meantime I would like to share my admissions essay with you to hopefully answer any questions about the circumstances that have brought me to this point. As always, feel free to contact me if you want to talk more.


Butler Chapel at Campbell

As a Christian saved by Christ’s love, I have no greater task before me than spreading the truth of God’s love to those who don’t believe — either because they haven’t heard, or because their hearts have been hardened in such a way as to keep them from truly understanding the message of Christ. From the time I dedicated my own life to Christ I have hoped that everything I do, whatever job I work at, wherever I live and whatever circumstances I find myself in, that I live my life in such a way that others would see Christ working in me. I believe this is the duty of every Christian, and that everyone can be an effective piece of the body of Christ by seeking to please Him everyday. I also believe there is an unprecedented need for spiritual support in the world today, and I want to equip myself as well as possible — spiritually, mentally and physically — for a life of daily service to the Lord. I feel sure I will find that preparation at Campbell University.

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