Jesus, The Bible, & Beer Pt 1

It was the early 2000s and my very first day of seminary, and not just any seminary. I was at one of the largest, and most respected Southern Baptist Seminaries in the world. And before class I took a 5 mile run around campus. When I returned I realized that I had worn a hat, which had the word “Budweiser” on it. I literally felt some anxiety, because I knew that would be frowned upon by my Baptist brethren, and thus threw it in the trash. I was all in and had signed a form which said I wouldn’t drink, cuss, chew or run with those who do! I would soon realize that many of the students (who also signed the morality clause) did not follow it, but more about that later.

I was married with two children at the time, and had given up a radio gig in Miami that paid me more than I was worth to work a 6 hour shift, and then go to the beach each day. I can’t believe my marriage lasted as long as it did after moving her to an apartment on campus…an apartment that was so close to a railroad track that I could high five the conductor on his fly by. But both she and I thought the good Lord had called us to this place and time. We believed we were right where He wanted us.

The journey first began when the planes hit the twin towers on 9/11. I will never forget (as many of you) how helpless and hopeless things felt at that moment. I wanted to do something to help! After the attack I believed that our world would never be the same, and people needed two things. One, they would need people with counseling experience, which I had due to my masters in clinical psychology. Two, they would need God, and I was raised in a Christian home, loved Jesus, loved people, and was ready to sign up before being drafted.

So there I was in seminary, which reminded me so much of my Christian School days growing up in West Virginia. I wasn’t raised Southern Baptist. Hell no, they were too liberal! So we were Independent Baptist, and I was sent to a Christian School, which viewed Bob Jones University as the Harvard for Jesus folks. I kid you not, I had a music teacher who told us that there was proof that rock music would turn you gay. According to “Mr. Music” someone had placed two male rats in a cage, and repeatedly played rock music. Well, it wasn’t long until “Bert & Ernie” started seeing each other in a whole new way! I quickly looked over at my friend Todd who I knew loved the devil’s music! He didn’t seem gay, but maybe the Joan Jett poster, his amazing basketball skills, and the cute girlfriend were just a cover? He eventually got married to a beautiful lady so maybe he just didn’t listen long enough.

So, I was headed to my first class of seminary where the professor would say something that felt like the equivalent of a 10 pound bowling ball being dropped on my lap. And it would lead me to run…run across campus to the prayer room where I found something very strange. When I opened the door (at one of the largest seminaries in the world) it was empty. There was not a soul (no pun intended).

To be continued!!! I will soon let you know what the professor said that would haunt me for years.

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Tony Russell

Hello, my name is Tony and I have a lot of great advice, because I have made a lot of mistakes! I am a former licensed counselor and pastor, but I have learned more about life through my experiences than my education. I make my living as the host of the morning show on 98.7 The Bull in Portland, Oregon. Being a counselor didn't stop me from hitting a midlife crisis. I began questioning everything from my self-worth to my spiritual beliefs. And if that wasn't enough, surprise! I found out I would be getting a divorce. This has all lead to a journey that can be full of extreme anxiety, depression, and soul searching. I have the same questions as you do and maybe together we can find some answers. My goal for this blog is to share my journey in hopes that it will help you better navigate this amazing time in life. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me. I know life can be difficult, but I find that it is easier when we do it together!

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