Gordon-Conwell Blog

After Santa Fe: Talking to Your Child about Tragedy

May 23, 2018

After Santa Fe: Talking to Your Child about Tragedy

Dr. Karen Mason, Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology

The Santa Fe school shooting brings home, yet again, the violent nature of our society. At a distance, we pray for the families newly devastated by loss and for hope and healing within their communities. Closer to home, parents in the general public wonder how they are to approach the sensitive topic of school shootings with their own children. As you care for the needs of the young and tender hearts in your life, consider the following tips:
  1. Be their best source of information. While it may be tempting to protect your child from knowing that bad things happen, it is best that they get the news from you rather than from someone else. You will be able to share your conviction that God is still sovereign and is with us even in the midst of tragedy. One way to start the conversation is to ask what your child already knows. Ask “what have you heard about …?”
     
  2. Be truthful. This does not mean that you need to share every detail. Share only what your child can understand at his or her age.
     
  3. Talk about everything you and your child’s school and community are doing to keep your child safe. Stick to your mealtime and bedtime routines as much as possible. This helps children feel safe.
     
  4. Monitor your child’s access to media. She or he doesn’t need continual exposure to the event. Young children might think that the tragedy is happening over and over.
     
  5. Listen to your child’s feelings about the event again and again. Younger children might want to draw pictures about their feelings. You can share your feelings, too. All humans have an emotional reaction to tragedy. Children will be able to see that though you have feelings, you are able to continue on. Help build your child’s resilience, the ability to recover following a challenge. Share your faith in God’s sovereignty and how that comforts you when tragedy strikes. Help your child to understand that we can’t control everything but we can take responsibility for some things. Share what is good alongside what is bad. Mister Rogers would advise us to look for the helpers in the midst of the tragedy. Help your child find safe harbors. Build a strong family life. Nurture hope.

If you find your child is not bouncing back, finding a counselor who can help them further is a good idea.


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National Tragedy and Self-Care

May 22, 2018

National Tragedy and Self-Care

Dr. Jacqueline Dyer, Director, MA in Counseling Program, Boston Campus

When Santa Fe High School students and teachers went to school last Friday, they had no inclination of the devastation awaiting them. A student armed with a shot gun and a pistol went to the school and opened fire on an art class. He murdered 10 people—8 students and 2 teachers—and wounded at least 10 others.

The details and motivations of the attack are now beginning to emerge. With them, reporters tell and retell the story and victim reports with increasing specificity and with a frequency that can traumatize, or add to the trauma of some listeners. The unintended result is that these knowledgeable sources may fail to help the broader community as it struggles both to know “Why?” and to feel some possible restoration of their shattered sense of safety.

Those affected by trauma may experience shock, numbness, anger, fear, anxiety, grief and loss, irritability, and/or a sense of “unreality.” The younger the person affected by the event, the more likely it is that behavioral issues will manifest (e.g., aggression, hyperactivity or changes in attention). Tragedy can also provoke a crisis of faith. When the “why?” is not easily answered, some may begin to question if God is truly just. Unanswered “whys” turn into questions about God’s goodness and power. Extreme distress and crises of faith may lead to suicidal thoughts.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but includes examples of the range of responses we, or those close to us, may experience after a traumatizing event like this. In fact, these reactions may appear whether we are directly or peripherally involved. In the aftermath of tragedy and in spite of the never-ending news stories, it becomes important to consider how to take care of ourselves. Here are just a few ideas that can get us moving in a healthier direction:  

  1. Turn off the news. Once you feel you have learned what you need to know for the moment, step away from the news cycle. When you’ve had time to process the information, you may again be ready for new updates.  
     
  2. Get moving. Engage in your favorite form of physical activity to clear your mind and vent your emotions. Physical activity like walking, running or cycling, releases natural chemicals in the body that increase our sense of well-being.
     
  3. Reach out to family and friends. Staying connected can reduce or eliminate our sense of isolation when dealing with devastation. An important variation of this is staying connected to our faith communities. Among fellow believers, we might find answers to questions—answers we cannot find on our own, and the Bible encourages us to remain connected.
     
  4. Pray. Prayer is not mentioned last because it gets done after everything else. Rather, we remember best the last thing we saw, read or heard; so including prayer last may give it the strongest echo in our memories. Of all the relationships that keep us grounded, prayer keeps us connected to the one who can take our anger, tears, worries and more. Over time, our prayerful encounters with God can help us find the restoration we need in our attempts to return to life after the tragedy.
     

Dr. Jacqueline T. Dyer is Assistant Professor of Counseling, Director of Counseling and Academic Support Initiatives and teaches at the seminary’s Boston Campus. She holds a Ph.D. from the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, and an M.A in Urban Ministry Leadership from Gordon-Conwell. She formerly was Assistant Professor and Field Coordinator at Eastern Nazarene College, and an Adjunct Professor at Simmons, Salem State and Wheelock Colleges of Social Work. She has served in clinical and supervisory positions at Family Intervention Team, Abundant Life Counseling Center, Roxbury Preparatory and Edward Brooke Charter Schools, Cambridge Public Schools and Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership. In addition, she is on the leadership team for Clergy Women United of the Black Ministerial Alliance.


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Reasons to Live: Become the Beacon of Hope to Those Who Have No Hope with Dr. Karen Mason

March 16, 2018

Reasons to Live: Become the Beacon of Hope to Those Who Have No Hope

Karen Mason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Author of Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors (2014, IVP)

In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, Dr. Karen Mason is featured in Discover the Word's Reasons to Live podcast addressing suicide prevention. Listen below for the final of five episodes.

 



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Reasons to Live: The Gospel and Our Faith in Christ Offer Hope with Dr. Karen Mason

March 15, 2018

Reasons to Live: The Gospel and Our Faith in Christ Offer Hope

Karen Mason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Author of Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors (2014, IVP)

In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, Dr. Karen Mason is featured in Discover the Word's Reasons to Live podcast addressing suicide prevention. Listen below for the fourth of five episodes.

 



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Reasons to Live: The Hope of Christ with Dr. Karen Mason

March 14, 2018

Reasons to Live: The Hope of Christ

Karen Mason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Author of Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors (2014, IVP)

In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, Dr. Karen Mason is featured in Discover the Word's Reasons to Live podcast addressing suicide prevention. Listen below for the third of five episodes.

 



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Reasons to Live with Dr. Karen Mason: Episode 2

March 13, 2018

Reasons to Live: Episode 2

Karen Mason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Author of Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors (2014, IVP)

In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, Dr. Karen Mason is featured in Discover the Word's Reasons to Live podcast addressing suicide prevention. Listen below for the second of five episodes.

 



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Reasons to Live: Discover How Hope Can Help Alleviate Despair with Dr. Karen Mason

March 12, 2018

Reasons to Live: Discover How Hope Can Help Alleviate Despair

Karen Mason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Author of Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors (2014, IVP)

In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, Dr. Karen Mason is featured in Discover the Word's Reasons to Live podcast addressing suicide prevention. Listen below for the first of five episodes.

 



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"A Tribute to Billy Graham" by Dr. Garth M. Rosell

February 22, 2018

A Tribute to Billy Graham


Dr. Garth M. Rosell, Senior Research Professor of Church History

It is difficult to imagine a world without Billy Graham. For the better part of a century, his has been the voice that everyone recognized; his has been the character that everyone admired; and his has been the message that gave hope to thousands around the globe. He walked among kings and presidents but he never lost the common touch. He preached to millions but never lost his own sense of humility. He enjoyed access to the rich and powerful but lived modestly in his rustic Black Mountain home. 

Like John Wesley before him, he made the entire world his parish. Billy Graham "will go down in history,"1 Martin Marty has suggested, "as the best known, most traveled, most influential, and in many ways most representative evangelical Protestant" in recent history. Dozens of new ministry initiatives and organizational structures, from Christianity Today and The Hour of Decision to The Billy Graham Pavilion at the New York World's Fair, have been inspired by his vision; scores of books and articles have flowed from his pen; numerous world leaders have sought his advice; major conferences and congresses, from Berlin and Lausanne to Amsterdam, have been held under his auspices; and (what is perhaps of greatest significance) hundreds of thousands of men, women, boys and girls have responded to the gospel invitation he has extended so faithfully at the close of every service. 

Those of us who are part of the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary community have been especially blessed by his life and ministry. Not only was he one of our principal founders but also he served faithfully for many years on our Board of Trustees and spoke at many of our most important gatherings.

"I have read," wrote Billy Graham at the end of his autobiography, Just As I Am, "that Johann Sebastian Bach ended each composition with these words: Soli Deo Gloria–'To God alone be the glory.' Those are my words as well, at the end of this project." One could hardly find a more appropriate epitaph to characterize the life and work of one of the true giants of our time.

 1 Martin E. Marty, "A Surprising Revolutionary," in Christianity Today (November 13, 1995), p. 27.

 

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Gordon-Conwell’s Long-Standing Position on Women and Ministry Preparation

February 05, 2018

Dennis Hollinger, Ph.D.

President & Coleman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics

In the light of recent public statements and social media exchanges regarding women seminary faculty, I want to clarify the longstanding position of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

In light of our multidenominational identity, Gordon-Conwell fully affirms and respects the rights of denominations and churches to set their own standards for ordination. At the same time, it has long been our position to strongly affirm both our women students who come to us to pursue theological education and our women faculty who help provide it. We believe that the privilege of teaching and studying the Word of God at seminary knows no gender distinction, and that, indeed, the perspectives of both genders are essential for the fullest understanding of biblical texts, incisive theological reflection, and healthy community.

We fully affirm and rejoice in the contribution of our women faculty. As women created in the image of God, we as a seminary community are deeply blessed by their intellectual prowess, ardent pursuit of holiness and deep witness to the love of Jesus Christ in the communal life we share together. We would be deeply impoverished without their leadership, guidance and presence among us.

While we at Gordon-Conwell recognize that there has been, is, and will continue to be, robust debate around the issue of women’s ordination to the ministry, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the women who come to us for training to the ministries for which God is calling them. Most especially, we as a seminary administration, faculty, staff and students stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our women faculty who have dedicated their lives to the training of both men and women for Christian ministry.

Dennis Hollinger, Ph.D.

President & Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics

 

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Advent Devotional Day 23: He is Coming

December 25, 2017

 

2017 Gordon-Conwell Advent Devotional

Day 23 | He is Coming
 

Revelation 22:20

 

Jesus has come. He was born in Bethlehem as Mary’s son, conceived by God’s Spirit, with Joseph as his earthly father. He grew up in Nazareth and then lived in Capernaum and proclaimed the Kingdom of God throughout Galilee. He died in Jerusalem on the afternoon of Nisan 14, April 7, ad 30, a Friday. He rose from the dead on the following Sunday. He ascended to Heaven 40 days later. Jesus will come again. He promised: I am coming.

This coming is certain: Yes, I am coming. Jesus guarantees that he will come again. The specific date of this coming is unknown. Jesus promises: Yes, I am coming soon. Jesus comes soon to local churches in judgment and blessing (Rev 2:16; 3:11). He comes soon in the judgments on the world and the believers’ confrontation with evil that John’s visions describe (Rev 22:6). And he comes soon in his second visible coming when he brings the final defeat of evil and the full redemption of his people.

Jesus will come soon, “like a thief,” (Rev 16:15), suddenly and unexpec-tedly. He will come to lead his people to springs of living water and to wipe away every tear from their eyes as death, mourning, crying and pain disappear in God’s new world (Rev 7:16; 21:4).

On Christmas Day, followers of Jesus rejoice in Jesus’ first coming in the little town of Bethlehem. On Christmas Day, and on all days, we pray marana tha (1 Cor 16:22), come, Lord Jesus (Rev 22:20)–on the world stage, everywhere, wherever we live.

 


 

 

 

     Dr. Eckhard J. Schnabel
     Mary French Rockefeller Distinguished
     Professor of New Testament

 

 

 

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Advent Devotional Day 22: Low People, High Birth

December 24, 2017

 
2017 Gordon-Conwell Advent Devotional

Day 22 | Low People, High Birth
 

Luke 2:1-20

 

Familiarity breeds contempt. That’s what the popular saying promotes: When we’re familiar with something, we may miss what it says or lose appreciation of it. Have you been there?

A few years ago my wife, Rhonda, and I went on an anniversary cruise in the Caribbean in December. Christmas music played monotonously over the ship’s speakers. At times we’d look at each other and sarcastically hum, “Once in Royal David’s City.” We do that with repetitious, canned Christmas music. Or worse, we may roll our eyes at hearing once again, at this time of year, the reading of the account of Jesus’ birth.

What do we do when we turn to Luke 2:1-20 to read it? Can we read it again for the very first time and hear the incredible message?

God chooses the lowly. This familiar text reminds us that God chose a lowly town, Bethlehem, in which the Savior would be born. God chose a lowly place—a stable—in which Christ was born. God chose lowly people, Joseph and Mary, to be Christ’s earthly parents. God chose lowly shepherds to be the first to communicate Christ’s birth.

Why does God do this? Why does God choose the lowly?

God chooses the lowly to show his holiness. Lowly Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds talked with the holy angels. The contrast between earth and heaven highlights the fact that God is different from us—God is holy, we are not. The earth is contrasted with heaven in this passage. Lowly people are contrasted by holy beings. The contrast shows us the difference between humanity and God. To be holy is to be different, other, transcendent, perfect—He is God and we need him. We aren’t transcendent or perfect, we’re in need of a God. We are very different from God, and we need him.

What, then, is the reason that God chooses the lowly to show his holiness?

God chooses the lowly to show in his holiness that Jesus Christ is Savior to all kinds of people. The angels announced Christ’s birth and the shepherds told others. The lowly shepherds were chosen by God to show in his holiness that Jesus Christ is Savior to all kinds of people. The shepherds were told that Jesus is Savior, Christ and Lord.

Savior was a familiar title to both Jews and Gentiles. Christ was the title of the Messiah. Lord had divine connotations associated with it. Jesus is Savior to all kinds of people. The angel promised (v 10) that the news would bring joy for “all the people.” Then the chorus of angels promises that this salvation is given “to men on whom his favor rests.” This salvation is for all kinds of people. The high-born and the low-born—for all on whom God’s favor rests, those whom God chooses.

We’re those “all kinds of people,” people, aren’t we? We come from different backgrounds. We come from various kinds of families. We may come from wealth or may have had just enough, or even from homes with barely enough. But lump us all together and we’re simple people in need of a Savior. We are lowly. But God is holy.

And what did he do? In his holiness he gave Jesus Christ as Savior to us—all kinds of people.

God chooses the lowly to show in his holiness that Jesus Christ is Savior to all kinds of people.

 


 

 

 

     Dr. Scott M. Gibson
     Director of the Center for Preaching;
     Haddon W. Robinson Professor of Preaching and Ministry

 

 

 

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Advent Devotional Day 21: Unlikely Witnesses

December 23, 2017

 
2017 Gordon-Conwell Advent Devotional

Day 21 | Unlikely Witnesses
 

Luke 2:8-14

 

When a great world leader makes a visit, he or she is greeted with much fanfare by other world leaders. Red-carpet welcomes and lavish state dinners announce the important event. At this season we celebrate a birth, a visit to our world from someone whom the Christian faith declares to be far more important than any world leader—our Lord himself, Jesus. But his birth was not marked by any direct announcement to the world leaders of his day (the Roman Emperor or his regent in Israel, Herod), or to the movers and shakers of his society (the Jewish religious leaders). Instead, Luke 2:8-14 indicates that an announcement was made to some shepherds who were tending their flocks at night. This was a most unlikely announcement, and yet a most appropriate one as well.
         
Because shepherds were always walking in sheep waste and touching dead animals, they were always ceremonially unclean according to Jewish law. So they were never allowed to worship in the Temple, and thus occupied the lowest rung on the social ladder of the day. They were the untouchables of their society, and so the angel’s action in Luke 2 is shocking. Why make such a stunning announcement to such an unlikely audience?

But this is not all. Those to whom the angel appeared in Luke 2 do not seem to have been ordinary shepherds. We have evidence that there was a designated group of shepherds whose task was to raise the lambs that were to be sacrificed in the Temple in Jerusalem. These “temple shepherds” and the lambs they cared for resided in fields outside of Bethlehem. Recognizing this enables us to see the appropriateness of choosing these shepherds as the first ones to whom the announcement of Jesus’ birth was made.

These people who raised the lambs for Temple worship but were never allowed to take part in that worship, who were outcasts even though they were indispensable to Jewish religious life, were the ones the Lord chose as the first non-family members to hear about, and to behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.




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     Dr. Donald Fairbairn
     Academic Dean, Charlotte Campus;
     Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity

 

 

 

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