Gordon-Conwell Blog

Compass: Theological Expedition | Seminary Student Blogger

July 26, 2012

This is the second installment in Dim's series chronicling his and Gayles' adventure this summer through Compass. Read Part 1 here. Enjoy!

Dim Alldridge

‘Fresh’ from having not taken a shower for 9 days in the Adirondacks, the Compass students arrived back in South Hamilton ready for some much needed (and requested!) ablutions and facing a whole new set of challenges which we call the Theological Expedition.

Gone are the backpacks, camping stoves, blisters and bushwhacks; now our 26 students from across the U.S., who by now feel like they have been best friends for years, are pushed, stretched, built-up and sometimes even broken-down, in a completely new way.

Six big questions are tackled (and hundreds more asked):

  1. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
  2. How is a 2,000-year-old book relevant today?
  3. Is Jesus really the only way?
  4. What’s so great about the Church?
  5. How can we live in the world, but not be of the world?
  6. How can we know God’s will?

Each day, one of the Gordon-Conwell faculty members came in to tackle a subject and gently blew our minds from God’s word. We wrestled with issues, we struggled with problems, we debated and we questioned. In humility, we had to confess the things we don’t know, whilst at the same time discovering new things that we can know about our God who is far more wonderful and wise than we ever realised before.

This theological expedition couldn’t have been much more different from the wilderness expedition, but the friendship that had been built in the mountains and the trust that had been earned by the leaders in the wilderness allowed the Compass students to be ready and open to grow in their knowledge and love of the Lord. This is a good thing because after six days, we all got on a bus to Logan Airport and flew to Nicaragua for the next part of our adventure, the Ministry Expedition.

Which explains why, right now, I am sitting on a rooftop, surrounded by palm trees, with the sound of strange bird calls, the smell of great coffee, and a vita of jungle-covered volcanoes before me.

Dimitri (Dim for short) and his wife, Gayles, moved to the U.S. from England in 2011 to pursue a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell. He grew up in a little town in England called Sevenoaks and completed his undergraduate degree in Automobile Design at the University of Coventry. Upon graduation, Dim spent some time as a ski instructor, a church intern and an assistant pastor. When he’s not pretending to study, he’s usually dreaming about skiing.

 

Tags: Author: Dim Alldridge , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Compass: Wilderness Expedition | Seminary Student Blogger

July 24, 2012

This is the first installment in Dim's series chronicling his and Gayles' adventure this summer through Compass. Enjoy!

Dim Alldridge

Does spending 28 days with 26 kids aged 15-18 sound like fun? Not if you’re normal no, but as our American friends like to tell us, my wife and I aren’t normal! And it’s not just the way we say aluminium, car park and rubbish; it’s because we’ve chosen to spend a month of our summer holiday (that’s ‘vacation’ in English) being leaders on Compass.

Compass is a program run by Gordon-Conwell for young Christians who have been identified as showing potential as future Christian leaders and who already have an interest in Christian ministry. Needless to say they are not your average 15-18 year olds! They are, in actual fact, completely amazing as I discovered in the Adirondaks last week.

The first third of Compass, known as the "Wilderness Expedition," is spent with La Vida. La Vida is the outdoor education department of Gordon College and has a base camp close to Lake Placid, NY. The morning after the Compass kids arrived, many flying in from all over the States, we drove up to spend the next nine days team building, rock climbing and hiking in the wilderness. Six of the nights were spent camping out in the wilderness and learning to survive in the great outdoors.

During the days we climbed mountains, bushwhacked through the forest and learned how to use a map and compass, all while carrying packs which were bigger, and at times heavier, than some of the kids themselves! And we loved it! Every one of us achieved goals we never thought possible and formed some wonderful friendships.

Yet for me the best moments of all were spent around the campfire at night. We would share stories of the day, study God’s word and then tell our testimonies.

There is something about the flicker of firelight, a ceiling of stars and the warmth of a sleeping bag, not to mention helping each other to climb a mountain that day, which encourages people to share, to pray for each other and to bear one another’s spiritual burdens too.

Perhaps it’s been too long since you took a walk in the woods? I highly recommend it.

Next up, theological expedition back at Gordon-Conwell.

(If you know any young people who will be 15-18 next summer, why not talk to them about the Compass program? Find out more about what they offer.)

Dimitri (Dim for short) and his wife, Gayles, moved to the U.S. from England in 2011 to pursue a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell. He grew up in a little town in England called Sevenoaks and completed his undergraduate degree in Automobile Design at the University of Coventry. Upon graduation, Dim spent some time as a ski instructor, a church intern and an assistant pastor. When he’s not pretending to study, he’s usually dreaming about skiing.

Tags: Author: Dim Alldridge , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger

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On Tights and Obedience: Part 2 | Seminary Student Blogger

July 19, 2012

This is part 2 of Tim's series on his journey to seminary. You can read part 1 here.

Tim Norton

So there I was, confronted by the choice to either ignore God and pursue music theatre or obey and give it up. I was not a happy camper. After I got over my prideful pity party, I obeyed and took an internship with a campus ministry. It wasn’t comfortable. Only this time it wasn’t physical discomfort; it was spiritual. Obeying God and following him into ministry required the death of a lot of my pride. I wanted to make it in show business, man! But, God was calling me elsewhere. Obedience wasn’t comfortable.

Round three. Seminary. Somehow, I had built the expectation that seminary was going to be academically intense, but more-or-less…you guessed it…comfortable. I mean come on, how bad can three years of studying the Bible be? I’m basically going on a three-year retreat. Those things are NEVER uncomfortable. Right? OK fine, change is a little unsettling. But that’s it. Once I get through that, I’m golden. Yea. Not so much.

Once the novelty of a new home, new degree, new everything wore off, God allowed the real discomfort of seminary to set in. And I was blindsided by it. Coming into an environment of solid, healthy Christian community, I realized that I had lived most of my life in survival mode. I gritted my teeth through the good, bad, ugly, and painful moments of life and just kept plowing through. Imagine a soldier on the battlefield: When the war is raging, you don’t have time to be injured. You wrap your wound and keep fighting, unaware of how bad it really is. Only when you get into the sterile, safe environment of a hospital can you expose your wounds and deal with them properly. Seminary was like this for me. It continues to be like this for me. I had issues that I didn’t even know about and God began to expose them and invite me to deal with them once I came to seminary. Several of my friends here have gone through similar experiences and none of us found it very comfortable.

But ya know what? Looking back, I’ve come to realize that it is the uncomfortable moments of life that have been the most important. It is to such times of discomfort that I can look and measure my growth as a Christian. The Bible offers countless stories like this. Abraham wasn’t comfortable when God called him to sacrifice Isaac. Moses wasn’t terribly comfortable confronting Pharaoh at first. Jesus most assuredly wasn’t comfortable when faced with his crucifixion. The calling of God is more important than our comfort.

What uncomfortable situations have you been in? Are you in one now? To be sure, not all discomfort falls into the category that I’m talking about, but maybe yours does. Maybe God is calling you to do, say, or pursue something that isn’t very comfortable. Maybe God is calling you to NOT do, say, or pursue something – that’s usually more uncomfortable. It might not be anything huge like a career shift. Maybe God is prompting you to take a friend to lunch, to open up to a mentor, confess a sin, or set aside a consistent time of prayer. Regardless, obedience doesn’t always feel like a warm hug surrounded by springtime and roses. Sometimes it’s about as comfortable as wearing tights for six hours past “too long”. But it’s always for the best.

And that, my friends, is why I appreciate tights. They aren’t comfortable and I’m VERY grateful I don’t have to wear them anymore. (Seriously – so grateful.) But, they were my first lesson in obedience through discomfort, a lesson I will never forget.

Tim Norton is a born-and-raised, small-town Southerner with the sweet tea addiction to prove it. He comes to Gordon-Conwell as a Kern Pastor-Scholar and plans to pursue pastoral ministry in the U.S. after graduation. Tim is a big personality with a strange affinity for the color orange. Currently, he attends GENESIS Church, an Acts 29 church plant in Woburn, MA.
 

 

 

 

Tags: Author: Tim Norton , future students , student blogger

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I LOVE YOUR POST! I'll be moving to a new place soon too, and this is a prompt reminder that obedience sometimes requires us to be uncomfortable, to put to death our own pride and control. :)
Celine Ma 11:03AM 07/24/12

We Have Become Like Our Gods, A Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

July 17, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

We know you are right and we know we’ve been foolish.

Yes, they have eyes but do not see.
They have ears but do not hear.

Fashioned from wood and stone
and paper
and cotton
and sugar
and flesh
they cannot see or hear and yet we bow.

How slummy are our hearts and how anemic our affections.

We are quick to turn our faces from Your throne
to seek lesser, lower lovers.

And before Your good Self,
we notice ours
in new nakedness.

We have become like our gods.

It is us who have eyes but do not see
and ears but do not hear.

we are the fashioned ones, in self-perpetuated works of crafting our lives with materials of wood and stone
and paper
and cotton
and sugar
and flesh.

Our rightful place is among those thrown into the fire – not here in Your presence, with Your seeing, hearing Self who is grand in appearance and the only Speaking One we can name.

No, here we are out of place.

We cannot see or hear.

And yet we bow.

Because we know it is only here that we find our true selves. Here, Your Self gives name and, therefore, promise.

You give us eyes unscaled and ears unwaxed.

And so we ask You to be this God again with us today.

See us with pity and hear us with mercy.

Until our eyes are opened…

and we become like our God again.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , spiritually vital , student blogger

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great prayer! reposting!
Forrest 10:24AM 07/17/12
Wow, Amy. "Here, your Self gives name and, therefore, promise." Amen.
Megan 10:19AM 07/17/12
awesome.
Abram K-J 10:01AM 07/17/12

Why the Big Pause? | Seminary Student Blogger

July 12, 2012

Dim Alldridge

A Panda walks into a bar and says to the barman,

“I’ll have a pint of beer and……………………..a packet of chips, please.”

“Sure,” says the barman,

“but why the big paws?”

May 7th – September 10th, 18 weeks, 126 days, or about 1/3 of the year. That’s how long we have off between the end of the Spring Semester and the start of the Fall Semester. That’s not something I mention too often to the folks back home, or in my support letters for that matter!

So, why the big pause? Why do we stop studying for one third of the year? Why, when the rest of population of the U.S. gets around 10 days off per year and the rest of the world (who are only slightly less obsessed with work) get around 25 days off per year, do we get 126 days off, just in the summer?

Why not squeeze in another semester? (And by “squeeze” of course I mean just have another semester exactly the same length as the other two and still have 7 weeks off.) Why spend 126 days forgetting all the Greek and Hebrew vocab you just learnt? Why spend 18 weeks getting out of the habit of working hard, when it was only in the last two weeks of the semester that you actually got into the habit of working hard? Why take 3 years to finish your degree program at two semesters per year, when you could finish it in 2 years taking three semesters per year?

Of course there are lots of good reasons. To earn money so you come back next year, to catch up on a few intensive classes so you can finish on schedule, to reacquaint yourself with your wife/husband/children or to give yourself a break from those little vocab cards; to name just a few.

But here’s one more suggestion.

It’s not because we need the break from hard work, and certainly not because we need a 126 day holiday, but it’s because seminary isn’t about force feeding as much as we can into our heads in as short a time as possible. It’s about learning to love the Lord.

Seminary is great, but only if you get out of seminary. Learning about God is great, but only if you love him more. Perhaps we need a third of the year out of class so we can put what we’ve learnt in class into practice? Perhaps we need 18 weeks out of seminary in the real world, so that we can remember why we’re in seminary and what a privilege it is to be here? Perhaps we need 126 days to meet real people with real lives and real needs who speak normally, to make sure we don’t forget what we’re doing and who we’re doing it for.

It’s a long time until September 10th. What are you going to do?

Dimitri (Dim for short) and his wife, Gayles, moved to the U.S. from England in 2011 to pursue a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell. He grew up in a little town in England called Sevenoaks and completed his undergraduate degree in Automobile Design at the University of Coventry. Upon graduation, Dim spent some time as a ski instructor, a church intern and an assistant pastor. When he’s not pretending to study, he’s usually dreaming about skiing.

Tags: Author: Dim Alldridge , current students , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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I very much appreciate Dimitri's comments about finding balance. The pace at seminary can be very rigorous and and draining and it is good to change the pace once in a while to let your mind breath and to spend extra time in working on your relationship with God, ministry involvement, and focusing on your family (especially in the summer when your kids are out of school). Balance is the key to so much in life. I would add to Dimitri's post that most students don't actually take the summer off. That is quite rare. Rather, they change up the pace, taking some Semlink courses or several intensive summer courses. It's easy to take as many courses in the summer as you do in the fall or spring, but the format and pace is very different. Less time in the classroom means more flexibility for family time, travel, ministry, and work. That's was my experience and, I believe, the experience of most of other students. I wouldn't call this a pause, but a much-needed change of pace. Thanks for your wisdom Dimitri and I pray that you and Gayles have great change of pace this summer and return refreshed and recharged for the fall!
Scott 1:40PM 07/16/12
The wisdom that Dim exudes is refreshing. In fact, they should just call it wisdim.
Christian Eriksson 10:52AM 07/12/12

True Hope You Can Take to the Bank | Contact Magazine Excerpt

July 10, 2012

We recently published our Spring edition of Contact, Gordon-Conwell's ministry magazine. In this issue titled Hope Against All Odds, Dr. Ed Keazirian, Dr. Carol Kaminski, Dr. Roy Ciampa and Dr. Karen Mason offer their take on true hope in all circumstances. Other articles include alumni reflections on hope, and a story of God’s providence in poverty-stricken Madagascar. Below is an excerpt from Ed Keazirian's contribution, "True Hope You Can Take to the Bank."

Edward M. Keazirian

In recent years, our nation has experienced more than a seven-fold increase in bank failures. In such uncertain economic conditions, one might be advised to seek a more heartening metaphor than a bank to express the security of our hope.

We might consider Ben Franklin’s proverbial “death and taxes” as an alternative to the banks for expressing dependability, certainty and permanence. However, in a culture that confuses true hope with wishful thinking, optimism, positivism and other attitudes about the future, even the certainty of death and taxes falls short of the security of the hope we see proclaimed in Scripture. Death and taxes have their temporal limits, but true hope trumps even death and taxes because true hope is eternal.

Read more...

Dr. Ed Keazirian is Assistant Professor of Greek and Director of the Greek Language Program at Gordon-Conwell. In addition to his teaching, Dr. Keazirian is involved in multiple ministries through his local church, the First Baptist Church of Danvers, MA. Dr. Keazirian’s scholarly interests include the Greek language, Graeco-Roman backgrounds to the New Testament, Pauline studies, ancient rhetoric, biblical theology and Greek inscriptions in Asia Minor. His personal interests include Boston sports, classical music, jogging and British murder mysteries.

 

Tags: Author: Ed Keazirian , faculty blogger

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On Tights and Obedience: Part 1 | Seminary Student Blogger

July 05, 2012

Tim Norton

Tights are uncomfortable. I said it. I meant it. And, I’m probably one of the few guys on the planet who can personally vouch for it. But ya know what? I appreciate them. Now, before you revoke my man card entirely, let me explain.

I started undergrad with aspirations of pursuing Digital Arts and Computer Engineering. In my opinion, it was a solid career field with a great reputation for financial stability after graduation. There was just one small problem…after working my first 8-hour shift behind a computer, I wanted to slam my head through the screen. I was MISERABLE. In addition to that, I was beginning to take my relationship with God a little more seriously around this time and I felt this strange conviction that I should probably pray about my life and career goals before pursuing them. What I novel idea: praying. Why didn’t I think of it sooner?

The more I prayed, the more I felt God calling me to pursue Music Theatre. What?! God doesn’t call people to theater does he? Really? So, I took a little leap of faith (a grand jeté for all you dancers out there) and decided to see what God had up his sleeve. I had always loved singing and acting. I just never allowed that to be a career option because it wasn’t financially stable enough for my liking. God, in his infinite knowledge and loving wisdom, called me to pursue a degree in music theatre. I was so excited. Here’s the problem: music theatre people dance. Dancers wear tights. I had to wear tights. *insert ominous music here* It wasn’t pretty. In fact it was quite ugly. Seriously, for those of you who are highly imaginative, I’m so very sorry. Try and think of something else. (On a side note, I will say there is nothing quite like spandex to motivate you to get in shape. But that’s not the point.) The point is…tights. If I was going to obey God and pursue theatre, I was going to have to suffer through tights. Yikes. It was then that I learned obedience is often not so comfortable.

After a few years of intense training, several shows, and countless hours of rehearsal, I was ready to graduate with my Bachelor of Music in Music Theatre. I had done it! I pushed through the discomfort of WTFTLS (wearing tights for too long syndrome) and was ready to step out into wide world of professional theatre full time. New problem: as I was praying through my contract offers, I felt God calling me to something infinitely more uncomfortable than wearing tights. He was calling me to the pastorate. Whoa whoa whoa. Preaching? Really? Why the heck was I studying theatre if I wasn’t going to do that professionally? More importantly, why in the world did I go through the discomfort of wearing tights for so long if it wasn’t part of my career path?! Come on!!

What happened next? Stay tuned for my next post!

Tim Norton is a born-and-raised, small-town Southerner with the sweet tea addiction to prove it. He comes to Gordon-Conwell as a Kern Pastor-Scholar and plans to pursue pastoral ministry in the U.S. after graduation. Tim is a big personality with a strange affinity for the color orange. Currently, he attends GENESIS Church, an Acts 29 church plant in Woburn, MA.
 

 

 

Tags: Author: Tim Norton , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger

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No Newness Yet | Seminary Student Blogger

July 03, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

You are the God of beginning and birth and newness. At the dawn of the day, we can hardly dismiss Your staggering way of genesis among us.

And yet, in the many crevices of our hearts, we notice that which is not new and territories where there is no newness.

We hear Your radical promises of healing, and we remember those in Turkey who are newly without homes or clean water or daughters or daddies.

We read of Your infinite willingness to make alive, and images come to mind of mothers searching the rubble for their babes.

You said, good God. You said.

And we want to believe.

But we imagine You distant and hidden in these places where there is no newness …

yet.

Would You give us imaginations of faith to see and anticipate the inception of Your mercies; grant us the willingness to dream again in prayer and petitions for a world of birth in place of this death.

Grace us with Your Self in the darkness of these not-new phrases, give us the courage to whisper "yet".

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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I love the phrase "imaginations of faith to see." Yes. It's great.
Tim 10:21AM 07/03/12

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