Gordon-Conwell Blog

The Past and Future of Gordon-Conwell | Seminary Student Blogger

April 09, 2013

Dimitri Alldridge 

During the Reformation, Martin Luther was warned that if he started one new church he would start a thousand.

Thankfully, Luther ignored the warning and the protestant Church was born, but sadly the rest of that prophesy also came true.

As Christians we have a nasty habit of dividing. The last figure I heard (from our very own Todd Johnson, no less) is that there are now around 58,000 Christian denominations around the world.

58,000!

Of course, as Luther demonstrated, there is a time for unity and a time for disunity.

The real difficulty comes in telling the time.

In class on Monday, I heard the history of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In 1969, Harold J. Ockenga, Billy Graham and some other Neo-Evangelicals set up a school that would provide a third way between the Liberals on one side who so absorbed the culture around them as to be indistinguishable, and the Fundamentalist on the other side who so feared culture that they withdrew altogether.

They divided, and they united.

The school, as I understand it, was set up to unite Evangelicals around the truth of the Bible and to prepare them to serve faithfully in churches whatever their denomination and to engage in the culture wherever they were sent.

To that end, Gordon-Conwell doesn’t really exist to serve any particular denomination or any particular church. Instead, it exists simply serve the Church and the Gospel.

Of course I say “simply,” but refusing to be denominational or to align itself with any group more specific than “evangelical” is anything but simple. There are and always will be enormous pressures upon Gordon-Conwell to go one way or another.

And so I fear for Gordon-Conwell and I’m also thankful for it.

In one month’s time (and after a lot of long nights!), I will graduate from Gordon-Conwell.

I will be sad to leave this wonderful and special place.

I only pray that by God’s grace it will remain firmly grounded on God’s Word, serving his Church and for his Glory.

If we do that then we will divide from some and unite with others, perhaps that’s just the way it has to be.
 

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 , future students , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Die Well | Seminary Student Blogger

February 21, 2013

Dim Alldridge

I’m not really a fan of blogs. Am I allowed to say that on a blog? Yes I am, and that’s the problem with blogs! I can say anything, and most of the time I don’t have much to say, and what I do have is certainly not worth reading.

Perhaps the other problem with blogs is that most of the people who should write them don’t or can’t.

That is the case with Samuel Rutherford. Praise the Lord that blogs weren’t invented in the 17th century! But letters were and the letters that Rutherford wrote are (I think) some of the most marvelous ever written. Do yourself a favour sometime and get a copy of The Letters of Samuel Rutherford out of the library, make a cup of tea, find a comfy chair and spend a few hours slowly reading the words of a man who really understood, believed and pinned his life upon the truth of God’s sovereignty.

I’m not the only fan of Samuel Rutherford of course. Another fan is Faith Cook and she has taken many of Rutherford’s letters, which almost read like poetry in the first place, and put them in poetic form.

Here is one.

Rutherford once wrote to a friend called John Kennedy who had recently miraculously been saved from an accident at sea that should have killed him. In typical Rutherford style he took the opportunity to write and teach Kennedy from his experience.

But entry was denied—the door was locked
For Christ who holds the key of death
Bade you return, restored your breath,
Your life He kindly spared,
For He who reads the heart, knew well
The armour of your soul was unprepared
To foil the Prince of hell.

Now in the strength of Jesus rise with haste,
Your eager course fulfill with joy, nor waste
The lingering hours of time’s short day;
For evening falls and beckons you away
To stand before the gate.
And then, die well, for life’s last tide
Must swiftly ebb and will for no man wait
One moment more beside.

Die well, and Christ the Master of the grave
Will pilot you through death’s impetuous wave;
He knows the rocks, the shifting sand,
The proud winds bow before His least command.
It is but once we die,
And none returns to try again;
Then well prepare, till you with joy reply.
‘For me to die is gain’.

(Taken from Rutherford’s Letter 22)

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 , future students , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Struggling to Struggle | Seminary Student Blogger

December 06, 2012

Dim Alldridge

This morning I read 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10…

“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.”

Paul writes those words as an encouragement to Christians who are facing persecution. God is just and justice will be done.

Perhaps some of you need to hear that today? Undoubtedly there are Christians around the world today who need to be comforted by these words. Brothers and sisters of ours who are facing terrible opposition for faithfully cherishing the name of our Lord Jesus Christ need to be reminded that God loves them and he will see that justice is done. The faithful will be saved, the guilty will be punished.

There is a time for that truth to be a message of hope.

But that’s not what struck me as I read 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 over my bowl of cereal this morning. What struck me was the sobering truth that one day…

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

I struggled to read those words this morning. I struggled after reading them to pray with my wife and give thanks for those words. I struggle to accept them. I struggle to believe them. I struggle to understand them.

And here’s why I struggle.

Because I know God, and I love God with all my heart. Because I know that He is love and is the God of grace and mercy and forgiveness and justice beyond anything I can fathom.

And because I also know my family and I know my friends who don’t know God. And I love them with all my heart too.

And so I struggle, and I will continue to struggle.

But here is the question that I must ask myself, and I’m asking you. How are you struggling?

Are you struggling with the concept or the truth that…

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

Or are you struggling to tell people that truth? To teach people that truth? To pray for people and to seek every opportunity to share that truth and the glorious hope of the gospel of Christ with them?

What good is it for me to struggle to understand and accept the truth of heaven and hell, which I truly believe, if I do not struggle all the more to tell people that truth?

I am sitting in Goddard Library with papers to write and exams to revise for. That’s ok, there is a place for papers and for exams. They are important. But let me remind you of something that I have forgotten too often over the last few years…they are not THAT important.

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

I’m struggling with that truth. Today my prayer is that my struggle would lead somewhere.

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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Nothing To Give Thanks For? | Seminary Student Blogger

November 08, 2012

Dim Alldridge

The turkey is crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. Just right.

The stuffing is the same as it’s been every year since you can remember, and nobody makes it as well as your mom.

The potatoes are mashed/grilled/baked/roasted (or all of the above) to perfection.

And after you’ve eaten your own body weight in savory goodness, you know there’ll be enough pecan, pumpkin and apple pie to keep you going for the rest of the week!

It’s not difficult for most of us to give thanks on Thanksgiving is it?

When it’s our turn to share with everyone around the table what we have to give thanks for to God this year, I’m guessing most of us could come up with a list long enough to make the turkey go cold without even having to try too hard.

But what if there’s nothing to give thanks for?

What if there’s no turkey keeping warm in the oven? What if there are no mashed potatoes steaming away under your nose? What if there is no ice cream to go with your pie and no pie to go with your ice cream for dessert?

What then? Would we still be thankful?

In the last few words of his book, Habakkuk speaks these amazing words.

“Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

To steal the title of recently published Christian book, Jesus + nothing = Everything.

If we know the LORD, if God is our savior, then even if we have nothing else, we have everything. If we have nothing to give thanks for, but Jesus is our king, then we have everything to give thanks for.

If you search for Thanksgiving on Wikipedia it says this…

“Historically, Thanksgiving had roots in religious and cultural tradition. Today, Thanksgiving is primarily celebrated as a secular holiday.”

Perhaps it’s time we took back Thanksgiving?

Why not celebrate Thanksgiving…today?

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.

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Evangelical Eve | Seminary Student Blogger

October 25, 2012

Dim Alldridge

If I’m honest, I didn’t really understand much of Meredith Kline’s Kingdom Prologue (which is by no means a criticism, possibly quite the opposite!) which was the first reason why one particular sentence, which I did comprehend, stood out.

Since then, the sentence keeps coming back to haunt me. Kline says…

“…in her missionary zeal for her new religion, the woman presented the evil-spell to her husband and made a convert of him (Gen 3:6c)”

It turns out that the first bit of evangelism we see in the Bible has nothing to do with spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ. Eve is evangelistic about sin.

Which got me thinking.

We are often encouraged in our churches, and rightly so, that as Christians we should be evangelists. We should all be involved in telling people the gospel. So we learn ways to explain what God has done for us through Jesus. We practice conversations so that we will be ready to give an explanation for the hope that we have. We organize evangelistic events where we can bring our friends to hear the gospel preached.

And I would be the first to say that all of those things are excellent and praiseworthy.

But the more I thought about Kline’s sentence the more it made me think. What if the real problem is not that we are not being evangelistic enough, but that we’re being evangelistic about the wrong things?

We are so often encouraged to be engaged in evangelism, to be more evangelistic; do we ever stop to think that perhaps we are involved in evangelism all the time, whether we realise it or not?

Eve gave the fruit to Adam. She was evangelistic about eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. With her life and her actions and her words (presumably), she promoted sin to her husband and he, like a sinful idiot, listened and believed.

Until I read that sentence in Kingdom Prologue, it had honestly never occurred to me that we could be evangelistic about anything other than the evangel, the gospel. But of course what Kline points out is that that is simply not true.

We can be evangelistic about anything: our sports team, our political party, our favorite restaurant. In fact, we’re evangelistic about those sorts of things all the time. We are constantly encouraging other people to watch this, or listen to this, or try this.

My point is we are all engaged in evangelism all day, every day. Every day we communicate to the people around us by words or with our actions, what we believe.

So the real issue for Christians is not that we need to be involved in evangelism more. No, the real issue is, are we being evangelistic about Christ, or something else?

You are an evangelist and so am I, whether we like it or not. The way I spend my time, the way I spend my money, the way I dress, live, play, laugh, study, speak, think…they all proclaim a message to the people around me.

You are an evangelist. So what is the evangel you are spreading? Are you preaching the gospel of hard work? Are you preaching the gospel of the American dream? Are you preaching the gospel of the Red Sox, or the Yankees, or the Patriots or some other sports team? Are you preaching the gospel of beauty?

Eve was an evangelist for sin. We are all evangelists for something. The question is, if it’s not Jesus, then what is it?

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 , future students , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Sitting at the Feet of Richard Baxter | Seminary Student Blogger

October 04, 2012

As some of us begin a new year at seminary I was struck by these words from Richard Baxter in The Reformed Pastor (the capitals are from the 17th century, not me!).

“… think this one speech better deserveth a twelve month study, than most things that young students spend their time on.
O brethren! Write it on your study doors – set it in capital letters as your copy, that it may be ever before your eyes. Could we but well learn two or three lines of it, what preachers [and, we might add, students or professors or counselors or Christians] we would be!

  1. Our general business – SERVING THE LORD WITH ALL HUMILITY OF MIND, AND WITH MANY TEARS.
  2. Our special work – TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES, AND TO ALL THE FLOCK.
  3. Our doctrine – REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD, AND FAITH TOWARD OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
  4. The place and manner of our teaching – I HAVE TAUGHT YOU PUBLICLY, AND FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE.
  5. His diligence, earnestness and affection – I CEASED NOT TO WARN EVERY ONE NIGHT AND DAY WITH TEARS.
  6. His faithfulness – I KEPT BACK NOTHING THAT WAS PROFITABLE UNTO YOU, AND HAVE NOT SHUNNED TO DECLARE UNTO YOU ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD.
  7. His disinterestedness and self-denial for the sake of the gospel – I HAVE COVETED NO MAN’S SILVER OR GOLD OR APPAREL: YEA, THESE HANDS HAVE MINISTERED UNTO MY NECESSITIES, AND TO THEM THAT WERE WITH ME, REMEMBERING THE WORDS OF THE LORD JESUS, HOW HE SAID, IT IS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE.
  8. His patience and perseverance – NONE OF THESE THINGS MOVE ME, NEITHER COUNT I MY LIFE DEAR TO ME, SO THAT I MIGHT FINISH MY COURSE WITH JOY, AND THE MINISTRY WHICH I HAVE RECEIVED OF THE LORD JESUS.
  9. His prayerfulness – ICOMMEND YOU TO GOD AND TO THE WORD OF HIS GRACE, WHICH IS ABLE TO BUILD YOU UP, AND TO GIVE YOU AN INHERITANCE AMONG ALL THEM WHICH ARE SANCTIFIED.
  10. His purity of conscience - WHEREFORE I TAKE YOU TO RECORD THIS DAY, THAT I AM PURE FROM THE BLOOD OF ALL MEN.”

We may not all be pastors, but we’ve all been given the good news to pass on, and we have all been called to ministry. He goes on to say…

“Write these on your hearts, and it will do yourselves and your church more good than twenty years’ study of those lower things, which, though they may get you greater applause from the world, yet, if separated from these, they will make you but as ‘sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal’.”

I’m not sure I want to be a “tinkling cymbal.”

Do you?

 

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

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If Richard Baxter Spoke at the Gordon-Conwell Convocation | Seminary Student Blogger

September 20, 2012

Dim Alldridge

I’m taking Educational Ministry of the Church as a Semlink class at the moment and, as part of that class, you need to read Richard Baxter’s, The Reformed Pastor. I think this is the third time I’ve read this book for my M.Div., but as far as I’m concerned it should be required reading for every class!

And as I read this great book at the start of this new academic year I began wonder…what would Richard Baxter say if he spoke at the Gordon-Conwell convocation…

“What is your goal for this coming semester? For this year? For your time here at GCTS?

If you are a student here today then let me ask you, what are you hoping to learn or discover? What truths are you hoping to test, or examine? What skills are you hoping to hone? What would success look like for you?

And if you are a member of the faculty then let me ask you, what are you hoping to teach, communicate, persuade, encourage or discourage? What are your goals for your students and for yourselves? What are you hoping to read or write, acquire or achieve? What would success look like for you?

As you have thought about this coming year, planned your schedule and chosen your classes, what is foremost in your heart and mind? Where would you like to be in a year or three years or ten years time?

My dear brothers and sisters at the start of this year, a year that I hope will bring you more in love with the Lord and closer to His word, I beg you to put all those other thoughts that you have in your hearts to one side until you have answered this one question…

Are you saved? Have you surrendered your life to Christ and declared him to be the Lord over your past, present and future? Have you died to yourself that you might live for him? Is he your all in all? Is he your everything, is he enough?...”

Of course Baxter would never say it like that. He would say it much better. That’s why students at seminary are required to read his book 355 years after he wrote it and why nobody should be required to read my blog…ever!

But amazes me every time I read the opening chapter of The Reformed Pastor is that he starts by challenging the ministers he is writing to examine themselves and the state of their souls and asking them if they are truly saved.

So should we not also start this year in the same way?

You are a student or a teacher of God’s word. You will learn to read the languages the Bible was written in or teach others to do the same. You will learn the history of the church, the application of the Truth, how to exegete, how to preach and how to counsel.

But do you really know Christ?

Baxter said this:

“Oh what aggravated misery is this, to perish in the midst of plenty! – to famish with the bread of life in our hands, while we offer it to others, and urge it on them!”

In the course of this year the word of truth will often be on our lips and the Word of God will be on our shelves in many different languages. We will quote it in our papers. We will preach it in our sermons. We will share it with others and learn to offer it in comfort. We will argue about it, examine it, study it, learn it by heart and recite it.

But as we start this year the first thing that you and I must do is to ask ourselves, do we really believe it? Live by it? Obey it and strive to keep it?

Whatever else we do this year, let’s start by asking ourselves, am I really a Christian?

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 , spiritually vital , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Really great post! I love how you say, "do we really believe it? Live by it? Obey it and strive to keep it?" Loose yourself in His work and you will surely find yourself!
Orange County Photographer 3:04PM 09/21/12

Compass: Ministry Expedition | Seminary Student Blogger

August 02, 2012

This is the third installment in Dim's series chronicling his and Gayles' adventure this summer through Compass. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Enjoy!

Dim Alldridge

The final part of the Compass Program, the Ministry Expedition, is a short-term overseas mission trip. This year we all headed to Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua.

After a week of preparation, the 26 teenagers from across the U.S. were ready to run three different evangelistic art projects in three different communities in and around Managua; Mural painting and t-shirt making in Los Cedros, garden planting and pavement painting in Los Brasilles, and mosaic making in La Chureca. What they weren’t ready for was discovering a world far outside their comfort zone and the enormous impact they could have in just five short days.

My group was working in La Chureca, a community who gets its name from where they live: in seven square kilometers of trash. Around 2,000 inhabitants survive in La Chureca by trawling through the mountains of trash dumped out of the city of Managua, looking for anything they can reuse or recycle. In all honesty, it is hard to imagine a more desperate place on earth and yet, as our hosts Coburn and Melissa Murray (students from the Gordon-Conwell–Charlotte campus) told us, the material poverty is not the most serious problem facing those who call La Chureca home. This community is rife with abuse, addiction and spiritual darkness.

Despite all of this, in the heart of La Chureca is a Christian school offering children a place of refuge and safety in the short-term, and a way out of this community through education in the long-term. It was here that our group along with Coburn, Melissa and some translators, ran a week of games, activities, mosaic making and story-telling.

It is hard to express in so few words what a privilege it was to work with the 23 children who came along each day. To slowly get to know them, to gently earn the trust of those who have been so hardened by life and to share with them the message of hope which comes only from knowing Jesus was one of the most challenging and humbling things I have ever done. Each one of us started the week feeling overwhelmed by the depth of the desperation we found in La Chureca; yet, just five days later, each of us had also witnessed some of the most amazing examples of hope we had ever seen. Children like Anthony, Fransisco, Franklin and Flora sharing with us how they have hope, because they are clinging to Christ.

With prayers on our lips, smiles on our faces and tears in our eyes we said our goodbyes. After a weekend of exploring Managua and the surrounding areas, we headed back to South Hamilton to debrief not only our time in Nicaragua, but also the month of Compass as a whole.

I have been involved with many summer camps before, but none of them compare to Compass. If you are 15-17 and love the Lord and are exploring the possibility of going into vocational ministry in the future, or if you know someone who is, then I urge you to sign up next year. The wilderness, theological and ministry expeditions will stretch you and challenge you and push you in ways you have never experienced before. But the friendships you make, the opportunities you will have to serve, and most of all the lessons you will learn about yourself and more importantly about the Lord, will change you forever.

It has been a long hard month but, if I could, I’d do it again tomorrow.

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 , student blogger

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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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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

Random Acts of Kindness | Seminary Student Blogger

June 28, 2012

Dim Alldridge

A few Sundays back, a friend of mine was preaching on Mark 14:1-11 where Jesus is reclining at the house of Simon the leper when a woman comes to him and covers his head with perfume. He focused, in particular, on the words in verse 8 where Jesus, commending the woman before the disciples, tells them that “She has done what she could.”

In 1995 American writer Anne Herbert first coined the phrase that to improve our world we should all “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” Perhaps that, my friend suggested over a post-sermon lunch, is what Jesus is calling us to.

But is that what the woman did in Mark 14? Is that what Jesus commended her for and, by implication, gave us as an example to follow?

Random kindness seems fashionable in the Christian world today. We’re told that it is our task to bring Shalom into the world (everything sounds more impressive and theological in Hebrew after all). We’re told that God is in the business of redeeming the world and so as his followers we should be too. And what better way to do that than by practicing random kindness and senseless acts of beauty? After all, isn’t God the one who shows kindness to all and isn’t he the origin of beauty?

And if you’re struggling to feel randomly kind of senselessly beautiful then never fear because there are a myriad of books and websites out there to help you think of ways you can do it. “Put a hundred dollar bill on the windshield of a stranger,” for example, or “Plant a flower in a nearby park, or on the side of the road.”

But is that what we’re called to do as Christians?

Is that what the woman in Mark 14 was doing? No. She wasn’t practicing random kindness. If she was, then it wouldn’t have mattered whose head she had covered in perfume: Jesus’, Simon’s or even Judas’. But of course it did matter. Her act wasn’t random; she did what she did out of love for Jesus.

The truth is none of our actions are ever random. Everything we do we do for a reason, and that reason matters. In fact, the Bible tells us that the reason we do anything changes everything.

In Hebrews 11 verse 6, we’re told that without faith it is impossible to please God. That is a staggering thing to say. Nothing someone does, no matter how kind or beautiful that action may be, can be pleasing to God unless that person has faith in God. Why is that? Because God doesn’t call us to random acts of kindness, he calls us to love him in response to his love. “Be holy,” he says in Leviticus 19 verse 2, “because I am holy.”

The problem with our random kindness and senseless acts of beauty is that they are ours. God calls us to something far harder and far higher; he calls us to imitate his kindness and his acts of beauty for him.

Am I suggesting that we stop practicing random kindness and senseless acts of beauty? Not at all (in fact if anyone feels the urge my car is the red Subaru outside C-Building, random kindness is always welcome). I’m suggesting that the woman in Mark 14 did something far greater and Jesus calls us to something far harder. He calls us to love deliberately, to love sacrificially, to love God with everything and to show his love to all people, all the time.

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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