Gordon-Conwell Blog

Comparison, Christmas and Crimson | Seminary Student Blogger

December 12, 2013

Melissa Zaldivar

It’s Christmastime—which means that we get to spend time celebrating Advent, attending church services and singing carols. It also means that we dress up in wintery colors and make our way from the chilly weather into warm homes to trim trees and eat together. We don our Christmas sweaters and drink eggnog and Instagram things too much.

There is something spectacular that happens when we enjoy one another’s company over food. We are fed physically, but also relationally. I’ve always adored the idea of dinner parties and the chance to spend the season of Advent with people that I care for.

I arrived in Cambridge right on time, which meant that I was the first one there (fashionably late would have, perhaps, served me better socially in this scenario) and made my way inside. Beautifully and festively decorated, I found it to be something very familiar to me. The house of a host at Christmas.

What was different about this house was that it was the house of my professor who serves as the Minister at The Memorial Church at Harvard University. It was a gathering for the students in the class that I took this semester called, “Peasants and Proletarians: Black Religions and the Social Sciences in the 20th Century.”

As a part of the Boston Theological Institute, Gordon-Conwell students have the opportunity to take classes through other grad schools and seminaries in the Boston area. My friend from Gordon-Conwell and I decided to take one at Harvard Divinity School. While I will admit that much of the allure was the promise of Ivy League education, I soon found that the education I had the chance of experiencing was something new that would change the way that I learn completely.

When other people (especially outside the Gordon-Conwell community) hear that I’m taking a class at Harvard, they assume a few things. First, that I’m unrealistically brilliant; second, that I’m somehow more intellectually worth something for gaining a “legitimate academic experience.”

This view of BTI is harmful because it degrades the seminary and it glorifies one college experience (based, I’m sure, on movies like “Legally Blonde” and “The Social Network”) over another. It divides us into groups of “them” and “us.”

I had that mindset going into this class. I was intimidated and overwhelmed by something different and during the break on my very first day, I called my brother-in-law. A seminary graduate himself, he reassured me as I blurted out, “These people are brilliant! And I don’t know what on earth I am doing here. I know nothing about black sociology and I feel like I can’t do it.”

He lovingly said, “If you are in this class, you can do it.”

He was right. These students, while more well-versed in the topic of the class, were still fellow students. They were still learning and eager to do so. I swallowed my pride and continued on with my class.

It became clear to me that what was keeping me from fully pouring into the BTI experience was a division between academia and humanity. These were students with more intellectual experience than I, but they have parents and histories and passions and dreams and personalities. As weeks went on, we learned to understand one another better and from a different perspective than that of Gordon-Conwell and I believe that it made me a better person. And isn’t that the point of education?

C.S. Lewis once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I realized that I was robbing myself of truly connecting with other pilgrims by acting like I was a Gordon-Conwell student who was sitting in on a class at Harvard Divinity School. Instead, I needed to fully invest myself into being a part of that class as a peer and fellow traveler.

More guests arrived at the house and I felt myself relax a little more with every familiar face that entered into conversation. I asked if I could capture a few images and felt a little mom-ish asking everyone to get together for one group photo, but I am so glad that I did. It reminds me that the people we once knew nothing about can become peers, daresay friends. It reminds me that there is a great deal of unnecessary pressure that we can put on ourselves when we see things through a lens of stereotypes and ignorance. And it reminds me that one a cold night in December, I celebrated the holidays and the pursuit of knowledge in true holiday fashion.

We laughed and we engaged in good conversation and we ate food. We took pictures and we trimmed the tree. And while some of these souls are the most brilliant I may have encountered, the great honor of knowing them does not come from their GPA’s or their aspirations. The honor comes from the realization that we learn best when we learn from one another.

Melissa Zaldivar is an MATH student from California. She loves golf, theology, Jewish holidays, people falling in love, Jonathan Edwards, chocolate chip cookies, her adorable niece and telling stories. When she's not filming and photographing weddings, you can find her reading news articles, watching Parks and Recreation or playing Super Smash Bros.
 

 

 

Tags: Author: Melissa Zaldivar , biblically-grounded , current students , student blogger

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On Church and Military Hospitals | Seminary Student Blogger

November 05, 2013

Tim Norton

I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of the Church lately. What is the Church’s role in society today? What is its primary posture towards culture? I think we all know that there are some hot topics floating around that tend to spark debate in this conversation. As I ponder these types of questions, one image keeps running through my brain: The Church should be like a military hospital.

A hospital is known for caring for sick and wounded people. Now, imagine a hospital located near a battlefield. It will service a lot of sick and wounded people. Now, a solider who is wounded in battle does everything in his power to protect his wound from exposure. The battlefield is no place to be wounded. Soldiers have to cover and hide wounds in order to survive, so they wrap, superglue, cover and patch every wound they incur. Only until a solder comes into the hospital is it acceptable to uncover his wounds. It is the job of the doctors and nurses to gain enough of a soldier’s trust to expose his wounds in complete vulnerability. Then, it is the job of the doctors and nurses heal that solider. And so, doctors and nurses expect to see wounds. They aren’t surprised by them. Imagine a solider coming in with a gunshot to the leg and the ER nurse first lectures the kid for allowing himself to get shot. Is that going to happen? No. Step one is heal the wound, not shame the soldier. Then, after he’s healed, step two is tell the kid not to get shot again.

I think the Church, the Body of Christ, is designed to be a hospital for hurts, wounds, sin, habits, etc. We are designed to administer grace. Too often I send a mixed message because I’ve fallen into the false teaching of moving beyond my own need for grace. Theologically I still believe in it, but I switch my focus from my constant need for grace. I want to improve to the point that I don’t need grace and so I hold others to that standard as well. I’m like a doctor who wants to move beyond the need to use medicine. That’s just not right. To be sure, I don’t think the Church should condone sin any more than a hospital endorses battle-wounds; however, we shouldn’t be surprised when faced with sinners. After all, Scripture presents the overabundance of grace through Christ. God’s grace is poured on us like Niagara Falls would fill a paper cup.

The question is, then, how do we become a place known for grace? How do we become a place that doesn’t endorse sin but also isn’t so repulsed by it that we don’t offer grace through Christ. After all, healing and transformation come after and through grace, not before. A military hospital should expect hurt soldiers to walk through their doors. Churches should expect sinners to do the same. How do we change the current perception of the Church? I don’t know. But I know I want to be in a Church that is like a military hospital. It’s the kind of Church I need. It’s the kind of Church the world needs.

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 , biblically-grounded , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger

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The Foxes and The Hunt | Seminary Student Blogger

October 17, 2013

Melissa Zaldivar

I was listening to Audrey Assad’s latest album recently when I heard the words that sparked a hunt in my heart:

“And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy.”

While Audrey is one of the most profound lyricists of our generation, I was haunted by that line, the way that poetry of the Old Testament hangs in the air and I am often left in awe of its beauty. I knew that this line had to be Scripture.

I opened up my Bible and sure enough, there are a number of times that our furry little foes pop up in the entire breadth of the canon. Most of them are in the Old Testament, which is where Audrey’s reference comes from. It’s in Song of Solomon, where the writer admonishes, “Catch the little foxes that spoil the vineyards” (2:15).

Catching foxes is a curious turn of phrase. And one that resonates with me because I work in Hamilton, Massachusetts, just a few miles from campus at a historic Hunt Club. Now, being from California, where being a fox might even be a good thing, the New England culture has been mostly new for me. I’ve never seen a lacrosse game, I’ve never known anyone on a rowing team. And until I started working at the Club, I’d never seen polo played before unless it involved Marco in the swimming pool.

The logo at the Club is a simple, yet profound one. It’s the image of a fox with a horn above it. It’s on the Club flag that flies over the clubhouse and on the divot repair tools on the golf course, and it’s embroidered on every staff shirt just above the heart. Because of how long I’ve worked at the club and because we get new shirts every year, I’ve got more shirts and jackets and hats and even belts with that logo than most people I know.

We wear the logo of the huntsman. This history dates back to the late 1800s when fox hunting was all the rage, and while we do not actually hunt foxes today (but rather the more humane fox scent), it is a tradition. I walk up the hill to work in the little golf shop at the Club as up to a dozen gigantic horses and nearly 40 hunting hounds weave along the bridle paths.

In an effort to understand Audrey and to get a better feel for the historical sport, I did a little research into the origins of fox hunting. Originally, it was a form of pest-control. Foxes have been known in literature and society for hundreds of years as sneaky, thieving creatures. Because they used to come to farms and kill chickens or steal food, farmers started to hunt them. Now, years later, we still honor the tradition of the hunt.

Gordon-Conwell is situated on a hill that was once owned by a member of the Club and is a part of the historic route that the hunters used to take. Every year, they take a ride with the hounds through our Hamilton campus. Children who live here come to see them go by as the riders wave. As they passed through this year, I couldn’t help but take notice of the incredible spiritual implications.

Foxes come to thieve and destroy. Jesus called Herod a fox, knowing that he was deceptive. And in Song of Solomon, chasing away the foxes was an active form of defending the vineyard. How fitting it is that our campus, where we defend the faith and fight against heresy and deception, is on the grounds of the historic hunt. How interesting it is that nearly every day, I put on the logo of the huntsman over my heart.

As we go about our studies, we not only increase in knowledge of the truth, but we are given the task of seeking out and chasing away the foxes—those things that get a foothold and ruin our lives, our marriages, our friendships, our trust in God. We are not simply students. We are the huntsman, still defending ourselves and chasing away foxes on this traditional plot of hunting ground.

For they will not steal our joy.

Melissa Zaldivar is an MATH student from California. She loves golf, theology, Jewish holidays, people falling in love, Jonathan Edwards, chocolate chip cookies, her adorable niece and telling stories. When she's not filming and photographing weddings, you can find her reading news articles, watching Parks and Recreation or playing Super Smash Bros.
 

 

 

Tags: Author: Melissa Zaldivar , biblically-grounded , spiritually vital , student blogger

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Did You Miss Our Summer Conference?

July 10, 2013

Videos of the five plenary sessions at the 2013 Marshall Hudson Summer Conference, "From the Garden to the Sanctuary: The Promise and Challenge of Technology," are now available on our Vimeo page. Watch them today!

 

Tags: biblically-grounded , equipping leaders for the church and society , Hamilton Event , life on campus

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On Risking the Man Card and Surrendering to Love | Seminary Student Blogger

April 04, 2013

Tim Norton 

“Imagine God thinking about you. What do you assume God feels when you come to mind?”
—Dr. David Benner, Surrender to Love

How do you answer this question? Seriously though. As seminarians, most of us know of God’s love from a theological standpoint. It’s an objective truth to be believed (and rightly so). This question isn’t about that. It’s attacking the heart. Take a minute to pause and think. Now, give me your best, non-Sunday School, non-seminarian, non-intellectualized answer. What’s your gut feeling? What’s your emotional reaction to this question? What do you assume God feels when you come to mind?

As you might’ve guessed, I’m reading this book called Surrender to Love by David Benner. Now look, I realize that such a book title immediately puts my “man card” in question. Surrender to love. It sounds like a Nicholas Sparks novel. While it’s true that this book uses “gooey” words way more than I’d like, it’s also true that Dr. David Benner knows what he’s talking about—and what he’s talking about is directly aimed at people like me. You see, deep down I assume that God’s initial response to me is mostly disappointment. Sure he loves me, but man he does that in spite of his disappointment over my sin. His love barely peaks through the cracks of the blanket of my mess-ups. I am encouraged to accept God’s love and I think, “Well if I can just stop hurting God, stop disappointing him so much, I’ll be able to feel is love more. So, I better get my life together because I know this love of God thing is a big deal.”

Benner challenges his readers that God’s primary response is one of love. This perfect love is the only motivation that will result in lasting obedience. It is the only motivation that will invite surrender and devotion. It’s all too easy to be obedient by a subtle works—righteousness, wrapping it in spiritual language to continue the deception. For those of us in the latter camp, it’s very difficult to change our perception of the Lord. How do I trust perfect love? Better yet, how do I experience it? Because, really, we can intellectually know something all we want, but it won’t affect change until we experience it.

What if we were absolutely convinced of God’s love, not just theologically, not just experientially, but both? What if our identity was rooted on being the object of God’s ruthless affection? Yes, God’s justice and wrath and holiness cannot be neglected. But it is the just, holy YHWH that sends his son as the biggest gesture of love in all of human history. And none of us did a dang thing to earn it. Nothing. Period. I find it’s easier to accept that in reference to salvation and much harder to accept it in terms of living out that salvation. But it’s true. I still haven’t done anything to earn God’s love.

Benner’s suggestion? Meditate on God’s love as presented in the Scriptures. This isn’t earth-shattering news. And so I offer to you what I’ve been doing for the past several days. Read these Psalms, take special note of the imagery of God’s relation to us and then daydream about it. Let your mind turn it over and over. After all, the mind isn’t renewed in an instant. It takes dedicated time of meditation on the Word of God.

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” 
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

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 , biblically-grounded , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Psalm 23 was one of the first I memorized as a child. Although the one I remember used a lot of "Thou" instead of "You". Also, I remember it being "tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death". Anyways, minor differences. Same meaning. Good one all the same.
Ways to Grow Eyelashes 5:54PM 06/10/13
thanks for sharing
Meditation 2:31AM 06/10/13
Psalm 23 is really excellent. Specially, I like following line: Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Self Book Publishing 3:36AM 05/29/13
That perfect love for God really is enlightening and it sheds Gods grace upon each of us. We truly are loved by our God and the only way we have that knowledge brought to our consciousness is if we have the perfect love back at God. Great article Tim, keep the Faith, God loves you.
Melissa J. 5:55PM 04/06/13

Among Us | Seminary Student Blogger

April 02, 2013

Kate Hightower 

We watched Thee here among us
Tender hands and thunderous eyes
Healed our every darkness
Which brought Thee to demise.

Thou spotless lamb among us
No wrong committed thus
We watched Thee hang and die there
So lost upon the cross.

The Father from above us
Was pleased to have Thee crushed
For me to breath eternal
And turn my accusers hushed.

Thou gracious Christ among us
Oh what joy when Thou rose
What glorious Death begotten
Defeat brought to Thy foes.

Hail Eternal King inside us
Breathing life into our bones
We’ll sing Thy song forever
No more our sorrow moans.

Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , biblically-grounded , spiritually vital , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Caught | Seminary Student Blogger

March 05, 2013

Kate Hightower

He knew she was coming. He had been waiting around the city for it.

He could see them, somewhere in the back of His mind’s eye. Dragging her from her bed, knocking down the faceless man who would pick up his clothes and run from the rage of all of the city’s religious leaders and the mob they gathered. She watched him escape in the midst of the chaos with nothing left but the silver he came with. The feigned intimacy of the night before shattered in a moment like the breaking of glass.

She would die for it.

They yelled this as they drug her through the city, screaming obscenities and brandishing the stones of the Holy Law that they knew so well but didn’t quite understand.

He understood, though. He was there when it was written.

They shoved her ahead of them as they went, kicking her body now heavy with waves of terror, shame and despair shooting through her veins. They picked her back up again, their fingers digging into her soft, feminine skin barely clothed from the sin that now marked her. The sin that dehumanized her to no higher than some kind of diseased animal. The stones pounded her, brutal with the hatred of the force that bore them. They laughed as she cried out in agony, her blood staining the stone’s surfaces.

They were getting closer. He could hear them now. Just as He knew, they were bringing her to Him.

“Teacher!” they cried. “This woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”

It was a test. One He wasn’t blind to. Suddenly, His body grew heavy with the weight of the Mission. They could not imagine an eternity away from Their beloved creation, no matter how twisted with darkness it had become. He bent and drew in the sand before Him. Only His death would save them now... from everything and from themselves all at once.

Breaking His reverie, the mob persisted in their questioning. She watched Him, trembling and bleeding, waiting for His answer.

He stood, frustrated with their lack of understanding. The weight of the balance of the universe crushing His shoulders. It wasn’t just her, the obvious indiscretion. It was all of them. But there was only one truth in the midst of it...

He never wanted to be without them.

“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

His words carried over the scene, laden with His thoughts and with His purpose. He bent again to the words in the sand he had left.

They dropped her before them. She crouched low and covered her head, the sound of the stones falling aimlessly out of the hands behind her filled her ears, echoing in her chest.

They left her there and dispersed.

He stood and watched her for a moment, remembering well the expanse of the life still trembling in front of Him, and the hopelessness that led her to this point.

“Woman,” he said. “Where are they? Did no one condemn you?”

Her eyes met His and she shook her head. “No one, Lord.”

“I do not condemn you either,” He told her as He offered His hand that would soon be scarred with a nail that would save them all.

Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.

 

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , biblically-grounded , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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A stunning re-telling of a beautiful story. The Holy wisdom and pure compassion of the Savior brought to life.
Mary Shelton 9:10AM 03/06/13

Dentist Chair Confession | Seminary Student Blogger

February 14, 2013

Tim Norton

Here’s the deal. My brother is a physical therapist and my sister-in-law is a dentist. Yeah. Top that. Me? I’m a walking tax write-off. As a future pastor, I may not be rolling in the dough later in life but I’ll always be able to play the tax card. It’s my ace in the hole. *sigh* But I digress—having doctors for siblings isn’t so bad. It’s kind of fun to say “Oh, Dr. Norton? I’m his/her little brother…Why yes he/she is wonderful!...Yes, I’m terribly proud of them…What procedure are you seeing them for?...Oh wow!...Funny that you mention it, I think that’s the class he/she had to repeat a few times. Hopefully they get it right this time!...I’m sure it’ll be fine…Besides, that classroom case was bogus. There’s no way to prove that amputation was the his/her fault…Take care!”

Ah yes. The joys of being a little brother. So, this Christmas, my sister-in-law discovered it had been a little bit since I had been to a dentist. And by a little bit, I mean three years. It went down like this.

Me: I know, I know. It’s bad. But I didn’t have dental insurance for a while so I didn’t want to go.
Sister-in-law: Tim, you were only out of insurance for a year.
Me: Right.
Sister-in-law: What’d you do the two years after that?
Me: …um. Well… um… you see…

Family. They have an uncanny way of seeing right through you. Gotta love ‘em for it. Truth was that I didn’t go to the dentist for the first year because of insurance. I didn’t go the second year because I was lazy. I didn’t go the third year because I was too embarrassed. And now my whole family knew, which made me even more embarrassed! At this point I had no choice but to schedule an appointment with none other than Norton DMD herself. I tried to warn her that it was probably gonna be bad. She assured me everything was going to be fine…

I don’t want to talk about how many cavities I had. It was gross. Not only that, my top two wisdom teeth grew in and my bottom two decided they wanted to do a rendition cirque-de-inside-Tim’s-mouth by impacting, twisting inward, and bullying my molars. Poor molars. So, what started as a routine visit to the dentist became a 6-hour appointment across two visits. 6 hours in the same chair gives you a lot of time to think. And you know what I realized? My pride kept me from doing the very thing that I knew I needed to do. Exposing my teeth to my sister-in-law hurt my ego more than anything. It was ego that kept me from getting an appointment sooner.

I don’t wanna project on anyone (ok let’s be real, I really do love projecting) but I’m pretty sure we can all relate. Somewhere deep down there is a part of us that wants to manage our less favorable, even sinful parts of our life. We want to run a good PR campaign for ourselves. We don’t want to expose ourselves to the very people who can help us get better. I think that’s why confession is such a big deal. Confession is a pride killer. Confession is the opposite of sin management. Confession sucks. But confession is important. To be sure, I’m not saying you need to post a Facebook status about your every shortcoming. Please don’t be that person. (Seriously, don’t be that person.) But I challenge you to have someone in your life that really knows you, someone that you can expose some of the things lurking beneath the surface. From my experience, it’s much easier to experience God’s grace and forgiveness after confiding in someone and hearing their grace and truth-filled response.

This isn’t anything new. After committing the first sin ever, Adam and Eve were more interested in sin management than confession:

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.””
(Genesis 3:8–10 NIV emphasis mine)

Don’t miss this. Adam and Eve’s first reaction after sinning is to attempt to hide the nakedness. The shame of nakedness is overwhelming. They try and hide who they are in their fallen and broken state. They can’t undo what they’ve done and, rather than confess it, they attempt to “fix” themselves without letting anyone (in this case God) know about it. However many millions/billions of years later (or thousands depending on your point of view), I’m doing the same thing.

I have a wardrobe full of sewn-together leaves designed to hide my nakedness from God, myself and others. Though I cognitively know the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I still am inclined to hide my sin rather than confess it. I desperately try and manage a carefully crafted public image at the expensive of receiving the help I need.

After exposing the fullness of their sins, God explains to Adam and Eve the consequences of their actions. Notice, though, that God is also very gracious in the scenario. Yes, there are natural consequences, but God also makes clothes to cover their nakedness.

Now, you may say to yourself, “Psh! I privately confess my sins to God. I don’t need to tell anyone else about it.” Guess what? That’s pride. We are designed to function relationally. We experience the grace of God relationally. We experience the forgiveness of God relationally. Suck it up and try it. Try it in the next 2 weeks. Grab a trusted friend or mentor and have a difficult conversation. It may be about as fun as sitting in a dentist chair for 6 hours. Truth be told, it may be worse than that for a time. But there is nothing that compares to the freedom of being known fully and loved anyway.

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 , biblically-grounded , spiritually vital , student blogger

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A great illustration with just the right amount of Tim flare to spice it up! Thanks for fonding the truth even in the dentist's chair!
Philip Long 6:29PM 02/14/13

Gordon-Conwell Welcomes Three New Professors

August 30, 2012

Have you heard? We have three new faculty members joining us this fall that we'd love for you to meet.

Dr. Eckhard J. Schnabel is our Mary F. Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies. Noted New Testament scholar, Dr. Eckhard Schnabel joined us with over 30 years of extensive experience in teaching, ministry, research and scholarship.

Fluent in English and his native German, as well as six ancient languages and four research languages, Dr. Schnabel brings a global perspective to the Gordon-Conwell community. He was involved in cross-cultural missions in Latin America, Europe and Asia for over 20 years before moving to Illinois to engage in teaching and preaching ministry in various venues. Dr. Schnabel also taught at theological schools in seven foreign countries. Read more.

Rev. Dr. Jim M. Singleton, Jr. is our Associate Professor of Pastoral Leadership and Evangelism and brings many years of church leadership experience. He previously served on Gordon-Conwell’s faculty as adjunct professor in Presbyterian polity and history at the Hamilton campus in 1991.

Prior to his current post at Gordon-Conwell, Dr. Singleton served as senior pastor of churches in Texas, Washington and most recently, First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, a downtown congregation of 4,200 members. He has taught at several seminaries around the world, including ones in Virginia, Texas, Washington, Moscow and Zambia. In addition to teaching and preaching, Dr. Singleton has participated in cross-cultural missions in places like Mongolia, Ecuador, Cuba, Mexico and India, to name a few. Read more.

Dr. Matthew Kim is our Assistant Professor of Preaching and Ministry. Before joining the Gordon-Conwell faculty, Dr. Kim served as an adjunct professor (2006) and the Burnett H. and Dorothy F. Sams Visiting Professor (2008) at the Hamilton campus, and mentored the Doctor of Ministry track, Pastoral Skills: The Pastor as Preacher, Caregiver and Person at the Charlotte campus.

Dr. Kim brings over 10 years of preaching and teaching experience to his role at Gordon-Conwell. Most recently, he served as senior pastor of Logos Central Chapel in Denver, CO. He was also previously an adjunct professor at Denver Seminary and the youth pastor at Korean Church of Boston in Brookline, MA. Read more.

Tags: biblically-grounded , current students , equipping leaders for the church and society , future students , globally engaged

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Really they are great professor and have a great expertise in their areas. I think that they will give an extra at your know-how. Congrats.
Productos de Tomelloso 1:11PM 05/20/13
Congratulations, three highly experienced teachers, welcome. Chris.
Comprar Bombillas Led 1:53AM 01/29/13

Learning from Our Church Fathers: Part 4

March 16, 2012

Dr. Donald Fairbairn

This is Part 4 in a series about why evangelicals should care about the early church. If you are just now joining us, you can read Part 1 here; Part 2 here; Part 3 here.

Why should evangelicals care about the early church, about the first several centuries after the end of the New Testament? Another reason why we should take that period seriously is that the church fathers had a very different way of reading the Bible from the way we are taught to read it, and we may have something to learn from their interpretation.

Modern Bible study methods focus on “reading out” the message of each passage by focusing on the context to that passage—the history, the culture, the language. Such study methods implore us to avoid “reading in” any pre-conceived ideas that might corrupt the message of that text. In contrast, the church fathers read every passage of Scripture in light of the major thrust of Scripture, the single story they believe the Bible is telling. And that story, according to the vast majority of the church fathers, is the story of Christ. So they see the whole Bible—down to every last passage of the Old Testament—as a story about Christ. To state the contrast simply, we read from the narrow to the broad—from the meaning of each individual passage to the whole message of the Bible. They read from the broad to the narrow—reading each passage in light of what they think the whole Bible is about.

In light of this difference, we might accuse the church fathers of reading their own ideas into the texts—and we would be right in this accusation (at least in some cases). But before we are too quick to criticize, we should recognize that our narrow-to-broad method of Bible study emerged among modern scholars who did not believe the Bible was a unified book. They saw—and still do see—the Bible as a series of rather disparate stories that are not necessarily consistent with each other. So those scholars do not consider the big story of the Bible to be relevant to the question of what each individual passage means. Only the historical, cultural, and literary context of that passage is relevant to that passage’s interpretation.

When we look at the matter this way, we recognize that we evangelicals share the early church’s assumption and disagree with the modern liberal assumption. Unlike our colleagues in the liberal academy, we believe that the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible, that it tells a single story, that it is a unity. It is thus ironic that we sometimes use a method of biblical interpretation unwittingly borrowed from scholars who do not believe the Bible is a unity, a method that focuses narrowly on the background to each passage, without as much attention to the broader context of the whole Bible.

If we do in fact share the church fathers’ assumption about the unity of Scripture, should we not take another look at the fathers’ interpretation of the Bible? When we read their interpretation, much of it seems very far-fetched, like finding Christ in minute details of the Old Testament, and I do not for a moment want to condone such exegetical excess. What I do want to commend, though, is the fathers’ attitude toward the Bible. It is a single book, given by God, telling a single story, and that story is ultimately about Christ. They believed that, and so do we. Because they believed that, they proceeded from the big picture to the details, from Christ to the individual passages, in their interpretation of Scripture. We usually do not do that. But should we?

Whether we adopt very many of the fathers’ specific interpretations of Old Testament passages or not, their focus on Christ can remind us that we too can and should make Christ the center of all our biblical interpretation. And the church fathers can also open our eyes to the possibility that there are more connections between the Old Testament and Christ than we typically see, even if there are not as many legitimate connections as they find. Thus, early church biblical interpretation has some important lessons to teach us about the Bible, lessons we might not learn without paying attention to the church fathers.

Dr. Donald Fairbairn is the Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity. His responsibilities include further developing the Robert C. Cooley Center for the Study of Early Christianity at the Charlotte campus, which explores the historical foundations of the Christian faith.

 

 

 

Tags: Author: Donald Fairbairn , biblically-grounded , equipping leaders for the church and society , faculty blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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It is my first time hearing such difference among the church fathers and the contemporary evangelicals in interpreting the bible. In my understanding if they were not based on the central message “Christ”, they might accept other scripts in the canon and creates a great confusion. God never let His divine agenda to vanish. But, He uses His people according to His plan throughout the time. He knows how to use the early church fathers and us. At this time we might not interpret having in mind to elevate ‘Christ’, but our interpretation using history, the culture, and the language finally should have a message in connection with The Father The Son and The Holy Spirit. If and otherwise the interpretation has something wrong. The Bible is the story of the work of God, Son and The Spirit. I agree we should learn from church Fathers.Dr. God bless you I have got a new understanding.
Seleshi Andarge 2:10AM 01/15/13
Happy Easter.... Thanks for the post on reading from the best book:)
Ken Jensen 12:56PM 04/08/12

Finishing Well, Part 1: Open Books

February 13, 2012

Megan Hackman

Author's Note: My husband and I are in our final semester of seminary. In some ways it feels like a race to the finish; in others, we are slowly passing through in search of what might be next for us. With this “Finishing Well” series, I invite you to join us in the final months of seminary. I encourage you to consider your own calling and the place in your journey with the Lord where you find yourself. I look forward to hearing where our story might resonate with yours!

I love to finish things up. I receive such an overwhelming satisfaction from the last cup of flour used, the final paper turned in, and the final chapter of a book read. So great is my joy that a friend recently brought to me her mangled tube of toothpaste so that I could share in its completion. Part joke, part gift, I received it and took a photograph before throwing it away. Now I get to the share it with you! Aren’t you lucky. Ha!

I like to see everything come to an end. I like things tidy and filed. So when I see that something isn’t going any further, I write it off and file it away. I assume that’s the end, and I need it to be done so that I can open something new and see that thing all the way through to its end.

Last night, my husband called my attention to how that framework of open or shut, being used or finished, just does not work in life.

God opened the call to spread the Gospel to the world to me in March of 2006. Right before leaving on a short-term missions trip to Bolivia, I heard him speak to me from Isaiah 43. I promptly interpreted verse 5 very personally, Fear not, Megan, for I am with you… bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth… Of course! God was sending me to Bolivia in just a few days! I should break up with my boyfriend, graduate college, and then go overseas for the rest of my life!

I’m not saying that God can’t call someone that definitively or that my experience hearing God’s voice was illegitimate. But what I’m beginning to discover is that March 2006 was an invitation to begin holding before the Lord the willingness to be his witness wherever he would send. His call on my life wasn’t something to “use up” or “complete.”

I didn’t break up with Larry then. He helped me to see that a calling to ministry didn’t necessitate the end of our relationship (Whew!). I went to Bolivia and spent the entire week sick. I did not open any blind eyes that week. After we married that fall, Larry and I pursued joining the staff of an international missions organization. We were all set to train and move overseas when as a team with the folks we were going to work with we all recognized that we did not share the same vision for the country. We had a vision more for church planting than hostel ministry, but we were completely unqualified to start a church. So I closed the “Spain story” in my mind and opened the “seminary story.”

The point is—I thought that coming to seminary meant that the story of overseas missions work was over. In my mind, I had interpreted Isaiah 43 wrong. I had misheard the voice of God. We had pursued going overseas, but when we squeezed out the last hope of moving, it was time to throw that vision away. But I was wrong. I’m beginning to see that God does not view our lives as books that are written one at a time, finishing one before beginning the other. Instead, he can handle a whole lot of pages and chapters in process at the same time. He sees the end result. He knows where the stories merge and flow, interweaving and bringing us to the place of ultimate completion in his story, his eternal story. I like neat and tidy endings, but I’m a work in process, and our lives are ministry in process. There’s more to come…

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , biblically-grounded , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Sabbath: Substance or Merely Shadows?

January 24, 2012

Megan Hackman

Studying Colossians this week has reawakened my thoughts on Sabbath, which we started discussing in December. Colossians 2:16-17 reads, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” After studying this passage through the week, I spent Sabbath on Sunday considering whether or not the practice of Sabbath for me has become an embrace of shadow or substance.

The shadows Paul is discussing were all good, Old Testament instructions for the people of God. They involved dietary laws, festival guidelines, and Sabbath keeping. They cast an outline of beautiful promises given in the direct presence of God, including rest (Gen 2:3), provision (Ex 16:5), and remembrance (Ex 20:8; Deut 5:15). The unfolding of this promise of Sabbath rest continues straight through Jesus’ proclamation of healing (Lk 13:16) and provision on the Sabbath day (Lk 6:3-5). Finally, it will find its fulfillment in eternity when we enter the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God (Heb 4:9-10).

So my struggle this weekend centered on recognizing how much of the past two years I have spent enveloped and actually pursuing the promises of the shadow of Sabbath. By practicing Sabbath on Sundays, I actively sought rest and rhythm. These shadows are certainly provided by merely ceasing to work for one day. The promises of Sabbath shadows are good things, but we are able to walk in fellowship with Christ himself (Heb 4:16)! We no longer settle for mere shadows.

So what of the substance of Sabbath? I think it’s possible that in my headlong pursuit of the shadows, I have at times missed the substance of Christ.

Sunday was a regeneration of the pursuit of Christ for me in the practice of Sabbath. I have been asked to expand upon what it means to “tune into the bass line,” as discussed weeks ago. For me, to look upon the substance of Christ and to enter his presence requires stillness, confession, and prayer. Often I will follow that by meditating upon a particular verse. Sometimes I find walking slowly through the woods helps me to converse more naturally with my Creator. I suggest Adele Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook if you are looking for some creative ways to hear God’s bass line call in your life.

My aim is to not just embrace the outline of God’s promises, but to embrace He who casts the shadows directly. I am inhibited from doing that the more I emphasize the pursuit of physical rest. Instead, when I envision the Lamb in the throne room or the man walking along the road of Emmaus, I can begin to dialogue with and expose myself to my God for transformation that satisfies the need for both physical and spiritual rest and that continues throughout the week.

That designated, full-day intimacy is worth the pursuit of Sabbath. It helps me embrace of the very substance of Christ in the rest of the week.

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , biblically-grounded , student blogger , student life , thoughtfully evangelical

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John-- at the core of your question it appears to me that you and the person you were talking with might be asking, what is the purpose of the law for today? Dr. Gordon Hugenberger has some interesting thoughts on the different classifications of Old Testament law and the applications in the inaugurated Kingdom. There is both ceremonial and moral law. According to him, "moral law is designed to replicate in humans the moral likeness of God" (Class notes from Theology of the Pentateuch) So, as seen in the Sermon on the Mount, these laws persist not for the purpose of salvation but for the life of someone in relationship with God. Ceremonial law, however, has exceptions, is less permanent, and symbolical. He lists Sabbath as ceremonial along with baptism, tithing, etc., because there were exceptions in the OT made for offering sacrifices on the Sabbath not as the first day of the week in special circumstances. It is included in Col 2:16-17 as "a shadow pointing to the reality of Christ, who has now come" (Class notes). As far as it is an imitation of God, however, it is considered a moral law and thus still applicable. The classification of Sabbath, then, is not definitive from what I have found. But should Sabbath be only followed today because it's a moral law? I would say no based on Colossians 2:16-17. But are we invited to rest from our labors as God did from his in the real sense of stopping to work on Sundays? I am saying yes, I think that is an invitation that has found a significant and valid expression in my life. I think ceasing from our work allows us the opportunity to approach God directly and intentionally. I do think it is wonderful to have a Sabbath attitude that pervades our lives. I have found that without the rhythm of regular, prolonged ceasing, I am incapable of having a pervading attitude regarding Sabbath during th week. Regarding your comment, "the law condemns and cannot produce true righteousness,"-- yet the law is good and governs our relationship with a holy God. So should we "rest" from such a futile effort as pursuing holiness? I don't think so. I look to multiple New Testament passages for encouragement in that pursuit-- Rom 6:1-4; Phil 2:12-18; Heb 10:14.
Megan Hackman 1:59PM 02/11/12
John-- at the core of your question it appears to me that you and the person you were talking with might be asking, what is the purpose of the law for today? Dr. Gordon Hugenberger has some interesting thoughts on the different classifications of Old Testament law and the applications in the inaugurated Kingdom. There is both ceremonial and moral law. According to him, "moral law is designed to replicate in humans the moral likeness of God" (Class notes from Theology of the Pentateuch) So, as seen in the Sermon on the Mount, these laws persist not for the purpose of salvation but for the life of someone in relationship with God. Ceremonial law, however, has exceptions, is less permanent, and symbolical. He lists Sabbath as ceremonial along with baptism, tithing, etc., because there were exceptions in the OT made for offering sacrifices on the Sabbath not as the first day of the week in special circumstances. It is included in Col 2:16-17 as "a shadow pointing to the reality of Christ, who has now come" (Class notes). As far as it is an imitation of God, however, it is considered a moral law and thus still applicable. The classification of Sabbath, then, is not definitive from what I have found. But should Sabbath be only followed today because it's a moral law? I would say no based on Colossians 2:16-17. But are we invited to rest from our labors as God did from his in the real sense of stopping to work on Sundays? I am saying yes, I think that is an invitation that has found a significant and valid expression in my life. I think ceasing from our work allows us the opportunity to approach God directly and intentionally. I do think it is wonderful to have a Sabbath attitude that pervades our lives. I have found that without the rhythm of regular, prolonged ceasing, I am incapable of having a pervading attitude regarding Sabbath during th week. Regarding your comment, "the law condemns and cannot produce true righteousness,"-- yet the law is good and governs our relationship with a holy God. So should we "rest" from such a futile effort as pursuing holiness? I don't think so. I look to multiple New Testament passages for encouragement in that pursuit-- Rom 6:1-4; Phil 2:12-18; Heb 10:14.
Megan Hackman 1:59PM 02/11/12
I don't have any developed thoughts on it. You've already done more research on it than I have. I just found this passage interesting when someone asked me why we don't observe the Sabbath anymore, at least the way commanded in the OT. It seems whereas Israel had a shadow of rest by observing it on a particular day, we have it in a more complete form (of course, we are still waiting the final rest of the Lord). So, instead of one day of Sabbath, we have a lifestyle of Sabbath when we enter by faith. I was wondering, then, if the works might refer to works of the Law. Since Law only condemns and cannot produce true righteousness, faith gives us rest from such futile efforts. These are just tentative thoughts. Like I said, I have not researched it. Let me know if you find out anything. Thanks, John
John 6:48PM 02/02/12
Thank you, John, for your comment. Is it something you have thoughts about already? I delayed in responding thinking that I would have time to research it well, but as it's the start of the semester, I haven't gotten as deeply as I'd like. The one thing I will say is that verse 10 appears to be setting up a contrast between rest as a place and as a state of being. Here the Greek is katapausin which the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says is the "rest of God in the sense of his presence with the people." The commentary by O'Brien emphasizes that this is the actual place of rest, the presence, in contrast with the state of rest that would have been emphasized with a word derived from Shabbat. So we continue to strive to enter that place of God's presence by practicing the state of rest, that is, from ceasing from our work ("ergon"-- typical, generic word for work). O'Brien says, "the nature of the works themselves is not spelled out." I have not studied the nature of the works further, but I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Megan Hackman 9:55AM 01/30/12
Heb 4:1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” The faithful and obedient are entering the Sabbath now. In verse 10 it says we rest from our works. What works do you think the author of Hebrews is referring to?
John 6:59PM 01/24/12

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