Gordon-Conwell Blog

Silent Soul On Gordon-Conwell’s Campus | Seminary Guest Blogger

April 24, 2014

Michael Gonzalez

When I got to Gordon-Conwell’s campus, I thought to myself, “How could I survive being the only Deaf student living on this campus, where I want to express American Sign Language fluently? Being on campus, there is only one person I can talk with freely in ASL...God Himself!” I have been a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary since the fall of 2011. I used to live as a commuter student, where I did not have much opportunity to be part of the Gordon-Conwell community, until a turning point in my life where I lost everything. It caused me to relocate to live on Gordon-Conwell campus in January 2013. I had become an exilic person because I was truly detached from the Deaf communities I had called my home for 35 years. Living on campus was like living in the Babylonian Empire, where I began my new adventure and new experience learning to live inside the hearing community.

Seeing inside the hearing community gave me a new understanding about the hearing community’s ignorance concerning how to communicate with Deaf individuals. For years, I used to assume too much that I was being neglected or being left out. That caused me to think I was being oppressed because of being a Deaf person. Months have passed by and my understanding has dawned, helping me correct my false views of oppression when dealing with seminary students, professors, and staff. My rational thinking about being oppressed by hearing people has changed, and I had to unlearn old ways of thinking and change the new way of thinking about how hearing people are reacting toward Deaf people. Most hearing people have no experience with and have never even encountered any Deaf individuals in their lifetime. Therefore, it is not their fault if they do not understand. I was given an opportunity to interact with them on campus and even correct their assumptions and myths that Deaf individuals cannot do anything at all.

Why did I identify myself as “Deaf” instead of “deaf”? I identify myself as being part of the Deaf culture and community, where American Sign Language is considered the primary language. This differs from “deaf.” The word “deaf” is defined based on audiological loss only applying to general loss. People with audiological loss can lose their hearing ability as an adult. Some would prefer using the oral method instead of using sign language as their communication method.

I keep receiving comments from students saying I am considered as a joy to the community and I bring light to them. They also keep telling me, “I love your presence when you are smiling!” It has become an icon on this campus. However, it is nothing new to me because my family and close friends have told me the same thing. It is my only way to express the unconditional love I have received from God and I want to send the flow of love from God to them. 

Michael is a native of Southern California and Pennsylvania, and has been living in the Boston area for 11 years. During his social work residency near Boston, he worked with Deaf clients and empowered them with independent living skills. He has also worked as a mental health social worker for the Deaf. Michael is pursuing an MAEM at Gordon-Conwell. He sees his journey with God—since 1995—as the most beautiful story that brought him to truly understand God’s unconditional love and grace upon his life!

 

Tags: Author: Michael Gonzalez , guest post , student blogger

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Three Ways the Internet May be Stunting Your Christian Growth | Seminary Guest Blogger

November 19, 2013

Josh Kluth

The Internet is an incredible example of technological innovation. The resources at our fingertips are countless. The way social media mimics real life keeps us “refreshing” our updates and “connecting” with people. Our behavior often mimics our technology—quickly downloading information and outputting data. Our digital interactions make communication almost too easy with all of the posting, commenting, linking, liking, sharing, etc. As people made in the image of God, we can forget that our hearts and minds are much more, well, human. How does our use of the Internet affect our Christian growth? Are their inherent dangers? I’d like to suggest three ways the Internet can stunt our growth as Christians.

1. The Internet can short-circuit your Christian development. Online resources can give the impression that difficult questions have simplistic answers. Christian development does not occur via mouse click. We are meant to wrestle through issues in the Bible. Sometimes, though, the only struggle today is how long it takes us to find thoughts from our favorite online pastor or blogger. No real need to think, wait, fast, struggle, ponder, trust or meditate. Just a steady diet of regurgitation. Alan Jacobs alerts us to this when he remarks that the internet is “the friend of information and the enemy of thought.”

2. The internet can demonstrate your idolatry. Have you ever met someone whose personality changed depending on who they spent time with? This can happen among well-meaning Christians impressed by an influential speaker or writer. The internet allows us access to endless hours of podcasts and blog posts. If we’re not carefully, we begin to mimic the vocabulary, tone and style of someone else as if they are our own. G.K. Beale says, “We resemble what we revere.” It’s almost as if we want to be perceived in the same way we perceive those who have tremendous influence over us. It may be the case of misplaced worship when we become image-bearers of those with whom we spend the most time.

3. Social media can short-circuit your friend’s Christian development. It’s amazing how fast social media allows us to share and respond to others, especially if there is an opportunity to offer advice, answers, counsel or issue a challenge. But simple answers often numb our hearts. Our tone, concern and thoughtfulness often touch hearts deeper than words typed out. The Internet may not be the best place to post deeply personal questions and thoughts, but it certainly isn’t the best place to offer care and concern. Pixels on your computer are a poor transmitter of grace. Sometimes it’s best to get offline and talk in person. I sometimes fear our desire to look smart eclipses our desire to actually demonstrate care.

The Internet is not bad. It is a gift. However you use it, I pray that you would find yourself more satisfied with God, not less; more excited to spend time in prayer, not less; more influenced in our study of Scripture, not less; more physical time spent with people, not less. After all, our goal is to be conformed more to his image. May all of our online activity (reading, posting, sharing, listening, commenting, liking, following, quoting etc.) be a means for making much of our Lord. For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36).

Josh and his wife, Tara, are from Washington State. Josh is pursuing an MAR and MATH while Tara works as a hairdresser in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Together, they are most captivated by the story in which God has placed them in this fascinatingly bizarre world that spins across this universe. In the midst of it all, they are stabilized by what Sally Lloyd-Jones describes as “God’s 'Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love' in Jesus" (Jesus Storybook Bible).

Tags: Author: Josh Kluth , guest post

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Trusting Jesus With Seminary | Seminary Guest Blogger

October 22, 2013

Josh Kluth

I used to think life transitions were moments that connected the different stages of life. These life stages include the different social statuses that define many: student, single, married, divorced, employee, enlisted, parent, grandparent, retiree, etc. Or life stages could be identified as emotional seasons of difficulty, joy, maturation or loneliness. However we define them, transitions are like bridges that connect the peninsula to the mainland. The point is to get over them and on to “real life.” The older I have gotten, the more difficult it has become to identify a period of transition from the main road. At times, I wonder if we can even identify the main road.

For some, life seems to be a never-ending connection of transitions that we trust are heading somewhere. However, I’m not so convinced there is a point of arrival at having “made it” this side of the New Heavens and New Earth. After all, what does “making it” look like? Retirement? House paid off? White picket fence and the 2.5 healthy (and perfectly polite) kids? Which of these are the main road and which are the isolated transition points? My wife and my journey to Gordon-Conwell has illustrated this for us.

I first heard of Gordon-Conwell as a junior in college from a mentor of mine who was an alumnus. Curious as to what seminary was all about, I sent off an inquiry and received a packet in the mail describing the different programs. Sheer curiosity. That was 10 years ago. I got a job after college, served in ministry, got married, tried to find better jobs, switched careers, etc. In fact, my wife remembers me telling her that I was determined not to pursue a life in full-time ministry. Seminary wasn’t a consideration. And yet, through a long process of being led by the Lord, encouraged by friends, miraculous provisions in finances, scholarship opportunities and Semlink distance classes, we came to Gordon-Conwell. We left our home in the Pacific Northwest and arrived in the dead of winter in January 2013 just in time to be greeted by Hurricane Nemo. And to be honest, the transition hasn’t been all that easy. Moreover, it hasn’t been altogether clear where God is taking us in the future. However, we feel confident that God’s orchestration has led us to this moment.

We aren’t confident of how to distinguish between a life transition and a life stage. But we are confident that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. As pilgrims in this world, we are confident that life itself may continue to produce transitions. As people being conformed constantly to the image of Christ, we are determined to transition well until the day he takes us home to glory. But for the time being, we are here at Gordon-Conwell determined to lean on Jesus. He is the gate, but he is the way. He is not just the beginning point. He is not a life stage and he is not a transition. There is just no getting over him.

Josh and his wife, Tara, are from Washington State. Josh is pursuing an MAR and MATH while Tara works as a hairdresser in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Together, they are most captivated by the story in which God has placed them in this fascinatingly bizarre world that spins across this universe. In the midst of it all, they are stabilized by what Sally Lloyd-Jones describes as “God’s 'Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love' in Jesus" (Jesus Storybook Bible).

Tags: Author: Josh Kluth , current students , equipping leaders for the church and society , future students , guest post

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What if Christians were not afraid to look foolish from time to time?

April 10, 2012

The following is a guest post from one of our Semlink Program students, Paul Elgin. Paul is the worship leader for White Mountain United Methodist Church's contemporary service. You can contact him at elginpaul@gmail.com.

Something happened the other day that made me wonder if I take advantage of the opportunities God gives me to live a more expressive life for him.

The day did not begin well. The sun obviously was trying to make a point, because it must have risen half an hour too soon. Maybe it wanted to knock off early that evening. Whatever, I woke up with a sore throat and a generally bleak disposition. Life was definitely not the bed of roses it should be. The kids were feeling the effects, too, because getting them out of bed was no walk in the park. Someone had replaced my normally charming little girl with a creature that Tolkien would dream up when he was writing the particularly scary passages of The Two Towers. Only with more teeth.

I had about a chapter and a half of Theology to get through that morning. No quiet time with the Bible and me and God today! After shoving the kids out the car door at school, I headed to the study room at the library. When I no longer cared if it was “transcendence” or “immanence,” I closed the book, grabbed my gym bag and headed off for my favorite part of the day: the workout. I didn’t have to read, write, or do arithmetic, just pedal.

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Tags: equipping leaders for the church and society , guest post , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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We as Christians can indeed act silly at times and we should. Our loving God does not want us to live a foolish life however he is very clear about the fact that he wants us to enjoy life. We are to enjoy everything that he created and live our lives enjoying the beautiful things we have here on his created world. I think it is perfectly fine to act a little crazy at times. http://christiansupfront.org
Meet Christians 2:05PM 07/11/12

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