Bookworm Blaire

Many of you may not have known this but I (Blaire) have been doing a distance reading course through the University of the Nations (YWAM Montana Campus) for the last 6 months. Since January I have read over 8,000 pages from commentaries, dictionaries, church history books and many other works from top Christian theologians. As I finish the last book of my reading course, the Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer; A Christian Worldview 5th volume, I am taken aback by how much I didn’t know. I have had resources around me all my life that I took for granted. This reading course opened my eyes to how important it is to learn about the history of my Christian faith.  It was important for me to learn about the people who sacrificed so much for our faith and to know how Christianity has influenced the world around us. Today I see so many well educated people criticizing the legitimacy of our faith saying we are naive for believing in a Savior. What I have found is that the truth of the bible can really be pressed. My faith was heightened through my short investigated because the scriptures can take it. I encourage anyone that has questions about Christianity to ask those questions and take time to research for themselves. Ultimately I believe that God offers us all the opportunity to doubt our doubts about Him and have faith.

To be completely honest, many times during this Reading Course I have felt tired of reading. I felt tired after a long day at work or tired of waking up early to put more information in my brain. But now that I have finished I have never felt so passionate about what reading challenging books can do. Instead of scrolling through Instagram or Facebook pointlessly, which I am definitely guilty of, I can learn something worth while. I am so glad God called me to this school. It has matured me in ways I didn’t even know I needed to be matured in and it has humbled me with how much I didn’t know about my own faith. It has really grown my relationship with God and further rooted my faith in Him.

Our Favorite Quotes Right Now…

“A wise man once said nothing at all.” – Proverbs 17:28 & Drake Drizzy Rodgers

“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”― Charles H. Spurgeon

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Overwhelmed by “Normal”

Have you ever been invited to do something thinking full well it was probably only by mistake. Like one of those “happy accident” movies from the 90’s where someone at NASA mixes the names up and they send some skateboarding teen on a space mission. My whole first year of Seminary I’ve been waiting for someone to start chasing me across the campus yelling, “that’s the guy!” After being tackled I would understandably say, “Well, I had a good run.” Blaire and I are continually overwhelmed by what has become “normal” in our lives. We are overwhelmingly thankful for all those that believe in us and keep up with what we’re doing. This includes everyone who lovingly supports us as well as all those who take time to read this monthly blog! You make this all possible!

This past month has been filled with hard work and incredible blessing. I’ve finished all my final papers on time and got to spend a few days with my brother Eric before he starts working at Pine Springs Camp for the summer! We were also able to go camping for the first time in New Hampshire’s White Mountains with some close friends. My first summer class was on “Church Planting and Growth” and it might actually be my favorite class so far. We got hear about the Chinese house church movement from a Professor who has worked with the underground church and has actually been able to plant churches in China! The rest of the summer I will be under the full time commitment of learning the ancient Biblical Greek language.

 

Our Favorite Quotes Right Now…

“When a Russian cosmonaut returned from space and reported that he had not found God, C. S. Lewis responded that this was like Hamlet going into the attic of his castle and looking for Shakespeare. If there is a God, we certainly don’t relate to him as people on the first floor of a building relate to people on the second floor. We relate to him the way Hamlet relates to Shakespeare. We (characters) might be able to know quite a lot about the playwright, but only to the degree that the author chooses to put information about himself in the play.” – C.S. Lewis & Timothy Keller

I know it is fun to wrestle. A nice pile-drive to the face; or a punch to the face; but you cannot do it because it is in the Bible not to wrestle your neighbor. – Nacho Libre

 

Hard Questions: God of Judgment

If asked; “Isn’t The God of the Bible is a God of Judgment?” How might you go about giving a reasonable answer to this difficult question. I wanted to share my short paper because I thought the assignment asked a really important question.

The world can feel more divided than ever before. More and more cities are on the verge of riot and communities overflow with broken families and friendships. How can the judgmental God of the Bible be the answer when love and acceptance are so obviously needed to overcome the world’s judgment? I can see how the case appears to be opened and closed, but just before you retire God from His eternal post I believe we need to define our terms more clearly. We live in an age of increasingly relative truth, which means different people can define terms like love and judgment in so many different ways. Cultural diversity is a beautiful thing but to understand the love and judgment of God we need to make sure the original meaning of these words isn’t lost in translation and ancient history.

The Redefinition of Judgment

For example in the Old Testament book of Jonah, God’s judgment is swirling above the city of Nineveh when He called His prophet Jonah saying “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” If you have heard the story before you know that Jonah immediately sails the opposite direction without explanation. After Jonah’s boat trip gets a little fishy he eventually ends up in Nineveh preaching God’s message of judgment. Fortunately for the people of Nineveh the whole city apologized for their evil ways and God’s judgment was to forgive them all. So why do we see Jonah devastated by their deliverance? Finally Jonah cries out to God explaining “That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.”

Like so many, Jonah thought he wanted justice. In the end what he really wanted was vengeance. He so badly desired for the wicked to get what he thought they deserved that he tried to keep God’s forgiveness from them. Jonah already knew that God’s judgment was different from revenge and he wanted to see God’s wrath instead of His compassion. Jonah did not just want justice; he wanted to be the judge. Normally all judgment is defined as bad judgment. Yet when we are the victims of a robbery or even an opposing view we cry out for justice hoping the courts will bring a good judgment. If you ask Jonah, God might not be the best place to demand that the wicked receive what they deserve. The judgment of God is fundamentally different from the judgment of the world because it is born out of His own sacrificial love.

The Redefinition of Love

There may not be a more difficult word to define than love. The original Greek New Testament has multiple different words to describe love were the English language only has one. Naturally the English use of love has taken on quite a few different meanings. One of the fastest growing definitions of love is tolerance, which can be a helpful piece of the picture but not the whole thing. In Timothy Keller’s book The Reason for God he argues that, “If you love a person and you see someone ruining them – even they themselves – you get angry.” Love is acceptance but it also draws a line. The love of God provides the perfect judgment to inform the perfect intervention.

The truth of the Bible is that God’s love is seen in His judgment. Christ suffered and died in our place even though He was innocent teaching us that true love is a sacrifice that should challenge our view of justice. The Dalai Lama is famously quoted saying, “love is the absence of judgment.” Conversely the bible says in Romans 8:5 that, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He knows us fully, judged us rightly, and died for us anyway. The bible teaches it is a good thing that God is the almighty judge because His verdict was to die in our place taking the true judgment upon Himself. Love can be superficial in the absence of judgment but the God of the bible teaches us that the honest results of our judgment should be selfless intervention and sacrificial love.

 

Our Favorite Quotes Right Now…

“I ain’t tryin’ to preach no sermon, but I never seen nobody that’s busy as a prairie dog collectin’ stuff that wasn’t disappointed.” – The Grapes of Wrath By John Steinbeck

Blaire’s Blurp

Life has changed in many ways for me over this last couple of months. Stepping out of my traditional mission field I questioned how my relationship with people and God would change. In our past organization we had every meal with the community we lived in. We had people asking about our spiritual lives. We had worship meetings three times a week. I was curious what community and my relationship with God was going to be like. After all we were moving to a state where I had no friends or family living nearby. This is one of the fears I’ve seen many people wrestling with when feeling God calling them to step out into something new.

I have been so pleasantly surprised by what God has done in this area. Chris and I felt that God has been calling us to Seminary for a long time. We had no idea how it was all going to work out but we had to step out in obedience and trust that He was in control. Living in Massachusetts definitely has its hard moments but my faith has grown a lot deeper during this time than I ever thought it would. It should be no surprise that God is always faithful to what he calls you into. But somehow it always surprises me. Not everyday is easy and some days aren’t even close but the depths of my faith have grown by having to step out in faith. The relationships we have gained here are incredible. The job that God provided for me has been such a blessing. They have both felt like an ordained gift from God in an area that I was so unsure about.

So if you are like me and have felt fear about stepping into something completely new I want to encourage you to continue trusting God. That may sound simple or repetitive but it’s a call that we all need to be reminded of. Just know that when life is hard, your trust and faith in the Lord can grow more than you ever thought possible. Keep running the race of endurance in your faith. To push through the doubts this life throws at you whether its sickness, finances or just feeling burnt out. His plans are above ours and His ways are far better than we could have ever thought or imagined.

 

Favorite quotes right now…

“There are no “ifs” in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety- let us pray that we may always know it!” ― Corrie ten Boom

“When we encounter hardship, if God doesn’t answer our first prayer-and our
first prayer is almost always, “God, please take away the pain”-then we can pray: “Okay then, Lord, please use the pain for your purposes. Put me into ministry with others who need to know your comfort.” We can pray, “I wish I had a job, but use me this week in the unemployment line” ― Paul Borthwick, Western Christians in Global Mission: What’s the Role of the North American Church?

“An old joke describes the difference between sacrifice and generosity. For a chicken to bring eggs to breakfast is generosity; for a pig to bring bacon is sacrifice. Generosity gives out of abundance; sacrifice costs us something.” ― Paul Borthwick, Western Christians in Global Mission: What’s the Role of the North American Church?

 

Starting Spring Semester 

This semester I’m taking four (4) classes; Systematic Theology II, The World Mission of the Church, Great Confessions of the Faith, and The Doctrine of Sin. Over the next few months I’ll be reading at least twenty-six (26) books. I was told coming into school that a Theological degree requires a lot of reading but to put things into perspective that’s a book every two weeks for a year! For me it breaks down to a book just about every three days. If you’re a praying person or if you knew me in high school, this would be a great time to stop and pray. I’ll wait…

All joking aside Blaire and I have been working pretty hard but I don’t think we’ve ever been happier. We feel confident this is where God wants us to be at this time so we’ve been able to invest more fully in it. Time has been flying by. Thanks to everyone who helps make this time possible. Fortunately we’ve found supportive community in our building and our church that are willing to play the Settlers of Catan® with us.

Our main encouragement this month has come from a mission focused prayer journal that has challenged us to grow in outward prayer. We have found it to be very fulfilling and aligning. Similarly, The Heart of Man is a movie // documentary on Netflix that deals with brokenness and had a great impact on us. Our campus has been in a time of reflection and gratitude remembering our co-founder Billy Graham who pasted away this month. Gordon-Conwell stands as only one of the many testimonies of what God has accomplished through this faithful servant.

Billy Graham

GCTS Skyview

Favorite quotes right now…

“As we give an account of this, it is first necessary to speak about the creation of the universe and its maker, God, so that one may thus worthily reflect that its recreation was accomplished by the Word (Jesus) who created it in the beginning. For it will appear not at all contradictory if the Father works its salvation in the same one by whom he created it.  – Saint Athanasius – On the Incarnation

“…every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” – Oscar Wilde

Top Takeaways of My 1st New Testament Class 

This January I took my first class on the New Testament. The material is usually covered over a full semester but in the “J-Term” a class is condensed to just two weeks. Needless to say it’s a lot of information fast. I thought I would write a few of my top takeaways of a seminary New Testament course and a very wise Professor.

1.) Eye Witnesses: My first point about eyewitnesses really stands to address the surprising truth surrounding the academic world of biblical research. Namely, the amount of scholars who dedicate their lives to study the history and context of the bible only to loose their faith along the way. When studied so intricately, the bible can either become a spring of living water or just another text book. Which brings me to my first major takeaway; If you choose not to believe in miracles, it won’t matter how many people have seen them. Simply put, Jesus lived, breathed, spoke, and healed in front of thousands of… witnesses. It is always wise to question the validity of a story, the bible is no exception, but we have to remember that when the “Good News of Jesus” was being written down the cities were still filled with people who lived with the real person. How many towns experienced His miraculous life first hand? When the Gospels were written there would have been thousands of everyday people who could say “I remember when Jesus did that.”

2.)  Parables: Have you ever read one of the Parables and felt totally lost? Well, your not the only one. I learned It can be helpful to think of a political cartoon. It’s hard to understand the joke if you don’t know the politician or what He’s been up to. When you read a parable try to identify the characters by what you know Jesus is trying to accomplish. For example; In Matthew 13:1-17 the Parable of the Sower describes a man sprinkling seeds on four different types of ground. Would Jesus be the Sower or the seed? Thankfully Jesus explains that “the seed” is “the word” and since we know that Jesus himself is spreading the word of the kingdom of God we can see that he would be the Sower. A parable will almost always have three main characters; God, a good example, and a bad example. Keep your eyes out for these three and I hope this practice helps.

Fast Facts:

  • Some say Luke was a Doctor which means he was wealthy and educated; in reality Doctors in the New Testament were usually slaves. Dealing with blood and unclean disease was seen as a very dirty job.
  • The word “Baptism” in Greek is usually translated: immersion. To be fully immersed in a Holy Spirit filled lifestyle.
  • Prison in the first century was used as a waiting period for trial, not a sentence. Paul was not sentenced to time in prison. He wrote as he waited to be judged.

3.) The Davis family is the best! This month we were visited by some of our amazing family from California. (That’s right they left 70 degrees to visit us in 15 degrees.) We had such a great time in the snow and the city!

Favorite quotes right now…

“Sometimes when I start a sentence, I don’t even know where it’s going, I just hope I find it along the way.” – Michael Scott (The Office)

“Here we see who the historical Jesus was: the man who had the power to address God as abba and who included the sinners and the publicans in the kingdom by authorizing them to repeat this one word, Abba, dear Father.”  –  J. Jeremias  (New Testament History)

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Finishing My First Semester

Every day for the past two years my wife and I have answered a question in our “time capsule journal.” We just turn to today’s date and answer the same question individually before we go to bed. The first year was fun but the most interesting part now is reading what our responses were last year. For example, on November 30th of 2016 the question was “Today I couldn’t stop thinking about ______.” Blaire said “FOOD!” (Because at that time we were on an outreach deep in the mountains of southern Mexico.) I said, “What am I going to say about myself for my Gordon-Conwell application.” When we flipped to that page to answer our question on November 30th of this year we couldn’t believe how far God has taken us.

Now, only one year later, Blaire answered “Today I couldn’t stop thinking about how unreal it is that we are really living in Massachusetts!” When I thought back to my day to answer the question it was kind of funny to me. “I couldn’t stop thinking about my final papers for my first semester. And how in the world am I going to explain the Trinity in 8-10 pages?” Again, I am writing a paper, only this time Blaire and I are on the other side of our fully answered prayers. Let me tell you it’s a humbling place to be. I can’t really take credit for any of it. We have worked really hard this year. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever worked this hard in my life, but there is just no way we could earn all the blessings that God has lavished upon us. God has been faithful to provide a supporting family and community everywhere we go. Not to be cliché two months in a row but God’s undeserved love through Christ’s sacrifice is the gift of Christmas.

SANTA! (I know him, I know him!)

The Colangelo's Christmas

White Christmas

Favorite quotes right now…

“Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be the glory giv’n;
Word of the Father,
Now in the flesh appearing,

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.”

  ―  John Francis Wade, O Come, All Ye Faithful

 

Conversation between two demons in “The Screwtape Letters.” “One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures, whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons.” .
― C.S. Lewis

Boston in the Fall

This year will be our first fall together with changing leaves. Massachusetts is an amazing place this time of year. Blaire and I finally found time to go to downtown Boston and see part of the incredible history of our country. We walked down the Liberty Trail; “a 2.5 mile path through downtown Boston, that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States.” We got to visit businesses and homes that have been standing for hundreds of years. We feel blessed to live so close to a city with that much history, and we’re thankful for such a great experience. It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place to study God’s word than Gordon-Conwell… But then you step outside and have to blame Adam and Eve because the temperature could not have been this cold in the Garden of Eden.

We haven’t had a Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania, at my parents house, in four years. Blaire and I have been living and serving in sunny Mexico (thanks to the generosity and love of our entire support family.) During our time across the border we were privileged to spend the holidays with the fantastic Peviani crew, which includes the loving company of the Davis’, Bisant’s, McGuirks, Hillier’s, Holly’s, and so many more deeply kind families! I have missed having a holiday surrounded by childhood memories, but these past few years God has blessed me with a new selfless and caring family. After our delicious turkey dinner in PA my family took out some old home movies (on VHS) of when we were growing up and causing trouble. As we sat in the same house we saw in the old videos, we laughed and we cried. I am so thankful for all the incredible memories we’ve shared as a family and it felt significant to be able to share them with Blaire for the first time. It seems cliché but I was honored to be thankful on Thanksgiving. Thankful for love, support, Blaire, my family, my friends, and for where God has guided us. Thank you to everyone who has helped us make this possible, and know that we’re praying for you.

Favorite quotes right now…

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.”  ― Timothy J. Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

The Bible is Filled with Real People like Us

In my Old Testament class we have been talking about the people God chooses. I wanted to share a little bit about the story of Abraham because it brings up an important question; Why Abraham? Why does it seem like God chooses to bless some people and punish others? And what about us; how can we gain the favor of God? You’ve probably heard the story of Abraham before. “God calls a man named Abraham. God then promises Abraham that, against all odds, his family will out number the stars.” What you might not know is that Abraham was not chosen by God because of his righteous life. In fact, Abraham was a sinner like anyone else. In Gen 12:1-4 the bible says “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country… So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” It is his “faith alone” that Paul talks about in Rom 3:2-3 saying “For if Abraham was justified by works, he would have something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” The bible isn’t filled with super heroes; Abraham was a liar, Moses was a murderer, and David was an adulterer; the bible is filled with believers like us.

It was so comforting for me to learn that even seminary is filled with imperfect people like me. I’m starting to think that might actually be the point. God could never love us anymore than He already does. He doesn’t want us to try to earn our redemption; He wants Jesus to be glorified when people see the free gift of His love. Lastly, my Old Testament Professor pointed out that the “Pastor” is not the modern day fulfillment of the Old Testament priest. With Jesus as our high priest every member of the church is called to be a part of the priesthood of all believers. (1 Pet 2:4-5)

(One of the trails Blaire gets to jog everyday!)

Favorite quotes right now…

I will build my life upon your love it is a firm foundation.
And I will put my trust in you alone
Oh Lord and I will not be shaken

Housefires – Build My Life (Song)

 

It’s a rare occurrence, like a double rainbow, or someone on the internet saying, “You know what? You’ve convinced me I was wrong.”

– Michael (The Good Place; TV Show)

 

What EXACTLY are the Colangelo’s Doing?

You might be asking yourself… What are Blaire and Chris doing in Boston again? When does Stranger Things Season 2 come to Netflix? (Oct. 27th!) And what do the Colangelo’s even do every day? First of all, those are some great questions. Sometimes I forget to communicate what we’re ACTUALLY doing. So, I’m not at all offended by your tone.

I’m taking 3 classes this semester in pursuit of the Master of Arts in Theology degree (or MATH yes, a math degree). As I’ve said in my last few updates, I’ll be studying at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, located on the North Shore of Boston. While I’m attending Seminary Blaire will be working as a nanny. She has an amazing opportunity to love and serve 3 pretty awesome kids, along with their dog, and 2 small cats they shaved to look like lions… like I said, 3 pretty awesome kids!

I got a great part time job working in the mailroom. My first class is Old Testament Survey. Monday mornings we go chronologically through the Old Testament story. On Wednesday I go to my second class; Systematic Theology. This one might be a little bit harder to describe. So far, we’ve gone over such questions as; Does God have a physical body? Is God a man? And how does our individual background affect what we believe about God? My third and final class this semester is Evangelical Theology and World Religions. In this class, we’ll actually be reading books like the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita. Attempting to put ourselves in the shoes of people with different beliefs. I have been loving seminary so far. A big reason for this is because of the community we’ve found in our building. It may be a building full of future pastors but one of the most amazing things I’ve learned so far is that the “Pastor” is not the new version of the Old Testament preist. Every single believer is part of the royal priesthood and together we make up a holy nation. “On earth as it is in heaven.”

Favorite quotes right now… (From each class)

“In Deuteronomy 28:13 God says to Israel if you obey “I will make you the head, and not the tail.” But when Jesus comes, he fulfills what it means to be a blessing. In Matthew 5-7 I believe He is saying blessed is the tail.” – Dr. Kaminski

“Nobody thinks their beliefs are ridiculous. You will never convert someone by trying to convince them that they are.” – Dr. John Davis

 “Christian faith asks questions, seeks understanding, both because God is always greater than our ideas of God, and because the public world that faith inhabits confronts it with challenges and contradictions that cannot be ignored.” – Daniel L. Migliore