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)

 

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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

California Love

I’ve been thinking a lot about contentment. In a way it’s God’s secret to a happy life, right? It probably sounds a little ironic, but how are we supposed to grow to be content? How do we learn from the past, live in the present, and prepare for the future? Blaire and I celebrated our two year anniversary this month. Which got me thinking about a teaching I heard a couple days earlier from Ecclesiastes 3:9-15. Solomon asks a question we all need the answer to. “What gain has the worker from his toil?” At the end of his life, the wisest man in the bible says in the next verse “I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man.” But before Solomon reveals the point of it all, he talks about God’s perfect timing. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Now I don’t personally believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe He can restore absolutely anything that happens. And when He does, it can feel like even the bad stuff was part of His master plan. However, sometimes before God steps in, life can feel like you’re just wading where the waves break. We can’t see His perfect timing. We can’t know what’s coming next. Verse 11 goes on to say “He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Our hearts yearn to know, but we can’t. We can only have faith.

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I had no idea God would lead me to the most beautiful redemption when I felt like I was drowning the most in my life. Eating dinner that night I was overcome with contentment. I thought about how easy it is to doubt God. How easily I can get wrapped up in the things I think I need. It’s no wonder Solomon ends the passage with this ultimate truth; “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.”

 

Favorite quotes right now…

You need a four hour praise dance performed every morn – I’m feeling shortness of breath, so Nico grab you a horn
Hit Jericho with a buzzer beater to end a quarter – Watch brick and mortar fall like dripping water, ugh!
I’m gon’ praise Him, praise Him till I’m gone!

– Chance The Rapper

Magnify, magnify, lift it on high – Spit it Spotify to qualify a spot on His side
I cannot modify or ratify – My momma made me apple pies
Lullabies and alibis – The book don’t end with Malachi

– Also Chance The Rapper

 

Words in Action

Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. In our ministry we have the privilege to study, grow, and teach from the very words that God breathed.Blaire Teaching

The books of Hosea and Ezekiel are about two incredible prophets who had amazing lives and very difficult callings. Chris and I had the opportunity to teach and apply these books in our lives in the past couple months.

Hosea was called by God to marry a prostitute and an adulterous woman. Ezekiel was called to bring a message of destruction in extreme ways to the people closest to him. I look at these men with a burdened heart for what God can call his followers into. The feeling of being ill equipped or fear for my own calling can creep into my mind.

          BUT God is faithful with these two men. Giving them powerful messages and visions of His restoration. Revealing that they are not alone in their calling but that He is walking with them. I believe that God repeats this same message to us today. That He will walk with us through the hardships of ministry. This knowledge helps me put into action the calling God has given me. I feel the scriptures becoming more of God’s breath to me every day.

For the Love of God, Cherish it! (Enjoying Life by Abiding in Christ)

Have you ever lived in the future? Physically your body might be behind a desk-shaped prison but your mind is on the upcoming weekend. Or maybe you’re just drifting through the days leading up to a new season in your life, a new job, or some big exciting event. In the season finally of “The Office” Andy (The Nard Dog) says…

andy

Blaire and I were honored to teach the book of Numbers in our bible school last week. Aside from the… numbers, the book is about the 40 years that God’s people “The Israelites” wandered around in the desert. 40 years they waited for the Promise Land.

But through the grumbling they seldom realized that the presence of God was dwelling among them! They missed the fact that the creator of the universe was raising them to be HIS people!

C.S. Lewis writes a brilliant conversation in the “Screwtape Letters” between two demons concerning taking a life.

“The Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy (Jesus) has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present – either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity . . . It is far better to make them live in the Future.”… “It is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time – for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.”

As Christians we’re called to abide in Christ (John 15:4), who dwells eternally in our hearts. For that alone we have cause for celebration in every moment! It doesn’t matter if you’re in prison (Acts 16:25), wandering in the desert (Num 6:27), or just waiting for the weekend (Me in High school). Wherever you are He is there with you, so stay mentally with Him and for the Love of God you have to cherish it.

A Lesson in Destruction

Nahum

A little while ago I taught the book of Nahum. This minor prophet is only 3 chapters long but it’s message is pretty huge. To make a long story short Nahum writes a “proclamation of doom” to Nineveh, which is the capital city of Assyria, the world power at the time. 

Not only is he declaring God’s judgment on the most powerful nation in the world but he is also speaking from a nation that is an ally with Assyria. Judah is small and a vassal of Assyria at the time of Nahum’s prophecy. 

This makes Nahum’s message “politically incorrect” from every point of view… except from God’s perspective. 

God's hand

I think Nahum understood God’s sovereignty. 

He knew that what God was calling him say to might be dangerous and difficult. He knew that God’s message might offend some people, that he might lose his friends and even his life. 

The challenge of Nahum isn’t new but it’s definitely challenging.

God’s truth doesn’t stay quiet in fear of offending someone but I know that sometimes I do. 

I don’t think Nineveh was the only thing that was destroyed by this message.

I can only imagine how Nahum’s “normal life” would’ve been put at risk for God’s message. 

A Matter of Perspective (Part 2)

I was privileged to teach for the first time in the School of Biblical studies on the book of Proverbs. These are a few pictures and selected sections from that teaching.

Proverbs Teaching

Teaching the Book of Proverbs

Teaching ProverbsAt the start of teaching Proverbs I was faced with the challenge to define true wisdom. After one of the most difficult paths i’ve ever gone down I found the answer to be painfully simple.

Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

At the end of the day if we humble ourselves and simply accept that we see through a limited scope of reality and admit our need for God, we take the first step into true wisdom.

Teaching the Bible in Mexico

A Matter of Perspective (Part 1)

How do you define wisdom? If you only had 5 minutes to describe to your child how to live a lifestyle of wise decisions, where would you start? Would you talk about getting a good education, or would you encourage them to seize the day whatever the cost? Would you tell them to love others, or would you start with trying to explain that you only live once and that to get ahead sometimes you need to make difficult decisions? My motivation to answer this question was brought about by my decision to staff and teach in an incredibly difficult, yet infinitely rewarding, Bible School for missionaries located in Tijuana, Mexico. (Talk about wise decisions!)  The first book that I’ve been privileged to teach is Proverbs which is why I’ve been wrestling with this idea of true wisdom.

I started this process by backing as far away from the topic as I could get to help me see the whole picture, as you would if you were standing at the base of an enormous mountain. But what I realized is that wisdom is a matter of perspective not distance. Just think for a second about the lens in which we view things. The further you get from a mountain the more you’ll be able to see where as the further you get from a window the less you’ll be able to see. Our frame of reference, or perspective, changes everything.