Finishing Year II

Blaire and I are currently two years and two-thirds of the way through our time here in New England. We mostly love it but over the past month we have been buried in books and notes preparing for our finals. By God’s grace we finished well! Blaire studied really hard and knocked her final tests out of the park. I’m so proud of her because these were the first tests she’s taken in 8 years! She’s the best.

Jonah Gu!

This semester has marked some major transitions for us. I started my job at the church while remaining a full time student and Blaire became a student while maintaining the same hours at her job. Needless to say we were busy. Fortunately, this business made us more dependent on God and dependance always makes it harder to believe the lie that we can do life without God. Blaire and I are learning that the things really worth doing are usually harder but they also provide an opportunity to grow closer to God.

Spring in New England

Now it’s time for us to take some much needed vacation to be with family. We will be in California visiting friends and family from May 17th to the 26th.

Prayer Requests:
Safety while we travel.
For an upcoming trial regarding one of Chris’ loved ones.

Praise Reports:
Patti Peviani and Karen Colangelo are the best moms ever! (Happy Mother’s Day!)
Our church now champions the Foster Care program for the North Shore!

Our Favorite Quotes Right Now…

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
– Theodore Roosevelt & Kent Kusel

“Knowledge is good, method is good, but one thing beyond all others is necessary; and that is to have a head, not a pumpkin, on your shoulders, and brains, not pudding, in your head.”
– A. E. Housman, The Application of Thought to Text Criticism

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In the Beginning… of our Year

The year is off to an exhilarating start! In January I was able to take a compelling class on “Practical Apologetics.” Apologetics is the art of “reasoned arguments in the justification of something.” In this case we explored the topics of absolute truth, how millennials think, post-modernism, the existence of good and evil, and the relationship between faith and science. I was really challenged by these topics and discussions and would highly recommend Christian Apologetics to anyone with questions. (Which I think might be everyone.)

Blaire also began her classes in January. She is taking a class on Christian theology and another on the life of the historical Jesus! She can usually be seen lugging around a copy of The Institutes by John Calvin. I am taking a class on the history of the church over the past 500 years, one on the theology of the Old Testaments and the last one on the critical issues in the Christian mission to Muslims. Our small group is going through the book of Acts and can be seen “in action” in the picture below.

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Serving at the shelter

Aside from shoveling, this season has been great so far! As the new Global Mission Intern at our church I am able to serve and support our global missions team as well as our churches missionaries. I will also work toward the mobilization of prayer and missions training for the congregation.

Gaining this experience has really been invaluable for me. I am thankful for all the support and the opportunity to serve in this capacity.

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Yeah, we shovel.

Our Favorite Quotes Right Now…

“The great art of life is to moderate our passions. Objects of affection are like other belongings. We must love them enough to enrich our lives while we have them, not enough to impoverish our lives when they are gone.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“You can’t beat Lewis and Tolkien.”
― C.M.D. Colangelo

Colangelo’s 2018 Overview

This year has been one of the hardest and most rewarding years we’ve ever had! Thankfully, so many of our loved ones braved the elements to come visit us! We really can’t thank them enough! In 2018 I took 13 classes (a full load is 10)! Blaire finished her reading course which completed her Associates Degree in Biblical Studies with the University of the Nations, while crushing it at her job all year, and finding time to help lead worship at our church and feed me… needless to say my wife is incredible!

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She also finds time to take me to my favorite store; Savers!

The month of December marks the half way point of our season at seminary. Time definitely flies! Much more importantly the year ended with Blaire jumping into her own Seminary education! She has been accepted into the Master of Arts in Christian Studies degree program! Starting in January Blaire will be both working and studying part time so I know she welcomes your prayers.  I have also started in a new position at our church. Beginning this year I will be serving as the Global Missions Intern at the First Presbyterian Church of the North Shore. I am grateful to say that since leaving the mission field in 2017 this is one of the most concrete steps I have been privileged to take in pursuit of God’s calling on my life. God is good!

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Our Favorite Quotes Right Now…

“Our wounds are not signs that we are bad or guilty. Our wounds are the sacred openings through which grace can enter our lives.”
– Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety by Robert Gerzon

“Fear can go to hell
Shame can go there too
I know whose I am
God, I belong to You”
– Bryan & Katie Torwalt

Vacation Celebration!

The month of August may have been the most difficult yet rewarding month so far. The Greek II summer intensive class honestly tried to kill me but by God’s grace and the help of my neighbors Jake and Josiah, I made it through! I should buy them Chipotle. Seconds after completing my 3-hour Greek final Blaire and I flew to California beating our checked bag by only 4 DAYS! Aside from that and the 24-hour delay on the flight back, our trip was unbelievable. These are the highlights…

 

This is Chandler Hope McGuirk! This tiny angel is our brand new niece and Blaire’s current obsession (for obvious reasons). It was great to see Blaire enjoying her niece because she has been Wonder Woman this summer. She worked full time while finishing up her Reading Course and somehow managed to help lead worship at our church and workout and put food on the table everyday! That was a run-on sentence but it shows how hard she’s been working and how badly she needed to see her family.

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We also saw a shark! Alan and Patti took us to a Darius Rucker Concert for my birthday!  And we helped serve at The Shoreline Church! (It was an eventful trip.)

 

Lastly we got to stay with the Bisant family and see little Joey. If you would like to hear more about Joey’s incredible journey please visit caringbridge.org/joeybisant.

Our Favorite Quotes Right Now…

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

—Horatio Spafford (1876)

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring. (And my older brother Tony)

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?

 

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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