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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Spring at Seminary

Blaire and I have survived another New England winter! This season has been an incredible learning experience for us as we attempt to balance work, school, and ministry. We are both learning so much at Seminary but I can confidently say we still don’t have it all figured out.

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Will there be snow in heaven? No.

Over the past few months I have been able to plan and participate in our churches Global Missions Retreat as well as connect with the local and global missionaries. It is always so interesting to hear about the different approaches to making a difference in a community. It can sometimes be easy for me to forget that Jesus left comfort to bring light into the dark places everywhere he went. Jesus loved broken people enough to break bread with them.

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Providence, Rhode Island

Prayer Request:
Less than 3% of people in New England claim to have any sort of relationship with Jesus. Many people are struggling with depression and deep personal wounds. They often feel angry with God and hurt by the church. This can sometimes feel more like the mission field than our time in Mexico. We share the gospel here because we believe that where the Sprit of the Lord is, there is freedom!

Praise Report:
Blaire and I have been able to see God moving in real and amazing ways. We have seen deeper joy in our marriage, unity and openness at our church, and the loving impact that humility brings to our community.

Our Favorite Quotes Right Now…

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
– African Proverb

“It is certain that a young man or woman who fervently loves God, although adorned with limited gifts, will be more useful to the church of God with their meager talent and academic achievement than a vain and worldly fool with double doctor’s degrees who is clever but has not been taught by God.”
– Philip Jacob Spener’s Pia Desideria

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Frozen pond, adult child.

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

Seminary Year 2: All the Facts

Have you ever wondered what kinds of books are assigned in seminary? Probably not… and look no further. This semester I’ll be taking 5 fairly diverse classes and I thought it might be interesting to add the required reading for those classes. I’ve also underlined my top recommendations (even though I’m still working through most of them). Just in case any of them seem interesting enough to warrant further reading.

Class: Spiritual Formation for Ministry
Required Reading:
1.) Ruben and Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants.
2.) Thomas, Gary, Sacred Pathways: Discovering Your Soul’s Path to God.
3.) Foster, Richard, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth.
4.) Macchia, Steve, Crafting a Rule of Life.
5.) Ash, Christopher, Zeal without Burnout: Seven Keys to a Lifelong Ministry of Sustainable Sacrifice.
6.) Benner, David, The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery
7.) Any kind of Prayer Journal for your personal use.

Class: New Testament Interpretation (Blaire’s auditing this class!)
Required Reading:
1.) Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th edition (NA28) (Greek New Testament)
2.) Fee, Gordon D. New Testament Exegesis, A Handbook for Students and Pastors
3.) Green, Joel B, and Lee Martin McDonald. The World of the New Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts.
4.) Green, Joel B. Hearing the New Testament: Strategies for Interpretation.
5.) Metzger, Bruce M., and Bart D. Ehrman. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration.
6.) Osborne, Grant R. The Hermeneutical Spiral.

Class: Advance of the Church in the Non-Western World
Required Reading:
1.) Gonzalez, Justo L., The Changing Shape of Church History
2.) Hastings, Adrian, ed. A World History of Christianity
3.) Kim, Sebastian and Kirsteen, Christianity as a World Religion
4.) Walls, Andrew, The Missionary Movement in Christian History

Class: The Black Christian Experience: From Africa to the Americas
Required Reading:
1.) Carter, Anthony J. On Being Black and Reformed: A New Perspective on the African American Christian Experience.
2.) Daniels, Robin. This Holy Seed: …Early Churches of North Africa.
3.) Gonzalez, Justo L. and Ondina E. Gonzalez. Christianity in Latin America:
4.) Lampe, Armando (editor). Christianity in the Caribbean:
5.) Sanneh, Lamin. West African Christianity: The Religious Impact.

Class: Perspectives: On the World Christian Movement
Required Reading:
1.) R. D. Winter, S. C. Hawthorne, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement
2.) Perspectives Study Guide

I’m enthusiastic about this semester probably because I haven’t counted the total number of pages I’ve just listed or the number of pages I’ll have to write. Blaire may be the most productive person I’ve ever met, and she loves the fall weather! Needless to say she’s even more excited.

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IMG-1645Great time camping with friends!

Our Favorite Quotes Right Now…

“The Word of God is food for our souls. Living bread. All too often we feel ashamed for missing our time in the Word but when you miss breakfast you don’t feel ashamed… you feel hungry.” Ps 119:103 “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” – Dr. Petter via Jake Williams

“Jonathan Edwards farted.” – The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine

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)

Top 3 Advantages of Biblical Greek

Why even Learn Biblical Greek?

Interestingly that was my main question entering “Summer Greek.” It would be nice to study the Bible in its original languages while in ministry but is it really necessary? God’s Word is God’s Word, right? Well to be completely honest with you I’m still on the fence about it. This has easily been the most academically challenging summer of my entire life. I’ve been studying 15 hours a day 7 days a week and sometimes I feel guilty even taking full breaks to eat meals. It might seem like a small price to pay for knowing 80% of the New Testament as it left the hand of Paul or John but I have had to continually remind myself why I’m doing this. What follows are my top 3 reasons for learning Ancient Biblical Greek.

#1 The History:

When Alexander the Great set out to conquer the known world he intentionally introduced the Hellenistic age by forcing all conquered people speak the same language. The New Testament is written in this form of “Koine” (κοινη) Greek. “Koine” just means “Common” because it was the common language used by all people. My Greek textbook encourages me that two major lessons can be taken from this. One, Paul says, “In the fullness of time God sent his son” (Gal 4:4), and part of that fullness was a universally understood language. And second, God uses the common language spoken by all people to communicate the gospel.

#2 The Words:

I believe the greatest hurdle for learning Biblical Greek is also what makes it the most rewarding. Greek words are “fully loaded” meaning they contain more information then we can sometimes translate into English. For example there are roughly 8 different variations of every noun. This may seem like a lot but not compared to the 36 different forms of every verb. These forms are a headache to remember but they also help clarify what the creator of the universe was saying about our eternal salvation. So… there may be some validity in learning them.

#3 The Lost:

I considered naming this section “The Truth” because when it comes to the Bible the truth (or lack there of) can make all the difference but the truth is the Bible has always been for the lost sheep. Paul says in Philippians 1:15-18 that, “some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others… do so out of love… But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” Like everything else at seminary I’m realizing it’s a lot less about me and a lot more about Jesus. (Surprise, surprise.) It has been helpful for me to remember that I’m only here because Christ has already freed me from so much pain and emptiness in this life. Additionally He has called me (like all Christians) to offer the opportunity of that same love and healing and fulfillment and joy and salvation to others.

Our Favorite Quotes Right Now…

“All that is gold does not glitter, – Not all those who wander are lost; – The old that is strong does not wither, – Deep roots are not reached by frost. – From the ashes a fire shall be woken, – A light from the shadows shall spring; – Renewed shall be blade that was broken, – The crownless again shall be king.” – Gandalf

(Blaire is reading “The Lord of the Rings” by J. R. R Tolkien)

3 Years! Can you believe it!?

Just in case you missed our 3 year anniversary.

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

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

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