The Bottom Line

By Bailie Rouse on December 7, 2017

This week in chapel, Dr. Denyes asked the question of what is the bottom line for believers. He expounded upon the theme verse Micah 6:8 as a reminder that believers are called to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. As Christ followers, we cannot only pity those who are suffering from injustice in the world. We must respond and take action. William E. Gladstone once said, “Justice delayed…

When Sex Is an Idol, Holiness and Justice Are Both at Stake

By Jo Anna Kelly on December 4, 2017

During the fourth session of the GRTS Talking Points event, we heard from Matt Krieg, licensed therapist and director of Caring Well Counseling. Matt and his wife Laurie travel the world doing what many of us would never dream of doing, and yet they do it with humility and a heart for service. Both Matt and Laurie discuss their respective stories of broken sexuality and the way God has worked in their…

Responding to Persistent Structural Injustice

By Bailie Rouse on December 1, 2017

During chapel this week, Dr. Rebecca DeYoung shared two stories of individuals who have experienced persistent injustice. First she shared a story of her friend Douglas, who has been wrongly convicted and is living in the prison system. Despite the hardship of living in what seems like exile, Douglas chooses to trust God by persisting and living in victory and in peace. Then, Dr. DeYoung taught from…

Five Ways Your Church Can Join the LGBT+ Conversation

By Andrew Panaggio on November 28, 2017

In session three of the Fall 2017 Talking Points event at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, Dr. Preston Sprinkle and Laurie Krieg engaged in a dialogue to help attendees understand and join the LGBT+ conversation. They talked openly and honestly about how churches can come alongside people who struggle with same-sex attraction so that they do not have to struggle alone.

Giving Thanks When It’s Hard

By David Turner on November 22, 2017

It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well, like when we ace the exam, when we get the raise, when we’re healthy and our life is flourishing. It’s not so easy to give thanks when we fail the exam, when we get fired, or when tragedy strikes. I have yet to see an athlete point their index fingers to the sky to give thanks after striking out or getting sacked, and I’m not holding my breath. If…

Why is the Gospel Good News For Everyone Every Day?

By Andrew Kischner on November 20, 2017

Laurie Krieg delivered a stirring talk at the Fall 2017 Talking Points conference entitled "Loving LGBT+ People with the Gospel." She gave a captivating first-person narrative about her lifetime struggle with sexuality and her walk with God.

As she shared, Laurie described how behind every sin lies a heart idol, and so the good news of the gospel must reach into our hearts if we are to be truly healed…

A Change in Posture, Not Theology

By Graham McKeague on November 15, 2017

The opening session of the 2017 Talking Points event effectively laid out the major aspects of discussion. Dr. Sprinkle presented a number of important considerations for pastors, ministry leaders and others to pursue in ministry where "the greatest apologetic for the truth is love."

Remaining in Christ

By Bailie Rouse on November 10, 2017

This week in Chapel, Dr. Joy Bonnema spoke on how producing fruit occurs when an individual remains in Christ, and this remaining happens through love. Often as Christians, we often forget the importance of remaining or abiding in Christ. If we abide in Him, then God will call us into a deeper understanding and a more personal experience of His love. Dr. Bonnema’s main texts include John 15:1-17 and…

Loving LGBT+ People with the Gospel (Fall 2017 Conference Highlights)

By Darrell Yoder on October 31, 2017

We took on a pressing topic this semester, one that Christians are actively wrestling with. The fall conference focused on “Loving LGBT+ People with the Gospel.” We wanted to ask the question: How can churches with a historical, global and Christian view of sexuality and gender become places where LGBT+ people can find love, care and community? How can we cultivate ministries where people can share…

Reformation Chapel

By Bailie Rouse on October 27, 2017

In this week’s chapel, Dr. Wittmer recognized the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Dr. Wittmer asked the same question Luther did 500 years ago: “How can I a miserable sinner pass God’s judgment,” and there is only one answer. By grace alone, by faith alone, and in Christ alone can we receive salvation. His main texts include Colossians 2:9-10 and Colossians 3:23-24. Check out…

Jesus on Justice

By Bailie Rouse on October 20, 2017

Last week in chapel, Rev. Dr. Howard Earle preached out of Luke 4:14-21 on the topic of Jesus on Justice. He reminded us that the Spirit of the Lord empowered Jesus to carry out specific activities for the benefit and justice of people. Christ released captives and healed the blind and the deaf not for his own celebrity but in order to be in relationship with people.

The Spirit comes to empower us…

Prayer with a Regard to Justice

By Bailie Rouse on October 13, 2017

In chapel this week, Dr. Tim Gombis spoke about the importance of prayer with a regard to justice. In Ephesians 4:20-24, Paul reminds believers that we are to put off the old self and be renewed in the Spirit to put on the new self. This new self is created after the likeness of the Lord’s righteousness and justice. As believers we participate in an ongoing dynamic of righteousness, and we must take…

Mercy Not Sacrifice

By Bailie Rouse on October 6, 2017

This week, Dr. Mariano Avila concentrated the chapel message around the attribute of mercy. He stressed that mercy is the “main medicine” Jesus gave his people to receive true healing. Jesus is our example of how to live in a way that is according to the will of God, and the Gospels show us how to live as Jesus lived.  In Matthew 9:13 Jesus refers to Hosea 6:6, and he stresses that God desires mercy…

Rejected by the Accepted

By Bailie Rouse on September 22, 2017

Last week in chapel, Jennifer Greer brought us a message based on Luke 4:14-30. In this passage, Jesus traveled to Nazareth, his hometown, and as was his custom, Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath to speak. Jesus picked up the scroll, and he began to read from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-2 and Isaiah 58:6). Upon doing so, Jesus proclaimed that the scripture had been fulfilled and that this…

A Heart for Justice

By Bailie Rouse on September 15, 2017

Last week, Dr. John Hilber continued the theme of justice with his sermon entitled "Heart for Justice," by exploring Psalm 101, a psalm of David. In his message, Dr. Hilber emphasized that David drives straight to the heart of the matter—justice and mercy demand that an individual's character be aligned and committed to the Lord.

The American Church Has Some Reckoning To Do (A Response to Charlottesville and More)

By Timothy Gombis on August 21, 2017

On Saturday, August 12, various groups marched in Charlottesville, Va., in support of white supremacy, to express their desire to establish a white nation and to intimidate and denounce Jewish and black people. It is important to recognize these ideas and behaviors as evil and to denounce them as an offense to God, who created every person in his image (Genesis 1:27; James 3:9) and who does not show…

Is Christ on the Couch?

By Scott Courey on August 7, 2017

Throughout the middle of every week, tens of thousands of Christians bring their deepest life troubles to a private therapist, and most likely, keep quiet about it on Sunday morning. Here's my question: When Christians go to therapy, is Christ on The Couch? "Well of course he is! Christ goes where ever his people go"! I agree. But what I'm asking is this: Do Christians go to therapy expecting to be…

How Traveling the Land Has Brought Me to Worship

By Jennifer Greer on May 3, 2017

Years ago, I took my first trip to Israel. We visited many of the biblical sites, but the tour also included traditional sites and tourist attractions and shops. Then, during my seminary student days, I traveled with a professor on a very different trip, studying the history, geography and archaeology of the land. I didn't realize until that trip how much I had missed the first time.

A Detailed Account of the Israel Study Tour

By Jennifer Greer on May 1, 2017

A Fitbit or iWatch registers 5,000-7,000 steps a day walking the land of the Bible on our annual Israel Study Tour. For eight days, we literally step into the world of the Bible and immerse ourselves in the geography, history, culture and archaeology of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the "Intertestamental" period. We then step back into our modern-day context, bridging this ancient biblical…

Waiting with Confidence

By Brittany Stichter on April 21, 2017

As Dr. Walter Gibson began his message this week (entitled "Waiting with Confidence"), he asked two introductory questions: "How does it make you feel when someone goes out of his/her way to ask how you are doing?" and "How does it make you feel when no one asks how you are doing or what is going on in your life?"

He drew a message from the text which exhorts believers to encourage each other. As…

Why is the Resurrection So Important?

By David Turner on April 19, 2017

The resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of the Christian message. How unfortunate that church services may stress the empty tomb only on Easter Sunday, or even just through the Eastertide season. Another concern is the common way Christians summarize the gospel by mentioning only Jesus' death. Without the resurrection, Jesus' ministry ends in defeat and disillusionment (Luke 24:21). But everything…

Waiting with Faith

By Brittany Stichter on April 14, 2017

This week in chapel, Dr. Don Denyes spoke a message called "Waiting with Faith" which was based on John 2:19. Like the disciples in this passage, "we are slow to believe everything the Scripture says. We have Kingdom in our theology, and glory, but we don't have suffering and cross." Jesus patiently explained the promises of the Scriptures to His disciples until they finally got it. In the same way…

Waiting with Discernment

By Brittany Stichter on April 7, 2017

Lenski Llorens gave a message in chapel this week based on Acts 27, when Paul was shipwrecked on his way to Rome. Lenski shared about our need to wait with discernment, faithfully pursuing God's plan for our lives and not depending on human wisdom.

"If you look back, wherever you are now, if you honestly look back, are you able to say 'I am here because I have inquired of the Lord and He has reassured…

Introducing: Dr. Jenny Chien, Assistant Professor of Counseling

By Kris Rolls on April 5, 2017

Grand Rapids Theological Seminary is undergoing an exciting season of growth! This fall we are excited to be welcoming two new full-time counseling faculty to our learning community. Faculty make incredibly important contributions to the culture of our school as they instruct students, make academic policy decisions and continue to labor in their disciplines through research and writing. Over the last…

Waiting Well

By Brittany Stichter on March 31, 2017

Sharon Brown began this week's chapel by praying with us Psalm 130, a Psalm written by one who was waiting on a forgiving God. Sharon gently pointed out to us that, while we are frustrated when our internet takes ten seconds too long to load, we are willing to wait in a three-hour line at an amusement park. So, it must not be the waiting itself that is the problem, but instead our perception of the…

Knowing God is Something You Grow Into, Pt. 4/4

By Darrell Yoder on March 27, 2017

Encounter. Obedience. Intimacy. All three of these themes can easily lead us to wonder, "How much is needed in order to know God?" They seem like really tall orders. What if I don't sense God's presence? What if I've been disobedient? What if God feels distant, rather than intimate? Do I not know God then? I'm hoping this final theme will help relieve this tension.

Waiting with Hope (When We’ve Blown It)

By Brittany Stichter on March 24, 2017

This week in chapel, Darrell Yoder gave a message that addressed when we've "blown it," and are waiting for healing and forgiveness. His message explored how we can wait and rest and deal with our sin, while still moving forward.

In Psalm 25:1-7, King David prays through a time of waiting in shame and pain. Darrell draws out three lessons from these verses for us. First of all, Darrell points out…

Waiting with Compassion

By Brittany Stichter on March 17, 2017

Marco Salazar spoke in this week’s chapel.  He began by helping us consider that we already understand what it means to wait with anticipation.  We have experienced it in waiting for a diploma, waiting before your wedding day, or waiting for Christmas morning.  In the same way, we also wait in anticipation for Jesus’ return.  But while we understand waiting with anticipation, we may wonder how compassion…

Knowing God is About Intimacy—Not Acquaintance, Pt. 3/4

By Darrell Yoder on March 8, 2017

To really know God is to experience deep intimacy with Him through His Spirit—the same Spirit who came into your heart when you believed in Christ and the same Spirit who knows your deepest longings and prays for you when you can’t pray for yourself. This biblical vision of walking with God is not that He is a divine acquaintance but an Intimate Lover.  Knowing God is about union, security, and transparency…

You Cannot Know God Without Obeying Him, Pt. 2/4

By Darrell Yoder on March 6, 2017

Last week's theme "encounter" reminds us that the Christian faith is not merely an intellectual journey nor an emotional or spiritual high. It's the day-in, day-out experience of God meeting us where we are and making Himself known to us in both mundane and miraculous ways. The Christian faith is about experiencing God's love and presence not as an abstract idea but in real life. How do we relate to…

Waiting with Promise

By Brittany Stichter on March 3, 2017

This week's chapel speaker was our own Dr. Jonathan Greer. He explored "waiting with promise" through the lens of the Old Testament.

As he led our students through an experience of the story of Moses and the people of Israel during the time of the Exodus, we were able to understand afresh that they all waited under the promise God had given to them. They waited for the promises to be fulfilled, but…

Lent as Training in Christian Longing

By Timothy Gombis on March 1, 2017

The Season of Lent begins today. Here's a brief explanation of how this season shapes Christian identity.

The Christian calendar helps to train us in being fully and truly Christian. Many of us are used to having our brains trained to be Christian brains. We just haven't given much thought to our bodies and our loves and our longings. Most of us were raised to think Christian thoughts—that's the sum…

Don't Lose the Wonder of Knowing God, pt. 1/4

By Darrell Yoder on February 27, 2017

If you ran the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in 2009 in Grand Rapids, MI, you received a t-shirt with a simple logo on the front: a name tag with the phrase "I Run For...." In the blank space, some people wrote the names of loved ones; others listed things like health, youth, love, etc. Each person had a different purpose that kept them going when training was hard. This question—what are you running for?…

Waiting with Correction

By Brittany Stichter on February 24, 2017

Pastor Nate Wagner brought a message this week that explored the idea of "waiting with correction." He opened by sharing the image of an airplane flying from one coast to another: if that plane takes off and starts its course even one degree off, it will end up at a drastically different end point. He also informed us that planes are actually "on course" for only about 5% of their travels. Flying is…

Rediscovering the Distance Between Us: Preaching the New Testament

By Kris Rolls on February 22, 2017

What types of biblical literature are easiest for you to preach? What portions of Scripture do you feel most at "home" in while preaching or reading? If you're a Protestant evangelical, chances are you are most at "home" in the New Testament, and even more comfortable in Paul's letters. When compared with Law Code portions of Leviticus, prophetic visions in the Minor Prophets, narrative complexities…

Theology of Waiting

By Brittany Stichter on February 17, 2017

This week in chapel, Dr. Mike Wittmer spoke from Hebrews 9:28 about a theology of waiting. He began by sharing that though waiting is subjective, it has an objective focus. For Christians, the object of our waiting is the return of Christ. The wait is hard because it humbles us and reminds us we are not in control. We wait for the salvation that Jesus will bring when He returns, but we do not determine…

Dr. Jonathan Greer on How Bible Backgrounds Will Strengthen Your Preaching

By Kris Rolls on February 13, 2017

One of my favorite theologians, Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer, once said, "For, when the church responds to the Word of God as it ought, the church demonstrates the love of God and the mind of Christ, in word and in deed."[1] The catch is, that in order to respond to the Word of God "as we ought," we must understand what Scripture says in the first place. Pastors and teachers must regularly wrestle with what…

Waiting with Power

By Brittany Stichter on February 10, 2017

In this week's chapel, Jennifer Greer brought us a message based on Acts 1:1-44. In this passage, the disciples wait between the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Luke reminds his readers that Jesus is Who He says He is, and will accomplish what He says He will.

Based on this truth about Jesus, we can be confident that we will receive the power of the Holy Spirit, because Jesus tells…

Waiting with Commitment

By Brittany Stichter on February 3, 2017

Susan Rieske spoke in this week's chapel service. The message she brought, based on 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, explored waiting with commitment—having a radical commitment to God and His mission. As she reminded us, we can have nothing but still possess everything.

Susan also reminded us that enduring our present sufferings is different from the way distance runners endure: while distance runners often…

Doing Your Own Inner Work: The Value of Engaging in Your Own Therapy for Counselors and Ministers

By Sean Harrell on January 30, 2017

I have learned a great many things about helping others from books. I have learned many more from therapy. The helping professions are, to my mind, among the most sacred vocations one may be a part of. We are allowed to witness those experiences that are often kept from the world; to hear what for many has been unsayable, unutterable. We are invited into the most sensitive areas of others' lives, and…

An Appropriate Anticipation: Waiting with Hope

By Brittany Stichter on January 27, 2017

Our semester-long chapel theme is "An Appropriate Anticipation: Waiting with Hope," which comes on the heels of our semester-long reflections on lament. The anticipation theme's key passage is Isaiah 40:31. This week, Dr. Peter Osborn introduced the theme for the semester by exploring the idea of waiting and having the strength to wait well.

Peter explored Isaiah 40:27-31, voicing the frustration…

The Pastor is Between Two Worlds

By Darrell Yoder on January 25, 2017

Almost 10 years ago, I sat in my office listening to Dr. John Stott share his heart about preaching. I wish he would have been in my office himself so I could ask him questions. Alas, I was listening to a recording of a course he taught many years prior. At the time, I was serving at the Institute of Theological Studies, developing a "legacy" course to make Stott's material available again. It was…

Lamenting with Naomi

By Brittany Stichter on December 2, 2016

This week, Pastor Artie Lindsay looked at Naomi as an example of lamenting well. He drew out three points from Naomi's story:

We have to be honest about the reality of life in a broken world. So often, we struggle to allow lament to exist, being tempted to call ourselves and others to move on or "consider [trials] pure joy" (James 1:2). Pastor Lindsay pointed out, "The Bible calls us to mourn with…

Calling All Christians: Love Your Enemies

By Josh Maurer on November 28, 2016

Recently, many excellent articles have been written addressing the election and the many implications for us as Christians in this "brave new world." I am under no illusion that this brief post will be sufficiently nuanced to engage all the necessarily specific questions that must be asked and answered. Yet, I do believe it will be another helpful and challenging contribution to the discussion.

Does Israel's Last Prophet Replace Israel?

By Andrew Kischner on October 31, 2016

Dr. David L. Turner, professor of New Testament here at GRTS, will participate in a panel called "Matthew Within Judaism" at the upcoming meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. He will be in conversation with other scholars who study the relationship between Israel and the Church in the Bible, which informs Jewish-Christian relations today. We asked Dr. Turner about his work in this area and…

Intercultural Lecture Series: Pastor Kizombo Kalumbula Casts Vision for True Compassion in Grand Rapids

By Andrew Kischner on October 26, 2016

During his lecture, Kizombo Kalumbula identified what many in Grand Rapids already understand—that Grand Rapids delivers a Garden-of-Eden-esque existence for some while others do not experience the same benefits. For some, Grand Rapids defines 'family-friendly'; for others, it is, economically, one of the worst places to raise a family.* At the same time, Grand Rapids is ranked among the most charitable…

Lamenting with Integrity

By Brittany Stichter on October 21, 2016

This week, Dr. Robert Lehman explored the integrity of lament, using Job as a case study. Through his experience as a pastor and a counselor, Dr. Lehman has observed many who lament with integrity, but he has also observed many who do not.

Scripture repeatedly presents and describes Job as a man of integrity, and this extends to his expressions of lament. Dr. Lehman drew our attention to the fact…

Tears

By Brittany Stichter on October 14, 2016

Pastor Joy Bonnema led us this week in chapel through a very tangible practice of lamenting. Regarding the chapel service, she wrote, "For anyone who is burdened by the headlines, aching with grief, overwhelmed with sorrow, tempted to despair or frustrated with systems and situations that never seem to change, this chapel is for you. Keeping with the theme of lament we're going to revisit John 11 using…

Ministry Goes, Sees and Feels

By Brittany Stichter on October 7, 2016

This week in chapel, Pastor Joe Lane spoke to us from Luke 19:41 about ministry. He pointed out that we need to go to ministry, that we need to see ministry and that we need to feel ministry. Since Jesus approached Jerusalem, Pastor Lane challenged us to go to ministry. He challenged us to—the next time we are at our churches—stop and look around. Where are the real needs in our churches? Finally,…

Praying Lament

By Brittany Stichter on September 30, 2016

This week in chapel, Dr. Gombis and Dr. Greer helped us to sit in the story of Lazarus' death and Mary's reaction to it (John 11:28-37). They invited us to "soak in the story and lament alongside Scripture."

They briefly looked at the New Testament's perspective on lament, but spent the majority of chapel praying as a community. "In the New Testament, lament is portrayed as truth speaking about the…

The Virtues of Lament: How Lament Arises from Faith, Hope and Love

By Brittany Stichter on September 23, 2016

In this week's chapel, Dr. Mike Wittmer posed that the language of lament is not on our lips because we do not exercise faith in God's power over all things, hope for the new creation and love for our hurting brothers and sisters. If we have full faith, we believe that God will remedy wrongs. We do not grieve without hope, because we believe that God has a plan. It takes true love to grieve for and…

Compassion Fatigue

By Sarah Enck on September 14, 2016

When I sat in Dr. Lehman's Ethics course during the first semester of my M.A. in Counseling program, I never imagined the gravity of compassion fatigue during my future career as a counselor. I was mildly self-aware at the time, enough to realize that my strength in empathy would be my greatest asset and my greatest enemy when working in this field. I understood that I would be able to make quick connections…

A Revelation to the Church

By Stephen Popp on September 12, 2016

The book of Revelation offers a blessing to those who read and obey its message. This blessing appears not once, but twice, in the book. It appears the first time in the opening paragraph, where we read, "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near" (Rev. 1:3 ESV). And it appears a second time…

Embracing Thorns: Spiritual Practices for Cultivating Humility (Part 3)

By Sharon Brown on August 1, 2016

Insults. Hardships. Persecutions. Calamities. These are not the sort of things we post about on social media under the hashtag "blessed." But Paul contends that these are the kinds of circumstances that reveal the glory of God.

These types of trials provide the soil in which humility can take root and flourish.

A few years ago, I heard a pastor tell a story about confronting some of his denomination's…

Confessing Thorns: Spiritual Practices for Cultivating Humility (Part 2)

By Sharon Brown on July 28, 2016

Editor's Note: This is part two of a three-part series by Sharon Brown. Click here for part one.

Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in…

Stewarding Thorns: Spiritual Practices for Cultivating Humility (Part 1)

By Sharon Brown on July 25, 2016

Twenty-five years ago, during my first semester in seminary, I had a dream that profoundly impacted my life with God. In the dream I was applying for a job at a police station. The officer told me that if I wanted the job, I would have to bench-press 200 pounds. "Two hundred pounds!" I exclaimed. "But I haven't done anything athletic in seven years!" (That was a way of saying I'd never done anything…

Voting Anxiety: Is There Another Choice in My Political Menu?

By Sergio da Silva on July 18, 2016

I grew up in Brazil. I reached voting age at a time in which the country was under military dictatorship. We did not vote for president, but we were legally required to vote for other offices. There were only two options: we could vote for candidates from the government-supported party or for candidates of the opposition party. During my college years, I reached a political conundrum: I did not want…

Dr. Tim Gombis Contributes to a New Book on the Apostle Paul

By Kris Rolls on June 27, 2016

This March, Dr. Timothy Gombis, associate professor of New Testament here at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, published a chapter in an edited volume along with several notable scholars such as N.T. Wright, Bruce Longenecker and James D. G. Dunn. The new book is titled, "The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life: Ethical and Missional Implications of the New Perspective," edited by Dr. Scot McKnight…

What Does Compassion Really Look Like? Part 2: A Compassion Revolution

By Kizombo Kalumbula on June 13, 2016

In my last post I closed with two questions. First, could there be more true compassion going on in Grand Rapids than what meets the eye? Second, could it be that God is beginning to do something new in my city? There seems to be a paradox playing out here. On the one hand, Grand Rapids is ranked 51st out of the 52 largest cities in America where African Americans are doing the best economically, and…

What Does Compassion Really Look Like? (Part 1 of 2)

By Kizombo Kalumbula on June 6, 2016

In January 2015, Forbes Magazine published an article, "The cities where African-Americans are doing the best economically." My city, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ranked 51st out of the 52 largest cities in America—second to last. Then in October, the Huffington Post, published another article ranking Grand Rapids 5th among the top 10 worst cities for Black Americans to live. It's hard to be Black in Grand…

Ten Questions About What Your Church Believes (part 2 of 2)

By Mike Wittmer on May 25, 2016

Here is part two of ten things to look for in your church's confession (click here for part one). If you want an example that illustrates most of what I'm talking about, check out the confession of Cornerstone University or Calvary Church.

6. Does it set appropriate boundaries?

One of the benefits of revising your church confession is that it forces you to discuss how doctrinally inclusive you think…

Ten Questions About What Your Church Believes (Part 1 of 2)

By Mike Wittmer on May 23, 2016

For the past year my students have evaluated their churches' doctrinal statements, and I have learned valuable insights that might help pastors and boards improve their church's confession of faith. Such statements are increasingly important because they provide clarity, or at least guidance, when questions arise in the life of a church. Many times, however, these statements of faith are not treated…

What Are We Doing Here?

By Jo Anna Kelly on May 11, 2016

As adults, it seems we often view higher education in a similar fashion—as a means of personal or professional fulfillment. Often we pursue higher degrees in order to fulfill specific personal or vocational goals. Those who elect to return to college are often making the decision to gain a promotion or because they feel that they have plateaued in their current position. When we no longer feel fulfilled…

The Ultimate Final Exam: My First Interview

By Sarah Enck on April 20, 2016

I survived an interview for my first counseling job. After learning that my husband and I were being relocated to Indiana, I knew that I had to look for a new job. But where to start? I knew that part of the job-hunting process was having connections, but I felt lost when thinking about looking in a new town.

Finding Common Ground: Can complementarians and egalitarians flourish together?

By Darrell Yoder on April 13, 2016

In today's post, I'd like to highlight the Intercultural Lecture Series event that took place last month. Carolyn Custis James spoke on "The Blessed Alliance," which asked the question: How does the Gospel transform relationships between male and female and restore the "Blessed Alliance" that God envisioned for his sons and daughters from the beginning?

If you have wrestled with the role of women…

The Mystery of Knowing God

By Darrell Yoder on April 11, 2016

I find the idea of having a "relationship with God" mysterious and fascinating. The biblical story depicts humanity as created to know and walk with God, and it uses a host of metaphors to describe this relationship. God is our Father, and we are His children. He is our Husband, and we are His bride. He is our Shepherd, and we are His sheep. He is the "Living Water" we thirst for, the "Bread from heaven"…

To Spank or Not to Spank

By Catherine Mueller-Bell on April 4, 2016

One of the most common challenges for parents is deciding how to respond when a child misbehaves. Caregivers who are parenting don't always agree; they each bring their own experiences and assumptions and have to work out what they will do in their own family. As we explore this issue from a Christian Worldview, I would suggest that the Word of God from the Christian Bible is our greatest resource…

Walls

By Brittany Stichter on April 1, 2016

In this week's chapel, Darrell Yoder gave a message entitled "Walls" from Ephesians 2:11-22. He drew our attention to walls in our personal lives and in the Church as a whole, going back even to the Jews and Gentiles in the early Church.

On the cross, Jesus demolished the walls between us and the Father. He also demolished the walls between us and those who are different than us. While it doesn't…

What Does Christian Parenting Look Like?

By Catherine Mueller-Bell on March 30, 2016

So, what does this look like day-to-day when one is parenting a biological or adopted child or caring for a child in an orphanage, foster home, or correctional facility, or reaching out to children who are homeless? I would recommend that our best example is how Jesus treated children, and I invite you to investigate this issue with me.

Spanking: A Father's Perspective

By Darrell Yoder on March 28, 2016

In my own experience, spanking has at times seemed effective, and at other times it has failed miserably. There are times I may have used spanking too quickly, as a first choice in punishment, without considering other options, only to later wonder if it really was the best method. This was even more pronounced when my children didn't respond to spanking in the way I thought they would.

The Cross: For Us, By Us and In Us

By David Turner on March 27, 2016

In many evangelical churches, Easter is relegated to a single Sunday each year. In more liturgically-minded churches, Eastertide is observed as the eight-Sunday season between Easter and Pentecost, which this year falls from March 27 to May 15. Either way, Christ's death and resurrection is the very heart of our experience of new life in him. We need to reflect on the absolute centrality of the cross…

Jesus as Our Purposeful Example

By Brittany Stichter on March 25, 2016

In this week's chapel, Pastor Joe Lane brought a message from Philippians 2:5-11, exploring "Jesus as our Purposeful Example." He describes how Jesus' purpose affected other areas of His life and how His example relates to us.

Jesus' purpose was more important than His pleasure, power, prominence, or pain. Ours is too. Our God-given purpose cannot be fulfilled if we are not becoming like Christ.

The Cross and Christian Identity

By Kris Rolls on March 23, 2016

It doesn't take more than five minutes of watching network news to convince a person that we live in very dark and confusing times. American culture is deeply divided along fault lines of race, politics, economics, religion, and human rights. The world is longing for justice and significance, but more importantly, it is looking for answers and searching for identity.

A Story to Tell, A Story to Live

By Jennifer Greer on March 21, 2016

We are new friends with different backgrounds, but we share one thing in common: we both have children with medical issues. Though I have faced emergency medical situations with our son for 10 years (and his genetic condition will continue to present lifelong struggles), this momma is in a new battle with her infant. Someone who knows a little of my story introduced us and thought I might be an encouragement…

Embracing the Journey of Seminary

By Dani Lauer on March 16, 2016

"Life is a journey, not a destination." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Journey. An act of traveling from one place to another. A long and often difficult process of personal change and development.

Destination. A place where someone or something is going or being sent.

What is it about us as humans that enjoys destinations? Think about it. We have all these milestones in our lives, and people often encourage…

Responding to the Opioid Epidemic and Shortage of Addictions Counselors

By Catherine Mueller-Bell on March 14, 2016

Last month, NPR ran a story about the opioid (e.g., heroin) epidemic and the shortage of addiction counselors to respond to the problem. New Hampshire had been in the news as having an acute addiction crisis with politicians calling for more treatment options. It's good news that addiction and the need for treatment are getting attention (although we should acknowledge the tragedy that communities…

Listening to the Voice of Creation

By Darrell Yoder on March 9, 2016

On Monday, I wrote about a time when God used music to impact me deeply and draw me closer in my walk with him. Music, coupled with God's Word, can be deeply spiritually formational. Today, I'd like to look at another practice that has been powerful for me personally—listening to the voice of creation as it testifies to its Creator.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work…

When We Have No Words

By Darrell Yoder on March 7, 2016

A few years ago, I was invited to write for the Conversations Journal blog, which seeks to generate conversations that lead to transformation. We were discussing various things that contribute to spiritual formation in Christ. For one of my posts, I explored the role that music can play in our walk with the Lord.

I believe that music—especially worship music based on Scripture—can be one of the most…

What Does it Take to Make a Great Sermon?: GRTS to Host Midwest ETS Meeting

By Kris Rolls on March 2, 2016

It should go without saying on this blog—but I will say it anyway: The Bible is essential for the life, health, and sustenance of the Church; it is the very Word of God to his people. Studying the Bible and communicating it effectively, though, requires loving, careful and hard work. Christians should love words—both written and spoken—simply because we are keepers, doers, and lovers of the Word. The…

M.A. in Counseling: A New Platform

By Sarah Enck on February 29, 2016

Damaris Garcia is one of eleven students in the first cohort of the new M.A. Counseling online program at Cornerstone University. She met the other members of her cohort for the first time on Jan. 7, the first day of their three- to four-year program together. The day started with an orientation in the morning and launched right into their first class that afternoon. The following two days were part…

Most Likely, Least Likely

By Brittany Stichter on February 26, 2016

This week in chapel, Jennifer Greer began by playing a game with the chapel community. She asked questions like "Are you most or least likely to ride a roller coaster?" and "Are you most or least likely to eat liver?" Through her message, she shared how Jesus often chooses the least likely to use in big ways. When Jesus healed the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19, only one came back to Jesus. The only leper…

GRTS Chapel: "An Appropriate Presence: Living as the People of God"

By Kris Rolls on February 1, 2016

Every Wednesday morning at GRTS, we gather as a community to worship God and reflect on His word. Chapel is an important part of who we are as a seminary. It's an intentional time for us to pause our work, turn off our technology and stop our lectures to gather as the people of God in worship.

Here is the chapel schedule this semester. Chapel is held on Wednesday mornings from 9:50 a.m. - 10:30 a…

Study is Worship... and Discipleship

By Kris Rolls on January 25, 2016

As a student, there is nothing like the kind of excitement that comes at the beginning of a new semester. A fresh start. A clean slate. An idealistic hope for copious amounts of productivity, new ideas and growth in every facet of life—intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. Graduate education has a way of forcing you into postures of meekness, humility, charity and curiosity. These virtues, I…

Making Sense of God's Call Pt.1: Charismas

By Royce Evans on January 21, 2016

Recently, GRTS adopted the phrase "Following God's Call" in our recruiting emphasis and missional statements. I must admit that when I first saw this phrase in seminary materials and heard it in conversations with my colleagues, I thought it doesn't get much simpler than that. In retrospect, however, the simplicity of that statement belies what is often a much more critical and complex question, not…

Space for the Heart in Seminary: Consider the Pirsig Fellowship

By Darrell Yoder on January 18, 2016

For the last two and a half years, I've had the privilege of walking with students in the Kern Scholars Program, which provides a generous scholarship and a cohort experience for students in the Master of Divinity program (M.Div.). I've been encouraged to see the way these men and women have connected with each other in their cohorts. As the above quote from one student testifies, the journey of theological…

Join the class, join the conversations and watch your relationship with Christ grow.

By Ashley VanBemmelen on January 13, 2016

The seminary is such a quiet space with students on break. I can walk out of my office and down the hall without being greeted by a friend or running into anyone really. Somedays the quiet is nice. I am able to zone in on work and get a lot done. I appreciate the extra opportunity to focus.

Most days, though, it just feels empty. GRTS is a seminary. It's a place where students come to learn more about…

Calling, Character and Competency: An Interview with Rev. Dr. Royce Evans

By Darrell Yoder on January 11, 2016

Over the last three years, I have had the privilege of working with and building a friendship with my colleague, the Rev. Dr. Royce Evans. Initially, I was impressed with the breadth of his ministry experience (and that's still true), but as I've gotten to know him and his heart for the Kingdom I've been even more inspired by his openness, humility and courage. I'm excited to say we've invited him…

I love the holidays, but now I'm in recovery mode.

By Tara Kram on January 6, 2016

Family is gone. The Christmas tree has returned to its box (no, I've never had a real one). WCSG is back to its regular family-friendly, non-Christmas tunes.  And I haven't seen the sun in a week. Yep, sounds like January in Michigan.

I don't know about you, but I'm in post-Christmas recovery mode. All the hype of the celebration has dissipated, and I'm left ho-humming around the house. What to do?…

What we say when we call people to serve

By Darrell Yoder on January 4, 2016

Not too long ago, I was talking to a friend who was feeling guilty after hearing his pastor speak about service. The pastor's appeal was a good one. As followers of Christ, we are called to look out for others in need and to be generous with our time and resources. The message was from the story of Peter raising Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9.36-41).

Part of the story is how Tabitha was known for "always…

The Gospel vs. Resolution

By Kris Rolls on December 30, 2015

New Years is an interesting holiday that is loaded with all sorts of meaning. Around this time a few years ago I listened to a sermon from popular Christian philosopher James K. A. Smith. He titled his sermon, "Giving Up on Resolution." I remember it well because it was such a stark critique of what I thought to be "harmless" New Year's resolutions. Why wouldn't I want to lose weight? Get a gym membership?…

The First-Year Seminary Student

By Jo Anna Kelly on December 28, 2015

You'll know us when you see us. We're pretty easy to spot. We're usually the ones walking around with a look of bewilderment on our faces, reeling from the impact of the day's most recent class discussion. Teetering on the edge between enthusiasm ("education is a gift!") and panic ("I'm in over my head"), we are actively addressing topics that force us to answer the question, "What do I believe?" We…

The Gift of God for the People of God

By Kris Rolls on December 25, 2015

During Advent, Christians around the world gather together and exchange gifts. We do this because the act of gift-giving reflects and rehearses the Ultimate Gift of God becoming man in the birth of Jesus. The exchanging of gifts help us to unite as the people of God and reflect upon the hope that is in Immanuel—Christ with us.

This season, I've had the privilege of working my way through John Barclay's…

We interrupt your warm, comfy, cozy Advent season with a message from the Apocalypse...

By David Turner on December 23, 2015

We often hear the Christmas story told from the Gospels.

From Luke 1-2, we learn about John the Baptist's parents Zacharias and Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary, the coming of the shepherds, and the words of Simeon and Anna about the baby Jesus. From Matthew 1-2, we've come to know about Joseph's care for Mary and Jesus, the visit of the magi, the holy family's flight to Egypt,…

Fear and the Loss of Compassion

By Darrell Yoder on December 21, 2015

It's Christmas, and millions of people are on edge. Those living in the Middle East are familiar with this fear, but it's new (or at least more intense) for many of us. We've watched with horror as ISIS fighters commit atrocities and export their violence to Africa, Paris and (perhaps indirectly) San Bernardino. We hear about the growing domestic threat in the US.

With everything coming closer to…

Becoming the Client

By Sarah Enck on December 16, 2015

I'm not one for clichés, but I recently found this idea very convicting. As a student in the M.A. in Counseling program, I continuously advocate for anyone to seek counseling. I believe that anyone could use an unbiased person in their life to ask helpful questions and teach healthier habits. Why would anyone pass on an opportunity to grow?

Self-care is a counseling term that has been emphasized throughout…

Questions Every Future Counselor Faces

By Ashley VanBemmelen on December 9, 2015

Everyone who considers counseling has to wrestle with at least one basic question, Could I really do this kind of work? Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get insight as to whether you would make a good counselor:

  • Are you passionate about helping hurting people find hope in a broken world?
  • Do you want to help individuals and families through difficult times?
  • Does your heart break…

Connecting Old Testament Exegesis to Preaching (Book Review)

By Kris Rolls on December 2, 2015

When was the last time you heard (or preached) a sermon series based on Deuteronomy or 1 Chronicles or Hosea? Or any other difficult book from the Old Testament? My answer is "never." The New Testament is generally more accessible for modern audiences. It seems more straightforward about what to believe and how to live. By contrast, the Old Testament can be a strange, foreign and unfamiliar place.…

Why Do We Struggle With New Creation, and What Do We Do Now? (Part 2)

By Martin Spence on November 6, 2015

New creation is a strange concept for many Bible-believing Christians, in part because of historical twists and turns that have encouraged non-biblical ways of thinking. In my last post, I described two reasons why this has happened—biblical interpretation and pastoral care for those who suffer—and I gave some practical suggestions on how to move forward.

In this post, I want to offer two more reasons…

The Transformative Power of the Classroom

By Graham McKeague on November 4, 2015

Dr. Catherine Mueller-Bell has 30 years of counseling experience in both local and global contexts. She teaches across multiple areas of the counseling curriculum including classes on multicultural counseling, child and adolescent counseling, counseling women through the life cycle, career development and addictions counseling.

Why Do We Struggle With New Creation, and What Do We Do Now? (Part 1)

By Martin Spence on November 2, 2015

In my presentation at the Thy Kingdom Come Talking Points conference, I tried to show how the church has veered away from the idea of new creation throughout history. Some of these turns were made not as the result of an explicit discussion of the end times, but rather as the consequence of some other debate or pastoral concern. Each turn has created an accretion of ideas that make new creation a strange…

Choosing a Career Path

By Tara Kram on October 28, 2015

Many graduates of GRTS's Master of Arts in Counseling program choose to pursue traditional counseling careers in agency or private practice settings. Although this is the most common career path, many choose other vocational avenues. We have alumni serving as human resources directors, professors, church ministry leaders and university student development staff. I also chose to go a non-traditional…

Miss Talking Points? Get the recordings here

By Darrell Yoder on October 26, 2015

On Oct. 7, pastors and ministry leaders gathered at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary for the Fall 2015 Talking Points conference. The theme of the conference was "Thy Kingdom Come: An Exploration of New Creation Theology." A huge thanks to all who attended and helped make it an amazing day. If you missed it, you can download the recordings here.

Our next Talking Points will be a series in the spring…

Thinking of Spring

By Graham McKeague on October 21, 2015

It's October and the heart of the fall season (my favorite time of year) but I am already looking forward to the spring. Each year, at the end of January and in the midst of the winter freeze, the spring semester begins at the seminary.

Looking ahead to the spring 2016 semester, there are many things to look forward to and anticipate at GRTS. Each January about 35-40 new students start their seminary…

Getting Your Counseling Practice Off the Ground

By Ashley VanBemmelen on October 19, 2015

Where do I begin working when I graduate with the M.A. in Counseling?

This is the question I couldn’t get out of my head during my last year in the program. I knew I wanted to work with trauma, but I was nervous to start my own practice. What options were left?

I needed a site that would provide clients for me to see without much effort on my behalf. For this reason, I looked at agency work and small…

Traveling and Digging into Redemption

By Kris Rolls on October 14, 2015

In 2012, my wife and I packed up our things—well, two suitcases each—and moved to Israel for graduate school and a ministry opportunity. Our time in the land, and living in a small Palestinian village just outside of Bethlehem was one of the most amazing seasons in our lives.

Moo, Plantinga, Wittmer and more at Talking Points Conference

By Darrell Yoder on October 5, 2015

On Wednesday, we will hold our next Talking Points Conference on the topic "Thy Kingdom Come," a conversation about New Creation Theology. We pray for God's Kingdom to come "on earth" in the Lord's Prayer, and the New Testament refers often to "new creation" as central to the Gospel and the mission of Christ in the world. What "kingdom" and "new creation" are we talking about, and what difference does…

I Will Mow the Lawn!

By Julián Guzmán on October 1, 2015

I was raised in the Dominican Republic and learned as a child that I would spend eternity flying around praising God forever. The idea wasn't very attractive (although better than spending eternity in flames), and biblical concepts like "new creation" and "new heaven and new earth" became abstract and scary. I found it difficult to reconcile the "heaven forever" and the "new earth" ideas. As a good…

Yo Cortaré el Pasto!

By Julián Guzmán on September 30, 2015

Yo nací y crecí en la Republica Dominicana y aprendí desde niño que pasaría la eternidad volando como los ángeles, adorando y cantando a Dios para siempre. La idea no me parecía muy atractiva (aunque es mejor que pasarme la eternidad en llamas), y los conceptos bíblicos como "nueva creación" y "cielo nuevo y tierra nueva" eran muy abstractos e intimidantes a la vez. Se me hacía muy difícil reconciliar…

Gospel Centered Scholarship: Talking Points Plenary Speaker, Dr. Douglas Moo

By Kris Rolls on September 23, 2015

Dr. Douglas Moo is an influential writer, authoring several books, commentaries and academic journal articles spanning multiple genres of New Testament literature. His primary areas of research include Pauline theology, creation theology, Galatians, Romans and Hebrews.

Dr. Moo has been a significant resource for me as I've studied the New Testament. He is thoughtful, charitable and typically brings…

Beginning Again: A New School Year

By Graham McKeague on September 21, 2015

A couple of weeks ago we welcomed over 75 new students to GRTS for the start of the new school year. It is always a joy to see new students come to campus to begin their seminary studies. Months of hard work and preparation come together to make the new student orientation a successful day and ensure new students are ready to start classes.

At the start of a new school year it is exciting to see students…

Step by Step: Applying for LLPC Licensure

By Ashley VanBemmelen on September 17, 2015

A question students often ask in their last year of the Counseling program is "How do I get licensed?" This post will walk you through the process of obtaining your Limited License Professional Counselor (LLPC) license in the state of Michigan step by step with a time frame (other states may have variations):

Two Months Before Graduation

Begin obtaining information on local counseling supervisors…

Speaker Highlight: Dr. Cornelius Plantinga

By Darrell Yoder on September 14, 2015

We have a fantastic line up of speakers for Talking Points on Oct. 7. Each speaker will explore the topic of new creation theology from a different angle: biblically, theologically, historically and homiletically. To help with this last angle—the task of preaching new creation theology—we have invited Dr. Cornelius (Neal) Plantinga to give a new creation sermon during the conference.

Dr. Plantinga…

Jesus and Avocados

By Steven Lister on September 9, 2015

Most of my adult life, I've struggled with a tension. See, I love reading God's Word. I love going to worship services. But I also love naps. And football. And avocados. Is that okay? Is it okay that out of 52 Sundays of the year I take one of them to go on vacation with my family?

There have been times when I felt it wasn't. Growing up, my church never taught much about creation other than "denying…

A Balancing Act

By Sarah Enck on September 2, 2015

When I began seminary three years ago, I thought I had a basic understanding of the changes I would experience by stepping into the M.A. in Counseling program. I was so excited to learn more about theology, Scripture and counseling, and I was eager to immerse myself into the graduate academic world. I knew I would grow as a Christian and a professional counselor.

The more I waded through concepts…

Thy Kingdom Come

By Darrell Yoder on August 26, 2015

Last week, my family joined ten others on a three-day camping trip to Silver Lake State Park on the west coast of Michigan's lower peninsula. It was our last hurrah before school starts, and we loved every minute of it. If you do the math, we had 22 adults and 31 children—53 people relaxing on the beach, swimming, laughing, riding bikes, telling stories and cooking incredible food over an open fire…

Connecting the Seminary and the Church

By Darrell Yoder on August 17, 2015

I was raised in the Church. I came to faith around 10 years old in a rural Mennonite church in Northern Indiana. Thirteen years later, when I decided to go to seminary, many people around me had no idea what a seminary was (none of our pastors had ever gone), and they wondered about the value of "going to school for so many years."

During seminary, then, I was both inspired and disillusioned. I was…

The Summer Countdown

By Graham McKeague on August 12, 2015

As we get ready for a new semester, I am excited to think about the students who will be in class next month. They have hopes and dreams placed in their hearts by God himself, and He will use their journey in seminary to make those dreams a reality. As professors prayerfully develop courses, class readings, and lectures, these are moments to reflect on the wisdom of God and the importance of learning…

Student Spotlight: SJ and Erick

By Kris Rolls on August 10, 2015

At GRTS, we seek to thrive as a learning community committed to excellence in academic rigor and faithfulness in devotion to Scripture. Students are an important facet of that culture, so from time to time on the Talking Points Blog we will spotlight students and their stories. We hope this will give testimony to the work God is doing in their lives and in our community as a whole.

These students…

Listening that Leads to Hope

By Sarah Enck on August 5, 2015

We all live in a broken world. Within our churches we interact with people who are living with depression, experiencing adultery, or have experienced intense trauma and abuse. The church is not immune to this brokenness and sin. Ministry leaders are often in roles that require a listening ear for their congregants.

What to Expect...

By Darrell Yoder on August 3, 2015

I'm excited to participate in this new Talking Points blog! I will be engaged in this conversation primarily as a practitioner, a pastor who spends a lot of time thinking about and engaged in the practical issues we face in the Church. My role at GRTS though—working with and mentoring future pastors; planning and coordinating our Talking Points conferences—offers me a unique glimpse at what the seminary…