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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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.

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…

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…

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.