Seminary Adventures

Here you can find every iteration of my Seminary Support Newsletter from the beginning of my studies until now.  Beyond just being a grand archive of my experiences, financial needs, and prayer requests over the course of my studies, I hope that this page may ultimately serve as a testimony to the unwavering faithfulness of our good Shepherd, Who leads us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake, and in Whose care we are never truly lacking.

If you’d like to be added to the emailing list for the newsletter, drop me a line at gallojm1@gmail.com.

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Fall Letter 2011

September 22, 2011

My dear brothers and sisters,

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord!   As many of you know, this past May I graduated from Grove City College with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Biblical & Religious Studies.  I can say most happily that my years at Grove City were an intellectually enriching, socially stimulating, and spiritually edifying experience—thanks in part to my studies and, no doubt, equally so to the countless Christ-centered individuals who shared their lives with me.  As I approached the completion of my undergraduate studies, the Lord began a work in my heart that started taking shape when I met with a representative from Reformed Theological Seminary.

Reformed Theological Seminary (www.rts.edu) is a highly-acclaimed graduate-level Christian academic institution in the Reformed tradition, with several campuses throughout the southern United States.  The primary goal of RTS is to biblically educate and spiritually equip students for entry into full-time Christian ministry as pastors, missionaries, counselors, and teachers.  Through many prayers and conversations with various pastors and professors, the Lord revealed to me that I was indeed being called to enroll in seminary to prepare for entry into pastoral ministry.  Shortly thereafter, my visit to the Charlotte (NC) campus of RTS affirmed to me that this was the place the Lord had prepared for me to attend, and I enrolled to begin in the fall semester as a full-time student pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree on a three-year plan.

After a summer of working 50- to 60-hour weeks and spending as much time with my wonderful family as possible, I found an apartment with two other RTS students in Charlotte and began classes on August 24th.  In this first month of living away from home, building new relationships, working nearly 30 hours a week between two part-time jobs, and juggling a 16-credit course load, my total dependence upon the Lord for grace, guidance, and strength has never been clearer.  I humbly ask that you would join with me in praying regularly for God’s blessing on my preparation for church ministry.  Pray that my studies would bear fruit in both knowledge and godliness, and that the Lord would use all my circumstances to mold me into a faithful witness to His gospel and servant of His church.  Pray with the confidence of the Apostle John: “that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him” (I John 5:14-15).

In addition, I ask that you pray specifically for financial provision.  Despite a partial scholarship from the seminary and two part-time jobs, I simply have no way of covering my tuition and living costs on my own.  Furthermore, as RTS is a fully private institution, students are unable to take out student loans or receive any federal aid toward their seminary education.  Put plainly, I need monetary support from God’s people in order to carry on my preparation for lifelong service to God’s people.  […]  If the Holy Spirit should move you, your family, or your church to invest financially in my pastoral education—through either a one-time gift or ongoing support, and with a heart that is aligned with Paul’s teaching in II Corinthians 9:6-15—then I gladly welcome your support.  […]

If you would like to receive a periodic email newsletter about my seminary journey, with detailed and up-to-date info about my classes and activities, email me at gallojm1@gmail.com so that I will have your address.  Also, visit my blog about Christ and His church—callingoutyourname.wordpress.com—to see what I’m learning at any given time.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Warmly,
Jordan G.

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Autumn Update 2011!

November 8, 2011

Hello everyone!

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (II Peter 1:2)  If you’re reading this, then you should have received a letter from me not long ago, at the outset of my studies at Reformed Theological Seminary.  […]  I am writing today to update you on how my semester is unfolding and how you can continue to support the Lord’s work in my life as I prepare for pastoral ministry.

I am happy to report that my classes this semester have been fantastic!  Sixteen credit hours is quite the workload, but the lectures and assignments have been consistently interesting and valuable.

  • Genesis to Joshua is a wonderful survey course which paints in broad sweeps the history of creation and formation of the Israelite people through their conquest of Canaan, with special emphases on God’s covenants with His people and the significance of the Old Testament law for Christians today.  The grace of God is truly amazing!
  • Gospels is another survey course which deals with the origins, structures, and significant themes of the first four books of the New Testament.  I am currently researching for a paper on the three seemingly dissonant accounts of the calling of Peter and Andrew and how they may best be harmonized—I’m excited to see what I discover!
  • Intro to Theological Studies is a fascinating course about the foundations for Reformed theology—more specifically, the five Reformation doctrines (i.e. Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria) and the five Reformed “Doctrines of Grace” (i.e. Radical Depravity, Unconditional Election, Efficacious Grace, Persevering Grace, and Particular Redemption).  The professor for this class is a Christian philosopher with a smashing British accent, so needless to say, I’m enjoying this class thoroughly.
  • History of Christianity I covers the notable figures, events, heresies, and councils from the birth of the Church at Pentecost through the Middle Ages.  It’s amazing to see how much wisdom for our present circumstances lies waiting for us in the history of the Church!
  • Leadership is basically a helpful hodgepodge of principles and strategies for serving as a leader in a local church—very practical insights gleaned from on-the-ground ministry experience, from  assessing one’s strengths and weaknesses to developing a philosophy of ministry to dealing with church conflicts.
  • Finally, Intro to Preaching is exactly what it sounds like: an introduction to the different types of sermons and how best to prepare them.  As it turns out, good preaching involves a lot more than just rambling about the Bible!  Who knew?  🙂  I’m excited to put this class’s content into practice in next semester’s preaching lab.

Outside of lectures and classwork, I am working two part-time jobs:  One as a desk attendant in the RTS library, and the other as a remote customer service / data entry worker for [an Indianapolis-based small business].  Needless to say, “spare time” has been at a high premium this semester, and I’ve certainly spent my share of late nights paying the price for taking too much of it at times.  The transition to graduate studies has not been entirely seamless, to be sure, but the Lord has been faithful to teach me through my successes and blunders alike.

Looking ahead to the next few months, I ask that you would take time to pray for me regarding the following matters:

  • Please pray that the Lord would continue to provide me with the financial resources necessary to carry on my studies.  I have already been blessed with financial support by many of you, and I cannot express the depth of my gratitude for your generous gifts.  Be that as it may, I’ll still need a great deal more in order to cover my expenses through the spring semester.  […]  If the Lord would move you, your family, or your church to consider a financial contribution to my ministry preparation, you can find all the necessary details about such giving in the attached letter.
  • Also, please pray for ongoing discipline and diligence, particularly with the end-of-the-semester crunch-time quickly approaching.  Pray that I would not lose my focus on the Lord and His calling upon my life or set it aside for passing pleasures and comforts.  Pray also that I would not allow my personal disciplines to be crowded out by scholastic urgency.
  • Additionally, please pray that my search for a new home church would bear pleasing fruit unto God.  The city of Charlotte hosts a good number of solid biblical churches, and the difficulty of choosing between numerous valid options is certainly a good problem to have.  Pray that I might be attentive to the Lord’s leading as I seek the church where I can best worship Him and serve others to His glory.  I am currently feeling the ache of being without a regular body of fellowship, and I hope to put my roots down again sooner rather than later.

Thank you so much for your love and faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ.  I am praying for you and will continue to do so.  To that effect, I would love to hear from each of you how the Lord is working in your life and how I might best direct my prayers.  An email or letter from loved ones far away never fails to brighten my day. 🙂

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

Warmly,
Jordan G.

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Midwinter Update 2012!

February 13, 2012

Hello everyone!

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (II Peter 1:2)  It has been several months since my last seminary update, and a good deal has happened in that time!  For instance…

  • My first semester of seminary courses is complete!  I sure did make the last couple weeks of the semester more difficult for myself than they needed to be, but through a few late nights and God’s abundant grace, those sixteen credits are in the books.  Needless to say, I learned an awful lot—both inside and outside the classroom—and I’m looking forward to carrying those lessons into the coming
    semesters.
  • The number of G’s in Charlotte has shrunk!  Just after the end of the fall semester, [my brother and sister-in-law] said goodbye to the Queen City and moved to Indianapolis, leaving me brother-less and chef-less.  I consider myself supremely blessed to have had them here during my biggest transitional semester and already miss them dearly.  Though I wish them the best—and, yes, hope to follow them one day (again)—I am left with holes in my heart, my stomach, and who knows what other internal organs might also be pining for my absent siblings.  (Maybe I should get those looked at…)
  • Christmas!  (Yes, Christmas is so great that it can be a sentence all by itself.)  Unfortunately for [my brother and sister-in-law], my plans to visit Indianapolis for the holidays coincided perfectly with their need for an extra moving vehicle, so they had to put up with me for a few extra days before they were rid of me completely.  🙂  During my visit home, I was blessed to spend some quality time with family and friends, decompressing a bit from the stress of finals and celebrating the incarnation of Christ our Savior.  It sure must have taken a LOT of love for Him to enter a world like this in order to save a people like us!
  • The RTS winter intensive term was intense!  Having two solid weeks of Hebrew II followed by another week of Classics of Personal Devotion is less like testing the temperature of the water with your foot and more like getting tossed into the deep end by your stupid older brother (cf. “[brother]” above).  Couple that with the fact that the heater in our apartment was being particularly temperamental at the time, and you’ve created the perfect recipe for Rapid Christmas Break Reversal: parsing Hebrew verbs in the wee hours of the morning while wearing three full sets of clothes for warmth.  However, that which did not kill me made me stronger, and those four credits are now locked in as well.
  • My Christian life blog is booming!  I have dedicated a great deal of time and effort in the past few months to bringing interesting and valuable content to the readers, with topics ranging from facebook Christianity to genocide to Tim Tebow to Puritan spirituality.  I encourage you to check it out, leave a comment, and subscribe to receive email notifications of future posts!  You (probably) won’t be (very) sorry!

Now the spring semester is in full swing, featuring another all-star lineup of academic delights:

  • Evangelism
  • Pauline Epistles
  • Prayer in the Bible
  • Poets (a.k.a. “Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentations”)
  • History of Philosophy / Christian Thought (a.k.a. “Jordan’s Undergrad Majors”)
  • Hebrew Exegesis (a.k.a. “Master Hebrew or Die Trying”)

Though my course load for this semester only comes to fourteen credit hours, it looks like the increase in difficulty and intensity will more than make up for the two credit decrease from the previous semester.  As I get down to the scholastic nitty-gritty once again, would you be willing to pray for me regarding the following matters?

  • Please pray that the Lord would provide me with opportunities to evangelize through helping me increase my contact with non-Christians.  I’ve been saddened and convicted in recent weeks by the realization that most of my regular interaction with unbelievers comes through customer service phone calls to restaurant cashiers through my part-time job—not exactly an occasion for discussing the deeper things in life.  When it comes right down to it, there really is no greater travesty than a Christian’s neglecting to offer Light and Life to those around him who know only darkness and death.  As Paul asks the church in Rome, “How will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching? … As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15)  Please ask for wisdom on my behalf as I seek occasions to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to my lost Charlotte neighbors.
  • Please continue to pray for financial provision.  […]  Since I have been warned by both pastors and professors alike that entering the ministry saddled with debt should be avoided like the Black Eyed Peas, I ask for your continued prayers in this regard.  In the midst of being tempted to grow doubtful, I am learning to trust that the Lord will provide through His people in such a way and at such a time as will bring all glory to Himself.  I would not hope for anything else.  (If the Holy Spirit should move you, your family, or your church to invest financially in my pastoral education—through either a one-time gift or ongoing support, and with a heart that is aligned with Paul’s teaching in II Corinthians 9:6-15—then I gladly welcome your support.)  […]
  • Additionally, please continue to pray over my search for a church home.  Coming out of a nondenominational church at the end of high school, I never could have imagined that I’d later find myself struggling over the question, “Am I a Presbyterian, or an Anglican?”  Nevertheless, I have yet to discern the Lord’s will regarding which local church—and consequently which denomination—to join.  Please pray that God would guide my considerations and my conversations, and that I would not hesitate to step out in faith once His leading becomes clear.

Thank you so much for all your love and support!  I would be delighted to hear how the Lord is moving in each of your lives, and how I might be in prayer for you in the coming weeks.  In every area of life, let us never settle for anything less than Him.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

Warmly,
Jordan G.

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Midwinter BONUS GIVING PERIOD!

February 22, 2012

Brothers and sisters,

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a breaking news bulletin!

I have just received word from one of our generous brothers who has offered to match all financial contributions—up to $1,000—that I receive by March 21st.  (That’s four weeks from today.)  That means any monetary gifts I receive by that date will effectively be double the value!  I encourage you to consider prayerfully this extraordinary opportunity to help carry on the ministry of Christ in my pastoral education!  (You can find the details for giving in the original email [above].)

Praise the Lord for this incredible opportunity for Him to manifest His providential care through the work of His people!  All glory belongs to our God!

Warmly,
Jordan G.

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Spring 2012 Seminary Update: Resurrection and Taxes

April 4, 2012

Dear brothers and sisters,

Spring has arrived!  And based on my experience in the last month, a Charlotte spring seems an awful lot like an Indianapolis summer—no complaints here!

For purposes of expediency, this edition of “How Jordan’s Life is Shaping Up” will be limited to a few brief but important items.  Updates ahoy!

  • March Support Madness has been a smashing success!  […]  THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT!  It has been a tremendous blessing to witness the Lord mobilizing His people to support the ongoing ministry of His church… and it has been nice to be able to buy toilet paper and petrol this month too!  Of course, special thanks go to the Anonymous Contribution Matcher for his ingenuity and overwhelming generosity.  […]
  • Would you commit to praying that the Lord will move to meet my remaining financial needs for this academic year?  Would you consider anew the opportunity you have personally to contribute?  (If you, your family, or your church are willing to invest financially in my pastoral education—through either a one-time gift or ongoing support, and with a heart that is aligned with Paul’s teaching in II Corinthians 9:6-15—then I gladly welcome your support.)  […]
  • Additionally, I am greatly in need of some solid employment for the summer.  If you know of any job(s) where I could get good hours in late May through late July, please please PLEASE let me know!  It is crucial that I get as much income as possible over the summer so that my ministry of pastoral preparation can continue.  (By no means does it need to be a church position; that would obviously be lovely, but I’ll gladly consider almost any form of steady work.  Similarly, geography is no obstacle.)  Since I have very little opportunity to search out such opportunities during this busy final phase of the semester, I beseech you to consider any connections you may have for me to investigate.  Thank you so much.

As we prepare to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on this Easter weekend, we are reminded that Jesus of Nazareth came to the world not merely as a wise man or a teacher, but primarily as a Redeemer.  In the words of J. Gresham Machen, “Jesus came not to teach men how to live but to give them a new life through His atoning death….  His teaching was all in vain unless it led to the final acceptance of His redeeming work.”  No amount of instruction can save a man who needs a heart transplant!  May we be drawn once more in this Holy Week to magnify the name of Jesus, the Lord of the universe and the Savior of all who put their trust in Him.  To Him be glory in the church throughout all generations, forever and ever!

Warmly,
Jordan G.

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Fall Letter 2012

September 21, 2012

My dear brothers and sisters,

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord!   It is with great excitement that I write you today to tell you about the new school year at Reformed Theological Seminary and about God’s continued faithfulness in preparing me to enter pastoral ministry.  Following the completion of the spring semester, I was blessed to spend my summer in Indianapolis, working full-time at a factory during the day and maintaining my part-time work for [an Indy-based small business] in the evenings.  I was also given the opportunity to celebrate the weddings of several of my dearest friends in the Pennsylvania vicinity.  Overall, it was a wonderful season marked by ample quality time with family and friends, including many of you.  Feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, I returned to Charlotte with a renewed enthusiasm for the Lord’s ongoing work in and through my life in seminary.

This first month-and-a-half back at school has already included a number of big changes to my situation.  My roommates and I have moved to a new apartment in order to facilitate the addition of a fourth resident to our motley crew.  After the hassle of moving had passed, we found ourselves in a very nice new complex (including a slight per capita rent reduction) and with a great new friend.  Secondly, as a huge answer to your prayers, I have been welcomed into a local church which I shall be very pleased to call my home for the duration of my time here.  Sovereign Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) is quite simply a wonderful congregation of Christians, and I am currently serving on staff as an auxiliary pianist for the Sunday services, with the prospect of a pastoral internship down the road.  I happily invite you to learn more about my new church family by visiting sovereigngrace.org.  On the academic side of things, another semester is off to the races, and my class schedule is once again proving to be a significant challenge and a great blessing.  My six beefy classes this time around include Greek II, Isaiah to Malachi, Homiletics I, Systematic Theology I, Missions, and Pastoral Counseling.  I do not take for granted a semester in which I am excited about each and every one of my classes, and I aim to express my gratitude to God and to my professors through diligent and faithful work.

I would be remiss if I passed up this opportunity to thank all of you for the overwhelming volume of prayers, encouragement, and financial support over the past year.  Far beyond merely my personal appreciation of them, your prayers have been directly responsible for the many blessings of God in my life, both perceived and unperceived, as Scripture teaches.  I beseech you that you would continue to remember me regularly in your prayers, in order that I might faithfully serve the Lord in all the many contexts and roles He has ordained for me in this time.  Please also pray that the Lord would raise up financial support from among His people so that I may complete the academic year without incurring debt.  Despite our apartment relocation and my taking on a third part-time job through the church, I estimate that my overall financial need will be greater this year than last.  Through your prayers and support, the Lord provided adequate funds to cover all my outstanding expenses last year; and through your prayers and support, I am confident that He shall provide once again.  […]  As always, I invite you to visit my website to read about what I am learning and to peruse my previous support letters and emails.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Glory to God,
Jordan G.

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