Colossian Blog

Displaying all posts by Trey Tirpak.
What Does Practicing Virtue Look Like? A Study of Prudence
August 30, 2017 | Trey Tirpak
What Does Practicing Virtue Look Like? A Study of Prudence
One of the most important virtues for us to practice is the virtue of prudence. Contrary to popular belief, prudence doesn’t mean being stingy or too scared to act. Prudence is the practice of wisdom or seeing rightly.   Practicing the virtue of prudence is akin to actively resisting impulsive actions, like devouring that whole chocolate cake. Or not letting fearful and prideful passion overrun you in an anxious situation. Practicing prudence can also mean resisting stubbornness. We do these things until it becomes second nature to us. It’s wise not to eat the whole chocolate cake--that’s prudence. Let me give you an example of someone who practiced the virtue of prudence: In the movie Billy Elliot, a boy named Billy tries to be a boxer. He knew what boys did with their pastime: boys box. Those are the facts. There’s one small flaw: he’s horrible at boxing. One day Billy sees the ballet class going on next door. As he’s looking in at the class, Mrs. Wilkinson, the instructor, invites him in. She quickly sees that Billy has the capability to become a prolific ballet dancer. For Billy and his family, this can’t be true; boys don’t dance, they box. Those are the facts. Every impulse and passion of Billy’s community says that boys can’t be ballet dancers. The community is stubborn in what they think they know the truth is and should be. But it’s Mrs. Wilkinson’s good habit, practicing prudence, that enables her to see the truth that Billy isn’t a boxer, but an amazing dancer. Through practicing the virtue of prudence, Mrs. Wilkinson was able to show the truth that Billy was made to dance. What ended up happening was that the rest of their community came to more fully know both truth and love. In their conflict, a good habit got them to a new place they never knew was possible. Practicing virtues are the way that liberates us to actually know truth and love. It liberates us from our old selves which are impulsive, passion-driven, and stubborn. Practicing prudence allows the Holy Spirit to get to us. It’s letting the Holy Spirit lead us to where we too can be liberated of our own ideas of who we think God is. That’s what The Colossian Way is designed to do: liberate us from speaking past each other and missing out on truth and love. Come and Dance Friends, God is always speaking. Just like in the beginning, He’s speaking and creating something new, this time he’s making us anew.  He’s speaking through the Bible, but the Holy Spirit is also communicating to us as through prayer and through each other. Come join this dance, and learn to dance with truth and love.
Dancing with Truth and Love
August 23, 2017 | Trey Tirpak
Dancing with Truth and Love
Conversation is more about right relationship than right data. The Colossian Forum uses the power of conversation, but why? Throughout scripture we see that God is the God of language. God speaks and creation comes into being. God speaks to the Israelites through clouds, fire, judges, prophets, priests, and kings. God has always been trying to have a conversation with his people to tell them what truth and love is. The problem is, we messed up the conversation. We thought we knew what the facts were, and so then we didn’t need God. Truth and love got lost in our pride. God literally set the record straight by coming and having a conversation with us, as one of us. You see, God became human not to see what it’s like to be human, but rather so that we might know who he is! Here’s the kicker, though: Jesus didn’t merely tell us the right words –the right information– about God, but Jesus showed us who God is. Truth and love aren’t just facts to know like when the Civil War ended or something. Truth and love are a person: Jesus. What this means is that knowing truth and love is more so about being in a relationship than knowing information. So, if we want to know truth and love, we not only need to know Jesus’ words, but we need to be in relationship with him and then also become like Him. What am I talking about here? Practicing virtues are how we come to know truth and love Let’s think about truly knowing something. Take dancing as an example: If you want to learn to dance, you can study dancing in a book all day long, and maybe you'll even get to the point where you think you know what it means to dance. But there’s one problem with this: we don’t actually know what it means to be dancers until we start dancing ourselves.  To truly know how to dance, we need to practice dancing over and over again until it becomes second nature to us –part of who we are. By practicing dancing, we become dancers, and truly know what it means to dance. When we practice being like Jesus, we become like Jesus, and thus truly know what truth and love is. This is what the Colossian Way does: it has us practice good habits, habits that make us like Jesus.   We call these habits virtues.  And, if we’re going to be serious about both getting to know truth and love and then eventually holding them together, we’re going to have to take practicing virtues seriously.
Why are You Interning Here? Formation.
June 28, 2017 | Trey Tirpak
Why are You Interning Here? Formation.
Information. We love it, don’t we? Just pull out your phone and explore a sea of facts and tales about the universe we inhabit. But navigating this sea of information has become quite a haunting endeavor. For so much of my life, I’ve been driven by the narrative that “if we just get the right facts – the right information – and put it in order, then we can fix things” or “if we just put our minds to the task then we can fix things.” This narrative also has an ultimate source where we get all the right "facts” from: the Bible. The best news about this source is that it’s simple; what we need to know is what the Bible says, plain and simple. There’s a long list of how this narrative is chock-full of truth while at the same time chock-full of misleading, secular/modern belief about the Bible and the God of it, our world, and ourselves. So, like many Christians who are seeking to navigate these seas well, I was asking questions like: What is truth? What is real? What is good? What is beautiful?   But the haunting thing for me is that so many answers to those questions are determined by how I’ve been formed as a person, and so I have to first ask about how to ask methodological questions. Like any discipline, there’s a method (a way) to inquire, investigate, inspect that’s proper, appropriate, and fitting. So, I’ve been finding myself asking questions like “what is faithful discernment?” or “what is the way that I’m going to take to answer these questions?” It’s a good task, but also a hard one, which is how I’ve come to The Colossian Forum. It’s discernment that draws me into The Colossian Forum, faithful discernment. You see, at The Colossian Forum, we know that the work of being a prudent, discerning Christian isn’t merely about gathering all the right information and all the right facts. Rather, it must first and foremost be about formation: who we are and who God is forging us to be. Only then can we truly address, answer, and faithfully discern questions. [embed]https://vimeo.com/47144995[/embed] What I’ve realized so far is that, in my theological journey, formation is what’s been left out of the conversations. The incarnational indwelling of the Spirit and what he is actively doing in my life has not been considered in my conversations or even considered valid. I’ve just been relying on my reasoning and my opinions and my vision of “how things are suppose to be” not even realizing how significantly these things have been formed in me by an outside world or how my disposition totally leaves God out of the picture.  [embed]http://vimeo.com/47144895[/embed] It’s because of realizing that I was my own idol – that it is my reasoning and my intellect and my vision of how things are supposed to be – that I’ve become convinced that I haven’t actually been having Christian, Christ-like conversations, and that I need to start practicing having authentically Christian discourse, especially when it comes to discerning things about the topics that The Colossian Forum engages. So formation is why I am interning here, and why I’ve come to cherish The Colossian Forum. TCF practices faith, hope, and love, not merely thinks about them. So, if you’re wondering what it might mean to step out in faith and discern things, come join the ship that’s trying to navigate these waters. "To be theological is not just about being intellectual. It’s also about our heart. Theology is something that’s not just in my head it’s what I live…” Rev. Wayne Coleman, Millbrook CRC, Grand Rapids, MI –– Born and raised on O'ahu Hawai'i, Trey Tirpak graduated from Calvin College in May 2017 with a B.A. in Religion while minoring in Congregational and Ministry Studies in Community Development and Pastoral Ministry. He is attending Western Theological Seminary in Holland Michigan, and is pursuing a Master of Divinity (MDiv) and Master of Social Work (MSW) while also seeking ordination in the Reformed Church in America (RCA). Trey is interning this summer at The Colossian Forum.
Reflections on Unity
May 24, 2017 | Trey Tirpak
Reflections on Unity
As a soon-to-be college graduate who is looking forward to heading out into the world, I’ve realized that I’m inheriting an American society that is more polarized than ever. Republicans hate Democrats, Democrats hate Republicans, and all of us are suspicious of those Independents. As I think about where I may find my next church home, I often read the statements of faith that many churches now publish on their websites. I ask myself if it’s a liberal church or a conservative church. I wonder what position their members and leadership take on gay marriage or evolution. Sometimes, from just a simple glance at a church web page, I uncharitably conclude that, “These aren’t the type of Christians I want to worship with”. I assume that I am not alone in this. Yet are we not one church? Do we not eat at one table, kneel at one cross, praise but one name? Across political, socioeconomic, and geographic divides, all Christians claim the same good news: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us and was resurrected. How, then, do we account for the incredible differences in opinion among Christians today and what exactly do we do about it? The Apostle Paul compares the church to a human body. Like a human body, the body of Christ is made up of many parts. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul writes, “Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit”. Each part of the body brings a different perspective, a different understanding, and has a different role to play. But no part can function on its own and all must work together to survive. Even in the tremendous diversity of the body, by God's power there is unity. This unity in Christ has been hard to see in recent times. Christians of differing theological understandings have resorted to schism and isolation rather than attempting the hard work of confronting conflict. And while it may seem easier for rival factions to simply go their separate ways, where is the Christian witness in running from difficult situations? Is our belief in God's power so small that we cannot fathom the bridging of our differences? Is our commitment to Jesus' command to love one another really so weak? Paul's words admonish our actions: "The eye can never say to the hand, 'I don’t need you.' The head can’t say to the feet, 'I don’t need you.'" Our Christian witness is not found in our ability to agree on all things. We are not called to be a church of mindless clones. That is the witness of human culture, which forces individuals to choose between agreement or exclusion. Instead, our Christian witness is found in the fact that we are one body of many disagreeing parts. Our witness is found in our diversity, in our humility, in our graciousness, in our love for God, and in our love for one another. This is something the world cannot offer, for only God can hold together such a messy, marvelous body. As it is written in Colossians 1:17-18 (TCF’s namesake verse), “in Christ all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church ….” Even with Christ as the head, disagreements will still exist among believers. But Christians have a choice when it comes to conflict in their churches. And when we choose to let Christ hold us together, we choose to receive the blessing of his saving grace and the power of his resurrection. The spiritual death that is enmity, division, and suspicion can be turned into a renewed life of love, unity, and understanding. I've seen it happen in my own life. I work at a church whose theological and political leanings differ from mine. Over the years, I've found myself becoming more critical and less gracious in my thoughts toward my church. But God has been working on my heart, and while I still don't agree with some of my church family, I've started loving them in a new way. Instead of loving my church family despite our disagreements, I've somehow come to love them because of those disagreements. I'm beginning to realize that my brothers and sisters who disagree with me are not some sort of trial or hardship, but an example of God's grace in my life. How else are we to experience God's grace and power if not through his ability to renew our lives in the midst of conflict and disagreement? I have been blessed with the time I've had as an intern at The Colossian Forum. My experience here has helped me come to a new understanding of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ. As I move forward into this next chapter of my life, I pray for opportunities to put this new perspective into practice, trusting that all things truly will hold together in Christ.