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School of Ministry

Milestones 2018

This year’s annual review, newly titled “Milestones” features a letter from President Dr. Timothy Quinnan, a faculty spotlight with Dr. Sonja Sutherland, academic program updates, and new scholarship programs. Click below to read more about the exciting growth and important accomplishments from the 2017-2018 school year at Richmont Graduate University.

Link to Online Version of Milestones


Richmont School of Ministry Launches New Program

Richmont Graduate University’s School of Ministry is proud to announce the addition of the Master of Arts in Ministry: Anglican Studies Concentration. This new 36 credit hour program is available online and includes four unique sections:

  • Bible, History, and Theology
  • Ministry Tools
  • Spiritual Formation
  • Anglican Studies

The launch of this program also includes the availability of a Graduate Certificate in Anglican Studies which is 12 credit hours. This new certificate focuses on the specific Anglican Studies courses from the Master of Arts degree.

Roughly 80 million Christians identify with the Anglican tradition, making it one of most dynamic and vital expressions of the Protestant church in the contemporary world. For the vast majority of Anglicans–especially the tens of millions located outside the West–the contemporary tensions and debates within the Christian faith mean the time has come for a renewed commitment to the text of scripture and engagement with our treasured theological traditions. This course of study focuses on these impulses within Anglicanism, seeking to equip future leaders with tools in biblical study, theology, and history, and encouraging their engagement with contemporary ecclesial concerns.

– Sam Youngs, Ph.D., Richmont School of Ministry Faculty, Director of the Mission School of Ministry

This program was developed in partnership with the Mission School of Ministry in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and provides education and skills that are helpful for students who are aspiring deacons or priests in the ACNA. The program is also open to lay Christians seeking to deepen their academic knowledge of Biblical literature, theology, and spiritual formation. Applications are now being accepted for this program with a start date of January 2019.

Learn more about the Master of Arts in Ministry: Anglican Studies Concentration (click here).

Start your application for the Master of Arts in Ministry: Anglican Studies Concentration (click here).

School of Ministry Adds New Faculty

Richmont Graduate University is proud to announce the addition of three new professors to the School of Ministry faculty.  Dr. Wesley Scott Biddy, Dr. Chris Green, and Dr. Jeff Horner will be joining the Richmont faculty this fall. These new hires are in response to the growth of the School of Ministry both in the number of new students and the new programs that are in development.

Dr. Wesley Scott Biddy

Wesley Scott Biddy earned a B.A. and an M.A. at Lee University, a Th.M. at Duke Divinity School, and a Ph.D. at Marquette University. Dr. Biddy has presented papers at conferences organized by the American Academy of Religion, the Conference on Christianity and Literature, the South Atlantic Modern Language Association, and the Society for Pentecostal Studies, among others. His articles have appeared in Pneuma and Ars Disputandi. He joins Richmont having most recently taught at Mount Paran Christian School.

Dr. Chris Green

Chris Green earned a B.S. and an M.M. at Southwestern Christian University, an M.S.T.S at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, a D.Min. at Oral Roberts University, and a Ph.D. at Bangor University. Dr. Green has served as faculty at Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Southwestern Christian University, Mid-American University, and Oral Roberts University. His research and writing focus on the relationship of vocation, holiness, and scriptural hermeneutics.

Dr. Jeff Horner

Jeff Horner earned a B.A. at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), an M.A. and an Ed.D. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and an M.Litt. degree at the University of Bristol in England. Dr. Horner has spent 17 years working in independent Christian schools in North Carolina, California, and Georgia.  He has worked as a contractor for the College Board and served on SAIS Accreditation and SAIS Reading teams. Dr. Horner has served as adjunct faculty at Southern Baptist Theological University and Point University. He has published articles in The Journal of Church and State, Religious Education, Christian Education Journal, and has a forthcoming article in Perichoresis.


New RGU Commons at the Atlanta Campus

Dr. Quinnan builds the RGU Commons at the Atlanta Campus for students, faculty, and staff.

The RGU Commons is an outdoor seating area that was made possible through a gift from the President and the Student Annual Fund. The RGU Commons is located on the west side of the Atlanta Campus and is ready and open for students, faculty, and staff to enjoy.  It features a permanent weatherproof outdoor table and seating. The new RGU Commons is in response to student requests for outdoor seating areas.

There is plenty of room for expansion of the RGU Commons. If you would like to donate to help expand the RGU Commons, you can do so by going to and making a tax-deductible donation.

Latest Edition of Connecting Magazine Available Online

Connecting Spring 2018

Connecting Magazine is a publication for Richmont alumni and constituents. The latest issue features an interview with President Timothy Quinnan, campus updates, information on the new Richmont app, alumni profiles, and a recap of the 2017 Alumni Reunion. Enjoy the latest edition by clicking below. In an effort to be good stewards of our resources, Richmont will be printing less hard copies and will be making publications available online through our website and monthly newsletters. Connecting will also be available under the Alumni section of the Richmont website.


Choosing the Right School

Maybe choosing a graduate school is a no-brainer for you. Maybe the ordeal of choosing your undergraduate school taught you what to look for. Perhaps you know exactly what you want, or you at least have an idea or two. Or maybe you don’t. And that’s okay because there are a lot of factors that go into choosing not just the right school, but the school that is best for you and your specific needs.

But before you dive into research, the best first step is to perform a personal inventory: take time to think about who you are and why you have decided to pursue a graduate degree. You might not reach definitive answers, but evaluating your personal reasons for graduate school will better help you navigate decision making. Here are four key elements to get you started thinking through graduate school options.

Faith and Integration

How much do you want your faith to coalesce with your learning experience? There are varying models of how Christians approach counseling: some view psychology apart from a biblical critique, and some strongly critique modern psychological insights. And still, other schools have “integrated” programs of Christian theology and psychology, such as Richmont Graduate University. Dr. Dan Sartor, Richmont’s Vice President of Integration, says,  “. . . while many other institutions teach from a Christian worldview, very few actually incorporate integrative studies in Christian theology and spiritual formation,” which is precisely Richmont’s nuanced model. More than teach from a Christian perspective, Richmont integrates theology with science in the classroom. When choosing a school, reflect on its approach to counseling in relation to your understanding of faith and learning.                        

Training Opportunities 

Most if not all graduate schools will require practicum experience or internships upon graduating. At Richmont, however, students are guaranteed internship experience from the very beginning of their educational experience. Richmont’s clinical training sequence was designed for students to build their set of specialized counseling skills, culminating with an internship in their final year. Beyond simply offering internships, determine how strong the school’s connections are to the surrounding community. Does the school, like Richmont, have strong relationships and positive reputations with local hospitals and counseling centers? Is the school likely to help you secure an internship placement if it is not guaranteed? Lastly, what is the school’s view on the relationship between biblical knowledge and scientific data, and how does it affect its training model?                             


Because graduate school is a smaller, more concentrated and specialized experience than undergrad, it is important to evaluate the school’s faculty. How many professors are there to students? How experienced are they in their fields, and do they still practice? Depending on the availability of the faculty, the amount of time you spend with them will vary. In graduate school, it is important to find a faculty that has the time and passion and experience to properly mentor you in your field. One-on-one time with professors is priceless. Do your research into the school’s faculty and try to find professors who not only specialize in your preferred study but who also will know and care for you individually. 


A school’s most recent accreditation is like a dental hygiene report card: it gives you a good idea of the institution’s current health. Accreditations are either institutional or specialized. Specialized accreditation, such as CACREP, reviews a professional preparation program within institutions, which is important for graduate schools. It gives you insights into a program’s fulfillment of its “institutional settings, mission and objectives, content, practicum experiences, student selection and advising, faculty qualifications and workload, program governance, instructional support, and self-evaluation,” according to CACREP’s website. A specialized accreditation score goes beyond spotlighted and flashy factors like school rankings, ratings, and brands—they prove the financial and professional stability of a specific program. Richmont currently holds a CACREP specialized accreditation, which is the highest form of accreditation given to counseling degree-specific programs in the U.S.

After you have done the research, the most important next step is to talk to people on the ground. Once you have narrowed down a few schools, ask the admissions office for the contact information of a few current students or alumni. Talk to the students about their experience, ask them questions and learn from their stories. And remember you do not have to be alone in choosing a school—ask for advice and prayer from trusted friends and family.

How do I pay for my education?

How do I pay for my education? You’ve likely asked yourself this question if you are applying for graduate school. The answer can seem elusive at times.

As someone who works as a Director of Admissions, I wish paying for graduate school was an easy and obvious process. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every student’s situation is unique. However, I do know that we are ready to help—you don’t have to figure out the finances on your own.

For many people, the idea of taking out (or taking on more) student loans can be crippling. I have seen the fear of loans keep people from pursuing the career they have felt called to for decades. That fear is normal. The fear of being responsible for debt is often a fairly healthy thing. We are a culture reacting against a recession we witnessed that exhibited the effects of unjustified or irresponsible debt.

However, we also have a responsibility to be good stewards of not just our financial resources, but also our talents and skills. Your talents are worth the investment. There’s a proven return on investment for those who complete graduate school.

How are we to feel if we neglect our skill or ability to be of service to others who are hurting just because we are fearful of student loans? Student loans are not monsters waiting to devour us. If we are responsible enough to research and understand our loans, then we may be able to use them as tools and resources to fulfill our own careers and callings.

At Richmont, our Admissions and Enrollment team works to inform you about all the resources available to you before you start your graduate school education. We offer three forms of financial aids for students:

With these three forms of aid, we have been able to help thousands of counselors and ministers fulfill their calling to do God’s work of healing, restoration, and transformation in the lives of individuals, churches, and communities.

We feel very fortunate to be able to provide private scholarships to our students. We recognize that not many graduate programs are able to offer their own scholarships or even help their students qualify for financial aid. Occasionally, we hear of students from other programs who were awarded their graduate or terminal degree on a “full ride.”

However, awards known as “full rides” are rarely fully explained or understood. Typically, the recipient of a full ride will have a job or two on campus as part of their “fellowship award.” Richmont departs from these types of awards. Instead, we offer our students scholarships that do not require them to work or serve any purpose other than being a student. This is not typical of graduate universities. We want our students to be able to have time with their families and friends, to even pursue a part-time job.

The Graduate Assistant (GA) jobs that Richmont offers are part-time positions for students to help the school serve other students by operating the Atlanta and the Chattanooga campuses. The positions range from 5 hours to 20 hours per week, and the student receives a competitive hourly wage. Work schedules for GA jobs automatically fit students’ class schedules—they are logistically more convenient than working off-campus jobs.

Applying for GA jobs on each campus is competitive, and pursuing one of these positions is similar to applying for a real job. Prospective students should inquire with their Admissions Counselors early in the process if they’re interested in GA jobs. The more counselors know incoming students, the better the counselor can recommend them for certain jobs, like the records office, the library, or assisting faculty.

Unfortunately, most of the public grants, foundations, lottery scholarships, or “free money” that assisted you in your undergraduate education are not available for your graduate education. Instead, we seek to provide federal financial aid resources and services to all of our students, especially those who may not be familiar with FAFSA or Federal Student Aid.

The Admissions and Finance staff works to create open and transparent conversations about how to use and plan for student loans and to not default on them. Richmont is ranked first overall with a 0.00% default rate, listed on The Student Loan Report’s 2017 Default Rates. And for students who want to pay for their education independently, we help them create realistic payment plans.

Talk to someone. That’s the first step in understanding the financial aid resources available to you. I always recommend that you meet with school staff, current students, or alumni who have experienced what you are about to experience. Talking to them can help you normalize the anxiety you have about new financial responsibilities. You are not alone in what you are feeling, and it is fine to feel that way!

And more than just talking to people, try to learn from them. Chat with people who have been able to pay off their student loans, listen to their experiences, and learn how you can achieve your goals. There is no one universal solution to paying for graduate school or student loans. But don’t forget you have people around you with stories and experiences that can speak into your own understanding and preparation for graduate school.


The New Richmont App

The new Richmont App is available today on both Apple and Andriod app stores (search for Richmont).
You can also text “rgu app” to 77977 to download.

The new Richmont App has the following capabilities:
  • Sections for Admissions, Alumni, Current Students and Continuing Education
  • Make a donation to Richmont Graduate University
  • Prospective students can complete the application process and register for Preview Day
  • Current students can access forms, current schedules, and the student portal
  • Alumni and Professionals can register for continuing education courses (discount rates available)

Download the Richmont App today to stay connected with all of the great things going on at Richmont Graduate University.

10 Days of Advent Devotions

At Richmont, we equip students to advance God’s work of healing, restoring and transforming the lives of individuals, churches and communities. To this end, we welcome the season of Advent as we eagerly look back at the birth of Christ. 

Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” It is a season of preparation and expectation for the birth of God into the world.

To help in this preparation, we have compiled devotions from professors, staff members, students and alumni. For ten days leading up to Christmas, this devotional walks you through the ways the Messiah sustains and gives life. 

Jesus the meekest of Kings! 

Dec. 23

Day 10

By Dr. Timothy Quinnan, President of Richmont Graduate University

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days … And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:2,4 ESV) 

While there may be more stirring passages in Scripture, this is the one that speaks the most deeply to me each Christmas season. By ancient accounts, Bethlehem seems to have been an obscure place, inconsequential in comparison to the larger and more prominent cities in Judea. Yet Our Savior chose to enter the world here rather than a princely palace in some grand capital city.  

To fulfill the prophecy from Micah, Jesus decided to be born in the small town of Bethlehem, in a stable, and laid in a manger from which barn animals had fed. The God of All Creation, Lord of the heavenly hosts, and King of kings, personified humility in where and how he came to earth. These humblest of origins also foreshadowed the life he would lead- to call not the ruling classes but the common man and woman to be his followers.  

In the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to himself as the Good Shepherd.  The shepherd knows his sheep by name and willingly lays down his life for his sheep.  In the strength of the Lord (as referenced in Micah), Jesus modeled great leadership through shepherding his followers. 

In Christ there is a perfect contradiction:  an all-powerful God who voluntarily abases Himself for our redemption. Christ comes to us in an otherwise forgettable town, when his parents cannot even find room at an inn, is born in a stable, and eventually takes on the meek but spiritually meaningful role of a shepherd.  This paradox is the true beauty of the Christmas story.  For God so loved the world that he sent his Son, and he sent him in a way that reveals his heart and his character.   

It may be difficult for us understand as power and humility rarely coexist in our society or leaders today. But we might reflect on 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  If ever you feel forgotten, tiny or insignificant, remember that God often uses humility to reveal His greater purpose.   

This Christmas, let us feel the joy of Jesus the Meekest of Kings who knows us by name, who laid Himself down for our salvation, and whose greatness reaches to the ends of the earth and beyond. 

Jesus is Unchanging 

Dec. 22

Day 9

Dr. Jama White, Assistant Dean of Clinical Affairs 

“For I, the Lord, do not change.” (Malachi 3:6, NAS)

I received my most meaningful Christmas present a few years ago from my brother, who is a librarian and a bit of a historian. A couple of months before Christmas he asked me for my favorite Scripture verses, so I was curious as to his gift for me. On Christmas morning that year, I opened a small, carefully wrapped folder holding a single page from a Bible that contained one of my selected verses. The page had been printed in 1651. 

As I sat and pondered the fragile page that Christmas morning and many times since, I am moved by thoughts of all the others who have held that very same piece of vellum over the last 400 years. I will never know their stories, perhaps a colonial settler, perhaps a sister who lost a brother in the Civil War, perhaps a father struggling to feed his family during the Great Depression, perhaps an immigrant looking for an opportunity in a new land. Wherever or whoever these persons were, the God they saw on that page and the rest of the pages of His Word was the same for every one of them. And He is the same for all of us.     

In all our circumstances, geographic locations, and emotional states, God has remained the same for every one of us through all centuries. 

He has never wavered in His Person or Promise to any of us. Even when we are faithless, He remains faithful. No matter the century, following His way is healing to our souls. Even though circumstances in our world are ever-shifting and our responses flower and fade, He still stands. He still hears. He still forgives. He still comforts. He still provides. He still searches us out. He still redeems. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Thanks be to God!! 

Jesus Gives Us a Fresh Start 

Dec. 21

Day 8

Dr. Sonja Sutherland, Assistant Dean of the School of Counseling

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5, NRSV) 

 The church, during Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. In this way, as believers, we remain in the tremendous hope of seeing “all things new” when we are with Christ, and we are like him. We will be made perfect. This is our glorious future.  

But what of our understanding of His “making all things new” today, when it seems that life’s mountaintops are sometimes fleeting, and life’s valleys dark and endless? For many, even in the Christmas season, hope is a nebulous thing that we see dimly, as though it is slipping through our fingers. There is a struggle to truly remain in hope during life’s ongoing struggles, remembering that his promise to make “all things new” is “trustworthy and true,” not just for tomorrow, but for today. 

To remain in hope is a choice we make, to refuse to let our circumstances control our thoughts, moods, behaviors, and relationships. Hopefulness empowers us. It encourages us to continue to work through to find new understanding, and when there is not understanding, new faith. It propels us through to victorious living, even in the midst of our circumstances. Despite what you see around you, in your life or in the lives of others, remain in hopeLive there. You will see, that in this Christmas season, in the coming year, he is, “making all things new.” 

Jesus Heals Us 

Dec. 20

Day 7

By Steve Bradshaw, Dean of the School of Counseling 

By his wounds you are healed (1 Peter 2:24, NLT).

Jehovah Rapha means, “the Lord that heals.”

Someone once said, “Pain in life is inevitable; misery is optional.” We all are touched by the fallenness of this world. Trying to make it Eden again will make you miserable, give you an anxiety disorder, or both. Unfortunately, we often turn our pain into misery by responding to circumstances in our flesh instead of trusting His grace. 

Yet Jesus is our healer. In fact, over 73 verses in the Bible refer to some form of healing. Jesus, first of all, is the healer of our physical pain. In Proverbs 3:7-8, we are instructed to turn from evil and fear the Lord, to find healing for our bodies and strength in our bones. Moreover, Jesus heals our very souls, offering spiritual wholeness and forgiveness of sin. 

Interestingly, in the Gospels, Jesus never assumed what type of healing another person wanted; He always asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” The answer to that question revealed the state of the person’s heart before the Lord. Even most of the physical healing He performed was followed by the phrase, “Your faith has healed you,” pointing to the importance of belief in the healing process. 

May you allow the healer of your soul to collide with your life and circumstances for Him to perform His healing work in your life this Advent season.

Jesus Holds Us Together 

 Dec. 19

Day 6

By Dr. Vanessa Snyder, Richmont Institute of Trauma & Recovery Vice President

He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17, HCSB)

The Christmas season brings a flurry of activity and intensity that can be overwhelming. As many join in the holiday spirit with joy and excitement, others are reminded of pain and loss that becomes vivid in the sparkle of Christmas lights. For these, the celebration of the Savior’s birth bows to loneliness and suffering. 

Although His human entrance into the world was a manger in the small town of Bethlehem, Jesus, the great I AM, the firstborn over all creation, created all things. In this magnificent creation, He used himself as the single source of cohesion to unite and bind our complex physical, mental, and spiritual being. In the most literal sense, without him, we come undone. John speaks to Christ’s sustaining force: “… apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created” (John 1:3, HCSB).  

In the ultimate example of both humility and power, meekness and majesty, the mighty force that binds our cells together stepped into a four-dimensional world to tend to His sheep. Jesus knew us as He knitted us together. He could share in our suffering because He is in every part of it as He is the power that holds us together. But He chose also to enter into it, our humanness, and allow himself to experience it as we do. He became a man of sorrow, one who fully understood pain and loss. And now, He is the one who holds us together in ours, as He is able to fully empathize, as well as give hope. The King was before all things. The King was born. The King died. The King rose. The King now reigns and promises us forever with Him as He continues to hold us together. 

Jesus Cries with Us 

Dec. 18

Day 5

By Dr. Amanda M. Blackburn, Dean of Students

“Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then, Jesus wept. (John 11:34, 35, NLT) 

Who likes waiting? During times of waiting, I am often reminded of the ways I wish things were different and my helplessness to shorten my wait. 

I imagine Mary and Martha felt that as they waited for Jesus to arrive following the death of their brother Lazarus. Their brother had been ill, and they had hoped their friend Jesus would save his life. Instead, Jesus arrives four entire days after Lazarus’s death. As Jesus finally arrives, one sister questioned Jesus as to his delay, and Scripture tells us that Jesus was deeply moved. Immediately after they invited Jesus to come see the body, we read that Jesus wept. With both his anger and tears, Jesus fully and mercifully embodies his humanity through his capacity and willingness to be fully engaged with his emotions.  

Jesus mourns with us. While he mourns, he also promised that we will be comforted in our own mourning (Matthew 5:4). The God who cries with his friends is also the one who brings new life. 

Advent is a season of waiting, longing, and anticipating that things will be made right. The inherent tension in waiting is this: We can grieve that this world is not as it should be, while remaining fully aware of the power and divinity of God. While this process is fraught with difficulty, it is my favorite aspect of Christmas. It reminds me of my part in the larger story, when a little baby comes to save the world. This advent season, I invite you to come to Jesus with your tears, knowing the God of all comfort is making all things new. 

 You who weep, come to this God, for he weeps. 

You who suffer, come to him, for he cures. 

You who tremble, come to him, for he smiles. 

You who pass [in death], come to him, for he remains.  

(Victor Hugo, 1847) 

  Jesus Offers More Abundant Life 

Dec. 17

Day 4

By Dr. Mike Stewart, Adjunct Professor School of Ministry 

The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10, NIV) 

When my youngest son was two years old, he decided he was quite old enough to fill his own glass with milk. Taking the large gallon jug from the refrigerator, he managed to carry it over to the kitchen table, open the cap, and, after struggling a bit with the weight of the bottle, pour the milk into the glass. Of course, getting started was the easiest part: now the weight had shifted, and the milk filled the glass, the kitchen table, and even splashed onto the floor. He had just about emptied the entire gallon of milk, to which he proclaimed, with a sense of accomplishment, “I did it!” Yes, he had filled his glass and much more.  

Jesus speaks the words in John 10:10 as a counterpoint to the destructive power of the enemy of our souls. He reminds us that the chief aim of that destructive force is to kill, steal, or destroy life. The motive may be disguised, and sometimes even inviting, but the end is clear. There are many thieves who wish to rob us of the life we have been given in Christ. 

Jesus offers abundant life. He gives life to the fullest. Literally, Jesus says I have come to give you life with a surplus. In a world of complex and changing values, believers have this wonderful assurance that our life is not subject to the winds of times. Jesus gives us a full and abundant life of safety, subsistence, and significance. This assurance allows us to live in freedom and joy, knowing that Jesus is our life. 

I can just imagine, Jesus pouring His life over us, much like my son. He pours and pours life into us every day until it is overflowing. Maybe He also steps back with a sense of accomplishment and says, “I did it!” 

Jesus Delights in Us 

Dec. 16

Day 3

By Elesa Bentsen, School of Ministry Graduate

“The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NRSV) 

As we prepare for Christmas and sing our favorite songs, reminding us of the joy of the season and encouraging us to rejoice, why do we so often feel weighed down by the demands of the holidays on top of the normal pressures of life? It is way too easy to focus on what remains to be done and to be distracted, trying to find the elusive perfect gift. Our life begins to feel like a hamster-wheel race with no end in sight and no winner. We wonder when we will finally get off and rest.   

All the while that we are wearily racing around, God is in our midst, inviting us to join the celebration of his love for us and to remember we are not alone. He offers us the gift of presence, Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus. How often we stumble on our unworthiness to receive this gift of divine presence and fail to hear and experience the joyful sounds of Jesus delighting over us like a new bridegroom with gladness and singing. What would it be like to quit trying so hard to earn God’s approval and begin to relax into his loving arms? If we believe he gives us victory, could we relax in his strong arms instead of working so hard to save ourselves and make our lives work? What would it be like to enter his presence where there is fullness of joy and to discover that he is rejoicing over us… that he actually delights in us and enjoys us? 

Jesus Comforts Us

Dec. 15

Day 2

By Dr. Mary Plisco, School of Counseling Assistant Professor

“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone, and her sins are pardoned.” (Isaiah 40:1, 2, NLT) 

I remember it so vividly during a period of significant sorrow. I was feeling overwhelmed with sadness and helplessness. I walked into church, and just the smell of it started to help me feel better. The peace and quiet of the building, the stained glass windows, and the wooden pews all invited me to sit and be still. But what was most comforting was the crucifix behind the altar – I could feel Jesus’s opening arms embrace me and provide solace. I could sense His reassurance that everything would be okay, that He knew my worries and my concerns, and that they would not go unheard. What a gift to know that God is a comforting God, the perfect listener who understands all that we feel and experience. 

 During this Advent season, we pray in thanksgiving for God’s presence and embrace, and we are reminded of our calling to provide comfort to all. 

Jesus is God 

Dec. 14

Day 1 

By Dr. Keny Felix, School of Counseling Adjunct Professor

“I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30, NIV) 

To think that the God of the universe would step into history and take the form of a servant was unimaginable to many individuals Jesus encountered. Fast-forward 2000 years and questions about Jesus’ identity remain. Could he be the Messiah? Could he be the Christ?  

The thought of Jesus being God was considered blasphemy as he walked the dusty, busy streets of Jerusalem. Yet his response when questioned was simply, “I and the Father are one.” It was a statement that almost prematurely cost him his life. In that very moment, his opponents picked up rocks to stone him, foreshadowing what was to come. How dare he? How could he make such a claim? 

But how could he not? He was God, stepping into history. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was GodThe Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…” (John 1:1,14, NIV). Yes, the very God who created the moon, the mountains, and humanity moved into the neighborhood. 

But why didn’t they recognize him? Perhaps Jesus’ brief biography from the Apostle Paul can help us understand. Speaking of Jesus, he wrote: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:6-8, NIV). Wow! So the Father through the Son in the form of a servant entered our world, dwelled among us, and eventually gave up his life on our behalf? Who else could we be waiting for? What greater demonstration of love could there be?  

Thank you, Father.


 What If Jesus Never Came? 

Dec. 13

A Preface by Dr. Larry Crabb,  School of Counseling Adjunct Professor

Advent, the coming of Christ to this world, into the clutter that we created, is cause for both celebration and challenge. It is an opportunity to throw a party and a call to walk a narrow road.  

Jesus once told would-be disciples to “count the cost” before committing themselves to follow Him. Apparently, he wanted resolute followers, not fickle fans. The thought occurs to me: Did Jesus count the cost required to reveal His Father’s love for self-centered rebels, before He became an unborn child in Mary’s womb knowing He was on His way to a miserable death? 

Romanian pastor Josef Ton has written a provocative study of both the cost Jesus paid to win our eternal happiness and the cost his disciples must pay to make the Father’s love visible to blind prodigals. In his introduction, Ton writes, “… God always conquers by a love that is self-giving and self-sacrificing.” His book, Suffering, Martyrdom, and Rewards in Heaven, is a deeply personal and exhaustive study of the cost-reward dynamic in the Christian life. 

Had Jesus not been willing to count the cost of rejection, persecution and crucifixion, the trinity would have forever continued to live in perfect community without us. Our eternal existence would then have been defined by unbearable loneliness in a world without relationships. The famed Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky once wrote that hell is the suffering of being unable to love. Imagine living forever without being loved and never able to love.   

Of course, Christ’s not coming to earth would have been unthinkable to our loving Lord; it was never an option. Divine love, the passion that is committed to another’s well-being at any cost to oneself, would do nothing less than provide us with a purposeful life of deeply rooted joy in this world and, in the next world, the happiness of perfect love received and given. 

But hear Ton again: He speaks of “God’s method of sending His Lamb into the world, followed by many thousands of other lambs, to overcome the world by proclaiming the love of God and by dying for the sake of their proclamation.” 

We must never think of our Lord’s advent as nothing more than something inexpressibly wonderful for us. It is that, but it is so much more. Christ’s cost-counting advent is an invitation to us, a call to make known the nature of divine love by relating to others with a commitment to their wellbeing at any cost to ourselves. 

Can we do it? Of course. We are participants in the divine nature of suffering, self-sacrificing love (see 2 Peter 1: 4). May advent season draw us to become little Christs, little lambs who count the cost of following Jesus. The cost is great. The gain is greater–and lasts forever. Jesus counted the cost and paid it. 

It’s my prayer, and the prayer of everyone who has written Richmont’s Advent meditations, that our thoughts about the stunning truth that Jesus did come will lighten you with hope and center you in the wonder of divine love received and the privilege of divine love given.  

Q&A with Dr. Rice: How to discern your calling

Dr. Josh Rice

Does God still call people? Is this calling just for church work?

What are you called to do? And how would you know?

Dr. Josh Rice is the Dean of the School of Ministry for Richmont Graduate University. He has spent his life walking the tightrope between pastoring a church, executive leadership and academia. All of these stations have been avenues for ministry.

“American Christians have separated the sacred and the secular to our detriment,” Dr. Rice said. “The Protestant Reformation renewed interest in the Biblical idea of the ‘priesthood of all believers.’ I believe we live out our priesthood in our vocations–whether as a garbage collector, a lawyer or as a pastor.”

We recently sat down with Dr. Rice to gain a better understanding of Christian vocation. In seven concise answers, he briefly illuminates the idea of calling in the everyday lives of believers.

What is a “calling”?

Calling might also be defined as Christian vocation. It includes elements of one’s profession, of course, but also of the giftedness of each person to uniquely accomplish God’s work in the world.

How might someone determine what his or her calling is?

I believe that we listen to God in many ways. One way, in the words of Frederich Buechner, is to “listen to your life.” When we truly contemplate our unique history, experience, personality and mix of strengths, God begins to make our vocation clearer over time.

Are there practical steps a person might take to discern their calling?

Meeting with a spiritual director is an immediate practical step that can help a person discern the voice of God. Participating in a spiritual gifts test alongside a personality profile may also be helpful.

Is calling just limited to church work?

Emphatically, no! As we celebrate the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation, we must re-energize Luther’s call for “the priesthood of all believers.” There is a “traditional” call for ministry. Others, however, have been called to serve and bring the Kingdom to the marketplace.

For instance, there are marketplace leaders from the business world in our Masters in Ministry program. They learn how to use their business acumen to minister through a 9-to-5 context

Why should we care about the idea of calling and vocation?

Younger generations especially want to get involved in living out their faith in the public sphere, not just the private. Christian vocation is the unique theological category that can help an individual to embrace this path holistically.

Which books or essays might you recommend delving into this topic further?

A few that have meant a lot to me are Terry Cross, Answering the Call in the Spirit, and The New Reformation by Greg Ogden. However, one need only look to the literature of the Reformation and the Ignatian exercises to discern much!

How does Richmont’s Masters of Arts in Ministry or Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Direction prepare students to live/workout their calling?

The Masters in Ministry truly prepares individuals either for vocational ministry in a local church or Christian nonprofit, or leads to a Doctorate of Ministry for those already practicing. The Masters in Spiritual Formation and Direction prepares students to help future clients or church members to discern their own callings.

The Masters in Ministry and the Masters in Spiritual Formation and Direction bring clarity to your call to help others. Contact Richmont today and begin your journey.