Gordon-Conwell Blog

Finishing Well, Part 3: The Trailhead

May 10, 2012

Megan Hackman

Author's Note: My husband and I are in our final semester of seminary. In some ways it feels like a race to the finish; in others, we are slowly passing through in search of what might be next for us. With this “Finishing Well” series, I invite you to join us in the final months of seminary. I encourage you to consider your own calling and the place in your journey with the Lord where you find yourself. I look forward to hearing where our story might resonate with yours!

You know you’re graduating seminary when:

  1. Someone’s looking for a word to describe nasty tea they just spit out. Appropriate words would be lukewarm or tepid and all you can think is like Revelation.
  2. A prospective student is looking for a specific kind of church—church plant, charismatic-friendly, and with opportunities for discipleship—and you not only know which church he’ll love, but you know who to connect him with. Low and behold, they’re old college buddies.
  3. You’re supposed to be journaling reflections about a missions class, but the content quickly becomes the thesis for your exegesis paper in Isaiah 56.

All these things actually happened in one day. So I guess it is time to settle into the idea that my husband and I are graduating seminary in just a few days, which means we probably should already have applied to a ton of jobs and know what we are doing next. But we haven’t, and we don’t know. Well, we don’t know exactly.

See this journey that we are on originated for me in a rejection from a choice college that then became a pursuit of Spanish and a passion for Spain. Then we went on to pursue missions which led to seminary (see Part 1 and Part 2 if those appear as the tremendous jumps they are). We are fueled with a passionate desire to see people love Jesus and to live as followers of Jesus their whole life. We believe this means living as individual members of the body of Christ, the Church. We are passionate about serving the Body as a whole and its individual members. So really, that could lead us anywhere on this planet.

But that doesn’t necessarily make the job search any easier. So we are thankful for alumni who have gone before us and are married couples serving the church together. We have begun to meet with them in hopes of gaining a language and a vision for living out this passion in a way that can be articulated in job interviews. We plan to apply to EPC churches all over the United States to serve as pastors. We keep our hearts and ears open for unconventional opportunities to serve that might not yet be known to us.

We had an experience in April that led us to both this step-by-step pursuit as well as this open-handedness. We were in our favorite getaway of New England, the Adirondacks of New York. We had planned to climb a nice, short mountain. We knew how long it was (.5 miles), we knew what skill level was involved (a nice junior hike, said the book), and we knew it would have a “nice” view from the top (said a friend). And it was all those things, and it was nice. We prayed and read Scripture and enjoyed the view:

 

Then we ventured to the next trailhead. We knew the name. We didn’t bother to look at the trail guide, so we didn’t know how long it was (way more than .5) or the skill required (steep gradients, as it turns out). We didn’t even know if the summit would be worth it all. But oh my, was it ever:

It was a hard hike. I dealt with significant fear involving ice slides, encroaching darkness, and physical pain. But Jesus met me in the fear and taught me a lot about the fears I have about the next steps of life. I was overwhelmed with God’s abundant creation glory at the top of the mountain. This was no “sit and enjoy the view” kind of mountaintop. It was a “come-to-Jesus, awe-struck, laugh and cry at the same time” kind of view.

So should I anticipate Plan A, the Owls Head mountains of life with predictable, relative ease and nice views? Maybe. Those are really nice sometimes! But I long for the come-to-Jesus, awe-struck, laugh and cry, Cascade-style ventures.

So to find the “End of the Story” at this point, we are in the application process, preparing for ordination, and finishing our final 2 classes. We have our eyes peeled for those trailheads. We anticipate meeting God both in the struggle of climbing the mountain and in the glory to come on the top.

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger , student life , thoughtfully evangelical

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What a fantastic post, so very well written, so inspiring. Thanks for making time to write these. God bless you.
Jeff Nichols 9:21AM 05/11/12

Finishing Well Part 2: Discovering Myself

May 03, 2012

Megan Hackman

Author's Note: My husband and I are in our final semester of seminary. In some ways it feels like a race to the finish; in others, we are slowly passing through in search of what might be next for us. With this “Finishing Well” series, I invite you to join us in the final months of seminary. I encourage you to consider your own calling and the place in your journey with the Lord where you find yourself. I look forward to hearing where our story might resonate with yours!

So I once felt like I had misheard God (for more on that, see Part 1). Seminary, then, has in large part been about learning to hear God correctly. One of my very favorite things that I have learned in seminary began in Old Testament Survey and then carried on through Exegesis of Exodus—our God hears, remembers, sees, knows, and acts by coming and speaking to his people (see Exodus 2:24- on). We serve a living God!

Being a part of the Pierce Center has helped me be aware of how God is speaking. I have learned how to sit with a group of people and listen and pray with the Holy Spirit through the Word. I have learned that I need Sabbath rest on a weekly basis in order to tune out the distractions of work, study, and relationships for a few hours so that I can enter with a greater awareness into God’s presence in order to hear from him (Hebrews 4:11-16). That discipline has helped me to be more alert throughout the week to the places where God is transforming me more into his likeness (2 Corinthians 3:16-18). It has helped me to consider it joy when I face trials, because I expect and anticipate God to be working in me through them (James 1:2-4).

As I have listened I have learned a lot about myself and a lot about God. I have learned that God has made me as a human being in his image (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, God values who I am and the way in which he has made me in particular (Psalm 139). Through the Dynamics of the Spiritual Life class, I began to discover who that woman is and begin to see how my design works out in what I do. My final paper worked out the memories, experiences, jobs, core lies, victories, and goals that lead me to say, I exist to glorify God by inviting discovery.

So even as I now work on digging deeply into Isaiah 56 for an exegesis course and talk with college students for an evangelism class, I continue to live out my calling to invite others into the discovery of Christ, of their own design, of how God speaks and remembers and acts in the world, of Scripture, of friendship. As we look to what is next for us, I carry with me this rich academic and spiritual exploration that the last three years have been. I anticipate that whether we go overseas or serve in a more local setting, regardless of task, that God has made me to be someone who looks to dig into the soil of this world, with the power of the Spirit to seek and to nurture the work that he is doing, and with the hope to see the harvest brought in for his glory.

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger

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Finishing Well, Part 1: Open Books

February 13, 2012

Megan Hackman

Author's Note: My husband and I are in our final semester of seminary. In some ways it feels like a race to the finish; in others, we are slowly passing through in search of what might be next for us. With this “Finishing Well” series, I invite you to join us in the final months of seminary. I encourage you to consider your own calling and the place in your journey with the Lord where you find yourself. I look forward to hearing where our story might resonate with yours!

I love to finish things up. I receive such an overwhelming satisfaction from the last cup of flour used, the final paper turned in, and the final chapter of a book read. So great is my joy that a friend recently brought to me her mangled tube of toothpaste so that I could share in its completion. Part joke, part gift, I received it and took a photograph before throwing it away. Now I get to the share it with you! Aren’t you lucky. Ha!

I like to see everything come to an end. I like things tidy and filed. So when I see that something isn’t going any further, I write it off and file it away. I assume that’s the end, and I need it to be done so that I can open something new and see that thing all the way through to its end.

Last night, my husband called my attention to how that framework of open or shut, being used or finished, just does not work in life.

God opened the call to spread the Gospel to the world to me in March of 2006. Right before leaving on a short-term missions trip to Bolivia, I heard him speak to me from Isaiah 43. I promptly interpreted verse 5 very personally, Fear not, Megan, for I am with you… bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth… Of course! God was sending me to Bolivia in just a few days! I should break up with my boyfriend, graduate college, and then go overseas for the rest of my life!

I’m not saying that God can’t call someone that definitively or that my experience hearing God’s voice was illegitimate. But what I’m beginning to discover is that March 2006 was an invitation to begin holding before the Lord the willingness to be his witness wherever he would send. His call on my life wasn’t something to “use up” or “complete.”

I didn’t break up with Larry then. He helped me to see that a calling to ministry didn’t necessitate the end of our relationship (Whew!). I went to Bolivia and spent the entire week sick. I did not open any blind eyes that week. After we married that fall, Larry and I pursued joining the staff of an international missions organization. We were all set to train and move overseas when as a team with the folks we were going to work with we all recognized that we did not share the same vision for the country. We had a vision more for church planting than hostel ministry, but we were completely unqualified to start a church. So I closed the “Spain story” in my mind and opened the “seminary story.”

The point is—I thought that coming to seminary meant that the story of overseas missions work was over. In my mind, I had interpreted Isaiah 43 wrong. I had misheard the voice of God. We had pursued going overseas, but when we squeezed out the last hope of moving, it was time to throw that vision away. But I was wrong. I’m beginning to see that God does not view our lives as books that are written one at a time, finishing one before beginning the other. Instead, he can handle a whole lot of pages and chapters in process at the same time. He sees the end result. He knows where the stories merge and flow, interweaving and bringing us to the place of ultimate completion in his story, his eternal story. I like neat and tidy endings, but I’m a work in process, and our lives are ministry in process. There’s more to come…

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , biblically-grounded , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Jesus, I thank you!

February 02, 2012

Megan Hackman

This summer, I had the privilege of praying with the women of an urban ministry, Widows Harvest. The children at Vacation Bible School had crafted and purchased gifts for the women a few weeks prior. The children had been invited to come and sing, share the gifts, pray, and share a meal with Widows Harvest. Little did I know, I would be the one to walk away with arms and heart full of gifts continuing to bless me today.

These women are veterans of prayer. They passed around a microphone to lift up communal and individual prayers. While the microphone was being passed, they would sing a chorus to a hymn or spiritual song. They thanked Jesus more in that one hour than I have in my whole life.

Their faces and voices permeated my thoughts as my small group talked about our lack of expressing gratitude.

Listen in--
“Jesus, I thank you! I thank you that I woke up today with a sound mind! I thank you for these children blessing us, singing you praise with dance and with loud voices! I thank you for the gifts they brought. I thank you for my son and grandson. Would they know you!”
“Jesus, I thank you!”
“Jesus on the main line…. Tell him what you want. Call him up…”
“Jesus, I thank you!...”

When have I ever been so attentive that every good gift comes from the Father? I am not so willing to thank God for every hardship. I miss the daily blessings from God that made them pour out their hearts in gratitude. Thanking God for a mental capacity, for the presence of children, and for the voice to sing! Right now I am thankful for the memory of their witness! There is much to learn that can’t be learned from the books…

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16

Pay attention today to times in which you might give thanks to God for something small, something hard, and something completely unexpected. If you’d like, come on back and let us know what you’re thankful for today! May we admonish one another!

P.S. Look up Mavis Staples’ “Jesus Is on the Main Line” and be blessed.

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Sabbath: Substance or Merely Shadows?

January 24, 2012

Megan Hackman

Studying Colossians this week has reawakened my thoughts on Sabbath, which we started discussing in December. Colossians 2:16-17 reads, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” After studying this passage through the week, I spent Sabbath on Sunday considering whether or not the practice of Sabbath for me has become an embrace of shadow or substance.

The shadows Paul is discussing were all good, Old Testament instructions for the people of God. They involved dietary laws, festival guidelines, and Sabbath keeping. They cast an outline of beautiful promises given in the direct presence of God, including rest (Gen 2:3), provision (Ex 16:5), and remembrance (Ex 20:8; Deut 5:15). The unfolding of this promise of Sabbath rest continues straight through Jesus’ proclamation of healing (Lk 13:16) and provision on the Sabbath day (Lk 6:3-5). Finally, it will find its fulfillment in eternity when we enter the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God (Heb 4:9-10).

So my struggle this weekend centered on recognizing how much of the past two years I have spent enveloped and actually pursuing the promises of the shadow of Sabbath. By practicing Sabbath on Sundays, I actively sought rest and rhythm. These shadows are certainly provided by merely ceasing to work for one day. The promises of Sabbath shadows are good things, but we are able to walk in fellowship with Christ himself (Heb 4:16)! We no longer settle for mere shadows.

So what of the substance of Sabbath? I think it’s possible that in my headlong pursuit of the shadows, I have at times missed the substance of Christ.

Sunday was a regeneration of the pursuit of Christ for me in the practice of Sabbath. I have been asked to expand upon what it means to “tune into the bass line,” as discussed weeks ago. For me, to look upon the substance of Christ and to enter his presence requires stillness, confession, and prayer. Often I will follow that by meditating upon a particular verse. Sometimes I find walking slowly through the woods helps me to converse more naturally with my Creator. I suggest Adele Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook if you are looking for some creative ways to hear God’s bass line call in your life.

My aim is to not just embrace the outline of God’s promises, but to embrace He who casts the shadows directly. I am inhibited from doing that the more I emphasize the pursuit of physical rest. Instead, when I envision the Lamb in the throne room or the man walking along the road of Emmaus, I can begin to dialogue with and expose myself to my God for transformation that satisfies the need for both physical and spiritual rest and that continues throughout the week.

That designated, full-day intimacy is worth the pursuit of Sabbath. It helps me embrace of the very substance of Christ in the rest of the week.

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , biblically-grounded , student blogger , student life , thoughtfully evangelical

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John-- at the core of your question it appears to me that you and the person you were talking with might be asking, what is the purpose of the law for today? Dr. Gordon Hugenberger has some interesting thoughts on the different classifications of Old Testament law and the applications in the inaugurated Kingdom. There is both ceremonial and moral law. According to him, "moral law is designed to replicate in humans the moral likeness of God" (Class notes from Theology of the Pentateuch) So, as seen in the Sermon on the Mount, these laws persist not for the purpose of salvation but for the life of someone in relationship with God. Ceremonial law, however, has exceptions, is less permanent, and symbolical. He lists Sabbath as ceremonial along with baptism, tithing, etc., because there were exceptions in the OT made for offering sacrifices on the Sabbath not as the first day of the week in special circumstances. It is included in Col 2:16-17 as "a shadow pointing to the reality of Christ, who has now come" (Class notes). As far as it is an imitation of God, however, it is considered a moral law and thus still applicable. The classification of Sabbath, then, is not definitive from what I have found. But should Sabbath be only followed today because it's a moral law? I would say no based on Colossians 2:16-17. But are we invited to rest from our labors as God did from his in the real sense of stopping to work on Sundays? I am saying yes, I think that is an invitation that has found a significant and valid expression in my life. I think ceasing from our work allows us the opportunity to approach God directly and intentionally. I do think it is wonderful to have a Sabbath attitude that pervades our lives. I have found that without the rhythm of regular, prolonged ceasing, I am incapable of having a pervading attitude regarding Sabbath during th week. Regarding your comment, "the law condemns and cannot produce true righteousness,"-- yet the law is good and governs our relationship with a holy God. So should we "rest" from such a futile effort as pursuing holiness? I don't think so. I look to multiple New Testament passages for encouragement in that pursuit-- Rom 6:1-4; Phil 2:12-18; Heb 10:14.
Megan Hackman 1:59PM 02/11/12
John-- at the core of your question it appears to me that you and the person you were talking with might be asking, what is the purpose of the law for today? Dr. Gordon Hugenberger has some interesting thoughts on the different classifications of Old Testament law and the applications in the inaugurated Kingdom. There is both ceremonial and moral law. According to him, "moral law is designed to replicate in humans the moral likeness of God" (Class notes from Theology of the Pentateuch) So, as seen in the Sermon on the Mount, these laws persist not for the purpose of salvation but for the life of someone in relationship with God. Ceremonial law, however, has exceptions, is less permanent, and symbolical. He lists Sabbath as ceremonial along with baptism, tithing, etc., because there were exceptions in the OT made for offering sacrifices on the Sabbath not as the first day of the week in special circumstances. It is included in Col 2:16-17 as "a shadow pointing to the reality of Christ, who has now come" (Class notes). As far as it is an imitation of God, however, it is considered a moral law and thus still applicable. The classification of Sabbath, then, is not definitive from what I have found. But should Sabbath be only followed today because it's a moral law? I would say no based on Colossians 2:16-17. But are we invited to rest from our labors as God did from his in the real sense of stopping to work on Sundays? I am saying yes, I think that is an invitation that has found a significant and valid expression in my life. I think ceasing from our work allows us the opportunity to approach God directly and intentionally. I do think it is wonderful to have a Sabbath attitude that pervades our lives. I have found that without the rhythm of regular, prolonged ceasing, I am incapable of having a pervading attitude regarding Sabbath during th week. Regarding your comment, "the law condemns and cannot produce true righteousness,"-- yet the law is good and governs our relationship with a holy God. So should we "rest" from such a futile effort as pursuing holiness? I don't think so. I look to multiple New Testament passages for encouragement in that pursuit-- Rom 6:1-4; Phil 2:12-18; Heb 10:14.
Megan Hackman 1:59PM 02/11/12
I don't have any developed thoughts on it. You've already done more research on it than I have. I just found this passage interesting when someone asked me why we don't observe the Sabbath anymore, at least the way commanded in the OT. It seems whereas Israel had a shadow of rest by observing it on a particular day, we have it in a more complete form (of course, we are still waiting the final rest of the Lord). So, instead of one day of Sabbath, we have a lifestyle of Sabbath when we enter by faith. I was wondering, then, if the works might refer to works of the Law. Since Law only condemns and cannot produce true righteousness, faith gives us rest from such futile efforts. These are just tentative thoughts. Like I said, I have not researched it. Let me know if you find out anything. Thanks, John
John 6:48PM 02/02/12
Thank you, John, for your comment. Is it something you have thoughts about already? I delayed in responding thinking that I would have time to research it well, but as it's the start of the semester, I haven't gotten as deeply as I'd like. The one thing I will say is that verse 10 appears to be setting up a contrast between rest as a place and as a state of being. Here the Greek is katapausin which the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says is the "rest of God in the sense of his presence with the people." The commentary by O'Brien emphasizes that this is the actual place of rest, the presence, in contrast with the state of rest that would have been emphasized with a word derived from Shabbat. So we continue to strive to enter that place of God's presence by practicing the state of rest, that is, from ceasing from our work ("ergon"-- typical, generic word for work). O'Brien says, "the nature of the works themselves is not spelled out." I have not studied the nature of the works further, but I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Megan Hackman 9:55AM 01/30/12
Heb 4:1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” The faithful and obedient are entering the Sabbath now. In verse 10 it says we rest from our works. What works do you think the author of Hebrews is referring to?
John 6:59PM 01/24/12

Quest for the Games or the Gospel?

January 06, 2012

Megan Hackman

(SPOILER ALERT! If you have not read the Hunger Games series, it won’t bother you to continue. But if you’re in the middle of book three, this may spoil the ending for you.)

The goal of the Hunger Games is survival. This is the quest. The only quest. The only conceivable quest for the districts, the tributes, and even the President is survival. As modern readers, we want more. And so we’re given a love triangle, science fiction creatures, futuristic fashion, weddings, funerals, Roman-like arenas, history lessons, herbalist and medicinal instruction… there really is something for everyone! I caught the craze, and with a list like that, I can see where others have as well.

And yet, the quest is not our quest. Is life just about survival? What about hope? Identity? A future? Redemption? Even for those not as consciously theological, I can imagine a dissatisfaction that the characters are unable to be successful on quests for revenge, success, or even legacy in light of their overwhelming need just to survive. These goals are all taken away from the people of Panem (the nation of the Hunger Games) by its totalitarian rulers who require a yearly child sacrifice as penalty for their rebellion.

So why are we so wrapped up in a story line that ends with the achievement of mere survival for barely more than one character? (sorry, warned you about the spoiler alert) I know I’m fascinated by its nature as a cautionary tale. What if this world were only about survival? Would you still value your life? What kind of reaction would I have to such authority over me? Could I survive?

What if we had a Creator God who stepped away and said, “May the odds be ever in your favor,” so to speak, and then sent us into an arena in which survival were only merely possible? There you have Panem. You have a de-humanized authority and a hero who does not have the power to save. Who is unable to redeem. Who is horrifically broken and unable to be healed, even after the quest for survival has met its end. And I hear in the speech and behavior of friends outside of the Church a similar expression of God—in which the Creator has left us to a life of luck and a quest for success against the odds. Yet, there is a belief and a drivenness today that one might actually by his own power save, redeem, and overcome.

I was struck by how unlike this quest is from the message of the Gospel. In our story, the ultimate authority has become the most intimate of creatures with a quest not for survival but for the healing and unity of the entire world. The shock of the Gospel message is, too, that the means for “life and life abundantly” (John 10:10), is through the sacrifice of our hero in death (1 Corinthians 5:21)!

While reading the series, I rode the wave of hope that this one young girl symbolically became hope for an entire nation, unifying people under the symbol of freedom. But the symbolic hope she represented was surpassed by her own quest for a survival. Finally, both quests lead not to the healing and unity of the entire world but a dark commentary on the individual’s and the world’s resonate brokenness.

I finished the first book months ago and the series over Christmas, and yet, I cannot get these themes nor the characters out of my head. I think the series’ magnetism for me has to do with the people I know in this world who are living under this false quest to survive with a false belief that they, themselves, have the power to overcome but without realizing that the work of healing and redemption is accomplished by Jesus. It’s like I want to sit down with Katniss and Peeta and talk about life as so much more than survival. I want to assure them that there is eternal and present justice for their brokenness. I feel like Suzanne Collins must know this because she gave us plenty of diversions so that we would maintain hope for the people of Panem. To me, though, the finishing tone was hopeless and broken.

What do you think has you enthralled with the series? Do you think survival is Katniss’ sole quest? Do you think a social and economic commentary is all that can be harvested from this series?

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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John, I had not thought of what you suggested! By the time I got to the end of book 3, I suppose I had forgotten how Katniss got involved in the Games to begin with. When I thought about having a hypothetical conversation with fictional characters (what has this book done to me?! Ha!), I hadn't thought about Peeta's character in comparison with Katniss. Great distinction. Thank you for pushing me to think about survival in different terms! I'm thinking more in the direction of survival in this life in contrast with hope of eternal life when I think about survival. Even Katniss' move to offer herself as tribute was a guard against Prim's life in the "present." I was surprised by the lack of hope beyond this life and the possibility of healing and redemption for this life. And so, the quest for survival was a quest to see survival in this life but the hero was unable to bring about anything more than mere, individual survival. This is what is rendered so dark and ultimately hopeless because the characters are unable to provide for themselves healing and redemption in their lives. The modern person and the characters of this book could not hope for anything beyond the best of what this life could offer within their own power. I'm a verbal processor... keep it coming!
Megan Hackman 9:03PM 01/07/12
Dear Megan, Your blog seems to hit on several different issues. I have a lot of things I want to say in response, but they are not exactly interrelated. So, I'll start with a basic book review. Is life just about survival? I’m not sure if Katniss would say “yes,” as you seem to imply she would. If she wanted just to survive, she wouldn’t have taken her sister’s place in the games in the first place. Also, don't forget that she was planning to kill herself at the end of book 1. So, I think this is evidence that she believed in something bigger than just survival. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem fair to judge her survival instinct so harshly when extreme, external circumstances put her in a game and a war that demanded survival. Katniss was not a cruel person just climbing a corporate/social/political/popularity ladder, stepping on bodies as she ascended. If she were she could have killed her game allies while they slept; she had to either fight or die. What would her lying down and dying have accomplished? So, I think it is incorrect to say, “But the symbolic hope she represented was surpassed by her own quest for a survival. Finally, both quests lead not to the healing and unity of the entire world but a dark commentary on the individual’s and the world’s resonate brokenness.” Considering at the end of the series she was willing to forfeit her life by killing Coin, the leader of the rebellion, to keep the new administration from using enemy children in another Hunger Games, says a lot about her character and willingness to sacrifice herself for the freedom of others (not to mention how many times during the war she ran into a fight to save someone else). Then, you say you wish you could sit down with Katniss and Peeta and explain that life is so much more than survival. As I said, I don't think Katniss believes this, but I certainly don't think Peeta does. Before going into the games he stated he wanted the empire to know they don't own him. He will not become a mindless killing machine for their entertainment. He is a human being with dignity and inherent value. He will not let them turn him into an animal. But, perhaps I am misunderstanding what you mean by the word "survival." When you say that these Katniss, Peeta, and even some people you know only care only about survival and try to heal themselves, what do you mean? Thanks for the thought provoking blog. John
John Hutchins 2008 5:38PM 01/06/12

How Sabbath Changed My Seminary Experience

December 14, 2011

Megan Hackman

Sabbath changed my seminary experience. Our first year as full-time students and part-time workers completely drained both my husband and me of every bit of energy we had. So when we were first introduced to Sabbath, it was like introducing a desert wanderer to a natural spring. We dove right in.

Initially, Sabbath was about rest. Physical rest. Like all I could do was sleep from the moment we got home from church until the sun went down. That’s not metaphorical. I literally needed a three to four hour nap every Sunday. But it didn’t take me long to realize that Sabbath was about much more.

This summer, I had the opportunity to teach on Sabbath using Mark Buchanan’s book The Rest of God (I highly recommend it). Getting a group of women who are all moms, teachers, social workers, security guards, and caregivers to buy into an Old Testament law to rest for a day I assumed would take some explanation. So the first night, this was the illustration I used (I apologize for the lack of audio. Please queue your imagination).

I start playing a song. Think, perhaps, of the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Something with a complicated melody line and plenty of instruments. Maybe go ahead and turn up the volume on your Pandora station. What line of the music are you paying attention to? Do you hear the trumpet? Harmony? Melody? Drums? Keyboard?

Then I played a stripped down version of the song, leaving only the bass guitar. It was a simple strummed melody. Can you hear it? Bumm…bum bum… bummmmmm. After several measures, I slowly added in one line at a time. The acoustic guitar. The keyboard. There’s the drums. Ah, the voices. Alto. Soprano. The full choir swells into the chorus of the piece.

Now what do you hear?

If I ask you to, can you hear the bass line?

This, I suggest, is the clarity of voice that Sabbath provides. It’s the opportunity to listen directly to what God has for you in your life. It’s the opportunity to “tune into the bass line.” The rest of the week will certainly bring on a full symphony of interruptions and priority lines. But when you’ve spent time just listening to the bass line in isolation, you easily queue into the rhythm and the direction of the piece as a whole. You also can easily be called back to that simple bass line even in the midst of a full orchestra of sounds. In fact, the soprano’s line now sounds more full when heard in harmony with the bass line.

So, too, when you practice weekly Sabbath. You can more distinctly hear how God is calling you even when the doctor lands a tough diagnosis, the kids need to be bussed to an impromptu make-up game, your parents suddenly need assistance, work and school are battling for your attention, and oh yeah, the laundry needs to be done. You can still tune into the places where God is calling you. You can hear the themes he is calling your attention to. For me, I have found that hearing once a week from God about where he’s asking for my surrender or is calling for my transformation suddenly turns every paper, reading assignment, house chore, and coffee date into an encounter with the living God.

What practices have you used to focus to and listen for God’s voice in your life?

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , student blogger , student life , thoughtfully evangelical

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COMMENTS

I too found The Rest of God to be a fantastic and helpful book on Sabbath. The point that stuck out to me most, and which is a simple guide to observing Sabbath, is to cease what is necessary and to embrace that which gives life.
Woody Breen 9:18PM 01/03/12
It takes quiet to hear that still, small voice or whisper of God. With the cacophony of sounds that bombard us each day, that voice can disappear, quite like the bass line in the symphony. To honor the Sabbath each week gives us time to tune back in....get back on the right path. It should be a number one priority in everyone's life, but it is one we seem to be able to put off until "later" all too easily. Thanks for the reminder to put God first and the rest will fall into place.
Barb Podawiltz 11:04PM 12/14/11

Rule of Thirds

November 28, 2011

Megan Hackman

Photography loves the rule of thirds, which sets up shots like the picture on the right. 

You're encouraged to photograph the object of your focus either at an intersection point or along one of the lines (as illustrated with the skyline, above). The rest of the grid provides the space to help your eye focus on the object of interest, because the human eye naturally is drawn to focus along this one-thirds gridline.

A mentor suggested that we might live focusing unnecessarily on a narrow grid of thirds. We (and especially seminarians, I would argue) spend life focusing one-at-a-time on one of three activities: the first third of life studying for work; the second third working; and the third resting from all that time we spent working.

What if we lived life focusing less on the division of the thirds and more on the intersection points? That is, what if we did not spend 30 years in school, 30 years at work, and 30 years resting? What if we lived with work and study and rest all in one mixed life? What if we let the boundaries cross between work and play and rest? What if we lived life a bit more looking for these intersection points week-to-week and less on the anticipation of a major switch in activity every 30 years?

I’m getting a taste of this by using a similar grid to analyze my life for one of my classes. Every week, I look at a 7 (for the days) x 3 (morning, afternoon, night) grid. I’m looking to include periods of work, study, and rest, all side-by-side with plenty of times where they intersect in order to allow for analysis of study, creativity in work, and depth in rest. I allow a greater focus on rest than I have allowed myself formerly, as I’ve been introduced to Sabbath rest in seminary, which I will return to in the next post.

For now, I encourage you to consider… Are you living in an isolated stratum of study, work, or rest? Where might you find an intersection point? Can you offer any encouragement as to where you’ve found benefit in the times where rest, study, and work meet?

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , biblically-grounded , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student life , thoughtfully evangelical

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Good Morning, Megan...from Colorado: A friend from NH sent me your blog post. Most grateful am I that he did. I say...hooray!...keep it up!!...way to go!!! And that was done in thirds. :-) Your post radiates with a thought I've been proposing for years now...live all of your life in all of what I do call the Three 3rds of life. But what you've done so well is invite your reader into living live daily with the thirds you suggest. I like what you've done.......! Fast chasing 70yo, I've come to realize (and much of this realization began in full force when a student at Denver Seminary 38 years ago) that we limit ourselves, our dreams, our hopes, our relationships, our potential of what can be accomplished in our lifetimes if we accept the cultural norm (especially in our Christian circles...for the most part...i know there are exceptions...but not enough of them) of what you state about the 30/30/30 of a life here in our western culture. What if...what if courageously, creatively, daringly, purposefully, intentionally...we did not buy into the cultural norm? What if, no matter our age, we chose to live intentionally, experiencing deep change in each decade of our life? What if, as we grew older, we were not looking for done and finished, but there are more horizons to explore and discover? We could go on and on....... :-) So today, I celebrate what you suggest. May our Triune God further bless you and your husband as you study, work and rest forward...day by day. How do I sign up to keep receiving your life-giving, life-challenging thoughts. You've gained one more fan today from here in the Rockies. Wes Roberts Leadership Mentor/Organizational Designer/Spiritual Friend Leadership Design Group 17053 Hastings Avenue Parker, CO 80134 iPhone: 303-809-6503 Website: http://wesroberts.typepad.com/wes/ You will also find me on Facebook And some of the seminarians I mentor out here finally have me on Twitter @thewesroberts
Wes Roberts 8:11AM 11/29/11

Happy Endings

November 07, 2011

Megan Hackman

A culture’s ultimate desire can often be observed at the end of a movie. Watching the Chinese film, Hero, displays ultimate honor. Perhaps the Persian film The Color of Paradise could be articulated as a desire for belonging. But I’m relating with the new TV show “Once Upon a Time” (written by the writers of “Lost”), which clearly articulates a desire for a happy ending. That is, of course, the ending of every fairy tale. But this particular show has drawn more out than a simple “happily ever after.”

What draws us to happy endings? Dr. Gwenfair Adams teaches my class called Dynamics of the Spiritual Life. The first day of class we set the context for studying the dynamics in our own individual spiritual lives within a story arch she calls our mallon or more and more story line. It is our individual expression of the hapax or once-and-for-all story line that Scripture depicts. Allow me to explain…

The desire of the hapax story of Scripture is for the Creator God to be in perfect relationship with his creation. It is a story of conflict against the enemy of sin and death overcome by the protagonist, Christ. In light of the hapax, then, we delve into our own mallon stories, seeing how our own life aims toward the ultimate desire of being re-united with Christ and re-created into the perfect image of our Creator. Our testimonies serve as witnesses of the ultimate Author and the consummation of the world to come. This is the story that the history of the world is telling.

So, then, it is no surprise that I have noticed a trend in media lately articulating a craving for a happy ending complete with evil vanquished and perfect love restored. I am seeing that the characters in this TV show are articulating the once-and-for-all desires of our world. The writers have actually written, “believing in the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing” and “good will always win.” I am drawn to watch and re-watch the episodes, looking for glimpses of the finale in which evil will be vanquished and life brought back at the instigation of true love. So when I see a simple, silver cross hanging from the neck of Snow White (she really is wearing a cross in the show), I can’t help but think, Do the writers know the hapax story?

Where do you see the desire for a happy ending being articulated in our culture?

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , current students , student blogger

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COMMENTS

Happy ending is always the best and what we love to see at the end of any story........
Graham 1:54AM 11/16/11
It is true that happy ending is a powerful thing. I enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for sharing..............
Kelvin 7:30AM 11/08/11
I love this show! And Megan Hackman. The (Happy) End. :)
Jill 4:37PM 11/07/11

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