Gordon-Conwell Blog

Dear First Years | Seminary Student Blogger

September 10, 2013

Tim Norton

Happy first week of classes! After a brief summer sabbatical, it is time to start blogging again. My name is Tim and I am a 3rd year M.Div. student, which essentially means that this blog is part of a carefully crafted scheme to avoid studying for my language competency exams coming later this week. Being a 3rd year also means that I am officially in my last year as an M.Div. student. Accordingly, I feel it is my obligation to start off this year with some thoughts that might serve the incoming first years well.

  1. Greek: At this point, most of you first year M.Div. kids have realized that Greek is graded on a 6-point scale. You may have THOUGHT that Spiritual Formation with Dr. Kang was going to be the most formative class for your prayer life. You thought wrong. That 6-point scale is going to come up more than a few times in your prayer time. I'm kidding; the 6-point scale seems intimidating at first, but you will be more than prepared to handle it. I promise! You are going to be fine! Take a breath and get down to business :)
  2. Hebrew: Hebrew is a direct result of the Fall. We can all collectively thank Alexander the Great for making sure that at least half of God's Word was written in a tolerable language.
  3. Hebrew revisited: ...fine. I'm kidding again. Hebrew isn't THAT bad. In fact, there is no feeling quite like translating Hebrew. You just feel like a boss when it starts to click. The languages can be particularly intimidating to those (like me) who didn’t major in anything remotely close to biblical studies in undergrad (music theatre for me). You will get them. Enjoy the privilege of learning the original languages of Scripture!
  4. The Bubble: You now reside on the "Holy Hill" of Gordon-Conwell. Be sure to get off campus and interact with normal people every now and again. After all, it is to just such people that you are called to minister. Just remember that the average person doesn't speak Seminarian. So if you can't have a conversation without dropping cool-kid phrases like "Actually, Matthew is leveraging a common hermeneutical principal by employing typological lenses with reference to prophetical literature, thereby creating multiple layers of interpretive fruit"...the average person will ignore you, or hate you, or both.
  5. Electives: Don't blow them on a "maybe this could be cool" kind of course. If you aren't positive that this is THE class for you and your future ministry, save that elective until you are sure. Worst-case scenario is having a ton of electives your last year and having the unfortunate *cough* need to fill them with independent studies (*hint*).
  6. Audits: Use them.
  7. Pass/Fails: Use these too. There are several philosophies of leveraging the pass/fail. Ask around. My thoughts are to wait until you have a particularly slammed semester to do so to loosen the workload on an assignment heavy course.
  8. Reading Weeks: I have dedicated an entire blog post to strategizing for these guys. Check it out here.
  9. Calling: Remember why you came to seminary. Chances are you feel an affinity if not an outright calling to a ministry of some type. When you get bogged down, just keep in mind why you are working so hard. Let your calling encourage you without burdening you.
  10. Rest: You are not a machine. Ministry is not about who can handle the most work. Remember your identity is first and foremost a beloved child of God. Take time to rest (Sabbath anyone?) in this. The habits you form here will be the habits you have after graduating.

I think that’ll get you started. I look forward to meeting all of you! I’m the loud one during lunch and dinner, so feel free to stop by.

Tim Norton is a born-and-raised, small-town Southerner with the sweet tea addiction to prove it. He comes to Gordon-Conwell as a Kern Pastor-Scholar and plans to pursue pastoral ministry in the U.S. after graduation. Tim is a big personality with a strange affinity for the color orange. Currently, he attends GENESIS Church, an Acts 29 church plant in Woburn, MA.
 

 

 

Tags: Author: Tim Norton , current students , future students , student blogger , student life

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First Day of School | Seminary Student Blogger

September 25, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

The leaves are beginning to fall; they twist and turn and delicately glide to crunch under my oxfords. The sun was peeking at me through the trees and the breeze is a tease for the hairs on my neck. The air smells like fall and has cooled to match, but carries the weight of a summer only half-gone. I had in my arms seven new books that came in the mail; I was on my way to the library, and I was already certain the seven and I would soon be friends.

The top of the hill and the end of the path came far too early, and I turned to take in the view: my building at the bottom, trees all around, books in hand. And suddenly I was aware of how very much You must love me to call me to a place like this.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , student blogger , student life

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On McDonald’s and Quiet Time | Seminary Student Blogger

August 23, 2012

Tim Norton

Just a few short miles from the campus of Gordon-Conwell lies a veritable oasis. Its golden arches welcome all visitors into the land of full stomachs and empty calories, of french fries and burgers, of happy meals and one seriously creepy clown. America may run on Dunkin but it needs to run because of…you guessed it…McDonald’s. Oh yes. Mickie-D’s my friends. I’m hungry just thinking about it. Now at this point, you probably have reacted in one of two ways:

  1. Gross. McDonald’s is awful. I no longer want to listen to anything Tim has to say.
  2. McDonald’s! I may not admit it often, but I secretly love that place. I just wish I knew someone in whom I could confide, ya know someone who’s willing to split an order of fries with me.

To those of you in group 1, I ask you to indulge me for just a few minutes. Group 2 people…Hi, I’m Tim…let’s be best friends. Now, while I would love to discuss the finer points of McDonald’s cuisine, I am actually here in promotion of McDonald’s as an educational facility.

McDonald’s has been an institution of learning for me from an early age. At my 2nd birthday party (which took place at McDonald’s) I learned the value of being assertive after demanding that the employees change the rules of their scheduled game for me and my party guests. It worked and my mom blames this incident for my stubbornness. By middle school, I had learned the need for clear communication and healthy conflict management through various incorrect orders. In high school, I learned the simple truth of the importance of breath mints while failing to convince a high school teacher I did not, in fact, skip out on the cafeteria lunch to grab a double quarter-pounder off campus. Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned through McDonald’s, though, is in regards to relationships.

Meet my roommate Dave. Dave is definitely a fellow McDonald’s enthusiast. His favorite combo is a number 1, but he saves it for special occasions to save money. As his roommate, I have the privilege of knowing and communicating with Dave on a deeper level than your average student at Gordon-Conwell. We definitely share moments of deep conversation. But ya know what? Those moments aren’t manufactured; they are rarely planned. They usually stem from the random moments of life we share together. They are a byproduct of the car rides to church, the “how was your day?” conversations, and the trips to McDonald’s. Think about it. If I came in from class and said to Dave, “Hi Dave. I just got back from class. Please tell me your life story, hurts, hang-ups, desires, dreams, struggles, and secrets so that we can be close friends and share godly man-time/intimacy.” I would be a class-5 Creeper! But if I said “Hey Dave, let’s go grab some McDonald’s…” who knows what conversations would take place. We plan the time to spend together and let the rest stem from it. Our deep conversations branch off from “normal” conversations. Our moments of bonding grow from moments at McDonald’s. We plan for moments of quality time; however, we do not force artificial moments of deeper connection. I call this the McDonald’s Principle of Relational Interaction.

Earlier this summer, I realized I needed to apply the McDonald’s Principle to my relationship with God. I noticed I would get a little frustrated when I spent a few minutes praying and didn’t have a grand emotional catharsis of divine experience. I would be disappointed that I didn’t have anything exciting to discuss in my prayer time. I didn’t have a big crisis. I didn’t have a giant revelation. I heard other people talking about their incredible moments of intimacy with God and I wanted them too. I felt like my quiet time was a little bland, so I tried to force those moments of exceptional intimacy. I focused my mind and attempted to force my emotions into overdrive in hopes of creating what I wanted out of quiet time. I would try to manufacture these epic times of awesome prayer when all I really needed to do was honestly communicate with God and remain open to the intimacy. Ever answer the question, “How was your day?” when talking to God? Don’t you think a loving father would be interested in talking with you about just that? It might not be the most heart-pounding, awe-filled prayer you’ve ever prayed, but it just might lead to more honest communication and the intimacy you desired in the first place.

Relational interactions can’t be uniformly intense gut-wrenching, soul-piercing experiences. Those interactions are incredible and necessary and we must remain open to them, but for me at least, they aren’t the norm. I’ve found that those moments will come over time if I set aside consistent and honest quality time with the Lord. Not every prayer will be earth shattering. Some days are the equivalent to a trip to McDonald’s. And ya know what? I’ve come to love and cherish both types of interactions with my Lord and Heavenly Father.

Tim Norton is a born-and-raised, small-town Southerner with the sweet tea addiction to prove it. He comes to Gordon-Conwell as a Kern Pastor-Scholar and plans to pursue pastoral ministry in the U.S. after graduation. Tim is a big personality with a strange affinity for the color orange. Currently, he attends GENESIS Church, an Acts 29 church plant in Woburn, MA.
 

 

 

Tags: Author: Tim Norton , student blogger , student life , thoughtfully evangelical

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Happily I am in group 2, and yes, McDonald's is one of the reasons I exercise. Thanks for the thoughts Tim. Will be off to pray now and after that we'll have to hit up McDonald's sometime.
Erik L 4:58PM 08/30/12

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

MAR: Workplace Theology, Ethics and Leadership

January 27, 2012

Our Master of Arts - Workplace Theology, Ethics and Leadership is a cohort-based degree for those with workplace experience who desire to live out their Christian faith in the secular marketplace. This past week, they spent the week in New York City discussing money, finance, profit, debt, marketing, sales, and consumerism – in the perspective of biblical stewardship, honesty, truthfulness, and diligence. Below are a few pictures from their time in NYC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to learn more? View MAR-WTEL details on our website or request information today and one of our Admissions Representatives will contact you!

Tags: equipping leaders for the church and society , student life , thoughtfully evangelical

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COMMENTS

This is wonderful and much needed in the world we live in. Our Christian influence is not only our responsibility but, without a doubt, a necessity for these times. Our Heavenly Father wants to work through us to effect His will in our society.
Mark Vaughn 10:52AM 02/27/12
I've never heard of a Master of Arts degree, or any other degree for that matter, with this name or focus. It sounds very interesting and much needed in today's time. I'm glad Gordon-Conwell is offering this type of degree. Biblical stewardship is something many Christians, I don't think , are not aware of. Everything that is in this world, including many secular things that we don't associate with religion, are talked about and are dealt with in the Bible. The Bible tells how to deal with anything we encounter and with all aspects of life. From education, business, relationships, money, emotions, etc., the Bible covers it all. Christians need to learn more about the answers the Bible has for us and began to use them in our everyday lives.
Deric T. Shaw 4:25PM 01/27/12

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

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

A Day in the Life of a Master of Divinity Student

December 05, 2011

What does a typical day look like for a seminary student? Follow a day in the life of M.Div. student, Daniel Triller, as he lives life at Gordon-Conwell.

Tags: equipping leaders for the church and society , life on campus , student life

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Great video! I like the Greek twist there at the end.
Jonathan Romig 11:05AM 12/21/11
nice blog. It is amazing video. I am just inspired from this blog.....
john 4:10AM 12/17/11
This is great! I don't think I ever woke up at 7:30am when I was in college though.
Financial Literacy 8:46PM 12/15/11
Fantastic! Thanks for making and sharing it with us.
Kris 7:47PM 12/12/11
LOVED this! People need the Gospel, AMEN. And THAT is what makes studying Greek worth it!!
Joelinda 6:56PM 12/10/11
Hi James, This song is by Matt Scott, one of our alums. You can hear more of his music on his site at www.musicmattscott.com or hear the album this is taken from at musicmattscott.bandcamp.com. Thanks for asking!
Brittany Yeager 8:22AM 12/09/11
Can someone please tell me who this song is by? Blessings, JD
James 11:10PM 12/08/11
Nice work guys. And thanks for the perspective.
Randall 4:58PM 12/05/11
It's good to see what my husband's day looks like when he leaves Bell Hall each morning!
Esther Elmer 10:03AM 12/05/11

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

Alumni Impact

November 02, 2011

Gordon-Conwell alumni are one of the biggest reasons why students attend Gordon-Conwell. Enjoy this glimpse of student life on campus. Thank you, alumni, for helping students find their way here.



Music courtesy of Matt Scott (M.Div. '11) @ http://musicmattscott.com/

 

Tags: Alumni , life on campus , student life

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