Your web-browser is very outdated, and as such, this website may not display properly. Please consider upgrading to a modern, faster and more secure browser. Click here to do so.
This blog used to be called "Thoughts of a Fairly New Christian", but I realized that I'm not really fairly new anymore (It's been four years in 2013) so I decided to choose a new name.
Want to go back in time? Read some old posts and smile.
Milliken does a nursing home service the first Sunday of every month. The past three months I have spoken at it, giving them words of comfort as they face each day. Two months ago, I was thrown a curve ball when I was asked to do the benediction since I hadn’t prepared one or ever given one but this month I was prepared. Here it is:
May the Father who loves you
The Son who saved you
and the Spirit who guides you
Bless you this week. Go in peace.
The following is a short story I had to write for my fiction class that I took last semester. The task outlined that we had to write a short story about a spiritual experience that we had as a child, and as I had very few to choose from this one made the cut. Keep in mind, this is fiction, and the only thing that is accurate about it is it happened at a summer camp. The professor described the ending as “delightfully ambiguous” so enjoy.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The hot July sun beamed down on us as we sat in a small circle around our leader. After a day of activities and sports with friends, sitting down in the hot sun was the last thing any of us wanted to do. The bell rang marking the end of our time with our team and I looked over at Brent. He was pulling the grass, which was already yellow and dry, and throwing it, then watching it fall in the hot, still air.
“Stop pulling the grass. It’s God’s creation and you should be respecting it. Pulling it out kills it,” piped up the counselor, who couldn’t have been over fifteen herself, “Just pay attention for a little longer and we can go back inside the chapel.” The chapel was the last place I wanted to be. I gazed across the lawn at the younger kids who were doing free swim. How I longed for the cool water to lap over my body and take away the searing pain of my sun burn. They seemed to be having more fun at camp than I was, but really who wouldn’t? Sitting around listening to a leader drone on about the importance of some book my grandmother read to me was not my ideal way to have fun. Our leader had gone over time, and all of the other groups had gathered in lines to purchase their snacks at the Tuck Shop. The buzz of excitement could be heard as children all over the camp convened in front of the shop. Those kids were the lucky ones. They got to stand underneath the awning of the shop, in the shade, and see their friends. I was just stuck here listening to this girl, who I was forced to call “Aunt Sarah”. I never understood why I had to call her aunt, she was of no relation to me. I decided to interrupt her and ask.
“Why do I we have to call you Aunt? You’re not my aunt,” I asked.
“It’s a form of respect,” she replied, responding more patiently than a teacher would have at school, “It’s less formal than calling me Miss.” Her answer was satisfactory, but all my interruption did was keep us in the sun for a few more seconds. I gazed over at the children swimming. Life for them was so simple, they seemed to not have a care in the world. The only reason I was at this bible camp was there was nothing else to do in the summer. It was free babysitting for my father who worked shift work. Ever since the divorce I had been pawned off to different people, whether it be baby-sitters, friends of my father’s or this day camp. I wondered why he chose this camp, where the bible was taught since he didn’t believe the bible to be true, and he made that very clear. The sound of the children at the tuck shop was ebbing and flowing as the head counselor chose which group would go first into the store to buy their snacks. They must be having a cheering competition. I decided to turn my attention back to ‘Aunt’ Sarah.
“And Jesus laid a bridge for us to have a relationship. It was only through him that we can be made right with God,” ‘Aunt’ Sarah told us. Why did we need saving? I didn’t do anything wrong this whole week at camp. I didn’t act out like William during team time, and I didn’t get in trouble for being in the girls change room like Douglas. In fact, I was the main object of bullying over the week, but I chose to just ignore it. Sometimes you’re just dealt a bad hand and needed to deal with it yourself. Sometimes you just make sure you’re a little late for swimming so you’re the only one in the change room but sometimes you ask questions so at least the leader likes you.
“How do I cross the bridge,” I said suddenly, catching ‘Aunt’ Sarah off guard.
“Does anyone else want to know?” ‘Aunt’ Sarah asked, looking around the group. I looked around the group and saw by their blank expressions the answer was no. Brent was still pulling grass and tossing it in the air, but now he’d stumbled upon a few maple keys and started dropping them and watching them glide to the ground like nature’s little helicopters. The rest of the children on my team were anxious to get out of the sun and get in line for tuck. Slushies were the special for Wednesday. “You guys are free to go, don’t forget your memory verses.” She turned to me, and said “Did you want to know more about crossing the bridge?”
This wasn’t going like it was supposed to. Instead of being sent off to tuck with the other children I was still here sitting in the sun, but now alone. I was in too deep now, I had to finish what I had started.
“Yes, I want to cross the bridge. I want to go to heaven. I want to be friends with Jesus.” I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of my mouth. My hair started to stand on end.
“I’ll be right back, I have to go get a book,” she said as she got up and left me sitting alone in the middle of the field under the beating sun. I looked down to the lake where the children were swimming. That’s the real reason I was here, I just wanted free swimming lessons and to hang out with my friends all day. I didn’t want to cross the bridge or learn about Jesus. I wanted to swim. I saw ‘Aunt’ Sarah running across the field towards me.
“Ryan, I got this book for you,” she said, handing me a small booklet. It was printed on orange paper and used red ink. The front of the booklet contained a drawing of a man walking across a bridge shaped like a cross. Above the bridge were the words “Walking on the Bridge to Life” in big block letters. The book didn’t look like it had been printed in this decade, and it definitely wasn’t aimed at children.
“What am I supposed to do with this?” I asked sincerely. I couldn’t think that having a relationship with the creator of the universe could be achieved by simply reading a poor man’s comic book. She looked at me with a dumbfounded look. She took the book from me and started going through it page by page, asking me if I understood. I did understand. How could I not? It was so simple. We reached the end of the booklet.
“Are you ready to say the prayer?” she said as she put her hand on my back and for the first time since I went swimming earlier that day, I felt coolness come over me. I didn’t know what the prayer was, but she assured me she would lead me through it.
“I am a sinner,” she started, “who has fallen short of God’s standards to get into heaven.” I repeated after her. She continued, “I am sorry for sinning against you and I want to become your child. I need your forgiveness.” I repeated after her again, even though I didn’t really know what I was saying. The sound of the children at the tuck shop had settled down and I hoped I hadn’t missed it. The thought of the cold, cherry flavoured ice sliding down my throat as I drank the slushie almost made me get up and run away from her. She continued, “I’m turning from my sins and want to follow you, I want you to be the Lord of my life and my savior…” She paused to let the words sink in, “In Jesus name, Amen.”
“I’m turning from my sins and want to follow you, I want you to be the Lord of my life and my savior, Amen,” I repeated, not fully understanding what I had just done. I looked up at her and she smiled at me. She asked me how I felt, but I didn’t know how she wanted me to answer. I didn’t feel any different than I did before. I looked over to the lake where the children had been swimming. They weren’t there anymore. The sound of the children at the tuck shop had died. The camp bell rang for chapel. I looked at Aunt Sarah and she took my hand and helped me up. My legs were covered in imprints from the dead grass on my legs. The world seemed calmer now, quieter, more serene. I had made a friend that day.
The title of this post is awkward, but this is a list of things that relate directly to us from the first chapter of James.
Pretty convicting stuff but also pretty uplifting seeing the promises that are in God’s Word to us.
After doing an inductive study on my own on James chapter one, these are some things I learned and was reminded of about God. Not much of this was new knowledge, but it serves as a good reminder.
A lot of these things are good reminders to have and have helped me throughout the week. In the next coming days, I will post my findings about us.
I recently attended a Precept Ministries weekend conference and learned about the Inductive Study method for reading and studying my Bible. While I was there I took a three hour “fast track” training session on how to do the method and lead a bible study of my own. The point of this method is to use the Bible as a primary source, gleaming all we can from the Bible before we go to commentaries and other extra biblical resources. Tthere are three mains actions in this study method:
Now it is impossible to sum it up in one post, but here are some basics.
The first things you do in this method of study is to pray. Taking time to speak to God so he will speak to you is important in diving deep into the Word.
The second step is to read the passage. I read it the first time looking for key words. The second time I read it, I mark out any references to God. The third time I look for references to me, man, the people, etc, to see what in the passage is directed to us, the reader. Marking the text also makes us slow down. The teacher of the workshop suggested “interrogating the text” by asking Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.
The third step is to go back and look at your markings and write down things you notice. For example, after marking everything about God, I make a list on the side of the page called “What does this say about God?” then list the things. I do the same for what the passage says to us.
The fourth step is to look for contrasts and comparisons, like where the word “but” is used. I found that a passage will list a bunch of things we are to avoid, say but, then list what we are supposed to do.
Katie, the workshop trainer, also told us to look for “Lessons for Life”, and mark them in the Bible with LFL. These are things that will bring us comfort in our day to day lives.
I was blown away by the method the first time I attended one of their conferences, but it wasn’t until this year, after attending two prior, that it really sunk in. I have decided to go through the book of James, one chapter a day, using this in depth study method. I will be posting my findings for the next couple weeks of the things I have gleamed from the text. I’ve already done James 1, and was surprised to spend 30 minutes on one chapter (it may not seem like a lot to most, but I am an efficient skim reader). I look forward to sharing my findings with you!
Page 1 of 7