The Joy of Bible Camp

I love camp.

When I was 7 years old, my mom sent me off to boys camp at UPBC (Upper Peninsula Bible Camp). I was not very good at it. I made few friends, hated the water (I sink), and even at that age was annoyed at the way the campers only liked songs where they got to yell or jump around.

Still, there were three very good things. First, we got to go on a one-night camping trip. I could hike around the edge of a lake for long periods of time by myself, or stare into the fire and think. I quickly fell in love with camping.

Second, we played a lot of capture the flag. At the time I was too short to outrun people and get the flag, but I was quick enough to be very good at defense.

Third, I had my birthday during the week, and one of the staff girls gave me a kiss on the cheek in front of the whole camp. Very cool.

So, I came back. And then came back again. And again. With only a couple of exceptions, camp became my primary place to relax and grow as a person during the summer months. At camp I did the ropes course and swung from trees, learned to kayak and canoe, camped, and built relationships. I was introduced to what would become one of my top-two favorite sports, Ultimate Frisbee. I learned how to relate to girls. I learned to work hard, serving on staff for half a summer. I learned how to be a teacher and a leader, and eventually a pastoral figure by being a counselor. I was taught manhood and godliness. I had opportunity to see solid men of God wrestle with tough discernment issues. And of course, I heard the Bible preached clearly and with great passion.

I would not be the same without camp. Life made up of struggles and frustrations, strengths and foibles. Camp brought those out and taught me to understand them in ways that were more intense and more revealing than daily life in school ever could. It was one of many powerful shapers of my thinking and personality growing up.

Today we begin our trip back to camp, to yet again experience camp in a new way. I’m nervous and excited, worried about doing well and yet certain the Holy Spirit will accomplish his purposes. Once again, I am sure God will find a new way to teach, expand, and strengthen me for his purposes. I hope that whatever you are doing this summer, you are able to find experiences that do the same for you.

UPBC, here we come!


Third Avenue Devotional

Hey Folks,

Here is my lightning-round devotional at Third Avenue. They give us fifteen, and I managed to sneak it in at ten seconds under ten minutes! Ah well. Just go to the link and scroll down until you find the May 27th sermon on Isaiah 40:6-8. Enjoy!

Third Avenue Devotionals


Fall Reading List

Wow... this is my reading list for the Fall semester. There is just one small problem; this is the list for only THREE of my FOUR classes! And I need a job, too!

Augustine, The City of God

Elshtain, Jean Bethke, Augustine and the Limits of Politics

Markus, R.A, Christianity and the Secular

O’Donovan, Oliver, The Desire of the Nations: Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine

Anthony Hoekema, Created in God’s Image

John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood

Andreas Kostenberger, “A Complex Sentence Structure in 1 Timothy 2:12,” in Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-15

Ronald W. Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, Gordon D. Fee, Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy

Wayne Grudem, “But What Should Women Do in the Church?”

Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin

Paul Wegner, The Journey from Texts to Translations

Graeme Goldsworthy, According to Plan

Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton, Let the Reader Understand

Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics and Discernment

Everyone faces important decisions. Work, relationships, finances, all kinds of things. However, I want to mention just three.

First, I’m speaking at a bible camp in a few weeks. What things should I share with the kids? What will be interesting and relevant, but also (more importantly) God-honoring and true?

Second, I’m getting more involved at church. I want to be a positive addition to the larger church culture, even in the various discussions and (usually minor) disagreements that go on. How will I decide what things to fight for or ignore? How will I help set new directions or explore good ministry ideas?

Third, always looming in the mind of a seminary student is the problem of what to do after school. Though I’m a few years away, I want to prepare well to minister in whatever context God might place me. To do so, I need to ask; what things are NECESSARY and what things are not? Can I be pastor at a church that is dispensational? Charismatic? Egalitarian?

Finding answers to these questions is a matter of finding guidance from God through prayer, meditation, talking with more experienced Christians, and studying Scripture. That last is one I want to focus on here.

There are two interrelated ideas I am hoping to pursue in the coming semester. The first is Direct Hermeneutics. The second is Biblical Discernment.

Watching the complex arguments that are made in various contexts (seminary, the blogosphere, churches, etc.), I worry that we can sometimes become a bit Pharisaical, in that we easily create new, “commandments,” for the church which God did not necessarily intend. Or at least he did not intend the level of severity we sometimes give them.

So then, I want to first investigate how we do hermeneutics. I’m taking a class on the subject, and intend to learn as much as I can. My goal is to learn this; what things can we DEFINITELY say based on Scripture, and what are some things we cannot necessarily prove without a philosophical middle step? For instance, we can certainly prove salvation through faith in Christ alone. On the other hand, we cannot prove whether it is better to sing hymns or praise songs in church. The problem is that a LOT of issues fall in between these two when it comes to provability from Scripture, and we need to learn how to show very clearly what Scripture does and does not say. I call this Direct Hermeneutics because I want to learn to glean guidance directly from Scripture, and avoid governing philosophical systems as much as possible.

After that, I want to develop Biblical Discernment for the issues we face in life. We need to know how to take Scriptural guidelines and teach people how best to fulfill them in a way that is loving, wise, and above all God-honoring. To do so, it is key that we make it our practice to avoid easy answers (such as creating new rules for everything) and learn to construct solutions to confusing problems that stay withing the bounds of Scripture and make honoring God their primary goal, but also do not place unnecessary and unscriptural burdens on the people struggling with these issues.

So, that’s one of my quests for the next several months. Good luck to you, as you work to be discerning with your own life!

As a side note, here is a series of sermons that have so far been a major player in my conception of how we learn from Scripture.


Said at Southern

If you're interested, there's a new website up that has various resources from the Southern Seminary community... student, faculty, and alumni blogs, as well as some editorial articles. The link is www.saidatsouthern.com, which I've also placed on my blog links. Enjoy!