Unity, Liberty, Charity

In the last few weeks with my youth ministry students we have been going The Apostles’ Creed, which in most churches and among most followers of Christ this is a creed that is a unifier. How fortuitous that shortly after starting this series I have found a quote from a 17th century Lutheran by the name of Rupertus Meldenius who said the following; “In essentials Unity, In non-essentials Liberty, in all things Charity”.
The various students that make up my small group bring a lot to the table. I recognize that a lot of them ask questions that I didn’t think of at that age and at the same time I don”t think that I was allowed to vocalize such questions. In my younger years I realized that my questions and doubts weren’t going to be allowed, or they would be and I would be looked upon as a decenter. I realize that in some Christian circles questions and doubting makes you out to be rebellious, or perhaps even a heretic when you think outside the box , but in the church I’m a part of now there is liberty and freedom to think differently and even bigger.

Yes there are parts of the Bible that are certainly black and white, but there is a lot of grey. I recognize that where I’m at as a follower of Christ has been shaped in part by what I learned growing up but there’s also what I have experienced in my life, hence the grey areas of the Bible that I am led to lean on in faith.  The experiential model is the way most people read and engage what the Bible has to say, and granted there are times I scratch my head and wonder “how the heck did you get THAT out of reading the Bible?” For instance, when people speak of a vengeful God, a God who’s out to “get them” in anger and in fury…really? Have you read any of the New Testament, or are you still offering up regular sacrifices of grain and livestock…Still, some people make God out to be feared to a point that’s very unhealthy, but it’s views like these that only the person can resolve and workout on their own with the help of God.

I think that’s why there’s over 30,000 denominations across the globe. That differences are maybe not allowed and so a new denomination starts, and maybe sometimes differences are allowed but some individuals would rather split than be united despite the differences…these are mere guesses as to what might cause schisms amongst followers of Christ.

Still I believe in diversity and sharing from one’s perspective of what one believes about, well, pretty much anything. Yes there are times I do not agree with other followers of Christ’s views but I am sure others can say that about some my beliefs as well. I meditate on St. Francis of Assisi’s “make me an instrument of your peace” prayer when I am faced with the differences of views of others often, because I am prone to foot-in-mouth disease and I need to listen more than talk in such circumstances.

This quote is something I need to dwell on because it will help me out as a follower of Christ in my interaction with those who views differ from me. I need to be charitable in differences, and as a work in progress I am not there yet, but I’m getting there slowly but surely.

~Nathanael~

Camping 201; not necessarily for beginners, but for returners

So while I was camping I…wasn’t completely prepared for it, so I’m going to dispense with some camping knowledge for those who are returners to camping not necessarily beginners.

Have appropriate clothes – Might seem obvious but that’s what sent me home early. I had plenty of warm weather shirts and hoodies,  alas I didn’t have a good blanket and pair of pants that would handle cold weather.

Bring more than one pair of shoes – Bring a pair of comfortable shoes for whenever and a more durable pair for hiking and whatnot. When it came to my camping, I had two pairs that were comfortable, as most of the hiking I did wasn’t strenuous but it’s good to be prepared in this way.

Be hospitable – I like entertaining people, even when I camp. So I packed accordingly to share what I had with others 🙂 Alas I was turned down by those I invited to my campsite for cheesecake and coffee, but I was still prepared in this way.

Accept the kindness of strangers (within reason) – At my last campsite a woman who worked the campground gave me 15 pieces of hardwood for my campfire! She even unloaded it from her pickup truck. There’s something to accepting kindness from others, they hardly fit the “stranger” bill afterwards.

Cheat if needed be (when it comes to campfires) – I love getting a campfire going, but at the second campsite I was at there wasn’t a lot of kindling to get a fire going to fuel my firewood. So I went to the local grocery store, bought charcoal and lighter fluid, voila! Campfire! Given that it was charcoal it was sustainable to get my campfire going for quite a while. It’s okay to use these, no need to be a pissy purist if you’re unable to get a fire going.

Take photos – I like photography already, but having snapshots of where I went and who I met and what I ate…they’re a good way to recall such trips. Plus you can always show the photos you have taken to others once you come back 🙂

Bring what you need, but don’t go overboard – I think I brought more stuff than I needed on my camping trip. Realizing that I know how to streamline next time I go camping, because I didn’t read the books I brought and some other things kind of took up space because I thought I was going to use it, I thought wrong.

Carry some ca$h with you – I didn’t have this problem, but some places you go might not accept your debit/credit card.

Shock cords are not universal – I found this out the hard way 😦 As I grabbed the wrong ones to my tent (I have two tents). It was more of a lean-to than a tent, and one night/morning it collapsed upon me, I survived if anyone wants to know 😉

Bring an axe/hatchet/knife/pointy stick – Yes, for assisting in the camping and defending if necessary. The former came into play quite often, but thankfully never the latter.

Manners please – Manners, ’nuff said.

Bring a cooler – I have one and it served me well in keeping my food cool and all in one place.

Bring a lot of water bottles – Thankfully I had potable at each of my campsites, but realizing that it might not have panned out that way I brought 5 Nalgene bottles just in case.

and lastly…

Have fun! – Kind of self-explanatory, but sometimes it’s more of an endurance than a trip or dare I say vacation. Go to town, go walking, go swimming, do something you’ve never done before, try the local grub and craft brews, write postcards to your peeps (don’t forget the stamp in the upper right hand corner), write, journal, meditate or pray, etc.

Happy camping!

~Nathanael~

My first time; Feed my Starving Children

The other night I joined a good portion of my church peeps from Flowing Grace with bagging and boxing food for Feed My Starving Children, up to this point I have never helped out with the organization, and now…I can’t wait to help out again 🙂

There’s something to doing something tangible that helps others, the entwining of good times and God times (with a slight competitive bent I might add) that I enjoy partaking in. It is my desire to live out “on earth as it is in heaven” with those I interact with, and with Feed My Starving Children I might not have a direct impact upon the ones I helped feed, but after hearing about how they go about sending food worldwide to those who are impoverished I am excited for this level of kingdom work.

When it comes down to it I am an introspective extrovert, I process (longer than usual) the world around me and so my processing time makes me perceived as being “the quiet guy”. I enjoy leading others where needed be, but I also enjoy actively listening to others, there is the side of me that is active and loud and times where I am quiet and contemplative.

With the work that is done at Feed My Starving Children it doesn’t matter when you are young or old, introverted or extroverted, there’s a task for all and I recognize that for those who are introverted it is ideal! A lot of it is repetitive assembly job work which honestly I don’t mind, they crank the tunes, you do your task and keep going…it is a lot of fun!

There are opportunities to do good in tangible ways that matter for a long time and as a follower of Christ I desire to partake in some of these activities (because obviously I cannot partake in all of them). When you have people who are with you on your life journey who are like-minded as well as like-hearted things have the appearance of being easier and in a lot of ways a mutual load shared does in fact make everyone’s load lighter. Working side by side some of my church peeps in such a matter was this; kingdom work shared amongst people who have a common goal and that is feeding those who do not have a steady source of food, and in this matter we fed Jesus as we fed others.

~Nathanael~

Writing challenge needed/desired!

I enjoyed writing on a nearly day-to-day basis by way of the 31 day writing challenge…but it only whet my appetite, I want more!

Anyone know of a good 30 day challenge? For the month of June that is 🙂

~Nathanael~

P.S. Heck, I’d be up for 30 different questions from you the readers to write out 1 day at a time, sounds goods? Share the good word, as I don’t think I have 30 readers.