Saturday, August 5, 2017

Central Bible & Leadership Institute 2017

One of the most significant blessings in my life over the years has been our involvement in The Salvation Army's Central Bible & Leadership Institute. My sons and I have been attending every summer since my oldest was three; that's nineteen consecutive years! I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for all that has been poured into us over the years through this camp. This year was slightly different, in that only one of my sons accompanied me, but we both came away with a feeling of great fellowship and intense spiritual nourishment.

(Photo courtesy of Emily Southfield)

(an annual selfie taken by my dear friend, Laura Allen)

Thanks to the dates being bumped up a week, we were able to attend without driving back and forth to accommodate the start of school (we proved the level of our devotion by doing just that last year).

We received a housing assignment that gave me some pause, but we've had plenty of years of excellent assignments, so I felt it was certainly our turn. Beech provides a long hallway of tiny rooms (four on either side) with two twin beds in each. The room itself, despite being small, was perfectly sufficient for our minimal needs. I was most anxious about the bathroom dilemma, since there are sixteen people sharing one male toilet/shower and one female toilet/shower. Amazingly, Trevor only had to wait occasionally for access (there were more men than women billeted there), and I only had to wait once (primarily because I'm such an early riser that nobody else was ever up when I began my morning routine). It was cozy and a comfortable distance from the dining hall.

I am always blessed by the opportunity to join such a large group singing praises to God. The times of worship, in both the general meetings and in our smaller adult track Bible study, thrilled my soul. I think my very favorite worship tune this year was the song "Let Nothing Be Wasted" (especially poignant on the heels of writing a redemptive women's inspirational novel this past November).

(photo courtesy of Jared Collins)

The spirit really moved distinctly in the adult Bible study this year (once again taught by the excellent Bible teacher, Linda Himes). We studied the tabernacle/temple and focused on the idea of the meaning of worship. I think, in general, people tend to view worship as the singing of praises to the Lord, but Linda encouraged us to delve deeper into God's original intention for worship and the significance of his provision of a pattern for redemption drawn in the specific instructions for the tabernacle and temple. We began with Old Testament passages where the words "love," "obey" and "worship" were first used, in the story of Abraham's testing when God asked him to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac. God clearly chose the place where this act of worship should take place. We then shifted to Old Testament passages containing God's specifications for the act of atoning for the sins of His people. Linda brought along a model of the tabernacle pieces and we were able to visualize exactly what such worship would have felt like.

 (photo courtesy of David Tooley)
 (photo courtesy of David Tooley)
(photo courtesy of David Tooley)

In the midst of these discussions, we thought about David's insistence on paying full price for the land God selected for the temple, not wanting to give a sacrifice to God that cost him nothing. Linda emphasized God's desire to dwell with His people and His presence filling the temple. Of course, the temporary (tabernacle) was merely a pattern for the permanent (temple), which was a pattern for the eternal (Christ's sacrifice tearing the veil, destroying the temple, and raising from the dead to provide eternal life for all believers). Finally, we focused on the priesthood of believers and our ability to approach God with boldness directly (the external becoming internal and the letter of the law shifting to heart change). With new eyes, we studied the importance of worshiping in spirit and in truth through full obedience and devotion. There were several moments during the class where the spirit of the Lord was tangible and real.

For my workshop, I selected a class on Trusting God Even When Life Hurts (based on the book by Jerry Bridges), led by Major Ruth Fay. I will review the book separately, but gained new insights into the purpose and meaning of suffering through this class. I don't think I had ever thought so intensely about the sovereignty of God (something I have personally questioned when faced with trials in life). I appreciated that the discussions never dissolved into arguments about what and why God allows tragedies to play out in the sphere of our world. The homework pages helped me work through the ideas presented in the book.

When we were not in classes, our free times were primarily taken up with Trevor's focus on fishing. He entered the longest fish competition and ended up taking first place. I think everyone was at a disadvantage this year because of the recent flooding in the area. The pier we normally fish from had broken off and floated to the middle of the lake. It had been retrieved and was wheeled up onto the side of the lake, but without the pier's availability, everyone had to fish where the weeds were thick and the fish less plentiful. Still, Trevor managed to catch a ten inch fish. We were able to determine the length because he took this photo against the square portion of his t-shirt (next year, we'll have to remember to bring a ruler or yard stick).

Several times, we ventured into town to buy lures and live bait. During one of those trips, Trevor purchased a pair of alien sunglasses that became his trademark accessory for the week. He had a blast fishing and hanging out with his friends.

(photo courtesy of Kim Suydam)

(photo courtesy of Christina Joy)

As we drove home from camp (quite a feat since we were hindered by a stopped train, causing us to get lost, an accident diverting traffic, and then the standard slow movement on the highways home), we both reflected on God's rich blessings this year. Now that Trevor is joining the junior high football team, I'm not sure we will manage next year again. If we do, it will be our 20th year, Sean's first in the tween track, and Trevor's last in the tween track.

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