The Good Student

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sermon I delivered on the Bible as a guide book

Submitted: June 17, 2017

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Submitted: June 17, 2017



In order to understand me, there are three things that are fundamental to me and my core. One, as prideful as it sounds, I was an excellent student, two, I am directionally challenged, especially when looking at maps and atlases, and three, my mom would most likely give me disapproving looks through this whole sermon if she were here today, so, sorry mom.

Now, some of you may know, I went to a private high school where a textbook could cost $400, but would be bought back from you for maybe $50 even in mint condition. So, no matter what, I tried my hardest to keep my books pristine.

As a young girl, I was at Camp Sentinel at least one week every summer for too many summers to remember. One camp pastor from my camper days stands out in my memory, even now. Although I can’t remember his name, or even what church he was from, his ideas have become something I contemplate often.

At camp, we had a night service called Vespers, a kind of “religious cooldown” to wrap up our day of fun and fellowship. This night, it was rainy, and the pastor was surrounded by soggy campers and staff members alike. As he stood there, he encouraged all of us to underline, annotate, and do whatever else we would do to a normal textbook to our Bible.

Here we come to the first part of information I shared with you. As an excellent student, I was all for taking notes, even rewriting them multiple times for better understanding. Imagine my absolute HORROR at the thought of marking up my Bible when I wouldn’t even dog ear a textbook page. You can clearly see that that is no longer the case. My Bible has been written in, highlighted, and underlined more times than I can count, which gains me both inquisitive and disapproving looks by people in pews around me. I’ve come to accept the looks, because in Deuteronomy 11:18-21, God commands that his chosen people “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds… teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates”. Now, I’m not sure how I would feel about writing on doorframes, although there was a time my bedroom walls were saturated with sharpie drawings, so maybe I could get behind that, I’m all for the repetition these verses talk about. I know now that psychologists have a name for this- it’s called Repetition Theory. Basically, the more times you repeat something over time, the more likely you are to remember it after extended periods of time. I personally think there is no “better” way to find important “lessons” to teach children and to have them on hand. By repeatedly talking about verses and Biblical ideas with children, we open the door to them reaching a deeper understanding and becoming “good students” of the Bible, if you will. With these verses, there are also a few reasons I became a proponent of Bible marking.

The first of these things comes in the form of a guilty pleasure: Nicholas Sparks books, but I am a girl and I am a hopeless romantic, so these books are some of my favorite. In his book, The Last Song, the female protagonist, Ronnie, asks her father why there were no marks showing his favorite passages or important messages written in his precious Bible. Her father responds with “If I did that, the whole book would be underlined”. While I do agree with her father, I have also found that writing in my Bible brings me to a better understanding of my faith. Six years, later, my Bible’s notes include songs, verses, and parts of sermons that have stuck with me.

The other item that is fundamental to me is the difficulty of understanding maps and atlases. We’re going back to my Camp Sentinel days, when I worked as a camp counselor at the wilderness camp. I learned that my sense of direction was worse than I thought. During orienteering, Pastor Dean Stiles taught us how to use compasses and topographical maps. I’ve received an ‘A’ in a college geography course, so you’d think I could read topographical maps with no problem. This is not the case; I can barely manage a street map. Case in point, I went to New York with my bridesmaids and we did a city scavenger hunt. Even with marking destinations and routes, my friend Peyton and I still managed to get completely lost looking for Little Italy.

Now back to orienteering. After a week of tramping through the woods around the wilderness camp, the week ended with a night orienteering course. This course had staff along the way, either near the checkpoints or acting as “wandering souls” looking for guidance on their journey through both the woods and life. This experience recalls two verses. The first is Psalm 119:105, “thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. In tandem with that would be Jeremiah 42:3, “Pray that the LORD your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do”. The campers on the night course were responsible for helping to “direct” these people to the word of God.

You may be wondering how this orienteering anecdote has anything to do with using a Bible as a textbook. In order to help these “souls” onto the right path, the students had to have a grasp the lessons they learned that week in Bible Study, which was a memory test in and of itself. 2nd Timothy 3:16 says, “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness…” Your textbook is used to help you learn and guide you through your class, much like the Bible is used to guide you and to help you “dig deeper” in your faith, making it stronger, clearer, and more powerful as you go through life using your best textbook. Thank you.

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