A Bump in the Page - Getting the foundation right from the start. Post by S. J. Little

Getting the foundation right from the start.

Yesterday, I picked up my Bible to continue reading where I had left off: Genesis 4. I read the first verse about how Cain was born. Imagine the excitement – the first baby ever born!

Then, as I pondered this, I ran my hand over the page, smoothing it down. I paused and touched one area again. There was a bump somewhere under the page.

I hesitated. Chasing the source of little bumps in the thin pages of a Bible can be as pointless as chasing the wind. Evidently some speck of dust or what not had become stuck on one of the previous pages. Many a time I have spent far too long trying to locate and wipe off a speck of dust and ended up not actually reading much of the Bible because of this distraction. Was now a good time to ignore this bump in the page, or should I find the source and clear it out?

Because I was only at Genesis chapter 4, and the bump was towards the front of my Bible, I decided I’d try to find the source. Surely I wouldn’t have too far to go… unless it was in the many introductory pages. Besides, it was a bigger than average bump. If I left it now, it may continue to irritate all the way to Psalms, or perhaps even into the New Testament. I should take care of it now, before I get much further.

I turned back a page and ran my hand over the spot. It was under that page as well. I’d have to go deeper.

On the next page, I felt for it again. Still further.

I turned to the next page, and then the next. I still hadn’t found the source.A Bump in the Page - Looking for the problem - Post by S. J. Little 

I’d reached the middle of Genesis chapter 1. Already, my time of Bible reading was being impeded. I was ready to give up the search, but I realized there was only one page remaining in the Bible. I may as well turn one more page. If I didn’t find it on the next page, the source would be somewhere in the many introductory pages. I didn’t have time to search those now. However, I would look all the way to Genesis 1:1.

I turned the final page and reached the beginning of the Bible. I swept my hand over the page. Bingo! I felt the offending speck of dust.

I swatted it away, and flipped back to Genesis 4. I ran my hand over the spot where the speck had been protruding. It was gone. Lovely.

I swept my hand over the rest of the page, but stopped. Further over, a bump of that same size had appeared!

Immediately I flipped back to the very beginning and felt the page. Sure enough, I hadn’t wiped the speck far enough. It was still on the page. I brushed it off, and ran my hand over the whole page again to double check. Back in Genesis 4, I ensured that it was all clear.

Yes, the protrusion was gone. Now I could continue on with my reading.

Before I continued, however, I paused to laugh at it. The speck of dust had been at the very beginning of my Bible: Genesis 1:1.

My laughter quickly sobered as I thought further.

In the past few days, as I slowly worked my way through the first chapters of the Bible, I had been reminded how utterly foundational they are to everything we believe as Christians. Indeed, I even listened to a sermon on Genesis 1:1 in which Pastor Glenn Nudd mentioned that if we reject the truth presented to us even in that very first verse so much of our worldview would be rendered foundationless.

A Bump in the Page - Do you believe Genesis 1:1? - Post by S. J. Little

If we do not accept and believe the Bible straight from the very start, we will find, when reading later parts, that something isn’t quite right. Just like that speck of dust would have continued to disrupt me had I not gone back to the beginning and straightened it out, so any misunderstanding or lack of accepting God’s Word at its foundation will greatly disrupt our understanding of other passages and our life of faith as a whole.

Am I saying that we need to understand every single bit of the Bible? No. There will always be more to learn. Yet there are certain utterly critical base beliefs that must be understood and accepted for the rest of God’s Word to be understood the way God intended it to be.

What are these core beliefs? Here are a couple of verses to get you started, but then I encourage you to read the Bible for yourself. You’ll quickly spot more.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” 1 Cor. 15:3-4 NASB

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Gen. 1:1

Want to learn more of the foundational truths of the Bible? The first few chapters of Genesis are packed with them. I encourage you to read through the book, and perhaps listen to a few sermons or find other resources related to them. I recommend Pastor Glen Nudd’s sermons and David Guzik’s commentary as they teach verse by verse through the book.

While I'm building my platform, God is building His own. Am I representing Jesus well? Read article at SJLittle.ca

Am I representing Jesus?

In case you don’t know, I’m an aspiring author. Currently, as of June 2019, I have not yet gotten a publishing contract for any of my books. I’ve been told it may take several years to get one’s first book traditionally published. While I wait, I’ll keep on writing. In the meantime, I am building my author platform.

What’s an author platform?

Essentially, an author platform is the author’s means of developing and connecting with a fan base. Picture it as their stage. The bigger the stage, the more people will hear what the author has to say. Having a large number of people cheering them on and eagerly awaiting their next book is evidence of a good author platform. The tools they use to build and sustain their platform can include email lists, websites, social media, and so much more.Building an author platform is like building a stage so that I can reach people. Read the article on SJLittle.ca

Building a platform is an important part of working towards becoming a published author. That’s why I created this website and began blogging – to build my author platform. It’s my prayer that you will be blessed by it along the way.

Building this website has been a big learning curve for me. It involved a lot of decisions. I had to choose which design, what colours, which style of font, what pictures to use, and the list goes on.

In all of these decisions, I had a goal. My goal was, and is, to gather and encourage a group of people who enjoy my writing and are excited to read the books I am in the process of making.

Building a Reputation

Another huge part of building an author platform is having a brand name and logo that people come to recognize as me. I hope you are starting to recognize mine.

S. J. Little - Author, Preschool Teacher, Blogger. Visit SJLittle.ca

Once I’ve got a name and logo nailed down, I begin to build a reputation. Through my writing, the quality of images I use, and the look of my website, I am building a reputation. Some websites instantly have you thinking modern and clean, others feel traditional and cozy. You may stumble across a blog that shares a delightful sense of humour. Unfortunately, there are also some sites which feel amateur and sloppy. The writing may be full of mistakes and the colours terribly clashing.

It is my aim to build a good reputation and one that will be reflected in the quality and nature of the books I write. (If you see something that isn’t working on my website, please let me know so I can improve it.)

God is Building His Platform

Being in the early stages of building my author platform, I was intrigued when I read 1 Peter 2:9 in my morning devotions recently.

All the while that I am working to build my platform, Someone else is working on His own platform, so to speak.

As a follower of Jesus, I am part of something bigger.

First, I am “a chosen people, … God’s special possession…” 1 Peter 2:9a NIV

Just as I have been intentional to choose this website and make it my own, God has chosen me and made me His own. Indeed, I have created this website, and how much more completely has God created me.

But why? My goal in creating my website is to form my author platform. What is God’s goal in creating and choosing me?

What’s the Goal?

The Bible tells us clearly.

“… chosen … that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9b ESV

Other verses explain it further, such as 2 Corinthians 5:20 NKJV:

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. “

Did you catch that? We are to speak about God’s greatness and tell others about Him.

Indeed, as you read through the Bible you will find over and over again this idea that we, through our words and actions, are building a reputation for Jesus. We are to be telling others about God, even pleading with them on God’s behalf.

Further Parallels

I could go on in this allegory. I could mention how I have intentionally designed each page on my website for a specific purpose. For example, my Gospel page looks very different from my Christian Resources page. Likewise, God has designed each of us for a different role in the Body of Christ (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12). Or how I’ve laboured for hours to create this website, and will continue to improve it, just as God started this work in us and will complete it. (Phil. 1:6)

I will stop there and let you think of other parallels on your own.

Conclusion

How well am I representing Jesus through my daily life? Are my words and actions building a reputation that is honouring to Him?

As my grandpa once wrote on a picture of himself many years ago, we are “His to make Him known.”

 

(If you enjoy my writing and/or are looking forward to my books, please join my email list so I can inform you when I upload new posts and when I get published.)

Faulty Fuel Line? How is my connection with God? Read the blog post on SJLittle.ca

How is my connection with God?

I drive an older vehicle. It has been faithful over the years, but no one would mistake it for new.

Recently, when I went to put gas into my car, the pump’s auto shut off activated as though my tank was full, but I knew it wasn’t. To get around this, I held the pump at half-speed. At this reduced speed, I was able to fill my tank.

With my tank full, I went on my way.

When this happened again at the same gas station, I began to suspect something was wrong with their pump. Only recently had I begun using this gas station and I’d never had the problem anywhere else.

Not long after, I again returned to this same gas station to fill up. This time several cars were already there forcing me to circle around to a pump I couldn’t recall using before.

I began filling the tank, again using half-speed. As I did so, I noticed liquid beginning to drip beneath my car.

This alarmed me. I stopped pumping and looked closer. The dripping slowed. The source of the dripping wasn’t visible to me. It was coming from underneath. I decided to try pumping some more. Again the dripping increased. I tried turning the pump at different angles in case I could find an angle that wouldn’t drip. No luck.

I didn’t fill my tank all the way this time, but enough to let me drive for the next while. As I drove away, I glanced back. There was no trail of drips following me. I made mental note of which pump I’d used.

When I got home, I drew a rough sketch of the layout of that particular gas station and marked the pump I’d used. It must have been a leaky pump. I would avoid it in the future.

It crossed my mind that maybe I should report the leaky pump to the staff at the gas station, but they probably already knew about it, right?

As the time drew near for me to get more gas, I considered going to a different gas station. However, I wouldn’t earn as many points at a different one and this one was in a convenient location. I would try one of their other pumps. Surely not all their pumps were faulty.Faulty Fuel Line? How's my connection with God? Read the blog post on SJLittle.ca

Pulling into the gas station, I chose carefully which pump to use – not the leaky one! Even if it meant waiting for someone else to move, I was determined to use a better pump this time.

When my turn came, I went through the motions of pre-paying and selecting the type of gas I wanted. Then I lifted the pump and put it into my car. I didn’t bother trying full-speed. With the gas flowing at half-speed, I watched for any signs of trouble. Almost at once I began to see that same dripping again. I tried twisting it at different angles to no avail.

It occurred to me that maybe the problem wasn’t with the gas station or even this particular pump. Maybe the problem was with my car.

With this new revelation, I only filled my tank about halfway.

What good is a car if I can’t put gas into it? Realizing what was at stake, it was decided to take the car to the mechanics.

Sure enough, while the gas tank itself was unaffected, the hose channelling gas from the pump to the tank was rusted through.

Here I’d been blaming the gas station, but all along it was my car at fault.

Then I stop and ask, are there ways I have unwittingly done this in my own life?

As a Christian, my source, or you could say my fuel, comes from God.

In a related illustration, Jesus said: “Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” John 15:4-5 CSB

A branch is reliant on the vine for nutrients and water. In the same way, a car is reliant on the gas station to give it fuel.

If the connection between the vine and the branch is weak or broken, that branch will not receive what it needs to be strong and healthy. Likewise, when the gas pump doesn’t properly pass fuel to the car, that car won’t be able to run.

Just as I at first blamed the gas station for the faulty connection between my car and the gas pump, do I sometimes blame God (the Vine) for not filling me with what I need to produce fruit?

God never runs out of fuel to give me, nor does He have imperfections. If I am not receiving from Him what I need, is it His fault or mine? Perhaps I have a hole in my fueling system that needs looking at?

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what this looks like in my life. I know that being intentional to make time to study the Bible and pray is part of staying connected with God. I also know that taking time to sing praises and to give thanks to Him are important.

With His help, I will get better at connecting to Him so that I can receive the fuel He desires to give me.

He Suffered for Me written on shadow of a cross

 

It’s the week of Easter. The time to celebrate Jesus’ gruesome death on the cross for us, and His resurrection back to life.

It’s a time to slow down and reflect. A time to remember the very core of our Christian faith. The very event without which all of Christianity would be a waste of time.

Yet sometimes I find myself so caught up with the busyness of life that I struggle to reconnect with the significance of Easter. I’ve heard this story time and time again since childhood. It is incredibly easy to skim by it and hurry on to some more recent excitement.

Jesus died for me – great! I know that, now what?

Not so fast.

Last November, I was reminded just how much Jesus endured for my sake, while watching the TV show Survivor. I couldn’t help but see the comparison. While what the contestants endured doesn’t come close to the pain Jesus felt, it gave me a visual that renewed my awe of Jesus’ sacrifice for me.

Survivor: Season 37, Episode 10

It was a hot sunny day. The contestants prepared for a competition to win immunity, that is, a guarantee that they would not be voted off the show that evening.

The competition was explained. Each contestant would stand on a tiny perch attached to a pole, and hold handles above their shoulders – to me this resembled the shape of the cross. Anyone who let go was eliminated from the competition.

However, before the competition began, the host tempted the contestants to opt out of the competition in exchange for food – incredibly tempting to those who’ve been surviving on rice and whatever else they can scrounge up.

Praise the Lord that He didn’t give in to the temptation to say no to the suffering of the cross! He could so easily have refused to go, but, for my sake, He endured it.

Links to scenes from the competition on Youtube:

4th Individual Immunity Challenge Part 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIZUlkuWqoM

4th Individual Immunity Challenge Part 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HM6sFV_4jGI

Please note, I do not support everything portrayed in this reality TV show. Viewer discretion recommended.

A few of the contestants took the food offered, the rest got into position.

The first contestant only held on for a few minutes. Others for half an hour, their faces twisting in discomfort. They fought to endure long enough to win the prize.

On and on the competition went. Some contestants constantly shifted, hoping to relieve the pain. Others stood stock still, focusing on staying up. Some groaned and moaned. One or two, upon letting go, sank to the ground for a time before standing up to move to the side where they watched the others compete.

Finally, only two remained. One tried to convince the other to let him win, but neither would give up, despite being so utterly exhausted. At last, after 5 and a half hours of painful enduring, only one man was left standing. He was named the victor and received the reward.

Watching this competition, my mind recalled Jesus’ suffering. Not only did He endure a similar position for hours, but He was whipped nearly to death first. He was stripped naked and openly mocked. He was spat on and had a crown of thorns pressed into his skull. On top of all that, He endured the wrath due me for my sins.

He endured all that for me.

He could so easily have given up!

When Judas betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and one of Jesus’ disciples tried to fight back, Jesus said:

“Put your sword back in its place… Do you think I cannot call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”  Mat. 26:52-54 NIV

Jesus chose to endure suffering beyond what I can comprehend. Why? Because He loves me.

What a wonderful Saviour we serve.

Happy Easter – He is risen indeed!

Sometimes I think I know someone well, only to discover that there is so much more to know about them. The missionary Jim Elliot is one of those people for me.

During my growing up years, my Mom initiated a pattern of having family devotions prior to getting into our textbooks (my siblings and I were homeschooled).

Among others, one of the devotional books I recall enjoying was Hero Tales by Dave and Neta Jackson. It’s a collection of short stories about various Christians throughout history. Listening to my Mom read it, I was introduced to men and women who committed their entire lives to following Jesus. The missionary, Jim Elliot, was one of those individuals. Hearing his story, I felt intrigued and awestruck. I wanted to live for Jesus too!

Later, I began reading the Trailblazer Books by the same authors. Each Trailblazer book tells the story of a historic Christian from the viewpoint of a fictional 8-12 year old. One of the books I read was about Nate Saint, a missionary who worked closely with Jim Elliot. Through it, I began to catch some insight into the challenges Jim Elliot faced. I learned how they followed God’s call to attempt to share the hope of knowing Jesus with the Aucas, a hostile primitive tribe. In this book, I also read a watered down version of Jim’s death as a martyr in the hands of the very people he sought to serve, and of the tremendous impact of his death in drawing many Aucas to Jesus. It seemed to me I had become acquainted with this man.

Reading a bookFast forward several years to my time in Bible school. When presented with a list of biographies to read, I chose Through Gates of Splendor written by Jim Elliot’s wife, Elisabeth. In it, I got to know Jim Elliot and his team on a deeper level. Prior to reading this book, I viewed Jim as super-human, untouched by any hardships of life. This book, however, spoke of trials and discouragements along the way. The book included various quotes from Jim Elliot’s journals and letters. One of my favourites is: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”* Having read this book, I felt I had a fairly good understanding of who Jim Elliot was.

Then, at my Bible School, I found a massive green book on the top shelf of the library. It contained the journals of Jim Elliot! On more than one occasion I randomly opened the large book and read entry after entry. I felt intrusive reading his musings. How much more intimately I came to know him! I saw that he was a human, no different from me. I skimmed through his random observations about the unfamiliar culture he lived in. I read of his joyous records of mountaintop days, and his musings on gloomy discouraging days. Most of all, I saw a deep unwavering passion to follow God. I did not get very far through his journals, it being a massive book and my time at Bible school being limited. Still, what bits I read shed a beautifully honest light on the personal life of this man who chose to put Jesus first.

Despite having read books about Jim Elliot and parts of his journal, I still don’t know him super well. I would not recognize his voice, nor spot him among a crowd. If we were at the same restaurant, I would not be able to pick out his laughter among the murmur of conversation.

Then I stop and think about my relationship with God. How well do I know Him?

Since childhood, I have read books people have written about God. Many of these books were watered down or contained fictional characters alongside real ones.

Even now in my adult years I read blog posts and books and listen to sermons teaching about who God is, many of which include direct quotes from the Bible. These are good, but if I stop there, I will not know God well. Just as the children’s books portrayed only the surface of who Jim Elliot was, I risk knowing only a watered down version of who God is when I rely on what others have said about Him.

Glasses sitting on open BibleWhat a wonderful gift God gave me in His Word, the Bible! Much like Jim Elliot’s journals, reading the Bible gives me incredible insight into who God is. Some parts of the Bible tell the story of what God has done, while other areas reveal the very thoughts of God.  I see how He was jealous for Israel and grieved at their rebellion. I learn of His incomprehendably great love for me. I read of His desire to be known. All sixty-six books of the Bible were given to me that I might know God and thus know how to live a life pleasing to Him. How critical it is for me to read and study the Bible, being mindful to keep each part in context.  

Speaking of studying God’s Word, the Bible tells of those in Berea when Paul began teaching them about Jesus:

“The people here were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since they received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”  Acts 17:11 CSB

Yet even here I cannot stop if I truly want to know God.

Jesus criticized others saying:

“You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, and yet they testify about Me. But you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.” John 5:39-40 CSB

While I must value the Bible, and indeed I read from it practically every day, it is not the sitting down and reading the verses that save me. It is Jesus who saves me.

Man thinking or praying while holding BibleBut how do I get to know Jesus? By reading the Bible I learn the truth of who Jesus is and about His power to save me. Then I must take Him at His Word and believe what He says. I must take time to talk with God, to share my heart with Him, and – through His Word and prayer – to learn to know His heart.

But then the question comes. How much do I really want to know God? I am privileged to live in a house with several Bibles, and through the internet, I have free access to more translations than I can count, yet do I take the time to really dig in? Is knowing Jesus a priority in my life?

 

Writing this post has been a challenge for me, not just because of the weightiness of the topic, but also because of how it convicts me. Some days I read my Bible simply to check it off my to-do list and move on. I don’t always take time to stop and reflect on what God would have me learn about Him through the passage.

Since writing the draft of this post, I did make some time to randomly sit down and prayerfully read the first chapter of Colossians. The very next day, when I felt discouraged, God used one of those verses to encourage me by reminding me that He has given me the help I need. Yes, taking time to seek God through His Word and prayer is incredibly valuable.

Will you join me in seeking to be men and women who know God deeply?

 

*Quote from Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot (2012), Page 155

Related links:

References:

Elliot, Elisabeth (2012). Through Gates of Splendor. Authentic Media Limited.

A powerful but easy to read book. I highly recommend this biography to any adult who takes their relationship with Jesus seriously! (For further reading on Jim Elliot, I recommend reading Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot. It is a slower read. It follows Jim Elliot’s life more closely with more direct quotes from his journal entries and letters.)

Elliot, Jim (1978). The Journals of Jim Elliot (E. Elliot, Ed.). Fleming H. Revell Company.

(I believe this is the book I read, however, I don’t know the publisher or year of the copy I read.) Reading this incredibly thick book is slow and it is sometimes challenging to understand, however, there is incredible richness in being able to step into the mind of a man of faith who has gone before us. Note, this book contains mature subject matter.

Jackson, Dave, & Jackson, Neta (1997). Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes(Vol. II). Bethany House.

A beautiful devotional book which shares an intro and three short stories about various Christians from distant past to modern day and from missionaries to everyday Christians. Excellent for reading as a family. I highly recommend it!

Jackson, Dave, & Jackson, Neta (1997). Fate of the Yellow Woodbee: Nate Saint (Vol. 24, Trailblazer Books). Bethany House.

I highly recommend the Trailblazer Books for children aged 10-12. A few of the books contain somewhat more mature subject matter than others, so having a parent pre-read the books for more sensitive children may be recommended. If you are older than 12, but have never heard of these historic Christians, then I recommend them to you as a light easy intro to these men and women of faith.