Thinking Out Loud

May 15, 2016

Open But Cautious

There’s a phrase that I think I first heard used in some Christian and Missionary Alliance settings about the gifts of The Holy Spirit: “Open, but cautious.” Simply put, it represents people who are open to Spirit-led expressions of faith and doctrine but with the caveat of keeping their eyes wide open (or perhaps having one eye on scripture).

While my wife and I don’t attend weekly worship in a Charismatic or Assemblies of God-type of setting, I would say I am very much onside doctrinally inasmuch as I (a) am not a cessationist1, (b) believe in the limitless power of God to do the things people count as impossible2, and (c) believe that the things of God should touch our emotions as well as our minds3.

That said, when info about this camp came across my Twitter feed last night, I found it disturbing:

Signs and Wonders Camp

As regular readers know, I’m a huge believer in summer camp ministry. Find a camp, make sure it’s affiliated with Christian Camping International or Christian Camp & Conference Association or your denomination; and then send the kids as soon as they’re able to be away from home for a few nights. (I even wrote recently about some long-term benefits to be gained, apart from the spiritual immersion value.)

I also recognize that in Children’s Ministry (or KidMin as its now often referred to) there needs to be a point in the curriculum where you emphasize the distinctives of your doctrine, and if your kids are being raised in a Charismatic church, you want them to both have an education and have experiences with different facets of that environment.

So, I like Pentecostals, like camping and like KidMin. So what’s the problem?

Open, but cautious.

I’m not sure; I would just rather it was an adventure camp, or a horsemanship camp; or if you must title it after the teaching theme, a discipleship camp or a Christian leadership camp. I’d rather pin the emphasis on the giver rather than the gifts. I would prefer to focus on the normal Christian life rather than the occasions where God breaks in with the supernatural. I also don’t want to raise expectations for kids about the whens, wheres, whys and hows of sign gifts that could lead to disappointment.

Maybe I’m just a lousy Charismatic. Maybe I’m not attuned enough to the language and culture of some of today’s popular doctrinal streams.

Hopefully I am a realistic Christian who still believes in the ability of God to do the impossible; but with the awareness that the thing that makes the exceptional the exceptional is that it doesn’t happen every day.  So parents, would you send your kid to Signs and Wonders camp?

Signs and Wonders IHOP

1 I have actually never owned a Cessna, nor do I have a pilot’s license. More seriously, I do not see the end of the apostolic age or the completion of the canon of scripture signalling the end of certain gifts.
2 This said, my faith can be as weak as the next guy’s in certain situations, not to mention a trademark Canadian pessimism that at times permeates my prayer life.
3 The things of God should touch our hearts and our emotions, but often they don’t. Spiritual complacency and apathy are always crouching at the door, and when a preacher tries to rev up an audience into emotional frenzy, I am often the first to want to shut down completely.

June 15, 2010

Send This Boy To Summer Camp

A few days ago I mentioned that we were in a “fund raising” mode for our oldest son, Chris, 19.   He’s going to be — for the third year in a row — spending ten weeks working at Camp Iawah, an interdenominational camp in Ontario, Canada.  Much of his work will be centered around the kitchen, where this will be this be the seventh in a growing resumé of culinary accomplishments.  (This year he is also going to be doing some technical assistance in ‘Prime Time,’ the daily chapel program for campers.) He returns to second year electrical engineering in the fall, with fairly high tuition, textbook and residential expenses.

The work week is about 50-hours; it’s a six-day week with a single day off.   The base pay amounts to $3/hour.   (If this were some other camps we’re aware of, they would pay him just about anything to get good kitchen help!)    With previous commitments from people, we’re hoping today to raise an additional $3,000.   (I figure if Jon Acuff can raise $60,000 in a day, this ought to be a no-brainer, even for a smaller blog like ours.)

If you’re interested, go to this page, and click on the second last link (in blue) that says download CISS donor form.   You’d be designating your donation to Chris Wilkinson.   You must use the form for this to credit his summer staff account.

American readers of Thinking Out Loud who want to contribute to this may use a credit card (you will be billed in Canadian dollars which means potentially your donation will go farther) while Canadian donors will receive a valid income tax receipt and may use credit card or cheques.  (We still spell it the British way up here!)  You must complete and mail or fax the form to the camp, and if you’re giving by cheque, do not write Chris’ name on the cheque itself, just on the form.   (A quick e-mail letting us know what you’re doing or considering would help, too; so that we can keep in touch over the summer with what your donations are accomplishing.   E-mail: epistle[at] )

In the event his donations reach the pay limit, any overage will go toward other staff members facing a similar need; many of who don’t have parents with an international blog readership.

Thanks for considering this opportunity to make an investment in many young lives through Camp Iawah.

Create a free website or blog at