True Confessions

true confessions

We have all seen the “True Confessions” magazines that have been around seemingly forever, quite often when one is waiting to check out in the grocery store line (or course, now they have been replaced by any magazine with a Kardashian on the cover). Today I will share my version of “True Confessions.” Being raised in a Southern Baptist Church in the South, being a Southern Baptist pastor for 25 years, and a conservative Presbyterian pastor for the last ten, there are some things that you just do not share publicly, but today I will step out on thin ice and bare my soul. From the time that I was a preschooler…I have hated Vacation Bible School. Can we still be friends?

[If you loved Bible School as a child, we have no quarrel. These are my True Confessions]

It was not that I didn’t like studying the Bible. I always have. I was fascinated by the Old Testament stories of God’s people, and the New Testament stories of Jesus, His Apostles, and the early church, but I hated to see that week in June arrive on the calendar every year. I suppose the heart of my dislike revolved around “craft time.” Let’s just say my gift “for the arts” would never be confused with the gifts possessed by Rembrandt, van Gogh, or even Charlie the second grader. My drawn pictures, my Tempera paint portraits, my Popsicle stick creations, my clothespin décor, my (just fill in the blank with anything my teachers wanted me to create) were nothing more than “vessels of wrath created for destruction.” If they were part of a Cecil B. de Mille film, they would be found on the cutting room floor. It…was…misery…for…me.

Then, as I got older the people in Nashville (that Baptist Mecca were the Sunday School Board was located) got this great idea that the older children would enjoy quoting free verse like some kind of liturgy (maybe they thought if it worked for Maynard G. Krebs, it would work for them). The teacher would say something, and we would respond. It was very bad poetry, plus George (his last name will not be written but everyone at McDonald Memorial Baptist Church will know who I am talking about because he was one of our favorites) just could never say “degradation” correctly. And, then, we would get tickled, and laugh…and then we would be lectured. It happened every day…all week…like clockwork.

But, for me, worst of all, was the program on Friday night where everyone was supposed to show all the things that we had learned that week to all comers. We would be paraded up to the front of the auditorium much like steers at a cattle auction, and sing a song, or chant free verse (with “degradation” not said correctly). Of course, the adults loved it. They snapped lots of pictures, and some even had the 8 millimeter movie cameras filming it for all of posterity. For me, however, when that night was over, and we went home (and I threw all of my creations in the garbage can), I would breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that for the next twelve months I would not have to worry about creating anything, or chanting the word, “degradation.”

I realize looking back that God could use even Vacation Bible School as a tool to prepare children’s hearts for hearing the Gospel (He can do all His holy will), but I confess (True Confessions, you know) that the sound that made me happiest as a child was hearing Bro. Burks or Bro. Tony, or whoever the pastor may have been at that time, say that glorious word, “Amen,” at the end of his closing prayer on Family Night.

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