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Ryan Watkins Photography
My Faith
2016-10-21-Fall-Colors-Dover-21

 

This is another personal post where you get to know more about the man behind the camera.

I’m a Christian. This means that I believe that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God, and are deserving of God’s punishment. God did not leave us in despair though. He was merciful. God has sent his only begotten son into the world, who lived a perfect holy life, was crucified on the cross, died, buried, rose again, and will come again to judge the quick and the dead. I believe that all who take hold of the righteousness of Christ by faith alone will be saved. I encourage those who read this who are not Christians to repent of their sins and to believe in Christ alone as their savior. I also adhere to the ecumenical creeds of the Christian church. More specifically I adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith which I believe to be the best summation of what scripture teaches. I am a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. This post (arguably being my most personal thus far) recounts how I have came to where I am now faith wise.

When I was in elementary school I attended saint Cecilia Catholic School. At this time I had a vague understanding of God but was not yet saved. My grandparents took me to a country gospel revival festival the summer between my fifth and six grade years of school. Between the musical performances there was a gospel presentation and I believe this is where I got saved. A few months later I asked my mom if we could go to church with grandma and grandpa. She was on board. Her and I started going to the Church of Daniel’s Band (a non-denominational church with its roots in Methodism) where my grandparents attended. My dad would later start attending the church with us and both my parents would eventually become regenerate thru the preaching of the word their. The Church of Daniel’s Band reminds me much of the church Charles Spurgeon was saved at (that he recounts in his Autobiography). Its roots were in the Methodist tradition (with emphasis on Arminian soteriology and human perfectionism) but over time other influences also gained a strong hold as well. Various teachings familiar to those in independent fundamental baptist circles such as dispensationalism, King James Onlyism, and teetotaling were also evident there. The preaching was topical and usually revolved around a handful of specific topics. I attended the church throughout middle and high school and am thankful for the Godly people God had providentially put in my life at that time.

After High School I moved to Greenfield, Massachusetts to study at the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. During the first month of living in Massachusetts I visited a variety of churches. I admitabley at this time was not very familiar with much doctrine outside the very basic tenants of the Christian faith. I eventually ended up at the Faith Baptist Church in Greenfield, Massachusetts and attended their the time I was at Hallmark. Sitting under the preaching at this church was life changing for me. This was the first time I was ever under expositional preaching (where the preacher preaches through scripture instead of just picking various topics). This was also were I first learned of the doctrines of grace or reformed soteriology (commonly referred to as “Calvinism” which is a term I’m not very fond of). This church also introduced me to some of the great theologians and preachers of the past such as Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon.

After graduating from the Hallmark Institute of Photography I moved back to my home town of Clare, Michigan and started attending The Church of Daniel’s Band again. About a year later I would end up in a Bible study with friends from a variety of theological backgrounds. One of them would eventually convince me of the doctrines of grace. After this I would start studying reformed theology. I came across various facebook groups and podcasts that were helpful and helped me see the importance of holding to one of the historic reformed confessions. I also read the book Fundamentalism and American Culture by George Marsden. This book helped me see how the various doctrines I grew up believing originated quite recently in church history and how the reformed churches which were confessional stayed true to the faith throughout the modernist fundamentalist controversy. In mid 2015 I decided to step down from the various positions I held at the Church of Daniel’s Band (Sunday School Superintendent, Sunday School Teacher, and maintaining the church’s website) and started looking for a confessional reformed church. Through a variety of google searches I eventually found a church finder through a website called 9marks. This lead me to Christ Covenant Church in Midland, Michigan. At this point the church was part of the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America). I started attending there. From sitting under the sound preaching at this church I started to get a better understanding of what scripture taught and what the reformed tradition was all about. At this point in my life I was considering moving but after a very convicting sermon in May 2016 about the importance of church membership I decided to stay and join the church. After membership classes in November 2016 I would join the church and become a communicant member of Christ Covenant Church. In 2017 Christ Covenant Church would change denominations to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC).

My faith is one of the reasons that I don’t work on Sunday. I believe that God’s moral law (summarized in the ten commandments) is still binding for us today. The Lord’s day is intended for works of necessity and mercy as the Westminster Shorter Catechism states. I try to set aside the Lord’s Day for attending church, reading theological books, and therefore don’t work on this day.

I am incredibly thankful for the people God has put in my life that have helped shape my faith. I am also thankful for the gift of salvation He has given to his people. I am also thankful for the ordinary means of grace in which he uses to sanctify his church and that there is a church within driving distance which remains true to the reformed faith.

 

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