Sharing the Eternal Flame

It was a cold November evening in 1989 when I kicked the snow off my boots on West Street in Brantford, Ontario, and entered a world of warmth that would last forever. I had been invited to attend my first Precept Bible study run by Tom and Jane Hart. That first Precept Bible study ignited a flame to understand and apply God’s Word in the way the human authors intended it to be understood. “One who pays attention to the Word will find good, and blessed is one who trusts in the Lord” (Prov. 16:20)

That first Precept Bible study ignited a flame to understand and apply God’s Word in the way the human authors intended it to be understood.

That desire led me to pursue a master’s in theology at Heritage Seminary, where I was exposed to Greek and Hebrew training for the first time. Certainly, knowledge of the original languages allows for deeper insight; it’s been compared to watching a colour TV versus a black and white set. However, even with that training, I still find myself resorting back to the basics of biblical interpretation that I learned through Precept. These being, question the text with the “5Ws” and an “H” (who, what, where, when, why, and how); take note of keywords such as terms dealing with time, geography, recipients, and repeated words; allow the Bible to interpret itself, and context is king. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).


Once we understand the bases of Biblical interpretation, it’s exciting and mandated to pass on the Good News. I had the privilege of directing the youth ministry at Fellowship Baptist Church in Burford and assisting with community youth outreach throughout the Brantford and Brant County area using Precept materials. As part of this ministry, I took the youth to the first of many Transform Youth conferences sponsored by Precept at Jackson Point, Ontario.  There we investigated “Dirty Jobs,” where we examined Micah 6:8, “O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” It was beautiful to see eyes light up as we investigated how this verse fit within the greater context of Scripture. It was also there I met Mark Sheldrake and began a lifelong friendship. I happily assisted with the rest of the Ontario Transform conferences over the years as we shared with youth how they could draw closer to Christ through the Word of God using the Inductive Bible Study Method. “They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11).


Life-long learning is always something I’ve believed in wholeheartedly. As my 35-year career as a full-time elementary school teacher and university professor came to an end, I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing the Inductive Bible Study Method with adults through online classes. Together we have gleaned truths from 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Peter, Matthew, Mark, and the Sermon on the Mount. Currently, we are working our way through the Gospel of John, and I’m looking forward to studying Job with the Precept team in November.


“Through Your precepts, I get understanding; Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it to keep Your righteous rules. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to Your word! Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord, and teach me Your rules. I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget Your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from Your precepts. Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I incline my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the end” (Psalm 119:104-112).


God communicates so much to us through His Word and digging deep within His word gives us the substantial roots we need to flourish until He comes again. Living in this fallen world presents many challenges and hardships, and it is essential that we’re adequately grounded in His Word. “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Dont be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you” (2 Tim. 4:3-5). 


I truly believe that the inductive approach to Bible study helps us strengthen and deepen our roots in Truth so we will flourish in times of upheaval. No matter what your age or circumstances, I would encourage you to take advantage of the many opportunities Precept offers to strengthen your roots in God’s Word. I love the fellowship and opportunity we can share as a worldwide body of Christ to study God’s Word through online learning. To those I have had the opportunity to study with, thank you for sharing. And to those I haven’t met yet, I look forward to sharing the eternal flame when discovering new truths with you at some point in the future.


Lord’s Blessings,

Rick McCleary

Precept Online Bible Study Leader, Burford, Ontario

Check out all of the upcoming online Workshops for you to establish yourself in His Word and make disciples. 


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