I’m always interested to hear how people describe the Bible.
In a Huffington Post article from a few years ago Jeffery Small declared, “I fear that an insistence on a literal or historical reading of the Bible will ultimately lead to the irrelevance of Christianity in our society. By throwing off the shackles of having to believe in the historicity of the Bible, we are free to interpret the stories as a testament to the religious experiences of people from a different age”
While the author and I would disagree about whether a historical reading will lead to the irrelevance of Christianity in our society (I would argue the exact opposite is true), I do agree that discarding the historicity of Scripture allows one to freely interpret the stories however one likes. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Moreover, it ignores a crucial fact that cannot be escaped: the Bible claims to be a document rooted in actual history.
Spring Folly is northern Ontario’s longest-running Christian youth retreat. Thousands of teenagers have attended over the years. Maybe you were one of them. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Spring Folly:
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of how Jesus walked on the water, or about how he calmed the storm, healed the blind man of Jericho and turned the water into wine.
How about the story of how Jesus curses a boy who bumps into him, causing him to fall down dead? You’re not familiar with that one?
All five stories are told in ancient documents about Jesus. The first four come from the biographies of Jesus in the Bible (The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John respectively). The last one is from a document called The Infancy Gospel of Thomas.
I’ve always had a fascination for biblical archaeology. I think this stems from both my love of the Bible and my secret desire to be like Indiana Jones. (I know, I know… archaeology not nearly as glamorous as Indie portrayed).
I like to follow the latest archaeological finds in Bible lands and learn how they inform and confirm Scripture. A couple years ago, my parents gave me the Archaeological Study Bible for Christmas. It’s a wealth of information and I highly recommend it.
Another resource that I have appreciated over the years is ABR (the Associates for Biblical Research – biblearcheaology.org). They’re a group of Bible scholars and archaeologists who hold a high view of Scripture, and who are dedicated to demonstrating the historical reliability of the Bible through archaeological and biblical research. I used to follow their “Current Events” section regularly, until it stopped being updating. Since I followed a number of other biblical archaeological sites already, I reached out to ABR to see if they would be interested in having me update their current events page on a regular basis. To my surprise, Scott Lanser, ABR’s Director contacted me and, after a lengthy discussion and seeing some a sample of my work, agreed to allow me to volunteer in this way. (So in the interest of full-disclosure, I write for the website I’m about to promote.)
Years ago, I read Max Lucado’s book, God Came Near. I highly recommend it as a great way to prepare your heart for Christmas. You can find a taste of it here. It inspired me to write this song. Since I don’t have time to do a proper recording of it (I’ll save that for another year), allow me to share the lyrics. I wish you a blessed Christmas as you celebrate the birth of the One who is the Hope of the nations.
Think of something Jesus said about grace while he was on earth. Anything. Stumped? That’s because, so far as we know, he didn’t mention grace at all during his ministry here. Seriously, nowhere in Scripture does it record that he even uttered the word while he walked the planet.
This is surprising, seeing as the church makes so much of grace.
It has caused me to wonder why didn’t Jesus talk about grace more? I think there are some compelling answers to that question.
It’s been several months since I’ve been able to post to my website. As many of you know, it’s been a time of considerable change for our family. We recently moved from Directing Camp Aush-Bik-Koong to serving as a pastor/full-time worker at Island Bible Chapel. This meant a move from Manitoulin Island to St. Joseph Island. The past few months have been filled with the move and renovations on a “fix-er-upper” we purchased in Richards Landing.
I’m looking forward to resuming my blogging in the near future. For now, I thought I’d share with you my sermon series from Teen Co-ed Camp this summer at Camp ABK. It was called Reasons To Believe. In the morning I shared reasons why I believe; in the evenings we worked our way through the Gospel of John, chapter three.
Feel free to download them HERE.
As we begin another season of ministry of Aush-Bik-Koong Bible Camp, I’ve been reflecting on the many previous years, some of which I experienced (having first come to Camp ABK at the ripe age of three as a staff kid), and some of which I know only through the photos and stories I read in the archives. As the Director, I have the privilege of going through the old files from time to time. Rather than hoard this knowledge to myself, I thought I’d share some of it with you. See how many of the following 12 fascinating facts about Camp ABK’s history you know. For those wanting a more complete history of the work at Camp Aush-Bik-Koong, you can find it HERE.
And now…onto the list:
I knew my family tree grew with less-than-reputable “limbs” when a search of the Canadian archives for a great grandfather revealed they had information on him in a file called, “Court Martials of the First World War.”
Or take this little gem of family history, from the “100 Years Ago Today” flashback section of the Dec. 6, 2010 edition of the Brantford Expositor: “Norman Windle, 19 years old, suspected of entering the residence of Mr. Frank Wilson, on Sunday afternoon, was allowed to go (without charges) in the police court this morning. The young man’s home environment was taken into consideration.”
Seriously, I can go back four generations to find stories of my great-great-great-great grandfather who lived for his craving of liquor and was caught by his son trying to put his daughter-in-law on a hot stove because she refused to give him money for a “bottle.”
I tell these few stories, not to air my family’s dirty laundry, but to make the point that I come from a long, and infamous line of angry, alcoholic people.
For a time, it seemed my fate was to grow up in a home similar to that of my dad, with an angry, alcoholic father. He was walking the same road his father had walked, until he met someone who changed his life.
In 1973, my dad met Jesus, had his sins forgiven and experienced God’s love. And the Windle family tree has never been the same. After my dad came to faith, Jesus worked his transforming power throughout my family over the next several years, with my mom, my grandma, and various relatives coming to Christ too. I remember praying for my grandfather’s salvation for years. One day, I came home to find my dad in tears on the telephone. I thought someone had died. When I asked my mom what was wrong she said, “Nothing dear, your Grandpa just became a Christian.” Years later at my grandfather’s funeral, it was said, “If you’ve come hear looking for the funeral of Jack Windle, that perfect husband and father, you’ve come to the wrong place. But if you’ve come here looking for the funeral of Jack Windle, that angry, alcoholic man, you’re too late…Jesus got to him first.”
You see, this transformation meant that I was raised in a home that was so different than many Windle’s before me. My house was filled the love of both my earthly father and my heavenly Father.
The more I look at my family tree, the more I’m amazed by grace!
Grace…it’s God’s unmerited favour….his mercy and love and kindness, leading us to repentance and salvation. Unearned. Undeserved. Unimaginably beyond compare.
Grace… it’s a theme, like a drumbeat, echoing through the pages of Scripture:
“For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men . . .” (Titus 2:11)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8)
“[We] are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24)
Grace…it’s what caused a former persecutor of Christians to use superlatives to describe it: abundant (Romans 5:17), surpassing (2 Cor. 9:14), glorious (Eph. 1:6), incomparably rich (Eph. 2:7).
Grace…it’s what caused a former slave trader to sing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
Grace…it’s what causes this grateful Windle to stand in awe the incredible transformation in my family.
So yes, I did air some of my family’s dirty laundry, but I did so celebrating the fact that the grace of God has washed many of us filthy Windles clean.
For the Record:
Titus 3:4-7 – But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
I’ve noticed over the past few years the growing trend of Believers claiming to be “Red Letter Christians.” Some of these are actually aligned with the movement (redletterchristians.org), others just have this vague sense that claiming such means they’re trying to follow Jesus more faithfully.
While it is encouraging to see people taking seriously the teaching of Jesus (all Christ-Followers should!), there are several concerning aspects to the “Red Letter Christian” movement, most prominently their claim to be committed to “first and foremost doing what Jesus said” and “especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount.” My concern is that this elevates the teachings of Jesus above other teachings in the Bible, thus creating a “canon-within-the-canon” of Scripture.
So I’ve decided that I’m a “Black Letter Christian.”