Hunt camp journals, Pictionary and Jesus

I recently returned from some time away in the woods.  The annual trek to the family deer camp is a much anticipated event in my life.  It is something that I have fond memories of doing with family, relatives and kin for decades.  

As always, one of the highlights is the re-telling and remembering of some epic tales of the past.  Reliving those times, and retelling those stories are meaningful.  

My uncle has now taken it upon himself to document some of the ongoings in a hunt camp journal.  He often records the people involved and the outcomes of each day.  Sometimes an added reflection about the past and those who have passed make it into the pages.  These stories and reflections help create and re-create the moments of the past. As such, the hunting camp journal is like a picture-book of memory. 

A family game that I played growing up was called Pictionary.  In the game, one person on each team would need to draw a picture that was to describe a certain word, phrase or thing.  Teams would compete against each other to see who could guess the correct answer first.  Oftentimes, whoever had the best artist in the game would win.

Why is this important?  It’s been said that we live in a culture that embraces story, and whoever has the best story wins the day.  

One of the things that I appreciate about the gospel writers is their ability to give us a discerning look at Jesus.  Through their human lens of interpretation and being guided by the Spirit, they began to write a story.  Mark, Matthew, Luke and John each recount vivid images, moments and life changing sayings of Jesus.  Their unique story of Him is powerful.  

Essentially what we have are four first-hand, eye witness accounts of the God Almighty in the flesh, Jesus of Nazareth!  (Sorry Evan, you’ll need to sit down).

Primarily then, the gospels could be referred to as ancient biography, or a narrative that is centred upon the life of One specific Person.  

To help explain the importance of this, allow me to share a thought from a professor of mine:

“For the first Christians, God’s communication with humanity was centred, not in a text, but in a person: Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel texts of the New Testament were authoritative at first only in the secondary sense that they allowed their readers to see and hear Jesus. Christianity is grounded in the basic conviction that God was acting in Christ to rescue the world. Since Jesus himself spoke, both in words and in symbolic acts, this divine intervention in Jesus must include an element of communication. So it is in Jesus that we find the centre of God’s speech in the world, and it is in hearing the earthly Jesus that early Christians believed they heard God’s voice.”  Dr. Ian W. Scott 

What the point? Simply this: we need to return to the words and deeds of Jesus.

The term ‘recalibration’ means to calibrate (something) again’.  From planes, trains, and automobiles, to business, charities and churches, ALL things need to be recalibrated from time to time.  If 2020 has done one thing is this: it has increased the need to recalibrate exponentially.  

Many pastors and church leaders are knee-deep in the process of evaluating and forecasting the ongoing impact of COVID.  What will the financial trajectory look like and how are we able to sustain things related to the operations of the church are being discussed.  Everything is on the table and budgets are being looked at like customers walking into a barber shop.  How much are we cutting off?

From ministry funds to payroll lines, everything is on the table as budgets are reduced across the board. I have heard that the suggestion is to take another 5-20% off of your 2020 year end. That will make financial operations very tight and difficult for many organizations, charities, churches and employees.

For some church leaders, pastors and staff, this may mean the end of a job, or the beginning of another career. Bi-vocational ministry and part-time employment may be the road-map for many clergy in our nation. If you have been paying attention to the landscape of Christianity in Canada, this ought not to surprise you. In my previous blog, I talked about some of those facts and the biggest demographic missing from the church.

You can read that blog by clicking here: 

https://joelholtz.com/2020/01/23/where-have-all-the-christians-gone/

Now, with the ongoing impact of COVID, the decline and vacancy issue in churches has red-lined.

However, in the midst of it all, I remain positive.  I think it was Winston Churchill who said, ‘never waste a good crisis’.  Now, I am not saying that the COVID crisis has been good.  But I do not want to waste it.  Here’s how.

At Calvary church in Lindsay, I am taking our leadership team and congregation through a ‘Recalibration’ process.  I have written and put together a Leadership Recalibration booklet that addresses the model, methods and messages of the church.  

The booklet leads us to ask and evaluate the traditional structure, focus and communication of our church in the past.  We look at what the church has communicated to its congregants, culture and community over the years.  We then compare and contrast our results with the first-century believers and the One who kick-started it all.  Right!  Remember that guy?  


Furthermore, we will dive deeper into the first-hand, eyewitness accounts of the gospel writers and ask ourselves to compare our current theological understandings (God-talk) with the Biblical words and deeds attributed to Jesus.   

You can see where all this is going, and what my new favourite word is: recalibrate.

Let me end with this.  I feel that the recalibration process is in full swing for many.  Whether you are an individual or group of people, this past year has most likely initiated some sort of recalibration in your personal life and family.  I hear you.  You are not alone.

I encourage you to join me and others as we embrace the recalibration process back to Jesus.  Here’s why.

The New Testament is an affirmation that Jesus is the centrepiece of God’s communication to us.  Therefore, all our our ‘God-talk’ and way of being human needs to centred on, based in and reflective of His words and deeds.  Jesus expressed and embodied the will and actions of God the Father.  We are we replicating?       

Second, Jesus needs to be the centrepiece of our communication to the world.  Now more than ever, the world needs to hear and be invited to ‘Come’ to the One who makes right everything that is wrong.  Jesus brings God’s eternal, abundant, satisfying, nourishment and wellbeing of life to anyone who believes.  Jesus says ‘Come’.  What are we saying? 

Third, we need to do so because Jesus is the centrepiece of God’s Creation and new creation.  Jesus is God’s eternal light, life, and love that will shine and lead the way for Creation and His own forever.  Jesus is the only leader and source that is pure, just, faithful and true.  Are we basing humanities hope and future in an alternate source, authority figure or governmental agenda?     

I believe the Bible affirms that the more you get to know Jesus, the more likely you are to be like Him.  Perhaps there are some good stories, memories and moments awaiting for you in the picture-book journal of Jesus known as the gospels.    

I pray that you will find Him and make Him your centrepiece today.  

Maranatha!  

  1. https://ianwscott.blog/2020/01/07/the-idea-of-inspiration-and-the-new-testament/

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