April 30, 2013

Were not our hearts burning within us while He [Jesus] was speaking to us [and] explaining the Scriptures? Luke 24:32

Shutterfly, an online site for personalized photo products and services, and Eastern National, a not-for-profit association which operates bookstores in over 150 national parks, have teamed up to offer a gift to park visitors. For the next year, those who make a purchase of $10 or more at participating Eastern National bookstores (check here for locations) or at its online store can receive a voucher for a free 20-page, 8×8, National Parks StoryTelling™ style photo book from Shutterfly.

Such a deal!

And it’s a deal for the parks as well. Eastern National donates its profits from these operations to aid the interpretive, scientific and historical mission of the National Park Service and its other public trust partners. Since its founding in 1947, Eastern National has donated aver $105 million to the National Park Service.

I have to admit I’m a big scrapbooker (30 volumes and counting!), and I enjoy looking at the photos and reminiscing. I’m not into the fancy stuff–I’m more a slap-it-in-a-binder-with-some-captions-and-the-date kind of person–but I know  that many of you out there are much more creative.

But I enjoy occasionally pulling out the albums and reliving when our daughter was a baby, and also our vacations. There’s always an incident or some story attached to each memory. Sometimes they’re funny or cute (She was so adorable in that outfit!”), and sometimes they’re not (“Remember how grouchy you were when we were on this trail?”)

The thing that many people forget is that the Bible is a story. Oh, I don’t mean a fictional tale–although many believe it is, to their folly (Psalm 14:1). Just for a moment, consider some evidence for the reliability of the Scriptures:

–The more copies of an ancient manuscript are found, the better. The New Testament has thousands more copies than some other ancient manuscripts whose authenticity we wouldn’t think to question, such as Tetralogies by Plato, and Homer‘s The Iliad.

–The closer the copies are to the originals in time, the less likely they include errors. There is only a 35-year gap for the New Testament, as opposed to  Caesar’s War Commentaries (900 years), for example.

–Comparison of the manuscripts of three original ancient works, showing differences between them and copies that would affect the reader’s understanding, found  that the New Testament had only a 0.2% distortion, in contrast to much higher percentages for The Iliad and the Hindu Mahabharata.

(For further information, check out Dr. Don Bierle’s book, Surprised by Faith, and go to this Google search for  “William G. Arvan” + bibliology to read a pdf on the doctrine of the Scriptures. And P.S. to classics scholar–and brother–Al: I know you know way more about all this than me!).

As for the story part? The Bible is the wonderful chronicle of God’s interaction with us humans, right from the beginning and extending into eternity. It is, above all else, a story of love. “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4: 9, 10).

The Bible is God’s scrapbook to you, lovingly put together just for you (free of charge–such a deal!), demonstrating over and over again how much He loves and cares for you. It’s a book to which you can return time and time again to remember all that He has done for and given to you, and to bask in what He has in store for you in the future (Jeremiah 29:11).

This is why I write this blog, to tell this incredible love story in a variety of ways, using God’s creation in our national parks as a backdrop. My feelings are summed up in this hymn, which has been running through my head as I’ve been writing this post (click here to sing along!):

I love to tell the story
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love;
I love to tell the story,
Because I know ’tis true,
It satisfies my longings
As nothing else can do.

Chorus:  I love to tell the story!
’Twill be my theme in glory–
To tell the old, old story
Of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story
More wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies
Of all my golden dreams;
I love to tell the story,
It did so much for me,
And that is just the reason
I tell it now to thee.


  1. Sara Harless says:

    My church just finished reading The Story, 31 weeks of the Bible start to finish, re-told by Max Lucado. It’s filled with liars, cheats, murderers, philanderers, rage-aholics and bad girls. And those were the good people! I’m thankful to God that He loves us when we are at our worst and doesn’t ever let go…

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