Saturday, October 12, 2013

Oct. 12, 2013, column:

Former Amarilloan produces study Bible

By Mike Haynes
            If you looked on top of night stands next to beds in this part of the world or watched people walking in and out of churches in the region, you’d see names like Scofield, Ryrie and MacArthur on the spines of a lot of Bibles.
            Of course, those men didn’t write the Bible. Guys like Moses and Paul did that. But Cyrus Scofield published a “study Bible” in 1909 that included his commentary alongside the actual scriptures. In 1978, Charles Ryrie did the same, and John MacArthur contributed his version in 1997. Those preachers and theologians offered their wisdom in attempts to help Bible readers understand what they were reading.
Jud Wilhite
            One of the best study Bibles is “The Student Bible,” first published in 1986 with notes and commentary by two of my favorite Christian writers, Philip Yancey and Tim Stafford. Aimed at a young audience, the Student Bible has made navigating the Word of God easier for a couple of generations of seekers.
            Now there’s a study Bible with a name on the spine that’s familiar to many in Amarillo. It’s the 2013 “Uncensored Truth Bible for New Beginnings.” The pastor and writer offering his insights on its pages is Jud Wilhite, a product of Amarillo schools and of Paramount Terrace Christian Church, now called Hillside Christian Church.
            Wilhite still has family in Amarillo but for the past few years has been pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas – no, not New Mexico, but Sin City itself.
            He has several books to his credit, including “Stripped: Uncensored Grace on the Streets of Vegas,” and it’s no surprise that he prefers to call his current home “Grace City.” Wilhite has told his own story many times, that of being a rebellious teenager who got into trouble but found his way to God through family and his Amarillo church.
            After college and serving on the Paramount Terrace church staff, he was called to a glitzy venue where he now oversees four Las Vegas campuses, an online community and a prison ministry while turning out books and now a Bible.
            The “Uncensored Truth” Bible is the New Living Translation, which Wilhite likes because it’s “readable.” He would be the first to tell you that the actual words of God’s prophets and apostles are the most important part of these 1,177 pages, but our former Amarillo neighbor has written a 32-page introduction that 21st century readers can relate to.
Not that references to actor Hugh Jackman’s physical training or the Tonight Show’s on-the-street interviews are necessary to understand the Bible, but Wilhite’s informal writing style is a magnet that might lead people into the meat of God’s Word.
            He offers tips on figuring out what’s literal and what’s figurative in the Bible and how to keep things in context. He’s like C.S. Lewis in that he is intellectually bright but able to relate to regular people’s lives.
            In nine “Uncensored Truth” sections, Wilhite writes about his own experiences and what God has taught him. “Save Me From Myself” recalls a recent visit to the Amarillo house where he grew up and looking at the floor in his old bedroom: “That was where I got on my knees one night alone and asked God to help me face the addiction in my life.”
            As a Las Vegas pastor, Wilhite interacts with people from all walks of life who face challenges they can’t just leave in Vegas. He knows they can leave them with Jesus, though, if the message can get through to them. This Bible is one way God can reach their hearts.
Lori and Jud Wilhite

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            Jud Wilhite’s wife, Lori, also from Amarillo, has her own 2013 book out. She and Brandi Wilson, a Nashville pastor’s spouse, wrote “Leading and Loving It: Encouragement for Pastors’ Wives and Women in Leadership.” They also head up a ministry called Leading and Loving It.