Meet John Oldcastle, another hero of faith

I casually picked up one of my Bibles this morning, as is my routine, to read.

Three words in the above sentence, as I contemplated it, stand out : “casually, Bibles and routine.”

Each word emphasizes one simple truth. I take the privelege of reading the Bible for granted. I have several translations. I don’t tremble with amazement when I am holding The Bible in my hands. Yet, many of my fellow pilgrims would sacrifice greatly to have just a copy of John’s Gospel.

Last week, while visiting old friends in Tilamook, I was reminded by Lori Franke of a sermon I had preached over thrity some years ago in Portland. The word routine was part of the quote from Dr. Vernon Grounds that Lori reminded me of last week. I share the quote: “The ruts of routine become the grooves for God’s grace.” In other words, reading the Bible routinely (as a daily discipline) can reap benefits in a time of painful stress.

But in today’s brief, special edition of The Front Porch Swing, I want to share about a hero of faith who willingly gave his life so that I can casually hold a Bible in my hand each morning.

In today’s, September 29th, edition of “Today in Chrisian History”, a publication of Christianiy, I learned about John Oldcastle. Oldcastle was a follower of Wycliffe, the first translator of the Bible into the English language so that laypeople could read God’s Word. Wycliffe paid a still price for his “sin” in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church at that time. John Oldcastle was condemned by Archbishop Arundel and given forty days to recant of his “heresy.”

John escaped and went into hiding in Wales until eventually captured and “roasted to death” on September 29, 1413. Burned alive so that I can casually pick up a Bible and read it in my mother tongue.

Someday, I hope to find Joh Oldcastle in heaven and embrace him along with Wycliffe.