New Class: The Bible's Power and Relevance

Have you ever wondered where the Bible came from and why it still matters today? Would you like to learn how to study the Bible better with some simple (but not easy!) methods? I’ll be teaching a new class at Lakeside Christian Church starting on September 23. Called “The Bible – Its Power and Relevance,” it will run for 6 weeks, Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 8:00. This will be a great class for people new in their faith, mature Christians who want to dig deeper into their study of the Bible, and anyone who wants to learn more about the Bible. I hope you can join us!

Up-to-Date Language is Overrated

13110327_236912cfd7.jpgYesterday, Biblica and Zondervan announced that they would stop revising the controversial TNIV translation of the Bible and would resume revising the NIV translation, the best-selling translation of the past three decades. The “new” NIV would be called the NIV Bible 2011.

Photo: Detail from a 1770 Bible, from eye2eye via Flickr.

Keith Danby, CEO of Biblica, stated

We shackled the NIV to the language and scholarship of a quarter century ago, thus limiting its value as a tool for ongoing outreach throughout the world.

The language of a quarter century ago! Gasp! Why, that was nearly…wait, that wasn’t that long ago was it? I was 8, Mary Lou Retton was on the cover of Wheaties, and a cool cartoon about transforming robots debuted on television. That was just yesterday, right? More on that in a moment. Continue reading

Consider the Raven

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Today I was reading one of my favorite (and most challenging) of Jesus’ teachings: do not worry.

Here is what Leon Morris has to say about Luke 12:24:

Jesus reinforces this [teaching] with an appeal to the ravens (or ‘crows’, Goodspeed, GNB), mentioned here only in the New Testament (they are the objects of God’s care in Ps. 147:9). Birds do not engage in agricultural activities, but they do not lack for all that. God feeds them. There is possibly significance in the fact that ravens were unclean (Lev. 11:15). God makes provision even for these unclean birds. And Jesus goes on to remind his hearers that they are of more value than birds (cf. v. 7)

Here is a poem I wrote about a parallel passage, Matthew 6:34:

Matthew 6:34

It’d be too easy to assume
You were talking to me, so
Who? Your disciples? They
Seemed to worry more about
Fish than God (then anyway).
The crowds, hungry and poor
And the soldiers stealing their cloaks?
Maybe. And maybe yourself,
Reminding yourself of what
You already knew: the times
Were short, the work was long
From Capernaum down to Judah, and
The coming trial must not
Darken the day too soon.

Each day has trouble enough.

Photo credit: Raven and the First Men at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, by bRONTE dIGITAL

Trust in the Lord

Today, I read two passages that bookend well together.

The first, Psalm 125, which begins:

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,

which cannot be shaken but endures forever.

The second, is from Luke 5.  After beginning his public ministry, Jesus calls Simon Peter, James, and John to follow him. After addressing a crowd from Simon’s fishing boat, Jesus commands Simon to put out his net.  Simon responds:

Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets.

The nets are lowered, an enormous number of fish are caught, and Simon falls at Jesus’ feet, leading to this exchange:

“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!.”  For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Psalm 125 promises that those who trust in the Lord (lit. YHWH) will be like Mount Zion, and Luke 5 depicts Simon – who would be called The Rock – trusting in Jesus.

A couple of side notes.  I appreciate the egalitarian spirit of the TNIV, which I am currently using in my personal reading, but “you will fish for people” simply doesn’t have the rhetorical strength of “thou shalt catch men” from the King James. Also, did Simon’s entire fishing company disband and follow Jesus?  The text has an interesting change of person: Jesus calls Simon to follow him, then concludes “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed him.” The change of person is also their in both the King James and NIV.

How does it change our perspective of this scene to think of any entire company of men – a small business, really – following Jesus together?  Were they following Jesus, or were they following Simon Peter, their boss, who was following Jesus?

Psalm 42

Lately, the Psalms have grown in their importance to me.  I have been listening to John Piper’s podcast sermons from his recent series on the Psalms, and found myself meditating particularly on Psalm 42:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your faith in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42, TNIV)

Here’s Piper’s sermon on Psalm 42.  Piper notes that the psalmist is confident in God’s love, though his current state of mind is depressed.  The psalmist speaks to his own soul, educating his soul in the truth of God’s love.

At Lakeside, I’ll be teaching a series, beginning next month, on the same psalms that Piper preached on.  We’ll be focusing on inductive study of the psalms, but I’ll be recommending Piper’s sermons as good listening for the week after our own study.