National Day of Prayer

Next week is the National Day of Prayer (NDP).  I was looking at the official website, which has a history of the national day of prayer.   There were several things that stop and made me say, “What!?”  [Read more...]

27 Million Dirty Secrets

After graduating from high school in Michigan, Mary (not her real name) decided to spend some time as a nanny before going to college. She responded to an ad and arrived at the appointed time to a wealthy home in a north Chicago suburb. The horror was just beginning. [Read more...]

Fearless by Max Lucado

fearlessWe live in fear of many things – from the swine flu to losing our job, from being rejected by our friends to being attacked by terrorists.  That fear leads us to make bad choices and at times simply cripples us.  Can you imagine a life without fear?  In his latest book, pastor and author Max Lucado offers a look at many common fears such as not protecting my kids or being overwhelmed by challenges, describing the problem and offering thoughts on how to live without that fear in your life.

Lucado ties biblical stories with each of these fears and points us to lessons in those stories for fearless living.   The thoughts are easy to understand and told with Lucado’s signature flair for story-telling.   At the heart of fearless living is trusting God, and Lucado brings the reader back to that central idea again and again.

The book is a fast read, right around 200 pages including a helpful discussion guide that offers some questions for further discussion on each chapter.  All in all, it’s a great book that offers some solid, biblical counsel for dealing with fears.  It’s not overly deep and the answers at times are little on the simple side, but if you or someone you know is struggling with fears, this is a great first book to read.

Translations and spiritual formation

TNIVAn article yesterday over at Christianity Today, contained an announcement that Zondervan would be unveiling a new translation in a few years – The NIV 2011  I am not sure yet what it is actually going to be called.  There is a lot of interesting discussion on why the new translation and the controversy that surrounded the TNIV at the CT website and on sites like Jesus Creed. My interest in this post is not about all of those issues, but is about the spiritual discipline of Scripture memory, though I will say this:

  • As a whole I like the TNIV, and think it’s a good translation.   It provided a good balance of trying to convey another language into English.
  • I think much of the “controversy” was not so much about the actual science/art of translation as about other issues, such as suggestions that using gender-neutral language will lead to ordaining homosexuals  (yes, I’m serious – see this interview with Wayne Grudem)  Such sensationalism did little to help the issue.
  • I’m a little disappointed in CT; this article seems to have been written to create a little bit of controversy.  Viral marketing by Zondervan?

The thought that occurred to me as I read the announcement about the new translation was “Now, what translation am I going to use for memory work and with my family?”   I have long used the NIV and a little over a year ago, the congregation I serve purchased NIV Bibles for use in worship to replace the NLT ones that were there.  I wondered afterwords if we should have gotten TNIV, but the NIV was much more widely used so we went with that.   At home however, we had begun to use the TNIV.   Personally I had also begun to use the TNIV for my own devotional reading and was beginning to use it for the discipline of Scripture memory.

I understand the desire by publishers to produce new translations to reflect changes in the English language but I wonder about the effect the multiplicity of translations has on the spiritual formation of the church as a whole.  I am convinced that some of the central spiritual disciplines are reading Scripture and memorizing Scripture.   The goal of the new translations (ESV, HCSB, TNIV) has been to encourage people to read their Bibles more and to provide people something they enjoy reading more and also will understand better.  I am all for that, though I wonder how many folks really need another translation (or specialty Bible) more than they need to simply read the ones that they have.

Now, finally getting to the point.  I first started using the NIV for memorization.  I have recently switched to the TNIV.  Now, will I switch to NIV2011?  What translation will I use with my kids?  And more than just for me and my family, I think about the church as a whole when we use so many different translations.  There is something powerful about being with Christians from other congregations and parts of the country and being able to say the Lord’s Prayer together.  Or to sing a song together where we all know the words.  But, what happens when we begin to all use different translations.  Will my kids grow up with another translation, such that we won’t be able to say the 23rd psalm together when I am old and perhaps sitting in a nursing home?  Or, in my own congregation, we have been trying to memorize some Scripture together as a body.  Even though we use the NIV as our standard translation, we have folks who use KJV, NLT and RSV.   Which means for them, when we memorize Scripture and recite it together on Sunday morning it’s not the same thing they read when they come to the passage in their Bible.

I don’t know what it all means, but I wonder if publishers think about any of these things when they are creating new translations?  Because I do.

Bible Giveaway

I am always in the mood for the chance to win something; if you are too, then you might want to check out the Bible giveaway at Logos. I have also been thinking about finally investing in some Bible study software and Logos has long been at the top of the list. Here is info on the giveaway:

Logos Bible Software is celebrating the launch of their new online Bible by giving away 72 ultra-premium print Bibles at a rate of 12 per month for six months. The Bible giveaway is being held at and you can get up to five different entries each month! After you enter, be sure to check out Logos and see how it can revolutionize your Bible study.


susanboyleOne of the blogs I scan is Chuck Warnock’s.  He had a post today about YouTube video featuring a singer named Susan Boyle who was a recent guest on “Britain’s Got Talent” which is their version of “American Idol”  (BTW – I like the title much better).   In spite of the many other things I could have been doing (and should have been doing) I clicked over to watch the video.  You can watch it here:

American Idol and its clones are not on my list of shows to watch for any number of reasons.  One of them being the way in which so much is based on preconceived ideas of what talent is, and more specifically, what talent looks like.  I had an advantage over the audience sitting there that night because the fact that it was posted on YouTube and Warnock’s brief comments changed my expectations.   I knew to expect a surprising and powerful performance.

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BSG 417 – No Exit

Another great episode.  There was a lot revealed in this episode in terms of the story arc, revealing the role of the final five and the creation of the “skin jobs”, the mystery of how the final five came to be in the fleet and not know who they were and much other back story [Spoilers].  In the midst of all these revelations, there were some great themes that were explored which is, as I have said before, what I like about sci-fi in general and in particular Battlestar Galactica.  This episode continues in the investigation of the question of memory and reconciliation and also offers some new thoughts on personal responsibility and the role of the creator which has only been a question that has been asked but not dealt with in any depth through the series.

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BSG 414 – A Disquiet Follows My Soul

I have to start off by saying this episode was a little disappointing after last week.  There was a lot of set up work, but it simply felt a little disjointed.

Gaeta has certainly become more of a leading figure and it seems that the events of the webisodes “Face of the Enemy” have pushed him over the edge.  Any thoughts of working with the Cylons have fallen to the wayside and he seems determined to make sure it does not happen, no matter the cost.  This returns us to a theme that has recurred several times over the course of the series, namely “can those who were once enemies become friends?”  [Read more...]

BSG 413: Sometimes a Great Notion

Battlestar Galactica: The Final Episodes has begun.   It has been a long wait since the cliffhanger in which the ragtag fleet finally found earth, only to discover it was a barren wasteland.  [Spoliers].

While the episode was full of revelations and also introduced many new questions, the thing that struck me most was the theme of hope or, more accurately, the loss of hope.  Since the Cylons destroyed the 12 colonies and the humans escaped and sought refuge in earth, the dream of earth has been a major driving force in keeping them going.  Perhaps we might better say that what has given them strength and courage to continue on their journey was the belief, the hope, that they would find a place to call home, to settle down, to stop running and try and regain some of what was lost – it was not Earth, per se, as the majority of people were willing to settle on New Caprica (“Lay Down Your Burdens”).   [Read more...]

Two Fridays

[This was an article I wrote for the Cheboygan Tribune.  I also posted it over at my church's website.]

For many, the day after Thanksgiving is the day to wake early and, armed with sale ads, stake out the stores for the best bargains on what has come to be known as Black Friday. The name apparently refers to retailers moving from being in the red to in the black (i.e. making a profit). In the Christian church calendar, Black Friday this year falls two days before the start of Advent, the days of preparation before the celebration of Christmas. Here in America, shopping and Christmas go together like hamburger and french fries. [Warning: I am going to say some things now that may make you a little uncomfortable, make you squirm a little and maybe even consider changing the way you do things. Please keep reading.]

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