Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lost in Translation

If there is one subject that can cause a ruckus among Christians it's what translation of the bible you read and quote from. Yes there are many to choose from. How many times have we witnessed to an unbeliever then confused them with multiple quotes from different translations from other Christians?

Is there one translation that is the true Word of God? That debate has gone on for decades. I will use my own experiences and let you decide.

My first bible I received was a small Gideon pocket bible in college. It was years later until I even tried to read the book. It was the King James version. With all those "thee" and "thou's" in it. Who talks like that? To say the least I could not understand it. Yet today at seminary we study from the KJV. Why? There is more commentary on the KJV than any other translation. So does that make the KJV the one true translation? I disagree. Yet the KJV has been the foundation for Christianity for 400 years.

Personally I read and quote from the New Living Translation. It is easier for me to understand and read aloud to others. For in-depth bible study I use the KJV, NKJV, ESV, NIV, NAS, HCSB and a number of different commentaries.

Some of the best advice I have received before quoting from a particular translation is to say first, "My bible says" then continue to read God's Word. This way others will know that you are quoting from an authority rather than from yourself. If they hear their favorite verse quoted differently then you have an opportunity to share your translation. Do not get into a debate with another Christian on which translation is right. Both of you need to share your bibles and focus on what is God telling us.

I agree that some verses in the NLT do not have the impact like the KJV has. Yet many times the NLT is more clear for me and easier to understand than the KJV especially when reading the book of Proverbs, in my humble opinion.

Be thankful that we have multiple translations of the bible. Take time to study the translator's notes on how and why your translation of your bible came to be.

For me if the KJV were the only version of the bible I would never have had the understanding of God's Word as I have today.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Two Square Feet

One day a senior church member made a point to have me follow her to her Sunday school room because she had a problem with her room and wanted me to see it. The whole situation seemed like a trip to the principal’s office for a scolding. Sure enough there on the floor near the edge was a coffee stain. Dirtying the floor less than two square feet. You should know our church facility is not small. I myself am responsible for maintaining over 60,000 square feet each week. She gave me a brief scolding making my efforts for the week seem very unappreciated to say the least. Did I proceed to tell her about the other 59,998 square feet I had cleaned that week? What would be the point? Her focus was only on those two square feet. Instead I immediately apologized for the mess knowing full well that the room had indeed been cleaned earlier that week. I then thanked her for pointing out the problem. Then immediately began re-cleaning the entire room and not just the spill on the floor. She was very pleased and then reminded me to be more watchful next time. Again I apologized for the problem and thanked her again for bringing the problem to my attention.

Later that week after Sunday service that same senior member approached me in a much more somber mood. She informed me that one of her students had informed her that they had been in the room earlier that week and had a slight accident with their coffee. Did I relish in this newfound news? No, just smiled knowing there was something more to this. She then apologized for her harsh treatment of me earlier that week. Telling me that her week was going badly at the time and that coffee stain was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I thanked her again for telling me and told her not to worry. If there is another problem please let us know as soon as possible.

How many times have we done the same thing? We have all been on one side or the other. Upset by something else. Making assumptions about others. Determine to make our point and bear down authority over others. And then when we are attacked we look to retaliate. Again determined to make our point to the one who offended us in the first place. Becoming a very dangerous cycle.

When Christians persecute other Christians who can possibly be the winner? You’ve got it. No one wins. Can you hear Satan’s laughter?

If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink. You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads, and the Lord will reward you. Prov 25:21-22 (NLT)

If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also.
Luke 6:29 (HCSB)

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