Archive for April, 2008

Why I Love the ESV

April 28, 2008

The ESV (English Standard Version) is a relatively new Bible translation and I hope it becomes very popular. Where I attend church many people use the NKJV (New King James Version) which is a very accurate translation and is much easier for most people to read than the KJV (King James Version) or the ASV (American Standard Version), both of which are also very accurate.

I think the ESV combines the best of both accuracy and ease of reading for the modern American. See what they say about their Translation Philosophy:

The ESV is an “essentially literal” translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. As such, its emphasis is on “word-for-word” correspondence, at the same time taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. Thus it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.

In contrast to the ESV, some Bible versions have followed a “thought-for-thought” rather than “word-for-word” translation philosophy, emphasizing “dynamic equivalence” rather than the “essentially literal” meaning of the original. A “thought-for-thought” translation is of necessity more inclined to reflect the interpretive opinions of the translator and the influences of contemporary culture.

Every translation is at many points a trade-off between literal precision and readability, between “formal equivalence” in expression and “functional equivalence” in communication, and the ESV is no exception. Within this framework we have sought to be “as literal as possible” while maintaining clarity of expression and literary excellence.

Therefore, to the extent that plain English permits and the meaning in each case allows, we have sought to use the same English word for important recurring words in the original; and, as far as grammar and syntax allow, we have rendered Old Testament passages cited in the New in ways that show their correspondence. Thus in each of these areas, as well as throughout the Bible as a whole, we have sought to capture the echoes and overtones of meaning that are so abundantly present in the original texts.

As an essentially literal translation, then, the ESV seeks to carry over every possible nuance of meaning in the original words of Scripture into our own language. As such, it is ideally suited for in-depth study of the Bible. Indeed, with its emphasis on literary excellence, the ESV is equally suited for public reading and preaching, for private reading and reflection, for both academic and devotional study, and for Scripture memorization.

Go to Bible Gateway and read some of your favorite verses in the ESV and see what you think!


My Heart Condition

April 24, 2008

All I can do is thank God for the news I just received and all of you for your prayers!

Most of you know of the heart condition I’ve been dealing with since January. My heart function had been 20-24% (normal is 50-60%) and my aortic valve had a fairly severe leak (enough that the Dr. would have recommended surgery if my heart had been stronger).

Today I got the results of an echocardiogram that I had 3 weeks ago (after about 2 months on my meds): My heart function had risen to 40-45% and there was no sign of any problems with my aortic valve!

The Dr. said it was possible that I’ll continue to improve and return to normal heart function. She did point out that this is a lifetime condition, and I’ll never go off of these meds, but still, this is great news! The only restriction is that I’ll pretty much always have to stay away from lifting anything over about 20 lbs, which is a pain, but overall I have to say that I’m the luckiest man in the world!

Thanks every one of you for your prayers and support – God Bless you all!


Inspiring Quote for Book Lovers

April 23, 2008

We wish our book to live when we shall be sleeping the years away. Yes, and live it will. This is the frightful thought. LIVE IT WILL. A mistake from the pulpit may soon be forgotten – should we make a mistake in an article furnished a paper or periodical, it may be lost or worn out, and soon pass away; but a book will live on, when he who wrote it lives only in the work left behind him.

– T. W. Brents, preface to The Gospel Plan of Salvation, Richmond, TN, February 10, 1874

In or Out?

April 18, 2008

Did your mom ever say (or yell) “in or out!” when you were a kid, standing there holding the door open? Mine sure did. Did Jesus say the same thing to us?

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.Revelation 3:15-17, English Standard Version

Does it do us any good to be anything less than totally committed to Christ? Is he OK with us leading a mostly moral life, going to church occasionally (or regularly but with a bad attitude), reading the Bible once in a while, and praying only when we are in trouble? Are we all right if we just avoid doing anything really bad like selling drugs or murdering or robbing banks?

The words that I read in the Bible don’t seem to indicate that. The message I get (all through the Bible, not just in Revelation) is that it is all or nothing – if I don’t make following Christ the primary purpose of my life, I may as well ignore him.

I realize that different people are at different places in their relationship with God. We can each be at a different stage as long as we’re striving as hard as we can to progress. But if we’re not doing that – if we’re not doing the best we can to be better at prayer, study and fellowship – then we’re letting him down. Picture yourself standing before Jesus and answering the question of whether you really lived for him. If you see yourself having a hard time with that question, now is the time to get moving!

Getting Started

April 14, 2008

Last week I wrote about writing, and how forcing yourself to get started results in actually getting writing done. Ryan took what I started and extended it to everything. Good stuff, that.

Writers Write

April 8, 2008

“Remember, a writer writes . . . always.” – Billy Crystal as Larry Donner in Throw Mamma From the Train

For a long time I’ve wanted to be a writer. I’ve dreamed of it ever since I became a dedicated reader in my early teens. At first I wanted to write science fiction books, then any book, then much later a book on religion. Then came the Internet and blogs. That made it easy. Well, kind of.

If you google anything about how to become a writer, one of the most common pieces of advice you’ll see is basically the above quite – over and over that’s the theme. Of course you also have to do other things if you want someone other than your mom to read it (and if you don’t, that’s fine too – many people write in a journal or diary and never show it to a soul – that can be quite fulfilling). But if you do want to be widely read, you have to get out there. None of that is hard, given time and patience and hard work. What’s hard is the actual writing.

As I was working on the early stages of this blog, I ran across this gem about author Anthony Trollope, which I’ve found to be absolutely true:

He woke in darkness and wrote from 5:30 A.M. to 8:30 A.M., with his watch in front of him. He required of himself two hundred and fifty words every quarter of an hour. If he finished one novel before eight-thirty, he took out a fresh piece of paper and started the next. The writing session was followed, for a long stretch of time, by a day job with the postal service. Plus, he said, he always hunted at least twice a week. Under this regimen, he produced forty-nine novels in thirty-five years. Having prospered so well, he urged his method on all writers: ‘Let their work be to them as is his common work to the common laborer. No gigantic efforts will then be necessary. He need tie no wet towels round his brow, nor sit for thirty hours at his desk without moving,—as men have sat, or said that they have sat.’

While affirming the importance of that kind of discipline a friend pointed out that “perhaps the ‘just write, baby!’ school was assisted somewhat in his case with a large dollop of creative genius.” While that’s true, I think that anyone with any writing talent can strengthen it by, well…just writing!

Do Christians Have a Higher Standard?

April 2, 2008

Should we, as Christians sharing our faith to a lost world, hold ourselves to a higher standard of behavior than those to whom we’re witnessing? I say yes.

When Christians don’t practice what they preach, especially when they don’t practice the one thing most unchurched people think Christianity is about (love!), they give people an excuse to not explore the Christian faith.

Our job is to pull people in, not drive them away. When we annoy people by not being nice, if we come across as mean, bitter people, we can cause people to dismiss everything else we say. How many times have you heard someone use the excuse “If those people are Christians I don’t want to have anything to do with it!” to not take the first steps toward following God?

Like it or not, people judge what they see. If they see us claim to follow Jesus, but don’t appear to love our neighbor, they’ll see the hypocrisy straight away. Especially if they see those people as being holier-than-thou in other areas.

I don’t want to stand before Jesus and hear him tell me about the people who turned away from him because of my example. I think that places a higher standard on those of us who are trying to spread God’s word.