the CEB and the KNT


The past couple of weeks I’ve been reading N.T. Wright’s rendering of the New Testament entitled The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation (KNT). As I read I’ve been comparing it with the Common English Bible (CEB), my go-to Bible. In short, I like what I see in both and encourage you to pick up copies of both. Following are some snippets from each for your comparison.

  • It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a divorce certificate.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife except for sexual unfaithfulness forces her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matt. 5:31-32 CEB)
  • It was also said, ‘If someone divorces his wife, he should give her a legal document to prove it.’ But I say to you: everyone who divorces his wife, unless it’s in connection with immorality, makes her commit adultery; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matt. 5:31-32 KNT)
  • This is why the Human One* is Lord even over the Sabbath. (Mark 2:28 CEB) [footnote reads “Or ‘Son of Man'”]
  • … so the son of man is master even of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:28 KNT)
  • Don’t you see? God’s kingdom is already among you. (Luke 17:21b CEB)
  • No: God’s kingdom is within your grasp.” (Luke 17:21b KNT)
  • When the centurion saw what happened, he praised God, saying, “It’s really true: this man was righteous.” (Luke 23:47 CEB)
  • The centurion saw what happened, and praised God. “This fellow,” he said, “really was in the right.” (Luke 23:47 KNT)
  • I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion,* who will be with you forever. (John 14:16 CEB) [footnote reads “Or ‘Advocate'”]
  • And I will ask the father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever. (John 14:16 KNT)
  • Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38 CEB)
  • “Turn back!” replied Peter. “Be baptized – every single one of you – in the name of Jesus the Messiah, so that your sins can be forgiven and you will receive the gift of the holy spirit.” (Acts 2:38 KNT)
  • On the first day of the week, as we gathered together for a meal, Paul was holding a discussion with them. (Acts 20:7 CEB)
  • On the first day of the week we gathered to break bread. Paul was intending to leave the following morning. He was engaged in discussion with them, and he went on talking up to midnight. (Acts 20:7 KNT)
  • God’s righteousness is being revealed in the gospel, from faithfulness* for faith,* as it is written, “The righteous person will live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17 CEB) [first footnote reads “Or ‘faith’; second footnote reads “Or ‘faithfulness'”]
  • This is because God’s covenant justice is unveiled in it, from faithfulness to faithfulness. As it says in the Bible, “the just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17 KNT)
  • Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. (Rom. 3:25a CEB)
  • God put Jesus forth as the place of mercy, through faithfulness, by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his covenant justice, because of the passing over (in divine forbearance) of sins committed beforehand. (Rom. 3:25 KNT)

  • So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature. (Rom. 12:1-2 CEB)
  • So, my dear family, this is my appeal to you by the mercies of God: offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Worship like this brings your mind into line with God’s. What’s more, don’t let yourselves be squeezed into the shape dictated by the present age. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you can work out what God’s will is – what is good, acceptable, and complete. (Rom. 12:1-2 KNT)
  • I’m introducing our sister Phoebe to you, who is a deacon* of the church in Cenchreae. (Rom. 16:1 CEB) [footnote reads “Or ‘servant'”]
  • Let me introduce to you our sister Phoebe. She is a deacon in the church at Cenchrae. (Rom. 16:1 KNT)
  • Now, about what you wrote: “It’s good for a man not to have sex with a woman.” Each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband because of sexual immorality. (1 Cor. 7:1-2 CEB)
  • Let me now turn to the matters you wrote about. “It is good for a man to have no sexual contact with a woman.” Well, yes; but the temptation to immorality means that every man should maintain sexual relations with his own wife, and every woman with her own husband. (1 Cor. 7:1-2 KNT)
  • … but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end. (1 Cor. 13:10 CEB)
  • … but, with perfection, The partial is abolished. (1 Cor. 13:10 KNT)
  • God isn’t a God of disorder but of peace. Like in all the churches of God’s people, the women should be quiet during the meeting. They are not allowed to talk. Instead, they need to get under control, just as the Law says. If they want to learn something, they should ask their husbands at home. It is disgraceful for a woman to talk during the meeting. (1 Cor. 14:33-35 CEB)
  • … since God is the God, not of chaos, but of peace. [new paragraph begins] As in all the assemblies of God’s people, the women should keep silence in the assemblies. They are not permitted to speak; they should remain in submission, just as the law declares. If they want to understand something more, they should ask their own husbands when they get home. It’s shameful, you see, for a woman to speak in the assembly. (1 Cor. 14:33-35 KNT)
  • I wish that the ones who are upsetting you would castrate themselves. (Gal. 5:12 CEB)
  • If only those who are making trouble for you would cut the whole lot off! (Gal. 5:12 KNT)

  • The actions that are produced by selfish motives are obvious, since they include sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, jealousy,drunkenness, partying, and other things like that. (Gal. 5:19-21a CEB)
  • Now the works of the flesh are obvious. They are such things as fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, bursts of rage, selfish ambition, factiousness, divisions, moods of envy, drunkenness, wild partying, and similar things. (Gal. 5:19-21a KNT)
  • Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. (Eph. 2:10 CEB)
  • This is the explanation: God has made us what we are. God has created us in King Jesus for the good works he prepared, ahead of time, as the road we must travel. (Eph. 2:10 KNT)
  • Don’t get drunk on wine, which produces depravity. Instead be filled with the Spirit in the following ways: speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts; always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; and submit to each other out of respect for Christ. (Eph. 5:18-21 CEB)
  • And don’t get drunk with wine; that way lies dissipation. Rather, be filled with the spirit! Speak to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and chanting in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for everything to God the father in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. [new paragraph] Be subject to one another out of reverence for the Messiah. (Eph. 5:18-21 KNT)
  • He destroyed the record of the debt we owed, with its requirements that worked against us. He canceled it by nailing it to the cross. When he disarmed the rulers and authorities, he exposed them to public disgrace by leading them in a triumphal parade. (Col. 2:14-15 CEB)
  • He blotted out the handwriting that was against us, opposing us with its legal demands. He took it right out of the way, by nailing it to the cross. He stripped the rulers and authorities of their armor, and displayed them contemptuously to public view, celebrating his triumph over them in him. (Col. 2:14-15 KNT)
  • … we could have thrown our weight around as Christ’s apostles. Instead, we were gentle with you like a nursing mother caring for her own children. (1 Thes. 2:7 CEB)
  • … though we could have imposed on you, as the Messiah’s emissaries. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her own children. (1 Thes. 2:7 KNT)
  • A wife* should learn quietly with complete submission. I don’t allow a wife* to teach or control her husband.* Instead, she should be a quiet listener. (1 Tim. 2:11-12 CEB) [first and second footnotes read “Or ‘a woman'”; third footnote reads “Or ‘a man'”]
  • They must study undisturbed, in full submission to God. I’m not saying that women should teach men, or try to dictate to them; rather, that they should be left undisturbed. (1 Tim. 2:11-12 KNT)
  • This saying is reliable: if anyone has a goal to be a supervisor* in the church, they want a good thing. So the church’s supervisor* must be without fault. They should be faithful to their spouse, sober, modest, and honest. They should show hospitality and be skilled at teaching. They shouldn’t be addicted to alcohol or a bully. Instead they should be gentle, peaceable, and not greedy. (1 Tim. 3:1-3 CEB) [footnote reads “Or ‘bishop,’ ‘overseer'”]
  • Here is a trustworthy saying: if someone is eager for the work of overseeing God’s people, the task they seek is a fine one. The bishop must be beyond reproach. He must not have more than one wife. He must be temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, a good teacher. He must not be a heavy drinker, or violent, but must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not in love with money. (1 Tim. 3:1-3 KNT)
  • In the same way, servants* in the church should be dignified, not two-faced, heavy drinkers, or greedy for money. (1 Tim. 3:8 CEB) [footnote reads “Or ‘deacons'”]
  • In the same way, deacons must be serious-minded, not the sort of people who say one thing today and another tomorrow, not heavy drinkers, not eager for shameful gain. (1 Tim. 3:8 KNT)
  • In the same way, women who are servants* in the church should be dignified and not gossip. They should be sober and faithful in everything they do. (1 Tim. 3:11 CEB) [footnote reads “Or ‘wives,’ omit ‘who are servants'”]
  • The womenfolk, too, should be serious-minded, not slanderers, but temperate, and faithful in all things. (1 Tim. 3:11 KNT)
  • Or do you suppose that scripture is meaningless? Doesn’t God long for our faithfulness in* the life he has given to us?* (James 4:5 CEB) [first footnote reads “Or ‘jealously longs for'”; second footnote reads “Or ‘Doesn’t the Spirit that God placed in us have jealous desires?'”]
  • Or do you suppose that when the Bible says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit he has made to dwell in us,” it doesn’t mean what it says? (James 4:5 KNT)
  • Baptism is like that. It saves you now – not because it removes dirt from your body but because it is the mark of a good conscience toward God. Your salvation comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ … (1 Pet. 3:21 CEB)
  • That functions as a signpost for you, pointing to baptism, which now rescues you – not by washing away fleshly pollution, but by the appeal to God of a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. (1 Pet. 3:21 KNT)
  • My little children, I’m writing these things to you so that you don’t sin. But if you do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is God’s way of dealing with our sins, not only ours but the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 CEB)
  • My children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone does sin, we have one who pleads our cause before the father – namely, the Righteous One, Jesus the Messiah! He is the sacrifice which atones for our sins – and not ours only, either, but those of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 KNT)
  • Favored is the one who reads the words of this prophecy out loud, and favored are those who listen to it being read, and keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Rev. 1:3 CEB)
  • God’s blessing on the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and on those who hear them and keep what is written in it. The time, you see, is near! (Rev. 1:3 KNT)

Incidentally, Scot McKnight has a fine post today on the KNT that you’ll want to be sure to read. His comments speak to the task of translation as a whole and include some renderings of note from the Sermon on the Mount in the KNT.

this went thru my mind


Aging: Aging Well with Dr. Dan Blazer, Part 2: Successful Aging by Christine Scheller

“The perception of old age as a depressing season of life, however, is not confirmed in scientific studies of the elderly, Blazer concluded. Instead studies consistently show that only about 15 percent of older adults exhibit depressive symptoms.”

Application: How to Apply Scripture When It Does Not Speak Directly and Personally to You by Justin Taylor

“… we believe that ‘all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.’ But sometimes it is hard to see how.”

Apps: * Our New App, Evernote Hello, Will Help You Remember People; * Evernote Hello: The iPhone App All Youth Pastors Need

“Evernote Hello is based around the three fundamental ways that our brains actually remember people: (1) Faces – What do you look like?, (2) Time – When did we meet?, and (3) Context – Why did we meet and who else was there?”

Attitude: * How a Shift in Your Vocabulary Can Instantly Change Your Attitude by Michael Hyatt; * It’s Not That I Have To; It’s That I Get To by Chaplain Mike

“The first expression (i.e., I have to do it) is the language of duty. Nothing wrong with that. I am all for responsibility. But too often, we say it with a sigh, like it’s a sentence—or we are a victim. The second expression (i.e., I get to do it) is the language of privilege. It is as if we have been given a gift, and we are relishing the opportunity. This subtle shift may seem small, but it has had a big impact on my attitude. I am choosing the language of privilege every chance I get.”

Bible interpretation & study: * Why Studying the Bible Won’t (Necessarily) Change Your Life by Trevin Wax; * Paul’s Example on How to Deal with Silence in Scriptures by Matt Dabbs

“Bible study alone is not what transforms your life. Jesus transforms your life.”

Bible translation: An Evaluation of the 2011 Edition of the New International Version by Rodney J. Decker

“There is no one translation that is best in every situation.”

Church: Why Do People Stay? by Joe McKeever

“We have two kinds of people in our churches today: those who flit from church to church, never putting down roots or establishing relationships and finding their ministries, and those who will stay in a church regardless. It’s the second group that puzzles me.”

Christmas: * For Those Who are Hurting This Christmas Season by Thom Rainer; * Frankincense Comes From a Tree by Ferrell Jenkins; * Some Things You May Not Hear About Myrrh in a Sermon by Ferrell Jenkins

“In the midst of our own pain, we have the hope and promise of the gospel. May we ever be messengers of that gospel to those who are hurting and need to see that hope.”

Death: 10 Signs Death is Approaching by Paula Spencer Scott

“Not all dying symptoms show up in every person, but most people experience some combination of the following in the final days or hours …”

Heroes: Five Ways You Can Become An Everyday Hero by Michael Hyatt

“It’s easy to underestimate the power of one person’s influence. We think, What can I do? I am only one person. The truth is that each of us wields far more power than we could possibly imagine. However, most of us have never discovered this—or we have forgotten it.”

Iraq war: Iraq Ledger: War by the Numbers

“Coalition deaths totaled 4,803, of which 4,484 (93 percent) were American. The number of Americans wounded was 32,200. At least 463 non-Iraqi contractors were killed. Iraqi civilian deaths are estimated to total between 103,674 and 113,265. … the war resulted in 1.24 million internally displaced persons and more than 1.6 million refugees.”

Islam: How to Respond to Our All-American Muslim Neighbors by Margot Starbuck

“… pursue an authentic relationship with a person in your community who practices Islam. Now that would be radical.”

Loving one’s enemies: Hating Pixels: A Modern Day Reflection on the Sermon on the Mount by Richard Beck

“Might the souls of my liberal friends be hanging in the balance depending upon how they love (or fail to love) Sarah Palin? Might the souls of my conservative friends be hanging in the balance depending upon how they love (or fail to love) Barack Obama?”

Marriage: Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married – A Record Low (Pew Research)

“In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are.”

Moving forward: New Year: 4 Ways to Move Ahead Instead of Remaining Stuck by Jim Martin

“Maybe some of us do not grow, develop, or mature because we rarely address the reality of our lives. Maybe we have allowed ‘but’ to excuse our behavior. The following are 4 ways to move ahead into this New Year instead of remaining stuck.”

Politics: 48% – The Generations and Politics: Who Was Our Best President? (Pew Research)

“When asked which president has done the best job in their lifetime, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are the two most popular choices. Sizeable numbers in each of the four generational groups — including majorities of Millennials and Gen Xers — cite Clinton as either their first or second choice on the ‘best president’ question.”

Productivity: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less by Tony Schwartz

“… increased rest and renewal serve performance.”

Silence & solitude: Just Sit There by Peter Enns

“Why is it so hard to be alone?”

Women: Women and the Public Reading of Scripture by Scot McKnight

“Anyone who says reading Scripture is a teaching ministry is just making stuff up. Reading is reading and teaching is teaching, and preaching is preaching, and prophesying is prophesying, but reading is not teaching, preaching or prophesying. Women were prophets, women were apostles, women were teachers – this is all in the New Testament. That more than qualifies them for the public reading of Scripture.”

power to the people! (aka: 7 reasons why I switched to the Common English Bible)


1. For years I’ve longed for a translation of the Bible that speaks with an English vocabulary somewhere between the Contemporary English Version (CEV) and the Today’s New International Version (TNIV). The Common English Bible (CEB) does just that. Clarity for the people!

2. For quite awhile now I’ve wanted to see a rendering of the word make frequent and consistent use of some of the Biblical scholarship that I’ve greatly benefited from and have been blessed by. The CEB has done that. Scholarship for the people!

3. For years now I’ve wanted to see a fresh translation of Scripture from the ground up, not merely a reworking of an existing translation or version. The CEB is precisely that. Freshness for the people!

4. For sometime now I’ve been growing increasingly unhappy with Zondervan’s handling of the whole TNIV/NIV business. I finally got disgusted enough that I decided to jump ship (understand, the NIV and TNIV have been my default Bibles in years past). The CEB appears to have a more open and authentic base to it. Authenticity to the people!

5. For quite a spell I’ve wished to see a committee-based translation have the nerve (and backing from the publisher) to make some truly bold, original renderings of the Biblical text as has been the case in recent years among some single-translator renderings of the Bible. The CEB does that. Courage for the people!

6. For years I’ve wished for a solid Bible translation to appear that the publisher was confident about to truly support that they would share with all a general timeline of the anticipated publication dates of various editions (i.e. – supporting reference works, pew Bibles, study Bibles, audio Bibles, etc.). The publishers of the CEB have done just that. Planning for the people!

7. For a very long time I’ve yearned for all of the preceding to funnel into a translation that also includes in its work the Apocrypha. The Common English Bible (CEB) offers editions that include the Apocrypha. Knowledge for the people!

5 things to look for as you shop for a Bible


When I say “a Bible,” I mean your go-to Bible. With that in view, let me suggest five factors you need to consider as you choose a new bread-and-butter English Bible.

1. Your primary Bible should be the product of a committee. There are some fine one-person translations and paraphrases on the market. I enjoy N.T. Wright’s The Kingdom New Testament and Eugene Peterson’s The Message. Such renderings have their place. However, no one person can begin to equal the knowledge and skills of a team of linguists, translators, etc. “Two heads are better than one.” And for an everyday Bible that will be the one from which you do most of your study, you’ll want to be surrounded by all the wise counsel possible.

2. Your Bible should aim for the twin goals of accuracy and readability. Many translations lean hard one way or the other and for good reason: this is a tough balancing act. Still, expect your Bible’s translation team to walk the highwire and avoid falling off to the left into inaccuracy or off to the right into obscurity.

3. The committee responsible for your Bible should come from different places on the theological and denominational grid. Let no one tell you otherwise: translation involves interpretation. Different people see things different ways for they look at things from different perspectives. If you want a Bible that simply underscores your current theological take on things, I’m sure there’s one out there for you. But if you want to do to more than just hear and tow the party line, you need a Bible that cuts across denominational lines.

4. Your Bible should be the product of serious, proven, current scholarship. If you were buying tools, money was no object, and you had your choice of Sears good, better, or best, which would you select? It’s obvious, right? What about speakers? Someone who might know what they’re talking about, someone who is truly knowledgeable, or one of the most knowledgeable leaders in their field? Clearly. Now if you must make a choice between good scholarship, better scholarship, or the very best of Biblical scholarship in a Bible translation, which will you choose? I thought so.

5. Your Bible should boldly value meaningful translation over marketing advantage. Some translations do a fine job of translating a great portion of the Biblical text, but are reluctant to revisit the wording of some of the best known Scripture passages, word, or phrases. This is often not the fault or even the desire of the version’s translation team, but is the result of the expectations connected with marketing and the parameters set by the publisher. Don’t be naive. Do your homework.

Now I can name a number of Bibles that meet three or even four of those criteria; however, precious few can meet all five. The fifth criteria – boldly value meaningful translation over marketing advantage – is the hurdle a number of contenders can’t clear. But the Common English Bible (CEB) not only meets all of these criteria, but clears the hurdles with plenty of room to spare. Go through them with me and see for yourself.

1. “Your Bible should be the product of a committee.” The CEB is the result of a collaboration of 120 academic scholars and editors, 77 reading group leaders, and more than 500 average readers from around the world. Or as Paul Franklyn, associate publisher for the Common English Bible put it: “When we say ‘built on common ground,’ we mean that the Common English Bible is the result of collaboration between opposites: scholars working with average readers; conservatives working with liberals; teens working with retirees; men working with women; many denominations and many ethnicities coming together around the common goal of creating a vibrant and clear translation for 21st century readers, with the ultimate objective of mutually accomplishing God’s overall work in the world; in essence, helping Bible readers live on common ground.”

2. “Your Bible should aim for the twin goals of accuracy and readability.” While the reading level of the CEB is comparable to the newspaper USA TODAY it also works hard to capture even the most subtle of nuances in meaning. Being a very recent production, the CEB also has the advantage of not being burdened with words that have changed their meaning over time, fallen into disuse or simply sound dated.

3. “The committee responsible for your Bible should come from different places on the theological and denominational grid.” The CEB is the work of 120 biblical scholars from 24 denominations in American, African, Asian, European, and Latino communities, representing such academic institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others. Or let me just spell it out: Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Evangelical, Episcopal, Lutheran, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Quaker, Roman Catholic, United Methodist, and more.

4. “Your Bible must be the product of serious, proven, current scholarship.” Merely peruse the translation team of the Common English Bible and you can’t help but be struck with the sheer quantity of members who are outstanding Biblical scholars in their field of expertise. Take for example James Charlesworth, John J. Collins, Raymond Collins, James L. Crenshaw, Peter Davids, David A. deSilva, and Beverly Gaventa. Need more? Consider John Goldingay, Joel B. Green, Richard Hayes, Craig Koester, Tremper Longman, and J. Clinton McCann. Or how about Patrick Miller, Pheme Perkins, Charles Wanamaker, or Walter Wilson? Many of them would be considered by their peers as simply “the best of the best.” The Common English Bible may be easy to read, but it is certainly not the result of slap-dash, simple-minded work.

5. “Your Bible should boldly value meaningful translation over marketing advantage.” Some publishers have ceased production of certain translations or have “backed off” of fresh renderings of specific passages and have stayed with outdated renderings that do not do the most justice to the Biblical text in order to attempt to maintain market share. This is appalling, but it shouldn’t be surprising. That’s another reason I like the Common English Bible. Take for example it’s decision to use the phrase “The Human One” in place of the well known phrase “the Son of Man.” It’s accurate, clear … and gutsy. I like that. Do your homework and be careful in making a choice as to your go-to Bible translation. I’ve selected the Common English Bible. I say “Go and do likewise.”

Question: What are some of the main things you look for when you shop for a new workhorse Bible?

8 of my biggest mistakes as to how I’ve used the Bible


1. I blindly followed people’s advice to “use this version of the Bible because it’s the only right one.” That’s why years ago I started out with the KJV, later switched to the ASV (1901), and then to the NASB. However, language and translation, any language and any translation, are just not such simple matters. If someone ever tells you such and such Bible version is “the only right one,” they’ve given you the wrong advice for they’ve handicapped you by limiting the number of tools available to you. Such limiting advice is about as helpful as telling a fisherman they mustn’t ever fish with anything except topwater lures or telling a cook they can only prepare chicken. I enthusiastically use the Common English Bible daily and heartily recommend it to others, but I’d never claim it is “the only right one” to use or that anyone should use only it. I know the CEB’s translators would say the same. Put it in your toolbox … and use it along with other good tools.

2. I simply accepted what I was told a passage meant without researching the matter myself. I assumed good men and women of long-time faith knew what they were talking about. What I failed to factor in was the fact that we’re all human, no matter how learned, experienced, or sincere. Photocopiers were made to copy; disciples are meant to think. Faith is a journey and thinking is required. The way you’re being led to believe may or may not be right so ever trust, but verify.

3. I decided to not memorize Scripture, but to remember Scripture references instead. My simple-minded reasoning went like this: “If I want to know where something is, I’ll always know where to quickly find it.” The problems with that faulty logic are too numerous to mention, but let me just say here that while recalling references can help you prepare lessons, they won’t feed your mind, reform your life, or sustain your spirit. We need the mind of Christ, not a Google brain. How I wish I had memorized so much more of Scripture in my younger years!

4. I treated Scripture as if the lay of the land of Scripture was flat; as if every word was of equal importance. But the topography of Scripture isn’t flat. There are mountains, steppes, plains, valleys, lakes, rivers, deserts, fields, and more. While all Scripture is Scripture, not all Scripture is created equal nor is it all equally essential to me at any given time in my life. There is a supreme commandment, a second commandment, etc. I’ve done my share of “majoring in minors” and would pray that any and all would avoid falling into that man-made pit.

5. I tried to use Scripture to prove what I wanted to believe. Mind you, I didn’t do that with premeditation, it was simply a logical second step to a preceding problem (blindly accepting what I was told by others). If what I’ve been taught is undeniable, then those undeniable truths become the lenses through which I read Scripture. This is no small thing. You can only see what you see through the lens you wear. It’s one thing to use Scripture to prove what you believe and altogether another to believe Scripture and let it have its way with you and your beliefs, come what may. The former leads you away from God; the latter leads you to him.

6. I left reading my Bible to times I felt like it or felt like I had time for such. In the moments, or even seasons, of such, I would have been adamant that I had no real choice. However, looking back I can see such was simply attempts to justify my lack of self-discipline and my ability to procrastinate on even important matters. Feeding on God’s will is more important than eating is to feed your body. You don’t let your feelings or the clock be your sole determiners of your eating habits so plow through your moods and value listening to God more than emotions or your self-made life schedule.

7. I read my Bible for the sake of others, but not for myself. That is, I spent abundant time with the word of God, but did so for the sake of instructing others. I allowed the paramount importance of spending time in the word “just for me” to be crowded out by good, but lesser things. You can’t really share what you don’t really have yourself so time in the word for yourself isn’t just what’s best for you, but is actually what is best for others.

8. I agreed with Scripture, but I didn’t put it into practice. I became content to understand the teaching of Scripture and to teach such to others, rather than let Scripture teach me and then personally determine to live it out myself first. At best, this is self-deceiving; at worst it’s hypocrisy. If I know what is good, but do not do it, it is sin to me. Even rocks do the Father’s will so I mustn’t trick myself into living as dumb as dirt by not attempting to do what I know pleases my Father.

Question: What are some of the worst mistakes you’ve ever made in regard to how you’ve used your Bible?

7 reasons why I preach from a variety of Bible translations

As I typically put up on projection via Powerpoint the majority of Scripture texts I use in a given sermon, I often, and quite deliberately, make use of a variety of English Bible translations. Though I might reference a dozen or more texts, they might appear from as many as a half a dozen different versions.

Have you ever wondered why I consider this a good thing to do? I think this approach offers a host of pluses, but let me share just a few of them with you here, in no particular order.

1. It “shows my work” to the people and thereby, ups my credibility. In effect, it silently says to those assembled: “Yes church, I’ve done my homework on this passage and looked at it through several different lenses. I’m not flying by the seat of my pants here. You can take this to the bank.”

2. It exposes people to matters many of them would otherwise never be exposed to in Bible study. It asks: “Did you know there’s a whole new world of understanding out there in a different cover? There’s much to learn from actually studying your Bible.”

3. It models good study habits to the church that they can imitate. It tells people: “Here’s a way you can study, not just read your Bible, and you’re already well equipped to do it. It’s as simple as closely comparing the wording of a text in several different translations and pondering what they have in common and how they differ.”

4. It does healthy pastoral work by allowing the pulpit to reflect the variety of renderings used by the variety of people in a flock. For example, it subtly says to that singular user of the Good News for Modern Man, “No, I haven’t forgotten you; we have this in common.”

5. It allows me to utilize the rendering I sense does the best job of conveying the text’s meaning rather than simply using a version because a lot of people do and then having to explain that version’s quirkiness. Think about how many times you’ve had to say something like this: “The rendering of the _____ is unfortunate here because …” Using a variety of translations lets you get back to wrestling the demons that needs to be grappled with, not the translation demons.

6. It injects just another little bit of variety into a sermon and that helps people remain attentive, thinking, and engaged. You’ll know that’s happening when someone comes up to you afterward and says something like: “Hey preacher, I noticed the ____ uses the word ___ and my version, the ____ uses the word ____ and that got me to thinking …”).

7. It helps put the emphasis where it belongs, on the word of God and not on any one “brand” of God’s word. After all, what we’re about is not about a particular version of the Bible, but the “Thus saith the Lord,” right?”

this went through my mind

Bible translation: Ben Witherington interviews N.T. Wright regarding the upcoming publication of Wright’s translation of the New Testament in his post entitled Tom Wright’s ‘Kingdom New Testament.’

Complaining: Trey Morgan’s post entitled Ten Reasons I Don’t Like People Who Complain is good stuff.

Division: Whether or not you’re a regular reader of matters pertaining to the Civil War, you’ll learn from Bill J. Leonard’s post entitled Slavery and Denominational Schism.

Geography: David Escaped to the Cave of Adullam by Ferrell Jenkins.

Humor: The hot weather had me thinking about snow and what should appear in my Google Reader, but some of my favorites from Calvin & Hobbes. Enjoy.

PoliticsIf God Got Elected  is so true and Reconsidering the “Texas Miracle” is so sadly true.

Parenting: Brandon O’Brien’s review of Kara Powell and Chap Clark’s book Sticky Faith is entitled Can Parents Make Faith Last? Brandon says: “The bulk of the book … is dedicated to offering parents and church leaders who work with children and teens wise practical counsel for helping instill in their kids a faith that sticks (hence “sticky”).

Salvation: Dan Bouchelle’s post entitled You Can’t “Obey the Gospel” by Yourself is required reading.

Self-care: Self-care is a Gift to Another by Jim Martin.

Speech: Rhetoric Isn’t a Bad Thing – 16 Rhetorical Devices Regularly Used by Steve Jobs.