The Beauty of the Process

When it comes to getting what we want:

We like speed,

not serenity.

We like access,

and its expectancy.

We demand now,

but not later.

We love here,

but want to be there.

We love the event,

not process.

We want it all,

not one thing less.

I’m learning that sometimes the process is where beauty resides. Being a disciple of Christ is not an event to which I suddenly arrive. It is a process. It is no secret that some of the best things take time. Some things have a quantifiable end or reward. In those cases the reward and journey are equally the prize. Think of a football team who recently won the Super Bowl. Surely the hard work of the season was rewarding, but winning the championship is an amazing reward as well. If you diminish the value of either the reward or the journey, you miss out on the glory of the entire story. However, many matters of spirituality and spiritual growth are not as easily quantifiable and are much more of a gradual process rather than something that is accomplished overnight or even over a few years.

One of my favorite things about making coffee or tea is the process I go through to prepare my drink. The process of making coffee in a French press is one of my favorite things about making coffee in the first place. My wife recently bought me a nice teapot and the same principle applies there. If I want good coffee or tea, I must submit to the process. Boil water. Grind beans. Pour into press. Pour water into press. Stir. Wait four minutes. Stir again. Pour.

And I’m beginning to see the value in learning to enjoy this ritualistic process of following the steps and seeing the beauty in each passing moment. In New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton suggests that every moment is an opportunity to reflect on something about the Kingdom or against it. The same is true with our actions. We can work towards advancing the Kingdom or remain comfortable and likely do more damage than good. I believe God is a God of movement. Even when we are “still” there is work to be done. Sometimes the work is abiding and resting and other times it is tilling the fields or collecting the harvest. The work is simply one stage in the process.

I believe our processes are the same way. With the French Press, if I decide to speed up the process, the rich and bold flavor of the coffee will be lost and replaced with something bland, watered-down and only a fraction of what it could have been. If I see each passing step as an opportunity for Kingdom work rather than “a step to get through” I will see the glory in each moment. It is a temptation to make the process self-centered and perceive the progress through the lens of my own thoughts and feelings. This is the tragic fallacy in following God: creating a followership of God that still manages to be centered on ourselves.

Process also implies forward motion. If I stay in one stage of the process for too long, that greatly affects the outcome as well. Let’s just stay with the coffee analogy. If I pour the water in the press with the grinds and let it steep for hours and hours, the water becomes cold, the grinds become over brewed and the taste is terrible. When I see the opportunity to take a step in progress, I must take it. I realize this isn’t a perfect analogy because sometimes you stay in the same “step” for years or maybe decades. However, I think it speaks to the importance of our need to be aware of that next step and take it when it comes. But before that next step presents itself, sometimes the best thing you can do is simply see the beauty in the current stage.

How am I ruining the process?

Am I missing the beauty of today by anticipating the glories of tomorrow?

What must I do to slow down to not only recognize the process around me but learn to respect and enjoy it?

-SHF

Pastor, Come Preach to My Neighbors.

I recently listened to a radio interview with Steven Johnson who is the author of the book Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age. In the book, he discusses what can happen when political movements and technological advancements begin at the individual and small group level rather than starting at the top and trickling down. In short, it’s much more effective. I have not read the book, but heard him discuss some of the topics with the radio host as well as engaging with some callers.

What was interesting was that Johnson was talking about this like it was something brand new. Maybe in the book he explains that it is not, but the interview proved otherwise. I immediately jumped to Jesus’ discipleship methods and his sending of his disciples to change the world. He wasn’t going to stick around and do all the work himself. Rather, he would equip his closest followers to accomplish his purposes on earth after he ascended into heaven. But he promised he would always be with us through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is nothing new, but it made me think about how great things can happen when the people of God living with purpose and working in their communities, neighborhoods, and families.

Then I had this simple thought.

It’s not my pastor’s job to change my neighborhood.

It’s my job.

Seems pretty simple. What I mean by this is that sometimes I delegate the “hard” jobs to the “professionals” thereby granting myself the excuse to remain comfortable. It makes no logical sense to expect Pastor Greg or anyone else to come speak to my neighbors and preach the Gospel to them. The Lord has placed leadership in their current position to equip, encourage and inspire their flock to be agents in the Kingdom wherever they go. But this doesn’t mean they are the only ones responsible for doing Kingdom work. It is extremely lazy and against the teachings of Jesus to expect someone else to engage people you know with the Gospel.

I live where I live for a reason. I drink coffee where I drink coffee for a reason. Recognizing and acting on these divine placements is what it means to live missionally.

What Does Yom Kippur Have to do With Christian Faith?

Quite a lot.

Yom Kippur began this past evening and continues until sundown today. You’ve probably seen it on calendars and maybe you know what it’s all about. I figured I’d offer a brief look at what it is and what it means for Christians.

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) marks the day on the Jewish calendar where The Lord forgave the Israelites’ sins each year. Leviticus 16 tells us that on this day and this day only, The Lord met the High Priest inside the Holy of Holies at the lid of the ark, also called the Mercy Seat (Hebrew word kapporet). Every year, the high priest offered a sacrifice for sin on behalf of the Israelites. You can read the Lord’s direction on how to build the tabernacle and its contents in Exodus 25-40. Here is what it looked like:

20120922-140540.jpg

Interestingly, the word “mercy seat” appears twice in the New Testament. The first is Romans 3:25. Messianic Jewish translator, David Stern translates the verse in this way: “God put Jesus forward as the kapparah for sin through his faithfulness in respect to his bloody sacrificial death.”

The second place the term occurs is Hebrews 9:5, where it is used in discussing the presence of God descending onto the Mercy Seat (the lid of the ark).

What does this mean? Simply put, God deals with the penalty of sin through sacrifice. In the Old Testament, no sin could be atoned for without the shedding of blood. In order to redeem and reconcile the world to himself, God had to shed blood. But it is not our own blood that is shed, even though we are most deserving of that punishment. Rather, in his unfathomable love He shed his own blood to atone for the sins of all people. The reason why this sacrifice is so complete is because the offering was perfect. The requirement was fulfilled once and for all. As Leviticus 16 tells us, the priest had to be ritually and ceremonially clean in order to enter the Holy of Holies and the sacrifice he offered had to be given every year. Jesus is so much more than ceremonially pure and his sacrifice does not need to be repeated.

With that in mind, read Hebrews 9:11-14. Spend a moment praying over this Scripture.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:11-14 ESV)

Amen. Amen. Amen.
Thank you Jesus.

-SHF

If you’re interested, here’s some books that might help you if you’d like to learn more:
Jewish New Testament and Jewish New Testament Commentary – David Stern
Jewish Background of the New Testament – J. Julius Scott
Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament – Christopher J. H. Wright
How to Worship a King – Zach Neese

The Baffled Mind.

I’ve enjoyed reading Wendell Berry lately. I suppose I’m a bit late to the club on this one, but nonetheless I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of his poems specifically.

I came across a quote from him that resonated greatly with the way that we work and the resistance we encounter. We balance the vision and the practical task itself. The dream and the reality. There is so much wisdom in his words. I hope you enjoy this quote and gain from it something meaningful.

There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Wendell Berry

Tasks that are worthwhile will surely come upon resistance. Read the stories of any successful business, organization or church ministry. Look at the life of Christ. Every word Jesus spoke was scrutinized by religious leaders and they challenged him every step of way. Even his own disciples questioned his decisions at times. It’s safe to say that resistance may come at every single turn. But according to Berry that is where the real work begins.

-SHF

The Dangerous Act of Counting the Cost.

Being a follower of Christ must cost something. Maybe everything. If it does not, you are: 1.) In denial, 2.) in for a rude awakening, and/or 3.) misunderstanding Jesus’ call to be a disciple.

Jesus himself says that following him and being his disciple will demand that we abandon earthly concerns and fix our focus on the kingdom of God. In Matthew 8:18-22, Jesus gives the command that the dead should bury their own dead. Looking to the Jewish context of the exchange, the man who said he had to bury his father did not mean his father was literally dead and he had to go bury him. Messianic Jewish scholar David Stern explains that this statement meant that “[this man] wished to go home, live in comfort with his father till his death perhaps years hence, collect his inheritance and then, at his leisure, become a disciple.” This was not the kind of allegiance Jesus was seeking. As much as I try to rationalize it, there really is no way to be a part-time disciple. For the believer seeking to grow, this is the equivalent of deciding to eat only 1 small meal per week on a Sunday and hoping you still get all the nutrients you need to be healthy.

The desires of the flesh take precedence over our desire to be faithful disciples of Christ. Jesus’ response to the man was clear: we must not leisurely be disciples on our own timetable, following Jesus at our own pace. That is not discipleship focused on Christ and the Kingdom, rather it is focused on our own comforts. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Discipleship is not an offer that man makes to Christ.” Christ is the one who makes the offer, and it is on his terms. And it should be this way. The one who is greater must be discipling those who are lesser. However, we are often blinded by our own will and desires and begin to dictate the terms of this sacred, greater and lesser, transformative relationship.

I believe this is why so many people fall away from the faith: it might end up costing more than you are willing to give. Anything that is held dear may be commanded to be relinquished for the good of the Kingdom and for the spiritual growth of the individual. Being a disciple is dangerously adventurous; for one can never know where, when or how the Lord chooses to use his disciples.

I believe there is a difference between casual followership and active discipleship. A disciple is continually striving to me like the one discipling. George Barna noted the difference between simply following and being a disciple when he said, for the first disciples, “being a follower of Christ was an all-consuming obsession.” One is not being a disciple if the desire to be made into the likeness of Christ is delegated to a service on Sunday and a small group study during the week. The obsessive, zealot-like attitude is what separates a disciple from a follower. From this disctinction, all disciples are followers of Jesus but not all followers are faithful disciples. Barna further explains this point by explaining his followership of the Yankees does not come to the point of being obsessed. He remains a casual follower and is content to stay that way. The Yankees winning or losing doesn’t really influence his day-to-day life. Following Jesus in the form of active, obsessive discipleship demands much more commitment than the way a casual follower keeps up with a sports team.

-Stewart

Ears to Hear: Parables and Beatles Bass Lines.

As a musician, it always surprises me that I can listen to a song that I’ve heard hundreds of times and suddenly “find” something new. Sometimes it is a very subtle part or something layered deep within the mix. Sometimes it is something that seems distinctly obvious but is being overshadowed by something that caught my ear first. Either way, it is always a joy to listen to a song and come away with a new perspective on the contents.

I’ll never forget the moment I was most impacted by Paul’s bass playing. I was in a hotel room in Paris and was winding down after a long day of sightseeing. Having spent a week in England prior to this, I found it fitting to listen to some Beatles as I was going to sleep. I had also just finished reading Here, There Everywhere so I was listening to their albums a bit differently and much more critically. The movement, precision and subtle genius on “Lovely Rita” from Sgt. Peppers literally sat me up in my bed. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The song had new life. The low end was driving the song and I could then hear nothing but the bass line. From then on, the entire album sounded different as I honed in on different parts. I’m sure I had heard these things before, but now I heard them.

He who has ears, let him hear. (Matt. 13:9)

Jesus talked about this kind of listening when he explained his parables. It is one thing to listen to the story he is telling, but it is another thing completely to fully understand the message and apply it to my life. The other day I came across a quote from Soren Keirkegaard on how we as Christians react to the teachings of the Bible:

The matter is quite simple. The bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close.

Reading the teachings of Jesus inspires two responses: to follow or not to follow. There really is no in between. In our society, it is so unpopular to be black and white, but these aren’t my words, they are Jesus’ (Matt. 6:24). When we read his words, we must be willing for our lives to be open to whatever way he may bring about his Kingdom on earth. Having ears to hear might mean doing something radical. Or it might be abiding in his presence, trusting and being content in where you are. That is the power of such divine revelation. As we contemplate, pray and obey it changes they way we see the world. And it changes us.

I think about what “Lovely Rita” would sound like without that bass line. It would probably be quite boring and would lack the spark that gives the song such energy. I don’t want a “bass-less” version of my faith. I desire wisdom, knowledge and understanding rather than ignorance, comfort and safety. Following Jesus demands much more than casually reading his teachings and accepting them as nice stories. What he desires for us is life, freedom and joy that comes from humbly obeying his perfect teachings.

He who has ears, let him hear.

-SHF

Cultural Surroundings: A Lesson from Catholics in Mexico.

I seem to often write about culture and how the church should respond to cultural shifts. Clearly, the Church must not be an isolated club, but an living body that engages with culture in a way that represents the teachings of Christ.

James K.A. Smith posted recently on Twitter that the church needs to move past simply acknowledging that the church cares about culture and move further towards to the question of how we do that. Pragmatically, this is quite challenging. Many churches are doing a great job. I love hearing about the amazing work that goes on at the Dream Center here in North Charleston. Living Bread is another fantastic ministry planting churches among the global poor. It is my firm belief that one of the best ways to accomplish the task of caring for culture is simply to find ways to serve our communities in the name of Christ. I also believe that looking at some cases in history could be quite revealing in the way we are to engage (and hopefully change) culture and avoid some mistakes that have been made in the past. I love researching and it didn’t take long to find a good example.

One case is the Catholic church’s presence in Mexico after a series of political changes that took place during the middle of the 19th Century involving Mexico and the US. The religious and political climate in Mexico was changing drastically, and the Catholic authorities from Rome sent many new ministers from the East to assist in the expansion process. The previous generation of priests had great concerns for the poor and often chose to live amoung the poor in order to best serve them. The newer generation did things a bit differently. Where the church went wrong was that the newer generation of priests sought to impose Eastern ways of doing church onto the Mexican people. As Justo Gonzalez stated, “the new [priests] brought from the East…mostly settled among the English-speaking settlers and were content with saying mass for the deprived Mexicans.” That doesn’t sound like the Gospel being lived out in our lives: serving the poor, giving to the needy, caring for the widows, orphans and least of these, etc. It sounds like having a church service on Sunday morning and being content with that being the extent of the church’s involvement in the community.

What can we learn from this account in history? 5 things:

1.) We must never place our own comfort or preferences above people we are trying to impact with the Gospel.

2.) In the honest attempt to administer the Truth, we must continually be aware of physical needs of people in the congregation. Then find ways to meet that physical need. This is administering the gospel by deed.

3.) What works with one congregation will not work with all. And that’s okay. But we need to be flexible in realizing something may not be working and find a better way that fits the cultural context more appropriately.

4.) Cultural change may not always come from the top and move downward in the hierarchal chain. Sometimes change happens from the ground up. (The rest of the story in Mexico involves the excommunication of Father Antonio Jose Martinez by the Catholic Church for his refusal to take unnecessary funds from the poor in his area. He continued serving the poor, regardless of his excommunication.)

5.) When the Church is separated from the poor, it is no longer acting like the Church.

While caring for the poor may not always be the most popular decision, it is one that must not be overlooked if communities are going to be changed, lives are to be impacted, and more and more families come into knowledge of the saving grace of Christ from the witness of His Church in the world. It also takes individuals who are willing to step out and be the hands and feet of Christ for a hurting and desperate world.

If you are interested in reading more about this portion of Christian history, check out The Story of Christianity: The Reformation to Present Day by Justo Gonzalez, especially chapters 27 and 29.

Faith and Fatherhood.

I’ve been thinking about faith as a verb lately. Certainly faith in its noun form is something I have and that defines the parameters that assist me in navigating how I live my life. Faith must also be something I do. Merely thinking about faith doesn’t move mountains. (James 2:17) It takes acting in faith, walking in the confidence that God is who he says he is and completely trusting that he can accomplish mighty things through those who are obedient and faithful.

The Bible frequently mentions the faith of Abraham. Hebrews 11 sums up the Old Testament account in Genesis 22 of Abraham’s willingness to offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice in obedience to God. The Israelities were continually tempted to follow the practices of the surrounding religions which included the abominable practice of child sacrifice, so it seems quite strange that Abraham was willing to follow God’s seemingly absurd command, given that God continually commanded his people to be set apart from the temptations of surrounding peoples. But he obeyed despite the peculiar nature of the request. His obedience was not out of fear of punishment, but from an assurance of faith, knowing that God’s plans were much more important than his own. His faith was a verb. Had his faith remained a noun, he could have been content to remain comfortable thinking and dwelling on his faith rather that acting and moving in faith. Abraham also relied on God’s track record. This was the same God who gave him a son when he was such an old man, staying true to His word. This is why his faith has been celebrated for centuries and will continue to be praised until the end of time. His faith vehenmently protected a religious identity to ensure that Israel would be the instrument of God’s grace in bringing salvation for the entire world.

I’ve only been a father for less than two weeks. I’ve known my son Elliott for a very short time in comparison to Abraham’s relationship with Isaac. Genesis tells us that Isaac was a young man at the time of testing so it is logical to conclude that they potentially had a very significant father/son bond by this time. I find it extremely difficulty to imagine having the faith to walk my son up a mountain with the full intention of sacrificing him on an altar, no matter his age.

But I do not feel this is a reason to feel bad about myself. I believe the emotions we feel towards our children is a God-given glimpse of his affections for us. However, it reveals to me a desire for a deeper faith.

Since we are looking at faith as a verb, I believe it is something that can be practiced and learned as we grow. The example of such strong faith is given so that we may strive towards a faith that is greater than what we have currently. And Hebrews 11 give us such wonderful examples of people acting “by faith.”

At the end of my time on earth, there may not be an excerpt in a famous book about the ways I acted by faith. But I hope and pray that when I see the Lord face to face that I can be confident in the fact that I did everything I could to follow Him obediently by faith, to lead my family in faith and to impact my surrounding community with the knowledge of saving faith by expressing that faith in a loving, compassionate way.

Boy, it takes faith to be a parent. I’ve learned that already.

-SHF

Worshipping From the Ground Up.

One of the reasons I love history is because I enjoy studying how something came to be. Whether it is the origin of a nation, discovering the journeys of influential people or surveying the evolution of a particular way of thinking, I love to discover the entire story of the topic right from the very beginning. It is no secret that many great things have humble origins. The savior of the universe was born to an average family in a stable. Look at influential corporations like Apple and Starbucks. They started somewhere, and it wasn’t always glamourous.

Worship must have humble beginnings as well. Worship that originates from any kind of pride or lofty selfish ambition will surely fall face first eventually. So it is best to start with your nose to the ground, so to speak.

In Engaging with God, David Peterson provides a great explanation of the definition of worship and how it encourages such humble beginnings. The Greek word “to worship” (proskynein) is most commonly translated as a gesture of kneeling or prostration while some believe it also references to a kiss of respect or adoration. Either way, one party is greater than the other and the lesser is giving honor to the greater. Peterson also provides an interesting elaboration of the word’s meaning. He says that it is similar to the customs of the time described as “casting oneself on the ground, as a total bodily gesture of respect before a great one, kissing his feet, the hem of his garment or the ground.” I believe this sheds light on the expected attitude of our hearts when it comes to worship. I find this definition amazingly revealing about how I am called to live a lifestyle of worship that continually seeks to honor the one greater than myself.

This lifestyle of worship must be cognizant of God’s presence in our lives. But the simple awareness of his presence in our lives is not enough. We must respond and it is the recognition of that beautiful reality that leads us to the level of devotion and worship which God alone is worthy to receive. When our eyes are opened to the wonders He is working, worship is the only appropriate response. But we can’t see those things if we aren’t spiritually (and sometimes physically!) prostrate towards God.

Worship must be preceded by humility.

Seems pretty simple. But it isn’t that easy.

I’m guilty of attempting to worship God in addition to something else. That is worship preceded by something other than bringing praise to God. My idols include myself, my family, culture, music, Christian culture, etc. My concerns over other areas of my life will gradually work themselves out as I continually remind myself of the need be entirely prostrate before an awesome and mighty God. And I need to be reminded of this need daily, hourly and sometimes every 3 minutes.

Take a minute and take note of His mighty presence in your life. Consider His power, His majesty and the depths of His love and mercy. Respond in humility and respond in worship.

The Questions:

What am I bowing towards?

Is my worship originating from a place of humility or a place of anything else?

Is my worship the entire gesture of spiritual prostration or simply the portion of my soul I’m willing to give up?

-SHF

Language and Translations, Peterson and Luther

Sometimes I forget that people do things differently that I do. I love to study and research. Some people despise it and they have other gifts and talents that I do not possess. This doesn’t mean one way of learning or going through life is better than the other. People are simply put together differently, and its beautiful.

When it comes to translations of the Bible, I hope I am not closed minded. Maybe I should be, I don’t know. I used to be a Message basher, thinking that it distorted the beauty of the text (even though I still believe that’s true in some places, but I’ll come back to that). When I started seminary, that internal bashing became even more brutal and I’m a bit ashamed to admit it. But recently, I’ve tried to take a step back on some things and evaluate the beauty in differences.

A few posts ago, I talked about language and its importance in dealing with culture. In some ways, the Message walks a thin line in using language from our current culture and in turn it can confuse and mislead a reader on what is being said. For instance, look at the book of Psalms. Especially chapter 119. One of the reasons I love the Psalms is because each one is work of literary art and they paint word pictures that nurture the soul. The literary quality is lost in the Message and I just can’t read the Psalms and many sections of the Old Testament in that translation because I miss the poetic beauty of the writing.. But in the end, the narrative story of God’s interaction with humanity is preserved and described in a way that the average person can pick up and comprehend.

If the Word of God isn’t accessible, how can it be applied in our lives?

I was thinking about this for a few days and my mind went to Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible into German. Obviously, Luther was not an average lay person and his translation was from a highly informed and well-versed position. He did not take many of the liberties that Eugene Peterson takes in his translation (though he did take a few: Romans 3:28 adding alone). Both are considered Biblical scholars and teachers but it would be wrong to put Luther and Peterson in the exact same category. So don’t think I’m comparing them too closely.

However, they both saw the need for the Word of God to be available in the vernacular. I realize Peterson’s “vernacular” is cultural while Luther’s work was an actual language translation. But again, their intentions seem to be similar. One purpose of both translations was to make it possible for any person to read and study the Bible in a language they understood.

Owen Chadwick states, “[throughout the centuries] the new translations were doing better what the Reformation had wanted, making the text of the Bible understood by the ordinary person in the ordinary pew.” What a great opportunity for the modern believer. It would be great if the average believer wanted to study the ESV or dive into Greek and Hebrew, but in short: they just don’t seem to care that much. Nor do they have the time. So leaders must be continually giving people resources to study, learn and grow in their relationship with Christ and anything that helps them to simply read and understand the Bible is a win in my book.

In my opinion, Eugene Peterson’s Message does that. It puts the Bible into the “vernacular” that the average, non-student-minded person can easily read. Should it be used as a study Bible? Not hardly. Is it my favorite translation? Not at all. I was talking with some friends about this today and one mentioned that if you use the Message, you should read it alongside a better translation, and I agree completely. I also believe that a reader of the active Word of God in the Message translation is given the opportunity to understand what God is saying and is then challenged to go deeper. A person can study a particular passage in more depth and understanding after the initial contact and interaction has been accomplished in reading Peterson’s translation. With today’s technology, it is even easier to switch back and forth between translations if you are using some form of online Bible like YouVersion. I would hope the Message would bring about some questions for the reader and they would dig for answers in other translations and commentary sources.

Is this “dumbing” down the Word? Maybe and maybe not. But I believe God continually meets people where they are because He surely has to “dumb” things down for me to understand them.

The Message does paint some nice word pictures in some sections, and those pictures are derived from the truths written in the original text. And these word pictures use images that are easily recognized by the modern reader. A similar example comes from music. Modern worship music finds inspiration from the Word of God but it doesn’t always say the truth in the exact wording of the passage but the truth housed in the song is preserved and proclaimed. And that is beautiful in any form it is presented, as long as it is true. I pray I have eyes to see the truth presented in ways that seem different to me and acknowledge the fact that God works in a much larger way that I could ever imagine.

The Questions:

Which translation do you read most regularly and why?

Which translation did you grow up reading?

Does the truth in the Word of God need help in being accessible or is the truth easily understood by everyone?