Monday, February 19, 2018

Which version of the Bible should I use?

Several years ago I got into the habit of reading a different translation of the Bible as I have gone through my personal Bible reading. I started out with what I was most familiar and really what I grew up on which was the New King James Version (NKJV). Then I went to what I now deem my favorite translation, the New International Version (NIV). In recent years, I've read through the New American Standard Bible (NASB), as well as the New Living Translation (NLT). Just last week I finished reading through the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). The latest translation I've began to read through is the English Standard Version (ESV). Don’t misunderstand what I just shared with you. This isn’t about getting attention for having read through the Bible a few times or the number of translations I’ve read. This is about getting into a subject that is very personal to followers of Christ. The subject is translations of the Bible. Is there only one correct one to use? Which is best? Is it wrong to only use one translation?

There are some followers of Christ out there that will tell you that if you do not use a particular translation of the Bible then you aren’t using “the” Bible. I actually heard this from a fellow pastor once. The translation that is usually most adamantly defended as being “the one and only Bible” is the King James Version (KJV). Now before anyone gets upset with me, my first Bible was a KJV and I still have it on the shelf in my office, along with two other copies. But the problem is with the narrow view that the KJV is the only version that should be used, not the version itself. Many times those that argue so strongly for the KJV forget to mention that the Biblical texts were originally written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, not in 17th Century English. So technically, "the" Bible was written in languages most Christians can't even read today. Again don’t hear me bashing the KJV or any other specific translation. Do hear me say this; it’s not right to put down believers who do not prefer your preferred translation.The reason why is simple. All translations of the Bible use the same sources, the original manuscripts in Hebrew, Greek, & Aramaic. If they all use the same sources, then you can't discount one with out discounting them all!

In more than 12 years of ministry I’ve used KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV, HCSB, and NLT from the pulpit. If you can’t tell by now I am a big proponent of using varied translations to help us get a better picture of what God is revealing to us through the text. A former chairman of Deacons once reminded me that different translations bring a different perspective. He was right. If you enjoy the language of the KJV and don’t want to use another translation, I understand. If you prefer a translation in modern English like the NIV, NLT, or others (such as the CEV or ESV), then by all means use them. I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try a different translation and see how God will speak to you in a new way. If you do try a different translation, don’t give up on it quickly or easily. Variety is said to be the spice of life, but the important thing is to be in the Word regardless of what translation you use!

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Should you go see Fifty Shades Freed?

With the third and, thankfully, final installment in The Fifty Shades Trilogy set to be released this week on February 9, it seemed like as good a time as any to republish this post. It was written in 2015 at the time the first installment, Fifty Shades of Grey, was released. The truths contained in the post doesn't change with time or with which installment is released. If nothing else, I hope this post will cause you to carefully consider whether you should see Fifty Shades Freed and what value any of these movies add to your spiritual life and marriage.

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Originally Posted: 2/9/2015

I want to preface what I am about to say with this little fact. I've not read the book 50 Shades of Grey and I have no plans to see the movie. So I have limited knowledge about the content of the book or what the movie will contain. That being said I've read enough about the book and movie to understand the gist of what the story entails. With that in mind, let's get started!

Misty and I were talking a few nights ago after seeing the trailer for 50 Shades of Grey on TV. She said she was going to see the movie and wanted to know what I thought. I told her I didn't think it was a movie she would want to see, but she needed to read reviews and then decide for herself if it was a movie she ought to see. I told her I could no more tell her not to see the movie than I could tell her to wash my clothes or cook my supper. But my wife has a twisted sense of humor in the fact that she likes to make comments from time to time to see what kind of rise she can get out of me. You'd think after nearly 13 years of marriage I'd be able to spot these set ups but I can't. She's good at them. She made a comment that endeared her to me all the more after she didn't get quite the rise she expected from me. She basically said she didn't need to see that movie because she respected me as her husband and because of what I mean to her. To me that comment showed me that she wants to avoid one big gray area by skipping 50 Shades of Grey.

Now this post isn't about guilt tripping a person into not seeing 50 Shades of Grey. It's not about saying you don't respect your spouse if you do see it. What I want is for a person to read this post and consider whether they should see 50 Shades of Grey or similar movies. I will be honest with you I have watched movies and witnessed scenes that I had no business watching. Those images are scenes that cannot be unseen. Misty and I watched a movie a few weeks ago that surprised us with scenes that caught us off guard. Unfortunately Hollywood believes that what sells a movie is sex and foul language. It's almost unavoidable when you watch a movie nowadays. But what about movies that blatantly push a distorted view of sex, much less God's intentions for sex. When it comes to a movie like this you have to ask, "What is the reason for going to see 50 Shades of Grey?" Some will say because they read the book or because their friends are going to see it. Some will say they are taking their spouse to see it so its okay. In the end it's not about the justification we give for seeing the movie. It's about what viewing the movie does to us. 

Most will say they can compartmentalize the movie from their normal way of thinking but you really can't. What we take in affects our view of the world around us. In the end we are led towards a place of compromise when we watch a movie that blatantly distorts and perverts something that God created as good. We find ourselves in a gray area between upholding the purity of mind that God expects from us and the obvious acceptance of sin as being okay. The catch is that Satan doesn't have to get you to the dark side. He just needs to get you into the gray area. When he does this...you've already lost. 

So the real question to ask is what is the benefit of watching 50 Shades of Grey? How does it benefit you as a person (or even as a Christian)? How does it benefit your marriage? The truthful answer is it won't benefit anything. You as a believer will only have watched something that will tear at the holiness God intends for you to pursue. As for your marriage, it won't help anything there either. Just ask yourself honestly whether you should see the movie and I think the answer will be pretty clear. 

I'll close with this. I'm sure some read this wanting to hear me tell them why they can't go see this movie. I can no more tell you not to see this movie than I can tell you that you have to read this blog. In the end the decision is yours, not mine. I just want you to consider whether you should see it or not. If you expected to read a post full of Bible verses condemning 50 Shades of Grey and other movies with pornographic images in it then you've read the wrong post. Although I don't think anyone would necessarily need it but if you want some verses that will help you decide whether you should watch it or not, here are a few to consider.

Job 31:1 - It's up to us what we choose to look at.
1 Corinthians 10:23 - Just because it's available to watch doesn't mean it benefits us.
1 Peter 1:15-16 - We are to pursue holiness in all we do.
Psalm 51:10 - Do you desire the purity of heart that God desires for you?


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