Diving into Scripture as community

Continuing off this interview, this is a thought about reading the Bible as community.

What can churches do to encourage deeper engagement with Scripture?

Simply facilitate a more communal Bible reading experience. It’s amazing what happens when people get together, and instead of studying right away, they just experience the Bible in big readings and shared readings—going around the room, or listening to someone skilled in reading a big portion of it. But we just don’t hear it much anymore. The Bible was born in an oral culture. It was something people would have heard, not seen.

Then it’s important to allow for discussion of Scripture. The analogy I use is of the synagogue. In Scripture you have these stories of what happens when Jesus or Paul go into the synagogue. You can tell from those stories that the settings were interactive. It wasn’t just the rabbi or leader delivering a monologue and everyone leaving. There was interaction, and everyone was expected to take part. With Paul, even when people aren’t liking what he’s saying, he’s invited back the next week to do it again.

We’ve lost the ability to process the Bible in community. We always think that someone has to be right. And that if someone is wrong, they have to be silenced or we have to leave. We just don’t have a high tolerance for a diversity of opinions. In the New Testament, there were strong opinions, and in many cases they turned into deal-breakers. But we start there. We need more open, healthy discussions. We need to get away from this idea of just me and my Bible and my private opinions, and have more open, communal discussions of Scripture.

Resolved for 2015: Living a life of repentance

Two words the Lord gave me for our church and for my own life going into 2015:

1. Transformation

2. Multiplication

Transformation is best summed up in these words of Jesus (from the Common English Bible):

17 From that time Jesus began to announce, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” (Matt. 4:17)

It is about changing our hearts and lives. Kingdom living and thinking is just not on the same level as the junk of this world. The picture I have in my own mind for 2015 is going up to a table FULL of junk… just piled high with stuff that doesn’t get dealt with over time… and shoving it off the table. All of it. Don’t even try to sort it. Dump it off, take it to the trash, and start new.

Now, let the King arrange that table.

It is time to change our way of thinking. The Master Teacher will bring in new application, new ideas, and the power to get it done. But we have to shove the junk of this world’s thinking out.

There were three things the Lord gave me that I will do immediately to symbolize shoving off the junk in my life. They must be done quickly and without mercy. They are only symbols for me, but still powerful.

The other challenge is an “easy” one for me, but I will enter it because I want to challenge others. It is the #Biblefor21 challenge from YouVersion Bible. I will pledge to read and Tweet Bible passages every day for the first 21 days of January. I want to be ROOTED in the written Word! I may not Tweet a particular passage from one of their plans, but I will be going through my daily reading and sharing along the way. Join me!

It is time to live a life of repentance. It’s not a one time action. It is a constant action to allow the King to keep setting the table.

A new Bible publishing venture

It’s not about a new translation… thank God!

It’s about a new venture to try and appeal to the DESIGN of the Bible. How it looks and reads compared to other novels and books we put in our hands. It’s also about an appeal to excellence in publishing once again.

It’s a Kickstarter phenom right now, having blown past his original funding goal by four times with three weeks to go.

The Kickstarter video is HERE.

The website for the project is HERE.

The beginning of a two part interview with the premier Bible design blog on the web is HERE.

Four elegant volumes designed for enjoyable reading
The four volume set Bibliotheca will produce.

Paper or… digital?

A recent BibleGateway poll found that people still like taking a physical Bible to church. Overwhelmingly.

I haven’t found that percentage to be SO high in our church. There are a good number of people using their phones or tablets now. But we still have a majority using physical Bibles.

While I am getting more adapted to putting notes into a digital format Bible, I still love holding a physical Bible when I teach and preach.

What has been your experience?

Clarity and accuracy in translation are helpful

Over the years I have done a very bad thing in the eyes of scholars. I have drifted more toward translations that work to make the text more readable. For ESV, NASB, NRSV, and RSV lovers… I am a heretic. For KJV only people, I’ve been apostate for years.

I still use “word for word” translations, but for preaching and group study, I look more toward less formal and more readable. I still want “accurate.” But in translation, that is simply a moving target. I just don’t want someone who is fairly new in the faith to try to have to “translate” an English word or phrase!

In my Lenten reading this morning, there is this verse in Gen. 42:

12 He said to them, “No, it is the nakedness of the land that you have come to see.” (ESV)

The “nakedness of the land?” What? They came to hit the strip clubs?

One great function of BibleGateway is the parallel translation feature. I put three translation options HERE.

The beauty of several translations is realizing we can have accuracy AND clarity. It’s not always “word for word,” but it WILL communicate the truth of the passage.

Bible Reading and Bible Living

A new Barna poll is out regarding “Bible Minded Cities.” My own metropolitan area (the Twin Cities) ranks 81. That’s not very high, if you’re keeping score.

In Lutheran land, where people don’t actually carry Bibles because they’re in the pews at church, is this really “surprising?”

What is the great mystery, of course, is HOW do they reach these rankings? What are the criteria? What does “Bible minded” really mean?

Plus, the great joke is you may actually be reading your Bible, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into living your Bible.

At any rate, congratulations to Knoxville, TN for whatever it is they do better than the rest of the country!

The Common English Bible — A Year Later

Last Advent season I was part of the blogger series for the Common English Bible. They extended their blogging series through Lent, then to Pentecost, so I spent many months using the Common English Bible along with the NIV2011 in my teaching and preaching.

Once the blogging event was over last spring, I still found myself drawn to the Common English Bible. While my main teaching and preaching continued to be from the NIV, I would always refer to the Common English Bible for a fresh look. The more I kept using the Bible, the more I have grown to really admire this translation. It is completely “modern,” in that the vernacular will wear out in about ten years or less. It means fresh updates frequently. That’s one downside.

I’m still getting through that “Human One” vs. the “Son of Man” thing. That’s another downside.

But this translation is really a decent read for me. I rarely trip up over words if I read it publicly. The reading is very smooth. Also, I am desiring more and more to have access to the Deuterocanonical Books, and my edition of the CEB in print and on my Olive Tree Reader has that. While I don’t access those books often, I want to have them available. Reading the Deuterocanonical Books in the CEB is refreshing.

I think this is a good translation to give to people who can’t slog through a King James like experience. It is easier to get into the text, and that should be the point. It is a faithful translation, in my view, of Orthodox Christianity, and useful for study and reading.