Comfort for Us Who are Left Behind

Not “Left Behind” (like that book series). Left behind as we remember those who have gone on before us.

1 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
2 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
3 and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
4 For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
5 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
6 like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.
7 In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.
8 They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them forever.
9 Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,
and he watches over his elect.
(The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Wis 3:1–9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Eternal Memory.

James 2:1 in the CEB and the NRSV

I looked at James 2:1 in the Common English Bible and found it to be interesting because the phrase “deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ” was not in the NIV or ESV. Is the connotation there? If we are showing favoritism, are we denying the faithfulness of Christ?

My brothers and sisters, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory. (CEB)

The NRSV puts the verse into a question and comes closer to what the CEB did:

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 

What IS clear in this verse is a believer can not hold faith in Christ AND favoritism at the same time. It is much like Jesus saying, “You can’t serve two masters.”

When that is the underlying statement, the CEB does make sense… while putting in a phrase that isn’t really there…

I will admit this is a place where I struggle with the dynamic equivalence idea of translation. However, I can see the point in drawing something out to make the underlying statement more clear. That is still part of the translation process.


How I Became a Liberal

I’m a Bible junkie. As a pastor, I love preaching the Word and studying translations just to get different angles on how the text is translated. Out of Bible college I really loved the NASB. Well, no one else did. The NIV was king.

Recently I have loved the banter between TNIV and ESV fans. (Banter is the nice word. It gets nastier, obviously.) Over the years I have grown fond of the NRSV as well. My love for church history has made me more aware of the Apocrypha and my reading has included it from time to time.

One of the “bantering” points between TNIV and the ESV has been more along the lines of which one is more “pure” for “real” Christians. Recently, I was jarred once again by the perception that the NRSV is considered a “liberal” translation. Why? Really… because liberal denominations use it.

One comment on a blog actually went so far to say: “The next time you see someone denying miracles, the virgin birth, justification by faith, Christ being the ONLY way, six day creation or the innerancy of Scriptures (among other crucial doctrines), see what translation they prefer.” (Meaning, of course, the flaming liberal MUST be using the NRSV.)

Thus, reading the NRSV leads one to be a liberal.

So, I’ve spent large blocks of time reading the NRSV over the past few years and I’ve discovered that when I read it, all of a sudden I’m overcome with an urge to phone in a pledge to Green Peace. If I keep reading too long, I’m overcome with urges to read The Origin of Species. I’ve often been tempted to hand in my preaching credentials in my Pentecostal denomination because I’m wondering if miracles are true. It’s then I slam the NRSV shut and quickly pick up a TNIV or ESV. I’m then overcome with emotions to sing, “Soon and Very Soon,” send my donations to Concerned Women for America, and vote Republican.

So, I’ve found it to be true. Yes, the NRSV does indeed make one have overwhelming desires to be a liberal.

Be warned.



New Year’s resolutions are tough. Yet, there are some spiritual exercises I want to increase in my life.

1. Increase in prayer.

We will open the new year with a week of prayer. We will have a silent retreat in February. The Lord is challenging me in fasting and prayer. I need to call out on God in a more intense way this next year.

2. Preaching and study.

It’s tough, but I am going to try to stick to one translation. The HCSB hasn’t been a favorite. Despite not liking how they handle the gender issue, I am going to give it a go and see if I can use it on a regular basis. At church, I will be preaching through Thessalonians, and then possibly the Gospel of John. I long for a return to expository preaching and keeping at that discipline for a time.

There are so many more areas, but I want to be RESOLVED in my walk with the Lord. This past semester as I have taught Ephesians, I have had a deeper desire to grab hold of the vast riches of the Kingdom of God. It takes intentionality! Be resolved!

A NEW Translation Being Formed…

Yes! Yet another English translation. No… we obviously do not have enough! This one is called the Common English Bible. It seems the intention here is to be less on the conservative side (whatever that means) and more to the NRSV side. I like the NRSV, along with the TNIV, NLT, etc., so I believe the target audience is “mainline” protestants. They have posted the Gospel of Matthew and are looking for feedback. If you like, take a look and see what you think.