Bible

What version of the Bible do you use?

*First posted on Ascent’s Facebook page: Ascent Christian Church Facebook page What Bible version do you use?

This is a question I have been asked several times this past week. I thought I’d share my answer here on our church’s Facebook page.

Without getting into too much detail (I’d be glad to explain further with you offline why I use the version that I use); my preferred version is the ESV (English Standard Version).

The ESV is the version that I perdominatly use for both my personal Bible study and for most of the preaching and teaching I do at Ascent, and the version you will read up on the big screen on Sunday mornings unless otherwise specified.

On occasion, like this past Sunday, I use the NIV 1984 version, and at times I will use my own translation from Hebrew or Greek to English.

Many of us have a favorite version of the Bible we like to read from. I recognize that there are many different versions of the Bible, and I have used many of them for both personal use and for preaching and teaching.

My advice is for you to find the version that is easy for you to read and one you are comfortable with using. If you can, have a couple of different versions to read from—a word-for-word and a thought-for-thought version.

The important thing is for all of us to be reading our Bibles on a consistent basis.

Here is a great resource to help you look at the distinctives of some of the more popular Bible translations: http://www.mardel.com/bible-translation-guide.aspx

Happy reading!

What's the big deal about the movie Noah?

   

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First a little disclaimer: I have not seen the movie, so this is not a review of the the movie itself, but more of an observation of how some Christians react when the things we think we own seem to be under attack.

I am sure the movie is great and I am sure the movie isn't biblically accurate. It's a Hollywood produced movie after all.

The reason for this blog post about the movie Noah...

I sat in a local business the other day and overheard a conversation between three people, all of whom were not Christians and one of them who didn't believe in God at all.

Two of the three people were buying goodies to eat before they went to the movie theater to see the movie Noah (Don't tell Pine Theaters that they brought in their own snacks.).

When they told the salesperson why they were getting snacks, the salesperson said they heard the movie was good, but heard that Christians were condemning the movie because it wasn't accurate to the Bible story—the two young adults who were buying the snacks acknowledge they had heard this as well. The sales person said that she didn't really know the story of Noah or the Bible for that matter and the two other people said so as well.

What one of them said next caused me to pause and think... She said, and I quote...

"It seems everywhere I look, Christians are bickering—bickering about society and culture, bickering about their rights, bickering with other religions, bickering about politics, bickering about homosexuality and gay marriage, bickering with people who don't give a shit about what they believe, bickering with each other, and now bickering about movies... When will they ever stop! If this is an example of who or what they believe in then I don't want to have any part of that—the world is already angry and they just add to the anger... I have yet to meet a Christian who is happy."

 

The two young people agreed with her and added that they thought Christians were suppose to love people and forgive, but the only Christians they knew liked to argue and bully people to believe what they believe in...

 

Can I bicker for a second...

I would've apologized on behalf of Christendom, but I'm sure I would have caused some bickering over the apology... I sat in my corner and kept my mouth shut. I'm not sure if I should have spoken up, but I was too embarrassed to say anything—Yeah, I am sure I have bickered in the past over things like this.

What I don't get is how we (Christians) react sometimes like we own the stories in the Bible. I don't get how we take to social media and berate and belittle people who aren't Christians (Or even with other Christians for that matter), who use stories or "things" that we claim as ours; especially when we think their depiction is inaccurate. It seems as if we somehow feel the need to protect and defend the integity of God and the Bible.

This whole incident made me think about what I want to be known for and what we as Christians should be know for.

We should not be known by how much of the Bible we know or how accurate we can tell a Bible story, but we should be known by our radical love for people because of Jesus.

Don't get me wrong, there is a time to stand up for truth, but we must check the motives of our heart. Are we defending biblical truth because we want to help move someone closer to Jesus or are we doing it so that we can prove we are right and the other person is wrong.

Somehow and in some way, we're forgeting about the command of Jesus to love God and love our neighbors. I think many of us have forgotten that we are ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).

What is more important—to be right or to love?

 

Grace and Peace, Joe

Simple questions to ask ourselves when studying the Bible...

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While the Bible was written to an ancient audience—the Bible is Also for Us Today.

The Bible was written to be understood. It was written in common languages of the times (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic).

The Bible was written to be used in our daily lives.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for ever good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Bible was also written to help make us wise for salvation.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:14-15

Simple questions to ask ourselves when we study the Bible...

  • Who wrote the passage or verse?
  • To whom was it written?
  • What did it mean to those to whom it was written?
  • What can I apply to my life today?

Search the scriptures with others...

Bible-StudyAlso I am a firm believer in studying the Bible with others. So many times we think Bible study is something that we do alone, but one of the best ways I found to really get a balanced grasp on what the scriptures are revealing to me is when I study them with others.

"Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." Acts 17:11

We can trust what is written in the Bible as true and useful for our lives today!

Advent...

Photo Credit: Unknown  

Jay Ewing, a friend of mine, created an Advent reading list that you can utilize for yourself or with your family. This list of scriptures can help enrich your time as you look forward to celebrating Jesus' birth.

 

"Advent is the art of patience." - Brian Zahnd

Advent is the season where we expectantly wait and prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Enjoy! Be sure to share how you are using the reading list.

Click on the .pdf link below and begin reading...

Advent 2013 pdf

Anyone But God, Please Give Me Atta Boy!

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I have committed to reading the gospels over the next four months; basically a gospel a month it's not an exact science. I know I will finish each gospel before the month is out, but each I wanted to leave myself some cushion at the end of each month to allow for my procrastination, and for other things that might disrupt my reading plan.

The reason why I embarked on this journey was to just take time and dwell *in* Jesus, I do believe he is with me on this reading adventure, and I didn't want anything else to get in the way. I am easily distracted and know that the less I am reading, the more it is possible that I will accomplish this (I am also reading Eugene Peterson's book, "A Memoir: The Pastor").

I started with the gospel of John; I know it's a little out of order, but it's where I started. Sometimes I do things that don't make sense... Any ways, I have been hit in the face several times in my reading of John's gospel, but this one verse hit me so hard it felt like I broke my nose.

Here it is...

"For they loved praise from men more than praise from God" - John 12:43

I am not going to lie. More times than not, I seek and desire approval from men more than I do God. I think if all of us were to be honest, we would agree that this would be true to some extent (Except for you Pharisees who have this spirituallity stuff all figured out... I joke, I joke. Well kind of...).

To be frank. I know I shouldn't seek the praise of men more than I do praise from God. You know what though? Sometimes, immediate praise of men feel better than praise from God. Maybe it's because of daddy issues I might have or maybe it's because of some narcissim that I struggle through, I don't know forsure. What I do know is that there are times when I want people to like me and I want them to tell me how good I am.

Think about it. Search your heart.

I am and there are times I find things that are ugly, dark, and messed up. I am not proud of this, infact I am a bit disgusted with it. Much like the religious rulers that John made that comment about; I do believe in Jesus, but fear grips my heart and I get apprehensive that I could get "thrown out of the synagogue" so to speak (Insert whatever your afraid of losing or what your sinful desires grave and lust after).

When I lose my head and my focus on what really matters, my courage to stand up for truth and to love like Jesus quavers a bit.

I think that is why Hebrews 12:1-3 was written. The Father knows that we are weak and need to be reminded that there is a very good chance all of us will get tired and lose heart.

I really don't have any magic words or a silver bullet to bestow about this subject other than to day don't give up. Don't quit! Keep moving forward, and have laser focused eyes on Jesus. Know that God's grace and praise is more valuable and significant and last forever. Man's praise while meaningful is fickle and near-sighted.

Romans 8:15 is a great reminder of our need to only seek God's praise, because of our relationship with Him...

"The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”