Untangling Versions. (How to Find a Good Bible, Part 2)

FI Good Bible 2

As we learn how to follow Jesus, we explore and experiment. Every spiritual journey is unique, because every one of our lives is unique. Yet, through this varied process we remain tethered to truth by the Bible.

The Bible can become a trusted and precious companion in our apprenticeship to Jesus. But simply having a Bible on the shelf won’t make a difference. In the last post I suggested that you need to have a Good Bible. What is that? It’s a translation you will actually read.

That brings us, of course, to the question of translations. Which translation is the right one? Which translation is the most accurate? This is a long-standing and heated debate. Today, I’m going to tell you a bit about translations and versions.

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You Need a GOOD Bible. (How to Find a Good Bible, Part 1)

FI Good Bible 1

I’m a follower of Jesus. My own journey (and what I teach) is shaped by my experience with the Bible, as influenced by Christian theology and spirituality. Over the years this has narrowed like a laser to one focal point: Jesus.

I purpose to be not just a believer, but an apprentice of Jesus. Saved by Jesus? Yes. But there’s more! As apprentices to Jesus we learn how to see God, ourselves, and all of life through the lens of Jesus. We learn from his teachings, his actions, his relationships, and even in a mysterious way, from his current presence through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the one who teaches us what we need to know, bringing freedom and purpose. But like a kite, without the tether of the kite string, this flying freedom can quickly crash as the winds of circumstance, personality, and self-justification blow us in every direction.

The kite string that allows our flight is the Bible. The Bible connects us to the story of God working through people for the past 4000 years. It provides the creative tension that keeps us moving, examining, growing. It anchors us to the historic life of Jesus, the things he said, and the community that sprang into existance around him. When we come to the Bible with seeking hearts, God meets us there. Then we experience it as the living word of God. God uses this complicated and messy collection of writings to shape us and help us come to know Jesus. That makes the Bible of upmost importance in our journey.

In much of the world the Bible is ubiquitous. Some estimates say that there are over 5 billion printed copies of the thing in existence. Chances are high you’ve got one on your shelf right now. It’s possible the Bible you have is precious to you, underlined and full of notes. It’s also possible that the Bible on your shelf is a roadblock in your spiritual growth.

The Bible is vital. But not just any Bible. You need to have a good Bible.

(Hold on before you click out of this post… what I’m about to say is probably not what you are expecting.)

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Jesus says you are not alone.

FI Not Alone

At this very moment a certain belief is tangled up in the threads of your heart. It’s woven itself insidiously into your consciousness. You’ve seen evidence around you suggesting this belief is true. As the evidence piles up, your heart has gotten heavier.

Maybe this belief was the birth of your cynacism. Perhaps it’s taken the wind out of your sails just when you were launching a new project. For others, it’s been the gateway into depression.

What is this belief? You are alone.

This idea comes in so many variations.

  • You’re the only one who has felt this way before.
  • You’re the only one who is putting in any effort.
  • You’re the only one caught in this trap or addiction.

No one else will understand you. They certainly won’t feel compassion for you. Why? Because you are the only one. You are alone.

That feeling—being alone, unseen, misunderstood—is painful. We were made social creatures. We need the reflection of love and care from the people around us. Living without is isolating. It erodes creativity. It whispers that all our will-power and effort are pointless. With the scourge of shame, it pushes us into isolation, more and more afraid to be truly known.

Our hearts cry out for an antidote to this infection!

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Recovering Fundamentalist? What is that?

FI Fundamentalist

Writing a Twitter bio is an interesting experience. In 160 characters you attempt to summarize yourself. This is the first place that people on Twitter will look to make sense of who you are, and why you’re saying such crazy things.

Some bios are littered with hashtagged bumperstickers of the #affiliations and #viewpoints! of the tweeter. Some are artful attempts to say something meaningful. Some are flavorless trendy-buzzword-smoothies. Twitter strategists (Yes, that is a thing) will tell you that a well-crafted bio can get you more followers.

For me, trying to shoe-horn something meaningful about myself into 160 characters is painfully hard. I want to just throw up my hands and declare to the anonymous internet crowds, ”Go ahead. Read my 200 blog posts. Watch some of the 150 hours of video of me speaking. Then, you’ll just be starting to know who I am and how I am growing and developing.”

But of course, that’s a crazy request. Not even my wife—who loves me most—has read or watched everything (or, honestly, even a fraction) of what I have online.

Despite that, I buckled down and wrote one. It’s my attempt to say something helpful about where I’m coming from. There’s one part of it that repeatedly gets the most questions.

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For when fear is holding you back.

FI Fear Holding You Back

When a brief overheard comment twists your stomach in knots, know there’s something there to pay attention to.

Last week Tony Kriz did a reading for his new book, Aloof: Figuring out life with a God who hides. I’ve been getting to know Tony lately through a project we’re both involved with, and I wanted to support his book launch.

During the signing, woven into the banter, I overheard the troubling words. The comment? Tony’s been getting a lot of “hate mail” about this book, emails from Christians who find Tony’s premise threatening, or unorthodox, or even heretical.

It was a sentence or two at most, but I could feel the fear in my gut and down the back of my neck. My mind swirled. I’ve had hate mail too. One particular experience washed back into my conciousness.

Years ago I was unknowingly the star of a “hate video.” Someone anonymously filmed me speaking and leading worship at a youth event. My face, my worship, my spoken words became the backdrop for an angry screed on everything wrong with the church. The makers of this video didn’t just disagree with my words and strategies. No, they knew my heart, knew my mind, knew my intentions. They condemned me as an agent of Satan, at best helplessly deluded, but more likely a knowing accomplice in a grand plan to infiltrate and tear down God’s true church.

It was crushing. I’m a pastor’s kid who grew up in the church. Unlike many, I grew up loving it. I’ve only ever wanted to be a part of the church, and to use my gifts to help the church grow and be more effective. I really believe that Jesus is what everyone needs most. To be condemned, not just disagreed with, but comdemned as a heretic? It hurt so badly.

When I overheard Tony’s comment, this old experience came pouring back into my mind. I became profoundly present to an obstacle that was taking up an enormous amount of space in my mind and heart.

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