Monday, September 21, 2009

Book Review: The [expanded] Bible, (New Testament), 2009: Nelson.

I was raised on the Scofield Reference Bible, perhaps the first Bible to include commentary and cross references in the text, maybe the leading one of its kind in the mid-20th century. While the original Scofield Reference was strictly for the purpose of aiding in Bible study, a subsequent edition demonstrated strong dispensational theology and, as a result, alienated a lot of potential readers. However, its value as a study tool was undisputed in those days.

The [expanded] Bible takes what earlier reference Bibles have tried to do in middle columns, footnotes, wrap around commentary, and put it all into one readable format. The original translation(New Century) is written in bold, with additional synonyms, relevant other translations, cross-references, textual comparisons, etc included within the text with various forms of brackets and abbreviated symbols to identify the differences. Unlike many reference Bibles, there does not appear to be any theological bias. It takes a little while to get used to all the different suggestions in the midst of the text but once I read a few portions and then went back to the introduction to review the explanations so I could remember what each abbreviation meant, I found the reading much more meaningful. And it is nice not to have to move my eyes all around the page when I'm looking for what a particular reference might be. As a reader, I can choose to just follow the bold type or pause when desired to look at an explanation.

I think this is the kind of translation I will keep in the car to pull out for a spontaneous read during those waiting times or unexpected relaxing times at the beach or park. Doing serious study I like access to tools and technololgy a computer affords, but there are times when it is nice to just pick up a book and read. At those times I appreciate having a little more reference materials available than just a simple pocket Bible. There is adequate space in the margins (along with subtopics and parallel gospel references) for note taking and the print is large enough for all ages of eyes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Falling Down and Getting Back Up

I remember hearing Rich DeVos say one time that someone asked him if he was ever "down". He said, "of course, I just don't like being there. So I've learned to get back up quickly."

I'm thankful for grace, for having grown up in a place that encourages and in fact applauds an understanding of forgiveness. It's not a natural phenomenan by any means. Something very foreign if not almost anti-cultural in many eastern cultures. And I'm sure that even in the west we may claim to understand it but may invest a lifetime learning to truly forgive and receive grace, as God intended it should be experienced and given.

I also remember when I first tried skiing, recognizing how essential it was to learn to get up. Falling is a given. Without the ability to easily get up, feeling somewhat spastic at the beginning, extended legs and arms flailing everywhere on a slippery sloping surface, one can at best hope to just slide down the hill on one's rump and take the rest of the day to nurse a wet body, freezing nerves and aching muscles. But getting up successfully lets one try again, and keep on trying, until the joy of coming down the hill, under control, clean crisp air, white and blue surroundings, beautiful mountain views changing every moment takes over and the rewards of having humbly repeated process of falling and struggling to get up again reign in one's experience and memory.

So whether it's mental, such as lack of a desired discipline (in this case writing every day) or emotional (absence of self control in relationships), physical (repeatedly doing the wrong thing to one's body), spiritual (such as ignoring God's call in an area that requires some sacrifice) or whatever area, falling down is part of the journey. Getting up, with an attitude of forgiveness towards self, of recognizing it is God's grace that sustains us no matter whether we do what we believe is right or wrong, is just as important as staying up.