What are currently the most popular Bible Translations?

“Which bible translation should I use?” This question is asked to me often by people just beginning to get serious about studying God’s Word. This is an important question to take some time thinking through. I believe there are some translations that are better than others.

(FYI, here are some of my tips on How to Study the Bible.)

Here are the top sellers of 2015 according to Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

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So are there differences between these translations?!?

Yes and no.

While the main heartbeat of the Biblical message is consistent in all these reliable texts, the nature of language translation allowing for a range of meaning in individual words, and the ongoing advances in ancient language understanding, create a scale of wording choice as seen by different translators/editors who publish these varying translations.

When looking at the original ancient languages imagine all those words are square pegs. Then imagine all modern words are round holes. It is impossible to get a perfect fit of the ancient meaning of a word into a modern word format.

Therefore you must choose, do we match as best we can word for word or do we translate the larger thought more smoothly thus loosing some connection to individual words? Here is the scale of where modern bible translations fall on this question. (click the photo for a larger view.)

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For some textual comparisons of this challenge, see my Bible Translations Handout.  It may help you make an informed decision as you dig deeply into God’s Word.

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Romans 8 – Solid Ground When All Else is Sinking Sand

Romans 8 is a lighthouse of encouragement when the fog of life rolls in confining our view to immediate circumstances. In it we find perspective. In it we find Hope. Despite the pain and heartache we may encounter on our journey, Romans 8 reminds of us of truth.

Sometimes we need to be reminded of what we already know. 

Sometimes we need to rehearse to ourselves the truths we already claim.

Sometimes we need to stop focusing on how we feel, and focus on what we know.

Romans 8 is a proclamation of the one and only Solid Ground. All other ground is sinking sand.

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”

by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Five Steps of Prayer

prayerWhen we pray, the Father aligns us to His heart. We acknowledge our dependence on Him. Prayer is communion and communication. Through the Bible we breathe in God’s words, through prayer we breathe out our response.

Prayer is essential to the Christian life.

Our church is taking a class though Tim Keller’s recent book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. In it we find five helpful steps. At times all we can do simply cry out “Abba” and we must depend on the Spirit to intercede on our behalf. But at other times, we can be more mindful of our prayer life, and these steps can help bring order to this essential area of growth. Why would we not maximize effectiveness and fruit of our prayer time if intentionality is all that is required? Let these steps be a guide to a vibrant relationship with God.

1) Evocation. To evoke means “to bring to mind,” though it also can includeinvocation, calling on God. Keller says that there is almost, “universal agreement that prayer should be started by ‘thinking over who it is that you will be addressing, what he has done to give you access to himself, and how you stand related to him …” Think before you pray.

2) Meditation. To respond to God in prayer, we must listen to his Word. This means taking some time to meditate on some portion of the Bible as a bridge to prayer. Meditation is a form of reflection and self-communion. Take a verse or two, or an entire section, and meditate on it as a way of fueling your heart to prepare you to pray.

3) Word prayer. Keller received this insipiration from Martin Luther. And this is a step that is often overlooked. After meditating on Scripture, Luther takes time to “pray the text” before moving on to more free-form prayer. Luther advises that we take the Lord’s Prayer and paraphrase each petition in his or her own words, filling it out with the concerns on his or her heart that day. Keller advises that we do this at least once a week.

4) Free prayerFree prayer, as Keller explains, means simply to pour out your heart before the Lord in prayer. This is where we bring on all the supplications, petitions, prayer-lists, and anything on our heart that we want or need. This is the kind of prayer that we’re probably most familiar with. Helpful — indeed, God is our Father and we are his children and he loves it when we ask him for things — but J.I. Packer would warn us that this kind of prayer is only life-changing if it is not merely running down a “grocery-list,” but instead lifts each cause to God with theological reasoning and self-examination.

5) Contemplation. Here, Keller points us to Jonathan Edwards who points us to the Lord: “Edwards described contemplation as times when we not only know God is holy, but when we sense — ‘”see’” and ‘”taste’” — that he is so in our hearts. Luther would say that this is like getting “lost” in some aspect of God’s truth or character. Either way, prayer is always enhanced when we end with praise and contemplation.

“Don’t be intimidated by these plans,” Keller adds at the end. He finishes with saying, “Follow the steps … without feeling the need to do all the specific proposals or answer all the questions within each part. Prayer will grow and draw you in.”

Free Resources from Southern Seminary

Southern Seminary has made some of it’s best content available for free download.

Go to the SBTS Press for access to these seven free pdf e-books, or just click the links provided here.

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God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines 

GGC Book Cover 2

Edited by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Christians and homosexuality is a hotly debated topic in today’s evangelical world, and Southern Seminary continues that conversation in this publication. Matthew Vines’s new book, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, argues that homosexual orientation and committed same-sex relationships are consistent with a “high view” of the Bible and evangelical Christianity. Southern Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. and four other seminary faculty members refute this claim in the new SBTS Press e-book, God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines.

Each chapter refutes Vines’s claims from six specific Scriptural references to homosexuality. Mohler’s chapter provides an overview critique of Vines’s book. James M. Hamilton Jr., professor of biblical theology, addresses the Old Testament claims; Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies, addresses New Testament claims; Owen Strachan, assistant professor of Christian theology looks at the church history assertions; and Heath Lambert, assistant professor of biblical counseling, answers whether there is such a thing as a “gay Christian.”

Download the free e-book or PDF

 


The Call to Ministry

by R. Albert Mohler Jr., Donald S. Whitney and Daniel S. Dumas

This is a different sort of book. Or workbook. Or journal. Whatever it is, this resource from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is meant to help you discern whether or not God has called you to ministry. And it’s meant for you to use and devour. You’ll notice pages with blank space; those pages are for you to respond to questions, react to the quotations and reflect on the Scripture references you’ll find throughout. So, open your Bible, get out your pen and discover whether God has called you to this most noble and weighty task. Watch the promotional video by Dan Dumas here. 

                                                   Order Now:

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A Guide to Evangelism

 

by Dan DeWitt

A Guide to Evangelism, edited by Dan DeWitt, will equip Christians and churches with the tools they need for more faithful evangelism. With chapters focusing on the role that a church’s preaching and polity can play in the task of evangelism, as well as chapters with practical advice for Christians engaging different groups, such as Muslims, skeptics and nominal Christians, this book will help Christians fulfill their role inspreading the gospel so that grace extends to more people to the glory of God.

 

                                                 Order Now:

                                                 Print Version | E-book   

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A Guide to Expository Ministry

 

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by Dan Dumas, Ed.
Expository preaching is a call to deliver from the pulpit what has already been delivered in the Scriptures. A Guide to Expository Ministry, edited by Dan Dumas, calls for the recovery of this kind of preaching in local churches. The book also encourages faithful, qualified pastors to apply the demands of expository preaching to their lives and to their preparation. Lastly, the book provides practical help for all of God’s people to become more effective sermon listeners, Bible readers and church members.

Order Now:


Una Guia Para El Ministerio Expositivo

 

THUMBNAIL_IMAGEDan Dumas, Ed.
La predicación expositiva es una llamado a entregar desde el púlpito lo que ya ha sido entregado en las Escrituras. Una guía para el ministerio expositivo, editado por Dan Dumas, hace un llamado a recobrar este tipo de predicación en las iglesias locales. Este libro también exhorta a los pastores fieles y calificados a que apliquen las demandas de la predicación expositiva en sus vidas y su preparación. Por último, este libro provee ayuda práctica para que aquellos que componen el pueblo de Dios sean más efectivos como oidores de sermones, lectores de sus Biblias y como miembros de sus iglesias.

Ordene Ahora:

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A Guide to Adoption and Orphan Care

 

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by Russell D. Moore, Ed.

The current adoption culture among Christians is a necessary and welcomed movement. Many people, however, don’t understand how the Bible directs and informs adoption. A Guide to Adoption and Orphan Care, edited by Russell D. Moore, seeks to help adoptive parents and churches better think about and practice adoption.

Order Now:


A Guide to Biblical Manhood

 

altBy Randy Stinson & Dan Dumas
How to serve your wife, how to mold men through baseball, how to make men in the church and more practical theology for cultivating men of God who are doers of the Word for the sake of the Gospel.

 

Christmas: Good News! Great Joy!

Imagine the best news ever was just announced; a cure for cancer was found, peace is reached in the Middle East, world hunger was solved.  There would be dancing in the streets!  Imagine a joy that was indestructible, not connected to a fleeting moment.

This is Christmas!

A clip addressing family holiday preperations from John Piper focuses on the message of the Angel who appeared to the shepherds.  “Good News and Great Joy”.  This embodies the message of Christmas.  @DesiringGod tweeted Piper in powerful statement, “If being Jesus-focused is a killjoy for  Christmas, you don’t know him.”

The truth about Christmas is that it is the greatest news and greatest joy that has ever come to humanity!  It cannot be overstated.  Any substitute for this message is a dim shadow of the truth in this holiday.

Just as I am trying with my family, I challenge your family to focus on Christmas in its truest sense this year.

  • Try to show your family that Christianity is news.
  • Carve out regular times for special activities.
  • Outdo the mythologies of the world by showing that Jesus is 10,000 times more generous and joyful than Santa Claus.

 

Preparing Our Hearts For Christmas

communion-jsbFrom my family to yours, wishing you a Christ-filled Christmas.  Here is an Advent resource using the Jesus Storybook Bible, which we love.  In Leslie’s article are links to a printable schedule of readings and printable/colorable ornaments we put on our “Jesse Tree”.  Hope it is a help in focusing your family on the true meaning of Christmas this year.

Celebrating Him,

Adam

Counting Blessings

I love the Christmas season, it’s my favorite time of year.  I love the music, the decorations, the festivities, the food, the continuing on of family traditions, and the starting of new ones.  But, it’s so easy for the true meaning of Christmas to get lost in all the hustle and bustle of this busy season.  This is the time to anticipate and celebrate the arrival of our Rescuer; the coming of our King!  What a glorious day that first Christmas was some 2,000 years ago,  when Heaven came down to earth in the form of a tiny baby, our Savior had come to live…and to die for us all!  There is no greater reason to celebrate Christmas than this!

Through the years we have started some of our own family traditions to help our kids better understand the true meaning of Christmas.  We do a daily random act of kindness…

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You are NOT a Student First

For a few brief years you may hear this phrase by well meaning adults, “Remember… You are a student first”.

While the intention may be noble, the message is flawed.

Yes, students need to focus on their studies while in high school or college. They do not need to get the balance of social life, work, school and many other activities so out of whack that academic discipline takes a backseat.

But are you really a student “First”? Is there not a more important mission and goal of life even during the years in which you are a student? Is there a broader perspective that allows your identity to remain intact even beyond school and career decisions?

The answer is a resounding “YES”. Paul says to the Corinthian believers, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)

Let this dominate our identity in all stages of our life, from student to career to family, to everything! This clip says it beautifully in 1:48 of your day, that will be well spent.  Watch it and be encouraged.

Discerning Your Call to Ministry

***Free 128 page PDF ebook, “The Call to Ministry” Journal, by Al Mohler, Don Whitney, and Dan Dumas, detailed below***

Through my time as a student pastor I have seen many students pursue a call to ministry.  This is a rewarding aspect of working with teenagers.  As they are growing in their faith and learning to make decisions on their own you get the privilege of seeing God a work and the teenager wrestle with it.  Several students, both young men and women, have expressed a leaning toward missions or children/youth ministry and even the occasional pastoral calling that surfaces early.

When a student comes to me for advise when discerning a call to ministry it is never an easy conversation.  It is hard to say with certitude what God may or may not be doing in another person’s heart.  Therefore I always try to push that student to good resources and to continue exploring what God is saying.

I recently ran across a great resource that I will be using for this very purpose.

Dr. Hershal York, a preaching professor from my alma mater, Southern Seminary, posted a great blog about how graduating from Seminary doesn’t qualify you for ministry (despite that being a primary indicator for hiring churches). Check out his article here, “Why seminary can never qualify anyone for ministry“.

At the end of this article is a free PDF workbook written by Molher, Whitney, and Dumas titled, The Call to Ministry.  It is self-described as:

This is a different sort of book. Or workbook. Or journal. Whatever it is, this resource from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is meant to help you discern whether or not God has called you to ministry. And it’s meant for you to use and devour. You’ll notice pages with blank space; those pages are for you to respond to questions, react to the quotations and reflect on the Scripture references you’ll find throughout. So, open your Bible, get out your pen and discover whether God has called you to this most noble and weighty task.

I downloaded it and will continue to pass this out to those considering full time vocational ministry.

I would upload the PDF here and make it available to all of humanity, but I feel I would be subverting Southern’s goodwill gesture to prospective students and the seminary’s offer to provide the highest quality conservative ministry training available.

So I will leave you with a link.  Check out www.sbts.edu/the-call-to-ministry-journal. If you are willing to give them your email address, they are willing to give you this 128 page invaluable resource, that quite possibly could be a determining factor in understanding God’s call on your life.

 

 

The Hardest Truths for Teenagers in Proverbs

A while ago I introduced the teens in our student ministry to this list of 20 truths that I felt hit home with teenage life. We read through the list first in its entirety. Then I asked each student to rank the top three “hardest to keep” truths for them personally. We then broke into groups based on their number one pick to discuss those topics and why they are hard to keep. We prayed for each other and strategized about how to encourage each other on a regular basis in these areas.

So which of these truths do you think ranked in the top three of teenagers most often? Read through for yourself and see what you would choose.  My poll results are at the very bottom of the article. The list is surprising and insightful.

20 Truths for Teenagers in Proverbs:

  1. Take responsibility for your life. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it.” (Prov. 9:12)
  2. Integrity is your guidance. The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.” (Prov. 11:3)
  3. Shun evil. The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.” (Prov. 22:3)
  4. Speak the truth.Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.” (Prov. 24:28)
  5. Be humble.When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.”(Prov. 11:2)
  6. Work for your dream. He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.” (Prov. 28:19)
  7. Diligence is a key to success.A lazy man does not roast his prey, but the precious possession of a man is diligence.” (Prov. 12:27)
  8. Never give up when facing adversity. “If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited.“(Prov. 24:10)
  9. Learn to control yourself. Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” (Prov. 25:28)
  10. Control your anger. He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.” (Prov. 14:29)
  11. Be prudent about your choice.Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.” (Prov. 4:26)
  12. Train your patience. By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue breaks the bone.” (Prov. 25:15)
  13. Listen before you speak.He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.“(Prov. 18:13)
  14. Talk Less, do more. In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Prov. 14:23)
  15. Stop gossiping. The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body.” (Prov. 18:8)
  16. Don’t flatter others.A man who flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his steps.” (Prov. 29:5)
  17. Pay evil with good.If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” (Prov. 25:21)
  18. Honor your parents.Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you.” (Prov. 23:25)
  19. Choose your companion.He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Prov. 13:20)
  20. Do not envy evil men.Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them.” (Proverb 24:1)

proverbs

These five answers were most commonly given as “hardest to keep” truths according to my student group.

  1. Shun evil. The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.” (Prov. 22:3)
  2. Honor your parents. “Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you.” (Prov. 23:25)
  3. Speak the truth. “Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.” (Prov. 24:28)
  4. Control your anger. He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.” (Prov. 14:29)
  5. Talk Less, do more. In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Prov. 14:23)

The Problems of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Life can be hard. We have problems come at us from all angles. How we deal with these and move forward defines life as we know it.  I was greatly encouraged through my personal study and preparation of 1 Thess. 4:9-18 in how I look at life’s problems.

It is my prayer that this passage would encourage you as well as we allow a biblical perspective to be our guide in light of the problems of life.

  1. The Problem of Yesterday: Just Keep Loving.   We all get hurt, we all have disappointments, we all deal with this. But Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to keep loving one another. God had taught them how to love (verse 9) but Paul still reminds then that it never can just be put on cruise control and forgotten. “But, we urge you brothers, to do this more and more.” (verse 10).  No mater what life has dealt you, love one another more and more.
  2. The Problem of Today: Just Keep Working.   One day Jesus will return, but until that day we have to live this life in a productive way. We should not live dependent of others but work hard day in and day out. (verse 11) As we do this we will maintain the respect of our community, and maybe more importantly, maintain respect for ourself. (verse 12) It is a great temptation to slack off or give up when things get hard. Hang in there. Keep working hard and it will pay off.
  3. The Problem of Tomorrow: Just Keep Hoping.   Last week I attended the funeral of a dear church member.  In a year cancer racked her body and claimed her life while she was in her prime. But her funeral was a celebration of hope. It was a living example of Paul’s words that we “do not grieve as other do who have no hope.” (verse 13) While the unknowns of tomorrow can be painful, we are not without hope. The object of our hope is Jesus Christ and his victory over sin and death. “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again…” (verse 14). When we hope in Jesus we will never be put to shame. Whatever tomorrow holds, we hold onto hope in Jesus. “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (verse 18)

1 Thess. 4:9-18

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.