The Value of Bible Translations

Taking a short break from the 31 Proverbs series to share a personal observation. 

The words of Proverbs 17:5 are stuck on replay in my mind. Actually, one word is. Well, one word from the HCSB translation is. If you read yesterday’s post, you can probably guess which word. 

As I’ve meditated on that word and the message of that verse, these questions came to me: How have I missed this verse for so long? Why did it stick out to me unlike any other time I’ve read it before?

One answer to that question is this: I’m reading the book of Proverbs in a translation that I don’t recall reading it before.

Some people devalue this practice-reading the Bible from various translations. I value it. To give you an idea what I’m talking about, compare this verse from these four translations: 

He who mocks the poor taunts his Maker; He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished. Proverbs 17:5 NASB

He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished. Proverbs 17:5 NKJV

Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished. Proverbs 17:5 NIV 

The one who mocks the poor insults his Maker, and one who rejoices over calamity will not go unpunished. Proverbs 17:5 HCSB

With just one word highlighted, a Bible student could learn deeper truth and understanding, enough to stick with them for days, maybe even a lifetime. So here are some questions to consider regarding the value of Bible translations: 

  • What if we trusted man’s God-given gift of language and words to deepen our understanding of God?
  • What if we allowed various colors and imageries of words to deepen the convicting power of God’s truths?
  • What if we let go of trying to control God’s word and surrender to God’s message?

For some reason, the word insult went beyond my eyes and mind and reached my heart. I felt that word. 

That’s powerful. That’s lifealtering. That’s invaluable. 

31 Proverbs Highlights: #16-Character Pleases God

(A simple series highlighting verses from each chapter of the book of Proverbs)

When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him…Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s temper, than capturing a city.  Proverbs 16:7,32 HCSB

God is more concerned about your character than your position. These two verses reveal a few things about character that pleases God:

  • God is pleased with those who pursue peace rather than picking fights or insisting on their position.
  • God is pleased with those who aren’t ruined by the pursuit of power but rather patiently surrender to his power.
  • God is pleased with those who discipline themselves even when capable of achieving rank or position.

The Why of Lean

The story of Gideon is rich. Judges 7 is one example of this richness.

In this scene Gideon is instructed to get lean by reducing the size of his army from 32,000 to 300. Sounds counterproductive. Here’s the “why” from verse 2:

“The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” ‭‭Judges‬ ‭7:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God directed Gideon to purposefully get lean. Why? So the nation wouldn’t boast in their power but in his, wouldn’t rely on their own hand for salvation but on his. The army of Israel was about to learn a lesson in who should receive the honor for their salvation.

For a life application, consider these “whys” for any leaning God has allowed in your life:

  • Is this possibly why your bank account has been depleted?
  • Is this possibly why your company has lost accounts?
  • Is this possibly why your church has gone through a financial or membership purge?

Whose hand are you looking to for salvation? Ask God about the why of your lean.

Authority is in the Name

“In that day you will not ask Me anything. I assure you: Anything you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”‭‭John‬ ‭16:23-24‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Because of this teaching by Jesus, believers pray in the name of Jesus. The early church leaders drew their authority in the name of Jesus; they knew what it was like to attempt things in their own power and had witnessed the power only available in the name of the Son of God.

Through His name…

  • …we access the power of the Creator and acknowledge our weakness
  • …we receive victory over sin and resist temptations
  • …we connect to God the Father and overcome this earthly kingdom
  • …we give honor to our King and bow in submission to His kingdom
  • …we give thanks for the Son’s sacrifice and admit our need for salvation

3 Questions to Determine if You’re Whining

Let’s be honest. There are plenty of ills in the world that can cause us grief. Many of these ills should grieve us. 

  • Starving, malnourished children in the richest country in the world
  • Sex trafficking in the local community
  • Child abuse or neglect in neighborhood homes
  • The destructiveness of pornography in one’s family
  • Extremists who twist religious beliefs into life-taking deeds in the land of the free and the home of the brave

These are examples of things that when we choose to talk about them we do so because we are grieved.

It’s troubling, however, to hear recurring, ongoing conversations that express the same weight of grief over lesser important things. They are not really ills at all. They are more about what we want or expect at a much lower level of societal importance, mostly because of a personal, emotional connection. And the amount of time given to complain about these things makes listeners stop and ask, “Really?”

  • Whether THAT coworker gets preferential treatment
  • Whether THAT team deflated those footballs
  • Whether THAT HOA can…
  • Whether THAT athlete deserves the hall of fame
  • Whether THAT family member should have done what they did

Let’s be honest. There’s a whole bunch of whining going on. Too much.

To be clear about what constitutes whining, here are a few defintions:

  • Whine: to complain in a petty or feeble way
  • Petty: unimportant, trivial, small-minded
  • Feeble: weak, without strength, force or effectiveness

If you’ve ever privately questioned if you’ve crossed the venting or complaining line and entered into full-blown whining, most likely the answer is yes. If you are obsessed with some petty issue and continue to stew over it, most likely the answer is yes. If your complaint is legit but you are completely powerless to do anything about it, most likely you have entered whine world. But to help you determine if you are engulfed by whining, ask yourself these three questions:

How long have I been voicing this same complaint?

  • If it has been months or even years that you have harped on this same topic, consider yourself a whiner. Your issue may be very legit; but if you have not acted on it to impact change, the feebleness of your complaint constitutes a whine.

Does what I’m complaining about have a solution within my power to achieve?

  • Most likely the issue has a solution. But not all issues we complain about are within our power to control, solve, or turn around.  In those cases, the complaint has little force or strength. It is nothing more than a powerless whine.

If so, does this conversation have a solution-based drive?

  • In the case where a complainer does have the opportunity to bring about a solution, then that should be the drive of the conversation. If that drive is missing, the complaint is a very feeble whine.

Let’s be honest. We are all tempted to whine. 

Let’s be honest. We can do better.

Let’s be honest. God grieves but doesn’t whine. We should consider our choices.

The Listening Life (Book Review)

I’ve taken a month to read this book. No, it wasn’t laboriously or begrudgingly. I’m a “read-every-word” kind of reader, and this book demands that every word be chewed on and not just skimmed. If that already turns your head, then you probably don’t need to rush to buy it. On the other hand, maybe you do.

Why? Read the subtitle. See why now?

If you agree attentiveness is hard work these days because of our ever increasing distracting world, then Adam McHugh is talking your language.

“…the fact that we pay millions of dollars annually for people to listen to us indicates our poverty in this arena.”

 “The voices we want to hear are not always the same as the voices we need to hear.” (Chapter 1)

McHugh does an excellent in the first five chapters establishing that this attentive life is grounded in our relationship with God, his Word, and Creation.

“God has absolutely no obligation to pay attention to anyone or anything…The Lord astonishes us and completely flips power on its ear by entering into listening relationships with people.”

“It seems that God’s ear is inclined toward those who themselves are listeners.”

“The Bible should never close us to hearing God’s voice in other venues; rather it ought to open us to recognize it wherever we hear it.”

In the final four chapters McHugh addresses the listening life between humans, those in pain, and listening to your life.

“Trying to fix, judge, rescue or change others are all subtle ways of exerting power over other people.”

“Good listening starts with the scandalous premise that this conversation is not about you.”

“How many conflicts and disagreements start because we think we already understand each other?”

“Listening experts say that only 7% of a person’s meaning is conveyed in the actual words they speak.”

“AHEN: Anger comes from a Hurt, which comes from an Expectation, which comes from a Need”

As a person who has been told many times over the years that I listen well, this book revealed many areas where I need growth. If you know you do also, take the time to read every word in this book. You and everyone in your life will thank you. I’m guessing even God will thank you. Well, most likely you’ll thank him. 

Enjoy your growth.

The Awe Boundary

In chapter 2 of Awe, Paul David Tripp talks about war. He isn’t talking about political or international war. He’s talking about spiritual war, and a very personal war at that. 

…a war wages over who or what will rule and control the awe capacity that God has established within the heart of every human being.

This war started soon after man’s creation. This war started when man was tempted to step over the awe boundary to pursue becoming like God. 

This dangerous fantasy now lurks in the heart of every sinner. We want godlike recognition, godlike control, godlike power, and godlike centrality. This was the initial moment when awe of self overrode awe of God and set the agenda for every person’s thoughts, desires, choices, and behaviors. For billions of people ever since, awe of self has literally driven every selfish, antisocial, and immoral thing we do.

Can you see it? It’s all around us. We are in awe of ourselves. Everyone of us face this war. 

TRUTH: this is a war we will lose, now or later. For everyone’s sake, it’s best to surrender-to step back across the awe boundary every time we find ourselves on the wrong side. It’s a constant battle that cannot be ignored.

TRUTH: the war really has already been won. It’s why Jesus came. He’s worthy of our awe. Maintaining focus on awe of Him keeps you on the right side of the boundary.