I have slowed down the blogging this year, and significantly cut down on Twitter. Facebook is where I spend most of my social media time. That said, I thought it would be good for me to give a mid-year update here on my blog.
First, I am using a new Bible reading plan this year. It is a simple read through the Bible in one year schedule from Ligonier Ministries. This particular plan divides the Bible into six Old Testament and six New Testament readings per week (M-F and one Weekend reading assignment). I like how this approach gives you one day per week for catch up, because no matter how disciplined a person is, life has a way of causing you to miss a day here and there. The one weekend reading is a little longer than those during the weekdays, especially in the Old Testament.
Second, I wrote earlier this year about how 2016 was the first year in which I reached my goal of reading an average of one book per week. This year I’m a little behind schedule in accomplishing that, but I am not so far behind as to make the goal unreachable. The genre in which I have been reading the most is fiction, and more specifically, westerns. I have been reading an excellent series by Elmer Kelton on the Texas Rangers. His fictional stories are considered to be very accurate when it comes to the history of the western frontier.
One ministry book that I am currently reading that is outstanding is Daniel Henderson’s Old Paths, New Power. Henderson believes that more than anything, churches need to have pastors and leaders who spend much time in the Word and in prayer, based on Acts 6:4. I agree. The challenge is keeping this priority front and center.
Third, I have been doing more traveling than I have done in years. This April my mother was diagnosed with cancer for the third time in her life. I’m basically visiting her (both driving up and flying up) about once every four to six weeks. Add to that our summer vacation with my in-laws at the beach in South Carolina in June and this has turned into the summer of travel!
Returning from one of our visits to Nonna in May, we were able to take a little side trip to Stone Mountain where we made the 40 minute hike to the top. Above is a picture from the summit.
Now that I’ve been a Christian for 29 years as well as a pastor for 21 years, I have seen a lot of trends in American Christianity over the past few decades. One of the more disappointing trends has been the amount of hype surrounding certain books, movies, conferences, movements, Bible studies, and, even, “revivals.” I cannot recall how many times a of these various mediums were going to possibly usher in a revival which would transform our nation.
Let me mention a few examples. From each of these examples, God has certainly done a whole lot. People have been saved. Lives have been changed. I do not want to minimize that fact. Praise the Lord for how He used these tools to reach people!
In each of these cases I can recall Christian people enthusiastically suggesting, or hoping, that this particular “thing” would be the catalyst for national revival or spiritual awakening.
(1) 1990… A Bible Study… “Experiencing God” featured the teaching of Henry Blackaby, and consisted of a VHS video series matched with a workbook. The premise of the study is to find out where God is at work and to join Him there. Excellent counsel! But national revival from the study itself? Twenty-five years and counting… not yet.
My friend Mark Bertrand has penned a column about a new niche of Bibles designed specifically for reading sessions. Perhaps you have given this subject little thought in the past. If you are serious about engaging with God’s Word I highly recommend you take the time to read, and think through, his points.
For those of you who are not sure what a “Reference Bible” is, I’ll explain. A reference Bible is one that has other Bible verses listed on the page so that you can easily “cross reference” other Scriptures which are related in subject matter to the verses you are reading. For example, here is a photograph taken of the TBS Westminster Reference Bible (can be purchased HERE):
As you can see in the picture above, to the left and right of the Bible text itself, there are lists of other Bible verses that relate to the subjects presented in what you are reading. Many Bible readers love to pause and search out these other references to see what else the Bible says on this subject. It is an excellent tool for deeper Bible study.
However, aesthetically, when it comes to design layout, a reference Bible seems to have more in common with a dictionary or encyclopedia than a traditional book that you would read cover-to-cover. Hence, the recent trend toward producing “reading Bibles.”
Compare the image above with the new ESV Reader’s Bible from Crossway (available for purchase HERE):
It makes for a dramatic difference in your reading experience. I encourage you to read Mark’s take on the impact of the design of the Bible you choose to read.
We are living in an era when, as English speakers, we have a multitude of choices when it comes to translations of the Bible. Throughout the history of my Christian journey, I have used many translations for my daily reading, including the New International Version (NIV), New American Standard (NASB), and English Standard Version (ESV). However, the older I get and the longer I’ve studied the Bible, the more I have grown to prefer the King James Version (KJV) and New King James Version (NKJV). Here’s why…
I have come to believe that they are based upon the best collection of ancient manuscripts, known as the Byzantine family of texts. I acknowledge that this is the minority position among conservative Bible scholars today. Yet the fact remains that the Byzantine family is that which has been preserved and cherished by most Christians for the entire history of the Christian church.
Hear me clearly: If you are using a Bible based upon the Alexandrian family of manuscripts (like the NIV, NASB, ESV or NLT), you have a Bible that presents the Gospel clearly and has all the major doctrines of the Christian faith. I am not KJVO (King James Version only).
That said, I like having a Bible in my hand that does not omit certain verses or phrases or question the legitimacy entire sections of the Scripture.
New Coke/Coke Classic
Most of you probably remember Coca-Cola’s brief foray into changing the formula of the popular soft drink. It was called “New Coke” and it was an attempt by Coca-Cola to gain market share among a key demographic, youth, an age group that was favoring Pepsi. It backfired. Although “New Coke” showed promise in many parts of the country, it was soundly rejected in the South, where Coca-Cola us based (Atlanta).
The strong Southern rejection spread. Comedians mocked Coke, fans at a Houston Astros baseball game booed a Coke advertisement. Within three months, Coca-Cola announced the return of the original formula, in a product called “Coke Classic.” Loyal Coke fans rejoiced. On the Senate floor, Arkansas Democrat David Pryor called the decision by Coca-Cola “a meaningful moment in U. S. history.” I’m not sure what that says about our country; perhaps it says more about the gentleman from Arkansas. Nonetheless, America as a whole must have agreed because the brief “New Coke” fiasco and it’s merciful conclusion thrust the Coca-Cola company into a period of renewed success as king of the soft drink world, a success that has been uninterrupted even to this day.
Biblica and the NIV Translation
Formerly known as the International Bible Society, Biblica is the worldwide publisher and copyright holder of the New International Version of the Bible. A self-governing group of Bible scholars, known as the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) is responsible for the content of the NIV. Originally published back in 1978, the NIV went through an update in 1984, which was followed by a couple of decades of remarkable popularity among English Bibles, even supplanting the venerable King James Version (KJV) as the best-selling English Bible. In 2009 Biblica announced that they would be releasing an update again in 2011, not coincidentally on the 400th anniversary of the KJV. The “new” NIV was indeed released in March of 2011.
“And what does this have to do with Coke?”
Glad you asked.