Month: March 2007
The problem with preachers is that they won’t let truth remain private. They insist on proclaiming their view of truth to others, and that is what people find so offensive. Some people see preaching as a kind of intellectual rudeness, a violation or rape of the mind and of the soul, beyond excuse. If you seek to persuade me of your view of truth, you are asking me to abandon my view of truth. You are telling me that my way is inadequate or improper, and it is hard not to take that personally. It feels like rejection.
I’m a big fan of Harold Best, in large part because of what he says in his book Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts, which he released 2003. Best has some astoundingly relevant viewponits on why we use arts in the church, all based on the thesis that we are never not worshipping. Our lives are a continual outpouring to something that functions as a god. Sometimes its us, another person, a preferred future, success, fame. Sometimes its YHWH. Our role as Worship Leaders is less about getting people to worship and more about getting them to worship the right thing, namely, the Lord — as he is revealed in the Bible.
It has forced me to think about the language of worship. I used to ask myself after a service: “did we worship?” Now I’m realizing that this question isn’t enough because, according to Dr. Best, we’re always worshipping (so the answer is yes!). Maybe a more complete line of questioning would be “Did we worship the Living, True God? Did we enter into the presence of God the Father? Did we follow in the sacrifical footsteps of Jesus? Were we obedient to the Holy Spirit? Did we pour ourselves in Spirit and in Truth? As we sang, listened, watched, prayed, mulled… were we transformed by the arts of Worship?”
I dunno. Maybe that’s obvious to everyone but me. But I’m loving this re-read of Best’s book. It’s developing my theology of worship.
Someone was telling me about a conversation they had with an Elementary School student about Jesus. After telling this kid the Gospel story, she pondered for a moment and then asked… “why would someone die for me?”
Good question, kid. That’s a good question for all of us to ask, especially during Lent.
We use the color purple in our liturgical planning to denote royalty. He’s the creator-yet-born / Lord-yet-servant / everything-yet-nothing. He is our royal, majestic, loving King.
We use the lenten season to mimic the sacrifice of Jesus.
We use Easter to celebrate new life. We even use it as an event to point those to who don’t know toward a Savior, hoping that the Holy Spirit will convice people of His Kingship and thier brokenness.
But the bottom line is that someone died. For me. For you. For all. Even with a logical understanding of this, I still ask with the curiosity of a kid — why?
Psalm 32:1 (from this year’s liturgical calendar for March 18) says “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
A little while back this blogger posted some commentary regarding my possible switch over to the English Standard Version (ESV) of the bible. Crossway released it in 2001, I bought a copy in 2002 and now in March of 2007, I’m switching over to the ESV as my “Main” translation. What I mean by “main” is that it is the version I will use most frequently for study, meditation, memorizing and leading. Of course I will still use the NIV, NLT and maybe even some of Eugene Peterson’s The Message (for commentary) but the ESV will be home.
I grew up surrounded by the NIV. My denomination favors NIV. I’m young. Why would I succumb to a translation that is more wooden, less “contemporary” and even less hip? “Why not go TNIV?” you may be asking. “After all”, you say, “it is gender inclusive!”. Boy, it sure is. By which I mean, Person, it sure is. And that’s all well and good for some. But I want the most reliable and readable translation. If I were a fundamentalist/purist evangelical I would be KJV. If I were just a purist, I would read only the Hebrew & Greek texts. If I was hip, I would use the TNIV (very Rob Bell) or NLT (Finally! A version that I can understand without thinking!). I’m not either of those. I’m just a guy who thinks that God’s Word must go forward. If this is ture, then it’s also true that accuracy matters. We are relevant in our irrelevance. It may be offensive, unclear, thick… but is that okay? Know what I mean?
I’ve also noticed that the NIV is fairly supportive of the idea that God’s blessings to us are material, abundant and a sign of a response to our faith. Before you freak out, let me just say that God’s blessings are abundant, tend to be a response to our faith (but aren’t tied to it) but are not solely material. If you’re like me (and I know I am), you have probably heard Jeremiah 29:11 quoted ad nauseum for the sake of “proving” that God wants to bless you/help you/straighten you out/give you what you deserve. In the NIV, it reads:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Neat. There’s even a Saddleback song about it, which is how I memorized this text in High School. It made me feel good, like God would give me a house and a car and a family and good teeth and a decent retirement. All I needed to do was trust. And pray. Indeed, every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father. He is Jehovah Jireh — my provider. These ideas aren’t wrong, as long as they don’t become a pillar of your theology. For me, it had. My understanding of God was that he was the sky fairy, the heavenly pinata, the Prayer of Jabez guy who has the solutions to my agenda figured out. I was ready to live the American dream. Prosper. No harm. I’ll take it!
Then you go to the ESV of Jeremiah 29:11. It reads:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Same idea… right? Wholeness? That word makes me think less about stuff and more about my own spiritual condition. Evil? Again, this brings less attention to the “harm” around me and more attention to my own capacity for evil. And so it takes on a bit of a different angle… that the blessings of God are not material. The blessings of God are spiritual (with a nod to Ron Kopicko, for saying this the way you do).
God cares less about giving me stuff and more about having a wholeness. Wholeness gives me a future. A hope. That’s a better plan, anyway.
I’m not bashing the NIV, nor the translators. I’m just saying that the ESV renders things in a different way that, according to what I’ve read, has a higher degree of accuracy to the original texts. So… here I am.
To see others who have switched, check out:
Why John Piper’s Church Uses the ESV (Includes a great collection of comparisions to other versions)
Mark Driscoll’s Church Uses the ESV(Includes comments, both positive and negative, from other bloggers)