Family Bible

“There’s a family Bible on the table each page is torn and hard to read
But the family Bible on the table will ever be my key to memories
At the end of day when work was over and when the evening meal was done
Dad would read to us from the family Bible
And we’d count our many blessings one by one
I can see us sittin’ round the table when from the family Bible dad would read
I can hear my mother softly singing rock of ages rock of ages cleft for me” ( P. Buskirk, W. Breeland, C. Gray).

I’m reading through the New English Bible this year. I picked it up at McKay’s Used Books, Movies, Music (and Everything Else Your Nerdy Little Heart Could Possibly Desire).

This Bible previously belonged to Jo Ann Hardin, who received it as a gift on September 5, 1975. She was married to Robert Allen Hardin on March 13, 1954 by the Rev. Cecil Ewell. They had four children.

She was good about taking notes and marking favorite passages in her Bible, and I benefit from it. I love to see what verses spoke to her and what struck her out of a sermon she heard on any given Sunday.

My mother has underlined and dated verses for years. If a given verse speaks to her or relates to her current circumstances, she highlights it and writes the date in the margins. That’s a good way to go back and see how God has been speaking through the years. After all, we are so very prone to forget.

I love how God doesn’t leave it to each new generation to figure out the faith-life. He provides the example of the preceding generations, the “cloud of witnesses,” to show us how it’s done.

I hope one day to pass a Bible on to some future generation to carry on the legacy of the Family Bible.


Something I Read Lately



I’ve prayed this prayer many times on many different occasions. Never once has God answered my prayer by changing my circumstances, i.e. making my life easier, taking away my difficulties, instantly transporting me to the other side of my trials. What He has done is reminded me ever so subtly that He will be with me as He always has during my dark road.

Peace isn’t always  a feeling of contentment. Sometimes, the butterflies remain but so does the promise that God won’t forsake me. For me, a feeling of peace doesn’t always mean peace, nor does a lack of it indicate its absence. Try and work that one out and see if it makes sense.

After all, it is a peace that is beyond my utmost understanding. I don’t need a god who I can figure out and manage and understand. I need a God who is bigger than me, stronger than me, wiser than me. I need a God who is completely Other than me (not a bigger, stronger, wiser version of me).

My advice to you? Keep praying for that peace that passes all understanding and keep claiming it, whether you feel it or not. Keep trusting that the God of peace is walking with you through your dark road.

Sometimes the absence of peace means there is something in your life that needs to change. You’ll generally have an idea of what that something is and how to go about making the changes. You can’t have peace if you’re consistently making choices that go against God’s Word and refuse to submit to His will for your life.

Even then, peace comes with repentance. Peace comes to those whose hearts are broken, like King David’s, over their sin. Peace comes to those who admit once again their total and complete dependence on God.

That’s all for tonight. Come back for something completely different. Or maybe more of the same. You never can tell with me.




In the Beginning

“When all things began, the Word already was. The Word dwelt with God, and what God was, the Word was. The Word, then, was with God at the beginning, and through him all things came to be; no single thing was created without him. All that came to be was alive with his life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines on in the dark, and the darkness has never mastered it” (John 1:1-5).

To me, John 1 has to be among the greatest literary masterpieces of all time. I may be a bit biased, but I do think that the way John opens his gospel is perfect. Matthew and Mark start with the birth narrative, but John goes back further than that. Much further.

We see Jesus as the Word with God from the beginning. Jesus, the Word, was (and is) God.

Sometimes, you need a different translation to see a verse or a group of verses in a new light. Reading the same verses in the same translations can be like singing the same old hymns in the same old style for years and years. Eventually, you fall into rote memory and stop paying attention to the words.

That’s one of the reasons I chose the New English Bible as my translation of choice to read through the Bible for 2015. It’s different enough so that the words seem fresh again.

It’s not a perfect rendering, but that’s not the point. The point is to keep letting the Word of God speak to me and (hopefully) to never let it get stale for me.

The best way to keep the Bible from getting stale is to do what it says. Don’t just read it and praise it for being clever and witty, but actually put it into practice. That’s something that’s easy to tell someone else to do, but much harder to do yourself. I should know.

As of this time, my plan is to read the Holman Christian Standard Bible (otherwise known as the Hard Core Southern Baptist Bible) in 2016 and the New Jerusalem Bible in 2017. Of course, these plans are always subject to change.



A Good Word from Micah

Quick question: when was the last time you heard a sermon from the little book of Micah? Or from any of the minor prophets? Just wondering.

I was reading Micah this afternoon in my quest to read through the Bible in a year (this year, I’m reading from the New English Bible). I’ll admit that most of what I read today wasn’t the most happy-go-lucky sort. After all, God was speaking through these prophets to a wayward and rebellious nation who refused to repent and come back to the God who had brought them out of Egypt and through the wilderness to their promised land (not that there are any parallels to this country, right?) But not all of it was dark and gloomy.

Here’s one section I read that I hope will uplift and encourage you as it did me.

Where is the god who can compare with you—
    wiping the slate clean of guilt,
Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear,
    to the past sins of your purged and precious people?
You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long,
    for mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most.
And compassion is on its way to us.
    You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing.
You’ll sink our sins
    to the bottom of the ocean.
You’ll stay true to your word to Father Jacob
    and continue the compassion you showed Grandfather Abraham—
Everything you promised our ancestors
    from a long time ago” (Micah 7:18-20).

Note: I quoted from The Message a) because Bible Gateway doesn’t have the New English Bible as a translation and I was too lazy to type the whole thing and b) because Eugene Peterson’s rendering is pretty powerful in and of itself.


Psalm 57

“God, be gracious to me; be gracious,
for I have made you my refuge.
I shall seek refuge in the shadow of
your wings
until the storms are past” (Psalm 57:1).

I chose to read through the Bible again in 2015, this time using the New English Bible translation. I’m currently in the middle of the Psalms and I ran across one that I had to re-read and then re-read again because it was perfectly timed for the weather we’ve been having.

To be fair, this part of the country has seen mostly rain and not much in the way of actual storms. But storms don’t always mean lots of rain, lightening, and hail. Sometimes storms come in the form of losing a job or losing a loved one. Sometimes storms are seasons of life that are difficult. Those storms don’t always come and go within 24 hours. Some can last for weeks and months and even years.

But the same Jesus that spoke peace to actual winds and waves so long ago is just as capable of speaking peace to your and my storms. Often I’ve noticed that He will allow the storm to rage, but He will calm the child within the storm (and I’m fairly certain that is not original with me).

For me, storms have been the place where I’ve found Jesus to be most faithful. Even when I can’t see the end of the storm clouds and wonder if the sun will ever shine again, I know even then that the promises of Jesus are just as true in the darkest storms as they are on the brightest days.

I’ve read through the Bible more than once and yes, I have read the last page. There are no storms or thunder or trials or pain or suffering there. Only victory. Only peace. Only the joy that comes in the morning after a night of weeping.




Yet Another Bible Find


Lately, my quest is to go to used bookstores and thrift stores in search of obscure or relatively unknown translations of the Bible. I have all the popular ones, like the NIV, NASB, ESV, NKJV, and so on. Why stop there?

Today. I found a copy of the Revised English Bible at a bookstore in Green Hills. It’s a revision of the New English Bible and both are primarily British translations. I bet you’ve never heard of either one.

My goal is not to pay $80 for a top-quality leather Bible. I try to keep it under $10 if I can.

I never know when I’ll run across a version of the Bible that I’ve never heard of before. I find it’s helpful to read through more than one translation to get a better picture of what the original writers were trying to communicate.

For the record, I am not a fan of the KJV. I personally would rather not have to translate the translation, but if that’s your Bible of choice then more power to ya. I still say it’s good to diversify every once in a while.

I’m still looking for a New Jerusalem Bible. It’s a Catholic translation that Brennan Manning used quite a bit in his books. And it is quite the tricky one to find, apparently. If you see one, let me know where and how much (preferably in the Nashville area).

If there’s any point to this, it’s to read your Bible more. And yes, I’m preaching to myself, too. If I believe I possess the words of God written to and for me, I should do more than carry them around. I should read them, obey them, and live them.