Thinking Out Loud

July 14, 2012

Manipulating Scripture

Filed under: bible — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:41 am

I am sure that some people will read today’s title and assume this to be a discussion of how to force scripture to say something it isn’t saying; to use a Bible verse as a proof text in order to make some point; or simply do a terrible job of interpretation.

But I am thinking of manipulate in the sense of

to handle, manage, or use, especially with skill, in some process of treatment or performance [Dictionary.com]

If it is true that in Old Testament times, scripture was regarded as a jewel or precious stone — one that reflected and refracted the light in infinite ways depending on how it was held — then we ought to approach scripture with similar expectations.

A few weeks ago I was focusing on the verse that, in the old KJV reads, “Thou wilt keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.”  I couldn’t help but notice there were several four-letter words there: Thou, wilt, keep, mind, thee.  I got to wondering if I could compose the whole text with words of four letters. This has nothing to do with whatever some of you are associating with “four letter words,” and in fact, I did another verse that week with five letter words, but can’t recall now what it was.  Anyway, I came up with:

Thou
will
give
them
pure
calm
when
they
keep
body,
mind,
soul
firm
with
thee.

Nothing particularly profound there, and I did take the liberty of adding ‘body’ and ‘soul’ to what was originally just ‘mind.’  (And I’m normally not a ‘Thee’ and ‘Thou’ person!)

But I can’t say how much this little exercise, and a few others, kept me focused on that scripture, brought related scriptures to memory, and crowded out other thoughts which would have brought me down instead of lifting me up.

Is this too far outside the definition of “meditating on scripture” for you? Or does this fit the idea of figuratively holding the verse in your hand and watching the light (the truth) reflect and refract in different ways?


Read another related thought-life post here from a few weeks ago: You Control This Moment.

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February 13, 2011

When Scripture Is Like a Comfortable Chair

Unless you have public speaking experience, or work in radio and television, or are an actor; chances are that when you’re called upon to read something you haven’t seen before out loud, you stumble over the occasional sentence.  Miss the syntax of a sentence and you can get really bogged down. Start to read the sentence as if it’s a declarative statement when in fact it’s a question, and things can get quite messed up.

Despite having some experience in both broadcasting and public speaking, I can mess up entire paragraphs, especially if I’m not fully concentrating.

Every night at 9:00 PM, my boys — who are now 16 and 19 — join me for Bible study time.  We sometimes read from different translations, but most often read from a wide assortment of devotional books, current Christian bestsellers, or Christian classics.   So we could go from Mere Christianity or With Christ in the School of Prayer all the way to Francis Chan’s Forgotten God or Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew in the course of a single week.  In other words, this ain’t The Beginner Bible story time.

As I’m reading — especially with the older classics — it’s not unusual for me to have to start a sentence over.  Sometimes I take two or three runs at a sentence to try to find the ‘voice’ of the author.

But lately I’ve noticed something. I’m not trying to blow my own horn by saying this, but I hope it challenges you or resonates with you or both. I’ve noticed that when I hit a sentence that contains a quotation from scripture, it literally rolls off the tongue; even if the translation is somewhat different.

I’ve found that the scripture passages an author chooses to cite are like second nature; they fit like a cozy chair or a comfortable pair of shoes. I may not have internalized their message fully, and I may not be living out every aspect of their teachings, but at the very least, I can’t claim unfamiliarity with the words.

Although I stumble over the sentences that come before and the phrases that follow, once I am reading Bible quotations, I’m on familiar ground, almost as though the words are the words of an old friend.

December 31, 2010

Whatever Happened to the Memory Verse?

My mom turned her head to the back seat, “…You’ve got your offering, right?”

“One dime, same as always.”

“And you know your memory verse?”

“Oh, oh!”

A quick leaf through the student manual and I found the verse, which I committed to memory in about 30 seconds.  Most of them, I still remember today…

…Fast forward to 2011…

…What happened to scripture memory?   My kids went through the Sunday School system and have emerged with a fairly accurate God-picture and understanding of basic theology — probably more than I at their age — but very little actual memorization accomplished.

Meanwhile, we have some friends whose kids are part of a national “quizzing” program that has involved memorization of entire chapters of Paul’s epistles; even the entirety of some shorter ones.    So perhaps it’s us;  we failed as parents in this respect.

Either way, I think the Christian book market is going to be very, very ready for Gary Smalley’s new book Guarding Your Child’s Heart:  Establish Your Child’s Faith Through Scripture Memory and Meditation.

I’m not on any kind of review list for NavPress — I don’t even think they do that sort of thing — but I thought this book deserves some highlighting anyway.  Here’s what they say about it…

Most people have 20,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. And for Americans, more than half of those thoughts are negative. So how do you teach your children to guard their minds and hearts in today’s society? The last thing you need is more parenting advice that proves futile.

Your beliefs strongly influence your thoughts, words, and actions, which in turn form your emotions. So the key to a high-quality life is to create powerful beliefs within your heart that control your behavior. You can think whatever thoughts you want, but what would happen if you mainly thought about the words Jesus told you to think about more than two thousand years ago?

Seasoned marriage and family relationship expert Dr. Gary Smalley clearly understands the frustrations of trying to defend your children from destructive cultural influences. In this interactive twelve-week companion workbook that accompanies the Guarding Your Child’s Heart DVD series, Dr. Smalley presents how-to steps, engaging questions, practical exercises, and fun activities to help the whole family memorize and meditate on key Scriptures and lead an enriching life of humility, love, and gratitude.

I can so easily picture grandparents buying this for parents.   For whatever reasons.   I think scripture memory has become a lost art.   So maybe, just maybe, it’s a lost art we need to recover.

There’s also a DVD for this to be used in a small group situation.

“A spiritual community that does not transmit its sacred writings to its children is one generation away from extinction.”


May 26, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Another Wednesday rolls around… where did you go this week online?

  • Ruth Tucker at Christianity Today marks  the passing of Moishe Rosen, the sometimes controversial founder of Jews for Jesus, as does an article in the New York Times.
  • Readers of The Internet Monk blog can catch a free download of the first chapter of the late Michael Spencer’s book, Mere Churchianity.
  • A candid Leadership Magazine interview with Francis Chan — is he ever not candid? — about how things work at Cornerstone Church.
  • While I usually laugh at the blog, Stuff Fundies Like, here’s a piece that makes a very, very solid point about Outcome Based Justification.  If just one person clicks on this…
  • Yikes!  A 13-year-old student in New York State can’t wear a rosary to school because of a statute prohibiting “gang related dress.”  Who ya gonna call?  Jay Sekulow.   But wait a minute, could the school board be justified?  The police think so.
  • Blogger Jeff Leake has reason to be proud of his talented 16-year old son, Josh Leake who has released a new album.   Right now they’re selling actual CDs, but they might want to also consider downloads.   Check out his MySpace page.
  • Trevin Wax thinks that, “Traditional evangelistic strategies are not necessarily deficient in what they say, but in what they assume.”  Read more at Kingdom People.
  • I know a number of bloggers have already mentioned this, but if you’re a parent, you need to watch this Vimeo clip from Randy Alcorn about Pornography from 12 days ago, and also this more recent one — despite the audio problems — from 7 days ago for parents who have daughters.
  • What is God’s relationship to time.   Not an easy question.   Start your thinking process at this article at Prodigal Magazine.
  • Unequally yoked?  Russell D. Moore got a letter in April about a conservative, dispensational Calvinist marrying a tongues-speaking Pentecostal.  Two weeks later, he’s still getting mail.
  • Blog discovery of the week (but it’s been around since 2007) — E-Royal by Royal Farris.   Lots of good video embeds recently.  Which is where I first saw
  • “The Gospel According To Krispy Kreme” a ten-minute YouTube video of Louie Giglio from 2009.
  • Whatever happened to scripture memory.   Here’s a top ten list of some Bible passages everyone should know by heart.
  • It would be great if God spoke to us by sending little written notes to us throughout the day.   That’s the theme of this 2-minute free sermon video download at Floodgate Productions.
  • Currently reading:  I actually don’t limit my reading to Christian books; I’m currently enjoying The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee.  (Love that middle initial!)  The book is a fascinating history of Chinese food.   I discovered Jennifer at TED Talks.
  • Currently fundraising: Chris, our oldest is going to be working in the kitchen at a Christian camp for ten weeks this summer.   Based on a 48-hour (i.e. six day) week, they’re giving him $3.00 per hour; he has to come up with sponsors for the rest.   Contact us if you want to help.
  • Currently listening to:  A Ton of Worship.  A  collection of church worship from the UK, but check out the stats:  5-CDs.  20 songs per CD.   That’s 100 songs for only $12.99 US/$15.99 CDN.  Also a kids version for $9.99 US/$12.99 CDN.   From Kingsway Music.
  • Message to certain bloggers:  Your Twitter updates are really slowing down your page loads.   Is it worth it?
  • Question to video uploaders:  Why Vimeo and not YouTube?   I have a fairly high speed connection, but the Vimeo server — especially when embedded in blogs — doesn’t even come close to the speed of the YouTube servers.
  • Our cartoon panel this week is from Calvinist Cartoons by Eddie Eddings (c/o John Scaddington).

May 5, 2009

Tuesday Links: Life in Blogland

practice

Lots to see in the blogosphere today:

  • Jeff at Losing My Religion is celebrating a birthday today (5/5) and this week has a great, lengthy interview with Michael Frost, missional church guru and co-author (with Alan Hirsch) of the book ReJesus.
  • Video book promos on YouTube are somewhat mandatory these days if you have a new release; and Tony Morgan‘s gives an excellent preview of his book Killing Cockroaches without any hype.  (HT: Church Relevance blog)
  • If you want to re-write the definitive standard for an over-the-top church website, the one for Evangel Cathedral should do it.  (HT: Pragmatic Electric blog.  Be sure to check out his Apr. 25 post, If Jesus Returns Tonight, Who Will Feed Your Pets?  It contains a vital link to Post Rapture Pets.)
  • Jim Upchurch has renamed his blog, Christ: His Work and His Word.   Last weekend he wrote an excellent devotional piece, What if You Knew How and When You Would Die?
  • Quoted on Bob Hyatt’s blog:  “In a faster world, maybe we need a slower church.” ~ Leighton Ford
  • Two entire chapters of Hebrews.   Totally memorized.    Shared with passion by Ryan Ferguson.    Takes eleven minutes.   Google Video link here.   (HT: Tony Miano’s blog, Lawman Chronicles)
  • Finally, on the lighter side; Michael Tait isn’t the newest member of Newsboys after all, as the blog Backseat Writer makes visibly clear in this post.   That’s it for today’s links.
  • Almost every time I do links like this, I always include a link to my unpublished book The Pornography Effect: Understanding for the Wives, Mothers, Daughters, Sisters and Girlfriends, because every day there’s someone new who needs to read it.   It’s online and it’s free to read.
  • Since you asked, I’m currently reading The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight (Zondervan) and the revised — 14 years later — edition of The King James Only Controversy by James White (Bethany House).   Both deal with the Bible and how we both read and translate it, so I don’t mind reading the two books at once.   If you want to make it a hat-trick, you’d have to add How To Choose a Bible Translation For All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss (Zondervan).
  • Today’s cartoon is from ASBO Jesus.  Now with over 700 thought-provoking, intriguing, controversial and sometimes frustrating cartoons served.   Never a dull moment at that cartoon blog.   (It’s Brit-speak for Anti-Social Behavior Order.)
  • Since this post is a potpourri already, the survey, which follows, is from Christianity Today and reflects that readers of its various websites have a rather secularized view of how we all got here.  If you’re going to comment on something here, this would be the one.
    Christianity Today Poll
    What best describes your view of the origins of creation?
    Young-earth creationism


    10%
    Old-earth creationism


    10%
    Theistic evolution


    10%
    Naturalistic evolution


    62%
    I don’t know


    3%
    None of the above

    4%


    Total Votes: 4153

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