Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Jerusalem Study Bible

Hi Andrew. Thanks for your comments.
I have enjoyed reading your double usefulness blog.

Yes, I finished The New Jerusalem Study Bible. I completed reading it on 3rd January, 2009.

I like the way that it is not tied to the King James Version tradition that is followed by versions such as the NASB, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, NIV and TNIV. This provides some refreshing and different translational options.

The translation does not seem to be excessively Roman Catholic, though the study notes reflect Roman Catholic theology, but not as much as might have been expected. The problem with the study notes is that they convey a liberal theologian's low view of the Bible itself, and often seem to be intimating that the Bible is the words of men, but not at the same time the words of God. I acknowledge that the Bible is written by men, but believe that through the superintendence of the Holy Spirit, they wrote freely, wrote what they wanted to say, but wrote what God wanted them to say, too. 2 Peter 1:20-21

But the translation is well worth reading, I think.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When you need 'em

We have been using the Adelaide-based Internode as our ISP for the past three years. It is usually reliable and we usually get pretty close to the speed that is the maximum for our area.

Today my wife bought a laptop. This is the first time that we have wanted to have two computers connected to our internet connection. I didn't know anything about networks or wireless whatsanames, and found Internode so helpful today. And it was very fast getting connected with a technical help person.

Thanks, Internode.

The D link wireless router and the Toshiba notebook are pretty good, too.

Monday, September 28, 2009

How not to lose your faith in college

Good advice from Thabiti Anyabwile.

You could sum up the whole article in Plan to keep trusting God.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Equal pay for women

In June 1969 the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission accepted the principle that there should be ‘equal pay for equal work’. The Commission ruled that employers had to pay the same salaries to women and men doing the same work and that all the changes had to take place by the beginning of 1972. Until this time, most women’s wages were allowed to be only 75% of men’s wages for the same work. Many people had fought for years to change this unfairness.

So why is there a campaign for equal pay for women today? I have not been able to find the answer to this question, but am wondering if it is kind of shifting the goalposts, because it seems to me that women do get paid the same for the same job.

Are they saying that the average woman should be paid the same as the average man? Or are they saying that there should be equally as many women in high paying jobs as men? Are they saying that women who do managerial jobs don't always attract the generous financial package that some men enjoy?

But how could you legislate for this?

Isn't it the case that tall and slim people also get paid better than short and fat people? Could you make a law that all short fat managers get paid the same as the other blokes?

Or am I completely missing the point?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Well chosen words from Rolf

I like this comment on Rolf Harris' website:
I’m thrilled at continually having been able to find new things to do and new career paths to enjoy, and I’m constantly reminded of my Mum and Dad, who instilled into my brother and me the fact that we could do ANY thing we wanted to do in this life.

It is a good sentiment [though I also think we need a good dose of realism], but I appreciate the fact that Rolf is one of the very few people who knows when to say
my brother and ME
. So many people think that you must always say
my brother and I
and haven't heard of subjects and objects, it seems.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

ESV Study Bible

I'm continuing to enjoy reading through the ESV Study Bible, at a s l o w pace.

I've now completed
Song of Songs

in the Old Testament


1 Corinthians
1 and 2 Thessalonians
1 and 2 Peter
John's letters

in the New Testament.

I've read the first two books of Psalms and am currently reading through Acts and am enjoying John Polhill's notes and introduction very much.

But I've also just purchased a copy of Eugene Peterson's The Message which I hope to read through quickly after completing this project in maybe 2011.

We are very fortunate to have so many wonderful resources available to help us come to grips with God's Word and to be gripped by it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why memorise Scripture?

This article by John Piper has some good quotes in it and good reasons for memorising Scripture. I've recently begun having a go at some Psalms ... and I'm proceeeding very slowly. But I'm pleased to have got through Psalms 1-3, though I learnt Psalm 1, 23 and 150 many years ago.

If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs.
Dallas Willard
I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture... No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified
Chuck Swindoll
1. Conformity to Christ
Paul wrote that “we all... beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” If we would be changed into Christ likeness we must steadily see him. This happens in the word. “The LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD” (1 Samuel 3:21). Bible memorization has the effect of making our gaze on Jesus to be steadier and clearer.

2. Daily Triumph over Sin
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word... I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9, 11). Paul said that we must “by the Spirit... put to death the [sinful] deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). The one piece of armor used to kill is the “sword of the Spirit,” which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). As sin lures the body into sinful action, we call to mind a Christ-revealing word of Scripture and slay the temptation with the superior worth and beauty of Christ over what sin offers.

3. Daily Triumph over Satan
When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness he recited Scripture from memory and put Satan to flight (Matthew 4:1-11).

4. Comfort and Counsel for People You Love
The times when people need you to give them comfort and counsel do not always coincide with the times you have your Bible handy. Not only that, the very word of God spoken spontaneously from your heart has unusual power. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” That is a beautiful way of saying, When the heart full of God’s love can draw on the mind full of God’s word, timely blessings flow from the mouth.

5. Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers
Opportunities to share the gospel come when we do not have the Bible in hand. Actual verses of the Bible have their own penetrating power. And when they come from our heart, as well as from the Book, the witness is given that they are precious enough to learn. We should all be able to sum up the gospel under four main headings (1) God’s holiness/law/glory; 2) man’s sin/rebellion/disobedience; 3) Christ’s death for sinners; 4) the free gift of life by faith. Learn a verse or two relating to each of these, and be ready in season and out of season to share them.

6. Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways
The way we commune with (that is, fellowship with) God is by meditating on his attributes and expressing to him our thanks and admiration and love, and seeking his help in living a life that reflects the value of these attributes. Therefore, storing texts in our minds about God helps us relate to him as he really is. For example, imagine being able to call this to mind through the day:

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:8-14)

I used the word “enjoyment” intentionally when I said, “communion with God in the enjoyment of his person and ways.” Most of us are emotionally crippled — all of us really. We do not experience God in the fullness of our emotional potential. How will that change? One way is to memorize the emotional expressions of the Bible and speak them to the Lord and to each other until they become part of who we are. For example, in Psalm 103:1, we say, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” That is not a natural expression for many people. But if we memorize this and other emotional expressions from the Bible, and say them often, asking the Lord to make the emotion real in our hearts, we can actually grow into that emotion and expression. It will become part of who we are. We will be less crippled emotionally and more able to render proper praise and thanks to God.
John Piper, who pointed otu that these are only soem of the reasons, and that we will discover more as we do it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Women elders blog conference

I'm posting this here, in the hope that I may be able to find it again. I hope the blog owners leave it up for us to read!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wise words on Bible translations and translating

Craig Blomberg's review of Leland Ryken's The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation makes some excellent points about Bible translation in a short space. It contains interesting comments about the NIV and TNIV, including this:
But it is when Ryken attempts to make generalizations about a wide variety of translations that are all lumped together under the heading of dynamic equivalence that more serious problems result. Far more helpful are approaches that speak of a spectrum of translations from the most literal to the most free and then place each translation at its appropriate point on the spectrum.

Ryken does acknowledge early on that the NIV is the most conservative of the dynamic equivalence translations, but even that is not quite an accurate summary.

Independent analysts have more helpfully described it as attempting to carve out a middle position between the purer forms of consistently literal and consistently dynamic equivalent translations. As someone who most often uses the NIV for public ministry and has read the entire New Testament in comparison with the Greek, I can attest that it is closer to an "essentially literal" translation in far more instances than than those in which it resembles the "pure" dynamic-equivalence model of Eugene Nida, the Good News Bible and the United Bible Societies' numerous other modern-language translations (the real target of Ryken's book, it would seem).

By consistently citing the minority of places where the NIV is freer, Ryken creates a warped and unduly negative view of the translation overall. Sadly, Ryken falls prey to the common, recent misconception of the TNIV as freer still. Whatever one thinks about the use of inclusive language for generic masculine terminology in Scripture for humanity (and it is clear Ryken doesn't think very much of it), it remains a fact that more than 70% of the changes in the TNIV from the NIV have nothing to do with gender. In those changes, the TNIV moves back in the direction of a more essentially literal rendering three times as often as it moves in the direction of a more dynamically equivalent rendering. I know; I have counted them!

On the other hand, it is also a bit unfair to criticize versions at the freest end of the spectrum, most notably the old Living Bible Paraphrased (LBP) and Eugene Peterson's more recent "The Message." Neither of these versions even claims to be dynamically equivalent. The Old Living Bible was a paraphrase, pure and simple, based on the English ASV, authored by Ken Taylor, to make the Bible come alive for his kids.

It was, quite frankly, the only thing that got me regularly reading Scripture as a newly converted fifteen-year old in 1970. I was bright enough to manage the NASB or RSV (the only other more literal options apart from the KJV in those years); they just never "grabbed" me. Years later I relished the chance to work on the NLT (New Living Translation) team to convert the LBP into a truly dynamic-equivalent translation, but I never recommend it to anyone except to supplement the reading of a more literal translation to generate freshness and new insights, unless they are kids or very poor adult readers. My sixteen- and twelve-year old daughters have been weaned on the NLT and have loved it, but both already on their own are now frequently turning to the NIV. As for "The Message," it is freer even than a paraphrase--I think of it more as devotional literature than as a version of the Bible and wouldn't recommend it for any other role.

But repeatedly, in Ryken's illustrations, the NIV is lumped together with the LBP, NLT or "The Message," when it is overall in fact far closer to the more essentially literal translations Ryken commends than to these other three.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Why is baptism left out of gospel presentations?

John Richardson, The Ugley Vicar, notes that many popular modern presentations of the Christian message do not even mention baptism, yet it was a part of the message in the New Testament.

I haven't seen anyone mention this previously and it is a point I've often pondered. My own thought is that many churches fear presenting baptism as in any way important because mentioning it may lead to thoughts of baptismal regeneration. It is all-too-often thought of as an optional extra. In some paedobaptist churches it is not mentioned because it is assumed that people were "baptised" as babies. But in immersionist churches it is also not often mentioned, but comes up as a next step and as a prerequisite for local church membership.

I was raised in the Baptist church and when the gospel was presented, a was often quoted:
"Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved

It is interesting that those who taught us that belief alone was all that was required did not seem to know that a few verses later tell the story of the Philippian gaoler and his household being baptised, showing that baptism was part of Paul's message.

I think many Christians today are afraid of baptism because they think it may cause division, so they think the wisest course of action is to omit it altogether.

Btu why is it left out of gospel presentations? I think that perhaps the main reason is that these summaries are intended to be used in many different Christian denominations and in interdenominational contexts.

What Colour Is Your Parachute?

Many years ago I enjoyed reading Richard Nelson Bolles' inspiring book What Colour Is Your Parachute? Next year it will be published in its 40th edition.

In an interview in Christianity Today, Bolles concluded with this:
As Phillips Brooks, a 19th-century Episcopal priest, said, Do not look for tasks equal to your strength, but for strength equal to your tasks. The strength, the call, and the skills are gifts from God. And when times are tough, God's grace gives us all the strength we need.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


I was interested to learn yesterday that there will be a new NIV revision published in 2011, to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

I look forward to this new update of the NIV and hope it will be better received than the TNIV of 2005 was.

I have enjoyed reading the NIV and the TNIV, but also appreciate many other contemporary translations, including the New Jerusalem Bible, the New Living Translation, 2nd edition, the Good News Bible [Australian edition] and the ESV.

It is unfortunate that some Christians feel they have to favour one version and then shout abuse at the translators of other versions.

We are privileged to have many excellent contemporary translations, and we are the poorer if we do not make use of them.

I pray that God will guide the translators of this new version, as I believe he did when they originally produced the first version of the NIV.

1. When the new NIV is released, it will be even more similar to the ESV than it already is. [Although some will dispute their similarity, I have read both through completely and have discovered that they are much more alike than many folk would like to admit.]

I am guessing that the use of gender-inclusive language in both versions [which is currently an obvious difference between the NIV and ESV, and to a lesser extent, between the TNIV and ESV] will be fairly similar.

2. Those who have continued to use the NIV, despite the strident campaign by ESV promoters, will be pleased with the update and find less reason to change over to the ESV, which may be one of the NIV publisher's objectives.

The Bible and humour

Interesting article by Mark Driscoll on The Bible and humour. He has a vested interest in this article, because at times he preaches like a stand-up comedian.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Timothy George on The Baptist view of The Lord's Supper

Michael Spencer, The Internet Monk, asked Timothy George
How can Baptists respond to Catholic and Orthodox Christians who challenge our view of the Lord’s Supper as having no deeper historical/Biblical roots than Zwingli?
Dr George's answer is worth reading and considering. I love the Spurgeon quote.
Among many Baptist Christians there is a growing awareness that the Supper of the Lord should have a more prominent (and frequent) place in the life of worship, as it certainly did in the early church. There is also the realization that a more robust doctrine of (what Calvin called) the real spiritual presence of Christ in the Supper is called for by the participationist language of the New Testament itself and is in keeping with the best traditions of Baptist life. No less a figure than Charles Haddon Spurgeon portrayed the Lord’s Supper as nothing less than an encounter with the living Christ himself: “At all times when you come to the communion table, count it to have been no ordinance of grace to you unless you have gone right through the veil into Christ’s own arms, or at least have touched his garment, feeling that the first object, the life and soul of the means of grace, is to touch Jesus Christ himself.”

For most of our history, Baptists have been more concerned with the externals of the Table—grape juice or real wine, who may preside, who may partake—rather than with the question of what actually goes on at this sacred meal. It is well known that Luther and Zwingli differed strongly, and actually broke fellowship with one another, over the meaning of the words of institution, “This is my body.” Historically, Baptists have belonged more to the Reformed (whether Zwinglian or Calvinist) side of that debate, but it is important to realize that all of the mainline reformers reacted against the displacement of the Lord’s Supper as the central focus of Christian worship in medieval Catholicism. They criticized the fact that the Eucharist had become clericalized (the service in Latin and only bread for the laity), commercialized (votive masses used as a fundraising scheme in much of the church), and scholasticized (the dogma of transubstantiation and the view of the mass as a sacrifice).

The reformers harked back to the teaching of the New Testament, the practice of the early church, and especially to the theology of St. Augustine. Augustine argued that in the sacrament the sign must be identified as a sign by a word spoken about it, thus making the sacrament itself a “visible word.” In commenting on John 6:50, Augustine wrote: “ ‘He who eats of this bread will not die.’ But that means the one who eats what belongs to the power of the sacrament, not simply to the visible sacrament; the one who eats inwardly, not merely outwardly; the one who eats the sacrament in the heart not just the one who crushes it with his teeth” (In Ev. Joh. Tract. 26.12). While Luther could speak of the manducatio impiorum, “the eating of the ungodly,” the Reformed tradition picked up Augustine’s distinction and emphasized the cruciality of faith for the proper reception of the beneficium of grace in the Supper. This same theology they found echoed in other pre-reformation figures including Ratramnus, Wycliffe, and Hus. What they rejected, in keeping with Luther, was an understanding of the sacrifice of the mass as an expression of works-righteousness, a theology which seemed to them to undermine the all-sufficiency of Jesus’s once-and-for-all death on the cross—where, as Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer put it, he offered “a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world.”

Since the sixteenth century, and especially in the liturgical renewal stemming from Vatican II, many of the changes called for by the reformers have been accepted in the practice of the Catholic Church. Yet important, church-dividing differences still remain and I think the Church of Rome is right to resist the kind of easy-going ecumenism that would ignore such differences in order to achieve a false unity. In our discussions with our Catholic brothers and sisters, we Baptists and evangelicals must learn to distinguish the unity we are called to affirm and the divisions we must still sustain. But this we should do in the spirit of Jesus’s high priestly prayer for his disciples in John 17—“that they may be one, Father, as you and I are one so that world may believe.”