Well. It has been a little longer than I anticipated to get back here! I have been overcoming a slight cold that led to some ear infection and ultimately, a ruptured eardrum, just to be factual…the details of the drama of the last 2 weeks are too icky and no fun to relate, so let’s just say…I am still resting when I can and trying to get back to “normal” in a balanced way…meanwhile, I am, at best, getting used to the “extra instruments” in my right ear that come with having a hole there. Honky-tonk piano, anyone? Alien autotune? How about an out-of-tune harpsichord? It seems at any moment, I get to hear a few more sounds that the average Joe or Jill…At least it makes life even more interesting as a professional singer….but ANYWAY…
Truly, I have been praising God for His supernatural favor even and especially in this trial. There have certainly been many little incidences where I can see His love and protection, even while the world would say I was at my worst…so, it’s all good. Cuz He’s ALL GOOD, amen?!?
Today I am starting a blog series called “What’s on my Bookshelf?” where I will be talking about the various things I am reading at the moment…it will definitely come in parts, though I will not commit to the blogs being consecutive! You just never know what life is gonna throw at ya’, so I choose to go with the flow in at least this area…=-) (It’s a good thing, since I meant to write this particular post a week and a half ago…that is, before I came down with whatever-it-was…)
Something you should know about me: I love books. Always have. I love fiction, I love self-help, I love inspirational, I love non-fiction, I love biographies, etc, etc. On any given day, I would guarantee you that I have a minimum of 4 books “cracked open” that I am switching back-and-forth on, depending on my mood. Usually at least one fiction, one edifying, and/or one educating, not to mention my ongoing devotional and Bible choices…
As a yoga teacher, I am constantly learning more about yoga via books. Sometimes the books are about a famous teacher’s method or style of yoga, sometimes they are about breathwork and meditation, sometimes they are about the lifestyle that goes with it (according to the author). As a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance, I actually HAVE to continue my education in this way (among others) to continue being registered, and I am actually quite thankful for that. I also always have a few yoga magazines partially read, waiting to be finished, laying around my nightstand.
I like fiction for when I need to escape or DON’T want to think too hard…whether secular or Christian. Usually they center on some interest of mine: a place, a time, a lifestyle, a country, a language, what-have-you…
And there is usually something else educational or thought provoking—-not necessarily self-help, but something that teaches me more in depth on a subject.
Finally, though, the most important book (or books) on my proverbial bookshelf? My bible. Ok, bibles. I like to compare versions. I like to study. I like to revel in the amazing words and meanings. So, let’s just start there…
There are bibles all over my house, really, so I am just going to discuss the ones sitting on my nightstand shelves. Typically I have an NIV (New International Version) Bible, an Amplified Bible, and The Message Bible. The NIV, for those who don’t know, is probably the most commonly used “standard” version. It is not so formal or high language as the King James version, but it is also not necessarily a contemporary language version, either. Kind of right there smack in the middle of it all…So, I often look at it first, to read the Bible verses as I have heard them most of my life before I compare them to a different version.
The Amplified Bible has been a favorite of mine for a long time. It has this wonderful way of expounding on the meanings that could be meant or conveyed for various words (based on the original Hebrew or Greek), so you can really get a thorough/deeper view of what is meant by what you are reading! For instance, typically if one were to recite to you a “regular” version of John 10:10, it would sound something like “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.” Ok, pretty cool. Thank You, Lord Jesus, because we are so grateful for that!
But here is what the Amplified Bible says: ” I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, til it overflows).” Wow! We don’t just have our lives because of Jesus, we are entitled as His followers to enjoy them, too! And, a LOT. Overflowing wonderfulness….wow, wow, wow! Or often, when the word “blessed” is used in a verse, it says “blessed (happy, to be envied)”. Doesn’t that just give you SUCH a better picture!?! So, I love to use this bible as I study…
When I TEACH, however….
I most often use the Message bible. I do use the other versions as well, but most often, my class scriptures are from The Message. Why?
I was introduced to the Message bible while doing my yoga teacher training. I liked how it said things, sure, but I was still a major devotee of the Amplified. However, my teachers certainly emphasized how it put things in such a way that was great for a class–especially when your students are currently relaxing and centering themselves with eye pillows over their eyes, it’s nice to keep things as easy and simple to understand, without too many words to complicate their meditation and stillness…..so, I looked into purchasing one. It wasn’t until I learned WHY it was written that I became totally gung-ho…
The author, Eugene Peterson, is a pastor and a scholar, among many other cool things…feel free to look him up on the internet…but he didn’t start as those things. He began as a teacher of Hebrew and Greek. When he began pastoring, he noticed that people in his congregations either knew next to nothing about the bible, or they had been reading it for years and it somehow had gone dry and boring for them…reduced to trite sayings and cliché’s, perhaps. (Now, here is where I DO want to say that our RELATIONSHIP with our Savior is an ongoing thing, and if we are feeling dry, perhaps we need to dig a bit deeper?…but I totally understand what Mr. Peterson is talking about…) Here is a portion of what he writes in the Foreword of my edition of the Message bible:
“I lived in two language worlds, the world of the Bible and the world of Today. I had always assumed they were the same world. But these people didn’t see it that way. So out of necessity I became a “translator” (although I wouldn’t have called it that then), daily standing on the border between two worlds, getting the language of the Bible that God uses to create and save us, heal and bless us, judge and rule over us, into the language of Today that we use to gossip and tell stories, give directions and do business, sing songs and talk to our children.
And all the time those old biblical languages, those powerful and vivid Hebrew and Greek originals, kept working their way underground in my speech, giving energy and sharpness to words and phrases, expanding the imagination of the people with whom I was working to hear the language of the Bible in the language of Today and the language of Today in the language of the Bible.” He did that for 30 years with one congregation and was eventually asked to write a Bible that expressed what he had been sharing with them.
I also love this quote:
“When Paul of Tarsus wrote a letter, the people who received it understood it instantly, When the prophet Isaiah preached a sermon, I can’t imagine that people went to the library to figure it out. That was the basic premise under which I worked. I began with the New Testament in the Greek — a rough and jagged language, not so grammatically clean. I just typed out a page the way I thought it would have sounded to the Galatians.” (from Wikipedia:Clint Kelly. “Eugene Peterson: The Story Behind The Message”, Use of Italics, mine.)
I believe it was that quote which sent me rushing off to buy my own copy…imagine! The Bible written with language that expressed the emotion and passion behind the words, in a way that might make as much sense to me emotionally as reading a heartfelt letter from a friend or laughing at a joke someone tells!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe the Bible is the Living Word. I can get a new revelation from a scripture I have read many, many times, each time I read it…and it doesn’t matter which version I am using…
But it is nice to know that the Message version is not just some “watered-down” version of the Bible as I have heard some suggest who have not actually looked into it or know its origins. In fact, it is right on the money. The real meaning with the real passion.
For fun, here is another description of why the Message was written:
I do compare the verses of different bibles often…and, there are times when I like the NIV best or another version over the Message…I just leave that up to what the Spirit is revealing to me at that moment!
However, here are a couple of my faves from the Message:
For instance, the NIV of Matthew 11:28-30 is classic, and I love it:
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I ALSO love this MSG version, though:
I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
Now, I will tell you right now, my favorite version of that is still the Amplified…BUT, I do love the comparison of Real life and Eternal life…more and better than I have ever dreamed of??!?! Wowza. So, I basically cannot even begin to comprehend or imagine how amazing my life is intended to be according to my Lord’s standards…how cool is THAT?! Both the life I am living here right now, and the future life in heaven…or both the natural life I am living practically, and my Spiritual life that is also happening right now in the heavenly realms…THAT is part of my inheritance in Christ…and all I need to do is believe and step into it! So….
But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.
Or the Msg version says, As for me and my family, we will worship God. =-)
(Stay tuned for future blogs in the series, “What’s on My Bookshelf?” for fun reads, inspirational reads, things you might wanna’ pass on (maybe?), and things that will teach and reach you!)
This week at Vessels of Clay Yoga, we have been considering God as our comfort, our refuge, our Answer, our Help…
Dear Lord, help us to give up our fears and anxieties and give ourselves fully to you.
The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Psalm 20:6 “That clinches it–help’s coming, an answer’s on the way, everything’s going to work out.”
Finally, it’s time for our Fun Feet Give-a-way!!!
The winner of this week’s give-a-way will receive the adorable pair of crazy toe socks of their choosing (from the photo), which can even be used to do yoga!
Comment below to enter; need an idea of what to say? Maybe you’d like to share what your favorite version of the Bible is…and/or perhaps include a favorite verse? Or would you like to share your reading style? (one book at a time, no distractions, or multiple books going off-and-on, or just magazines thank you much, or are-you-crazy-I-only-read-blogs, etc, etc…) And/or say where you would choose to wear your crazy toe socks if you win!!!
Good Luck!!! I will draw a winner’s name from the bunch early next week! May God bless and keep you this week as you cast your fears and anxieties up to Him and lay back in His everlasting arms….