June 30, 2010

I’m Afraid I’ve Been Thinking

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , at 2:22 pm by Tamara

Today at work I was shelving Bibles and came across a section I didn’t realize we had, called “Famous Author Bibles.”  Funny, here I always thought GOD wrote the Bible. But, there they were, Bibles with names of popular Christian authors/teachers splashed across the front in big, bold type.  Which got me thinking about a LOT of semi-related things.  (“Lefou, I’m afraid I’ve been thinking!”  “A dangerous pastime—”   “I know!”  …Ahem.)

First off, what an incredible responsibility when people take your teaching so seriously that they actually publish an entire Bible with your comments on it.  There’s a lot of potential there to either lead people closer to Christ or put slippery banana peels all over their path.  But that doesn’t just go for those of “us” who have our own brand of Bible, but for every one of us who’s ever written something, given advice, or even stated an opinion.  Our words are powerful.  Mark Buchanan wrote something in his book The Rest of God that has seared my soul:

All our authority is derived.  Either God gives us words, or we are only giving opinions.  …If anyone ever stops to listen to you or me, this had better be solidly in place:  Our speaking comes out of our listening.  What we say comes out of what we hear.  We have to be people who listen, day and night, to God.  Our  utterances ought to be as Jesus’ were: an echoing of the Father, an imitation of him…. “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God”  (I Pet. 4:11).  That verse should be paired with Jesus’ statement: “He who has ears, let him hear.”

How much of what I say could I call “an echoing of the Father, an imitation of him?”  Three areas convict me immediately: Facebook statuses (so easy to “vent” on there), agreeing with coworker’s complaints (sigh), and giving advice that’s based on my own subjective experiences but doesn’t have real Biblical backing (and I have a whole post on that rattling around in my head, so I’ll say no more.)

The second thing these “Famous Author Bibles” made me think of is the “Cult of the Personality.”  Sadly, I think a lot of organizations/churches get all their fuel from one particularly passionate and likable person.  But what happens if they die, quit the ministry, or get in a scandal?  Will the whole thing fall apart?  A crucial part of leadership is replicating yourself to the point where you’re sure you could fall off the planet and God’s work would still continue.  Also, when thinking of the cult of the personality, I need to make sure that, just because I trust/admire someone, I still test what they say and write against the Bible.

Lastly, my Bible shelving experience was frustrating because the shelves were so impossibly tight that I couldn’t get all the new ones on.  We carry every imaginable translation, size, and style of Bible you can imagine, from massive gold-edged King James Versions to magazine shaped New Testaments with photos of models on the cover so no one knows you’re reading the Bible.  Now, I’m incredibly thankful to live in a country with so many Bible resources, but as I was breaking my fingers trying to shove even more Bibles on the shelf, I couldn’t help feeling sick about the fact that there are thousands of people whose Bible translations look like this:




That’s right.  Empty.  Because not a single word of the Bible has been translated into their language.  They estimate there are 2,500 entire LANGUAGES with no Bible translation.  I’ve seen letters from indigenous groups in the middle of nowhere begging for someone to come tell them the story of Christ, and I’ve talked to people ready and waiting to go, just as soon as they have the funding to do it.  What if we spent a little less money on another Bible (or another movie, purse, or meal at a restaurant, for that matter) and sent that $15 to a missionary instead?  Western Christians have enough money to evangelize the entire world in our lifetime.  But it won’t happen unless we’re giving.

Convicting day for me.



  1. Mom said,

    Very well said, and convicting too. Thanks again for sharing.
    Love you!

  2. Lois Owsley said,

    Speaking of translations…have you looked at the MESSAGE? Very interesting read (the parts I’ve read of it). I was introduced to it by an 80 year old lady in our church. It is hilarious hearing her read it!

    We just met a couple a couple days ago who are missionaries to Equador. He worked with Wycliffe and translated the Bible into one of the native languages down there. Many of their words are very long.

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