Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Truth

If you read something I have written previously, it is for one of two reasons:

1. I am too old to know that I have written it before.
2. I think you need the repetition.

Here goes a possible repetition. Over the years (more than 60 of them), I have heard the following nonsense:

“That is your belief. This is mine.”
“That is true for you, but not for me.”

This conversation can be about atheism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, homosexuality, and all kinds of religious beliefs or immoral practices.

One of the first of these remembered conversations was in the home of a family in Sasebo, Kyush. It was probably in October, 1950. It was with their college-age daughter, Suziko. We had been talking about the Daiutsu in Kamikura (idol Buddha). We were seated on the tatami at a low table. We were talking about the time this giant idol was made and about the prayer wheels in front of the idol.

A prayer wheel is like a roulette wheel. It has many little posts on the perimeter of the wheel. The worshiper will write out little prayers on pieces of paper and then put the paper on one of the posts. The prayer wheel is then spun. Every time the prayer makes one complete revolution, the prayer is prayed to the idol. At the same time the other hundred prayers on the wheel are also prayed.

There was in the center of the table, at which we were sitting, a beautifully carved wooden dish. I asked Suziko what she would think of me if I had carved the dish. She replied, “I would think that you were a great artist.”

“What would you think of me if I then bowed down in front of the dish and prayed to it?”

“I would think that you were very foolish.”

She then changed the subject and said, “Isn’t it true that you have your God and we have our god?”

My reply was, “At the creation did the two gods get together at the international Date Line to decide about creation?”

My point is this, people think that something is true because they believe it is true.

If I believe that the earth is round, that does not make the earth round. If I believe that earth is flat, that does not make it flat. If I believe in the law of gravity, that does not make it true. If I do not believe in the law of gravity, my non-belief does not make the law of gravity false.

What I believe does not make anything true. Truth is truth independent of anyone’s belief. Truth is not subjective. It is unrelated to my beliefs. Christians have bought into this lie: “It does not matter what you believe as long as you believe.” Educated, otherwise, intelligent people say this sort of drivel.

Seek what is true and put your trust there.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Truth or Fiction

If we had to vote for truth or fiction we would probably vote for truth. If the vote were between truth and lies, there would be no question, we would vote for truth.

However, fiction and lies are not synonyms. They would be if the fiction was about real people. If the fiction is about imaginary people then they might be more truth in the novel than in the biography.

I am going to quote a few paragraphs by two great American women novelists of the 20th century.

“Pa Kurtz was slight and wiry, all muscle and bounce. His wife had avoirdupois to spare and her leisurely walk was what is known in common parlance as a waddle” (Star Across the Tracks, Bess Streeter Aldrich, copyright 1949, pg. 18). She is the heroine in the story.

“A door opened at the back of the hall, letting in light, and a woman came through it, a country lady of immense size and immense charm. She advanced with a stately swaying motion, shifting her great weight from foot to the other with patient humorous determination that did not mask her fatigue. Her white apron billowed before her, and her bright pink knitted cardigan, buttoned up over her bosom to her chin, strained at all her buttons with desperation but success, holding fast, but showing spotless white petticoat at all the interstices” (The Heart of the Family, Elizabeth Goudge, pg. 17).

Then there are the women in Botswana of the books The Ladies No.1 Detective Agency.

Descriptions of this kind of real people would be considered insulting even though they might be accurate.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hearing the Word of God

The New Testament was written when there were no printing presses and literacy was not for everyone, so oral communication was the means. It included reading aloud, teaching, and preaching.

“After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.” (Colossians 4:16)

Oral communication requires listening, not just preaching. Listening is not just hearing; it is also paying attention. James expresses this several times.

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)


“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)

“And that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30:20)

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” (Proverbs 1:5)

“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)

“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)

Cross references:

When you listen to the Word, listen.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Reading the Word of God


Read the Bible in 67 Days!

For a downloadable PDF version of this click here: ccmbooks.org

There are many Christians who read the Scriptures sporadically in time and place. In other words, they read the Scriptures “now and then” and “here and there.” They gravitate to their favorite chapters. If asked the last time they had read the New Testament through, they would not be sure they had ever read it through. Consequently there is an appalling ignorance of the God’s Word in the body of Christ, and a consequent lack of obedience. Listening to the best Bible teachers in the world will not make up for the personal ignorance of the individual.

There are several reasons why there is an unwillingness to read through the New Testament or the Bible: 1) “It is difficult to understand the “thees and thous.” 2) “I ran into the “begats.” 3) “When I don’t understand a verse, I stay with it, trying to understand it; so then I don’t progress.” 4) “It’s dull reading.” 5) “It’s too long; it would take forever.”

Here are a few suggestions to overcome these complaints.

First, obtain a Bible. Here are Bibles that are available, with reading levels by school grade.

Formal-equivalent translations of the Bible: The translators attempt a word-for-word translation and try to preserve word order and sentence structure.

King James Version/12th
New American Standard/11th
New American Bible/10th
Revised Standard Version/11th
New King James Version/9th

The Revised Standard, New American Standard and New King James are all revisions of the King James. The New King James used the same Greek text as the King James. The New American Bible is a Roman Catholic Bible; it is a revision of the Rheims-Douay Version which was translated from the Latin.

Paraphrase versions of the Bible: These are restatements of the message spoken in a style that is “easy listening” and using words that are contemporary.

Living Bible/8th
Message/8th

The Living Bible was written by Kenneth Taylor and was originally used for reading to his own children. The Message is also a paraphrase by an individual and contains very contemporary language.

Dynamic-equivalent versions of the Bible: The translators attempt to produce a translation which is closest in meaning and style: a thought-for-thought translation.

New International Version/7th
Today’s English Version/5th

The New International Version was a translation commissioned by the International Bible Society using many scholars from several English-speaking countries. It was the first translation of the Bible to outsell the King James Version. Today’s English Version was translated for people whose second language is English.

(The following translations have adopted gender-neutral nouns and pronouns, which is not honest translation and we do not recommend them: New Revised Standard/10th, New Living Translation/6th, New Century Version/3rd and Contemporary English Version/5th.)

Second, the genealogies in the New Testament take up less than two chapters total in Matthew and Luke. If they are a problem to you, skip them. Then go back over then separately; it will take only five minutes. They are important or they would not be there. However, they are not intended to stop you from reading the rest of the New Testament.

Third, when you read, do not stop for hard-to-understand passages; keep reading. They will make more sense because you kept reading. They will make even more sense the second time through.

Fourth, if you think the Bible is dull reading, start with exciting parts like Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.

Fifth, if you are a slow reader (150 words a minute), the whole Bible would take only 80 hours of reading. The reason it takes so long is the days, weeks, or months you do not read from it at all.

Sixth, a schedule may help some of you. If you read four chapters each day, only Matthew and Acts would take a week to read. All of the rest (25 books) would take less than a week, and of those, 17 have from one to six chapters each, so you would finish reading each in a maximum of one and a half days.

The object is to know God and obey Him more and more. The object is not to finish so you can say, “I finished.” You cannot say that you know what God wants from you without knowing all His revelation and knowing His revelation well.

Reading Schedule:

1 – Matthew 1-4
2 – Matthew 5-8
3 – Matthew 9-12
4 – Matthew 13-16
5 – Matthew 17-20
6 – Matthew 21-24
7 – Matthew 25-28
8 – Mark 1-4
9 – Mark 5-8
10 – Mark 9-12
11 – Mark 13-16
12 – Luke 1-4
13 – Luke 5-8
14 – Luke 9-12
15 – Luke 13-16
16 – Luke 17-20
17 – Luke 21-24
18 – John 1-4
19 – John 5-8
20 – John 9-12
21 – John 13-16
22 – John 17-21
23 – Acts 1-4
24 – Acts 5-8
25 – Acts 9-12
26 – Acts 13-16
27 – Acts 17-20
28 – Acts 21-24
29 – Acts 25-28
30 – Romans 1-4
31 – Romans 5-8
32 – Romans 9-12
33 – Romans 13-16
34 – 1 Corinthians 1-4
35 – 1 Corinthians 5-8
36 – 1 Corinthians 9-12
37 – 1 Corinthians 13-16
38 – 2 Corinthians 1-4
39 – 2 Corinthians 5-8
40 – 2 Corinthians 9-13
41 – Galatians 1-3
42 – Galatians 4-6
43 – Ephesians 1-3
44 – Ephesians 4-6
45 – Philippians 1-4
46 – Colossians 1-4
47 – 1 Thessalonians 1-5
48 – 2 Thessalonians 1-3
49 – 1 Timothy 1-3
50 – 1 Timothy 4-6
51 – 2 Timothy 1-3
52 – Titus 1-3 and Philemon
53 – Hebrews 1-4
54 – Hebrews 5-8
55 – Hebrews 9-13
56 – James 1-5
57 – 1 Peter 1-5
58 – 2 Peter 1-3
59 – 1 John 1-5
60 – 2 John
61 – 3 John
62 - Jude
63 – Revelation 1-4
64 – Revelation 5-8
65 – Revelation 9-12
66 – Revelation 13-16
67 – Revelation 17-20