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Posts Tagged ‘Scripture Use’

Yesterday, together with my friends in Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church in Belfast, I started to read through the Book of Acts following the Biblefresh logo-ed GodActs. This has been produced by the Presbyterian Board of Mission in Ireland – and I had the pleasure of being on the working group that put it together.

In the introduction to GodActs, David Bruce, Executive Secretary of the Board of Mission in Ireland,  writes…

It’s not often we get the chance to watch world-changing events. The collapse of the Berlin wall in November 1989 was deeply significant for Europe – and changed the world for our generation. But the events narrated in the book of Acts are of a different order.

The Christian Church is formed on these pages, and becomes the movement which more than any other will shape the world we inhabit today. Groups of believers in Jesus are supernaturally visited and empowered to spread the gospel across all boundaries. God acts. Jewish believers in Jesus are joined by Gentiles – a cultural scandal. Asia and Europe are bridged as the good news spreads with breathtaking speed towards Rome itself. People die for this cause, just as Empires are shaped by it.

If you read it and listen to its message, hold on to your hats, because God will act. That’s a promise.

Day 1: Start spreading the news – Acts 1:1-12 – has the disciples after 40 days of post-resurrection teaching by Jesus, still getting it wrong, still thinking Jesus is about to become a revolutionary freedom fighter leader. Instead Jesus leaves them some basic intstructions about what they are to do next…

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.   Acts 1:8

… and disappears from their sight into heaven.

It’s far too easy to criticise those turned upside down and inside out disciples! Aren’t we all guilty of something similar?

GodActs was written by 28 different contributors – and the writer of Start spreading the news speaks for us all:

Oftentimes I find myself being far more passionate about getting God on board with what I want, than with me getting on board with what God wants.

Alas… amen!

Day 2: The church’s birthday – Acts21:1-13 sees the promised Holy Spirit arriving at Pentecost and…

… in this passage He enabled people from many nations and languages to hear the disciples declaring the wonders of God. In doing so, the Church has been declared open, and it’s open to all, regardless of language, race or nationality.

Yet all languages do not have access to God’s Word in their heart language.

Holy Spirit, touch and challenge your church to take seriously the Bible translation needs of over 340 million people speaking over 2,000 languages.

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Eddie Arthur drew my attention to this excellent blog today from Quaerentia

The 400th Anniversary of the King James is everywhere. And that’s fantastic. There’s perhaps a greater chance of it being read by British people this year than there has been for years.

However Quaerentia fears that the Word may get lost in the literary celebrations and quotes:

So it was very refreshing to hear Rhidian Brook bringing some sense to the airwaves in his Radio 4 Thought for the Day. It’s worth listening to in full (it’s only about 90 seconds). But here’s an excerpt:

“We need to be careful that by paying homage to the literary excellence and influence of The King James Bible we don’t become like the Pharisees, getting lost in the wordy woods and missing the tree altogether. Like the little girl who, after being read the story of the feeding of the five thousand, asked if is was true and her Father said “perhaps, but don’t you think it’s a nice story?” To which she replied: “Yes, but it’s a much better story if it’s true.”

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Eddie Arthur has added a second blog on Authorized Myths

He sets his discussions firmly in the context that we live in a story:

It is much more accurate to see the AV as fitting into the story of God’s work in the Church down through the ages. Since the miracle at Pentecost in Acts 2, the Christian message has generally been made available in the languages of he people who received it. The imposition of Latin in the Middle Ages was a short lived aberration in the life of the Church. When this cultural stranglehold began to break, new translations were produced in many European languages, including English. The English translations, one of which is the AV, are a part of the amazing story of God reaching out to the world. There are now Scriptures available in hundreds of languages, though they are still two thousand languages in need of the Bible.

Then having dealt with some of the more extreme assertions of AV advocates and Anglophone self-importance, Eddie acknowledges both the significance of the King James Version and its limitations within the history of Bible translation throughout the Christian era – and concludes…

The Authorised Version of the Bible is a remarkable translation and it has had an enormous impact over the centuries. But it is, itself, part of a much bigger story, the story of God’s eternal engagement with his creation. We should never let our loyalty or affection for a translation, whichever one we prefer, blind us to the important message of the Bible itself.

Some of my friends with the Bibles that speak to their hearts

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… not the King James / Authorised version!

And yet the myth persists as 2011 begins and Christians celebrate the 400th anniversary of this influential version of the Bible in the English language.

Friend and colleague Eddie Arthur has posted an excellent blog on this topic.

This morning, a prominent British Christian (name withheld to protect the guilty) posted this on Twitter:

“2011 is the 400th anniv of the King James Bible, which put the Bible in the language of ordinary people for the first time”

Thankfully, the satirical magazine, Ship of Fools (@shipoffoolscom) has a better sense of history and they tweeted:

“Wyclif begat Tyndale; and Tyndale begat Coverdale; and Coverdale begat Matthew; and Matthew begat Great; and Great begat Geneva…”

Far from being the first translation of the Bible into English, the AV was part of an already long tradition of English translations. In fact the translators were specifically charged not to produce an entirely new version of the Bible, but to improve and update an older translation (the Bishop’s Bible). (See  Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired p.237.)

Read the whole of Eddie’s blog about 4 Authorised Myths that are sadly too widely taken for granted.

I like his final comment:

I know that the picture has nothing to do with the Authorised Version of the Bible, but it is just a gentle reminder that the Scriptures exist in more languages than English and that there are still 2,000 languages without a single word of the Bible.

Scripture access statistics

And I’ve included a visual of my own in the same vein.

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Father God
We thank you for the year ahead – a gift to us – full of promise.

This year, we want to know you more intimately,
follow you more faithfully,
share you more passionately
and worship you more deeply.

As we celebrate your Word, we pledge:
– To read the Bible – together and alone;
– To be trained by the wisdom of others;
– To give your Word to those without;
– And to experience your Scriptures in new and creative ways.

Holy Spirit, speak through the Word to us, so that it might
Be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path;
Cleanse our minds and burn with fire in our hearts;
Satisfy our needs, as our daily bread
And be as sweet as honey on our lips.

As your words become our words,
May our lives reflect the Living Word more clearly
And our love for the Word-made-flesh become more strong

For we ask this in the precious name of our Saviour,
Jesus Christ,
Amen.

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Have you had a good Christmas? Has the wonder and significance of the Incarnation been re-newed for you? Perhaps through watching “The Nativity” on BBC television.. perhaps through something that happened in your church this year?

Here is a story of something new that happened in some churches in NW Cameroon this Christmas. I post this story with the permission of Dan and Melody Grove from Canada who head up the team of Wycliffe members working on the ten languages of the Ndop Cluster in the NW of Cameroon. Dan and Melody wrote the story for the churches and individuals who support them in their work with the Ndop peoples and sent it out before Christmas.

After church in the Bamunka village of Mesaw

If Christmas is the season for giving, then this is the best Christmas ever for all of you. It will certainly be the best Christmas ever for the people of Bambalang. Two years ago, the people of Bambalang received for the first time, the Christmas story,  their first piece of Scripture in Chrambo. We made a small booklet which was sold for 20 cents and had the story read in a few churches where there was someone who who had already learned to read their mother tongue.

This year a very special present was given to the people of Bambalang and Bamunka. Jenny  (from UK working in Scripture Use with the Ndop Team) helped some young people begin to read their mother tongue so she could then begin to help them use the Scripture in their churches and everyday life. A couple of weeks ago she was able to do a dramatic multi-voice recording (different people read the various people’s words from the Scripture and one person is the narrator, reading everything else in the text) of Luke 1 and 2 in Bambalang and last week finished the same thing in Bamunka. She put these recordings on the Saber players, which will be passed around from church to church.

This will allow people to hear the Christmas story this year, whether or not they have a reader in their church. People were very excited to hear the final recording and in Bamunka were amazed at how the finished product was made from all the ‘pieces’ of the recording. They laughed with delight as they listened to it. Jenny, Emmanuel and Jeremiah have worked this week with a handful of youth from different churches in Bambalang, teaching them to read using the transition primer that Melody helped the people develop. They also covered some Bible background information, like creating a “live” map to know where all the places that Jesus visited relate to each other.  They made Christmas banners with verses in Chrambo and  prepared a Christmas story skit using the Luke translation. They hope to present it in their various churches over the next little while. The people will be able to hear the Christmas story, watch the play and even buy copies of Luke 1 and 2. It is really a Merry Christmas in Bambalang today!!

But who was the present from? It has only been possible as you have prayed and given to us to allow us to be here. There are literally hundreds of people and dozens of churches that have contributed to this project for over a decade to bring us to this point. So this is the best Christmas ever for, not just the people of Bambalang and the Ndop who are receiving God’s Word for the very first time in their mother tongue, but for you as well who have given faithfully over the years, encouraging and supporting  the work God Himself is doing here in Cameroon.

So from all of us to all of you we wish you the very Merriest of Christmases as you celebrate the birth of Jesus.

A great Christmas story. A great Bible translation story. A great encouragement to all of us to live God’s Story and to give God’s Story to every language of the world as we approach 2011 – which you may remember is the Biblefresh year!

In February 2009 I visited the Ndop Plain to spend a few weeks with the Ndop Team and it’s great to hear how the work is progressing.

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To get the link and how it all adds up to wise advice for preachers as 2011 looms, you will have to read Richard Littledale at Preachers’ A-Z

Some of those closest to me will be well pleased if I take the prayer below to heart.

“Lord, help us not to talk too much

Because talking too much is like driving too fast

Sometimes the brakes are not good

And we pass by the place where we intended to stop”

Indeed, Richard, enough said!

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Thanks to Maggi Dawn for this re-working on 1 Corinthians 13; love it and couldn’t resist re-blogging it! But it’s also a clear call to humility…

by an unknown author, after St Paul:

Even if I pack the Albert Hall with the power of my salvation message

Or my books require their own Amazonian warehouse

If the God Channel carries my healings back to back

And I make theology the sport of masses

Should I become the spider In the World Wide Web

And Google all for Jesus…but I have no love

Then I am like a dropped biscuit tin

In an empty kitchen

I am a like a bad busker in a windy street competing with a massed brass band.

And even if I can predict the future price of a billion stocks and shares

Or know the coming weather

If my wisdom knows not the limit of Oxbridge

Nor lacks the ears of those with power

If I know all the words of God for this our time

And shout them loud

…but I have no love I am nothing.

I am like a stain on the shirt

Of a crack addict

I am like a dandelion

Growing in the gutter

Of a derelict building

If I should sell my penthouse flat and

Give my widescreen TV to Oxfam

And if I walk into a war zone

Waving flags of peace

Or become the world’s best known eco-warrior

And single-handedly heal the ozone hole

And even if all this should cost my final breath…but I have no love

Then I am empty

Like the pockets of a gambler

Or the stomach

Of a starving child

Like a road laid

To nowhere

Like a life lived

For nothing

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For some time now, Wycliffe Bible Translators UK has been involved in the development of an initiative called BibleFresh which draws together a wide of range of Christian organisations. Wycliffe Bible Translators is going to be very involved in the initiative as it rolls out throughout the UK.

The aim is to encourage Christians in the UK and Ireland to engage with the Bible in greater depth during the year 2011 – the four hundredth anniversary of the translation of the Authorised Version of the Bible.

As an organisation Wycliffe believes that the Bible is the Story everybody needs. The Bible records the interaction of God with his people throughout history, and is crucial for understanding and knowing our creator and his redeeming plan for creation.

350 million people don’t have access to this story in their own language, but there are also millions of others right here in the UK and Ireland who do have a Bible available in their language but are not engaging with it. Biblefresh is an initiative of a wide range of organisations, promoting the use of the Bible within UK churches.

“This is really exciting. It’s the first time that so many agencies have come together to promote God’s Word in this way. I honestly believe that BibleFresh is a move of God and that our Heavenly Father will use this initiative to bless the Church in the UK.” Eddie Arthur Executive Director Wycliffe Bible Translators UK

“The Bible has become toxic for many in British society and the confidence of Christians to rely on their Scriptures publicly has consequently been knocked. BibleFresh will help confidence recovery.” Ann Holt Executive Director Bible Society in England and Wales

BibleFresh is a joint initiative which aims to encourage and inspire churches across the UK and Ireland to make the most of the year 2011, empowering Christians to a deeper level of engagement with the Bible. The initiative brings together nearly a hundred agencies to raise the level of Biblical literacy across the UK, through the following four tracks:

Bible Reading     Bible Training     Bible Translation     Bible Experience

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It’s been great to see so much interest in my WOW Window on Wycliffe blogs over the past week.

The Unofficial WOW Feb2010 team photograph

For those of you reading this – or on my Facebook Notes page – WOW is a Wycliffe UK event that you should seriously consider attending… as long as you are close enough of course!

Window on Wycliffe

6 days of practical exploration.

25-31 July 2010

What is the biblical basis for mission? Where does Bible translation fit into God’s mission? What needs to happen for the Bible to go from being in a foreign language to impacting communities in their own language?

Anyway the Wycliffe UK website now has the info about July 2010 WOW here.

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