Is the Word boring or A.A.H.?

 Drill bits... 

Drill bits... 

Bill Dew was sharing the story from Mark 1, when the leper comes to Jesus and says, "If you're willing, you can make me clean."

Jesus, being Jesus, says, "I am willing."

The Dews arrived in Brazil only to discover, their Bible doesn't say that.  Bill inquired of his translator as to the blank-stares and the translator assured him, he had translated it  just as Bill had shared it:  but their Bible doesn't say that Jesus says, "I am willing."  

It says, Jesus says, "I want to."

In Japan, later, they discovered Jesus doesn't say either "I am willing" or "I want to".

Their version says that Jesus says, "It is my heart to."  

Similar but nuanced meanings in different cultural contexts.  Like our word "heart" doesn't mean what it meant in closer-to-the-original language.  In ancient Hebrew pictograph, heart meant:  "shepherd inside".

Rabbis, like Jesus, would sometimes say something that would allude to something else in the Scriptures, to make sure their students were grasping their deeper meanings (later called "remez").   From the cross when He cries my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?  He is pointing at King David's Psalm 22.

So in our example from the Dews in Mark 1, you might want to study lepers or leprosy.  Pull up an online concordance or google how Jesus healed and bounce articles.  Or look at all the places the heart is mentioned.  Or the word `Willing'.  What else was Jesus "willing" to do.   (Leprosy, for example, is a picture of the effects of sin.  It literally numbs the body, starting with the extremities; only the person suffering from it doesn't feel a thing.)

When Jesus says go into your closet and pray, I may see the second floor master bedroom closet in our home and while they might be what He is alluding to in my life:  that isn't really what He was alluding to in the Book because that space didn't yet exist.  He is likely talking about the quiet place in our hearts where we can close out distractions.   What did He mean when He said it?   Who was He saying it to?  Where was He saying it?

Different versions of the Bible are fantastic insight catalysts.   And they can help us to dislodge from accidental prejudice, ethnocentricity or tradition which can over-inform how we comprehend what we are reading.   Remember the brain won't look for what it doesn't believe--work to stay open to His leading.

Mostly, we learn to remember to ask the Holy Spirit to help us to dig and dig into what He is saying.  

If we call it a Scripture passage, imagine a "passage" like an unexplored tunnel in a diamond mine and different versions being lamps that cast different lights to find more hidden treasures.

Same with so many tools:  lectio divina, youtube talks on subjects you find fascinating, the principle of first mention, historical or social contexts; even considering the meanings of the names of characters and the stories being told in the subtext.  (For example, Chuck Missler lays out a fun interpretation of the gospel hiding in Genesis 5's genealogy at www.khouse.org/articles/1996/44/ ).

Holy Spirit once asked me to write out Psalm 22:4, twenty-two times. 

About seven or eight copies in, scribing "the reward for humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor and life",  He said, "you think it is boring, don't you?"

I said there is no fooling You, Holy Spirit--but knowing everything gives You sort of an unfair advantage.   ButYes, I do think it is a little boring.

And He dropped this picture of a gigantic, Texas-sized oil drill and I understood it to be a "boring" instrument designed to drill deep for oil in the Word for my heart and He said, "I think it is boring, too."

So, sometimes on the surface if it seems boring:  it may actually be spiritual boring. 

The key?  

A.A.H.!

Always Ask Him!

Kirk Bennett said read it, write it, say it, sing it, pray it.  Add your own:  Encourage with it, proclaim it, noodle it, own it, chat about it, hear it, delight in it.  Have fun with it.  See yourself in it.   Explore it.  Ask Him questions about it.  But mostly get in it and stay in it and, well, bore it.  

My go-to Bible is the NASB (New American Standard BIble), specifically the Zodhiates Key Word Study Bible because it has a brilliant concordance built-in.   But I bounce around like Tigger on a good day.

I spend  a lot of time on biblehub.com.  I like blueletterbible.com and biblegateway.com too.  

Skipmoen.com drills words like few I've stumbled across.  JonCourson.com has thousands of hours of teaching.  Jon was my first Bible teacher back when he was all dot cassette tapes.  Jon has a great commentary Bible, too.  

Get in a Bible study.  Start one.  I was invited to one in January of 2000 that literally changed everything for me.  We spent like eight months of Thursday nights in the side room of Wellspring discovering Romans 8.  We used to have BYOB (Bring Your Own Bible) sleepover weekends.  A few of us used to gather at 5:10 five mornings a week for a season.  One cat and I used to meet at 4 every Wed morning.  The hungrier you are the hungrier you get.

We started one a few years ago called the Lads and Dads with our eldest son and his basketball team fathers and sons where we plowed through the Gospel of John, watched  topical videos and our last study was chasing Coach Wooden's Character studies.

Not having time to get in the Word or talk to Him is honestly a pretty silly excuse:  start calling it that.

William Barclay is one of my favorite commentators.

I loved esword on the PC.  

Many of my Pastor Pals have the pricier Logos software, but like the different versions themselves, each site and program have multiple ways and means to capture nuance and help discover more.

The Amplified Bible is great to help magnify meaning.

King James is industry standard.   New King James, easier to digest than original.

The Message by Eugene Peterson, pals with Bono, brilliant way of laying it out.

The Passion version is a really lovely newer paraphrasing version.

The New Living Translation is a remarkably helpful read; our church uses this version as its pulpit standard.

Thompson Chain Reference is a classic and a favorite. 

Dakes Study Bible:  yes!

Spirit-Filled Bible.

These will at least get you started.

You will find a lot of opinions out there on Translations and versions.   

Here is my take--go with grace.  It's actually ok not to agree.  We tend to think in rights and wrongs vs just differents.  We tend to be impatient with where people are at in their process at the expense of not considering where we are in our own.  Look for fruit in the lives of people and have grace when you come across too-strong reactions to things--including your own.  

If they're in it with Him; it's likely coming out of them in love.  If they're in it flying solo, it might feel a little icky to hear about, sometimes.  Practice listening, anyway; it cultivates patience.

And enjoy Boring.