Resolving NOT to resolve in 2011

How many of you have already eaten that piece of chocolate and declared you would not begin your New Year’s Resolution until Monday?

I get the impression many in general have given up on New Year’s resolutions as we are finally realizing how horrible we are at fulfilling them, and how ineffective they often can be. Some ask the question, what is the significance of having a resolution or “starting fresh” just because the calendar changed to a new picture of your favourite orange tabby cat. (You have one hanging, don’t lie!)

Myself, I’ve chosen over the past few years to take the time at the beginning of the year to set Continue reading “Resolving NOT to resolve in 2011”

Unequally yoked: Is it really a big deal?

Working with young people, one of the most common questions I hear stems from the apparent Biblical principle that we should not date/marry a person who does not have the same faith in Christ as we do.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? — 2 Corinthians 6:14

The overarching idea seems to be that being in a relationship, with the assumption of eventually being committed to each other in marriage, to someone without the same faith standards as yourself would cause problems in the marriage, and out of a need to see eye-to-eye, could cause those strong in their faith to compromise on their beliefs.

What do you think? Is it really that important for a Christian to marry another Christian? Or is there really a case to be made for “evangelistic dating,” where the Christian tries to convert the non-believing partner?

What has your experience been? Add your comments.

The Bible is a unique collection of books… obviously. Language as a whole is incredibly complex, commenced with the tower of Babel itself. So when it comes to translating a language that is 2000 years old (for the New Testament), it’s a great challenge to try and translate, not only words, but idioms, intonations, and known impressions. Perhaps that’s why Islam refuses to hold a translation of the Qur’an as valid, and why there are so many English variations of the original Biblical Scripture.

The Voice is another translation to add to the long list of English translations. Coming from circles including people like Brian McLaren, The Voice was bound to stir up some question or controversy over its validity as a theological source. Such an attempt echoes the controversy surrounding Eugene Peterson’s translation of The Message. So many felt it was not a valid translation of the original language, refusing to even call it a “translation.” “It’s a paraphrase!” I’ve heard proclaimed. Yet any scholar using the original language documents must translate the words into English.

I must say I’m impressed by The Voice. I think it’s a unique and original angle to take on Biblical translation, and in the overview given at the beginning of the book for why the Ecclesia Bible Society chose the methods they did, I could not see any questionable motives for what they have come up with. Turning to creative writers, rather than only theologians to come up with this new version raises some red flags, but it shows in the translation itself that they have tried to attain to the original language very closely. This is one way in which The Voice and The Message differ. While Peterson’s translation has its place among the many versions, it is a “loose” translation where whole sentences and paragraphs are translated as a whole idea. The Voice makes it very clear where they have added words by using italicization, giving it almost an Amplified Bible feel. Commentary is given within the scripture itself, but is clearly divided into text boxes to show the division.

The question then becomes for me, Is this a translation I would use to preach a sermon from, or read aloud in front of a congregation? The answer for me is no.

Anything outside of a small word variation when reading aloud would likely be quickly scoffed at, tossed aside as invalid and not true to its Scriptural origins. Too many would likely be offended and the purpose of using the scripture publicly would be lost. I do, however, think this is a great addition to anyone’s devotional life.

Perhaps this is why Thomas Nelson has clearly labeled this version as “Personal Devotional.” I would recommend The Voice for such purposes.

Not Permissible: Let’s build a foundation

There are many things in Scripture which are by and large open for interpretation. EIP is meant to make those areas a little clearer. There are many other things that are clear from Scripture how we need to apply them in our own context.

As a foundation, I want to start the conversation of Everything is Permissible with what is not permissible–how ironic. Let’s put out there the things that the Bible is clear on being sinful and spiritually unhealthy and what is pure and “does the body good” … in no particular order. Then we can discuss the things scripture leaves more to our own interpretation.

Question: What passages in the Bible specifically condemn/uphold certain relationships, methods, etc?

(Join the conversation at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com.)

Not following the rules

It’s interesting how the culture we grow up in impresses upon us unspoken rules that are expected of us. You should shake hands with a person you’re meeting. You should shower often enough so you don’t stink! You shouldn’t pass gas in front of women… often. When it comes to dating, there’s a lot of pressure to do certain things with the other person that just… assumed… because you’re in a relationship. Holding hands, kissing, maybe some tongue, spending lots of time together, making out while the rest of the family is out, and maybe even beyond. Whether from your friends or the person you’re dating, it’s assumed you’re involved in these things, and are looked at awkwardly if you don’t.

The title and direction of this blog comes from 1 Corinthians 6:12. I found it particularly relevant for the situation I found myself in when I was looking for a mate. I felt certain convictions I believed were from God to try and lead a pure life. It led me to act a certain way and treat women, particularly those I had an interest in, differently than perhaps my culture instructed. Being in Bible College, my friends, future leaders of the church, found my convictions to be over the top and unnecessary, often mocking me for them. It led me to begin wondering if I really didn’t need to have the convictions I thought to be so important. I prayed about it, and God gave me my answer.

Within a week of all of this, I met another person with the same convictions I had. Today I’m married to that girl, and couldn’t be happier.

“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. … The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. … Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. — 1 Cor. 6:12-13, 15-17

Reading this passage, with my life experience in mind, I can’t help but think… yes, I can’t say that many of the things that dating couples do are “sinful” (insert chapter and verse), but I can suggest that although things may be permissible, not all things are beneficial. Decide for yourself.

Question: What convictions do you have when it comes to relating to your girl/guy?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com.)

[Note: Originally posted on CatalystSpace.com.]

Over the past couple of years, I have developed a friendship with Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a successful businessman, author and Jewish rabbi. I first came to know Rabbi Daniel by reading his incredible book, Thou Shall Prosper. This is definitely a must-read book for anyone who wants a clearer understanding of the biblical view of money. In fact, I bought a couple hundred copies and gave it to everyone on my team. It’s that good.

Thou Shall Prosper is a rabbi’s perspective on why Jewish people, no matter where they live in the world, have a disproportionate amount of wealth. Less than 2% of the people in the United States are Continue reading “”

[Note: Originally posted on Evotional.com.]

“If the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple “wash and clean”?

Remember the story of Naaman in II Kings 5? The prophet Elisha told him to dip in the Jordan river seven times in order to be healed of his leprosy. Naaman didn’t want to do it because it was too simple. He wanted the prophet to wave his wand. And when it didn’t happen the way he expected it to, he was about to walk away and forfeit the miracle when a wise and bold servant spoke truth into his life. He knew Naaman would do Continue reading “”