Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Turn to..." or "Search for..." The new Bible Problem!

Lately I have made a point to focus on what I say as I enter the preaching time on Sundays.  It has been a self study of some sorts.  The result of this study have proven that "most" of the time I begin my preaching time with the phrase "turn in your Bibles to...".  Along with this study I have been reading on the many thoughts about Bibles (real book form) and all types of digital.  It is fascinating!

Allow me to set the stage a little.  First, I love simply reading the Bible in book form!  Second, I love reading the Bible in digital form!  Clear as mud right?  Not so fast.  I have noticed that I study with both forms and do this often.  In preaching, I use a loose leaf bible with inserted texts.  It also contains most of the New Testament and some of the Old.  When teaching a class, I use a hardbound Bible.  I am all over the map!  I have even used my iPad on several occasions for notes.  Again, I like all the above!

But what is best?  What is better?  What is needed?

Above all we need to be people who read the Bible in any form more!  We have the ability today to saturate our lives with the Word of God.  And saturate we should!  But we are not!  Just like with the many translations, some not even translations, we keep finding ways to make the reading of the Bible easier and yet - people still struggle with spending time in it!  And because of our desire to make it more easier to read, many people are reading versions that are FAR from accurate!

We must remember that the Bible itself is alive!  When this life is combined with the power of the Holy Spirit the Bible is easy to understand and apply.  Our efforts have diminished this key fact!  Many people struggle with understanding simply because their approach to the Bible is NOT spiritual.  They are not reading in the power of the Holy Spirit.  They are NOT determined to allow the Word of God to change to them.  Basically, most people just want a quick answer or promise.  And that approach will never produce passionate Bible reading or real life change.

We will not jump into the "which version" debate with this article except to say only a few things.  First, we must remember that the word "Version" is involved.  For those who desire to argue one over another or claim that one is only THE Word of God, one might pause and ask, what about the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic?  I try to not offend in this area for it only distracts from the real issue.  Second, we do need to realize that some "Bibles" are paraphrases while others are translations.  Be careful!  Most of the recent stuff produced is NOT even close when one looks at the original languages.  You may not be reading anything other than someones thoughts on the Bible.  And that is dangerous to your spiritual growth!

But what about the FORM?  Is there a need today to push the book bound or the digital?  Is one better than the other?  I am reminded of a similar debate when video projection was brought into the church.  People argued that we needed to use only the Hymnals.  Only the real deal would produce the right type of praise and adoration.  Others embraced the video approach and felt a sense of freedom.  Today, I am discovering that many in the older generation are now wanting the words on a screen for there, they are easier for them to read.  I have found this true with the use of Bible texts during sermons.  So I am placing more and more on the screen against the logic of the professionals. 


I want people to see and read and follow along in the studying of Gods Word!

In fact, we have made our handouts available digitally and one can take notes with the outline on their device.  I hesitated for months on this one.  Now I see teenagers taking notes ( at least they look like they are!) with their iPads.  I have actually had several bring their iPads to me and show me what they have done.  This is exciting.

But there is more!  Stay tuned!  The subject is deep and wide!  I might surprise you still!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Christians and the Health Care Disaster!

There is no doubt that the American health care system has had problems - some severe - for some time.  When Congress passed the affordable Care Act a consistent even split of the population saw the law as being good and also as being bad.  These numbers have changed over the past few years as parts of the law, upheld and redefined, were implemented.  The majority of the population now realize that a train wreck is happening even as I type this.  Amid the political landscape are efforts to repeal or de-fund.   Politicians and pundits have raised millions in there efforts to do all the above.  On the other side is the marketing blitz that is firing up to convince young healthy Americans to purchase something they do not want.  If this group does not buy the pitch, the money issues are compounded beyond already not making sense.  The mess is clear.  The disaster is already selling popcorn for those watching - it will be some kind of show!

The Republicans in the house and Senate have washed their hands of the whole deal.  They continue to gain popularity among like minded individuals that simply want the whole thing to just go away.  After passage, and during the actually writing of the law (think on that one!), Republicans stayed far away from the mess.  The thought process seemed to be that it was time to allow the Democrats to own this thing.  Thus, no input to improving nor taming was done on the Republican side. 

Fast forward to just a few days ago.  Sen Harry Reid is giving an interview with PBS and makes the following statement when asked if the Affordable Care Act is the first step towards a single payer system:"Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.” Did you see that answer?  You can read about it here!  What does it mean?  Are we learning something that obviously was missed my many?  What is next?

Is it possible that the current law is designed to fail so that in default we are left with NO other option but a complete 1 payer system?  This scenerio is beginning to rise to the forefront.  Sen Reid surely voices that opinion.  And with this answer is a major understanding that most Americans calling for ending the Affordable Care Act must quickly understand.  You cannot unwind a law that has been partially implemented over a 3 year period in the tax code and in the Health Insurance industry.  What would you have left?  The old system has been dead for 3 years now.  The new system is being delayed and still written.  When the crash occurs, what is there?

Those men and women sent to Washington on our behalf who opposed it, stood by and failed to use their fiduciary responsibilities to make it as best a law as possible.  Why?  Follow the money!  They are raising millions daily! And when it crashes, they can stand and say "we told you so!"  But what about health care from that point on?  Why no alternatives?  How long will it take to fix the crash? What will the fix look like?

The American people have been sold out for political positioning by both sides.  You and I will pay the price for this.  We will be stuck with a mess and limited options out. 

Has no one noticed that the Democrats have not been sweating the outcome?  With delays and issues of implementing the law including the unions and within congress, present no sweat - no fear!  They know the end game.  They are fine if it crashes.  The Government will be in a position (and has been from the moment it passed) to regulate, control, and eventually own, the healthcare system.  Meanwhile, good meaning people think some miracle can occur with repeal etc.. If the law were repealed or ruled unconstitutional - what then?  The old system is gone!  The new system has been implemented with the Insurance companies and the tax code.  Again, try to unwind that and see how it works!

The battle for who we are as a country and what we will be moving forward begins at the point of the crash!  

Christians caught up in distraction issues such as recall and the like are being led down a path that drains resources and ignores the big picture of that which is to come in the near future.

The needs of millions of Americans will be at the forefront of this crash as all generations will be impacted and major changes to the American system as a whole will be required to clean up the mess.  And remember, the clean up will be not a total one.  Time required?  Know one knows!

For churches, our ministry will be vital!  Our leadership will be essential!  We cannot afford to be distracted by the politics of today and miss the hour of need tomorrow.  True Biblical Christian ministry will be needed like never before.  People will be hurting and needs will increase.

Are you ready? 

I hurt for those of us who will hurt down the road by the complete failure of elected officials on both sides.  I hurt for those who had placed their hopes in something coming that would finally help them and their families.  But I also know that God placed us as Christians here in America for this time!  Our mission and focus are being defined.

I just pray we realize it and get busy doing that which we are called to do rather than being distracted by that which only produces false hope and no real answers!