A dad’s life…

Yeah, that’s how we roll.  Nuff said…

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Resources/ Homosexuality

You never know when you will be faced with the issue of homosexuality.  I am posting this helpful resource here for reference.  These videos are from the Village Church in Flower Mound, TX.  Their lead pastor, Matt Chandler, does an excellent job of handling this very difficult subject from a biblical (yet compassionate) perspective.

Here is the link to his material:  http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2010/06/23/matt-chandler-seminary-on-homosexuality/

Why the ESV translation…

I am posting this just in case some of you have questions as to why we will use the English Standard Version (ESV) during our study on the book of James.  This information is taken from the website www.esv.org.   Feel free to comment…

Translation Philosophy

The ESV is an “essentially literal” translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. As such, its emphasis is on “word-for-word” correspondence, at the same time taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. Thus it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.

In contrast to the ESV, some Bible versions have followed a “thought-for-thought” rather than “word-for-word” translation philosophy, emphasizing “dynamic equivalence” rather than the “essentially literal” meaning of the original. A “thought-for-thought” translation is of necessity more inclined to reflect the interpretive opinions of the translator and the influences of contemporary culture.

Every translation is at many points a trade-off between literal precision and readability, between “formal equivalence” in expression and “functional equivalence” in communication, and the ESV is no exception. Within this framework we have sought to be “as literal as possible” while maintaining clarity of expression and literary excellence.

Therefore, to the extent that plain English permits and the meaning in each case allows, we have sought to use the same English word for important recurring words in the original; and, as far as grammar and syntax allow, we have rendered Old Testament passages cited in the New in ways that show their correspondence. Thus in each of these areas, as well as throughout the Bible as a whole, we have sought to capture the echoes and overtones of meaning that are so abundantly present in the original texts.

As an essentially literal translation, then, the ESV seeks to carry over every possible nuance of meaning in the original words of Scripture into our own language. As such, it is ideally suited for in-depth study of the Bible. Indeed, with its emphasis on literary excellence, the ESV is equally suited for public reading and preaching, for private reading and reflection, for both academic and devotional study, and for Scripture memorization.

How is the ESV Different from Other Translations?

All Bible translations seek to faithfully communicate God’s Word. But, depending on translation philosophy and purpose, significant differences are evident when comparing Bible translations.

There are two main kinds of Bible translations. The first is commonly referred to as (1) “word-for-word” (or “formal equivalence”) translation, the second as (2) “thought-for-thought” (or “dynamic equivalence”) translation. The main difference between these two translation philosophies is that the first one places the primary emphasis on what the words of the original say and mean (in their context), while the second one places the primary emphasis on the main thought or idea in the phrases of the original.

As an “essentially literal” translation, the ESV is committed to the principle of “word-for-word” translation, as the translation philosophy that most accurately conveys the Bible’s own understanding that “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), or as Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

This page explains how the ESV differs from eight of the most widely used Bible translations and paraphrases. You may also want to compare the ESV with selections from many of the translations discussed here.

King James Version (KJV) – The ESV Translation Team holds a deep respect for the work of the KJV translators as well as for the immeasurable impact this Bible has had on the English language and the English-speaking world for centuries. Though the KJV Bible is appreciated greatly for its literary beauty, much of the KJV language is now archaic and hard to understand. Also, the KJV was based on only a few original language manuscripts that were available 400 years ago. The ESV’s translators, however, had the advantage of access to much earlier manuscripts and the most up-to-date scholarly research. The result is that the ESV carries forward the KJV’s literary beauty and the essentially literal translation legacy, based on the best original language manuscripts. The ESV also retains the classic theological terms found in the King James Version, which modern translations often do not retain—terms such as “grace,” “justification,” “sanctification,” and “propitiation,” which are central to Christian doctrine.

New International Version (NIV) – Unlike the ESV, the NIV is a “dynamic equivalence” translation, though it is on the more conservative end of the dynamic equivalence spectrum. Thus the NIV focuses primarily on translating thoughts and ideas rather than translating the meaning of each word. While this translation philosophy emphasizes readability, readability can be achieved only at the expense of the word-for-word precision and consistency of an essentially literal translation. The NIV also lacks the historical legacy carried forward by the ESV.

Today’s New International Version (TNIV) – The TNIV (published in full in February 2005), like the NIV, is a dynamic equivalence translation, focusing primarily on thoughts and ideas rather than the literal meaning of each word. Further, the TNIV has adopted a “gender inclusive” translation philosophy resulting in thousands of gender language changes as compared to the NIV. In contrast, the goal of the ESV is to render literally what is in the original, allowing the reader to understand the original on its own terms rather than on the terms of our present-day culture.

New Living Translation (NLT) – The NLT is on the looser end of the dynamic equivalence spectrum, describing itself as a “thought-for-thought” rather than a “word-for-word” translation. The NLT was intentionally translated at a junior high reading level. Also, the NLT has avoided using theological terms, and has adopted a “gender inclusive” translation philosophy similar to that of the TNIV. As with other “thought-for-thought” translations, the NLT emphasis on readability is achieved at the expense of word-for-word precision and consistency.

New King James Version (NKJV) – The NKJV translation philosophy is quite similar to that of the ESV. The NKJV, however, is not based on the earlier Bible manuscripts used by the ESV and by almost every other modern Bible translation. The ESV also benefits from translation work that was completed more recently than the work on the NKJV (2001 vs. 1982) and that was carried out by a much more extensive team of international evangelical Bible scholars.

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) – The HCSB calls its translation philosophy “optimal equivalence.” Thus the HCSB sometimes follows a “word-for-word” and sometimes a “thought-for-thought” approach, as decided by the HCSB translators for any given text. The HCSB also differs from the ESV in that the HCSB is not part of the historic KJV translation stream.

The MessageThe Message is a paraphrase, rather than a translation.  As a paraphrase, The Message expresses the ideas and thoughts of the original Bible languages in a loose, informal, and unconventional way.  The result is often fresh and arresting, but at the expense of close correspondence to the original words of Scripture, and at the expense of consistency and precision in rendering theological language.

New American Standard Bible (NASB) – The NASB is a strictly literal translation, making it highly accurate. However, the NASB’s commitment to strictly literal translation often results in wording that sounds awkward. The ESV translators, while striving for accuracy and faithfulness to the original texts, also made clarity of expression and literary excellence high priorities. The language of the ESV, therefore, often flows more naturally than that of the NASB.

The Bait and Switch of Contemporary Christianity

I thought this blog entry by Dr. Richard Beck was worthy of consideration.  Dr. Beck is the dean of Psychology at Abilene Christian University.

To start, a story.

A few years ago a female student wanted to visit with me about some difficulties she was having, mainly with her family life. As is my practice, we walked around campus as we talked.

After talking for some time about her family situation we turned to other areas of her life. When she reached spiritual matters we had the following exchange:

“I need to spend more time working on my relationship with God.”
I responded, “Why would you want to do that?”
Startled she says, “What do you mean?”
“Well, why would you want to spend any time at all on working on your relationship with God?”
“Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?”
“Let me answer by asking you a question. Can you think of anyone, right now, to whom you need to apologize? Anyone you’ve wronged?”
She thinks and answers, “Yes.”
“Well, why don’t you give them a call today and ask for their forgiveness. That might be a better use of your time than working on your relationship with God.”

Obviously, I was being a bit provocative with the student. And I did go on to clarify. But I was trying to push back on a strain of Christianity I see in both my students and the larger Christian culture. Specifically, when the student said “I need to work on my relationship with God” I knew exactly what she meant. It meant praying more, getting up early to study the bible, to start going back to church. Things along those lines. The goal of these activities is to get “closer” to God. To “waste time with Jesus.” Of course, please hear me on this point, nothing is wrong with those activities. Personal acts of piety and devotion are vital to a vibrant spiritual life and continued spiritual formation. But all too often “working on my relationship with God” has almost nothing to do with trying to become a more decent human being.

The trouble with contemporary Christianity is that a massive bait and switch is going on. “Christianity” has essentially become a mechanism for allowing millions of people to replace being a decent human being with something else, an endorsed “spiritual” substitute. For example, rather than being a decent human being the following is a list of some commonly acceptable substitutes:

Going to church
Worship
Praying
Spiritual disciplines (e.g., fasting)
Bible study
Voting Republican
Going on spiritual retreats
Reading religious books
Arguing with evolutionists
Sending your child to a Christian school or providing education at home
Using religious language
Avoiding R-rated movies
Not reading Harry Potter.

The point is that one can fill a life full of spiritual activities without ever, actually, trying to become a more decent human being. Much of this activity can actually be a distraction.  In fact, some of these activities make you worse, interpersonally speaking.  Many churches are jerk factories.

Take, for example, how Christians tip and behave in restaurants. If you have ever worked in the restaurant industry you know the reputation of the Sunday morning lunch crowd.  Millions of Christians go to lunch after church on Sundays and their behavior is abysmal. The single most damaging phenomenon to the witness of Christianity in America today is the collective behavior of the Sunday morning lunch crowd. Never has a more well-dressed, entitled, dismissive, haughty or cheap collection of Christians been seen on the face of the earth.

I exaggerate of course. But I hope you see my point. Rather than pouring our efforts into two hours of worship, bible study and Christian fellowship on Sunday why don’t we just take a moment and a few extra bucks to act like a decent human being when we go to lunch afterwards? Just think about it. What if the entire restaurant industry actually began to look forward to working Sunday lunch? If they said amongst themselves, “I love the church crowd. They are kind, patient and very generous. It’s my favorite part of the week waiting on Christians.” How might such a change affect the way the world sees us? Think about it. Just being a decent human being for one hour each Sunday and the world sees us in a whole new way.

But it’s not going to happen. Because behavior at lunch isn’t considered to be “working on your relationship with God.” Behavior at lunch isn’t spiritual. Going to church, well, that is working on your relationship with God. But, as we all know, any jerk can sit in a pew. But you can’t be a jerk if you take the time to treat your waitress as if she were a friend, daughter or mother.

My point in all this is that contemporary Christianity has lost its way. Christians don’t wake up every morning thinking about how to become a more decent human being. Instead, they wake up trying to “work on their relationship with God” which very often has nothing to do with treating people better. How could such a confusion have occurred? How did we end up going so wrong? I’m sure there are lots of answers, but at the end of the day we need to face up to our collective failure. I’m not saying we need to do anything dramatic. A baby step would do to start. Waking up trying to be a little more kind, more generous, more interruptible, more forgiving, more humble, more civil, more tolerant. Do these things and prayer and worship will come alongside to support us.

I truly want people to spend time working on their relationship with God. I just want them to do it by taking the time to care about the person standing right in front of them.

This week @ Duncan Park…

Got a note from Nathan Clark George this afternoon and he expressed his great appreciation for his time here @ Duncan Park.  Thanks again to the numerous men and women who worked so diligently to make Homecoming such an enjoyable event.

The month of June is ticking away.  Lots of stuff happening around here, so let me highlight just a few…

  1. The Summer Celebration is scheduled for June 26.  We still need some help for this event, especially in the area of games and face painting.  If you are able to assist in this area, please let us know by filling out the “I Can Help” form we have available in the church foyer.  Please drop your completed form into the offering plate.  Steve Yarbrough has a list of game ideas and Susan Wright can provide training for face-painting.
  2. Father’s Day is next Sunday, so we will not be having a Sunday night service
  3. Sunday School training: We will have our 2nd meeting on Sunday, June 27 beginning @ 4:30PM.  I do have training manuals for each of our teachers.

This Sunday morning we will finish up our “Why?” series by attempting to answer the question “Why pray if God is sovereign?”  Sunday night we will have a “praise, prayer and testimony” service.  Hope to see you this weekend.

Minimalist…

I’ve changed the look of this blog to reflect more of my attitude these days…well, at least my attitude for today.  I’m tired of all the junk I add to my life that simply crowds out the important stuff.  Truthfully, blogs, facebook and twitter should be at the top of my “crowder-outer” list.  Yet, these things, among many others, grab on and won’t let go.  Sometimes Jeff Jackson isn’t willing to live without these “distractions.”  Other times, the world tells me that I’d be foolish to live without them, so I keep them as a part of my life just so I can “fit in.” 

I don’t know if I will ever be able to rid myself of so many of today’s distractions, but maybe I can eliminate a few.  OK, maybe one would be a good place to start.  I guess it starts by saying “NO!”   It also means asking the question, “Is this REALLY necessary?” 

Just some thoughts from a very distracted guy on a very distracting day…

Church membership: 2nd chance?

I wanted to clarify a few of the statements I made in last Sunday’s morning message: Why church membership matters.  I felt that these comments were not presented well; therefore they were probably not received in the way I intended. 

 The first statement I would like to clarify is my comment that “I am only responsible for the members of Duncan Park Baptist church.”  According to Acts 20:28-31 we see Paul exhorting the church leaders from the church at Ephesus with these words…

 “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood.  I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.  Therefore be alert…

 From this passage we can conclude the following:

  • There is a specific flock that these men are to oversee, as opposed to simply saying “all believers” everywhere.
  • It was obtained through a very high price – the blood of Christ
  • The flock will be attacked by wolves from the outside and false teachers from within
  • The church leaders are to be aware and alert

 I believe Paul is exhorting these pastors to protect the spiritual integrity of their particular flock.  It is a tremendous responsibility, and extremely intimidating for a pastor.  Not to mention the fact that the Hebrew writer warns of our future judgment.  “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.” – Hebrews 13:17.  Once again, I believe the focus here is upon spiritual integrity. 

 Oftentimes, with the subject of church membership, the individual focuses on the practical, human side of the equation.  Typically we will associate church membership with our right to vote, our right to lead or teach in one of the church’s ministries, our right to be visited in the hospital, or even our right to have first dibs on the pavilion when our kid has a birthday party.  Certainly there are practical benefits of church membership, and these shouldn’t be ignored.  However, the spiritual aspect of church membership is equally (arguably more so) important.  The spiritual side of church membership says that YOU will accept the responsibility of holding the other members of the flock to a conduct appropriate with scripture, and that you will allow yourself to be held to the same standard.  The spiritual side of church membership says that you will care for and pray for the other members within the flock.  You will also exercise your spiritual gifts within the context of that particular body of believers.    You will financially support the ministry and accept the responsibility of carrying out the mission of the church.  The spiritual side of church ministry also suggests that you willingly submit to the leadership of that church. 

 As a pastor, I believe that I will be held accountable for the spiritual side of church membership; therefore the way I teach, lead and shepherd is extremely important.  I must teach in such a way so as our people understand the biblical way to live.  I must lead our church to provide opportunities for you to live out your faith and exercise your spiritual gift.  As a shepherd, I am responsible to exercise church discipline on those individuals who refuse to live in accordance with the Bible.  This is where I see my responsibility as a pastor; specifically, my responsibility to this flock.  Here is where church membership then comes into play…my responsibility to a particular flock necessitates a membership roll to indentify the members of that flock. 

 Now, does this mean that you have to be a member of our church before I visit you in the hospital, agree to officiate your wedding or provide you with biblical counsel?  Absolutely not!  I have the responsibility to my fellow man to do all of these things, not necessarily because I am a pastor, but because I am a Christ-follower.  It is in these areas that I exercise my spiritual gift or demonstrate love and compassion to those in need.  I believe every Christ-follower is obligated to do this, and little distinction should be made between members and non-members in regards to these areas.  (See Galatians 6:10)

 The second statement I would like to clarify is the illustration of the “wart.”  Playing off of Paul’s use of the human body to illustrate the workings of the church (1 Cor. 12:12-20), I implied that those who were non-members were like a wart

 I must confess that this was a feeble attempt at humor.  I think we can all agree that my attempt failed, miserably.  The reason I used a wart to illustrate this point is because the type of person I was trying to describe is much like a wart.  Hopefully this secondary attempt will achieve better success:

 The local church, much like the human body, is made up of many different types of people.  Some people teach, and other people serve.  Some people work with children, other people work with teenagers.  Some people write policies or serve on the deacon board.  Each ministry is important, just as each member of your body is important too.   The wart however is of no benefit; at least I am not aware of any benefits to having warts.  An individual who drains the resources of a congregation without adding anything of value is that wart.

 The type of person I was trying to illustrate is one who enjoys the benefit of the church with no intention of contributing to its cause.  They will come for the pot-lucks and free food, drop their toddler into the nursery to take advantage of the free baby-sitting and demand their child be given the lead part in the Christmas play, all without contributing any time or money to that congregation. 

 I am not aware of any individual attending Duncan Park who could be described in that way.  We have many “non-members” who I’m sure give financially, but I know they also go above and beyond by serving in numerous church ministries.  Once again, this was an attempt at humor and hyperbole in an effort to illustrate a point.  In no way did I mean to imply that all non-members are warts.  I hope you will forgive my poor choice of words.

 Lastly, I never meant to imply that an individual is sinning because they are not members of a local church.  I know many of you are in transition, trying to find a body of believers that you can join and serve with.  I regret that my comments may have shed a negative light on our church.  I hope you will continue to worship with us for many years to come. 

 I also know many of our non-members are teenagers who have yet to make their membership official.  I did not mean to insinuate that they were wrong because they have yet to officially join.  Like many other non-members in our congregation, they simply were not aware of either the process or the importance of church membership.  This was really the message I had hoped to communicate. 

 I do not know if this letter has satisfactorily addressed your concerns.  If not, I hope you will communicate your questions, concerns or disagreements to me.  Feel free to e-mail me at pastor@duncanpark.org or call me at the church office.  I would be happy to speak with you about this, or any other issue.

 Respectfully,

 Jeffrey S. Jackson

 PS:  Late in my message I mentioned a decision made in the late 90’s to grand-father individuals into church membership.  I wanted to provide you with information regarding that decision.  This is taken from the baptismal registry located in the church office.

In 1998, during an update of our membership roll, the deacons and staff approved the decision to “grand-father into membership” all those children who had been baptized in years past, since most families assumed they were already members at baptism. 

 It was made clear that in the future, baptism did not automatically make a member.  Every person being baptized must also join the church separately.