Dear NIV 1984…

Dear NIV 1984,

Oh, how I miss you. You were my first. You were my first Bible translation. You were in our pews for so many years. I have a genuine leather covered copy of you with Christ’s words in red on the inside and my name in gold on the bottom right-hand side of the front cover. It’s nearby right now. Oh, NIV 1984, what happened? I still don’t understand. I know it’s been a couple of years now and most people have moved on, but I just can’t. Why did this happen? Just tell me why? Was it me?

They didn’t just update you; they hijacked you. They turned you into something you weren’t, like those celebrities whose cosmetic surgeries go awry. You know the ones who once were beautiful, but now they’re hideous! Oh, I know you weren’t perfect, but now I can’t even buy a copy of you to show my friends. That’s what they tell me anyway. I know that the NASB or lately the ESV are “essentially literal” translations, so they “bear more weight” when it comes to study. I know you were always just a friendly little “dynamic equivalent” translation, but you were mine. I even liked your name. You were the new “international” version. It made you sound so cool. I know the word’s meaning in your name was no different than in International House of Pancakes, but still this NIV 2011 imposter won’t do, even if they did keep your silly name. I know it’s not you. Where did you go? Why did they take you away? Seriously, did I think that Revelation 3:20 as you had it meant that you would only save men and not women? I don’t remember ever saying or thinking that. I don’t know any women who did either. So, explain to me how this happened…

Revelation 3:20 (NIV 1984) – “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

…morphed horribly in the name of gender neutrality, I guess, into…

Revelation 3:20 (NIV 2011) – “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

What? This can’t be! This blatantly incorrect English is such a mockery. “They” is plural, last time I checked. How can “they” be “that person?” Oh, there are countless other examples of this, but I know you know better than anyone else. I just wanted to write and tell you that I will never forget you. I will treasure the copies I have of you. I even have a Gideon testament with you as the translation. Glory! All those sweet times in devotions we had together for all those years, they will never be forgotten. We still have seminary and the years leading up to it. No one can take this from us.

I will light a candle for you tonight, my old friend. And since all those verses I memorized in you refuse to let me memorize them in some other translation, you will, indeed, live on in my memory.







Shun the Shortcut

My most overused, over-mentioned Bible verse is probably Proverbs 12:11 – “He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.” (NIV 1984). I love the clarity and ongoing helpfulness of this Biblical truth. I beat people over the head with it. Full disclosure: I see it as my bludgeoning ministry and I don’t shrink back from it. I see the cognitive discomfort I’m inflicting with it even as eyes roll back and counselees audibly exhale, but I know its worth it. “Work on the stuff in front of your face, Genius!” (JTV 2016…yes, JTV means John Torres Version.) What golden advice this is! What treasure! If you apply it this second, you will save so much time. This is a guaranteed way to make progress in your life.

So, with this in mind, something has been bothering me lately. I’ve seen more and more people falling in love all over again with the short cut. Why are people so passionate about avoiding work? The easy way is great if you want to do easy things, but there is no easy way to do hard things, or great things, and most things in life worth doing and living for are hard things. I have some thoughts, therefore, on why the short cut is making a comeback (not that it ever fell that much out of favor).

  1. Life today is more confusing than ever. Confusion makes people quit; it is exhausting. If I’m confused about my day or my life, then there is little chance I’ll have any passion or drive. Confusion inspires fear; it motivates people to want to hide or escape. You can’t work your land if you don’t know its yours or you don’t know what land is. A confusing life in a confusing world leaves only fantasies to chase.
  2. Much 21st Century technology perpetuates a design theory that defines work as bad. Smart phones, for example, exist so we don’t have to be smart ourselves. People who work hard are seen by many as unintelligent. This is insane stuff: it is a recipe for human extinction. Will robots be taking over everything soon?
  3. Laziness is a virtue. Fun and laziness are becoming synonymous. Sitting down and playing a video game (or anything else involving a screen) is better than doing real things, whether we’re talking about dancing, playing music, building civilizations, or combating zombies. (Maybe in the last case it really is.) Too many of us are living virtual lives more than actual lives. The problem comes when we don’t recognize that virtual life displaces actual life; it kills it. You can’t have both.

Shun that shortcut! Work your land! Live a real life! Praise God!

The Ground and Essence of All Reality

Today (I think, correct me if I’m wrong) is the only day any government in the world shuts down to remember the birth, life, ministry, work, and death of an ordained Christian minister.

This last weekend (yesterday and Saturday night) I started each service in Montgomery with quote from a sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which I read about in an article on titled “Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Tony Peterson, the subtitle being  “And MLK’s Message for 21st Century Christians.”

Here are the two quotes…

“At the center of the Christian faith is the affirmation that there is a God in the universe who is the ground and essence of all reality. …[That] reality cannot be explained by matter in motion or the push and pull of economic forces. Christianity affirms that at the heart of reality is a Heart, a loving Father who works through history for the salvation of his children. Man cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of all things and humanity is not God. Bound by the chains of his own sin and finiteness, man needs a Savior.”


“We need to pledge ourselves anew to the cause of Christ. We must recapture the spirit of the early church. Wherever the early Christians went, they made a triumphant witness for Christ. Whether on the village streets or in the city jails, they daringly proclaimed the good news of the gospel.”

Food for thought, prayer, remembering, and saying “amen.”