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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Versions Of The Bible

According to the American Bible Society, there are about 900 English Bible translations, some of them regarded as incomplete, depending on the religion of the readers. With such a wide variety of translations available, most people may possess more than one version, or they may prefer one over another. I was brought up on the King James Version (KJV), and it remains my favorite to this day.

When the New International Version (NIV)  came out, I found the modern language helpful in understanding some parts of the Bible more clearly. I have since acquired a Devotional Study Bible for Women (NIV) which contains devotionals written by women. Each devotional is placed in the book dealing with the scripture on which it is based. Some of the devotionals have been a source of encouragement and inspiration to me and I go back to them from time to time. I also  came across another version of the NIV called the Student Bible. Each book is preceded by a modern application of  the book along with cross references to similar scriptures and study questions.

Another Bible translation I have in my possession is the New Inductive Study Bible. The language is closer to the New King James Version, however, the layout of this Bible is for the person who wants to do a really in-depth Bible study. From maps, pictures, timelines and insightful passages, this Bible will make you feel like a seminary student. The study method of this Bible is observation, interpretation and application. In observation, the reader is instructed to find out the who, what, why and when. Interpretation deals with grasping the meaning of the scripture and application has to do with what the scripture means to me personally. I have learned a lot from studying the Bible this way and from what I've seen so far, there are no inaccuracies as in the NIV.

So which is my favorite Bible translation? It is still the KJV. Mine is the Scofield reference Bible which provides a lot of wonderful background information on the scriptures.  It has helped me to see that Jesus is not just referred to in the New Testament, as I heard someone say recently, but the WHOLE Bible points to Jesus, from Genesis right on to Revelation. It was also an invaluable resource to me in writing my book Women For All Seasons. But when I simply want to read the Bible without studying, just reading for the pleasure of reading God's word, to feel as if He is right there with me, I take up my KJV. For sheer poetry and imagery it cannot be beat.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rape: Is It Ever Legitimate?

With the presidential elections just a few days away, both sides have already made their voices heard on a number of topics, including women's issues. One topic that always comes up during election time is the question of abortion and contraception. This year it went a little further when one senator used the term "legitimate rape," which, quite frankly left me scratching my head. Where is the legitimacy in rape?

One thing I love about the Bible is that it tackles every subject known to man. The Bible is relevant today as it was when it was written thousands of years ago. And so the Bible addresses the subject of rape. Deuteronomy 22: 25 says, "But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die." 

Fast forward to the story of Tamar, King David's daughter. She was raped, not by a stranger and not in the fields, but by her brother, Ammon, in his own house.
"And when she had brought them unto him to eat , he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister. 12 And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly ... Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her" (2 Samuel 13 ; 11 - 12; 14).

Did Ammon have a legitimate right to rape his sister? No, he did not. The Bible says that immediately the act was completed, "Amnon hated her exceedingly ; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise , be gone" (v 15). No apology, no word of comfort, nothing. She was thrown out like a dog. King David was wroth at the news, according to the  Bible, but he did nothing about it.

The Bible says that Tamar tore her clothes, put ashes on her head and went out crying. From that time, no man would look at her, because she had been violated. She would be a desolate woman for the rest of her life. Not so Ammon. His life went on as usual. Until finally, as cunningly as he had plotted to rape his sister, his older brother, Absalom, plotted and had Ammon killed. 

Justice was served, you might say. But what about poor Tamar? She is never mentioned again in the Bible. Her life had just about come to an end. Society is much more lenient now. A woman who has been raped or abused may still get married, have a family and try to put her past behind her. But do the scars ever heal? 

The words "legitimate" and  "rape" could never belong together. They are on opposite sides of the coin. But if you have suffered that unfortunate experience, God can heal you. He can turn your scars into stars. He promises to give you  "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" (Isaiah 61 : 3). Won't you call on Him today?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Separation Anxiety

My almost-four-year-old granddaughter has what I call separation anxiety. Jen does not like being separated from her mother for any length of time. She had a very difficult time adjusting to starting school and has only recently grown accustomed to her new routine. She no longer cries when my daughter drops her off. Still, at home Jen seldom stays far from her mother. Yesterday, we attended a wedding, and while the adults enjoyed the cool atmosphere on the front lawn, Jen ran around the lawn, swinging on a post here, stopping to admire something there. But ever so often, she would return to her mother before running off again.

As I watched my granddaughter at play, I thought how great it would be if we had the same anxiety about being separated from God. What if we could go about our daily routine but always kept Him in sight?  Psalm 16: 11 says, "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." (KJV) Do we feel joy at being in God's presence?

"Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms" (Psalm 95 :2).  Jen shouts, "Mama!" when her mother enters the room and her eyes light up with love and joy. Do we react that way when we are in God's house, in His presence?  David said, "Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me" (Psalm 51 : 11). That should be our prayer day and night. Let us show God how much we love Him and never want to be separated from Him.