Monday, December 27, 2010

John 14 (JSV - Joel Standard Version)

Back in 2005 I took undergraduate level Greek for my ministry degree. Now that I'm in seminary (and since I didn't keep up with my Greek studies after my first go), I'm taking Greek again. I've finished the first class, and I begin the second phase of my Greek studies on January 11. The first class ended on December 9, so my professor assigned us to read John 14-17 in Greek during the Christmas break. Before this, I had been working on translating the gospel of John from the beginning. I've already completed chapter 1 and had made a significant way through chapter 2 by the time break started. I've been translating chapter 14 during the break, and I finished it today. The translation is below.

Before you read my translation, however, know this: I'm still a relative beginner at the Greek language. My translation is choppy (partially because I want it choppy - I want to get the nitty-gritty translation; a formalized rendering would come later and with more study). There will be places where the translation reads like, "In the name of me" or "in the heart of you," or something similar. This is partly because that's the way the Greek language works. Again, in modern translations, translators will change "In the name of me," to the easier to read, "In my name," for the sake of the reader. I have not done this. My translation is pretty bare-bones.

Also, there are some parts of the Greek text that really confuse me, and I wasn't 100% sure how to translate what I read in the Greek. For these instances, I just went with whatever the NASB had, and worked my best guess to align with the NASB, although I tried not to do this as much as possible. You may want to compare the NASB and my own translation. Additionally, there are still many Greek words and tenses that I am not familiar with, so I got help from this really cool site. Any words, phrases, or sentences that I wasn't sure of a good translation are in italics. Enjoy.


“Do not let the hearts of you be troubled. You believe in God and in me you believe. In the house of the Father of me are many mansions. But if not, I told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and I prepare a place for you, again I am coming and I will take you all to myself, in order that where I am, I and you may be. And where I myself am going, you know the way.”

Thomas says to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How do we know the way?”

Jesus says to him, “I myself am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one is coming to the Father if not through me. If you had known me, and the Father of me, …you know him and have seen.

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

Jesus said to him, “So long a time with you I am and you are not knowing me, Philip? The one seeing me is seeing the Father. How are you saying, 'show us the Father?' You are not believing that I in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words which I myself am saying to you of myself…but the Father in me who dwells is doing the works of him. Believe me, that I am in the Father and the Father in me. But if not, on account of the works, believe. Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who believes in my works which I do, he will also do, and greater than these he will do, because I to the Father am going. And anything which you ask in the name of me, this I will do, in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If anything you may ask me in the name of me, this I will do.

“If you are loving me, the commandments of me you will watch over. And I will ask the Father, and another helper he will give you, in order that he is with you for eternity, the Spirit of truth, which the world is not able to receive, because it does not see him, neither does it know him. You know him because with you he dwells and in you he is. I will not leave you orphans, I am coming to you. Yet a while and the world will see me no more, but you see me, because I live and you will live. In that day you will know that I in the Father of me, and you in me, and I in you. He who has the commandments of me and who keeps these, is he who loves me. But he who loves me will be loved by the Father of me, and I will love him and will manifest to him myself.”

Judas, not Iscariot, says to him, “Lord what has happened that to us you are going to manifest yourself and not to the world?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves me, the word of me he will guard, and the Father of me will love him and to him we will come, with him an abode we will make. The one not loving me, the words of me he is not keeping, and the word which you are hearing is not mine but the Father who sent me.

“I have spoken this to you, remaining beside you, but the helper, the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in the name of me, he will teach you things and he will remind you all which I said to you.

“Peace I am leaving with you; the peace of me I give to you. Not as the world is giving do I give to you. Do not let the heart of you be troubled, nor let it be cowardly. You heard that I said to you: ‘I go and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me you rejoiced because I go to the Father, because the Father is greater than me. And now I have told you before it is to happen, in order that when it happens will you believe. No longer will I speak much with you, for he is coming, the ruler of the world. And he has nothing in me, but in order that the world may know that I love the Father, and even as the Father commanded me, this I do. Rise up and let us go from here.”

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Cheery "Holiday Message"

Here's a cheery "holiday message" from comedian Ricky Gervais. Apparently he's an ardent atheist, and he's got a beef with anyone who holds to a particular faith (although he tries to speak generally against all faiths, he's obviously coming down on Christians the most). If you've never heard of Gervais before, that's not surprising. The only movie that I know of that he's appeared in was "The Invention of Lying," which left much to be desired, both dramatically and as far as comedy is concerned. He's also the mind behind the TV show, "The Office," or at least the British version of The Office. I'm not sure if he's involved in the American version. Anyway, it looks like Ricky is using the Christmas holiday as a means of furthering his atheist agenda.

After reading Gervais's article I only have one thought, and it's one that I've said before, and one that I'll say again now, and will probably say again many more times in the future: atheists need some new ideas. They keep coming back to the table with the same old things that have already been answered before, answered again, and answered one more time for good measure. It's getting old. I was going to write a response to the article and Gervais's thoughts, but it's been done before, a million times.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

To Santa, Or Not To Santa?

My wife and I recently made a decision for our household: we're not going to "do" Santa with our kids. We've kind of waffled on whether or not to tell our kids about Santa Claus for the past 2 years (as long as one of them has been old enough to care), and we've finally decided not to do it.

A large part of our reasoning for making a firm decision on it at this point in time has to do with this video that we recently saw. It's a video of John Piper talking about how he celebrated Christmas with his kids when they were young. Not that John Piper is the authority on all things Christmas or how to celebrate it, but I think he brings up some great points. Check it out.

One of his best points, I think, is that Santa is poor substitute for Christ. I often hear people say around this time of year, "Jesus is the reason for the season." Why do we need to be reminded of that? Because, in this society, Santa (and the materialism he represents) has become, at least to some extent, a substitute for Christ. I don't want to be a part of that, and I don't ever want my kids to think that Christmas is about anything other than Christ.

When it comes down to it, the celebration of the Christmas holiday is a fantastic way to illustrate the incarnation - we give each other gifts to remind us of the gift that was given to us by God: Christ. I want this to be the focus of our family's Christmas celebration - not Santa, or even the giving of the gifts themselves. It'd be hard to make that point by saying that Santa is the instrument by which God gives us gifts to remind us of his gift of Christ! Especially when it comes time to tell the kids the truth about Santa.

Now, before anyone thinks I'm a total fundamentalist humbug, let me say that I have nothing against Santa Claus or families who choose to tell their kids that he is the one who brings them gifts. It is not my intention to condemn anyone who "does" Santa (if that were my intention, I would have to condemn my own parents, who perpetuated the Santa myth with me until my sister ruined it for me one night at the tender age of 9, which totally crushed me, I might add; I would also have to condemn my sister and brother-in-law, which I'm not prepared to do). I think "doing" Santa can be done while still maintaining the spiritual element of Christmas. I also think that celebrating Christmas without Santa can still miss the whole point of the holiday as well. It's not as though Santa is some magic ingredient that either must or must not be added for the holiday to have any meaning. That is up to those who celebrate it, and it's why Christmas can still be spiritually celebrated, even with Santa. We've just decided not to do it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The ABC's of Christmas

Here's a video of the "The ABC's of Christmas" from Riverview's kids Christmas program, which took place tonight:

It's the first time The Ferguson (my son) has been a part of something like this. He originally wasn't going to be in it (he's only 3 after all!), but one of the kids who was originally scheduled to recite a line dropped out, and so we decided to see if he could do it. The issue wasn't whether or not he could memorize the line. He's memorized Bible verses and books before, so that wasn't a problem. The main concern was whether or not he would freak out when he got in front of all those people during the program.

Things weren't looking good when, during the first rehearsal he participated in, it came time for his line. When it was his turn, he smiled, ran to his mom's side, and immediately bawled his eyes out, never saying his line. But after working with him a bit more at home, and trying to calm his nerves, he eventually got so saying the line in front of people was no problem. I still thought it was a toss-up though, as to whether or not he'd be able to do it when push came to shove. For this reason, we had his oldest cousin (who stood right next to him in line), memorize his part as well, just in case he had a melt down when it came to him.

Thankfully he did great. Although there were some technical issues, as his head hit the microphone and it made a few very loud popping noises. He was unflappable, though. He kept right on going.

Proud papa over here!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More On Caleb

In this earlier post I talked about why I thought Caleb was such a cool guy, especially in his later years of life. In short, he was an 85 year old man who had no qualms about going into a land filled with giants, as long as God was with him.

After doing the reading and study for this week's men's Bible study, I like the guy all the more. In Joshua 15 we read about what happened after the 85 year old Caleb entered the land of giants: he drove them all out, just like he said he would. And then after he was done with them, he went on to another town and drove them out too. He was then free to bless his children and family members with sections of good land. What a cool story. It's a great testimony about what is possible when one believes and trusts God.

The story gets even better, though, because it's contrasted with other stories about stronger, younger people who couldn't do what Caleb did. Why not? Because they lacked faith.

Later in Joshua 15 we read about the tribe of Judah, who, after they had received the inheritance of land that was given to them, wasn't able to drive out the Jebusites, and was then forced to make them into laborers and servants. Similarly, in Joshua 16, the Manassites couldn't drive out the Canaanites from their land, and they had to take them as laborers as well. Finally, in Joshua 17, the tribes of Joseph (the Manassites and Ephraimites) were too afraid to go and drive people out of the land that had been given to them.

What happened with these tribes? Did they forget that as long as God was with them, and as long as they were following his commands, that they would be successful? Apparently so. Up to this point, Israel had only been defeated in battle once, and it was because they were trusting in themselves and not in God. They were also forced to take the Gibeonites as laborers instead of wiping them out from the land that was rightfully theirs because they failed to consult God on the matter. But when Israel trusted and followed God, they were absolutely unstoppable - even against horses, chariots, and armies whose soldiers were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. But now there are these three tribes (actually 2 1/2 tribes) that suddenly find themselves to be too wimpy to do what must be done. What happened?

What's interesting is that when the tribes of Joseph complain to Joshua that they don't have enough land, and that the land they want is occupied by foreigners, Joshua seems to say, "So what? Go get 'em? They're in your land? Then go kick them out!" Why does Joshua react this way? I think it's because he knows that all things are possible with God, and if the tribes of Joseph would trust God, getting rid of these people wouldn't be a problem (which is exactly what Caleb thought when he marched into the land of giants).

Caleb did what these other tribes failed to do: trust God and act in faith. And it's even more remarkable since Caleb was 85 at the time and had far fewer soldiers than any of the tribes did. Caleb didn't have to take any laborers or slaves, or be responsible for more mouths to feed. He trusted God - even when that trust seemed to go against all reason - what chance did an 85 year old with just his family to fight with him have against giants? All the chance in the world, because God was fighting for him.

It goes to show how easily and quickly we can forget God's faithfulness to us, and that we can always trust in him. I want to be like Caleb.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Should I Be Mad About This?

Each winter since my wife and I moved into our current location, I have always been frustrated with the city snow plows. We live on one of the "main" streets in our city, and it gets a lot of traffic, which usually means it's first on the list for having the snow plowed which is usually nice - our street is almost always clear. And like a good citizen, I always make sure my sidewalks are shoveled/snow-blown within a day of a snowfall.

Here's the problem: the sidewalk in front of my house is separated from the street by the usual 3-4 foot wide boulevard section of grass. I'm not sure if the snow plows are either going so fast, or not watching what they're doing, or whatever, but whenever a snow plow plows our street, it throws all the snow from the street onto our sidewalk. And most of the time, it's AFTER I've already been out to shovel/snow-blow. So then I have to go out and shovel/snow-blow one more time.

Why not just wait to shovel/snow-blow until after the plows have gone by, you ask? Because "street snow" is much different than "sidewalk snow." It's usually wetter and heavier (which stinks for shoveling), or it's icy and chunky (which my snowblower can't handle). I find it hard to believe that the ONLY way the snow plows can do their job is to throw street snow onto my sidewalk.

I've told my wife that if I was ever outside while a snow plow was doing this, I was going to flag him down and explain my predicament to him. That day came today. A plow was going by my house and I flagged him down. Somewhat to my surprise, he stopped and rolled down his window. I asked him if he and his compatriots could slow down while plowing so I don't have to re-shovel/blow my sidewalk every time they plow. His response was that the snow was so light that he couldn't control where it went, and that it didn't matter if he was going fast or not. I replied by saying something like, "OK. It just sucks that I always have to shovel my sidewalk twice." He tried to encourage me by saying that he was going to have to plow twice, too. Ok, but that's not the point.

Here's the point: the city of South Saint Paul requires that I clear my sidewalk of snow within 12 hours of a snow fall, or face a fine. If I comply with those standards, doesn't it seem a tad bit stinky of them to throw more snow back onto my sidewalk, forcing me to comply with them again? Would I be fined if I complied with the snow that fell on my sidewalk, but failed to clear the snow that the plows threw on my sidewalk? Most definitely. But the city is the one that put the snow there!

I have no problem with complying with the city's regulations. It just seems that sometimes the city is working against me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Dad is an Animal

Tonight my car died at Little Caesar's. I had stopped to pick up some pizza for our small group Bible study, and when I went back out to my car, I turned the key and nothing happened. I called my wife and she came and picked up the pizzas. Then I called my dad and asked if he could come give me a ride to the auto parts store so I could buy a new battery (I had known the one that I had was going down the tubes, so I was pretty sure that was the problem).

When my dad arrived we decided to try to jump it, just for the nuts of it. But since I had pulled forward into my parking spot, the jumper cables wouldn't reach from the battery in my dad's car to mine, and the front end of my car was facing the sidewalk. My dad said he would go out into the street and drive over the curb in order to be able to reach the cables to my battery. But there was a ton of snow piled up on the curb, so that wasn't going to be an option. The next thing I know, my dad is pulling out of the Little Caesar's parking lot onto the sidewalk that ran in front of my car. While a tad unconventional, it got the job done. I can't imagine what people thought as they were watching him driving on the sidewalk!

Once my car was started again, the next task was to figure out how to get my dad's car off the sidewalk. There were two options: 1) drive over the curb and out into the street, but that would be tough because there was still probably too much snow on the curb to be able to drive over; 2) go out the way he came, backing up back down the sidewalk. So, half on the sidewalk, and half in the snowbank, my dad carefully dodged street lamps, a bus bench, and a garbage can all the way to the end of the parking lot. When he had gotten back into the lot, he looked at me and said, "I don't mean too brag, but I'm not sure how many people could've done that." I agree. It was pretty neat.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Love This Guy!

Ever read the story of Caleb? It's a great story. Here's the end of his story.

Caleb was one of twelve guys whom Moses sent to spy out the Promised Land before the Israelites invaded it. And he was one of two of those twelve that returned with a favorable report about the Israelites' chances of taking the land (Joshua being the other). The other ten guys said that there was no way they would be able to take the land that God had promised them because it was filled with giants, and that the people of Israel were essentially doomed to a lifetime of wilderness-wandering. As a result of their unbelief, the current generation of Israelites were forbidden to ever enter the Promised land, EXCEPT for Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who believed that God would be with the people and they could successfully take the land. In fact, the prospect of giants in the land didn't seem to shake either Caleb or Joshua one bit. Why not? Because they knew God would be with them.

So the people of Israel were doomed to wander the wilderness until the unbelieving generation died off. Unfortunately for Joshua and Caleb, this meant forty years of waiting to enter the Promised Land. But the day finally comes and the Israelites invade the land that God had promised to them, and they begin to take it.

After a five to seven year military campaign, a good portion of the Promised Land is now under Israelite control, and the people begin divvying up the land and start to make Israel their permanent home. About this time, an 85 year old Caleb approaches Joshua and asks him for a chunk of land on which he can make his home. Before Israel had entered the land, Moses had promised Caleb that he would inherit the land that he had originally spied out - the land filled with giants. So Caleb has essentially come to collect - he wants the land that was promised to him by Moses, and Joshua blesses him and gives it to him.

But there's a catch: the land that is promised to Caleb is still filled with giants, even after the Israelite invasion. Not everybody has been cleared out, and there is still a significant giant population in Hebron, the land where Caleb was headed. But that doesn't shake this spit-fire of an old man. He says, "I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said."

Wow! Think of the faith of this guy. He's been waiting for 45 years for God to make good on his promise, and that day has finally come. 45 years of trusting God to be faithful! And there are still giants in the land that need to be taken care of. What does this 85 year old man say? "No problem. Bring 'em on. If God's with me, I'll take care of them. I'm still as fit today as ever I was. I can come and go, and I can still handle myself in a scrape."

This is a man of remarkable faith. He believed God to be faithful; he believed God to help him; he actively believed God even at the ripe old age of 85. What a cool story.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Good Grief

I think the United States government may have reached a new low - or a new high, if we're talking about incompetence. Have you heard about this? It's a bill that mandates that TV commercials be at the same volume as the programs in which they appear, and no louder. The bill basically instructs the FCC to regulate the volume level of commercials. It's gone through the house and the senate and is apparently waiting on President Obama's signature. Apparently U.S. citizens aren't smart enough to turn down the volume when commercials come on, and they need the federal government to come running to their aid and save their ears from annoying car commercials. Who actually thought this was a good use of taxpayer dollars? I'm almost speechless. It's despicable.

Here's a clue for ya, government. When I see an ad I don't like, I turn the channel, or I turn the volume down, or I just don't give the company my business. Case in point:

This is perhaps the most annoying, ridiculous advertisement I have ever seen in my life. This ad virtually assures me that I will never buy a car from Luther Kia. The dancing Santa is ludicrous; the song makes me want to pull my hair out; and the guy screaming at me to buy a new Kia grates on my nerves. I would never give money to the company that produces these commercials. I find them offensive.

But you know what? I don't need the government to rescue me from "Santa's Brand New Ride." I've got a remote and a finger. That'll do the trick. No new laws necessary.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What If Abortion Were Illegal?

One of my friends on Facebook posted this video (warning: there are some very brief images of aborted babies in this video):

The voice behind the camera in the video claims to be from the AtCenter Network, an online "news" agency. He's going around, asking pro-life protestors questions like, "What should the penalty be for a woman who had an illegal abortion? Should there be a punishment under the law against women who have illegal abortions?"

First of all, the LAST intention of this video is to gather "news." The video is set up to make people who are pro-life look stupid because they supposedly haven't thought about the ramifications of their stance. That's totally misleading, and I think it's purposely misleading. Why haven't abortion protestors thought this question through? Because it hasn't been relevant for the past 35 years. I have to admit that I haven't thought through this question before I saw this video, but it only took me about 1.5 seconds to come up with an answer (to that end, the pro-life people in the video do look a tad slow - how hard is it to come up with an answer?).

Before I give you my answer, it's important to make sure we're all working under the same understandings. I'm working under the assumption that, if abortion were illegal, it would be because the unborn "fetus" would be considered a human life, and the taking of said life would be seen as murder (hence the illegality of the action). If this were the reason for outlawing abortion, then anyone who took part in an abortion (mother, doctor, someone who drove the mother to the abortionist, etc.) would be viewed, legally, as an accessory to murder at the very least, if not charged for 1st degree murder. So then, the answer is, "yes." IF abortion were illegal, and IF abortion were viewed as murder, and IF a mother or doctor were convicted of having an abortion / committing murder, they obviously should be punished under the law. All murderers should be punished. What should the punishment be for murdering an unborn child, exactly? That would vary the same way that punishment for "regular" murder varies.

The guy behind the camera wants these pro-life demonstrators to say that women who have an abortion should be punished, and punished severely. His questions are framed in a context that will force the answer (that he wants) to be seen in a negative light. That way, he can trump up charges of insanity against the pro-life movement for wanting to punish innocent women who have already suffered the trauma of an abortion (but why would it be a trauma? Isn't it a simple medical procedure?) He wants them to look heartless and crazy. It's incredibly deceptive and fallacious. I wonder what pro-choice people would say if asked the same question? Do they have an automatic answer they would spit out? Of course not. Why? Because they likewise haven't considered the question for the past 35 years. Or ask the pro-choicers this: What should the punishment be for a woman who has a late term abortion (which is already illegal)? Come on, someone spit that answer out on the spot! Didn't think so.

Abortion comes down to one question: is the "blob of tissue" in the mother's womb a life? If the definitive answer is "no," than go ahead and do whatever you want to it. People have surgeries to remove tissue all the time. But if the answer is yes (not even "definitively yes," but even just "probably yes") then it should absolutely be illegal to do anything harmful to it, let alone kill it, and anyone who were to harm the unborn life in any way should face the full effects of the law.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hamstring the Horses and Burn the Chariots

In our men's Bible study tonight at church, we read Joshua 11 and 12. Basically, a whole bunch of Canaanite kings joined forces to go against Israel. In verse 4 of chapter 11 it says that the number of soldiers coming against Israel were as many as the sand on the seashore, "with very many horses and chariots." In verse 6 God tells Joshua that, when the battle is over, he should hamstring the horses and burn the chariots. In verse 9 that's exactly what Joshua does.

The whole book of Joshua is a testament to the greatness of God as he empowers Israel to dominate their enemies and take the land that is theirs. The author of Joshua goes to great lengths to show that it is God who has the power, and not the people, and that the only reason the Israelites are successful is because God is fighting for them.

It seems reasonable to think that Israel, as a nation and as a military force, did not have access to either horses or chariots. There is significant evidence that this was the case. The question that seems to arise then, is this: why did the Israelites hamstring the horses and burn the chariots of their enemies? Why not take the horses and chariots for themselves? There was still some land that needed to be conquered, and people that needed to be kicked out of the Promised Land. Why not take the horses and chariots to aid in those endeavors? Certainly Israel would have been that much more of a dominating force if they had these resources. Or if not for battle, why not at least take the horses to use for transportation or labor purposes? It just doesn't seem to make sense. Why destroy such useful tools?

I can think of at least two reasons for why God had Joshua and the Israelites hamstring the horses and burn the chariots.

1) The use of chariots was probably the pinnacle of military technology at the time. In telling the Israelites to essentially destroy the things that could help them, God was telling them that they didn't need excessive technology or weapons to achieve what they wanted to achieve. They only needed God. If the Israelites were to take and use the horses and chariots of their enemies, they may have ended up trusting in their superior equipment or technology rather than God. Israel had this problem earlier in the book of Joshua, and it didn't work out well for them.

2) God was showing the Israelites that he was bigger and better than the best that man had to offer. The Egyptians were known and feared for their use of horses and chariots in military campaigns. In the ancient world, the army with the horses and chariots had a significant upper hand in any battle. Horses of the day were trained not to stop for anything. They were essentially trained to run over any and everything in their way. Thus a single horse-drawn chariot could be an extremely powerful weapon. The only way to stop it would be to kill the horse or the driver. But even with all the advantages that horses and chariots offered an army, those advantages were nothing compared to having God on your side and fighting for you. I think this was something the Israelites needed to see: God is infinitely better than anything man could offer. And when you have God on your side, things like horses and chariots seem to pale in comparison.

I think I need to hamstring some horses and burn some chariots in my life.

Innovation for the Mission Field

Remember Steve Saint? He's the son of murdered missionary pilot, Nate Saint. Steve took up where his dad left off, learned to fly, and got involved in missions. Now he's an experienced flier and entrepreneur who is innovating for the benefit of the mission field. Check this out. This is awesome.