Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Which One

The primary outreach of Pilgrim's Way Ministries right now is our museum, the Museum of the English Bible. In our museum we present pages from historic Bibles and other books from the late 1400s to the modern day. Because we are open to any and every one, we get an across the spectrum slice of Christianity. (Sometimes from outside of Christianity, too. We've had self-professed Wiccans and Satanists visit. And they are more than welcome to be there.)

A common question we get is: What is the best Bible version? As a museum, we try to stay neutral in the "Bible wars." But this question is important and valid, because people want to know they are reading the Word of God, and that it has not been tampered with.

On the whole, the old cliche of "The best Bible for you is one that you will read" applies. What I tell people who ask is to consider their reading level. Bible translations are not exactly equal. They span a continuum of reading levels. They have their own types, such as word-for-word translations to a free paraphrase. So what is the best Bible version for you? It will be the one you will regularly read and be able to understand. The whole point (in my opinion) is the message, not the letters. If a person cannot understand the message, it will not help them grow in their faith.

So if you are a "regular person." don't allow yourself to get sucked into the Bible version wars. Leave that to the scholars. But you can be certain that what you are reading, regardless of version (with very few exceptions), is the Word of God.

(Photo from the Museum of the English Bible.)


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Why I Quit

Last month I decided that I was going to delete my Twitter account. It wasn't easy to do: I had been on Twitter since 2012, so it was a part of my lifestyle. But there were a few things that made the elimination of it easier.

1. My reason for being there changed. Originally I started that account when my book The Search For The Biblical Jesus was published. I was trying to get the word out about my book. Unfortunately, being on Twitter did not translate into book sales.

2. The tone of the platform changed. Prior to the 2016 elections, Twitter started to change - for the worse, in my opinion. Politics took over the platform. Instead of being a place where people could share opinions, it started to become a place of accusation and misinformation (on both sides). Things got very nasty. I was hoping that after the election that the tone would settle down, but it didn't - it got worse. I had to put a large number of my followers on mute because their tweets were grievous to my soul.

3. I got lost in the shuffle. There are so millions of people on Twitter. Unless you are famous, wealthy or have some other kind of visibility, odds are good that you will get lost in the shuffle. That is what happened to me. Journalist Billy Hallowell once pointed out that success in social media now is dependent on shock value. That is not a good thing for someone like me. I am not very shocking or provocative. By choosing to focus on the moderate side of Christianity, I became invisible in the social media world.

4.  It became an unintentional idol. Studies have shown that social media gives a pleasure response that can become addicting. I get that - I started finding myself constantly checking Twitter for responses to my tweets. Doing that was neither healthy nor productive, so it had to go. It was interesting (to me, anyway) to see how much more time I had and how much I was getting done without sitting in front of a screen for hours!

Twitter has been a great platform for some. I met amazing great people and I am glad for their success. For me, though, the time came to leave.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Love In Blood

I found this going through some things lately. It is one of the first tracts I wrote as a young believer. It was a companion piece for a contemporary Christian album of the same name that never got made.


Love In Blood

That's what Jesus gave us. Beaten mercilessly by Roman guards, then nailed to a tree, Jesus proved personally what he meant when He said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) And greater love you will never see. Because the Bible tells us that "for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Because of sin we deserve to die (Romans 6:23), but to forgive our sins, Jesus, the Son of God, chose to die in our place. "Without the shedding of blood is no remission [cleansing or washing away]" of sin (Hebrews 9:22). And He shed His blood for us. You can truly believe this.

"He that believeth on HIm is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he that not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:18) So believe and receive. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with Me." (Revelation 3:20) He's knocking at the door of your heart. Just let Him in. He'll change your life (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Written in Bad Hersfeld, Germany, August 1980

Sunday, April 28, 2019

20th Anniversary

We've reached a milestone! April 30th marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of Pilgrim's Way Ministries. Founded originally as an outreach to military personnel, the ministry expanded to cover apologetics and small church support.

Happy 20th Anniversary, Pilgrim's Way Ministries!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Evidence

People seem to always want evidence for God. But is there any? According to C.S. Lewis, the answer should be obvious. Since God is outside of our reality, we will find evidence for God's existence within our reality in the clues he left behind. It is like looking at a house. We can conclude that there must have been a builder, and there must have been an architect. Common sense tells us that houses do not design and build themselves.

God has left us evidence in his creation to demonstrate his existence. Because he wants us to come to him by faith, it may not be in the format we would want. Easter is one of those times where the evidence is there. From the Gospel testimony to contemporary Roman records, there is evidence people knew that Jesus rose from the dead. But it is not just handed to us. It is up to us to put the pieces together in faith.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Advice

Recently I saw a post on Twitter asking what advice would I give to someone graduating. I few years ago we tossed around a similar idea on Facebook: What advice would you give to your younger self? Here is what I said would recommend, and I think it is applicable to graduates, too.

1. Save some money. You won't be young forever, and what you have in the future depends on right now. Try to save around $200 every month, and don't touch it. Yes, there will be struggles and sacrifices because you are saving. But your 50 year-old-self will appreciate the almost $500,000 you accumulate.

2. Ask yourself, What do I want my legacy to be? Life does not revolve around work. Find a legacy. Figure it out. What do you want to be remembered for? After you are dead, unless you were a politician or a celebrity, no one will remember what you did for a living. Edgar Allen Poe is remembered for being a famous writer. But who remembers him as a guy who worked at a newspaper?

3. Don't expect much help. Almost every other person in the world is struggling like you are. Don't expect them to do anything but be concerned with themselves. These same people, because they are so concerned with themselves, will also try to prevent you from succeeding. It is a bummer, yes, but that's how life is. Don't dwell on it, but keep it in mind.

4. Take control of your life, and do it yourself. Related to points 2 and 3, conventional wisdom expects us to passively wait for someone to discover us or to grant something magical that will make us succeed in life. Unfortunately, those things don't happen. I kick myself in the backside almost daily because I spent my younger years waiting for a record company to discover me. What I needed to do was stop waiting on others, and take things into my own hands. As a teenager I owned a full complement of recording equipment. I recorded a full album in my garage. What I really needed to do instead of waiting to be discovered was save my money, take the master tape to a plant, and produce my own record. All of the great music I wrote in the 70s is almost lost because I spent decades waiting for someone else to 'discover me' and to pay for it. Ultimately, I did pay for it, but not in the way I expected. I lost my musical legacy, and that was very costly.

Anyone can do these things if they decide to. It is all a matter of choice and planning. Not going to say it will be easy or comfortable. But it is a heck of a lot better than turning 60 with a heart full of regret over the past. People that know me know I have accomplished a lot in life - I've lived three lifetimes in one. But there are still things I regret, because I wanted to do so much more!


This was inspired by my friend Anthony Fontaine, and I thank him for bringing the subject up.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Sinners

     And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house,
     many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and
     his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
     And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans
     and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he
     eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?

     (Mark 2:15-16, KJV)

At the beginning of Mark's Gospel we are told the story of the calling of Matthew. Matthew immediately follows Jesus, and in appreciation hosts a dinner in his honor. Matthew invited the people he knew - his fellow tax collectors and other people. Here's what is interesting: these tax collectors and 'sinners' followed Jesus.  Tax collectors and average people were apparently without social status in 'polite society,' yet they were attracted to Jesus and were amazed at what he did. Mark actually says so in verse 12: ...they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

Generally, those called 'sinners' in the Gospels were those from the parts of society deemed not worthy to be associated with by the religious leaders. I don't think it was meant as something derogatory in the Gospels, but it was how people talked back then. Heck, we do the same thing today. Where I live, there is a drug epidemic, particularly an opioid epidemic. There is close to an overdose a day here, and sometimes multiple (and sometimes multiple for the SAME PERSON). When there is an overdose and it gets posted to social media, you should see what the comments are! Drug and alcohol users/abusers are called much worse things than 'sinners.'

Part of the implication of the accusation by the scribes and Pharisees was that Jesus went out to these undesirable people, implying that Jesus himself was a sinful person. But as the text shows, these people came to him! How different the way of Jesus was compared to the Pharisees and the scribes. How different the way of Jesus is compared to how most 'Christian' people and churches act. The 'respectable' people still reject Jesus. And the ones who need forgiveness and new life will believe in him.