Monday, December 24, 2018
Friday, December 21, 2018
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Friday, November 30, 2018
So here is what I hope is an article that helps you:
First, let's consider popularity:
1. Top Selling Bibles in 2018, according to the ECPA (an organization that tracks Christian Booksellers):
Note that the NIV is first (eminently readable, popular with many folk), but that the KJV and NKJV occupy two of the top slots.
I'm sad to say that one of my favorites, the NASB, has sunk to #10, probably because it's neither as well-known as the KJV nor as readable as the NIV. The ESV and NLT hold top spots, the ESV because it's used in many Reformed churches, and the NLT because it's a "commentary in a Bible"--in other words, a paraphrase, or a re-interpreted Bible.
2. Most READ Bible: https://www.statista.com/statistics/299402/preferred-bible-version-usa/
Interesting facts. The KJV is still the most read Bible in the US. Why? Probably because it has a lot going for it--for one thing, many people are wedded to it. For another, it is still unsurpassed in elegance of language and quotable verses and phrases. It's also rhythmic and powerful, and accurate (despite what some of its detractors say). The NIV, though the top seller, is only one third as popular when you consider what's the most read Bible. For further confirmation, here is some other statistical info (variances in percentage probably reflect "who got asked"):
All this leads to the question, "Which is the best Bible for ME?"
I have had significant experience teaching through a number of versions. The easiest to TEACH is a "modified KJV;" I modify it "on the fly" with my own alterations and explanations. A close second is the NASB, which I like because it's accurate. I have taught Bible classes using the NIV, the NASB, the NKJV, and the KJV.
Many years ago, when I was doing home Bible studies as a pastor, I found that many in my congregation could not understand the KJV, or even the NKJV (New King James). The sentence structure of the NASB (New American Standard Bible) was too confusing, and the people who couldn't "get" other versions could easily understand the NIV. I had one participant who confessed he was dyslexic, and could never have understood the KJV or other versions. He needed the NIV. So that's what I used.
The point is that not everyone understands language in the same way. Some "get" the KJV, and it's actually not that difficult once you work through it a bit, but there are some folk who will never understand it, because their reading skills are just not that strong. It's pretty pointless to argue that the "Best" version is the NASB or the KJV if the person you're discussing this with can't understand what's written. if I wanted to be really unfair about this, I could demand of all the "KJV only" folk that they read only the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. After all, I understand it, and it's the perfect Word of God, in the original languages. However, the only people who would then understand the Bible would be people like me, who have spent years studying the original languages. The Bible writers discuss this in various places:
1. Paul, writing to Timothy in 1 Tim. 3:15-17:
...from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired (God Breathed) by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Another passage that specifically speaks to this issue of understanding is found in Nehemiah 8:8:
They read from the book, from the law of God, translating (NIV, explaining) to give the sense so that they understood the reading.
Sunday, August 19, 2018
I've recently been reading the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and it's amazing how clearly false spirituality and evil are linked. Of course, it's really no surprise, because God tells us, in both the Old and New Testaments, that rejecting Him is the foundation of moral destruction.
Evil is a consequence of rejecting God, rather than the cause of it. Hear what Jeremiah says:
My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns (the idols that Israel worshipped), that can hold no water.
"Your own wickedness will correct you, And your apostasies will reprove you; Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the LORD your God, And the dread of Me is not in you," declares the Lord GOD of hosts.
Thursday, August 9, 2018
Nobody likes judgment. We all want to escape it. So when the Bible says this,
"It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment," everyone gets a chill or two--because we are included in that judgment, and we secretly wonder, "How will I fare?" Isaiah 63 is like that. It focuses first on the terrible fury of God, how His Messiah is not all sunlight and roses, but tough judgment as well:
1 Who is this who comes from Edom, With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, This One who is majestic in His apparel, Marching in the greatness of His strength? "It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save."
2 Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?
3 "I have trodden the wine trough alone, And from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath; And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, And I stained all My raiment.
4 "For the day of vengeance was in My heart, And My year of redemption has come.
5 "I looked, and there was no one to help, And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; So My own arm brought salvation to Me, And My wrath upheld Me.
6 "I trod down the peoples in My anger And made them drunk in My wrath, And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth."
Here we see, at the beginning of the chapter, that God (His Messiah), comes in "righteousness, mighty to save." First, however, is utter destruction to His enemies, with no mercy, no pity. It's easy to think that God has changed His mind about His mercy, but the point is that there are always two classes of people: People to whom God shows mercy, and people to whom He shows His judgment and fury. These two classes are self-determining, in the sense that they decide who they are, and you are in one class or the other. There is NO third class of people who "may" get mercy, or "may" get judgment. It's always just the two.
So here's how God looks at the second class of people:
7 I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, According to all that the LORD has granted us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has granted them according to His compassion And according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses.
8 For He said, "Surely, they are My people, Sons who will not deal falsely." So He became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
He wanted to save them. He DID save them. In Egypt. In the days of the judges. With King David, and many more times. However, these same people managed to move themselves from God's mercy to God's judgment, because they rejected Him:
10 But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them...
And then, of course, when they all saw the judgment arrive, they wanted to get rid of that terrible experience, so they turned back to God, but still they were plagued with the suffering they caused themselves, the consequences of their deeds:
11 Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them,
12 Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, Who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name,
13 Who led them through the depths? Like the horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble;
14 As the cattle which go down into the valley, The Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So You led Your people, To make for Yourself a glorious name.
"You Are Our Father"
15 Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation; Where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me.
16 For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us And Israel does not recognize us. You, O LORD, are our Father, Our Redeemer from of old is Your name.
17 Why, O LORD, do You cause us to stray from Your ways And harden our heart from fearing You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage.
18 Your holy people possessed Your sanctuary for a little while, Our adversaries have trodden it down.
19 We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, Like those who were not called by Your name.
This is an awful result--longing for mercy, compassion and grace, but unable to find it, because the suffering is not over; God has not returned. This is a pattern for many of us. We find Him. We serve Him. We fail Him. We repent. The consequences of our foolishness are still with us. It happens. The answer, of course, is that we have to "wait it out," sometimes till we meet Him face to face, other times He reverses His judgments and we gain relief from the consequences of our deeds.
It is especially difficult when we are in situations like this to be honest with ourselves, and say, "These things happened because of ME." in Isaiah's case, he's referring to the national tragedy that literally destroyed their nation--their attachment to idols and the practices related to them. It would take me hours to describe all these evils, but here's a small quote: "Even their sons and their daughters have they burned in the fire..." The practices of idolatry, as a later writer tells us, are Satanic in nature, and pollute and destroy the people who do them. God, in His wise and righteous judgment, will not let this continue, and punishes the people who worship these false gods. In the same way, when we obsess over something, and let it rule our lives, it becomes a "spiritual idol," which Satan then uses against us. We think we are "OK," just like the drunk or drug addict who believes he's all right and "can control his habit." Of course we are not "OK." We are in the process of destroying ourselves with this "thing," or things.
What's especially tragic is that we often justify this behavior ("I have to have those drugs to keep me going;" "I need this sexual experience;" "Money is good...")
The truth is that ANY thing that becomes an idol is BAD. It destroys you, and the consequences you experience will override whatever you get from that "thing."
The answer, of course, is still to repent, and then wait. God shows His mercy right away, gives you back His love and compassion, but you may, as Israel did, find that your daily experiences come as the result of your past sins. You will often have to wait for Him to let these things work their way out of your life.
They will. It may take time--even all the way to your final hours and your meeting with Him at the Throne of God, but there you will receive His full mercy, the days of your pain will end, and He will wipe away all the tears from your eyes.
Sometimes it just takes time.
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Christians don't all have a "Life with God." Every Christian CAN, of course, but not all do. The question is "Why?" Of course, the first question is, "What is that "life with God" that you're writing about?" and the answer is that it's the life you were intended to have by the Almighty, in full and constant communication with Him at all times--but something has gone wrong. A life with God can be defined as one in which God is always consciously present in our spirits, and where He is able to communicate with us as He desires (He IS always present, but sometimes we miss Him, and sometimes badly.). In other words, from our side, "we have our ears on," and we are ready to hear what He has to say and follow the directions He has to give.
Here are some thoughts on the "how" of gaining and maintaining communication with the Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ:
- The Problem: We may not actually want to hear what He has to say. Lots of things hurt our ability to communicate with Him: guilt, fear, anger, envy, sexual desire, unrequited love, greed, and so forth. When these things, or any of them, rule our lives, they are like terrible smells that prevent us from smelling the roses in our gardens. In the same way, God's Spirit is always seeking to communicate with us, but if our attention is elsewhere (that cool guy, that pretty girl, how much money), we don't hear. His voice is muted. Of course, it's good to want someone in your life, and you have to have money, but I'm talking about focus at this point. Sometimes we have only one thing in focus in our lives, and we miss everything else (which is why Jesus said, "You cannot serve God and Money," Matt. 6:24). However, here's the way to prevent messing up the life we can have life with Him, and still enjoy the good things in the world around us--our temporal life:
- Don't make this thing you want an idol. You may love him or her, you may want that job, that car, that vacation, but you have to allow your desire to be subject to your desire for God and His will ("Delight yourself in the LORD, and HE will give you the desires of your heart"--Ps. 37:4). It's not the easiest thing, but you can do it, and the way is to maintain communication with Him. Of course, there's the added benefit: Putting Him first (delighting in Him) gets you more of what you want than making the "thing" your goal. How to do this? On your side, it's two things: Let Him be first, and listen to Him. That's not always easy, especially if there is something you really want, or you feel overwhelming guilt over some issue in your life. However, you can do it, if you practice. Here's the thing. The spiritual life IS mostly practice. It involves paying attention to the truly important, and minimizing your attention on the less important. What's important? First, the things that are forever. That's MOST important. Then, things that last a lifetime. That's second. Finally, the stuff that changes.
- Most of us invert the order above--we pay attention to the stuff that matters least, and focus on those things, rather than paying attention to the most important things and focusing on them. The only thing it takes to change this is refocusing once you find that your focus has changed, and the MOST important takes a back seat. I have a couple tools to help you with that:
- First off, read your Bible. You will get God's perspective on life, the world, yourself, your spouse, girlfriend, children, money, your job, everything. Note that I did NOT say "go to church." You should, but the most important thing in your life is to allow God to speak to you personally. He does that through both His Word (the Bible) and His Spirit, but when you read you can consciously eliminate your focus on all else and pay attention to Him alone. He speaks to us through His Spirit, but there are lots of deceiving influences around, and the Bible puts our minds right--it "fixes us," so to speak. Of course, you have to be listening to get anything out of it, so listen.
- Next, listen for the promptings of His Spirit. I can't tell you exactly how this works, and after over a half century as a Christian, I can tell you that I don't do it as well as I should, but listening to Him and doing what He says will benefit you more in the long run than anything else you do. Of course, you shouldn't exclude the Bible from your listening times, because sometimes God seems to speak directly to us through His Word. Other times, we are gathering information and help for the future.
- Most times, prayer helps as much as anything. Many times I awaken at night, exercised about something(s), and I pray until I fall back asleep. God has sustained me and answered me many times this way. You ought always to be close enough to God to pray about anything He lays on your heart (speaks to you about), and respond to Him when He speaks further
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
I don't often refer to myself, or discuss my situation, but I would like to ask you all (all my readers) for prayer. Yesterday evening, I was walking through the littlr town of Estes Park, and I happened upon a shop where the person at the counter had her Bible open away from the register. It was an old Amplified Bible, re-covered, she said, multiple times. She said a friend had loaned it to her, and she was reading it in preference to the others she had. Anyway, she and I chatted a few moments, and I went away, happy to meet another believer who loved God and His word. Last night, I had a dream. I don't often have prophetic dreams, but this was , I think, God speaking to me through my dream. I saw myself in that dream, having the same conversation that I just described, but then I gave her a card inscribed with this blog's address, my YouTube channel, and the link for my Kindle books.
Then it was like I realized, "I should be doing this."
The dream, of course, was correct. I should be ministering every chance I get, and because I've now written and posted quite a bit, there is lots of material to work with.
So I have a request. Actually, a couple of them.
1. Pray for me, and this ministry. I'm quite serious about it, and the hiatuses in posting videos or writings have to do with my sense of what God wants me to say, rather than any laziness. I find that I have to think about what I'm going to say or write before it "crystallizes," and when there are days between posts, it's usually because my thinking on a paticular topic isn't complete.
2. When you see that I've posted a video, or writing, pray for that specific post, and for the one to follow. I believe that every ministry is a team effort, and that those who pray are at least as important as those who write and speak. I want to minister to the people who see my posts as well as I can, and that requires a three way teamwork. You, me, and the Holy Spirit as the real Worker in everything. Without Him, we can do nothing (which, of course, means "not ONE thing."
3. My goal is to have one million YouTube subscribers, and to have a ministry that reaches wherever you are. One of the problems with this is that YouTube apparently doesn't "see" when you watch a video onthe blog. So I appeal to you to watch my videos on YouTube, to comment, like and subscribe. This should help. A lot.
Above all, pray for me. I do this so that you, and everyone who has a computer, a phone, or a tablet, may come to know the living and true God, and to follow Him. It's a journey that begins here, and ends in heaven, with all of us living forever. It's my heart's desire that we go on this journey together---that you, and everyone you know, obtains life eternal in following Jesus Christ.
--Your friend, Steve Bradley.
Sunday, July 1, 2018
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Monday, March 12, 2018
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Here's a thought: Look at Acts 2:22-23:
22 "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know--
23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death."
This was the worst crime throughout time and space, for Jesus was the Holy Son of God, God and man united in one Person forever.
Not only so, but Jesus was a good and godly man:
Acts 10:38: "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (these were the opening words of Peter's message to Cornelius the Centurion and his friends)...
He did no harm to anyone; instead, He healed and preached and did many other good works, which John tells us "that if all the things Jesus did were put into books, the world could not hold them." (John 21:25)
Just think about that for a minute. Infinite power, combined with infinite knowledge, combined with constant Presence, combined with infinite rage. Suppose on the other hand that YOU had done this thing. What could you expect from the King of the Universe? Now suppose further that the Person to whom you had done this didn't stay dead--not like a Zombie, but He rose from the dead because "He could not be held by it." So here you have the Father and the Son. The Son still has His scars. He's literally been to Hell and back. Who will pay? Is there sufficient punishment in all eternity for you, if you did this?
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
5:5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.
5:14-16: For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that (the) ONE died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.