Dry Devotions and Other Miscellaneous Thoughts

October 3, 2008 at 4:36 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, English Bible Translations, Worship | 1 Comment

“He changes a wilderness into a pool of water and a dry land into springs of water.”  Psalm 107.  I have to ponder this idea every once in a while because life can be dry.  There have been very few “devotional thoughts” published on this blog in the past three weeks; I just haven’t had many thoughts worth publishing.  As a teaching pastor, I have to have a message for the congregation every Sunday, and for many that is their major input from God for the entire week.  (That is a humbling and sobering thought – maybe a matter to discuss another time.)  Fortunately, God has been gracious allowing me to be faithful to that task for many years, though I’m sure many of those massages have been very dry as well.  But for my own personal devotions, there have been many dry periods over those same years in ministry.  During the dry times devotionally, I am reminded that if God can raise the dead, and if he can make a dry land into a spring of water, then he can revitalize a dry devotional life also.  This period has been short lived, and there have been great times of fellowship through it.  My Sunday morning class on the Reformation and my sermon study in Colossians have been good, so it doesn’t feel like I’m overly thirsty.  When things are dry in your spiritual life, what do you do?  Comments on this one are welcome!

One more thought on dry times:  Not every meal you eat is a memorable meal, but you continue to eat regularly because you need it.  You won’t remember every time you open the Bible, but you should do it anyway because you need it!  The cumulative effect of consistent forgettable times in the Word has a far greater impact than a few memorable ones.  Without forgettable meals, you will die.

A related miscellaneous thought:  I thought sharing a little more on my own devotional plan might be instructive to some people.  I read through the entire Bible in a year, about every other year.  I often read a translation that I’m not very familiar with, because the unfamiliarity makes me pay more attention to what I’m reading, and because I’m just interested in what’s out there.  (I have a fascination with English translations of the New Testament and have over 50 translations and partial translations in my collection!)  This year I am reading through the TNIV for that very reason (more on that later as well).   I divided all the pages in this Bible, minus Psalms, by 50, and aim to read that many pages each week (in this case 21-1/3 pages).  I also divided the pages in Psalms by 50 and am reading that many pages in Psalms as well (1-2/3).  I separated the Psalms out because I love to spend time in them, but I don’t enjoy just reading quickly through them, they deserve more devotional thought than a quick read.  Some years I do the same with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), breaking them up to read one each quarter.  This year I am reading straight through the Gospels, and that may be part of the reason for the dry period I’m currently in.  I am reading Luke this week and next.  It can seem monotonous after reading Matthew and Mark just prior to it.

During years I don’t read through the entire Bible, I read the New Testament at least twice, and spend more time in the Psalms.  Those years require less reading and allow more ponder/study time.

POSTSCRIPT Now a word on the TNIV:  This translation was blasted by some conservatives when it first came out, because of some changes from the NIV, which the translators made.  I had heard some from both sides and found myself philosophically more in agreement with the pro-TNIV argument; I also found some charges by the anti-TNIV group to be unfounded.  For example, it was said by some that the translation waters down the masculinity of Jesus.  Jesus is always called “he” and “man” except for the passage in First Timothy where he is called “human,” and Jesus being man as human, not man as male, is clearly the intent of that passage.  Mostly I think they did a fair job with the changes.  What I haven’t liked about the TNIV is the tiresome use of “them” and “they” for singular pronouns.  I know this is the common usage today, but it still drives me nuts.  This verse in Mark was enough to convince me not to use the TNIV after this year’s reading:  “Whoever (singular) wants to be my disciple (singular) must deny themselves (plural) and take up their (plural) cross (singular) and follow me.  For whoever (singular) wants to save their (plural) life (singular) will lose it, but whoever (singular) loses their (plural) life (singular) for me and for the gospel will save it.  Wow!  That seems like a lot of unnecessary verbal gymnastics to avoid using “he” and “his” as generic pronouns.

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