Go
In last Sunday's sermon I made a point that part of our vision of The Resolved Church is to be a city within a city, meaning the mission to create a spiritual city where who Jesus is and our pursuit of him together as a church is what determines how we live in the physical city of San Diego. I said one example of how that plays itself out is in our jobs. One of the most frequent things I am asked as a Pastor is how you know where to live and what job to work at. This journal entry is devoted to that subject.



Last week we were not able to get a journal entry out due to me getting back in town too late in the week. However, I did write an entry called "The Practicals of Suffering and Ease" and I encourage you to read it HERE

Now for this week's entry...How do you decide where to live? Most people decide where to live often based upon either a job opportunity or a desirous geographical locale based on the city, family, etc. The Bible has a much different idea of how you decide such a thing, it is based upon the will of the LORD and where he has called you to live.

James 4:13-15 13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that."

So in light of this passage, we ought to first seek the Lord about his will for where he wants us to live and trust that he will provide the right job, friends, and finances for where he calls us to live.

Once you know where you are supposed to live how do you get the job God wants you to have? Most people do the natural thing and try and put on their best face, so they look really good to the potential employer. That's not a bad thing, except when it is at God's expense and not for his glory. Often times this comes out when one shares their work schedule availability. You want to look as available as possible so they'll hire you, so you can say you'll work anytime. God has something to say about that. Here is the fourth commandment of the 10 Commandments:

Exodus 20:8-11 8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

Instead of slighting God to get ahead with your employer you ought to entrust your job to God and trust that if you honor him he will honor you with the right job and you do not have to scheme to get it or win favor. Now the principle is rest, not the specific day or time or not exerting any energy as Jesus tells us in Mark 2:23-28. But if your day of rest ends up being at the expense of missing church that's not good either because Hebrew 10:25 commands the individuals of the church to "not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some."

Here is the simple answer and I say it lovingly, if you miss church in order to work your job, you are biblically sinning and you need to repent and stop doing that. Repent by changing your work availability and if your boss isn't okay with it then that's a clear sign God does not want you to work there.

Lastly, how do you work? I think every single job has its challenges and difficulties which have a unique ability of bringing out the sin in us. But as Christians how we work, how hard we work, and the attitude we work with matters a lot...because we are always exemplifying Jesus. So Scripture says we must strive to work in such a way that we make Jesus look good in everything we do.

Colossians 3:22-24 "22 Obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."


Well, that's it. Hopefully I've helped give you a better idea of how we can reach our goal of being a city within a city by where, when, and how we work. If you are one who has approached where you live as a matter of what you want, if you've thought you can work whenever you want, and if you've thought it doesn't matter how you work...then allow the words of the Bible to lovingly challenge and correct your thinking and your life. Don't be upset and harden your heart against the Bible for calling you out, just make some changes and experience the blessing of the Lord. Soli Deo Gloria.

- Pastor Duane
Hello Everyone. First of all a big thanks to Michael Trujillo for writing the church journal entry for last week. This last year, it has truly been a joy to watch Michael be changed by the gospel and lead us in the worship of our great savior, Jesus Christ. Michael we all love you and appreciate you so much.



So I was on vacation in Hawaii the last week and a half. For the first five days of our vacation I ended up being sicker than I have ever been in a long time. I had nearly every possible bodily symptom you can have: sore throat, congestion, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody noses, fever, chills, and massive muscle and joint aches. Sorry to gross any of you out. Let's just say it was bad, real bad. There was one night I really thought it might be the end. I ended up in the doctors office and they said I either had a really bad virus or there was something really wrong with me and if I didn't get better in 5 days to go to the hospital.

I started feeling better on Saturday, just in time to perform Billy and Mia's wedding ceremony on the North Shore of Oahu. It was an amazing time and setting. You'll have to congratulate Mr. & Mrs. Restis when they get back and ask to see pictures.

We were supposed to leave and come back on Monday, but wouldn't you know it we had Aloha Airlines tickets and they decided to go bankrupt and by the time we found out about it the next flight out was Thursday. So it ended up costing us more money then we expected but we actually got to have a pretty awesome vacation. I wasn't sick anymore and I got to surf perfect head high plus waves in boardshorts on the north shore of Hawaii. Pretty amazing.

Now for some spiritual lessons...when I was sick, all crawled up into a ball in bed, I found myself praying a lot. There is nothing like being physically destroyed to bring you to your knees. As I was flying home on the plane I started reflecting on some of the good times of the few days after I finally got better and was actually able to go outside and enjoy paradise. Here is what I noticed about my demeanor and spiritual state...

When I was sick there was an acute sense of God's presence and my dependence on him and my need for him. Truly God's Holy Spirit is rightly called "the Comforter" for he is the one who "...comforts us in all afliction (2 Cor 1:4)." When I was better and though I was surfing in the most beautiful blue water I've ever seen, set against a backdrop of lush green hills and flowers of every kind...somehow that sweet presence of God was further away and almost easy to ignore.

That experience made me think of this principle: the practical pursuit of the presence of Christ in our daily lives takes much more intentional effort when there is ease than when there is suffering. When we are broken down, God's power is truly made evident in our weakness. When we are at ease pride and self-reliance arises. The lesson is this, whether we are well or whether we are afflicted, Christ is our all and when we are at ease we must strive and beg and plead with him to help us see our need and then enable us to richly receive and enjoy his abundant supply.

Much love to you all,
- Pastor Duane
Since Pastor Duane Smets will be out of town this weekend, the journal entry has been handed down to me for this week. The topic? "What I have learned since becoming a worship leader" written by Michael Trujillo.



So here is a my brief history and what I've learned. I've been throw into the position of "worship band member" for different churches probably ever since I was 16 or 17. I've never really enjoyed it up until the last 3 or 4 years. It's a scary position. Especially for somebody like me that doesn't do very well speaking in front of more than 5 people. But one thing I've learned is that God will always find a way for His plan to work. Even if that meant me being a part of it (which until recently I have never really been fond of). I wasn't thrown into the position as worship leader at the Resolved (which is nice for a change). I served under the leadership of Justin Bragg until he moved away to pursue his wife. The spot was left empty and I although I had never even sang a verse out loud I felt strongly that I was being called to step up and lead worship.

There are people like Duane that feel a calling on their lives to preach the word of God to a bunch of people every week on Sunday mornings. I've never felt this calling. I was more the person that slipped out of church without talking to people and preferred to keep to myself. While attending the Resolved I feel like God has done much to shape my heart. I went from volunteering to serve, to an eagerness to worship God anyway that I could. So I guess I prefer to sing the word of God (which is a form of preaching I guess)?

The first morning I volunteered to lead worship I'm pretty sure Duane was kind of unsure of what he'd gotten himself into. I'm sure of this because I was thinking the same thing while standing up there. I wasn't sure if words were going to come out of my mouth or a nervous shower of barf onto the front row (sorry, but it's true). Things have gotten easier since then and my confidence has grown. But there are always challenges that will come along when you are in a position like this. These challenges come in the form of people you work with, idolatry in your heart, and daily struggles that you must overcome. The first thing I try to admit to is that I'm not perfect. And the more I learn about God and how perfect He is, the more I've realized I cannot trust myself without Him. There are conflicts that I have faced, and no doubt will have to face in the future that I've handled horribly. And I'm sure a few of you can bring to light some mistakes that I've made but have forgotten. I thank God every day for the family that He has built in the church and for bringing us farther along than I sometimes believed we would be. This shows my weakness in faith and that I have much to grow.

With the growth of our church and the coming and going of different members I've met new people that have helped my personal worship of God. It's not really anything they've said or done to me but just knowing them has made me realize the selfishness of my heart. When we worship on Sunday morning it is as a family. And almost like any family gathering or dinner there is going to be a clash on styles or lifestyles but its brought together beautifully because for one purpose. And that is the gathering of God's people to worship Him.

My first aim in worship music is to see that God is glorified. Whether that means we simplify a part of a song, or boost it up louder than it should be. I will not hold back my worship. I will drone on a single verse or even word for as long as I feel God is being glorified through it and people are worshiping Him through it. Styles will come and go and so will preferences on how people worship God. But I've learned that the sound of God's people singing out praises is more beautiful than any chord or beat that the worship band could play by itself. I can play only hymns or only contemporary worship music but not everyone is going to be satisfied. My goal now is to marry a sound that reflects the worship of the Resolved church as a community. NOT Michael Trujillo's worship. NOT Pastor Duane's worship.

God Bless,
Michael Trujillo
The Resolved Church is a church plant, but what does that really mean? We're not talking about a type of plant, like bonsai, geranium, or a fern. The church isn't really anything that can wholly be compared to anything else, the closest thing is probably the human body (Eph 4). So what is the metaphor of a plant getting at and what does it mean?



Agricultural analogies are big in the Bible. Plants are apparently pretty important to God. God planted a garden called Eden (Gen 2:8). A plant is the result of a seed (Gen 1:11). People's spiritual lives are like plants (Ps 1:3). God can pluck out a plant because of sin (Jer 45:5). Churches that get started are called plants (1 Cor 3:6). God makes church plants grow through people (1 Cor 3:7-9).

I have been known to speak incorrectly about us being a "church plant." Sometimes in the past I've used it as an excuse for our lack of numbers, professionalism, or aesthetics. My apologies. The Biblical usage has these six qualities as outlined above:

"Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted (Mt 15:13."
1. It is something God does. This happens through God putting a "calling" upon particular man to start a church (Rom 1:1).

"[The Mustard Seed] is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."
2. That plant begins small, with seeds. This happens through a small band of people that end up together, having community in a local church within the same "tree."

"[Blessed is the man who] delight(s) in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season (Ps 1:2-3)"
3. The plant grows through people's individual lives growing spiritually by God's Word. This happens through the Bible. The Bible is the water that enables the church plant to grow and yield fruit individually and corporately.

"Because you sinned against the LORD and did not obey the voice of the LORD or walk in his law and in his statues...Thus says the LORD, Behold, what I have built I am breaking down and what I have planted I am plucking up (Jer 44:23; 45:4)."
4. The plant will be plucked or uprooted by God if it is in sin. This means if there are individual(s) regularly stuck in repeatedly committing a known sin and it is not dealt with by the church leaders, God will end the church plant (also see 1 Cor 5:12-13).

Referring to the church of Corinth, the apostle Paul says, "....as the Lord assigned to each, I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth (1 Cor 3:5-6)."
5. New local churches which begin are the result of being intentionally "planted." This happens when there is desire, initiative, and a plan for a new church to exist in a given city so sinners might join in the mission of bringing God glory.

"The whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love...He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building (Eph 4:16; 1 Cor 3:8-9)."
6. A church plant matures when different people begin to function in different roles working together. This happens when people have a servant's heart that is not jealous of other roles or duties, they serve like they are serving Jesus in everything both in quality and in follow through, and they figure out a system and understanding of how they interact and operate.

So from now on when I say "church plant" this is what I mean: God has called us to form a continually growing community which grows through the instruction of the Bible, is maintained through the accountability provided for by leadership, is on a mission to gather people from the city and bring them to Jesus and works through different people having different roles that function together.

On Sunday night we had a "Church Plant Meeting" for members, those interested in being members and being part of the core group of our church plant. It was a great time of eating, drinking, everyone sharing and praying together. There were several things that stood out like community, small groups, the music, changed lives and the sermons. It was repeatedly said that there is such community among us right now that it seems like God is really doing something in our church. It is really exciting. There truly is a strong sense that we are in this together and Jesus is leading us. I encourage you to download and read the meeting notes: HERE

- Pastor Duane
I don't know about you but I get angry, stressed out and frustrated at times. Often people asked me about how to deal with anger. The fruit of my wrestlings with anger has been extended periods of freedom and release from it's anxiety and the intensity of it's fits. I think everyone gets angry. There is good anger, there is bad anger, and there is the dealing with anger. For some anger expresses itself outwardly in some sort of aggression. For others anger expresses itself inwardly in some sort of withdrawal. Both are effects of anger. Here are my private journal entries that resulted from bouts with this particular affection. May it be a help and an example to you.



I RESOLVE NOT TO SIN OUT OF ANGER OR ANXIETY.

Ephesians 4:26-27 "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil."

When I become angry (heightened emotions of unhappiness) or anxious (frustrated or worried) my heart is left ugly, regretful, and sad because I most often sin by thinking bad thoughts against particular people or situations which sometimes leads to verbal aggression. This sin is a lack of trust in the sovereignty of God that he is working this for my good, the particular person(s) good, and the situational good. This is a lack of faith in Jesus Christ who bore my anxiety for me at the Mount of Olives so that I might be joyful through His propitiation. This is a lack of love for my wife who needs me to be strong example of Christ's love for His church. This is a lack of devotion to my calling which requires me to be a good husband and to be self-controlled and not violent but gentle as an elder of God.

When I become angry I will take these steps:

1. I will think of past situations when I have handled my anger wrong and bad state it left me in.
2. I will think of my family heritage and determine not to leave an angry/anxious legacy.
3. I will think upon the doctrine of God's sovereignty, knowing that joy is impossible unless I bow my knee in humble submission.
4. I will look at the person and/or situation that has failed my expectation as an opportunity for the grace of God to be shown rather than an opportunity for the devil to wreck havoc.
5. I will think of Christ sweating drops of blood in Gethsemane so that I might not sin nor be anxious in my anger. When I sin in anger I figuratively nail him to the cross all over again.
6. I will think of how much I love and cherish my wife and never want her to hurt by sinning in anger.
7. I will think of my calling from God to be a minister and how happy it makes me and determine not to put it in danger.
8. I will think of the Holy Spirit's fruit of patience and determine to bear that fruit knowing that the person/situation will most likely not be fixed in the moment.
9. I will determine to have a positive attitude when I am angry knowing that the negative person/situation is happening for a greater good.


NOTES ON ANGER FROM "WHAT JESUS DEMANDS FROM THE WORLD" by JOHN PIPER

No one decides to get angry. It is an unpremeditated experience. Anger happens and needs deep inward transformation of mind and heart. Five factors govern Jesus' anger: love, proportion, providence, mercy and servanthood:

1. LOVE - Anger may not delight in or desire the damnation of those who make us angry. Thus, vindictiveness, vengeance and hostility are bad. Jesus anger is governed by love.
2. PROPORTION - Anger should be in proportion to the offense. Most often our experienced anger is more intense than the offense calls for.
3. PROVIDENCE - The rise and strength of our anger should be goverened by our trust in God's providence…that he is ruling over the evil that makes us angry and will not let anything befall us which is not ultimately for our good (Romans 8:28).
4. MERCY - Living with an awareness that we are forgiven felons will break the power of unrighteous anger in our lives. Jesus says to forgive seventy times seven when someone hurts us (Matthew 18:21-35). Have mercy rather than prideful judgmentalism.
5. SERVANTHOOD - Central to being a disciple of Jesus is being willing to embrace self-denial and cross-bearing (Luke 9:23). Martin Luther called being a Christian "the joyful spirit of slavery." The Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all and subject to every one. The spirit of submission transforms the experience of anger. The emotional experience of being required to do things we didn't plan to do is not the same as it would be if we were lords of all. Jesus forbids anger that seeks expression in murder or pejorative name-calling.

Much love to you all. May you experience the freedom and grace of the gospel as it changes our angry hearts.
- Pastor Duane
Last Sunday at church we had a special service called "A Day of Worship in Song and in Story." We sang more than usual and had four different people share their stories. Stories of spiritual journey and becoming a Christian, stories of the gospel becoming real and taking root in their lives, stories of coming to love Jesus' church...it was a special time. Everyone has got a story and those stories are important. Here's why...



1. Story is the substance being human.

Stories are the reason for every book, comic, TV show, movie and song. Everything is about stories. Story is the description of who you are and where you have come from. It's lessons learned, characteristics defined, events portrayed, and how a person is formed. Everyone has a story. A history or a chain of circumstances and experiences that have brought them to where they are today. When you reflect back on your life certain memories come to mind that have been key in making you who you are today. Story is where you have come from, where you are and where you are going.

2. The Bible is a book of stories.

Several books of the Bible are almost purely story...Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Sammuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts...we call them the genre of "narrative." Tons and tons of stories. The Bible is a book of stories, not in the sense that they are fiction. Sometimes story can mean that, like a story is just something you tell but didn't really happen. But the Bible is a book of stories, a collection of people's lives whom God really and truly worked in. Stories are so significant. You think of the story of Abraham, or Moses, or Ruth, or David, or Peter or Paul...such signficant stories. Stories help us so much to be able to think of our own story and where we are at and how we need God to work in our lives.

3. Every story is meaningful because of the big story.

Some people want to say there is no big story, there is no objective absolute truth, there is no metanarrative. It's funny how they say that like they think it's true (objectively/absolutely). But the only reason why any story has any significance at all is if people are more than just biological and historical processes. Meaning only exists if there is a God who exists outside of and over and above it all to say that the things we feel and the things we experience matter in some way. All the stories in the Bible are meant to point us to the one big story, the story of God. It's a story of how human beings are a mess but God sent his Son in the world to save the mess. You see, you can have a story and you can share that story but that story will massively lack meaning and depth because your story is meant to point to a bigger story, the story of Jesus. And until you connect your story to that story it is just a meaningless record of pain and frustration that cannot help you or anyone else.

4. Stories are meant to be told.

Stories are stories for a reason. The first step is to think about your story, sometimes that is a thing which really helps you grow and helps to form you as a person. Then you ought to share your story, because the reason you have a story is so it can be told. You can never really know a person until you hear their story and once you hear that story there is a joining together that happens and if you've connected your story to the big story that joining is a joining in worship and thanks and love toward God. The Resolved Church in one sense ought to be a group of people who are always sharing our stories in our city all the time. There are always new chapters being added and in each chapter we tell the great story of who Jesus is, what he has done, what he is doing in our lives, and what he has yet to do in soon coming days.

I'm sure much of our time in heaven will involve the sharing of stories. So start working on your story. Start listening to other's stories. And as you make much of Jesus in your story God will use that to speak to you and anyone who hears it.
- Pastor Duane
Community. The ancient Christians identified themselves as a community with the symbol we use for our logo at The Resolved Church, what looks like the letter "P" on top of the letter "X." They are the first two letters of "Christ" in Greek. Today there are all kinds of different communities...geographical communities, ethnic communities, sports communities, virtual communities and on and on. But what is community? Why do we need it or want it? Everyone is looking for it even in the most individualistic pursuits. A common unity. The sense of belonging. For many Christians community is a culturally combative thing or it's a pretty non-existent thing.




A Definition of Community

First "community" in the Bible comes from the Greek word, koinonia, which most often gets translated as "fellowship" and means to have communion or partnership or association with a group of people. Sociologically, individuals are said to have an identity that forms in the context of a group(s). So who you are and who you become has a lot to do with who you spend time with. Psychologically, people are said to gain a "sense of community" based on membership, influence, integration and fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connection. So the feeling of connection is something that depends on the level of a person's involvement. Theologically, when a person becomes a Christian it is not just a individual joining to Jesus but a joining to Jesus' church, universally throughout time and locally in a visible community.

An Approach to Community

One, we recognize that you can't really have real community through just seeing people at church on Sunday. It's just a reality that you will not really get to know anyone that well if you just see them briefly at an event once a week. So, though Sunday morning service is a sort of aspect of our community, it's just that, it's an aspect and alone it is not enough. A person will either always feel disconnected and/or end up creating a sort of dualistic, compartmentalized life, with Sunday church in a nice neat little box but not sharing life with any of those people at all. "Life." You know eating, drinking, playing...spending time together.

Two, we recognize that you can go overboard with church people. Some churches have something going on almost every night of the week and you can become so involved that you barely have any time for your family, much less for getting to know and spending time with people who are not Christians. For those Christians, culture is always seen as "bad" and Christians are supposedly "good" and so churches try to compete with the "bad" activities in culture by always having an "Christian" alternative. In our understanding, everyone is bad, which is why we need Jesus, why we need each other to help us become like Jesus, and why we need to be active in non-Christian communities so that other people would also put their faith in Jesus. Thus, our goal and expectation for those who are part of the community of The Resolved Church is to regularly worship together on Sundays and then get together in a smaller group once during the week.

Three, we recognize that people are different and unique and so we currently allow for many different types of communities. Our only restrictions are that the groups are gospel centered (1 Cor 2:2) and that the leaders of these groups are under the covering and accountability of The Resolved Church leadership because that is the way Jesus designed his church (Eph 4:11-12). Community groups where people are just getting drunk forsake the gospel and groups where the leadership is not under the covering of a local church forsake the called teachers of the gospel.


The Mission of Community

Lastly, the strength of a church is it's community. It is so very easy for church to slip into simply being a Sunday service. When that happens "church" ceases to be the church and starts to be more like a cardboard facade of church. The church is a body of believers called by God out of darkness and into the light of Christ and from that point on is always calling others into the light of Christ. The mission of community is Jesus.

A church with true community is like the big cement pillars that support freeway overpasses and it is like the roads that go out into the city. The pillars make a church strong by supporting people inside the church and the roads make ways for people to get connected into our worshipping community, non-Christians and Christians alike. That is why some churches call all their mid-week groups "gospel" or "missional" communities because there is an inherent mission in community. As Ephesians 4:16 says, "the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."

My heart and mission as Pastor is that as we continue to grow and build upward into Jesus that our mid-week community groups would grow outward numerically. We have people who are a part of community groups we attempt to funnel into regular Sunday worship and we have people who are regular on Sunday we attempt to funnel into community groups. Both are needed and both are extremely important.

May Jesus continue "build his church" as the "gates of hell" continue to fail at trying to take it down (Mt 16:18).

- Pastor Duane
If you are a guy, then you like shoot 'em up, blow 'em up, car chase, hand to hand combat, action packed movies. At least if you are a guy like me you do. Action movies are almost therapeutic at times. I suppose that has something to do with us all having ADD and maybe it has a little bit to do with our lust for vengeance, the desire to get back at the world for all the wrong it has handed us.



I work at a group home on Thursdays and Fridays. There is rarely a week that goes by where one kid doesn't get in a fight with another one. Always. Always. Some dude said something or did something which makes the guy on the receiving end, feel justified or right in retaliating. It's easy to look in on that from the outside and see it and see its futility. But what about the other ways we do this.

For example, say I get a phone call, text or an email with some disappointing or frustrating or even anger invoking news. You have to go into work when you didn't expect to...you didn't get the raise you wanted...someone you love is mad at you...the thing you were counting on and looking forward to fell through...whatever the news is. Do I immediately fire off a response to try solve the situation in some way, to let the other person know my opinion. Or maybe instead, I recluse and draw back and decide to ignore the news in hopes that it will just eventually go away and I'll feel better later.

Both are reactions of the heart and both are vengeance. What makes one vengeance is the same thing that makes the other, a response that dislikes whatever the news is and determines to get back at it. One may cause more outwardly visible damage than the other but both cause their damage in the soul. It is the dislike, or probably better, despise of anything negative, challenging, hard or bad that ruins us and revenge fills our heart.

The gospel saves us from our vengeful selves. First, justice is God's. Romans 12:10 "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'" Then on top of it, the Bible's view is that it isn't even enough just to not try to be God or blame God but that the sense of vengeance which arises out of us is sin in itself. Last Sunday's study was in Romans 8:28 where we learn to recognize ALL THINGS which occur as being for our good from God, if we are lovers of him.

The crazy thing is we crave revenge even though we deserve to be on the receiving end of much revenge. The gospel saves us from our vengefulness and from the revenge we deserve in this way...God deals out just, wrathful, vengeance upon his innocent son Jesus because Jesus offered himself in our place. Jesus, one without ever wanting revenge suffering the revenge we should receive. For the Christian then, in so far as we believe in and trust Jesus, our venge is replaced by love and thanks so that when the unexpected news comes we find ourselves naturally reacting differently. We can because we know we no longer have a God awaiting his repayment toward us for our sin, instead we have a God who is for us and working things for our good.

Does that mean there is never a time to fight? Not necessarily. Men should protect their families, not their pride, honor or possessions...but those God has entrusted to them. But the point is this. Vengeance is God's and whether you are a guy or a girl...sin will always try to get you in a response of venge, whether it is outward or inward. When you sense that, look to the cross, give away your venge once more and trust God in his goodness toward you, even in the small things which can really upset you. He is for your good, so love him and his Son.

- Pastor Duane

To listen to my most recent sermon CLICK HERE

In 2003 a movie came out starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson called "Lost in Translation." Now I don't know if Bill or Scarlett read the Bible or not. The movie was about the human sense of alienation, loneliness, and confusion we experience sometimes. Perhaps you have felt this way when it comes to Bible translations and wondered why there are so many different Bibles?

First off, there are translations because the Bible was originally written in Greek and Hebrew and thus must be translated into English. Second, not all words in Greek and Hebrew have a directly corresponding equivalent English word. That is where the rub is and where you translate one way or another based on how you view translations should be done. And because of that, there are over a hundred Bible translations. You can check out what most of them are here.

The most popular and famous translations are The King James Version (KJV), The New King James Version (NKJV), The New International Version (NIV), The New American Standard Bible (NASB), The New Living Translation (NLT), The Message (TM), and the English Standard Version (ESV). There are four reasons why I personally use and why the church I pastor uses the ESV.

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1. Manuscripts

The ESV considers all the manuscripts available and gives more weight to the earlier ones. There are over 25,000 manuscripts of the Bible. We do not have the original documents, called autographs, what we have are meticulously made copies. Out of those copies the ESV most often translates from the earlier manuscripts because they are more likely to represent the original autographs. We can tell what ones are earlier by what kind of paper they were written on and whether they were written in uncials or minuscules, which are kind of like letters and capital letters.

There is a fair amount of variation between the manuscripts of the Bible, just like there are variations in books today based on printed edition. With the Bible it is the same, though most the variations are misspellings or number differences, etc. only about 1.5% of the variations actually have any doctrinal impact (saying something about God, Jesus or salvation). The point is we should try and be as accurate as possible by translating from the manuscripts closest to the original documents the apostles and prophets wrote. And the ESV does this! The KJV and the NKJV do not. They only consider manuscripts discovered prior to 1516, collectively called the "Textus Receptus" and give more weight (authority/authenticity) to the number of manuscripts instead of how early they date.

If you are weird and you want to learn what "sinaiticus" and "bezae" mean and you find out that what I am saying is true about manuscripts, the best book on the planet addressing it is "The Text of the New Testament" by Bruce M. Metzger.

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2. Literalness

The goal of the ESV is to provide the best corresponding English word in its translation of each Greek or Hebrew word. It takes a literal or verbatim approach. Other approaches are much different. The New Living Bible and The Message take an approach where they attempt to translate the Greek or Hebrew ideas rather than the words themselves. The NIV attempts to try and do a little of both, which is called a "dynamic equivalence" translation.

The problem is none of these approaches are really translations, they are interpretations. If your goal is to translate "ideas" then you are really making a lot of interpretive decisions rather than translating the word for word as much as possible and letting the reader decipher the meaning. The Message and the Living Bilbe are really more like commentaries and the NIV is the worst of all because it claims to be a "translation" but translates according to a particular type of theology and sometimes even leaves whole Greek phrases out (see Rom.4:1), which make a big difference in how you interpret the passage.

I had used a NIV translation for several years and had become very attached to it. All my markings and time spent with it made it hard to give up...it was my personal Bible. But when I discovered it made so many interpretive decisions for me and sometimes chose to not even deal with whole Greek phrases, in 2001 I realized I could no longer use it as my Bible and I switched to the ESV. If any of you are using an NIV I plead with you to get another Bible to read. If you want to use the NIV as a commentary that is fine, but it is not a reliable "translation."

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3. Readability

Those who are critical of "literal" approaches to translation claim that if you just translate word for word then the Bible ends up being very choppy and difficult to read. To a certain extent they are correct. The NASB is probably the most literal translation that exists but sometimes it is hard to make sense of things because it is not very smooth in it's readability. Sometimes it follows the Greek word order so close that it the English sentences turn out being grammatically incorrect and thus hard to read.

The ESV does a remarkable job at keeping the flow and smoothness of reading while still translating word for word into our current English language. It is translated by a team of over 100 scholars, many of whom I greatly respect. For a full list of translators, check them out here: www.esv.org/translation/team The amazing thing about the ESV is that it is sufficient both for substantial theological study and for personal devotional reading. It doesn't have "thee's" and "thou's" like the KJV and it is not chunky and hard to follow like the NASB.

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Conclusion

If you find yourself lost in translations, my recommendation is the ESV. I think it is the best English Bible out there and I wish everyone would use it so we didn't all have different translations when we study together on Sunday. But if you don't have enough money to buy one for yourself yet, there are always ESV Bibles for you to use at the back table. If you want to read a longer, even more in-depth article explaining translations and why you should use the ESV, go here: www.evangelicalbible.com/why.htm

If this journal entry has sparked your interest in how different people view the Bible in terms of it being a book and whether or not it is true or inspired by God, here is an article I wrote about that which I encourage you to read: www.theresolved.com/downloads/TheBible.pdf

- Pastor Duane