- 2017Sep 01
September is a new hope, a fresh beginning. Gentle rain moves in early, cleansing the air of lingering summer as life settles back to a familiar rhythm. In the soft breeze before dawn dwells a whisper of promise; the sun touches the horizon of Rome's seventh month. I remember being a child in early September, a blue zip-up sweatshirt, a yellow pencil with a pink eraser and the brown wooden desk in a classroom that was much older than me, gazing out the grey window at the rain. -2015
As we meet once again I am reminded of this little poem. It returns my anxious thoughts to the Septembers of long ago, before I knew the burdens of adulthood. I still experience that whisper of promise each time you come to visit; you continue to bridge the fast-paced summer into the slower more measured Autumn, when all of nature begins to reflect, refresh and prepare to start over again. This time around you find us in the wake of an astonishing trial. Lives have been ravaged by Hurricane Harvey, and things will not be back to normal for weeks. months. years.
August, your annual predecessor, will not be dearly missed this time around.
You have returned to find many of us with no home and no assurance as to what comes next. The Gulf Coast is reeling, and will be wading through the aftermath for a long time to come.
But in the eye of this storm comes a reminder of who we really are. We continue to witness that there is still hope and kindness and compassion in the human heart. When July and August came to visit those things seemed all but lost, mere myths of the past in a new society driven by angry words and tense reactions. I hope that while you are here the trend towards that which is good continues to shape our thinking, and that we can restructure our focus before you leave us and once again go your way.
As for me personally, the winds of Harvey have left my house intact, but the summer winds of uncertainty swirl about my home. My family is stronger than ever, though we find the crossroads of work and life moving us to a changing path. Although that transition is not easy, we continue to take each step in faith, as God slowly and faithfully reminds us of His providence, and His details of where this family heads next are revealed. As you walked through my doorway you surely noticed this change is happening, and we will begin to see the good things God has in store as October enters to news of a more certain time. We have grown so much since we last saw you, and we continue to grow.
Storms come in many fashions, and as the storm of Harvey moves out with August and we shift our focus to rebuilding and rethinking, the storms of life will linger. But as we face down these storms, we hold tight to that which we know: God is faithful, kindness and compassion take us further than suspicion and debate, and although we have no control over these future storms, we are in full control of how we choose to weather them.
I still believe in the new hope, the fresh beginning and the whisper of promise you have brought with you time and time again, and am waiting to see how those play out this time around. We are ready to reflect, refresh and prepare to start over again.
Hello September. I'm glad you're here.
- 2017Aug 05
In 1999, the St. Louis Rams were a bottom rung team led by Dick Vermeil, a coach who had walked away from football in 1982, only to return in 1997 to go 5-11, then 4-12. In St. Louis, Trent Green was our last hope as a quarterback who had some potential, but when he went down with an injury in the pre-season, the regular season seemed to be lost before it started. Literally. No one expected that these afterthought Rams would soon shock the world and win it all by crafting a record-shattering offensive juggernaut, led by an undrafted and unknown backup quarterback named Kurt Warner.
Fast forward to the end of his career, he lands in a backup spot for another bottom rung team, the Arizona Cardinals, and eventually takes them all they way to the Super Bowl: it was again odds-defying. Watching Kurt Warner was like watching Rudy every Sunday - the guy everyone counted out just kept coming back better every time he stepped on the field.
But that is only part of why I love seeing Kurt Warner go into the Hall of Fame. I've considered him a Hall of Famer for a long time, not for his QB career, but as the coach of the Good Sports Gang.
The Good Sports Gang was a series of locally produced cartoons geared towards young kids. The first episode centered around Eliiot, a boy trying to figure out where he fits in. The gist of the story is that Elliot gets some help and encouragement from the Good Sports Gang, a group of balls from various sports led by their coach Kurt Warner. It was a short-lived but endearing thing, but it reveals the character of the Hall of Famer. When my son was hospitalized, it was the only thing that would keep him calm.
Later on, when Kurt was going through a rough patch of his career in St. Louis, my wife saw Kurt and his kids at a local IHOP (the Warners were regularly seen around town in those days) and quickly told him how much she appreciated his Good Sports videos. He smiled, and was clearly excited to talk about something other than football.
That's the thing - as a man of deep, abiding faith, Kurt has always worked to spin his success into greater endeavors. From #WarnersWarmup winter coat drives he still runs in St. Louis, to helping underprivileged kids, to his Good Sports Gang videos, his focus has always been to use his success as a platform to encourage others, and this is the quality that makes him a true Hall of Famer, and this is what I and most football fans appreciate most about him.
"God wants us to know that each and every one of us is special, and that is we follow His plan, we can change the world". Thanks for continuing to change the world, Kurt, and congratulations on your entry to the NFL Hall of Fame.
- 2017Jul 26
About a month ago I was sent a review copy of the new Christian Standard Bible. I have been getting acquainted with it and am excited to share my thoughts on it.
The CSB is descended from the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible), which was first published in 2004, and was in my opinion a solid translation with a few unique elements. In fact, when we were looking for a great Bible for my elementary aged son (who is now in Junior High-where did THAT time go?) we landed on the HCSB Big Picture Bible. One issue that the HCSB ran into was the unfair perception that because it was distributed by a Baptist company (Holman/Lifeway) that it was a 'Baptist Bible'. In truth, translators came from from many denominational backgrounds, all holding to a high view of Scripture as the Word of God.
But Why Another Translation?
The stated goal of the CSB is to create an 'optimal equivalence' translation that is literally accurate yet easily readable, but is there really a need for another translation? The last few decades there have been many updates and new translations of the Bible appearing on the bookshelves. So when I heard the HCSB was already changing things up after only a few years, I had to ask myself what prompted the name change and the update? I find the best place to look is with comparisons to the Bible it was updated from, the HCSB.
What has changed?
A few changes are noticeable between the original HCSB and the updated CSB:
- The H is Gone from the name. The average Bible reader is really not concerned about the fact that Holman publishes it, so there is really no need for 'Holman' in the title. I'm a man of habit however, and still call my new CSB, The Holman...
- The "bullet notes" of the HCSB are gone from the CSB, but the HCSB's dictionary, topical micro-concordance and bullet notes seem to have been condensed to one all-encompassing concordance, which is a nice move.
- The plan of salvation that was on the front page is no longer present.
- Christ/Messiah - in the HCSB the Greek word Christos (Χριστός) was translated as Messiah when translators felt that Jesus was being referred to in a Jewish context, and Christ when not specifically in a Jewish context. This is helpful for context, but inconsistent in word-for-word translation accuracy. The CSB has moved to the more traditional use of translating Christos consistently as Christ.
- 'Brothers' is changed to 'Brothers and Sisters' where appropriate and called for in context, based on the translation of the word adelphoi (Αδελφοι). Translations such as this are difficult when moving from Greek into English where we have no masculine plural, but the CSB footnotes read that the original word indeed is masculine, but applies to men and women in certain contexts. Think about it this way: a Texan might use the word 'y'all' to accomplish the same purpose, or Midwestern folks might say 'you guys' in reference to both guys and gals. The same thing is going on here in Hebrews 3. But I suppose we can't use "y'all in the Bible...
- Verses in question moved to footnotes. In recent years, a trend has emerged for verses not found in certain Bible manuscripts to be moved out of the text to the footnotes. A unique feature of the HCSB was that these verses remained bracketed in the text, unlike other modern versions (ESV, NIV, NLT). This concept has been reversed and those verses are now found in the footnotes, following the trend of these other translations. The NASB and NKJV are now the only modern versions that continue keep these verses in the text itself.
The Use of Yahweh, which was marketed as a strong point in the HCSB has been changed to the traditional LORD as found in other translations. Some people loved this rendering while some found it awkward and inconsistent. According to the translation team, most readers responded that they were unfamiliar with the Tetragrammaton (a Hebrew name for God, YHWH, which we pronounce Yahweh), and that it was unhelpful and even an obstacle for new Bible readers. The overall thought in changing it was that people can figure out who the 'LORD' is easier than they can figure out exactly who 'Yahweh' is or why we call him that. Hence the change. Concerns over this were addressed by Dr. Iain M. Duguid, a member of the translating team, "as a translator for the original HCSB and part of the oversight committee for the revision, I'd encourage you not to panic. The CSB retains the strengths of the HCSB and (in my opinion) improves on them. Yes, we have followed the NT and most English translation in going back to the LORD for Yahweh, largely because we felt the previous attempt ended up in inconsistencies. But it is a revision, not a wholesale new translation. Many passages have been left untouched because we felt we got them right first time around. In other places, we have sometimes moved in a more literal direction, for example "Lord of Armies" instead of "Lord of Hosts" and "Children of Adam" for "ben adam."
What is the same?
- The footnotes continue to be extensive, even in the small thinline review copy and remain one of the best features of the CSB. These are not half-page-long-study Bible notes, nor are they intended to be, but this review copy is not the full study Bible version (there are several available), and it is nice to see good footnotes in a small carry-around Bible.
- John 3:16 has remained as originally translated in the HCSB. The unique rendering of "God loved the world in this way: He gave His one and only Son..." was a major overhaul of a well-known verse, but it is an accurate translation and is retained in spite of not being what we who grew up in church are using to hearing. The rationale is that the traditional 'For God so loved the world' found in other versions can be tricky in that it leads us to read how much God loved the world, when the intent of the Greek is to imply the manner in which He loved the world. The traditional rendering is provided in the footnotes.
- The use of contractions in dialogue is maintained from the HCSB. This keeps to the stated goal of being literally accurate, yet contemporary sounding.
Overall, the CSB is a highly readable yet highly accurate translation of Scripture, suitable for devotional study and for corporate reading, good for kids, good for adults, deep enough for long-time believers and accessible for those new to the Bible. In seeking 'optimal equivalence', the CSB has attempted to fill a space between the readability of versions like the the NIV/NLT/Message, and the literal accuracy of versions such as ESV/NASB/NKJV. The result is a readable and accurate Bible translation.